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[x] Stay here and collect information.
“I need you to stay right where you are, Hatate.” You pause to think about how Hatate would help your mission the best. Obviously, going on a frontal assault may not be the best of choice. It's best to rely on Nitori's stealth to get you by unnoticed. However, as of now Hatate hasn't been targeted by anybody. You don't want to get her in any unnecessary trouble, so staying behind to collect some information would be the ideal solution. “If you could, I want you to gather details on the situation at hand. Make sure to stay safe, too.”
“Don't worry, I will. It's what I naturally do as a journalist.” She looks a bit cross, wrinkling her nose and pursing her lips. “On the other hand, you make sure to stay safe. You shouldn't take the tengu lightly. They'll pursue you for as long as it takes...”
You try to smile, but it comes out as a grimace. “Then all I have to do is not get caught, heh.” Contemplating more about Hatate's support, you will also need to find a way to contact her. “Hey, is there any way to relay information to us from here?”
“Yeah. I know just the thing. Let me just find it first, wait here.” She dashes off to a small storage room filled with various sized boxes. “Here it is!” She presents a metallic, squarish object. The front cover is tinted with a dull gray. Hatate throws it to you, so you catch it quickly. “It's a cellphone, although an older prototype of my latest version. I haven't used it in a while, so Nitori should be able to explain it to you better than I can.”
“Aha, I haven't seen this in a long time.” The kappa invades your personal space to examine the object more thoroughly. “Wow, this was one of the first ones I made! You still kept this, Hatate?”
“I've never been one to throw things away.” She nods modestly, blushing.
“Okay. So, how does it work exactly?” You remark, dangling the cellphone by its strap.
Nitori's light-blue eyes start to shine. She's obviously excited about it. “Okay, so what it does is that it transmits waves at a certain frequency to pick up a call from another cellphone. Also, it can broadcast signals so that messages can be sent. It's different from the outside version, but I've adapted it the best I could to Gensokyo's standards. There's only one problem with it!” She says forcefully, raising her index finger.
“And what is that?” you ask.
“When I made that cellphone you're holding, I only developed it for communication purposes. It has no fighting capacity whatsoever. Basically, the only thing you can do with it is run. Sometimes, it even disables my optical camouflage due to its unstable energy wavelengths, but it's obvious you shouldn't use it while nigh-invisible anyways.” She takes the cellphone out of your hands and flips it open. Pointing to a small keypad, Nitori begins explaining. “Calling should be very easy. Once you hear a click after a few beeps, it means the call went through. Then you can just talk to it until you end the call. You can do that by flipping it closed. On the other hand, typing up a message might take some time to get used to. Every time you press the same button, it switches to the next character automatically. You'll understand once you try it out later.”
“Wow.” You stop to scratch your head. “That's a lot to take in. But at least it's a method to contact Hatate. Hopefully with this, we'll at least have some knowledge of what we're getting into.”
“It shouldn't be too hard. Most likely you'll never use the messaging function, since Hatate will be the one with all the information. But if you ever need to reach her, just call her by pressing the button labeled '2' and then the green send button.” Nitori points out the green and red buttons plastered on the cellphone.
“It shouldn't be too hard. I think I got the basic understanding.” You place the cellphone in your front pocket, putting it away from view.
Nitori nods to you. “Are you ready? We shouldn't linger here too long.”
Clutching the cellphone from inside your pocket, you reply, “Yeah, I'm ready. Let's go.”
“So long!” Hatate waves to you good naturedly.
Making sure the camouflage is operational, Nitori turns the mechanism on and off a few times before signaling you to exit. Like the last time you arrived, the central plaza consisted of no guards whatsoever. Making sure to follow the kappa, it was ridiculous how lax the security was in the village. Slipping by the official court for tengu superiors, you overhear a familiar voice. Stopping Nitori to check it out, you spot the tengu supervisor, talking to a crow tengu. The supervisor's facial features are contorted into an annoyed scowl. Stepping right next to him, you can hear his every word.
“I'm still puzzled. How exactly did a tengu get those clothes? There should be nothing left of them! No trace! Nada!” A vein in the supervisor's head throbs uncontrollably.
“How should I know?” The crow tengu retorts. “I wasn't put in charge of retrieving every single evidence of the incident! Or do you want me to cross reference every single shred of silk and leather that was left behind? Tell me, do we have a database for every minute detail that ever came to existence regarding the collapsed clan? Hmmmm?”
“I didn't put you in charge of foreign affairs so that I have to go through shit like this!” The supervisor bares his teeth.
“Well, do you want me to fulfill each one of your silly demands, no matter how impossible they are? I'm not a fucking miracle worker.” The crow tengu scoffs, turning his back away from the supervisor.
“Wait a minute, you little-!” By the time he said it, the foreign affairs official flies away. “God dammit... how will I explain this to Shameimaru?”
You collected sufficient details from the conversation, so you tug on Nitori's hand to move elsewhere. Walking closer to the official court, you notice Aya in a window pane, working with a small sheet of papers. She's chewing her pen, concentrated on the task at hand.
[ ] You should go and talk to her regarding the situation.
[ ] Play it safe and leave her out the affairs for now.
[x] You should go and talk to her regarding the situation.
Guys? If last scene was any indication, there's some meddling regarding that incident with the previous owner of the clothes we used. And that meddling is now related to current event as it seems someone imagined a big can of worms opened when they saw those clothes. Letting Aya know what is going on will lead here to counter those capture orders and see who the hell ordered Momiji arrested (as well as freeing her if no reason was given).
[x] You should go and talk to her regarding the situation.
It's best to talk to Aya, you decide. If someone should know what is happening it should be her, the leader of the village. Gently opening the door, you slip into the room without arousing suspicion outside.
“Must be a draft.” Aya looks up, seeing the open door. She quickly goes back to scribbling down something on a lengthy sheet of paper. It is only when you close the door does she notice something strange. As soon as the door closes fully, Nitori turns off the camouflage, revealing both of you in the room.
“Hi Aya!” Nitori greets her with a bow, which seems unfitting for the way the kappa addressed her. She doesn't seem to mind, so she casually responds back.
“Heya, Nitori. What was with the camouflage?” Aya's eyes shift from Nitori to you. “Oh, you're back so soon?”
“I couldn't resist.” you reply quickly. Aya seems to smile at this.
“Anyway, a lot of things have been happening, and it involves a head-hunt for our dear friend, Momiji in chains, and snappy supervisors.” Aya seems confused, so she looks to you for help. “I actually have no clue what's going on right now.”
“Wait, so does that mean that you aren't informed of what's happening right now?”
“Yeah, that's right.”
Damn, it seems like you've made no progress so far. You decide to explain. “Okay then. It all started when a tengu jumped out and tried to slash me with a sword. He claimed that that I broke the law by treason, but I don't see how. I managed to escape, but after that I was pretty sure the tengu guards would look for me. Instead, I found Momiji tied up by a few guards.”
“Was she okay?” Aya asks concernedly. Her lips are pursed, bearing a brooding frown.
“Yeah. The guards were reluctant to keep her detained, but they said it was their orders.”
“I never issued them, so who did?” Aya asks.
“That's what we're trying to find out.”
“Hm...” Aya taps her fingers on the desk. Nitori takes a peek outside and closes the blinds on the windows. “It could be one of the higher-ups, but I doubt that he or she would flat out order something like this without my approval.”
“Huh.” You're at a dead end. There's not much information to stem off of....wait. There was the incident with the supervisor! “Oh, something happened today as we were passing by the supervisor. He was arguing with the tengu who manages the foreign affairs branch about certain clothes. The supervisor mentioned that the clothes aren't supposed to exist, or something. He was so furious that he spat out every word at the foreign affairs official. Not that the official was charming either; he was equally sarcastic and cutting. In the end, the supervisor said 'how he was going to explain it to Shameimaru.'”
“Clothes?” Aya makes a perplexed face. “I'm sorry, I have no idea what the supervisor was talking about. But from his last comment, it makes it seem like they're hiding something from me. I'll consult the supervisor later on.“
Nitori stares outside from the slit between the window blinds. “We should go investigate some more. We don't have many details right now!”
“...But we're out of leads. I don't know where to start right now.”
Aya looks remorseful, stricken with sadness. “I'm sorry I couldn't be of much help.”
“Don't be. You've already helped us as much as you can. Besides, it's not your fault that people are hiding facts from you.”
“I guess you're right. But I don't like feeling so useless in a situation where I can help.” She frowns at her own comment. “At least allow me to clear your name so that you don't need to sneak around in camouflage dodging any officials or guards you see.”
“How are you going to do that?”
“I'm not 'Lord Shameimaru' for nothing, you know! I can accompany you on this investigation. Ultimately, I have the final say on everything. No guard can even attempt to detain you without my permission. And how can they disobey their lord?”
[ ] Accept. Aya is a welcome party, and not having to hide yourself all the time is a bonus.
[ ] Call Hatate first. You should inform her of this first before deciding.
[ ] Decline. You have a bad feeling about involving too many people on this, but you can't tell why.
[x] Decline. You have a bad feeling about involving too many people on this, but you can't tell why.
“Sorry Aya, but I'll have to pass. I just feel that I can't involve you in this yet. I know it sounds risky, but I don't want to reveal myself just yet. Also, I can't shake this off-setting feeling I have about the situation. Maybe it's just me, but I found it weird that they never bothered to set up guards within the village to patrol around for the fugitive.”
“Hmm, I would think so too, but wouldn't it just be a matter of time until a fugitive is caught in the village? It's not exactly an inconspicuous place for a hideout. You're even in their center of operations, speaking to their incompetent boss.”
“That brings us to our next point.” You say direly. “Why would they go through the trouble of hiding this from their lord?”
“Hmm, I don't know, and I can't think of any possible reason anybody would do such a thing.” Aya pauses in contemplation, closing her eyes. “If there's a logical explanation for this, I'm sure it's not a good one. Are you sure you don't need my help right now?”
“Yes, I'm sure. Besides, I could call for you any time and I would be set free, right?” You stare into her clear red eyes contently.
“That's true.” She allows herself a smile of relief. “Just don't try and handle this alone, okay? Remember to ask for help whenever needed.” With this, she kisses you gently on the lips, savoring your taste. Aya almost forgets to pull away, and she blushes and clears her throat. “You know where to find me. I'll be here, doing tedious paperwork. Just tell me when something interesting happens.”
“Gotcha.” You grin. Nodding over at Nitori, who has been idly fiddling with her fingers. She has a sly grin, looking over at you smugly.
“Should we go?” You decide not to incite the kappa to say something unnecessary.
“Yeah, I think we should check up on Momiji again, since we don't have any leads so far. Sound good?” Nitori adjusts her camouflage, flickering in and out of view.
“Good idea.” you remark, waiting patiently for Nitori to activate the camouflage. As soon as Nitori stops changing the invisibility settings, you quickly shift into the shadows. Creaking the door open, she discreetly opens the door, leading you out with her free hand. You attempt to wave to Aya but stop midway, feeling incredibly stupid.
“Do you have the tracker?” You ask Nitori quietly.
“Yeah, they didn't seem to have moved from their original location.” A bluish glow faintly surrounds Nitori's semi-visible arm. It turns off with a click, and the arm fades away once more. “Yep! We won't even need to bother scouting out the place. Let's gooo!”
You obliged, letting her drag you around. Although, sometimes you wished that Nitori wouldn't be so indiscreet in a stealth mission.
When you arrived, you were greeted with a sight that you didn't expect, nor want. The white wolf tengu were instead tied up by what was probably the very same chains that Momiji was caught in. One was grumbling, muttering obscenities and complains constantly under his breath. Under one of the chain's rings was a piece of cloth ripped out from Momiji's outfit.
“Great, just what are the odds of that happening? Of course the tracker would be left here.” You groan in frustration. But as soon as you do, the wolf tengu are staring in your direction.
“Hello?” One calls out. “We know you're out there! Show yourself!” He scowls, baring his teeth.
A second one berates him. “We're in no position to make demands, dumbass. Do you not remember that we're chained up?”
“Should we answer them?” You whisper to Nitori in a low voice.
“Sure, they're a little preoccupied anyway. Good chance for info! As for me, I'll go patrol in case somebody comes.”
“Alright.” A small shock goes through your body like an electric volt. When you open your eyes after the initial tingling, your body is back in plain sight. “Why are all of you tied up in the first place?”
Well,” A tengu begins to say. “While we were holding Captain Inubashiri as prisoner-”
“Quiet!” A second wolf tengu yells frantically. “We're not supposed to divulge information to anybody! They said not to!”
“To hell with them!” The first one sneers. “We followed what they said, and somehow we ended up going against Captain Inubashiri and got locked up! Screw them! I'm sick and tired of their antics.”
“...And where is Momiji now?” You cut them off, trying to get to the point.
“Huh. 'Momiji'?” He narrows his eyes at you. “Captain Inubashiri surprised us with a sudden attack when we had our backs turned. I'm not sure how she freed herself, but she got us good. Next thing I know, we're all tied up.”
“Hm, that doesn't help much.” But before the tengu could reply, a ringing is heard from your pockets. Fumbling for the phone inside, you open it and pick up. “Hello?”
“Yeah, it's Hatate. I have some information that I'd like to share with you. You remember how we're operating under the pretense that you're a fugitive? Well, I did my research and it turns out that you were never mentioned anywhere as a wanted criminal. So I looked into the file of current criminals in 'careful consideration.' I'm not sure how to say this but...” The voice on the phone trails off, hesitant.
“But what?” You push, wanting to know what she means.
“Well, they're definitely not aiming for you, that's for sure. They're going after Momiji.”
“WHAT!?” You scream, surprised by the sudden turn of events. “You're kidding, right? What is going on? I don't understand.”
“I don't either, but it's the most logical conclusion. Momiji is suddenly on the criminal list, so they detained her. It's simple really, but we don't have the motive. Why is Momiji being convicted? Nobody really knows yet. I'll get back to you on this. I need to check something with Aya herself.”
“...Okay then.” You reply. This was the worst possible outcome. The fact that nobody knows where Momiji is right now and was apparently the main target all along is dangerous.
“I'd hate to interrupt your lovely conversation, but could we please be released? The keys are right over there.” The silver keys are placed only a few feet away from your feet, conveniently placed on top of a large rock.
Good update, hard decision. No idea what the fuck to do. On one hand, they could appreciate it and be of aid later, especially the one who is pissed off and seems to have no interest in what the higher ups are doing. Or, it could all be a facade and just ends up with an ass kicking of sorts.
And yes, it shows, there was a bit of repetition in some parts. Nothing big, though. Remember, you can always find someone else to proof read for you.
It was noon already. The summer sun glared intently over the sky. Sweat glistened from your forehead, prompting you to wipe it off. You were late in the appointment you had with Aya, your boss. Being the only human and the only other staff member of the Bunbunmaru News, it was critical that you were on time. But you weren't, and now you were sprinting up the path, as fast as your feet can take you.
Before you can take another step, Momiji flies down and blocks the entrance to the village. “You're going to visit Aya again?” Her delicate-looking face is creased with wrinkles of worry. She easily carries her large scimitar and shield with her seemingly frail arms. But you knew Momiji issn't frail at all.
“It's not visiting. She called me up for another meeting regarding the Bunbunmaru.” You retort. The heat pulsates around you. You try and fan yourself, but you barely feel anything.
“Ohh, really?” Momiji grins smugly. “I saw you dash over as fast as you can to the entrance. Are you eager?”
“I was running because I was late. And I still am! So if you will please move out of the way...”
“No can do. Not unless you make a bet with me.” She winks, teasing you by taking her time and stalling you.
“If I lose, then I'll vouch for you in front of the tengu officials to keep you as a temporary resident so you don't have to deal with all the fuss from the guards every time you enter the village. I won't have to check up on you either.”
“Deal.” You automatically agree to the decision.
“But if you lose,” Momiji averts her eyes to the side, smiling shyly. “You'll have to court me.”
“What.” You flatly blurt out. Momiji adjusts her hair, carefully avoiding your gaze. It felt like you were tricked somehow, but you got yourself into this mess. But then again, you would feel a bit guilty sidestepping something like this. However, you are perfectly fine with Momiji. “Okay then...” you rub the bridge of your nose. “What are we doing for the bet anyway?”
:”Danmaku.” She replies. Okay, now it feels like she's manipulating you.
You barely manage to survive half a minute before succumbing to the bullets. It was even worse that you had to run around instead of flying, but Momiji did the same to prevent any handicaps. You were terrible at this, and you thought the tengu probably knew that too.
“This is unfair...” You groan, reclining on a nearby tree. Momiji is unscathed, barely even winded from the running.
“You should have let me finish explaining. But now that I win...” She holds onto your waist tightly, leaning her face close to yours. You feel her soft breaths on your neck, causing you to shudder. Momiji pushes her lips on yours lightly, holding you close to her body. She touches her lips delightedly, smiling blissfully at the kiss. “Do you... want to keep going? Because I would love to.”
“I have no choice but to, Momiji. I lost.” You state. But you did want more of her. She was just teasing you.
“I was just kidding about the bet! I would've helped you anyway regardless.” She retorts, indignant. “So, I want to know if you want to keep going.”
“Of course I do, Momiji.” You say straightforwardly, causing her to blush happily. Taking your hand, she leads you to a conspicuous room with a single bed and bathroom. “What is this place?” You ask
“It's a guard room. At nights, we usually rotate shifts to keep watch during danger.” She pauses to give you a sultry smile. “But in the day, it's never used.” Taking this opportunity, she pounces onto you, pushing you onto the bed. You make no haste to pull her down and kiss her exposed neck, causing her to quiver slightly. Her skin feels like silk against your lips. You hastily remove your clothes, throwing them carelessly off to the side. Momiji exposed too, lying face up on the bed. Now that you take a good look at her you notice that her breasts are quite ample, tantalizing you with their taut nipples.
This time, you go in aggressively, kissing her bust. She whines in lust, fidgeting her legs. You bring yourself down to her crotch, hungrily sucking at her crotch. Momiji can only raise her hips as she starts moaning from the sheer sense of pleasure. You can start to feel her getting wet, juices starting to drip out of her pussy. She leans over to kiss you insatiably, desiring for your lips. You press your tongue inside her mouth, exploring her wet crevices. The shaft of your now fully erect penis rubs against the outside of her crotch up and down, lubricated by her wetness.
“I can't take it anymore!” She exclaims. “P-Please put it in me now!” She begs, spreading out her legs. Her thighs were beautifully tone and soft, exciting you.
“I want you Momiji.” Before you start, you nod to her. Pushing her legs wide open, you press into her tight pussy. She immediately straightens her back, gasping. You allow your weight to sink in, grinding against her crotch. Her gasps start turning into moans, Momiji grabbing at the covers of the small bed's sheets. You keep your speed, allowing Momiji to catch up and calm down. However, she does not do so and instead pushes up on your cock, forcing it deeper inside of her. The walls of her pussy caress your cock, filling your mind with nothing but the desire to take her.
You first kiss her stomach while you speed up, forcing Momiji to whimper submissively. Then you go to her breasts, kissing both of them tenderly. You move up to the neck, then her cheek. Lastly, you sink your tongue into her mouth again. This time, you can taste her tongue, entwining around yours.
You're at your limit, your body tensing up to get ready to cum. “Momiji, I...”
“Please...” She says weakly, arching her back fully, panting deeply. “I...I orgasmed. But cum inside me!” She wraps her legs around your body, instinctively wanting you to fill her with your seed. She says between gasps, “I wasn't...lying when I wanted you to court me!”
The last few thrusts into her crotch you into a blind ecstasy, spilling out your semen inside her pussy. A lot spurts out, filling her insides up thoroughly. As you pull out, a small portion drips out. As you finish up, Momiji's pantings finally slow down.
She press her cheeks to yours. “Do you want to stay like this?” She gives you a heartfelt smile, full of innocence. Nothing like the seductress you saw in bed.
You kick up the keys to your hands, jangling them idly. You twirl them with your index finger as you think of what to do. Three sets of eyes stare at you eagerly. Two out of the three tengu patiently wait to be released. Only the last wolf tengu points her eyes down at the ground, averting your gaze.
On one hand, they weren't too happy with tying up Momiji in the first place. They seemed disgruntled the whole time they had detained Momiji. And whenever they spoke of her, they seem to favor Momiji with respect.
But on the other hand, they could be loyal to their group, only pretending to side with you to be released. But in no way were they ever cruel to their captain, even allowing some leniency despite their orders.
After some deliberation, you decide to release them from their captivity. “Alright, I'm letting you guys free.” Sliding the key in the lock, an audible click loosens the chain, releasing the group of three white wolf tengu from its grasp.
“Couldn't you have just broken out?” You ask the tengu in the center. He wears a loose, flowing robe with a black sash. He grimaces, gritting his sharp teeth.
“If only. These chains are specifically used to deter criminals with equivalent power or less to a white wolf youkai's.” He flicks his head to his right, cracking his neck loudly. “Much better. Anyway, I'm the lieutenant of this sorry squadron. Just call me Lieutenant, alright?”
“If that's what you wish.” You reply dismissively, wondering where Nitori went. What you call him isn't important right now. You cut to the chase immediately. “I want to ask a question. How exactly did Momiji escape?”
“We're not supposed to talk about it!” The same tengu who cut him off earlier interjects.
“Can you shut your trap for even one second?” The lieutenant growls with pure malice. After no response, he says, more subdued,“Thank you, Sergeant.” He takes a long breath in and out to compose himself. “Anyway, she caught us off guard after we had loosened her chains. As expected of our captain, to be able to take on all four of us barehanded...” He nods with great approval, almost as if he was proud of allowing her to escape.
Something the lieutenant said caught your attention. There were four tengu? “Where is the last person? I only count three of you here.”
“Oh?” The lieutenant does a circular sweep with his eyes, squinting at the distance. “That's weird. I remember our corporal was with us before we got beat by Captain Inubashiri.” He shrugs. “He's probably around here somewhere. Best not worry about it.”
“...Okay then.” You decide to just humor him. “So do you have any idea where Momiji might be now?”
“Hmm...” Lieutenant considers the question. “She didn't mention anything, so I don't have a clue. I would assume she might try to look for her weapons, now that she's free. But to be frank, I doubt she'll get her equipment back. They're stored in the headquarters of the village.”
“...I see.” Suddenly, a hand clutches at your shoulders. You instantly tense up, prepared to fight. But you let yourself breathe once you hear Nitori's leisurely voice.
“It seems like you're having fun~” She laughs to herself. “It looks like we got ourselves some allies. I hope you don't need me right now because I need to go check something out reaaal quick. But if you desperately need me, just call out. I'll probably be near the vicinity. Probably.” Without another word, you feel her slipping away. You don't bother to respond. It seemed like she was in a rush, so you let her do as she pleases. Hopefully you can trust these tengu enough to help you out.
“So Lieutenant, do you want to join me? Currently, I'm looking for Momiji and investigating the situation at hand.”
He grins. “I don't mind at all. In fact, I was going to ask you the same thing.” He turns his head around with a sharp sneer. “Sergeant, do you have a problem with this?”
“...No.” He seems to be reluctant, probably still agitated from when the lieutenant yelled at him.
“And you, Private?”
The last wolf tengu with a small badge labeled 'Private' on her white robe shakes her head. You barely noticed her, since she hid her meek body behind the sergeant. Her bangs cover most of her forehead and eyes. “N-No, I don't have a problem.” The private nervously stutters.
“Good. The four of us can start heading out back to the village.” He takes a step, but then suddenly turns around. “Oh, I just want to ask why are you so concerned with Captain Inubashiri. It doesn't seem like you're in our military forces. Are you a friend of hers?”
[ ] She is an important friend of yours, and you know for certain she did not do anything wrong.
[ ] There no reason necessary to do the right thing.
[ ] Something weird is happening in the tengu village. You want to ascertain what exactly has caused all of this.
[ ] She took care of you, and now you want to repay her back by helping her out
[X] She is an important friend of yours, and you know for certain she did not do anything wrong.
([x] Something weird is happening in the tengu village. You want to ascertain what exactly has caused all of this. )
She's a friend, and she's not to blame! But yeah, something strange. Not sure if that can all fit in, though.
[x] She is an important friend of yours, and you know for certain she did not do anything wrong.
[x] Something weird is happening in the tengu village. You want to ascertain what exactly has caused all of this.
[x] She is an important friend of yours, and you know for certain she did not do anything wrong.
[x] Something weird is happening in the tengu village. You want to ascertain what exactly has caused all of this.
“Yes. And she's an important friend of mine. That's why I'm one hundred percent sure that she didn't do anything wrong.” you declare. The lieutenant nods at your statement and motions for his group to follow, forming a single file line behind you. It makes you feel uneasy but at the same time secure.
“What strikes me as strange though was that the order was so vague. The document said that we were required to capture and hold Captain Inubashiri until further notice.” He taps his chin thoughtfully. “It didn't seem like they were planning to punish her too badly, since the orders stated that she was not to be chained until she attempted to run away. Which she did.”
“So why did she..?”
“I'm not sure, but it seemed urgent. The captain wasted no time on beating the crap outta us.” His face darkens, reminiscing the memory. “Man, she really is fit to be our military leader. I'm still a bit disappointed that she didn't accept the position of commander.”
“You're going off topic...” you sigh. “So back when I was sneaking around in the village, I was under the assumption that I was wanted. However, no guards were present in the village. Also, there was a tengu after me, who attempted to detain me. He said I was preferred alive, but I managed to escape him by falling face first off a cliff.”
“Hmm....yeah that's really unusual. I have heard of no such thing. Maybe it wasn't even anybody in the military. Although I have no idea why they would go and target you if you're a civilian.
“But there's more. I recently got information from a reliable source that Momiji is being tracked down by court officials, or something like that. She's listed as a wanted criminal, but I wasn't able to determine what motive they have.”
“It was similar to our orders. We had no idea why we had to capture Captain Inubashiri. The document was left unusually blank, but it was confirmed that it was signed by one of the court attendants so we had to follow directions.” He scoffs. “I knew it was a little suspicious...”
“Hmm, have you heard anything about the main supervisor?” You're just going off on a whim, but any information you can get is crucial at this point. His earlier outburst and the fact that he probably has the power to sign the document makes him your prime suspect.
“Huh? No, not really. The military division and political division are pretty much exclusive from each other. I have never kept up with politics.”
The sergeant, who has been unusually quiet, raises his voice. “I've overheard a few words from the supervisor. It seems that they're trying to prevent information from leaking out. The key word seems to be 'the clothing.' I don't know what it means, but that's what's been circulating around.”
Lieutenant looks pleasantly surprised. “Thank you, Sergeant.” He turns around to face the private, who looks down at her feet in response. The lieutenant sighs and shifts back towards you. “So there you have it.” The lieutenant's ears perk up, still facing the direction he was going. He motions for the group to stay still, holding his hand up. In the quiet of the forest, you can barely make out a faint skittering from up ahead. From inside one of the bushes, a loud shuffling of leaves aggravate the lieutenant enough to draw his blade. The sergeant mimics the lieutenant's actions while the private fumbles for her sword. She can't manage to grip the handle, so you cover her front.
“W-Wait!” Nitori's desperate voice fills the air. She uncloaks, seemingly appearing from thin air. “I'm not here to fight!”
The lieutenant drops his sneer, but keeps his blade pointed at her.
“It's alright.” You take a large step towards her, causing the lieutenant to put down his sword. “She's a friend of mine.”
“...I see.” He sheathes his sword, but squints suspiciously at Nitori.
You ignore that he's keeping a cautious distance away from her. “I thought you had something urgent to do, Nitori?”
“Yeah. I went over to talk to Hatate.” Her expression turns sour. “Nothing new so far. It seems that either nothing is wrong or they're trying to make it seem like everything's alright. She said that if they're covering something up, they're doing a good job at it.”
“Oh, you're allies with Himekaidou too?” The lieutenant grins at you. “You're an interesting man. What next? Drinking tea with Lord Shameimaru?”
“Yeah, sure.” you say dismissively. Nitori shoots the lieutenant a weird look. When he notices she quickly, but nonchalantly averts her eyes to somewhere else.
A loud ringing noise resounds from inside your pocket. It's the phone that Hatate gave you. Flipping the phone up, it notes that you have one new message. 'Urgent!! Go past the gate of tengu council section in village! Something's happening.'
Closing the cellphone, you announce, “I think I may have just found a lead. We're going to the gates toward the tengu council.”
Taking the lead, you make quick strides to the familiar area. You remember it from when Aya had her meetings. Leaving no time to waste, you make it to the gates shortly. The sign reads in bold letters, “AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY.” Blatantly ignoring it, you force the doors open. From the distance, you can see Momiji in the distance, keeping her hand gripped on her sword sheath.
[ ] Assist Momiji. She needs the help now.
[ ] Call out to her first. Let her know that you're here.
[ ] Keep your distance and observe. You don't know what's going on yet.
[X] Keep your distance and observe. You don't know what's going on yet.
-[X] Prepare to assist her if she looks like she's in trouble nevertheless.
-[X] Maybe Nitori can help you get closer without being seen...
[X] Keep your distance and observe. You don't know what's going on yet.
-[X] Prepare to assist her if she looks like she's in trouble nevertheless.
It seems like nobody noticed your group shuffling without so much as a noise through the doors. The adjacent buildings give cover to your group. You poke your head out to get a good look at Momiji. A large crowd of tengu officials stare warily at her, but otherwise leave her alone. A few of the workers at the main building glance over to the wolf tengu. However, none of them linger for too long, busy with their work. She keeps her distance to all of them, cautiously laying one hand near the hilt of her blade. She keeps a steady walking pace. A few murmurs erupt from the growing mob as Momiji passes them swiftly. She disappears through the main entrance.
A finger taps your shoulder. “So we've located Captain Inubashiri. But what next? I don't think we can get in so easily with the gigantic mass of people near the entrance now.” The lieutenant crosses his arms, sporting a frown with his chin jutting out.
You look over to your kappa companion. “Nitori, is there any possible way for us to use the camouflage for all of us?”
She shakes her head reluctantly. “It's not possible. The energy wouldn't last. With a group this big, we're bound to bump into a few people anyway so not like it'll be effective.” She points over to a path spiraling around the entire building. “Our best chance at going in is to circle around.”
The sergeant curtly snaps, “Alright. Let's get moving then.” Wasting no time, he pulls you to the front of the group. For some reason, you are leading these men (and Nitori), but you don't mind. Right now you have to focus on Momiji. You weave through different pathways to avoid the plethora of people amassing over to the entrance. One tengu raises an eyebrow at you and your conspicuous group but shrugs and ignores you, much to your relief. A window from the side of the building is just big enough to look inside it.
Making your way to the window close to the entrance, you sneak a look near the entrance. From far away, it looks like the crowd has dissipated, but you don't want to take any chances.
Audible words can be heard from inside the building, but noises from outside garble them. You peer inside the glass pane. Momiji is tense, placing one hand on her sheath, and the other on the hilt of her sword. She shouts something that you can't exactly hear and motions for somebody to come over. The tengu supervisor begrudgingly steps forward into the sights of the window. The lieutenant and sergeant both blink at the supervisor, while the private gasps in shock. A dark grimace bestows the supervisor's face, clearly not happy to see Momiji.
“Nitori, go check to see if the entrance is clear right now.” She nods and goes past the window, disappearing from sight. When you focus your attention back to the window, Momiji has already unsheathed her sword, taking a battle stance. The supervisor backs away, moving out of the window's vision. A group of about fifteen tengu closes in, drawing their swords at Momiji.
“The entrance is all clear but the door is locked! It looks like the people outside were forced to leave.” Nitori hastily says, dashing back to the group.
“Let's go. Right now.” You sprint to the front of the building. The entrance seems to be barricaded – you aren't able to bash it open.
The lieutenant realizes this mid-run, and shouts at the sergeant, pointing at the door. They both brace themselves for the impact and slam through the door, knocking over the entire thing. Both the guards and Momiji look over to your group's dramatic entrance. Immediately, the sergeant and lieutenant rush over to guard their captain. They shift over and guard her blind spots while Momiji disarms numerous guards. The private even blocks a few hits with her shield, covering the group.
...And here you are, away from the center of the battle, doing nothing at all. Picking up a sword from the ground, you try and make yourself useful to the fight. However, the whole battle dissolves in less than five seconds when an unusually long-robed tengu enters from where the supervisor fled. Momiji directs her attention to the flowing clothes, letting her guard falter.
“Momiji, pay attention!” You yell out to her. But by the time you yelled, it's already too late. A sharp elbow smacks her hand away from her sword, destroying the battle formation. Without their captain, the lieutenant's group strategy fails. In just thirty seconds, the four of them are tied up.
The guards go and tie both you and Nitori up as well. You look at the lieutenant, who seems to be in utter dismay and confusion. Momiji's face is that of distraction, and complete shock. She's only staring at the man in lengthy robes. The very same kind of fabric and ceremonial style that yours has.
He wears a tight, false smile on his lips. “Miss, I'd say that you've seen these robes before. Yes?” The tengu jabs a finger at her. His wiry eyes squint at Momiji. “I bet you don't know me. I'm the chancellor of the tengu clan.” Momiji's eyes open sharply as he introduces himself. A dark look is on her face. She then responds by spitting on the ground next to him. “The ex-tengu clan, I should say.” You realize that this is all your fault, right? You know that?” His grin turns into a frenzied snarl. “The whole masquerade was supposed to be forgotten, like nothing ever happened. No trace of the marriage or the clan and nobody would have remembered. I could have seized the power of my whole clan.” He takes a sharp breath through his nose. “But you left that one robe. And it was hidden right under our noses. My plan was ruined because of that!”
The lieutenant growls, “You selfish little-”
“YOU SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH!” The chancellor explodes at him, his face red with fury. A sole vein pulses in the corner of his forehead. “DON'T YOU KNOW HOW MUCH TIME AND EFFORT I SPENT PLANNING THIS ALL FOR THIS GOD DAMN DOG BITCH TO SPOIL EVERYTHING!?” He stomps on the lieutenant straight in the stomach. He relentlessly does so for thirty seconds. The muffled hitting of flesh on geta echoed eerily through the room. When the chancellor is done, The lieutenant is gasping for air but still manages to glare at the man. You try to wrestle yourself free, but the iron chains are too sturdy for you to wriggle out.
The chancellor glowers menacingly, cocking his head at Momiji “You don't even deserve to live, you dirty little shit.” He takes her own blade and whips her with it using the end of the hilt. “You like that? Do you like that!?” His beatings get progressively worse. The hits now resound with a crunching thud, cracking down from her head to her back.
Unable to control yourself, you snarl, “You're so petty.”
He stops halfway, ready to hit Momiji one more time. He slowly turns his body towards you. “...Say that one more time.”
You reiterate yourself louder. “You're petty. You never hit a woman! Don't you dare hit Momiji!”
“Release him.” He motions to the guards. A few guards look over at each other, unsure and skeptical. “RELEASE HIIM!” He bellows violently, clearly impatient. The guards then hurry over to your position, obviously afraid. He grins eerily, dropping Momiji's sword to the ground.
The guards unchain you from your restrained state, freeing you from the iron shackles. You pick up a sword and ready yourself for an incoming attack.
“Hehehe, I won't even need a sword for you.” The chancellor smugly giggles. He awaits your move, watching your steps like a hawk. You take two quick steps to him. He swipes his hand across the air, reaching for your neck. You dodge and attempt a slice at his lower legs, but he easily steps aside. Using the opening you create, he grabs you by the head and spins once before he crushes your face into the hard floor. Searing pain erupts from your forehead, straining your muscles from getting up. You can feel the blood seeping out slowly from the opened gash. He allows you to stand up, snorting as you stumble over your own legs. Prick.
You discard the heavy sword, using your fists instead. He attempts to sweep your legs, but you jump over. However, the tengu quickly recovers from his miss and back kicks you into a nearby pillar. With a crackle echoing through the room, your shoulders take a direct hit. Your ears pound as the pain from the blow is too great, causing you to keel over on all fours. There is a glint in his eyes as he kicks you over. “Ohhh~?” He suddenly beams. “You're far too weak to be a tengu. You must be....a human.”
The lieutenant's eyes widen at your declaration. You can basically see him still processing the thought. There's nothing else you can say to him. Or rather, you don't have the energy to say anything. You want to keep fighting the chancellor, but your body isn't cooperating.
You are still down on your stomach, frantically trying to stand back up. The chancellor takes your legs and hoists you up in the air before slamming you down on your back. The wind is knocked out of your lungs, leaving you gasping meagerly for air. The muscles on your back and sides burn, like they're on fire. Your vision is all red, distorting and blurring in large spots.
“You're just all talk. Can't even last a minute.” He chuckles. Struggling to get back on your feet, you crumple down to the floor again. It's useless. Your body has nothing left. He guffaws at your futile attempts, grabbing Momiji's sword once more. “Now, where was I?” Momiji looks at him through the blood trickling down her head. He taps the right side of Momiji's neck with the blade. “You know, I never liked your fiance anyway. Think of it as a favor.” Damn, you can't move anymore...
He raises the sword above his head. But before he can move his hand, a huge gust of wind crashes through the room, sending both the chancellor and the sword flying.
“...I'll cut the pleasantries and beat the shit out of you before I ask, what are you doing to Momiji?” Garbed in her traditional tengu outfit, Aya dons a solemn face, filled with deep contemplation.
“And just where did you learn your manners from, young girl?” The chancellor spits out, knocking over several of the guards as he stands up.
“From a dear, red-white friend of mine. Attack first, questions later.” She growls. With a large swing of her maple-shaped fan, a buffeting wind bellows from her direction, allowing some distance between her and the guards. For a moment, her eyes fall upon you. Managing a weak nod, you give her notice. She frowns with worry, stares back at the chancellor. Their eyes meet, and the room fills with silence. It was only about a second, but it seemed to be the longest second you have ever lived.
The moment their eyes break, the two of them clash. Aya nimbly evades a cutting hook from the chancellor, retaliating with a quick jab to the face. It misses, but manages to graze his shoulder. A snarl erupts from the back of his throat. “Good hit, girl. Not a lot of people can do that.” His eyes sharpen icily, the smug look wholly erased from his glare. He's not fooling around anymore.
“It's going to be more than just a 'good hit' soon,” Aya growls. She tightens her grip on her maple fan. They take to the air, speeding up the tempo of the battle. The chancellor pulls out a dagger from under his robe's sleeve. He slices through the air, slashing at Aya. Each hit connects with Aya's fan, which proves to be surprisingly sturdy. When he moves in closer to attempt a direct shot, Aya strikes deftly, smashing her fan to the left of his head. He instinctively goes to block his head, but he isn't fast enough. The chancellor still receives a glancing blow to the forehead and falls mid-flight. He pulls himself back up, however, and uses the momentum to elbow Aya at her side. The air is knocked out of her, so the chancellor uses this opportunity to move in closer. However, she brandishes her maple fan and sends a fierce gust of wind to blow him back.
He growls loudly in frustration, gnashing his teeth. Succumbing to his anger, the chancellor's swings become more wild, and every precarious stab of his dagger leaves him wide open. Aya takes every mistake he makes into a retaliation, landing every shot of her fan precisely and quickly. A steady barrage of gusts forces him to step back. The chancellor's breathing becomes more ragged, obviously worn down by Aya's flurry of hits. It is becoming clear who is going to lose this battle. The chancellor probably realizes this too, so he flicks a card out of his robe. The room instantly is silenced for a fraction of a second. A spellcard, you deduct. But why would he declare one right here? It's not danmaku.
Just then, a huge torrent of wind buffets Aya, keeping her from getting any closer. The chancellor uses the temporary reprieve from Aya to sprint full distance towards Momiji, dropping his spellcard immediately. He pants unevenly after reaching her. As the tornado dissipates, he brandishes his dagger against Momiji's neck. “I should've just killed you the moment I saw you,” he whispers in a low voice. The chancellor's tone is filled with contempt. Taking out another spellcard with his free hand, he summons a second bellow of wind just as the first one disappears. Momiji struggles as he holds her with his knife hand, but her body almost gives out. Throwing the spellcard to the ground, he holds Momiji's neck straight, fiddling with his knife.
A rush of adrenaline surges through your body, muffling all sounds around you. Your body takes a step forward, ignoring all the dull pain that has accumulated from before. You see the chancellor screaming violently at something. Your body takes another step. He doesn't seem to have heard you, probably due to the gusts of wind blowing away the sound. You were glad that he left you unchained after your beating, but you had to make this chance count. Just a few more steps. However, your unsteady leg stumbles and sends you back to the ground. You convince your leg to stand back up. You balance yourself and prepare for a sprint. The adrenaline seems to allow your body to have one last sprint, but you can already feel your body fall to the floor. You take your last step and swing your arm back, closing your fingers into a fist. As all the momentum catches up to your, you allow yourself to swing forward in full force.
“Gck!” The hit lands cleanly on the side of his cheek. His grip loosens, allowing the knife clatter to the floor. The force from the punch flings him to the floor. But your body is now unresponsive, having used up all its energy. So you too fall to the floor, unable to even lift your head up.
Shakily, the chancellor stands up, still stubbornly wanting to continue fighting. You see Aya rush over in flight, going full speed at the chancellor. The last thing you see is him drop down to one knee, falling over again.
You're in a predicament. Your eyelids seem stiff, refusing to move on their own, but instead of forcing yourself up, you allow yourself to wearily recline back on the bed. The soft smell of flowers permeates the room. As the cotton sheets gently push your body back, you allow yourself a healthy respite from doing anything. But as the door to the room opens, you understand that your rest lasted for just a fleeting moment. Your eyelids still feel like lead weights, but despite the inconvenience, you force them open to see your untimely guest. You notice Hatate's face close up. She’s inspecting you from such a small distance that your faces are almost touching.
“Morning,” you say groggily to Hatate. You try to inch back from her, but your body feels locked in place. It must be absolutely exhausted from the fight earlier. “Where am I?”
She slowly leans back, still scrutinizing you. “It's afternoon, but good morning to you too.” Hatate wears a guilty smile. With a gentle tone, she asks, “How are you feeling now?”
“I feel great for being plastered to the floor constantly, but it's hard for me to move.” And it’s true. Although a little sore, your body doesn't have ache too much. However, actually getting up and moving around is a different story.
“...I see. It looked like the painkillers worked fine, but don't push yourself.” As Hatate sits down on the chair right next to the bed, she lifts her arms hesitantly before setting them back down on her lap. This happens several times.
“Is there a problem?” You inquire. She shakes her head with the same guilty look she gave you before. “You can just tell me if you want to.”
She nods. “I'm sorry,” she apologizes, “for getting you into this mess. I knew something was wrong when I got some info on political affairs. I just didn't think that you would get hurt like this.”
“I knew what I was getting into, Hatate.” You offer her some reconciliation. “Nothing that happened was your fault.”
“But you were hurt!” She insists stubbornly. “And I didn't get there fast enough to save you.”
“If I didn't want to get hurt, I wouldn't have returned to this village and searched for you and Aya.”
“If you put it that way, I'm happy, yet not happy.” She crosses her arms in dissatisfaction.
“I wasn't going to change my mind. I needed closure and I needed to save Momiji.” Oh wait, Momiji! “Ah! What happened to Momiji afterward?”
“The medical reports say that she's fine, but a few witnesses saw that she took a lot of nasty blows to the head. Momiji's still asleep right now, so it'd be best to let her rest and recuperate.”
“I understand. I hope she gets better soon.” The fact that you can't leave and see Momiji worries you, but you have faith that she will recover.
“...Yeah.” Hatate scoots closer and tenderly caresses your cheek, touching the side of your chin. “Is it possible for you to move?”
“I've given up on the idea.” you admit. “The majority of my body feels really heavy right now, so the most I can do is roll off the bed.”
“Oho, I see~” Hatate mischievously grins, prompting you to shoot her a questioning look. But she isn't looking towards you. Instead, she’s glancing side to side out through the exit of the room. Closing the door gingerly, she has a certain air of tranquility around her. Hatate inches closer to you, gradually taking small steps until her face is hovering over yours. As she lays her hands on the sides of your face, she dips low enough for you to feel her breath. A light blush brings color to Hatate's cheeks, but before you can comprehend what is going on, she makes the final dip and leans against your body, sinking softly into the sheets. Her lips reach yours in a sudden rush of warmth, bearing an unfamiliar intensity. You can feel her desire, her want for affection. The recollection of your last kiss with Hatate comes to mind. The sensation is a lot different this time. Previously, she came off as aggressive, intoxicated with lust, but now she looks more at ease.
She breaks off, looking oddly apprehensive about the ordeal. “W-Well? How do you feel?” Hatate may have ended the kiss, but she's still unnaturally close to your body. She glances down at you, awaiting your approval.
“I still can't move.” You dodge the question. It was extremely embarrassing, but you didn't voice your actual opinion.
“Good.” Hatate abashedly mutters. She slips under the covers, hugging you from behind. The best thing you can do in response is muster a twitch. Otherwise, Hatate is in total control of the situation. But all she does is cling to your body and nestle in closer. “I'm claiming my reward for helping you, okay? Think of it as a payment.”
In no position to reject, or move for that matter, you consent to it. You can feel her light breathing on the nape of your neck as well as the rhythmic up and down motion of her chest. With great effort, you try not to be conscientious of Hatate, but it feels like she's deliberately teasing you with her 'reward.'
...But it doesn't feel bad at all. Hatate's affectionate hands gently lull you into a peaceful state, allowing you to close your eyes and rest.
The moment your eyes open, you feel a strange stiffness throughout your whole body. The joints in your arms and legs refuse to operate properly, feeling jittery and creaky. As you turn over in the bed, you bump into a familiar Tengu, rousing her from her sleep. Hatate is still here.
“Mmmh, hello.” She wearily mumbles.
“So you're still here.”
“Yes, thank you for pointing out the obvious. I decide to take a nap. A very long one until work hours are over. The whole 'incident' tired me out fairly well.” She stretches her arms, flapping her wings in the process. “Did you sleep well?”
“Yes, but now my body feels all rigid and inflexible.” To demonstrate, you sit up on the bed. “At least I can move now.”
“Too bad about that...” She looks genuinely disappointed.
“What were you going to do if I couldn't move when I woke up?” You ask hesitantly.
“I wasn't going to do anything. Except tease you,” Hatate jokes. “There's only so much a girl can handle.”
“I'm not sure if you're lying or not,” you retort back to her. From looking out the window, you can tell it’s around evening time. “Hm, anyway, shouldn't you get going?”
“Oh, right!” She nods, unaware of how much time has passed until now. “You stay here. It's nice that you can move already, but don't overstress your body. It's not easy to be beaten senseless, and then force your body to start moving immediately after.”
“Alright then.” You see her off with a wave. Hatate is lingering around the doorway, dawdling around until she finally turns around and leaves.
[ ] Go and wander around. It's no good being stuck in a stuffy room.
[ ] Stay and recover. You shouldn't overexert yourself so soon.
>>24739 I meant that you, Moral, should take your time about matters and make sure they're well carried out blah blah blah. But I'm glad that you're doing ok enough to update!
[x] Stay and recover. You shouldn't overexert yourself so soon.
[x] Stay and recover. You shouldn't overexert yourself so soon.
Yeah, Hatate is right. You still feel a strain on your back, which aches whenever you move around too much. The slightly lopsided bed creaks as you turn over inside the covers. A stillness is in the air; the wind silently flutters the curtains of the window. A shuffling is heard from the doorway, but you don't see anything – or anybody – there. “Hello?”
“...Hi.” Nitori's voice suddenly whispers next to your ear. You jump back in the bed, slamming your head on the nearby table. “Ah, sorry.”
You clutch your head, groaning in pain. “Nitori, don't do that! You scared the hell out of me!”
“I'm really sorry! I just forgot that I was cloaked.” You can feel her bowing in front of you.
You wonder why she was cloaked in the first place.“No, I'm alright for now. But it'll be easier if I could see you. At times, I'm not comfortable talking to the air, hoping for a reaction.”
She instantly materializes in front of your face, pocketing her extraneous gadgets. “Right.” She puts a finger to her lips, deep in thought. “So...how are you? You doing okay?”
“Yeah, I'm fine. It's hard for me to move around, but I'll manage. I'm not dead yet, right?” You laugh it off, sitting up on the bed.
“I was scared...” Nitori tries her best to grin, but it's empty. “I knew exactly what I was getting into, but when we got captured and tied up I panicked. I couldn't think straight. Then I saw you, unwavering in the face of the chancellor. I felt deep guilt, unable to protect my ally.”
“You were there with us. That's all that matters. The moment I stood up unshackled I knew nobody could protect me in that fight but myself. It was my battle, and I had both won and lost. It hurt, but I'm glad I was able to stand up and fight.”
“...That's just how you are, huh?” She sighs, downcast. “Well, I'm glad.”
“For what?” You ask her. Nitori takes a slow step forward, but instantly turns transparent.
“I'm glad I met you!” Nitori shouts eagerly.
You chuckle goodnaturedly. “Same to you. But why did you cloak again?”
“Hmm....who knows? It's easier talking when I'm invisible~” Her voice shrinks further away as she is talking, heading towards the door.
“Going so soon?” You ask her. Nitori's surprised gasp echoes through the room.
“How'd you know?”
“I just guessed. Your voice was heading towards the door, so I assumed you were going to sneak out.”
Nitori sighs melodramatically. “I was going to leave, making you mystified. Or shocked, in awe. Something like that!”
“Okay, I get it! Just leave already!” You shoo her away, unsure whether she did really leave or not. Some noise comes out from the entrance. Thinking it's Nitori, you call out, “No really, you should leave.”
“...And we just got here. Are you going to kick us out so quickly?” The lieutenant stands across the doorway, with the private peeking out from behind his back.
“Ah, I'm sorry,” you apologize. “I thought you were somebody else. Please, come in.” You motion for them to enter the room. They bow uniformly before coming in.
“We've come here to check up on your well being. It's good to know that you're okay.” He doesn't focus his sights on anything, letting his eyes wander around the room. “And I'm also here to tell you that word is spreading about you. The basis that you're a human.” He looks dejected, shifting to a frown. “Our sergeant didn't even come because he learned about it. To be honest, I don't know what to feel. I saw you stand up for our captain! But on the other hand, you're not one of us–“
“...T-That's not true.” A timid, almost nonexistent voice mumbles from behind the lieutenant. She takes a step forward, clasping her hands together tightly. “He fought for Momiji, with no special abilities or anything.” She directs her declaration to you. “Despite being just a human, you stood up for what's right. I, I didn't have the guts to say anything, but you spoke out, to protect us, to protect our captain!”
“Private...” The lieutenant mutters to himself.
“I admire you for being so strong. After the fight, I was worried about what might have happened to you... No, that's not what I want to say.” On the verge of tears, the private exclaims, “Please, let me be yours!”
You start coughing violently, not expecting a sudden confession. The lieutenant only shakes his head. She earnestly stares at you with both fear and determination. But you won't lead her on. You don't want to see the pain and suffering again. Be direct. “I can't do it. It's impossible – I can't be your strength.”
She wipes her eyes, smiling beneath the tears. “I...I thought so. I think I knew that from the beginning. I just wanted to express my feelings, whether they're returned or not.” The private takes a deep breath. “I have to depend on everyone because I'm inexperienced. But I want to get strong someday, to not be so reliant. I...I should get going.” She dashes out the door, suddenly leaving the room. You look at the lieutenant.
“Leave her. She needs the alone time.” He rubs his temples and kneads his forehead. “I'm sorry about my subordinate. She's usually quiet, but she was firm in accompanying me. Really, all my subordinates are incompetent goofs.”
“I'm sorry I had to hurt her.”
“But I think she was right. Why should I have to doubt you? You're a comrade, doesn't matter if you're human or tengu.” He nods and turns to the entrance.
“Thanks for visiting.” A buzzing noise comes from the table. You decide to ignore it.
“No, it was a pleasure, friend. Be well.” He flicks his hand, disappearing through the entrance. Now, with nobody to break the peace, you examine the desk. The cellphone on it is lit up, signaling a new message. It reads, Have you heard from Momiji yet? -Hatate. Attempting to reply back, you fumble around the buttons, but you can't seem to form a “no” in the text box. You grumble, and slap it back on the desk.
You attempt to stand up, but the pains coax you back into the covers. The cellphone on the table vibrates again. As you reach out for it, you roll forward and fall off the bed, unraveling the covers. The pillow goes flying, and you slam your back on the floor. It wasn't a big drop, but you double over in pain nonetheless. As you squirm on the floor, a knocking on the wall is heard. “Door's open!” You yell out loudly.
“Hi...” Momiji steps out of the door, nibbling on her thumb. Walking over to you, her face contorts with worry. “Are you okay?” She asks while lifting you up with both hands.
“...Yeah, I'm fine. I just had an incident come up.” You shake your head in shame.
“No, I mean are you okay from the fight?” She puts a hand on your chest. Her eyes are gentle, like she were tending to your wounds. “How are you now?”
“I'm just really tired. But are you okay, Momiji?”
She stretches her arms nimbly. “I'm fine. I won't go down easily, but I did get a slash from the tip of the sword hilt. It's just a scar now.” She runs her fingers through your hair. “How bad is it? It's been a week, so I wonder how you're coping.”
“Well, if I slept for a week, that should be more than enough. My body still aches from sleeping that long.” You bluff to her. There's no need to make her worry any more. Your legs start to shake from standing so long, so you lean your hand on the table behind you. The cellphone touches the tip of your fingers as you recline on the desk. “Ah, right. Momiji, you wanted to tell me something?”
“Yes, it's really important. Can you prepare yourself for this conversation?” She seriously asks. There is no hint of ease in her voice.
You weren't sure how to prepare yourself, but you reassure Momiji. “Yeah, I can.”
“I had some time to think over what I wanted to do. I just decided that I had enough with fighting. It's painful, not in the sense that I can't handle the physical strain, but because I can't watch the people I care about get hurt. That is why I have decided to quit my rank as captain.”
“So Momiji, what are you going to do now?”
She averts her eyes, blushing furiously. “I love you. You know that?”
“Yes, I do.” You watch her mouth out a few words. “...?”
“Hey...” She closes her eyes and grabs your hand with both of hers, caressing it. “Let's get married. Let me be your wife.” Momiji delicately brushes against you. Her eyes emanate affection, desire, love, devotion. “Protect me forever...” She lovingly wraps her arms around your neck, unwavering in her decision.
“But I, uh...” you take five seconds to calm down and recollect your thoughts.
“I'm serious. I went and asked Aya for approval. She said yes, after much persistence. Was that worrying you?” She looks at you with watery eyes.
“Yes,” you admit. “it was. But what about the relationship between tengu and humans? People had assumed I was a tengu, though it's not so simple now. Everybody knows I'm not who I said I was.”
“You're my husband. I'll follow you, in acceptance or not. If I have to leave to be with you, then so be it. If you ask, I'll be ready to commit to you. I will love you like a wife no matter what answer you give me.” She declares boldly, determined to get an answer.
“Then I accept, Momiji.” you respond. “Please allow me to be your husband.”
She glows, reaching out for you. She pulls you close, beaming radiantly. “Thank you! Please...take good care of me!” Momiji composes herself, taking a deep breath before adopting a serious demeanor. “I want to give you something.” She takes a large slip of paper out, presenting it to you. “These are my fiance's vows. I used to keep it with me all the time, using it as a crutch. But it hurt me so much. I wouldn't let go; I was weak. But I want to let him know that it's finally time to move on. She looks up at the sky through the window. Momiji's face turns a red hue as she closes the curtains.
“W-Well, I don't want anybody to see.” she folds her arms in embarrassment. You feel your heart quicken, as you prepare yourself.
“....Can I say my vows to you?” Momiji begs, with insistent eyes awaiting your approval.
You mentally smack yourself in disgust for thinking it was something else. “Yeah, of course.”
She guides your hands to her waist. “I, Momiji Inubashiri, will be your sword and shield. I will protect you, as you have protected me. Let me be the one to bear your pain with you in times of need and hold you in times of happiness.” Momiji gently rocks you back and forth. “Let's stay like this for just a bit longer.” You oblige her, giving her this moment of bliss and respite. “...I'll see you later.” She says, releasing you. She wavers, if only for a moment, then nods to you and leaves.
The bedroom covers invite you over, but you resist that temptation and take a chair to the windows. You recline back on the chair, giving your back some well deserved rest. It's been visitor after visitor lately, relentless in their pursuit to express their worries. It has been really tiring... but at the same time, you can't help feel anxious. You have the people you care about supporting you, but you can't help but feel that you're still waiting.
For Aya. The moment you think that, you almost instinctively stand up and go look for her. But you say no to that notion and sit yourself back down. You trust Aya. Plus, it'll be terrible if all your painkillers wore out during your quest to search for her. It'll worry her to no end, you guarantee. So you wait.
...You remember the beginning of everything. Aya on a slow field day, and you coincidentally met her in the forest. It was clear that Aya was careless, or carefree. Either one. To put it simply, the two of you were really forward in the relationship. But was it really? After your first escapade, Aya was at her most vulnerable. Wanting affection, craving to be just a reporter, she left herself completely defenseless to you. Guilt stings your heart as you contemplate this.
Momiji had never gotten over her fiance's death. Momiji was just as vulnerable, exposing sides of her that you wouldn't have expected had you met her prior to Aya.
...What if Aya had never been pressured to be something other than a reporter, and Momiji had never been hurt? What would have happened? Can you really call it a happy ending? But you don't regret the past. It's up to Momiji or Aya whether they can overcome their own obstacles or not.
And yet, what you do regret is something – someone. Hatate. If you had just been clear with her, she wouldn't have gotten hurt. It's hard for you to receive her lingering feelings. And yet at times, you accept them.
Your musing is interrupted by a blunt declaration. “What a sour look on such a pleasant face~”
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You jump off the chair, almost knocking it down. But as you turn to the door, there's nobody there. A slight wind blows from the open window. The calm before the storm. The curtains suddenly flap violently, with a sharp gust tormenting the furniture. With a swish, a large gale topples you over, bringing back the sharp aches. You try to inhale sharply, but your breath is oddly short. A force is pressing down against your torso. As the weather calms down, you sneak a glance at the surroundings. But what pleasantly greets you is the lovely tengu you've been waiting for. “...Hi.” you manage to blurt while writhing in agony. “Ow, ow, that hurts. You're not helping, you know.”
“Ah, excuse me.” She shifts her weight by resting her legs on the floor, resulting with your body between her legs. Aya effortlessly pins you down, though you don't think she really means to. Your body accepts the punishment. She parts a disheveled strand of hair to the side. “Can you bear the pain for a bit?” She closes the gap between your body and hers, snuggling up to you. Aya says nothing, but purely smiles in your presence.
“Could I kiss you?” You ask, tempted by her close proximity.
“Please do.” She consents. Dipping down, Aya touches her lips to yours. You start by sitting up, grasping her arms and leaning against her body. She dips slightly, allowing you to take control. A feeling of exuberance washes over you, fading the world to a blurry gray. You lean in again with your mouth insisting on giving her more. Aya's tight grip around you loosens as she trembles lightly with your touch. A strong intensity overcomes your rationality, pressing against her body until Aya falls to the floor, with you on top. At that moment, you break off, your hands close to hers.
Your lovely crow tengu gasps for some air, a bright blush touching her ears. “...!” She abashedly pushes you off her, using her elbow to prop herself up from the floor. “I, just, and ah...” She grows quiet.
“...Are you mad?” You coax her into talking again.
“Of course I'm mad.” Aya finds the strength to sit up. She has a strange look – a compassionate glare.
“Everything. You know what I'm talking about. As an ex-reporter, I'm usually quick to the incident but I'll be damned if I weren't the fastest one at the scene. I heard from Hatate that Momiji and you were in huge danger, so I flew so fast that I thought the light couldn't catch up to me.” She crosses her legs in discomfort. “You looked like you were going to shatter to pieces after that fight.”
“Can you forgive me?”
“I'm still mad at you.” she declares in a mutter.
“What should I do to repay you?”
Aya ardently flashes you glances. “...Give me you.”
You smile knowingly. “I'm already yours.”
“Then one more time.” She vehemently states.
“I'll be yours, Aya.”
“Good.” She takes your hand. “I hope you still have some energy left.” Suddenly, the scenery changes from the medical room to a big blur. Colors fly by as Aya speeds through the air with reckless speed. The world suddenly comes to a halt as everything becomes distinguishable again. A medium sized bed adorns the space in front of you. Shaking off the dizziness and fatigue, you recognize this as a bedroom. More specifically, it's Aya's. She rushes to the door and locks it, quickly moving back to the window. She bolts the handle shut and covers the glass pane with drapes.
“The doors and windows are locked. We're good to go.” She nods adamantly in confidence.
“Afraid of the press, Miss Shameimaru?”
“Just precautions. And don't call me 'Miss Shameimaru' okay?” She absentmindedly loosens her flowing top, which immediately garners your attention. You missed Aya. Her shapely waist and plentiful breasts. “...You're kinda making me nervous when you stare that hard.”
“Aha, sorry.” You sport an eager grin. “I'm just excited.”
Aya hesitantly slips out of her robe, leaving her clad in only undergarments. “It feels different today,” she says in a low, apprehensive tone. She seems uneasy, shyly peering back and blushing.
“I'll take care of you.” Your loose garments freely slip off.
Aya has already slipped off her bra, in the process of removing her panties. “Somehow, that doesn't help me feel better.” Her bare skin is fully exposed, inviting you to caress her. You pull her to your side and cup her ample assets. They fit nicely into your hands, not too big or small. Her shoulders go lax as she sighs in relaxed pleasure. She leans in, motioning for a kiss. You place your lips gently to hers. Right now, you want to love your tender Aya.
Her eyes plead for more, desiring for your warmth. She doesn't object when you quietly push her onto the bed. Your right hand moves from her breast to her lower regions, playing with her crotch. Her legs quiver as you continue touching her, which fuels your impulse to make love to her. Her rough breathing speeds up as you insert your finger inside her. Aya's pussy is already noticeably wet, spurring your vigor to make her feel even better. But before you can do anything, she holds a hand to your face. “Listen, I'm really happy that you're enthusiastic in making me feel good, but we need two people to have sex.” Cross legged on the bed, Aya takes the initiative.
She strokes the underside of your growing erection, lithely pumping up and down. Then, she moves her head close and sucks the tip using her tongue. She inserts it into her mouth, slowly tasting your penis. You can feel Aya's hot breath as she quickens her pace. Her own hand moves towards her crotch, rubbing her clit as she sucks you off. You enjoy the pleasure and sight that she gives you. But Aya suddenly stops teasing you with her mouth and breathes out, covering her mouth – her voice of delight.
She falls back on the bed, panting. “S-Sorry...I just got too worked up.” Reaching up to your face, she pulls it down on her breasts. You feel the soft mounds against your cheeks. “Can I ask what type of boobs you like?”
“Yours.” You reply split-second.
Aya nuzzles against your neck. As an afterthought she adds, “...Cheater.”
She releases you, spreading her legs out to you. “Take me,” she whispers. Wet with anticipation, Aya's invitation allures you with her seduction. She places her self under you, ready to be eaten. So you'll eat.
You penetrate her easily, Aya already being wet from the foreplay. You gradually move your shaft deep inside. She shudders contently as your cock buries itself inside her. Each deliberate thrust changes her harsh breathing to an erotic moan. Lust drips from her cries and passion from her eyes. Your slow, coherent movements shift into quick, brief contact of flesh to flesh. Aya lacks the rationale to talk; neither do you. She convulses a second time as her pussy tightens around your erection – but you keep going. You feel your orgasm coming, so you almost violently speed up the intensity. She notices this, asking through sweet moans, “Are you coming soon!”
“Yes!” is all you can muster to yell out. Aya wraps her legs around your waist lovingly. You release into her, filling her insides up with your semen. Her third orgasm, she tightly grips the sheets of the bed as your cum slightly drips out.
She collapses on the bed, tongue slightly sticking out in sheer ecstasy. As Aya regains her breath, she shakes her head in dismay. “How embarrassing. I wanted to make you feel good too, but I got too excited.”
You hold her hand under the covers, chuckling. “This time was really different.”
She scoots closer to you, satisfied with the sensation of touch between you and her. “You know, about Momiji...”
“I take it that you have already talked to her?”
“Aha, yeah. I got surprised! First of all, I would never have expected a marriage proposal in the first place.”
Aya laughs in high spirits. “Yeah, I didn't either. But Momiji came running shortly after she recuperated fully, barging through the door saying, 'Please let me be the one to marry him!' to me. I nearly fell off of my chair! I hope you know that she is devoted to you. So I gave her my blessings and wished her luck. Yet I was a bit jealous...so here I am. I don't even know what to do right now. What should I even do?”
“Do what you believe in, Aya.” You naturally respond back. “Whatever happens, I'll be by your side no matter what.”
“Really?” She asks for confirmation.
“Yes, really.” You answer back absolutely.
“No backing out, okay?” She reassures herself with great vigor. “Now then, let's clean up! There is a public conference today in about two hours. I think you should come too. It'll be important.”
“I'll be there.” You wait for Aya to get out of the covers, but she doesn't even attempt to take a step out, or even turn to the direction of the door. “...So, we should clean up, huh? Well...”
“Yes, it's a terrible situation.” She sighs and rolls off the bed. Aya sluggishly walks out the room, disappearing from sight. The covers seem nice and soft, but you roll off to retrieve your clothes. It would do you good to clean yourself up. Your muscles feel a bit better from the “exercise” but you can tell that the painkillers are wearing off.
You had just finished washing up when you spot Aya peeking out the door. You manage to find new clothes, apart from Momiji's traditional garb. As you finish dressing, you notice that Aya is still there, watching. “Do you need something?”
“Yes.” She opens the door just a crack.
“Feel free to come in.” Aya perks up as soon as you invite her in. She reclines on the chair next to yours, sitting down next to it. She slightly raises her hand, looking unsure at it. Reaching for your arm, she shies away at the last second. She does it one more time, but you entwine your fingers with hers.
“I should have told you earlier, but it slipped my mind. We were preoccupied at the time.” She puts it modestly. “But you have to meet up with Hatate.”
“When should I go, and where?” you question her.
“It'd be best if you meet with her as soon as possible. For both your sake and mine.” She hints vaguely. What does she mean by that, you wonder. A knocking is heard at the door, so Aya flaps her wings in readiness. She hoists herself on the windowsill, swinging her legs idly. “Go answer.”
“Will you be leaving?” you ask her in skepticism.
“This is a personal issue between you and her. It'd be best if I weren't here~” She lightly kicks you out the bedroom. Going through the living room, you open the door.
“Ah.” Hatate blinks once, mouth agape. She shakes off her sudden silence. “Is Aya in there? I really need to talk to her.”
You lead her inside to the bedroom. “Well, she was.” The window is open with the wind gently fluttering the curtains. “And she's gone.”
Hatate touches the door handle like if it was a delicate flower. The door squeaks as she pushes it to a close, leaving just you and her in the room. “I was going to talk to Aya, but this might be my last chance.” She frowns in disbelief. “Sorry, Shameimaru, but I'm doing it anyway.” The younger crow tengu advances on you. “After the fight ended, I had something I desired right in front of me, but couldn't take it. It belonged to someone else. I had no idea what to do, so I consulted Momiji. She told me to speak to Aya, to which I thought was a crazy idea. But I did end up asking Aya, and do you know what she told me?” Hatate scoffs disdainfully. “She told me that I could take you away. I could have said nothing and whisk you away. But instead I told her that she was a dumbass. I told her that I wanted you to be mine, and that she shouldn't throw you away. Aya somewhat agreed to both notions, but I wasn't too sure.” Pausing, she laughs with a slight bitterness. “Three tengu girls aiming for the same guy. Must be nice being loved and desired. But I digress.” She looks up to you, maintaining eye contact. “I don't have to be your wife, but let me be yours. Accept me, and I'll accept you unconditionally.”
Momiji knows, and Aya definitely knows. In a way, you were sort of glad that it turned out this way. You don't want to see Hatate's pained face anymore. Yet, she doggedly persisted on claiming you. You breathe calmly. “Don't let me hurt you again.”
“Is that a yes?” Her eyes widen in anxiety.
“Yeah.” You reply back resolutely.
Hatate's knees wobble and shake, causing her to fall over. She lands safely in your arms, embracing you tightly. She hiccups a few times, blinking often.
“Are you alright?” You say worriedly.
“Yeah.” She smiles ironically, with tears cascading down her cheeks. She rubs her eyes. “Hey,” she whispers inaudibly. “do you love me?”
“Truthfully, I think love is too strong of a word.” You stroke her hair as she rests her head on your shoulder. “I don't think I love you right now, but I want to give it a chance.”
“There will be time for that to happen right?”
“Then...” she affectionately lays her eyes on you. “Can you give me a kiss to finalize this conversation?”
You reply by tilting her backwards, leaning in forward to peck at her lavish lips.
Hatate giggles softly, “It's a lot better when you willingly give it to me.” She lets go of your grasp, unsteadily balancing herself.
“I'm fine. I just need time to process everything that happened.” She winks cheerfully. “Now then, should we get going? The conference is probably going to start soon.”
“Oh?” You raise your eyebrow. “You heard about it too?”
“Please.” She sarcastically mentions, “Everybody in the whole village knows about it now.”
“It has been a long time since the word “execution” struck into our memories. So long has it that we may have repressed the thought and locked it safely away to the corner of our minds.” Aya voices to her people. She wears a veiled frown on her face. “And yet, we have come here to finally lick our wounds and move on.” Murmurs come from the crowd but quickly die down once Aya starts speaking again. “The very man who had mercilessly called for the execution is now clipped and will be locked in recluse. A nice cave, fitting for a man of his nature. Any complaints, sir?” She turns her head right, but the person in question is blocked by the huge mass of tengu. No answer. Aya wearily grins from her elevated podium. “You see, friends, it is this man that set everything up. Why did the other clan collapse? Why had all the blame been placed on one poor tengu? It was power that sparked this entire incident. But I digress. The dead can rest easy, now that the person who had directly caused all this trouble is now powerless and isolated.”The large gathering of tengu bow their heads in silence.
But a low voice growls from the distance, loud enough for everybody to hear. “And what about the human?” The loud outburst breaks the moment of quiet with the crowd chattering incoherently. The voice that spoke out is definitely the chancellor's, without a doubt.
“Is there a problem?” Aya inquires. She remains level-headed, but a sharpness in her eyes seem to pierce at her target.
“Why was a lowly human in the village, let alone meddling in tengu affairs?”
“You mean the human that virtually saved one of our own kind by facing against an impossible adversary?” Aya stares at the chancellor in disgust. “The rule that humans should have nothing to do with the tengu used to be a necessary precaution but that is the extent of the rule – a precaution. And an outdated one at that! It was when we were only a military race. We haven't had a war or battle in hundreds of years! But it is time to start changing. And any human who protects another with his own life deserves to be here, regardless of race or species.”
The pack of people murmurs in approval, nodding their heads. The chancellor speaks no word.
“And speaking of the human...” Aya singles you out in an instant, pointing to you in the middle of the crowd. “I was informed that he had renewed the Bunbunmaru News in my stead. Yet, not even one article was published during the whole time of his jurisdiction. This is unacceptable! You are fired.”
“Huh!?” You exclaim in shock, along with several others of the congregation.
“I will be taking back my rightful place in the Bunbunmaru News.” She boldly declares to the whole village. “I may or may not be a good a leader, but I have learned something from this ordeal. I have to do what is right. I am not Lord Shameimaru.” She halfheartedly smiles, bowing to the whole village. Not a word is spoken with even the most vocal of tengu silent. “I'm just the humble newspaper reporter, Aya Shameimaru. Thank you very much. And no, I will not be answering any questions.”
Dashing through the large mob of people, Aya rushes towards you, oblivious to the sudden ruckus. She clears a path for herself, going against the flow of the crowd. You sneak through the tengu, running to Aya. The two of you duck out of the mixture of people, she beckons to you. You grin ecstatically and take her hand.
The cool air permeates your house. Fall has finally come. You lean back on the plush couch, sinking into its comfort. The windows are open just enough to send in a crisp breeze. You would say it's chilly, but you are warm from the tengu nestled up right next to you. Aya, who is to your right, snores softly as she leans on your arm. Despite sleeping, she keeps a tight grip around your waist which effectively locks you in place. To the left of you is Momiji. Not yet asleep but closing her eyes, she rests her head on your shoulders, cozily snuggling up to you. Hatate merely reclines on your lap doing nothing in particular. She just wears a smug grin, idly relaxing on top of you.
Momiji sneakily pulls you aside, hoping to remove you from Aya and Hatate. It's impossible to fully remove Hatate, but she manages to slip Aya's arms off of your waist. “Mmh?” you drowsily mumble, shaken awake from the movement. Momiji's slender fingers stroke your face. The ring glimmers as it moves in the light, dancing.
“I wanted your attention all for myself.” She explains candidly.
“...Ah?” Aya, blinking her eyes a couple of times, reattaches herself to your waist. She whispers in your ear, “What happened?” You whisper back that Momiji needed some comforting. Aya nods sagely, running her fingers through your hair. She gently strokes your head. “That's fine. Take good care of your wife~” Hatate, seizing this opportunity, grabs and pulls you down to the floor. Normally Momiji and Aya would squabble over the fact that Hatate stole you away, but this time they say nothing. Aya claims your back, leaning against it while Momiji takes the other side. Nobody dares utter a word. You bask in the peacefulness, watching Hatate and Momiji fall asleep.
“Are you happy?” You say in a low voice to Aya. The two sleeping girls don't even stir. Aya doesn't say anything, so you wonder if she fell asleep. But she gingerly wraps her fingers around your hand.
“I wonder about that.” She does her best to hide her emotions, but you can practically feel an aura of elation glowing off of her. “And you? Are you happy here?”
You close your eyes, enjoying the warmth of Aya, Hatate, and Momiji. “I wouldn't be anywhere else.”