Waking up, in your experience, was usually pretty crap. The blurry vision, the sluggish body, the mind that moved at a speed most snails would laugh at... no, the actual process of waking up was pretty unpleasant all around. And that was before you considered all those little extras that some god had slapped on top specifically tailored for men, things such as morning wood, that gunky feeling in the back of the throat and of course the rough stubble that had grown across your chin overnight.
Running your fingers over your chin and cheeks, you make some incomprehensible noise and half slide, half fall, out of your bed. With a surge of energy you pull yourself up into something vaguely resembling a standing posture. Yawning you scratch at an itch on your chest and look around your room for your dressing gown... you vaguely recall dropping it on the floor last night when you came home...
“Back of the door.” You blink in surprise at the voice but, as you look over at the door to you room you find that its advise was indeed true. Grinning you grab your dressing gown and pull it on. Though you were wearing boxers and were technically decent, you knew well that your sister usually didn't take kindly to you wandering around mostly naked. Oh well, such was the price of not really being old enough to move out you supposed. “Ah, and good morning.”
Turning to face the voice you take in the sight of the girl busily digging through your bookshelf for a moment before giving her a cheerful wave. “G'morning... uh...”
“Tokiko.” She replies, not even looking up from your books.
“Oh. G'morning, Tokiko.” you reply, a slight nagging feeling in the back of your head being ignored in your sleep-addled state. She merely grunts in response.
Turning you head off to out the bathroom, making sure to first check that the coast was clear and that no-one was actively using the room. A bath right now would be overkill, but your household was lucky enough to also have a rather nice shower - one that was perfect to wake yourself up with in the morning.
As the cool water cascaded over your head and body you felt yourself moving quickly into an awake and alert state that...
That nagging feeling in the back of your brain, now freed from it's sleep-induced restraint, had just slammed into your conscious thoughts with a single vital thougt.
Why the hell was there a girl in your room!?
Moments later you burst into your own room, scaring the hell out of the girl within. “Who,” you began, “the hell are y-” The girl screamed before you could finish, a high pitched wail of a scream that pierced right through your brain and could probably be heard throughout the household. Why the hell was she screaming? She was the one invading your bedroom! If anything, you should be the one screaming, not her!
It was only the occasional drip, drip, drip of water hitting the floor that gave you the answer as to why she was screaming. You had just ran here straight from the shower and... oh.
“Pervert!” The girl screamed, as if to further clarify the little nugget of information you had just realized. Moments later a book hit you in the chest. Thankfully it was one of your few paperbacks but the injury from it's impact galvanized you into trying to pull the door shut to cover your indecent exposure. Not a moment too soon you thought as you heard the shot-like bang of a significantly heavier tome hitting it's wooden surface from the other side.
Well, this was a fine mess now wasn't it? Your clothes were all contained within your room, so if you wished to dress before re-confronting the intruder you would first have to gain entry... right in front of the intruder herself. No, you'd have to head back to the bathroom and grab your dressing gown first, then hope that the girl would actually let you in and not simply lock the door from within.
“Having a little trouble?” You stiffen in horror at the voice, one that was strong yet laced with amusement. Wincing hard at the horror you had now found yourself in, you turned to look at your sister. She was shorter than you, just, despite being older than you but as far as you were concerned she may as well have been a hundred feet tall right now. You, right now, were bare-ass naked in the middle of the hallway, having just been loudly screamed at by a girl you didn't know in your room. Frankly it didn't look good even before you considered what a persistent person your sister could be when it came to tormenting you. With luck she would just deliver some verbal barbs and leave - but you were certain that given your day so far luck was not a commodity you currently possessed.
Your sister frowned at you and crossed her arms over her ample chest. “I thought so,” She muttered, “I was certain you couldn't have done anything serious yet...” Glancing up she grins a predatory grin, “Well, whatever!” she exclaims, “Mom wants to speak to you about your little bit of 'fun' in there.” Glancing down she grins again, “Though I think you might want to get dressed first.” You winced, your hands shooting down to cover your groin as she simply laughed and stepped past.
Great, just great. Your mom knew about the girl in your room? Though you didn't have any idea how she knew of the girl, she was probably going to want to know how and why she was there. That was not a question you had even a vague idea of how to answer... no, it looked as if your bad luck was going to hit you again today already. Heading back to the bathroom you quickly retrieved and donned your dressing gown - after first properly drying yourself off of course.
Right. Now. Clothes. The way you saw it you really had three options available to you, maybe four if you thought about it some more. You knew there were clothes in your room so trying to convince the stranger to let you in and let you get dressed was one course of action. Yesterday was laundry day, so you were fairly certain there would at least be one set of wearable clothes that had been drying off overnight in the laundry room. Problem was the laundry room was just outside the kitchen, the most likely place to run into your mother... and right now you weren't sure if that was a good idea. As a last resort you could try your sister, perhaps see if you could convince her to fetch some clothes for you... or maybe even borrow her martial arts garb - it was unisex so it wouldn't be too bad to wear it if you had to. Of course you really didn't want to owe your sister anything and you knew this was just the sort of thing she'd hang over your head whenever she could.
VOTE: Plan of action for obtaining clothing.
[ ] Attempt Re-entry into own room.
[ ] Try to sneak down to the laundry room.
[ ] Bargain with your elder sister.
Eh, it's something. Something and something. with a side of something.
The laundry room seemed like your best bet at the moment. If you tried to go back to your room you were fairly sure the girl would just scream at you again and while one such yell may go relatively unnoticed you didn't think your mother was quite as air-headed as to let any more screaming go without attention. Your sister too was off limits, who knows what kind of crazy stuff she could have you do in order to pay off the 'favor' of being lent something to wear. The memory of the last time you owed her something still made you shudder - paint was not meant to go there! Even if it was during an art class!
No, the laundry room was the only way. Your mother would be in the kitchen, she always was at this time in the morning, but you were certain that with a bit of caution you could simply sneak past while her attention was elsewhere. Dippy as she was your mother wasn't exactly inattentive so you would have to be careful.
In the end it came down to the rice cooker beeping an alarm. As your mother moved to check on it you darted out from where you had hidden, past the kitchen door, and down the ground floor hallway into the laundry room at the far end. Your nose wrinkled at the slightly damp air and overpowering stench of detergents that filled the room. To one side, behind a sliding panel, was an airing cupboard which circulated warm dry air - a byproduct of your home's air conditioning system - that was perfect for drying clothes out when hanging them outside wasn't doable. Since it had rained most of yesterday the bulk of the laundry had ended up hung on racks in here and it took only a few moments to locate a viable pair of pants and a suitable shirt. A quick rummage through the laundry room's tumble-dryer netted you a new set of boxers and some plain socks to complete your outfit. The room wasn't quite spacious enough to get changed easily and you were trying to be extra careful so as not to knock anything over and alert your mother, so changing took more time than you liked.
Frankly you shouldn't have bothered.
The moment you stepped out of the laundry room you heard your mother call your name - evidently she had known you were there from the moment you came downstairs. Seriously, was she a ninja or something? The woman was two planks short of a fence and yet somehow still had senses that would put a trained hunter to shame.
“You called?” You ask, moving into the kitchen. Might as well face doom head on you supposed. Your mother stood there by the cooker, idly stirring a pot of what smelled like miso soup. She, unlike your sister, actually was taller than you by a good inch - it was unusual to find females that were taller than you even though you yourself weren't any kind of giant in height.
She looked every bit the traditional housewife, plain blouse, long dress, even a frilly apron over the top. God only knew where your sister got her tomboyish attitude from because it certainly wasn't inherited from your mother, she was quiet and demure at all times - though you often thought she was on some kind of permanent drug trip or something. “Now,” she said, turning away from the stove and giving you a sharp look. “I want you to explain one thing.” You winced at her tone and tried frantically to come up for some kind of explanation as to what that girl, Tokiko, was doing in your room.
“Why didn't you tell me you had a lover?” Your mother wailed, clasping her hands in front of her, “and such an exotic one too!” She pauses, then frowns slightly. “A little on the young side perhaps... But, ah, your father was an older man when I met him too...” She giggles, lost in her own little world for the moment.
You merely stand there in stunned silence as you parse what your mother has just said. Lover? Lover!? You didn't even have a girlfriend, much less an actual lover! Where the hell had your mother gotten the idea that... wait. There were only two people who could have told her something like this - one was your sister and the other was the girl, Tokiko, herself. Of the two it was pretty obvious which was the one to be most suspicious of, especially since she had evidently been directed specifically to you room!
“That poor girl,” You blink, tuning back in to your mothers dialogue as you realize she's actually talking sense again rather than mumbling about some time in her past. “Evicted by her cruel mother! Why, I have half a mind to go tell that woman what for myself!” The brunette woman that was your mother nodded rapidly, causing her long hair to go everywhere. You sighed as the woman squeaked and frantically patted it back into place. “That won't do at all though!” she moans, “It's fortunate that she has such a kind and considerate lover as my son! That she could come here without a worry in a time of need!” Your mother nods to herself. “It's decided! She can stay here as long as she likes!” You start at that.
“W-what!?” You protest, loudly and in great detail, but it seems to have no effect as your mother simply carries on with some great monologue of how wonderful it would be to have another daughter about the house. “She's not staying mom!” you butt in, only to be completely ignored. “She's a stranger! She's not my lover - or even my girlfriend!”
“Nonsense!” The crazy woman responds, “You don't have to hide it anymore, you have my full permission for her to stay in your room with you!” She giggles again, “Oh, I can't wait to see the grandkids!”
“There aren't going to be any....” You mutter, low enough for her not to hear over her own babbling. Honestly, whatever god saddled you with a mother this crazy must have been a bastard indeed. She was a nice enough mother, kind and caring, but you knew from experience that when she made her mind up about something it was impossible to change it. Hell, in her mind you were probably already married to the stranger girl in your room. “Screw it.” you murmur, turning and leaving your mother to talk to herself. You pause at the kitchen door and glance back at her miming the cradling of some imaginary grandchild and simply roll your eyes before leaving.
You were, it seemed, going to have to confront this 'Tokiko' on your own. Your mother was off in la la land, and your sister probably found the whole situation to be one big comedy play put on for her benefit. So, you quickly review the facts as you knew them. Tokiko was a stranger, whom you were certain you had never so much as seen before, that had come to your house... some time after you had fallen asleep you guessed, and had apparently fed some lie about being your 'secret lover' to your mother - who had fallen for it hook, line and sinker. Then she had seemingly stayed the night in your room.
That last bit seemed a little odd, if the girl were here to rob the place - why would she hang around like that? You supposed she could have been some kind of freeloader, but if that were so why did she come to your room? There was a spare down the hallway after all. Hell, why even claim to be your lover anyway? It was almost as if the girl had wanted to be in the same room as you. But that made even less sense! Why the hell would someone you'd never met before want to sleep in your room?
There was only, really, one way to find out.
VOTE: How to approach confronting Tokiko?
[ ] Coldly
[ ] Coolly
[ ] Warmly
[ ] Hotly
NOTE: Free voting is kind of allowed in this, but i will be picking based on how well a given vote either moves the story forwards or how well it intrests me to write.
In other words - votespam won't work.
Ultimately no matter what approach you used it wasn't really going to do anything about what your mother thought of the situation, nor would it likely do anything to stop your sister taking advantage either. When it came down to it the only factor left was the stranger herself and given that your mother had just informed you that she would be staying here with you... Well you figured it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to at least try to be warm about things, friendly and polite - at least that way she wouldn't have any reason to make matters worse for you.
Aside from maybe the whole thing of you walking in on her while naked - but that wasn't your fault goddammit! Taking a deep breath you calm yourself before heading to you room, where you knocked firmly on the door. “Are you still in there?” you ask after a short wait, “I would appreciate being let into my room again.”
“... okay.” You heard muffled footsteps on the other side of the door, then a gentle vibration as someone leant up against it from the other side. “A-are you d-... ah.... decent?” She was blushing hard as she asked that, you were certain, as the waver in her voice was pretty damning.
“I am.” you respond. Moments later there's a click-clack noise as the key on the other side turns. Taking another calming breath you reach out to, grab, and finally twist the doorknob before carefully pushing the door open - aware that the girl was probably still on the other side.
She wasn't. Instead she had seemingly retreated to your bed, probably the moment she unlocked the door, and was even now sitting on it, leaning against the wall with her knees pulled up to her chest. Had she been wearing a short skirt you probably would be given a straight view of her underwear but fortunately for her, and for you too you supposed, she was wearing a long dress. A strange dress at that, one that was far too frilly for your taste. The colors were nice though, the blue and black of it contrasted well with her pale skin and equally pale hair - it was almost a gothic lolita outfit, except that you got the vague impression that it wasn't her intention to have such a look. Her hair was a pale gray with occasional light blue-purple shadows. Exotic indeed. You wondered if it was dyed, you couldn't see any change in color near the roots - though whether that was an indication of natural hair or of a really well-done dye job, you couldn't tell.
You close scrutiny was obviously distressing the girl so you forced yourself to stop by instead turning your attention to fetching your office chair from where it sat at your desk. “So,” you began, nudging some books the girl had left on the floor out the way and pulling your chair closer. “”Who-”
“Don't.” The girl cut in, looking up from where she had buried her face against her knees. “I won't be troubling you long.”
“You're already troubling me.” You reply, giving her a flat stare. “My mom already thinks you're my lover, so if you just up and vanish I know she'll make my life hell over it.”
“Sorry.” Mumbled the girl, glancing away from you and towards your window. “We could be.” She added, still looking away.
You blink in surprise, “What?” you ask, sounding somewhat foolish to your ears. She hadn't just offered to be your lover had she? After a meeting of, what, all of five minutes at most? “You're not serious!” you exclaim after coming to the conclusion that yes, she had just offered herself up.
Her head turns slowly, dragging her gaze away from the window and onto you. “I don't mind.” She states, “It's a way to kill time until I'm gone.”
“You yelled at me for being naked, called me a pervert.” You counter, crossing your arms over your chest, “Seems suspicious for you to be offering sex now, doesn't it?”
The girl - Tokiko you finally recalled - shrugged. “You surprised me. That's all.” She looked down at her knees. “It didn't look... that bad I guess.” You could tell she was blushing, despite ducking behind her knees to hide it. “Never seen one before. Probably won't see any more either.”
Frowning you give her a slow stare. “What's that supposed to mean?” You ask, a slight knot of worry forming at the base of your stomach. “You're not going to die or something are you?” Despite being a stranger, and a con-artist to boot, you didn't particularly relish the idea of her dying - especially not if it was going to happen in your room! That could be a pain to explain to the police at best.
She laughed, once, twice, three times. It was hollow, fatalistic almost. “No,” she finally replied, “That's not it.” Then she looked up at you, “The offer is still open.” She stated, “Not that it means anything in the long run.”
RESPONSE: Accept the offer / Decline the offer.
TONE: Hotly / Warmly / Cooly / Coldly
The response determines what answer you give, the tone determines *how* you give that answer. Please do not be fooled into thinking that 'hotly' means 'good' or anything like that, hotly can also mean angrily, loudly, forcefully, emotionally, etc. Wheras coldly is tight-lipped, emotionless but also restrained and logical.
This is a loose voting on anons part as a sort of experiment. Also, write ins will not be acted upon unless asked for.
Hey, if people are just going to assume you're lovers, you may as well get some experience, right? At least you'll be able to keep your stories straight if people start asking either of you all those embarrassing intimate questions. Plus, maybe this way the two of you can get some emotional comfort out of this; make a real connection, care about eachother, however briefly it may last.
Now that the logical arguments are out there, I'd just like to say: super rare Tokiko H! Come on, man! When exactly is our next chance going to be, huh?
More like awkward, inexperienced sex between teenagers who have never done this before and are in a strange situation where everyone around them acts like they're together is liable to make it difficult for them to separate sex from emotion as adults would.
God damn, sex can be pretty emotional, especially for youngsters who have never done it before. Most people aren't in their situation either, where everyone is assuming they're an item. There's absolutely no reason to assume that this can't start off as a sex-based relationship and evolve into something more; in fact, that seems pretty likely as long as we're nice to her outside of the sex.
It's like you don't even want to think critically about this for more than two seconds.
What do you want? An example of sex leading to emotional investment? We have one right on this site, you know: it's called SHaG. That story where we hadn't even decided on a target, raped Momiji for fun, were killed for it, and after seeing her writhing about in the throes of passion realized that good god damn was she lovable. Anon collectively decided to pursue after that round of sex, and never looked back once.
>>19305 Fine, let's just both assume we're right about each other and stop clogging up the thread.
I suppose it was a little silly to promote a realistic view of things (because how many awkward, embarassing first sex sessions do you know of in real life that have ended up in a happy marriage?) in fanfiction - one of the most prominent forms of wish fulfillment.
You look away from the girl, glad that you usually don't blush very noticeably. It was one thing to have a girl con her way into your house and room, but it was quite another to have that girl then offer to have sex with you!
Though you could hardly claim that you didn't want to take her up on it...
No. However much you may have been tempted, you simply didn't know enough about this girl to do something like that with her out of the blue. “I don't think we should.” You say to her at last, still not looking directly at where she sat. “I don't even know who you are, or where you come from, or even why you decided to trick your way into my home.”
“Oh.” The girl replied, giving a little shrug. “It was raining.”
You blink. “What?”
“Yesterday, all day. Last night too.” She elaborates, “It was raining”
Come to think of it, it had been raining most of the day before - that's why there had been so many clothes drying in the laundry room instead of outside after all. What did that have to do with... oh.
“You really don't have anywhere to live, do you?” Tokiko merely nods slightly in response. “Ugh... fine. I guess you can stay here for a while.” You pause, “Why here anyway? Surely there are better places to go?” Seeing her merely shrug in response, you sigh. “I suppose it doesn't matter.” you say.
She gives you a look of surprise at that dismissal of the issue. “You really don't mind? I could be here to kill you for all you know.”
Now that was a scary prospect. Unlikely though, why would anyone want you dead after all? Still... “Are you?” you ask, causing her to jerk back and shake her head madly. “Didn't think so.” You smile, “See? Now we're starting to learn about each other.”
“There's no point.” Tokiko replies, “I don't have time left.”
“What's that supposed to mean?” She doesn't answer your question, instead just burying her head back against her knees. “Hey! Don't just ign-” You pause as a yell from below, your mother, catches your attention. She's calling for you, and for Tokiko too it seems - the chill that runs down your spine at that is pretty fierce. Pulling yourself to your feet you head to the door, pause, turn around, then hold a hand out in offer to your pretty intruder. “If we're supposed to be 'lovers',” you say, “we should at least try to act like we actually know each other, right?”
Moments later you feel a weight pulling against you as Tokiko uses your hand to pull herself upright. It feels warm. She feels so light! Her grip is firm. Her hand is so small! You shake your head to clear it, cursing your practically nonexistent experience with the opposite gender. She was just holding your hand for heaven's sake!
A pretty girl, who was now going to be staying with you, who had just offered you sex, was holding your hand. Nothing to freak out about there at all.
* * * * * *
As the two of you reached the bottom of the hall staircase, Tokiko's hand still in yours, you were met with the sight of both your mother and sister standing just outside the kitchen door. Your sister looked smug, while your mother had her usual oblivious smile plastered across her face. “Oh,” she began, “My, I hope I didn't interrupt you two lovebirds.” You give your mother a strange look. Was she being naively innocent with that statement, or was she implying that she thought you and Tokiko have been 'intimate' when she called? Behind her your sister smirked at you - likely thinking the same thing you were. Through your arm you felt Tokiko shuffle behind you slightly, possibly afraid now that someone in the house, namely you, had seen through her earlier and rather shaky lies.
“Thats... okay.” You reply, “Me and... Tokiko... were just... um... discussing things.” Your mother giggled at your use of the word 'discussing' while your sister just raised one eyebrow and graced both you and Tokiko with a level stare. “She's going to stay here, if that's alright?”
Your mother's hands clapped together in glee. “Of course!” she practically squealed before calming down slightly, “In fact, I was going to suggest that you take your cute little girlfriend out shopping!”
You stare at your mother. “Shopping?”
“If she's going to stay here,” Your sister explained, “She's going to need some things - a few changes of clothes for a start, some other essentials, that sort of stuff.”
“I hadn't thought of that,” You admit, feeling somewhat embarrassed at overlooking such an important detail. “How are we going to pay for all that th-” You cut yourself off as your mother all but shoves a wad of notes into your free hand.
“That should be enough!” She cheerful exclaims. “Now you look after her and don't do anything to upset her, okay? Then the both of you can get along and come home and get to work on making me some grandkids!” You wince at that last statement. It was bad enough to have Tokiko offer sex out of the blue, it was worse to hear that your own mother fully condoned, nay, expected you to be doing that sort of thing with with the silver-haired girl. As you tried to process that your mother practically threw herself forwards to wrap you in a hug, wailing something about her little boy being all grown up. “Of course,” you heard her add, “If you do anything to drive such a nice girl away, you can forget about coming home every again.”
Such a cheery tone for such a dire threat. Worse, you weren't entirely sure how serious it was... Your mother often made such threats - but this by far was the most serious one you'd ever heard directed at you. Would she really kick you out of the house? You winced as you realized that, given how batshit mental your mother could be at times, the answer was probably 'yes'.
Releasing you the crazy matriarch latched onto Tokiko, eliciting a squeak of horror from the girl. “Such a wonderful girl!” Your mother wailed, “Shacking up with my little boy!” She pulled away, holding Tokiko by the shoulders. “Hm. Staying here,” she began, her voice thoughtful, “would be almost like the two of you were married already!”
Had you been drinking you would have sprayed the far wall with the contents of your mouth at that declaration from your mother. Since you hadn't, you settled instead for whirling to face her properly and letting out an indignant yell of protest - which she naturally ignored.
“So, given that,” your mother continued, “I want you to call me 'mom'!”
Tokiko just stared at the crazy lady in a mix of terror and confusion. Frankly, you didn't blame her.
“Mom!” you yell, cutting in between the two. “You're scaring her!” Your mother recoiled, then looked so distressed that your yourself started to feel guilty for having upset her like that. “Look,” you say at last, giving a slight sigh, “We'll head out shopping, okay? I promise I'll make sure Tokiko is okay, we'll make a...” You voice catches for a moment, “a.... a date out of it. Lunch or a walk to the flower fields or something.”
Your mother looks up from her guilt trip, then sighs wistfully. “Ah,” she sighs, “So romantic, it reminds me of your father.” She giggled, then glanced over at Tokiko, “Oh, but I haven't even asked what I wanted to ask! What is it that's your favorite meal?”
You glance back at the girl, who looks puzzled for a moment - but an encouraging nod from you causes her to think, then speak. “I, um, I like grilled eels?” she suggested, her voice ever so quiet.
“Grilled eels for dinner it is then!” roared your mother, “I'll have to get preparing right away! First I'll have to go to the fishmonger, and then to the...”
You let her ramble on, edging towards the front door all the while. One there you fumbled behind you, grabbed the handle, then turned and pulled the door open. “We're going, mom!” you call, before pulling Tokiko outside and quickly pulling the door shut behind you. “Sorry about that,” you mumble to her, “My mother is a bit...” you grasp for a word, “eccentric?”
“She seemed nice.” Tokiko admitted at last, “I'm sorry.” This last part was added as she looked down at her feet.
“Sorry?” You ask, “What for this time?”
“For putting her to all the trouble of making food for me, and for giving money to spend on me.” The girl responds, “When I may not even be around by tonight.”
You let the statement lie for a while as you lead your so-called 'lover' down the street. “Do you want to eat grilled eels?” you ask at last, lacking anything better to say.
The girl is silent, and you feel her grip on your hand tighten somewhat. It's cute, in a sort of submissive kind of way. “Yes.” She answers shortly, “I want to...” There's a slight catch in her voice, one you would have missed if you hadn't been focusing so hard on what she was telling you.
“You don't have a choice in when you go, do you?” You question, now seriously wondering exactly why she was so convinced she wouldn't be around long. “Are you being chased or something?” you frown, “You're not in trouble with the law are you?”
“Not that I know,” Tokiko responded.
“The Yakuza? Mafia? Triads?” Admittedly that was unlikely, but hey, it didn't hurt to ask.
Tokiko merely stared at you in confusion. “The who?”
“Guess not,” you muttered, “Are you even able to tell me why you might leave anytime?”
The smaller girl remains silent for quite a while, long enough that the two of you manage to leave the little inhabited spot you lived in behind before she answers. “I don't know.” She says at last, “I could... but I don't think I should.” She looks up at the sky for several long seconds, obviously trying to come to a decision. “I think... it's better if you don't know.” Then she starts and quickly looks back down at you. “It's nothing bad though.”
Much of the rest of the walk remains silent as you both make your way past fields and across the occasional level crossing. The place where you lived was practically a village in it's own right, just far enough out of the city to not really be considered part of it, but also not so far as to be thought of as the middle of the countryside. There were fields everywhere, mostly dedicated to the growing of sunflowers that would eventually be harvested to produce oil from. Other fields contained other flowers and herbs, lavenders, patchouli, various other fragrant plants you couldn't name. Once the sunflower season was over, these two would be harvested, crushed, and used to produce the various fragrant oils that would be used in perfumes as well as incense sticks and heaven only knew what else.
“It's pretty,” you all but jumped at the sound of Tokiko's voice. She'd been so quiet that you'd almost forgotten she was even there. Glancing around you look at the nearby sunflower field and shrug.
“I guess.” You say, “I've been living here so long I don't really think about it that way though.” Looking ahead, and squinting somewhat, you can just make out the shapes of buildings in the distance. “Not far now,” you say, “Then we can stop and get something to eat before looking for clothes.” Tokiko looks at you, then smiles slightly and nods.
“Can... can I have cake?” She asks, her voice timid.
“Sure,” you respond, “Why not?”
* * * * * *
It feels awkward, sitting here in this little open air cafe. Opposite you sits Tokiko, happily making her way through her second slice of some kind of chocolate cake.
Odd, though, was the fact that she seemingly didn't have a clue as to what chocolate was. It was only after she had tried a bite of your own chocolate cake that she had decided to order some for herself. That, you thought, was strange - who on earth could possibly not know what chocolate was?
Still... she seemed happy. Happier than you'd seen her so far at least, and she seemed so very grateful over the fact that she was being treated. Did that mean she had never been treated nicely like this before? That was a depressing thought, and one that you were interested in finding out about - but you honestly didn't want to spoil what little cheer she had right now with such an interrogation. Sipping your drink, just a simple milkshake, you waited patiently for her to finish as you pondered what sort of clothing you should be getting her - aside from all those 'essentials' that you didn't want to think too hard about.
STYLE: Smart, Gothic, Casual, Punk
LOOK: Hot, Warm, Cool, Cold
WRITE-IN: Other broad styles of dress. Nothing too specific please.
PS: Does board code have a proper line break or something similar?
>>19382 Anon's mom was originally going to be based on Kasumi from Ranma 1/2, with her naive obliviousness and total acceptance of anything and everything no matter how weird.
It's just that as i wrote her she veered off into the 'batshit crazy' direction...
Looking over Tokiko's current clothes, the blue and black dress, the frills, the cloak she seemed to be wearing on her back, her hair ornament... Yes. You were fairly sure she was the kind of person who liked that 'gothic lolita' style of fashion. Though you had to admit that you couldn't see her being dressed very... what was a good word? Revealing? Slutty? Tokiko seemed a pretty reserved girl you thought, something like that would probably make her embarrassed, mad or likely both.
Still, you had an idea of where to look for suitable clothes now. As Tokiko neared the end of her cake you finished up your drink and called a waitress over to pay. “You done?” you ask Tokiko as the waitress walks off with your money. The girl bobs her head as you spot that her plate has been emptied. “Great!” you smile. “Now lets see about getting you some clothes.”
* * * * * * * *
As Tokiko twirled around, giving you a good look at her new outfit, you were forced to take a calming breath. You may not know much about fashion, but you sure as hell did know what you liked to see. Dark thigh-high socks and a mid-length skirt began this particular outfit. Tokiko's new look continued with a white short-sleeved and rather frilly blouse with puffed-up shoulders. Over this she then wore a decorated waistcoat that, once again, was also covered in frills. For some reason though, she seemed determined to keep hold of both her hair ornament and her cloak - refusing to take them off, even to the point at which you had heard her complaining about how difficult her new clothes were to put on. Weird that. It would have been far easier to take it off, put on her new clothes, then replace it afterwards.
Her outfit looked good. Definitely sexier than what she had on before and, given the blush she seemed to hold, she knew it as well as you did. This wasn't the only outfit the two of you bought for her of course, but most of them followed a similar sort of theme - sexy, in that gothic way, without being too obvious or fetishistic about it. A few moments thought led to you also buying a set of something more casual along with something smarter. Did Tokiko go to school? If so, which school? On the off chance that she was around long enough to require transferring to your school - an event you were sure your mother and sister could between themselves arrange on short notice - there was no way Tokiko could attend in her new gothic garb. Or even in her old, somewhat frumpier, gothic garb for that matter.
Was Tokiko even going to be around that long?
Looking at the smiling girl, in her new clothes, you kind of hoped she would be.
* * * * * * * *
You almost laughed at the sight of Tokiko's face pressed so firmly against the glass window. It was only a little bookstore, but your companion seemed to be so horrifically entranced by it and was even now flitting from window to window to look at all the books on display.
“You like books?” You ask, feeling a little silly for asking when the answer was so painfully obvious. When she doesn't respond you try a different approach. “What kind of books do you like?”
That gets a response, the silver-haired girl twisting her head around to look at you over her shoulder. “All of them.” She replies, “But I don't have many...” You see her wince slightly. “There's some... people... who keep stealing them from me.” Her face scrunches up in annoyance and she looks away. “Bullies.” she mutters, barely loud enough for you to hear.
So Tokiko got bullied a lot did she? That explained something about her at least, such as why she seemed to be so pessimistic. You had the feeling that this was only part of the answer however, and that there was still more you needed to try coaxing out of her before you knew enough about what was going on inside her head.
“Here,” You said, holding out a few notes. Tokiko turned, stared at them for a few seconds, then looked up at you in confusion. “For a book,” you state. “Or books maybe, I don't know. As many as you can buy with this much if you want.”
The girl stares at you. Partially in confusion, partially in disbelief.
“Really?” She finally asks, her voice ever so tiny. “You really mean that?”
You nod. She smiles.
You smile too.
* * * * * * * *
You'd forgotten how much shopping tired you out. Unfortunately, you knew, the worst was yet to come as the walk back would be slow at best, laden as both you and Tokiko were with bags of shopping.
“So,” you begin eventually, “We were going to, um,” you flounder, “Um, well, we were going to... you know...” a date you were going to say before you stopped. Now you thought about it, hadn't the both of your already been on a date? Drinks and sweets at a cafe as well as shopping for things which made the both of you happy - admittedly in different ways, but happy nonetheless. About all that was missing was a movie or a romantic walk really.
“Know what?” Your make-believe lover looks at you curiously. Despite her earlier, and continued, pessimism she had been all but floating through the air since buying a small stack of books for herself. Crime, horror, romance, fiction and factual - it didn't seem to matter at all to her what she bought. If it caught her eye and was within her budget, she grabbed it. It was kind of cute the way she had been bouncing here and there and everywhere in her search.
“Actually... never mind.” Looking out down the way, you make a decision. “Want to see the sunflowers up close?” Gesturing off to one side you explain, “There's a little path that cuts along the edge of the field. It'll make the trip a little longer but... it should be worth it if you want to look.”
Tokiko, moving in front and turning to face you, shakes her head, “No, it would be nice but we're carry-” she pauses. Her eyes seem to widen. “A-actually, I would like that!” she exclaims, her words rushed. Had something spooked her? Looking over your shoulder you see...
Not waiting for you to say a word, Tokiko uses her free hand to grab you by the arm and all but drag you in the direction you had indicated earlier. She was afraid. She had seen something, or maybe someone. Who or what you didn't know, but if Tokiko wanted to run...
You reached the path in record time despite being weighed down by shopping, Tokiko barely a step or two ahead of you. The path, mostly mud, was still slippery from the previous night's rain but the two of you still hit it at speed - relying on sheer momentum to stop you both from going head over heels.
“Second incantation!” Came a cry, female, from somewhere behind you. Then the voice yelled something else... something that seemed physically hurt your brain by hearing it.
Moments later the path in front of both you and Tokiko vanished in a wall of mud as something blew a series of holes in the soft floor. Your partner squealed in panic as she was showered in dirt, the impacts being almost right on top of her. Had she come to a stop perhaps a foot further... those impacts would have been upon her body instead of the dirt path. Immediately your eyes tracked upwards, some kind of movement in the air having caught your attention. Sitting - no, standing - on the branch of a nearby tree was a girl. Blonde haired, and dressed more white than was sensible, the girl stood with one arm against the trunk of the tree, and her other pointed at Tokiko.
“Found you~” she chirped, her voice like chimes in the wind. Then she gasped. “Lucky!” she squealed, “I found a weakling first!”
“Lily.” Tokiko mumbled. “I get to lose to Lily of all people!”
“Lose?” You ask her, not understanding what was going on. Then you glance back up at the blonde girl. “Lily?”
The girl stared at you both, then giggled. “He's not a partner?” She asked, then grinned, “He's not a partner!” she called out to someone behind you. Turning you caught sight of a plain-looking young woman. There was little unusual about her... except for the small leather binder she held that was chained to her left wrist with a chain that looked far too heavy to be so easily held up by anyone, much less a young woman.
“Ah.” The woman muttered, “Easy win then.” With her right hand she pointed. “...” you winced. There was that... word? The one that made you wince in pain from hearing it. Not that you could even tell what she said, only that it seemed to be directed at you and Tokiko. Just like it had been before...
You move, grabbing Tokiko and yanking her close to you as the a line of light exploded from the blonde girl's hand, ripping across where she had been standing a moment ago.
We don't know what's going on here, or how something's happening. But it seems there's some kind of game that Tokiko's dragged in. Might she been hoping to use us as a partner before her pessimism kicked in?
Lily has never been the type for rational conversation, communication for her coming naturally through danmaku. Furthermore, these two clearly have an agenda, and fully intend to hurt Tokiko. Nothing we say at this point will be helpful, because we know nothing of the situation, and every second we spend lingering is more time for them to harm us.
The best course of action is to keep a level head and get Tokiko out of here. We can talk to her later about what's going on and get a clearer picture. We'll know how to help when the time comes, but the time isn't now.
“What the hell is this!?” you yell, shielding your face from the latest cloud of mud and dirt kicked up into the air. The blond girl, called Lily according to Tokiko, was taking pot shots at the silver haired girl - and you, admittedly, but it was pretty obvious her focus was on Tokiko. You were merely the collateral damage in this encounter.
Once more Lily blasted away, her attack prefaced by that ungodly word that other girl was yelling out. Dodging was hard enough, dodging with a head-splitting pain was even worse. You were thankful that Lily seemed to have a pretty crappy aim, preferring to spray and pray rather than take the time to make sure her shots would hit.
Could Tokiko fight back?
It didn't seem that way or she would have done so already. Now you thought about it, didn't this explain her depressive attitude? If she was in some kind of... whatever this was... with no way to defend herself? Come to that, how the hell was Lily even attacking anyway? All you could tell was that the projectiles and beams she was firing came directly from her hands - neither leaving any kind of evidence behind aside from the damage they caused. Some kind of energy weapon maybe? Except that wouldn't fit with the other girl yelling stuff before each attack... If it wasn't conventional weaponry, and it wasn't some kind of super science... could this be, maybe, magic? Or some kind of psychic ability?
It was far-fetched, but it was the only explanation you had right now so you figured you had better run with it. The question now, then, became why Lily and the stranger were attacking Tokiko like this.
Wait. Shit. Was this some kind of death match?
No... No, hadn't Tokiko specifically said she wasn't going to die?
You grimaced as a stray bullet barely grazed your arm, leaving the cloth of your shirt smoking slightly where it had been clipped.
Fuck this. Thinking later, getting the hell out of dodge first. Admittedly that wouldn't be easy unless you could first distract Lily somehow... You grinned. A plan had just come to mind, it was sneaky and underhanded and, all in all, would do the job perfectly. While Tokiko madly dodged around, you slipped backwards - into the rows of sunflowers that filled the field you were fighting next to. It was slim cover at best, but it was more than enough for you to make your way closer to the girl supporting Lily's attacks. It probably helped that the two of them were more concerned with Tokiko than yourself anyway.
Working quickly you positioned yourself as near to the girl as you could without being seen then, as she was about to read out once more, you moved - launching yourself forwards and grabbing at one of her legs. A quick tug and she was falling backwards, landing in the soft mud with a wet splat. You, however, were already half-way back to Tokiko, passing Tokiko, grabbing Tokiko... and bodily hauling her into the sunflowers. You were vaguely aware of Lily giving a squeal of panic and beginning to clamber down the tree to check on her partner.
Just as planned.
Taking down the girl prevented Lily from shooting the hell out of you and Tokiko as you escaped by hurtling through the sunflower field at top speed. This wasn't some mad hotblooded rush though, every so often you changed direction so as to avoid simply moving in a straight line away. You were relying on you knowledge of the local area to get away - these flower fields were on a hill, so had been at some point in the past stepped in order to make several smaller flat fields. Some time, long ago, one of the farmers had the bright idea of building some little tool storage bunkers into the steps themselves. They were small but if you could just find one you were certain that you could at least hide Tokiko inside while you drew Lily and her friend away somehow.
It wasn't much of a plan, but it was all you had - but only if you could find one of those st-
Your foot reached out and met nothing but air.
When you finally stopped tumbling, having had your short fall conveniently broken by the ground all you could manage was a pained groan - one matched by Tokiko, who had been in your arms the entire time.
“Tokiko?” You groan, trying to shift around - you'd taken the brunt of the fall it seemed.
“Ugh?” she groaned back. Though she hadn't taken the fall as badly as you she had been the one who had taken more abuse from Lily earlier. She probably felt as bad as, if not worse than you did.
“You dead?” You ask, giving a wheezing chuckle as you did so.
“Yeah,” she replied, “I think so.”
“You think we're safe?” It was a worthwhile question given she was the only one of the two of you who knew what was going on.
“No...” She responded sadly, “She'll find us, and she'll break me.”
“Break?” That didn't sound good. It sounded positively lethal in fact. “I think... maybe you should start explaining some things.” Tokiko opens her mouth, about to start talking, but you wave her down first. “After we get under cover.”
“Ara?” You stiffen at the voice. Shit. Shit, shit, shit! “Is it hide and seek?” You look up in horror to where Lily was standing atop the short embankment you had fallen off moments ago. She seems to be looking out, scanning the flower fields. You're close enough to the step that you're out of her peripheral vision for now... but if she looked down even for a moment... Clapping your hand over Tokiko's mouth you hold you breath, praying to whatever gods might be listening that the girl doesn't look down.
You're tense. Tenser than you'd ever felt before.
When the girl turns away, yelling something to her partner, you resist the urge to let loose your breath just yet. Instead you count down in your head as she walks away, then finally give out when you're sure she's too far to hear. “That was close,” you hiss, releasing Tokiko in the process. “Too close... but these flowers are too short to hide in,” you add, gesturing to the field as you stand up. “So she must think we headed back into the sunflowers - we can get away while they're searching that field I think.”
“I... no we can't.” You frown at Tokiko's words, “W-we have to go back!” You frown even more at the hitch in her voice.
“What?” You ask, turning on her, “Why?”
“The clothes! The books!” She all but wails back at you. “We left them behind when we ran!”
You blink. She's right. The bags of shopping you'd been carrying back had been left back at the pathway - though whether they were still in one piece was another matter, what with the chaos of earlier. “We can leave them,” you state, “Getting you away from that psycho is more important than any... uh...” You trail off as you notice the tears trailing down Tokiko's face. “... I mean... um...”
“Y-you bought them for me!” She sniffs, “A-and the books! No-one's ever given me anything so nice before! And m...” She chokes up, “m... your mother paid for them!”
CHOICE - Tell her that you will:
Leave shopping and Escape,
Fetch shopping with her,
Fetch shopping alone.
Technically i'm disregarding the 'Get her to run home' bit on account of not accepting write-in options, but frankly telling her to do that is so damn reasonable that it may happen anyway. Just don't be angry if it doesn't, okay? We'll see how it plays out as I write it.
>>19569 ...Suddenly, I empathize with --and for the first time, truly understand-- Shirou's idiotic lack of self-preservation and stubborn refusal to accept that he was playing way the fuck out of his league, in Fate/stay night.
“I'll get them back.” You state firmly, causing Tokiko to fall silent. “I'll get them back,” you repeat, “while you run back home. They seem to be gunning for you, so if I go I think they may leave me alone.”
“Home?” Tokiko murmurs, looking at you with wide eyes. Not that you noticed given that you were currently looking back up the embankment.
“Yeah,” You're distracted, not really paying attention to the girl in front of you. “Home, tell mom that I'll be a little while because I'm carrying the shopping, or something.”
“... home...” she murmurs again, causing you to look down at her with a glare and point towards the road.
“Go!” you yell, making her squeak in fear, spin, and start scampering away at speed. You felt a little guilty for yelling at her like that... but you quashed the feeling, you could apologize later but for now there was work to do.
It took a minute or two to scrabble up onto the step of the sunflower field, though the embankment was taller than you were it was fairly solid and had a few good spots to hold onto as you climbed up. Once there it took you a few further moments to get your bearings. Lets see... you could hear the occasional car coming from that direction... and over there was the old sycamore that you used to picnic under when you were younger... No, lets see. You were maybe a third of the way down the mud path, which would mean you should be...
You set off into the sunflowers. Though it wasn't a big field it was fairly easy to get lost as, once inside, if was nearly impossible to see any real landmarks unless you were near the edges. Maybe if you were a few inches taller... but no, being taller would probably have made you easier to spot and you weren't exactly thrilled about the idea of being shot at.
* * * * * * * *
That had certainly gone well, now hadn't it?
You swore to yourself as the boot pressed harder against your back. How had you ended up like this again? Oh. Yes. That was right, you had ended up like this by fucking up beyond all reasonable doubt. It should have been obvious that it was a trap!
You had, a few minutes ago, made your way to the mud path where your abandoned shopping lay. You had all but rejoiced at it being all in one place - though now you realized that it would have been impossible for the bags to be so conveniently piled in one place unless someone else had moved them there. Had you perhaps kept a cooler head about you then maybe you would have seen the trap for what it was - but no. You had appeased yourself with a quick look around and a modicum of caution when approaching the bags.
That was something you supposed. Had you just rushed out all headstrong and hotblooded then Lily's first shot probably would have taken your head off. Being awake and in pain was, you hoped, preferable to being unconscious or worse. As it was you had felt a twinge in the back of your mind - the girl's command probably - and had thrown yourself to the floor as a barrage passed through where you had been. Of course you'd then found yourself being stomped on by Lily's apparent partner, and then by Lily herself, but that still likely hurt less than being shot would have.
“Where is she?” The girl demanded.
“Yeah! Where?” echoed Lily.
You groaned, then winced as the girl gave you a light kick to the ribs. “Not telling.” you get out through grinding teeth. “Not telling you even more.”
“Don't be like that,” The girl coos, giving you another kick. “I'm sure that brat has caused you all sorts of trouble, no? Just showing up, freeloading off you, and not even giving you a thing in return!” You can practically hear her smirk form. “Not like my Lily here, she's paying for her stay and my help with something good.”
“And when I win,” Lily yells, “I'll tell everyone what to do! And it'll be spring forever and ever and ever!”
“Eh,” The girl snorts, “Whatever floats your boat I guess. I help you win and we both get what we want, right?” She kicks you a third time. You weren't one to normally hit girls, but you were seriously considering changing your stance on that issue if you managed to get free. “He's not the brat's partner though, so it's not like we can just wreck her grimoire to get rid of her.”
“So how do we find her again?” Lily asks, sounding like a confused child. “If he's not telling?”
The girl falls silent for several long moments. “Mmm... I guess we just hold him hostage. They might not be partners, but she seemed to be friendly with him, right? So maybe she'll come back to see if he's okay.”
“And then we get her?” You hear Lily clap her hands, “That's great! You're real smart Meiko!”
“Yeah,” you mutter around a face full of dirt, “'s good thing I'm smarter an' told Tokiko to run home then, isn't it?” You grin, “Not like you two can keep me here forever after all.”
“Uh, yes we can.” The girl states, “'s not like we have anything else to do until that girl gets kicked out the game.”
“Yeah!” Lily chimes in, “First we'll beat her, and then we'll be-” Lily's voice cut off into a scream as something, something blue and black, smashed into her side at speed. “Uwaaaaaaah!”
She and her attacker hit the ground hard, tumbling along like a white black and blue ball of screaming and yelling. “Let him go! Let him go! Let him go!” You stared in surprise as the two girls rolled into view. Then you grinned, realizing that the girl above was just as distracted as you had been by the spectacle - distracted enough for you to suddenly roll, grab her leg, and pull her to the floor. She squealed in surprise as you used the moment to get to your feet just as Tokiko broke off from her own attack, one of her cheeks bright red from a flailing fist of Lily's.
“You shouldn't have come back.” You state to Tokiko as you eye up your fallen opponents.
“I couldn't leave,” she replies, “I... I couldn't leave you behind, not after what you've done...” She sniffles slightly, “You bought me clothes, and books, and your mother let me in from the rain and she was so nice to me and she promised to make my favorite food just because it's my favorite and I don't know anyone who's ever been so nice to me as you have and... and...” She trails off, her entire face red now, “I want to eat dinner at home!” She yells, “With you and m-mom and your sister! I want to spend more time with you and read more books and see more places and...” She looks up at you, her face a practical waterfall of tears, “I don't want to leave!”
You look up at the sky.
It's blue, with maybe a hint of cloud.
Your life had been rather empty before, hadn't it? Just coasting along from day to day with no real purpose.
You look down at the ground.
It's brown, churned and muddy.
Hadn't today been fun, really? Didn't you feel now that you were going somewhere in your life? Didn't you feel that.... maybe...
You make up your mind.
“I don't want you to leave either.” You say at last, looking up and showing Tokiko a shy smile. “Because... you're my girlfriend, right?”
She looks at you, her eyes wide, then she nods once - sending her tears flying everywhere. “Yes!”
Something, you're not sure what exactly, made you reach out to the girl. Almost immediately she grabbed your hand in hers. “Please,” she murmurs, “Will you stay with me?” You nod as she pulls your hand down and presses your fingertips against her chest. “Then,” she chants gently, “I want you as my partner, no-one else but you. In your hands I place everything I am and everything I can be...” Your arm tingles as a cold feeling seems to crawl its way up from your fingers. Dimly you realize it's a chain, each link heavy and solid, yet it feels as light and as pliable as silk. The restraint seems to emerge from the center of Tokiko's chest, just above the swell of her small breasts, where it reaches out to wrap around your hand and slither along your arm like a snake of iron. Suddenly it stops and wraps itself around you a few times the front end, the 'head' of the chain rises up - your heart sinks slightly as you guess what will happen next.
You hiss as the chain strikes, biting into your arm with.... you gasp. Rather than the pain you had expected, instead there was a warm feeling of... something. You couldn't place it but... if you had to guess you might have called it 'completion'.
Then, with a gasp from Tokiko this time, your arm all but ripped itself away from the smaller girl - completely out of your control - and with it, attached to the other end of the chain around your arm was a binder. Similar to the one Lily's partner had, only where hers was brown yours was a pale blue-grey, similar in color to Tokiko's hair.
“Shit!” You blinked, looking up from Tokiko and the binder that had settled into your hand. The other girl and Lily had both regained their footing. You frowned, either they had taken an awful long time to get up, or the past few moments had been a lot shorter than they had felt. You suspected it was the latter. “Lily!” pushing your thoughts aside you set yourself for the inevitable attack. “Seravein!”
Your eyes widened. You had heard! That command of the girl's, you had heard it! Instead of the spitting headache and godawful silence from before you had actually heard it!
Lily opened fire with her uzi-like stream of round energy balls. As they drew closer you felt your binder open. You glanced down at it, spotting two small cards covered in writing nestled amongst a number of blank ones. It hurts your eyes to stare at the cards but... there's a feeling that you'll be able to read them when you need to.
Your opponent wasn't the only one capable of fighting now.
Dodge - avoid the enemies attack, then counter!
Incant - First word : unknown effect
Incant - Second word : unknown effect
Charge - Move forward, take the hit, then hit back!
As if by some unspoken command both you and Tokiko split apart, you going right and her going left as Lily's attack harmlessly passes between you both. Your heart feels like it's just jumped up into your throat, you can barely breath over the lump that seems to be there. But you do, forcing the air into your lungs as you do your best remain calm despite the conflicting morass of feelings inside you.
Fear was a big part of them. Not for yourself, but for Tokiko. She was the target of your two aggressors after all and, if what you had heard was as you suspected, she had just gained a major new weakness in the form of the binder in your hand. What had they called it? A 'grimoire'? You were vaguely aware that the term had something to do with fantasy and... wasn't it a word for a spellbook or something? That did fit with how the girl had been using it to make Lily fight - was the book used to control the book-owners partner? That didn't seem quite right, why would anyone give such a power to someone else?
“Paravarti!” The girl yelled, this time causing Lily to lash out with the beam you had seen before. Your eyes narrowed as you processed this, then widened as you realized she was aiming at you rather than Tokiko. Pulling the binder to your chest you stepped and twisted on one foot in an avoidance maneuver you recalled your sister demonstrating from her martial arts classes. It wasn't exactly elegant, but the beam did miss - by a mile. Hell, it probably would have missed even if you had stayed still... though you honestly believed it had been a lot closer than you had thought it was.
Screw this, if your grimoire was anything like the one she had, then perhaps the words inside were the same as hers. Her words made Lily use seemingly supernatural attacks, would your words make Tokiko do the same?
“Tokiko!” You yell, then glance down at your now open book - the words on the first card suddenly snapping into focus as your gaze hits them. You look up, Lily spins in horror, Tokiko practically on top of her.
* * * * * * * *
You watched, in a sort of horrified curiosity, at Lily's unmoving form. She lay there, her chest... red was perhaps the only way to describe it. Just a mass of blood and cloth and flesh and bone and-
You threw up.
Tokiko, nearby, looked about ready to do the same as she too stared at Lily's corpse. She was pale and shaking - little wonder, she had been at point blank range when her shotgun-like attack had ripped into the front of the white-clad girl. Blood was spattered across her face, her eyes were wide and filled with horror.
“Wh-what?” She stammered, “Th- Yo- I... You're n-not meant to die!”
You were about to go towards her, to hug her, to say something, to do anything to snap her out of the state of shock she was in. But something stopped you, caused you to turn, to look at where Lily's partner lay. When Lily had fallen she had screamed and fainted - probably at the sight of what Tokiko.... no, what the both of you had done to her. As you stared you saw the book chained to her wrist suddenly burst into what looked like a black flame. You winced as something seemed to stare back at you, some array of hideous eyes... except there was nothing there, simply flame and smoke and book. The chain, writhing about like some grotesque leech, untangled itself from her arm - the head pulling away with a wet sucking noise to leave only two round burn marks where each side of the iron link had passed into her body before. Would you be left with such a mark if Tokiko ever died? A brand of shame and despair forever burnt onto your body?
“Ah- ah - Kyaaaaah!” You spun, distress forgotten, at the high pitched scream.
Lily was sitting up. Tokiko had been the one who had screamed.
Her chest still a mangled mess the blond haired girl silently looked around. As you watched you realized that she seemed... less real. Ghostlike even. Gradually more and more of the terrain behind her was becoming visible through her body. Her injuries... they were fading just as she was. They still looked horrendous but, perhaps, not quite as horrendous as before. The connection, you thought, was obvious. As her grimoire burned away to ash, so too did she seem to vanish from this world. Was she still dead? Or was she merely being transported elsewhere? From what you understood she was at least out of the fight, and likely out of this disturbing 'game', for good.
Standing up, the blond girl dusted herself off and then gingerly poked at her now rapidly decreasing wounds. “Oh.” She said at last, looking around once more. “I lost.” She sniffled slightly, then stepped over to her still unconscious partner. “'m sorry,” she mumbled, then sniffled again. “”m sorry Meiko! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!” She was almost entirely invisible now, and her voice was vanishing as fast as her form was. She let out a wail and a flood of tears and then... she was gone. Her wounds, her voice, her body... you glanced across and confirmed that, yes, her book was gone too - just a pile of muddy ash and the remnants of a partially melted chain.
“Shit.” You murmur, mostly to yourself.
Tokiko still seemed somewhat out of it, you didn't exactly feel too good yourself, and the ex-partner of Lily was lying in the dirt a few feet away. You knew little first aid but you did know you were supposed to deal with the most wounded first. Tokiko was up and awake, if out of it, and she really wasn't physically injured any more than she had been earlier. The other girl, however, was out cold - that was considered worse, right? So you moved over to deal with her first.
Carefully you lifted her up under the arms and half-carried, half-dragged her over to sit up against a tree. Was this what you were meant to do? Probably not, but you were sure at least that she was breathing and had a pulse - you made a mental note to maybe look into some first aid classes in the future, right now you would have killed in order to know what the hell you were supposed to be doing.
You had killed, hadn't you?
So what if Lily had seemingly recovered - you were still the one who had given the command to turn her chest into so much minced-
You wrenched your mind away from that line of thinking with no small amount of effort. You had a comatose and an almost comatose girl depending on you to not freak out. You simply could not afford to wallow in that sort of thinking right now!
What to do? What to d- Cellphone! Of course! Cellphone!
Giving the two girls a quick look over you quickly pat yourself down. Where was it? where the hell was- Aha! You pulled the slim plastic block from an inner pocket with some gratefulness to fate, tapping the number of the emergency services took seconds, and within minutes you were told an ambulance was on it's way. And... slightly more worryingly so was a police escort.
That... probably wasn't good. Questions would be asked. Questions you had no answers for - no answers that would be believed at least. But... you couldn't just leave, that would likely make things even worse if you were tracked down. No, you'd have to wait for the authorities to get here and then... lie through your teeth probably.
* * * * * * * *
“So, let me get this straight.” The officer, a large heavy-set man, stated - for the third time. “You and this girl,” he gestured to Tokiko, where she sat being fussed over by a nurse. The three of you - yourself, Tokiko and Lily's ex-partner, had been taken to the local hospital. Tokiko and the girl in the ambulance, and yourself in the patrol car of the officer who had been questioning you almost from the moment you arrived. “Came across the other girl, Meiko you said, being attacked by someone else.”
You nodded. “That's right,” you reply, “He ran for it when we came up, knocked me to the ground and took a swing at my friend.”
“Is that so?” The officer nodded thoughtfully. “Well, everything seems simple enough.” he stated, “Why don't we find an office or something so I can take your full statement, now that you know your girlfriend isn't going to die on you.” You blushed slightly at his referring to Tokiko as your girlfriend - it still seemed a little weird to think that way - but you nodded anyway. The policeman just laughed a loud, boisterous laugh at your embarassment.
Standing up you followed the heavy-set officer out of the room and down several corridors. Every now and then he'd stop and check for an empty room to use, without much luck - the hospital was a busy place after all. Eventually he found one and, with a smile, he held the door open and gestured for you to go inside first. You smiled and nodded back, stepping forwards and...
What the hell? This was a store-room, not an office! Hell, it was so small it barely qualified as anything more than a cupboard! You were about to turn and ask the officer what he was thinking when one of his hands pressed itself against your back, then shoved you hard into the room - hard enough to bounce off the far wall.
“I don't like people who lie through their teeth.” He stated, stepping in behind you and pulling the door shut behind him. “But given your... circumstances... I know why you did.” Turning to face him you notice that he's rolling up one sleeve to ...
You stare at the thick chain wrapped around his arm, where it had previously been hidden by his uniform.
“Now,” The man stated, “You're going to tell the truth now.” He grinned and cracked his knuckles. “And believe me, I'll know if you're lying.”
* * * * * * * *
“Death huh. Don't like the sound of that.” The officer murmurs, “This crap is more serious than I thought.”
“Your partner didn't tell you?” You ask. After having stammered out a rough version of events as they had actually transpired, the police officer had calmed down. Now the two of you were sitting on the floor of the store room.
“Eh, I don' think she knows. An' I don't think she's gonna like it when I tell her this - not that I can hide it from her.” The large man replied. “Dunno how she'll take the fact I met you either, you're the first other 'player' either of us had so much as heard of.” He snorted. “Lily, huh?” he looked up at the ceiling. “The girl, Meiko, she didn't know anyone by that name when we asked her after she woke up.”
You blinked. “But she was Lily's partner, they were chatting to each other and everything!”
“That's not all.” The officer frowned. “She didn't remember anything to do with this 'game' those girls are in. Not this Lily, not her book-thing, nothing.”
“Grimoire.” you point out.
“What?” The man asks, thrown off track slightly.
“The book thing, it's called a Grimoire.” You shrug. “I don't know if that's important, but it sounds... and this seems kind of silly... but it sounds magical. Like a spellbook - only, I think, it makes your partner use the spells, not yourself.”
“In'tresting.” Standing up the man offered one hand. “Th' name is Kankichi, Ryotsu Kankichi” he stated, as you took his hand and he dragged you to your feet. “You?”
“Shirosawa.” you respond, grimacing slightly at how easily the man, Ryotsu, pulls you up. If he and his partner, whoever they were, decided to fight... hell, you were pretty sure the guy could break you like a twig on his own. “Shirosawa... uh...” you wince, “Just Shirosawa.”
“What?” The cop frowned, “Y' don't think i'm good enough to tell me yer full name?”
You wince again. “It's not that.”
“So? What is it then?” You really didn't want to tell this man for one simple reason.
“My mom... has bad naming sense.” You state at last, then when one of Ryotsu's eyebrows rise in curiosity you wince a third time, “Very bad naming sense.”
“I... see.” He shrugs, “Well, I'm gonna need your details anyway to write this all up.” He grumbles, “Too much paperwork, that's my job now.”
You tell him.
He winces in sympathy. “Oh.” he says at last. “Yeah. I see why you don't want that going around.” Raising one hand to wipe his brow, you can see that the man is doing his best not to laugh. That was something you supposed, most weren't polite enough to wait until you were out of earshot before giving in to the laughter.
Score one for him then.
“Whatever,” you mutter, “Are we done here? My mom is probably going crazy over where me and Tokiko have got to by now.” You frown, “That or she's already assumed I've taken her to a love hotel or something. I really don't want to deal with that kind of misunderstanding.”
“Huh?” Officer Kankichi looks at you blankly. “Oh! Oh, yeah, we're done.” He frowns, “You'll either hear from me again or you won't. If my, uh, partner wants to fight then...” He shrugs, “After hearing what you said, I don't think I'd be in too much a hurry to agree, y'know?”
You nod. You weren't exactly in a hurry to get into another fight yourself, especially with Tokiko in the condition she was now.
“Still, shit happens. Either we fight you, or someone else will show up to fight either of us sooner or later.” The large man shrugged “That's the way this whole thing goes.” Stepping forwards he pushed the storeroom door open and stepped outside, holding it for you to follow behind. “Well, don't let me keep you any longer then. You and your, uh,” he glanced around, “'girlfriend' are free to go. If we need any more details...” He glanced around again, then continued in a low whisper, “I'll see what I can cover up. Jus' don't make me have to do this again.”
You blinked in surprise. “Uh, ah, thanks.” You get out, “Thanks a lot!”
* * * * * * * *
Your mother, for want of a better word, was horrified when you and Tokiko showed up outside having been dropped off by a police patrol car. Hell, you had barely exited the vehicle when she had suddenly appeared, berating you, apologizing to the policeman and reassuring Tokiko all in what seemed to be the same breath. Could humans make three different sounds with their voice at the same time? You were pretty sure that was impossible but your mother was giving it a go regardless of what nature had to say about the issue.
“How could you possibly do something so stupid!”
“I'm sorry my son was a trouble, I'm sure I didn't raise him to be a criminal!”
“Are you alright? There's nothing hurt? My son didn't do anything to you did he?”
That last one stung. Hell, they all stung, but that last one was the worst.
“Mom!” you yell, cutting her tirade off. “I didn't do anything! Tokiko is fine! I'm not in trouble!”
“Indeed!” The policeman added, shooting you a relieved glance, “In fact your son may well have saved a young woman's life today.” You internally winced at that, unlike Officer Kankichi this particular policeman had no idea about the 'game' - or the fact that you had been at least partially responsible for the condition of Lily's ex-partner.
Tokiko remained silent. You were starting to - no, scratch that, you were worried about her.
You ignored your mother, now gushing about what a wonderful son you were - ugh, talk about quick changes of heart. Still, you were used to it by now, although you did pity that poor patrol officer as chances were that your mother wasn't likely to give him a chance to speak or escape for a while. Instead of staying to listen you reached down and took Tokiko by the hand, then made a quick getaway towards the house with her in tow.
The minute you were through the door you broke right, practically dragging Tokiko up the stairs. Your sister met you half way seeming as if she were going to say something but one look at both your glare and Tokiko's still shell-shocked gaze made her fall silent before she even began to speak. Not that you cared as you were already past her and fumbling with the door to your room.
Tokiko's rear landed square on your bed with barely a squeak of complaint from it's owner and even less than that when you followed to land her. Your arms wrapped themselves around the girl without warning - again not a peep of complaint from Tokiko.
“Today was shit.” You murmur, causing her to blink in surprise. Your body feels heavy as you practically hang onto her for dear life as if she were a rock within a watery maelstrom. So many things you'd been trying hard not to think about, not to worry about, until everyone was safe and home had suddenly started to come crashing down on you. The fear of death, the scent of blood, the sight of a girl's mangled body... how could anyone experience these things and not feel it eventually?
You shouldn't be dropping your burden of emotions on Tokiko like this.
You started to pull away when suddenly she twisted and grabbed you, her hands clasping themselves behind your back. “There'll be more.” she whispers.
You frown. “More?”
“More 'players', more 'partners', more... more killing.” The silver-haired girl looks up at you from where she's partially pressed against your chest. “I suppose you want answers.” she says, “I suppose I should tell you.”
You nod. “Yeah,”
She looks away. “Can... can we stay like this a little longer, first?” she whispers.
* * * * * * * *
You stared at the girl in horror. From the waist up she looked normal, pretty even, but from the waist down she was a mass of... you grasped for a word. Mincemeat was all you could come up with.
It still didn't seem adequate enough to describe the meaty red mass of pulped flesh that constituted the girl's legs. Fighting the urge to vomit you looked away, trying to focus on anything else except...
Your eyes widened, without warning you bent double threw up, the vomit spattering against the your feet and the legs of another girl. You risk another look up, then almost vomit again at the sight of the half-missing head of this new girl - her brain oozing like sludge down her neck and onto her shoulder. Your turned away again and, once more, were met with the mangled body of another girl - this one had her abdomen ripped open, her innards spilling out into her waiting hands, where she cradled them as if they were some grotesque baby.
Tokiko! Your mind scrabbled for something, anything, to think about other than the horrors - you could see more maimed girls already - that were surrounding you.
Where was Tokiko? You looked left, you looked right, you ran between row upon row of things which were little more than wrecked flesh upon bone, you tried to - wait! There! In the distance, her silver hair glimmering like a beacon in this disgusting place, you could see her! You headed towards her, her name upon your lips, Tokiko was fi-
You stopped dead. Eyes widening in horror.
Tokiko looked up at you from where she sat upon a girl, hands buried practically to the elbow in her victims torso. “Ah,” she says, pulling one hand free with a disgusting wet noise, “Want some?” It's only now that you see the blood practically dyed into the skin around her mouth. “It's tasty.” she adds, lifting some red, quivering, thing to her mouth and takes a bite - blood squelching out around her mouth as she does so.
“Y... you did this?” you stammer, waving one arm out in an indication of everything around you.
She looks at you, lowering her meal, and laughs. “No,” she says, then pulls out her other arm and points to you. Instinctively you look down, realizing for the first time that your clothes are stained with blood. A growing dread fills the pit of your stomach as your gaze shifts to your arm - and the equally bloodstained book chained to it. You look up at Tokiko, your face a mask of horror as she smiles. “You did.” she states, then reaches out to you with her full hand, “Are you sure you don't want any?”
* * * * * * * *
You gasp, air filling your lungs, the scent of flesh and blood and gore.... all missing.
It's dark. You blink hard several times, trying to get your eyes accustomed to the gloom. After a few tries you are able to pick out the features of your room, the desk, the bookshelf - all so terribly distorted in the darkness.
You're cold. You'd just had a nightmare - your first in many years - though you the more you tried to remember what it was about, the more it seemed to slip away from you as to what it was. You try to sit up, only to feel some great weight holding your arm down. You turn and... almost sneeze as you accidentally bury your face into someone's hair. Why the hell was someone sleeping in your bed? More to the point, why was someone sleeping in your bed alongside you?
You pull your head back, blinking hard again, in this gloom you can't make out any real color but... it's the hair ornament, the one that looks like a wing, which finally makes you remember the events of... of... well, before you fell asleep you supposed. Given how dark it was it was either late into the evening, or early into the morning - you didn't know which. You sighed, causing Tokiko to shift slightly and clutch your arm tighter.
Carefully, ever so carefully, you manage to slip your arm out of her almost limpet-like embrace. Still with utmost care you roll to the edge of your bed, slip one arm and a foot onto the floor and half slide, half crawl off it. Tokiko mutters something and seems to grope around a bit - looking for you perhaps? Feeling a little guilty for leaving her there you grab your body pillow from where it had apparently been kicked onto the floor and press it to her hands. The thing had been an unwanted gift from your father from one of his business trips into the city - you still didn't know where the senile old bastard had got the idea that you were some kind of of manga-obsessed shut-in - but you did have to admit the pillow itself was kind of comfy. You'd replaced the case of course, from the rather disturbing original one of a near-naked girl to something simple and plain.
Good thing too you thought as you watched Tokiko hang onto it like a life-preserver.
Off the bed and awake you silently padded over to your desk to check your clock, at some point during Tokiko's exploring of your room yesterday it had ended up out of sight of the bed. You peered at it in the gloom, six-thirty. Early morning then, though not so early that your family would get upset if you made some noise. The place would probably lighten up in just over an hour, leaving you with not much to do for the next while - unless you wanted to get back into bed of course.
Back to that girl's embrace,
Prepare breakfast in bed,
Read a magical grimoire,
Wake the sleeping princess,
This anon does have a first name, and it was supposed to come up in this post except stuff tangented off before that happened. The first name was chosen to compliment the family name, and ... well... fit a name as chosen by a batshit weird mother basically.
Looking back at Tokiko clutching onto the body pillow, you feel somewhat bad about the idea of simply leaving her here. You didn't want to wake her either as despite her desperate hugging she seemed so much more peaceful than she had been since the fight with Lily.
That and... well... she was pretty. Wasn't it every guy's dream to have a pretty girl sleeping alongside them in their bed? Hell, just yesterday morning she had offered you sex! For a moment you wondered if that offer was still open... Then you shook your head hard in order to clear the perverted imagery that was being generated there - nice as it was you didn't think that such things were really all that appropriate at the moment.
Sighing to yourself you moved back over to your bed and carefully sat down on the edge. Tokiko mumbled something In her sleep and pulled the pillow tighter against herself. You were starting to regret having got out of bed in the first place now... Oh well. Placing you hand atop her hair you gently pet her head, eliciting a pleased hum from the girl. Was she sensitive there perhaps? Or was this something all girls had in common?
Having a girlfriend was really uncharted territory for you. Having one what was in a life or death fight and possessed apparent supernatural abilities... you weren't sure which was harder to deal with, the fight or the fact you had girlfriend now. Both were pretty overwhelming things to have entered into your previously dull life. Swinging your legs onto the bed you shuffled down so that you were once again lying beside Tokiko, though this time not as close due to the body pillow between you.
As you watch the sleeping girl, you question yourself. Who, exactly, is she? Where did she come from? Why is she in this dreadful game?
You sigh. It was no use wondering about those things now, not while she was asleep at least. It would be an hour before you would have to be up and getting ready for the trip to school. Just because it was your final year it didn't mean that there was any excuse to slack off - besides, your mom would probably kill you if you started playing the delinquent.
It was... strange. To be like this, lying so close, listening to the gentle sound of her breath. Despite having just awoken you could feel your eyes drooping... You gaze seems to focus in on Tokiko's lips as she breaths, In and out, in and out, in... and... out.... in... and...
* * * * * * * *
She doesn't know where she's running from, or where she's running to, her erratic path that seems to have no clear direction is proof enough of that. She ducks behind piles of boxes, weaves in and out of abandoned coffins of iron and glass. She hisses in pain, her bare feet having been pierced by old nails, shards of glass and hunks of barb-covered wire. Is she leaving a trail of blood? She doesn't know - she's too focused on trying to escape.
Escape from what?
She realizes that she doesn't really know. All she can remember is that she has to survive, survive and win.
She doesn't know that either. But she does know it's something people would kill for, kill her for. Hell, she isn't entirely sure she's even being chased right now - but she knows she will be. Others would be coming, coming to destroy her and then they'd be turning on each other until only one was left. Wasn't she supposed to be trying to be that one as well? Why would she be doing that?
She can't remember.
The gash across the side of her head would explain why that is, she remembers waking up with it... but nothing really solid about what happened before. She thinks, maybe, she fell - she'd found blood on some jutting metalwork the shape of which probably matched the injury to her skull. Where did she fall from? She can't remember - but she doesn't think it was from one of these junkpiles, for some reason she can't see herself climbing up one of them. The very idea of it seems to... nauseate her.
Why was that?
She tripped, landing on something sharp, her hand exploded into a fire of pain as whatever it was ripped across her palm as she landed.
A shadow. Had they found her? She looked up, her eyesight blurry due to her tears. A figure, several, small. Dolls? No. Larger. Children, boys and girls and... someone else, someone taller. They reach down, she tries to squirm away but she simply hurts too much - all she can do is just whimper pathetically. A hand, many hands, they lift her, carry her.
She feels something soft. A mattress? A bed?
Her arms are bandaged, her feet likewise wrapped in rolls of white cloth. A wet towel lays on her forehead as someone, the tall person from before, offers a spoonful of... something. Soup? Stew? She doesn't care, it's warm and though it's thin it's also tasty.
The person is asking a question. Who is she?
Who... is... she?
She... sort of remembers. She feels there's something missing... but she remembers a bit.
She smiles at the person who's been so nice to her.
“Aki,” She says.
* * * * * * * *
You wake up for the second time that morning. Unlike the first however this wakeup was both unexpected and painful. Specifically it involved something smacking into your face, something else being planted into your stomach, and your entire body being forced violently off your bed. You land hard, your shoulder flaring in pain, when suddenly you hear a gasp of horror from above. Rolling onto your back you see Tokiko peeking over the edge of the bed, hands clasped over her mouth and her cheeks flaming red.
“I'm sorry!” She gasps. Ah, so that's what had happened. She must have woken up, seen you, then reacted while still half-asleep. Slightly depressing that her first act on waking had been to kick you in the abdomen, but you suspected she was used to sleeping alone. You groan and roll over onto your back, you'd have a few bruises on your arm from this but it was nothing you couldn't deal with.
“I'm gonna get ready for school.” you state, pulling yourself up first to a sitting position and then to your feet. “You....” You flounder for a moment, “You just wait here for a bit, I'll get changed in the bathroom or something.”
Tokiko looks like she's about to question you. Then she pauses and blushes - probably having realized why you were going to change elsewhere. She was a smart girl but did seem somewhat naïve. You laugh lightly as you fetch your uniform from your wardrobe and head out. “If you want something to eat,” you add, “mom is probably downstairs making breakfast already.”
Your 'girlfriend' merely nods silently in response.
* * * * * * * *
It's cold out here, damp too. Staying under a bridge was not how she had imagined things were going to go when she had agreed to take part in this stupid game. Huddling under the remains of a blanket she muttered curses under her breath. It could be worse, she told herself. On her first day here she hadn't even had her blanket or the thick card box which served as her little shelter from the wind.
She had her partner to thank for this find, as she had run into him surprisingly quickly and he in turn had led her to this old bridge and the refuse beneath it. Since then they'd been staying here, he accustomed to living like this and her... not.
She shivered again. In hindsight, perhaps, wearing her usual light robes to this had been a bad idea - but the mansion's library had always been so warm, comforting and constant that she honestly hadn't considered that the outside world might not be so great. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Now she was cold, wet and miserable! Her lovely purple hair was a mess of tangles and split ends - oh how she had taken Koakuma's evening ministrations for granted back home! Worse still, she hadn't had a book to read in... in days!
Well, unless you counted the one her partner possessed. But that didn't help any as she couldn't read the damn thing - they were designed so that only the owner, chained to the book itself, was able to understand what was written within. Hell, she should know, she helped design some of the spells that went into the protections involved. Had she been back in her library... well, she probably would have had enough reference material to crack to full battery of spells that locked her out - though given how many were involved with securing these things that would still likely take the best part of a few decades. Getting around the top level protections especially, those placed by that damned gap-hag, stupid-yama and red-white, would be impossible for anyone out here in the confines of the 'game'.
With nothing better to do she, Patchouli Knowledge of the glorious Voile Library - aspected within the Mansion of the Scarlet Devil - settled for gritting her teeth and glaring at her partner as he dozed nearby. She coughed. He simply rolled onto his back and drooled.
How could he put up with this so much better than she could? Was it due to a difference in species? Unlikely. As a youkai she should be far better equipped to deal with anything the world could throw at a person. No, most likely it was down to the fact that while she was sick, asthmatic and generally weak while he was instead a filled out and well exercised picture of fairly good health.
“Oh, so this is where you ended up-ze.” Patchouli started at both the voice and that so familiar way of speaking. She looked up. She'd been so busy wallowing in her own misery that she hadn't even noticed this blond girl approach all the way up to merely a few steps in front of her. Marisa Kirisame, witch of the Forest of Magic... also troublemaker, pain in the neck and a contemptible thief of books. Though she was still dressed in her usual black and white color scheme, the witch had abandoned her usual manner of dress in favor of modern, outsider, clothing. Black trousers, some kind of white semi-skirt, and a black and whiter patterned jumper with a tall collar - called a 'turtleneck' if she remembered correctly.
“Marisa.” Patchouli murmured, “Come to defeat me?” She frowned, being defeated would be bad... but would it be as bad as having to live like this any longer? “Well,” she said finally, “Hurry up with it then.”
“Nah,” The witch waved off her request, then grinned. “I already beat some weakling today, and it got me thinking, yeah?”
“Hmph. Unusual for you.” replied the purple haired girl.
“Eh, maybe. Normally I'd just blow past anyone who came at me, yeah? But this ain't danmaku is it?” Marisa smirked, “An' there's some people I wouldn't wanna fight outside spell card rules y'know? Like Suika an' Remi and such.” She paused then, and shuddered. “And Flandre. Definitely don't wanna have to fight Flandre out in this.”
Patchouli was about to point out how silly Marisa was being when she suddenly froze, her eyes widening. “She could destroy us without even trying.” She whispered, “Outside a danmaku duel, her power of destruction would be a fully valid method of winning a fight in a hurry - and against that there is nothing anyone can do to defend themselves short of defeating her before she has a chance to use it.” she gulped. That was another thing she hadn't considered before... How had she been so stupid as to agree to take part in this?
“Yeah.” Agreed the black and white girl, “But that's against one person, see? So I was thinking that maybe it'd be a good idea to-”
“You wish to team up?” Patchouli asked. “Though your motivations are self-serving, no doubt you would wish for your allies to retire from the game once all other opposition is gone... but... if you can arrange someplace warm and comfortable for myself, and my partner I suppose, to stay then I shall agree immediately.”
“I do believe, Ms. Knowledge,” spoke up a new voice, one belonging to an overly wealthy seeming woman carrying a black book that must have been Marisa's grimoire. “That can easily be arranged.”
Marisa just grinned.
* * * * * * * *
“Wooo! Kick his ass!” you groaned at the sound of your sister cheering on the television. Beside her Tokiko gave a weak sounding cheer as well, obviously having been coerced into it by your elder sibling.
“Do you have to watch that?” You ask, “Aren't you too old to be cheering on sentai shows?”
“Hey!” Your sister retorted, “This isn't any sentai show, this is 'Hero of the Sun, Fire Rider', a classic!”
“I thought it had to be old to be a classic,” you responded, “Isn't this a new show?”
“Eh, modern classic then.” she replied, “It's still fun to watch.”
“If you're a kid maybe, but you're older than I am.” You sigh as your sister merely sticks her tongue out at you before going back to cheering on her show. You glance over at Tokiko. “You don't have to go along with this you know,” you state.
She turns to you, “But it's interesting.” She says, “I've never watched a... what did you call it? A tel-ee-vis-on?” She frowns slightly, then repeats herself. “Television. Yes. I've never really watched a television before. It's... different.”
“Never?” your sister stares at Tokiko incredulously. “Huh. You're missing out then - there's all kinds of awesome stuff you can watch. Goranger, Gekiranger, kamen rider, rescue force, fire t-”
“Ignore her.” You cut in. “She's a sentai freak despite being a girl.” you shrug, “Well, whatever. I have school to get to.”
“School?” Tokiko asks, “What about me?”
You frown. That was a good point. What was Tokiko going to do all day while you were at school?
“Ah,” Your sister cut in, “That reminds me - mom made 'arrangements' for your 'girlfriend' here to go to school with you. I dunno how she managed it on short notice, blackmailed the headmaster probably.” You winced. She probably had done just that too. Turning to Tokiko your sister continued, “I have one of my old uniforms for you to wear.”
The two girls stood and left, you sister leading Tokiko out, leaving the room empty aside from yourself and the sound of the television.
* * * * * * * *
“And with the police still baffled it seems we are no closer to catching the culprit behind these almost inhuman bank robberies.”
“Ha!” The man laughed at the radio report, “Inhuman is right alright!” He turned, looking at her, “Isn't that so, eh?”
She glared at him from where she was slumped against the far wall. “Whatever.” she stated, her voice a low growl. If she could she would have snapped the man's neck like a dry twig, probably ripped him in two for good measure, it really wouldn't have taken any effort at all. She had considered eating him as well but... well, someone as slimy as he would probably taste like crap - best to leave his kind out to rot.
“Hey, you should be thankful,” The man drawled, “giving you a place to sleep, food to eat and drink to enjoy.”
She slept on a rock floor, her food was little more than bread and gruel and the drink he provided tasted like lamp oil at best. What was worse was the fact that she couldn't do a damn thing about it! The minute she complained or showed signs of rebellion he would hold what he had taken from over her head and she would be forced to back down and play the 'nice girl' act. At least he hadn't been stupid enough to try anything sexual, had he gotten that close she could have torn his neck open before he could do anything.
“Whatever.” Someday she was going to get what he had taken back. And then he was going to die.
* * * * * * * *
“How... how was your day?” You ask, walking alongside Tokiko as the two of you head home.
“Uhm,” She blushed slightly looking down at the floor. “It was... different. Not like the school I've been to before.”
“Oh?” You look up at the sky, this was the first time you could recall Tokiko revealing anything about her life prior to meeting you that didn't involve her being bullied in some way. “How so?”
“It was... Bigger.” She began, “I never imagined so many people could come to one place simply in order to learn.” You see a ghost of a smile flitter across her face. “Keine-sensei... Would have loved this place.”
“Keine?” You ask, causing her to jump slightly. “Who's she?”
“Ah! She's our teacher!” Tokiko responds quickly, “She runs the school... back... um... back where I come from. She teaches us lots of things, like math and history and... other things.” The silver haired girl pauses, “She's nice.” she says at last, “She doesn't like it when people bully me - but there's not much she can do about it unless she's around.”
“You know,” you say, “I really don't know much about you.”
She looks surprised, then gives you a funny look. “Why would you want to know about me?” She asks, “I'm no-one.”
“You're my girlfriend.” you respond. “That makes you someone important, someone I should know about.”
Tokiko opens her mouth as if to say something, then shuts it again and looks away. Her face, you can see, is bright red. It was... kind of cute to see her like that.
* * * * * * * *
The children ran past, giggling at some joke only they knew. She smiled as she watched them play from her spot on the little wooden bench she sat on. Work like this, she thought, was actually a rather nice way to spend one's life - though if she were honest she longed to be back at the temple performing her ascetic rituals for Byakuren. Still... if she were to be reborn someday, perhaps a life devoted to the raising of children would not be so bad?
“Are things going well?” her partner, the one responsible for this class of youngsters, asked as she sat down beside her. The woman was young, almost too young for this job in fact, but she seemed to have everything well in hand at all times. “You look like you're having fun.”
She smiled, “Yes, these children seem a handful - but they are good children, aren't they?” she replied, causing her partner to beam at her.
“Only sometimes,” the woman stated, “They can raise hell with the best of them when they want to though.”
“Oh, no doubt!” She laughed, “Is that not true of all children though? It is through youthful incidents that people grow and learn, to become that which we call adults.”
“You sound like a priest when you preach like that,” Her partner responded, raising one eyebrow. “Though I suppose that's only fitting for a nun such as yourself, no?”
“Do I truly preach that often?” She asked, a faint blush of embarrassment covering her face. Then she sighed, “Please do not answer that,” she added - causing her partner to giggle slightly. Soon the two of them were both laughing lightly with each other.
“Miss Kumoi! Miss Kumoi!” A boy, no older than five, came running up - a book held outstretched in both hands. “Read us! Read us a story!”
The girl, Ichirin, smiled and reached down to take the book. Her partner just smiled and leaned back in her seat.
“Why,” she said, “Certainly!”
* * * * * * * *
You stared at Tokiko
She stared back.
The two of you had been stuck in this awkward silence for the best part of half an hour now, both trying to instigate some kind of conversation and both shying away from asking the things you really wanted to ask.
You sighed and pushed the plate of cookies towards her, where she quietly picked one up and mumbled a little 'thankyou' before starting to nibble on it. Your mother had left a bunch of snack foods out, a common occurrence when she wasn't likely to be home until late. The cookies you claimed immediately as you knew that had your sister arrived home first she would have nabbed the lot for herself and left you with none.
Eventually you and Tokiko had retreated to your room, where you both now sat on opposite sides of a little fold-out table you had almost forgotten you owned. In between the two of you, covering the table, were the plate of cookies, two cups of tea and the grimoire you had been 'gifted' with the day before.
“So,” you say in order to finally break the silence. “I suppose it's question time, huh?”
QUESTION TIME: Tell me about...
Yourself (Where do you come from? What are you?)
The Game (Goals, Prizes, etc)
The Book (What is it? What's it for?)
Lily (Other players? How many? Any you know?)
Okay, trying something new here. Bits of anon PoV interspaced with third person looks at some of the other girls involved in this 'game'.
later you may get choices to see scenes of other people in more detail.
Tokiko merely nodded quietly, once again leaving you to lead this conversation.
“Uh...” What to say? What to ask? What to... ah! “You know,” you say at last, “For a 'boyfriend' and a 'girlfriend', we really don't know all that much about each other.”
“I guess not.” Replies the girl opposite you. She frowns, then looks at you curiously. “I haven't even heard your name.” she states at last, “That seems odd... but now I think of it, I've only heard people use your family name.”
You wince. “There's... a very good reason for that.” You mutter. “My mom's naming sense is... not exactly... normal.”
“Hm?” Tokiko blinks, then leans forward slightly. “Really? It can't be that bad, can it?”
You take a deep breath, “When I was born, my mom wanted a daughter - a girl. My being born a guy... didn't really do much to change her mind on what she was going to call me.” You shudder, “If it hadn't been for dad... I suspect she might have tried to raise me as a girl too.”
Tokiko merely nibbled on a cookie. “So?” She asked after a while. “What is it?”
“What is what?” you respond, taking a cookie for yourself.
She frowns slightly, sensing your obvious evasion. “Your name, what is it?”
You wince once more. “Shiori.” you hiss through your reluctant mouth. “Shiori Shirosawa.”
“Oh.” It's to her credit that she doesn't laugh. “That's... not so bad I guess, I know - knew - someone named Wriggle before, I think that name is sillier really.”
“Wriggle?” She was right, it was sillier - though perhaps no more embarrassing - than your own. You frowned, “Is... is this 'Wriggle' a person in this... contest... too?”
Tokiko's eyes widened, then slid to one side as she nodded guiltily. “Everyone I know should be in it.” She replied, “and a lot of people I've only heard of... as well as people I don't even know about.”
She seems distressed at that concept, so you move quickly to divert the conversation. “Really?” You ask, “So you must have all come from the same place?” She looks up at you and nods. “Well, what is it like where you come from then?”
She blinks, then glances up at your ceiling. “Empty.” She says at last, her gaze swinging back down to rest on you. “At least... at least compared to here. There's more humans in your school than i've ever seen in all of Gensokyo.”
“Gensokyo?” you interject. Tokiko just nods.
“Yes, Gensokyo is the place I come from. It's sort of... um... seperate from everywhere else? I... I don't really understand it, but I know there's everywhere 'inside' Gensokyo and there's everywhere 'outside' it, like this place.” She frowns slightly, “I don't know where it is in relation to here though...”
“Ah,” You nod sagely, not really understanding what she said. “Go on.”
“Well, Gensokyo is a lot... greener?” Tokiko frowns, “I mean, here is not too much off the human village, but that other place - where those shops are - was much, much more... um... gray? All buildings and not many trees I mean.”
You frown deeply. “That's the second time.” You state, which makes Tokiko pause and look at you strangely.
“Second time?” She asks.
“That you've used the word 'humans' when talking about people.” You smile, “Isn't that a bit of a silly way to talk about everyone around you?” The girl reacts, you think, a little too violently to that casual remark - flinching away even as her cheeks turn red with... embarrassment? You're not sure, but you are sure that there was something important she wasn't telling you. Thinking of the game... the book... and the attacks both she and Lily had shown... “You, uh, you are human - aren't you?” You ask at last, slightly worried about the answer you're now feeling eerily certain of.
“No.” Tokiko's answer was short and direct. “I'm not.”
“I... I see.” Despite not really being a surprise, the confirmation of this fact still surprised you a little. “So, um, if you don't mind me asking...”
“What am I?” Cuts in the silver-haired girl. “Does it really matter?”
You pause. That was true, wasn't it? Human or not, it didn't really change anything about your relationship - she was still a stranger who had dropped into your life and bought with her some kind of life-or-death game. Did being non-human really rate as being important when you considered that? “Probably not,” you say after a while, “But... I guess I would like to know...”
You lean back, almost to the point of lying down on the floor. Your feet, previously crossed beneath you, swing out and lightly bump into Tokiko's legs. At the moment of contact she makes a surprised little squeak which sounds almost sickeningly cute - were all girls this... this... girly? It was hard to picture the Tokiko of now as being the same Tokiko who had rushed in to save you after you had been caught by Lily and her partner.
“Ibis.” She states, snapping you out of your reverie, then her brow furrows in thought and she continues in a more questionable tone. “At least I was a few years ago, but I think things are a little different now.”
“Never seen an Ibis that looks that good in a dress before.” you joke - smiling inside when Tokiko blushes in response. “Seriously though, I haven't.”
She shrugs. “Well I don't know how it happened really.” She looks up at the ceiling again, lost in thought. “Ibis memories aren't very good you know. All I really know is that one day I went to sleep then when I woke up I looked like this and was able to remember more than a week in the past.” Looking back down she shrugs once again, “Supposedly I'm a Youkai now, but I still haven't really managed to work out exactly what that means for me yet.”
“Youkai huh?” You think about that for a moment. “Like oni and ghosts and stuff?” You think about it a little more, “Cool. I think... a Youkai girlfriend. Huh. Reminds me of those tv shows I used to watch as a kid, where some guy always seemed to end up with and alien or a demon or something amazing like that.”
“Except this is real.” Tokiko stated. “Not one of those, um, colored plays on the 'Television' box.”
“I suppose so.” you reply. You yawn. Odd. You glance at your clock, then blink in surprise. “Wow,” you murmur, “When did it get so late?”
* * * * * * * *
You were preparing for bed. Somewhere along the line a set of loose sleepwear had been pulled out of some drawer where you'd stashed them as you did with most birthday gifts of unwanted clothing. Sleeping in boxers was preferable to you but with Tokiko now living in the house... well, not having a repeat of your first meeting with her would be appreciated you thought. The light shirt and trousers combo was perhaps a little silly to you but at least it meant that you couldn't be called a pervert if you got caught going after a midnight snack or something by your new girlfriend.
As much as your mother would have loved to have the two of you sleeping together, Tokiko was in fact sleeping in the spare room opposite your own. Last night had been unplanned, a result of too much stress and exhaustion catching up, tonight... well, neither of your really felt comfortable knowingly sharing a bed right now. It was hard to put into words - you wanted to sleep beside her, but you felt somewhere inside that you wanted to know her inside and out, figuratively, before you did.
You were broken out of your musing by the sound of your cellphone, blaring away with some tinny-sounding tune. You grabbed it, flipped it open and all but yelled into the speaker. “What!?”
“Shirosawa.” The voice was familiar, who was it? You couldn't quite place it. “This is Ryotsu.” Ryotsu? Who was that? The name didn't seem to ring any... wait, wait!
“Officer Kankichi?” You hazarded, feeling pretty certain you'd placed the caller now.
“Jus' Ryotsu.” The man replied, “This is an unofficial call. 's about...” He trailed off, leaving the line silent for several long moments. “... this fight,” he continued at last. “Me - Me and me partner... We...” The tone of his voice, his hesitant speech, it was obvious to you why he was calling now.
“You got into a fight, didn't you?” You ask. So he and his partner had been forced to kill someone and, from the sound of it, he was taking it almost as hard as you had.
“... yeah.” His voice was quiet. “She... she looked like some kind of kid.” You nodded. Lily had looked barely older than a child herself. “It... wasn't... wasn't pretty.” he finishes.
“Are you okay?” You ask, not really sure of what to say.
“Yeah, yeah, we're fine.” He replies. “'s just something of a shock, a fight like that. It's... supernatural, y'know?” you nodded to yourself, it was that kind of thing after all. “But, listen,” continues Ryotsu, “This isn't why I called - I need you ta look in the back of your grimoire book thing.”
“Why?” Even as you ask you raised your hand, the book already held open. You honestly tried hard not to think about how the thing seemed to simply disappear and reappear almost with a mind of it's own. The chain around your wrist seemed permanent, but the book and the section of chain connecting it would vanish whenever you didn't seem to need it out. With one thumb you clumsily flicked to the back of the book - then paused and frowned at the page on display. “What the...”
It was Lily.
A large picture of Lily dominated the page and, in one corner, was a small block of text. The first line was obviously her name - Lily White. Beneath that was a comment 'Defeated by - TOKIKO'. Was this, perhaps, a listing of everyone who had been knocked out of the game? You glanced at the third and final line - 'Something Precious' it read. What it meant you had no idea, but you figured it must have some importance if it was included here for whatever reason.
“You see it?” officer Kankichi's voice brought you back into the moment. “Seems a list of people who got beat - but here's the thing. In my book it says your partner, Tokiko, beat this girl Lily - right? But it doesn't say who beat anyone else.” You flick the page. This one shows some blond girl dressed in black, her name apparently being Lunasa. Looking below you see that the name of whoever defeated her is... you frown. The name is written in that strange script you had seen earlier in the book when you first opened it - looking closely it seems to shift beneath your gaze, rendering it entirely unreadable. The third line, however, is readable - 'Something Special'. Again it seems meaningless despite the fact it can be read. “I figure it only tells you who beat 'em if you've actually met the person who beat them - since your partner is the only one I've met aside from the one I fought, and her name is the only one on the list.”
“Yeah,” you mutter into the phone, “I see it.” You flip the page again, this time displaying some rather manly looking woman with yellow and black, almost tiger-striped, hair. Curious. Your eyes skip past her name, Shou something? And settle on the name of her defeater. “Oh, hey, here we go - Yuuka Kazami.”
There's silence on the phone.
“Uh, Sir? You there?” You ask, wondering why the officer had gone silent.
“That's not my partner.” You blink as you hear the man's voice. “I thought you hadn't met anyone else.”
“I haven't,” you respond, “The only person in the game I met was Lily - and we defeated her.”
“That...” The man trails off for a few moments, then picks up again. “That raises a nasty thought. Maybe it ain't about meeting 'em, maybe it's about getting close enough to 'em or something.”
You wince and swear silently to yourself. “We must have walked past another player and not noticed,” you hiss. “How the hell did we get away with that?”
“Luck, seems like.” Ryotsu states. “Or you passed them by someplace they couldn't risk a fight, if you did it in town... you coulda lost them in the crowds maybe - that or their partner couldn't hang around for a fight, like they had an appointment or something, 'cuz if I was one of these players I don't think I'd be wanting to fight someone who can shoot me when I can't shoot back, yeah?”
You not to yourself. It was plausible... though hardly reassuring as it meant there was at least one other player within a fairly short distance of where you were living. “Can they track us down?” You ask, “Or do we just keep running into each other by accident?”
You hear a girls voice, faintly, chattering away. Occasionally Ryotsu would grunt or say something in reply - finally he turns his attention back to the phone. “Koishi, that's me partner, tells me that it shouldn't be possible to track players down like that normally - but she says some might have abilities which'll let them do it, or their partners could have the contacts needed for a search.”
“I'll keep my guard up then.” You mutter, “That's all I can do really, isn't it?”
“Same here.” Ryotsu replies. “Keep sharp and be aware.” There's silence for a few moments, “An' good luck, I guess.”
* * * * * * * *
You had waited by the school gate for a little while before Tokiko has emerged from... wherever it was she had been spending that short time after classes. Another girl, from her class you assume, was chatting animatedly to her before breaking off and, with a wave, started heading in the opposite direction to Tokiko as she approached where you were.
“Having fun?” You ask, “I see you made a friend here.”
Tokiko ducks her head. “It's not like that,” she says, “She was just trying to get me to join the reading club.”
“What?” Tokiko looks at you in confusion.
You sigh lightly, “Are you going to join?”
Your so-called 'girlfriend' looks up at you, her eyes widening in shock. “You don't mind?”
“Why should I?” you respond, “It's your life and your choice after all.”
“But you'd have to wait for me so we can walk home.” You sigh, here was Tokiko's previous almost fatalistic pessimism rising again.
“I can go study in the library or something - that's where the reading club meets, I think, so I'll know when you're done.” You shrug, “Or you could just fetch me after, it's not a problem you know.”
“But won't m...” Tokiko pauses, then flushes and takes a deep breath, “... mother...” she forces out, still uncomfortable with referring to your mom in such a way, “Won't she be worried if we're late back?”
“Mom?” You shrug, “I doubt it, she's been pressuring me to join a club for ages now.” You shudder. “Probably wouldn't be so bad if it was a decent club she wanted me in. At least this way I can get her to stop I guess.”
There was silence from your partner for some time. “So,” she said at last, “We don't have to be home right away?”
“Not really,” You glance down at her, she looks oddly eager for some reason. “You got someplace you want to go?”
“Setsuna,” Tokiko pauses, “Ah, that's the girl who invited me to the reading club, she was telling be about the 'big' library.” The silver haired girl looks away from you, “I.. I want to go visit, if that's okay?”
You frown. “I don't know,” You mutter, “It's a bit far to walk from-” You cut yourself off as Tokiko's head drops in disappointment. For some reason you feel a slight twinge in your chest at the sight. “Well... I guess we could,” You say, looking up and away from the girl, “But we wouldn't be able to stay long...” Out of the corner of your eye you see Tokiko light up and you just can't help but notice how loud your heart is at the sight of her seeming so excited. “uh, we head down this way then,” you say, gesturing in the direction of the town library - opposite from the direction home.
The two of you walked the path to the library, past a few smaller shops which were preparing to close for the day. The atmosphere was pleasant though every now and then you'd glance over at Tokiko and feel a slight tenseness - she really was rather pretty when she smiled and you honestly didn't know how to react to it. Did you keep quiet? Or were you supposed to come out and say that her smile was pretty? Wouldn't that be a little weird if it came out of no-where though? But if you were going to compliment her, wasn't it best to do it while it was applicable instead of sometime later or something?
The blast lifted you clear off your feet.
Your mind was in a whirl, an overdrive of panic and adrenalin. What the hell had just happened? What the hell had just happened!? One minute you'd been grappling with your emotions, the next you'd been tumbling ass over head thanks to the pressure wave of an explosion! Your ears were ringing but despite that you could make out Tokiko asking if you were okay - she had been perhaps a step behind you and so had fortunately avoided the brunt of the blast as the two of you had, pretty much, turned around a corner and right into it.
With a little help you pulled yourself up into a low crouch and scuttled quickly behind the nearest piece of cover - a parked, and now thoroughly banged up, car. You could hear people screaming in the background as they ran away from the explosion... which now that you thought about it seemed awfully tame for such an event. Sure you'd been knocked off your feet, and everything had been quite badly banged up but... if it had been a bomb, wouldn't you have died? Surely a bomb would have totally devastated the area rather than just smash it up - right?
So not a bomb then or at least it didn't seem likely that it was a bomb... which meant that it was probably...
“Players.” Hissed Tokiko quietly as she peered around the trunk of the car, “Two of them - I... I don't know either of them.”
Feeling brave you lifted your head, looking through one side window and out the other. With the dust settling you could just about make out two sets of figures - Tokiko's eyesight must be much better than your own since you could only make out the barest of details. There were... two women? Yes, two women - both of a similar build and height, hell even their hair looked similar at this distance - all you could make out were two blobs of blue-violet where their heads were. Although it wasn't proven, the two women were obviously facing off against one another and one, possibly both, had caused the explosion which had sent you flying. One stood slightly more to the left of your current position and the other slightly more to the right. Though you did your best you couldn't locate their partners amongst the debris as they, like you, were probably ducked down behind cover someplace.
As the air cleared a few more details became visible. The woman on the left seemed to be wearing a light colored top and darker trousers of some kind. What's more was that she had what looked like a long scarf trailing loosely about her neck. Even now you could see the two ends fluttering, almost dramatically, in the breeze.
The woman on the right, however, had no such ornaments but instead seemed to stand with greater presence and confidence than the other. Her outfit was a simple red sweater or shirt and what must have easily been a calf-length black skirt. As you watched she seemed to say something to the other, thought from here you couldn't tell what it was.
“She's saying that it's a shame they met so early.” You blink and turn to face her as Tokiko speaks up.
“You can hear her? From all the way over here?” You shake your head, “My ears are still kind of ringing from that blast.”
Your partner shrugs, “My ears are better than yours, I think.” She states, “But she's talking too quietly for me to hear everything.” She frowns, “I'm not sure...”
“Not sure about what?” you ask, peering back through the windows.
“I think that one of them, and I'm not really sure, but I think one of them might be Lady Kanako of the Violent Skies.”
You look back down at Tokiko. “Violent skies?”
“It's her title.” She replies, “Lady Kanako is the patron of the Moriya shrine in Gensokyo, I heard she was a stern purple haired woman... I've never been to see the shrine myself, but both of these people match the description of her.”
“Is she strong?” You find yourself asking, once again watching the two opponents.
Tokiko nods. “Very. I heard she moved to Gensokyo, shrine and priestess, all in one go. Anyone who could move an entire shrine in one piece must be very strong.” There was a pause. “Plus she's a goddess.”
You think that over.
Then you throw yourself back to the ground, huddling with your back to the car door. “Tokiko.” You say in an all-too-calm voice. “Being a goddess... that's usually something one should mention right at the start when they answer question such as 'are they strong?' or 'are they going to be able to maim us both horribly?'.”
“Sorry,” Tokiko murmurs, her face red.
“It's okay,” you reply, reaching out to place one hand on her head. “So what do we do now? Do we have a chance at beating either of them?”
Tokiko blushes at your hand's presence, but holds her own hand up and flexes her fingers experimentally. “I... I don't know.” She says at last. “Lily should have been able to beat me without trying, she's very strong compared to me...”
“But we won against her.” You point out.
“Yes.” She responds. “I think, maybe, everyone was... equalized. Balanced out, to make it a fair contest. If that's so then... then maybe...”
“Maybe they're both weakened too.” You frown and cup your chin with your free hand. “Still,” you say, “I don't think I like the idea of a two on one fight.” You bite your lower lip as you weigh up the odds, the pros and cons of what you could do from here.
Lets gang up with the woman on the left.
Let us see if we can aid the woman on the right.
We could wait and see what happens.
Be brave and try and take them both on at once.
Maybe discretion is the best part of valor here.
>As the air cleared a few more details became visible. The woman on the left seemed to be wearing a light colored top and darker trousers of some kind. What's more was that she had what looked like a long scarf trailing loosely about her neck. Even now you could see the two ends fluttering, almost dramatically, in the breeze.
My guess, base on this description, would be pointing to either Iku or Wriggle. Though since Tokiko doesn't seem to recognise her, I think Iku's more likely to be the one facing off Kanako.
Of course, that's mere speculation.
[X] Lets gang up with the woman on the left.
Still, I rather take the chance to drill through Kanako's pillars learn how to dance.
[X] We could wait and see what happens.
[X] Alert Level: Green
Look, we're being pulled into what seems like a small-scale war. In war, information is paramount - this is a prime opportunity to observe the opposition and see whether or not they've had their power levels equalized, and how hostile they are. Don't waste this chance on running away without accomplishing anything - you can only run for so long. We should keep a cool head and see how things play out; the more we know, the more easily we can protect Tokiko.
Also, I'm a little sad to see Lunasa and Shou out of the game - particularly Shou, given how nice and caring she was. She could have made a good ally. Then again, being an avatar of Vaisravana, she could have made a horrifying opponent.
Whether only one or both of them survive the fight they ought to be exhausted. If the powerlevels really were equalized, then our appearance against one or two dead tired players should at least increase our talking value.
Seeing both duking it out in the middle of the city makes me think that neither them nor their masters are particularly timid when it comes to fighting.
By waiting for their exhaustion, and probably learning at least how they fight, we would be relatively safe from an immediate attack. No matter if we choose to fight (and kill) them on the spot there and then or gaining new allies Shirou-style.
You don't spend long thinking about it - you can't really afford the time after all.
“I want to run away,” you say at last. “but we can't.”
“I don't see why not...” Tokiko mumbles, and you feel a slight tremble under your hand. She's scared you realize. Terrified more likely but she seems to be doing her best to not show her fear off to you.
“Because,” you reply before pausing. Because why? Because you wanted to see how others fought? Because it would be an excellent way to gauge the level of the competition? Because maybe it would be possible to step in somehow and get one indebted to you? Or heck, maybe even step in and take out the victor while they were weakened perhaps? “Because...” you say at last, “... of many things. But most of all because we don't know enough - about ourselves or our enemy.”
“I read that once.” Tokiko whispers in reply, “in a book.”
“Sun-tzu maybe?” You respond, “I don't know, heard it on a quiz show once. Sounds like something he may have said though. Know yourself and know your enemy.” You smirk, “So that's what we're going to do. We'll hide back here - further if they get any closer - and we'll both watch and consider.”
Peering back over the side of the car you frown. It was obvious the two women were saying something to each other and, from the looks of it, the one on the left wasn't exactly happy with what was being said.
“You catch any of that?” You ask of Tokiko.
She shakes her head. “A little is all, something about dogs and laps. I think they're just insulting each other.”
“Lapdogs huh?” You nod to yourself. “Seems it hit the scarf woman pretty hard.” you frown and look at your partner, “I thought you said this 'Kanako' was a goddess?” Tokiko nods. “Hm. Doesn't seem to me that a goddess would be a lapdog to anyone.”
“Unless they were weak goddesses.” she cuts in. “But I was told Kanako is supposed to be among the topmost of people Gensokyo.”
“Not likely to be bowing her head to others huh?” you peer back at the two women. “So I'm guessing, and this is just a guess, that the one in red might be this Kanako person.” Suddenly you were forced to shield your eyes as a beam of light - lightning? - lit up the battlefield in a bright blue-white burst. As it faded you began blinking rapidly to recover your vision from the spots and lights that the burst had prompted to cover it. The woman on the right, Kanako perhaps, was gone while the woman on the left was standing, feet evenly apart, one arm pointing at where the other had been. “Shit,” you hiss, “that looked powerful - too powerful for us.”
“Huh,” you freeze at the unfamiliar voice. It's loud, proud and thankfully not too close to be of worry yet. It takes a few moments but you soon track the source to a patch of rubble where the red-wearing woman was standing. One leg on the floor the other raised to rest on a hunk of concrete, she was leaning forwards with her elbow resting on the knee of that leg as if she were some kind of old style delinquent girl. “So the goldfish has a little bite to her does she? I thought your kind was meant never to lay the first blows in battle.”
“My kind?” The scarfed woman asked as she strode towards the other before stopping a short distance away. “This one's kind stands far in exceedance of yourself. Despite that, the event this one participates in does preclude the behavior normally expected of this one and her peers.” There was a pause for a moment, “And though this one is not a goldfish I must concede to the whims of your memory, clouded with age and addled with drink as it is.”
Now that the two were nearer you were able to pick out more differences between the two. The woman in red seemed to be confidant in herself and her position - or perhaps just was just arrogant. That said was it really arrogance if she actually had the power and ability to back her facade up? From what Tokiko had told you one of the two women was a goddess, which meant that the other either had no idea or seriously believed that they could win such a fight - from the way the two had spoken to each other you figured that it probably wasn't the former. Physically this woman possessed the kind of body others would dream of having later in life, it was obviously that she was of the older more mature sort, thirty-something perhaps? Actually she seemed older than that, as despite her youthful fresh skin and proudly ample endowments you could sense that this was a woman who had already crested the hill of 'middle age' some time back. Was it the way she moved? The way she seemed to hold herself? You couldn't really pin it on any single thing, rather a combination of lots of little hints you realized with some worry that you recognized from having seen in your own mother.
All these little clues were missing from the other woman who, though looking only slightly younger than the first, seemed to carry herself in a much more reserved manner. Actually that was probably an understatement given how she talked, almost as if she were an object rather than a person. A deadly object though, like a grenade perhaps, as though her voice and body language were screaming 'servant' you couldn't help but notice how her hands clenched slightly as she spoke - almost as if she were imagining wrapping them around someone's neck and squeezing the life out of them.
“Feh,” the red woman dismissed the scarfed lady's words with a wave of her hand. “We could argue about this for a century or two and never get anywhere.” She grinned a cocky grin, “If you think you're better than a goddess then you should prove it the way we've always proven such things!” She cocked her head slightly, “Fight me, and win if you can.”
“Cayus!” The yell from her partner, wherever they were hiding, seemed to galvanize the red woman into action as she burst forwards, her opponent barely slipping to one side as both a fist and what looked like a small battering ram smashed into the ground she had been standing on. The red woman stood and shook her arm - from here you could see that floating just outside her forearms were two smallish logs encircled with a rope seal at one end. As she shook her arm the log next to it waved about in mid-air, following the motion exactly as if it were physically attached in some way.
“Hn,” she snorted as she looked at her arms the floating weapons as if seeing them for the first time. “Not how I'd usually use these, but I can work with this.” she muttered rolling one arm at the shoulder, the log nearest still floating and following her forearm exactly. “Just like one of those robot shows Sanae used to watch.”
Another blast of lightning lit up the battlefield, the red woman swinging her arms up into a boxer's block - the logs following and forming a makeshift shield in front of her. The lightning arced and burst the shield to leave the ground either side of the woman scorched and blackened but the woman herself relatively untouched. Darting forward the red woman pulled one arm back and swung it at a decorative column - a quick glance upwards revealed that yes the scarfed lady had been standing atop it when she had fired. Though her punch alone seemed to be terribly strong, the log that synced to her blow turned the red woman's strike into a single organic piece of wrecking equipment as it smashed through the plaster and concrete column as if it were made of polystyrene. The lady atop leaped from her column as it collapsed and landed, with more than a little wobble, on another nearby column.
“Your power is great as always,” the lady stated, “But I see it's limitations already.” So saying she raised one hand to the skies. “Anytime,” she stated, “Anywhere,” Her eyes seemed to gleam. “Thunder Break!” You sensed the slight rush of power, the little pressure inside your skull, that indicated someone casting a spell despite the fact that you couldn't hear it. Not even a second later the scarfed lady's hand crackled with energy and she swung it down to point at the red woman - a furious blast of lightning blasting from her fingertip the moment her arm stopped moving.
Looking away from the blinding light you saw Tokiko shielding her eyes with one hand. She seemed visibly nervious, a slight sheen of sweat tickling down her temple indicating her current terror. Frankly you didn't blame her, lightning and battering-ram fists? Both of these combatants seemed to be way above your level - though given how much damage they were doing... it seemed to be less than you expected? Lightning should have done more damage than merely scorch the flagstones a bit, and now that you looked closer the damage from the red woman's first strike seemed to be confined to a single solid indentation in the ground. “It's okay,” you murmur, more to yourself than to Tokiko, “this isn't as bad as it looks.”
“I don't see how it could be worse.” She hisses, “either one of them could finish us off without trying!”
“That's true,” you reply, “but only if they find us.” You smile and give the girl's hair an affectionate ruffle. “Besides, you can kick some ass yourself, and those two are too focused on each other to even notice us.”
“And when one falls?” Tokiko responds glumly. “Then they'll see and come after us.”
You shrug, “perhaps, but by then they will be tired while we will be fresh - if we can't beat them we'll at least be better able to run away than they'll be able to chase us.” You wince at the sound of another column meeting it's maker. “Besides, I still have that policeman's number on my cellphone - if we need to we might be able to get him and his partner's help.”
“She's called Koishi, you know her?” you watch as Tokiko shakes her head, then hangs it in shame. “Don't worry about it, you can't know everyone after all” you state. “Either way backup would be a help right? But only if we really need it... I'm still not entirely sure I can completely trust them yet - but given they know where we live and could have got us in our sleep if they wanted to?” You shrug, “Seems a point in their favor at least.”
“Oh,” Tokiko paused and turned to look around the corner of the car, “They're talking again.”
You stop and look at her for a moment before nodding and turning around to spy on the two women. “They're a little far for me to hear properly,” you murmur - it seemed that the fight had moved away some distance as, from the looks of it, the scarfed lady had been hopping from column to column taking potshots at the red woman.
“Um... It sounds like they're just insulting each other.” Tokiko frowns slightly, “Doesn't sound like either of them are too good at it though.”
“The red woman seems more of the 'hit first, plan later' type, while the other lady seems to be too polite to really be creative about it.” You point out to your partner - then winced as yet another lightning bolt threatened to blind you. “I wish she'd stop doing that...” you murmur, rubbing at your eyes with the back of one hand. The two women were back on the warpath, smashing and frying everything that got between them in their frenzied attempts to take each other out.
As you watched the red woman almost got herself blasted as her guard game up almost too late. When her arms came down again she was panting slightly - not tired, but definitely winded some. Likewise the scarfed lady seemed to be taking longer and longer to charge up her lightning bolts after she raised her hand.
“Why doesn't she just dodge and shoot?” Tokiko asks after a while, “That's the very basic of danmaku play - but every time she stands still then either dodges or shoots. Never both together.”
“Danmaku play?” You ask, raising one eyebrow.
“Playfighting,” she responds, “you zoom around shooting at each other and trying not to get hit.” She frowns, “Being shot feels like being hit with a pouch of rice, painful but not serious. I... I'm not very good at it at all...”
“But this isn't play,” You point out. “Play implies rules and codes of conduct - this doesn't have any of that, it's just an all out brawl.” You shrug, “besides, it's not like it helps her opponent much. That woman doesn't seem to have any ranged attacks that we've seen - or if she does she can't use them for some reason.” You frown once again, a thought occurring to you. “Which means the lightning lady over there should be able to simply blast her from range... but she keeps letting the other get close when she shouldn't need to.”
“A trap maybe?” Tokiko looks up, her brow furrowed in thought. “Faking weakness? That wouldn't make much sense ether though, she's had plenty of chances to take advantage of if she was...”
“She can dodge debris well enough, but every time she moves away from the other woman she...” you pause. A thought had occurred. Did it make sense? It seemed to make sense for the moment but could it really be that way? “I think,” you say at last, “She has to keep herself grounded.”
“Grounded?” your partner looked confused, “but neither of them are flying?”
“Flyi-” you cut yourself off, your curiosity could wait. “Nevermind. I don't mean grounded like that - I mean she needs to keep herself grounded while she charges up her attack.” Seeing Tokiko still looking puzzled you sigh to yourself. How could this girl not know about electricity? “In simple terms, she has to keep one foot on the ground to charge up. When she's been dodging debris she's only been moving one foot so as to duck and weave around things but whenever the other woman attacks she can't do that.”
“Oh!” The silver haired girl lit up in understanding. “Because she can't duck and weave around that she's always been jumping out of the way! That means neither of her feet are on the ground!” She grins slightly, “And the other person can't fight at range, which is why she can't take advantage of this!”
“Still...” you murmur, “Something feels off.” You frown as Tokiko quietens. “You have two spells in your book, and Lily had two spells - neither of which were anything like what these two are slinging around here.”
“Ah, you're right.”
“Which makes me wonder, those two should probably have two spells each as well - right?” you peer out onto the battlefield. “So why aren't they using their other one?”
“My spell was...” Tokiko trails off, looking uncomfortable for a few moments. Then she takes a deep breath, looks you in the eyes and continues in a rush. “My spell was dangerous, but in danmaku play something like that would be considered fairy level at best - even a novice can dodge what a normal fairy throws around. No matter how strong it is if the danmaku patterns are easy enough to avoid then you wouldn't worry about them at all. Even someone like myself has nothing to fear against anything of the sort Lily threw at us really since in they end they were just so... simple...” She trails off, her eyes widening once more. “That's why they're not using any other attacks! Their other spells must be fairy-level patterns! If one of those two fighters is Lady Kanako then she'd be able to avoid something like that without even trying!”
“And if her opponent was considered to be on a fairly close level...” You continue, suddenly understanding what Tokiko was driving at. “I see, they must have other projectile attacks like yours - but they're both convinced that they have no hope of hitting the other in a straight shootout.”
“Or at least they convinced their partners of that, which is why they're not using those spells!” Tokiko all but cheered as she finished and, frankly, you couldn't blame her. She seemed so excited over figuring this out that she had forgotten her earlier fear of being obliterated by either of the two other game players out there.
“It doesn't help us right now though,” you point out, feeling a stab of guilt as her expression falls. “But it's something to keep in mind, we don't have to play by any rules but everyone who's got used to playing by the rules might still do so out of habit.”
There was a scream of rage which caused you to abandon your conversation and stick your head over the side of the car. Seeing the two women going at each other like... well, cats and dogs would probably fight each other with less fervor than the two were trying to kill each other with. You couldn't tell who had snapped but you could tell that the fight was getting both more brutal and less focused - the two of them were blasting or smashing with little regard at all for anything else in the area. You winced as a hunk of concrete bounced off the other side of your cover and causing Tokiko to slap both hands over her mouth to avoid letting out a squeak of fear at the impact.
Suddenly it happened.
The red woman, standing between your cover and the scarfed lady, hurled herself to the left instead of to the right as her opponent had expected. The shining bold of lightning smashed into the car you were hiding behind and making the entire thing all but jump from the strike.
Your eyes widened.
“Tokiko!” you yelled, heedless of your need for stealth as right now there was a much greater need. You grabbed the stunned girl by one arm, dragged her to her feet and ran.
Those had been fuel fumes you had smelled just then. Though you knew that cars didn't explode as they did in the movies you had still moved with the speed and desperation of someone who had just realized they were standing next to a potential bomb. The effect of lightning on escaping fuel was one that you only wished to experiment with at a safe distance such as, say, several miles away and watching the result on television.
Not trusting any of the other nearby motor vehicles for cover anymore you soon found yourself angling towards the wreckage of one of the square's decorative columns. Tokiko was all but hurled over one of the larger chunks by you, followed momentarily by yourself as you vaulted over and ducked down the moment you landed. Once again your partner found your hand atop her head, though this time it wasn't to ruffle or reassure but instead to force her down as well.
Thanks to the distinct lack of anything resembling an explosion or even a fireball you were beginning to feel maybe a tiny bit stupid.
“What what that for!?” Tokiko hissed, forcing her head up despite your hand holding her down.
“I panicked.” You reply, wincing as you said it. “Smelled fumes, thought the car might explode or something.”
“or something?” your partner hissed again.
“Or burst into flames! I don't know! I just know it wasn't safe for us to -” You pause. “I don't hear fighting.”
Tokiko's eyes widen. “You think they saw us?” She asks, her voice now discovering a slight tremble. You risk a quick peek around the rubble, then nod.
“They seem to be surprised,” You listen hard for a moment, “Don't think they know why we're here, possible they suspect us of being reinforcements for their opponents.” You sigh, “I'm sorry,” you mutter. “This was my screw-up.”
“It was.” The silver-haired girl smirks, then starts to snigger a little. “It was a good one though. Exciting at least.”
“Would have been better if the car exploded, like in an action movie, once we dove over here though.” You smile slightly as Tokiko nods sagely. Your smile then fades as you force yourself to be serious once more. “This is it then, we either run or fight. Even if we called for help there's no telling if it will come and even if it does I don't know if it would arrive in time.”
“I've never seen a movie before.” Tokiko says suddenly. “When we get home, I want to see one.”
You raise an eyebrow. “Surprisingly confidant of you,” you state, “what caused this?”
Tokiko ducks her head. “I thought I was dead when Lily found us - but instead we won.” She glances away. “I... I didn't like... what we did... but... but if we did it once then maybe we can do it again.” She looks up at you. “Maybe you can do it again.”
Well shit. As if you didn't have enough pressure already.
LETS DO THIS:
Run like hell! Run Shiori, Run.
Negotiation! Talk it through - quickly.
Open fire! Let loose the birds of war.
Backstab! We're your friend - not.
IS THIS A CHOICE OF TARGET?
Woman in Red
Lady with Scarf
Why pick - do both.
MY BLOOD IS:
Hot, Warm, Cool, Cold.
(Yes, three - count them, THREE - things to vote on this time! All will be tallied seperately.)
[ ] Negotiation! Talk it through - quickly.
[ ] The woman in Red
[ ] Cool.
We want to keep a level head, and this may require some calculating on our part, but we don't want cold blooded, cut throat, out and out negoiations. Keep our wits about us, and potentially win a powerful melee ally, which could be of great help against any other melee people. Especially since I don't think Tokiko would have any melee to speak of. Plus, If we manage to win over Kanako, we may be able to win over Sanae. Girl familiar with the outside world, with the power to create miracles? YES PLEASE.
TL;DR - Let cool heads prevail, we needs us a tank, and maybe, just maybe, we can work a miracle out of this~
Of course, trying to negoiate with both may seem like a good idea, but getting greedy may backfire on us. It'd probabally come out like we were just trying to save our own skin, though I could just as easily be wrong. Two allies, or even two people that we have a temporary cease fire with is better than one.
TL;DR - Too much theoriziation when I have no idea what I'm talking about.
“Uh, hey!” You call out, leaning back slightly to carry your voice over your cover. “We're uh, coming out?” You glance down at Tokiko, then back up again. “We're, um, we're friendly?” Well that didn't sound very convincing did it?
Taking a deep breath you turn and stand up, facing both women over the remains of the column. Over to one side you could see the car you had fled from burning, not particularly fiercely but enough that you were glad you had abandoned it when you did. Behind you Tokiko also stands and for a moment you feel a twinge of anger over her using your own body as cover - but you quickly quash that thought when you consider how scared she must be right now given that she was the one these two would want to be killing if they turned nasty.
You raise one hand in a peaceful greeting. “Yo.” you state, doing your best to look cheerful.
You wilt slightly as the two women glare at you, neither of them giving you their full attention of course as they were also doing their best to not look away from their opponent. Tokiko too wilts back and it is this that makes you bite your lip and straighten your back - looking brave in front of a girl you're... fond... of? Bonus points for gallantry at least, if perhaps a negative score for self-preservation.
Neither of the women seems inclined to reply. “Um... We're not here to cause trouble?” You venture, a slight wave of your hand eliciting a twitch from both women. Internally you winced, it seemed both of these two were definitely on the 'edgy' side of trigger happy.
“Ambush?” The scarfed lady said suddenly, “One did not think such as you would be so craven as to employ such a strategy.”
“Funny,” replied the woman in red, “Here I was just thinking that you were the sort who would.”
“Celestials do not concern themselves with the machinations of youkai.” came the reply. You frowned - celestials? A glance down at Tokiko merely rewarded you with a shrug, evidently she didn't know what they were either - or at least didn't know well enough to explain it.
“That would be admirable,” the red woman responded, “If you actually were a celestial. All you are is a little goldfish swimming at the bottom of a big pond.”
“Hey!” You yelled, causing both women's heads to suddenly snap to face you. Fighting the urge to cringe you stare at both of them, your hands clenching and unclenching in nervousness. “Don't act like we're not even here!”
“Hoh?” The red woman raised one eyebrow as she looked at you and, more specifically, at Tokiko. “You may as well be,” she stated, “If you were anyone worth fretting over then I would recognize you.”
The other woman too raised an eyebrow, but this was directed more at the red woman than at you and Tokiko. “Truely, the arrogance of the land-bound gods is tremendous - or perhaps you forget that all have been placed upon the similar level at the Yama's insistence. Even the most minor of beings now has the capacity to fell the mightiest of warriors.” She smirked slightly.”One supposes one should even be wary of the likes of a god such as you.”
“Fighting talk doesn't suit a mere servant like you.” The red woman responded, “Equalized or not, experience will be what tells in this battle - and few have the experience a god of war possesses.”
“Yeah, uh,” You laugh nervously. “Don't mind us, we'll just be on our way - no threat to you two at all right? None at all.”
“That, one thinks, is not how this contest is played.” The scarfed woman nodded as she spoke.
The red woman snorted, “Feh. Much as I hate to agree with her, you're still going to have to die if I'm going to win.”
“Woah! Woah! Woah!” you wave both hands up in front of you, “No need to be hasty here!” behind you you can feel Tokiko clutch at your shirt. “All I'm asking is we, maybe, not deal with this right now?” You manage a forced grin. “It wouldn't do to have to fight whoever wins here, right? Since they'd be all exhausted and all, right?”
“Ha!” The woman in red laughed, “Overestimating yourself there a little I think.” she stated, pointing at both you and Tokiko. “Even without my powers I'm more than a match for a youkai like that. Hell, I can tell she's barely above a fairy!”
“This one must admit to similar thoughts,” Added the other woman, though before you could commend she continued. “However this one is not so arrogant as to dismiss even the smallest of beings so lightly - this one has learned that lesson during this one's conflict with the Hakurei maiden and her allies before.”
You frowned. Negotiation, it seemed, was not likely to be all that easy. “Eye on the goal,” you muttered to yourself, “getting out of here with Tokiko in one piece - anything else is a bonus.”
Agitation - get your opponents riled up at each other
Pacification - calm down dear, it's only a deathmatch
Admiration - how may I compliment you, beautiful
Negotiation - art of the deal, an exchange of services
Misinformation - two parts truth, one part lies
Talk it out, see what you get. Obviously both react differently to different approaches.
PS: fhwgds. I thought the auto-sage limit was (a lot) lower than it apparently is.
We dont' have to promise something we can deliver now, or possibly, we could play it off that almost any touhou would react to us the way that those two did. Either with blank non-recognition, or 'no more powerful than a fairy', which would make us the perfect spy for either. They're able to stay safe and sound while we wander around trying to see which other Touhou have come close to us, and then could forulate a plan from there. Also, could potentially use us as bait. Mind you, I'm not advocating that we be used like this, but we could theoretically manipulate them into taking out other touhou for us, if we run into someone we can't beat and can escape back to our ally.
Blood, you thought, was one of those things which when tasted really woke up the body as a whole. Especially when it was your blood and it was coming from what felt like a split lip - it hurt like hell but you hadn't felt any loose teeth or anything to indicate a worse injury.
And to think the damn thing that caused it had barely even grazed you.
Diplomatic sneakiness was not, you had decided, one of your strong points. Oh, sure, trying to talk the two women into resuming their own fight had been a good idea at the time. Had they ended up fighting each other again then you would have been free to make your own moves - be they an attack or an escape. What you hadn't counted on, and in hindsight you really should have expected it, was for the red woman to not only realize what you were doing but actually take serious offense to the attempt at manipulation.
Or maybe it was something you had said which set her off? With the ringing in your ears from the near miss you were having a hard time remembering exactly what it was you had said before she had swung at you.
Your fault for smugly assuming your plan would work you supposed.
You should probably do something nice for Tokiko later, what with her having been the one to pull you away from a blow which should have shattered your jaw at least. It was lucky that the red woman's spell had worn off - you don't think you would have avoided her logs and you were certain that you had no chance of surviving even a glancing blow from one of them.
Stumbling backwards with Tokiko's arms wrapped around your waist you had little choice but to stumble over the smaller girl - sending the both of you sprawling to the floor. The red woman seemed to loom over you both while her knuckles cracked and popped in an open declaration of imminent extermination.
Thank god for having a sister who used to regularly beat the crap out of you.
Without thinking you drew back one leg, then rammed your foot into the woman's shin as hard as you could, your other foot had already hooked itself behind hers and from there it was just a simple lever principle in action. Your foot as the fulcrum, your other foot as the force applied - all the strength in the world wouldn't help against something as fundamental as that.
It had worked against your sister in the past and in the present it worked just fine against the red woman. Despite being a brawler this was one trick it seemed she hadn't expected or perhaps even encountered before - she went down like a sack of bricks with an angry howl. The scarfed lady wasted no time in capitalizing on this by darting from where she had stood in surprised silence and delivering a vicious stomp to the woman's chest. Her foot stopped dead however as the red woman's arms snapped up and her hands wrapped themselves around the lady's lower leg. With a wrench the red woman rolled onto her side, dragging the scarfed lady along with her onto the floor. She continued to roll up and onto the fallen foe then grabbed ahold of her other leg, twisted until she was straddling the scarfed lady and then knotted one of her victims legs under the other and pulled.
The scarfed lady screamed.
Rolling off of Tokiko you looked up at the scene with wide eyes. “That's a Texas Clover Hold!” you hiss, causing the red woman to look up and smile viciously at you. Scrambling to your feet you were surprised to find Tokiko had beaten you there and had put herself between the two women and yourself. Looking over her head you saw the red woman, having adjusted her hold slightly, thrusting one now free hand in your direction.
“Vaydra!” your gaze snapped over to the direction of the yell, where you caught a glimpse of someone ducking behind the corner of a building. One of the previously missing partners? With the spell they had just yelled out they would have to -
Your eyes tracked back to the red woman, several diamonds of light already bursting into being in a ring around her hand. The diamonds hovered haphazardly then all suddenly pointed in the same direction - right at where your chest was by your estimation. There was a flash, silver hair, blue and black cloth, pale thigh, black boots. Your eyes widened once more, this time in a mix of awe and terror as Tokiko leapt into the air far higher than any human could have managed from a standing start. It seems she had angled her jump backwards somewhat as she soon passed over your own head - leaving you to face the oncoming wave of diamonds, each following the line they had pointed in moments ago.
Something hit you in the shoulders, one impact for each side. The unexpected blows knocked you to the floor seconds before the diamonds rushed through where your chest had been, their tight formation already breaking up as...
You twisted on the floor to look behind you.
Time seemed to move in slow motion as Tokiko, descending from her jump, pulled her arms up to protect her head and her knees up to protect her chest just as the red woman's shots crashed into her.
A horrible image of Lily, her chest blown wide open, pushed itself to the front of your thoughts.
“Tokiko!” You screamed her name, scrambling like mad to get to her first by crawling, then loping and finally running as you managed to combine standing up and high speed movement into one single action. You reached her just as she hit the ground, a squeal of pain escaping her as her injured body protested against this new pain - hearing it you dropped and slid, like some kind of fevered baseball player, the tough concrete shredding the skin of your legs and rear through your thin trousers. The action, the pain, wasn't in vain as you managed to get your hands under Tokiko a split second before the back of her head would have smashed against the floor.
She smiled weakly.
“Sorry...” She murmured, “I... I didn't hurt you... did I?”
You bit your lip. Looking down at the wounds she had received - great gouges in her arms and legs that were oozing with blood - you looked at her. Then you looked away from her and up at the red woman, still saddling the scarfed lady who even now screamed every time the red woman pulled back on her legs.
Mn. Not quite seeing the Kanako 'uber ice bitch' here. Several of reasons. One, You're a human. Trying to manipulate a Goddess. One can see how this might piss her off. Two, because of your little distraction, Kanako almost got curb stomped. 'cause, you know, she and Iku were fighting before you interrupted. And finally, Goddess of War. Immobilze the stronger opponent, and take out the minor threats while the greater threat is occupied/held. Common tactic dating back to the Chinese.
[ ] cool.
But as a famous cartoon rabbit once said, quoting a great comedian, "Of course you realize, this means war."
“Can you stand?” you asked, still looking at the red woman. A dark feeling was welling up from the pit of your stomach, a cold feeling, one that seemed to spread tentacles of itself throughout your body. “Can you fight?” You ask, realizing that this feeling was known to you - though perhaps not in the scale or form that you were experiencing it now.
Not the hot burning anger that you usually knew it as but instead a cold, heavy, anger that seemed to push you into standing up with one arm wrapped around Tokiko. Wrath, perhaps, would be a better term for it - you hated the red woman, not for who she was but for what she had done.
She'd hurt Tokiko and for that you were going to educate her in why this had been a grave error on her part.
“F-fight?” Your partners hesitant voice filtered through the haze in your head. “How? I'm no good at fighting!”
You glance down at her. “You beat Lily.” you state, “Was Lily strong?”
“Well, um, yes... Lily is stronger than me - but that was just luck!” Tokiko seems to shudder slightly within your arm's embrace. “Y-you can't expect me to fight on their level.”
“Yes I can,” you respond. “Because their level isn't so far above you.” You glance down at Tokiko, though you're careful to keep the red woman within your peripheral vision. “You heard them, everyone was equalized at the beginning of this fight. That means they can't be that far above you right now and, more importantly, it means you can rise above them if you try.”
“B... but...” Tokiko trails off and slumps slightly, then seems to come to some internal decision. “If I fight... If I win... I get to stay another day.” she mutters, standing up straighter than before. “I want to stay with you and mother and sister!” her head snapped up, “I want to go to the reading club with Mayumi from school! I want to go to school again! I want...” She looked down, her eyes screwed shut, “I... I want...”
“I want to show her you're not weak.” You cut in, Tokiko's head snapping up at your words. “But mostly I just want to kick her ass for what she did to you.”
“She was aiming at you.” Tokiko stated, “If I hadn't...” She paused, then frowned. Her lips moved quickly as she mumbled something under her breath, then her eyes widened suddenly. “That sneaky -”
“She aimed at me knowing you'd jump in?” your partner looks up at you in surprise at your having predicted what she was going to say. “Strategically sound,” you point out, “Either I would.... die... or you would get in the way while saving me.”
“She underestimated me, didn't she?” The smaller girl frowns slightly. “She thought I would be weak enough to die from that hit - but I didn't.” She laughs once, “If this was danmaku I'd already... have... lost...” She trails off, eyes widening. “She forgot this wasn't danmaku play? Or maybe she's so used to it now that she hasn't gotten used to shooting to kill again?”
“Her mistake then.” You state, “The second one that will cost her dearly.”
“Second?” Tokiko asks.
You look down at her and she seems to shrink back slightly from whatever it is she sees in your eyes. “Her first was hurting you.” You look back at the red woman and raise your empty hand to point at her, your other hand already snapping your grimoire open. “Tokiko.” You state. “Follow my lead for this, okay?”
She nods, then looks in the direction you're pointing, her face scrunched up in what you think is an attempt to look fierce. Despite the gravity of the situation you almost, almost, started laughing at how she looked.
“Baraika!” As you yelled out the spell Tokiko thrust one of her hands forward in the direction of the red woman. From her palm burst forth multicolored balls of light in a shotgun of color. The red woman merely raised an eyebrow at this display - from this distance it was unlikely that any of the shots would actually hit her, as they spread out in a random cone shape. The few that did come close enough were easily avoided as she bent and twisted so that they'd miss her by what seemed the narrowest of margins.
She raised her own hand to retaliate, but you and Tokiko were already moving - the weakness of the red-woman's diamond attack, once you had thought about it, was obvious. The diamonds did track you with uncanny precision but the moment they were released their flightpath was locked meaning that as long as you kept moving it was almost impossible for them to hit either of you.
Every few moments you yelled out the spell again, filling the air with Tokiko's bullets of light. Occasionally the red woman was forced to block but for the most part she just kept squirming just out of the way of harm. The more you called the spell the heavier your limbs started to feel... you weren't stupid, it wasn't hard to tell that however the spells worked you were the one providing the power - in the form of your own energy - to make them happen. Frustrated at the lack of accuracy Tokiko's shotgun attack had you ducked behind some debris for a moment to give yourself a little time to scan the grimoire, Tokiko diving just behind you.
Hadn't there been a second spell in this book?
You didn't know what it did but right now anything with a bit of accuracy would be better than what you were using now. “You okay?” You asked quickly, receiving a nod from Tokiko. “Gonna try something different - there's a second spell in here I'm going to try.”
“Second?” your partner seemed surprised. “I guess it couldn't hurt to try...”
You grin. “On my mark then.”
You came out from behind your cover, running at full tilt, while your partner dashed out in the opposite direction. The two of you circled around the red woman, who seemed to be prioritizing Tokiko as a target - made sense you supposed, she was going to be the source of any attacks after all.
Gripping the grimoire tightly you mutter a quick prayer to whatever gods might be listening - a little ironic perhaps, since you may actually be fighting one right now... well whatever, you just hoped this would work.
“The second spell!” The red woman's head whips around to lock onto you as you yell. “Doban!” The minute you call out the red woman's eyes widen and she whips her head back to locate Tokiko. Your partner had stopped and, from the looks of it, flung both arms out towards her target. From each came a short stream of bullets, each close enough together to make it appear as if she had just flung two lengths of chain out at the red woman.
Unable to avoid them both the red woman brings her free arm up and you hear a yell from behind - her partner perhaps? As one of the two streams just passes her by the other impacts against one of the logs from earlier, freshly summoned again thanks to her partner. Tokiko's shots seem to fight against the log for a moment, the mass of close impacts seeming to leave a large dent in the wood, but in the end the log wins out as the bullets vanish. The other stream continues onwards where it hits the side of a building and...
Then you grin.
Tokiko's second spell could ricochet.
And the red woman hadn't seen it happen!
“Tokiko!” you roar, “This way!” The plan you had just imagined was a bit shaky, risky too, but if you could pull it off then you'd at least manage to score a decent hit against the red woman. Since you couldn't exactly yell the details to Tokiko you could only hope that she'd be able to guess what you were going to do. “Doban!” This time when Tokiko flung her attack out it was aimed not at the red woman but instead at you and your position on the opposite side. You grinned and dove to one side as the red woman, as before, blocked one stream and let the other just slip past her.
“Baraika!” Tokiko's shotgun burst outwards and the red woman, now she had her logs, chose to block the few errant projectiles that came close enough. You grinned a feral grin. Perfect. As her attention was on the attacks from the front she didn't notice as Tokiko's earlier stream bounced off a wall directly behind her and shot straight for her exposed back.
“Miss Kanako!” You turned at the call, “Look out!” A boy, maybe a year or two younger than yourself, was running out from wherever he had been hiding. The red woman, Kanako you supposed, turned at the yell - then swore as the stream of bullets clipped her just to one side of her spine. You saw mangled flesh, blood and... and was that the white of bone? Though the wound would be deadly to a normal person the red woman, Kanako, seemed to merely consider it a minor annoyance as she leapt from her perch atop the scarfed lady. Tokiko had maybe a moment to consider the trouble she was in before Kanako's fist smashed into her gut. Thankfully her logs had vanished upon receiving her wound so at least the blue-haired girl wasn't being crushed by that as well. Even so she still doubled over around Kanako's fist and you screamed as the impact caused her breakfast to revisit the world in the form of vomit.
The next moment she was flying backwards, her body still bent double, soon gravity pulled her downwards and she bounced twice before sliding to a stop. Kanako, obviously done with her for the time being, turned to you now. You gulped - even if Tokiko was able to survive such a blow you had no illusions about being able to do the same yourself.
“Ahem.” Kanako paused at the noise, turned, then screeched in pain as the scarfed lady - who had pulled herself up to lean against the remains of a column - blasted her with lightning. It didn't seem to be as powerful as her earlier shots but it didn't matter so much as this time it clipped the red woman good - her entire arm was caught in the electrical discharge. You could barely make out it's blackened shape and as the light from the blast faded away you wrinkled your nose in disgust at the horrific smell of scorched flesh.
“Miss Kanako!” You roll over and see Kanako's partner standing only a few feet away with a look of absolute horror on his face. For a moment you wonder what relation the boy has with her - she's his partner but Tokiko is more than that to you, is Kanako more than that to him too?
Fuck. You didn't want to think about this now, you had more pressing stuff to concern yourself with - such as the fact that the boy was flipping through the pages of his book in a mad scramble to find... what? What did he expect to find exactly? He'd already shown all the cards he had in this fight, did he expect the book would just provide him with some new trump card? You smirked at that, books didn't write themselves!
You froze. Your face paled.
Normal books didn't write themselves. But the grimoire you held had done exactly that when it had updated itself with the pictures of people who had been defeated, hadn't it?
Did it work that way too with the spells you had originally read from it?
Could the books simply write themselves new spells to use?
You turned, scrabbled to your feet and ran. The boy yelled something, but you weren't listening, you had already focused everything you had onto Tokiko - still lying on the ground where she had landed after Kanako's punch hit her. Out of the corner of your eye you could see the scarfed woman scramble away from something in a panic.
Then you felt the pressure.
If you had to describe it, later, you would have said that it was like all those manga you read as a kid. Killing Intent they would have called it. The pressure formed in your own mind over the absolute certainty that you were going to die at the hands of whoever was threatening you. Kanako was behind you - how far you couldn't tell. It felt as if she were literally breathing down the back of your neck and your body was reacting as such despite a tiny part of your brain telling you that such a thing simply couldn't be the case.
Something flew past.
It was big, round, brown... A log!
More like a missile.
Slower than a missile actually. Slow enough that you could just about catch up with it if you pushed... and pushed a bit harder... and... and...
Where had the ground gone?
Your legs had flown out from under you as your feet slipped and your run turned into a crash. You hit the ground hard, a tangle of arms and legs and head and back and god damn it why was the ground so fucking painful to land on?
Kanako's spell, for the log missile must have been hers, continued on it's own path towards Tokiko heedless of your fall.
Your arm reached out of it's own accord.
Your head bowed, tears rising to your eyes. What the hell could you do? What the hell could you do!?
“This isn't a time to be laying down!” A girls voice echoed around the square, “Not when Magical Koishi is here!”
You looked up just in time to see a blur of yellow and green land on top of the log missile - the impact changing it's trajectory and forcing it to smash into the ground just short of where Tokiko was. As the dust cleared you began to make out a waif of a girl standing atop the log. Her hair was a light aqua color and she wore a yellow shirt along with a green pleated skirt.
She also seemed to be posing like something out of an old magical girl show.
“Have no fear!” She declared. “Magical Koishi is -” She paused, then her head swung back and forth. “Ara? Where did the enemy go?” Then she looked down at you, her face scrunching up slightly in thought. “Ah! I remember! You're Ryotsu's friend!” She sighed. “Well foo. That's no fun - I thought you were going to be some evil team I could beat up! Bish! Bash! Bosh!” She mimed some little punches as she provided her own sound effects. Suddenly she dropped her fists and shrugged. “Well it looks like both big names have already made their getaway, that just leaves you and the little birdie here, no?”
She smiled sweetly before hopping off her perch and skipping over to Tokiko. “Such a brave little birdie,” She murmured, “All hurt now... But don't worry! Doctor Koishi can fix you right up!” The girl turned and grinned at you. “I'm always patching up my sister's pets you see, so I'm rather good with animals - and youkai of such too.” She frowned and walked slowly over to you. “But really, you shouldn't have been putting such a fragile birdie in harms way to begin with.” Crouching down she looks at you closely. “Still, even little Utsuho was a fragile birdie once, so it's not like your birdie can't become something strong. But she will need help.”
She blinks then as she seems to realize something.
“Ah!” She exclaims. “We should probably get out of here before Ryotsu's co-workers come to see what happened.” Then she turns to look at one of the nearby rooftops and waves. “You should leave too!” She yells, “Have a nice day!”
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
[ ] Run Away Run Away Faster - Mary Mary Quite Contrary - Every Evil Has It's Own Reflection Of Good
[ ] Saturday Night Is Party Night - Why Don't I Have A Black Cat - Translated Around An Angle On A Plane
[ ] A Show Better Than Pro Wrestling - Might Makes Right Unless You Cheat - In Olden Days You Would Call Them Blue
yes! no temperature thing this time. I wonder why? It doesn't matter what you vote here since it's just a selection of intermissions to look at. (such as the stuff much earlier) have fun working out who you're voting to see though.
>Run Away Run Away Faster - Mary Mary Quite Contrary - Every Evil Has It's Own Reflection Of Good
Aya - Maribel? - Shikieiki
>Saturday Night Is Party Night - Why Don't I Have A Black Cat - Translated Around An Angle On A Plane
Iku - Chen - ?
>A Show Better Than Pro Wrestling - Might Makes Right Unless You Cheat - In Olden Days You Would Call Them Blue
Yuugi - Tewi - ?
[+] A Show Better Than Pro Wrestling - Might Makes Right Unless You Cheat - In Olden Days You Would Call Them Blue