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The moon beams from high in the sky, it distances itself from the enclosed courtyard below. A standing pond mimics the vast midnight, it is only interrupted by a red lacquered ceder bridge. A set of foot paths remain spotless despite the nearby trees being barren of leaves. The waxing gibbous illuminates all with it's silver grace. Things hidden from view still receive the blessing. Beneath the roof of the large mansion and through the paper thin walls, even the guarded sanctuary of a room still catches some through the slightly parted door.
The soft sound of cloth rustling can be heard in the silence of the night.
"Have you returned again, Eihi?"
"Did I leave? My wheel has been turning for a while now. Do I look broken?" She examines herself with a subdued curiosity. It is easy to get the impression that she had just forgotten about herself until now.
"I suppose I should be used to your antics by now. I meant that you have returned to my room, my home..." The girl continues to examine the look on the blank cat's face for a bit. Then with a bit of a sigh, expresses a few more words. "My bed."
"Oh, the soft looking one, I'm still impressed on how soothing it feels. If I lay down in it long enough even I would feel like falling asleep." She eagerly eyes it by just peaking over the ledge of the shelf she lie on. She flicks her tail back and forth low to the surface.
"Sorry, but it won't be around for long."
"What?! You don't have to be jealous, we can both share."
"Even if you weren't a problem, it still has to go."
"Oh, is that why you're still up?.
"I've been preparing all this time and now I finally have a chance. I'll actually be doing something, unlike my content brothers and sisters." She says so with conviction as she shakes her balled up fist next to her waist. Her fierce demeanor quickly turns to uncertainty for a split second before masking it with a half-command, "If you want, you can come too. I guess it wouldn't be too bad to have company along the way."
"I've never traveled before and with a princess even."
"Don't call me that." The girl snaps at the cat, her glowing eyes widen at the whispered yell. With a few taut pulls of cloth she finishes the final touches on her wardrobe. "Hurry up or you'll be left behind." The door to the room quickly slides open and shut. The orange glow quickly fades from the corners and flats of the furniture and interior. The room is cut off completely and not even the calming light of the moon can reach it now.
The sharp rays of the sun creep over you as you continue to lie down in the comfort of such soft covers. The conflicting warm light and cool breeze seeping through the cracked walls irritates your already throbbing headache. Dull pain from the previous day prods at your body as you stir. A soft sound from your stomach lets you know that it still exists. You are practically forced awake from all the nuisances. There was little time for anything before the fatigue stole you away last night.
Turning to your side, you glance at the empty space that Tewi was sleeping in. It makes you wonder if it was actually slept in or just casually tossed about like a storm passed through. The top cover lie folded chaotically over and through itself while being a sizable distance from anything else. Each piece nowhere near its intended place or state.
Your sapped vigor has returned through rest and prevents you from going back to sleep. A restless feeling begins to loom the longer you continue to idle about. No use trying to avoid the soreness, some light activity would do some good to loosen some muscles.
Shifting your weight back and forth to your legs, you try to stand up. It ends with a few failures as your body attempts to adjust. With a final grunt, you manage to upright yourself fully then reach towards the ceiling. Testing your range of motion and stretching, you find out that you are still mostly intact. There is some dull pain in your right arm and in the joints of your legs. By yesterday's end, it felt like you should have ended up a lot worse. You are thankful that nothing is seriously injured. It may be a little tough moving around like you want but there is no real rush. First stop is the bathroom, you feel unclean when you were forced to skip washing up last night.
You freshen up with a basin of water. You loosen the pressure that wraps around your head. Small flakes are chipped away as you peel it. There is a tightness in your heart as you see the state of the pink dress. Just in scraps and covered in blood. You need to make a new set for Tewi later, when you have the materials. While you would like to see her prance around in that suiting pink dress, you'll have to settle with just something quick and simple. That's the most important goal before moving on, getting something together so that Tewi can walk into town with you. With a few splashes to the face you let your mind assemble today's agenda. It feels nice to wash away the traces of sweat and blood left over from yesterday. Recover, clothes, and prepare is what today should boil down to. Now is the time to cover your wounds with something more suitable for the job. Scrounging around you find something that could be considered a bandage. A neatly folded pile of white cloth wraps are set in the corner, that will do. You secure it around your head and cut it to size. One less thing to worry about.
You make your way to the back door and with a step outside, the crisp air enters your lungs as you glance at the surroundings in detail. The impacts against the ground from the battle will probably be around for a few seasons. Charred remains of grass in rough circular splashes are scattered here and there from the fox fires. The crinkling and crackling springs from beneath as you approach the dispelled post with your lodged metal sliver sticking from the top. It takes some back and forth but eventually you free it from its wood confines. Letting it shift around freely in your hand, it feels a little off. The weight is lacking and the keen tip it used to have has dulled. There was one more that you lost.
"Hmmm, I was around here." You replay your steps from yesterday and fling your hand outwards. "Was it like this?" All you remember is the pain on your hand. It could have been tossed in several directions. So instead you just scan the general area. Minutes pass as you let the ground seep into your eyes. You search for the hint of the thin dark material amongst the muddled greens and dark browns. It is shortly interrupted by a grumble. A familiar sound, commonly interrupting your work, reminds you that you need life giving nutrients. With a sigh you stop and make your way inside. The one that was rescued is returned to its case. Six out of seven, that's fine for now.
A simple stoke and a gentle breath is enough to stir the embers on the dying fire. You nurture it enough with small strips to add larger cuts and soon it reaches its former glory.
You glance up frozen at the opening leading to the kitchen. A long and low sound of the heavy wooden door scraping against its tracks encompasses all of your focus. Such a simple indication but it can mean so much. Why do you have this tinge of dread wash over you? Why is your hand reaching for your skewers? There is the feeling of hate, disgust of having no control. There is but a easy solution to this problem. The desire to seek more power fills your mind while waiting for what walks through that doorway.
"Oh, you're awake?" Tewi peeks around the corner with a muted footstep. "I got a few things!" She fully appears with a carefree smile that matches her attitude about lack of clothes.
"I just woke up and I see you have been busy." It's quite a relief that it's just Tewi and not the foxes returning for revenge. With her nearby at least you can feel safe. Now that you have been introduced properly to the world of youkai your eyes have been opened. You notice the large basket filled with an assortment of plants and food.
"This one is specifically for you." Tewi plops down the weaved container and clasps onto a fish. Her grip with both hands cannot even fit around the width of the body. "Well, what do you think? I'm going to make sure you eat it all." Your soon to be breakfast limply writhes as she shakes it at you. Its tail is long enough to smack against her exposed belly with a vigorous pop. Many of the bruises and scratches seem to have faded, they were a lot worse yesterday.
"That is a pretty big fish, how did you even manage to get it?" You wave her towards you so that you can get a better look. At the fish of course, sometimes it's hard to not lose focus when Tewi does such pronounced things. "Based on yesterday I can say that you definitely can but the actual way you do it is a mystery."
"Well first you have to stand in the river. Be still like a rock and let the water flow over you." She motions for you to hold the fish. You let it rest in your outward held palms so it lies flat. "Clear your mind and become one with nature." She closes her eyes and holds out her hands similarly to how you did. There is a light purse on her mouth as she breathes deeply, her petite chest rises and lowers slowly as the air flows between her lips."And then a fish will jump into your arms."
"..." Several seconds pass by as you just wait. Tewi eventually peeks through her right eye and beckons you with a slight gesture of her head. Simultaneously the tips of her fingers flex. You play along and plop the river dish back into her care. "I should have known, such harmony and grace even while hunting."
"I'm glad to have found somebody that understands." Her attention turns to the fish. "Such a noble and selfless friend, I'll remember this for at least a day." She gives a self satisfied nod. "You should be thankful as well. Nyehehe."
"You shouldn't play with food but I suppose I should cook for you in appreciation for your hard work instead of scolding you."
"I'm looking forward to it." The fish is given to you once again so that you may begin.
Surprisingly the kitchen is well stocked, you guess that there are some things that you can't fake. In the end you manage together a respectable breakfast, the prepared fish, some rice, and a miso soup. They nicely stack up onto the trays which you bring out on two sets.
"Oh, impressive! Will you spin around as well?" Tewi is huddled against the table as she enjoys the dry heat from the flames.
"Maybe next time, when I'm less broken." You kneel down and place the meal in front of her. A moment later you set your place across from her. The two of you begin to eat, it feels good to watch Tewi devour what you made. Even if her table manners aren't the best. "I was looking around earlier, did you destroy all those trees?"
"It was probably about half and half. There would have been less damage if it weren't for that illusionist fox. They are the worst."
"Fighting her was scary at first but I got more confident the longer it went on."
"She probably would have beaten you if she just punched you. Too proud to just say her magic failed." Tewi takes a few more bites. "Mm-You would definitely die if you got hit." She talks while halfway finishing her mouthful.
"I couldn't just stand around and watch you get beat up like that. In the end we won, that's all that matters right?"
"You only won because you got lucky. I would rather you be a coward then to gamble your life like that. Not unless you are 100% sure you are going to win." She stops eating and gives you her full attention.
"But it looked like you were going to-"
"I won't lose to a bunch of foxes, or anything else for that matter, guaranteed." Tewi might be tougher than she looks but the last fight looked like she was having a hard time. "I'll be mad at you if you jump in like that again."
There is silence looming over the rest of the meal, the atmosphere doesn't give you a chance to put in another word on the topic. As you watch her focus completely on her food, it seems like there is a lot on her mind. Distracting her would probably give her some relief, you needed her to resize the foxes clothes anyway.
"Tewi?" She looks up for a second but doesn't say anything. "I still need to get your clothes ready. Do you feel like working on them with me?"
"I suppose, what do you need me to do?" Talking about clothes seems to catch her attention, there is a little more pep and curiosity in her words.
"Just wear some clothes for a bit. It's easier for me to adjust when you tell me how it feels." She agrees with a small nod.
"I'll help clean up and then we can go into the other room." Hastefully, Tewi picks up her tray and puts it in the kitchen. It's perplexing how she can change moods like a switch, perhaps she is excited. With a quick pluck, she pulls the dark blue clothes from the line above the fire and quickly moves to the bedroom. You catch up after putting away your dishes. "It smells like wet fox." Tewi scrunches her nose as she puts on the dark blue garbs. The entirety of her body is hidden away by the cloth veil. Loose fitting sleeves drape far past her hands. "Can you make this shorter? I won't be able to move in this thing."
"Just give me a moment. I haven't even started yet." You pull out your trusty tools from the inside of your clothes. A few pins are placed into your mouth as you brush aside your bangs. Kneeling down brings you to Tewi's head level. "Actually, can you stand on the table?"
"Lift me up, it's too baggy and I might trip." She reaches up towards you, in which you comply and hoist her the short distance.
After letting Tewi step off of the clothes tucked beneath her feet, you begin to shape the fabric with practiced movements. Shifting back and forth between levels lets you place pins to temporarily hold the changes in place. Each refinement makes it closer to Tewi's small form. As requested, you fold the long skirt segment to just above her knees to make it less restrictive.
"Is that better Tewi?" A judgmental look is on her face as you peer upwards, she shifts her legs back and forth when she walks in place. Not satisfied, she pulls it higher and higher until its on her hips. Just inches away from your face she reveals herself with a wiggle. Quickly you stand up, you can feel your cheeks hot with blood.
"It's the best when it's way up here but then I would be better off wearing nothing." With several small pats she places it back down. "Where it was before will do fine." Tewi just watches you and acts like nothing happened, all with a knowing smile. She is playing dirty and probably testing your limits. It's unfortunate for her but she doesn't understand how cloth can be influenced.
"Let's finish the rest then." You create several indentations with your fingertips and twist your wrist in a spiral motion to create a certain flow of the fabric. The unpredictable mess of fabric straightens out in accordance with where you placed your fingers. A calculated tug runs a ripple-like wave through your canvas of work. Out of the corner of your eye, you watch Tewi's eyes light up as you manipulate the material to slide over her chest. Her confusion transforms into determination once you go through a few iterations. You're certain that she figured out what you were doing after the third or forth attempt but ended up trying to ignore it. The fine material will let you keep going without it chafing her, at least for a while.
Tewi's resilience is impressive, it should feel like being tickled with a fine plumed feather. The only signs that it's even working is the intense blushing and the short regulated breathing that escapes her pursed lips. Her closed eyes probably allows her to focus her mind but they wince tight with each pass. Now that she is only focusing on herself you are given a chance to be more blatant. There had been short gaps for her to recollect herself in between but if she can survive a final assault you will admit defeat. An absurd thought passes through your mind, perhaps you can adapt 'that' skill.
It's something stupid you developed while you were a child. A technique that has no practical use and created only out of boredom, being able to constantly move a piece of cloth for a long period of time with one hand. Initially it was used to just watch bugs traverse in place over the rolling hills of fabric but the more you practiced it the more calming you found it. Like the mechanical windings of the clock you use your fingers to wrap up folds which extend how long you can displace the cloth. Each loop increases the time, depending on how fast you move them, but they drop off one by one until you let go. Eventually, you reached the point where you could keep it constantly moving to upwards of one minute.
"Good luck Tewi." You silently give your respects to a fine duelist.
In your mind you begin the timer, you hold in one hand the windings and keep the fabric taut across Tewi with the other. It moves excruciatingly slow, traversing the few inches as long as it would take to walk a mile. Twenty seconds in, the sound of staggered breathing whispers into your ear but she doesn't give in. Maybe this level isn't enough, a sudden thought crosses your mind. A planted seed of doubt, is this her power? Tewi remains formidable even while defenseless. It's time to commit to one tactic, it will be...
She'll never survive the entire minute, wear her away like a river rock.
Burn through all the remaining loops to mix it up, it will throw her off guard.
Activate spell card -- Gentle Tailor "Perpetual Silk Road"!
I bring to everyone a new update, even has a choice this time. It is the most important decision in the entire story. Anything with Tewi is. For anyone that has stuck around I want to say thanks, I'm in it for the long haul and it's only a matter of time before I finish.
No need to sit and stare, hoping that the rabbit at the keyboard finished the next segment, I suggest putting the /eientei/ RSS feed to good use. Not sure if many of you knew this already but it made it easier for me to keep track of the site. And any questions or remarks are always welcome.