Well it's been a while since I've wanted to write something and after many ideas this one won out. For the most part it's meant to be a semi-serious story. In terms of updates I'm not really sure how often I will be getting around to this but I will attempt to keep it regular. Originally I had intended to draw something for each of the updates but I've decided against that and will instead do for the ones that I deem important.
Overall the main goal is for both the readers and I to enjoy creating this tale together.
Vividly, memories are being called one by one. Segments of senses assorted seemingly random come together creating short windows of the past. Childhood, family gatherings, accomplishments, and even seemingly pointless events like eating out one night, they merge together to flow through your mind. Each of them as real as the next, visions and sensations that one could easily lose themselves in. Yes, it would be nice if one could live on dreams and in the past.
However, these feelings are short lived as reality slowly creeps its way back in. Those reminiscent senses fade and are replaced with new ones. The candle on the desk in front of you flickers, illuminating your vision to a dull red as it hides behinds the lids of your eyes. The nostalgic smell of home that is rarely visited is accompanied by the soft chirps of the insects emanating from outside the room.
You open your eyes and are reminded by the sight of scattered pieces of paper covered with ink brushed lines. They belonged to your father, each sheet contained designs that were created for his line of work. Both complex and simple clothes sketches are surrounded by various notes and patterns. They are legible and understandable enough thanks to the fact you had been working under his guidance.
A familiar feeling you had recently gained looms over your body once more; it has been a few days since your father passed away. While not a talkative person, he was able to give you the life style you have today. You were given the ability to live as you see fit and to work as an artisan. Another memory flashes before you, one that you may never forget.
"Go find true happiness." With his final breath he spoke this sentence to you.
A flurry of thoughts race through your mind every time you recall those words- What did he mean? Am I not happy? What is happiness? They were queries that lacked conclusions.
Like a fire it continues to sweep through your mind, burning away useless thoughts. What is left is in the ashes is nothing. No answers. No clues. Not even a single hint or direction.
In the end you find yourself twirling a five leaf clover about by its stem, another mystery to be solved. Just the concept alone seems unreal, a five leaf clover must be orders harder to find than the normal three or the occasional four leaved counter parts. You happened upon it one day while searching through the house sometime after the funeral. It was before sun set, when closing the window you found it resting underneath a rounded and smooth stone on the ledge. It wasn’t there before and who knows when it was set there since there were no signs of anyone around. Was this a kind gesture or some kind of cruel joke?
"Argh!" You let out the sound of a frustrated groan.
It’s a little too early to rest... [ ] Keep those hands busy [ ] Take a walk to clear your thoughts
The frustration lingering in your mind subsides enough to decide that going outside will help some of these thoughts settle. Still unsure what this clover represents, it gets slipped into your hide case which holds some needles and spare thread. With a satisfied pat it sits snugly inside the folds of your clothes. If someone wants to give away charms that's fine. The smooth stone that had accompanied the clover is coming along as well, no need for useless things lying about.
With a quick puff of air the room goes dark as the flame is torn from the candle's wick. It's only a few steps to the wooden door which slides open with some effort. A breeze wafts into the house as though to escape the mild cold outside. It brushes past your exposed skin reminding you that winter is approaching soon.
There is a soft 'thunk' when closing off the house once again from the rest of the elements. You glance around at the only place you can really call home, despite only staying here occasionally. There are visible signs of how long it’s been standing, the roof and the shutters show their age by darkened tones and slightly warped shapes. Even though some repairs are in need, it does its job well enough protecting you from the cold and rain.
Turning around you go down the worn dirt path in front of the building. It's a secluded place hidden away in the forest some distance from a village. The village and the main road is about an hour away if taking the winding road down the path, for most people it would be taxing to reach a remote area like this. Not that you didn't really mind thanks to the constant traveling from place to place when you have to deliver outfits.
Traveling from village to village for the most part is peaceful while taking the side roads. However that’s only if time permits it, otherwise taking the quicker yet not so safe main road is needed. There was only one real close call with some bandits but traveling alone and light let you escape with relative ease. The landscape is always breath taking, nonetheless, either way you take.
While mulling over some more of your travels, the smooth stone you had been carrying hits against your palm several times. You're not sure when you started tossing into the air but you took notice it as time passed.
"A smooth stone..." You mutter to yourself as your gaze switches from the trail to your hand.
Stopping in your tracks you can't help but notice it, now resting comfortably in your grasp. Why didn't you think of it before? This rock looks like it’s been worn down by some kind of stream or waterfall; certainly not man made. You begin to stray from the path and cut through the wilderness towards the only nearby stream known to you. The vegetation is fairly dense so it takes some time to carefully tread through it.
The surroundings change hue to a deep blue with the gradual ticking of time; it stays well illuminated as the moon found a place higher in the sky. Just before the stream when reaching the edge of the forest you find yourself unable to act. Another presence holds you in place, there is someone already here. Completely helpless until the initial shock courses out from your body, glistening was all that registered at first.
At the edge of the stream, standing ankle deep, it would be impossible to miss the figure bathing in the moonlight. Your eyes trace the small frame guided by the droplets sitting upon the now recognizable female body. This visual venture would have continued down the back to those rather healthy hips had it not been for an anomaly. From the corner of your vision you see a large tuft of hair protruding from the small of her back. With a snap the mind now understands, that in mess of wavy black hair is a set of drooping white ears.
You have heard stories but have never actually met with one. Frantically searching for answers they all lead to the same conclusion. This is bad, you shouldn't be here.
She peers over her shoulder... Those deep red eyes pierce through the short distance separating you.
The mind blanks Your muscles tense Your sweat sticks What seems like hours pass neither of you move
[ ]Run! [ ]Don't move. Don't even breath. [ ]Walk out into the clearing.
Why aren't you doing anything? You should be running from this monster, nothing ever good came from a youkai. Yet, you don't move. You don't breathe. Is it because you are afraid? No, that’s not exactly right; it would be careless to do anything if she hasn't noticed you. The disjointed staring contest ends when her eyes wander and she resumes her bath.
A hushed and staggered breath escapes from your throat as a sign of relief. The sounds of the crinkling stream returns to you now filled with sounds of soft splashing. You want to look away to respect her privacy but your gaze cannot be interrupted due to the uncertainty that rests deep your mind. In the end you find yourself unable to break this oddly calming equilibrium of watching her rhythmic motions.
The cool feel of water laps the tips of your toes, did you try to chase after her? You stand on the edge of the stream trying to remember. This mysterious meeting had ended as quickly as it started. When she left the flowing water you had thought she was just gathering her possessions but now it seems like a foolish idea. Before you could have reacted, she vanished into the woods as soon as she shook off the excess moisture. So quickly it was comparable to a short-lived glint from a shooting star.
It doesn't seem like you could catch up now, no matter how badly these questions floating in your mind had to be answered. That white rabbit is the one that left that clover or so you believe. Had the circumstances were better you would have tried to meet her. The glow overhead from the smug sitting moon tells of how much time has really passed. There is always tomorrow.
After the uneventful return to the house, the warmth of the bed steals you away into slumber.
Who can that be? The drowsiness that comes with lack of sleep sticks to your body and mind. Tossing aside the cover when you get up lets cool air hit your body.
Knock knock knock... - The door clamors more for attention.
"Alright, I'm coming!" You snap back requesting silence.
You slide open the door and peer out unenthusiastically, no one is there... it's too early in the morning for pranks. As soon as you return the sliding piece of wood to its rightful closed position that insistent noise of knocking returns. Irritated, you open the door well prepared this time. Nothing again?! You look around and then down. Oh...
"Good morning!" Speaks the small rabbit girl from before.
Her face gleefully shines as she holds up her cupped hands; they are filled with a blue fruit of some kind. You lead her inside and grab a bowl from the drawers to place on the table. She enters your cluttered den and places the handful of berries in the container you provided. Wait a second.
"What are you doing here?!" Suddenly stating now that you have access to a fully functioning brain.
"I wonder what you find so interesting down here." She stands there with her front fully exposed, quite shamelessly at that. If you weren't looking before then you are now.
"Like I would be interested in a child's body." You try to deflect the statement but it’s obvious that your mind is distracted.
"If you say so, nyehehe." It is an unfitting laugh, an unfitting grin, when placed on someone that looks like her.
"So why are you here?"
"To see you, I wanted it the other way around but it looks like you didn't understand my invitation." Her voice has a miffed vibe to it but quickly changes. "Can't I see a friend's child?"
The rabbit girl... [ ]is looking quite fine today. [ ]is distracting, get some clothes on her.
Breakfast [ ]Those berries seem good. [ ]Whatever you can find around the house.
Actions (Pick as many as you want) [ ]Introductions (Name suggestions) [ ]Ask questions [ ]Her relation with your father [ ]About youkai [ ]Write-ins
For the most part I don't really expect this to be a daily thing, weekends are more likely for updates but I might want to take short breaks so I have more time to plan, organize, and occasionally draw. I would like to ask for some feedback since I'm not sure how well my writing flows or if it sits well in general. Anyway, please enjoy this update. Also, thanks for catching/correcting my silly mistake.
Of course, different readings for these names exist. That the father was a friend of Tewi rationalizes the first name as relating to luck or lucky objects. That his profession is hereditary rationalizes the family name relating to clothing.
>>22809 Oh right. I don't really think we need a name. If we do it's best if you come up with it yourself, so that it fits the story best and so that you're happy with it. My opinion. About the writing, what this guy said >>22793. Anything with Tewi in an important role is instant win so no problems there. The writing flows nicely, there are no glaring typos and mistakes,... all in all you're doing great! You're even drawing your own pictures for the updates
Alright guys I'm calling the vote now and writing. I'll try to figure something out with the name but I think for now its best to hold off until the main character is further defined. Thanks though for those putting effort into looking for names, I've gotten a few ideas just by seeing them so it's not in vain.
>>22819 I know but isn't that what makes Tewi so great?
You can expect an update in a reasonable amount of time, on par of what it takes to construct a wall of text.
"A friend, do you mean my father?" You say with a surprised tone.
She gives a nod as an answer. This is the first time you've heard of it. Not once did your father mention a girl like this, well perhaps not directly. You remember he used to tell tales teaching morals and other important values, some of which did have youkai but nothing close to her at all. Now that you think about it, he always had a peculiar way when speaking of anyone; be it humans or youkai.
"All living beings have the ability to be good or evil; their actions should display the genuinity of their soul." In a solemn tone these words resonate in his voice.
He also spoke of gullible fools but trust has to begin somewhere. So first things first...
"I'd like to ask you some questions, but before that I want to give you something." While you speak you place some wood into the stone oven. It’s pretty useful because it warms the house and gives some options when making some breakfast. You spark some tinder on top the resting pile which, after a few moments, spreads flames to your satisfaction.
"A gift?" She tries to hide her excitement but it shows all to well in her voice and ears. "I'll be in your care."
"Good. Come stand over here while I prepare it." You dust off loose bark from your hands.
The soft pitter patter of her feet make their way across the room in agreement while you look through some of you previous projects. You could easily part with one with these. After some shuffling you find a just finished pink dress, it's of western design or so you've been told. Even after all your years of working, it's surprising to know that there are still clothes unknown to you. Pulling it away from its resting place reveals its true splendor, the frills flitter at even slight movements. With a glance you can tell that it’s a little big for her but challenge is the road to improvement.
Making your way towards the awaiting rabbit you ask. "Shall we begin?"
The sound of silk gliding over skin is perhaps something that only you can enjoy, but it doesn't matter; this is who you are. You guide her head and petite arms though the openings of the dress. It drapes over her body disgustingly, no form, no emphasis, it's a mess. Grabbing your tools and spare cloth from the nearby desk you begin your art.
The material slides from your grasp and wraps around her waist, slowly shaping the folds to fit her body. The needle in your other hand navigates in and out of the fine silk tapestry leaving a trail of thread. The smooth metal brushes against her body ever so delicately. Only an amateur would use a doll to perform these small adjustments, there are unique subtleties in each and every body that cannot be imitated by something so lifeless. You tighten the last pass of thread and step back to take look at you work so far.
The small girl now goes to examine her new clothes as well, first the front then twisting her head in an attempt to see the back. Something is off, but what... you fiddle with the hanging needles that have somehow found their way on the edge of your lips.
"Did you enj-!?" She beings to speak but you interrupt her with your actions.
Ah ha! That’s what's wrong, her tail. You kneel down next to her and raise the dress from the inside. With a quick snip of some scissors you create a new hole in the fabric. You remind yourself that these newly created edges will tear if not properly supported. However, this matter is frivolous. You start an action that you've done countless times before, it happens as naturally as breathing, the simple back and forth motion of the thread is almost hypnotizing.
"When you work as a tailor it's expected to see the female form." You speak candidly as you finish and skillfully place the tail through the dress without touching her body.
"Those hands are dangerous." She covers herself with her hands and there is a clear frown on that now pink tinged face.
You can't help but chuckle at her body expressions perhaps that will teach her to stop teasing so much. Once you have finished being amused, you take a quick glance at the finished product. It really is befitting of her, unlike the more formal clothes you've made this one will let her move around freely yet still have an air of elegance. As much as you like to admire your own handy work, by now much of the wood should be lit. You can feel the warmth from the room soak into your body.
"Don't be so mad, I'll make it up with breakfast. Can rabbits eat baked goods?"
"Tewi, my name is Tewi and yes I can eat them." You're not really sure why but it sounds like you offended her.
"Tewi can I use your berries?" You repeat her name in hopes that it will calm her down.
"Fine, but only if you try a few fresh. I'm sure they taste better that way than cooked."
She plops down next to the table and fidgets around in her dress, still getting used to it. You take a sample of the fruit sitting bowl and place it in your mouth, it's surprisingly cool. Tewi must have washed them off in the stream. The flavor is hard to describe, it has a mix of sweet yet tart, neither of which overpowers the other. You try one more, warm? This one might have rested on her hand as she carried them here. To your surprise it doesn't taste the same at all. This one is sweeter and practically melts in your mouth as the flesh escapes the protective skin. You try a few more to see if it’s the same for all of them. It is, what a curious type of berry.
"These are good, what are they?" The flavor still floats pleasantly on your taste buds.
"I'm not sure what their name is but they are a favorite." She watches you try them with a smile on her face.
"It's better to stop before I eat them all and there are none left to bake." You now mirror her smile as her grows wider.
You grab all the materials you need to make some quick and simple pastries. In addition to that you had some spare apples lying around and thought it would complement the recently received fruit. You mesh together the ingredients in a bowl which makes easily shapeable dough. After that it’s just a matter of preparing the apples and putting everything together. You push fruit filled dough wraps into the oven one at a time where they will bask in heat for a spell.
"So how do you know my father?" You asked when you finished placing the last of them in the stone oven.
"Well to make a long story short, I was laying in the middle of a forest with serious injuries and when was pretty much exhausted to the point where I had just about given up hope in living. That's about when your father showed up and nursed me back to health." She sits there to ponder for a bit before beginning again. "After that I decided to travel with him from place to place to help and repay the kindness he showed me. I don't remember exactly how long it was but it was probably because it was always interesting to be around him. Eventually we went our separate ways keeping in contact every once in a while."
Wait something doesn't quite add up, your father rarely traveled anywhere.
"If you were to guess, how long did you travel with him?" You ask eager for answers.
"It was at least six months."
Six months? You don't recall any time where he's been gone for that long. Is Tewi lying or does she just not remember it correctly? You voice your thoughts to her and demand answers.
"That's because it was before you were born. Don't be fooled by my looks I'm actually older than you."
...Older than you. Those last fragments of the sentence has left you speechless. A tingling feeling washes over as though you could no longer tell up from down. Why did this come as a shock to you, was it unbelievable? No, you had known that most youkai have a longer lifespan than humans. What shocked you was that you had, for a brief moment, forgotten that she was indeed a youkai. Tewi appeared practically human but the only thing that sets her apart from you is a pair of floppy ears and a tail. It's not just appearance that is the same, emotions and mannerisms are practically indistinguishable. However, human logic cannot be applied to youkai, they exist on a different tier of life.
"A youkai..." A mutter slips from your mouth
"Yes, what about youkai?"
"How long do they live?" You trip over your thoughts and ask a question you already know the answer to.
"There are many types of youkai, there are those that will live as long as human exists and those that live for just a handful of years." She continues "But that diversity goes beyond just lifespans. They can resemble beasts, monsters that can't be fathomed even in the darkest part of the mind, even completely resemble a human hidden amongst the crowd..." Her voice holds a coldness completely different from before.
"... they can feed off of your desires, your fears..."
"... the flesh of animals..."
"... the flesh of hu-"
"TEWI STOP!" You yell out desperately trying to shake the images away.
Silence fills the room for a brief moment.
"Yes, I am branded as a youkai."
"I'm sorry I just..."
"It's fine as long as you understand and remember." She sniffs the air "I think breakfast is ready."
You take out the finished pastries absentmindedly, occupied with what Tewi had said. Recalling those overwhelming feelings when you had seen her in the stream, that is how humans see youkai. It must be difficult for her, to be loathed for no real reason, to have all blame pushed onto her, but what do you know of rejection like that. You hand one of the fruit filled pastries to Tewi, which she gladly accepts.
"Wow, this is delicious." She practically scarfed it down, or at least tries to as she blows on the hot filling inside after every bite.
The mood had considerably lightened as the two of you enjoy the warmth of the room and the euphoric sensation of a full stomach. You had to surrender the last one to Tewi because it was so filling that even another bite would have been to much. In consideration of her being so small, you wonder where she stores it all.
"Hey Tewi?" You break the silence with a question.
"Did you give me that five leaf clover?"
"Well I was wondering if there was more to know about it."
"Well..." She is leaning forward now clasping her hands together in front of her chest and closes both of her eyes. "If you truly hold it against your heart and pray all if your might, it has the ability to grant any wish you desire." She now peaks open one of her eyes to see your reaction.
"Come on, don't have to be so serious." She returns to a more neutral position "I thought it would have been a nice gift to keep your spirits up. There's a one in a hundred-thousand chance for a four-leaf clover, so imagine how rare a five-leaf clover is!"
"Thanks" You can't help smile at this ridiculous situation.
"I wonder... what do you think your father did before he was a tailor? No matter, do you want to find out?" She says with a mischievous grin on her face.
What is she going on about? If what she is saying it true then your father was hiding something from you. You can go with Tewi to find the truth or you can respect your father's wishes of not knowing.
What is a lie?
[ ]Accept [ ]Decline
I might have over extended myself a little with this update, a good lesson to learn where my limits are. Anyway please enjoy the update and excuse the mess.
It has been several hours since you decided to accept Tewi's offer and so the journey outside had begun. The surroundings have only really offered two sights to see, trees and plants. There were paths at one point but you haven't seen one in quite some time now. Luckily, you brought some traveling supplies just in case. Well... maybe not so much since every few minutes when you feel the strap dig into your shoulder, grating on you. Fatigue makes it feel heavier and heavier with every single step. Earlier you questioned where you were heading but it apparently was meant to be a 'surprise'.
"I thought you said that it wouldn't take that long to get there." You break the monotony of your footsteps with a question.
"We would have been there already if you went faster." She returns with a smile.
If only you could keep up with her, she's practically frolicking through the woods. The pink dress ripples in the air whenever she moves at regular intervals. It's difficult to describe but it's somewhere between a skip and a hop. Along with that every so often she would spin around to look at you before continuing. The whole time she's had her arms folded behind her, oh to be so carefree.
"Tewi can we take a break?" You show her the now empty water pouch you've been slowly working away on. It is now disappointingly empty.
"Hmmm" She fingers her bottom lip with some consideration. "Ok, just rest by that tree and I'll get you some more water." You gladly hand her the pouch and take refuge on a shady rock. The white rabbit quickly vanishes in the blink of an eye, you would comment on how she's such a show off but you're grateful she is getting some more water. Placing the supplies down, you lean against the tree and feel the bark at your back. Just a short nap...
"Isn't that nice of her?" The sound of an unfamiliar voice interrupts before you even get a second of rest. It's as if someone were whispering into both your ears at once. As quick as shutters, your eyelids snap open.
"Who's there!?" You quickly get up and look around at your surroundings.
"Up here." You're eyes follow the direction from where the voice came from until they are met with a vibrant orange. There is a shimmering glow emanating from her eyes which gets cast on her surroundings. It's reminiscent of basking in the setting sun.
Unable to help yourself, you look over this new figure. Her hair cascades down the the sides of the tree as her body as she leans over the side of a branch. A set of fingers curl around the branch's edge. Attached to them is something you could call nails but that would be dead wrong. They protrude from tip of her fingers and would be closer to a set of claws. On top of her head sits a pair of cat ears but you can't tell any other real distinguishing feature. A bushy tail hangs over her rear side, it looks a little on the short side but you're not sure. And for the sake of your health, you glance over her other assets despite them being highlighted by the sun.
"Who are you?"
"Just a sleepy cat. aawwhhhnn" You watch in disbelief as she completely disappears even though you were staring the whole time. It only lasts for a moment before you see her lying in the same spot. "Someone's talking woke me up from my nap."
"I didn't mea-"
"Hey, have you been there before?" The tone of her voice perks up dramatically.
"To the moon of course!"
"Ummm, not really..."
"It seems like a nice place to sight see considering it's all shiny." The light from her eyes increases in strength for a brief moment before returning to normal. "Although I heard that it's completely filled with the brim with lunatics. You'd fit there fine though."
"What's that suppose to mean?" You ask hoping to salvage this spiraling conversation.
A wide grin appears on her face. However that doesn't last long and you find yourself looking at leaves and empty branches. Several seconds pass as wait hoping that she would reappear but it doesn't happen. Nervously glancing around, you hoped for some clue to where she has hidden.
"You're insane." The voice is coming from behind you now.
"I'm completely sane." You retort while flipping around quite surprised and regain your bearing.
"Are you sure, why else would you be here? It's a better excuse than taking a little girl into the forest alone."
"Well your delicious looking friend is coming back so, I'll leave you two alone." With a wink she fades into the background.
In the end you are scratching your head and sighing, is it that hard to have a proper conversation? The only thing with a point was when she spoke of moon people. There were rumors before of the moon princess staying in a bamboo forest. However that was over a year ago, apparently she returned by then.
"Maybe..." You consider for a moment but then stop yourself. The second you consider a conversation like that valid is the same time you've fallen into madness.
You sit back on the rock and wait for Tewi to arrive.
When Tewi gets back... [ ]Ask about that cat. [ ]Don't bother, it wasn't that important anyway.
[ ]Write-ins ( Anything else you want to ask or do )
I am not exactly dead yet but both words and inspiration have been lost for me these past few days. Things have been kind of busy as well so after my next update I might not be able to do so for about a week. Hopefully I'll have more time when all of this passes.
Next update in a day or two since its been half done for a bit, please accept this sexy Tewi as a small gesture from me.
It doesn't take long for Tewi to return with a now full pouch of water. With a nodding thanks, you gladly quench your thirst with the chill liquid. Along with the previous rest, even if it was for just a few moments, the water is rejuvenating. The two of you begin your trek through the woods once again. This time however, Tewi seems to be taking her time as well. No longer is she just skipping, instead she walks at a leading pace with a calm expression about her. Maybe the extra trip she took has gotten rid of all that excess energy.
"While you were gone, a cat had come to visit me." Tewi turns her head to you with a confused look when you say this.
"A cat? I looked around before I left and I didn't see anything like that."
"Well..." You tell her what you recall from the short meeting, mostly on her glowing eyes, looks, and how she would disappear. Some of the other less important details you've leave out. As you describe the situation the perplexed expression on her face gradually fades away.
"Invisible, huh? Well at least you got a nice one." She comments as if were no big deal but then begins explaining. "Female youkai are easier to deal with compared to the male ones, but you shouldn't let your guard down with either of them. As for those powers, it comes with age. So it’s normal for someone that's been around to have something like that. I'd like to say wisdom comes with age too... but it doesn't show sometimes."
You silently agree with what she had said first, it sounds like if you met something else it would have turned out badly. The spontaneous chat from earlier might have been a little odd and innocent but you couldn't shake off the feeling of being helpless. From what you have seen youkai are just interesting people, if only you could meet them on more even grounds.
"Hmmm, do you have powers as well?" You ask wanting to know more about your companion.
"What makes you think I have a power?" An expecting grin appears on her face. Is she testing you?
"You're pretty fast when you want to be, I can barely keep up just watching you." Originally you had wanted to bring up the idea that she was fairly old but quickly decided against it. Having spent a fair share of time chit-chatting with customers, it has taught you how delicate a subject age is. It basically boils down to what a person values in an age.
"Nyehehe, youkai are naturally more athletic than humans. It doesn't have anything to do with any special abilities." Her words wrapped in a confident tone, she boasts. "But to answer your question, nope no powers." She seems satisfied with your answer but that snicker of hers still makes you cringe inside. Maybe its just one of her quirks that you have to deal with.
"Here, this is it." Tewi announces, by now it is some time in the afternoon but you're just glad it’s over.
Finally you made it, hidden away behind the brush, embedded on the side of a hill rests a round wooden entrance way. With a tight grasp on the door's handle, it creaks open letting out a dry draft of air. The light from outside only reaches in a short distance before it melds together with a pitch black. Peeking from the darkness, a white stick of wax reveals itself to you. The candle serves its purpose well when lit. It uncovers a small store room with various drawers lining the back wall. The floor, the walls, even the ceiling are all made wooden boards. There is also a small table and futon at the ends of the room. This place would be excellent if someone wanted to hide.
"I guess you want to know what's going on." Tewi looks through some of the drawers and pulls out a few objects. She places them on the table and you can see a small case, book, and a piece of metal. "This is what your father carried around most of the time, well except this thing." She points the metal object. "That was given to me recently. From what I have seen, some people would label him as a youkai hunter but he was pretty much a free soul, like a traveling story teller. He told his tales to those that listened and went place to place in search for things of interest."
That really does sound like something he would do. Your hands wander to his old possessions. Opening the small case reveals a set of seven thin and decent length stakes. At first glance you can tell that they have seen their fair share of usage shown through their various lengths and rough edges from re-sharpening. They all follow this pattern except the one sitting directly in the middle, it seems out of place being completely untouched. Not exactly sure what to make of it, you continue your examination by pulling one out of its confines. Even when simply lifting one, it is easy to tell that it commands an odd weight as it travels in hand. The feeling it gives off is like constantly cutting though the air itself.
"What are these for?" You question to quell the nibblings at the edge of your mind.
"He used those when he first met, I didn't want to tell you until you were sure you wanted to know." She opens the small book and flips though the pages, some filled top to bottom with notes and others contain sketches of various people, creatures, and objects. Tewi gets to the page she wanted and turns it so you could get a better view. "These creatures attacked me and by using these he stunned them long enough to escape with me."
"Did he throw them?" On closer examination of the page there are a few mark scattered across the body of the drawing. Reading the notes off to the side don't make a whole lot of sense at the moment.
"They never left his hand or his side the whole time I've been with him. When I asked, he only told me that they are a precious gift."
Picking up the remaining unexamined item you begin to look at it closely. At first you thought it was a regular looking coin but the design is different. Mostly flat with a hole placed directly in the center and a sort of notch taken out of it. Wait, there is something written here. Etched into the surface reads...
True happiness can be found On a path made from pieces. They seek to be whole Despite being different. What awaits in the end Is something that can be forever treasured.
Is this what the old man was talking about, true happiness? Why didn't he just give me the coin in the first place? Why is Tewi involved in all of this? If his goal was to fill your head with a bunch of questions he has certainly succeeded.
As you handle the cool metal piece, a bright red line passes through the face starting at the inner hole and makes it way to the coin's edges. You turn it and the mark stays in place like a compass, it wavers just before it settles in the same direction as before. On the backside is a glowing ring bordering the entire face.
"What are you doing?" She sits upright suddenly.
"Can you see it?" You show her the small token.
"See what?" She leans over the top of the table squinting closely at the object in your hand.
"The red marks on it. It's impossible to miss."
"I don't see anything, maybe its some kind of magic." Sitting down with a shrug.
"It looks like it's pointing towards something."
"Well what are you waiting around for, let's find out!"
You give her a nod, maybe with time you'll get more answers about Tewi, about your dad... all of this. In the meantime it wouldn't be bad to go out to find some more work; it's been a few days since you started your break.
With a quick trip back to your home, you picked up a few supplies needed for your work before heading in the direction of the red illuminated strip. Since there is no real rush, you decide to take the side roads as usual. There was enough daylight left to get a few hours travel time before the sky turned to a rich orange. Luckily you find a small sign sitting where the path diverges up ahead, it points at an inn which seems to be newly opened. This is a good place as any to stop and rest until morning.
Although, there is one problem. While you're more comfortable around youkai it would be bad to openly associate with Tewi, people might get the wrong idea. You could try to sneak her in somehow but that runs the risk of being caught. On the other hand, you can let Tewi do her thing in the wilderness but of course that doesn't exactly sit well with you. Decisions, decisions.
[ ]Sneak her in somehow. [ ]Have her fend for herself.
>"But to answer your question, nope no powers." She seems satisfied with your answer but that snicker of hers still makes you cringe inside. Maybe its just one of her quirks that you have to deal with.
Luck & lies, gentlemen.
Let me say writefag, I fucking love the story so far.
[x] Have her fend for herself.
Millennia old youkai have nothing to fear from sleeping in the forest. On the other hand, if we're looking for more work, we'll be spending more than just the night in town. If we want to bring her with when we visit shopkeepers or potential clients, she'll need a disguise.
Epileptic tree time: MC's father really was a youkai hunter, but knew Tewi only as an enemy. Much less rescue her, he bound her using those stakes/persuasion needles, which means that she isn't lying about having no powers. She waited until the father died so she could manipulate the son into eventually breaking the seal.
It's just common decency to try to properly shelter a companion. It doesn't have to stop at sheltering and feeding. Disguises are always good though there's nothing on-hand probably to disguise Tewi with.
For some reason I can't help but think of the possibility of someone accidentally seeing the protagonist with a young girl in his room late at night and assuming they are just young lovers having a secret rendezvous. Shadows and distance can do a good job of hiding ears.
>>22932 Thank you for the compliment, it's interesting to see what someone else has come up with just these few pieces of knowledge. Wandering imaginations are fun indeed. I would like to say more but you know how stories go.
On a shorter note, I have a question for everyone. About what year do you think it is?
>>22943 2010. Do you think we are crazy or something? I'm thinking pre-border. I don't have any concrete date in mind, but widespread youkai hunting, and his exaggerated fear of youkai suggest he is not in spellcard-era.
It really has been a while hasn't it? For that I really have no real reason. Those that were following this story, I can understand how bitter having a story suddenly stop can be. There are many things I would like to convey but I can say that L&L will be my only interactive story thread that I will create until it is finished, no matter how long it takes. I have not forgotten about this story nor will I ever, THP has been a source of countless hours of entertainment and its roots run deep. There were many times I came back wishing that I could finish writing what I started but I suppose that is me just complaining about my lackings. So in the end I want those that enjoyed the story to continue to, despite what I have done personally, a story free of the situations and the writer that happened to it. Here, please enjoy the continuation of the tale about an earth rabbit and an unnamed tailor.
Traveling has always been valuable time to reflect while letting the surroundings seep through your senses. The barely audible and hinting chilled wind, that slips between the trunks and twigs, whispers a song to all its friends in nature. Mixing and dancing together, the soft glow of branches and the flickering remnants of the sun's rays separate the horizon. The trees dance and dance as the sun goes to sleep, their shadows grow longer in celebration. The forest's edge mimics the dirt's path along the ground, or perhaps it is the other way around. Bound to the road and the prospect of shelter from the cool night you continue on.
For a while now you have been watching the constant march of foot prints in the soft ground. Accompanying the marks, in rhythm, is an distinct tappings of a bamboo deer scarer which can be heard from a distance. The maker of indentations is your companion before you, her movements are serene and relaxed. Small wisps of dust escape from beneath her feet to avoid getting pressed into the worn and dry path. How different she is from the rest of the comparatively frantic scenery. She would look back, as though she was making sure she didn't lose you on this difficult trek. A practically straight line. Every time she does, you can not help but give a smile and a short nod in which she returns before leading again. Had it not been for that you could have not noticed her. Without that she could have easily been a part of the background.
That is why she draws your attention and thoughts, you'll have to devise a plan. The sound of bamboo hitting against flat stone becomes more clear and distinguished as a small inn takes up more of the view. As much as you would like to simply walk in and rent a room with Tewi, there is the problem of her distinct features getting in the way. There is no telling how the owners would react to have a youkai stroll into the building. Stuffing her into a bag would be a simple way to sneak her in. However, since there isn't any room left in yours it is impractical. Impractical, yet an amusing idea. You hadn't realized it but Tewi had been doing one of her routine checks and noted the grin on your face with a verbal punch.
"Did you think of something funny?" Apparently the change was enough to pique her curiosity. Her position has shifted with a quick spin of her heel and now is pressing foot prints in the opposite direction as she walks. There was a long enough pause so that the tracks you were following are now uniformly backwards in front of you. During that time you were able to take a quick glance at the building to ascertain the most prominent features. Mainly the style of windows they have, they are of the sliding variety and they are sets that embeds themselves near the top of the walls of each room. The building, in general, could probably hold a few sets of guests.
"I did, but I've thought of a way to get you inside." You attempt to push away the thought of having the small rabbit scrunched up with her knees against her chest, whispering for you to hurry up from inside cloth confines. Based on what you have seen from her athletic ability she should be able to make that jump for the window. The only thing to worry about is not getting seen and timing.
"That's simple though, I just walk in through the front door. Or do you not want to be seen with me?" She tosses a loaded question at you and expectingly waits for your response. It's brief but she shows you a lazily hand-concealed grin and an amused gaze to match, completing the sly look.
"It's not that, I just think it would be the best if we don't cause a commotion as we travel. As soon as I get more material I'll make you something so that you won't have to jump through hoops..." You say seriously at first but taking jab back at her is the only thing that will leave you satisfied. "However, you should be grateful that you even get to share a room with me." At first Tewi is surprised by what you said but adapting to the situation seems to be a skill of hers as the expression fades as fast as it came.
"Oh what a fool I've been, gentle tailor of needle and thread let me be by your side. Nyehehe." Playing along she does a curtsy with that fine pink dress. "Tell me the plan that will keep us together on this long night."
After telling her the method to get in, she takes action. As quick as sound, she vanishes from the path and blends into the tree line. Now it's your turn to setup the rest. Approaching the main door you can tell of the quality craftsmanship in the walls and floor. It is a fine place to stay, hopefully it won't cost too much. Pushing to the side the cloth separator covering the door, you are met with the warm air of a crackling fireplace hinted with the aroma of dried flowers scattered about. There is a subtle sweet smell hanging on the edge of your breaths, immediately smoothing any tenseness and worries from before.
Stepping inside you are met with the sight of two workers. One is resting behind the desk in a chair working on something hidden by a few small ornaments on the surface. The other is sweeping close to the entrance against the few stray leaves and dirt that have drifted their way inside. They both are clothed in similar samue outfits, the taller of the two is wearing dark blue and the smaller one has a faded orange one. The durable but loose fit for freedom of movement has always made it a good choice when it comes to working. It consists of two main pieces. The top that is similar to that of a robe in the way it wraps around the body. The bottom is a simple large piece of overlapping sheet of cloth that encompasses the legs almost to the ankles, although the standard version commonly worn are pants. One of the distinct properties of this particular style is that despite being loose, the wayward fabric is usually secured by bands that wrap around the waist and the around the shoulders for when one needs to roll up their sleeves. It is pretty impressive that they have a vibrant pallet of colors for an out of the way place like this, dyes have always been an expense that many forgo.
"Welcome!" The first one to notice me is the one maintaining the floor with the broom fashioned with fine branches and string. She is the taller of the two, it is apparent even when the one in orange is sitting down.
"Good evening, I would like to rent a room. Are any available?" You respond with a standard greeting.
"Ah of course." She leads you to the desk and takes places a scroll out in front of you. It gets unfurled and reveals its contents, all the up to the end it is just blank. "We just finished opening recently, it was pretty tough work but it will pay off in the end. The garden especially, it always has problems with wild animals." She comments about the empty scroll preemptively. That is rewarded from a quick glare from the one behind the desk.
"Don't mind my sister she is always talkative. I'm sure that you are weary." She straightens out the papers she was working on and then suggests a price.
It seems a little low just based on the inn's appearance but they suggest since you are one of the first customers they would offer you a deal. In the end you gave the two a generous amount under the guise that you shouldn't be bothered since you have important work to do.
"Please don't hesitate to come get us if you need anything." You are taken to a simple room with the usual amenities for lodging and given a simple line for her to retreat back to her own business. You give her a nod before examining the room a little more closely.
Built in drawers and closets line the wall. That is probably where the bed is hidden, with a quick check it confirms your thoughts as a loosely rolled bundle of cloth makes up the futon. In the center of the room is a small table that has four floor pillows distributed on all sides. It is a little plain compared to the front lobby area but that is alright. The most important is the design of the window nestled on the opposite wall from the door. It is high off the ground but still has a common sliding construction. Those of shorter stature would have some difficulty enjoying the view.
Accompanying the sound of the wooden frame opening is the cool and warm air swapping places. It is a slight breeze but it will be alright for a while. A glance left and right through the freshly opened passage makes sure that area is clear. Then with a quick hop and lifting yourself onto the window's support, you are able to seat comfortably half in and half out. The opening is large enough to not have to duck too much as you signal with a beckon to the edge of the forest.
The rustling in the distant foliage is followed by a pink flash escaping from the few remainders of green that have been caught in the current of such agility. A zig-zag pattern assembles in your mind as you watch the rabbit approach, at each change of angle you are able to see a few moments of her movements. A series of short leaps cover ground quickly as she shifts her weight with the help of her arms and hands. Imagining is the best you can do, it fills in the gaps that your eyes cannot. A natural sway from side to side as the length of the dress adjusts to the sudden shifts of gravity, the twist of her hands and arms as they make contact with the ground to provide adjustment and balance, and the powerful forward springs just before landing again.
It does not take long for that sizable field of grass be overtaken by Tewi. Just as she nears the building her style of stride suddenly changes to a more straight forward style of jump. The distinction between the two is jarring, she lands on the wooden walkway below extending the length of time she allows contact with the ground. Completely silent, having her slowly lower herself while landing makes her just like a feather. During the final length between you, she extends her arm in the duration of her jump. As planned you take her hand and pull her in. Your eyes have not betrayed you when you lift Tewi through the opening, that small frame could not be anything but light. What does catch you off guard however is how soft her hand is despite her recent display on how she maneuvers. Placing her down with a muted thud the both of you make it to the comforting interior.
"Thank-" Tewi begins to speak but she quickly finds herself holding her nose as she is caught off guard. "It seems like they went overboard with all the flowers." You can't help yourself but watch her face scrunch up while she looks around the room. However, her discomfort doesn't last long as she is soon sitting rudely on the table in the middle of the room. Slowly alternating and shifting legs bend as they hang from the side of the wooden resting spot. "Do you think they have anything to do here?" Her attention returns to you after a quick glance around the room. It is pretty obvious that she is not impressed and her boredom clearly shows.
"I don't think they have anything besides the usual food, bath, and bed." You try explaining to her as you close the window behind you. It somehow seems that she missed the point that an inn is made for resting.
You take a seat at the table and pull out the small book from your bag that was found in that literal hole in the ground. This is the first real chance that you had time to look at it.
"I'm going to see if I can figure something out from this, maybe some answers." You explain to Tewi, you can't really help that she seems bored but you had spent most of the day with her already so it wouldn't be too much to ask.
You look up from the pages that contain nonsensical information and wipe the fatigue from your eyes. It is like wading in a sea of knowledge, grasping at anything nearby for a reference point just to even get a semblance of direction. Perhaps the pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together or maybe not. Reorienting yourself from being lost in the pages, you realize that Tewi had left the room. Oh, there was a time where you thought you heard Tewi say she was going for a walk or something along those lines.
Any remnants of a daze that lingered is instantly dissipated when you hear the familiar sound of thunder booming. Have you really been that distracted that you haven't even noticed the rain falling outside? Now entering your senses is the consistent sound of rainfall splashing against the roof of the inn and the waning echoes of the sky's call.
You wonder to yourself if Tewi could even catch a cold as you wander through the inn, the bright hue of the sun has faded and night had quickly taken its place. The surrounding rooms have their doors stand open until their occupation so they can receive warmth emanating from the central fireplace. However, one door remains close on this hall. It's owner is instantly given away when you spot the title carved into the wood pillar next to the sole sealed gateway. It belongs to the keepers of the inn. The remainder of the building remains just as barren as the unrented rooms, The kitchen and the front entrance way included.
Where is everyone at? They wouldn't be outside would they?
So you find yourself standing in front of the only place that you haven't checked inside.
"Sorry to bother you." You announce your presence as you knock just under the title in the sturdy support structure.
Time passes uneasily as you await a response, the autonomous operations of the fire and clack of bamboo from the garden are the only signs of life.
[ ]What you seek is not here but in the garden. [ ]The truth is just beyond the gate.
Feedback and critique are always welcome. It might be a little slow for me to get back into things in the beginning but it should be fine for the chance for everyone to vote.
Tewi cannot be inside the inn at the moment. It wouldn't make sense at all for her to be here. You are unsure why but you are compelled to move toward the garden. So with haste, you proceed through the halls. Your eyes scan the objects in the dimly lit rooms confirming once more that there is no one in the inn. In the kitchen there is an entryway closest to your destination.
You slide the door out of the way and take a half-step out before coming to a complete halt. The unfolding of events before you seem like a series of impossibilities. You want to scream out and object to the absurdities but you wait and watch for the chance to fill in the gaps in your thoughts.
The droning of rain is the only thing that makes it to your ears... A colossal impact of a punch that should be followed by the sound of cracking ribs is completely muted. Accumulations of water that rested on the fabric of the dress are shaken loose, it is visible even from this distance. The grunt or scream that should be coming from the hurtling body garbed in pink never makes it to your ears. The thud that should echo as she lands face first in the muddied rain water in the garden, none of it makes it.
The two inn keepers stand over the crumpled figure in the garden. Their length of black hair and vibrant clothes droop in the dreary weather as they soak up the falling droplets. They are far more concerned with other things than to care about the oppressive environment. The taller of the two slings a sack of grain over her shoulder.
Where did she get that bag from? Wait, where did Tewi go? The spot on the floor where she was before is now empty. So many things don't add up, its like reading a book out of order and just seeing effects without the causes. Just continuing to read will eventually lead to an answer but the outcome will always be the same, just flipping through the pages.
This situation, you have a feeling that something like this happened not to long ago. However, unlike before you don't have the comfort of being concealed by the forestry and foliage. The glow of the fireplace at your back escapes past you in the newly created gap of the building. Both of the two ladies have spotted you in no time and in turn face towards you.
"Oh, it's a shame to do this to a paying customer but..." Her sister seems ready to pounce on you but a quick wave of the little one's hand pauses the taller sibling. She then mechanically caresses the air with fine precision. Each stroke with her left had causes the accumulating light in her reaching right palm to grow. There is a feeling of dread in the moments that you watch a weapon being drawn on you. You may not understand the details behind it but those words and those actions are not the ones you want. You face the taut string of a bow and its notched arrow in just under a second. With a practiced movement its flight towards you begins, you can perceive its speed unlike a loosed arrow but behind it you can sense its weight on the world. From this distance there should be enough time to move out of its way, someone can easily react to this projectile.
It is that same instinct that moves you to dodge the flying point of light that causes you to reel backwards as well. For just a moment you are forced a glimpse of a bottomless pit in front of you, the jagged depths and darkness inviting only those that welcome death. Your confusion is short lived while you feel the slam of heat against the center of your chest. A bright light briefly blinds your senses and it repels you backwards. There is a heavy thud that echoes through your body, a sudden sharp pain to the back of your head and spine causing you to drop to the ground compelling you to rest on both hands. The distinct sound of metal clattering as the utensils on the counter bang against each other in the free fall caused by the impact. The wood floor board sways in front of your eyes, mere inches away, as you feel the warmth of blood spread from the back of your head to the tip of your nose. A burning sensation claws at your chest from within the folds of your clothes as you watch the few droplets of crimson slowly pool together.
A recently learned feeling creeps back into you once the shock of pain subsides. The confusion, the unknown, the feeling of being helpless. They all merge together seamlessly into a black ooze. It seeps to every corner that is you. It strangles the mind and muscles. It paralyzes thoughts and actions. You damn it, you damn it as hard as you can but it does not help. Once it sets in it crystallizes, the sharp edges fill all gaps and crevices. Doing anything causes it to shear and cut, fragments embedding deeper and deeper the more you struggle. The only thing left to do to stop the pain is to stop moving, stop thinking. Just accept the fear.
"I'm surprised that you are still conscious. A normal human would have fallen asleep instantly." A condescending tone forces your vision upwards, you can see the bottom of her orange outfit and the small set of feet spaced slightly apart before the nausea sets in. "Do you know that stray rabbit? We've had a real problem with wild animals eating our plants in the garden. Ah, no matter, at least we found something to put into the pot for dinner." You grit your teeth and clench your fist against the boards until your knuckles turn white. Something wells up from deep inside you. Each word grates on you more and more. Despite the risk of being shredded apart from the inside, that frivolous pain won't stop you from moving. Terrible thoughts enter your mind. Anything, just anything to make her stop from speaking.
As though answering your call, one final clang of metal is heard as a meat cleaver slides towards your hand. The smell of smoke and blood mix, it drifts up from the opening on your seemingly unscathed clothes.
>>25918 >>25919 Sorry if it is a bit drastic/sudden for a first time battle. I wanted to see how a reader would react without any guidance, binary choices felt a little superficial to me. Although I can see how it can be hard without all the pieces clearly defined.
Not all hope is lost though, it not really the fault of votes or anything. If everyone really wants me to I'll assist some more.
Speak for yourself bro. I happen to be an expert at pure write-ins.
[X] Think for a second, your old man handeled this type of situation all the time. What was it that allowed him to throw off this crippeling fear? -[X] If your father found strenght from the pursuit of his true happiness, maybe you can do the same. Focus on all the positive aspects of your life, and how they seem to coincide with the arrival of a certain rabbit that needs you right now. --[X] Don't you still have one of those stakes from earlier? Perhaps now, when the enemy is blinded by false confidence, would be the perfect time to use it.
>>25921 While several years is a long time I don't really think it plays that large a role in this instance. Maybe if it were several threads long requiring a significant time investment I could agree. In the end, however, it isn't really up to me how much a person would like to commit to a story.
>>25922 Something like this post makes me feel like I've written decently enough for someone else to understand what core concepts I want to convey. It may not be 100% correct but the tones are there.
Honestly, the goal for me isn't to punish the readers. As long as the votes aren't completely absurd I'm sure they will find their way into the update.
I don't plan to use this style for every update just the ones that I feel the format of choice reflects the writing. Your feeling should have a similar tone as the MC. Helpless with limited options. The tools are there to solve the puzzle. Even if it gets partially completed someone else can pick up the remainder.
I suppose that is enough rambling from me. Even taking the most obvious choice of picking up the cleaver and swinging, isn't it better to try something than nothing when you are slated to lose everything?
I mentioned in the beginning that I would draw for a few updates if they were important but it has been a while since I did that. This didn't exactly happen when Tewi first got her dress but everyone could just pretend it did.
Now for relevant information, in terms of the next update I'll probably wait a while longer for some kind of direction/resolution. I'm currently aiming to have it done sometime before the week ends.
[X] Think for a second, your old man handled this type of situation all the time. What was it that allowed him to throw off this crippling fear? -[X] If your father found strength from the pursuit of his true happiness, maybe you can do the same. Focus on all the positive aspects of your life, and how they seem to coincide with the arrival of a certain rabbit that needs you right now. --[X] Don't you still have one of those stakes from earlier? Perhaps now, when the enemy is blinded by false confidence, would be the perfect time to use it.
[X] Think for a second, your old man handled this type of situation all the time. What was it that allowed him to throw off this crippling fear? -[X] If your father found strength from the pursuit of his true happiness, maybe you can do the same. Focus on all the positive aspects of your life, and how they seem to coincide with the arrival of a certain rabbit that needs you right now. --[X] Don't you still have one of those stakes from earlier? Perhaps now, when the enemy is blinded by false confidence, would be the perfect time to use it. --[x] Or perhaps that Cleaver
The situation seems dire, everything is so foreign to you at the moment. Several pangs in your body still echo but not as sharply as a few seconds ago. It is hard to examine your surroundings so close to the floor. You can't see your assaulter's face but her legs haven't made any movements since you last looked up to that annoying voice. The small lull gives just a moment of hope.
It is a handful of time but you can at least gather the shambles that is your state of mind. You search. You seek for a something to grasp in this muddled labyrinth of swelling thoughts and emotions. A core in which everything can be called to order. You brush aside all the useless clutter and find yourself facing a wall. Placing your hand against it tells you how sturdy it is. It is a heavy reminder, just as one can easily forget that the ground below him is more than just dirt. You have overlooked something so obvious and simple. That dirt can be a village, a country, or even the entire world resting beneath one's feet. One thing has been there since the beginning, supporting you all this time, the foundation of everything.
Father. Everything up to now is thanks to him. Your father has been able to handle this situation along with many others, the proof is in what he left behind. Those items found in the underground den and his memories to you. Even beyond life, he continues to guide you through his teachings. And so you build it up with those pillars, the fortress to steel yourself. It is your home which you are always welcome back to. You wrap yourself in the warmth of his words like a cozy scarf. It will help protect your choices from frivolous influences like fear. That is not all, he left more than just that. In the horizon of your minds eye, just beyond the guarded walls, a glint of light catches your attention. Surrounded by the blackened miasma of uncertainty is the glimmer of promise. True happiness. A small figure in pink waits impatiently next to the widened gates adorning the barrier. She holds up her arm towards you as you approach.
"Let's go together Tewi." You take hold of her hand and step into the unknown...
You quickly twist your wrist and snatch up the cleaver, it is awkward to grasp at this angle. Rising, you are able to straighten your body and temporarily rest your weight on your knees. The edge catches some of the floor, leaving behind some shavings before lifting off from its former resting place. The slab of metal chops through the air and almost grazes her clothes. That is all, however, as she jumps back a distance returning her outside. This cleaver was not made as a weapon, you think to yourself. The only thing its good for is butchering.
"I don't dislike men who don't know when to give up, hahaaaa." In a sighing fashion she lets out a drawn out laugh. "Maybe if you leave behind your money you can still walk away. It isn't cheap to start up something like this." There is no feeling of remorse from her words. This is good though, buying time can only help. While she talks, you are able to stand yourself up completely, although it takes a little effort. Gathering yourself is a priority at this point.
How did your old man handle situations like this? You gaze at the girl in front of you. Your posture still suggests you are on guard. Cleaver slighted in front of you. The dull sheen on its flats cover a quarter of her body from your perspective. You've never been a fight this serious before, at least not with your life in peril.
"Money, is that all you want?" If that is everything, you wouldn't mind parting with such worldly possessions for a chance to resolve this peacefully. Although you do hope for something that simple, you don't bet on it. The residual heat from the fold of your clothes still remain, it reminds you of the skewers that you happened upon earlier. Something like that would be more of your type instead of this cumbersome knife.
"It does make things easier for us. Just throw down your money and leave, I'll even forgive you for swinging that thing at me." She points at the weapon you are still brandishing at her. Still even in this position she takes an assertive tone towards you.
"Then Tewi and I will be able to leave?" You try to confirm the conditions once more.
"You gave it a name? At your age, playing with food." Tsk tsk. She pronounces her disapproval. "No. Just you." You let her piercing words glance off you, any more talk is useless. If there is no path in front of you then you will just have to carve it yourself.
You push off the ground to rush towards her. The keen edge of your weapon takes swipes at her vitals but she responds in a fleet footed fashion. It is moments before both of you are outside again. You continue to give chase, taking any chances at her that she will allow. The soaked grass and dirt give way beneath both of you as you follow her through the open space in the garden. You can feel the ground sucking at your feet, it should be the same for her as well. The cool droplets seep beneath the fine weave of your clothes and sap the heat from your body. It feels like you are going deaf, everything else faint except heavy breathing escaping your skull. You muscles tense with every slash, chop, and swing. Your extended range almost touches her every time.
There has to be a way to close the gap. You can't keep this up forever, you can already feel fatigue start to set in as your body tries to pump blood in vain. You watch her movements as you assault her. Each attack seems to press her more and more as you examine the focused gaze on her face. Back, left, right. She dodges every which way except towards you. Every time she steps back you have to step forward, the other directions you can adapt with just a simple adjustment. That is her weakness, you'll corner her and then strike. You'll eliminate her options. This unbalanced mass of metal has been disposable from the beginning. You wind up and heave the cleaver towards her neck, it leaves your grasp and hurtles through the air. She shifts her weight to the left. This is what you have been waiting for! You reach into the folds of your clothes and grasp down on the sensation that had been bothering you all along.
A familiar scene enters your vision, it is the same one from before. An open pit lay out before you as you stand on the ragged edge. There is not one thing different. Except yourself.
"I'm not leaving without Tewi!" You yell at the top of your lungs as you plunge into the depths with resolve. The skewers rip through the darkness as it sings within your grasp, it distorts the space around it leaving waves in its wake. The shard heats up and vibrates telling you to let go but you hold on, you won't let go until you hit your mark. Your weight slams into something that gives, then you separate yourself with a kick.
When your sight clears you see the girl's actual form, she is sent back reeling. Her previous midnight shade of hair is replace with a cobalt hue. Her features are sharper than before, notably her ears, which have now moved on top of her head. Her shoulder length hair is pull back into an ornament and fans out like those used on a hot summer's day. With her hair of the way you can see the shortened sides beneath, its an unorthodox style from anything you've seen before. Behind her though is the most notable of all. One of the more pronounced signs to a specific type of youkai, at her back is a set of tails belonging to a kitsune. A five-tailed fox.
At this point it doesn't matter anymore, any foe that stands before you will be leveled. Human or youkai, god or devil. She holds her hand as the rain slowly dilutes the blood flow from her palm. It streams down to her elbow and waterfalls off into the earth beneath her. The expression on her face is tinged with surprise, she looks in no direction in particular with her dull pupils. She stares at the ground just past her hands, is it shock?
"Shieru!" The tall girl's voice reminds you that there was one other here. You glance over in the direction of the yell and see her rushing towards you at an amazing speed. You brace your body for the blow but instead all you hear is a wet smack.
"You're not finished with me yet!" It is a harsh sounding yell coming from behind the fallen body. Tewi is wrapped around one of the legs of the other girl. Her torn clothes only make her look more feral as she widens her maw and suddenly snaps down into the slender calf. A brutal cry comes from the victims throat and quickly goes to retaliate but Tewi just springs backwards. "Don't just stand there." She spits out the crimson covering teeth and tongue. With a quick pass of her wrist, she wipes that and the mud from her face. She shouts out to you, "Hurry up and end this. The deer chaser is the source for their spells."
You face back to the fox in front of you. It seems like she has scribed symbols onto her cheek in red in the moments you were distracted. The light in one of her eyes have returned but that expression of shock is nowhere to be seen. Instead of that, there is a look of glee. Tewi can take care of the other one, you prepare yourself to face your enemy one more time. You hold tightly the skewer which glows red, its heat still emanates from before.
[ ]No need to change tactics now. Defeat her first. [ ]Aim to destroy the deer chaser.
Youkai are, in general, more powerful than humans, even trained youkai hunters, so we have little chance of winning a straight up fight. Let's take Tewi's advice and try to cut off their source of power.
Not sure how to do it, though, since they know that we know, and all that.
"An interesting little toy. I'll have a closer look when I take it from you." The girl with a cobalt luster has regained her composure with surprising haste despite being stabbed. You'll have to finish this as quickly as possible, it seems like she is serious about fighting now. Her clothes and tails sway from the visible energies melting away from her body. The thin lines of blue pull away from her outline and dissipate in the air.
"You should find better work than stealing from random travelers. Although, I can't think of many that would accept a girl with such a rude mouth." You take a glance at the bamboo chaser just behind her as you speak, all you have to do is push her back enough at then focus on that. "Well, maybe except one. You wouldn't even need to buy makeup with a skill like yours." You hear a series of punches and steps, it seems that Tewi has already started fighting. Better start now so that you don't let your opponent get a chance to help her sister.
You dash towards her wary about her next move. The tips of her fingers clench the sky and summons forth her ability. Foxfire, you recall the name from rumors and stories you've heard in the past. The ethereal orb of blue flames licks the wind with a cool but menacing demeanor as it is commanded towards you. With a quick shift of your direction, it careens past and creates a small opening. You just need to push her away from your goal.
With a series of viper like thrusts you make her jump back several times, each one is accompanied by the crisp snap of cloth from around your wrist. You wield the skewer with compounding confidence, it feels like you've been doing this your entire life the more you use it. She ends up several steps away at the end of your flurry of attacks. This should be enough. You spin around and plunge your weapon into the side of the device. The shard warps the space and the magic surrounding it, dispelling anything that was there. A wooden post? It is anchored in front of you covered in talismans from top to bottom. Was it a trick? Your skewer is lodged and with a quick tug you release it from the confines of the grain. You swivel around as quickly as you can.
Before you can even gape your mouth, she had already prepared three additional projectiles in a row and sent them flying towards you in formation. It encroaches upon you like a wall of flames. Damn it, she caught you in the same situation that you trapped her in earlier. You can't dodge safely. Slipping under them would only leave you open to further attempts. With no recourse left, you hold up your skewer towards the onslaught, it is your only hope. You stand braced with your back to the corner as you solidify your stance, one hand supporting the other.
The blue flames ram into your guard with such ferocity it almost pushes you away in the slick mud. A howling ring pierces your ears as your metal meets the foxfire. You watch as it devours the entire attack. Your weapon violently vibrates through your arm and burns white hot, it is like trying to hold lightning itself. You can only take so much before you are forced to discard scalding sliver onto the ground. The entirety of your body shivers involuntarily. Such strength. Desperately you flex your hand to try to shake away the numbness.
"Did you think it would be that easy to beat me in my own domain? Still, you continue to surprise me. Behold the trial you must face!" The scenery around you changes, one by one more constructs appear. Each one looks more similar to the last. She is so pleased with herself she even allows you take in everything around you. A field of bamboo chasers, each one clacking away in sync. "Which will give up first, your body or your will? Hahaaaa!" She drags out her laugh like before.
You furrow your brow at her inane chatter. In your mind you craft a small charm to calm your nerves, you whisper some warmth into the invisible scarf securely wrapping you. It is enough to sooth the spasms haunting you. With a simple action, you cut short the haughty laughter filling the air, you reach towards the hidden petite case holding your modest treasures. In response, the girl assembles another volley in quick succession with one hand and then sends them off with the other. They approach sporadically towards you. It makes it difficult to do anything except focus on dodging them. She is wearing you down with no chance to rest. You can already feel the sluggish movements as you press your body to your limits, each step etches away at your energy slowly but surely. One, two, three. You body sways just out of range, your hair stands all across your body as you feel the energies pass just a hand's breadth away. Each one by itself is simple to sidestep but the complexity scales higher as you attempt to twist your body out of the way for the next one. Four, five, six.
Finally, you are forced out of position with the seventh shot. You are compelled to pull out your second skewer and clash against the magical force once more. However, just before you meet the sphere of combustion it drags in the air like swimming in the thick of water. You ears ache with ringing once more as you defend yourself but this time you try pushing back. You deflect your death just enough that it zips by your chest as it soars in the air. Good, you think to yourself, your weapon is still manageable in this state. It radiates heat but not as unbearable like when you absorbed the brunt of the force last time.
You spot something in the actions of your defense, tracing your hand's path you can see the tears in this play's curtain. This is what she wanted to stop you from realizing. In the beginning, she probably didn't think you had another skewer of such power hidden away. And so you slash away at the charade, revealing the true workings behind the scenes. You can see the fox's composure shatter into a panic when you cut away the fat of illusions. Similar wooden posts as before litter the grounds replacing their bamboo brethren. It is but a few moments before you spot the real clacking culprit. You make a mad sprint towards it. In a frenzy, she saturates the air with slow moving projectiles in an attempt to protect the source of her powers.
"Get out of my way!" You shove everything aside as you dive deep into sea of shimmering blue. Everything is in this charge. A well placed swing is enough to dispatch all obstacles, each one is met with a shallow ping of sound. Her barrage is several layers thick but that doesn't stop you in the slightest. You push beyond what you thought you were capable of and you are rewarded, you stand over the origin of all your woes since you came to this inn. Since intruding on this makeshift inner sanctum, you haven't blinked not even once and you won't. Not until you claim your prize.
In a ditch effort she pours herself into just one more attack. It blazes towards you at an accelerating speed. You answer for the third time today. At first you arm buckles but you hold it off, you won't give up. You ignore the screaming in your ear, you ignore the pain shooting up your arm, you ignore the thought of failure. You free one hand and reach, for the last time, into your clothes.
"More?!" She yelps out protest as you pull out your third skewer.
You strike down into the deer chaser with the feeling of certain victory. With this, it's finally over. With all your might you penetrate into the top of the bamboo with your skewer. It feels like everything had suddenly gone silent. The pressure on your arm dissipates along with the surrounding magic. A tidal force washes over you starting from the point of contact, all around you everything is suddenly revealed.
You find yourself in a forest of white. Everything is covered by the same rectangular texture and markings. You've seen these somewhere before, it takes a few moments but you recognize that these are the same as the ones that you opponent had on her face. They literally paint everything, the trunks of the trees, the walls of the building, the posts in the garden. Literally everything.
A cerulean embers catch the bottom the papers before quickly erupting into steady inferno. Intermittently and without discrimination they are chosen. You watch as one by one they catch their neighbor on fire. The high temperature causes them to curl up and burn away the adhesive sticking them to whatever they are attached to. They peel off completely for fractions of a moment before vanishing in a wisp of smoke. Before you know it you are standing in the middle of a whirling spectacle of shadows and flickering lights.
Tewi stands next to the foolish fox with the cleaver, that you tossed earlier, slumped to her side. A loose grip caresses the handle of the blade. It seems that destroying the source of power forced the fox to crumple to her knees.
"Do you think I didn't hear those things that you said? Eat or be eaten, is that what you live by?" The small bunny speaks. The frigid words swoop down on the weakened figure below her.
"No, that's not it at all!" A blond colored fox protests, a new face appears suddenly. You assume her to be the older sister based on the dark blue garments. She desperately tries to make her way towards her injured partner but she can only stagger clumsily. a five-tailed kitsune like the other one. She coddles one of her arms and drags a leg, wincing all the while. The few places where her skin are expose are covered with black and blue bruises. The swelling is quite obvious as her facial features are distorted here and there. Tewi had did a number on her already, you suppose just by herself she didn't stand a chance.
"Stop, it's alright Azumi. We... I failed." A barked order stops her only ally, you can see the conflicted look on sister's face as she comes to a halt. Shieru rests peacefully in the rain, she tilts her head upwards and lets the rain pelt against her face. The scarlet markings have long smeared down her cheek in an unrecognizable mess. Her blank gaze reflects that of the impenetrable grey sky. "You can move on now."
The adrenaline that had been pulsing through your veins has now run its course, with that the desire to continue fighting fades as well. Tewi slowly draws the guillotine upwards, you can feel the silent wrath still emanating from her. The tatters that are her clothes bring grim images of a reaper to you.
[ ]Quell Tewi's rage and let them go. -[ ]Use your words -[ ]Conditions [ ]May they be reborn with a better life.
[X]Quell Tewi's rage and let them go. -[X]Use your words -[X]As recompense for staying your execution, I hereby order you two to cease this senseless violence and amend your ways. -[X] You have chosen the guise of tavern keepers? Well then, let it be so. You two will concentrate the entirety of your efforts towards building an inn and an atmosphere where humans and youkai alike can find respite, for a fair price. -[X] I know not what measure of honor youkai hold, but should you fail to uphold your end of this ultimatum, I will return. From that point on, the entirety of your existence will know no respite from my fury. I will descend on whatever hiding hole you run too like the grim shadow of death, and wearing the guise of every human you have wronged in the past to deliver you to salvation.
Sometimes, you gotta let your inner Youkai Hunter speak.
[X]Quell Tewi's rage and let them go. -[X]Use your words -[X]As recompense for staying your execution, I hereby order you two to cease this senseless violence and amend your ways. -[X] You have chosen the guise of tavern keepers? Well then, let it be so. You two will concentrate the entirety of your efforts towards building an inn and an atmosphere where humans and youkai alike can find respite, for a fair price. -[X] I know not what measure of honor youkai hold, but should you fail to uphold your end of this ultimatum, I will return. From that point on, the entirety of your existence will know no respite from my fury. I will descend on whatever hiding hole you run too like the grim shadow of death, and wearing the guise of every human you have wronged in the past to deliver you to salvation.
I'm interpreting the 'words' subvote as being directed primarily towards Tewi.
[x] Tell her that there are better ways to deal with vanquished opponents than by killing them. They can be valuable assets. -[x] The Kitsune may keep their lives if they pledge their service, possibly as familiars. They are to continue running the inn and to cease preying on either man or youkai. It's useful to have a pair of eyes and ears in the wilderness, as well as a potential base of operations.
I'm not sure what else can be added here. The 'familiar' may require a blood pact of sorts, depending on how the author interprets that sort of thing. I would be okay with that but I'm not sure other readers are. Alternatively, some sort of oath might do the trick. In fiction supernatural beings often can't violate the terms of a contract. The main idea here is to make the foxes partners/allies. Being a lone wolf is fine but having a group of varied abilities might be useful for a youkai hunter.
[x]May they be reborn with a better life. Seems like a way simpler and safer solution. What, you think the youkai known as being great tricksters are just gonna honour an agreement or be intimidated by a random human? Yeah, sure.
>>25956 Yes, the using your words option was how you could talk down Tewi from killing them.
In terms of dealing with any species of youkai, you can use any prior knowledge that you might have as a guideline or estimation. The main character has a decently rich understanding of youkai and any information from outside the story can be filtered through as rumors and stories. Whether or not they apply to the setting will have to be experienced first hand.
As for the conditions that you lay out for the foxes, it all depends on what you are willing to put down on the table and what you can enforce. Simpler requests require less management. For example, asking them to devote themselves as a travel companion and push aside their own needs will require you to fill them yourself. After all you will be taking up their time. If you set them off on their own, they can do things their own way. Just depends on how much you can trust them to keep their word. Sparing them is a no small gesture, they will at least listen to what you have to say.
>>25957 I suppose I should have had the foresight to ask this in the choices but if you were to let them die, what would you do with the bodies?
[x] Tell her that there are better ways to deal with vanquished opponents than by killing them. They can be valuable assets. -[x] The Kitsune may keep their lives if they pledge their service, possibly as familiars. They are to continue running the inn and to cease preying on either man or youkai. It's useful to have a pair of eyes and ears in the wilderness, as well as a potential base of operations.
Hell I don't know. It is hard but I wish to spare them and have them change for the better?
"Tewi, wait!" You abruptly halt as her hand is held up high. You can feel her eyes bare down on the exposed neck of the fallen girl before her. "They can be more use to us alive."
"You're lucky that you'll keep your head for at least a few more seconds." Tewi stays her role as an executioner long enough to listen to what you have to say. The blond colored fox runs over to the other and tightly embraces her in a collapse. Despite how she looks she recovered rather quickly.
"You idiot, it's still not safe here." The younger one cups the chin of the older one in her palm. With her other hand she wipes away the rain rolling down the set of bruised cheeks. "There was plenty of time to get away."
"I can't leave you here alone." A few choked words come from her sister.
"I'll give you two options." You announce as you approach the group. The attention that you steal from both is apparent as they both turn their focus to you. "In exchange for pausing your untimely demise, you can continue as were but treat both humans and youkai alike, and fairly. Or, you can devote yourselves to me and become my eyes and ears, my sword and shield."
"Just because you have won doesn't mean you can dictate our lives." A small scowl develops on her face and worn words come from her mouth. She stays defiant even in the face of death. "If you think you can control us with fear then you would be wrong."
"Quit it, quit trying to run away from your problems." A quick slap to the back of the head of her sister enforces the point. "Forgive us. We promise to not to take advantage of anyone else. You say sorry too."
"Sorry." It is vague to who she is apologizing too but it is better than nothing. "If I had to choose, I would take the first option."
"That is my choice as well, it was never our intent to let things get this far. There are important matters that we have to take care of and cannot go with you." She continues to apologize. "However, if we run across each other again I gladly help if you were in need."
"I'll need more than words to show your commitment." You demand from the two. The blond one acts first and turns her body to kneel towards you but you stop her immediately. "No, stand up. I won't allow you to prostrate yourself like that when I ask you to treat both humans and youkai alike."
"You are an odd man." The short one comments as they both stand up to face you. Each of them in turn give a respectful bow towards you and you return one back at the same time. Tewi receives some as well but she isn't as kind to pay them back. "If you need you can stay at our inn all you want. You have payed us plenty for at least that."
"That should be enough, right Tewi?"
"Not yet." A small glance down from her is enough for you to guess the next set of words coming. "What about my clothes?"
"Right, do you have any spare clothes or materials to make some?" You ask.
"Nothing besides what's on my back." The one in orange remarks.
"You said you needed some coin? Here then, a simple exchange for your clothes." You shake out the value that you appraise her clothes at. The metals clink as they land into your open palm.
"No mercy even for a poor blind little girl. Maybe you will get far in this world. I'll accept it however, here is further proof that my word is gold." She unceremoniously begins undressing. Tewi could probably easily fit that with a few adjustments here and there. It takes a few seconds but she is left bare in her undergarments, her mechanical and practiced movements fold the clothes into a nice little square package. Several steps in, the soft fabric bumps against your chest, she stares straight through you. You had your suspicions before but her eyesight is finally verified by her words.
"Is something the matter?" It seems like you were looking for a quite a while. Her previously dry top had turned a translucent color in the rain. Some of the peach color from her skin begins to peek through the fabric. Honestly, you would like a look at the construction of her underpants as well, just to see how the tails fit through, but your decency stops you. Instead you take the small parcel and replace it with the local currency. "We are going to the next town to buy some supplies, it's a little hard to work with a lack of clothes." She points at herself. "I'll take the sign down on the way so no one will bother you two. Oh, just make sure to water the garden when it looks a little dry."
"I'll make sure to do that, but before you go I have something to expound on." You return to the most important topic. "I will hold you both to our agreement, it is a matter of trust. Breaking it will forfeit any right you had. Abandoning any sense of equality, I will treat you as an abomination unfit for this world. Each act of evil you commit I will carve into me as a betrayal of good will and hunt you down for repayment. And when I find you? You will wish for a sweet release and mercy from all those that you have wronged."
"I will remember your words for at least your lifetime." Stubborn is a word that you would brand the blue haired one with. It doesn't seem like you influenced her that much but her companion is different. "We'll be off." The two foxes leave in a path around the house. Every so often the tall one looks back nervously before disappearing around the corner.
"Could have done worse." Tewi mentions as she oversees the situation, it seems like she has finally calmed down.
After the short exchange it seems like you have temporarily inherited this area. Looking at it more closely, the real attributes of the building stand out. Abandoned property that had been left barren for many years. Now that the illusion has been lifted, it is plain to see the exact condition it is in. A decrepit looking building with many of the wood pieces weathered by the storms and brittle from age. There are many boards that have been eaten away from the floors and siding of the building. The surroundings look basically the same except in one area. There are many destroyed trees that now make up the forest's edge, the exposed bright splinters indicate where heavy impacts had taken place.
The foxes have left the area completely. Their dominance over this place had been completely dismantled when you destroyed the deer chaser. Tewi can easily drive off both of them by herself if they decided to come back without holding their side of the bargain.
You look down at Tewi and just examine her. She really is a mess, you can see up close how much damage was actually done to her clothes and body. She looks like she is in a miserable state, there are cuts and bruises on her face and body. Her body half covered in muck and clothes practically torn into shreds. It was obvious from before that it would require a lot of work to repair her clothes but seeing it from this distance makes you wonder if you should even try to fix it.
"Want to take a bath?" You suggest.
"Yeah, that would be nice." She responds back.
You toss on another log onto the low flames.
"That feels good enough." Tewi mentions to you through the window of the the building. You are hiding in safety from the heat draining rain beneath the small ledge of the roof. "Come inside, jump in before it gets cold."
"Alright." You answer back in confirmation and return to the comfort of the indoors. The bathroom door is open already and with a quick rap you tap on the frame. No response. You step inside and turn around the corner to where the small wooden bath tub should sit. You recall examining it earlier, it was more like a barrel with a small ledge inside of it. Tewi is just relaxing on the far side, one eye closed and the other's red pupil looks where you stand. Her body is hidden under the reflective layer of water but you can tell she enjoying it by her slumped shoulders void of tension. "Oh, sorry. I thought you were finished."
"Don't worry." A brief pause of silence fills the air. "Are you coming in?" More silence, at least you think. The feeling blood pulsating through your body makes it hard to tell. "I think it's only fair since you've seen me naked plenty of times. However, if you want I can turn around until you get in." For some reason it seems that there should be more to that sentence. Something along the lines of, "If you feel...". An assortment of words run through your mind completing the phrase. They all seem to challenge you.
"If it's only fair..." You compete only with yourself as begin to take off your clothes. To do so calmly is more difficult than you imagined, you fight the urge to rush as the blush on your face is probably even more apparent to Tewi than it is to you. It reaches more than just your face as your entire body reacts to the situation. She watches even while you wash up and rinse off to step into the tub. It is only just now that you notice the wooden frame isn't very big, it was probably made for just a single person at a time.
"To be honest I just didn't want to go outside and keep the bath going. Nyehehe. Despite my selfishness, you still deserve to relax in the hot water as well." She seems quite pleased with herself as the wide grin brightens her face notably. When you finally submerge yourself completely, the distance between both you and Tewi is just a handful of inches. It's a little cramped so there is little choice when your legs met hers sporadically. Tewi's eyes flit downwards when you look to her and she begins blowing on the water's surface making it ripple. It makes it difficult to read what she is thinking.
"You'll cool it off faster like that." You mention somewhat offhand as you let the warmth sink into your body. It doesn't do anything to lessen the sudden awkward silence. The scent of berries and the slight hint of iron reach you. She was probably gathering them in the forest before all that pointless fighting happened. You'll ask about that later, just for now you want to at least try to enjoy the moment.
"I'm approaching." Tewi declares. The look in her eyes suddenly turn determined as she closes the gap between her and you.
"W-What's all this about?" You try to figure out her intent but all you can feel is how intense she has gotten suddenly. Naturally, you move back against the wall of the tub unsure what to do. It feels like you are being trapped.
"Skinship, we will be a lot closer this way." She stirs beneath the water with her hand, little vortexes form concealed past her mischievous grin. Several gentle tugs beckon for you body. They lull you into meeting Tewi's hand with yours, so petite and soft. Subtle shocks shoot up your arm as you feel her soft touch travel from the ends of your fingers up to your chest.
"Tewi..." You mutter her name and it makes you feel like an idiot. Despite your reddening face and butterflies in your stomach you want to reciprocate. Smoothly you slide your hand across the back of her arm and caress her curves down her side. Ever since that night when you first saw her in the stream, this is what you imagined her shape to feel like. It is a stark contrast from when you focus on work. You rest your hands on her hips with a squeeze.
"You can touch a little more." She spins in place with grace as she repositions herself with your arms in tow. Your arms cross over the front of her chest as she moves. You can feel her thigh rub between your legs as she straddles you like a seat. She neatly fits her back against your chest, you can feel her heartbeat as she can feel yours. Slowly, she guides your hands across her chest. It is but for a scant second but you press on her small bosom. She let's you idle for a few moments and continues on, she leads your arms in a tight embrace around her frame. You don't think you can get any closer to Tewi at this point and so you hug her. She clutches your arms and tightens her legs around yours and stays like that. It's so peaceful, the silence of the night and Tewi's warm touch. You wouldn't mind it it stayed like this forever. "Thank you." You can no longer see the expression on her face but the tone of her voice relays enough. There is a hint of sadness but conveys how grateful she is. "Thank you for not abandoning me." You move you face towards the back of her head. The hair atop tickles your nose as you kiss. Ah, so this is what Tewi smells like.
"I've already decided to be by your side. Will do the same for me?"
There is a small almost undetectable nod before she says something.
"First you'll have to get stronger. Don't let it get to your head that you defeated that weak fox. I'll even give you some pointers." Tewi swings her arms and starts splashing the water everywhere. You let go when you get a face full of water.
"Hey, I think I did pretty well. Let me show you a few of the moves I pulled off." You play pretend as you shift handfuls of water towards her as well.
"Not bad, but you'll need a little more bulk on that thin body of yours. Look, you're already getting tired, no where near enough stamina to keep up with me. Nyehehe."
The back and forth between you two ends up leaving the tub half full of water. The sounds of giggles and laughter that come from the both of you fill the inn. The two of you dry off near the fire in the main entrance way after relaxing again.
You hang up the newly acquired clothes, in addition to yours, over the fireplace after arranging some things to prop up things. Droplets from the damp clothes continue to drip. It will probably be a few more hours until they completely dry. In the meantime you'll be wearing your spare that you had brought along.
You peak out the corner of your eye as Tewi puts on one of your tops. The bruise in the center of her ribcage doesn't look as bad as it sounded, youkai are surprisingly resilient. She looks over to you and picks up the strips of pink cloth that were her dress, there was no saving it after inspecting it more closely. A shame really.
"Your head is still bleeding." She takes the long lengths of pink and begins wrapping it around your head. You let her do what she wants as you bend your body closer to the ground so she can reach.
"I'll be fine, it's not as bad as before." You would like to shrug it off but when you try to move your muscles ache in pain. You haven't really pushed your body like that since you were a small child. It would probably be worse if you didn't do any traveling at all.
"Looks like we'll have to stay for a bit, I don't mind. We have the place to ourselves after all." She hastily plants a kiss on your forehead. "I'll get the beds ready." She scampers off into the other rooms in the inn.
It seems like it will be a day or so before both of you have had enough time to fully recover.
Sorry about taking so long to update, just been busy with work. No choices this time but I hope it's still enjoyable.
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.
[X]She'll never survive the entire minute, wear her away like a river rock.
I'd love to see a little more exposition and dialogue, so taking as long as possible is what I'm voting for. Not really sure how I feel about the action scene we read recently, it felt a little like it lacked proofreading; you do set an interesting scene, though.
>>26007 Thanks for letting me know, I usually proofread most of my writing myself which is prone to the phenomenon of reading what I want instead of what is on the page. I came up with a new method for going over it, so hopefully I can reduce the number of errors.