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[X] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper.
- [X] We should look for Wakasagihime
Well, we can cross this Sekibanki off the list immediately. I don't think going to the village is the best idea. There's probably some way for us to work through the Ringo and angry villager issue at some point, but I don't know offhand what it would be. I'm okay with keeping it low priority for now though. If we're lucky, we'll be able to stay out of the village until the problem blows over. At least we have some other options available for this specific thing.
Kagerou being listed here is a bit of a surprise to me. There hadn't really been any indication that she was a youkai when we had met her. I don't think that's really my fault though. Werewolves are just normal humans when it's not a full moon right? How would I have known? I guess if I had really thought about it, a lone human living out in a forest is a little odd. Is Mokou a youkai too then? Dunno, and I guess it doesn't matter.
Either way, Kagerou is an option that I'm kind of considering, but in this case I'm not sure if having met her before is really going to help. When we talked to her yesterday we were seeking out one thing, to show up the next day trying to get involved with something entirely different might be considered a little odd. I know that the question is still going to come up if we actually meet with this group, but I can at least give myself some more time to think about an excuse.
That just leaves Wakasagihime as the only option I can't think of anything wrong with. Kind of a mouthful of a name there, but that seems to be kinda normal for Earthlings. Well, it's not any worse than some of the Lunarians. A lot of them have names that wouldn't even be pronounceable by Earth languages if you tried to speak them properly. I like our short and simple rabbit names a lot more. We don't need to try to show off every time we introduce ourselves.
"Let's try to find the mermaid," I answer Ringo, folding the paper up again and handing it back to her. "That's the closest option, and is probably the easiest."
"Hm?" Ringo makes a small questioning noise as she stuffs the list back in her pocket. "How do you figure?"
"Well the village has it's own problems," I start vaguely. Ringo seems to be pretending to not understand what I'm talking about, but I continue on anyway. "And even if we flew to the other side of Gensokyo to find Kagerou again, I don't really remember where her house is actually located in that forest."
"Well yeah sure, but with a mermaid we're going to a lake," Ringo looks out in the general direction of the lake. If we flew up a bit we would probably be able to see it from here, but right now the trees around this area are blocking the view somewhat.
I'm not sure what Ringo's getting at. It was written right there on the paper, so obviously I know we're going to a lake. "So?"
"Being a mermaid means she lives under the water right?" I nod along to Ringo, yeah that's should be true from what I know about mermaids. "I don't know how we're gonna be able to navigate a lake other than just flying over it. We either need a plan to get her up to the surface, or we'll need to stop by camp so I can grab my snorkel."
I'd answer her question, but I kind of want to clarify something she said there. "Wait, you brought a snorkel on our military operation?"
Ringo shrugs. "Hey, if we need it now, then it wasn't a waste," She laughs. Ugh, I could say that this isn't a vacation again, but I'm not actually sure if Ringo's joking or not.
Whatever, it's not important. At least not more important than the point Ringo was actually trying to make. If we're talking about an actual plan, I don't have one really. I haven't gotten that far. I just picked the mermaid because of problems with the other options really. "We'll... Just have to figure something out when we get there," I say vaguely.
Ringo smiles. "That's what I like to hear," I guess she's fine with that, even if it makes me a bit nervous.
We lift off from the shrine. All we really have to do is go back the way we came. We retrace (refly?) our steps (flight?) down the mountain, but keep going past our camp. I briefly consider stopping by to see how the others are doing, but with just the amount of time that we've been gone, I doubt there would be much progress. I feel like I might end up feeling bad and wanting to help them if we stop, so Ringo and I decide to just keep going to the lake instead. Of course, this also means that Ringo doesn't get her snorkel. Or any of the other things that would be better for going underwater than a glorified plastic tube.
Once we're past the bulk of the forest, we drop down on the shore closest to the mountain. The misty lake itself isn't really anything special as far as bodies of water go. We have much nicer seas back on the Moon. That's actually what the mares are, you just can't tell by looking at them from the Earth. That's hidden from view along with the rest of the secret lunar capital stuff.
"So do you think we should split up or stay together?" I ask Ringo before she can ask me.
Ringo kneels down and drops her hand into the water. "Eeesh. Probably don't wanna swim in there," She mumbles to herself while standing back up. I guess it's cold. It is autumn after all. "Together I think. Our timing isn't the best, so visibility is poor and likely to get worse," She answers. Right, one of the things that we picked up pretty quickly while gathering info is that this lake gets enveloped in a huge amount of mist every day, usually peaking at around noon. We're not quite to that point yet, but all that means is that it's going to get worse before it gets better.
"Okay sure. I didn't bring my radio anyway," I probably should have thought of that. Whoops. "I think we might also want to stay away from that mansion on the other side."
The mist has already set in enough that Ringo can't see the mansion, but I'm sure she knows what I'm talking about. "She could be over there, but it's all the same to me. It'll probably take a while to check everywhere else anyway."
It definitely is taking a while. I wouldn't exactly say that the search is going well at this point. With the mist setting in more and more as time goes on, I'm not even exactly sure how much more there is to go either. I can see decently in the area immediately around us, but once you get further out things start getting shadowy and indistinct. I definitely can't see the far shore at this point, so heading too far out is going to be pretty difficult. We may lose track of where we have and haven't looked.
"I guess we could have stopped and gotten Yuzuki for this," I say, feeling a little bored with our slow float over the water.
Ringo laughs. "And deny her the joy of organizing everything for the sixth time?"
"Honestly I'm surprised we're only on number six," I laugh as well. I'm joking, but Yuzuki used to be a lot worse about this kind of thing. "Anyway, I'm just saying that she would probably have made this trivial. The lake isn't that deep in the areas we're looking in right now, but once we get further out we could easily miss the mermaid."
"Yeah I guess," Ringo leans back up and cracks her neck, probably feeling stiff from having been staring down into the water for the last half-hour. She glances around before reaching up to point at something. "She could also probably tell us what that is."
I look up to see what Ringo's pointing out when something suddenly wizzes by my head. Okay, that was close. I can't really focus on what it was though, now that I've looked up I can see more things flying at me!
I twist my body weirdly to dodge what I assume is some kind of danmaku. I barely graze past some of it, but I don't get hit at all by the time that everything has gone by. It's only a short barrage, so I manage it. I'm expecting more shots, but instead it seems like the large thing that Ringo was pointing at through the mist wants to close the distance before firing again.
I ready my hammer, just in case it seems like a good idea to shoot back with something a bit more lethal. I also notice Ringo popping a dango into her mouth out of the corner of my eye. I don't know why we're suddenly being attacked, but we're not exactly helpless here. As the figure in the distance gets closer, I can at least feel comfort in knowing that we're not defenseless here. It's two against one, so even if we can't see all that well, we can at least...
Oh it's Cirno.
Cirno seems to realize who we are at about the same time that I recognize her, and does her best to skid to a stop despite being airborne. Ringo, who had apparently decided to charge forward as well, doesn't do the same. Instead of stopping, she continues forward and more or less aerial tackles Cirno, grabbing her around the waist and tumbling forward, doing three or four flips through the air and quickly being obscured by the mist ahead.
By the time I fly forward enough to catch up with them, I can already see Cirno struggling to get out of Ringo's grip. They've at least come to a stop though. "Lemme go! We're supposed to be allies!" Cirno yells.
Ringo snickers to herself, but doesn't let Cirno out of her grip. "Hey, you attacked us first. Not my fault."
"I didn't know who it was!" Cirno protests.
"That doesn't really make it better Cirno," I try to scold her, but other than surprising me a bit with ice flying by my head, there wasn't really any harm done. "You can't just attack people randomly without knowing who they are."
Cirno doesn't seem chastised in the slightest. "I can too! And I totally should. It's the best chance to catch enemies by surprise. It's a uh," She trails off, trying to think of the right word for a moment. "Preemptive! Preemptive attack!"
"Oh really? Sounds tactical," Ringo says, acting like Cirno just said something really wise. "Maybe I'll give it a try sometime."
"Wait, wha-" Cirno doesn't get to finish her question before Ringo winds back and uses both arms to fling Cirno away, further into the mist.
Cirno's shadow flails and tumbles about wildly for a second before regaining control. I think she plays it off pretty decently, using the momentum from Ringo throwing her to swoop back around in a wide arc. When she comes back around close to us, she doesn't look at all bothered by her sudden involuntary flight. If anything she seems to be giggling about it like she had had a good time.
"Yeah! Sorta like that!" She declares proudly before taking a more serious tone. "You shouldn't have said anything before you did it though. I saw it coming way too easily. There's no way it would have worked out if we were being serious."
I decide not to mention that Cirno's attack on me hadn't worked either. "Noted, thanks for the tip," It looks like Ringo has decided that just humoring her is the best choice too.
"You're welcome! Anyway, did you come here because you needed help from the strongest fairy in Gensokyo, or did you just want to play?" Cirno asks, taking her normal self-assured stance with her chest puffed out and her hands on her hips.
I notice she didn't even consider the possibility that we aren't here for her. "Uh, neither. We were just in the area because-"
"Actually, we could use your help," Ringo cuts me off. "We were looking for someone around here. You'd probably know where she could be more than we would. Do you know a Wakasagihime?" She asks. Actually, why didn't I think to ask Cirno?
Cirno considers the question for a moment before realization shows on her face. "Oh! You mean the princess!" She decides.
Uh, no, we're looking for a mermaid. "Princess?"
"It's in her name, right?" Well, her name does end in 'hime'. I guess that's a title? Is her actual name just Wakasagi then? It might also be a nickname or something. "She's a princess, and I get to be a knight that protects her and the lake from the evil guys and other jerks!" Cirno continues on proudly.
Putting aside the specifics of what Cirno's talking about, it at least seems clear that she knows who we're asking her about. "Do you think we could talk to her? We might have some business with her."
"Well, I dunno. Princess usually doesn't want to talk to people, except when..." Cirno pauses again, suddenly falling into thought. After a moment, she appears to remember something. "Ah! R-right! I should let you guys talk to her! It's this way," She immediately starts flying away.
"Yeah, that'd be great," Ringo tells her as we follow along. "We were just wandering around looking for her, but it wasn't going well."
"I blame the mist," I try to make an excuse for what is really just us lacking a good plan.
"Today's way clearer than normal though!" Cirno declares happily. Wait, really? "But yeah, you wouldn't have found her without running into me. The princess is one of the people in my turf that I've decided to protect, so I would know if she gets into trouble. Her house is hidden under the water too!"
"We aren't looking for her to fight her Cirno," I clarify calmly. Cirno's mind seems to always gravitate that way for some reason.
"Oh," She actually sounds somewhat disappointed. Didn't she just get done saying it was her job to protect Wakasagihime? "Well that's good then. Princess doesn't like doing danmaku that much. That's why she has me here!" Make up your mind you silly fairy!
"I'm sure she's glad she has you on her side," Ringo says, apparently more than happy to let the contradiction go unspoken.
Cirno leads us... Southeastish (I think) across the lake. We go in that direction for a couple of minutes before Cirno suddenly stops us. What, are we here? There don't seem to be any landmarks or anything, we're just over the water. Does Cirno really know this whole lake that well?
"She's always under here in the mornings, so I'll just call her," Cirno declares, staring down at the water. I'm not sure what she intends to do. It seems to be pretty deep in this area, and it's not clear enough to see the bottom. Is she going to dive down in there?
Instead of what I expect, Cirno quietly grunts with effort and creates a large ball of ice, about the size of her head. Once it's complete, she unceremoniously drops it into the water with a loud 'ploomp'.
"Princess said this works kinda like a doorbell for her," I'm surprised Cirno was considerate enough to explain anything. I was kind of under the impression that she only really thought about herself. "Something or other about vibrations. I dunno," Well, she tried at least.
I guess I don't really have any reason to doubt that this fairy knows what she's doing. Aside from the normal issue of fairies being kind of stupid that is. After a moment, there's definitely movement from under the water. A blue head of hair breaks the surface, followed by the shoulders of a girl in a green kimono. Despite coming directly out of the water, her hair and clothes seem relatively dry. Must be some kind of mermaid magic or something.
"Good morning Cirno," The mermaid says. Her voice has a strange airy quality to it that makes her sound quite delicate. She glances up at me and uh, wow. I'm a little struck by how pretty she is. Even though Cirno was calling her a princess, I didn't really expect her to look like one.
"Good morning princess!" Cirno answers back. "I brought these people to see you."
"Yes, it seems like you did. Thank you very much Cirno, you did a great job," Wakasagihime says, sounding very calm and polite despite Cirno constantly brimming with enthusiasm. She turns to Ringo and I. "Good morning. What did you think of my letter?"
"Your what now?" Ringo asks. I don't know what she's talking about either.
"Anyway!" Cirno quickly interrupts. "Since things seem okay now, I'll let you guys talk and head out for some patrolling!"
"Please hold on a moment Cirno," Wakasagihime calls out quickly. I'm kind of surprised that Cirno actually stops, she seemed ready to leave immediately. "They seem confused. Did you lose my letter?"
"No of course not!" Cirno answers, perhaps a bit too quickly. "They're here, so obviously everything worked out!"
"Cirno, please don't lie," Wakasagihime chides gently. "And please don't just barely tell the truth. You want to be a strong and virtuous knight don't you?" She asks, she doesn't seem to be joking about the idea. She might just be humoring Cirno though, that seems to always be the easy way to deal with her.
"Yes... Well, I didn't lose it, but I still have it," Cirno reluctantly admits.
Wakasagihime nods and looks understanding. "Did you get distracted this morning?" She asks calmly.
"Sunny was around trying to mess with me again!" Cirno gives a loud excuse. "I couldn't just not chase her off! It's her fault!"
"It's alright Cirno. I understand," Wakasagihime says calmingly. "Like you said, everything worked out. Thank you very much for your help."
"Of course!" Cirno zips away after giving a quick salute.
"So uh, you sent us a letter?" Ringo asks after Cirno is out of sight.
The mermaid turns her head back to us, still just barely rising out of the water. She doesn't seem bothered by having to crane her neck back to look up at us. "That's right. Although it seems that you weren't given the opportunity to read it. That's a shame, I felt that I expressed myself well," She takes a deep breath before introducing herself, taking on a more formal tone. "I am Wakasagihime, a mermaid living here in the Misty Lake. I was told about you by Cirno, and wanted to speak with you in order to learn more about your situation. Cirno told me that you seem to be unrelated to the other rabbit youkai that live in the bamboo forest, which was something interesting to both myself and maybe even my organization."
"The Grassroots Youkai Network, right?" Ringo interrupts her to ask.
"Ah, you've heard of us?" Wakasagihime smiles brightly and sounds pleased with herself, dropping the official voice that she had been using. "That makes things much simpler. I actually wanted to ask you a couple of questions to get a better impression of who you are. Then if the answers are acceptable, I would like it if you would join us on something of a trial basis for one of our meetings. You would be okay with answering a couple of questions, yes?"
Oh wow, I'm surprised at just how well this is working out. "Uh, sure," I answer her quickly.
Wakasagihime claps her hands happily, splashing a bit of water into her face. She seems entirely unbothered by it though. "Wonderful, thank you. I would like to write this down so that the others could look at it, but it's a bit hard for me to keep writing utensils around here. You understand I'm sure," Yeah, I can't imagine paper keeps well when you live underwater. "First off then, how do you feel about humans? More specifically, how do you feel about the current relationship between humans and youkai?"
Uhhhh. Oh. I suppose that I can't just say 'I'm from the Moon, so I haven't really put any thought into that' here. I'm not actually sure what she's looking for in an answer either. What would she want to hear for this? Kanako's explanations for what this group actually does were kind of vague.
[ ] Humans are great! I love humans! It sure is cool how they... Uh... Evolved from apes or whatever...
[ ] I haven't had a chance to talk to any humans really. I don't think there's anything that special about them compared to anyone else though.
[ ] I think it's unfair that humans get to live in nice big villages when youkai are forced to live out in the wilderness like animals.
[ ] Humans are stupid and weak. If it weren't for that dumb shrine maiden, we youkai would be in charge, and we'd all be better off.
[ ] Uhh, Ringo, you wanna take this?
[ ] Write-In
(No bonus points for guessing what the [ ] Invite choice from a few updates ago was)