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[X] Go into the city
- [X] Let Yamame lead the way
- [X] Also, what's with that house by the bridge?
I may be worried about it, but realistically, the chances of us running into Ringo and Sumi should be slim. Probably. I think. It's true that I don't know the city's layout or where Yamame is intending to show me, but it should be more structured than the random wandering that the other two rabbits in the city will be doing. Hopefully. Okay, I'm still probably going to worry about it, but that's just how I am. Realistically, it'll probably be fine.
Yamame just said a moment ago that she actually loves showing people around (right before she called me cute), so I want to let her do that. Let her take charge and lead the way somewhat. It's actually kind of welcome to have somebody else making the decisions for once instead of pushing them all onto me. I'd like to say that it helps with the stress, but I'm still stressed out for other reasons. Someday I will be able to relax! Maybe.
"O-okay. Lead the way then," I gesture downward, which causes Yamame to smile and begin descending. I try to keep level with her while we move down the tunnel, just in case she wants to talk or something.
"So," Yup, sounds like she does. Okay then. "What brings you back into the area? From what you said earlier, it sounds like you weren't expecting to come back."
No that's not quite right. "I was planning on coming back eventually," I correct her. "It's just that I didn't know when it would happen. When I woke up this morning I had no idea I would be back in this area tonight."
Yamame fails to hide her smile growing just a little bit. I guess She had been worried I wasn't going to come back, even after saying that I would. That seems odd. Why would she assume I was lying to her? "Okay, but then what happened?"
Right, great, now I have to start thinking up even more lies. Ugh. Stupid Moon mission and secrecy and whatever. "Well," I pause for a moment to try and think through how to say this with the least amount of deceiving possible. "We found the rabbit we were looking for, Sumi, but we're still left without a home," Actually, did I tell her about that when we first met? I can't remember if I mentioned it or just said we were looking for Sumi. Ringo would be able to keep this kind of thing straight. "We got caught up in some incident above ground," I summarize simply, just in case.
"Yikes, my condolences," Sounds like Yamame has some experience with incidents too. I kinda doubt that she caused one like we did, but I'm definitely not going to bring that up.
"So basically," I continue, nodding appreciatively to Yamame's sympathy. "We had to go asking around for help to find a safe place to stay. Somebody who lives down here is letting us stay with them for a while, so I decided to come visit when I got some spare time," There, I think that was pretty good. Very general, but technically the truth. I feel okay with that.
"Huh, that's surprising," Urk, did I say something dumb in there? I don't I did. "It's just that there aren't a lot of people down here that you would have been able to meet up topside, and even fewer that would have offered you a place to stay. You must have gotten lucky!"
Yamame said it innocently enough, so I don't think she's accusing me of anything, but somehow that makes it feel worse. "Something like that," I mutter halfheartedly.
We emerge from the vertical tunnel again, now into a much larger cavern. We're not flying particularly fast. I wouldn't normally mind that, but I'm a little uncomfortable with how the conversation is going. Yamame glances back at me for a moment before moving on. "So you'll be around for a while then?" I nod. Yeah, that's what I said. "What's a while in this case? Like days, weeks, months?"
"Five days after today," I answer simply. Oh wait, that's a little bit too exact I think. "Er, well, at least for the next five days," I correct myself quickly. "It could be more, but that's what we were planning on anyway."
"Oh that's all?" Yamame's interest seems to have been growing as I continue talking, but that last answer slows her down a little. "Well you'll have to be careful then. If you get too caught up in things down here, five days can end up feeling like nothing," She laughs at that.
Yeah, pretty sure we got a similar warning from Kanako before. I am still planning on heeding it, although I'm once again struck with a tiny amount of worry over Sumi and Ringo. "I don't think that'll be that big of an issue," I lie. "We have to work for our host to earn our stay. We're not going to be partying all the time."
"Then just some of the time?" Yamame suggests, glancing back at me. She laughs when she sees whatever expression I'm making unconsciously. "I'm joking. Anyway, you've got work, huh? Hopefully that won't keep you too busy, but I don't know what it is you're doing."
That was kind of the point of giving such a vague explanation. On top of not knowing exactly what we're going to be asked to do myself, I'm pretty sure that I shouldn't just come out and tell the real truth. Maybe I could get away with some kind of half truth where I namedrop Kanako, but I don't know how much weight that would carry or if I could do that without also having to bring up the Moon. Yeah, no, best to just leave that question alone. It might not the best impression to give Yamame, but I'm just not good enough at thinking up convincing lies at a moment's notice.
Wait, I could have been preparing for these kinds of questions the whole time I was looking for Yamame. There was no reason to think she wouldn't ask about this stuff.
We continue floating down the cavern as I'm trying to think of something to say. Nothing immediately comes to mind, and I find myself distracted when I notice that house by the bridge again. I'm actually a little curious on what the story is there. There are lights, so somebody must live there. I wonder why whoever that is is up here instead of living in the city itself. Actually, I guess that goes for Yamame too, not that I'm going to point-blank ask her about that.
"Hey, what's up with that house?" I ask suddenly. It's not the smoothest change of topic, and it doesn't really make me feel better to remember that I've done worse before.
Yamame looks where I'm pointing "That's... ah," Her expression gets a little bit more difficult to place. Maybe not something I should have brought up? We are passing right by it though, so I think it's a fair question. "Well that's Parsee's house," Yamame continues, staring down at the house as we approach. "She's kind of a guard who keeps track of people coming and going from the city. Or something like that."
"Oh," I just flew over the bridge on my way here. Oops. Although it probably would have been weird to explain why I was going away from the city if I hadn't come in in the first place. Still, if there's a guard, that means there must be some process for leaving and entering the area. "Should we stop and talk to her then?" I ask, already lowering myself slightly.
Yamame doesn't drop altitude as quickly as I do. "Well, technically yeah," She admits reluctantly. "That was the normal procedure back before the city was former hell. Nowadays everyone just kinda flies past without stopping."
That sounds... "Isn't that kind of rude?" This Parsee person is just in there trying to do her job, but everyone just ignores her.
Yamame turns to look at me directly, but still has that uncomfortable look on her face. "I do feel kinda bad about it too, but Parsee can be kind of hard to deal with at times," She explains. "Given our situation right now, it's probably better that we just ignore her."
I know that listening to Yamame is probably the right thing to do here. She is the local after all, and I was planning on letting her take the lead. That doesn't make it feel any more fair though. I know what it's like to feel unappreciated for working hard. It's not good. It shouldn't be too hard to just stop by and follow the proper procedure for entering the city, right? That's all we'll have to do, and it might even make this Parsee person happy.
After a moment of silence, Yamame let's out a very quiet sigh. "Okay, I guess we can at least stop by," She acquiesces, finally starting to drop along with me. Why the change though? I didn't even say anything... Oh wait, was my face showing my feelings too much again? Ugh, I really need to keep track of that better.
Parsee's house is a lot shabbier than I thought now that I get a closer look at it. With the way it seems like it's barely holding itself up, I'm kind of reminded of Kagerou's house. There's obviously a big difference in building materials used between the two of them, this one has a lot more stone and a lot less bamboo. Both of them definitely have the feeling of having been built by an amateur. Well I guess down here houses don't need to be made to withstand rain anyway, so it probably provides good enough shelter as it is. Not exactly pretty to look at though.
Yamame lowers her voice as we come to a full stop in front of the house. "I've offered to help Parsee improve her house multiple times, or at least fix it up enough to match the construction of the bridge, but she always turns me down," Yamame sighs. Oh right, she did mention that she does construction stuff as part of her work. "I know it's one of her hangups, but I still feel a little bad for her," Yamame gives Parsee's house a critical, unimpressed look before moving on. "Anyway, fair warning that Parsee can be a little rough around the edges. Err, more than just a little actually. We're just doing a quick check in though, so hopefully she won't make too much of a scene."
While that doesn't exactly fill me with confidence, I was the one who asked for this. Too late to call it off now. Yamame's already reaching up to knock on the door. Two solid knocks against the wooden door are met without an immediate response. Just an awkward silence.
Yamame reaches up and knocks again, a little harder this time. "WHAT?!" Gah! I jerk back as the door swings open suddenly. Okay, from how quickly she responded to the second time Yamame knocked, this woman must have been right by the door. Why did she wait for a second round when she obviously heard the first? "Oh, it's you."
"Hey Parsee," Yamame seems a lot less phased by this new person's behavior than I am. Well, I guess it's partially the woman's behavior and partially her appearance. At first glance, Parsee seems pretty similar to a normal human, but looking closer, I start to notice more and more obvious youkai traits. Her skin is really pale (although she does live underground to be fair) and her ears are pointed. Her teeth, which I can only see because she's scowling so hard, are a little bit sharper than normal, and her eyes... Woah. When she glances at me, I'm struck by how intense the shade of green in her eyes is. They're practically glowing, and the contrast with the dark circles under her eyes isn't helping shake that impression. "A friend and I were just going to head into the city and figured we should-"
"Should come by and rub it in my face, right?" Parsee finishes for her, roughly grabbing onto the door frame as she leans toward Yamame. Okay, that's not at all what we came here for. "Great, thanks."
Yamame's smile gets slightly more forced, but she doesn't shrink away from Parsee's aggressive posture. Okay, she's used to this I guess. "I wasn't trying-"
"Nah, of course you weren't. You just decided that this was the time you'd bother saying anything to me instead of just flying past like always," Isn't it kind of rude to keep interrupting like that? "This time, when you happened to have somebody with you. I'm sure you're going to go have a GREAT night on the town and I just HAD to know about it."
"Well, not exactly, it's just uh..." Yamame seems a little bit unsure what to say at Parsee's hostility.
"It was my idea," I try to help bail Yamame out, but that really just makes Parsee turn on me next. Sheesh, I didn't think we'd be upsetting her by following the rules! Actually, why is this upsetting her at all? She's clearly not happy to see us.
"Hmm," Parsee looks me over intensely, but seems to be forcing an unappreciative look on her face the whole time. She stops when her eyes reach the top of my head and lets out a small annoyed puff of air from her nose. "Must be nice to have ears that don't make you look like some kind of fucked up elf," She mutters, her scowl intensifying.
Yamame giggles suddenly. "That's what you choose to get worked up about?" She asks, sounding incredulous. "Parsee, you know everyone thinks your ears are super cute, right?"
Parsee clicks her tongue in annoyance and looks away from Yamame and I. Wait, did her ears just twitch a little bit? "Pfeh," She makes a sound of dismissal after a moment of composing herself. "Like it matters when I have to get compared to little miss sex symbol. Even you are bringing new people around. Tch. Jealous..." Parsee glowers, biting slightly at her thumb as she starts mumbling to herself. "... Probably does it like a rabbit..."
I'm about to ask what that means when Yamame breaks in, sounding exasperated. "Ugh, Parsee! It's not like that," She glances back at me, and seems surprised when I just stare back at her, confused. Should I be insulted or something? "... Can we just go into the city?"
Parsee glares at Yamame, then me, then Yamame again. Finally she relents. "I ain't stopping you. Go have yourselves a wonderful evening. I'm sure it'll be much better than the boring one I'm gonna have. Alone."
What a fun person...
"So, sorry about that, but to be fair I did warn you," Yamame seems slightly embarrassed as we're flying away from Parsee's house. She doesn't really need to be.
It's true that she did seem kind of against talking to Parsee, but I'm not that upset about it. Her being so negative and unpleasant may have caught me off guard, but it's not like anything bad happened. It was just unexpected, not terrible. "Right... What's up with her exactly?" I glance back at the house after asking. What the? Oh wow. I can see Parsee, or at least her eyes staring at us as we fly away. Those things really are bright... Actually, is she just going to watch us until we disappear? That's a little creepy.
"Well, it's true that she's a youkai that was born out of jealousy, so that does kind of give her some personality issues. Although honestly I think she was playing it up a little bit when she realized you were new. I swear she tries to leave a bad first impression," Yamame sighs as I turn back to her. "We're neighbors though, and friends in a weird kind of way, so I've known her for a long time. She used to keep her attitude reigned in and only talked behind people's backs, but I dunno if you'd call that preferable to how she is now or not."
When Yamame says it like that, I'm reminded of that thing Sanae said earlier. Any youkai down here is probably down here for a reason. I may not be able to claim that everyone I know has a perfect personality, but we've gotten along with people at least. Actually, this does bring up the question of why Yamame is down here then. She seems completely reasonable compared to Parsee. really compared to anyone. Well, there isn't a tactful way to ask about her that I can think of. "Well, at least we followed the rules?" I say weakly, shrugging slightly even though it's probably hard to see while we're flying.
"Well if you care about that kind of thing, then that's fine. No harm done really," Yamame decides. We can just move on. "Well, hopefully."
We float deeper underground, eventually reaching the outskirts of the city. Just before the first few buildings, Yamame drops to the ground and lands. I follow her lead, and once I touch the ground, the two of us start walking. We follow the surprisingly well paved path near the underground river. I suppose this path will take us deeper into the capital and toward wherever Yamame is planning to go. Wait... "Actually, why are we walking?" I ask after a moment.
Yamame folds her arms behind her back, happily strolling along. "Flying around isn't that common down here, so people who do it tend to stand out and look like tourists or unusual people," She explains. Oh, I guess that some people would be thinking that about me earlier then. It's accurate, but I still don't really like it. "Oni typically walk rather than fly, and they're the majority of the population. The place isn't really laid out with flying in mind. Plus, we don't need to hurry or anything. There's plenty of stuff to see. It's kind of hard to appreciate the architecture if you're looking down from way above."
Hmm, that last bit sounds more like Yamame's opinion, but the stuff before it could probably be called a cultural difference. People flying around was fairly common back home. It was more efficient use of space and people's capabilities, and did wonders for the traffic too. Well, I guess I don't mind walking anyway if that's what Yamame wants to do. Or at least I normally wouldn't. My legs are still tired from all the stairs earlier. Sheesh, I really am out of shape. I should have run with Sumi some more during our downtimes. Too late now.
"Hey, you okay?" Yamame interrupts my thoughts with a question. How did she know? Oh, wait. I might be showing my thoughts a bit too obviously again. Wasn't I just thinking that I needed to keep track of my face better?
"Um, yeah. I just had a long day," And continuing to get longer. It'll be a relief when I get to lay down. Not that I'm in any hurry or anything of course. I wouldn't want to be rude to Yamame's hospitality. "I'll be fine though, we can keep going."
Yamame looks a little bit concerned, but after another assurance (I've been through worse, don't worry) she let's things go. Instead she starts leading me around, seemingly at random. It seems less like she has a specific destination in mind so much as she is just showing me around and telling me stories to see how I react to them.
There are definitely a lot of stories to tell. Every notable place that we go by, Yamame seems to have some tidbit about it. Whether it's a bar ("This place used to have two owners, but they got in fight after drinking too much and broke the partnership. You can see there's another bar across the street now. Actually a pretty common situation, now that I think about it."), a shop ("The lady in there actually mines her own precious stones to make jewelry. It is absolutely beautiful, but ends up a little expensive"), or a restaurant ("The youkai that cooks there likes to pretend his meat is made of humans a bit too much. Everyone knows he's lying but that doesn't seem to stop him."), Yamame has something to say about it. It's actually really impressive. I don't think I could do the same kind of thing if I was showing somebody around the capital back home. She even points out a few buildings that she says she helped build.
We continue on like this for a while, and I gradually start to get a sense of how the city works. There's actually a few different underground rivers flowing through the areas, and it seems that the city was originally built around those. As the population grew, people got further and further away from those, but you can definitely tell where the waterways are just by looking at the density of the buildings. This also has the effect of giving the whole city a very natural feeling. It isn't laid out in a way that's necessarily efficient, but it's still interesting to walk through because of that.
I also notice a lot about the people of the city. There really is a huge mixing and matching of youkai moving around through the streets. Some are monstrous, some are practically human, and of course, there's a whole lot of oni. It's surprising really. I had been amazed at how much variance there was in the human village, but this completely blows it out of the water. People are so used to so many different types of youkai walking around that Yamame and I barely get any glances thrown our way, despite me being an outsider. Actually, it seems like more people take notice of Yamame than of me. Maybe they know her or something, though none of them bother to say hi if that's the case.
"Hmm," Yamame finishes up telling me a story about the nearby dance club that recently got the monthly award for 'Most Times Destroyed in a Barfight' and how the owner is displaying the award on the only wall that stayed intact through the entire month. Once we've finished laughing about it, she turns to me and slows down the walk slightly. "Actually, maybe I should ask you a bit about yourself instead. The city is interesting and fun, but if you let me talk about it the whole time, I'll never stop."
Err... "About me?"
"Well yeah, all I know is that you're a rabbit youkai from up above ground. You're adorable, surprisingly pure, and easy to tease. You're also diligent, and seem to think highly of rules and schedules, which is pretty different from what we're used to down here. Oh, you also have a habit of making a lot of cute facial expressions without realizing that people are watching you," Yamame lists all that stuff off. I'm not going to disagree with her, but it is kind of embarrassing to hear somebody assess you so positively like that. "Well those are just my impressions anyway. I've only known you for a little while. I want to hear about you from you. Tell me about Seiran."
Urgh... This is going to be tough to do. I can't just come out and say that I'm from the Moon. I can give a basic introduction about myself, sure, but aside from that...
[ ] Deflect back to Yamame. Talk about her instead.
[ ] Get distracted talking about the other rabbits.
[ ] Get distracted by some store or something. Doesn't really matter what it is.
[ ] Try to be honest but keep it vague. Even though this might just lead to more questions...
[ ] Write-in(???)