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[X] Ask Chiyo if she wants you to come with her or not.
Uh, on second thought, I might be thinking about this the wrong way. I'm trying to make an assumption here, but why do that without even asking Chiyo first? It's not like I'm the mind reader here or anything, and this is a trip that we're making for Chiyo, not me. I should do whatever makes her the most comfortable so...
Turning toward Chiyo and waiting for her to answer the question takes a little bit of time. She has to realize that I'm looking at her, then realize that I'm expecting her to answer the question, then think of what she actually wants to say and say it. At least that's what I'm guessing is the sequence of events. It's something that would probably only take a second or two for a normal person, maybe even less than that, but with Chiyo how she is, it causes a slightly awkward pause.
"Uh... Whatever you want," Err, Chi, that really doesn't help. She glances between me and our fairy guide a couple of times, but doesn't give any more of a response... Is she nervous? It's a little bit difficult to tell. I might just be imagining it or projecting again, but I can at least see how that could possibly be the case.
In any case, a vague answer doesn't really get us anything here. "Well... Maybe for a little bit then?" I suggest, trying to help things along. "And I can leave whenever you want me to after that, alright?"
Chiyo purses her lips a little bit while she works on a response. "Okay," She nods once, stepping forward past me. "Let's go."
The fairy looks a little surprised, but then I think that's just from the switch of focus. I've been the one managing everything so far, but now Chiyo is suddenly trying to step up. It shouldn't really matter though, right? We're both heading back toward... Wherever the fairy starts to lead us.
The palace in general feels very dark, and very very old. The lighting is mostly done to accent things like the expensive looking patterns on the floors or walls or windows. You can almost never see the actual ceiling. I have to think that that's an intentional design choice. This place is very much different from the plant. It's easier to feel like you're still underground, rather than just being inside a building. Maybe the ceiling is high to kind of offset that claustrophobic feeling?
The fairy leading us provides enough ambient light that it's easy to follow along, even when she turns away from the large hallway and into smaller, slightly more compact sections of the place. There's no attempt at conversation from our guide at all. Either she's shy or... Well, I guess there's not much reason to talk to us. We're complete strangers here. The fact that we got in with no fuss at all is already a show of hospitality. Pushing more conversation on some gloomy looking fairy probably won't help anything.
As we get deeper and deeper (I assume) into the palace, it also seems much more obvious that this place is... I don't know the right word. I guess ancient? Well obviously this place isn't built specifically to house advanced (for gensokyo anyway) technology, but it really gives the impression of having been here for a really really long time. I don't really have any reason to disbelieve that impression either.
We end up in front of a huge wooden door. Almost looks like some kind of dungeon, but then, this whole place has that same kind of spookiness to it. "She's in here," The fairy offers before struggling to pull the door open. The thing is probably heavier than she is. I'm about to offer to help when she finally gets it swinging open.
... Huh. She said this was a reading room, right? I guess I can see that. It's kind of sorta like a library, but much more centered around having a comfortable space for reading than having a huge and well organized collection of books. Actually it kind of reminds me of the common area in the dorms, or at least part of it. There's obviously no kitchen or stairs or anything, but it's just giving me a similar kind of feeling to the sitting area behind the stairwell. Lots of different chairs, actually decent lighting, tall and well stocked bookshelves.
Oh, and a pink haired girl glancing up at us from behind a large novel of some kind.
Hm, she's a bit smaller than I expected. She's probably about as tall as Chiyo from what I can tell. Not that that really matters. Youkai come in all shapes and sizes from what I've seen so far. Sure, she doesn't really seem that intimidating, but someone who owns a palace like this has to be important anyway. As I look over her appearance (cute dress, but I don't really get what all those red cord things are for), she puts her book down in her lap, looking me dead in the eyes.
Err... Wait. Mind reader. Does that mean she can hear me right now? Could she hear what I was just thinking?
Err, um... Hi?
"Good afternoon," Satori's voice is quiet and gentle. I don't know if that's inentional or if she always sounds like that, but I find it rather pleasant at least.
Err, so she could have been saying that in response to what I was thinking or just saying it as an opening greeting. I don't know how her mind reading works at all, so I can't really tell. I mean, I'm completely ready to believe that that kind of power can exist, given present company of weird powers and everything, but that doesn't mean I know the specifics. This is kind of an out of context problem for me. Really it's making me feel kind of self conscious about everything and uh... She could possibly hear all of this too. Right. Um...
"R-right. Good afternoon," Okay, I'll go with just answering back normally. That should be good enough. Next um... I should explain why we're here. "So, I'm Seiran, and this girl here is Chiyo," I gesture toward Chi. Wait, wasn't she trying to lead just a moment ago? Crap, I think I got a bit too nervous and jumped at trying to do things correctly but I might have just messed them up for Chiyo instead. Aaagh...
Satori closes her book up as she looks at Chiyo and I for a moment. She takes a small breath before speaking. "It's alright, you can calm down."
"Err..." Oh, I'm being really tense here. That's probably not helping. If she can just read what I'm thinking then it would be easy to tell how panicky I am. Getting things started on the wrong foot here. Assuming her mind reading works how I'm guessing it does, but there are a ton of different possibilities and-
"You are not far off," Satori suddenly cuts me off while thoughts are still spinning uselessly through my head. "I can read minds, however even if I couldn't it would be obvious how anxious you are," Urgh... Yeah, okay, not the best at hiding my emotions. Knew that one already. "You don't have to worry, even though I don't receive visitors often, I'm not going to turn you away. Even if your circumstances are... Highly unusual, you came here intentionally. Much better than I can say for the oni who occasionally stumble in here after drinking too much."
"Yeah..." Err, how fast and how deep can she read thoughts anyway? Is it just surface thoughts or is it memory too? Does she already know we're from the Moon? What our mission is? Oh wait... I guess she knows those things now even if she didn't before.
... Actually, this whole conversation is kind of way more difficult than it needs to be.
"You're overthinking things," Satori points out simply, folding her hands in her lap. "Yes, I can read your mind, but overusing that ability tends to cause communication to break down very quickly, so I tend to avoid relying on it as a basis for conversation. People's minds are unused to close scrutiny, and I understand that. Rather than tax your brain trying to communicate in a way that you're unused to, it would work better for you to just talk normally, be direct, and say what you want to say. I can fill in any gaps that I need more information for on my own."
Well it's easy to say that, but when I know she has been and is going to continue to be reading my mind anyway... "Well... I guess I'll try."
"Good," Satori nods, probably still fully aware of my misgivings... Err, right, don't really need to think about that so much. "Seiran and Chiyo, it is nice to meet you. I am Satori Komeji. I was informed by that fairy that you came here for some type of meeting with me?"
Even if she already knows... Well, talk normally. Just talk normally... "Well, we both have uh, connections with the power plant nearby," That's vague, but like she said, she can fill in the gaps on her own. If anything this should speed along the process of explaining things. It's still a little strange though. "This morning we happened to talk to Okuu, who suggested that you help animals and animal youkai out with issues they're having," Whether that implicitly included Moon youkai or not, I don't know. "Chiyo here has been struggling with a question for the past... Well, as far as I know it's been a day, but it's probably been longer than that for her."
Satori looks directly at Chiyo for a moment. She raises an eyebrow and leans forward in her chair a little bit. "Hmm... Her mind is..."
"Ah, that is um. She has a power that messes with her perception of time," My explanation is a little rushed, but I really don't want Satori to think that Chiyo is stupid or anything. Chiyo isn't really like, outwardly sensitive about her powers, but that doesn't mean they don't bother her to some degree.
Luckily it seems that Satori understands what I'm getting at. She nods at me slightly before continuing on. "So you're here for Chiyo. Would it be alright if I asked her to explain things for herself."
Honestly that would probably be better. Chiyo hasn't said anything since we came in here. If I wasn't sure of it before, I am now. She's definitely nervous. Honestly I am too, but I'm still doing my best here to try and make this happen. "Um, sure, if you're okay with it Chi."
Chiyo, once she registers what I've said, glances at me, then at Satori. I hear her taking a deep breath. "Okay, yeah," Is all she says though.
"Um... There's kind of a lot to it," She adds after a more than brief pause. "And I was hoping that I wouldn't have to put it all into words," Yeah, that's why Chiyo thought this would be a good idea, but it runs counter to what Satori was saying earlier. Maybe this was a bad idea after all? Even if I find the whole mind reading thing to be really weird, Chiyo came here to volunteer for it specifically. If it turns out that Chiyo still has to explain herself verbally, is there really any advantage to coming to this complete stranger rather than any other?
I see Satori let out a small sigh before gesturing to a nearby couch. "Very well. Feel free to take a seat if you like. However, I will warn you that letting me dictate the conversation may make you uncomfortable."
Chiyo quietly walks deeper into the room to grab a seat, so I follow along as well. The couch we settle in on is nice and comfy, but... Seems like there's a decent amount of hair of some kind on it. Maybe it's fur? Okuu mentioned animals living here. Yeah, that makes some sense.
"Now then," Satori continues once we've sat down. I notice the string things around her bob up slightly to reveal a-is that an eyeball? Um... "If you wish to stay quiet, Chiyo, I am able to find the topic that you want to talk about within your thoughts. That's not difficult, but isn't that symptomatic of the problem in the first place?"
I'm not really sure what she means, but then I guess I don't really have to be. This is supposed to be Chiyo time. "What?" Okay, Chiyo isn't sure either. Good start.
"That you feel so uncomfortable with speaking your mind and would rather have me read it directly," Satori explains, her extra eye thing floating up as if it's not at all concerned about gravity. When we first came in, it had been sitting by her side, but now that she's getting down to business, the thing seems to be looking at us intently for some reason. I'm a little weirded out by it. "That is part of the reason why you are having such difficulty coming to a conclusion, is it not?"
Once Chiyo has absorbed Satori's words, she looks a little bit unsure of how to respond. That was surprisingly direct after all. "I guess so... its just kinda complicated so..."
Satori nods, lifting her book out of her lap and setting it off to an end table to the side. "Then let me see if I can fully explain my understanding of the issue," She begins. Okay, sounds promising. "To put it simply, it's actually a number of issues competing for attention in your mind. You have a strong sense of duty, but find it difficult to reconcile that with the orders received from your superiors. You don't believe that you're doing the right thing even being down here on Earth, especially after the truth of your mission was revealed. You think that your commanders and the Moon as a whole should be punished or at least face some kind of consequence for sending you on a mission like this. You're hurt and upset over the deception, but don't see anything that you can actually do about it. You know that attempting to change the way that things are done is hopeless, as you have no way to influence those above you, which you are also unhappy about. Some part of you blames yourself for that. You know that you could have been in command of your own unit by this point, given your talent and dedication, but your power makes it impossible for you to independently work toward achievements. Even though you like your companions as people, it bothers you how much they patronize you. You wish that you could prove to them that you can be independent, but at the same time you wouldn't want to leave them behind or fall behind them yourself. You also-
"S-stop," Chiyo suddenly insists. She only sounds mildly irritated, but I know that's actually a pretty hard reaction to get out of Chi in the first place. Actually, considering Chiyo's current reaction time, she probably wanted Satori to stop talking about so much stuff a couple of sentences ago. Not that I can say I blame her.
Satori, to her credit, does stop talking once Chiyo asks her to. She nods at her, then waits quietly for a while.
Um, maybe she's just reading Chiyo's mind right now or something? What is the conversation waiting on exactly?
"A summary then," Satori suddenly continues. "There doesn't appear to be any way to meet all of your desires at once, and you're having difficulty prioritizing them in a way that will allow you to feel satisfied, while also being pressured to make a decision very soon."
"Um, yeah," Chiyo agrees somewhat reluctantly, slumping back in the couch and looking away from both me and Satori. "Something like that."
"Understood," Nodding, Satori folds her hands in her lap, continuing to look at Chiyo even though her gaze isn't being met at all. "I believe that I can help, yes, but I can't simply hand you a solution. You have to be willing to talk your way through these ideas for yourself and decide what is the most important to you."
Chiyo's frown grows slightly, though I can only really see it from the side. "Can't you already tell what I want?"
"No," Of course it can't be that easy, can it? "I can read your mind, but I don't have any more answers than you do. Even if I did, telling you wouldn't quite match up with your desire to be independent, would it?"
I can hear Chiyo sigh as she reaches up to rub at her face. "I guess so..." She mumbles out from behind the palm of her hand.
After that, there's a small pause. Honestly, this whole conversation has been kind of weird, but then I guess that's been true of this whole meeting so far. Mind reading really does change the dynamic of a conversation a lot, and even if we're not supposed to, I can't imagine that either of us are able to just ignore that. Like, we've just met Satori, but it seems like she already knows Chiyo (and possibly me too) better than anyone else does. It's kind of really freaky. Like, I don't have that much that I have to hide, but...
Actually, you know what else is freaky? How Satori seems completely unconcerned that we're from the Moon. That's like, against the rules, isn't it? She could like, turn us in or whatever. Although maybe she can tell that we don't really have bad intentions. We were just following orders, and definitely would have done something terrible if they had been successful, but now we're only trying to make things right instead. That should at least make it kind of better, right?
Satori glances and gives me a small nod, probably in response to what I was just thinking. Right, still listening to me too, not just Chiyo then. That's... fine. I guess. I'm sorta kinda used to it now. Just as long as I don't think about anything embarrassing or... Err, wait now I am thinking of embarrassing things. Crapcrapcrap.
I see satori roll her eyes a little bit as she refocuses on Chiyo. Sorry, I know you really didn't need to see those thoughts about how nice my date with Yamame was. "Now then, if you're willing to talk things out with me from this point on, then I will be happy to continue," She says, thankfully not commenting on my thoughts at all.
Chiyo doesn't respond for a bit. "Um..." She looks at Satori, then at me for a moment.
"Ah, I see," Satori catches on much faster than I do. "Seiran, I believe that she wants to take you up on your offer to have some privacy," She explains.
"Oh!" I guess she didn't know how to say so tactfully or something? That's perfectly fine. I was the one who offered, so I really don't mind leaving if she wants me to. Like, I completely understand. That huge examination of Chiyo's feelings just a moment ago was probably not the kind of thing I would want others to hear about if it were me either. Chiyo is probably feeling kind of self conscious about it, and if stuff like that continues to happen, then I can see why she wouldn't want me around to hear it. "Sure. I'll wait outside then?" There isn't really anywhere else to go, so I start standing up before I even get a reply.
"Sorry about this," Chiyo mutters to me by way of response as Satori nods again.
Aww, she doesn't have to feel sorry or anything. "Hey, its fine. We came here for you, remember?" Patting Chiyo on the shoulder a couple of times, I walk around the edge of the couch. This really isn't a problem, although I kinda wonder how long it's going to take. We only have... Some amount of time that is less than two hours left before we have to go back to Marisa's. And aside from that, it's not like I brought anything to do while I wait.
Well, at least satori should be aware of those concerns I had just now.
... Yeah, mind reading is still weird to work around.
Err, sorry for overthinking it still, Satori.
I step out of the reading room and pull the large wooden door shut behind me, walking over to the opposite wall and leaning against it to start waiting. There isn't all that much to do while I wait to be honest, so I'm kind of stuck just standing around for now. Hm, maybe it would be better to at least find somewhere to sit down...
Although I could also go exploring.
... No, wait that seems like a terrible idea. I could get lost or run into someone that I'd have to explain things to. Like, Satori accepted us being here easily enough, but it's not like this place is full of mind readers or anything, right? I don't really want to have to field more questions from whoever else might live down here.
... and yet for some reason I'm still tempted to go have a look around. Even while acknowledging that it's a bad idea.
[ ] Well, just a quick look around should be fine.
[ ] No, I should stay put until Chiyo is done.