[x] ...go see Kazuma. To be honest, I’m curious about what Hatate’s normal personality is like.
Well, I’ll see how Kazuma and Hatate are doing as I’m sure Miss Kamishirasawa and Kamui are pretty busy, and I’m somewhat curious. I’m sure I'll hear what Kamui was doing in a day or two, anyways. Hopefully there won’t be much trouble today.
I knock on Kazuma's door and hear a cute, energetic voice say “Coming!” I wait, and the door opens to reveal Hatate in some sort of formal outfit... one that has leg slits. She notices where I'm looking, and remarks, “Aya said I had to wear this for the first part of the festival, then I could change into something more normal. But Kazi seems to like it. Oh! I meant to thank you for your help the other day, but I’m totally terrible in places like that.” She leads me into the house.
Inside I see Kazuma eating what appears to be some kind of stew. He looks up as I enter the room. “Hey Yuki, looking forward to the festival? You should try some of this stew Hatate made, it’s really good!” He promptly scoops some more into his mouth.
Hatate waves her arms, saying, “It’s nothing, it’s just some of his cooked meat combined with my ramen recipe. I hope you don’t mind, but you'll have to help yourself if you want some; I’d rather not get this outfit dirty if I can help it.” I decide to do that since it really has a pleasant aroma.
I serve some into a bowl and start eating it... it's good! Looking up, I notice Hatate has an older looking camera around her neck. “This is a good recipe, Hatate. Might I ask about that camera, though?”
“Oh this? It’s something Aya gave me once I got out of school. It takes pictures and can even nullify danmaku, but it recharges really slowly. Such a thing isn’t really my style, so I’m hoping the Kappa finish their research on those ‘cell phones’ they found. The speed on those cameras suits my style more. And try not to get too attached to my cooking; I don’t want the Flower lady to turn me into roast bird over some misunderstanding!” Come to think of it, I haven’t asked Wriggle about her cooking much, though I imagine her specialty would be salads, if anything.
“That isn’t a worry, and besides, this is the second time I've gotten food when visiting Kazuma. Right now I’m trying to kill some time until the outfit that my parents and Lady Akyuu got is finished.”
“Oh, to charm Wriggle even more? I wonder if Kazuma has anything nice to wear...” she responds, looking as if she’s thinking about something. “I’m definitely going to train up on the basics of reporting; how else am I supposed to rival Aya of all people? I do admire her and Miss Momiji, but I also see Aya as someone to surpass!” she adds.
“I never thought much about beating dad, just becoming as good as him. Not sure what I’ll do once I get there...” Kazuma responds as he scratches his head.
I add, “I’ve never really considered competition much at all. Though I suppose I wanted to cover the key events of my generation.” I briefly remember the slight tension I had with Kamui, and how I’m glad to be rid of it.
Shortly after, I finish the stew. As I get up, Hatate asks, “Could I take a picture of you casting a spell? I want to test my basic photo timing.”
I think about it and answer, “Yeah, if you’re sure I won’t accidentally hurt you or wreck something.”
“I’m not worried; it’s not like I’m facing down Aya.”
I'm not sure if that's a compliment or not, but I ready a basic windball spell and aim it in her direction, then fire. I see Hatate blur for a bit as a flash goes off nearby. By the time I recover, Hatate's standing with her camera, smiling. “I’m sorry... I didn’t mean to blind you. But here’s something to remember this by,” she remarks as she hands a photo. It's of me, firing off the projectile, though somehow Hatate's in the picture as well. “Yeah, Aya’s fond of doing that with her pictures, though what she faces off against is usually harder.”
I wonder what happened to the projectile. “Where did that windball go? I hope it didn’t hit anything.”
She shakes her head. “Nope, this camera absorbed the energy after taking the picture. As much as the Tengu love to claim it was their idea, it was actually the Kappa’s hard work that resulted in this. Kazuma tells me that one of his buddies messes around with such stuff.” Her personality really is different when she's among a few friends; it’s hard to tell this is the same girl who’s shy in places like the inn.
“Next time, could you two please do that outside? I don’t want people to think I go about wrecking my own place. That was pretty cool, though.” Kazuma remarks.
A knocking at the door interrupts further conversation. Hatate goes to answer it, and we hear her shout, “Miss Momiji! I wasn’t expecting you to drop by!”
She re-enters the room, followed by a white wolf tengu in an outfit similar to Hatate’s. She'd look rather stern and imposing, if she wasn’t rather cute. “Today is one of my days off from watch duty. I wanted to see how you were holding up in your duties,” Miss Momiji says as she turns towards Kazuma. Glaring, she adds, “...and making sure some human doesn’t take undue advantage of his situation.”
“I’d never do such a thing! I haven’t even forced her to do much of anything,” Kazuma responds in a panic.
“Miss Momiji, Kazuma’s been the nicest guy to me. Seeing someone like him, I can definitely believe that Aya might fall for one.” Hatate responds.
Miss Momiji sighs. “Very well. You're lucky to be able to consider such a thing without any limitations, provided that you have no interest in nobility. I merely wanted to extend a warning to him, though it’ll likely prove unnecessary. Mr. Yaguu and his son are a common topic from Aya’s mouth, even now.” I try to remember if there was any news about such a thing being announced. Traditionally, Tengu have a very rigid caste system that's only begun to relax in these past few years; I've certainly heard of no changes this major.
“Yeah, I wonder why she can’t just dump that creepo Oracle and just get on with it. Even ‘Tori notices he's weird, and she spends the better part of her day tinkering with things! If not for his title...” Ah... I wonder just how many people are aware of their love triangle?
“Hatate, you mustn’t say such things, as it can be taken the wrong way, needlessly complicating things. I do wish for Aya to be honest with herself as she’d likely be less insufferable.” Sounds like Momiji doesn’t exactly enjoy working under Aya.
Kazuma speaks up, “I hope if the Oracle breaks up with her, he does it in a gentle manner, as just about everyone in the village knows that insulting or otherwise making Aya cry is a good way to set off dad’s berserk button. If it's painful, the safest thing for the Oracle to do next would be to go back to the outside world and pray that Dad doesn’t follow him.”
Momiji frowns. “Ah yes, his legendary temper... I've lost count of how many rookies I had to pull away before they got themselves killed by running their mouths. I’m not sure if Hayato could kill a rookie tengu in his rage, but I'd prefer to leave that a mystery. Still, you'd have Aya to thank for any limitation being cleared, Hatate; she only recently decided to start being herself around the various tengu nobles.” Momiji had a rather annoyed expression on her face. I can’t help but be reminded of Lady Akyuu's face when she insists on getting her way.
I chuckle, responding, “I can imagine what that must be like, as Lady Akyuu acts similarly, though I don’t think Miss Shameimaru could go through with a threat of putting down unflattering notes in her chronicles. Luckily, no one is stupid enough to press their luck after Lady Akyuu's threats.”
“Mm. I should get going, I have to warn the rookies with the day off not to pick a fight with Lady Kazami. Despite her leisurely pace of doing things, she can and will pick off a speeding tengu with ease. I wish for everyone to have a nice festival.” Miss Momiji bows, and leaves right afterwards.
I think I’ll take my cue to leave as well. “Please pardon me as well; I’m going to see if the outfit is ready or not. Thank you for the stew and the tengu photography experience.”
Hatate leads me to the door, remarking, “Good luck with Wriggle. I’m sure she’s going to put on something nice.” I try to shake my blush off as she goes back inside the house.
I walk back over to the clothing shop to see if the outfit’s ready. Hopefully everyone in the merchant’s area has already moved on from yesterday’s incident. I see Alice outside of the shop... with her doll already dressed for the occasion. “I guess you’re waiting on your outfit for the festival, too?”
“Mainly on some corrections the shopkeeper's making. I’ve been taking some lessons on how to improve my skills with the needle; it’s always harder to make an outfit for yourself than it is for someone else. Even if she’s as small as Hourai.” I see Hourai wave and pull out a sign reading, “Yeah, but I wish she made me with bigger b-” Alice yanks it away before I read the last word. “Hourai! How many times do I have to tell you not to say things like that!” I leave them to their rather cute bickering as I head inside.
The clerk sees me enter and places a box on the counter. “Ah Mr. Kojima, your outfit is ready. Oh, and if you see that little blonde girl with the doll, tell her that hers is ready as well.” He smiles as I take the box from the counter.
I leave the store and tell Alice the news. She wastes no time heading inside. I take a look at the sky and notice it’s a bit past noon. I better get home and get the outfit ready before I do anything else.
As I arrive at the house, I find my parents had gone to work while I was out. They left a note saying they’re not likely to be home until much later. I quickly put the outfit on my bed for tonight and eat a couple of apples for lunch. Trying to think of what else could be done to kill some time, I remember that Miss Kamishirasawa should be in the process of wrapping up her schoolwork. Decision made, I leave home and head over to the school.
I knock on the door and soon hear a “Come in.” Entering, I find Miss Kamishirasawa grading a paper. “Ah, Yuki. I thought you’d be busy getting ready for the festival like everyone else.”
“I was just stopping by to see how you were doing as things have been busy as of late. I also don’t think the festival will really start for another couple of hours.”
“Thank you, but you don’t worry about me; this isn’t anything terribly new compared to the latest incident. I was actually about to finish up and start my own preparations.” I hear her mutter something about a shut-in.
“I don’t want to keep you then, Miss Kamishirasawa. I think I’ll use the remaining time to relax before getting ready.”
“Heh. So you finally got my last name right.” She’s smiling as she says this.
“Yeah; Wriggle helped me out with that.”
“I hope you don’t keep her waiting or try staying in your house, reading, the entire time.” I shake my head, knowing she's referring to Father when he was younger. I say goodbye and head back home.
I decide to read a bit more of that story and it turns out to be a far bigger saga, with a few more soldiers involved. I stop before getting too into it; I have more important things to do tonight.
I put on the outfit and find it to be comfortable and well fitting. I check my wallet to make sure there’s a nice amount of money in it, since festivals can get rather cost-intensive. I think everything’s in order.
The sun is setting by the time I get outside. I head over to the main crossroads to wait; if anyone’s going to show up, they'll have to go through there.
My thinking is interrupted by Kamui, Elis, and Kurumi arriving in their festival garbs. Kamui’s in one of his nicer stage outfits, while Kurumi’s in a light purple yukata decorated with a flower motif. Elis is in a red number decorated with stars, and has another one painted on her face. It seems like Kurumi's wearing hers in a way that obviously emphasizes her figure.
“Something the matter, Kurumi?” Elis asks. Now that I think about it, Kurumi looks a bit dejected.
“If only Mother wasn’t coming, then I could wear this off my shoulder. Ohh, it’s all Yukari’s fault!” She cheers up quickly as Kamui pats her on the back, though. “Well, there’ll be other days~”
Elis comes up to me and asks, “You’re waiting for Wriggle aren’t you? That’s a rather sweet gesture, and from a rather cute guy, too.” She giggles and heads back to join the other two.
“Good luck, Yuki!” Kamui remarks before they head off in the direction of the various booths. I wonder if Mystia’s trying her luck running one of them...
I keep watching the crowd, and see a blonde woman in a purple Yukata worn off shoulder walk by. I could say with near certainty that it was Lady Yakumo, though why she’d wear hers in such a way is a mystery. She certainly is quite attractive and.... ample, but even now I’m just looking forward to Wriggle too much. I try to clear my head of any lingering thoughts with a walk as I head towards the village entrance. I soon run smack into something. “I’m sorry about that!” I hurried say.
I look up to find a woman in a reddish orange yukata decorated with minature scythes, and for some reason she's carrying a large one in her arms. Her hair is surprisingly curly; certainly uncommon in Gensokyo. “Let me help you up, it woudn’t do for Wriggle’s friend to get his clothes messed up before meeting her,” she says, gently pulling me up and helping me dust off. She sees the confusion on my face, and adds, “I’m Elly, Lady Yuuka’s main servant, so I’ve heard of you. I hope the old gap hag isn’t doing anything improper; I've heard all the tales about her stealing men. Then again, according to Lady Yuuka, she’d jump anything and everything...”
I decide to change the topic. “Miss Elly, why do you have that scythe with you?” There’s no place for something like that in a peaceful village.
“It’s because I’d feel naked without it, more so than even being naked.” Okay, emergency mind distraction plan is a go! A while back I decided on a plan in case something needs absolute distraction... so I memorized those sayings from the Buront story. I'm halfway through them when I feel someone tap on my shoulder. I turn to see who it is, and come face to face with none other than Lady Kazami, accompanied by a young, blonde woman with wings in a white yukata. I’m stunned for a moment: a complete opposite to the unabashed seductive charm of Lady Yakumo, Lady Kazami wears her red plaid yukata in a way that it highlights the elegance and charisma of the truly powerful.
“I apologize if you've had to endure Elly’s ramblings. I have a favorable first impression of you, so I do hope you won’t make my little Wriggle cry.” She says, the veiled threat being perfectly clear.
I do my best to recover from the stun. “I-it’s an honor to meet you, Lady Kazami. I assure you I would never do anything of the sort. May I ask who the young lady you’re with is? I’m-” I respond before she interrupted.
“Yukikaki Kojima, right? I did some looking into on you when I first found out about you. As for your other question, this is my middle daughter, Lily white.”
Miss White peeks behind Lady Kazami and responds meekly, “Hello, nice to meet you.”
Lady Kazami adds, “When it’s not spring, her personality is rather subdued, but still charming. I’m hoping that one day she’ll find a nice man who can appreciate both sides of her. Ah, there goes Elly trying her luck... though I have yet to see a man who isn’t scared by her forwardness or her weapon.” Sure enough, Elly has approached a group of men who seem shocked at her presence. “If you’re looking for Wriggle, she mentioned waiting at the stump by the shop. I believe she should be there now, and that you shouldn’t keep her waiting. We’ll talk more in due time; shoo, shoo.” She pushes me very gently towards the direction of the forest. I’m honestly speechless: from her threats, I can see why she's so feared, yet she carries herself with a certain elegance and grace.
As I walk away, I hear her wonder about Arthur's whereabouts. I should hurry, though, as I don’t really want to keep Wriggle waiting.
I run to the usual spot and when I get there, I lose what breath I had left. Wriggle's seated there, wearing a very lovely teal yukata with a green firefly decoration. Her hair is up in a small ponytail and she gives off the air of a demure noble woman. She notices my reaction and giggles as she gets up and walks over to me. “Akyuu really knows her outfits, Yuki; you’re pretty handsome yourself.” She starts holding my hand and we walk towards the main festival area.
Wriggle leads me to the strength game, and I notice the rules include “no magic allowed.” I turn to the operator, asking why, and receive an answer about Marisa badly damaging the equipment after using magic. I can easily imagine her doing something like that; for similar reasons Mother and Father keep her away from anything fragile.
I decide to try my luck after paying the man running it. “Rrhhgg!” Damn, this hammer is heavy. I hit the plank... and only reach half way up. My arms still ache just from doing that much. I hear some jeers from the side directed towards Wriggle and me. “Look at the little shrimps!” Wriggle frowns, then nods her head in resolution. She tries her hand at the youkai strength one and brings the hammer down with incredible speed. “DINNGGGG!!” It actually hits hard enough to dent the bell.
Wriggle takes a breath, then bows remorsefully to the stall owner. “I apologize for this, but I really had to show them that size isn’t everything.” She pulls out a wallet and puts down some more money.
The man chuckles and rubs the back of his head. “Don’t worry about it, I was honestly expecting something like this to happen tonight. I’d read in the Tengu’s paper how you kicked one hunter’s ass and reduce two others into gibbering wrecks. I’m just glad you didn’t break the whole thing.” We thank him for his understanding, then head towards the other stands before too much of a scene develops.
As we continue to wander through the festival, we pass a stand were Tewi is selling “authentic lunarian undergarments,” with a sign saying “all profits go to a charitable cause.” I can’t help but suspect she added that just to get more sales... as if the promise of panties wasn’t enough for certain men.
We arrive at Mystia’s stand where she's quickly grilling more eels for the crowd. “Oh wow, Wriggle, you look great! Never thought I’d see the day where I’d be the plain one. But do sit down and try some food!”
Wriggle smiles, blushing slightly. “Thanks, Mystia. Lady Akyuu helped me pick it out.”
“It really complements her figure. Ah, two plates please,” I add. We sit down and I hand Mystia the some money for both plates.
“I could have paid for that Yuki, but thanks anyways,” Wriggle responds.
Mystia laughs. “Most girls would love having a guy pay for them. Say, have you seen Kamui around? I'm hoping he comes by soon.”
I respond, “I’m sure he will, sooner if he gets hungry. I think Kurumi and Elis just want a bit of time before you take center stage, so to speak.”
“That's really flattering; I’d never have thought that someone would choose me over a vampire and a demon. Everyone's always overlooking me for someone else, and- ah, sorry about that Wriggle!” I turn to see Wriggle glaring at Mystia some. I guess she's still a little jealous that Mystia's more popular. “You can’t be too mad about it since you have a very nice guy!” Mystia adds.
“I’m rather surprised myself: if Mother found out Kamui prefered you to her daughter, she might be a bit offended. Not enough to be violent, but still rather put off. I guess your situation is rather unique, though.” Wriggle responds.
“Yeah, but that’s not something you really have to worry about. From what I’ve heard from Kamui, Yuki would be pretty tormented by such thoughts coming up.”
I decide to speak up. “You know, I saw the famed Lady of Borders here, but I must say that seeing Wriggle had more of an effect on me than she did.” Wriggle blushes as Mystia makes a sound that can be only described as “SQUEEEEE.”
After that, we finish eating in silence, then bid Mystia farewell and leave. The night is still young, and there's other things to see.
We pass by Ginji’s shop and see Lunasa waiting. “Out of all the days to finally talk things out with his parents... if this keeps up any longer I’m going to go in there and drag them out!” If she’s here, then I guess Kamui’s dealing with Lyrica and Merlin’s probably with Kazuma.
“Did something happen between Ginji and his father?” I ask, remembering my outburst.
She nods. “According to Rika, his father came in the afternoon to try to discuss the terms of putting this incident behind them. At the moment, Ginji’s using this situation to his advantage and venting a little, as well. Word has it that someone really gave his father hell yesterday.” Lunasa gives me a sidelong glance and continues, “It was you, wasn’t it? I wonder what he said that upset you enough to go off like that.”
“I was able to keep politely quiet until he called Wriggle vermin... I’m not even sure how that was related, or what I said afterwards. All I can clearly remember is that it took all of my focus to stay polite.”
Wriggle blushes as Lunasa adds, “I hope you two don’t plan on beating around the bush forever.” Wha?! I quickly glance at Wriggle, who’s turning a deeper shade of red. Before the matter can continue we feel a gust of wind.
“Oh, this looks like interesting news... A true reporter is never truly off-duty!” We turn and find it’s none other than Miss Shameimaru. Her version of the yukata is similar to Miss Momiji’s and Hatate’s, mainly in its red design, but is cut for a crow tengu and adjusted to highlight her figure more. I hope this doesn’t start any fights between Mr. Yaguu and the Oracle. “I think I’ll pay Yaggy a visit, as I’m sure he’s sulking in his house... good thing Junny’s back outside or I’d have to worry about having them on separate sides of the village.” She must be talking about the Oracle.
Remembering my visit to Kazuma's earlier today, I remark, “Miss Shameimaru, Hatate expressed some discontent at having to wear the formal outfit.” Wait, she already knew that. Well, hopefully it will help shift the mood.
Aya sighs. “Ahh, I told her she could change clothes later in the festival... I just had Momi and Hatate dress up in order to help Momiji find an interesting guy, and I figured Kazi would like that. I guess she wants to put on that yukata she picked out herself. I thought purple, checkered pattern would be unusual, but then I saw Yuuka’s red plaid number.” Why does she keep refering to people with strange nicknames?
I notice Wriggle squeezing my hand gently, nodding her head away from the area. I figure things are getting a bit too loud for her, so we leave after saying our goodbyes. I think Ginji has things well in hand by now, at least enough for me not to worry about him.
As we reach the crossroads, we hear Lady Akyuu say, “Yep, those outfits really fit you two well!” She's wearing a fancier version of her normal clothing, even though it was already fancy to begin with. Before we can respond, she remarks, “You better claim your fireworks spot before anyone else does.” She makes motions for us to go on our way, and I think I see her wink at me out of the corner of her eye.
Wriggle leads me by hand into the forest, through darkened paths that feel vaguely familiar. We reach a break in the trees, and I recognize the spot by the creek... this is the place were we first met. A blush creeps over my face as I recall the memory of that day. “Yuki.” Wriggle's voice captures my attention again. She's standing in the middle of the spot, facing slightly away from me. “I actually wanted to show this to you before the fireworks went off.”
She raises her arms, and points of light appear in the forest before flying towards her. A multitude of fireflies surround her and fill the clearing as she begins a slow and elegant dance, her movements matching the rhythmic lightshow around her. At this moment, she basically is the world - it's as though the stars in the night sky descended solely to dance with her. Only the sound of my heartbeat remotely disrupts the display before me. I seriously consider calling Wriggle the Lady of the Fireflies as everything about her right now is stunning.
I barely notice when she stops, and it takes a few more moments for me to snap out of my daze. Wriggle is staring right at me. “Yuki, mother told me something recently... she told me not to waste any time.” She blushes but continues on, adding, “What I’m trying to say, is that I’m ready for us to be a couple, since we both know how we feel.”
“Really? I really, truly am glad.” A smile spreads over her face and she walks towards me. “I always enjoy my time with you, and today in particular was amazing, and-” I'm cut off as she approaches me, giving me a good look at her blue-green eyes before wrapping her arms around my neck in a hug. I return the gesture, pulling her body closer to mine. She pulls back before I settle into it though, and I ask, “W-”
She kisses me. The world seems to go silent around me. All I can focus on is the warmth of her body, the weight of her arms around my neck, and the taste of her lips against mine.
A pop sounds in the distance, followed by a warbling screech as the first fireworks are launched. The silence of the kiss is only disrupted by the colorful explosions above us. We pull away from each other, a blush on both our faces, before turning to watch the display. The star shaped bursts make it clear Marisa was behind their design, and for once, flaming balls aren’t raining down upon us. My mind briefly flits to everyone else; I hope they're enjoying a memorable moment as well.
We sit down and watch the show, holding each other close from the beginning through the finale. As the last glowing burst fades, Wriggle stirs beside me and says, “I should probably head home... I’m really not sure if I should try staying over or not, and I’d rather just go home before mother locks the door.” Staying over? Ah... well, maybe it’s better that she doesn’t tonight. Mother would get too excited by such an event.
“Heh, don’t worry. I think my mother will be over-excited enough as it is. I think I’ll just relax tonight.” We stand, and Wriggle leads me on the path out of the forest. As we prepare to part ways, I pull Wriggle into another hug. “This may sound strange, but I will definantly call this night magical.” She giggles, and squeezes me before we part ways.
As I walk back home, things seem much quieter as the festival winds down. One pair of girls in particular stands out from the crowd, one wearing a rather undersized white yukata decorated with what appears to be folding chairs, and one wearing a pinkish-red one with strawberries. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was those two from the ship.
I arrive home and look in the box the outfit came in for some cleaning instructions. Luckily, they're clearly written, and Mother added on where she kept the cleaning supplies. After I finish taking care of it, I decide to read more of the Dresden books. Despite all his skill and ability, he's really unable to pick up a romantic hint.
Soon, all the excitement of the day catches up to me, and I put the book away before falling asleep. I end up dreaming about actually meeting the wizard, and pleasantly enough I was married to Wriggle. Various other bits appear, such as the oversized gazebo I read about and the one shopkeeper who resembled Mr. Miyamoto. Heh, Miss Kamishirasawa looks frustrated by his inability to take a hint... but her expressions seem kind of familiar. I wonder if those hints are directed to someone in reality?
The scenes fade and shift, and I dream of an absurd team up of Dresden, Arthur, and those two Russian soldiers getting into various hijinks and, naturally, blowing stuff up. I feel sorry for Arthur in this dream, as he seems the closest one to being rational in it.
I can’t help but wonder what will come my way next...
Chapter 2 End.
I’ll post an Omake post within a week and the start of chapter 3 within a week of that or so. Feel free to leave any comments.