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[x] Mystia's Lamprey. Not sure if she has any in stock but it'd definitely be something new for Reimu.
[x] The Bar-Be-Que place. Reimu likes that for sure and the owner seems to like her.
[x] Something from the candy shop. It has a wide variety at nice prices.
“I think a mix of Lamprey and the Bar-Be-Que place would be nice to have,” I say.
Wriggle responds, “Alright. I think it'd be faster if we split up. Anything you want to pass along to Mysty and the others?”
“Not really, though are you going to tell her that it's for Reimu?” I reply.
“Yeah, I'm sure she wouldn't waste any time trying to get into her good graces, if for no other reason than to be in good favor of someone who can actually go toe to toe against my mother. Let's meet by the candy shop when we’re finished!” I nod, and we leave our separate ways. It feels sort of empty without her around, but I should focus on the task at hand.
I walk over to the Bar-Be-Que store where Tex, as he insists on being called, waits behind the counter, with a sign saying “Now hiring.”
“Hello sir, I'd like to place an order that's going to the Hakurei Shrine. I’m also curious about that sign; usually places around here do their hiring more silently,” I say.
He grins. “Well back where I came from, this is how we did things. I figure why not give some youngster a chance to make a honest living? It'd also help with those who don't appreciate good ol' Texan charm. Order’s for the Hakurei? Come back in about 15 minutes. Hope you don't mind some iced tea too; it's good, ‘specially in this weather, not like the heated stuff that seems so popular.”
I ask, “Ah, yes, that’s fine. How much is the order going to be, sir? I wouldn't feel right without paying up front.”
“About 2500 yen would do, should cover it fine. I'll adjust it once I'm finished with the order,” he replies as I hand him the money. As he leaves behind the counter to start cooking, I start heading towards the candy shop. I don’t think it’s too far from here.
Oh good, the “Open” sign is hanging in one of the store windows. As I walk inside, I see a red-haired greater fairy stand behind the counter instead of the old candy maker. “Oh, a customer!” She turns and excitedly shouts behind her, “Heeey! There’s a customer!” The clanging of pans from a door in the back interrupts the quiet music in the store, and after a minute the clerk comes out, drying his hands on an apron. “Ah, welcome back. I hope you’re well, and your girlfriend, too.”
“She is, she's just doing something else right now. We're trying to gather some things for the shrine maiden and we figured that she'd like some of the candy you make. If you could pick something out for her, I’ll pay for it and a small bag of the honey drops as well,” I reply.
He nods and moves from shelf to shelf, adding different treats to a paper bag. “How kind of you. Will a small bag of honey drops be enough? The weather’s starting to cool, and after a while they’ll be out of season until spring returns.”
“Make it a half kilo then. I’d forgotten some of your candy is seasonal; I might have stock up before winter comes.” I pause, glancing at the fairy trying to work the scale behind the counter. “May I ask about the fairy here? I wasn't aware that you were looking for help.” Greater fairies tend to look and act more mature than most.
“Oh, Altha? She came by a few weeks ago, but I’m sure she’ll want to tell you about it herself.” The fairy, Altha, quickly speaks up as the clerk goes through the back door.
“Hello! I'm from the forest by the shrine and I really like marshmallows! Once, someone left a bag in the forest one day and I found out what happens when you roast one over a fire, though I had to run from the fire lady. I tried making one myself but it was either too big or too small so I ended up eating the ones I had left… But then, I remembered there was a candy shop in the human village, so I came here and asked about them!” She motions towards the door that I think leads to the kitchen, judging by the fragrance. “He says he'll teach me stuff and help me make good roasting fires if I behaved so I'm behaving!” I’m stunned at her explanation; I think she's as energetic as Rika is.
“It was a while before she calmed down enough for me to answer, but we’ve since talked it over,” the candy maker explains over the clack of a knife. “I decided to teach her a few things for now, and if she does well I’ll take her on as an apprentice. Many hands make for light work, and… her presence would be soothing.”
“I'm glad nothing too terrible came out that discovery. It'd be terrible if an entire forest burned down,” I answer.
Altha quickly replies, “I don't think there was a chance of that as even the big fires aren't enough to set trees ablaze, not when they're healthy and well watered. Even I know better than to try roasting in a dry spot, but no need to worry about that now!” I get the feeling her aspect is related to the forest since she’s awfully knowledgeable about the subject.
The clerk comes back out holding a scoop filled with something small and puffy, and adds some to Reimu’s bag before placing the rest in a third on the scale. Sliding weights over it, he says, “Since this is partially a donation to the Hakurei who preserves the peace in the village, I'll just charge 800 yen.” That’s a bargain, considering how big the mixed bag is. I pay him and add 100 yen extra anyways. A smile tugs at the corners of his mouth. “I suppose your kindness won't ever change, though I thank you for it.”
“What are those puffy things? The marshmallows you mentioned?” I ask as he slides the bags to me.
“Yes, today's the first day I'm selling them. Altha was very helpful gathering the roots, and she's been taste-testing my recipe even though I was out of practice. It’s good she came by before all the mallow plants withered; we’ll have to collect and store more before winter comes.” He waves as I leave. “I hope the rest of your day goes well, young sir.”
Altha joins in, shouting “Bye! Have a nice day!”
I haven’t gotten far from the store when I see an imposing figure waiting for me across the street. It’s the lead Humanist on the council, Lord Hojo! I quickly kneel as he approaches me. “Stand up,” he orders, and oblige. He continues sternly, “I heard you'd been inquiring into the Guardian's position.” Crap, I hope he’s not too angry, but even if he i? “I'm here to praise your initiative on the matter. Also, if you’re going to the shrine, please deliver this letter. It holds a more proper amount for the job performed, and a letter of apology.” Shocked, I accept the thick envelope he hands me.
“I will hand it over to her, sir,” I respectfully respond.
He answers, “Good lad. If you can conduct yourself, I'll ask your father to bring you to the next council meeting. I'd like to clear up any misunderstandings that you might have about the Humanists, given your particular position. For now, know that we aren’t simply xenophobic, just mindful of the threat posed by youkai.” As he leaves, I place the envelope in my bag and quickly head back to the Bar-Be-Que place to pick up the order. I’ll talk to father about this later.
I return to see Tex set out the last of three containers, along with what appears to be 3 glass containers with handles filled with a kind of tea. “While the money was enough to cover the food, I'll have to ask for another 1000 yen to cover the glass mugs, mainly for expenses. The usual glasses aren't made for transport like this.”
I respond, “That’s fair enough; here you are.” As I try to think of a way to carry the three containers of food before me, Wriggle arrives carrying a covered plate.
“Oh, you’re still here, Yuki? Let me help with that, carrying that much isn't hard for me,” she announces. “Did you already go to the candy shop?”
“Yeah, I went there after placing the order with Tex,” I reply. “How did things go at Mystia’s?”
“They went pretty well. Mystia reacted as expected and was happy to get the chance to reach another customer, and the Matron wanted to help out as well, donating a plate for free,” she responds.
Tex says, “Happy trails!” after we secure the containers and start on our way to the shrine.
We follow the path to the shrine and eventually reach the gate, where Meira sits by a box made of some strange material. I’m about to ask why it’s sitting there when she blurts, “I heard it was a good way to hide and I really don't want to run into Reimu when she’s angry again!”
It’s probably best not to press the matter, so I nod before concentrating on flying, slowly lifting off the ground. Wriggle has no problems of course, and even though it’s a bit straining to keep up it’s easier than climbing up the stairs normally. At the top, Reimu’s seated on the steps leading into the shrine. As we approach, she asks, “May I ask what you're doing here?” Thankfully she doesn’t really seem angry or annoyed.
I respond, “We came by to see how you were doing and to drop off some offerings of both money and food.”
She perks up a bit when the scent of the food reaches her. “I'm doing alright, but nobody just comes by to visit. You’re here because of what Keine said.” I stiffen, but Reimu just sighs. “I feel like shit for saying what I did about her and making her take the blame for what she said. After thinking on it, it’s more likely that she was following orders.”
“What you said to her was very cruel... sometimes people talk to Kurumi like that for no good reason, and it’s all she can do to hold herself together,” Wriggle adds.
“Actually, we did some investigating ourselves and found the village guardian’s position had existed for quite a while. I also have a letter for you from the head of the Humanists himself, Lord Hojo; I ran into him on the way here.” Wriggle looks shocked as I hand the letter to Reimu; I guess I did forget to tell her on the way up.
Reimu glances through the letter while off handedly counting the money inside. “…Well, I can't say they underpaid me for the Makai incident now, and from the looks of it the letter sounds sincere enough. Now the only thing left to do is apologize to Keine… this is going to be tough.”
“About that, Keine had me bring an apology letter as well, and she’ll be coming by later in the day,” I reply as I hand over the second letter.
Reimu sighs, replying, “I know that, you don't need to remind me. It doesn't help that I had a nightmare of people calling me all sorts of unpleasant things, but I’ll be ready to talk to her when she gets here.” She suddenly gets more energetic. “Now, what's that food you have? I don’t recognize the smell.”
Wriggle replies, “This is BBQ pork made by that new Bar-Be-Que place. Tex was nice enough to send some iced tea along too. Oh, Yuki, don't forget about the candy and your donation, too!”
“Ah, right,” I say, digging out the bag of mixed treats and the money I had reserved for the donation, about 5,000 yen. It's a bit much, but it's for a good cause. While Wriggle sets out the rest of the food I drop the bills into the donation box, clapping twice afterwards.
“Hey Wriggle, you think you can share him? He seems like the type any girl would want.” Reimu asks- What!?
Wriggle gets flustered as she responds, “NO WAY! Ah, no offense, but I won't share him with you! Don't say such silly things!”
Reimu just smiles and laughs. “Good thing I was just joking, no need to make a certain person angry at me. Last thing I need is for her to launch some sort of media assault on my reputation.” Oh god, Lady Akyuu. No other person would even think of doing such a thing, but from Lady Akyuu it wouldn’t be unexpected at all. “Thank you both for stopping by today, I appreciate it. Not to be rude, but I'd rather be alone now, though. Don’t think I'm ungrateful for your efforts; I’m not. It's just that I'd rather compose myself for when Keine arrives. Ah, is there anything you two want to pray for?”
At first think about Wriggle and I, then the frightened figure of Meira at the shrine’s gate comes back to mind. We’re already doing fine; Meira could use the help more. “Yes, I hope that the trauma Meira sustained from you in the past will heal and fade.”
“I agree,” Wriggle adds.
Reimu grimaces as she responds, “Right, right. I'll see what I can do, and I'll try to apologize to her as I get the feeling she suffered needlessly. Genji was warning me all along to be more mindful. Well, I hope you two enjoy the rest of your day.” We nod and bid farewell, leaving with the remaining two food containers.
On the way down, Wriggle asks, “Where are we going to eat this?” Right, our date is supposed to start now. Where should we go?
[ ] The clearing is always a nice spot.
[ ] Try going home, I doubt mother will be too much of a pain and we can always go downstairs after eating.
[ ] The café has nice seating and scenery, plus we can get dessert there.