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The dining hall is rather different than I expected. There are five long tables with benches running the room lengthwise and an elevated table parallel to them at the far end. Closer to us are a collection of round tables that can each probably seat about six people comfortably. The walls are lined with counters and stoves. The smell of all manner of foods cooking fills the air and the chatter of over a hundred people is overwhelming. Overall, the effect is some cross between some sort of Nordic Feast Hall and a mall food court. It’s very strange, to say the least.
I spot Ran, who beckons us over. She’s smiling again, unsurprisingly.
“Good to see you’re all up and here.” She says, “Well, most of you. Nitori is still absent.”
Ran directs us to stand off to the side and says Patchouli will begin the introduction ceremony in a few minutes. I exchange nervous glances with the others. Flandre is fidgeting and Nue is once again trying to fix her hair. Cirno is trying to act casual, but I can tell by the stiffness in her shoulders that she’s almost as nervous as the rest of us.
Soon, the lights dim and the talking dies down. A woman in an indigo dress steps forward. This must be Patchouli. With a SNAP a microphone appears in her hand. Her voice is soft, but carries a certain understated authority.
“Welcome everyone. I hope those of you who went away on Winter Break all enjoyed yourselves. Now, most of you know why you are here, but I’ll state it again for our newcomers.”
Patchouli gives a speech about how everyone has been selected because they’re special. She stresses the importance of interpersonal connections, especially once we leave. Really, the speech is very well rehearsed but not terribly interesting. I can’t really muster any enthusiasm. Despite that, I’m still pretty anxious.
After a bit more talking, Patchouli hands the mike off to Ran. “Thank you Patchouli. Now then, allow me to introduce our new students. Step forward please.”
We’re to be introduced all at once then? That’s a bit less stressful.
“First, we have Flandre Scarlet. I’m sure most of you remember Remilia, her elder sister. Please treat her well.”
There’s a lot of whispering and clapping from everyone. Flandre waves weakly in response. Is her sister someone of note? Flandre didn’t mention her.
“Next, is Nue Houjuu. Many of you have seen her around, but now she’s officially one of you.”
More whispering and clapping, both less than what Flandre got. Nue already seems to have made a less than stellar impression on a few people.
“Third, we have Kokoro.”
That’s me! With everyone looking at me, I kind of want to hide behind my masks. Suppressing that urge, I manage a small curtsy.
“And then Cirno. Treat her nicely, you hear?”
Cirno positively beams. Even her wings are faintly humming.
“Lastly, we would have Nitori Kawashiro, but it seems like she won’t make the ceremony. That is, if she even gets here at-”
“Wait! I’m here!” In runs a girl who seems to be Nitori. She’s followed by a, well, a thing. It’s metal and vaguely humanoid, with a lot of exposed wires. I guess it’s like one of those robots I’ve seen in a few movies, but only about half finished.
Nitori herself has short blue hair and is probably half a head taller than Nue and I are. She looks to be maybe eighteen or nineteen, by human standards. As for what she’s wearing, Nitori has on tan cargo pants, a jean jacket, and a bulky pair of headphones hanging around her neck.
“Sorry I’m late,” she says, “My flight got delayed a few times due to inclement weather and-”
The robot bumps into her, nearly knocking her into Nue, and falls to the ground. Naturally, the robot was carrying her bag, causing her things to spill out. It proceeds to flail around a bit on the ground, furthering the mess.
Once the robot stops flailing, Nitori just stares at the mess. It seems she’s in that state where she’s unsure whether to laugh at the absurdity of the situation or have a breakdown. She settles for grumbling a stream of curses under her breath.
In an unspoken agreement, the rest of us help her gather her things. Cirno, Flandre, and I help her carry the robot off to the side and Nue gets the bag.
“So anyway,” Ran says, attempting to continue as if nothing happened, “there are a few announcements to be made. First of all, I’m sure you’ve noticed Moriya’s conspicuous absence. She’s vacated her position as my Second. Again. Anyone interested in the position needs to get their application in by next Tuesday.”
The room positively explodes into discussion. It seems this is kind of a big deal. Let’s see, today is Monday, so that’s in eight days.
“Other than that, your Circles need to be finalized by Sunday, as do your Towers. Keep in mind that while you can change Circles if you can find someone willing to trade with you, your Towers are fixed until the next break. Oh, and the scheduled Tower introductions are at 2:00 and 6:00 today and 10:00, 2:00, and 5:00 tomorrow.”
After that, the other Tower Heads welcome us and say a few words. Well, three of them do. The green-haired woman on the far left is silent, looking like she’d rather not even be here. Additionally, one of the Tower Heads seems to have left.
We get a polite welcome from a rather intimidating blue-haired woman and a friendlier one from the lady with strange purple-brown gradient hair.
The last Tower head, a woman with long green hair, speaks up, “Yeah, welcome, congrats, and all that. Anyone wanting the tour, be there in fifteen. Or an hour. Whenever I get bored of waiting, really.” With that, she leans her chair back and phases through the wall. Wait What?!
“Well then, I suppose that concludes things.” Patchouli says, “Imaizumi, would you look after the newcomers?”
“Certainly,” the girl says. “Alright everyone, I’m sure you all want to mob the new kids like piranhas and ask them questions, but it’s not happening. Go about your business normally. You can introduce yourselves on more normal terms.”
Imaizumi is about Nitori’s height, with long, auburn hair and dark red eyes. She looks to be about twenty or so and carries herself with a cool confidence, further amplified by a long, black dress. I get the feeling she’s not human, but she has no particularly supernatural features beyond her eyes. Maybe she’s half-human.
“So then girls,” she says to us, “my name is Kagerou Imaizumi, the Second of Moon Tower. I’ll be guiding you, at least for today. I’ll give you the tour, answer your questions, maybe advise you on Towers, that kind of stuff. Right now though, I imagine you need help moving that robot to your room.”
“That would be nice,” Nitori replies, “I need to figure out what’s wrong with it. Hopefully nothing serious.”
“What was that about Tower introductions?” Cirno asks.
“Basically, it’s a tour. You get to see the tower and get an idea of what it’s like to be a member. Most of the time, if you don’t do the intro, the Tower Head won’t admit you. You lot should go to all five.”
“There’s one in like fifteen minutes, right?”
“Yeah, Mima tends to ignore the schedule. She will get in five tour times by tomorrow’s end, but expect them to be inconvenient and with minimal prior notice. You might get a more convenient time later, but it’s a crapshoot.”
(ask kagerou a question.)
 – tour and information with kagerou
 – inconvenient tower introduction
 – just spend time getting to know everyone.
WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM FOR A BREAKING NEWS BULLETIN:
WANDERLOST IS A HUGE FAG WHO NEVER MEETS HIS UPDATE DEADLINES!!!
This might be the longest update I've ever written. It had damn well better be, considering I made everyone wait.