- (235.43KB, 1182x1511, HATATAA.jpg)
Small minor "who even cares" retcon: I had Gen wearing gloves the night before this. He doesn't have gloves presently at all, actually, so that couldn't have happened. It's just one of the details I set up and misremembered/read incorrectly. Whoops!
[x] to accept her request.
[x] Wait, no, to refuse.
[X] ... Well...
[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVXKfsX4YOk ]
[妖怪モダンコロニー - MAPLEAVES (xi-on)]
He smiled innocently.
“When you say you wish to document me, how much do you mean?” he asked the girl.
“Oh! Pretty much from now on! And—And, if I know anything about you from before we met, then too!” she explained, balling her fists and bending a bit toward him from where she stood, her face obvious with excitement.
He showed his hand. “Then, would you mind if we put it in writing?”
“Oh, like, of course!” she answered, putting one hand on her hip and making a tent of her other hand over her chest. She smirked. “I’m a professional, after all!”
“That you are,” he answered, opening his suitcase. He pulled out a large scroll and a bottle of ink. Opening up and calling for the bottles contents, he began to draw on the paper.
“That, uh... looks like a magic circle,” Hatate commented with some nervous laughter.
“That may be because it is,” he said, not looking up. He paused after speaking, however, to lift his head and explain, “I’m a magician, Miss Himekaido. Magical contracts are a part of our repertoire.”
“Hatate...” the Tengu corrected absently, studying his writing still from afar. “... Do magical contracts use circles too?”
“Many do,” he told her. It wasn’t false.
However, this was naturally not a contract.
Contracts established by Magicians were only used in summoning. Magic beyond the bounds of the rules of spellwork would be needed to perform other sorts of deals, covenants, pacts and the like that held supernatural ramifications for being broken, or gains for being brokered. Such works of the Art were the works of demons and specific youkai, but not any sort of Magician. Even Nikulásson, the one who bound a Christian demon to The Red Skin book and thus established a tome of readily available, superbly powerful magic, only himself contracted and enslaved Paimon; the greater benefits of the book could only be attributed to Paimon’s power.
But these were not things one would simply know, and judging the youkai before him to be quite ignorant of the world outside of tengu society, Gen was rather certain this trivial fact of Magicians’ limitations was not within her head.
He penned a circle of harmful magic, though he set down no materials in order to not be too obvious with his intent. It was the first spell of his morning and already later in the day—he could afford to cast from spirit.
“Now I will activate it with an incantation,” he said, the glyph now complete and intricate before him. Its swirls, spots, and letters would inform the action of a spell of sunlight. There was no need for him to hold back his magic with a tengu of all beings. “Please stay just there so that the magic recognizes you as one of the participants when we come to signing.”
“Uh... A—Alright...” she muttered, and he almost stopped speaking his spell. Himekaido Hatate was, in spite of her apprehension, also obvious in her eagerly awaiting what magic he would perform. He almost asked if this would be her first witnessing of the Art, or at least the first performance she would see a human execute. What stopped him was knowing that an answer of “yes” would sway him to reconsider this move.
I’ll make things clear with this... and vent a bit about tengu through her here, he told himself.
With a final whisper in a dead language, the light of the sun that bathed the area grew over-vibrant, painfully so. Only for a fraction of a moment, however. After, it looked to solidify, and faster than it had become intense his magic became a semi-large dome of luminous white orbs over their heads, each orb a soccer-ball’s measure in width. Gen closed his bottle, and stood. Hatate’s eyebrow perked up, and she kept her mouth held open in a small, ovoid shape.
The tengu didn’t seem to fully comprehend that she had been caged, so while she looked everywhere around herself at the gapless half-sphere of his creation, Gen prepared another spell, withdrawing from his case a concoction of simple magical fuel, which he opened calmly while speaking to “fire”.
The air surrounding his right hand then set off in combustion, and a rolling blaze turned around it, looking as if it could barely be kept within his control. The human next put this inferno before him, moving his hand a foot front in front of his chest and looking at a very still, very wide-eyed bird between the flames.
“I feel like giving you a warning... Hatate,” he said to the youkai, who listened without budging, “that warning is to not be naive: don’t ever show your weakness to a human, because once they know it they will exploit it.
“Youkai may often be more powerful than humans, and some may also be far more intelligent, but this place is a reserve for a reason. We humans are resourceful. My resource is magic, and I should let you know: I am very proficient with it.”
Hatate’s head was bowed, and she now gripped the shirt before her stomach. Her eyes had gotten to be no less wide. She seemed to realize what her mistake had been in thinking any tengu could lord over any human. In spite of his tendency for sympathy, Gen’s tendency toward the thrill gained from being simply overpowering won out in his heart then, and he fought to suppress a smile. Right now, if the tengu before him attempted escape she would be met with heavy, obfuscating resistance. If she tried to attack him a light would fast seek to blind her. If she moved too quickly for that, his flames would take her wings.
A shudder of satisfaction waved through him as the involuntary smile made its way through to his lips in one of its haughtiest manifestations. Gen finished his words by saying, “I’ll torch you into nothing if you try anything, Hatate. If you don’t want to be put in this predicament again, and value your flesh to not have it skewered through and cooked, then consider my warning well going forward.”
Himekaido Hatate was not used to the outside world.
Slowly, still looking at the dirt beneath her, she made to stand on two of her geta instead of one, then lowered her knees to the dirt. She put her hands onto the road as well, the fingers pointed toward each other, and she lowered her head until her bangs brushed bits of earth away, her twin tails functioning as loose-bristle brooms. Itou Gen stood then before a tengu performing dogeza to him, and the sphere of arrogance inside of his heart split.
“I-I am very sorry, Sir Ge—eh-Itou, I meant you no harm at all, or... or any insult,” Hatate told him, her wings folding into her back. “I am aware that you are... are not from Gensokyo, and so do not have to follow its... i-its new rules, so please don’t exterminate me, as in death.”
He looked on, the fire over his hand curling lightly. Her back shook.
“A-And don’t make me... spill your blood with my hands either... if it comes to that.” She swallowed, and exhaled.
Gen bent to his scroll while she continued to talk, opening his suitcase again.
“In... the current political climate,” she explained, “it would reflect very poorly on my society if I harmed you, even if you are an outsider.”
He wrote a spiral on to sheet and “tied” it to the primary magical circle, taking from his suitcase a heavy, round stone. He closed the case, and put the stone upon the spiral.
“I deeply apologize. I sincerely apologize. Please reconsider your... your... your...... threats...”
He finished his alteration of the spell with a few runes etched around the stone, stood, spoke only a few words, and thus the luminous curtain above them transformed at once into a light, pleasant rain which fell for only a few seconds. He released the fire about his arm too.
... Now a bit damp, the tengu in front of him had curled into herself, and was presently quivering, quite terrified. “It was just rain,” he told her. “I turned the light into rain.”
“W-What...?” she muttered, her voice thoroughly broken. She threw her head up. “What!? You... You...! Did you... trick me!?”
“If you’re going to follow me,” said Gen, checking the contents of his suitcase for moisture (none!), “I want you to know that I’m not slave to your whims. I’m more than capable of taking down a tengu if they’re as unused to encounters as you... however—” he put a hand to his hip and looked from her eyes “... I didn’t expect such an earnest reaction, and I apologize if I scared you. Murder... even grievous harm is not something I want to partake in.”
Hatate was sat on her knees, her eyebrows clashing against one another, her mouth contorted with frustration. “I knew I shouldn’ta left...” she sniffed, and he looked to see a shimmer in her eyes, “I knew I shoulda just stayed in my room...”
Gen was put in a slight panic, watching a young (-looking, at least) girl struggle against tears he had caused. There was something joyful about putting a youkai beneath his foot with magic ordinarily, but there wasn’t any satisfaction without a sense of a fight or defiance as here. There was no glee to be derived from making another person genuinely fear death or consequence, especially not for simply, rather politely, making a request. All he’d done was bully someone... youkai or not... and that made him now rather darkly muddled.
“Y-Your room?” he asked eventually, lifting his hands a bit in front of himself, to grasp at nothing. “A shut-in? Y-You’re a shut-in!?”
“I left, didn’t I...!? I’m... just as good!” she insisted, water now at the edge of her eyelids.
He hesitated, conflicted as to whether he should approach the girl or not. To do so would be to mark down another moment worthy of his Master calling him a fool again. Demonstrating sympathy to a powerful monster... was not a good idea. Again, a kappa was one thing, but...
“Don’t you know how crazy things get here!? The insane abilities and powers and threats on the Mountain, off the Mountain—this whole places sucks! I figured out how to live without worrying about... about ANY of it, okay!?” she shouted. Her voice then quieted as she followed her outburst with, “That’s right... I figured it out... Why did I think I should come see you...?”
Gen looked on miserably while Hatate became miserable, gazing bitterly at the backs of her hands.
After a moment, the Magician’s Apprentice began to sneak sideways until he was parallel with the left of the girl’s body. Though warning alarms blared in his head that he should get away, the inside of his chest whined stronger than that with guilt. Arguably dauntless, he slowly approached her trembling form very carefully while she spoke to herself under her breath over and over. He gradually understood her saying, “... go home... wanna go home... wanna go home...” to herself in a mantra that seemed familiar.
... The Wizard of Oz? he speculated accurately. Did she...?
Come across the film?
Watch it, and believe it?
Believe in the power of wishes... and thus wish so dearly for home now in this moment of anguish, anger, and ashamedness, red shoes or no?
Sadly, yes to all.
He held his breath, set his resolve, and put both his hands on top of Himekaido Hatate’s head, avoiding her tokin.
[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6yZBAgkVLY ]
[Atatakana Kokoro - Rozen Maiden Original Soundtrack (Mitsumune Shinkichi)]
“...” He stayed, keeping a wide stance. The crow stopped shaking.
“D... Do you have a death wish?” asked Hatate, turning to try to look at him. He pushed down on her hair. “H-Hey!”
“Have you calmed down?” he asked warily.
He rubbed her head a bit, frowning. “Then, I’ll say I’m sorry again,” he announced. “I’m not doing this for any other reason than I’d rather... not be mean, I suppose. I don’t want someone feeling awful because of my words or actions... usually. For the most part.”
He bent down and put his right hand over her shoulders, his left hand on her left arm. He moved to pick her up. “Don’t worry,” he said, “you’ll be fine. Worst that can happen to a tengu nowadays is a nonlethal bullet. Well, a lot of them, and some torn up clothes, but that’s all. Come on, stand up, stop sniffling.”
She eventually managed to stand to his height (as afforded by the teeth of her shoes), and he saw that her nose and the skin beneath her eyes had become rosy in complexion. He still kept presence of mind to attempt escape if need be... but prioritized being gentle with this evidently fragile girl, easing her of her anxiety.
“... So this is why,” Hatate muttered.
“Hm? What’s what?” he asked, but apparently the words had been meant to be quieter than she’d managed.
Her response was a slight-stammered, “N-Nothing,” before she told him, “I guess I should just go now...”
“Nah, come on: be a reporter, right? When are you going to publish what write about me anyway? If you were thinking ‘soon’ I was going to... not be kind at all about that suggestion.”
“A compilation... eventually... I’d let you know... Um, sorry, let me go now please.”
He did, stepping back as well and leaving his hands aloft. Hatate coughed into her hand.
“Sorry,” she said again. “I’ve... I’ve been inside a long time. I guess I got... overconfident.”
“How old are you?” he asked her, heedless of the problems such a question delivered to Japanese women.
“I’m... not old for a tengu,” she said. Hatate breathed in slowly, then long out, and slapped twice at her face lightly. “Okay... Okay...! Yeah! Yeah, I’ll report on you! Document you!” she said, looking at him with much of her zeal returned, uncaring of how unflattering her bout of tears had made her face.
“Alright, super,” he said, giving her a thumb’s up. He started walking backward toward the forest and said, “but wait there first, because I can’t let you follow me here.”
“H-Hey! Wait—what!?” she snapped, pointing at him and becoming entirely flustered. “You just told me to be a reporter!”
He turned his back to her now, hoping she’d understand it as a sign of trust. “Be a good one,” he said, waving a hand once in a goodbye as he moved into the thicket, “listen to the wishes of your subject. Honestly, it’s not my place to let a youkai follow me to the person I’m going to see today.” He looked back at her with a small smile on his lips. “Tell you what,” he said, “I’ll ask her if she’s cool with you being there some other time. If she says yes, that’ll be an exclusive.” He looked back into the forest.
He didn’t. “Talk to you later, Hatate. Here—” he took from his suitcase a small piece of parchment with spellwork inscribed very similar to that which had been used on his letter to his parents,“—write on this and draw a small circle if you want me to read it.”
Gen enchanted the paper with direction, and let it go so it would fly to Hatate’s hand. The tengu took it, eyeing it in total confusion. With that, he parted from her, relieved that that hadn’t gone near as poorly as it could’ve.
In the search for Mokou’s house
 Wander aimlessly.
 Attempt to figure out paths from evidence of animals.
 Attempt to logically, carefully explore the Bamboo Forest of the Lost.