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Morichika Rinnosuke sat in his store (it was a store, he insisted), considering closing early for the day. It was perhaps four of five in the afternoon-going-on-evening, the clocks in his store (he insisted) were all misaligned, but vaguely within the same hour or two. Regardless, it was business as usual, and he’d reached a fairly good part in the book he was reading. It would be a shame if he had a customer’s arrival spoil that. He’d have to greet them, see to their needs... He thought to put out a sign.
“Mm, let’s do that,” he muttered to himself. He stood up, putting his book face-down on the counter and stepping back to begin navigating his network of goods to reach the main area of his store.
The alleged store, Kourindou, was at first glance, and any subsequent, upon a cursory look-over and closer evaluation, even upon the most thorough scrutiny... a nightmare of items, of all shapes and sizes. It was the home of, seemingly, the proverbial collector bird that was compelled to gather anything that shined (or really, as was clear in the somewhat small confines of the place: anything “novel”). It was the nest of, apparently, a rodent with a similar habit. Were an outsider to walk inside, they would recognize perhaps seventy-five percent of the items as familiar but... old. Kourindou was a store of artifacts, and its proprietor gathered these artifacts (from within and without Gensokyo) with complete zeal. He had a reason, an open one which he advertised, but the establishment maintained a reputation of not being much of a business but more of a... kind of house of curiosities, where one could bother the owner for tea or free, strange items.
It maintained that reputation because the owner, contrary to his protests, often maintained it.
“It’s fine to close up now,” he continued to monologue, “because there were so many parties over this past month. Surely no one in Gensokyo wants to see any more of anyone else after all of that. I’ve certainly had more than enough.”
He made his way to the counter’s end and started to squeeze past a large urn, pausing for a moment as dust tickled his nose and threatened a sneeze.
I’m better than this, he thought, holding back a sneeze and keeping stable with both hands on the pot. He glanced over his wares: the computers, the monitors, the totems, the staffs and glass bottles, the keyboards, the broken instruments, the tools of his own formation... all layered, almost, with a level of dead mites comparable to a fraying, vast blanket.
... Shall I dust tonight?
The entire building shook, and there was an explosive sound just outside his door. On some shelves to his right, porcelain statues threatened to rattle their ways off. He felt his blood drain and thought to move, only to realize the porcelain urn before him was beginning to fall toward the ground.
No! he thought, and he reached to grab at its top and around its side. Sweat on his cheek, panicked, Rinnosuke slowly breathed out through his nose and carefully stood the pottery back up while also putting himself onto his store’s main floor. Kneeling, he told himself that he shouldn’t be so panicked by sudden sounds: this was Gensokyo, and ever since Reimu had instated new rules of battle within it, sounds of fighting had actually become more frequent. His jumping and flinching from the perhaps-danmaku battle outside had nearly cost him a three-hundred year old container of sacred ashes.
That was... assuming the noises outside were danmaku. He could imagine there being exceptions. Standing straight, attempting to steel himself, Rinnosuke slowly, calmly, made his way to his entrance. He pulled the door ajar, and as the bell above jingled its usual sound of entrance or exit, he peaked through the resulting crack to witness the... somewhat expected.
Outside of his (make no mistake) shop was a magician with garb he thought was somewhat familiar, stood with his legs apart, one hand grasping and pulling up on his belt, and his other hand pointing down at what had to be a youkai. There was a little girl with horns below him, grasping at the end of his pants with her eyes shut in pain. A pillar of stone was pressed down on her head, towering well above Kourindou’s height, and perhaps two arm spans wide.
The magician spoke.
“Wait until tonight!” he yelled. “You can do that, can’t you!?”
“Nngh... augh...” the other youkai moaned. Squinting, Rinnosuke realized that she, too, looked rather familiar. He thought back on why that might be, holding his chin while the girl continued to hold the young man’s pants.
The young man growled, shook his head, and knelt before the other youkai. He reached toward her left cheek, looking rather annoyed. “Here,” he said (and at this point, the youkai opened her eyes), “this is what you want, right?”
Rinnosuke slammed his fist down onto his palm. “Ibuki-douji!” he said in a hushed voice. “I’ve seen those horns before! I’m sure of it!”
The two youkai flinched, the male of the two moving his face back from hers and looking petrified. He peeked up from under the brim of his hat to the sign of the establishment he apparently hadn’t realized he’d stopped before.
“Kou... rin... dou...” the man read. He looked at the proprietor, who was thinking over details of the Ibuki-douji legend and comparing them to what he could see of the pinned down youkai. “Mister... Rinnosuke?” he ventured.
“Y—Yeah, that’s him,” said Ibuki-douji... the oni... as she let go of the boy’s clothes and harbored a heavy blush on her face. An oni in Gensokyo... thought Rinnosuke, There’s no way, right? They’ve been gone for longer than I’ve been alive. Much longer, in fact.
He got his bearings again; he stood up straight behind his door as the magician dispelled his earth and patted the oni off, carefully helping her up. What a curious relationship, Rinnosuke observed before coughing once into his fist. “Ahem,” he began, “yes, my name is Morichika Rinnosuke, and this is the store ‘Kourindou’. I’ll have to ask that if you wish to do business here, I cannot allow any fighting within the store.” Feeling a bit more confident with the two now standing up outside of his establishment, Rinnosuke fully opened his door. “Do you wish to do business? If so, welcome, but do keep in mind that I intend to close soon so if you’d please...”
He stopped. The magician wasn’t a youkai. In the chaos and confusion that was the pair’s arrival his eyes seemed to have missed the truth of the matter. That, and now it was obvious that no youkai energy was coming off of the human dressed in lavender and blue. The human, kneeling now and rubbing Ibuki-douji’s head with his bushy eyebrows furrowed, was somebody he’d heard of, in fact.
“Yes, sorry,” said the human, now looking his way but not ceasing the easeful motion of his hand, “I apologize for causing a disturbance outside of your store... We got carried away. Sorry.”
“It’s alright, this is Gensokyo; I understand,” Rinnosuke answered. “However... Gen, I want to be absolutely clear that you will have to buy whatever it is you need from my establishment. If you understand that, please come in. Humans and youkai are both welcome at Kourindou.”
Itou Gen was somebody he’d expected to eventually meet, if only because he was a human living at the same mansion as a certain maid. The Mistress of that mansion was unreasonable, and he’d long now wagered that the magician in their library had to be as well. According to Marisa, this young man worked for that magician. He didn’t know much else beyond that, but it was enough...
Enough to know some recompense could be had at that estate’s expense.
Gen stood and gave Ibuki-douji a questioning look while pointing Rinnosuke’s way. He received a shrug in return, before the oni looked to where he was pointing, waited for the owner to go inside, and beckoned the human to her level, whereupon she took his lips.
[ ♫: https://picosong.com/w6a82/ ]
[月のワルツ [カラオケ] - 月のワルツ (諫山実生)]
Inside, Rinnosuke walked to his counter and waited. He wondered how he could get back at the mansion for the destruction of his property. Earlier in the year, the head maid of Scarlet Devil Mansion, Izayoi Sakuya, had come to meet and baffle him, starting a series of events that ended with his stock taking a definitive loss. He had nothing against this new fellow, but if he could get rid of some junk at a high price then, well, he could consider that a debt repaid (and air easier to breathe).
He turned as he heard the pair’s approaching footsteps. The magician took off his hat and looked around. The oni looked at the magician’s free hand, and, squirming a little, began touching a few of her fingers together absently.
“Do you have something already in mind?” Rinnosuke asked.
“No, unfortunately,” Gen answered with a smile. He looked around just a bit more, noting after: “Huh... it really is filled with outside world goods.”
The proprietor nodded. “Yes. Are you familiar with outside world objects?”
Gen thought about that, answering, “Yeah, I am,” with a nod after a moment.
“A fellow collector?” asked Rinnosuke, a bit excited.
“I’m just familiar, sorry to say,” answered Gen with an apologetic smile.
“What’s this? It looks like if you poked it just slightly you’d break it.”
Rinnosuke turned his eyes to Ibuki-douji, who had a finger raised tentatively over a short box with the figure of a frill-skirted dancer posed atop it. Though the box was open, its contents were still blocked from sight so the dancer might have a floor. Rinnosuke looked at it, looked at the oni, and told her, “It’s called a ‘music box’. One of those rare names that tells you everything you need to know.”
“It can play music? What? But there’s no... eh, mouth? Or strings, or a hollow body... Nothing for sound to come out of.”
“I’ve stocked a few of these before. Inside, there’s a small instrument that... if you spin that bit on the side around a little, a small, bump-filled cylinder will rotate afterward, each bump plucking at the instrument inside to make music.”
“No way!” Ibuki-douji picked it up and began winding it immediately, the figure on top turning as a click, clicking sounded. The two men eyed the oni warily, both looking as if they wanted to explain that not much winding was necessary. She let go of the diamond-shaped knob on its side before they could interrupt, and watched with a pair of wide eyes as the dancer slowly spun in place, and a song (one from, if he recognized it correctly, Spain) began to prettily play. Her mouth spreading wide into a smile, Ibuki-douji cried, “This’s crazy! How’d you humans even think of this!?”
“Well, I’m not entirely human, nor did I invent the music box of course,” he replied. He walked over toward her, “I understand these were invented rather recently, if we’re considering the entirety of history. They’ve been around for only two hundred years.”
“Yes.” He nodded. The oni showed her smile to him, and its brightness made him wince.
“You got any others!?” she shouted.
He nodded again. “Yes. Are you interested in buying them?”
“Yeah, yeah, of course, lemme see some more!” she insisted. Rinnosuke frowned, looking at her suspiciously... but ultimately recalled, oni were not known to lie. Business was business...
“I’ll get some of the hand-operated ones from the back,” he said, and he went to do just that.
“Hey, Gen! These are awesome! Look, look!”
Rinnosuke glanced over his shoulder, seeing the oni holding the box in both of her hands and chortling mirthfully, her eyes fully closed.
The human answered, “You mean listen?” The oni frowned, and told him to shut up. Rinnosuke turned away.
“Your Mistress would find these interestin’, right?”
“I don’t know how else to say this but... music boxes are common enough that I’m sure Mistress Remilia has several... Ahh, Miss Suika, don’t look so devastated. I like them, see?”
Those two are very peculiar, he thought to himself as he stepped into the even-more-stuffed realm of his store’s back storage area. He stepped carefully through narrow paths of somewhat random making, looking for where he kept the music boxes he’d collected. So that vampire mistress wants something “interesting”. Poor fellow, I think I can understand why meeting that request can’t be easy.
He stopped in front of a metal and leather-bound chest.
What should I do, then? Something the vampire would like...
As he opened the chest and looked for things to satisfy the oni’s curiosity, he considered also the blood-sucking oni’s curiosity. The item would be important, certainly... but what would really matter would be how he spun its value. If this Gen was anything like the other residents of Scarlet Devil Mansion, he was likely fairly intelligent... but not infallible. More importantly, he’d have some sort of ridiculous way of thinking. He seemed to be a partner of some kind with a genuine oni, for one. Perhaps if the shopkeeper could impress the magician well enough, the oni would see him as trusting and so might share some of the secrets of her kind’s spectacular tools... Once more, he found himself getting excited. This could be an exceptional chance.
With a few music boxes selected, Rinnosuke put a thumb to his chin and a hand on his hip.
What could he try to sell?
 Something cheap from the outside world. If Gen was well-versed in the outside world, he might actually need less convincing than with another item for sale.
 Something cheap from Gensokyo. With an oni around, and one the human trusted so well, he could have the elder youkai potentially corroborate whatever explanation he game.
 Something expensive from the outside world. Something Rinnosuke was convinced would be worth something. This was a rare opportunity, after all. Retribution could wait.
 Something expensive from Gensokyo. Something Rinnosuke was convinced would be worth something. This was a rare opportunity, after all. Retribution could wait.