, Sekibanki is too adorable to be very effective at .jpg
[x] Rely on Charlotte's faerie charmingness.
Margeroux rubbed her chin. "You're kind of adorable. We could use that to our advantage tomorrow. How do you feel about humans?"
"Dunno the last time I've seen one. They're like bigger faeries but without wings, right?" Even when she was falling asleep, Charlotte's default expression seemed to be a big, beaming smile. Brainless but heartwarming, Margeroux thought.
"Close enough," Margeroux concluded. "We'll see how they respond to your affable nature tomorrow morning." Leaving it at that, she climbed under the blanket next to Charlotte and took on the role of the big spoon.
"Well, good," Charlotte said after a lot of thought.
"My arm's falling asleep already."
"Here." Charlotte shifted, moving Margeroux's arm.
"Yes. Good night."
The pair of them fell fast asleep. Faeries, even the Scarlet Devil Mansion ones, didn't especially need creature comforts. They liked soft clothes and warm beds as much as anyone else, but had no trouble sleeping outside with little more than a blanket.
What they couldn't sleep through was a finger jabbing them in the shoulder. Margeroux was startled awake and squinted as the morning sun hit her in the face. A young girl with a topknot was poking at her as an older woman in neatly-made but boring-looking clothes watched.
"Welcome to the exotic furniture thing," she mumbled, trying to play the saleswoman while she was still waking up. She shook Charlotte's shoulder and watched as she went through the same routine.
"Oh! It's morning," Charlotte said, wings buzzing.
"What're you two doing in the village like this?" the girl asked.
"Selling fine furniture," Margeroux said. She threw the blanket off of her and slid off of the table. "Sorry about that. As you can see, we have a collection of fine foreign furniture, sturdy and beautiful." She grabbed a nearby chair and gestured to it.
"You're faeries," the woman in boring clothes watching them said.
"Nothing wrong with a faerie participating in a free economy, is there?"
"I mean, kind of. This is the first time I've ever seen a fairy selling anything."
"The wares speak for themselves," Margeroux said, hoping Charlotte would join in soon instead of rubbing her eyes and yawning.
"I'll... be right back," the woman said. She put a hand on the kid's shoulder and led her away.
"Phooey. Couldn't reel in our first bite."
"Do they have tea or coffee here? I'm still kinda tired," Charlotte mumbled, sliding off of the table.
"Coffee is for closers. I ain't touching the money Remi left us until we get a sale. Now start lookin' cute."
"Okay!" Charlotte grinned and batted her eyelashes.
Margeroux looked at the streets. The village was still waking up, and most of the stores were still closed, but the few people who were awake and moving had their eyes locked on the Scarlet Exotic Furniture Stand. She resisted the urge to glare at them, and instead backed away and hoped Charlotte would lure someone in. After a minute of waiting, another young kid, a boy with a bald head, broke away from his mother and came close.
"Are you a fairy?" he asked, open-mouthed.
"Yeah!" Charlotte grabbed him in a big hug around his arms. His mother yelped and leaned forward, then froze, watching them closely.
"Do you like furniture?" Charlotte asked, breaking the hug.
"I mean, my dad's got a desk?" He scratched the back of his neck.
"Then he could use one of our fine chairs. Take a seat and see for yourself." Charlotte grabbed the kid again and lifted him into the chair. He swung his legs, shrinking back a little as everyone watched.
"It's... nice?" he said.
"Darn tootin' it's nice," Charlotte said.
The boring-looking woman and the girl with a topknot came running back, someone else following at their side. The new person was tall, dressed in absurdly long, flowing white robes that hid everything about his body, aside from a pale face and short, stiff black hair. He carried a strange staff in one pale hand and an assortment of sacks in the other. The boy slid out of the chair and ran back to his mother.
"Faeries in the village, hmm?"
"Just humble furniture sellers, sir." She was quickly getting tired of this reaction.
"I must ask to examine your wares. Your presence is rather unusual, you see."
"I gathered," Margeroux said, gesturing to the crowd. They were all this close to getting sassed.
"Ah, pardon me. I forgot to introduce myself. I am Hotaru, a shaman and oracle under the patronage of the Hieda household. My presense was requested to ensure that what you have here is not enchanted or cursed in any way. That is all, and then I shall depart."
He moved towards the furniture and was quickly cut off as Charlotte hopped up to eye-level with him. "Hi, Hotaru! I'm Charlotte. Nice to meet you!"
"Yes, it's nice to meet you as well. One moment." He put a hand on top of Charlotte's head and lowered her back to the ground, then leaned over and put his hands on the table.
The faeries watched and waited. Margeroux fidgeted. The idea of the Mistress having hexed furniture sitting around for giggles wasn't unlikely. Hotaru ran his hands over the surface of the table, then leaned over further, his face nearly pressed against it.
"This color and smell. I've never seen it before."
The crowd took a collective step away.
"Ooh, ooh, I know this one!" Charlotte hopped onto the table and laid down to look Hotaru in the face again. "It's red cedar! Remi-- I mean, Lady Remilia made a big deal about it 'cause apparently it's really good wood."
"Yes, I can see that," Hotaru said, pushing Charlotte across the table to get some room.
He reached into one of his pouches and sprinkled some sort of green powder over it, then waited. Nothing happened, so he swept it off, then repeated again with a drop of some black liquid.
"Hey, you stain it, you buy it," Margeroux said.
"Worry not, this is a simple testing fluid. If it stained, then it would mean a poison has seeped into the wood."
"Oh. Then you don't gotta buy it."
Hotaru wiped the fluid up and inspected it. No change in color. He leaned over again and sniffed at the wood, then stood back up, looking satisfied.
"There are no maladies to be found in this furniture," he said.
"Thank you." The woman from before sighed.
Hotaru shuffled away, but the crowd stayed still. After a moment, a man with a long moustache and weird hat stepped forward and was quickly grabbed by his wife, a slender woman in a blue kimono with a sunset design.
"Dear," she said. It was obviously not an affectionate term.
"What? I'm just going to give it a smell. Imagine having a scented desk at the merchant office. It'd be like an aromatherapy technique."
"Hotaru said it's fine, and I trust him."
The woman in the blue kimono grumbled and let go. The moustachioed man walked over and knelt by the table. Seeing that it was safe, more people started to come closer, and a few more got into low-key arguments with their partner.
"Young lady, or fairy, or whatever you prefer to be called. Do you know what wood this is?" a man with a boxy chin and black robes asked, gesturing to a small cabinet.
"That's, um, walnut. It doesn't smell as nice, but it's pretty sturdy. Watch this." Charlotte flew up above the cabinet, then threw herself down and stomped on top of the cabinet. It didn't even budge.
"I'm here to take orders," Margeroux took out her pen and paper. She wasn't sure how much money bought how much stuff around here, but looking at what counted as 'spare change,' she figured she could add three or four zeroes and not be too far off.
"Free hug with every purchase!" Charlotte added.
-------------Earlier that night----------------
The caravan of faeries -- the word 'faerivan' came to Remilia's mind, and she tried very hard to push it out -- made their way back home, travelling much faster with their heavy loads gone, though some of them were beginning to yawn and complain about how late it was.
"I'd be careful if I was you. Evil youkai are attracted by the sound of yawns," Remilia said.
"Really?" one of them squeaked.
It worked well to keep the faeries quiet as they came back to the forest. A few minutes after passing the gnarled patch of trees Remilia blew up earlier, she saw a dot of fire a few feet back. It looked like a fire.
"Sit tight for a moment," she said, and walked after it.
Sure enough, the red-haired girl with the loose head was there, casually toasting acorns over a campfire. She caught a moment's glimpse of someone else, but it became a blur of a white dress and a few kicked-up leaves as whoever it was ran deeper into the forest. There might have been a tail too. It was such a brief glimpse that Remilia couldn't have been sure of much.
"Sorry," the red-haired girl said. "She's awkward around other people, and I kinda told her about how you almost exploded me." The girl sounded bored, as if it was a normal, everyday mistake.
"Oh?" Remilia asked.
"I-I wasn't scared earlier. You just surprised me. I didn't see you at first, and I was going after the faeries." She bristled and tugged at her cape, hiding her black shirt. Her head wobbled slightly with her movements.
[ ] Apologize, even though you aren't especially sorry.
[ ] Introduce yourself to a fellow creature of the night.
[ ] Inform her that the forest will soon be under the authority of the Scarlet Devil Mansion.