Curse and Wood Anonymous 2014/01/07 (Tue) 21:16 No. 1499 ▼
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"Come on! Push harder! We're almost out!"
I strained against the wood cart, trying my hardest to push it out of a deep patch of snow. Gensokyo was beautiful in every season, but winter brought with her a heavy blizzard this year. Traveling by road was a difficult prospect but I had a delivery to make.
"You know, you could- help," I grunted at the lazy goddess sitting in my cart. Hina Kagiyama sat bundled up in warm furs, wrapped up in her own sense of superiority.
"It was your terrible luck that handed landed us in this mess, Reina, so you're going to get us out of it!"
"Terrible luck that you could rid me of within an instant, yet you refuse to."
"Well, if I were to rid you of your curse, then I'd lose my locus, and our little contract would be broken, now wouldn't it, Reina? And here I believed you to be an honest craftsman."
"Oh that's a load of bol- Just help me push Hina. Please?" I pleaded with her. This was going no where. The delivery was due at the Scarlet Devil Mansion tonight, and it was long road from my home to the village, and then through the woods to the Misty Lake.
"My my, asking a goddess to do such menial work, Reina?"
"Very well, I suppose you'll be unable to fulfill our contract if you fail the delivery. Stand back Miss Roots. I'll use some of the pitiful reserves of faith that still remain to save you from your menial task."
"I-uh-you don't have to go that far!" The cart wasn't into deep, just a single wheel had dug itself into the snowbank. I'd get it out eventually. Hina needed every last bit of faith she had left to keep her health.
"I am the Curse Goddess, Hina Kamigaya! And I've made my choice Miss Roots!" The goddess stood, pointing a finger at me. I felt a gust of wind as magic picked up around us, and the cart lifted itself out of the snow, and gently began to roll ahead. Hey… wait a minute, "and if you wish to keep in my cart, I suggest you catch up!"
"Your cart!?" I shouted, running after my cart. This goddess. She'll be the end of me yet, if my curse didn't end things first.
I've always been unlucky. A curse that had plagued me since the day I was born. Bad luck followed me around like a dark cloud, always there to send everything to Hell at the worst moment. I could do everything right, play the hand perfectly, and yet everything would fall apart at the last moment. The curse of Reina Roots: a carpenter, restorer, all around young woman trying to make her living in a fantasy land. And get laid.
It was six months ago, in the heavy summer heat that I found my self contracted to the Curse Goddess. It was routine job for the Moriya. Sanae needed a dresser fixed and had brought it to me. I'd repair it, bring it back to them, and be payed a monetary sum in the currency of my choosing. On the way back, I stepped out to water the horses at a tributary to the waterfall, and when I returned to my cart, and what do I find? A green haired woman in a frilly dress sitting atop my cart, proclaiming her self to be Curse Goddess of Gensokyo. Specifically, I learned, a goddess who felt that Gensokyo had moved on, and with the few reserves of faith she had left, wished to leave, and start over elsewhere.
"I can only attach myself to locus of extraordinary misfortune. A goddess is tied to her locus, and our influence is limited to its location. To leave Gensokyo, I'd have to leave my shrine, and leave my locus." She explained, "But you. You're special. Your luck is terrible. I can just feel the misfortune hanging around you. A miasma. My ticket out of here, so I'll be traveling with you, got it?"
“And what will you give me in return, Miss Kamigaya?” I asked, “I’m sorry, but helping you would eat up a large amount of time. I have my work, my friends, my life. I can’t set it all aside to help a stranger.” I stuffed away the nervousness that threatened to surface. Standing up and talking down an supposed goddess, it was a regular experience for someone like Reimu, but to me, it seemed so daunting, so unusual.
“Hm…” Hina adopted a thoughtful pose, seemingly thinking it over, “How about this Miss Reina.” The goddess bent over, bringing her face close to my own. I felt blood rush to my cheeks as she whispered to me, “I’ll remove that curse of yours, all of it. Let me give you a show.” She placed a finger on my lips, and I felt something leave me. A small cloud of purple smoke was flowing out of me, wrapping its self around Hina’s finger in a small, tight spiral. I felt oddly light, the feeling was feathery, like liquid confidence was swelling up from deep within. “Tell me.” Hina brought the curse cloud near her, sucking it off her finger. She seemed to be beside herself in good feelings. “Do you feel a bit lucky?”
I’d help her find freedom, and she’d free me in return; this was our contract. Whenever I was going by, I'd take her to the Yakumo's, in the mountains past Mayohiga, and then we’d part ways. A simple job; I'd be done within a week, or so I thought. Soon as I had finished up my last job for the week, Gensokyo was hit with a rainstorm that blocked off all travel in mountains, and so two weeks were lost as I waited for waters to drain away. By then, it was late August and the jobs had begun to come in for the season as villagers needed things repaired or created in time for the festivals. I was stuck in the shop with my tools for most days, and my free time was spent negotiating with suppliers and customers as I attempted to secure funds for the upcoming winter.
Week after week, something stopping me from fulfilling the contract, keeping this lazy goddess in my care, and her draining my funds. Hina would sit in my home, reading my books as I worked in the shop; sipping hot cocoa, using my own powder, while I was talking with Kenshiro about getting the right type of lumber to repair the rocking chair I was fixing; or using my food to prepare extravagant feasts at inappropriate times. It was a nuisance to me.
As for the present, the snow storm had made Mayohiga once again inaccessible, and Yukari would only be awake for a small window of time during the winter festivals, for Hina to get her paperwork sorted and be out through the border. Before that though, I needed to get this haul of furniture back to the Scarlets. No matter how I looked at it, the job would be an excellent christmas bonus.
"Tell me again, if you're business is with the Scarlets, why are we stopping at the village?" Hina yawned at me. One of the books I had borrowed from the Scarlets, in lieu of payment lay open in her lap. The road from my home to the village was a sleepy one in the winter time. It winded through a sleeping forest. This low in the valley, there were few pines to break the vast stretches of oaks and their ilk. Just a long road in a eerie forest of grey.
"I need to visit the bank. The last few contracts payed off decently and I need to deposit most of the profits."
"You're not going to hold on to it? Why leave it in others hands?"
"Because the bank is insured. As long as it's in their deposits, I don't have to worry about robbery now do I? The interest, however small, is nice bonus. Not to mention I have to get some of these payments converted to yen." I shook the small bag of coins and notes at my feet. "Human shopkeepers rarely accept youkai currency."
"You humans have different notes? You humans don’t use eagles in the village, like we do on the mountain?”
"Nah. The human village issues its own coins, yen, and notes for larger amounts. Most humans would be loathe to step down and use youkai coins. I imagine it’s the same from the other side as well. Only us merchants really deal with all the different coins.” I cracked the reins. It was a chilly morning and the heavy winter clothes were stiff. Do something, anything, helped relieve the tiredness that came with the weather.
"Well then, tell me about it. I’ve haven’t been able to leave my shrine in years, you know.” Hina stretched her arms, holding them above her head. My eyes couldn't help but be drawn to her chest. Even under the heavy winter coat I had bought her, a real warm one made with down that I bargained down to a good price, I could see the curves of her breasts underneath. Her bow that tied together her hair lay right between them. "Reina? You're staring. Something wrong?"
"I-I was just looking at your bow! It's really pretty you know! And large, and soft!" I flicked my ponytail back, looking away.
"Oh is that it?" She was smirking. I could feel it. "Is my bow that interesting? I could give you one. I'm sure I have a spare." She knew. "Or perhaps, you'd like something else pretty for Christmas, Reina~"
"About them coins! Well, to really get a handle of it, you'd have to understand the structure of Gensokyo!" Smooth. Excellent change of topic, you tell yourself. "Gensokyo, because of its small size, is easily reigned by economics. Every powerful faction keeps its own bank and currency and controls the market in some way. Or they have a large amounts of resources and invest them to gain power. The human village, the kappa, the ten gu, the oni, and the merfolk kingdom fall within the former. Powerful families like the Yakumos, the Scarlets, and Eientei fall in the later. The factions that are large enough to support their own governments, they're print and manage their own coinage and are competing with each other for investments and business around Gensokyo."
"Youkai Mountain… That's primarily Tengu territory, isn't it? I've bought and traded with the long nosed merchants for generations. Human's never really did come our way." Hina had fished out a silver coin from the folds of her dress. I recognized it as a Tengu eagle, silver.
"Mhm, most of the mountain is strictly their sphere of influence." I rattled off to her, "Youkai societies have always been secretive and closed. Even today, it takes a long time to get a visa to enter Tengu territory. Not to mention protective. The village is rather apt at taking on any sort of industry and turning profit out of it. The tengu, like the other youkai, like their stronghold on their niche markets. You know, like how the kappa deal mostly with technology and the oni with alcohol and metal working? The tengu don't want to loose their hold on luxury and artisan goods."
"Hey, wait a minute!" I looked over at my companion. She had taken out another of my books and was flipping through it. "You're just paraphrasing your books! Most of that is from Gensokyo, A History!"
"They had this book back when Gensokyo was still a valley in the outside world!" Was she dog-earing that! Woman had no idea how to treat a classic! “That Heida girl was a great historian but wow, she was a terrible writer.”
"I'll have you know it's a very informative text!"
"And boring! You must be the only person who's actually read it, Reina!" Hina’s laughter pierced the still winter air, "Come on. Tell me. What's up with all the economic books? It's all I've seen you reading in the last few months."
"Well. It's not much of a story. I just… wanted to do better for myself. Who knows how long till you rid me of this curse. And then? I still have my entire life before me. I want to improve my home some more, expand my shop, and so many other things. Fault me for wanting to understand a little more how the markets in my home work."
"It's a commendable goal. Quick! Quiz time!" Hina grabbed another tome from my safe box and flipped to a random page, "How many rin in a sen and how many sen in a yen!"
"Easy. Ten to one, and hundred to one respectively." I cracked the reigns harder. She'd have to try harder than basic knowledge for a human. The village shouldn't be to far now. We'd reach by about mid-day.
"Alright then. Reina, name the major currencies and societies in Gensokyo."
"Again, easy. Humans have the yen, the tengu have their eagles, the oni call their's caps, the kappa use shells, and the the merfolk use reeds. The conversion rate from yen to the others is ten to one, one to four, five to one, and one to three. With a relatively stable political environment and a stable supply and demand, they rarely change. Do I get extra-credit for that?"
A whack on my head was her response. "I am Hina! The Curse Goddess! And I will not take cheek from a young girl like you!"
"I'm twenty-four! That's not young at all!" I lived in a country with ancient youkai that were alive far before I was born. Twenty four was nothing!
"I guess you're serious about this economics thing then?" Hina had closed the tome she had been skimming, "Really trying to make a better future for yourself?"
"If I wasn't, I wouldn't be taking books from the library as payment for my services to the Scarlets." It was nearing noon as we were approached the Village walls. I pulled the cart over to a customs booth and fished out my papers for the officer.
"Hello there, Miss Roots." A red-headed woman took the documents from me, "Any business in the village today? Or are you and your party only passing through?"
"Kotohime! Why are you out here today? Don't you always say the desk job keeps you busy?" I asked her. The chief of police was known for being an air-head but she was Reimu's main liaison for dealing with the village. Her father was the old-fogie that was the head of the council. Reimu said that he never really did want anything in his jurisdiction to change. Her opinion was that the man had a giant stick up his ass His daughter however, was far more amiable, and held plenty of influence.
"Well, I finally got that last case cleared up, and my partner, you know, that outsider who fancies himself a detective? He's busy being stuck with home rest after getting himself shot. Again. Considering how busy it gets around the holidays around here, I decided to help out where I could. The secretaries can take care of the paperwork in the office." Kotohime stamped her way through some documents, signing off her approval, and started looking through my cart, "I'll assume these are the parts to the walnut cabinet, the two dressers, and the bookcase you indicated in form W-2? Will you be selling these within the village Reina?"
"Nope. Contract order for the Scarlet Devil, Kotohime. I'll be stopping by the bank though. Need to make a deposit and have some foreign coins exchanged. I might be opening a stall up during the festival though…"
"Well, you won't be paying any taxes on these, but make sure to stop by the courthouse when you set up Reina. I'll help you get those permits sorted out then. Otherwise, your free to go through Miss Roots." Kotohime signed off at the bottom of a page with a large, loopy flourish. I couldn't read her handwriting, but I doubt anyone else could replicate her… unique signature. Most people didn't top their "i" with a little rabbit.
I took the papers back, and stowed them away in the lockbox. I cracked the reins and took us off to the banking district.