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175441 No. 175441
I wrote this as part of a writing month project. I didn't realize it ended up being so wordy, I think it'll be shorter in the following chapters.

I could not have done this on my own. Thank you to all helps I received.
---

Every time I looked into this person in front of me, I never felt like I had anything to write home about, until today.

When then I remember my yesterday’s reading, another thought came across my mind. It was some kind of a newspaper, but it was different from what I receive from my daily Bunbunmaru subscription. In a way, it was sleeker. Full of bright and vivid colors, that seemed to make it more interesting to look forward to than the monotony in the black-and-white sheets of the Bunbunmaru.

Most of what I assume to be the front of the newspaper was occupied by a large picture of a girl, about in her teens. As you flip through pages after pages, there were many more of such images; some more women, some men in very neatly-cut clothes, and what was astonishing was there was a small subset of them wearing garments that were rather bizarre. I saw lots of furs, with collars and chains, and an assortment of other neck ornaments hanging everywhere. It made me think that they were some of the oni or tengu that had separated from their peers (after all, it does happen even here), though still, all of them were much smaller than the girl on the front cover. These pictures extended all the way to the back, covering many pages so there were fewer rooms for texts.

That there was so much space dedicated to those people’s images, it’s really kind of amusing to think on. I wonder if this means they matter a lot to where they all came from. Moreover, I wonder if the girl who pretty much had the front page to herself was some kind of a queen among them. I’m pretty sure if she could surpass even the oni and tengu, she ought to be a very influential person.

“I… really doubt that,” the person in front of me says. Her cheeks creased slightly and her teeth momentarily showed through her lips with the smile she made as she replied.

“Why?” I wondered back to her, although by now she had already returned to re-examining the clipboard she held in front of her. Her maroon eyes move up and down the papers attached to it, delving briefly into a pocket hidden behind a pattern reminiscent of the Seven Stars of the Great Ladle.

“Well,” she successfully finds the pencil inside her pocket and draws it out, scratching away at the clipboard momentarily with it, “for starters, she sounds too young to be a queen.”

“You think so?” I leant forward slightly, readjusting myself on the stool so as to not lose balance. “But it’s definitely easy for youkai to appear younger than they really are. I don’t believe we can take the girl at first glance.”

She tilted back in her chair as she tapped on the clipboard with her pencil, every so often the pencil rushing away on the paper to mark something down. Briefly a flicker of smile and a corner of her mouth drawing up could be seen, however she didn’t even look up to speak.

“What makes you assume she was a youkai?”

“That’s easy,” I said, trying my best to keep my tone level, “it takes a lot to be more revered than even the tengu and the oni. That girl must be extraordinarily exceptional.”

There was a sudden silence that hit the room. The chirping of the few birds outside that twittered to themselves could be heard echoing throughout. The writing hand of the person in front of me had stopped its movement, as she raised her head slightly from its rapt attention on her clipboard, eyebrows tilting as she looked over to face me.

The silence hung there for a while, until it finally passed as her words slowly came out, “considering… that she was pictured on a newspaper from the outside world,” she bluntly revealed the fact, her attention returning to her clipboard. “Wouldn’t it make more sense to assume that she was a human?”

“That isn’t necessarily so,” as I talked I realized I was gesturing slightly with my hands, rolling them forwards with my points or opening them wider on some facts.“Didn’t we recently have an influx of youkai coming from the outside world? Not everyone there has to be humans.”

The woman in front of me let out a slight rush of air from her nose, accompanied by a tone that was so brief and sudden it had to have been a laugh, despite her mouth staying closed and her attention staying focused on her clipboard. As I placed my cheek in one of my hands to rest it on, I noticed my own mouth had turned up slightly at the edge.

She flipped through the pages attached to her clipboard, folding each on in turn to the side before folding them back. While still holding the pencil she took from the pocket on the blue-and-red symmetrically dichromatic outfit she wore, she softly tapped her fingers on the board.

Her clothes always reminded me of something like the inside of a marble, as if someone had taken the center out and made it into cloth which in turn created this piece. It's a fancy outfit, that’s for certain, but in a different sense than the outfits the people pictured in that newspaper wore. Theirs were very elaborate, while hers is much more due to its unique coloring and patterns. I do however think that it matches finely with the way she makes her hair.

“Well, alright, I was only fooling around,” I say, which managed to get the person in front of me to raise her head once again from the clipboard. "Though I was thinking quite a bit, about how it must feel to be pictured like that." Her position had now shifted to be much better for facing me directly, though her gaze still occasionally shifted down to the clipboard. "You would think it’d be pretty nerve-wracking, unless you’re someone with the natural charm to give you the confidence to do so. Someone like the Princess.”

"The Princess certainly has the qualities for that,” she stated with directness.

"Yeah," I said, sighing slightly under my breath and trying my best not to roll my wrists, "she sure is beautiful, though I don't think you'd look bad at all there either, Ms. Yagokoro."

"Oh?" she asked shortly. The slip of name I spoke of would happen to be this woman’s family name.

I always thought that name sounded impressive, as if august, even if unusual. Likewise when I heard of her first name, Eirin, it was similarly odd, but at the same time I thought it was beautiful.

Right now, Eirin Yagokoro sat there, her back facing towards a large cabinet filled with what I assume to be mounds of reports or batches of pre-made medicines. Eirin’s eyes were closed, her mouth forming an unnervingly slight smile. Her face unchanging, she followed up on what she had started, "but who was it that said my hair looks like a loaf?"

"Ahaha...” strangely, I felt something crawling through my body, “did Reisen tell you that?"

Looking back to myself shuffling through the pages of yesterday's newspaper, I had seen one particular page that contained several cooking recipes. The foods looked pretty exotic to me; they were obviously not Eastern foods, but it's not like I'm not accustomed to those. In fact some of the cuisines I've been trying out lately were very much that, especially various kinds of pastries.

One kind of the loafs I’d had was swirly, around the size of a finger roll. It'd have sausages inside of it, while the bread wraps around it in twisted layers. If I had to say, it’d be similar to the long, dangling braid of the woman in front of me. If you think about it like that, I guess it does make her head the sausage doesn’t it? If I had to explain the white coloring of her hair too, I’d say it was sweetener, powdered all over the sausage bread.

I wonder if a pastry so crispy and meaty would mix well with caster sugar. The sweet powder might even be as powdery as the ones used with mochi making. That’s what I mentioned to Reisen too. I guess the joke between us didn't last a secret for very long.

I could tell that just by looking at what I saw at the moment. Eirin was there, motionless as she stared at me, an eerie grin remaining on her face.

"Sorry," I did my best to hide my smile, waving my hands lightly before my face as an act of mock defense.

No. 175442
File 138438813164.jpg - (46.75KB , 325x600 , PMiSS_reisen.jpg ) [iqdb]
175442
Silence drifted over the room again, stifling the air in a far less sudden manner than the last one. I fiddled with my own fingers in the quiet, gazing around to the sides of the room. At points my eyes fixed on sources of sound, like the creak of frames or floorboards. Sometimes there would come a patter on the wood as something small hopped along them. That must be the rabbits.

I wonder why, of all things, mochis are popular with rabbits.

I really think mochis are delightful too. I should ask Reisen sometimes about it.

"But now that you mention that,” a few words idly escaped my mouth, “it does make me hungry."

I glance back over to her and look for a reaction. My voice seemed to have passed by Eirin with little effect, aside from a nod. I feel her attention was possibly lost by now. Her focus returned to her paper, though her eyes moved less, rather than scanning it for anything of note it was more like she was looking to the floor, her gaze phasing through the board as if it was transparent.

I’m long used to this feeling of detachment that comes from her.

I always thought she seemed like she had a world of her own that I could never know. Something that would explain everything about her circumstances. Something I’d come to assume centered upon her great wisdom as a human being. Why does she live here in the middle of a bamboo forest. How could an entire herd of youkai seem to serve her in a manner akin to underlings.

I was already used to having that without questions.

There was a small clatter as Eirin placed her pencil on the desk. She let out a slight but visible breath, before she looked up to face right at me.

“It’s not getting better.”

The tone in her speech came out clear.

I'm sure that my parched eyes are mirroring the same gaze she was giving me. Gradually, the candid words that were let out dissipated into the afternoon air.

Every time I looked into this person in front of me, I never felt like I had anything to write home about.

But today, the sight of the doctor's long and braided hair made me wonder about various kinds of pastries.

I think back to a certain object I have back home. The stone oven stood amidst the grass and flowers of our garden. It’s been many years since Sakaki and I built the oven, just the two of us. It's relatively easy to use, but certainly, to bake any sort of bread would take quite some time.

I don’t think it’s night outside yet, but it’ll most likely be by the time I return home.

If I can’t do it today, I guess I can leave it for tomorrow.

"Maybe I'll go bake some loafs, when I get home."

We really spent a lot of our time talking about nothing.

I guess it's a slow day at this clinic as well.

***

Season 128, Shimotsuki

On my way to leave, a familiar figure came bounding up to me.

"Oh, are you finished with the check-up, Ms. Kamo?"

I sigh, feeling my eyebrows knotting up. With eyes half-shut, I turned to face her, "Geez, haven’t I said before? You can call me by my first name. I did so for you already.

You didn't forget right? It was..."


[ ] (enter your name)
No. 175444
[X] Sol 'Nova' Pulsar
No. 175445
So, we're playing a widow? It all sounds like a moe anime, but with middle aged women.

In that case...

[x] Tsumugi. Mugi, to your friends.
No. 175468
[x] Kazuko
An old-fashioned name popular in Japan from (at least) 1935 to 1955.
No. 175472
[x] Kazuko

It fits more than >>175444.

Does our character here have a disease or condition of some sort? I noticed Eirin mentions “It’s not getting better” and the words after imply that the air between Eirin and our character gets more serious.
No. 175477
>>175472
One of the many maladies of old age. Does it matter which one, exactly?
No. 175486
[x] Kazuko


>>175477
I don't know. Maladies of age aren't something you'd expect to get better. It's more like you're old and you only get older. That's just the way it is.

It's more likely that it's something that could be cured, but isn't being very cooperative.
No. 175542
[x] Kazuko

This seems different.
No. 175584
[x] Tsumugi. Mugi, to your friends.
No. 175604
File 138463817991.jpg - (50.03KB , 400x225 , 400px-BambooForestOfTheLost.jpg ) [iqdb]
175604
Answers are within the story.
---

[x] Kazuko

There was nothing but the bamboo forest, parted to either side of us as we walked down the path steadily.

I was well aware that, for some unfortunate souls, those walls had truly led them on forever.

Eternally, until they finally fell in and swallowed them.

Still, I'm pretty confident I will see the end of this road.

Just in time to have my dinner at home.


…in a bit.

“Kazuki?”

While it’s certainly true that I’m clutching my chest at the moment, that doesn’t mean I’ll be firing an alchemic weapon out of it anytime soon.

“Sorry, I mean, Kazuko?”

Reisen called out to me, apparently not having a scar mysteriously appear across her face. At the very least, her long, moonlight white ears have not been lost, and still stick out noticeably.

Even though I think those leporine ears of hers are nowhere near the most unusual things she has going for her, I can’t deny that they’re definitely eye-catching. If there was someone looking for her who only knew her by name, I bet they’re like two big fluffy flags for them saying “Hey! I’m the Reisen you want! I can tell you that there’s no other Reisens on earth who has these ears! If you’ve come to exchange blows with me then you better hurry up while I still have these ears!"

“You fool, Shirousagi. You knew that I had been wandering the land to kill you yet you turned back and faced me yourself.”

A cold wind blew as the two gazed into one another. Quietly, the swordsman placed his hand on the sheath of his sword. In his eyes the flames of hatred began to burn, ever so fiercely as rage and anguish continued to fuel his very soul. Unable to contain his fury anymore, he cried out with bile lacing his every words…

“Now! The blood of my brother will be avenged!

Prepare yourself! Shirousagiiiii!”

The lady warrior stood firm. Against the charging swordsman before her, the brave woman was unperturbed. Faith in her chosen path had given her the determination to look towards tomorrow. Courage long-instilled in her heart, she opens her mouth to yell with all of her might!!

“This is the fate of those who slay others! I have no regrets! Come!”

With an amazing leap, the two drew their swords in an instant. There was a sudden roaring sea wave that came out of nowhere despite the duel happening on land. Sparks and echoes flew as the two blades danced around the other, each are like destiny, because destiny is important, or something. Like that, the curtain rose for the tale of Shirousagi, warrior of the white-furred ears.


Shirousagiiiii! I mean, if they waited too long her ears might just fall off and she’d turn into an ordinary samurai! So—! Hold on, where was I? My hand clutched around my chest tighter reflexively. Oh, right, agonizing pain.

“Yes?"

“Should we stop?”

Reisen was much closer to me, her hands hovering close by, on the off chance my legs gave way. I could see five digits on those hands, a pale tone on her skin that looks a bit murkied from our travel in the forest, and possibly the various works she had to do every day.

She looks human in every way, the only real difference being her rabbit ears. Well, a lot of girls also can’t look quite so cute after working so much. Still, she’s not unusual with her human appearance. I suppose in a simple term, I’ve seen others like her; others who weren’t humans, but had the looks to fool one.

“I’m fine,” my hand finally came loose from my chest. A few deep breaths, and I turned and nodded to Reisen, straightening myself up. Shortly after, we resumed, walking.

I’m still young, to do other than this would be to give up on that.
No. 175605
File 138463825372.jpg - (260.56KB , 650x813 , 54b47c4d7e6ffc12e99820e44edca481.jpg ) [iqdb]
175605
The green curtains continue to move by, prong by prong, as we went along the path. There were rustles of wind and life among the waves, but otherwise it was quiet except for the clicks of Reisen’s shoes. The chestnut-colored shoes she wear, and indeed her clothes in general, grabbed my eye. Cut carefully with a white shirt underneath, so similar to the clothes worn by the men in the newspaper yesterday.

Well, her short red skirt is something of her own, but that only adds further to how odd her outfit is, that it would not even fit with the outside world that I know.

“So... the doctor figured out what I said about her hair.”

“Really?” Reisen ceased occasionally glancing over to me and now looked straight at me. Even in the fading light, her eyes seemed to shine their red hue. “She never said anything to me.” She seemed almost surprised to not have been told off. They really must work her hard.

“Was-it-you?” I sung, my voice echoing slightly with the rises and falls of the notes.

“I didn’t,” her long purple hair shimmered in the twilight sun as it waved with her head’s movements. “I doubt it'd be one of the Earth rabbits either, well, except for her. You know who. If you want a culprit, she's someone much more prone to eavesdropping and spreading annoyance,” her chest heaved slightly.

"I know, was just having a little fun," I laughed a little after that. I felt flares of pain in my chest doing so but, it was worth it.

Reisen only smiled, her free arm kept close to her body. Her other hand was clenched tightly to the straps that held her wooden box of medicines and tinctures upon her back. Her gaze stayed on the leaves ahead.

'Earth rabbits' huh?

That's another thing about her that struck me. I heard that, on the moon, there's a civilization that far surpasses ours here on Earth.

And I heard that, Reisen came here from the moon.

I've heard of them too, legends of rabbits on the moon. Everything about it fits together pretty well, but there are still many things I didn't know.

Reisen never did answer my questions clearly.


Between the two green walls of leaves and cane, I could see the moonlit outline of the village drawing closer.

Walking had made those last few parts take so much longer, compared to how we were flying when we first left.

Yet Reisen had stayed by me, step by step.

She really is an odd youkai.

***

"Funny huh?" I muttered suddenly, as the path began to lit up from the torches of houses.

"Hmm?" Reisen’s head barely twitched as she replied.

The grasses in the empty farmlands rustled as we passed into the village. "How walking could be both more exhausting… and less so."

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a sliver of a smile on Reisen’s face. The pain in my chest that had forced us to land in the first place was now mostly gone, and my pace had increased a little over hers. Without it around, I feel much more energetic than when we were in the forest, although walking too much would likely just tire me out again.

The fresh scent of autumn grasses began to fade as the warm, bustling scenery of night in the village drew closer. Past the lanterns hanging on the houses at the edge, I stopped, spinning on my heel slightly to face her. "Thanks. Still time for you to set up shop, huh?”

"Yeah, I think I have time to arrange the inventories properly. You'll be heading straight home then?" As she asked me this, she lifted the straps on her backpack a little, loosening her shoulders before lowering them again, the bottles inside tinkling a little.

“Well…”

[ ] Head straight home. Sakaki must be worried.
[ ] Bother Reisen a bit more.
No. 175607
It might have come out a worse mess than I'd really hoped. Rushed writing. I had delayed updating for too long because of my work. My apologies.

Speaking of which, there isn't any write-in choice opportunity at the moment, albeit you guys can still add your own details to even fixed choices. Note however that I'll only write bad ends if I feel like it, so I may refuse an obviously bad write-in choice.

Common sense really, but I just gotta make it clear.
No. 175608
[X] Head straight home. Sakaki must be worried.
No. 175610
[X] Head straight home. Sakaki must be worried.
No. 175630
[x] Head straight home. Sakaki must be worried.
No. 176178
Welp, work and stuffs have been pretty hard. I'm not sure if I have the time to continue this, so I'm gonna pause writing this for the moment.

I may pick it up again later, I may not. It's still just two updates anyway so it seems a good time to do this rather than later when people are actually expectant.