As much as you want to both do something low-stress and not give Lyrica yet another reason to be annoyed with you, that caring part of you would never forgive you if you didn't check in on your most recent party member. "I want to go check up on Rumia first before we do anything." You say, knowing full well that there might be consequences for bringing her up this soon. "Also, Kogs, could you get the egg for me when we leave the room? I don't want to forget it."
"Why are you going to check up on her?" Lyrica asks, pulling back from you and crossing her arms which takes the warmth from you, "She's probably just eating in the kitchen still!"
"Uhm...I'm sure that Zeke is just trying to be a good trainer Lyrica." Lunasa pulls back from you as well and puts her hands on Lyrica's shoulders, "It's probably nothing like that..."
Merlin's expression as she stares at you silently from behind her sister's and crosses her arms suggests that she's annoyed with you.
"Lunasa's right. Rumia's my responsibility, so I need to make sure she's okay too. I don't want to devolve into the type of trainer who'd do things like leave a mon in an underground tunnel, or foist them off onto someone who won't take care of them right." Even though Lunasa's defending you, you know your entire trio is irked with you, and why wouldn't they? That Rumia poses a threat to them type-wise, even if she doesn't mean any harm.
"Alright, fine, whatever. We need to make sure this place is safe enough for you anyway. Since Kogs can protect you, we're going to go check the perimeter fence." Lyrica decides, tossing her hair over her shoulder. Apparently you've made her mad at you.
"...Right." Lunasa agrees, "Please be careful Zeke, and don't push yourself alright..?" She pleads with you, wringing her hands like she simply needs to do something with them.
"I wont, Lunasa, don't worry. Kogs wouldn't let me anyway." You'd hug Lunasa, but she's not quite in arms reach. You sigh after that, simply because you knew this would happen and while you don't like to make your trio mad, they do have a point considering Rumia's type. Even the most skilled trainers build their teams around their starter and try to have nothing that she'd be weak to so as to not upset her. And there you go, grabbing a Dark type. The one type Ghosts actually have a problem with.
"We'll be back to check up on you." Lyrica informs you before turning on her heel and leaving the room, skirts fluttering as she leaves the door open for those who will leave after her.
"Take care Zeke." Lunasa says her farewells to you properly and then quickly hurries after her sister, bustling out the door and leaving it open in her passing as well.
"Thanks, Zekey." Merlin spares you a glance before leaving herself, pulling the door shut behind her as she rushes off to no doubt have to cool Lyrica down after having to spend last night doing the same thing.
This leaves you alone with SlKogasa, who is holding the Ayakashi egg on one slimy hand and has the other on your shoulder. She has a somewhat awkward smile on her face as she does this.
You sigh in response and lean against the slime girl. "Sorry, Kogs. There weren't too many ways to handle that, and none of them good." You pet Kogasa as you enjoy her closeness. "Let's get going."
SlKogasa slowly begins to engulf you in her mass, burbling up around you and moving at a nice steady pace to lift you up off the bed and make sure you're properly supported. Amusingly enough, your head ends up resting between her breasts and using them for support to make sure you're sitting properly as you're carried off the bed and slowly, carefully carried out of the door of the room which Kogasa opens and shuts behind you. She's really moving at a snails pace with you right now, isn't she?
"Thanks for being careful, Kogs." Not that you can really complain about your current situation anyway, given where your head is and how much you like being supported by her. "...You know, we trust each other quite a lot, don't we?"
"I love Zekey~!" Kogasa states to you as if that explains everything. Which you suppose it very well might explain it all for her.
"I love you too~" You reply in kind, and you do feel it. Not quite as strong as what you feel for your Prismrivers, but it's definitely there. "I'm glad most everything worked out alright. Rumia's presence is definitely something I'll need to work with, but it should be okay. Hopefully."
"Zekey can fix everything~." Kogasa assures you, her slime massaging your back gently as you ooze along the hallway. Dim light comes in through the windows as you pass by them, and already the entire place feels far...healthier? The hallway itself seems to be much cleaner and well kept. Did those other mon who lived here just make Youmu's job harder?
...Honestly, they probably did. The Yuyuko who ran this place before SlshYoumu took her out didn't seem to care about much more than whether she could keep the status quo for her master or not, and this place was in at least modest disrepair. Poor Youmu. Still, you hum contentedly and relax into the goo while halfway wishing you were well enough off for her to molest you.
"Wooooooow~." Kogasa lets out a low, impressed sound as she stops and looks out a window, prompting you to do the same. What you see outside is amazing. The garden has been trimmed back drastically and in this new light that shines through the clouds above you can take in the massive, awe-inspiring displays of color and life. Did she do this overnight?
"Youmu's amazing, isn't she...?" There's no real doubt in your mind that she did. It was overgrown before, but now that the trash had been taken out she must have had the time to take care of it. ...Which makes sense, really. She must have needed to keep herself busy considering what happened yesterday.
"Super amazing~." Kogasa agrees with what you're saying, staying a bit longer to enjoy the flowers with you. It really is quite a view, isn't it? You can see all the way from the entrance of the manor all the way up to the main gate. You can even see that weird big flower that had rustled at you when you were coming...in...
"Kogs, isn't that the flower you intimidated on the way in?" You point it out to the goo girl, wondering why it was still there. Was it some sort of pet? A mon who played dead when Youmu came in? ...A legitimate piece of security to eat trespassers?
"...Uh-huh. You want it beat?" Kogasa looks to you for orders after acknowledging the flower for what it is.
"I want to know what it is, personally." You say, honestly not sure how to proceed what with you not knowing what it is.
"She is an old...friend, I suppose." A voice speaks from behind you as Youmu reveals herself to you, stepping into the light the window lets through and giving you a look that makes you feel rather bashful, "My, had I forgotten to tell you to continue resting sir?"
"S-sorry, Youmu. I am having Kogasa carry me and she's extremely careful, so..." You're flushing red out of embarrassment, not unlike a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "If it isn't rude to ask, what is it specifically? When Kogs brought me in initially I figured it was an Alraune variant mon. At the time I didn't want to stick around to find out."
"...She is an Alraune Meiling. She lived here originally before those circumstances you faced came about and remained even when all others left aside from Yuyuko and myself." Youmu decides to answer you after keeping that look on you for a few moments longer, "She's quite shy and prefers to simply remain underground and sleep rather than anything. I was surprised to hear that she'd even made motions towards you. From what I managed to get out of her, Yuyuko apparently had 'words' with her about intruders."
You cringe, knowing what that term might mean coming from someone like that Yuyuko. "That can't have helped anything." You continue looking to the flower. "I am pretty much free-range Touhoumon bait, so maybe she felt that I was approachable."
"Perhaps." Youmu responds, apparently content to allow you to draw your own conclusions and decisions, "...Like myself, she still remains properly 'captured' and protected. Her ball is in this house, stored safely. Please do not feel it necessary to take it upon yourself to capture her for 'her own good'."
Now, why's she going and saying something like that to you? I mean, it's not like you've established a precedent or anything, right?
...Well, that's only if you don't look at your track record too hard. SlKogasa was abandoned, Aya and Hatate were stuck in a loveless scenario, Rumia was trapped in a haunted mansion and probably really close to getting killed, to say nothing of how your Prismrivers were when you first found them. Or that odd Patchouli, for that matter. "Ergh... I must seem like a total bleeding heart. Still, you're right. I'm having trouble with my Prismrivers as is with so many additions in such a short time span."
"Indeed." Youmu agrees with you, apparently content at the direction your thoughts have gone, or perhaps agreeing that you are a total bleeding heart, "You must be mindful not only of what you hope to do with your actions and their immediate consequences, but how others will perceive them."
You nod in response to her words, even if they're a bit painful to hear. "Strictly speaking I've already bitten off more than I can chew. Aya and Hatate coming into play just proved that, especially since I can't keep them with me. I know they say it's okay for them to stay here and help you, but it still feels wrong to claim ownership and then just leave them here."
"...You're too soft, Ezekiel." Youmu tells you bluntly, shaking her head, "You let worries that others assure you aren't true cloud your heart, and do not notice the ones that you should."
"...Maybe. I can't really afford to worry about that at the moment anyway, not with how my team is right now. Speaking of which, where is Rumia?" You finally remember something you should have asked to begin with, and do so right away.
"Rumia is currently aiding me by disposing of the remaining junk that the malcontents who were recently taking up residency here called food." Youmu explains to you, "I have also provided her with fresh fruit to ensure she doesn't catch scurvy."
"Thank you for taking care of her when I couldn't." You're visibly relieved when you hear that Rumia is in fact doing fine.
"She was not harmed sufficiently for it to be overly concerning. Food, bed rest and medicine with the taste hidden under a spoonful of sugar was more than sufficient to see her restored to full health." Youmu assures you, accepting your praise while explaining herself.
"Which means that once again I'm the only one who's pushing himself when he shouldn't." You chuckle nervously at that fact, seeing as it keeps coming around to you not taking proper care of yourself. "At least I had enough presence of mind to have Kogs carry me."
"I suppose that will have to do. Should you feel any abdominal pain, I expect you to get back into your bed immediately and to call for me." Youmu leans in close to your face, her eyes boring into your eyes and putting the fear of Shinki into you like only your mother has done before, "Am I understood, sir?"
You nod meekly, feeling quite small at the moment. "Yes ma'am."
"Wonderful." Youmu pulls back away from you, "Then, if you will excuse me I must return to dealing with matters at hand. Should you have need of me again, please feel free to call." Youmu turns away with a swirl of her skirts and disappears from your sight as she zip off.
You breathe out a breath you didn't know you were holding in as she speeds off. "Well, that sorts out what we originally set out to do. What do you want to do, Kogs?" You ask of the goo girl since you're kind of still coming off how intimidating Youmu could be.
"...What Zekey wants!" SlKogasa answers almost immediately, all sunshine and good feelings. Apparently she's here to help and ferry you around wherever you want.
"Well, Rumia's off in the kitchen so could you help me get over there?" You ask of your goo girl. While Youmu did tell you where Rumia is and that she is alright, it'd be better for you if you could check up on her yourself.
"Okay~!" SlKogasa agrees with a cheer, starting up her movement and slowly oozing along through the halls of your, and that's still hard to wrap your head around, new mansion. Each time you pass by a window you get to enjoy a new view of the flower garden, and far out by the wall you catch sight of your Prismrivers moving along the perimeter. Lyrica is gesticulating.
You feel bad when you see that, seeing as you're directly responsible for her being in that state again so soon. Plus this time around you don't even have a leg to stand on. At least last night you both had your points, but here you just didn't take her into consideration at all. You sigh after that, since you do need to make sure all your girls are okay. Disregarding Rumia at this stage feels wrong to you. ...In fact, suddenly getting so many new mons so fast kind of sucks, especially since Lyrica always seems to react the worst.
You'll just have to think about you can do to deal with the situation while you go. Since you're not going to ball any of your girls they'll be seeing a lot of each other. Is that how trainers keep opposing types in line?
Honestly, that's one more thing you're going to have to ask Gissele when you finally get around to it. You pet Kogasa as she moves, idly stroking her gooey mass as you think.
Petting Kogasa makes her hum happily, which is a sound that soothes your worries as you listen to it, resting your head against her chest as she inches along, foot by foot as she travels through the mansion. Hmm...ah, you're in the main foyer now. Wow, did Youmu manage to repair that damage over night? It looks out of place, but the main foyer is actually intact again.
Now that you think about it, that style mashup thing this mansion has is... kinda odd now that you think about it. It's definitely unique, though you're not totally sure it's a good or bad thing in this case. Still, it looks like this place is safe to traverse now.
SlKogasa stalls in the main pathway for a moment, looking around it curiously as if she too is rather impressed at how well it was repaired. Then again, she may very well have had this part of the house come down on her recently, so that might have more to do with it. "Zekey..." She mumbles, wrapping her arms around the part of you that's outside of her mass,"...sorry."
"Kogs, don't worry about it. We had no way to know that the mansion was that structurally unsound." You enjoy the hug and relax into it a bit more, trying to keep yourself from getting tense again.
"I left Zekey alone." She whinges back, sounding rather more upset at how she left you alone and defenseless without her than just the whole 'the roof collapsing in thing'. Oh, could she have been hearing something from the others about letting you end up alone?
"Kogasa, I'm not blaming you for that. Like I said, we had no prior warning about what was going on here, and you had your own problems to contend with at the time." You try to comfort Kogasa as best you can, knowing that there was no way you could really blame her for any of this.
"But...Zekey could've..." SlKogasa shivers and holds you tighter, both with her arms and with her slimy body as a particularly unpleasant thought crosses her mind.
"I know. Any one of us could have." You wish you could hug her back, because she needs it at this point. "I managed to dodge that bullet with some help, so anything beyond that is just worrying needlessly. I'm here, I'm okay, and I don't blame you for what happened. Please don't be so hard on yourself about it."
"...Okay!" SlKogasa cheers up, brightening rapidly after you assure her enough that it's all okay and it wasn't her fault. Well, that was easy, "Zekey...Kogasa's dream..." She hugs you a bit tighter for just a moment, "Everyone together, happy forever."
And with that, she goes back on to moving you through the house at a slow, steady pace.
"I hope we can make that dream work, Kogs." You reply in kind as you continue to pet her.
"Zekey can do anything~!" Kogasa assures you as she slides into one of the off shooting halls and heads towards what must be the kitchen, judging by the strong and soothing scents of food preparation.
"Thanks, Kogs~" It's kinda funny how you just slipped into using that nickname Merlin came up with. Were you that familiar with her already? Still, if the kitchen's nearby then Rumia must be as well.
SlKogasa pushes open a door and you are carried into a familiar, large kitchen. It's actually very nice, especially in this new light that's streaming in through the windows. All of the counters are clean and shined up to a nice sparkle, save for one spot where Rumia is currently sitting at. "Mrphgh?" She says eloquently around the apple that her teeth are currently stuck in.
"Hello, Rumia! How're you doing?" You ask of the darkness mon, though she is currently eating so who knows how eloquently that's going to turn out.
"Murgle phurgah phan!" Rumia explains as she chews on the shiny golden apple she's currently making her way through, "Mmmpha murhpha mu?"
You're kinda curious as to whether or not that's an enchanted golden apple or not, but it's really irrelevant seeing as she's already eating it at a fast clip. "I'm guessing you're asking about me through a mouthful of food. I'm doing well enough, though I need to rest for the day."
"Mrpha murph muff?" She responds, tugging on her ribbon as she eyes you with a hint of worry for your own good.
"I'm having Kogs carry me around, so it's not like I'm straining myself to come see you. Besides, I wanted to make sure you're okay too." ...Now that you think about it, why does she keep fiddling with her ribbon? Seems like an odd habit to have on a whim, but eh. It's another one of the mysteries you'll have to work out later.
"Murda rurda rurah. Murfha hurshka burshka mah." She answers to you as she munches into the golden apple which produces a sound much like a ringing bell as she does so, "...Mrr?" She queries, looking at your stomach.
...What? Apples don't make those sounds. "Youmu got me breakfast shortly after I woke up. Or... The damage from that gut punch is healing quickly. Faster than how long Youmu thought it would take." Now you're not quite so sure what she's referring to this time, so you might as well cover your bases.
"Mrr~!" She nods firmly, looking happy as she continues to much on her impossible apple, apparently happy now that she's ascertained whatever answer she wanted...whatever it was that you said that did that, "...Murr?" She tilts her head to the side, looking exceedingly adorable as she questions you further.
You shrug in response since you're grasping at straws here. "I don't know why I'm healing faster than expected, but I'm not really complaining."
Rumia looks at you for a moment before opening her jaw wide and proceeding to crunch the golden apple down in one bite, chewing on it before swallowing it all, "Sorry, I wanted to enjoy the flavor. It was so weird~!" She enthuses, wiggling in her seat, "I'm happy you're gonna be okay! I was worried you'd say something that would end up with never getting to leave here forever!"
"...What could I have said that would get me locked up here forever?" You ask in a joking, yet slightly nervous tone. After all, she seems to think that there's the possibility that you would be so dumb as to do something that would make your girls think you need to be locked up or something.
Rumia looks thoughtful before she responds, "Uh...I dunno, maybe say the wrong thing to those Prismrivers or something? You're right, that was silly. Our Zeke wouldn't make an off-color joke like that!" She shrugs off the thought like she's removing a burden from her shoulders, "Never mind~."
"Saying the wrong thing to Lyrica is surprisingly easy as of late though." You point out as you recall once again just why she's so annoyed with you. "I know there's the whole type match up thing to consider, but you got hurt yesterday too and I just wanted to make sure everyone's okay."
"Is that so?" Rumia responds as she cocks her head to the other side at you, "Well..." She reaches up and fiddles with her ribbon as her eyes drift away from you and around the room, "...Maybe there's more than that then?" She suggests eventually, finishing her fiddling with a tug and then smiling at you brightly.
"I don't doubt that there is. Lyrica's my first and I met her when she had given up on life, and she along with her sisters have been a bit..." You struggle to find the right words to tell the darkness mon what you know to be true thus far. "Lyrica told me just this morning that without me, she'd have nothing."
"Oh? That's really sad." Rumia's smile dims at that as she apparently feels sympathy for the plight of her fellow tamed mon, "...Uhm, Zekey? What would she think of you telling me that?" She asks as a thought apparently occurs to her.
"...I don't know. She'd probably be upset with me, given my track record." If you could consciously sink into SlKogasa more than you are, you'd probably be doing exactly that. You half-expect Lyrica to be right behind you now, or something.
"It's okay~." SlKogasa assures you as she ruffles your hair with one slimy hand, assuring you that Lyrica hasn't heard anything and won't from her.
"Weeeeeeell..." Rumia rocks back and forth in her seat, "Uhm, if I was feeling sensitive and nervous about a recent addition to a team that I'd been on and hadn't been talked to about that had a type advantage over me and was in the same range of estimated combat level, then I might be upset if they were told by someone I had talked to in confidence about how I was nervous about them and knew they had an advantage over me."
"...But that's just me!" Rumia gives you a cheery grin as she runs a hand through her bangs, pushing them back out of the way.
You look to Rumia with a bit of a sad smile."You're probably smarter than I am in that regard. It doesn't help that I got three new additions to my team in short order, and no time to let them acclimate to each other." You sigh after that, thinking about the Ayakashi egg. "At least the newborn Ayakashi will have the advantage of being a baby, so hopefully no one should have a problem with her."
"Babies~!" SlKogasa lets out a happy cheer, hugging you against her as she nuzzles the bottom of her head against the top of yours. It feels strange, but nice.
"Babies will be a-okay with me, Zekey!" Rumia assures you, still all smiles, "Us touhoumon love babies universally, pretty much! It's bad to hurt them."
"That's a relief. One less thing I need to worry about." Between SlKogasa's affection and Rumia's affirmation that newborn Touhoumon tend not to cause team-related issues you do manage to relax a bit more. "I just wish there was more I could in regards to the more immediate issues."
"You just need to be you, but think more about what they'd think of what you do! So...be you, but more thoughtful and considerate of the consequences of your actions!" Rumia gives you important and heartfelt advice, "...Also, don't forget to give them some tender and loving care and make sure they know you love them. Words are one thing, but actions are another!"
You nod in response to that. "Thanks, Rumia. I do plan to use tomorrow to go to a nearby resort town, so hopefully there will be a chance to do exactly that. I just need to keep myself from annoying my Prismrivers any more until then."
"A resort town? Ooooh, that sounds like fun! I didn't know there was a place like that near here..." She frown thoughtfully, "...Where's 'here' again?"
"Right, you've been stuck here for a while and don't know where you are relative to the rest of the continent." You remember that important little detail when she says that. "This mansion is near One Tree City, and we're in the northwest region of the New Continent."
"...Oh, okay!" She nods to you for a few moments before stopping,"...Where's One Tree City?"
...Where's your tablet? You get that out and bring up a map function for the darkness mon to look at while you explain the positioning to the best of your ability. "It's right here, in the northern area of this region." You point to the city in question, then point out other bits as you get to them. "The resort town we're going to tomorrow is here, near the coast. My home town is close to the White Tower anomaly, which also isn't too far from here."
Rumia's eyes blink wide as she watches you explain just where and what everything is in this area, "Oh, wow...Hey Zekey? Why are the gym town and the resort town built so close to each other? It looks like there's lots more space between other cities than there are between One Tree and that resort town."
...That's an interesting question to ask, isn't it?
That was included in your lessons, wasn't it? You try to remember that factoid before you answer her. "I'm pretty sure that's because the resort town got built after One Tree did. The initial human settlements were spaced out more because none of the groups wanted to step on each other's toes and cause each other problems on top of what they were already dealing with. Once those settlements got established, humans felt comfortable enough to settle in more areas."
"...Oh, okay." Rumia agrees easily enough, "So it works like that for humans?" She looks around the map more, taking in all the settlements and the like, "Wooooow...you can live in all kinds of places, huh?"
...What does that mean?
"We tend to settle where it makes sense to settle, and adapt to a location or alter it accordingly." You're... actually not surprised that Rumia would say something like that. After all, isn't living space preference largely why various Touhoumon don't appear on every route, location, or other space?
"...Oh." She blinks those big eyes at you like she's thinking about something, "...You change it to suit you, huh?" She rubs her ribbon thoughtfully as she nibbles on her lip, "No wonder humans are everywhere."
"...Anyway, Zekey! What are we gonna do at the resort town?" She cheers right back up after her hand drops away from her ribbon and grins at you, "Ooooh, do they have a local specialty? Will you buy me some?"
You rub your chin in thought. "I'm not sure, I don't recall going there before. If we find something I wouldn't mind getting it for you." Sooner or later your nice guy tendencies are going to get you in trouble. Even if you're just looking out for your girls.
"Alright~!" Rumia lets out a happy cheer, kicking her legs about as she grins a grin that lights up the room, which is ironic because she is basically the dark type touhoumon, "Oh, do you think it'll be seafood Zekey? I want to try sea fish!"
"They'll probably have seafood, so we could definitely try some." Your mood is improving too somewhat despite knowing that you're going to have to deal with Lyrica again eventually, and you manage to relax more. "We will wind up getting food there one way or the other since it'll be a day-long thing."
"Just a day?" She asks, tilting her head to the side as she watches you, "We're not gonna stay there for long Zekey? Are we going some place after that?"
...Huh. You haven't really thought about it all that much, really. You're definitely going to have to spend some time talking to Gissele and you just know that's going to eat into your day at least a little, then there's simply getting to the resort town... "Well, I do plan to head out of this area fairly soon, but I didn't really think about how long we'd spend relaxing. I'll probably leave the exact amount of time open for adjustment, and whether we stay there for one day or more will depend on how things go."
"Okay Zekey, if you say so." Rumia agrees after you've explained your variable state plans, "Uhm...hey Zekey? You're a trainer, so you go and do those gymy things right? What kinds are you planning to go and challenge and steal the signs from?"
"Yeah, I do. There's an Electric type Gym in a town called Neo Hamsure that's to the south and a couple day's travel from One Tree. Supposedly the leader's a military veteran." You point out the location on the map, and save it as a potential location to go to for later. "Then up here..." You trace a line from the resort town to someplace further up the coast and into the countryside. "Is a Gym that specializes in Steel types. Its leader is someone who is supposedly into that 'Bushido' thing you'll hear some Youmu talk about. We don't have any particular advantages or disadvantages against either Gym as it stands, so it's a matter of personal preference and which one would be less troublesome to get to."
"Oh, okay? So we'd be fighting swordy people and metal girls or military people and lightning girls." Rumia chews on her lip thoughtfully, "...Youmu is kinda scary."
"She can be, but you do have an advantage over her type-wise. If this leader also uses Youmu mons, then that just means I have more options to take them down." You point out a small fact as Rumia thinks. "Though I'll definitely keep that in mind."
"Iku are scary too..." Rumia admits, shaking herself. There's probably a story there, huh? "I'll be okay Zekey! So, what are you gonna do now that you've talked to me, huh?"
...Huh, you know even just being carted around like this you're not full of too much energy. Your body must be using up a lot mending you.
"Hm... Maybe see about playing a board game or something? I mean, there's not much else to do that I can think of." You suggest a potentially low-stress way to pass the time seeing as Youmu has made her opinion of you being out and about in any form abundantly clear.
[ ] Try and get all your girls together and do a team building exercise by playing some kind of board or card game.
---[ ] In particular, why don't you play...(Write in for a specific game if you have one in mind)
[ ] You think you'll just focus on reading up on all the data you have for your girls, especially your newest acquisitions, and make sure you're ready to use them to their fullest abilities.
[ ] You know what you feel drained just from being up, you're gonna go lounge and nap until tomorrow and just head off to One Tree immediately once you're able to.
[ ] Actually, you've just had an idea... (Write In)
I found the rules for that card game I half remembered, so I'll just delete my old rambling post and and repost it more readable.
Apparently it has like a dozen different names, depending on where you ask, but the most common ones are "Games" or "Sign".
I think it's pretty good for this situation since it relies on teamwork and getting to know your opponents.
(In case nobody here has heard of it, here are the basic rules:)
It's played with two teams of two, sitting so the teams alternate play (i.e. you have your team mate opposite to you and your opponents to the left and right).
You start by separating out all the face cards and the aces, then you shuffle the rest of the deck and separate it into two equal piles.
The face cards and aces are shuffled and dealt to the players.
The players will then, in a clockwise order, select a card and pass to the player to their left.
The goal is to get four of a kind, which is a "scoring hand".
The trick to make it interesting is that when you get a scoring hand, you have to slap your free hand on one of the card piles in the middle, which will allow you to draw one of those cards as a "score card". (The value of the card = the number of points your team gets.)
Whoever slaps their hand on the other pile also gets to draw a card. In order to ensure that your teammate is the one to do so, you will use a secret sign, agreed upon before the game starts.
It can be any kind of simple gesture, like shuffling your cards or tucking your hair behind your ear, but no words.
So basically you have to keep track of the cards you get as well as the cards you pass on, while also paying attention to your teammate in case they give you the sign.
You should also keep an eye on your opponent, in order to figure out their sign and steal their points.
If you figure out their sign, you can call them out on it and recieve a bunch of score cards (varies between 2 to 5 depending on rule variant), after which they will have to come up with a new sign.
When the piles of score cards are empty, the points are tallied up. Most points win, obviously.
I've been thinking something. We have Yakumo Corp. and Yakumo Yukari explicitly existing in the Touhoumon-verse. At the same time we have the various Touhoumon including Yukaris. They're very strange, being able to be converted into data and stored in Touhouballs, being able to instantly healed through potions from wounds that would cripple humans, and various other things.
Part of me wonders two things:
1. Is Yukari from another universe? Some stories I've read about her have her have the ability to travel to another universe through the application of her gaps.
2. Considering the weirdness of Touhoumon, could all of this possibly where the characters are inside a video game ala Star Ocean 3, or another possibility: the Touhoumon and environments and cities and so on are some sort of computer/VR simulation and the humans/trainers are possibly stuck in a VR tank or something, blindfolded/sedated and locked in a loop. It's like being stuck in an MMORPG.
Long story short, Nobody (my friend and co-writer for this story) is currently having to deal with some rather significant real-life problems and can't write with me for the time being. This'll resume when we can, but for now I ask for your patience in the matter.
I know, you all must think we died or something but we've been either busy with college or busy with life. Either way though, we have been working on the update and after a while we've finally got it done!
There were a few options that flitted through your head as you considered how to pass the time. You'd be bored out of your skull if you were restricted to just lying in bed, and admittedly the more fun, intimate options were right out for today lest you undo your swift recovery and make it even worse than when it started. You thought about getting your girls together to play Diplomacy, since you're at least familiar with the rules involved, but something tells you that there'd be less playing to actually win and more strange games played on the side. Games that would likely start with you being ganged up on and taken out early, and proceed well into the night as your girls take turns snatching you up rather than accomplishing anything. While that might be fun in a way in and of itself, you think you'll stick to a more mundane game. "I wonder if there's an Uno deck here?" You muse to yourself as you consider the faster-paced but less shenanigan-prone game.
"...You know?" Rumia asks, canting her head to the side curiously as you speak up. She seems to be unknowing about just what you're talking about. Perhaps she's never played Uno or even heard of it before. "What's that, Zekey? Some kind of card game?"
You nod in response to that. "It's a card game that's played with a set of cards that are specifically designed for the game." You start off simply enough, then move on to the actual rules. "It's played by dealing out seven cards for each player, then one card is put into a discard pile. The opening card has to match the discard in terms of either color, number, or symbol. A person can use their turn to either play a matching card, play a wild card if they have one, or just to draw a card from the deck. The objective is to run out of cards before anyone else does."
"There are a few other cards that can mess with the game's flow, so it's not as clear-cut as it looks. There's the Skip card, which makes the next person lose their turn altogether, the Draw Two card, which makes the next person not only lose their turn but also makes them draw two cards, Reverse, which reverses the player's turn order, Wild, which lets the next person declare a color to be matched instead of the last card played, and Wild Draw Four lets the player declare the next color to be matched, makes the next person draw four cards and skip a turn, but can only be played if they don't have a card of the current color."
"...Oh, I see. Uhm...do you have the-" Rumia tries to speak up and ask her question, but you hear a sudden surge of air movement behind you. A moment later, Youmu steps into your view and holds out an old, weathered deck of cards that look slightly familiar, even through the weak and tear on the box containing them.
"You wanted these." Youmu states as she holds out the box for you to take, "I was nearby and heard your conversation and brought them. Next time, please don't hesitate to ask aloud for my presence."
"Sorry, Youmu, and thank you." You take the deck of cards form her and feel a bit embarrassed. It's not like the concept of someone looking after you is even that foreign, though the exclusiveness and expedience would definitely take some getting used to before you'd remember to actually call on her. "Hm... With a hundred and eight cards in a deck, and seven dealt out to each player to start..." You do the light number crunching in your head "Counting everyone who could play, that would mean up to sixty-three of those cards would be dealt out in the opening hand, with forty-four left over once the discard is taken into consideration." So you could have everyone play at the same time if you wanted, and everyone felt like playing as well. "Youmu, where would there be enough space to play this with others comfortably?"
Youmu eyes slide over to the table that Rumia is sitting at before she turns on her heel and then looks at the long central island counter that exists in the middle of the kitchen, providing large amounts of space for cooking efforts and projects. "I would recommend the dining room, next door." Youmu informs you as she turns her attention back to you, "It already has enough chairs and table space to serve your purpose and has been cleaned up of the mess those hooligans made."
"Thanks, Youmu~" You respond in a cheery manner before thinking of something else. "Could I trouble you to ask my Prismrivers if they'd like to play too? Lyrica said she and the others would patrol the boundary of the mansion so I don't know where they are at the moment." It stands to reason that if she's saying not to hesitate to call on her, that perhaps it wouldn't be a bad thing to do so now.
"Understood, I will deliver your message." Youmu nods her understanding of your request, "Would you like for me to deliver it to your Aya and Hatate as well, Ezekiel?"
"Yes please, if they're free. You can join in too, if you'd like!" Since it seems like everyone's being gathered up, there'd be no point in leaving Youmu out at this stage. After all, games like this become more fun and more chaotic the more players there are, and there's still enough cards left after the first draw to support playing for a while per game.
"I will see if I have the time, but there is still much work to be done." Youmu responds before turning on her heel and the blurring out of view as she dashes off to do your bidding. This leaves you alone with Rumia and SlKogasa until whoever all decides to come here comes here. Actually, speaking of SlKogasa she's been rather quiet while holding you like she is. You'd almost forgotten that you were being held inside of her this whole time between how comfortable she is and how quiet she's been.
Though the fact that you're otherwise laying down on her and are suspended off the floor because of that quickly clued you back in. "Hey, Kogasa, are you okay?" You tilt your head around to look at your goo girl proper, or at least as much as you can given your position. She might just have been quiet for the sake of being polite, but you still want to be sure.
You feel the slime around you shift suddenly, jerking to life and movement as you address her. SlKogasa's expression that you saw for an instant before you spoke up was distant, her eyes unfocused in thought before you dragged her out of whatever she was doing, "Ah! Yes Zekey?" Her attention is on you now, focused like a tight beam as she bends her humanoid portion down to your level.
"Oh, sorry if I disturbed your train of thought. Since I can't do anything really strenuous yet we're going to play a card game for a while." The sudden shift didn't even bother you though, which does nothing but show just how careful she's being with you even now. "I'll need you to take me into the dining room since that's got a table big enough for us to play at, and that's where everyone else should be shortly."
"Oh, okay~!" SlKogasa agrees easily enough after you tell her what you need and begins to ooze towards the door that leads into the dining room from the kitchen. You see Rumia slide out from the corner she was sitting in and hop to the floor before following after you, skipping along to catch up and then taking to simply walking beside you once she's close.
"So Zekey..." Rumia speaks up next to you as she runs a hand through her hair, touching her ribbon as she does so, "I've never played UNO before, is it hard?"
"It's one of those 'easy to learn, difficult to master' type of card games. The basic premise is simple enough, but once you start playing with other people it gets more complicated since you have to learn how they play after a while, as well as any subtle cues they unintentionally give off when something happens." You explain, going into at least some detail about how the game was partly about reading other people as well as knowing what to play and when. "But I wouldn't worry about that right off the bat. It takes time for those cues and playing styles to become apparent."
"Oh, okay." Rumia agrees easily enough as SlKogasa ferries you along and a portion of her slime reaches out and pushes open the door that leads to the dining room. The room itself is...
...rather underwhelming, actually. I mean it's a dining room, certainly, but it doesn't have anything particularly grand or amazing about it, and it has the sort of look and feel to it that lets you know that there used to be more furniture in here than there is now. Currently it's rather stark with just a long table capable of seating you and yours with plenty more room, chairs for the table and a scant few potted plants here and there. At the far end of the room there's a large, scenic window that looks over the back garden. So this room has that going for it at least, this is certainly a very lovely view.
"...So how do naughty things fit into the game?" Rumia speaks up again as she gazes out the window with you, seeming to enjoy the rainbow of life that's outside. The light is relatively dim still and you can see a heavy covering of clouds above you now through this window.
It is quite an attractive view out there, though you think that at some point it might be worth furnishing the room better to make it less plain. Granted, that might be you missing the entire point of this room as it might be that the room is plain so that the outside would be better appreciated. Who knows why this room is as it is? ...Or maybe you were told and forgot. "...They don't." You look to Rumia, feeling some surprise but honestly you can't manage a strong reaction seeing as Merlin was in your party and had a strong desire to corrupt everything. "I mean, the game's scoring works by each hand ending when one person runs out of cards, then anything left in the other hands is tallied up and added to that person's score. The normal score needed to win is five-hundred, so it's a pretty quick and decisive thing with... well, no perverted additions that I can think of."
"...Oh. So it's not like strip poker?" Rumia tilts her head to the side, lips frowning slightly in apparent concentration as she asks you such a question with seeming innocence.
"Strip?" SlKogasa perks up as you feel tenuous touches along your body, gentle and light and oh so teasing as they play with you, "Poking?"
"Wah~" You can't help but react a little when Kogasa starts playing with you like that, but you really ought to shut that line of thought down. "Strip poker is a card game, Kogs~!" You try to maintain composure well enough to answer Rumia since she did ask her question first. "And no, I don't think so, but knowing my girls they'll think of something."
"I know!" SlKogasa assures you as you feel her gently poke and tise at your non-injured parts, careful not to aggravate any injuries, "Like poking Zekey~."
Oh dear, apparently she's just teasing you.
"Your girls, hm?" Rumia looks out the window, turning her attention to it entirely, "I suppose that is so. Anyway, I've only played poker before. This should be interesting." She admits to you as she gingerly touches up her hair and ribbon again, fretting with it lightly.
You make a point to not fidget much as SlKogasa teases you, but it is good to know that she's just teasing you as opposed to something else. "It should be. I've never played Uno with this many people before, so it's bound to go pretty quickly unless it becomes a drawn-out affair."
"I heard we're playing strip Uno?" A sudden whoosh of wind announces the arrival of Aya, who is flapping her wings lightly as she slowly makes her descent towards the ground from her position above you, "I didn't even know Strip Uno existed, actually. You're pretty kinky to have thought that one up boss."
Aya flashes you a wide grin and a thumbs up, "Good job!"
"I'm pretty certain that it's just regular Uno, Aya." Hatatatatata casually flies up to her friend, joining your gathering in the room with a flare of her skirts and the beat of her wings, "I am unsure of how strip poker would even work."
"Well, OBVIOUSLY instead of the game ending when someone hits the point total, it ends when everyone but one person is naked!" Aya responds, having apparently worked out the intricacies of Strip Uno for herself, "You play the game fast and hard, and then whoever wins the hand is the only one who doesn't have to take an article of clothing off!"
"And THEN!" Aya clenches a fist dramatically, her eyes sparkling, "Whoever wins the game gets to have a rules free command on everyone else who played!"
"Oh." Hatate seems entirely unphased by Aya's exuberance and excitement for Strip Uno, "I see."
"Which means everyone's going to be trying to eliminate me early, both because I'm cute and because having a rule-free command over me would be incredibly tempting." You roll your eyes as you guess how this is going to play out. Honestly, the idea of someone turning it into strip Uno was perhaps an inevitable one, so you can't really get worked up over it that much.
"Well, look at it this way Boss." Aya zips down next to you and puts a heart-warming arm around you as she gestures grandly into the unknown future in front of you and also out the window, "Whatever happens, you'll probably enjoy it. Probably. Also you're sick so they probably can't do anything too erotic to you without, you know, Youmu doing things to them that they'd regret."
"Regret to the extreme." Hatate agrees as she sidles up against you on the other side, wrapping an arm around your shoulder and leaning in against you just like Aya as she matches the gesture, reaching out to grasp the truth hidden in the fogs of the unknown, "There are things monkind was not meant to know, and that is one of them."
With a soft splat, Rumia impacts onto SlKogasa and wriggles her way up to you and nuzzles her face into your chest, apparently not content to remain outside of the group hug of comradery. "Mrph." She adds her point to the matter, face still buried against your chest as she does so.
"SlKogasa will cuddle Zeke~." SlKogasa informs you as you see Slime reach out and up and around the three girls pressed against you aside from her and pull them closer to herself and thus also you. Is that her plan for if she wins?
"Huh, yeah that is about the best we could get, isn't it? A nice, non-sexual night of cuddling privately without anyone interference." Aya muses as her wings twitch at SlKogasa's messing of them.
"Cuddling is nice. You don't always need to drown in ecstasy, even if it's nice too." Hatate agrees, folding in her wings before they can get too slimed up so she doesn't have to clean them thoroughly.
"I'm gonna make Zekey feed me dessert!" Rumia declares boldly into your chest, apparently entirely fine with the slime that's soaking into her dress.
"Well, the favor could be saved too, but that's just up to whoever wins, really. Besides, I do trust you all anyway." You find yourself greatly enjoying having all he contact, and you do have to agree that sometimes just plain old cuddling is pleasant too. Honestly, if you were committed to doing something with your girls to pass the time, you'd consider dozing off right here.
"But if I did those sorts of things to you tomorrow you wouldn't be in any condition to walk and get things done Boss." Aya points out to you, reaching out and lightly trailing a finger across your chest. This simple act somehow manages to convey a meaning that's very...exciting.
"Well, we could always take turns and carry him there while enjoying our favor, Aya. It's close enough that if we do take turns then we should be able to make it without worry, right?" Hatate suggests, casually crawling her fingers up your chest and entwining them with Aya's over your heart.
The fact that Aya and Hatate have their fingers intertwined like that over your heart is making you blush rather heavily, and not just from Aya's candid statement that her doing what she wants would require you to put off getting anything done even longer. It reminds you of the fact that when they were kicked out of their home, they sought you out. They picked you to share their lives with and they're making it no secret.
And then the gravity of what Hatate was referring to finally hit you.
"L-like a Pleasure Flight sort of thing?" You ask, feeling that they're either going to tease you over it, confirm it, or both.
"...Well yeah." Aya responds, raising an eyebrow as if to ask what else she could mean, "I mean seriously we're Tengu, Boss. Tengu who like you, so introducing you to the kilometer high-club is pretty high on our list of 'things to do', since firstly it feels absolutely amazing and secondly it's fun when a boy squirms and clings to you because they don't want to fall."
"And then they squirm and cling for entirely different reasons." Hatate adds on, both of them seeming to enjoy teasing you...or maybe they're being completely serious and straight-forward?
You're blushing pretty heavily at this point, seeing as they're making their intent quite clear, and you have no appreciable response other than to just fidget and blush under their attention. That and you're having some unbidden but pleasant mental images of how that scenario would play out and you're cursing your bruised up state for preventing you from experiencing that for now.
"Huh? What's the matter Boss?" Aya leans in, grinning a bit wider as she leers down at you and enjoys your seemingly embarrassed reaction to her teasing, "We're just making conversation, right?"
"Of course. After all, it's entirely possible he could win the card game." Hatate leans in from the other side, that calm stare of hers carrying a message of its own, "Who knows what sort of things he'd order us all to do then..."
On the one hand, you'd like to dismiss the notion of the possibility of winning the card game simply because there'd be too many variables that all want to see you lose. On the other, you can't even really deny what Hatate's implying seeing as you're far from innocent yourself. Granted, maybe not as kinky as what she might be thinking but still...! "I-I don't think I'm likely to win unless someone lets me." You try to bring up that point, but considering that the two tengu are already going, you don't think they'd let it drop just from that.
"Oh, but Boss~..." Aya nuzzles up against you, rubbing her cheek against yours in a display of absolute affection, "What if we wanted you to beat us, hmm~?"
"What would you do then, Boss?" Hatate mirrors Aya's affections from your other side, nuzzling her cheek against yours, "Who knows what sort of naughty things you do to girls at your mercy."
"Butt stuff." Rumia suddenly chirps up as she nuzzles against your stomach since she can't get to any of your cheeks, "Zekey does naughty naughty butt stuff to girls at his mercy~."
"Butt stuff~." SlKogasa agrees before she giggles, "Zekey loooooves butt stuff."
"You're not helpiiiiiing!" You whine at SlKogasa and Rumia when they add their two cents in, though they're hardly wrong in their statements. "...I also like cuddle-fucking." You promptly undermine your own attempts to get your girls to stop embarrassing you by adding on another suggestion as to what might happen if you actually won.
"Who doesn't love cuddle-loving?" Aya queries as she pets you on the head, "No friend of mine, that's for sure boss-" She pauses mid-sentence and pulls back from you, cocking her head to the side so her long ears are angled,"...we've got incoming. I can hear [/i]muffled bickering[/i]."
"Mother of Tenma, muffled bickering?" Hatate arcs an eyebrow as she pulls back from you as well, "Then, we should probably find a way to make sure that they aren't upset by what they see."
"Quick, make it look like we were setting up for friendly game night the entire time!" Aya orders, leaping away dramatically as she flits off, setting about rearranging the chairs closer to one end in a purposefully slow manner.
"Aya Aya, Aya." Hatate responds with a lazy, jocular salute as she flaps her wings and pulls herself away from you as well, fluttering over to the windows and starting to pull the curtains a bit more shut so as to bring the light in the room to a nice, dim, comfortable level.
"I'll go get snacks!" Rumia declares as she pulls herself away from you and out of SlKogasa with some effort on her part, "I think I saw cookies and ham in the fridge!"
Leaving you with you lovely goo girl mon, which is quite frankly the best place you could be at the moment since it's a compromise between not aggravating Lyrica even further than you already have and not being bedridden on Youmu's orders. Honestly, you think that SlKogasa's gentle care is the only reason SlshYoumu hasn't taken slightly more drastic measures with you. That aside, you're more or less bracing for impact.
You hear a muffled sound from outside the door that you can't identify, but somehow sounds incredibly ominous to you.
As your girls that are present continue to initiate full Operational Deniability Mode, SlKogasa hugs you gently and pulls you just a bit deeper into her, as if she sensed something outside of the door.
The door itself creaks open and reveals your Prismrivers, with Youmu standing behind them. Lyrica has her arms crossed and is looking around the rest of the room that you yourself do not occupy. Merlin has a particularly chagrined and amused expression, as if something unexpected just happened to her.
Lunasa, however, immediately notices you and rushes over to your side, "Zekey! Ah..." She comes up short of SlKogasa, looking you over worriedly, "...Are you okay like that?"
"I'm fine, Lunasa~" You keep your tone cheery as your ghostly violinist checks on you. "Kogs has been really careful with me the whole time, and is probably the sole reason Youmu hasn't put me back to bed." Which to you, says a lot about how gentle she's been with you.
"Alright, if you say so Zeke." The worry marring Lunasa's face lessens enough to lighten your own heart, just in time to Merlin to casually insert herself into the situation via coming to rest atop your head, a pleasant softness washing over your senses.
"My my, Zekey, out and about even after the doctor's orders. Are you being a naughty boy?" Merlin's voice is positive rich in a teasing, taunting tone as she reaches down and pinches your cheek, "You know what happens to naughty boys, don't you?"
You close the eye nearest to the cheek that was pinched, though it's mostly just for show rather than out of any sort of reaction. "They get punished, preferably after they get the doctor's all-clear." You're not going to complain about Merlin adding her softness to what you're already feeling, and you can't help but breathe in her scent. Honestly, if you weren't trying so hard to keep yourself under control and weren't hurt during the fight against the Ayakashi, you think you'd have been stuck in bed for an entirely different reason.
"Exactly! I'm sure you'd rather find out what kind of 'punishments' I've got planned for you rather than any punishments I'd do if you hurt yourself, right?" Merlin continues on, patting you gently on the cheek she had been pinching, "So, please don't do anything to exaggerate your injuries until you're all recovered, alright?"
You nuzzle the hand that pats you since she's stopped with the pinching. "I won’t. That's why I've had Kogs cart me around all day so far rather than so much as risk walking by myself. Though I think if I did make my injuries worse, Youmu would be the one tearing me a proverbial new one over it first." You chuckle nervously after that since the Slash variant mon has made her opinion of you even being up... well, not up but definitely about the mansion instead of resting peacefully.
"Ah, yes, her..." Merlin sounds almost... hesitant in regards to the Youmu. Perhaps hesitant isn't the best word, but it's the closest you can think of that fits how she's acting.
"U-uhm..." Lunasa nervously leans in closer to you, "P-please don't do anything to make her rip you ones, proverbial or real Zekey, please?"
...Are they? ...of Youmu?
"I won't give her a reason, or I'll try not to at least. That's why I haven't so much as made a twitching motion toward getting off of SlKogasa, aside from the fact that she's just really comfortable." You try to alleviate Lunasa's worries on the matter as soon as possible, and you're fairly confident that you'll manage what you're saying.
"Alright Zekey, that's all we can ask for." Lunasa nods her head as you make your statement, her worries apparently lessened slightly with that.
"Well, we could probably ask for more. It's just unwise and unlikely we'd get it." Merlin pops in from her position on top of your head, casually poking her fun at you without sounding too malicious about it.
You'd nod, but the only thing that would result in is you using your head to rub at the bottom of Merlin's boobs. While that would be pleasant for you there's the small fact that you're trying to not excite or otherwise arouse yourself any more than has already occurred. "I wouldn't want you to get in trouble either, seeing as we're heading to the Resort Town next and I'm sure there's going to be plenty of opportunities to do things there."
"These and that and those sorts of things?" Lyrica enters the conversation suddenly, having apparently made her approach while you were distracted. She's looking out the window while she speaks with you, apparently interested in the flowers out there.
"We seem to get into those sorts of things often enough." In fact, during the week you were grounded before your adventure even began you didn't exactly go without getting boinked in some fashion, and while you've only been out on your journey for the last couple days at most, you're pretty sure you haven't gone without at least one of your girls getting into your pants per night. In fact, the only reason that trend was broken now is because you're recovering from getting gut punched and don't want to incite SlshYoumu's wrath. "...I'm sorry for angering you again this soon, Lyrica. That wasn't my intent."
"Hmm?" Lyrica turns her attention to you, her eyes sliding away from the window and focusing onto you but her face remaining turned away from you.
You sigh, as this is similar to what Gissele was doing when she wanted you to admit to what you did wrong when you got yourself knocked out. "I'm sorry I prioritized Rumia over you. There would have been plenty of opportunity to check on her later and I should have been paying attention to you primarily."
Lyrica draws in a breath, like she's about to say something when Youmu glides past you, light enough on her feet you almost think she's flying with the smoothness of her movements, "Zeke, I believe that I have the time to take you up on your offer. It's been quite some time since I played a game meant for more than two."
Lyrica swallows something as she watches Youmu who is on the opposite side of you before she speaks up, "Anyway, it's fine Zeke. You were just trying to be the very best trainer you could be, that's all, right?"
No, there was no mistaking it that time. Youmu shut Lyrica down before she could even begin, and you probably weren't imagining how nervous Lunasa and Merlin were when you brought the ghostly gardener up. Just what happened to make those three so scared? "I just wanted to make sure everyone was okay, yeah." Though there's no clever way out of this situation and there's no guarantee that Lyrica's not going to let you have it when you leave the mansion anyway.
"Yeah, that's what I figured." Lyrica uncrossed her arms before crossing them again with the opposite arm on top, "...Sorry for storming off like that, I was just worried and tired."
You can almost feel the palpable aura of relief from Lunasa and Merlin as both of them relax as you and Lyrica seem to make up.
"How wonderful to see." Youmu speaks up from your other side, "But, if you will excuse me Zeke I believe that I should go and ensure that your Rumia is not doing anything untoward to my kitchen."
"I know you were, especially considering how this whole trip was up until Ayakashi was slain. None of us have had a real chance to calm down and unwind until this morning, and I accidentally set you off again." You don't feel quite so nervous at this point, but you do want to make your feelings on the matter known. "Ah, that's fine, Youmu!" You do acknowledge the gardener since your Rumia might just be doing untoward things to the garderner's kitchen. "So, Lyrica, the Resort Town is our next stop so we can have a chance to relax properly and recharge before we go to any Gyms. ...I know I said it already, but I wanted to add in that if one day's not enough I'm open to adjustments."
Youmu takes her leave at a pace that seems almost snail-like compared to how she normally zips about, seemingly strolling away as Lyrica answers you, "Yeah...well, let's figure it out for ourselves when we get there, Zeke. I mean, if there are enough dumb rich kids sitting around, it might take more than one day to roll all of them for money, right?" Her lips quirk up, amused by her own jest or at least trying to look a bit friendlier than she did.
"They'll probably try to buy us off of you one way or another, or throw a huge hissy fit and challenge you to a duel over it." Lyrica rolls her eyes, getting into proper form, "These are people who more cash than brain cells we're talking about, right?"
"It's not like that's difficult to be in their cases, dead sister." Merlin chimes in from on top of your head before breaking off into a giggle. Lunasa follows up after her sister, softly laughing herself as you find that the room feels much lighter.
"Well, their proverbial funerals~" You do feel quite content with how things have gone thus far, as it seems like the air's cleared up between you and Lyrica for now. "Shame we don't have an Amulet Coin or anything like that."
"We could always make it their literal funerals if they really push it though, right?" Lyrica asks as she buffs one of her hand's nails on her vest casually before giving them a look as they gleam sharply.
"Oh, you think we should scare them to an early grave?" Merlin asked curiously from atop your head still, apparently happy to enjoy the conversation since she has a chance to.
"Uhm...well..." Lunasa nibbles on her lips cutely for a moment, eyes concentrating, "As long as it's not rattling any chains, then I guess..."
That manages to get a chuckle out of you at least. "Well, we'd get in trouble if we actually killed anyone, so if you absolutely have to teach them a lesson keep it to scaring them half to death rather than all the way." You play along, albeit perhaps not in the most exaggerated direction but you're not being particularly serious about it.
"Psssh." Lyrica tosses her hair as if you've insulted her terribly, "Next thing you'll say is that we should wear nothing but sheets while we do it, huh?"
"Well, I don't want to give other people a show, but if there's going to be nothing under those sheets..." You roll your eyes and rub your chin to fake being deep in thought, as if the matter were a great philosophical debate instead of you messing around.
"Oh no Zekey, we'll wear nothing but sheets for you though." Merlin murmurs her sweet nothings into your ear, rubbing certain assets against you a bit more intensely, "What if we just used white paint instead? Or we could just paint you white and make spooky music as you stumble around their rooms blindly?"
Good grief, at this rate you're going to go erect from all the snuggling and teasing you're going through. Not that you're complaining, mind. "I don't think my being painted white and stumbling around would make them pee themselves so much as make them laugh. In that case it'd be down to the three of you to actually spook them."
"Don't underestimate what a good musical accompaniment can do to make something scary, Zekey." Lyrica chastises you with a finger way, "We could paint angry eyes on a tissue and tie it to a stick and scare someone with the right build up!"
...that actually sounds kinda hilarious.
"I'd have to trust you on that, but part of me has to wonder if the real goal isn't to scare other people so much as it is for you to watch me bumbling around in the dark." Now, on the one hand you have to think that your girls would have a vested interest in spooking spoiled rich kids. On the other hand they're all blatant perverts who chose to focus on you. It's not impossible that they'd be going for a twofer in that case.
"...Can't it be both?" Merlin asks of you, "I mean, really, I don't see how we can't achieve both of those goals."
"Uhm...Zekey?" Lunasa speaks up again, glancing towards the kitchen before speaking, "What are we going to be doing here?"
You roll your eyes at Merlin's comment, but look to Lunasa since she brought up a point. "We're going to be playing Uno, since I figured it'd be a nice way to spend some time. I wanted to use regular rules, but certain other people brought up the idea of strip Uno, so who knows if we're doing this normally or if I'm going to get ganged up on just so you all can make me strip down for you and potentially have me owe you a favor."
"Strip Uno." Lyrica cuts in immediately, destroying your fragile hopes.
"Strip Uno~." Merlin agrees, crushing your shaky hopes.
"Uhm...Strip Uno?" Lunasa adds on, grinding your remaining belief that you wouldn't get strip-well actually that might be a question, huh?
"Well, since I've now basically dug my own grave as it were, it's basically regular Uno except when someone wins everyone else has to discard a piece of clothing. Then the person who actually wins can call a favor on anyone else who lost. Though it should be something that can be done immediately." You add on that last part since Aya and Hatate didn't like the idea of hanging a favor over someone's head.
"Oh, so it works like that?" Lunasa seems to be a bit relieved, "Then, that's okay. But if the favor has to be used immediately, then-"
"Then we can't use it for kinky fun-times." Lyrica surmises, "Which is fine since Zekey does that without needing to use a favor to get him to do it. No, this can be used for something...special."
"Planning on asking our Zekey to curl up under a blanket with you while you cuddle and watch your favorite movies, Lyrica?" Merlin teases her sister with a positively romantic idea...or perhaps suggested something she'd like to do herself.
"I'm gonna make Zekey feed me grapes and rub my belly!" Rumia announces as she enters both the conversation and the room, carrying precariously stacked snacks on multiple trays. There's a real smorgasbord of finger food there, including some positively, delightfully, adorable tiny sandwiches.
Well, you can't argue with the idea of having snacks while you play, though you're a little worried about Rumia being that loaded up and carrying it all by herself. As far as your girls go, at the very least they're going with tamer ideas. You're going to keep what Merlin suggested in mind just in case that really is something she wants to do at some point. "Well, it looks like we're just about ready to start then. Rumia, are you okay hauling all that by yourself?"
"Huh?" Rumia turns her attention to you as she approaches the table, tripping over seemingly nothing and sending the trays-landing perfectly acceptably on the table? "Oh, yeah I'm fine Zekey! See?" She gestured to the table that has so many snacks placed out on it and-wait was that platter there a second ago? You could have sworn-there! Those cups are new too! All you did was blink!
...Either Rumia has some table-setting skill you're not aware of, or Youmu managed to dash in and take care of it all in the time it took for you to blink. The sad part is that both theories have equal merit, so there's no using logic to set out what actually happened there. "Well, that happened."
"What happened?" Rumia queries, the Prismrivers looking at the table themselves each with their own expression. Lunasa's eyes are a bit wider than normal, Lyrica's expression is flat as if she's still processing what she saw and Merlin... well, from what you can see she's covering her mouth with her hand as if she's just been given quite a shock. "Is it because of what I'm planning for you? Because if you'd rather spank me instead of rubbing my tummy, I can switch!" Rumia promises you, the light in her eyes suggesting that she's a'okay with either reward or punishment.
...Considering that this is the same girl who said it was okay for you to suddenly get intimate with her and seems to have a mild masochism streak, she probably would be okay with either option. "I don't think I'd do any punishing, I'm just commenting on how the table got set like that so fast."
"...Oh!" Rumia's eyes immediately switch over to the table, "...Well that's cause I put the stuff down on it Zekey. It's easy to do it fast if you know how!"
"Good job then, Rumia~" No sense in making her feel like it wasn't an accomplishment then, though you're kinda wondering why your Prismrivers were in a state of mild shock over it. Did they see something you didn't, or did they just react differently? "I guess we're just waiting on Youmu then!"
You see Aya and Hatate make their own ways to the table that's now quite decked out in food and glasses and what looks to be pitchers of various kinds of fresh juices and the occasional fizzy drinks. The two of them are being quite considerate and are on the opposite side of the table from you and the Prismrivers now. Likely they're trying to avoid setting off the Prismrivers again.
Honestly, you wish you could set your girls off a little less often, but with the way you are it's almost impossible not to do so. It's peaceful at the moment at the very least, so you opt to relax in the relatively peaceful atmosphere while simultaneously enjoying SlKogasa's body and Merlin's large, bouncy tits resting on your head.
Your eyes are drawn to the door that leads to the kitchen as Youmu enters, casually carrying a tray of drinks with one hand that she slowly, purposefully distributes along the part of the table that your group will be using, "Ezekiel." Youmu speaks up as she sets down a plate of cookies-but wasn't she only carrying drinks a second ago? "Why don't you sit at the head of the table? That way, SlKogasa can support you without you having to worry about her seeing your card."
"Alright. I wouldn't worry about that normally, but a game's supposed to be fair." Youmu does have a point, and even if you are sure to lose at the very least you'll do so without offering anyone a handicap. You momentary forget about Merlin's breasts being where they are, mostly because they're comfortable, and are swiftly reminded of their presence by the fact that you're now effectively faceplanted in them from below. You make a muffled request for her to move so she doesn't fall over or get dragged along or anything silly like that.
"Oh, fine Zekey." Merlin let's out a exaggeratedly annoyed huff as she pushes herself away from you and floats towards the table, which seems to signal the Prismrivers to move towards it on the whole. However, as SlKogasa oozes forward and takes up position on one side of the head of the table and expands herself to set you down in the chair at the head...
"There's no point in playing, if it isn't kept fair." Youmu states as she settles down in the first chair on the left of the head of the table, her posture picture perfect and her expression the very definition of polite interest, the sort of face a person makes either when they're excited and can't show it...or are in a situation they would rather be out of. You can't tell which it is in her case.
Oh dear. Both seats immediately next to you are taken now...
...Which conveniently puts everyone else outside of your immediate reach. Or perhaps it's Youmu helping to ensure that you stay out of everyone else's reach? Either way, Lyrica's probably less than content with this particular outcome. You still have the deck though, so you shuffle the cards set the deck in front of you. "In the interest of keeping things fair, we should each cut a card out of the deck to see who deals first, then rotate the dealers from there. Highest card wins the first deal."
"Whatever you think is best, Zekey." Lyrica speaks up, giving her opinion as she moves into the seat next to SlKogasa. Lunasa takes the seat immediately next to Lyrica, eyeing you and your current positioning with an unreadable expression on her face as Merlin easily claims the chair past Lunasa for her own, picking up a drink and knocking it back like it's no big deal.
"Oh, we're starting?" Aya's voice is perky as she zips into the chair next to Youmu, who turns her attention to the crow winged mon for only a moment before her eyes move away, "This is going to be fun."
"Good, wholesome fun for the whole family." Hatate agrees as she flips over the back of the chair and settles down in it, her wings folding up behind her back until you can scarcely even see them.
You cut the first card for yourself, slipping it out from the stack so as to only remove one and not potentially shank another player's chances here. Then it's pretty much up to them in regards to who cuts first after you.
Things proceed...shockingly smoothly, you find. The girls don't seem overly eager to cause any trouble right now, and each of them quietly takes a card from the stack as they're supposed to, each of them hiding their captured prey from the others. Absolute focus, fierce determination, neutral neutrality! These emotions and more are visible on the faces of the girls playing with you! "Zekey, doesn't highest card win and deal, or what?" Lyrica suddenly speaks up, breaking the silence as you realized that apparently none of them knew what was supposed to happen now, or at least didn't speak up.
"Yeah. Highest card wins the cut and deals out the first round of cards after all of them have been returned to the deck." You make a point of clarifying as soon as possible, though you get the impression your first has gone and drawn a high card.
"Hah, well. I've got a 9 right here!" Lyrica holds up a yellow nine with a grin on her face, apparently pretty happy that she won so easily. It seems like she did win, looking by the looks on the faces of the others as they reveal their cards, the many colored numbers all being lower than the nine that Lyrica has.
"Ezekiel?" Youmu speaks up as she reveals her card, all four colors as one being revealed as she sets it down on the table, a wild card in Lyrica's seemingly absolute dominance, "What's higher, her number or this?"
Lyrica's lips thin and her smile dims, just a bit, as she stares at the Youmu who's asking that question of you.
You look at the wild card Youmu drew, and consider Lyrica's expression. It takes a moment of deliberation in your head even though the answer is otherwise obvious... "Wild card's higher since it can be used to change the flow of the game."
Lyrica's smile becomes rather frigid and glassy, like she's now trying to keep her expression from changing to something far less pleasant for you to see. Youmu, meanwhile, is seemingly content with your answer as she sets about her hard won task. You've got the feeling...that this is going to not be as much fun as you'd hoped it would be.
You try to keep your expression from taking on a rather defeated look as the admittedly expected reaction takes place. You try your best to focus on your own hand and try not to lose too fast...
It is, perhaps, somewhat unsurprising that everyone seems to be gunning for you so aggressively. Each time you try to set yourself up for a victory and an improvement over your fortunes, you end up blocked or set back somehow by someone or another. All those beaming, smiling, smugging faces of your girls promise you something.
...Well, except for SlKogasa who just seems to be enjoying the game with a guileless smile on her face. Youmu's expression has settled for a soothing, neutrally positive smile that borders on bland as she makes her own plays. You think that she might be doing the best so far, but it's too early to be sure.
"Say Zekey..." Merlin's voice is thick with false innocence, "What's your favorite piece of clothing?"
"Eh?" Now there's a question you hadn't really put much thought to, not that you've ever really had much of a reason to do so to begin with. Now, you can take a wild shot in the dark and guess that Merlin's not looking for a practical answer or to do anything but figure out how to best throw you off. "Hm... That's a really general question since that can vary with the season, but right now a nice, tight pair of shorts is probably up near the top. Exposes some leg and emphasizes one's rear if you've got a decent set." Undergarments felt too obvious anyway. "I think I might have a pair to change into when we go to the resort town."
Merlin cocks her head to the side, eyes showing her intrigue at your response, "...My, I was asking that for purposes of what I was going to strip off of you first when I won this round, but if you have a shorts fetish that's good to know as well."
You blush a little at that bold claim. "Out of what I have on? I'll let you figure it out." You shift a little as you recognize why they're going so far out of their way to target you like this. Your girls could charm you out of your pants easily enough, but here they can take their sweet time with it. To strip victory after victory from you and your modesty with it until you're at the mercy of whoever manages to win the contest. Needless to say, you're both excited and a little nervous since you think that the situation you're in and being surrounded by a mob of wild Chen really isn't that much different from one another.
Your girls are just better at restraint.
"Obviously the boss's favorite piece of clothing is his birthday suit." Aya pipes in, getting an amused snort from someone on the Prismriver's side of the table as she grins at you widely.
"I don't think we can take his birthday suit away from him." Hatate adds onto her friend's statement, "Maybe we can make him wear nothing but a party hat for covering?"
...The entire game stops as the majority of the table's eyes suddenly look far away at the thought of you in a party hat and nothing else.
You roll your eyes in response to Aya's commentary on the matter, feeling that no matter what you say or do you're probably going to end up making the conversation turn worse for yourself somehow. Or at least, you're not going to be able to convince them to not actively tease you, you're something of an easy mark.
It's been a few rounds and you're kinda doing close to absolutely miserably. You've already lost your shirt, your belt, your pants, and another article or two of clothing and you're running a scenario a minute in your head trying to come up with some kind of counter-strategy for dealing with six people who are all specifically targeting you. Well, SlKogasa you're not so sure about. She could be another one specifically playing against you, or she could just be doing this casually. None the less she was essentially responsible for ensuring that your clothing came of as dictated by the game.
Your head is a slight mess as the game goes on, though you have a couple potential solutions. You just need to be able to get everyone to stop focusing on you and turn on each other. If you could pull that off then you could pick them apart at your leisure.
Well, one other thing you've picked up on is Youmu and her honestly rather intimidating poker face, that polite smile of a tried and true servant as she casually evades the occasional attempt against her and yet somehow never seems to draw your girls attention to her from it. It's almost like they're scared of her or something. Of course, that is actually probably true in this case.
"Zekey!" SlKogasa chirps up as she stares at her cards, her eyes hard and determined as they slide over to you, searching into your soul as if she can see what's in your hand through the reflections in your eyes, "...Got threes?"
...does she even know what game you're playing?
You're also kinda questioning how Kogasa can have a legitimate stake in this game seeing as she's technically perpetually naked. She could shed slime blobs or something, but the concept of that being done casually makes you a little nervous for her safety. Curse your worrywart nature sometimes. Coincidentally enough though, you really don't have any threes and simply shake your head to try and not let the others pick up on what you do or don't have quite so readily.
Actually, your eyes suddenly snap back to SlKogasa and you realize that she's...wearing clothing? You're not sure where she got the trench coat, trilby hat or that shirt that's soaking wet and clinging to her to reveal that she's apparently wearing a yellow polka dot bikini underneath all that, but apparently SlKogasa is clothed now.
You have to think that this is simultaneously silly and cute, and admittedly you're never going to be against a girl wearing a shirt that soaked through with slime. Plus it does accentuate what she has and- gah, head back in the game dangit! "That's not a bad outfit, Kogs."
Kogs eyes light up and she grins widely and burbles cheerfully at you, "Thanks Zekey~!" It seems like you've made her happy now that you've noticed her clothing... of course, the subtle sounds and the narrowed eyes of other parties at the table suggest that noticing her clothing somehow made them jealous that you didn't notice their clothing, which is actually the same things they always wear... at least as far as you can see.
While they are all focused on you, Youmu casually advances herself towards victory during that hand.
You feel slightly more awkward and like you just shot yourself in the foot for being a decent human being by noticing and complimenting Kogasa's adorable attempt to wear clothes, but who could honestly blame you for noticing her first? She's the one who spends her time not wearing clothes, so of course you'd spot it first. Aside from that, you don't notice how Youmu's just methodically advancing her agenda while you're having to struggle with everyone else. You could pull something off, but you need to do it soon.
With a massive grin on her face, SlKogasa wins the next round with a cheerful cry, "Full House!"
...Is this a joke, or does she really not know how to play the game?
You lost your last bit of clothing and dignity, and it was apparently unanimously decided that you would serve as a lap warmer after your defeat. Currently, you are sitting Lyrica's lap as she nuzzles her head into yours, her chin resting on your shoulder as she looks at the cards in her hand now after you were finally knocked out, "Hmmm...Comfy, Zekey?" She asks as she holds you to her closely, one arm wrapped around your middle.
"I am..." You're blushing half out of embarrassment for losing and half because you're in Lyrica's lap. You tried everything you could but your girls were... they were just bent on making absolutely sure that you couldn't do anything to stop any of them. You were just outnumbered and having to try and deal with Youmu as well was simply too much for you to handle.
"Oh? Are you sure there's not anything I couldn't do to make you...more comfortable?" Lyrica purrs into your ear as you feel one of her hands start to drift lower-
Only for Youmu to cough sharply and turn those polite, calm, frigid, terrifying eyes of her onto you and Lyrica, "Ezekiel needs to rest his body, Lyrica." Is all the swordswoman says.
And it seems that it's all she needs to say, considering that Lyrica's hand stops immediately.
Not that you would have really objected if you weren't having to rest, but you get the feeling that if you did allow this it wouldn't end with just Lyrica stroking you. Knowing your luck you'll change laps more than once, and your girls could easily get competitive.
"Mmmm..." Lyrica hums as she flicks her cards down when her time comes, managing to hold onto you for now as she presses herself up against your back, "Say Zekey...what do you think of being won as a prize like this?"
...You suddenly feel the attention of most of the room on you as SlKogasa red cards Youmu.
All the attention makes you blush, especially since it's such an immensely odd question. "It feels a little weird to be honest, but I'm okay with it because I'm playing... correction, was playing with mons I'm willing to trust. That being said, this sort of scenario is the only one where I'd be willing to be won like this." Honestly, you are silently cursing your need to recover right now seeing how Lyrica's pressing her body to yours and you enjoy both that and her natural scent.
"So we can put you up as collateral in poker after all then?" Merlin pipes in, resting her head in her hands as she bats her eyelashes at you and pouts cutely.
"In a private game amongst yourselves, but gambling your trainer on a game involving outside individuals is strictly forbidden." You still remember that bit about Merlin musing about using you to get a villa and figure that's part of where she may be going with this.
"Fantastic!" Merlin says with a grin, "That means we can put you up as collateral instead of getting knocked out of the game entirely then, doesn't it?"
You facepalm, as you really should have seen that one coming. "On second thought, scratch that. There's only one me, so if someone started using me for collateral there'd have to be some evidence that it's okay for them to do that. Aside from the chaos that would cause, I'd be technically owned by one of you in a given instance even if it's a just for fun type of thing." That was just a sticky web you'd be better off not getting caught in at all, knowing how your Prismrivers are. "Unless you all could agree on a system and stick with it."
"Well, it's either that or whoever won the last set gets you." Merlin points out, "Since Lyrica certainly would never be so cruel as to hog you all to herself...right, sister?"
"...Of course not." Lyrica's tone and smile must be sickly sweet to everyone else as she responds, "Why don't we just go with whoever is winning then, hmm? That way, I'll just keep him fair and square!"
"...Um..." You hear a tentative interruption from Lunasa, and as you glance to her you realize that she's already won, "...I don't think so?"
And just like that, you find yourself in the lap of your other silver-haired shiny Prismriver. No doubt she's in a state of at least partial undress, and you find yourself relaxing against her soon enough anyway while trying not to give Lyrica yet more reason to be irked with you. Though you're not sure if she'd really blow her top in regards to you being legitimately 'won' by one of her own adoptive sisters. She at least seems to be able to share you with them reasonably well.
You've traded places more than once, and thankfully it seems like being made to move around from lap to lap isn't causing you any issues. The game's progressing with Youmu and maybe Kogs holding something of a lead while the rest of your girls seem to be more fixated on you than actually winning the game. Any focus they had as a group fell apart the moment you were made into a prize to be won.
Which quite honestly, is about how you'd figure the game would go. Out of all the players at the table, only you, SlKogasa, and Youmu were playing objectively. You lost because everyone wanted to be sure that the request at the end would include you as well, and Youmu probably figured you'd be removed from the game without her having to so much as lift a finger. Out of the three of you, Youmu also pegs you as the one person who was planning not just one step in advance, but often five or even six with as many contingencies as she could manage.
Thinking of Youmu, aforementioned girl was, you realize, the only one at the table whose outfit seemed to be intact. Actually, thinking about it, had she lost any clothing at all. The calm, cool headed servant's eye catches your focus on her, and you can tell she's aware of you even if she's not emoting it...well, save for the corner of a lip quirking up slightly, though that may just be your imagination or a trick of the light.
"Yahtzee!" SlKogasa declares triumphantly as she tosses in a card, reversing the turn order of the game and getting a groan from Hatate who likely had sometime planned.
There was no doubt in your mind who was ultimately going to win the game considering how it was going. It was just a matter of how long it would take for the devout gardener to completely demolish your girls, since you note that they're catching up with you in terms of how undressed they are.
Well, not that you're complaining. All that nubile, giggling exposed flesh, concealed only by a variety of underwear and their remaining clothing that some of them still had.
...Actually, somehow SlKogasa wearing nothing but a Trilby Hat and a polka-dot bikini top is pretty arousing.
You're reeeeeeeally cursing your need to recover right now because you can't start anything the moment this game's over. You probably don't have the best self-control in the world, but you're an active young man in a room with beautiful mons who have decided to share their lives with you. Odds are good that whoever's got you right now is quite aware of your opinion of the matter.
"Hmmmmm?" Merlin hums, her fingers lightly touching the undamage parts of your chest in a petting motion as her scent and the feeling of her body on yours makes you feel even more 'tense', "Is something the matter, Zekey? You feel all...riled up."
You're also probably blushing now that you're aware that your rather buxom Merlin is aware of you. "That's because I am. I mean, look at this scenario." You use your hand to gesture to the increasingly nude players as you make your point. "Pretty much all of my girls are in some state of undress and are practically flaunting it. Plus, even if they weren't I'd have to be asexual not to feel anything from all this."
"Or gay." Aya adds on as she flicks her card down, seemingly a touch irritable that she got to keep you for the least amount of time out of all the girls.
...Which may actually be the best for you. Sweet shinki those wing hugs feel so good even when she's not getting sensual with it. It's like being hugged by a giant down comforter that loves you!
...Which may actually be the best for you. Sweet shinki those wing hugs feel so good even when she's not getting sensual with it. It's like being hugged by a giant down comforter that loves you!
"Well, true." You roll your eyes at that addition noting that Aya is quite right about it, and you're quickly shuffled off to the next winner. "So it's just slightly frustrating, is all." A plight your girls are no doubt fully capable of sympathizing with seeing as you're stark naked but they can't do anything with you in that state.
You're suddenly placed in Rumia's lap...Rumia, who is perhaps the only girl in your group who doesn't loom over you at least a bit. This leads to the somewhat comical situation of you being able to feel her breath against your back as she just barely manages to peer over your shoulder at her cards.
"Zekey? Can you feed me something salty?" She asks of you, apparently hoping for you to be useful while you're in her lap, aside from being warm.
...Of course she has to phrase it that way. Either she's really being innocent here or she's noticed how riled up you are. Either way it'd probably be worth it to at least try to play it off. "Did you have anything you want in particular?" Or to confirm one way or the other.
"Do we have any more white chocolate pretzels?" Rumia speaks into your shoulder as she tosses a card down, forcibly changing the color flow and making a mess of everyone's plots and plans, "I loooove white chocolate that's got saltiness to go with it~!"
So that's all, good. "Alright~" You can agree to that much, and manage to quickly procure a bag that happened to be close by. You start to perform the mildly tricky act of managing to shift yourself so you can feed her without straining yourself or otherwise getting SlshYoumu irked with you again. Admittedly, she is cute like this.
Of course, this leads to you having to shift how you're sitting in her lap until you're daintily resting your side against her front so that you can feed her the snacks she wants so much. The feeling of her lips wrapping around your fingers and then her lightly suckling at them while looking at you with those cheerfully sparkling red eyes of hers isn't unwelcome really.
The feeling of horrible pressure from the other girls watching you is though.
Though that feeling is somewhat mitigated by the fact that they all agreed to this setup and they know full well what you're like so they really don't have much reason to complain to you. If they're directing that toward Rumia though, then they have a bit more grounds for that since getting fed snacks by her young, nubile, naked trainer lovingly is in fact a perk and not something that was agreed upon.
It occurs to you as you sit in Hatate's lap that your Prismriver's immediately sync with one another when you're in the lap of someone else in this game. It's not just a matter of getting you back in their personal lap's, but they seem to actually work together to guarantee you're passed back across the table again so that at the very least they can more readily tease you. At this moment, they seem quite determined to do that.
Of course, that could be because Hatate has both of her wings wrapped around you, hugging you to her pleasantly firm body as she plays with a well maintained neutral-bored expression. Those wings are rather nice, you find. What makes the situation even nicer is that Aya's stretched out one of her wings and is gently, softly petting your head with those magnificently soft black feathers of hers.
"Say, Boss." Hatate speaks up, whispering softly into your ears, "I was thinking...when we win this, how would you like to just cuddle some, hmm? There's not a blanket out there better than our wings, you know."
Wow, did that glass just shatter across the table? Lyrica wasn't even touching it.
You hear a faint, annoyed sigh coming from somewhere to your right, and you suspect that poor Youmu is annoyed at the loss of yet more glasses.
"I wouldn't mind that at all." You respond just as quietly, feeling that you probably wouldn't just cuddle the tengu mons but could very well want to fall asleep in their arms. Granted, the fact that Lyrica's annoyed enough to essentially start breaking things with her mind is just a touch worrisome...
"Oh, our wings are reaaaaal soft, boss." Aya crows, her grin making it obvious she's masterfully baiting you, the Prismrivers and anyone else who falls for her hook, "We can do some things with them that nobody else could, you know?"
"If he makes a mess in our wings though, he has to clean them up himself." Hatate cuts in, firmly making her stance on the matter of you dirtying her wings known.
"I'm kinda still not allowed to do really lewd things today, you know." You reply slightly nervously while keeping Hatate's words in mind. Given how touhoumon could be, you had no doubt in your mind that she means to make you use your tongue for that.
"Lewd things, hm~?" Aya hums as her grin becomes a bit wider almost murderous, in a sexual sort of way. "Oh it really is a shame that we'd get tarred and unfeathered by Youmu, but it's for your own good that you don't do anything strenuous today boss."
"Very, very much a shame." Hatate agreed with her closest friend, "But as neither of us want to risk your health or risk getting tarred and unfeathered, we'll just have to stick to verbal teasing and hugging like we're giddy school girls."
"At least until tomorrow, at which point I'll be free game again." You roll your eyes and note that Merlin did say she ideally wanted to make you want to go to bed with her each night more or less. ...That does make you think though. How are sleeping arrangements going to be handled? When it was just your Prismrivers, that was one thing. SlKogasa didn't worsen the situation any, but now you have three more mons who would probably enjoy nighttime snuggling.
"You might wish to make a rotation, Ezekiel." Youmu suggests to you, her voice as low and calm as ever as she plays her latest move, and you realize she still hasn't lost any clothing yet, "One that includes giving you breaks, of course. Constant, rigorous activity without giving your muscles a chance to relax and repair themselves would be...inadvisable." Youmu turns to face you and graces you with a positively polite smile, "You wouldn't want to repeat something like today again, would you?"
"That or we could just have a gigantic cuddle pile." Merlin suggests, flipping an errant stand of her hair out of her face.
"Cuddle puddle!" SlKOgasa cheers with glee, throwing up her hands in celebration and reminding you once again that somehow her slimy bosom is even more impressive behind that itty bitty yellow polka dot bikini that she wore for the first time today.
"Well, yeah I do plan to do that, Youmu. I've got more girls than I can legally keep with me and I have that Ayakashi egg which will only add to that number somewhere down the road. Ideally I would be able to just cuddle some nights too. Making love is wonderful, but sometimes you just want to hold someone close and drift off to sleep together." Aside from your reasoning, you really can't help but think that Kogasa's breasts are purposely being emphasized by that bikini top. It's... surprisingly nice. You didn't think restraining the goo would help that much, but it does.
"It's wonderful to hear you've thought so far ahead, Ezekiel." Youmu praises you, seemingly sincere in it.
...It actually feels kinda nice, doesn't it?
"Obviously, we'll have to all...talk about who gets what nights then, right?" Lyrica speaks up, drawing attention to herself. Judging by her expression, she seems to have control of herself right now and her tone isn't particularly hostile or anything. Which is surprising, given that she's been knocked down to nothing but her panties. What's not surprising is that she's not even bothering to hide anything.
Which manages to be more distracting than they normally are. Maybe it's because of the nature of just why she's disrobed? The psychology of social situations like this wasn't something your mother taught you about.
The fact that it's a slow, gradual process probably has something to do with it. You hadn't considered the fact that you'd be just as affected by the concept of one of your girls being stripped piece by piece until there was nothing left to hide as they are in regards to you being put in the exact same scenario. You nod in response to Youmu though. "Thanks. It sounds like such a basic idea, but then you're actually in that scenario and it's a lot tougher than it looks." You look to Lyrica too, since she mentioned discussions. "I plan to help sort that out too. Ideally everyone should get a turn."
"And some of them should ride their show pony as a duet...or a triplet, in our case." Merlin suggests with a sultry smile and a bat of her eyelashes at you, drawing your attention onto her and off of Lyrica with ease as she teases you, seeming to enjoy how you react to such blatant flirtation.
You feel your face heat up predictably as Merlin makes that rather blatant statement of intent. "I really don't have any resistance to that sort of thing at all..." You whine slightly as you note that yes, you're still very much girl bait and that you're also willing bait when it comes to your girls.
"Which is precisely why we love teasing you so much, right girls?" Merlin's smile doesn't fade in the least, nor does she show an ounce of apology or sympathy for having so casually made your heart go all aflutter.
"I tease Zekey because he makes the funniest faces when you switch from top to bottom." Lyrica tosses in her card into play, "It's like a puppy that doesn't understand why you stopped petting."
"Uhm...I think Zekey is especially cute when he's enjoying something that he didn't expect to." Lunasa puts in her own thoughts. Well, out of the Prismrivers she was the most...experimental when you encouraged her to be. You honestly didn't expect to enjoy some of the things she did during that week to you, but once you'd settled matters with her it was rather fun and unique.
"I like teasing Zekey because he tastes delicious and fills me up!" Rumia declares with absolute cheer and lack of tact, "Also because he makes me feel really good in really naughty ways!"
"Hmmm..." The Hatate holding you hums thoughtfully as her wings shift in their hug around you, featherlight touches running along your naked body and soothing down any nerves, "...I tease Boss because he enjoys it."
"Oh, I was just going to say that!" Aya snaps her fingers and turns her hawking gaze onto her friend, a teasing grin quirking onto her lips, "I tease the boss because he's the kinda guy who likes to get teased and tease right back."
Well, now that you're the center of attention again in a way thanks to your girls supplying all the reasons they like to mess with you, you look to SlKogasa since she's the only one who hasn't said anything yet.
SlKogasa is staring down at the table, her eyes dimming and then brightening back up only to dim again. As soon as she notices your attention on her, her head snaps up and she looks at quizzically, as if to find her answer there.
Finally, she simply smiles with good cheer and states her piece.
"I tease Zekey because I love Zekey!"
You didn't think your face could heat up much more, but that honest little declaration of love hit much harder than anything else said so far. You mostly stay quiet for now because you just can't think of anything to say in response to all that.
It's an almost oppressive feeling, you find, as everyone stares at the middle of the table as though they never saw it coming. You though...you suppose you saw this coming from the start. Youmu sits primly in her seat, delightfully in control of herself and for all accounts presenting herself as content with having won the whole kit and kaboodle and your bootie too. Your Prismriver's expressions are certainly something to see, as Lunasa looks dreadfully disappointed while Merlin seems almost direly amused in a sour sort of way and Lyrica...bites her lip to keep from saying anything. SlKogasa is burbling something happily in a conversation that you weren't paying attention to to Rumia, who has devested the table of its food. At least, the parts of the table that are within reach of her.
Aya, who was the last one to have had you in her lap, lets out a depressed and forlorn sigh as she pets you on the head, "Well, it would have been fun Boss." Her voice carries the weight of how much her loss has affected her, even as Hatate pats her consolingly on the back.
"Well, look on the bright side. Now we get to see what he looks like in the hostesses lap." Hatate tries to cheer up her friend, and Aya does seem to perk up a bit at that as she decides it'll be fun to see. Lyrica though just bites down seemingly harder.
"It's not like there won't be other times, Aya." You purposely snuggle against her a little more before you have to get moved to SlshYoumu's lap. It's not much more than a gesture, but at the same time it felt like the right one to make. You can't really miss your Prismriver's expressions though. Something tells you that if Youmu weren't such a sturdy, well-disciplined individual your Prismrivers would be rioting about now.
"But I wanted to snuggle you now..." Aya huffs before letting out a resigned sigh and carefully shifting how she's holding you, taking you up into her arms and with casual ease moving you over to be put into Slash Youmu's lap.
Slash Youmu, for her part, seems a strange mixture of resigned and amused to play along with the group decision and takes you into her arms from Aya, holding you against her as she sets you down on her lap.
...This feels different from being in any of the other's laps. There's a sort of feeling you're getting from her that's different. Maybe though, what's actually happening is that you're not getting a feeling from her that you get from them? You guess you feel more relaxed in a way, for some reason. "Is this comfortable, Ezekiel?" Youmu's voice is soft as it whispers into your ear from just behind you, one arm wound around your chest to hold you steady.
"It is, Youmu." You can't quite place it, but it feels like SlshYoumu offers a certain level of security when you sit on her. It's different from when you're being carted around by Kogasa though, but that's a given seeing as she's a slime while Youmu's a solid state being. She's also quite gentle.
"Now then..." Youmu turns her gaze onto the rest of the room, and you can see them tense as her eyes rove over each of them in turn, "I believe the terms of the game were that it was a punishment game, correct? I can give each of you an absolute order, within reason."
"Yes." Lyrica grumbles, speaking for all of them.
You're actually kinda curious about what this will entail, seeing as you're also one of the participants in this little game. You just got knocked out so early on that you were delegated to being the prize for winning a hand.
...Which, actually makes you wonder something. How did Youmu win if you didn't end up in her lap-ah! You realize it now. Youmu always unobtrusively didn't request you be handed off to her, so even though she so readily maintained her lead and advantage over the others they never focused on her and only focused on getting you!
"Well then...I believe I have assignments for all of you." Youmu's tone, though polite, makes it obvious that she'll brook no insubordination, "The Prismrivers will be cleaning out the Master's Suite and ensuring that it will be in tip top shape for their master when he needs to call upon it. Of course, since they're cleaning and ensuring it's ready, if it was their desire to exchange the furniture there now for something else in storage, that would be up to them...within reason."
Well, the Prismrivers actually seem somewhat pleased with this assignment. Probably because it means that they get to decorate your room, apparently. "Aya, Hatate, you both will be assigned to clearing out the Attic and Lofts. They're rather out of use, but they shouldn't need more than an intense dusting and wiping off of surfaces to get rid of the majority of the mess."
"Rumia and Kogasa, I need the both of you to return to the basement and start cleaning up and organizing the storage areas aside from the wine room and cold storage. You're to stay out of those." Rumia pouts, though she seems to freeze up at something you can't see, "Am I understood?"
"Yes ma'am~!" SlKogasa salutes, having put on her bikini once more after having officially lost. Does she...know what kind of affect it has on you?
...Wait, is she just assigning all of them to cleaning up the house?
"That's an interesting use of a command." You say, feeling somewhat amused that SlshYoumu had spent such a thing on something so practical. "I'm not exempt from the rules either, so what would you have me do?"
"You," Youmu turns that gaze of hers onto you as you feel a weight settle on your shoulders, metaphorically speaking, "are going to rest and recover properly and make sure that you don't end up stressing anything important in your body. At least being passed around as a lap warmer has kept you from doing some inadvisable, like trying to help with the repairs or cleaning."
"Come on, I'm not that reckless." You don't exactly flinch away from her gaze, but it's something along the lines of what it feels like when your mother makes you stop doing silly things after being hurt. It's a pointed command, but at the same time it's out of concern for your well-being. "At least, not normally."
"I can only draw conclusions from what I have seen myself, Ezekiel." Youmu's expression isn't really harsh per say, but you guess it's more skeptical, "From what I have seen, you are a brave and heroic young man, but the thing the brave, the heroic and young men in general all have in common is a pronounced sense of recklessness. For a person who has all three of those traits, I do not believe it to be unreasonable to be concerned."
That is more or less true, as much as you may not want to admit it. "I can see your point. I'll leave myself in your care and will try not to do anything stupid."
"Wonderful." Youmu seems to accept your word before moving on in the conversation, "I'll be taking him back to his temporary room and ensuring he rests properly. Please get to work promptly." Youmu speaks to the rest of the room as she stands up and marches out the door, not giving them a moment to protest before she leaves and enters the main hallway.
...Hmm, she's not moving quickly at all while she's carrying you. Actually she's going rather slowly.
It makes sense, considering how adamant she's been about you not straining yourself and hurting yourself worse. It's not likely that she'd do something that would potentially be worse than what you do to yourself on an increasingly routine basis. You can't really think of how to strike up a conversation with the gardener, however.
"Are you upset that you will not have anyone to cuddle with my victory, Ezekiel?" Youmu speaks up, her eyes straight ahead as she carries you along without a single uncomfortable jolt for you, "If it bothers you so much, I could get you a stuffed animal."
"That's not it. I enjoy being able to sleep in bed with someone, but it's more like I'm just not sure what to talk to you about that isn't horrendously tactless." You keep your gaze off the gardener for the time being as well, feeling slightly embarrassed despite the fact that it would almost be unreasonable for you to be able to chat with Youmu flawlessly after a day.
"I am not that easy to offend, Ezekiel." Youmu's voice expresses a sort of exasperated amusement, like a teacher explaining something to a beloved but rather slow student. "Unless, of course, you were to do something I specifically told you not to do, or said something you know would be foolish, and since you know not to do that I doubt we need worry about it."
"I know, I just worry sometimes. That aside, I hope you had fun playing earlier. I thought I saw at least a smirk on your face at one point." Well, nothing wrong with keeping it to the card game earlier for the moment to break the ice, then see where it goes from there.
"It was very different from anything I've had the chance to do for the past long while." Youmu admits with a wistful expression, "It was...nice to hear laughter and conversation like that in this manor and for it to be so innocent again. It has been a very long time since I have taken a chance to play a game with more than one other."
"I'm glad to hear that. It'll only become livelier as I travel too, considering how I am." You managed to pick up no fewer than... what, three girls in the last two days? Plus the Ayakashi egg and technically you've got four. You have no doubt in your mind that things are going to stop being lonely around here, likely soon.
"I'm certain you don't need a reminder as to why it would be wise to curtail your rapid gathering of more girls under your banner, correct?" Youmu arcs an eyebrow at you placidly, as if she already knows the answer but is willing to give you an out.
"I know... It's not even something I planned for." You faceplam as you're reminded, knowing full well just how unintentional this whole thing actually was. "Aya and Hatate chose me when I actually cared about them, Rumia was because I needed help and I was separated from my group, and I didn't think the Ayakashi would leave an egg behind as loot." You let your hand go back to a more neutral spot once you say that. "Even if I say I won't get involved with any more mons for the time being, I could easily land in another situation similar to the one that got me gut punched."
"Fighting a monstrously powerful being for the sake of a girl you just met? Yes, there's a reason I called you a brave, heroic, young man. I am aware that if someone is ever in need of help, you're the sort of person who wouldn't be willing to leave them." Youmu carries you past the main entrance hall and past a grand window, out of which you can see a garden and a brief flash of red hair among the flowers as a particularly large one settles into place.
"Exactly. I'll limit my planned additions, but I don't think I've made one since my Prismrivers. ...Well, semi-planned additions in that case." You sigh lightly in response, noting that even though Youmu is right, the mansion scenario proved that sometimes you don't get a choice. "Well, I hope you don't mind helping someone as troublesome as myself."
"It is my duty to assist you, Ezekiel." Youmu reminds you as pushes open the door to your temporary room and enters it, carrying you to the bed which she sets you down before slowly pulling the covers up onto you, letting you get cozy, "I have a debt, and must repay it. Besides, I have nothing else now." Her reminder is blunt, but you supposed true.
"Still, thank you." You find yourself not minding the interaction at all, though the fact that she brought up how little she actually has in her life... You wipe away any thought of actually being able to help with that. She's been watching over Erika with loving devotion for over thirty years. You couldn't even begin to imagine what it would be like in her shoes right now, let alone be able to figure out how to help her.
"My only request is that you do your best to live up to her expectations of you." She responds simply, with a request that's anything but simple, "I do not expect perfection of you, nor should you expect perfection of yourself. However, that doesn't mean you should ever settle or accept limits. Continue to advance and push yourself further while not giving up what Mistress saw within you."
"I will. I can do that much, I think." In the end it came back around to Erika again, though it at the very least feels less awkward since Youmu was the one to bring it up and not you.
"I'm certain you can." Youmu nods her head in agreement, watching you quietly for a moment as you find yourself feeling very tired. Apparently your activities and injuries took a lot out of you, since you feel like taking a nap already. Though, it's also possible it's whatever medicine was used to speed up the process...especially since some of that medicine was probably SlKogasa's slime.
"I'm probably going to nod off now though. I'm pretty sleepy." You're not in any condition where falling asleep would be a bad thing, and it probably wouldn't do you any good to try and push your body to remain awake past what it's willing to put up with. You've kind of abused it more than you have at any point prior to this, after all.
"I understand. Rest, I will ensure you're cared for and check on you regularly, Ezekiel." Youmu reaches out, almost tentatively, and places a cool, calming palm on your forehead that helps put you at ease and relax any lingering worries. She's...a good girl, huh?
You nuzzle into the contact almost on reflex as you start to nod off proper, feeling quite relaxed if nothing else. The fact that Youmu's willing to help you even now says a lot about her, really. Reliable, loyal, skilled... she reminds you of Yume and Ruukoto in a way.
Sleep comes easily, and dreams come easier still. What would you dream of?
[X]The Melancholy Existence of an Engineer
[X]Trials of an Alchemist
[X]Dungeon Crawling for Dummies
[X]The Greatest Captain the Galaxy has ever known
[X]Freud’s Field Day
Well this was a fine showing of your comeback! It's great to see this story updated.
As for my choice of dream, this:
[X]Trials of an Alchemist
I wouldn't mind seeing some alchemical magic in nature, all the crazy elixirs that can be made, the sheer obsession many of them had for immortality, the ability to turn base metals into precious metals, it's all good! Especially the elixir of immortality they all researched on!
As an aside from all this, how is Nobody doing. I'm not trying to pry or push for updates, just honestly wondering since you mentioned he was having RL problems. Is he doing better?
> "I mean seriously we're Tengu, Boss. Tengu who like you, so introducing you to the kilometer high-club is pretty high on our list of 'things to do', since firstly it feels absolutely amazing and secondly it's fun when a boy squirms and clings to you because they don't want to fall."
Snrk, poor/lucky Wilheim
Hm, I can only wonder just which dream would involve who. My guesses are that the Engineer is Nitori or Rika(I think I got that right, I'm not familiar with pre-EoSD Touhou), I'm not sure about Alchemist, Captain can be Murasa or her PC-98 equivalent(I forgot again), Freud's Field Day is very likely to be Koishi.
>>180788 Could be Marisa, given that beating up monsters and stealing everything not nailed down is her MO. And she treats Subterranean Animism as a dungeon crawl if Alice is her partner. Or it could be Gissele teaching a course.
How can I not pick what could potentially be filled with pen- I mean Koishi? Looking at the votes, though... I doubt it will win. But tide-pissing is a must!
Great to see an update! I was horribly sad to see this story go! It became my favorite story ever the moment I heard that it was inspired by MGQ, after all. Great game. Not to mention that we have to most adorable Rumia I've seen, in our party. I'm as happy as a button right now! And I'm relieved to hear that life is easing up on one of the authors.
I've suddenly thought of something: Erika's dad was looking for a particular plant to cure Erika's sickness. She's dead so that's moot, but I'm wondering if we could ask Zeke's mother about the plant, since we do have Samantha's audio logs that mention something about the plant? We do know that Zeke's mother is well-traveled so she might know or have some more about this plant and its legend. Heck she might even know more specifically the disease Erika was suffering from.
>>180904 Well perhaps we could find the fate of Erika's father? I just thought that Zeke's mother, being well-traveled herself might know something about what ailed Erika and what the plant mentioned was.
> [ ]The Melancholy Existence of an Engineer
> [ ]Trials of an Alchemist
Full Metal Alchemist or Atelier <insert name here>
> [ ]Dungeon Crawling for Dummies
Tower of Druaga or Record of Lodoss War or Slayers
> [ ]The Greatest Captain the Galaxy has ever known
Irresponsible Captain Tylor or Seikai no Monshou or Star Trek
> [ ]Freud’s Field Day
Persona 3: The Animation or Neon Genesis Evangelion or Berserk
[X] The Greatest Captain the Galaxy has ever known
>>181069 I've been away for a while; I didn't get a chance to vote earlier. (And no, not actually "randomly enter other series", but we're about to have a dream sequence after an exhausting day while injured; much could be excused.)
Ack, forgot to call the vote. Thanks to you lot and your picking the Freudian vote, you're going to get something interesting. And by interesting I mean you've done something terrible. Have fun guessing why.
>>181082 While people may know him I suspect, and I include myself in this statement, that most don't really know his psychology other than everything is somehow connected with sex and children want to fuck their opposite-sex parent. So even then we really wouldn't know the "land mine".
SLDT: You said " terrible". Is this terrible in the sense of a bad end coming up or terrible in the sense of fucking over a currently good relationship we have with someone?
>>181080 I call it a landmine as it was among a bunch of mystery choices and nothing to tell anon that they'd be blowing their foot off instead of getting some Koishi time or Yumeko time.
>>181083 I'd like to know that as well so I can brace for how much the story might get ruined or the "side trek". Hopefully it'll end better than the last major case of something ending terribly out of the blue.
>>181072 >>181086 Eh it might actually be a good thing. It forces Zeke to confront the stuff he sorta represses. And if years of after school specials and very special episodes have taught me anything, it's always best to confront our fears.
I said giant, not somewhat above average. From what I can tell, Merlin is like a D cup or around that. I'm talking fucking E or F cups. Big, giant, bouncing, milky tits that could swallow up mini-Zeke so completely not even the head pokes out from between the two.
Honestly, you don't dream of overly much. Might be something of a blessing considering what you've encountered in the mansion prior to helping to put the Ayakashi present in the mansion's basement down for good, though at the same time your mind isn't so easily distracted from its own thoughts. Your first thought is about how annoyed Lyrica has been with you overall lately. It seems like every single time you do something that hasn't focused on her or at least one of her adopted sisters she gets angry. You suppose that's a perfectly normal thing seeing as you've been adding party members left and right without meaning to, and she hasn't had time to adjust. Toss in Rumia and she's probably going to be pretty easily annoyed for a while.
Which makes Slash Youmu's assistance in the matter earlier appreciated because unlike you, she has both the will and capacity to put her foot down so your first doesn't go over the top in expressing her irritation. It doesn't help that you just aren't really that sure where to draw the line yourself, assuming it's even possible for you. It makes you wish you had a little bit more experience under your belt, or at least have Yume, Ruukoto, or even your mother to turn to for advice. Not that you're sure how much they could help at a distance.
Though by the same token, you're still sort of glad you're out of the house and adventuring. You love your family, but at the same time you kinda don't miss how your mother and Yume occasionally got it on and you occasionally walking in on them in the middle of it...
YAR ABOVE THIS POINT THAR BE NAUGHTY -and you blink yourself blearily to awareness as you stare down at Slash Youmu, who you have currently somehow tackled to the ground and have your hands on her shoulders. Or, perhaps she caught you when you hurled yourself out of bed lunging at a figment of your imagination. You can almost hear mocking laughter in the back of your mind.
Youmu's eyes casually, calmly turn their attention first to one hand and then the other as they press down on her shoulders to keep her on the ground as you're positioned so that your legs push hers aside slightly and you feel something sensitive, and sticky, bumping against something that does not belong to you.
Her eyes turn down and take that in as well before they slide back up and lock onto your own, the razor sharp glint in them being unmistakeable as one eyebrow slooooowly begins to rise up. She hasn't said anything yet, but...you're not sure if that's a good or bad sign.
Your mind grinds to a halt as you take stock of your situation. You are on top of SlshYoumu after somehow surprising her enough to knock her down, your groin is absolutely filthy with your own sex fluids again, and if anyone walked in on this now it would look like you're actively assaulting her. ...Well, save for the fact that everyone who could knows that you are literally no threat to the gardener at all, but that's beside the point. Your face is flushing red out of shame and embarrassment, and you're pretty much frozen. The first thing out of your mouth is...
I apologize for how long this took. The blame lies solely at my feet. Life kicked me in the shins and then spray lemon juice in my eye, metaphorically speaking. That's why this took so long to get done.
Also, you really did manage to pick the only porn option. I'm impressed, you guys are like porn seeking bloodhounds or something.
Were I in that situation I'd be panicking, so this is my choice.
May we always have porn-seeking senses as keen of that of a bloodhound's. The sex scene was great, but I just have one criticism: we didn't get to fuck her pussy! If only the dream had lasted longer and we got to see Zeke dominate his mother. But it really was a great scene, definitely hot!
Also Zeke needn't worry about him liking his mother in such a way, since she and Yume and Ruukuto like him back in the same way IIRC. Certainly Ruukuto that's for sure! And hey with medical tech and science as advanced as it is in the Touhoumon world, interbreeding probably isn't dangerous.
>>181569 You maybe closer than you think actually. If a Touhoumon is born from a human-touhoumon union, and the Mon treats the human more like a dildo than a loving partner, the touhoumon daughter might just start fucking the dad as well. Very Freudian I'd say.
>>181557 I was thinking that the "figment" in the dream was actually Zeke's mom for that very reason.
[x] I can explain.
File 140997017495.png- (975.25KB
, Ghostly Gardener in a Better Mood.png
Sorry about the wait, folks. It... wow, took us less than a month this time? Nob found this neat little site called Titanpad that basically lets us add to the update whenever we can as opposed to only being able to sit down and try to write out as much as we can. Hopefully this means each update doesn't take quite as long.
"OhsweetShinkiI'msorrypleasedon'thurtme." Your apology comes out so fast that you're not totally sure if you said what you meant to that time, but you're having a very understandable reaction to your position. You're pretty sure that SlshYoumu wouldn't actually do anything permanent, but at the same time you're so spooked and mortified that you can't really think straight.
"...I was not intending to." The Youmu informs you, as the proximity you have to her allows you to take in all sorts of details about her face you didn't notice before. A few very faint scars that almost match the color of her skin so closely that you'd only notice them up close, and how her hair is kept in a far less prim trim than the other Youmu you met back at the White Tower, "I assume by the sticky mess you're rubbing against me that you had 'pleasant' dreams and that's the reason you tackled me upon waking?"
You're blushing in embarrassment in response to that. "More like a dream I'd rather forget. I didn't think I was actually moving around in my sleep like that." Still, you can't help but admire this Youmu's features from this close up despite the awkward scenario. She has a rugged charm to her that reinforces her steadfast and devout nature. "Uh, anyway..." You make a point of getting up off the gardener and hold your hand out for her to take to help herself up, if she so desired.
Youmu calmly seemingly rolls up onto her feet as you get off of her, not needing your hand to help her up as she lightly dusts herself off, "I see. You are discomforted because you dreamt of someone you don't view that way sexually, yes?" She probes bluntly, slipping in through your relaxed defenses and penetrating your exposed rear to the crux of the issue in a single verbal thrust.
You feel a renewed sense of awkwardness as she hits the nail on the head pretty much in an instant. "Pretty much." You don't feel like elaborating on the subject much at all at the moment, and would honestly prefer to get cleaned up before dealing with your girls. You trust them, but at the same time you also pretty much at the peak of Touhoumon bait at the moment. "Do you want to make sure I'm fully recovered now?"
"If you can leap out of your bed in an attempt to ravish me, I am somewhat sure that you're probably fine." Youmu responds with that perfectly blunt, perfectly neutral way of hers, "Even so, I'll double check to make sure. Take off your shirt."
You do so without question, leaving yourself shirtless for the gardener to inspect.
Youmu reaches out wordlessly and begins to feel your chest and then lower down, touching across your body and applying some pressure here and there to see how you respond to it. You don't feel pain when she touches your lower body and presses in to see just how you react, "Hmmm..."
"Nope, no pain." You confirm as the gardener touches you. If there's no pain anywhere she's touching, you're probably recovered enough to not be stuck in bed all day. This is good because you want to wipe last night’s dream out of your memory and you’re pretty sure none of your girls would mind some funtime later today.
"That's good to hear. Then, as long as you don't try something like that again, you should be fine to get out there and do what you do, Ezekiel."
"At the rate I'm going, I'm a little nervous about making any sort of promise on the matter." You decide to go ahead and start getting some clothes sorted out since you're definitely going to bathe first to make yourself presentable. "I'm going to go ahead and bathe before getting something to eat." You don't really feel the need to explain why that is, given that Youmu knows as well as you do.
"Of course, Ezekiel. Do you wish for me to guide you to a bath, or should I simply give you directions to a suitable one?" Youmu asks, slipping seamlessly away from you and back into her professional mode.
"I wouldn't mind the company, so I would like you to guide me to one." That and it would let you learn the layout of the mansion a little bit more.
"Understood. Then, once you've collected your clothing I'll lead you to a bathroom that should allow you your...privacy." Youmu explains.
You manage that in short order, and motion for the gardener to lead the way.
"Then, please follow me." Youmu turns on a heel and walks out of the door, swiftly pivoting on a heel and making a right down the hall in a direction that you haven't gone yet in this place.
You follow along in silence since there's not really a whole lot to talk about at the moment.
Youmu leads you in silence down the hallway, taking you past several doors before stopping at one and pushing it open, revealing...a bathroom inside that has no windows, and simply vents to let out excess steam, "This should serve your purposes, and allow you some privacy to cleanse yourself."
"Thank you, Youmu. I shouldn't be too long." You head inside and close the door behind you before stripping down and setting the dirty clothes down in a hamper or some equivalent. You took the time to make it so at the very least your underwear and pants have their mess on the inside and anyone else who handles it shouldn't have to touch it. Granted, Youmu's probably going to be the one to actually handle the laundry so it shouldn't even be an issue, but...
Though that raises the awkward thought in your head of why you cared about who handled your clothes. Aside from Youmu the only other people who'd be handling your laundry would be Aya and Hatate and- You shake your head as you try to shake the mental image of the two of them doing markedly indecent things with your stained clothes. They're nice, but the idea is to get clean, not dirtier. To that end you look down your front and sigh when you see that one night's worth of wet dreams has made you into something of a mess from the waist down. Time to do something about that.
You set your clean clothes down on the counter next to the sink, and step into the bath itself. It's a large basin-type bath with a shower attached, and there's a curtain that hangs just inside of the rim to stop that water from spraying out onto the floor. It doesn't take long for you to adjust the shower head to dole out hot water, and after letting the water run a bit to give it time to heat up you step in and let the water do a pre-rinse of your body, after which you put your head under the stream to get your hair wet. It saves some effort when it comes time to actually shampoo it.
There really wasn't much left to reflect about in regards to the mansion. Erika's moved on, the Ayakashi's been defeated, you know there's going to be a ton of aftermath to deal with considering that the late Mr. Mustermann had basically been committing ritual sacrifice for thirty years or so before karma caught up with him. In fact, most of the questions you had have been answered for the most part. That's not where you feel that you should focus your mental efforts.
You find a scrub brush, put some body wash on the bristles and work up a lather with your hand before you start attacking the mess around your waist in earnest. Thankfully the stuff hasn't had time to become much more than a cool, unpleasant mess and heating it back up and hitting it with water makes it manageable. You still spend more than a little time making sure that part's as squeaky clean as it's going to get though.
No, the big issue right now is your team's composition. You've had no fewer than four immediate additions since you've come to this mansion, and you know full well that's going to put some strain on your Prismrivers. Kogs never seems to be particularly bothered by anything you do in terms of teammates, but even so you should keep her in mind too. You're not worried about the egg the Ayakashi dropped that much either, since any issues would arise later on well after it hatches, but by that point you think that your team would have had plenty of time to acclimate to whatever hatches out of it. Plus, you do need to take type advantages into consideration. The Electric gym and Steel gym that are on the possible destination list won't leave you at any real disadvantage, but you have no real strengths against them either and you can't count on there not being a Dark type gym somewhere along the way.
You sigh as you stretch a leg out and put your foot down on an outcropping meant to be sat on so you can better scrub your leg. Getting that cleaned off is no issue at all, and by this point you're only taking your time like this because you could use the opportunity to think things over a little. In no time at all you've got one leg done and are working on the other.
Speaking of your Prismrivers, you know that they're going to need some attention proper soon. Lyrica's been annoyed lately thanks to you, and it feels like every little thing you do to try and take care of your additions like a responsible trainer would sets her off. Granted, it was more the fact that your recent addition was a Rumia and there's a distinct type disadvantage than anything else that you could discern, but it still feels like you're stuck between a rock and a hard place at times.
Your lower body is done, and you turn your attention to your upper body. You note that you don't really feel that dirty from the waist up, but you're here so you may as well wash up anyway. You're going out into public today too, which means being presentable would work wonders for social interaction. That resort town is bound to be a hotspot for rich snobs too, now that you remember that little factoid.
All you can really do on the team front is to try and balance your girl's needs while somehow not running yourself into the ground in the process, or from things that happen around you. You don't want to act all defeatist about it, but your track record over the last couple days hasn't exactly been the best in terms of getting by unmolested, or in the case of the mansion, getting hurt bad enough to require you to rest. Which when you think about it, only really adds to your girl's stress too, especially Lyrica's.
The brush makes it easy enough to get your back done, though admittedly you wouldn't have minded having Kogasa here with you so she could help with that. You honestly think that your Prismrivers would have gone lewd places with this several times over by now, and considering how messy you were with your juices even Rumia might have been hard-pressed to leave you be. Your arms don't take long either, meaning you're close to done.
And from your experience with your Prismrivers, letting them get in your pants is arguably the best thing you could do for them in terms of getting them to forget about their troubles for a bit and let them relax. At this rate you're either going to be incapacitated somehow or having sex each night. Admittedly, that's not really good for getting a good night's rest. Then there's also the fact that you also want sex and need to balance bedtime fun with all your girls currently in rotation too.
A few minutes later and you're busy washing your hair. It doesn't take much to get a lather going, and you wash twice for good measure just to make sure it's as clean as the rest of you. Admittedly, you have no idea how long this state of cleanliness is actually going to last, but you're pretty sure that Yume would be okay with you going out with your current state of clean. Once you get done with that you shut off the water, step out, and start drying yourself. You hope that you haven't taken too long in your endeavor while putting on your clothes for the day, and step out of the bathroom.
As you step outside, you are immediately impacted into by a black bullet. Looks like you really are better, since that didn't really hurt. Glancing down you see a mop of blonde hair and a loosely tied ribbon as arms wrap around you and you are squeezed with great amounts of affection, "Mmmmrph." Rumia eloquently responds with her face in your chest.
"Ooof!" You respond equally eloquently when you're glomped like that. "Hi Rumia~" You pet the darkness mon on the head as she snuggles you, suddenly feeling quite relaxed and happy.
"Mrphamrphmuf?" Rumia mumbles into your chest as she continues to hug you, eloquently stating her view on the current socio-economic situation and asking you your opinion.
That or she's saying you smell nice. You might be paraphrasing.
"I must be off my game a little, I didn't understand any of that." You admit sheepishly while continuing to pet Rumia. It's nice to just stand here and be hugged like this, though at the same time you're slightly nervous since the sight of the darkness mon hugging you like this could readily spark another round of annoyance from Lyrica.
"Murphamurphmurhamerdmurhad." Rumia mumbles into your chest a different responses as she nuzzles closer, apparently intent to attach herself to you like moss to a rock.
Her response just elicits a chuckle out of you as you hug her back.
"...So what do you think Zekey?" Rumia asks, peeking up at you as she just barely pulls the slighest bit away from you so that she can talk up at you freely.
"Think about what?" Honestly, you can't quite manage your earlier aptitude for reading past Rumia's muffled commentary to what she really means, so you're a little lost at the moment.
"I mean about how trade between your human city places work! I mean, you talked about how different things were for you so I was thinking about what that means for giving stuff to other people for their stuff, and I was asking how you get your stuff around to other people's stuff when you move so much. Do you just carry all of it around until you find someone who wants your stuff?" Rumia asks curiously.
...oh so it WAS socio-economics.
"Ah, that. Well, I don't think we move that much, but to answer your question humans produce something in one area and take it or ship it off someplace to be sold. Usually we have agreed upon places to take things so we don't have to spend time looking for someone to buy stuff, as people can just come to us instead. Plus our communication lines do let groups of people contact one another, so that's another way we can get things organized with minimal risk." You explain things as best you can, but you weren't really expecting a socio-economic question this soon in the morning.
"...Oh okay! That's neat!" Rumia hugs you again, "Oh, right! It's time to get your breakfast! I helped make it for you, Zekey!" Rumia is beaming widely at you as she takes your hand and begins to pull you along down the hallway at a walk.
"Ah, thanks~" You give Rumia your sincere thanks as you let her lead you along, and you can't help but feel like you two must look like a young couple. She was hugging you tight while nuzzling your chest affectionately, she's holding hands with you as you're walking toward breakfast, and she helped make it. It's definitely enough to put you in a good mood, you think.
"Mmmhmm~! Zekey needs to eat lots and lots so that he's got enough food to walk back to town and then go and do new things like beat up gym people for their shinies, right? So I made sure you had lots of food!" Rumia is practically bursting with pride. You would say she's radiating it, but that would be silly.
Not that that's really that far off from the truth, though. You do give her a quick peck on the cheek for good measure since she's being all cute like that and you can't really help it.
Rumia giggles in response to you leaning over to kiss her on the cheek, apparently quite flattered by it. As you turn a corner, you run into Merlin.
Merlin grabs hold of you before you can fall over even as you're a bit jittered from the sudden impact. "Zeke." Merlin chides you as she looks to Rumia and then you, "You should be more careful. We wouldn't want you getting hurt again so soon, would we?"
Well, at the very least it wasn't Lyrica you ran into. "Sorry, Merlin. I kinda got caught up in the moment because I was feeling happy." Still, you promptly give your shameless trumpeter a hug since she's right there. "How're you doing?"
"We're doing fine, Ezekiel. The others will be glad to see you're up and about on your own and that you're coming to see us." Merlin pats your back in a hugging response to your own hug.
"I shouldn't keep them waiting then." You say as you let Merlin go and continue on to breakfast. Your mood couldn't be better right now, considering how peaceful things are.
"Of course, Zekey. They've been dying to see you." Merlin responds as she follows along after you, Rumia scampering off into the kitchen and leaving you with the ghostly Prismriver as approach the larger doors that lead to the dining room you used last night. Hmm... They should be serving breakfast in here, right?
You watch Rumia run off for a second or two before returning your attention to the matter at hand. Namely, the doors that lead to the dining room. You only open one of them since you don't feel the need to make any sort of grand entrance and walk on through, making sure to let Merlin come in before you go closing it.
Merlin, apparently, is entirely content to follow after you, pushing you into the room and shutting the door behind you. In the room, you can see Lyrica sitting at one of the chairs directly next to the head of the table that you were seated at last night, while Lunasa sits across from her. Lyrica is reading some sort of hardbacked but small book and is focused on it, while Lunasa is pushing around food on her plate.
"Good morning, Lunasa, Lyrica~" Well, it's not like anyone's really annoyed with you so you're not totally sure why you're feeling a touch nervous. You sit where you sat previously so that Lyrica can at least sit near you, though you kind of want to hug Lunasa too. There's food though, so you don't want to let that get cold either.
As you sit down, the door opens up and a plate of food seemingly appears in front of you at your position at the head of the table. You catch a brief sight of green and silver, but it's gone before you can really process it. On your plate is a nutritious, healthy, balanced breakfast that's going to be easy on the stomach while giving you all the material you need to grow up big and strong.
"Good morning, Zekey." Lunasa looks up at you from poking around what's on her plate, "Uhm...are you feeling alright now?"
"I'm fine~" You reply simply. "Youmu's given me the all clear and I feel fine, so I don't have to spend all day in bed again." With that you start eating, though you would be perfectly fine with pausing in between bites to talk. It's not like you don't have time.
"That's great to hear." Lunasa manages a smile at you while she flips over a piece of egg on her plate, "We were worried you might... uhm, stress yourself and have to spend another day in bed."
"Come on, I'm not that reckless." You pause from eating for a moment to respond to your violinist's comment, feeling much the same way you did when Youmu basically called you out for something similar yesterday. Namely, somewhat sheepish because deep down you know she's got every reason to worry. "Besides, I imagine every day I manage to lay myself up like that is another day my girls will be annoyed with me and worried about me, and I'd prefer to keep you all as content as I can manage."
Lyrica makes some kind of noise behind that odd, hardback book she's poking at while Lunasa keeps up that smile, "Oh, I see. Well...I'm glad that you're so worried about us, Zekey."
Well, Lyrica's not really acknowledging you yet, which has you slightly worried but otherwise isn't enough to dampen your mood. Honestly, you do want to give her a chance to relax later, but now really isn't the time. "It's what I do~" You reply to the violinist cheerfully.
"You also worry us." Lyrica finally speaks up, blunt and to the point as she glances over the edge of the thing she's reading at you, "...Speaking of that, are we still doing what you planned for? There is a route back that should be safe now. We all took a look at it."
"Uh... yes, she's right! It's pretty direct, and we don't have to go through too much of the thicker parts of the wood. It looks like the locals still avoid places that... well, used to be under the Tree or the old Yuyuko's influence." Lunasa jumps on the topic as well, eager to keep it on something less worrying.
"Oh yes, it'll be a nice and quick trip... leaving us plenty of time for fun." Merlin purrs as she leans over your side and nuzzles you lightly.
You pet Merlin idly as she nuzzles you and you hear your girls talk, and nod in response. "Yeah, we're still headed out to the Resort Town today. I'd prefer to talk to Giselle beforehand though, considering the fact that whatever protection was keeping this place from being found by the general populace is most likely gone and there's a lot of missing persons cases that could finally be solved." A sigh escapes your lips as you think about that one a bit more. "It's not like I have that much of a vested interest in helping people resolve those cases, but if I leave it be and someone else stumbles on this place, then I lose out on the initiative and it'll be harder to keep things under control."
"Pffeh, We're far enough away from the city that they can't really bother us, right?" Lyrica speaks up, sounding annoyed at how apparently even now Big Government is here to try and enforce a nannystate on you. That, or she's just annoyed that there's even more problems, "I guess you're right though. Might as well tell the closest Gym Leader, right?
"I have the deed to the mansion and a legal witness to back me up, so it's less the big players and more the smaller noisemakers who think the mansion belongs to them. While I have no doubt in Youmu's ability to send them packing I'd still rather make sure the problem gets nipped in the bud. So yeah, we're heading to Giselle, then to the Resort Town for some fun in the sun." You take a couple more bites of food after that. "And fun out of the sun, no doubt."
"Oh there WILL be..." Merlin promises you a bit before you feel her tongue lick at the back of your ear gently, "So, so much fun Zekey."
"Not that I don't want to have non-sun fun with Zekey, but... are we going to be able to do all that in one day, Zekey?" Lunasa asks you, piping up with a concerned question.
You blush and moan a little at show of affection, though you're not sure if you really felt that easily teased or if you're just putting on a little show yourself. "Well, how long we stay is something I'm leaving up in the air for the moment. I don't expect meeting Giselle to take too long, but there's still the walk out to the Resort Town and admittedly I think I'm still a little too wound up to really relax."
"Oh? All wound up Zekey, hmmm~?" Merlin asks as she leans closer, draping herself across your shoulder, nuzzling her cheek to yours as she lowers her voice, "Maybe...you'd like for us to take care of that for you...?"
"Merlin, if we start that now, we won't get anything done and won't leave for a week." Lyrica pipes up again, peering over her books.
"Uhm..." Lunasa glances between her two sisters and nods, "She's right. I think...maybe it's for the best if we just wait for later, maybe?"
As much as you'd like to enjoy Merlin's sensual temptations, Lyrica and Lunasa had a point. Plus, you failed to express your meaning properly. "It's more like I'm just really nervous that the Resort Town is going to have something off about it that I just happen to stumble into." You finish up your breakfast as if nothing were out of the ordinary, and set the utensils on the plate.
"...Zeke, you're being a bit silly. I mean I know that you've had some surprises and all, but that doesn't mean you're gonna always run into some sort of horrible disaster every time you go somewhere." Lyrica's look over her book is a touch concerned now as you mention your nervous fears.
"Exactly, darling. It's a resort town you're going to as well! It's not like you're going into a haunted house or a gym with an eccentric leader this time, or some sort of mythical tower of the dead or something of the sort." Merlin teases you, pinching a cheek as she does so, "You don't need to worry about everything going wrong this time."
Merlin pinching your cheek like that elicits a wince from you, though she's not putting enough force into it to make it hurt or anything like that. "I guess." Your voice carries some measure of uncertainty as you say that, making it clear that you're not entirely convinced. "Well, one thing at a time then. Once you girls are ready to head out, I'll talk to Giselle first and then we'll go to the Resort Town."
"Oh, are you taking just us along on this little trip Zekey?" Merlin teases you, running her fingers along your chest as she reminds you about certain other things you need to check on as well, "...I'm so flattered! We're finally going on a honeymoon, girls!"
"...Uhm...yay?" Lunasa tentatively smiles at Merlin's apparent joke, though there's still some rather uncomfortable posture to it.
Lyrica just lets out an irritated sigh and slouches further into her book.
Subtle though it was, you didn't miss what Merlin was trying to tell you. "Oh, dangit my mind must be completely out of it." You rub your forehead when you realized you managed to miss SlKogasa, among others. "Sorry, Merlin. Where's Kogs? I've already run into Rumia and she looks like she's doing okay, but I don't know how Kogs is doing."
"I think she's busy taking care of that Egg that you picked up, Zeke. She's rather fond of it and is carting it around and cooing over it. Apparently our little slime is a natural born nurturer." Merlin informs you, cluing you in on some information and a bit more than you asked for.
"Huh... Well, she's happy so that's good." Kogasa really is basically a doting housewife. You're actually thinking she wouldn't look out of place trying on an apron, even if she would have no real use for it. "I don't want to leave them behind, so I'll go collect them before we leave."
"I don't think you'll have to collect-" Merlin tries to explain to you something before the door to the kitchen bursts open.
"Zekey~!" SlKogasa coos happily, a somewhat damp looking apron clinging to her slimey form as she oozes towards you. You can see the egg, or perhaps 'seed' given the way it looks, nestled between her gooey breasts and poking out from the aprons top inquisitively.
Her suggestive method of holding the egg catches your eye first and admittedly you stare a little before responding, and naturally you're blushing again because your mind is extremely prone to taking gutter dives when presented with situations like this. "Hi, Kogs~" Your response is cheery, though you're starting to wonder if she managed to read your mind or something. "Having a good morning, I take it?"
"Mhmm~!" Kogasa nods as she oozes up to you and cuddles into you...and Merlin as well. Her slimy body gives both of you a squeezing embrace as you feel the egg rub up against you as well from Kogasa's movements, "I did cooking! Learned a lot."
You immediately start relaxing proper once Kogasa is hugging you, and feel like you could possibly actually act as though there's a distinct possibility that the Resort Town is just going to be a pleasantly fun venture instead of some disaster waiting to happen. "I look forward to seeing what you've learned~" You can understand why some people might want to marry a mon proper.
SlKogasa burbles happily as she snuggles against you and Merlin. Merlin meanwhile manages to arrange herself enough that she can speak without getting a mouthful of jelly boob, "Well, you've already tried it darling~. After all, SlKogasa was cooking in the kitchen and learning a bit from the house's keeper."
Knowing Merlin, if you weren't planning on going anywhere she'd probably be content to do more perverted things with that jelly boob. You know you do. "Ah! It's every bit as good as usual, Kogs." You do wind up nuzzling her since you're there. "We'll be heading out soon too, just as soon as everyone's ready."
"Then there's just one person we're waiting for that you want to come with us, right?" Lyrica peers over the book as she turns a page, looking at you and her sister and SlKogasa.
"Yeah. I wonder where she is though?" You ponder aloud.
SlKogasa offers a shrug to your question, jiggling you around a bit as she does so. The three sisters all share a look of mutual discussions and apparently don't know of anything worth sharing either.
"Oh, right. She did dart off into the kitchen earlier, though I don't know where she's gone from there." You let yourself float in Kogasa's embrace as you recall that little bit. There's really not much left to do aside from wait for her to show up, since you feel that if you start looking now it's just going to create a chase scene that'd only be amusing to people who aren't part of it.
You hear the sound of rapid footsteps coming from the kitchen, and then an excited black dressed and blonde-haired figure rushes towards you, a piece of toast clenched in her mouth. Unfortunately, rather than stumbling into you she just end up crashing into SlKogasa and ending up partially immersed inside of her.
Through the gooey slime you can somewhat make out a piece of toast drifting away from Rumia.
"Eh?" A surprised sound escapes your lips as you notice Rumia trying to tackle you with a piece of toast in her mouth. It just seems a little... absurd considering the outcome. "...Need any help, Rumia?" You ask while seeing if you can't fish around for that piece of- wait, didn't Kogasa get turned on the last time you started moving about inside her?
SlKogasa lets out a noise as you make the mistake of moving your arms around inside of her, and you feel yourself under the pressure of a 'look' from an unknown source. Unknown because in response to your apparent advances she's pulled your face deeper into her slimy bosom and buried it there as echoes of murmured sweet nothings fill your ears.
"Murphle." You hear from Rumia as she retrieves her toast with her teeth and and attempts to make her escape from the grip of slimy love.
You immediately go still while simultaneously noting that you're now kind of stuck and can't really move without making your situation worse. ...Well, for a relative definition of 'worse', that is. Under normal circumstances you would have no objections to this but at the same time you have to remember that you have things to do today and getting intimate with Kogasa here and now would be counter-productive to that. Needless to say, you're kind of stuck until someone helps you out.
You see some kind of movement outside of SlKogasa's slime and feel someone grab you by your collar and yank you out. The pale hand wrapped around the scruff of your shirt belongs to Youmu, who has apparently also retrieved Rumia and Merlin in short order, both of whom are idly cleaning up the slime off of themselves... and eating it in Rumia's case. Merlin is...well considering your goals of getting out of here without spending hours 'having fun' you can't look at her for too long.
"Please refrain from having sex on the dining room table." Youmu asks you bluntly, "Or in the dining room in general."
"It wasn't intentional..." You're blushing and feeling embarrassed in general as Youmu chides you for almost getting a touch too intimate with your girls. "Still, thanks. I don't think I could have gotten out by myself at that point." You do make a point of not looking at your slimed-up girls since you still want to actually leave. Merlin's clothes are at least somewhat wet and she's making a deliberately erotic display of it, while Rumia's intent is possibly more innocent and yet somehow just as arousing.
"You taste like Jelly!" Rumia declares intently to the slime as she munches on the somewhat sogged piece of toast that now has both butter and 'jelly' on it.
SlKogasa, for her part, simply nods happily in response apparently being fully aware of testing like jelly at the moment.
"Ah well... Rumia, Kogs, you both ready to head out? We're making a stop at One Tree Gym so I can report to Giselle, then we're heading off to the Resort Town." Something occurs to you that moment as well. "Ah, Youmu, are Aya and Hatate busy? I'd like to give my farewells personally if possible."
"Currently they are in the attic and on the roof outside of it." Youmu informs you calmly as she eyes the drips you're making onto the floor.
Light nervousness runs down your spine as you notice that Youmu's looking at the minor mess you're making, though you know it's not going to really affect you much. "Alright, if they are busy, then let them know I said bye."
"You should be able to call for them outside on your own, Ezekiel." Youmu responds, "The window that they're using faces towards the gate, so it should be easy enough for you to just call for them if you want to."
"Thank you. I'm still not totally used to the concept of having people come running when I ask." That might seem odd considering your nature as a trainer, but at the same time there's a difference between being a trainer of Touhoumon and being the head of a mansion. The biggest one being that you don't really expect people to just do as you say, though at the same time Aya and Hatate would want to give their goodbyes in person too and- Your mind feels like it skips a beat trying to deal with the almost circular logic involved, but you recover well enough. "Alright, let's go. We'll stop and let Aya and Hatate know that we're heading out once we're at the gate."
"Please take care on your trip, Ezekiel." Youmu politely bows her head to you as you move to leave, Merlin slipping away to join up with her sisters who form together like some kind of clique of mean girls or something, "I have ensured that this mansion's contact number has been added to your personal computation device."
SlKogasa hums as she unties the thoroughly soaked apron from herself and hands it over to Youmu, who eyes the garment with her same studiously neutral expression with an unsettling hint behind her eyes.
"Once again, thank you. I'll try to keep in contact as much as I can." It's fairly evident that despite Youmu's neutral expression she is getting somewhat annoyed with all the slime dripping about and you take that as a cue to leave before she actually loses patience or something along those lines. "Alright girls, we're heading out." You start the walk out of the mansion, with every intent of letting the tengu know you're going as well.
The Prismrivers follow along after you, Lyrica closing the book and tucking it away somewhere out of your sight while the three engage in hushed conversation. SlKogasa seems to be apologizing to Youmu before slushing after you and Rumia contently takes up a position alongside you and trots alongside you, "Hey Zekey, what are we gonna eat at the beach?" She asks you curiously, apparently content to strike up conversation.
Your Prismrivers having a quiet conversation that you're not privy to makes you feel a touch nervous, but at the same time there's not much you can do about it so you opt to think about things you can deal with. Like Rumia's question. "Yeah. Not sure if we're going to eat at a restraunt or on the beach though, it depends on what we're in the mood for once it's actually time to eat."
"Oh, okay!" Rumia seems to cheerfully accept that, "But, what kinds of foods are there at the beach? I want to try all of them!" Rumia's seemingly simple joy at the chance to try out different foods is a bit infectious and has you wondering about it too.
"Seafood's almost a given, though there might be things like sea salt ice cream, fruits one can't grow as easily inland... who knows?" You certainly didn't, but that's mostly because you haven't been there before. "Ah, now that I think about it, I wonder what the weather's going to be like." You pull out your Tablet and see if you can't get today's forecast.
"Ice Cream?" SlKogasa cuts in, oozing over Rumia and putting her slimy chest on the shorter mons head as she smiles widely at you.
"Ice cream!" Rumia cheers happily, apparently non-plused by the gooey tits on her head, "Hey hey Zekey can we have lots of ice cream and seafood and stuff?"
"Sure~ I want to try some too. I think everyone here has at least something of a sweet tooth." Welp, you know where you're going to wind up going once you get to the resort town. Hopefully whoever you go to to buy some has enough for your mon's desires.
As you assure SlKogasa and Rumia of this and they cheer excitedly, you take your leave of the main foyer, pushing aside the large doors and finding yourself slammed into by a the scent of healthy flowers and mid-morningness. The vast gardens of the Mustermann Estate, or rather Your Estate, are lush and... seemingly innocent and happy.
You breathe deeply of the myriad natural scents, feeling like today may very well actually turn out okay. "Aya, Hatate, you here?" You call out for the sisterly tengu since you did want to give them your farewells proper before leaving.
...For a moment you don't get a response, but in a gust of wind that kicks up some dirt and makes the flowers wave about dramatically, Aya and Hatate dive down from above and flare out their wings, stopping just before they touch the ground, "Yeah Boss?" Aya's the one to speak for the duo, "You heading out?"
"Yup~ I'm stopping at the One Tree Gym first to talk to Giselle, then to the resort town afterward. I'll make sure to pick up some souvenirs for you two while I'm at it." You kiss each of them on the cheek and hug them both. "I'll check in with you later too."
You feel some kind of pressure from behind you, but the feeling of getting hugged in return by Aya and Hatate in response to your affection helps you ignore it, "Ah, how considerate of you, boss. I don't mind some seashells, if the souvenirs are too pricey." Hatate's voice is low as she releases you from her hug.
"I'd prefer a pearl necklace from you, boss." Aya's grin is one of pure, honest, reporterly innocence as she beams down at you.
"I'll see about that, Hatate. We'll definitely be on the beach anyway so I'll definitely be able to pick out something nice." The content expression on your face turns into a blushingly embarrassed one as Aya states what she wants from you. "L-later..." Either she's talking about an actual pearl necklace, or she's talking about something far more lewd. Either way that one miiiight be harder to fulfill.
"Alright, bye boss! Take care and make sure to call us!" Aya pats you on the head with that same smile of hers before she flares her wings and begins to fly off towards the roof at a leisurely pace.
"Be safe. Don't take candy from any strangers." Hatate leaves you with some sage advice before flying off after Aya, catching up with her and then making their way towards the roof.
Of course, since they're flying off and make no attempt to conceal what's underneath their skirts from you, you get something of an eyeful.
Plaid is...certainly an interesting choice.
It matches some of their other accesorization at least.
Knowing those two though, their choice was on purpose. You start heading back to One Tree proper after your farewells, and keep their choice of underwear conveniently stored in the back of your head for later. ...Which admittedly makes you wonder what other kinds they might have or might be willing to wear.
Rumia and SlKogasa, who has the egg sitting between her breasts still, are currently discussing various foods, many of which sound imagined. Huh, looks like SlKogasa is great at making fast friends.
The Prismrivers are still together, with Lyrica showing the others her book. Lunasa is staring down at the pages, her lips parted slightly while Merlin watches on with the slightest furrow of her brow.
As you make for One Tree under these circumstances, you at least have a chance to think about just how much you want to tell Gissele and how to go about making a 'case' for yourself as it were.
[X] Explain everything you encountered in detail
[X] Keep it brief and only give her the important details.
File 141244691786.png- (220.55KB
, It is sort of like this.png
You decide to just go ahead and tell her everything in detail. It might eat a chunk out of your day, but at the same time she might pick up something you missed or misunderstood. Thankfully your girls seem to be pretty content to talk amongst themselves, so you're free to try and get your thoughts in order before you get there. ...Though the odds are good that they're probably going to have to direct you about again since you're on autopilot at the moment.
And that's something you do. With your girls apparently content to get along with and interact with each other, you're left with a chance to ponder your thoughts after that whole mess of an adventure. One thing you remember though, that pops up in your mind...
...why can your camera take pictures of ghosts? Or, rather 'gather spectral energy' or whatever it called it. That seems like...something that your mother would develop, admittedly, but why?
You're at a bit of a loss, admittedly. The idea of your mother simply making sure you had the Eagle Army Knife to end all Eagle Army Knives of Tablets is the quickest and easiest one, but knowing her it wouldn't be doing that reason justice. You start going through your Tablet's functions to see what else is there, though you're not sure if that'll give you any insight.
...And yet, even as you go through it you can't really see anything out of place. I mean, you know now that your camera has some fancy pants functions and can be used to see better in lowlight conditions and probably more, but it's not like there's a 'ghost buster' app on the tablet itself. Everything you see just seems...normal and expected. Maybe it's like one of your games, and functions get unlocked as you need them or something?
The mystery's pretty perplexing, though you don't think you're going to come to any real answer right off the bat. If there are more hidden functions, they'd probably be tied into existing programs like your spirit camera. ...It's actually a pretty clever approach when you stop and think about it. If someone other than you gets their hands on it, it'll look exactly like most other Tablets.
Which is just the sort of thing you'd expect from your mother. It's like she always says 'It's not really illegal until you've been charged and sentenced'.
Which suits you just fine, really. The whole concept of having a useful set of tools at your disposal for all the scenarios you could foresee, as well as all the ones you can't, is well worth the effort for you. After all, if you get stuck in a scenario like the Mustermann Manor again, you're going to prioritize your survival and that of your girls over some arbitrary ruleset made by people who have likely never experienced the kinds of horrors the world can throw at them. That aside, One Tree's probably not that much further out. You look up from your thoughts to see how close you are to the mark.
You look up to suddenly feel a shock run through you as you see an equally shocked looking boy just entering your field of view. Oh hell not a-oh hey it's Joey. Joey gets up on his tippy toes and waves to you, cupping one hand to his mouth as he hollers out, "Heeeeey, Zeke!"
...Looking around you, you can see that the area you're in is a bit less forested than where Mustermann Manor is, but it's still living up to One Tree's reputation and previous appearance. You guess you're...probably not too far from town if Joey's out here.
That or perhaps his sister doesn't know where he is.
"Oh hey. Hey Joey!" You put your Tablet away and wave back, figuring it was safe enough to do so. "What're you doing out here?"
"I'm definitely not looking for you!" Joey declares, crossing his arms over his chest and looking unreasonably proud of his perfect deflection of suspicion, "Actually, there was some weird stuff happening over out this way. Birds acting up, touhoumon fleeing in a panic, some kind of 'unnatural pressure' according to some of the more sensitive gym mon."
He gives you a look before continuing on, "So, what'd you do?"
"Funny thing, I was on my way to talk to your big sis about that. Turns out that the Mustermann Manor was the site of ongoing ritualistic sacrifice. That unnatural presence probably had something to do with me getting to the bottom of it." You don't really buy Joey's statement about not looking for you, but at the same time there's no point in pursuing it.
"...the what and where now?" Joey blinks confusedly, apparently slow to process your statement, "Ritualistic Sacrifice...?"
"Let's keep moving, I'll explain on the way." You then proceed to cover precisely what was involved and how the mansion got to be the way it was while continuing on to the Gym, giving him the abridged version without leaving out too many details. If you're going to give the report in full fairly soon, you kind of want to make sure you're still in the mood to actually do it.
"...So that girl who came to the gym that you battled against was...actually a ghost. And not a ghost type mon but a ghost ghost, and you were attacked by ghost ghosts too?" Joey a somewhat skeptical but no unbelieving expression on his face, "aaaand there was a freaky people eating tree touhoumon below this mansion?"
"That about sums it up. Erika's Youmu dealt the finishing blow on it, but my team did pretty well fighting against something that's pretty much borderline myth." You then point to the egg between SlKogasa's gooey melons. "The Ayakashi dropped that after it was defeated, and we're pretty sure that's an egg. I'm not totally sure what it's going to hatch into, but I figure I should talk to Giselle about it since she'd probably know. If nothing else, she can give me some pointers on how to raise a baby grass type."
"...Huh." Joey sums up his thoughts pretty succinctly, "...Those guys that we blasted off came back and I beat them up." He apparently decides that he should just tell you what he got up to. It's kind of nice to have someone just accept what happened without trying to give you advice.
"Nice. Your girls looked like they could handle them from what I saw of them during the tournament." It's nice to hear how legitimate training and strategy beats out being a hack job copycat who barely knows what they're doing. You still remember how one of the two actually had a normal type using normal type moves to attack your Prismrivers. That just went into too dumb to live territory.
"Yeah, they were honestly pretty dumb. But..." Joey's eyes go vacant and distant as he continues on, "But sis found out, and she was all really proud of me for being good in a battle after I specifically disobeyed her and picked a fight with them anyway. She was so impressed that she made me run the new training courses she's designing."
...oh. Oh you know that stare.
You didn't need to be told what that involved, no sir. "So... does your sister know you're out here right now?" The need to ask that was pretty strong, to say the least. Giselle might not be your big sister but it feels like she'd be the type to step in and act as one if she felt it was the right thing to do.
"...Pppprobably." Joey answers, the life fading back into his eyes only to be joined by an apparent wave of terror, "I mean, I left a note for her cause she's so busy and I mean she didn't say that I couldn't come out this way so...so it should be fine, right?"
"I hope so." You can't help but feel a touch nervous considering that there's every possibility that Joey is in fact wrong about this being okay and is just setting himself up for more pain, but at the same time you have business with Giselle first and would most likely keep her attention on you for at least an hour or two, depending on how things go.
...Which admittedly you're not sure how she'd react to the fact that you got stuck in the situation you did.
"Just so you know, if I go down I'm taking you with me." Joey informs you matter-of-factly, "I'd expect you to do the same if she starts to get in on you too. See, the way I see it, if there's TWO of us down there, then we stand a better chance of...not..."
"Fair enough." You nod and agree to that point since he had the grace to acknowledge that you would reciprocate in a situation like that. "Though that depends on whether she even goes that route or not. My girls do need a break after that whole mansion debacle and I'd prefer to give it to them rather than put them through another training course so soon."
"Oh, oh no. These new training courses are way worse than that." Joey's eyes are lit up with a horrible memory, "No protection, no touhoumon...just you. It's supposed to teach you about how 'reliant' you are on your team and how to be less reliant...since, you know, you're without them."
"...I'd definitely have to pass on that one, personally. I just got done with a real-world version of that, and dodged death... I didn't bother to really keep track of how many times I managed that alone or with help." The horrors of being alone without your girls was relatively brief, if only because you basically seduced Rumia into joining you, but there was little chance of you ever getting through that mansion as it was yourself. In fact, your girls didn't quite count for that because of the nature of the enemies present. Rumia was there, but you were doing the actual ghost repelling.
"...Yeah, sorry man." Joey turns his attention away from you as you both travel into One Tree, houses beginning to appear with some regularity, "It's just...they know I'm sis's brother so they all just...it's like..."
"...It's like being trapped in a hell of a thousand playful sisterly pinches." Joey finishes, rubbing the back of his head.
You pat your friend's back in sympathetic understanding, though your experiences only involved one or two big sisters and not a whole Gym's worth. "I can understand to a degree. Yume's a more conventional big sis for me, but Ruukoto can be a bit strange at times. It's like they emphasize quality over quantity."
"Well, just imagine teasing ruffles and playful pinches, as far as the eye can see and your butt feel." Joey's eyes are taking on that thousand yard stare again, "And all the giggling and teasing and 'oh you got so much bigger's..."
"Yeesh." That would be hell in a sense, that's for sure. "And that's not going to stop, either. The chatter's just gonna change focus."
"No, it never does stop..." He just heaves out that sigh again, "It just goes on and on, my friend."
"...So, changing topics off of our scarring experiences!" Joey's enthusiastic cheer is back in full force as he glances over towards where your girls are in their groups behind you, apparently willing to let you have your time with your human friend, "...how's mixing typings working out for you? Chen and Kasen get along just fine so I don't have to worry about it too much, plus neither of them has a leg up on the other."
"It's... interesting. Rumia's pure Dark type so my Prismrivers are a little guarded against her, though Kogasa seems to be getting along with her well enough. An Aya and Hatate I met in One Tree joined up with me too, and no one seems to mind them. I've got too many girls to have in my party at once anyway, so those two are helping Slash Youmu handle the mansion." You tell Joey your observations and musings on the mattter as you move, glad for the change of pace. "Honestly, I need to stop with the surprise acquisitions, but that's the problem. You don't know when they come until it's too late." You look back to the egg again for good measure. "At least whatever hatches out of that egg will have an easier time fitting in. Touhoumon don't mind baby mons."
"Yeah, that's true." Joey agreed with an easy nod, "I wonder why girls are like that anyway? It's like, you show them a baby and then just..." He gives an abstract sort of gesture to try and voice his opinion on how girls feel about babies. Which fits, since it's an abstract kind of feeling.
"I have no idea. I guess that's something only they know about." You shrug since you sort of know the answer in strict biological terms, but sometimes it still just doesn't make every bit of sense that it should.
"Girls are weird..." Joey mutters quietly, letting a sigh before perking up again, "So, assuming everything goes okay with my sister, what are your plans after that?"
"Head out to the nearby Resort Town for some much needed R&R. Considering that my trip out into the world has consisted of-" You start ticking the events off on your fingers. "-getting jumped by an admittedly tame slime in an underground tunnel, getting ambushed by unknown mons at that beach, having to deal with a MerKoishi that probably didn't want to settle for just playing, getting myself punched out in that slapped-together tournament, dealing with actual ghosts that wanted to drain the life out of me, having to deal with aforementioned Ayakashi that also punched me..." That just elicits a shrug from you after that. "Granted, it's not like it was all back-to-back-to-back, but it's enough to make me a bit jittery about going anywhere at the moment."
"...Oh hey if you're going there, you should go to this col restaurant I heard about from a traveler." Joey apparently gathers that you'd rather not obsess over the bad things that keep happening to you, "It's supposed to have all kinds of fun and games and once you pay the entrance fee it's all you can eat and drink until you leave! Plus they've got, like...robot mascots!"
"Robot mascots? That sounds interesting... Though I can't help but think that kind of setup's either got a steep price tag or something shady about it. A restaurant could lose a lot of money if they're not careful with that." The thought causes you to rub your chin in thought, as while it's a nice concept there is a certain element to it that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. "I mean, you never know when someone's gonna bring in a Yuyuko or a similar mon."
"...Dude you're seriously way too paranoid." Joey informs you bluntly, "Sometimes a good thing is just a good thing, and you don't need to go looking for the shadowy cabal behind it. The cabal's not real."
"You know, my Prismrivers told me the same thing before we headed out. Not the thing about the cabal, just that I'm being paranoid." You wince internally a bit as another person suggests that you need to relax, but you really are just a little too wound-up to actually relax proper. At least unless SlKogasa's got you, anyway.
"...I'm kinda surprised you don't think a Cabal is after you if you're that paranoid. I mean, no offense dude but you're wound up tighter than...a...a...a thing that gets wound up really tight. Anyway!" Joey continues on over his stumbling analogy, "Seriously, I mean we both know we live in a world that's got the whole wonder and mystery and yadda yadda elementary school first lesson stuff, but we both know that it's dangerous. If you let yourself get wound up just because something COULD be bad you're not gonna be able to take care of yourself when the actual danger shows up."
You try to breathe deeply as Joey talks, since he is right about that. It's not like any of those events were at all coordinated, right? Plus after all that, you're bound to finally run into a day or two where you don't have to have your guard up, which your girls would no doubt appreciate. "Alright, alright. I'm trying to calm down anyway."
"You should try changing outfits." Joey suggests helpfully, "Why not get some shorts? They're comfy and easy to wear!"
"I don't think changing my clothes is going to do overly much." You state in a somewhat deadpan manner. They're plenty comfy as is and offer you both a great degree of flexibility while still being breathable and offering protection from the elements. Granted, it can't protect you from women or mons that decide they want to take you home, but that'd require a totally different and likely cumbersome setup.
"Alright fine, geez just trying to offer some help." He raises his hands in supplication as you find yourself on paved and maintained roads as you reach One Tree proper, "...Huh, you know. I'm gonna take the fact that I haven't felt a terrible wind that chilled me to the bone as a good sign."
It probably says something about you that you can actually understand what he means.
"Our weapons haven't dropped to level one either, so I guess we're in the clear?" You wonder. If only you had a North Star or something to work with... joking aside though. "Gym must not be that much further out then. I'm actually wondering how Giselle's even going to take my report. I can't help but think the late Mr. Mustermann's mess is going to be one huge administrative headache."
"...Well uh...you'll...you'll [/i]probably[/i] be fine." Joey tries to assure you of your worries, "I mean, realistically speaking it's not like it's your fault that some crazy dude had a spooky mansion full of bad things and bad times, and you beat them all up and solved the problem so...yeah."
"That's my line of thinking, really. None of us knew what was going on in there until my team and I went to go visit it, so anything that comes of it is just a problem someone else left behind." You stretch a bit as you talk, wanting to move about a little bit more before you reach the Gym. "A really, really messy problem that's probably going to re-open a LOT of missing persons cases."
"You know that most of those just go unsolved anyway right? Like, everybody knows what happens to the missing people most of the time, so if anything at least they'll have closure and get to shut those files for good, right?" Joey tries to encourage you again as he glances to the distance where the One Tree Gym looms ominously.
"Yeah, but most don't suddenly have new evidence come into the picture that far after the fact. It's not like anyone can really do anything about it though, what's done is done and there's no living members of the Mustermann family left. Plus, Erika gave me the deed to the mansion for saving her, and that's locked away in my Key Items part of my bag." Inheritance law would be kind of weird in this case since technically Erika did die before her father did, but the physical copy of the deed passed into her hands after her father died and it was her wish that you have the mansion so that it could be restored to a former glory. Or perhaps it would be better stated that she wants you to create a new glory that will bury the mansion's dark past for good.
"...Well, for what it's worth my sister will stick up for you. She likes you, you know. Didn't like what ended up happening during the tournament at all. Now that she's the Gym Leader for serious, she's the one calling the shots." Joey tries to assuage your concerns again, pointing out that at least it's really just Gissele you're dealing with.
"I know. That's why I'm willing to go to her for this. I can trust her to get things done and not screw me over in the process." It doesn't take much then, seeing as despite the short time period you've come to see Giselle as someone reliable, if not still a little eccentric. After all, what kind of person drops another person through a trap door into a private office to pressure them into admitting a mistake while wearing sunglasses indoors?
"I'm flattered to hear that." Gissele's voice shocks both you and Joey out of your companionable companionship. In an instant you find yourself whirled around to face casually dressed Giselle who apparently has come to meet the both of you.
You were whirled about by Joey, who is currently hiding behind you.
"Eh?" A surprised sound escapes your lips as you're whirled around and used as a shield. "Geeze, I guess I was just that distracted, I didn't notice you at all, Giselle!" Said surprise being more about the fact that you weren't paying enough attention more than the fact that she showed up at all. After all, she's not 'the dreaded' to you. "How much did you hear?"
"I hear everything." Gissele's lips quirk up just a touch, "I have eyes and ears everywhere, don't you know. I'm like the Cabal, but with less robes and more comfortable clothing."
She pauses for a moment, glancing away from you and looking thoughtful before continuing on, "...Well, and robes sometimes too."
You look back to Joey while rolling your eyes, then back to the Gym Leader. "Well, I guess that speeds things up a bit. Since you're here now, should I go ahead and give you the full version of what happened at the manor?"
"I'd rather we do this properly in my office, if you're okay with that." Gissele turns her gaze off of you and onto Joey, "...Oh come on, it wasn't that bad, Joey."
"It was a hell of a thousand teasing pinches!" Joey snaps back, getting courage since you're between him and his big sister, "A thousand teasing, taunting pinches!"
You look from Giselle, then to Joey, and back again. Their antics cause you to shake your head before responding. "It's fine by me. We are more likely to be overheard here." You're really starting to wonder whether this was some kind of commonplace thing, the training course was dealing with a bunch of big-sister types, or something else.
"Fantastic." Gissele's smile softens a touch in appreciation for your willingness to cooperate with her.
"As for you Joey..." Gissele switches her attention over to her little brother, "...Why don't you go practice battle with some of the gym touhoumon? I'm sure both you and them could use it."
"...Yes sis..." Joey agrees eventually and lets you go, allowing you to no longer be classified as a human shield and jogs off towards the gym in his comfy and easy to wear shorts.
Honestly, it's best for the both of you if you go someplace out of earshot of the general public. This is probably going to require swift movement to keep this under control, so the more time you can give Giselle the better. "I guess this is going into private meeting mode. See you later, Joey!" Wasn't there something about him dragging you down with him if it came to getting dumped into a training course...? Well, she's not dumping him into a training course so it's fine to leave things as is.
"...You've added to your group, I see." Gissele eyes your girls who are all gathered behind you, and all of them eye her back, "It's smart of you to branch out, type wise."
"...I don't suppose you know what happened to the Aya and Hatate that were 'released' in town recently, do you Zeke?" Gissele's tone suggests that she's not trying to fish for an excuse to pin something on you, but is asking for another reason.
"It was kinda necessary, considering the circumstances." You shrug as Giselle points out the change in your team. "And yeah, I know what happened with them. They're safe." It's also the truth, but at the same time if the two of you are going to her office... "It actually factors into the events at the mansion, so I might as well save that for when we're actually at your place."
"...Alright." Gissele accepts your answer and turns on her heel to walk away, "Follow me then, I'll take you in the back."
You proceed to do exactly that, wondering where this mysterious back door was.
As it turns out, it's literally a back door into the gym. Huh. Gissele presses her hand up against the side of one of the trees and you watch as the bark cracks and parts, opening up into darkness, "After you."
"Thanks~" It's a bit interesting to you to see how this place works, at least. There never seems to be a shortage of hidden paths or secret areas to explore. In fact, if this were an area of a video game it'd probably have its own mini-100% completion section.
You step into the darkness, and find yourself in a stairwell that leads down deeper into the bowels of the One Tree Gym. Behind you, you can hear your girls shuffling in behind you and in a moment or so you find Lyrica and Lunasa shifting up to be moving beside you as Merlin hovers behind you, apparently deciding that given the situation it's best to take up formation.
You're not expecting an attack though, but you appreciate how they're jumping on this and not leaving the scenario up to chance. Still, you're at a bit of a loss for words conversation-wise since you're waiting to explain things to Giselle and then head off for what should hopefully be a worry-free day at the beach. Or two. You're not totally sure how long you're going to stay at the Resort Town, but you do know that one day probably isn't gonna cut it and you're in no real rush.
The stairwell continues its descent as you turn the corner and hear the wall seal shut again behind you. "Let's go faster." Gissele suggests as you feel the stairs suddenly flatten out into a ramp beneath you.
You grab onto Lyrica on reflex the moment you feel the stairs turn into a ramp, apparently forgetting that despite her innate ability to fly your Prismrivers apparently can't support your added weight completely. At least if Merlin bridal-carrying you was any indication. In fact, it's not even like Giselle would let you come to harm or anything, it's just that a sudden shift like this really isn't appreciated at the moment.
Your girls, meanwhile, latch onto you as you go skidding down the long, long slide into the darkness below. Behind you, you can hear Rumia let out a cry of surprise followed by her sliding down along the rest of your group...save for, you suspect, SlKogasa who you're not sure is actually capable of sliding like that unless she wanted to. In the dim light's that appear occasionally you can see Gissele standing behind you, leaning back and balancing as she slides down standing upright.
Sudden surprise aside, getting latched onto like this does feel nice. Though you're kind of wondering what the landing's going to be like now. There's probably a pad at the bottom to soften the landing, but your group isn't exactly being graceful about this. At least, save for Kogasa and Giselle, but the former might not put effort into sticking the landing.
You find that, in fact, you were totally correct. You hit a padded landing area with a pomf and end up covered in touhoumon, the Prismriver's under you and Rumia on top of you. Where you were wrong is how SlKogasa casually oozes out of the slide and refrains from collapsing on top of you.
Gissele simply skips off of the long ride and lands on her feet.
It really doesn't help how you've somehow faceplanted in Lyrica's boobs and are now somehow copping a feel with one of the other two. Given how your hand is feeling something large, warm, and soft, you get the feeling that it's probably Merlin in your hand, while you're grabbing Lunasa a bit more conventionally. Rumia really is not helping things, and admittedly if this were a decent hotel room you'd be broadcasting your desire rather than trying to squirm your way out of the pile of sexy.
Admittedly considering how you're pinned, you can't really call out to anyone nor do you really have any 'safe' places to hold onto to try and drag yourself out from under Rumia. She'll probably move on her own but it still feels good having her on top of you.
You hear Gissele walk around you as you struggle underneath the exceedingly sexy pileup you've become involved in, and as your squirming gets you a chance to see again you can see that Gissele has picked up a mug labled '#1 Sister' and is sipping something from it as she watches you, "If you could refrain from having an orgy in my office, that would be great. It would encourage the gym mon too much."
"I'm trying." You say flatly as you manage to work your way out of the pile a bit more. Your progress is pretty much totally determined by whether or not your girls feel helpful or not. Ultimately you just sigh and start explaining things a bit. "Alright, so you've heard a good chunk of what happened at the Mustermann Manor and that I have the deed, so I can just start filling you in on the nitty-gritty details of the whole thing."
"That's fine with me." Gissele responds as she circles around to the other side of a desk and settles down in a chair. Are you in an office?
You start to go into detail about what happened, leaving nothing out this time around now that there's no fear of being overheard. Or at least not being overheard anywhere near as easily. You've pretty much given up getting up for the time being too, which is fine because Lyrica is admittedly rather comfortable. You even show her the pictures you took with your phone, feeling that out of anyone it would hurt the least to tell Giselle about that part.
"You picked up a cursed doll?" Gissele's left eyebrow shifts up a touch as she picks at that part of your story, "Well, there's a lot of things that I'll need to ask you about besides that but...you picked up a cursed doll?"
You roll your eyes in response to that. "No, that wasn't my most brilliant idea. It made things a bit harder than it would have been otherwise and taught me a valuable life lesson in not picking up everything you see." There's a fine line between a successful kleptomaniac and a dead one. You should be better geared to be the former now.
"Good, at least you learned that lesson. Some never do." Gissele leans back in her chair as you feel slime wrap around you and haul you upright, doing the same for the girls you were piled on top of and underneath, "...About the 'ghosts'. I hope you understand that I'll be keeping that off of the official record."
"I don't blame you. From what I understand that wasn't a natural occurrence to begin with, so it shouldn't crop up again on this front." A googirl becomes a support for you and you don't so much as blink, such is the luxury of having the world's smartest and tamest slime. "Plus it'd probably spook some people, cause others to be skeptical, and generally attract unnecessary attention."
"Exactly. Now...you have the egg for this Ayakashi?" Gissele's direct and blunt to the point, staring at you right in the eye.
"Yup." Well, Kogasa's been carrying it lately so you have to get it from her, but that's not a problem. "Kogs, could you show Giselle the egg?"
"Yup~!" SlKogasa chirps as she pulls the egg out from between her breasts and holds it aloft for all to observe. The Egg, which is more like a seed really as you observe its woody texture and strange shape.
Gissele observes the egg impartially before shifting her attention back onto you, "You intend to raise it, correct?"
"Yup. That's the other reason I wanted to talk to you. Hatching it ought to be the easy part, it's just what comes after that that I'm not sure about." There's really a fair few things that weren't said just then, but at the same time the both of you know it. The Ayakashi egg could possibly wind up being a risk, but ethics dictates that it would be cruel to leave an egg unhatched. It's really kind of a weird spot to be stuck in.
"...In the end, a mon you raise from hatching's personality depends heavily on you. If you're worried about it being dangerous to you, it shouldn't be any more than anyone else in your group is." Gissele's eyes sweep over your team before settling back on you, "If you mean in more specifically regarding being an Ayakashi...those are extremely rare, especially outside of the New Continent. I've only ever heard of two before, aside from the one you've met, and I've never studied either of them."
"The one I met probably wouldn't have consented to being studied anyway. She was a pretty high-tier jerk." As evidenced by her thoughts of humanity, how she pretty much clobbered your team, and gut-punched you. "So really, it just comes down to treating the hatchling with love and care, and there's no special advice that can be given on the matter because this is basically a first."
Gissele pulls out a small PDA and clicks at it a bit as she responds, "That's all anyone can suggest. Still, if you need more specific advice I've sent you my address so you can ask for any help that you might need. Feel free to call if you need advice on topics besides that. Part of my job as a gym leader is to provide trainers with that kind of assistance."
"...Plus, you're a good kid anyway." Gissele graces you with a slight smile, "Not many people would have gone as far and done as much as you have."
"Thanks, Gissele~" It's kinda nice getting praised like that, though you feel slightly flustered at the same time. "I'm just hoping I don't need to do something like that again so soon. Even Joey thinks I'm getting a touch paranoid."
"It isn't paranoia if it is an actual danger." Gissele responds as she sets down her PDA and folds her hands in front of her, steepling them to watch you over them, "Still, he does have a point. You're already intending to take a break and relax, which is smart considering you've seen more trouble in your first few weeks of trainering than most people will see in years. I haven't heard anything out of the ordinary about that resort town, so you should be just fine there."
"...Well, aside from the usual 'rich brats' complaints." Gissele tacks on.
"Well, if I run into any of those I'm sure Lyrica's interest in beating them in a Touhoumon battle hasn't faded. ...Though yeah, I know Joey does. I'm trying too, which is why I spent a little time sitting on SlKogasa. She's good at calming me down." Which, when you stop and think about it is about the opposite reaction most people would have to the concept of being in the grip of a Slime variant. Then again, Kogs isn't most slime variants.
"Rolling rich punks for pocket money is a time honored trainer tradition, according to your mother." Lyrica speaks up at last from behind you, the book closed and tucked away at some point.
"It's one of the traditions we haven't gotten around too yet too!" Merlin chirps cheerfully as she rests herself provocatively on your shoulder, smiling at you in the corner of your eye, "And while we're at that beach and in the resort town, we can get to a few more of them too. Doesn't that sound fun, Zekey?"
"Sounds like a date then! Plus having extra money on hand never hurts. Unless one loses a battle, but there's ways around that." Such as storing physical money off your person, for example. Or investing it all on stuff you can sell back for roughly what you spent. Those are just the legit methods too. "I don't see today and maybe tomorrow being that stressful at this point~"
Gissele coughs politely, breaking you off from you flirting with your team while you're in her apparent office and drawing your attention back to her, "I have another question for you then, Zeke. You've claimed that mansion as your own now, and while I agree it is by all rights yours...are you prepared for that responsibility? There will be those who want to investigate, or who may wish to take advantage of it while the master is not home."
"I am. Erika requested that her Slash Youmu help me out with that, so I doubt very seriously that there's going to be unwanted guests. Or at least none that could accomplish much. Plus it turns out there's an Alraune Meiling in the garden too, and the Aya and Hatate that had me re-capture them are there too. Defense-wise, there should be no issues." Erika's wishes were a good enough reason to defend the place, but practicality-wise the sheer value of the mansion and the untouched natural resources meant that you'd be hard-pressed to not put some effort into seeing to it that the place was defended proper. "Though I should think about turning the Ayakashi's old holding cell into a lair of some kind. There is this absolutely monstrously huge Sun Stone embedded in the ceiling, and it's powerful enough that the Ayakashi itself was able to use it to attack with Solarbeam."
"While that idea has merit, that's something I wouldn't recommend telling everyone, Zeke." Gissele seems somewhat amused by your intention to make the former lair of a murderous and immensely powerful monster into your own lair, "While I wouldn't take advantage of it, there are plenty of people who would do almost anything for something like that Sun Stone you described."
"...And while I'm supposed to probably give you some kind of speech about taking in touhoumon that were recently abandoned without going through the proper channels, I don't really think it's necessary considering the circumstances. They're happier and were officially released as far as the system is concerned, so everything's fine on that end." Gissele helps lay to rest any worried you'd had about what might go wrong with the tengus you'd taken in and the consequences of that.
"I don't plan on it. Secret lairs totally lose their value when you announce them to everyone you meet. I mean, I feel safe telling you about it because I feel I can trust you, and maaaybe my mother because she'd put two and two together anyway." You tap your lips as you muse about the idea more, and nod in response to the next part. "I'm glad for that. I don't plan on giving them up one way or the other, so that keeps things nice and simple. Thank you."
"Just try not to give me any more work than you already have." Gissele leans back in her chair as she responds, cross her arms over her chest and looking up to the ceiling, "I'll handle whoever comes calling, but if something comes up I'll make sure to alert you as soon as possible."
"I'll try not to, and thank you." You nod in response again, knowing that you inadvertently dropped a rather big headache on Gissele doing things the way you have, but at the same time the both of you know that there was no good solution to the problem. "At the very least we don't have to worry about the Ayakashi there anymore."
"Don't think I'm upset with you for what you did Zeke. Frankly, you've done a great service to everyone who has and ever will live in this area." Gissele leans forward now, staring you right in the eyes from across the table.
"I don't. I just feel a bit bad because this sounds like it's going to be a headache to deal with." You don't avert your eyes or blink since there's no need to and you don't feel like you're being put on the spot like that.
"Well, it will be. That's just part of doing my job though." Gissele shrugs mildly as if she was just brushing off the burdens from her shoulder, "It's mostly just paperwork and dealing with some league official asking questions and poking around. I'd be dealing with that anyway."
"Still, thank you." You do appreciate that she's doing her job, especially since things would be more difficult without her. "If that's all, I should probably get going and take my girls out for some much-needed R&R."
"The stairs will take you back out without having to go through the rest of the gym, if you'd like."
"Thanks. See you, Gissele!" You head back to the staircase, noting that it's gonna be a bit of a climb but it'd be worth it to not have to deal with anything else today. This is supposed to be your and your girl's day to relax. Which you need rather badly, you think.
"Take care of yourself, and enjoy your vacation." Gissele responds as you hear the sound of a desk drawer opening behind you somewhere, as well as your girls taking to the stair case as well. You'd think there'd be an escalator or something considering everything else you've seen in this gym, but apparently that's not the case.
"I will~" You're in reasonably high spirits at this point, even if you are stuck having to climb a massive staircase. Your attention goes back to your girls as well. "Well, that's settled. It'll still take a while to get to the Resort Town proper, but we got out of the mansion pretty early so it shouldn't be that big of a deal."
"Yeah, just a whole bunch of hours of walking." Lyrica responds from your side, "Admittedly with SlKogasa we were able to just ride here in style and cut down on the time some, but we're too big to do that now, both in terms of size and numbers."
"Well, maybe we can enjoy the walk and...play some travelling games?" Lunasa speaks up to offer up her suggestion on how to help speed up the trip.
"Oh! Like 'Eye Spy'?" Rumia chirps from somewhere behind you, sounding excited at the concept of playing travelling games with others.
"It wouldn't be fair to have her just carry me either." While you enjoy riding in style, it really isn't fair to your girls. ...Well, your Prismrivers can just float along, but Rumia has to walk. "Huh... Not a bad idea. I Spy could easily be done, and I guess there's some others?"
You can see a distant light up ahead, suggesting that the door isn't as far off as you thought...or that One Tree has screwy geometry or something. "...Like what?" Rumia asks from behind you again, seemingly drawing a bit closer.
"Hangmans?" SlKogasa burbles out her suggestion, apparently completely unaffected by the stairs that you're all climbing up, which isn't surprising given that she's an amorphous shape shifter without a muscular system.
"There's that too. I'm not really feeling that inventive right now, admittedly." You shrug in a sheepish manner as you admit that, as there probably are a few interesting things to do but you just can't think of much to do.
You exit out into the sunlight soon enough after that as your girls seem to discuss possible things to do while you are travelling and trying to enjoy yourselves, or at least keep yourselves sufficiently distracted until you get to the resort so you can enjoy yourselves. It only takes a moment to get your bearings as the Prismrivers and Rumia argue over whether Truth or Dare or 20 questions are acceptable travel games considering they're also party games.
The way out of town and towards where you want to go should be around the other side of the gym, basically a straigth shot from the Gym's main entrance and down the main street of One Tree.
"Girls, isn't Truth or Dare better suited for when we're not traveling?" You feel the need to interject on that point since there's little chance of running into anyone at this rate. "The options of what you can dare someone to do are a lot more limited when we have to keep moving. Plus the really fun dares aren't things we should just do in public." Twenty questions could prove interesting too, anyway.
Still, time flies by one way or the other as you get dragged into the argument about which travelling game you should play, which is kind of a game in and of itself as each of you contributes valid reasons and counterpoints. The goal, you think, is to try and sway the whole group to one game or the other before you all actually reach the Resort Town proper. Whether that actually happens or not is another matter entirely.
As your conversation takes a few odd turns while you take no turns at all, being that the road is basically a straight shot except for some gentle curving at times, you find your mind drifting towards thoughts of just what you might do at the Resort Town while you make your way there.
[ ] Just hit the beach for a few hours.
[ ] Go check out that place Joey mentioned.
[ ] You’re not going to be comfortable until you’ve scouted the town out first.
[ ] Go beat down some Pufflees that call themselves trainers.
>>182029 Well with our Touhoumon, I'd say we're much better off than Mike Schmidt. Unless we find out we aren't allowed to damage the robots. But even then Touhoumon are stronger so they could probably pin them to the ground.
Looks like the votes are done, and it looks like Zeke and co. are going to go clobber trainers! Called, and update started.
File 141384825473.jpg- (573.33KB
, If only she had a sunhat.jpg
"I think we'll engage in the time-honored tradition of beating the tar out of a bunch of Pufflees that think too highly of themselves first." You've thought about it more than a little, and have come to the conclusion that having a few battles might help your nerves and do your girls some good. "It's good exercise if they're running anything worth a darn and should net us some extra cash too. Not like we're low on funds, but padding is nice."
"So beating up punks for money and to drink their tears?" Lyrica's seemingly in a better mood as she cracks her knuckles and smiles a touch menacingly, "Sounds like a fun way to spend an afternoon."
"...Is it acceptable to make them cry with words first, and then grind the defeat into their souls?" Merlin asks from your other side curiously, tapping one finger against her pouting lips.
"Uhm...maybe beating them up and taking their money from them is already enough?" Lunasa suggests from the back.
"Salt must flow!" Kogasa lets out a cheer from further in the back, throwing up her hands and whooping happily.
"...Can we get something to eat first? Cause if we don't, they might start to look tasty..." Rumia's grin is sparkling in the sunlight as she enjoys showing off those chompers to you and joining in on the fun.
"Just so long as whatever we do doesn't get us arrested, girls." You roll your eyes in response to your team's enthusiasm for crushing the spirits of the no doubt many trainers with delusions of grandeur, but you're sporting quite the grin yourself at the concept of tearing down a few fools. "And yeah, we've got food on us, right? You can have something to snack on first, Rumia." You're kinda not totally sure how serious the darkness mon is about gnawing on the other trainers, so it's best to err on the side of caution. You look to Lunasa next since she seems a little worried about all this. "Don't sweat it, Lunasa. Most people who have more money than sense tend to be very punchable, or make themselves punchable in short order if what my folk's stories have taught me."
Lunasa chews on that bit of information as Lyrica and Merlin begin to suggest increasingly more outlandish ideas of terrible things that could be done to your hypothetical enemies. Rumia meanwhile gives you the biggest pout as she tugs on her ribbon, "But...I wanna try new stuff..."
"I know, and there will be plenty of time for it." Unfortunately that sort of pout is almost enough to make you buckle and let her have her way, but you're managing to resist well enough. "The food will taste better after a warm-up."
"...fffffiiiiiinee..." Rumia whinges and huffs, pouting at the ground before her now, "What do we even have anyway...?"
"Sandwiches, trail mix... oh wait, is jerky okay?" It's really just a stopgap, but Rumia might prefer something with a bit more heft so long as there's some water to wash it down with or something.
"Yes to all of them!" Rumia's grin is right back up and toothy as she smiles up to you with a shine in her eyes.
You hand the hungry mon some food to snack on, apparently underestimating her preferences to a degree. Though you start snacking on some jerky yourself. You've had a taste for properly made jerky for pretty much forever.
Rumia begins to devour the portions given to her with a glee usually seen only in someone who had been starving. As for you though, you find the jerky to be just about perfect in every way, with a strong flavor and not being mushy or stringy.
Up ahead of you, you see the road begin to curve towards the coast and can make out what may seem to be buildings in the distance.
This taste is something you could get used to, you note. Still, the town's in view so it shouldn't be that much longer before the lot of you get there. "Looks like we're coming up on the town." You point out. It might be a touch obvious, but you're more than a little excited.
"Oh, good!" Lyrica's very enthusiastic today as she cracks her knuckles, "I was running out of ideas to toss around."
"I just want to put some of them into action. Zekey doesn't cry when I bully him anymore, so how can I have that kind of fun anymore...?" Merlin heaves a mighty sigh and then leans onto you, pressing herself up against you in a not-unpleasant way.
"You know, I almost feel sorry for the mons you girls are going to defeat." You respond in a dry yet somehow amused tone as you enjoy Merlin's presence. "I half expect Rumia to wind up nibbling on some poor girl's ear before we're done." Of course, now you're pitching in a tiny bit. Not like you can match the sheer bullying Lyrica and Merlin were tossing around.
" 'Course I will!" Rumia cheers up at you with a grin that's amazingly still shiny after she apparently ate everything you gave her...possibly including any wrappers, "Fear is delicious, and so are tears!"
"Yaaaaay tears!" SlKogasa cheers and throws up her hands. You notice that she's actually still wearing that yellow polka dot bikini that she was in before now, apparently for the beach today.
Or just because she likes how it makes you react.
You just shake your head in amusement while trying to stifle a snicker. "Well, looks like everyone's fired up for this! I just hope there's enough trainers for you girls to work out your bullying on." Of course you can't help but stare at the bikini a little, just because of how it actually helps her appeal. The energy your girls are putting out is infectious and you couldn't be any more excited for this if you tried.
As you take the road the rest of the way down you can see the town more properly. It's...actually rather beautiful, really. There aren't any especially tall buildings, just a few three floor hotels that look kinda ritzy to you. The vast majority of the style of this place seems to be pale, white stonework for most of the buildings, with rounded roofs and gentle, sloping curves rather than any harsh angles or sharp corners. You can actually hear the ocean clearly too from this point, and a gentle sea breeze caresses you while the sound of the waves lapping at the shore serenades you.
"We're here!" Your enthusiasm is easily heard as you point out the incredibly obvious. "Now then, who to battle first...?" There should be plenty of people around to battle, it's just a matter of finding a series of people who're also looking for someone to battle. Assuming someone doesn't approach you first, since you've got shiny Prismrivers.
...Hmm. Well that's...you see several older looking people sitting around at various cafes and walking down the streets together giving you looks. Judging by their clothing, jewelry and obnoxious attitude you think they're probably upper crust, or at least want to be upper crust. But, it doesn't seem like any of them are interested in battling you, or interested in doing anything but looking down their noses at you.
You even hear whispering coming from some of them as they talk about how you've left your mons outside of their balls. Your girls don't seem to be responding to it yet, but Lyrica looks somewhat irritated. It might be wise to relocate to an area where there's more of your generation rather than middle-aged pricks and women trying and failing to look young again.
"C'mon, there's bound to be more interesting stuff at the beach." You wave for your girls to follow you away from the gossiping hags and toward the spots that are more likely to have younger pricks with something to prove. Granted, you'd really just like to call 'em like you see 'em, but you don't want to stoop to their level unless you're properly prepared for it.
Your girls follow after you, with perhaps Lyrica and Merlin getting a bit too clingy to you thatn is appropriate. Which leads to Rumia hugging onto you and dragging on your heels as she does so thinking it's all great fun. Lunasa giggles behind you and says something to SlKogasa, who can be heard jiggle giggling in agreement.
Needless to say, that makes the concept of walking a bit tougher than it really ought to be, but you stick with your course regardless since your Prismrivers would never agree to be stuffed into their balls when there's no reason to do so. Or at least, no reason that's legitimate to them. You keep an eye out for anyone who might actually be worth challenging. It's a beach in the late morning and the weather's bright and sunny after all, there should be at least someone around.
From your position up on the 'walk' that's above the beach, you can see that there's plenty of younger people running around, and more than a few touhoumon as well. You suppose that considering the size of the beach it's actually not what you'd call crowded at all, since there's plenty of room for people to walk and run around still. You don't want to think about how unpleasant a beach where it's nothing but towels and umbrella's for the whole length would be.
...Hrm. You can actually see something going on a ways down the beach though. Looks like like there's a large crowd gathered there.
You figure you might as well see what's what. If something's got the attention of that many people it must be worth looking into. Whether it actually amounts to anything is another matter entirely.
As you make your way down down onto the beach you can begin to hear snatches and snitches of conversation coming from them. It sounds like...ugh.
It sounds like what Abbot thought was romantic, probably
"Great. Just what we needed to run into, a poor excuse of a mating display." You state dryly while wondering if there was anyone here actually worth battling. Not that you can blame a hormone-addled mind for going 'hurrdurr, she's purdy' since it's pretty much proven that men tend to empower their little head at the expense of the big one, but at the very least these louts could work on their methods and not rely on so many lame pick-up lines.
"Oi you what mate?" A fellow nearer to you than the rest of the group suddenly snaps his glower onto you. By his demeanor and bad attitude you suspect he probably already struck out, "Why don't you fookin' say that to my face you son of a whaler!"
...It looks like his yelling has gotten the attention of more of the crowd. As they turn to see what's going on you can see the girl they're crowding around. She's cute, you guess. Light red hair, fairly conservative but very nice looking bathing suit. Great taste in sunhats. You think she might also be looking but between her sunglasses and her cool sunhat it's hard to tell.
Someone turns their attention to you, and they're clearly not happy right now between their lack of success and your taunting them. "You heard me. You're just flouncing around trying to be flashy, but I'd be willing to bet you've got nothing to back it up with." You miiiight have taken one or two of Lyrica and Merlin's ideas to heart. People like this pretty much set themselves up to get torn down.
"Wot the fook are you goin' on about ya sheep-sleepin' son of a sub-mariner?" The boy growls at you as he starts to advance in your direction. This boy's a bit older and bigger than you, but he really doesn't have much in the way of muscle tone. It's kind of hard to feel threatened by his noodle arms, really. "Swear on me mum you say that shit one more time and I'll put you in your place, you guddamn highlandish cow-hugger."
...what the fuck is he even talking about?
It takes you a couple seconds to properly process that since the guy seems to have a thick accent or a lack of understanding of the local language. "Let's see. There's a crowd of people surrounding a cute redhead who's clearly not interested in any of the people around her, said people are spouting off pick-up lines, compliments, or sweet nothings of varying yet low quality, and judging from your attitude I'd be willing to bet you're among the ones who tried to hit on her and failed miserably." You've got at least some self-defense under your belts already and your adventures so far have ensured that you're not getting any weaker. Odds are pretty good you can floor this guy with relative ease if he's as much bluster as you think he is.
"So admittedly, while I am being a bit of a jerk at the moment, you kinda set yourself up for this." Your tone carries a certain 'that's how it is' tone to it as you talk to this guy. It's not even a deliberate attempt to troll him or anything, it's just that there's pretty much no other way for you to answer his question. Odds are good he's going to take it badly anyway. "And really, 'put me in my place'?" You raise an eyebrow at that proclamation and have a hint of a smile on your face. Somehow, it's funny to you. "I won't take you seriously if all you can do is bark."
"...I'm gonna fuckin' wreck you." The fellow snarls at you as your slights sting, but probably less than the chuckles you hear coming from some of the people in the crowd, likely the ones who came to watch people get shot down.
You also notice you're getting a lot of grumpy looks from a few of the other richy riches around the girl as well, ones near the fringes who likely already got shot down. Of the object of their attention, there is no reply.
On a more concerning note, you noticed that Lyrica tensed up at your compliments of the girl that everyone was fawning over, suggesting a few things that may be of concern for you.
"My, no wonder she shot you down. Can't really do anything, can you?" Lyrica's response really should have been expected, but you don't think you could have hit the guy quite the same way without the acknowledgment. "In fact, I wonder if you're a trainer... Surely proving that you're a man of action might win a few points."
"You wanna get creamed in front of your girls, you inbreed, potato munching son of a whaler? Hell, I'll cream your girls in front of you, and then cream you myself, MAN to boy!" You think you can see some vein's bulging out of his neck. Really, it's almost like no one's taunted him before, or something.
"It's clear you're the epitome of sophisticated, civil discussion, so I'll move right along to the fun part." At this point he was starting to irk you a little, though his threats were empty unless he acted on them. Plus even if he did make good on his word it'd be a Pyrrhic victory for him at best. "Shall we do this by the rules, or should I change your perception on things...?"
"Allow me to decide!" A boisterous voice suddenly calls out as sand shoots up into the air from between you and your opponent. There is now a tanned man with slicked back, fading golden hair standing between the both of you. He is black swim trunks, and an open black and white stripe button down shirt, "Me, Mister Referee!"
"...huh." Lyrica stops exuding her paru waves as she's trying to process what just happened. Which to be fair, you kind of are too.
...was he under the sand the whole time, or did he bury himself somewhere else and come here? Perhaps more important, how did he know a fight was starting? You guess he could have just seen the gathering and known it would happen sooner or later, but...
It takes a few moment for you process that properly, but you recover well enough to respond. "Well, I guess it's time to duel." Not that you can keep up your previous taunting. This is just so far out of left field that you can't think of any logical reason for someone to even do that.
"This battle shall be in standard rules! Both sides will be allowed the same number of touhoumon in their lineup, and the battle will continue until one side is depleted! As the lowlander has only two touhoumon, two shall be that lineup limit! Switching your touhoumon can only be done between a round!" The lowlander looks a bit putout at his new designation while Mister Referee moves quickly around the both of you, making marks in the sand that quickly form up into what you recognize as a touhoumon battlefield in the circle configuration, but smaller than normal. Once that's done, he goes back to rattling off more rules. "We shall be using THIS field configuration! Attacks are to be kept inside of the ring when possible at all times! If either side threatens the safety of the audience with uncontrolled techniques, they will be immediately disqualified! Being knocked outside of the boundaries counts as a TKO! These are the rules for this battle!”
You can't help but snort in amusement as your challenger gets insulted like that, and start to think about who to use here.
Who will you put into the fight, and who goes first?
I find it mildly bemusing that only one person actually read the "As the lowlander has only two touhoumon, two shall be that lineup limit!" line part of the update and voted accordingly. You're supposed to pick two, people.
That being said, votes are done and Lyrica gets first pick while Merlin is her second this time around. There's an overwhelming call for a balanced approach to the fight. Update underway.
Anyways, after this and maybe a couple more battles we need to relax and have that f'ing talk with the Mon about their abilities and the like.
Also, maybe see if Rumia wants to try for a Variant through that Sun Stone that mesmerized her seeing as she is getting pretty close to evolving to EX from how she keeps tugging her ribbon and it's been described as loose since the fight against the tree.
File 141770715955.png- (890.27KB
, Alice at the Beach.png
"Alright then, Lyrica, you're up first. Merlin, you're her second. Let's give this lowlander a show he'll never forget!" You're certainly fired up, and figure that since those two were the most vocal about bullying people that they'd probably appreciate the first opportunity to do so. The idea of taking a more balanced approach to this pops into your head since this guy is probably more bluster than skill. You won't be trying to charge right over the top of his mons, but at the same time your girls could adapt to anything his girls might try.
Lyrica's all grins after you decide to give her the first shot at the fellow who made the mistake of threatening you and yours, "Oh, I'm sure he'll be seeing this in his nightmares for a looong time coming, Zekey." Her voice is predatory as she stalks forward and into the ring, idly stretching just a touch more as you notice the lowlander get a touch nervous at her distinctively predatory behavior, and not the kind of predatory boys like.
"Hmmm, I'm getting second go? Well, I guess it's not bad to watch first, really." Merlin huffs a touch before leaning against you casually again, pressing herself up on your left side and resting her chin on your shoulder, with her cheek pressing against yours, "You'll switch me in so I have a chance though, right Zekey? You wouldn't make me watch the whole time, would you...?"
"Of course I will, don't worry. Someone who makes that kind of threat toward my girls deserves to have us do our worst to them." If Lyrica's behavior's got the lowlander shaking in his sandals, your mirthless smile should only slap a few more ice cubes onto his back. You idly wrap your arm around Merlin's waist to hold her next to you for the time being as you both enjoy her presence and start playing out which moves you can make when. That's assuming you even need to. You then peck the lewd trumpeter on the cheek. "So make sure to do exactly that, alright~?"
"Well, I'll see if I can make him cry at the very least." Merlin whispers to you as she leans in and kisses you on the cheek in return...and then slips down lower and kisses your neck heavily, leaving her mark on you, "After all Zekey, we need our salt just like we need our sugar~."
"If the lollygaggin lowlander could declare his choice, we can begin the battle!" Mr Referee's voice cuts sharp through the air, shaking the lollygagging lowlander from his stupor and getting him to growl. Reaching behind him, he produces a-
...Is that a luxury ball? Those things are supposed to be stupidly expensive, aren't they? Which figures, considering how richy rich this place is and all, but still. They're not even all that effective, they just pamper what's inside and basically bribes for loyalty.
"Alli, get out here!" He orders, throwing the Luxury Ball out. The ball opens up and releases a surge of white energy that forms up into...an Alice wearing a swimsuit that gleams with many colors and with a cloth wrapped around her waist that drapes down on one side.
The Alice glances back towards her trainer and then towards you and Lyrica, "...You picked a fight again, didn't you Devin?" She smirks back over her shoulder at Devin, who seems to wilt just a touch under her attention.
"Well-no! He started it with coming up and talkin' shit Alli!" The Lollygagging Lowlander Devin, who wanted to battle you, tries to defend himself by pointing what is actually the truth.
"Mmmm, if you say so." The Alice shrugs, turning her attention back to the matter at hand, "You really need to chill out though Devin."
As for you, your mind is piecing together bits of information about this Alice to try and figure just what she is. Is she a normal Alice in a swimsuit...or is she a Beach Alice? Depending on what she is, this fight could go pretty differently.
Not that it would make that much difference, mind. Alice are typically Psychic, if you recall right, while the Beach variant typically makes a mon's secondary type Water if it wasn't a Water type already. Lyrica still holds the type advantage, but the Alice may have additional options to work with. "Well, this should prove interesting." Lyrica knows enough on how to fight to not need that much input from you, though there is the issue as to whether she'd listen or not. You still remember how much she resisted being switched out in the tournament.
"Now then, are you ready!?" Mr Referee strikes a pose as he points to both you and your opponent, the waves crashing behind him and gleaming in the sunlight.
"You fuckin' bet your ass I'm ready." Devin mutters as you see him turn his glare onto a part of the crowd where you can see several boys grouped together, muttering things you can't hear and chuckling to themselves. Oh great, a posse of poseurs.
"Let's get going." The poseurs can go screw themselves, and if they want to take you on afterward they can step right up. For now, you're focused on this battle.
"Okay! Let's...Tou..!" The mysterious Mr Referee shifts his stance suddenly, kicking up sand as he draws on arm in a wide arc over his head," Hooooooou Battleeeeee!"
Well, that's one way to stay you guess.
Lyrica begins to move, skimming lightly along the ground with the tips of her shoes trailing along in the sand as keeps an eye on the Alice on the opposite side of the ring. The Alice, for her part, simply begins to casually match Lyrica's pace while moving in the opposite direction, smiling politely back in response to Lyrica's rather predatory expression. Neither one of them rushes to make the first move, but...
...Lyrica decides to test the waters first! Her fingers dance along the keyboard floating before her and produce a discordant tune as a black miasma issues forth and surges towards the Alice, rapidly closing in on her with the intent to consume.
The Alice, for her part, stops where she's standing and spreads her hands in front of her, her body glowing lightly for a moment before a bright white shield gleams into existence from your angle before the shadows consume her from sight.
The Night Shade swirls around the around the Alice, blocking her from sight before it eventually begins to wither and fade...and from that darkness, a light blue beam that borders on white surges out of the remnants and runs straight for Lyrica! Lyrica just barely twists aside, avoiding the ice beam which hits the ground behind her and freezes over the sand, which gleams in the light of the sun.
An ice beam? Alice's are Ice Types you guess, but a Beach Alice would be...
"Oh, you dodged that? You're better than the last one who tried us, that's for sure." The Beach Alice is all polite smiles as she compliments Lyrica on her performance.
Lyrica just eyes her a for a moment before a grin that's...maybe not as viciously predatory as the one before makes its way onto her face, "I'll be sure to show you just how much better I really am."
Merlin remains nuzzled up against you on one side, watching the fight curiously as you feel Rumia take up position on your right now that the space was vacated, "...Zekey, that was Protect, wasn't it?"
"Yeah. That skill's got a pretty significant cooldown though, she can't use it successively or else the barrier won't form right." You watch the fight intently while snuggling your girls, noting that you made something of an error in your thinking. "I thought that Alice was a Psychic type, but if she's tossing around Ice attacks..." It takes no time at all for you to pull your Tablet out to see if you can't get some basic info on that Alice. Unless you're mistaken, the only locations where it's against the rules to scan your opponent are in official tournaments or dedicated battle facilities. The ref didn't say anything about it either, so unless he expressly forbids it it's okay.
As the Alice and Lyrica both move to test each other again, your tablet quietly monitors the Alice before pinging. The first thing you see when it pops up is that she is, indeed, a Beach Alice. The second thing you notice is that it seems you don't get the same level of information from just scanning her like you got about one of your girls. Probably something about being able to interface with the ball for deep checks.
Beach Alice: A variant of the Alice line of touhoumon. The Beach Alice type are rarely seen in the wild. BAlice's are similar to other Beach and Mer type variants in that their secondary element is changed to water. Due to a quirk noted in the Alice's line, the BAlice has been discovered to be Ice/Water type rather than Psychic/Water.
"Looks like the fight's going to come down to who's the better fighter then. Lyrica doesn't have as big an advantage as I thought she did." Not that you're worried in the slightest. She's an innately superior Lyrica to begin with and one who's been in more trouble since the two of you met than most mons see in their entire lives. "Ice/Water and Ghost don't interact at all when it comes to type effectiveness."
"...Lyrica will be fine then. She's fast enough that catching her will be hard, and the cool down on that protect will limits the Alice's options. Plus, I'm sure you'll come up with something, Zekey." Your Merlin pets you like the good boy that you are, fingers running along your scalp.
In front of you, you watch as Lyrica skims to the side, and avoids another ice beam that freezes up more of the arena, just along the edge of the circle that serves as the line out marker. As Lyrica comes to a stop you see her focus intently for a second...before a brief 'fwoomf' of air comes off of her and stirs up the sand at her feet. She has an easy time dodging the ice beam this time as it surges past her and paints up more of the free sand behind Lyrica. At a guess you'd say the ice covers about a bit more than a quarter of the perimeter of the ring.
Lyrica blurs for a moment and then you see a bombardment of spinning golden stars flash out as she swings her arm wide, and you see them cut across the Alice who flinches as they deal their blows, gritting her teeth and baring with it as the storm abates.
You hear a whistle and a remark you can't quite catch from the posse again, and watch as your opponents displeasure at his mon taking a hit increase as his ire is focused briefly onto the posse before settling back onto you since you're his opponent in this whole thing.
"Alli, you alright?" He calls out to her, watching you and the field and keeping his attention off of the posse for now.
"Just fine Devin, you can't go into the ring not expecting to take a few hits." She laughs lightly and dusts off the cloth wrapped around her waist.
If nothing else, the Alice seems to be pretty alright. "I definitely trust in her ability, Merlin. I'm also glad that Lyrica can fly, because that ice?" You point out the most recent batch of ice-covered sand. "That would be trouble for anyone on foot. With how warm it is out odds are good that ice isn't going to stay a solid chunk for long and will probably have a thin film of melt water before long. If a more grounded mon hit that wrong, they could fall or even skid right out of the ring."
Still, it is interesting to pay attention to both what this Devin fellow is paying attention to and how he's reacting to his Alice getting hurt. He's definitely distracted by the posse and paying attention to you, so his attention is divided among at least three things right now. His Alice seems able to handle herself too, which makes you wonder.
Mister Referee pulls out something from his belt and hurls it at the posse, smacking the one with the biggest ego right in the face with-
...a yellow flag? "Unnecessary rabble rousing, ten yard penalty!" He points at them with one hand, and a spot ten yards away.
The one with the biggest ego and hair slowly pulls the flag off of his face and then throws it to the ground, "Are you fucking serious, you black and white clown?"
Mr Referee stares at the fools, and you don't doubt for a second that he's full aware of Lyrica trying to bluff Alice into wasting her Protect before she closes in, and then moves his hand to point to a distance a bit further back, "Extra five yard penalty for back talking and interrupting the flow of the game! Any more is an ejection!"
The boy and his posse stare at the Referee with the sort of scorn only someone whose parents never taught him manners can before he huffs and saunters off in that direction, muttering unkind things as he goes.
With that drama out of the way, you watch as Lyrica throws a hand out and swings it towards the Alice again...except this time she throws a seething mass of writhing darkness and swirling shadow. The shadowy ball hurtles towards the Alice, who raises her hands for a moment before spreading them aside and putting up a protect just as the ball slams into her protection.
Honestly, you were only giving half an ear's worth of attention to the posse at best, and couldn't care less that they were being unruly or getting close to being kicked out. The only thing you're concerned about is how the Alice is throwing up barriers every other attack, but Lyrica seems to have it well in hand so far. Since this battle works with the ring-out rule, you can guess that the Alice in question may realize that she's at a mild disadvantage and is trying to use her attacks skillfully to close the gap. The only problem with that is that Lyrica doesn't need to touch the ground, so unless something more major happens you shouldn't need to intervene.
As Lyrica tries to start up another attack to take advantage of the Alice's lack of protection...you watch as an bright beam that glows like the rainbow slams into her chest, getting a cry of shock out of her as she loses focus and flinches, landing on the ground and getting pushed back...right towards the iced over part of the field! By utilizing Aurora Beams ability to cause the opponent to flinch and stumble and lose focus, they've managed to make what you thought wasn't part of the equation into a part of it!
"Lyrica, destroy the ice on the field!" It wasn't the most elegant command ever given, but you'd rather have the field cleared off first before focusing on the opponent. Plus, depending on how she does it, it might actually create some brief cover...
Lyrica struggles against the Aurora Beam for a moment before slamming her hands down on the keyboard and lets out a tremendously loud sound. The force of the sound is projected into the Alice and slams her back, pushing her skidding right up to the line before manages to hold herself in place. The back blast of the force also shattered the ice behind Lyrica, who you can see panting and rubbing her chest, forcing the frost off of her as she watches the Alice with a whole new level of wariness.
The Alice actually knew how to battle, that was a bit surprising. Not only that, she's up to the edge of the ring herself and her advantage literally just shattered before her eyes. Not that she couldn't just set it right back up, mind, but it made you think. The Alice here appears to be a tricky defensive type who favors turning the field to her advantage to exploit her opponent's tactical weaknesses.
Your opponents quiet, watching the field with a frown as Alice shifts, putting her hands up into the position to unleash another one of her beams, and as Lyrica moves to dodge and get into position to react...!
...You see the Alice glow a bright green and her injuries seem to fade away, not disappearing entirely but letting you know she's recovered for certain!
A mon with both Recover and Protect!?
"Well that's annoying." You frown as you watch the Alice shrug off most of the damage she's taken so far. Come to think of it, Recover-class moves only heal about half of the user's 'max health' as a general rule of thumb, so if she's not fully recovered after one use the blows Lyrica DID land did more than you thought they did. Strategy-wise, you can't really ask a speedster like Lyrica to go on the defense, and an all-out offense would just let said Alice wear her out. The best strategy you can think of at the moment is to watch for her tricks personally to spot what the keyboardist mon might not, and the other part? "Don't fall into a pattern, Lyrica." One simple command. The problem tricksters face is that they're dependent on what the opponent may or may not do. Protect blocks a heavy blow, but what if the opponent feints? Recover lets a mon heal a bit, but an opponent could just take advantage of the opportunity.
Start messing around with the order and the defensive mon has to spend more time just plain guessing what you'll do next instead of accurately predicting. It's not a perfect plan, but it's one of the more balanced ones.
Lyrica focuses in on the Alice and takes your orders with a nod as you see the gears in her head turn and twist as she shifts on leg to her left while you see the signs of her beginning to come up with an idea of her own on her face.
The Alice brings her arm up and launches a beam of euphoric light again, the Aurora beam aiming for where she predicted Lyrica would move, and to your satisfaction Lyrica dodges it, if only barely. As you watch with bated breath, you see Lyrica seem to buzz and hum again and then speed up even more than she already was as she utilizes this increased speed to bob and weave and dodge her way around the Alice's impressively accurate attacks. The Alice also seems to have a knack for being able to track Lyrica even now to a degree.
"...Zekey, aren't Pufflee's supposed to be incompetent?" Merlin asks of you quietly as she watches her sister utilize her extreme speed to keep outside of Alice's attacks.
You frown as Merlin brings that point up, and respond in a similar quiet tone. "I was wondering about that. If this guy's Alice knows how to use her natural talents, this guy can't be all talk. I wasn't expecting to have us run into actual talent." You lean on Merlin a bit more after you've said your part. "Not that this is a bad thing either, though to be honest I wouldn't have put Lyrica out against a defensive wall if I knew that was coming."
"It will give Lyrica the work out she said she wanted at least, right?" Merlin responds with a smile as she starts to parse out Lyrica's plan herself.
"...But is she gonna eat her?" Rumia asks, looking up to you curiously as you see Lyrica running circles around the Alice before a surge of darkness rolls out of the rapidly moving blur and heads straight for the Alice, who has to use protect to stop it with a golden shield that wards off the shadowy ball.
"I should hope so. Looks like she's got something figured out too, so odds are good she'll pull this one off." Not that you're saying anything either, since the keyboardist mon didn't need you blurting out what you think her moves are going to be ahead of time. Then Rumia caught your attention with the most unusual question. "I... really don't think Lyrica's going to eat her opponent."
"...Okay..." Rumia seems to slump a bit as she goes back to watching the fight and leans against you just a bit more, leaving you pleasantly enjoying the company of your girls.
You ruffle Rumia's hair while shaking your head in that sort of good-natured and amused way. Though you're still paying attention to how the fight's playing out. It seems like Lyrica's decided to amplify her natural talents for a bit with Agility to get her already considerable speed up to even greater levels. Since this isn't just two sides trading hits, that means that the Alice has to plan every move she wants to make ahead of time, though with Lyrica's handling of her speed you know that's going to be an exercise in frustration.
The Alice brings her hand up again and arcs a pure white ice beam across the area, trying to catch Lyrica in the sweep and failing to do so. Lyrica takes the chance to slam another shadowy ball into Lyrica, pushing her back and making her stumble as back as she wilts under the damage. A gleam of green runs across her as she tries to make use of recover as she's forced back.
As Alice glows the green of restore and you see the damage on her fade slightly, Lyrica takes the chance that she's been given and suddenly appears in front of Alice, hands poised over her keyboard for just a tiny moment before she slams them down onto the keys, unleashing her performance, the force of which forces Alice back and skidding out of the ring.
"Hah! How's that?" Lyrica takes pride in her victory, crossing her arms over her chest while grinning.
...Now you note that your opponent actually ran to Alice when he saw her getting knocked back and is helping her steady herself as he speaks with her quietly, fishing around behind him and then producing a bottle of something for her, which the Alice takes gratefully and begins to down.
"Match one goes to...the Inlander!" Mr Referee declares bombastically, pointing a quivering open hand to you while clenching the other and leaning to one side. A part of you kind of wished you'd had a referee like this before.
"Nice match. Looks like you've got some actual skill." It's a bit hard to rag on this guy when he's not complete bluster. Not that you've calmed down completely or anything. Just the opposite, in fact. "Let's see how your next girl does!"
Your opponent his head up to you, a furious glower on his face as he opens his mouth to respond with what must be truly hurtful words before a hand from his Alice on his chest stops him. The Alice leans in and whispers soft words to him, getting him to cool off a little bit and focus his glare onto the ground. You're having trouble hearing what she's saying over the crowds cheering, chatter, and in some sections jeering and rude comments. The Referee seems to be waiting patiently, so you guess they're not breaking the rules? Maybe it's a distance to the fight thing.
It's not like you can blame your opponent to taking that kind of attitude with you since you were being a jerk to him and pretty much everyone hitting on that girl earlier, though it seems like he may just be a cut above the rest of the losers here. Still... "Lyrica, you did great!" Her performance was pretty good, and she almost didn't need any direction from you at all.
"Of course!" Lyrica floats over to you, puffed up and a bit battered but not looking too much worse for wear, "I said I'd show how much better I was, didn't I?"
"And you delivered on that, no doubt about it." You give the darkness mon and the trumpeter a bit of warning before you slip out from between them to hug the victor of that match since she earned it. "Now, I did promise Merlin that I wouldn't make her watch the whole time, so the two of you are gonna swap places." You're pulling the keyboardist toward where you were taking a seat before looking to Merlin. "Alright, the next one's yours, Merlin!"
"Hmhmhm...don't forget to give her a bit of healing when you get the chance, darling." Merlin casually strides into the ring, a sashay in her hips that seems to get the attention of everyone watching the battles, "I can take care of myself while you do that."
Across from you, the Alice is speaking to her trainer who doesn't look like he's particularly happy but ends up nodding his head, "Alright Alli, if you say so we'll keep going. Do you want to take a break?" He asks of her, fingering the ball that's sitting on his waist now.
The Alice just bumps him on the head lightly, "Of course not. Someone has to keep you cool in this heated situation, right?"
"...Keep working on those puns, Alli." Devin mutters in response as he pushes himself back up and moves to his side of the ring. You can see the posse muttering something as they're watching him, talking back and forth in a conspiratorial manner.
Lyrica has taken up Merlin's old position relative to you and seems to be eying Rumia while keeping her expression restrained. Up this close, you can also see she took a bit of a battering from those attacks that did hit. Looks like those beams were stronger than they looked.
You take Merlin's advice and immediately start fussing over Lyrica's wounds. Even if they're not critical you can still tell that the trumpeter was putting on something of a show earlier, which is just like her. Not like she needs much, mind, but you're not going to shove her back into battle later without patching her up first.
"Ugh, I'm fine Zeke." Lyrica fusses about your fussing over her as you start to do touhoumon medical care 101, "She didn't hit me that hard or anything, it's just some cold rays. It's not like I'm a dragon or something."
"I know, but I still want to make sure you're in top shape. I don't think this guy is going to be the last one to challenge us, and I'd rather not have you go down early because I didn't take care of you when I should." Not that it stops you, mind, and you note the irony because the way she's acting is roughly how you act when it comes to dressing wounds.
"...Tch, fine." Lyrica stops her struggling against your fussing and just huffs instead, "It fits our luck that the first pufflee would be kinda competent too, wouldn't it Zeke? At least the rest of them carry themselves like actual pufflees."
"No kidding. Here I was thinking we'd have an easy time pounding down a bunch of idiots with more money than sense, though you're right. The rest do." You're pretty sure that Lyrica doesn't mind you checking her over in a relatively physical manner to see if she's dinged up anywhere else. "Not that our winning this would discourage them, I think. If anyone in that group of losers over there decides to challenge us, it'd probably because they think us winning is a fluke."
"Or because they think they're better than he was, Don't forget overconfidence as well as stupidity Zekey." Lyrica reminds you as you do a few more checks to make sure she's not hurt anywhere you hadn't seen and she apparently doesn't mind your touch or attention at all now, "...Or both."
"Right, right. Hallmarks of a Pufflee, those." You're pretty sure you've got Lyrica's wounds treated just fine by now so you shift position and lean against her so you can pay attention to what Merlin's gotten up to. Knowing her she ought to be fine, but at the same time you want to be sure.
Merlin is waiting patiently in the ring while doing her nails while your opponent was...apparently doing the same thing as you, giving his Alice a treatment besides the drink he'd given her and apparently fussing over her, given her teasing smile as she nudges him back into action.
The Referee is sipping from a fruit juice pouch as he waits patiently for the next round to start, not rushing either of you.
...now you kinda wish you had a drink.
"Alright, looks like you're all set, Lyrica." You then lean against the trumpeter while making yourself comfortable so you can watch the match proper. "Merlin, I'm finished patching up Lyrica."
"Oh good! I'll give you a kiss on the cheek as a reward once I'm done out here~." Merlin promises you with a wink over her shoulder and a wiggle of her hips which gets a reaction from the crowd, predominantly male.
The BAlice gives her trainer a nudge, which gets him to get into moving and pull out a second touhouball from behind him, this one being...holy Makai, is that a Cherish Ball? It gleams and sparkles a bit in the light as he rolls it between his fingers while eying it and then you before he throws it underhanded into the arena where it opens up and vomits out a line of sparkles which form up into...two figures!?
They're both about 2 feet tall but aren't proportioned like Chibi's at all. They're wearing quite blue dresses with white smocks. One has a shield almost as big as her and a cute blue ribbon, while the other has a long, sharp looking lance and has a red ribbon.
"Shanghai~!" Says the blue ribboned one, waving to you and Merlin excitedly as if she's happy to meet you.
"Hourai..." The red ribboned one speaks afterward, her tone more sedate as she hefts up her lance and begins to finger the tip thoughtfully and pointedly as she eyes Merlin and you.
You can hear discontent muttering coming from the crowd, including things like 'two' and 'cheating' and some insults as well. They do not seem to be aimed at you.
The idea of having affection given to you like that isn't a bad one, and you don't doubt her abilities in the slightest. Still, you can't help but find your opponent's choice of mons a bit odd. "...Dolls?" Your tone carries a level of uncertainty to it, as if you're not quite sure if your opponent is serious or not. If they're the conventional Dolls then they should be Normal type, which puts both fighters at a disadvantage since neither can use their strongest attacks against the other. "Merlin, don't bother with Ghost type moves unless they show they're not Normal type."
"Oooh? Normal types, huh?" Merlin doesn't levitate like her sister did, keeping her feet fairly firm on the ground, "I hope this will be more exciting than those Kedama were. That was just disappointing, and sad, but mostly disappointing." Merlin rattles off, remembering the admittedly disappointing, and sad, battle.
"Are you ready!?" The Referee asks again, raising his hands over his head suddenly and spreading his legs dramatically, kicking up sand that sprays up and frames him.
You nod in response, readily agreeing with the fact that the kid using the Kedama was just plain old sad. There wasn't even any reward money from that fight! Still, focus on the fight at hand. "Ready!" Your response is strong and clear, and your eyes are on this fight.
"Yeah, sure." Your opponent seems a lot less enthusiastic than you are, and significantly less enthusiastic than he was at the start of this whole demonstration, but he's still watching like you are. He eyes Merlin before speaking up to his own mon, "Duet, don't rush in and get careless."
"...Then, let's begin! TOU-!" The Referee performs the same ritualistic movement he did before in a similarly dramatic manner as he drawls out the start of the match, "HOOOOU BATTLE!"
It's going to be interesting seeing how this battle plays out, you think. It's mostly going to come down to raw power and who has the stronger moves since Dolls typically don't have much in the way of underhanded tricks to throw at their opponents, while Merlin doesn't seem to be the debilitating type either. Plus, there's no telling if these two are going to be as devious as the Beach Alice that came before them, though with Merlin you're not as worried. The trumpeter seems to be as tactical-minded as she is lewd.
Merlin smiles at the two dolls and brings one hand up, resulting in the lance doll ducking behind the shield doll and both of them peering over the shield at Merlin warily. Then, Merlin simply waves her hand at them and tilts her head and you know she's giving them that smile, the innocent one that makes your guard falter.
The Dolls already have seemingly fallen for it as they both glance to each other and that shield starts to lower.
You can tell by their faces just when Merlin switches to her 'gotcha' smile. You can also tell because a seething ball of darkness blooms into existence around her hand and she hurls it at them overhand, sending it hurtling right for them. The Dolls panic and split up quickly, just barely managing to avoid the shadow ball which stops right at the edge of the arena and then drops to the ground and diminishes as Merlin shakes her hand idly, turning her attention from one doll to the other as she watches them begin to vibrate and you see what looks like two become a blurry four.
"Oh my~..." Merlin's voice has a cant to it that makes you shiver instinctively, "You're fast little things, aren't you? This is going to be more fun than I'd hoped."
Case in point. If she were dealing with an opponent that was any slower, she would have had quite the immense opening to work with. As it stands though, she's going to have to deal with a couple of small opponents using Double Team. "Well, these Dolls don't look like they'll go down that easy. Merlin should get something of a workout here." You're not totally sure why you're commenting on the fight, though you are sure you've got the best seat to watch the fight.
"Mmm...but they're weaker than that Alice was Zekey. They're faster than you'd expect and small, but if one hit gets in they'll be down and out if that shield's just for show." Lyrica eyes Rumia on the opposite side of you from her but doesn't do anything yet, "Plus, if you hit one you hit the other. That's how mon like that work."
It's good that Lyrica's at least tolerating Rumia. "Shared health pools kinda suck like that, don't they? Wide range attacks would flatten them pretty quick." Combined mons like that tend to have higher power in exchange for a combined HP pool, effectively increasing the amount of damage they take from moves like Surf or the ever popular Earthquake. "I still don't see this taking too long."
"Well, yeah. I mean those dolls are basics, even if they're not chibi." Lyrica responds as she watches Merlin begin to toyingly sashay her way closer to where the dolls have regrouped and are looking at her with big eyes over the blue one's shield.
"...Do you think she'll eat them, Zekey?" Rumia asks from beside you, tugging on your shirt to get your attention as she watches Merlin's predatory advance.
"I'm pretty sure Merlin's not going to eat them, Rumia." You're feeling a touch exasperated with the darkness mon's odd insistence on that question. It's hard for you to understand why she keeps asking that, and chalk it up to it being one of her oddities for now. Merlin's definitely playing around though. The Dolls don't seem like they're confident in their chances against her at all.
The Dolls glance to each other and then nod together, turning adorably 'fierce' glares onto Merlin, who just giggles in response. Both of the Dolls suddenly reach behind them, getting equally adorable 'mischievous' looks on their faces before they throw their hands out together, showering the entire arena in black, pointy looking spikes.
"Oh my, isn't that something?" Merlin makes a show of looking over all of the spikes that have fallen to the ground around her, "You've cut me off from movement, and I don't seem to be the fastest in the air, do I?"
"...Unfortunately, I don't need to move around to beat you. Since you've shown me what you can do, I think I'll give you a taste of my own abilities." Merlin's tone takes on that hunting edge that you're familiar with as she spreads her arms out to her sides, smiling as you feel the area around you grow darker and a chill wind begin to blow in from behind you.
Looks like Merlin doesn't need any sort of intervention to deal with this, that's for sure. If she's getting like that then it's likely that she's done playing games.
The Dolls both realize just what sort of situation they're in as that black wind flows past you and your girls, flowing around you all without touching you as it seeps onto the field and flows closer to the two dolls who seem to be panicking before a voice cuts through the dark whisperings of the black wind, "Both of you, group up and use 'that'!" Their trainer barks out a command, which gets them huddling close together again as the shield one moves up front and the lance one puts one of her hands on her 'sister's' shoulder. As the black wind washes over them and consumes the field, you see a flash of familiar light.
"Okay, so they can dodge and they can block, but they've got the exact same problem all Protect users do." You cross your arms as you observe Merlin's otherwise potent attack splashing against the Doll's barrier fruitlessly. You can't see this lasting more than one or two more turns.
The Black Wind washes over the two, and covers up the area from your sight as you wait for their response. It comes a few moment after the Black Wind begins to fade and you see a glint of light...before a familiar, icy blue beam lashes out and hits Merlin straight on! The two dolls are side-by-side, grabbing the lance together and shooting that beam with all their power! As cold washes over you, you see Merlin...
...advance towards them with her back to you, quickly closing the distance as you see the panic on the Dolls faces as they realize their situation. If they stop the beam, Merlin will be on them in an instant, but if they don't stop the beam they're stuck standing still, easy targets.
Merlin doesn't give them a chance to try and come up with a clever plan and raises one fist up, cloaking it in a fell darkness before bringing it down on the dolls, slamming them both into the sand and cratering it.
"...Well, I'd say that's that." Merlin offers as she happily claps her hands together.
"Way to go, Merlin!" You can't help but cheer for the trumpeter as she seems to have ended the fight in one swift move. That Ice Beam must have dinged her for a bit of damage as well, so you'll need to tend to her too once things are settled for sure.
Your opponent's already got the Doll's ball out as they're hitting the ground, and he retrieves them quickly as Mr Referee throws his hands, and most of his body, in your direction, "This match is over! Winnnnnerrrr...The INLANDER!"
You hear the crowd laughing it up at that, though some of the girl's are giggling and clapping for you rather than at you, and you think that some of them might be looking you up and down.
Then the crowd takes a turn for the worse as you hear the jeers at your opponent start up as the Alice tries to talk with him while he's glaring at the ground. The jeers start to turn into taunts, and then insults, which gets the Alice turning at the crowd, opening up her mouth to give them a piece of her mind (and possibly more) before she gets tapped with her own ball and gathered up.
"Nice job out there!" The leader of that pack of obnoxious pufflee's jeered, "No wonder your parents ditched you! Wouldn't want the loser rubbing off on them, right?"
Devin snarls, looking like he'd go and pick a fight with them fist to fist if he didn't have something more important to do. Instead he just storms across the field, slaps something onto your chest and snarls at you as he passes, "There's yer bloody prize money."
After that he picks his pace up into a quick run and is making straight for town, and probably the Pokemon Center.
You gather up the money and put it into a nice neat stack before storing it someplace safe, finding that being cheered for feels pretty alright, but the rest of those people? You don't know what the deal with Devin was, but the guy at least had some skill on him and his Alice seemed to have a pretty tight bond with him. Someone like that can't be a simple idiot. Unlike the Pufflees hanging around. Honestly, their mockery is getting irksome. You give Lyrica a peck on the cheek before slipping out from between your two girls to tend to Merlin, seeing as she's probably juuuust dinged enough to warrant some attention. "You did a good job out there, Merlin." You open with as you see if there's any spots in particular that are in need of attention.
Merlin giggles and leans closer to you so you can check over every inch of her, and once she's close she whispers into your ear, "Are you going to kiss it and make it better for me, Zekey...?"
...Well if the boys in the crowd didn't already have a reason to hate you, you guess jealousy from this will give the rest one.
A smirk plays across your face as Merlin says that, which causes you to take up her teasing little suggestion. The offending 'dent' in question is relatively easy to spot, though you can tell Merlin got the easier of the two opponents by far. Getting hit square in the torso with an Ice Beam really did her no favors, but it was launched by a mon type that doesn't seem especially well suited for dealing damage from the Special Attack side. Or maybe they were just that weak overall. Either way, the owie gets kissed lightly before you use some actual medicine to patch her right up. "You're planning on getting more people all riled up, aren't you? Asking me to get all cutesy with a girl like you." Your voice is on the quiet side as well so that if this is one big trolling attempt, the Pufflees don't catch on to it.
"Oh Zekey...do you really think I'd do something like that?" Merlin's is the very pinnacle of affronted dignity as you accuse her with such base, slanderous actions, "I just like your kisses. Riling up hormonal, hooting, howler monkeys is just a side benefit."
Merlin leans in closer, pecking you on the nose, "And don't worry Zekey...I'll kiss you better tonight."
"A side benefit that would no doubt lead to getting to stomp people with delusions of grandeur into the ground." You hug your perverted trumpeter briefly before stepping back a bit to see what the reaction of the jeering crowd is.
Some of the boys in the crowd seem more riled up than before, and you manage to see through the crowd that's gathered around her the red-haired bombshell that they were all drooling over is watching you with interest, and then smiles as she notices you noticing her.
Dang, she really is cute.
Of course, her noticing you riles up even more of the boys, and you find yourself getting approached by the Alpha of Pufflee Posse, whose collar is thoroughly popped up in an attempted intimidation display. It's not very effective.
"Yeah, right, nice. Now how about we see how you do against a real man? That is, unless you're chicken." He sneers at you, blonde hair and tanned skin gleaming in the sun, making you wonder briefly just how much product this guy uses.
...You know if they all give you as much money as that Devin did, you're probably going to have to go out of your way to spend it or something.
Maybe get a fancy steak dinner for everyone?
There's a fair few things you could do with that much money, and there's no doubt that your girls wouldn't mind getting pampered a bit after all this. As for now, you give the Pufflee a grin in response to his challenge. You don't normally have an inflated ego or anything, but your grin is somewhere between amused and unsettling. It's nowhere near your mother's level of intimidation through expression, but at the same time it's clear that he's going to have to prove himself. "A real man, huh? Bold words for someone trying to inflate himself." Merlin miiiight be rubbing off on you to a degree, or maybe you're really just angry at this guy's lack of... what would you call it? The fact that he mocked Devin so mercilessly without having really battled him. It was just spouted off to try to inflate himself. "Consider it time to put your money where your mouth is!"
This choice is out of character, I'm just asking so you all can choose. Which would you prefer?
[ ] Longer update that shows a montage of your battles so you can see all the girls in action.
[ ] Skip to your inevitable total victory and get a short update faster.
I just wanted to clarify this since I hadn't made it as clear as I'd hoped in the update itself (probably due to the time we got it done by), but you're going to be beating up him and his posse and so on and so forth, just so you know.
But yes, they're all a bunch of route scrub tier trainers.
I'm actually kind of hoping Devin turns out to be a somewhat okay guy if we interact further with him in the future, outside of being brash and a bit heavy-handed when hitting on women. Someone who shows that sort of concern and attention to their 'mons can't be entirely bad.
[X] Skip to your inevitable total victory and get a short update faster.
Uh... yeah, we're not actually dead! Nob's been having a hell of a time these last several months, which has slowed down the update process quite a lot.
I'm sure we've lost the majority of our reader base in the interm, but here's the next update! Split into three posts!
You're currently sitting on Lyrica's lap again while surveying what has to have been the most lopsided series of fights you've ever seen in your life. ...Well, at least the second or third. Not one of your opponents could actually do much to your girls, and you had plenty of opportunity to patch up the odd scratch they did get during the fights. You pitched in when needed, but for the most part your girls performed well. To top it off, you got quite the pretty penny for all the trouble, and a decent hunk of EXP you think.
Sometimes Quantity is a Quality all of its own, and when you roll that many pufflees you're bound to at least get some experience. The money is the real appreciative factor here though, since now you could probably afford to stay in one of those fancy hotels and go to a fancy restaurant and still have plenty of cash left...if they even let you in the door, anyway.
Lyrica has one arm around your middle, holding you to her as she watches Rumia shadow powerbomb the last challenger you had into the ground, a spray of sand going up into the air as Mr. Referee announces your victory again, sounding a bit more relaxed now as he sips on his recently acquired drink with a swirly straw.
"You know Zeke," Lyrica's other hand is resting on top of your head, petting you as you watch the horrible domination, "This was a really relaxing day at the beach. Maybe we can build a sand castle after this. It'll be more of a challenge than anything else we've done today." Her voice is low enough to be polite, but she's not making any effort to keep anyone nearby from listening in.
"Glad to hear it. Definitely beats what we've been having to deal with lately." You're pretty much settling for being her lap pet for now until it's time to head off again. "And yeah, that sounds like fun. Maybe we won't have another interruption like last time." Though strictly speaking last time didn't involve you building a sand castle so much as a community for uplifted crabs. It still involved two close encounters with mons who would have dearly loved to make you into their slave.
At least you know the memory of you and your girls will be immortalized by those crabs for your assistance and brave efforts to support and aid them in their time of need, and that some of those mon won't get the chance to hurt anyone else again.
"I'm pretty sure we won't have those kinds of interruptions at least. We might have to deal with the occasional idiot, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem." Lyrica chuckles as she squeezes you a bit in her hug, "Maybe we'll bury you in the sand and make you a mermon, Zekey."
You lean back into Lyrica a bit more in response, though you're really just the hugee at this point rather than the hugger. "Might be interesting, though I kinda wish there was a more secluded spot to play around with that concept. Mostly because I think you and I need a round in bed fairly soon. I haven't been terribly sensitive toward your needs lately."
"Nope, you haven't." Lyrica agrees shamelessly as she continues to pet your head, "But you're gonna make it up to me, so I'll forgive you. Just remember to treat me like a naughty princess, and everything will be fine Zekey."
...That's pretty blunt and straightforward.
If she weren't ultimately right you would have just rolled your eyes at that one. Since she is, you refrain from that and start to wonder what it would take to get her back into a fully decent mood, and honestly you're probably going to be exhausted afterward no matter what you do. It comes with the territory, after all. "When we've got some privacy, of course~"
"I know Zekey. But once we have some privacy..." She trails off, her fingers dragging across your scalp and letting a lovely shiver go down your spine as Lyrica makes a point of pressing herself up against your back so you can feel her curves and warmth.
You hear some shocked, horrified, offended and aroused gasps coming from the girl's sections that was slowly gathering up on 'your' side of the battlefield as they watch your lewd public displays of affection.
There's probably some social moor you're missing here, but at the same time you're not really concerned about it a great deal. You're not here to become Mr. Popular, you're here to beat some trainers, earn cash doing it, then move on to the next not-stressful thing. The other people can think what they want.
Rumia rushes down what you're pretty sure is the last mon of your last opponent for the day, probably, and slams it to the ground before rearing her fist back to bring it down onto them, putting them into a new crater to join the rest of the ones she'd made. You wouldn't think it by the size of her, but you almost suspect she has some fighter in her by the amount of hand to hand beat downs she's delivered.
If she does, it's certainly not obvious from how you've seen her fight before. Plus the usage of moves doesn't necessarily dictate type either, so only a proper scan would let you know what type she is for certain. That aside, you applaud Rumia for her performance. "I think we've run out of challengers at this point." At least so far as you can tell.
“Given how many of them are holding back tears of frustration, I'd agree." Merlin nods from her position on your left, snuggled up against you and holding your arm between her breasts, "...and shed tears as well! I still can't believe that one went running off crying after he lost. Did he really expect you to lose for him?"
You shake your head in response, not for the sake of giving a 'no' answer so much as to express your exasperation. "Probably. Given how much of our 'opponents' were just showboaters with more flash..." The words 'more flash than form' were about to leave your lips, but you recall the fact that you're currently snuggled by two shiny Prismrivers and the words die on your tongue in short order. "Okay, they didn't even have flash going for them. Apart from Devin, they were just terrible."
"His tears were especially delicious!" Rumia chimes in from your other side, pressed up against you and tolerated by the Prismrivers at the moment as she snuggles her soft body up against your side and wiggles excitedly, "This was fun!"
"...even if nobody got eaten." Rumia tacks on wistfully.
The addition of Rumia to all the snuggling certainly doesn't hurt, and at this point you'd be surprised if your front goes unclaimed for long. It is quite comfortable to have your girls just cuddle you like this. "I'm glad you all had fun." You can't really reciprocate at all, meaning you're stuck squarely in the role of hugee. Or body pillow, you're not sure which term is more appropriate at this point. "I think you already answered the question before, but what do you mean by 'getting eaten'? I don't think any of us here have an uncontrollable taste for human or touhoumon flesh, and I think we'd get kicked out if we tried it in the sensual meaning of the term."
"...Uhhhmmm..." Rumia frowns and looks thoughtful as she toys with her ribbon, teasing it with her fingers before she tugs on it, "I dunno! I just felt like someone was gonna get 'eaten' is all!"
You just shrug in response, not feeling as though there's going to be much more of an answer than that. Not that the idea had left your head yet though. You're relaxed enough to enjoy the moment but... Oh for the love of Makai you think you need another distraction because the earlier jitteriness is starting to come back.
Really though, what could she even mean by that? You know she knows what other kinds of 'eaten' mean and that she knows that there's eaten eaten and sexually eaten...but she's making it sound like there's another definition or something.
"Don't worry about it too much Zekey." Lyrica reassures you, hugging you a bit tighter to her, "She's probably just picking up on all the asses I'm going to kick, or something like that."
You squeak lightly as you're suddenly hugged a little bit tighter, having been knocked off your train of thought as you relax back into Lyrica's hold. "Alright. I'll try not to." You're not totally sure whether you said that to assure her or if it was more to try and convince yourself that something wasn't going to go horribly wrong the moment you let your guard down. "I think that about settles it for fighting for now. The Touhoumon Center's probably going to be packed for a bit dealing with all the trainers you girls just sent there too. It's probably a bit… actually, what time is it?" It's not going to be easy, but you're trying to check what time it is now. Humans and mons alike tend to prefer a steady three meals a day unless there's circumstances or personal preferences getting in the way, and your girls aren't the exception. Especially not Rumia.
You manage to get enough control over your arm to work your tablet out and take a peek at it, even if the way Merlin moves and the sounds she makes as you do that are distracting in all sorts of ways. Huh...There were enough people that that took a bit longer than you'd thought it would. Glancing up at the sky confirms just what time it is. You guess you could pick up an early-ish dinner?
"Zekey? I'm huuungry~..." Rumia informs you as she buries her face into your belly and you are being aggressively snuggled on multiple fronts...save for the one exposed due to Lunasa currently being 'treated' by Kogs, as you can see a good number of the crowd watching on in horror as you let a slime apply herself to another one of your mons.
Lunasa wasn't really hurt badly, so much as irritatingly. Her opponent had kicked up a sandstorm which had given her those oh so irritating sand burns, and Kogasa is busy getting all the sand out and applying her own 'salve' to those areas.
You're not totally sure if it's just that you don't care about the crowds or what, but the concept of the crowd thinking you're horribly reckless or something because you're letting Kogs treat minor injuries just doesn't click with you. Of course, it still doesn't help that slimes have a bad rap overall and the concept of an intelligent slime is a foreign one. You have more important matters to attend to anyways, so whatever. "Alright, we can get something to eat since we pretty much skipped lunch. Beating all those trainers got us plenty of cash too so cost isn't a big deal. It'll come down to which of these places cater to humans and mons alike, which'll probably rule out the more posh restaurants if the older folks giving us the stink eye was any indication."
"If you're looking for somewhere to eat," An unfamiliar, feminine voice interrupts your musings as you feel tensing coming from you on most sides, "Maybe I can help."
The girl that the whole fight seemed to start over is smiling at you now, her hands held behind her back as you get a clear view of her swimsuit, skin and the towel she has wrapped around her waist at the moment. She's...well, really, she's 'wow'. That is a good descriptor for her, really. I mean, she's the sort of pretty that most people consider 'impossible', at least for human girls.
"I'm Caroline, and you're very interesting." She informs you as she offers you her hand and a smile that would probably make most hearts skip a beat.
The sudden development manages to hammer you in a couple ways at once. On the one hand, she's cute but that in and of itself should be manageable. The operative word being should. However, Lyrica's behind you, Rumia in front, and Merlin to one side. Rumia's probably not bothered by this, but you just know Lyrica's going to have a problem, which takes the effects Caroline's having on you and amplifying them a bit. You're blushing just a tad, though you manage to respond. "That would be appreciated, Caroline." You're trying to maintain your usual composure but again, there's a couple worrisome points to contend with so your voice may be slightly shaky. "I'm Ezekiel, or Zeke for short... and really?"
You try to take her hand, though given how you're pinned that may not be entirely possible. She should be able to notice the effort at least.
You manage to get your hand out with some work, even as Lyrica tightens her grip on you a bit, and Caroline smiles as she takes your hand with her own. Her grip is light and her hand feels very smooth and soft, "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Ezekiel. And yes," She giggles, dimples deepening as she gives you a bit of a grin, "You're very interesting indeed."
Lyrica's hold on you hasn't hit the point of being uncomfortable, but it's pretty clear to you that she doesn't seem to like Caroline at all. The girl is quite pretty though, and judging from the feel of her hand she must take care of herself quite well. "I didn't think that stomping on a bunch of trainers really qualified as interesting though." Your tone conveys some measure of curiosity as you're really not quite sure why someone would treat what you and your girls were doing as out of the ordinary. ...Kogs is interesting though.
"Mmm, maybe where you're from." Caroline allows, that smile still there as she lets go of your hand and crosses her arms under her breasts, giving you a great view, "But it's just been so... boring here, you know? Nothing but people who think they deserve my time and attention because of daddy's money, and all of them with the latest in 'popular' touhoumon." She scoffs at that, rolling her eyes at the thought of it as you're thankful to note that Lyrica's grip on you isn't getting any tighter, even as you note how she and Merlin are both leaned well into you, their bodies pressed up against yours as you feel certain things squishing pleasantly.
"Oooooh, that. Yeah, I can definitely understand that." ...Honestly, you're not totally sure it's safe for you to actually have Rumia get off you simply because of those pleasant things pressing against you. The reassuring warmth and comfort doesn't help much either when you get right down to it. "I guess that's why my girls crushed theirs so easily for the most part. If you're just throwing money around then you're not really making any real emotional investments, which in turn weakens the team overall." A brief flash of annoyance crosses your face when you think about just what kind of shallow people would buy into fads like that, but it's mercifully brief. "People like that are all glitter and no soul."
"Exactly." Caroline gives you a lovely smile, "I couldn't have put it better myself, Ezekiel. You know..." She huffs, her smile turning into a pout that's not directed at you as you can feel the nervous listeners edging closer, and you can all but see the envy radiating off of both male and female onlookers, "When I came here I just wanted to relax and maybe do a bit of battling, but so far I haven't really been able to do either. First they started bothering me, and it turned into a battle to see if I could at least have fun that way, but I just haven't bothered since the first few. They're all... well," She turns her eyes back onto you as you feel a bit of understanding flow between you, "You've seen just about everything there is. That one boy, the first one you fought, he's the closest thing I've seen to an exception besides you."
"He's got potential." You nod in agreement since that really was the only combatant that gave you anything resembling trouble. "A bit unpolished, and it honestly felt like he was having a bad day too. Though my main goal in coming out here was pretty much to roll rich kids to pad out my budget and give my girls some experience so the skill of the opposing trainers didn't really matter much." You tap your cheek in thought as you give out the honest truth about why you're even out here to begin with. "Though I should keep a mental note to see if I can't talk to Devin later on. Never hurts to make friends with people with skill."
"I was thinking about that already." Caroline admits as the both of you casually ignore the people listening in on your conversation and their increasingly shocked and aghast reactions, "At the very least, he'll be more interesting than anyone else here... besides you, at least." She tacks that on with a bit of a teasing smile as Lyrica and Merlin maintain their hold of you, "So... do you want to get that lunch then, Ezekiel? It will be my treat... for you, and your girls."
You can quite literally feel Rumia's face light up at that as she begins to vibrate with excitement.
"...I think you've won over Rumia." You weren't even aware that Rumia had a vibrate setting. "I think I'll take you up on that offer. I wouldn't mind having the opportunity to talk to you, and something tells me you're a skilled trainer yourself."
Lyrica doesn't seem to be letting go of you just yet, and you note that Merlin's currently rather content to just stay stuck to you whether you get up or stay here. Thankfully, Rumia helps you with the problem by bodily hauling you up, along with your attachments, "What are we gonna eat, Zekey~?"
The sudden display of strength startles you slightly, though in retrospect Rumia is a physical mon to begin with. "I guess it depends on where we go. I mean, Caroline would know more than I do when it comes to places to eat here."
Caroline giggles at your circumstance, smiling cutely as her eyes share in that smile, "My, your team is really something, aren't they? Loyal, but still so free. That's much better than the academy boys. Now, as for food..." She moves along the topic, turning her gazing towards the town proper, "...Hmm... Would you prefer a barbeque, or sushi?"
"So the question is whether cooked meat or raw meat is more interesting..." Either way there'd probably be seafood which is what Rumia wanted, and you're fairly sure that the rest of your team wouldn't mind either option. You could certainly go either way, that's for sure. "Anyone have any objection to trying sushi?" You ask your girls, giving them a chance to chime in if they feel like it.
"Yeah, sure. Sounds fine." Lyrica speaks up first, surprising you with her acceptance of your going out with a girl to lunch so (apparently) easily. Of course, she's still holding onto you tightly, and not showing signs of letting go.
"Hmmm~." Merlin hums thoughtfully as you can feel her eying up Caroline, before she thankfully speaks up as well, "Sushi sounds lovely. I've always wanted to try sushi."
"Fooooooood~!" Rumia cheers while bouncing up and down on her toes, rubbing against you, "I don't know what a sushi is but fooooooooood~!"
"Alright, that settles..." You start, but fall silent. "Wait, I don't think Lunasa and Kogs are paying attention. Lunasa, Kogasa!" You call out to the two to catch their attention before you do something silly like let yourself get hauled off with only three fifths of your active team, leaving the other two fifths alone without you.
"Hmmmmmmmmmm~?" SlKogasa turns her attention back to you as you see Lunasa trying to get the majority of SlKogasa's slime off of her, shaking herself off a bit as you can see bits and pieces of the slime getting scooped up by Kogs herself and absorbed back into her.
"Oh, Zekey! I'm sorry about that, Kogasa...she just wanted to be really thorough." Lunasa explains the situation to you and looks a bit embarrassed about it, "I wasn't really hurt though, so..."
Caroline looks at SlKogasa as she oozes up to you eagerly, followed by Lunasa, and vibrates in place with excitement. "You have impeccable taste in bikinis, it seems." Caroline remarks in what you think is a bit of teasing about Kogs yellow polka dot bikini, which she wore for the first time today.
"Don't worry about it, Luna. Caroline's offered to treat us to lunch and I would have been one of the bigger jerk trainers out there to not make sure you came along with us." Somewhere along the line your mood's shifted back into a comfortable, happy one. Not that you would have blamed either Lunasa or Kogasa for doing things the way they did... or rather Kogasa doing Lunasa the way she did. Being thorough when it comes to healing is rather important. "Kogasa is pretty cute in that. I'd say she's more distracting with that on than off." Teasing or no, you agree with the girl's comment on the matter.
"The implication of something is more enticing than the actuality of something." Caroline responds back to you as she watches Kogasa curiously, "I must say, I don't believe I've seen anyone else with a bond with a slime like you have. I have seen slimes before, of course, but most trainers tend to keep them at a distance, at least from their other mon."
"Kogasa's special, that's for sure. I don't know everything about her, but I know for a fact that she used to belong to another trainer up until that trainer ditcher her in an underground tunnel in a ball type that was recalled for not being good for long-term storage." You'd express yourself more with your body, but you have to settle for a simple frown since you're kind being bodily carried. Caroline should be able to pick up on why that would be a problem very quickly. "But that doesn't explain why she's as smart as she is."
Caroline's eyes snap onto you, her smile still in place but her eyes taking on a whole new sort of light. What is in them now is not the glimmer of a girl hoping to have fun, and reminds you more of what... well, what you think you look like each time you find out about some new threat to your girls, "...No it doesn't, does it?" She responds, the byplay between the two of you seemingly going unnoticed as Lyrica and Merlin are distracted with a bit of fussing over Lunasa. "That's what one gets when buying off-brand though, isn't it?" That line is really just filler, you can tell. This girl, she's sharper than a Youmu's blades.
"Good thing it wasn't me buying off-brand. Then again I wouldn't unceremoniously ditch one of my girls to begin with." The reaction certainly wasn't unwarranted and you'd react the same way, really. "She's terrified of being recalled too, so I never do that to her. She's stable and happy though, which is what really matters in this sort of scenario." It doesn't help that any potential cures are more theoretical than proven. "That aside, I wouldn't give her up for anything or anyone~"
You are promptly dragged into a slimy embrace by your lovely bikini'd Kogs, who hums with happiness at your word, "Zeeeekeeeey~!"
The vibration of all the slime hugging you does make your whole body tingle... even though you notice that Kogasa has dragged Lunasa and Lyrica into her embrace as well, and Rumia's arms are still wrapped around you.
As Caroline watches this all happen, you notice that look in her eyes seems to fade away and eventually she gets a little quirk in her smile as she watches the mass snuggle assault.
Kogasa's sudden action surprises you slightly as you realize that you're probably not going to be walking anywhere under your own power today. At the same time you're not really going to complain about it since you're easily at your most comfortable with your girls ganging up on you like this. Plus you just feel safe in Kogs' embrace anyway. "This is about what any given day is like for me, save for when we're stuck in dangerous locations."
"It must be so terrible, living a life of thrill and cuddles." Caroline responds as she tosses her hair over her shoulder, somehow making it glitter in the sun as she does so, "Whenever you're all settled, I'll lead you to the sushi place."
"I could do without some of the thrills actively trying to kill me, my girls, or inflict fates worse than death on any and/or all of us. The rest of it is great though." The mansion incident still literally only happened two days prior at most, and you doubt it's going to slide from your memory anytime soon since you now own the place. "That aside, since it doesn't look like I'm going to be walking anywhere... onward!" That and maaaaaaaybe you just want to be carried a bit. You've never really minded that much.
"Onwaaaaaard~!" SlKogasa cheers...before promptly surging forward and leaving an amused Caroline behind as she quirks and eyebrow at your sudden departure, probably wondering just where you're going even as she starts to make for one of the sets of stairs that lead up off of the beach... notably, one that you are currently not heading towards.
"Kogs, that way. Follow Caroline." You point in the direction the girl is heading in, figuring that you should probably direct Kog's enthusiasm towards something that would be fully beneficial. Or at least not rude to the person offering to pay for your lunch.
"Aye aye, Cap'n!" Kogasa gleefully veers off into the other direction as the girls currently not fused with you in the slime mold hug drift after you at a steady pace. The girls in that situation are currently limited to a girl. Singular. Specifically, Lunasa.
Of course you'd notice this after a short time, looking back your lone mon currently not getting carried along with you. "Kogasa, can you snatch up Lunasa too? It doesn't seem fair to make her float when everyone else is getting carried."
"Huh? O-oh, I'm fine Zekey I just got oooooouuuuuuut-!" Lunasa tries to assure you that she's fine floating along on her own before SlKogasa reaches out and snags onto her, dragging her into the cuddle puddle and dooming you all to your slimy fate. As you head up after Caroline and she starts to lead you towards the promised Sushi, you notice that you're getting even more looks than you did before, along with some people pulling up a lip at the sight of you riding around in your slime.
If you were any less mature you'd probably be putting sunglasses on and saying something like haters gonna hate, but as it stands your current situation lets you block out those looks from all those silly people rather easily. Heck, you even rub against Lunasa a bit for good measure, though you're mindful of SlKogasa's enjoyment of you stirring her up.
"Ooooh, Zekey~..." Merlin murmurs into your ear as you feel her hands starting to drift to less appropriate places through the slime, "Something like this, in public, with a girl you just met watching? How... naughty~..."
Lyrica just huffs next to you, cuddled up against your side and keeping her position even with slime being a thing.
You blush in response to Merlin's antics, feeling that you're probably headed someplace best visited later when you and your girls have a room for yourselves as opposed to doing things out in public. "Kogs isn't opaque though..." Plus you can't physically stop her without exciting Kogasa in the process, which would make the whole thing even worse and potentially get you kicked out or arrested for public indecency. Well, that's probably a thing here at least.
"Try to make sure you've made yourselves what passes for decent in this vacation destination before we reach the sushi parlor." Caroline calls back to you from where she's leading you from the front, the sway in her hips and how her outfit emphasizes her proportions and lithe, gently curving physique distracting you for a brief moment even after how much naked, jiggling, supple female flesh you've been exposed to, "I wouldn't want to get kicked out before even getting in..."
At the rate things are going, by the time you get to wherever you're staying for the evening you're going to be so pent up that whoever gets you tonight is going to have plenty of fun. Just... Shinki damn. "I'll make sure we're appropriate." Mounting sexual tension aside, you assure Caroline that you will in fact be ready to join her for lunch. Your mother's fashion sense isn't exactly bad and you'd like to think you have the ability to make your own look too, but then again this is a vacation resort populated primarily by rich people. Honestly, not being covered in slime and being otherwise clean is about the best you can hope for.
...Though this is a sushi restraunt at a resort, so you figure the dress code would account for more casual tastes.
Of course, there's still the fact that you'll have to work up the will to get out of Kogs slimy embrace, and get out of the arms of your lovely ladies as well so you can be 'presentable' by whatever standard these rich marks have. Lyrica's eyes are temporarily not on you, but watching Caroline with a lidded expression even as she stays snuggled against you, unconcerned with the views of those around you. Merlin would never care about those anyway, and is currently whispering sweet nothings into your ear as she twirls a finger around on your chest, giving those watching something to spike their heartrate. Lunasa is currently nestled between SlKogasa's slimy breasts.
Rumia herself speaks up again, "Hey Zekey? Why is everyone else not in a cuddle puddle?" She queries, turning her attention off of the staring faces and onto you, "They look like they could use one with how grumpy they are."
"Different people have different standards that they hold themselves to. I'm guessing the people around here are mostly against public displays of affection so we're kind of a walking affront to that concept." You're trying your hardest to work up the nerve to be let down from Kogs, especially when she seems so content with how things are going, but naturally it's not easy. It's quite pleasant being carted around like this. Not to mention Merlin's antics, Lyrica's gauging of Caroline, and discussing human quirks with Rumia. "Not only that, slime variant Touhoumon aren't trusted by the general populous, so I probably look like a total deviant and irresponsible to an insane degree."
You then turn your attention to Kogasa, figuring it was time to disembark to give you and your girls a chance to dry off before you actually got into the restaurant proper. After all, it would be rude to get your benefactor kicked out when she's treating you to lunch. "Kogs, we should probably listen to Caroline on this one. We'll need a little time to dry off before we get to the restaurant, so do you mind letting us out?"
"...Kaaaaaay." Kogs lets out a heaving sigh before her form undulates and you find yourself rapidly slid out and her and stumbling onto your feet. After having been carted around with her as she was rubbing you all over, walking under your own power somehow feels... pedestrian.
Probably because that's exactly what it is.
Rumia meanwhile skips to her position next to you as you find that Lyrica and Merlin temporarily remove themselves from being attached to you like limpets so that they can speak with Lunasa about something again, having one of their little huddle cuddles once more.
"Hmmm..." Rumia muses next to you as she seemingly takes the opportunity to take up her own position at your side, "Why would they not like 'public displays of affection', Zekey? Besides, I've been watching and I saw some people kiss while we were here already!"
...Somehow, in all your training and preparation growing up, you never really expected having to explain human social dynamics to a non-human point of view.
Then again, how often would such a thing come up for a conventional trainer? You have to wonder how common it is for mons to express a vested interest in humanity like Rumia does. "The operative words being 'mostly against.' There's certain levels of affection that are seen as being acceptable, but once you go past that point it tends to be frowned on. It really varies depending on the location too." You adopt something of a thinking pose as you walk, making sure to keep pace with Caroline since you're pretty sure you're close to lunch now. "I'd imagine that simple things like kissing are either openly accepted or happens so often that no one bothers to complain about it anymore, with each one being the result of a different phenomenon." You try to sort out what you're going to say since it'd be easy to lead into misunderstandings, but you're having to put into words what most people take for granted. Something like that isn't exactly easy. "In the case of the former, that would be because the local population likely reached a consensus at some point in the past about how much is acceptable and how much is too much. Everybody sticks with it because it's a set of rules that are already in place and don't need much of any tampering at first. The latter is more or less when you have the former's conditions but they're outdated enough to where the younger generations don't agree with them anymore and don't afford it any respect. There'd be arguments and such, but in the end it comes down to rules only mattering if everyone agrees to follow them. If enough people choose to follow a new rule and there's no major effort to stop them, then that new rule either overrides an older, outdated one or just replaces it outright." You have to stop and take a breath after all that, since you're pretty sure you just tried to say all that on one or two breaths just now. "It really comes down to the individuals that make up a population and what they manage to agree upon."
"...Oh." Rumia seems thoughtful after your rather in-depth explanation on the matter to her, "That makes sense, I guess. How do you enforce the rules on people who don't care about them though? Do you just beat them up if they burn down the berry patch and then make them leave?"
That's an oddly specific example.
...Caroline seems to be paying attention to your conversation now too. You can see that her gaze is focused on you out of the corner of her eye.
"There's usually people who are willing and able to enforce those rules so those that defy them can't just do as they please, though that can be a hit and miss thing in and of itself because if you have the power to enforce the rules you also have the power to ignore them. Usually stuff like law enforcement works to keep society stable so no one really burns down any berry patches." You simply shrug as you give that little explanation, simply because you don't put that much trust into law enforcement to begin with. Rules and laws are needed, sure, but you know full well that they can be restrictive when they otherwise shouldn't be. "And even if someone does, there's things like courts to put criminals on trial to punish them for what they did."
"...It sounds kind of complicated." Rumia admits as she keeps right up at your side and walks along with you, "Don't humans ever get tired of all the restrictions and being told what to do by the courts and law enforcement?"
"It is complicated, almost mind-bendingly so at times depending on the area. Plus you've got the right idea about humans getting tired of all that from time to time, but at the same time we need some sort of ground rules before we can really operate as a society. It's a fine balance between setting up enough rules to give people a guide as to what's going to cause the least hate and discontent while still affording them enough freedom to do what they want for the most part." You cross your arms on your chest as you go through what you know, finding it actually fairly fascinating being able to teach Rumia about this kind of thing from your perspective. "Of course, some places have more inane rules than others, while yet other places have laws that can be downright harmful because they're applied to areas that don't fit the other local areas. Which is why my parents spent so much time teaching me the fine art of knowing when to obey laws and being able to recognize when they'd do more harm than good and disregard them." You cast a bit of an aside glance at no one in particular after that. "Especially since some places are pretty shaky on the rights of young men."
"...Oooooh. It really is complicated, huh? But, humans need that sort of thing to build up these big cities? I guess it works, since there's so many of them and they get really big, right?" Rumia's curiosity about the human world and how it works seems to have grown more after that explanation, "...but, what do you mean by that last thing Zekey? Do you mean like with...'us'?" She asks, seeming to refer to touhoumon on the whole, "We just wanna huuuug you~!" She declares that and thumps into your side and squeezes you eagerly, "...okay, and maybe a little bit more, but..."
You wrap an arm around Rumia when she squeezes you and shake your head, feeling slightly uncomfortable with the topic but for reasons that are ultimately unrelated to her. "Funnily enough, I'm actually not referring to you girls. At least not entirely. You know how Touhoumon and human women basically have to compete for young human men, right? It's been a thing since civilization started and if you disregard the differences between mon and human that means guys are actually in the minority number-wise despite making up about half of the human race. You already know about how things work on the Touhoumon side for the most part, but you're probably not at all familiar with how things work on the human side." You have to pull up the relevant information from the back of your mind, which takes a moment. "Basically, on the human side there's the obvious drive to preserve the species. Human/Touhoumon couples are hardly genetic dead-ends, but for the most part you only end up with viable mon females and viable human males with almost no, if any, human females being born. The problem is that this results in rules and laws, or the lack thereof, which run the spectrum from well-meaning but executed wonky, to rather obvious holes in the legal coverage concerning things like female on male rape. Just to give an example, there's some places where if a guy isn't wearing at least three belts it can actually be used as an undermining tactic in a legal case to make the claim that he actually wanted it. Like, the guy could be dressed practically like me, have tough as nails belts like I do, but if he's below the 'minimum' number it doesn't matter if the woman had to strap the guy down, wear out a couple circular saw blades getting them off, drugged and raped him afterward, and did all this within earshot of half the city. She could potentially get off scot-free and even wind up with custody of her victim in very rare cases. But that's on the extreme end of the spectrum."
...Uhm. You seem to have garnered the attention of all of your girls at this point. The Prismrivers are staring at you, each with a different expression. Merlin somehow doesn't seem especially shocked at what you're saying, while Lunasa is covering her mouth with one hand while her eyes are wide. Lyrica's eyes are narrowed and her lips thinned, likely at the thought of someone trying something like that to you. SlKogasa is frowning, a rare expression for her, and doesn't so much as burble at you. Rumia's expression shifts, going from surprised to thoughtful to an utterly adorable 'grim' face, "If anyone tries that to you Zekey, I'll beat them up!"
And just like that, the tension dissipates.
"You'll have to get in line. I've got first shot at anyone that stupid." Lyrica crosses her arms over her chest, having something close to a grin on her face.
"Not if I get there first!" Rumia insists on her right to defend your honor, staring down Lyrica with that same adorable expression.
"You know I'm faster than you, right?" Lyrica prods the Dark Mon with that little bit of information as you're relieved to see her grin seeming a bit more genuine as dark thoughts leave the group.
"Maybe...but I'm sneaksy." Rumia's grim face is replaced with a smug one as she fails to explain precisely how she's sneaksy.
Your tension fades too, and you're back to a more comfortable state. You already know a fair few of the warning signs and aren't exactly what anyone would consider unfit or lacking in... Well, some might consider your judgement to be less than sound, but it tends to be more because you're inclined to trust mons perhaps a bit more than you should. Wild ones, anyway. "This is part of why I'm not that worried about it. You girls won't just let something happen to me, and I'm not exactly blind to the warning signs to begin with." It'd be a mistake to say or even think you're not worried at all, because you're still inexperienced and there's ways to incapacitate a trainer and their entire team if their guard is down.
"Well, now that the conversation's all wrapped up," Caroline draws your attention to her as she stops and points with one dainty finger to her left, "We can stop walking and circles and go in."
You turn a bit red out of embarrassment for getting sidetracked like that. "Geeze, sorry about that. I didn't even notice." You ruffle your own hair to give yourself something to work out a little of the nervous energy that cropped up. You really need to work on not being oblivious more... though admittedly you're more alert in the field anyway.
"There's no need to apologize." Caroline soothes your worries with a friendly little smile, "It's interesting to hear about someone who's so... aware of the world. You're shaping up to be quite interesting Ezekiel, and we haven't even eaten yet."
"I'm tempted to ask if that's really so rare, but I have a pretty solid guess as to the answer considering what I've seen so far around here." You can't help but smile back in response, ready to follow her in when she's ready.
"People would rather be blissfully ignorant of the dark side of reality around them, no matter what the consequences to themselves and others are because of it." Caroline agrees as she casually pushes open the door to the sushi bar, "What makes it even worse is that with their blinders on, they'll never even say a third of the good parts either."
"I can't blame some of them though, it's a pretty hard thing to confront when you get right down to it. Some of them just don't have what it takes to deal with that knowledge." You follow Caroline in as you point out another side of the issue, but you certainly agree with her. "But you're definitely right about the second part. Staying inside the lines the League set cuts you off from a lot of other things."
"Quite." Caroline agrees with a smile as you're lead into the store, "In this store, you're supposed to seat yourself and then signal when you want the staff. That large booth in the back looks like it's the best seat for us, yes?"
"Looks like." Considering that your group would need a table capable of seating seven, it makes sense to go with the large booth. Plus the place does seem to have a somewhat casual atmosphere about it, so far as you can tell.
You find yourself shuffled into the booth quickly, and before you can have a say in the matter you find yourself in the middle with Merlin on one side and Lyrica on the other. Rumia sits just past Lyrica and Lunasa is at Merlin's side. SlKogasa oozes into the booth and squeezes her mass together so she only takes up a bit more space than a normal girl her 'size' would. Caroline, looking apparently amused for some reason, takes the other end seat next to Rumia, "They don't argue over seating arrangements? Impressive."
You can't really complain about that though, seeing as the alternative would be disruptive at best. "My girls have their own pecking order for the most part, so stuff like this usually isn't an issue." Which really is convenient, even if it does feel somewhat strained at times.
"I see." Caroline slides a stand that has several plastic cards you can flip over to see all the options on the menu over to you, "Take a look. Would you mind answering a question of mine while you all think about what you want?"
"Not at all. What's on your mind?" You look through the menu and note a couple things that could be good. The interplay of raw fish, rice, and other ingredients would be interesting so you're tempted to try a few things before settling on a more substantial meal. Heck, there are even different kinds of fish to work with here...
"I was wondering something, about that egg of yours." Caroline offers in way of explanation about just what she wants to know, looking you in the eye the entire time.
"This?" You look at the Ayakashi egg for a moment. "What kind it is? Where I picked it up from, something along those lines? It'd take a fair bit of explaining to have it make complete sense."
"I think we're going to be here for a while, at least while the sushi is prepared, yes?" Caroline offers you a smile, "I'd be happy to hear whatever you'd be willing to share to indulge my curiosity. I have something of an interest in touhoumon breeding and the mysteries behind it...when a man isn't involved, obviously."
"In fact, why don't you tell me what you'd like to order, so that I can place it before you start." Caroline suggests with a wave of her hand, "That is, if you're still willing."
"I'd like to start with the tuna sashimi, that sounds pretty good. As for the egg... How familiar are you with the Touhoumon known as Ayakashi?" Since you're going to be explaining a lot, you figure that it'd be a good idea to see how much Caroline knows so as to not bore her with details she already knows.
"...I've heard of them, the same theoretical knowledge any half decent trainer would actually find out for themselves if they're going to a place where there's even a chance of one showing up." Caroline responds, her attention suddenly focused on the egg before snapping back onto you with her eyes making you feel almost like a deer in the headlights, "I've read more about them than just that, of course. Doors open for people like me, so I've read an after-action report of an incident involving one from my home region."
It takes a moment or two to get over the brief shock, but thankfully your interest is piqued. "...Huh. Well, that definitely saves some time then. The head of the Mustermann manor or someone who came before him managed to unseal a nasty piece of work of an Ayakashi, which I then had the misfortune of having to deal with due to some rather extraordinary circumstances." Honestly, regaling the tale in full isn't totally necessary to make this explanation make sense, and there's probably going to be time for that anyway. "Long story short, I had to help kill the thing outright and this egg right here is... I think some sort of failsafe. I'm pretty sure this will become a new Ayakashi at its lowest stage with no connection to the old one, but this egg formed from the Ayakashi's death."
"...At some point, I think I'd like to hear the long version of the story if you're willing to share it." Caroline had placed the order quietly while you were explaining your tale, and turns her attention back solely onto you, "Having an egg to one of 'those' though...you certainly don't do anything by half, do you? To those that recognize what it is, an Ayakashi may bring more of a response than your slimy friend. Also," She laces her fingers together as she continues, "How large was the tree? Eight meters? Ten?"
"We've got plenty of time for that, I think, and I don't mind telling it." Once you get done with the Ayakashi-based specifics, you'll probably launch into the long explanation. Everything's done and dusted on that end anyway, so it's no issue to you. You rub your head in response to Caroline mentioning that the Ayakashi egg would be an attention-getter though. "True, and once it hatches it's going to be even more recognizable. Ayakashi is seldom seen, but I'd wager there are few mons one could mistake it for." You try to come up with a rough estimation since she asked you try to recall the memory of the tree in the room it was sealed in, but there's no way to give a hard number. "It was trying to murder my girls and capture me for obvious reasons so I couldn't realistically get an accurate measurement, but it was both massive and really old. It had a root system massive enough to stretch out from its chamber to the mansion above and absolutely dwarfed everyone. I mean, it was constrained by the chamber it was stuck in, but it had to be... Around thirty to forty meters, I guess?"
"...I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" Caroline's expression is like that of a father who's just been told that his entire fledgling family was killed in a head-on collision with a busload full of orphaned nuns.
"The part where it was around thirty to forty meters?" You decide to take a stab at what it is Caroline was asking you to repeat before tapping your cheek in thought. "Maybe I oughta tell you about the circumstances surrounding my meeting it."
"Yes." Caroline folds her hands in front of her and keeps them on the table as you can see the chefs behind the counter begin to work on some sushi you think is yours, "That sounds like a good idea."
"Alright then..." You launch into a thorough explanation of your adventures at the Mustermann Manor, starting with the reason you were even there to begin with. From there it was just recounting what had happened, something made easy by the fact that the memories are still fresh in your head, while making a point of including your girl's accounts as needed or desired. You didn't bother hiding any details either, sans the lewder parts that you simply glossed over, since it was important to the buildup. By the time you hit the part about the Ayakashi itself it should be abundantly clear that when you mentioned that you wished your adventures didn't involve things trying to kill you, you weren’t speaking of simple thrills.
Honestly, you're a bit surprised that you managed to get through all that as calmly as you did. Maybe retelling it let you distance yourself from those events slightly? Or maybe telling it more than once makes it easier. You don't even know. Though you're not totally sure whether or not you kept your focus on Caroline the whole time or went into a glassy-eyed stare when you recalled the ghosts trying to drain the life from you or almost being lost to the Ayakashi.
At some point during the story, your sushi had arrived and been shared among your party as Caroline paid absolutely rapt attention to your recounting of your dramatic, deadly, danger filled, daredevil disaster of a date with destiny. She finishes chewing on a spider roll and swallows it and waits for a few moments after you finish before she speaks, "That is easily the most completely ridiculous, outlandish fairy tale I have ever heard."
She sits back in her chair and sighs, "It's even worse that I can't help but believe it. What the hell is wrong with this continent...?"
"I couldn't tell you." You shake your head as you finally start on your part of lunch. Now that you've told your tale, it's easier to focus on what's in front of you. Namely, the food and the young woman treating you. "But at least the mansion's been cleared out, and Erika entrusted me with giving the Mustermann manor a fresh start, so at least there's that." You compose yourself further before continuing. "Still, as outlandish as the tale is the Ayakashi egg's proof enough that at least my encounter with the murderous thing happened, and with that part being true it makes the rest more believable."
"I wasn't really doubting you. It's just that..." Caroline pauses for a moment to try and decide just how to explain what she feels to you as you listen to the girls to your left quarrelling in a friendly manner over who gets how much Unagi, "If this story is true, then what else is true that I could have, or have, dismissed as a tale of fiction? Of course, there's always that kernel of truth in any story but, what's next? A ghost town haunted by the specter of its 'old school teacher' turning out to actually exist?"
"I tend to not dismiss anything myself. ...Or at least now I'm not going to. On top of that little adventure, I got confronted by some weird Touhoumon on a different beach a couple days ago. No idea what she even was." Honestly, who would have seen that one coming? You keep eating when you're not talking and noting that when you think about it, this continent is odd.
"Just be careful not to end up a paranoid wreck." Caroline warns you before she takes a sip of her cola through a swirly straw, "...And an attack on a beach? I assume it wasn't near a human settlement."
You nod in response to Caroline on both counts. "I'm trying to unwind so I don't end up a paranoid wreck. That'd suck all the fun out of the journey if you're scared something terrible is going to happen everywhere you go." Granted, this is probably the first truly relaxed day you've had since you've started your journey, but that kind of thing can't happen all the time. "And no, it was a good several miles away from One Tree, but the Gym Leader cordoned it off just in case anyway."
"I see." Caroline pushes one of her spider rolls around on her plate with her chopsticks, thoughtful even as it's obvious she's still paying attention to you, "How fascinating. This continent is even more different than I imagined, and not just what happens on it. The people who live here themselves are different as well. Still," She offers you a smile, "One nightmare like that out of however many months you've been traveling isn't so bad a rate."
You kinda don't want to pop her bubble since she seems all calm and happy, but you're not going to lie about it. "This is my tenth day since I officially started my adventure. Not counting my 85% idiotic trip out to the White Tower prior to that." You promptly take a hearty swig of your root beer while waiting for Caroline's response to that little bombshell.
Caroline pauses, a spider roll halfway to her mouth before she sets it down and turns her attention back to you with what you suspect to be a tiny sigh, "...The White Tower? The one that's in the travel brochures for this area with all of the warnings? That White Tower?"
"The one and the same." You nod in affirmation when she finishes speaking and lean into Lyrica a bit. "Lunasa, Lyrica, and Merlin all came from there, which is admittedly something I don't typically spout off about for obvious reasons."
"That is..." Caroline attempts to find the words to describe it, "Marginally less foolish than those trying to investigate the Black Tower near 'those islands'. At least the White Tower isn't surrounded by a stormy, unreliable sea that devours ships. Still, I hope the protection you brought was at least capable enough to justify that only being eighty-five percent idiotic."
"I was kind of in a 'too dumb to live' phase at that point." You admit in a nervous tone. "I was looking to find a starter in there." You scratch your head as well, noting that that whole event is still something you'd rather leave buried at the bottom of your soul's sea than have to put up with anymore. "On the flip side though, the tower was almost completely devoid of encounters that day and the tower mistress felt that it would be more fun to test me than snatch me up."
Caroline stares at you, much like a wildlife preservation worker would stare at her carefully bred out of endangerment lemmings as they all rushed to their dooms, hurling themselves off of a cliff and blissfully into the sweet embrace of death due to their complete and utter lack of self-preservation and self-awareness.
"..I suppose after finding out those stories could be real, finding out 'they' were real too wouldn't be much of a stretch." Caroline eventually says with a sigh before she pops her last spider roll into her mouth.
She might be looking at you like you're a lemming, but you're feeling more sheepish than anything else. Though you're kinda curious about what she means by 'they.' "'They?'" You ask before polishing off your last piece of sashimi. It's somewhat funny how you're done close to the same time Caroline is considering you've spent more time talking than anything else.
"It's a story I heard from my nanny." Caroline explains to you, waving a hand in a vague gesture as if it would actually explain everything, "Humans who are 'blessed', and not in the kidnapped by 'gods' sense. It would explain your absolutely ridiculous luck, both good and ill."
"...Huh. That's the second time I've heard something like that now." That brings to mind what Hatate told you before in regards to the old mon's tale about how some humans are 'favored' by a higher power and are able to do downright impossible things because of it. Given that you've already encountered Mugetsu, who seemed to be quite powerful and admitted to watching you before you even fell into her clutches, it really doesn't seem that outlandish. "My Hatate mentioned an old tale about 'favored' humans that mostly lines up with what you're saying."
"Yeah, that's what I heard. Personally, I'd say don't pay too much attention to it." Caroline gives you a piece of advice as she folds her hands in front of her on the table, "Either it's not real and it might make you careless because you think you're 'favored', or it is real and you'd be better served thinking about your strategies and tactics."
"I don't plan on banking on something that may or may not be there. I'm just worried about the part where powerful beings are watching. I mean, I already told you about the beach Sebastian cordoned off. The mon I ran into there was strong enough to drag my mind into her realm and I only walked away because she decided to play nice. Plus she flat-out told me she had been watching me to boot." You shift about a bit as you mention the part you're actually worried about. The whole 'suicidally overconfident' part is something you're actively trying to work on not being. You pause for a minute to remember some details before continuing. "Right, she introduced herself as Mugetsu and tried to rope me into her no doubt carnal desires because of some dreams I was having prior to that."
"Mugetsu...?" Caroline murmurs, tapping her nails against the table in thought with one hand as the other holds her chin up, "...I've never heard of anything like that. Perhaps it was a released mon who was some sort of odd variant or something."
"I dunno. She looked pretty unique. Neck-length blonde hair, yellow eyes, wears a maid outfit but it wasn't a design I was familiar with. I mean, I guess she could have been a Marisa variant or maybe a Yukari variant, but the way she held herself and acted was all wrong for that. Plus, she has a sister." Admittedly one you've never actually seen yourself, but your mother's word is pretty solid in your books and it would probably take less than a minute of asking for pics to give Caroline a good look at both of them. "Now that I think about it, I kinda wish I had a picture I could show you."
"...I see." Caroline thinks on it for a moment before she shrugs, "My, who knows just what it could have been. Perhaps you stumbled across a new species of touhoumon with your 'phenomenal' luck?"
"Maybe. Knowing how my luck turns out that could very well be the case. Nnnnnot that I need or want the attention that'd bring if that got out, mind." Honestly, you never did take two seconds to actually consider that Mugetsu might actually be a totally new species. "I'm perfectly content with the adventure I've got so far. I don't intend to get famous for it."
"Fame doesn't care whether the person who gains it wants it or not." Caroline points out, raising one finger up and leveling it in your direction, "If you don't want to be famous, you'd better be careful about who hears and sees you accomplishing all those things."
"I know, I know." You acknowledge Caroline's point on the matter, knowing full well that like everything else, your fickle luck tends to put you in scenarios whether you want to be in them or not. "Even just getting a lot of Gym badges can put attention on you, and I am going for those at least... Then there's whatever happens on the way in between that."
"At least you won't have to worry about taking apart a multi-national criminal enterprise." Caroline offers you that bit of 'hope' with a teasing smile, "Someone already beat you to that."
"There is that..." You start off normally, but move on to mock horror after that. "But surely you've jinxed it now! The scattered remnants could be banding together under a new leader even as we speak, and only a brave vigilante could stop them!" Then you shift back to a more relaxed expression. "Dramatics aside, I am glad for that. I get the feeling I'm going to run into plenty of scenarios as-is."
Caroline giggles amusedly at your display of theatrical skills, "Very well done, and yes. I agree, it's good that they were taken apart. They were quite the menace, and from what I heard happened to them I can't see them coming back together in any large scale."
You nod in response, at least fairly confident that the scenario you described is not in fact something that's going to happen somewhere down the line and affect you personally in some massively negative way. "Hopefully~ My concerns are mostly aimed at which gym I should happen to pass by and challenge at the moment. I've already been to One Tree's gym, but that was more a training thing and there was a change in management anyway."
"Oh? I'd heard that the Gym Leader there was considered to be par with this region's Elite Four." Caroline curiously remarks as she raises an eyebrow, apparently content to let the conversation drift to other topics that are less charged with ominous, ham fisted foreshadowing.
"That's just it. There was a surprise tournament dropped on him in the middle of my visit as a test to see if he was ready to take part in a tournament to determine if he's ready to actually join the Elite Four." It was at least a kinda fun tournament right up until the last parts, so you have mixed feelings about the whole thing. "Though quite honestly, the whole thing felt a little agenda-driven. Sebastian had to throw everything together on the spot, there was at least one bracket with more trainers than there should have been, and he deliberately played his son and I to join it." You tap your finger on the table gently as you lay out those few known, yet key points. "But the weird part is that I'm pretty sure it was the League itself with the agenda. From what I could tell, Sebastian literally isn't capable of being that underhanded."
"...What do you mean by that?" Caroline's curiosity has seemingly grown at your explanation of the situation, "It could have been a challenge of his organizational skills, yes? There's more to being one of the Elite Four than being strong."
"True." You nod in response to that. "But Sebastian had a couple hours to prepare at most, and had no idea just what kind of rulesets could crop up in the randomizer he got handed. Normally I wouldn't have an issue with the latter, but the last ruleset I had to contend with was one where the trainer was a legitimate target. I don't think I need to point out why that's a big deal." A sigh escapes you as you say that and you recall that Giselle was just as suspicious as you, but neither of you had any hard proof outside of your gut instinct. Doesn't necessary mean either of you are wrong per-say, just that you had no proof to back it up. "Of course, even if I do suspect something fishy, I don't have any proof and Sebastian had to pack up and head off shortly thereafter so I missed my chance to ask him what was up."
"I see." Caroline hums as she taps her nails against the table. Your food is long since finished, and you're a bit surprised your girls are so quiet and patient as you continue your conversation with her and haven't interrupted or peeped up once. Rumia, at least, you know is dreadfully curious about everything so that explains her, "Perhaps someone wanted to see him fail?"
Come to think of it, it was odd how at least Lyrica wasn't butting in at this point. Lunasa's pretty quiet by default and Merlin has enough presence of mind to know when it'd be better to not be... her. Still, you can only shrug. "I'm not sure. If they did they did a poor job of it. Sebastian never came off as being particularly stressed or anything." That just leaves you at square one at what the League was aiming for, if anything. "The only other thing I could think of is that they were looking for something in particular, probably one of the trainers. ...But that's just theory mongering bordering on conspiracy theory. None of the trainers I faced looked like they'd be interesting to the league, and Costello's a pretty cut and dried example of a typical prodigy. You know, like the ones who can work with any mon and seem to steamroll everyone in their path."
"Oh?" Caroline's interest perks up again noticeably at this bit of information, "He's that skilled? Was he your last competitor in that tournament?"
"Yes and yes. Costello was raised from the ground up to be champion material, and it shows. As for the fight, I was at a disadvantage to start with since I had to go through three fairly strong trainers and he had an easier time with just two apparently mediocre ones, so after our first picks had to remove themselves from the field the two of us decided to abuse a loophole in the ruleset we were given and just fight each other directly in protest." You found it fun at least, and your mother approved. Granted, literally no one else in your immediate circle of friends and family of the female persuasion felt that it was a smart move on your part. "He won, but not by much."
Caroline's eyebrows went up at that, "You enacted the 'bare-knuckle brawl' regulations? Or was it the 'bare-chested tussle' ones instead? You don't seem like the type to use the Hakanesian rules...though, I've been wrong before."
"We didn't oil up, but we did toss our shirts off, so probably the second one on that list." Honestly, you didn't even have access to oil to begin with and you probably wouldn't want to try to get into a grappling contest with Costello anyway. You're light and fast, and not exactly suited for grappling. Meanwhile Costello is.
"Oh my." Caroline's smile makes you feel a rather interesting tingle as she leans forward, apparently interested in what you're selling now, "That must have been very exciting for anyone watching."
So apparently Caroline has a distinct interest in watching half naked guys wrestle with each other. You can't really blame her though, flip the genders around and you'd be in much the same boat. Still, you opt to recount the fight in as much detail as you can manage since you kinda got knocked out in the end. "After that I woke up in a hospital bed since I kinda pushed myself a bit too hard in that case. Nothing that serious, but my girls did voice their opinion of that part afterward."
Caroline's eyes drift across the table and your girls before going back to you, "I'm certain they did. They look like they'd like to voice them now."
Honestly you think you're probably going to be in for it later. That's probably still a sore spot for them. You also decide to take the subtle cue to look at your girls, figuring that it'd be wiser than just brushing the whole thing off and hoping that it doesn't blow up on you until after you leave with them.
...Oh. That would explain why they're being so quiet. Apparently at some point, SlKogas wormed up some of her mass around Lyrica, Lunasa and Merlin and has them all currently unable to interrupt your conversation. Lyrica looks a bit pissed off about the situation, and Lunasa seems to be a bit put out herself with how she's looking a touch upset. Merlin, if anything, seems to be amused.
SlKogasa looks inordinately proud of herself.
"Ahaha... ah..." Welp, on the one hand you want to praise SlKogasa for having the foresight given Lyrica's tendency to be rather hotheaded if not pushy, but you know that you're going to be the one paying for it later tonight seeing as you already promised yourself to her. "Well, that's one way to do it. Normally we don't go for the bound and gagged routine." You do feel a touch nervous about that now.
"Trying new things is an important part of life." Caroline doesn't help you defuse the situation in the least from the other side of the table from the free bondage display, "Plus, now you know you have another method that works, right? Think positive."
Your head meets the table when Caroline says that, though not before giving her quite the blushy display as you go from nervous to outright embarrassed and completely unable to maintain anything even remotely resembling composure. Worse still, there is pretty much nothing you can say or do that wouldn't invariably lead to you getting teased more, so you mostly just fold like a house of cards. The only way this could get more ridiculous for you is if Merlin figured out how to ungag herself.
Caroline seems content to laugh at your misery and your reaction, giving you a wide smile as she does so, "Well then, I suppose I should leave you to dealing with that, shouldn't I? Thank you for indulging my curiosity, Zeke. Would you like to trade numbers?"
That leaves you with a couple of options, you think.
[ ] She mentioned not being able to have a decent battle here. See if you can't ask her to engage in some mutual indulgence on that front first.
[ ] Agree to swap numbers and part ways for now.
-[ ] You really oughta track down Devin and apologize for being such an ass.
-[ ] Aya and Hatate wanted souveniers. Maybe you should do that now so you don't risk forgetting.
-[ ] Lyrica mentioned maybe playing in the sand earlier. Having some time to just interact without innuendo-laden subtext would be fun.
-[ ]Go ahead and get a room for the evening.
[ ] Agree to swap numbers and part ways for now.
-[ ] Aya and Hatate wanted souveniers. Maybe you should do that now so you don't risk forgetting.
Touhoumon can bear male humans? I had assumed that couldn't be the case because if it was human women would have long since been competed out of existence. Natural selection is rough when one group has magic and super strength and the other doesn't.
>>184748 I'd ask what allows humans to compete with super-genius types of mons in terms of guile and cunning but then not only do mons, at the end of the day, bow down to the ball, but also, if you cant outsmart them, find a mon that can outsmart them when you train them from young
There's something that's been bothering me with the dialogue in this story for a while now. A character will say three things, an then another character will reply in the exact same order, acting like it's just been said. Like
>>"...At some point, I think I'd like to hear the long version of the story if you're willing to share it."
>>"Having an egg to one of 'those' though...you certainly don't do anything by half, do you? To those that recognize what it is, an Ayakashi may bring more of a response than your slimy friend. Also," She laces her fingers together as she continues, "How large was the tree? Eight meters? Ten?"
>>"We've got plenty of time for that, I think, and I don't mind telling it."
>>You rub your head in response to Caroline mentioning that the Ayakashi egg would be an attention-getter though. "True, and once it hatches it's going to be even more recognizable. Ayakashi is seldom seen, but I'd wager there are few mons one could mistake it for." You try to come up with a rough estimation since she asked you try to recall the memory of the tree in the room it was sealed in, but there's no way to give a hard number.
It just feels really jerky. I think it would sound more natural if the question-and-answer parts went back and forth rather than in two chunks, or at least if the order was reversed like you occasionally do more often.
Ah dang, thanks for pointing that out. Didn't think I was slipping into that habit.
File 145489242489.png- (1.85MB
, Like this but smaller.png
Hey guys! Guess what we aren't!
If you guessed dead, you're right!
"Thank you, and yes." Honestly there's no real reason to be that worried about Lyrica being annoyed since aside from you giving Caroline your attention it's not like you're the one who gave the order to have her bound and gagged by an affectionate slimegirl. That aside, you bring out your tablet and give the attractive redhead your number so that the two of you can contact each other later if either of you so desire.
Caroline takes an extremely high-end tablet out of her bag and taps it with her nails, inputting her number and sending her own to you before she smiles at you and stands up, "It's been fun, 'Zekey'. Take care of yourself, alright? Let's meet up again sometime."
"You too, Caroline. I wouldn't mind that." Since there's no further reason to sit at the table, having swapped numbers and having long since finished the food, you opt to... remember that you're kinda surrounded on either side by an amused and an irked Prismriver respectively. "Kogs, you can let them go now." First order of business is to get untangled, even if you're not directly tied up.
Caroline departs from the store with a sashay in her hips that you try to not notice too noticeably, nor how the thing tied around her hips had ridden up and revealed a bit of her rear. Idly, she reaches behind her and snaps her bikini bottom back into place and adjusts her waist wrap back to decency.
"Okey dokey Zekey~!" Kogs cheers happily as her slime recedes quickly away from your Prismrivers, pulling off of their mouths first and then out from around them and, given how the fabric is moving, underneath their clothing as well.
Lyrica huffs, and is glaring at the table. Lunasa takes a deep breath now that she's free to breathe on her own, and Merlin...
...just starts sipping from her soda while doing socially inappropriate things with her straw while eying you up, one eyebrow quirked.
"Come on, it's not like I told Kogasa to do that..." You try not to stare at Caroline too much as she leaves, and quickly turn your attention back to your Prismrivers since you do kinda need to resolve this. Though you're not about to apologize for spending some time with Caroline either. "Anyway, we should head out too. I was thinking we could do some shopping before picking a place to stay at for the night. ...And part of tomorrow." With you recalling that yes, you did promise Lyrica and Merlin your body and one night probably isn't going to be enough for them both.
"Oh, I wonder what kind of places there are to stay." Merlin muses happily on one side of you as she winds an arm around yours pull your against her, her sultry tone right next to your ear now, "Maybe we could stay somewhere on the beach, our passion matched by the crashing waves? Perhaps a one of the nicer hotels here instead, so we can make merry together in luxury?"
"Uhm...or we could stay in a Center and save some of the money we've earned? Places like that in this town are bound to be expensive." Lunasa pipes up with a valid point, interrupt Merlin's musing as you notice too late that Rumia has eaten all the after dinner mints, leaving none for any of you.
You wind up blushing in response to Merlin being herself once more, and- "Rumia, those were supposed to be for everyone!" -your train of thought is totally broken by Rumia being herself. Still, you just sigh and rub your forehead. "I'm not totally sure. I mean, you two have valid points. Setting's important and there's the need for room, though this is a tourist trap-like place too. The whole point is to lure rich people in to blow preposterous sums of money before they leave." You lean into Merlin's hold too, while you're at it.
"...They were? They shoulda brought more then. Oh well." Rumia smiles cheerfully as she leans across Merlin towards you, "Here Zekey~!" That's the only warning you get before she drags you into a heavy kissing session, forcing your lips open and her tongue into your mouth right there in the store as her own natural flavor mingles with that of chocolate and mint.
"Mmmmph?!" To say you weren't expecting that solution would be like saying you wouldn't expect a spontaneous thunderbolt to drop down from the clear sky. To say that she's delicious would be met with a similar comparison, seeing as she tastes like a cool mint mocha smoothie right at the moment. The suddenness and intimacy completely shuts out any and all realization that you're kinda doing indecent stuff in a public place. If you WERE aware you'd be more worried.
What you do become aware of is an ominous pressure from the side Rumia isn't on as Lyrica's stare comes off the table and onto you. Through the haze you realize that you're probably about to get an earful...
Before Rumia disconnects from you and slides across the table towards Lyrica, "Neeeeext~!" Before the poor ghost can do anything, the darkness mon has her hands on her and has dragged her into a searing kiss that Lyrica makes several interesting noises in as she squirms against Rumia's hold on her head, their lips mashing together in an...interesting way.
You're left slumped against Merlin when Rumia lets you go, and you have to catch your breath even though it was such a relatively brief kiss. Honestly you are about this close to getting kicked out since Rumia's making absolutely no attempt to be subtle. In fact, she probably doesn't understand what 'subtlety' IS.
You...actually don't hear the normal rumble-grumbles that you'd expect in this situation as Rumia shimmies across the table and brings Lyrica down onto the booth's seating itself, the interesting noises only increasing now as that happens and you're blessed with another wonderful childhood memory.
You seem to be getting a surplus of these recently.
That actually leaves you a touch curious now, though you guess that this sort of thing just happens every now and again and the people who come here choose not to let it bother them. Granted, you're not complaining about the sight yourself. For the moment you're just letting Rumia get it out of her system since the odds are good that Lyrica's going to be just as dazed as you are by the time the darkness mon is done with her.
...Then you remember that Caroline had you take the back booth that you did specifically because it was so out of the way. Most of the restaurant can't see or hear what's going on back where you are! Which means they can't see Rumia doing terrible things to you and your entire team.
Speaking of Rumia, she breaks her kiss with a sputtering Lyrica and climbs over her towards Lunasa, who freezes like a deer flashed in the eyes before it's too late and a second of your Prismrivers has her lips claimed by the generous darkness mon.
With that worry out of the way thanks to the foresight and consideration of a certain redhead, you find yourself relaxing more into Merlin's side while enjoying the show. "Speaking of which, Merlin, you're probably going to be next." Granted, unless SlKogasa gets 'eaten' first, but for some reason you think your trio of shiny Prismrivers are probably going to all go down first.
"Hmm...I think I'll help myself first." Merlin's smile is worrying, but you only see it a moment before she pulls you into a kiss herself, her tongue slipping past your lips and into your mouth instantly as she gets her share of mint and chocolate from you instead of Rumia.
You make a surprised sound as you're pulled into a lewd, intimate kiss and once again the world just kind of ceases mattering for as long as she has a hold of you. You even find yourself holding onto her, pressing yourself against her body until such time as she chooses to let you go. ...You're doubly, if not triply glad for the privacy at this stage considering where the 'dessert' part of this is going.
Merlin lets you sink deeper into the kiss, your body starting to yearn for more of what's about to come as her hands grasp at your hips and then...
...she breaks the kiss far too quickly for your libido's taste and smiles at you, "There, I got my taste...and you got a taste of what's to come Zekey. So, let's go get everything done and then have our rendezvous, hm~?"
On the one hand, you know full well that letting Merlin have her wicked way with you right now would just be asking for trouble. On the other, you're catching your breath again and pouting that she teased you like that when you've already been groped, teased, and exposed to some downright wonderful sights all throughout the day. Some of which you can only imagine were quite deliberate. "Aaaaanyway, I figured we could go shopping next for souvenirs and things like that. It shouldn't be that hard on the budget and there's bound to be at least a couple interesting things lying around in the shops." Come to think of it, you wonder if your tablet has anything on the shops in the area. You know that more than a few are going to be tourist traps since this is a resort town and ergo technically is one big tourist trap, but you can at least check to see which ones are the lesser of the myriad evils.
You pull out your tablet and focus on that instead of the sounds of the increasing debauchery to your other side, or Merlin's immensely self-satisfied appearance as she cross her arms under her bust. Your tablet's map function comes up quickly, and as you switch to local mode you're satisfied to see several little blips and markers appear in the town, the map key telling you what they're marking.
Well, so long as no one starts talking about inhaling dongs you're probably okay ignoring it. That aside, you start flicking through the various markers that correlate to the various shops, looking for things like reviews, what kind of people they cater to, etc.. It's a bit extensive of you but you're not going to half-ass this. ...Plus you figure your girls should work their blatant lewdness out of their systems before going out into public. Or at least as much as they can possibly manage, seeing as you're not even sure their libidos have limits.
Let's see...huh, that's interesting. This town's got the usual seaside shack stuff along the beach for sure, and the incredibly expensive tourist fleecing stores near most of the inns and hotels. The actually worthwhile but expensive stores are set slightly off and away from the beach, but close enough that it's not a long walk down a road or alleyway to them. There's also a few less expensive places that are out and out souvenir shops, local cuisine, and so on. You have your normal jewelry, food, trinkets and...swimsuits. You'd think people would come to the beach with one.
You have to think that just because someone comes to the beach with one, doesn't mean they wouldn't want to pick up something different. Probably still the equivalent of selling coal to a coal mine considering the clientele, but it'd be worth looking into. You mark out a couple stores to look at, looking at a couple of the more spendy stores while making a nice selection of the lesser ones. You don't want to get crazy, even if you do have some of Kog's old stash to fall back on money-wise. It's really more your group's 'in case something goes horribly wrong' solid state emergency fund. "Once you're all done, we'll go ahead and go."
Apparently at some point, the whole thing got a bit more intense. You suspect Kogasa got involved, as your Prismriver's look a bit more mussed up and dazed. Even Merlin's a bit worse for wear. Rumia is licking her lips as Kogasa...jiggles in place, laughing silently as she smiles brightly, having apparently enjoyed learning a new thing.
It's kind of amazing what you're capable of ignoring once you're completely focused on something, but then again that was part of your training to become a trainer. Sometimes you need to pay attention to everything around you, other times you need to be able to shut out your team's antics to get something done. Otherwise you wouldn't get anything done.
Lyrica just huffs as Lunasa looks to be stuck a bit deeper in her daze. Merlin herself simply chuckles softly and then waves her hand, "By all means, let's get going Zekeypoo. Where are we off to?"
"I figure we can hit these shops first. Little spendy, but they're supposed to be the real deal as opposed to the tourist traps." You point out the first two you wanted to look at on the tablet, and make sure to plot out an efficient route to get there. "Can't get too crazy there, but we can grab a couple things most likely. Then the less expensive shops after that, which includes stuff like swimwear. I know Touhoumon tend to be pretty tied to their clothes, but I figure swimwear wouldn't be quite as big a deal."
"Ooooh, clothing shopping? We do need new swimsuits after we, well, outevolved our old ones. this time, we get to go shopping for them ourselves too! Oh, I can't wait to see their selection." Merlin sounds positively giddy about shopping for a swimsuit, and you feel a cold chill go down your spine as you realize what you've unleashed. They're no doubt going to be wearing all kinds of swimsuits right in front of you, showing off the figures in countless different states.
Though it doesn't exactly last long since it's pretty clear to you that there is at least some deliberate intent involved considering what's happened prior to this point. It's not worth getting stressed out over. Since your path from your spot is pretty much clear, you start moving to get up from the table and wait for your girls to do the same. "And I'm sure your keen sense of fashion will lead you to pick something appealing for all involved." It's hard not to respond with a sense of 'I know full well what you're doing', but by the same token it's not like you can really blame Merlin. It feels like love and lewd are one and the same to her.
"Oh, I'm sure it will be plenty appealing to the ones who matter~!" Merlin assures you as she sidles out after you. SlKogasa easily slips out of the booth, Lyrica and Lunasa moving after her with Rumia coming out last. Lyrica quickly moves and takes a controlling grip on your right arm.
"So, swimsuits huh? You're stopping at the souvenir store to get something for the tengu then, huh Zeke?" Lyrica asks, apparently eager to leave the past few minutes behind her.
"I did give my word, Lyrica." As much as your first has decided to latch onto you like a limpet onto a boat hull, you don't find it that worrisome. "Besides, it's also a good time to get you girls some nice things too."
"Hmhmhm. Well, they'll have a chance to get a swimsuit when you take them to a beach." Lyrica sounds rather happy as she walks along side of you, pressed up against you in a far from unpleasant way, "What are we looking for then, Zekey?"
You have to suppress a grin at Lyrica's words, seeing as that's not really necessary for you. "Well, swimsuits for you girls, then some other things that happen to strike our respective fancies without getting too crazy about it. We earned a lot of cash, but we don't need to blow through it all just as quickly, you know?"
"Ooooh, I see. Maybe we'll see if they happen to have anything interesting in some of those stores. With the jewelry there though," Lyrica flutters her eyes at you with a winning smile planted on her face, "I know that we're your princesses Zekey, but you don't have to buy us all tiaras."
She leans in closer and her lips brush against your ear as she whispers, "I'd be happy with a necklace from you, after all."
You blush and roll your eyes seeing as she's essentially making the same joke your sisterly tengu did when you left the mansion early this morning. Still, you kiss her on the cheek in response. "Maybe later." Still, tiaras weren't exactly what you're thinking of. You'd prefer to make something yourself, but of course that requires you to have access to enough raw materials and tools to make something decent, and you really don't have anything that'd qualify as proper material. There is that Star Piece in your bag, if you recall right, but it's really not that well suited for what you'd want to do anyway.
Lyrica just cuddles up next to you, laughing to herself and then humming happily as she holds onto your arm, "So, what kind of swimsuit do you like best, Zekey?"
"I think perhaps we should wait on the swimsuit issue," Merlin speaks up helpfully as she takes your other side, pressing her buxom bust into your arm, "After all, it'll be fun to see what he thinks we look best in compared to what we think he'd like the most. Don't you think?"
"My swimsuit preferences depend on the girl anyway. Some people pull off different kinds better than others, so I'd think it'd be wiser to let you girls get a feel for what you like and go from there." Plus swimsuits have a tendency to cling to one's contours, meaning that a body's assets tend to get emphasized one way or the other. The biggest difference lies in how much exposed skin there is.
"...Oh! Is that why you've been staring at Kogs' bikini so much?" Rumia catches up to you both, peering around Merlin to ask a heated question in regards to Kogs itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini, that she wore for the first time today.
"That's part of the reason, Rumia. The other is that when you think of a slime mon, you don't necessarily think of them wearing, or wanting to wear clothes. With Kogs wearing her bikini, it's something like a double dose of novelty and appearance." ...At the rate you're going you're going to sound like a pervert, but there's really nothing for it at this stage. You know you're a pervert, your entire team knows you're a pervert, so what is there to gain or lose here, exactly?
"...Oooooh. So part of it's nice because she's wearing clothing when she normally doesn't, or cause it's something you didn't expect?" Rumia's eyes light up as if she's learned a cosmic truth of the universe, though really she's just learning what makes you tick which may be the universe to her, "So she was really surprising then! I'd thought you just liked yellow and polkadots."
"Like I said, it depends on the girl." So that was a slightly cop-outish answer, but on the flip side Rumia has it figured out and there's no real reason to pursue that line further. At least, that particular line. Between the conversation and having Merlin and Lyrica on either side of you, you feel that you'd probably walk right past the first store you wanted to look at, so you keep a weather eye out now that you remember it and have a moment to do so.
Thankfully before you can be forcibly dragged off into distracting images, thoughts and experiences you spot the store before you miss it. The 'Oceanic Emporium' is a rather ritzy looking store with a wide array of pricey looking souvenirs. Pearl necklaces, exotic 'ocean' perfumes, jewlery modeled after shells or using gems that apparently were recovered from the ocean itself. There's even some scale models of ships in the back, the really expensive kind that have completely working innards and riggings and everything else.
"Ah, there's the first one." You point out the Emporium before you pass it so your girls know where to go too. To be frank, you're not totally sure you should be blowing that much money here but- Then you spot the pearl necklace. You have to suppress a snicker considering that you could turn the tables on Aya in an admittedly expensive way and mess with her a little in the process, but you do need to bear in mind that she could flip things right back around in the process. "This is gonna be one of the ones we can't go too crazy with though, but the reviews were all good."
"Oooooh, ritzy..." Lyrica purrs as you enter the store, disengaging from you to go look around as she's joined by her sister, the three of them oohing and aahing and oogling the pricey merchandise.
Rumia, for her part, stays close to you and looks at some of the nearby tables of things. Huh, she's actually seemingly more interested in the ships than in any of the jewelry, to your surprise.
"You like the models?" You decide to respond to Rumia's interests since your shiny Prismrivers are off doing their thing and Kogs is being quiet. You figure there's bound to be an interesting question from the darkness mon too, since she's the inquisitive type.
"These are human boats, Zekey?" Rumia asks, not looking at you as she leans closer to inspect the models and read the boxes the other models come in, "What do these numbers mean?" She asks, pointing to the scale information on the side of the display of a large, metal transport vessel. If you're right, you think this is one of Eagleland's Military Transports from the old conflict from a few decades ago.
"Yeah, these are one kind. If I'm right, this is a military transport that was used to bring troops and equipment in and out of war zones years and years ago. The numbers have to do with the scale the model is at, among other things. Naturally the real deal is larger than this." As depressing as its history might be, it's still neat to teach Rumia about these kinds of things.
"...Oh, huh." Rumia still seems to be engrossed with the model as she looks at the number and then back to it, seemingly marveling at the model...or the ship itself, "It must be really, really big huh Zekey?"
"Several times this size. I wish I had a solid comparison point for that." You have to admire the workmanship of the ship itself, even though you're pretty sure that something of this quality is probably outside of your budget. Or allotted budget anyway. "I should take you through a couple museums in our travels. There's plenty of stuff to learn and you seem to really enjoy learning how humans work."
"Really Zekey?" Rumia turns around and smiles up at you, for a given value of up. It's not one of her giant, hungry grins that you see before she does something embarrassing or innocent lewd. Rather, it's just a normal, happy grin that shows off just a bit of her teeth. For a moment, you could forget that she was vastly stronger than you because to all the world it looks like you told her it was her birthday and some seasonal holiday all in one.
"Yup~" Her enthusiasm is pretty infectious, though it helps that she doesn't mind more conventional conversations too. "Hm. Any of the other models you want to look at?" Hopefully your girls aren't getting into too much trouble.
"Uhm...oh! What's this one?" Rumia moves over to another model, this one something far more impressive than a military transport. The gleaming white and brass fixtures give it an stunning image, and its multiple stacks and over all shape show it to be one of the magnificent, old cruise ships.
...Oh. This is a model of the first SS Anne. The one vessel that was full of civilians that was sunk during the... events that lead to the peace treaty during the New Continent Conflict.
"That one's the first S.S. Anne. It used to be a ferry that transported people from place to place, and got used to transport non-combatant civilians and mons out of the war zone in the New Continent conflict. Unfortunately someone decided to attack and sink it anyway." You frowned after that explanation since it really said a lot about whoever did that. Only a monster would deliberately attack a refugee vessel like that.
"...What?" Rumia turns around, her attention coming off of the ship and then onto you completely. Oh jeez.
"It happened near the end of the New Continent war when a number of massively powerful Touhoumon descended and started obliterating everything in sight. Apparently everything was a valid target to them, even those who never had anything to do with the war in the first place." While their attacks heralded the end of that war, you're pretty sure not one person would ever consider those mons heroes for the sheer number of atrocities they ultimately committed. "Everyone onboard was presumed killed, and only fragments of the ship were ever found."
"...Oh." Rumia droops visibly, her shoulders lowering and her eyes moving towards the floor as a blanket of negative feelings drapes itself around her shoulders, "...Why would they do that? I mean, I know we don't get along always but..." She mumbles, seemingly to herself.
You wrap your arm around her shoulders and pull her beside you in a one-armed hug for support. "I don't know. I want to think that some people aren't that monstrous, but that Ayakashi proved that such people could exist."
Rumia leans into you when your arm goes around her, and she doesn't look back towards the models again. You'll probably have to talk to her about this, and maybe try to see a bit more about what she knows, since she kinda implied-
"Get out of the store, you dirty mess!" Instinct has you immediately turning to regard the sound, and you find a store clerk harassing Kogs, who seems to be becoming increasingly distressed as the clerk waves something-is he threatening Kogs with repel?
You'd facepalm but honestly that wouldn't help right now. "We may need to leave soon, Rumia." You say to her before striding up to your harassed slimegirl and casually placing yourself between her and the clerk. "Is there a problem?" Your tone is level and even as you address the clerk, and you're able to treat this with a casual air that really wouldn't be possible if the clerk were priming something else.
The clerk temporarily ceases in his harassment of your mighty fine young lady and turns his attention onto you, his expression being like that of a particularly constipated and ugly pug, "Do you own this thing, 'sir'?"
Oh. Oh he's just asking for it.
"Yes, Kogs is one of mine." Quite frankly you'd punch this person's lights out if you thougt you wouldn't get arrested over it. However, your stance and expression do unconsciously mimic your mother's when she's getting irritated.
"Well, 'sir'." The decidedly punchable clerk clicks his tongue at you, "You and the rest of 'yours' need to leave the store, immediately. We reserve the right to refuse serving any customer, but especially one that's making a mess everywhere."
You through a cursory glance about where Kogs might have been to gauge how in the right the clerk actually is on the matter, though flailing Repel in her face will always be a bit too much as far as you're concerned. "Conversely, I refuse to shop where the workers think that waving a can of Repel in a mon's face to drive them out of the store without finding their trainer is an acceptable first response." With that, you take Kogs by the hand and call out to the rest of your team. "Prismrivers, Rumia! We're out of here!"
"Whaaaaaaaat?" Rumia's voice comes to you first as you see the Prismrivers heads shoot up as you call for them. Rumia's also the first to make her approach, skipping towards you and coming to a stop next to you, "What happened Zekey?"
"The clerk here referred to Kogs as a 'thing' and was trying to run her out of the store with Repel." You look to your darkness mon and jab a thumb in the direction of the clerk briefly. "Needless to say I don't feel any pressing need to spend money on anything here." You then look back to the clerk for a moment. "And judging from this guy's look, he probably doesn't think I've got the cash to buy anything anyway."
"...Oh, huh." Rumia turns her attention onto the hapless clerk, staring at him with her inhuman eyes before she pouts at him, "You're a jerk. Let's go look at tiny versions of bigger things in other stores!"
"Later, jerk." Lyrica bumps past the store clerk, shooting him one of her patented glares out of the corner of her eye. Lyrica's shortly followed along by Merlin, who pointedly passes off a piece of pricey jewelry to the clerk before following after Lyrica. Lunasa comes along last, hesitating for a moment before she lets out a quiet huff and turns sharply away from him, skirts flaring as she follows after the other two Prismrivers.
"Zekey..." Kogasa burbles behind you, her voice sounding thicker than you remember it being outside of where you met.
You lead Kogs out by the hand and out of sight of the clerk before turning around and hugging her. "I'm sorry, if I had any idea that was going to happen I wouldn't have even considered going in." Granted, it's not like you could have known but at the same time that clerk's attitude was the last thing Kogs needed.
Kogs hand wraps around yours, losing some of its form and becoming more of a slime tendril wrapping around your hand and wrist as she oozes along behind you, burbling quietly in what you've learned to think of as her distressed noise. That idiot back at the store seems to have put her in a worse mood than you'd feared.
Oh geeze... She doesn't lose cohesion like that unless she's really upset, and there's no immediate and easy solution to perk her back up. You sigh as you keep your annoyance from showing, as all you wanted to do was spend part of the evening doting on your cute girls before retiring for the evening. If any of the other store clerks pull that crap too Kogs is going to be too distressed and depressed to want to do anything. "Hey, Kogs, do you want to do that suit thing again for a bit?" You ask her gently since you can't think of too much that would help, but maybe contact and proximity would improve her mood a bit.
"...all hugs..?" Kogasa's voice is still shaky, like jello in an earthquake that's wiped out a major metropolitan area. She looks at you, her eyes watery. As in actually looking watery, not being full of tears.
You nod in response. "Yup~" Honestly, that display would wipe out the resistance of just about anyone with a functioning heart.
SlKogasa hesitates for a moment before she breaks down into a pile and quickly moves towards you. The cool, sticky sensation is quite distracting as she surges up your body from your ankles and winds her way around you completely, her mass settling back down onto you and slowly shifting into place and tightening up around your body like she did before, disappearing from sight.
It suddenly occurs to you that you are now, most likely, wearing an itty bitty teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini, which Kogs wore for the first time today.
You roll your eyes at that thought since it probably wouldn't look that good on you, but the feeling of Kogs sliding around and settling down on you like that is comforting. Though you had two motives for this particular bit. The first being that it would give Kogs much needed comfort, the other is that it might keep her tucked out of sight safely so no one else can harass her. "Okay, this should work. Feeling better, Kogs?"
As she burbles, your whole entire body is vibrated in a distractingly pleasant way, as if you're in your mother's massage chair and it was turned onto the 'jolly good' setting. You think that's an affirmative, probably.
"Uhm, Zekey?" Rumia speaks up next to you, as the Prismrivers take up the area in front of you. At some point, Rumia seems to have been given the Egg, or rather Seed, and is holding it with both hands, "...What should I do with this? Should I just keep it?"
"If you could, please." Normally that'd be Kogs' thing, but with her wrapped around you that makes it impossible without making it blaringly obvious what you're doing, and Kogs doesn't need the undue attention. "Okay, next store should be fairly close by, though I'm kinda on the fence on whether to try dealing with another ritzy place or not."
"...Zekey?" Rumia speaks up again, distracting you from your dilemma for a few more moments, "Why was that giftmonger acting like that?"
"Remember when I was talking about how slimes have a bad reputation?" You open up with a reminder on that subject, but figure you should talk about that with her since the subject's open. "They're mostly animalistic and act on instinct, not to mention are usually predatory. Even queen slimes are hard pressed to completely suppress their nature, even if they are usually loyal if trained right. Most people don't view them favorably as a result." You cross your arms in front of your chest as you continue. "Couple that with the fact that slimes are a purely human creation, and therefore are a monument to the failures of at least one group, and you get knee-jerk reactions like that."
You rub the spot over your heart gently, figuring that Kog's own core is there. "Kogs is a shining exemption to the general rule, which makes those knee-jerk reactions even more frustrating to deal with."
The section of the town you're travelling through only becomes increasingly posh as you make your way through it towards the next shop. You do note you don't see anywhere near the amount of people hanging around on benches or outside of shops, which means less stares and whispers when you really don't need them.
"...Humans caused the slimes? How did they do that?" Rumia sounds genuinely surprised to find out this piece of information, "Was it some kind of evil experiment by a mad scientist that went horribly wrong and destabilized their assistant and turned them into the first slime, which went and escape and started to infect other mon?"
...where's she getting this idea?
"I wish I knew. There's not much on the subject other than they appear to have been formed from a mixture of chemicals and compounds found primarily in Metro City's industrial sector." You shrug as you respond, noting that it's kind of annoying not being able to give Rumia a solid rundown of what slimes are and where they came from. "Supposedly its artificial island nature made it easier to produce them and for them to reproduce, but the details are so scarce that it almost feels more like blame shifting and fearmongering than anything substantial." You cross your arms in front of you again as you continue, noting that the general lack of onlookers has improved your mood a bit at least. "There's even rumors that slimes actually existed even before that, but again, no substantial research information is available on that. Or at least none that I could get to."
"...So was there a mad scientist or not?" Rumia is still apparently stuck on that topic, reaching up and fussing with her ribbon with one hand while carrying the egg with the other. Your Prismrivers have found the store you are aiming for ahead of you and are waiting outside of it. This one seems to have a more open environment than the less. At the very least the tables and racks aren't put so closely together. Of course, you can see some of the price tags from here and...well...you guess some of them are sort of reasonable, from a certain viewpoint?
"Not that I know of." You reply simply. "Hm, definitely going to have to stick to a budget here." Not that you couldn't afford this stuff, sure, but it's still pricey and you need to consider your and your girl's needs too. "I mean, I guess there could be a mad scientist involved, but what would the point of deliberately taking that kind of risk?" You frown as you consider that possible point while making sure not to overshoot the store. Once you're at the doorway you head in. "Alright girls, same as last time. Feel free to look around, and if you spot something you like take note of the price and let me know."
Rumia, still carrying the egg, disengages from you as you and your girls split up to go searching through the store for various goods. The Prismrivers have made a collective beeline for the section with jewelry and clothing in it, whereas Rumia seems to be drifting somewhat aimlessly through the store this time, nothing drawing her in immediately. SlKogasa is currently busy being wrapped around you, and you can feel her shift and stir in a way that she didn't before the last time she did this.
Hopefully this time you won't be accosted by obnoxious store clerks, so you feel a bit more relaxed going into this other than your Primsrivers going right for the jewelry... which would be somewhat hypocritical of you to call them out on, since you like shiny things too. At the moment though, Kogs' shifting's gotten your attention. "What is it?" You ask her in a low tone.
The slimy material covering your body shifts suddenly and then freezes in place, an interesting sensation to experience for sure. The lack of movement lingers for a few moments before she quivers in place, slight bounces and jiggles of her body making you appear twitchy. You notice the eye of the clerk at the front of the store is on you now, though only 'subtlety'.
You decide to keep going and look around since you're pretty sure you look a touch bizarre to the clerk. If you had to hazard a guess as to why your googirl is quivering though, it's probably because Kogs is scared of getting harassed again. It's not something she should have to go through twice in rapid succession. Or at all, really. You find that you're not looking for anything in particular, and are mostly just being the type of guy who's looking for something that stands out to you.
Your wandering through the store gives you nothing at first that jumps out at you, just the usual tourist trap overpriced baubles and local wares. The Prismrivers are talking with one another about jewelry made from local seashells or something and Rumia is staring at models of ships again when you spot something of interest in the corner of the business. That giant, oversized box that is at least two point nine breadboxed in volume...could it be?
'Settlers of New Continent.' You have to take a moment to appreciate it. The game was based off the actual events of the colonization of the New Continent and translated into a tabletop game known for its... rather brutal difficulty. Unlike most versions of the same game, this one has the continent actively resist settlement in areas, making it harder to get a foothold since native mons could steal resources or men if you didn't have high enough defenses in the areas you control. There's even different versions that differ in levels of family friendliness.
Some get quite explicit, from what you recall, with high quality art that leaves little to nothing to the imagination, and that kicked up the price tag of those versions as a result.
You feel you face heat up as you consider the possibility of actually buying that. Your girls only refrained from molesting you during strip Uno because SlshYoumu would have torn them all new ones at the time. With stuff like cards that could lead to YOUR leader character getting snatched up... Well, you'd be forced out of the running literally as soon as anyone got the chance to do so. Especially if the whole game made such... open invitations.
...You shake your head slightly to get those fantasies out of your head. The raunchy versions only show up in specialty shops anyway. And it's not like you want to lose to your girls on purpose anyway!
SlKogasa makes a soft noise as you feel her shaky slime rub against your back soothingly, picking up on your state and perhaps mistaking it for stress of some sort.
"Hey Zekey, what're you looking at?" Rumia's voice shocks you out of your musing as she shifts up beside you, "...Settlers of the New Continent..?"
You twitch slightly when Rumia's voice jolts you out of your thoughts, but it's only momentary. "Yeah, it's a tabletop game where players try to settle on territory and develop it. There's a few variations of the same basic game, but this one is a lot harder because players not only have to outwit each other, but also outwit the native mon populations that'll resist human encroachment." You don't pick it up, but you do look over the box itself for telltale bullet points that'd let you know precisely what you're dealing with. "Most of it is family safe, my mother's got a set herself and it was on rotation for family game night pretty much ever since she got it. Some versions have cards that are... raunchier than the standard sets."
"Though ironically enough, the versions that have them also happen to be harder and more true to what we know about what happened during the settling process."
As you look over the box, you're thankfully able to see that this particular box is one of the family safe ones. Considering the cover art, you're not that surprised...plus the raunchiest versions are usually only sold in specialist shops. "...What does family friendly mean? Is it like...nicer or something?" Rumia once again questions you on the vast and complex nature of human society.
"Well, family friendly is... how to put it? Generally speaking people raise their kids according to what they understand as right or wrong, and introduce concepts based on their age or level of mental maturity. This way a child can develop naturally and not end up with warped perspectives on how some things work. The term 'family friendly' has to do with the fact that the concepts this game exposes you to are of the sort that are deemed safe for younger kids." You're still kind of interested in having a set of your own, but for the moment you drop most of your interest in the box to focus on Rumia. "But then again, what's considered appropriate for a child of a given age group is kind of subjective. Generally speaking though, younger kids aren't exposed to sex or realistic violence so that kind of thing doesn't wind up being their 'normal.'"
"...Oh." Rumia's big eyes blink once before she nods, "Okay then, that makes sense I guess..."
There's a moment of blessed silence where you think that maybe you've managed to answer one of her questions without an awkward addition getting added onto it before Rumia speaks up again, "So how come some of the boxes are covered in black bags?"
You recognize those. "Those must be the R-18 ones. The bags are kind of a way to warn potential customers without actually showing off the boxart or anything explicit like that." Admittedly you're still kinda tempted to get a set but it'd definitely set you back a bit. Plus your girls really don't need any incentive to start doing naughty things to you anyway, so it's a bit of a toss-up. "I guess this place would be a specialty shop of sorts, if you know where to look."
"Ex-cuse you?" A voice interrupts you as you realize you've drawn the attention of the shopkeep. The shorthaired girl puts down her magazine and gives you a look, "Did I just hear you implying something about this shop, bub?"
"That this is a store with uncommon wares, the likes of which one would be unlikely to find elsewhere easily." You reply in a straightforward manner while simultaneously acting as though you had no idea what the shopkeep was implying. "I mean, this place does sell consumables, decorations, and clothing that bear brand names from local companies or producers, as opposed to more commonly found mass-produced brands."
The short-haired girl stares at you for a long moment, but you think you see a twitch in the corner of her lips as you defuse any sort of offense, "That's right. We sell local goods and things related to the history of the region, and this town in particular. You may not know it, but this is actually arguably the first landing spot in this entire region."
Rumia seems to be interested in that, if the way she perks up is right. She does seem to have a strange interest in humans and human history...
You have some knowledge of that already, but for the sake of letting Rumia learn you decide to behave as though you didn't. "If it's not a problem for you, could you explain that? I know the general information about the initial landing sites but not the specifics."
The girl clicks her tongue and the leans back on her stool, "Uh, yeah alright. I'm a bit of a history buff, but I'll keep things simple for you kids. First, do you know anything at all about the landings? Like what countries were involved and where?"
"Well, as far as countries go the ones off the top of my head Eagleland and the Holy Nassau Empire are the two I remember by name, there's that collection of anarchist states that somehow coordinated well enough to make the trip... then it's basically any nation with enough power and resources to afford the trip and colonization efforts." You tap your cheek as you recall what you know, and note that asking a self-proclaimed history buff isn't exactly a bad idea. "And as far as the landing points, they were pretty hotly contended. The Holy Nassau Empire landed on the northern shores, Eagleland pretty much took over the western shores and supported the efforts of their allies, and anyone else was stuck having to go around them to avoid all that."
"Huh." The shopkeep seems pleased to a degree with your response, "Well, at least you remember history better than most of the tourists that wander into here. Admittedly, my professor probably would've cuffed you after hearing an answer like that, but he's a stodgy old bastard anyway."
You shrug in response to that. "I have to know at least the rough basics about where I travel, but I wasn't really put into an in-depth course about the New Continent's beginnings. Mostly its varied legal systems, topography, how to handle various mons of various types, ect." Your explanation may or may not be satisfactory in that regard, but you felt the need to point it out. "Anyway, please continue."
"Heh, not much more to say unless you're planning on standing here for the next three hours for New Continent History 101's first lesson." The girl's grin is friendly and completely missing any and all hints of predatory intent.
It actually feels kinda weird.
"You ask me, the most true history versions of the game are the most fun, especially when you combine them with 'Politics'." The girl sighs wistfully and shakes her head, "I can't believe that crazy old bastard brought in actual touhoumon for that lesson..."
...you feel like you are missing something, and it may be a good thing that you are.
"I'd wager the more accurate versions are the most fun just because they're not toned down and censored. Also, definitely not. I might be an adventurer but even my legs need breaks every now and then. Especially when prior arrangements have been made." You wind up picking up one of the black bagged versions while rolling your eyes, figuring that it should be inside your budget. It's just figuring out a good time to sit down and actually play it. You do raise an eyebrow at that last comment. "I'm guessing your professor is one of those interesting ones."
"He was certainly an interesting guy, that's for sure. Before he became a professor, he was a professional fighter." The Counter Jockey sighs wistfully as she looks away from you and out towards the streeth, "This is off-topic, but can you believe that those 'think of the children' types are actually raising a ruckus about those 'black bag' games? It's not enough that they're bagged, but now they want them behind the counter and only for sale to someone in their twenties? Like that's going to 'protect' them or something from 'sinful knowledge'." She scoffs and rests her head in the palm of one of her hands, "Like that's gonna do a boy any good in real life or something."
"Oh geeze..." You roll your eyes at that last part. "Those types of people feel like they're rarely campaigning for the right reasons. Especially if they're tossing around words like 'sinful.' It always feels more like a 'ew your ways have cooties' type of thing." You wind up scratching your head a bit as you wonder why that'd even come up. "...And what deity actively denounces that kind of thing anyway? Most of the religions I have at least passing knowledge of just preach a sane approach to sex."
"...Don't most religions like that end up revering some touhoumon or another anyway? I mean, you've got the philosophers, then the cults and then the fanclubs..." She mumbles in thought, likely thinking back on old lessons, "I guess there's the Holy Nassau Empire, but I never remember hearing what made them 'holy' in the first place. Always seemed like it was just a bunch of old traditions no one even remembered starting."
"Yeah, that's true. ...It's little things like that that makes one realize how intertwined the paths of humans and mons really are, isn't it?" Your tone takes on a more thoughtful tint briefly as you reflect on that. Come to think of it, there are definitely even those who would reject mons too, yet like anyone engaging in counter-culture, they end up feeding the normal culture. "And that's definitely something I wouldn't know anything about. I just pay attention to how not to offend various religions. ...At least to the extent where their followers won't break out the torches and pitchforks."
"Pfft, good luck. I've seen how the cults devoted to some of the 'divine' touhoumon tend to act. This one guy came in here and tried to start shit with us about what was on the covers on the guides and historical booklets on the area." She shakes her head, "Anyway, before I forget, you wanna buy that or are you just holding onto it for sentimental purposes?"
"Yeah, seems like it'll be a fun game to sink some time into when I get the chance." You realize that you've probably taken up more of the shopkeep's time than really necessary, but at the same time you don't regret taking the time to do so. "I'll need to round up my Prismrivers too, though. I had them go off to look at stuff they might be interested in."
"Good luck." The Shopkeeper grin unsettles you with the obvious malicious glee now behind it, "They just got into our hat section."
Your hand meets your face when you hear that. "Good Shinki, not the hat section."
"Yeah, that's right." Her mocking smile grows deeper as she watches you, enjoying your suffering, "The hat section, the only section of a store to be feared as much as the perfume section."
"Sigh... If you could hold onto this, please." You hold out the black bagged game, resigned to your fate. "Of all the times to not pack an oversized crowbar."
"Sure, I'll hold onto it for you." The Counter Jockey tucks the illicit boardgame away without complaint before pointing a finger to your left, "If you're looking to buy a crowbar, they're over there, close to the candy display."
"You people really know your game, don't you?" You raise an eyebrow at her before heading off to the hat section to see what in the world your Prismrivers were up to.
"If we didn't we'd be poor at our jobs!" The cashier calls at your back as Rumia follows after you, reaching out and taking your hand in hers as she walks at your side.
"...Zekey, what's a crowbar?" Rumia asks you another question as she looks up at you, a curious expression on her face that doesn't just express her curiosity.
"It's literally just a long piece of metal with one end bent into a hook and the other end bent slightly to let an individual person put more force on an object than they would have been able to otherwise. They're usually reserved for doing things like opening crates or prying things apart." You roll your eyes as you give a quick summary of what a crowbar is. "They're handy tools for an adventurer to have though, especially if you go spelunking or something."
"Oh, uhm, okay. Thank you." Rumia mumbles, her eyes moving down towards the ground as she walks along with you, her girp on your hand slackening.
You tighten your grip on her hand when you feel her grip loosening somewhat. "I'm not trying to be mean, a crowbar really is that simple." It does occur to you that your body language might have implied something else as well. "And I was rolling my eyes at the counter jockey, not you."
"...Oh, okay!" Rumia immediately cheers up now that she understands that she's not being chastised or anything like that and smiles up at you. The Primsrivers pop up from where they were all crouched down before, and to your despair it seems they've been going through every hat, including the ones in boxes on the shelves underneath where the display pieces are kept. Lunasa is fiddling with a frilly, wide brimmed hat while Merlin adjusts a darkly colored hat with a veil that hides her face. Lyrica meanwhile his five hats piled on top of her head, and seems inordinately smug about the fact.
"I take it mine fine ladies hath discovered the marvels of the towering pillar of hattes?" You comment dryly, torn between amusement and bemusement at the situation. You'd cross your arms but you're still holding Rumia's hand and it's just so soft and warm. "Any in there with KO counters or bizarre particle effects that traders would pay too much for?"
"...what?" Lunasa blinks at you, apparently completely lost at what you just said. You can almost see the question marks hovering around her head.
"Neeeerd." Comes a mocking whisper from Merlin's direction, though you never saw her lips move as she simply gives you one of her many patented looks. This is number 17, 'Rose Glimmer'.
"Halt, hatless one. Do not approach mine space and accost me with your bare visage." Lyrica sniffs and turns her nose up at you. You're not...entirely sure if that means she knows what you're talking about or are just playing along effectively.
"Oh? Are you suuuuuure you don't want me to approach your space?" You're not entirely sure why, but even if Lyrica is just playing along you can't quite help but want to tease her a bit, maybe. "I can not do that." You then walk over to Lunasa with Rumia in tow if she wants to come with. "Well, it's a video game reference, specifically to one that can best be described as a war-themed hat simulator. Cosmetic items can track statistics, have fancy particle effects like being on fire or having a perpetual storm over them, or even both. They're not even something you absolutely have to pay for either, doing really well at the game can give you stuff like that."
Rumia trails along behind you, having let go of your hand as you approached the Prismrivers and got their attention. Lunasa still seems a bit confused before Rumia speaks up again, "Zekey, what's a video game?"
"Ah." It didn't occur to you but now that you remember it it would be unlikely that any of your girls had really come into contact with video games prior to being caught. What with your trio being in the White Tower before meeting you, and Rumia presumably having an interest in human affairs but not necessarily the safe means to indulge. "It's a type of game that's played on an electronic medium, like a computer or PDA or something along those lines."
"...You mean like...a boardgame but on your thingy?" Rumia questions, catching up to what you mean as she thinks about it.
"But...how do you play a boardgame by yourself?" Lunasa is confused by it still it seems though, "Do you just play solitaire?"
If this were an anime you'd be sweating from the sheer silliness of the situation. "It doesn't quite work like that. Like, there are board games you can play on devices, but the variety is a lot more substantial than that." You flick through your app to see if you have anything to use as a visual aid for this, since you're not totally sure you can explain this adequately yourself. "You have entire genres of games, not unlike genres of movies or music. There's stuff like role-playing games, which have you take the role of one or more people and play through a story from their perspective, platforming games, where you move a character through a course of some kind..."
...Well, you have solitaire on your tablet at least. You don't seem to have anything but that and minesweeper...actually, no wait you have several versions of solitaire!
...Oh, and a pinball game! 'Makai Master Pinball', to be specific.
"Oh...that sounds interesting..?" Lunasa offers, still engaged in a conversation with you as Merlin puts her hat on top of Lyrica's pile and then takes Lunasa's from her to add as well.
"...But if no one else is playing with you, what do happens? You can't play a lot of games by yourself!" Rumia seems to be filled with a burning desire to know now that you've got her curious, whereas Lunasa seems to be more trying to be polite.
"Well, some video games are designed around the concept of only one person playing them, so it's actually not as much of an issue as one would think." You bring up the pinball app and shift so that Lunasa and Rumia can look. "Like this one, for example. It's pretty simple but the idea is to get as high a score as possible in one go."
Suddenly, you are crowded by curious little girls with frilly hats and ribbons as they float behind you or lean up on their tiptoes and against you. You've got Lunasa on your right, apparently interested in learning about something that has your attention so thoroughly. Rumia is on your left, leaning against you and peering down at the screen to see what's happening.
Those two were expected. The unexpected addition is a Merlin who rests her chin on your left shoulder, little wisps of air blowing across your cheek as she breathes. Lyrica meanwhile looks over your right one, pillar of hits still on top of her head. She notices your attention and looks adorably 'affronted', "What?"
You decide to set up a quick round as you try and look at Lyrica directly, then promptly risk making this position more awkward to kiss her on the nose before you resume what you were doing before. "This is hardly the only type of game out there, but you can see that this is set up for just one person." You're an alright pinball player, though the fact that physical pinball machines weren't something you had access to meant that you weren't as good as you could be at this.
Lyrica's adorable, cutesy sputters over your shoulder are music to your ears as you begin to try your hand at pinball wizardry. The game's sounds and sights are nice enough for a pinball simulator, though it's getting a bit harder to play as Merlin starts to toy with your hair. It gets even harder as Rumia starts trying to nearly lean over the screen as she watches it, and Lunasa seems to be intrigued as well.
The feeling of Lyrica trying to lean further over your shoulder to get a clearer look suggests that she might be wanting to see more too.
Honestly you miiight be flubbing this a bit more than you normally would since your mind is only partially on this, but that's the price you pay for demonstrating such a concept to people who haven't seen it before. ...Though you'd have to admit that catching Lyrica off-guard like that was nice too. It'd be best not to do it too often, lest she comes to expect it. Rumia's blocking the screen somewhat causes you to misjudge a shot and end up having to struggle with it more than you should have.
You almost lose a ball entirely, save for the fact that you felt your thumb twitch on its own and trigger the left paddle before it was too late, sending the ball back into play. That...wasn't your own reactions. It was too fast, too accurate when you weren't even beginning to catch up to the ball's trajectory in time.
Your hand twitches again as the ball winds its way back down, sending back up and bouncing off of various in-game objects to make bountiful lights and sounds.
"...Neat." Rumia speaks quietly, breaking the silence as she stares at the screen. She sounds...oddly impressed.
Honestly, it feels like you're getting some kind of assistance here, though you can't really nail down what it is. Lyrica demonstrated poltergeist-like power before, but you can't think that she'd be the one causing minor movements like that. ...Not to mention you're not totally sure how that'd even work. Still, you're concentrating on the game for the moment, so you don't really respond.
...Still, it occurs to you that you may be getting a touch distracted from your overall goal here.
Your hands twitch faster, responding to more obvious pulls of someone's strings on them as you begin to play the game at a level you aren't capable of on your own. There are no more slip ups, no mistakes. Every single moment is perfect, down to the nanosecond timing, as the ball flies around the screen striking an obscene amount of objects as your score's total digit count begins to climb up at an increasingly fast pace.
...you actually feel like you're being directed now for certain.
It is then that you remember that you're kinda wearing one of your team members now. That's a tad embarrassing, but understandable given how quiet Kogs has been and just how darn comfortable she is. You decide to relax and let Kogs do as she will for the time being, since it seems like she's having fun with this.
As you relax, you find your body continues to move on its own without any input from you, perhaps even easier than it was before. This, of course, leaves you with the freedom to enjoy the expressions on your girls’ faces at the moment. Rumia's eyes are wide and sparkling with interest as she watches your, or rather Kogs, pinball wizardry. Lunasa seems to be entranced as well, though you make out small movements of her lips to the rhythm of the admittedly catchy music of the game. Merlin seems content to just lounge on you and smirks as you glance to her, following that by glancing briefly down towards your chest to tell you she knows the real source of your pinball skill(z).
"...It's neat, I guess." Lyrica admits grudgingly as she tightens her grip on you in a hug, "It's kinda cool how when you hit those bouncy things it adds another instrument to the song for that beat."
"It is! The longer you can keep it up, the more complex it gets. But it's always such a drag when you lose because you have to start all over and you know how long it takes to get back to where you were." Meanwhile you're kinda debating on how to get this ball rolling again. You can only blame your tardiness on the horrors of the dread hat section for so long, after all. "Right, did you girls find any alternate headwear you like?"
"I kinda like my tower of hats..." Lyrica admits to you after you ask, glancing up towards the massive pile of headgear with an expression of vague fondness, "It makes me feel...important."
"That's just natural. The bigger and fancier your headgear, the more important you are." Merlin's response carries with it both a tone of sarcasm and sincerity.
You kinda want to make a crack about how the bigger the pile of hats, the more they're compensating for something, but honestly you've seen enough of Lyrica and been inside of her enough to know that that just plain isn't true. "Clearly it needs to be painted, have stat trackers attached to them, and be shooting off confetti constantly." You just roll your eyes as you revisit your earlier missed joke. "And maybe stick a crown on top too."
Over the humphs at your sense of humor and quiet hiss of 'neeeeeeeeeerd', Lunasa speaks up, "Uhm...maybe we should be looking for the souvenirs first. Did you find something Zekey? I saw you at the counter earlier..."
Rumia, bless her heart, explains before you ever get the chance too, "Zekey got an 'erotic role-playing game'!"
And every eye in the store is on you.
You can feel the raising eyebrows and smirks from Merlin and Lyrica, even as you utterly eclipse the base high-score before even losing a ball.
If you weren't letting Kogasa play the game for you, you'd be burying your face in your hands in response to Rumia's unsubtle and completely tactless approach to the situation. "It's called Settlers of the New Continent. It's a board game where multiple players try to secure a foothold on the landmass and thrive in spite of the challenges." You try to approach this as calmly as possible, but with how Merlin and Lyrica are you doubt they'll let it drop so easily. "It's true that this version's indecent in places, but it's also the version that's more true to history. It's also the version that doesn't bother putting on the kiddy gloves, either."
"Well, I know how important historical accuracy is to you, Zekey~..." Merlin whispers in your ear, her breath washing across your skin as she leans in close, "Maybe you'd like a reenactment here~?"
"You know Zeke, if you just wanted to get passed around again, we could have just played cards again. You didn't need to get a whole new game for an excuse." Lyrica's fingers traiil down your chest, the muffled sensations bleeding through your slime suit and to your body.
Lunasa seems to decide to abstain, blushing a bit as she mouths the words 'historical accuracy' with an almost astonished wonder, and through it all Rumia is just smiling blissfully.
You blush in response knowing full well that you're going to get into trouble if your girls keep this up, but the taboo of lewd intimacy in a public place is starting to get harder to resist with both girls tag teaming you like this. Another part of your mind feels like you're going to have to pay Rumia back for this at some point though. "Girls, please. The dread reputation of the hat section isn't going to keep people away forever and I'd prefer that we not get thrown out again."
That being said, you're feeling like you'll need to move things along fairly soon if you want to get out of here and finish what you set out to do. ...Then get a hotel room because clearly your Prismrivers are in dire need of some loving.
"Oh, fine." Merlin huffs, acting dreadfully put upon by you putting her off her mood, "I suppose this store's nice enouh that it doesn't need a floor act to bring in customers anyway."
"...Weren't we here for something besides looking at hats?" Lyrica sounds...like she honestly forgot what you came in here for. Then again, given how the conversation and purchases have gone you suppose you haven't picked up anything just yet for those not present either.
"Souvenirs." You answer Lyrica's question simply. "I mean, admittedly I did send you girls off to look at stuff you'd find interesting and this is partially for party members not present too." Namely the sisterly tengu working as impromptu maids in the Mustermann... Well, at this stage you could probably just start calling it the Mason Manor since Erika did want you to give the place a fresh start. You're not sure if that kind of change qualifies as a 'too soon' thing or not, though.
"Anyway, if there's nothing here that jumps right out at you girls and says 'ride me like a show pony' then I figure I can buy what I spotted. We have time for one more shop before we should think about finding a place to sleep for the night, I think." Another thing that occurs to you is that Yume would probably approve of the aforementioned sisterly pair of tengu just because they can fill maid roles.
...In fact, between Yume, your mother's tastes, and Ruukoto, you can't help but wonder if they were subtly trying to give you a maid fetish while you were growing up. You keep an eye out for anything Aya and Hatate might like too.
"I could help with that." The Shopclerk speaks up from behind you, having gotten close without you noticing. You can't restrain your eep of surprise, but to your satisfaction Lyrica and even Merlin appear to have gotten surprised as well and spun with you...though it could just be that they're too attached to you to have not been spun.
At this point you wouldn't be surprised by the concept that the shopclerk is at least part cat. "With which part of that?" You manage to get out once your heart rate settles back down some.
"I heard 'souvenirs'." The Shopkeep's expression is friendly, helpful, and ever so slightly predatory. It makes you feel a bit nervous is your gut.
She clearly smells blood in the water. You have made a mistake. "Yeah, a couple of my girls asked me to get them something since they couldn't come with us." For obvious reasons, but that was kind of an irrelevant point.
"Aw, and you remembered. That's so sweet of you." The Clerk praises your ability to remember what you were literally asked hours ago, "So, what kind of gifts were you looking for? If you're looking for ideas, if you let me know their 'type' I can recommend something."
"They're an Aya and Hatate pair." You're not entirely sure how much that's going to help considering what they semi-jokingly wanted from you to start with. It's probably something they left up to you so it didn't feel like you're just getting them what they asked.
"Hmmmm...well, we do happen to have a local 'wing care' kit." The Salesperson produces the kit from somewhere, presumably the foul darkness of the abyss that you cannot see nor comprehend, and holds it up for you to see. Inside of it is...actually there's a wide array of tools and what are probably soaps and other such things, "It uses all local materials, including seashell combs. Very popular."
On the one hand, that actually sounds like something the two would actually not mind having around. Fits the criteria of a gift/souvenir and you're not totally sure what kind of things they have on them to take care of their wings. You tap your chin in thought as you consider it, knowing that you've got relatively deep pockets to help with this too. On the other the clerk's trying to sink her fangs in and you darn well know it. Just because the intent is different, doesn't mean the warning feeling is.
The clerk waits, patiently and hungrily. Oh, she's good. She knows the game well. She's not pushing now like some people would, meaning that she knows that you know that she wants to sell you something. But does she know that you know that she knows that you know that she knows?
This line of thinking is about to give you a mild headache. The mindgames involved are practically insane. Though complicating the fact is that you still don't know your Aya and Hatate that well so any ideas you come up with are a bit of a crapshoot. "Yeah, that'll do." Except the whole 'pearl necklace' idea, but that's really something only you can give. In person.
"Wonderful!" The Salesperson's smile is spine-chillingly satisfied as she purrs in response, "Now, why don't you come take a look at our stock and pick out just which one you want for which of them, hm?"
You roll your eyes and follow along, noting that the feeling of 'you're about to get raped' is perfectly applicable here. It's just that she's going for your wallet and not necessarily you.
As you find yourself whisked off, your girls are actually still so stunned they end up not dragged along with you. "So," The storeclerk asks you in a quiet voice, "What are you planning to get for them? Because, I noticed that you were showing off a game to them just now. New catches, right? Well...I happen to know the best, and only real, arcade in town. You could always have an experience as a souvenir instead for them, right?"
"Relatively new catches." You correct her in an equally quiet tone. "The Prismrivers are my starters, Kogs wasn't long after them, and Rumia's technically the most recent of my active girls. And yeah, an arcade might be the way to go."
"Alright! Now, while you take a look at these," The Storeclerk waves a hand at a small spread of wing care cases with different materials for the combs and such, "I'll tell you where the arcade is.
To be honest, you do make a point of going over each set and noting both the materials involved and the price. The variance in price gives you the impression that the clerk guided you in this direction on purpose, but nothing is insanely expensive or would push you to the point where you can't live comfortably. Though some of them definitely fall under having just as much glitz as function though. Seashell combs made primarily from the iridescent interior of oyster shells? Looks pretty, must be worth a small fortune on its own.
...Huh. The Prices are high, sure, but they're also no exorbitant. You guess this place might be rich in the materials which keeps the cost a bit lower than it would be elsewhere. "Going with a pair that matches your girls defining colors might not be a bad idea." The Shopkeep advises as she rubs her hands together, "Now, the arcade is off of mainstreet, but only just off. You want to keep going for two blocks and then take a left. It's got the neon signs out front. Don't bother with that weird pizza place you'll see before you turn. It's a tourist trap and... there's some rumors about the place."
Well, the typical defining colors for an Aya and Hatate pair would be red and purple, respectively, and you're fairly certain that your pair is no different. Though with Aya it's a little harder to pin down just because white and black are also predominant, but you don't think the shirt counts as much as anything else. Still, it gives you something to start off with, and you adjust your search accordingly. "...Huh, rumors? Not the good kind, I take it." You know, you're hoping this doesn't turn into something you can say 'I told you so' to Joey about. You want to not turn into a justifiably paranoid wreck, because that kind of paranoia eventually reverts to just plain paranoia eventually.
"The place has 'animatronics' of touhoumon so that kids can play with them without panicky parents worrying about them being 'played' with. They're kind of creepy though, and they just stare at anyone who's not a kid and is in the store sometimes." She explains, "...but the actual rumors are about how their arcade is all off-brand knock offs and their pizzas are sub-par."
You shudder at the mention of knock-offs as you pick out a nice-looking feather cleaning set. "Ugh, knock-offs are the worst unless they're fan remixes or something. Nothing but cheap cash-ins." The part about the animatronics sounds like nothing but trouble too, seeing how your journey's gone so far. With your luck, you'd just end up stuck there after-hours and hunted down somehow.
"Exactly. Plus, the food at the arcade is way better than over there, so that's a whole other reason." The Merchant helpfully slides a box to your attention which you note has a breathtaking red and white swirling shell being used for the main comb, "Besides, they've got a strict occupation limit so they end up not taking in any more customers early in the day anyway."
You wind up grabbing that particular set and nodding to the clerk in affirmation. "Thanks for pointing out the option. It probably wouldn't have occurred to me to check for something like that." Plus it'll cater to Kogs' newfound interest in video games to boot.
As you grab that set, your eyes shift over to another of interest. Ah, in front of you there is a gorgeous pale lavender colored main brush set. It's quite lovely and while not quite Hatate's color, you think it would still be something she would enjoy. "Happy to help." The victorious hunter/salesperson responds with a grin, rubbing her hands together as she sees you spot another item, "Besides, the arcade could use the help. It's not on main street so it only sees people who bother leaving it, and that's not a lot of tourists."
She really is looking at your wallet the same way most mons would look at you at this point. At least she's giving sound advice on where you could go next. ...Yeah you go ahead and get the second main set too. The scary part being that you're pretty sure this won't put that big a dent in your funds considering that you still have stuff from Kogs' collection that you could sell if needed. "And all because a tourist trap of questionable repute got the prime spot."
"Well, the arcade's been over in that place for a while. It's just that the new place is drawing in even a lot of business from locals too with it's whole appeal of just being able pretty much leave your kid there." She informs you as she directs you over towards the register so that you can get your order handled, "It might as well as be a daycare center."
You can't help but raise an eyebrow at that last part, but you can understand the point. "I guess that makes sense for busier parents, but that still strikes me as irresponsible. I mean, younger kids aren't exactly good at that whole 'self control' bit." You follow along and get the needed payment method ready. "The place would need some pretty competent staff to make sure that some poor kid doesn't get shut up in there past closing time or something stupid like that."
"Here tell is that their machines do lot of the work on that front and there's only a couple staff around." She shakes her head at that as she quickly runs your order through and then bags them for you, handing the stuffed bag over to you as she continues, "At least, people say they don't see a lot of staff. Could be they're just all in the back."
You take the bag and can't help but find that bit of information somewhat amusing. "Then it turns out there's just the one guy back there in front of the security monitors." You roll your eyes at that bit. "Well, hopefully they're more competent than we give them credit for. It'd be more appealing than the alternative."
"The place is owned by some group from outside of town. I'm not sure where their headquarters is, actually." She folds her hands in front of you as she slips you another piece of information that adds to the whole picture, even if it doesn't connect to any other parts of the puzzle you have obviously, "Guess they're an entertainment conglomerate or something."
"They'd have to be if they're not operating out of this town directly. Not to mention fully functioning animatronics can't be cheap, especially if they seem to double as security." You slip the bag onto your shoulder so it's comfortable while continuing a rather engaging conversation. "That's a mystery that's probably going to go unsolved for me though, which is fine. My stint as a trainer's been perilous enough so far. I don't need to add 'on the wrong end of shady business practices' to it."
"Huh, not running headlong into investigate the mystery? You'll end up average if you keep that up." The shopkeeper teases you as she crosses her arms under her chest, "Nah, but good on you. There's a sense of adventure, and then there's looking for trouble. Nice to see someone who can tell which is which."
"Yeah, better to rest between instances in which my luck dumps me into trouble than seek it out myself. My last stunt was dealing with a cursed mansion." It starts off as teasing, but it kinda fizzles out a second or two into it. You also rub your head a bit too before resuming a more normal state.
"Ahh..." The shopkeeper looks sympathetic, "Yeah, there's...a lot of abandoned places out there if you go even a bit deeper into the continent. Like, have you heard about the 'White Tower'? Apparently there's some massive tower that expeditions keep going into and getting wasted. Even weirder, supposedly there's a town that lives in the shadow of it."
"That'd be Higa's Town. I'm actually from there. It's kind of a weird cross between a small, peaceful town and a launch point for the expeditions into the White Tower anomaly." So now you're off one uncomfortable subject and onto a semi-uncomfortable one. "It's actually a lot more dull than you'd think."
"...Oh." The shopkeeper's brow goes up, "Well, on a completely unrelated note, I have to go and do some stocking in the back, which is definitely what I am doing and not slipping out of an awkward conversation that I made awkward."
You actually smile at that. "Don't sweat it, I should probably go collect my girls before they get too antsy. Nice talking to you though." You wave off the clerk's concerns as well, since she had no way of knowing anyway.
"Yeah, have a good day." The Clerk offers to you as she escapes into the mysterious 'back' of the store, no doubt there to roll around in the piles of unstocked goods if half of the rumors you've heard people say about the back are true.
This leaves you, of course, to go back to your girls who have been...sitting together chatting about something? Oh, that doesn't bode well for you.
"Sorry about that, girls. The clerk smelled blood in the water. Metaphorically." You announce yourself to get their attention and use the truth to give a viable reason without blowing the potential surprise if you do take up the clerk on her suggestion.
"You didn't spend too much, did you Zekey?" Lyrica is the first to react, catching onto the situation with all the speed of a girl who catches onto situations quickly. Her eyes speculatively consider the large, bulky, fancy cases in the bag at your side.
"Surprisingly enough, no. We're still within budget." You're not sure if it's because the clerk was more interested in helping you than wringing every last drop out of you, the fact that your earlier steamrolling gave you some reasonably deep pocketbooks, or some combination of the two, but you do still have plenty of cash to spare.
Lyrica's skepticism moves onto you as she crosses her arms across her chest, "So, what were you talking about over there for so long. It couldn't have taken you that long to talked into buying these."
"Obviously our sweet Zekey is going to expand the flock with a human girl and is shopping for options." Merlin teases, a playful smirk on her full lips as you see Lyrica's nostrils flare as she draws in a breath at that. Oh geez.
"I'm into taller guys-!" Drifts in a helpful reply from the back, where the clerk had disappeared off to.
You pinch the bridge of your nose and close your eyes in exasperation. "Merlin, you do realize that when you tease Lyrica like that, it's me who's going to get the brunt of it, right?" That being said, you stride over to Lyrica and peck her on the lips to hopefully help shut her down before she can really start. "The clerk was telling me about an arcade that's not too far from here while filling me in a bit about that place Joey mentioned back in One Tree. There's no way we can do the latter, and it's shady enough to where I don't even want to try, but the former's an option if you girls have any interest."
"...a what?" Lyrica seems to speak for all of your girls as she voices her question, or at the very least her sisters given that Rumia is currently attempting to peer into your newest bags and your arms seem to be moving on their own and beginning to play pinball again now that you're no longer busy.
That seemed to work like a charm. "It's basically a place with a lot more video games, usually with a wide selection of genres but an emphasis on being able to jump in and jump out of any given game relatively quickly." You take a moment to explain the concept a little since you forgot that your Prismrivers and Rumia aren't that well-versed in human-created diversions.
"...Oh. Did you want to go or something, Zekey?" Lyrica asks, glancing down at your hands which are now engrossed in attempting to break 'your' recently set high score.
"Taking us to an Arcade Zekey? Don't you think a cafe would be more appropriate for a date with a lady?" Merlin teases you yet again, smirking as she leans forward, crossing her arms under her bust to emphasize them and match her sister's posture.
"Uhm, I think that maybe it could be kind neat to see!" Lunasa offers, speaking up and rejoining the conversation, "You were telling us about video things before and seeing what they're like sounds like it could be nice, if you want to."
"Will they have food there?" Rumia, bless her stomach, asks the most important question of all.
Most important for her at least.
"They probably will, Rumia. I mean, the idea is to get you to stick around as long as possible." And spend a lot of money, but hey. When you can't lug around consoles everywhere, arcades are there to pick up the slack. "I do kinda want to go too, but it just came up as a potential option. We could readily do a cafe too, see about proper swimsuits or something, pick a decent place to have a night and morning of debauchery, or something."
Granted, you did eat a lot of sushi not that long ago, so a cafe type of thing might not be the best idea. You're pretty sure you don't have a separate stomach for sweets, and you'd rather not get a stomach ache and have to put off your increasingly routine lovemaking. Lyrica's been getting annoyed more and more lately and you'd like to be able to reduce that some.
You check your tablet too, and note that it's currently mid-afternoon. You've got plenty of time to go off and do stuff before you need to find someplace to check in for the night.
[ ] The Arcade sounds like it'd be fun for all involved, though it'll probably be evening before you're done.
[ ] Eating more so soon doesn't sound like the best idea for you, but if your girls want to go get some ice cream or something...
[ ] Come to think of it, you haven't really gotten to play around on the beach itself outside of curbstomping a bunch of trainers.
[ ] You ought to try and track down the lowlander to apologize. Everyone else deserved what you doled out, but he didn't.
[ ] It's a little early, but the sooner you prep for your night of debauchery the better.