[e+3] Quickly thank her, and don't complain too much. -[e+3] Ask what it does that will last a week, however. You weren't aware of this taking time. [e+3] Redirect attention to where you go from here.
After you regain your composure, you spit the increasingly nasty lump of wood into your hand. "Thanks, I guess." But then, something hits you. "Wait, a week? You never said it would take time."
"Well, technically. You should be good as new long before then, though it's the same sort of charm I slap on Kasen. The living aren't a specialty of mine after all, so forgive my smaller bag of tricks." She almost sounds genuinely apologetic.
"...It's not for healing, is it."
"Correct. It would be more accurate to say that it keeps one in a single piece and at least lively should more terrible things happen."
You try your very best not to lose your cool. "You didn't kill me, right?" Better safe than sorry, right? As much as she talks about corpses...
"Why, of course not!" You let out a sigh of relief. "It simply makes you easier to put back together again should it come to that." And then choke on it.
"Now, now. You do have more pressing matters than worrying over if you're not so fresh, right~?" You can just tell she got a kick out of her own joke, as smug as she looks. "Besides, it's more akin to a healing factor of a sort, to put it in simple terms. It keeps that which is alive whole and hardy. However, if you lose anything, it does stay lost."
You let out a long sigh. "Fine. Whatever." You knew trusting her was a bad idea. This stinks worse than Kasen. "Just... where are we going from here?"
Tittering with amusement seemingly borne from your acceptance, she answers, "Why, I simply tag along, Dorkie~ If you want that answer, well... you've got to ask little miss candyfloss.
You let out a snort. Calling Kasen little sounds comical coming from someone dwarfed by her. "And where is she?"
"Why, plotting our next move, I do believe."
You nod, fixing your clothes and checking your broomhandle. You don't want a repeat of that bit of sabotage from before, and you were sleeping. Pleased with your inspection, you slip it back in the holster. "Take me to her. Maybe I can help."
"Right this way, then~" With that, she leads you a bit farther back into the small hideout, finding Kasen looking over a map.
The door already open, you warn of your presence with a light rapping on the door frame. Looking over her shoulder, obviously having been thinking, she give a nod. "I see you survived."
You let out a huff, annoyed with the bluenette's antics. "For a given meaning. Didn't think it'd involve, well..."
Shrugging, Kasen points out, "For what it's worth, she'd not done anything underhanded as of yet. ...To me, anyways."
"That's not comforting, you know." Although, that she's saying all this while Seiga pouts does make you feel just a bit better about it. "Still, what are you working on?"
"Well, leads. There's many of the things, yet none ever go anywhere. You're pretty much the closest thing we've found to a lead."
You look down at the map, letting out a grumble of disappointment. You were hoping they'd know better where to go, and yet it feels like you know better what to do, as little progress as they seem to have made. "...You haven't narrowed a lot of these down, have you." The map is covered in circles of varying sizes across the world, some simply circling multiple small countries.
Kasen grumbles, answering, "We have a reliable method that is getting increasingly suspect."
Huffing, Seiga assures her, "I said it was the most effective method available. That hardly makes it particularly effective, just more so than other methods at our disposal. With the signatures being so numerous that finding any one is difficult in and of itself, this goes a just tad beyond the scope of this method being effective. We're looking for freshness among decayed wood after all. Hardly a simple order. Finding a needle in a haystack is far simpler than finding a fresh needle in a stack of old, rusty ones after all." Kasen just grumbles, not really having an answer to that point.
You may not be a mage yourself, and you might not know the first thing about the bulk of things magical, but you do know the absolute basics of how Reimu found Rikako. "If she has my sister, couldn't you just go looking for her?" Kasen and Seiga alike look to you. The former in curiosity, the latter in surprise. Seems you have their attention with that. What was the term... "A familial bond or something like that. Was how a... friend was rescued." Not the most accurate of terms, calling Rikako a friend, but they'd ask the least questions over it.
Kasen looks to Seiga, and Seiga mulls it over. "Well, it could work, yes. But we would need something to actually work with, Dorkie; a piece of you in the most literal of senses. The more I have to work with, the better."
Kasen eyes you expectantly. You kind of wish you paid more attention, now.
[ ] Offer spit. Probably the least "you" part of you, though. [ ] Offer hair. However, it's not quite what you'd call fresh. [ ] Offer blood. A pint should do, right? [ ] Offer yourself. A toe or two is more than worth saving your sister. [ ] Whatever you have to. Spare no personal expense. If it means saving Layla, it's worth anything. [ ] What else could you offer? Write-in.
Sorry about the delay! Our schedules kept not quite aligning, and I also needed to ask some questions before finishing it, leading to a much lengthier editing process.
[x] Whatever you have to. Spare no personal expense. If it means saving Layla, it's worth anything.
There comes a time in a man's life where he has to take the short end of the stick. Where he has to choose the worse fate for the better outcome. Sacrificing person for the sake of another. Your little sister... she needs her big brother more now than ever before. She always was at risk for the possibility of capture, but now? Now she's been taken not by Technocrats, but by some monster more uncaring still. Some monster snatched her up in the chaos, and left you more alone than you've ever been before. A ghost, from what you understand, but that doesn't matter. If you had to, you'd rescue her from Youkai, or weather Hell itself just to save her.
"Fine. You've got you link. Whatever you need. Anything you need. If it means she'll be safe, I'll help you however I have to."
While Kasen raises a brow, Seiga grins. "Anything, you say~?" Chuckling to herself in a tone more dark than you'd prefer, she asks, "If I asked of you an arm?"
"If it came to that."
"...If I had to."
Seiga flushes, grinning just a bit. "Goodness, Dorkie... You know how to get a girl aflutter~" Freaking creep... "Then all I need of you — for now, at least — shall be but that which you share. That sticky red relation..."
...That's it? "All you need is blood?"
Letting out a giggle, she explains, "Why, yes. An arm or a leg would be a waste of the... odd ally when blood would be better." You're pretty sure she just made a jab at you, which is rich coming for her. A smirk playing across her lips, she adds, "Besides, blood is something you've quite a lot more of than limbs. Blood will return so long as marrow remains. And, with that charm, even draining the very last drop wouldn't slow you down..."
A chill runs up your spine. "But you aren't gonna do that."
Chuckling, she answers simply, "Nope~" Giving you her best smile, she adds, "No, I need not do such a thing, Dorkie. A pint, and only to be sure; that is all I shall take."
You give a shrug. "Well, fine. Where are we going to do this?"
"Where, you ask? Why, Dorking... all I need do is sterilize the area, as I'm sure you're of a more modern mindset." She cuts her eyes to Kasen. "Kasen, be a dear and fetch me some rubbing alchohol~" Rolling her eyes, Kasen wanders off, presumably to fetch the requested item. With her out of the room, and the two of you alone, Seiga smiles just a bit wider. "Such a brave man, aren't we?"
There are many things you expected, but a complement was not one. "It's only natural to want to protect your family, Seiga."
"Is it, now? I wouldn't know~" Her smile wilting ever so little, she explains, "I'm a bit of an only child, myself. I've not had anything even approaching family for a long, long time."
...Dammit, Seiga. Even when she sounds sad she somehow still manages to get under your skin... What do you even say to that? "...Sorry to hear that."
Giving you a wry smile, she asks, "What's this? Does Dorkie suddenly care about little ol' me~?"
She lets out a huff. "A girl can dream."
"We both know you're no girl."
The bluenette giggles at your fairly obvious assessment. "And? If you only just realized that, I feel I've failed in dressing myself somehow."
What's taking Kasen...? "I'm more saying that you're about as far from a girl as can be."
"No, no, Dorkie. That would be you that is as far from a girl as can be." As rare as compliments on your manliness are, you can't help the way your ears burn just a bit. "Ohh? Does Dorkie like it when I say how big and [/i]manly[/i] he is?" Sometimes you wish you got more compliments. It's kind of sad how easy it is to please you.
"No, just..." You bite your tongue in an effort to not reveal embarrassing things about yourself to her of all people. Calling you Harmony is bad enough. "Not really, no." It is a nice feeling, but that doesn't mean you like it. Especially not from someone dressed like her. Has the same uncomfortable feeling from being propositioned from a woman on a corner.
Tittering, she says, "A pity."
Not a moment too soon, Kasen returns. "Alright, I've got the stuff."
"Good, good~" Seiga is swift in her rummaging through the first aid kit, and quickly retrieves that which she needed: a cotton swab and a small bottle of alcohol. "Now, Dorkie, show me your neck."
"Well, yes. Blood does flow quite strongly there. Unless you'd rather it be pulled from your inner thigh?"
"Neck it is." Seriously, it's like she makes a game out of bothering people. You toss your jacket aside, onto what you imagine is commonly Kasen's brooding chair, what with it being by the map. That done, you undo your top two buttons, and tug your collar from your throat.
Tittering at your reaction, Seiga starts by moistening a swab with a bottle of alcohol. "Now, this might sting a bit." As she begins cleaning the area, you assume she doesn't mean the swabbing. If she did, however, you wouldn't be surprised after she broke your ribs with her elbow without any warning. "There~" With that done, she sets aside the swab, taking out a glass container—
And then you feel as your carotid begins gushing into the air, along with the mentioned pain. You immediately reach to cover it, but Kasen grabs your wrist. You look to her with a mix of fear, confusion and betrayal, only to find her shaking her head. Taking a deep breath to settle your nerves, you look back to Seiga, who is watching as every gush homes in on the glass container unerringly. She taps her fingers along her cheek in boredom as she waits, as if this is absolutely normal.
Knowing Seiga even only as well as you do, you honestly wouldn't be surprised if it were normal for her.
You can't help but grumble, as she did warn you in advance, though in the most half-assed way imaginable. And the feeling of knowing that you are supposedly fine, even though your throat is gushing blood, is about as unnatural feeling as it gets. Still, you can't help the question on your mind. "...Is this gonna take much longer...?" Internal monologues only distract you so much after all.
Seiga hums in thought, before answering, "Technically even a drop would do; I'm just taking extra as a precaution in the quite likely case of failure~"
Your irritating ally earned your incredulous look. "There has to be at least half a pint in there. How many failures do you expect...?" Either she's incompetent, absent minded, or trying to play you for a fool. ...Past experience with her makes you want to say at least two of them.
"Why, at least one, Dorkie~"
You almost want to assume malicious intent, but she pretty much has you by the balls as it is, as great as your need has become. If you could do the magic she and Kasen can, you'd not need to risk all this crap. ...But, well...
It's plainly obvious just how desperate you are to save your sister.
If she's not going to stop, you're gonna have to grab the bull by the horns. "Well, that's more than enough. Stop that." You seriously feel like she needs a chaperone at all times.
She gives you a pout, though your crossed arms and flat gaze do seem to sway her. "Very well, Dorkie." With a flick of her finger, your blood ceases to flow. As you reach to check the wound, she warns, "Ahh-ahh, Dorkie. It's still an open wound. Don't touch it. It should close shortly."
"Then why not just take blood the normal way?"
Seiga gives you an odd look. "Why, because I lack the equipment. Besides, I would hardly wish to have to stab you repeatedly. That would be cruel."
Snorting, you can't help but roll your eyes. "Still, you have the blood, right? What now?"
"Why, now I simply need experiment with it, Dorkie~"
Kasen mutters under her breath, "At least we made progress for once."
[ ] Don't tease Dorkie, just to keep him on his toes. One must work fast with blood, lest it congeal. [ ] Tease Dorkie, but only lightly. You must get to work soon to ensure freshness after all. [ ] Tease Dorkie juuuust a bit too much. Ohh, maybe you'll get to take another sample! Wouldn't that be fun? [ ] Invite Dorkie to your chambers. Obviously just to ensure you don't do anything untoward with his blood. What else would one do in this situation?
[X] Invite Dorkie to your chambers. Obviously just to ensure you don't do anything untoward with his blood. What else would one do in this situation? Going to find that sister with the power of titters
[g+3] Invite Dorkie to your chambers. Obviously just to ensure you don't do anything untoward with his blood. What else would one do in this situation?
"Now, as I imagine you're dying to do so, why don't you come with me, Dorkie~?" You can't help but shake with amusement at the confused look. Ohh, you will relish when that dawning realization comes crashing into a full-on blush... Shame and embarrassment entwined in such a beautiful display...
He gives you an odd look, as he is wont to do. "What's that supposed to mean?" Ohh, his clueless expression... His face always has new and exciting intricacies each and every time, doesn't it?
"Why, to my chambers of course..." You make sure to put a little oomph into those words just to get a reaction.
Ohh, his face has gone redder than a ruby. "You— Why would— What even..." My, he's dumbstruck... Magnificent is a word you would describe that expression with, and you would accept no substitute~
Now for the killing blow, as it were... "Why, don't you wish to keep an eye on me whilst I handle your... blood?" Is this how cats feel when toying with a mouse? Because this is downright addictive... Perhaps it may even be too late to let him be. He does make us some degree of happy to have around.
His expression seems to have gone blank. Goodness, does he break so easily? You were hoping to have to put him back together, but you aren't sure if you can quite fix that mind of hi— "Sure." Ohh, there he goes! It seems he's not quite as broken as he seemed~ Although, you do just wish you had an excuse to pick his brain.
"Excellent~" While Kasen looks at you with the most party-pooperish of expressions, you lead him onto your bed and and into the room that houses it. After all, it is to be his chair, whist you do your work.
You set your precious cargo out on your desk, and find yourself tapping your lip as to what to do. You could do this the easy way, or make a show of things. ...Well, the answer is obvious, of course. You may need to clean your instruments quite thoroughly after, however. Blood does tend to make a mess of most things, no matter how silky smooth it may be. "Hmm..." First, a charm will work. It by all means will be a pointless venture, but it may very well get a reaction when the charm magnetizes to the nearest bearer~ Taking your time to ensure his discomfort, you lift a leg needlessly high, slipping a charm from its binding. Taking a dropper, you collect juuuust a bit of his blood. You would dip it, but that would compromise the blood, now wouldn't it? Ohh, how horrid the consensus' germs are... Things were so much simpler in the past. Just had to avoid breathing at the wrong time. Still, now you are digressing.
You drip just a drop at a time of the sticky red along the upper edge of the charm. One by one, the edge darkens with the harmonics.
"Why are you snickering?" Goodness, it's as if he heard that!
"Why, I thought of something funny, of course." You cast a sideways glance over your shoulder at him. He reminds you of a cat, that grumpy look he always sports. Ohh, how you like a good cat. Just scratch them right and they're all purrs, but the claws do come if you are not careful.
He stares at you a while, as he so often does. "...Fine. Just get back to work." So distrustful! ...Not that you blame him. Although, perhaps you are going soft for him, sad as it is. You may need to put away the saccharine at some point.
"Very well." With that done, you take a bit of thread, pass it through the eye of a needle and pierce the bottom corners of the horizontally challenged rectangle, before knotting it. That done, you tie the ends and give it a good tug. Picking it up, you place it between ring and index, activating it.
And then it goes flying at Harmon, earning a yelp.
How cute. He does react quickly, trying to toss it away, though it clings like tape to a paw. "Get. It. Off."
"Why, but it's tracking your blood!"
"I could tell you where that is. ...Wait, why didn't it snap to the jar?"
"Why, yours is bigger, Dorkie." You can't help but grin at how dry that expression is. It's like he's trying to sand blast you visually! "Perhaps if I'll have to fiddle with it later." Some form of reversal may be for the best. Go for the smaller source, what with his sister sounding to be younger and presumably no star quarterback. At his particularly red face, you tease, "Not that, Dorkie. I'm busy right now." While you leave him to his imagination, you get back to work, enjoying the symphony of sputtering. You truly feel as if you may exhaust musical puns soon, but that just means you need to be more creative.
Next, you take your other charm, trying to make another less than perfect method: a dousing rod of blood. This one you do similar to the first, but this time pierce the center of the unbloodied end. With the end sullied in the most wonderful of ways, you toss it to the lovely donor. "What was that for?"
Does he even have to ask? "Never mind you that, Dorkie. Tell me, does it work~?" You can't help but feel giddy at when he tries this one. Grumbling, he awkwardly holds it up. It points not to him or that dearest of sisters of his, but to the loose lifeblood. While you find amusement in this, he seems to not. As such, you assure, "Ahh, it seems this is the smallest source of blood." This seems to do its job of setting his annoyance to rest for the time being, what with it assuring him that this is the least blood spilled at the moment.. Hmm... But how to put it on task. ...Ah, perhaps if you were to remove Harmon from the equation that is blood. Taking a clean brush and a blank charm, you request, "Harmon... might I ask of you your name?" As he looks at you strangely, you specify, "The real one..." While he gives you a scowl, you assuage, "It will eliminate you from the compass if I combine it with the others~ And if I combine it with the others, it will point to a source that is perhaps more... girlish?" You can see his eyes light up at the mention, and dip the brush in preparation.
[ ] You said anything. This falls under it. [ ] Bluff. Surely Rikako's true name wasn't involved. [ ] Trust her? You can hardly stand her. -[ ] Write in.
Considering that the votes are leaning the opposite way... Guys, just remember what exactly we're giving away. If this doesn't work, and she can't find little Layla, and Seiga decides to be less forgiving... Well, we can kiss our freedom and the baby sister goodbye.
On the other side, we don't have too much of a choice. However, there are a few options.
[x] Is there any way to differentiate based on gender or age? Probe for options. -[x] A true name is a certain price to pay. Barter for assurances. Even if you have to trade away your freedom, make sure that you are not giving it away until your little sister is found safe, healthy, whole, and alive, and secured somewhere where she may live, back with with her family or friends, in a place of your choosing. --[x] Heck, try to throw the rest of your family in. They are only missing, after all... ...Hopefully. ---[x] But, in the end, you have no choice. Do whatever it takes to get your sister back, but extract the assurances so that's the only thing that will happen.
So, it's come to this, huh... Saving your sister at the cost of your own freedom, of your own life, if she abuses this information. ...Honestly, you went on this mission to save your sister fully expecting to die trying, but if that fate can be used to find your sister as more than a hopeless attempt at an unattainable goal, you'll do it. It started as a hopeless attempt involving striking flint over the bridge that helped keep the lot of you safe to begin with after all. Not only that, but perhaps this method could even be used to give closure or better when it comes to your other three sisters. Never did you learn what happened to the three of them... Whether death or worse by their quarry, capture or worse by the Technocrats or something else entirely, you've not even a hint at a clue.
"Well, Dorkie? What will it be~?"
When you were younger, you never thought something so simple as a name could give such ultimate power over another. You never would have imagined that such a simple thing needed to be guarded to the extreme, nor that it could be used for such great a horror as stripping your will.
Heck, you didn't even know it had such an application as this, honestly. But, well... you hardly are a mage or... whatever this senin thing is. Some sort of immortal, obviously, what with how old as Seiga is.
Still, thus far, she's been fairly straight with you, or at least hasn't told any outlandish lies or said too many half truths. In this 'business,' if it can even be called that, lying is to be expected after all. The very fact that nobody uses their name proper is, by its very nature, a lie.
She blinks, obviously not expecting that. "...Truly? I actually guessed at it by accident?" After a moment, she idly comments, "Modern names truly have lowered their standards..."
You let out a snort. "Then why even use it as a nickname if you think it's dumb?"
"Why, is that not the best sort of nickname~? Besides, it is accurate."
You can't help but roll your eyes, though what little amusement you got out of that quickly dies. ...Well, it's time to get it over with. "...Miron."
"Miron?" Seiga's lips quirk into an amused smirk. "That is your name?"
"It is, yeah."
While dipping her brush and writing the name, she asks, "Do you know what that name means, Dorkie?"
"Do I want to?"
That actually earns a frown from her; a stark contrast to the norm. "Names are the heart of one's very being. To know it is to know one's self, and to not is to be blind to one's true nature. And, truthfully, I take quite a bit of interest in this particular meaning." After a grand, wistful sigh, she adds, "Ahh, it's as if we are fated to butt heads for eternity!"
You... don't like that promise of an eternity. "Fine. Spit it out."
"It originates from Myrrh."
"What does that even mean?"
"Goodness, you truly must lead a boring life to not be familiar with myrrh." Your flat stare gets her to continue, "It's very useful in antiseptic and embalming purposes. Incense, too~"
"Great, I have a nice smell and am squeaky clean."
"Indeed~ Such a girl you are, Harmony~"
You let out a sigh at the fact you're starting to get used to that name. Never a good thing, if she really is as much like Merlin as she seems. "You're really good at making Dork look good by comparison, you know that...?"
Tittering, she says, "Thank you, Dorkie~ I do make my very best effort to find amusement in you~"
"...Thanks...?" Seriously, what else can you even say to that?
"Now to test the Dorkie charm..." As you open your mouth to ask how, it smacks you in the chest. "Goody! So it seems that, indeed, was your name! Ohh, I like that name... Miron... Such a fine name, it is..." That dark look in her eye concerns you more than a little, but you make sure to bite your tongue.
"Just get the charms working already..."
She plucks the charm from your person, brushes a layer of your livelihood across your name in a cross, presumably to make it reverse its current effect. As you'd expect, it suddenly flings itself out of her hand, plastering it to the wall. Next, she begins coating both sides in blood presumably to hide your name and work as a sort of vitale adhesive, before sticking the other two charms to either side. That done, she lines the edges with blood, though you don't have a guess as to why. Finally, she removes the extra string, leaving just the loop from the one charm.
Letting it go, it smacks into the other wall.
You can feel the pounding of your heart at what that must mean. If Layla or not, you aren't sure, but that it points elsewhere means...
"Goodness, Dorkie. You look as if we already found your sibling~" She does seem pleased by your reaction, however.
 Genuflect.  Kiss Kasen. Seriously, she put up with her long enough that this was possible.  Kiss her. You're too happy to be even think right now.  Hug her. You can never truly repay this help, can you?  Thank her. She has been of invaluable help, assuming it works.  Get going. Layla needs you.  Sleep. You need to be fresh for this. You can just tell that the real battle has only just begun.  Write-in.
[x] Hug her. You can never truly repay this help, can you? [x] Kiss Kasen. Seriously, she put up with her long enough that this was possible. [x] Sleep. You need to be fresh for this. You can just tell that the real battle has only just begun.
[i+3] Hug her. You can never truly repay this help, can you? [i+3] Sleep. You need to be fresh for this. You can just tell that the real battle has only just begun.
"Ehh?" You wrap your arms around Seiga, hugging her close. "...Dorkie?" She doesn't pull away, or even resist. She does not, however, return it.
"An odd man, indeed..." She has little room to titter, though you certainly feel the motions. "Still, it was my pleasure. Your interests are my interests, after all, Harmon~" You nod against that loopy hair of hers. You'd think it would be stiff from gel or spray, but it's perfectly soft. Eventually, she smirks, however, and you expect her to say something that'll ruin it. "Is someone giving into my charms~?"
"Hardly." You can't help but snort, as you're a bit used to a pair of charms like that, no matter how embarrassed the things can still get you regardless of that.
"How cruel, Dorkie. To lead me on all this time, only to reject me once I've become so near and dear..." You pull back your head to give her a flat stare, only to be answered with a peck on the cheek and another titter. Yeah, she ruined it.
That said, you release her in full, even with that blush she put on your cheeks. You shouldn't have done that, and doubly not with her. You keep telling yourself it was just in the spur of the moment as you leave the room for some well deserved rest. On your way for the couch, you take the time out to see Kasen. "Hey, Kasen. Far as we can tell, the tracking device works."
Kasen looks at you like you told her the sky is falling. "...You mean to say we actually made progress for once?"
"...You're a lot more helpful than Seiga, you know that?"
...That's kinda sad, what with your completely ordinary capabilities. "She does make it easy to be."
Kasen lets out a snort, and you can tell that she seems to agree. "So then, I suppose we'll need to head out soon."
You give a nod, though point out, "I figured after sleep would be a good time. No indication of distance, only direction, far as it seemed."
"Never can be that simple, can it..." Kasen lets out a long suffering sigh, which you can understand where she's coming from. She's been at this a while, with what seems like nothing to show for it.
"Of course not. Seiga doesn't make anything easy." Not even hating her.
Kasen seems to appreciate the joke, judging by the chuckle. "Alright. Guess it's time to turn in, then. Go get some rest."
"Sure." Not like it was your idea or anything.
With that out of the way, it's not long before you find yourself getting comfortable on the couch.
Away from the bustle and away from the hustle, your eldest sister was never one for crowds. When it was time for balloons to burst forth, her voice was all but silent among the roar. She may be the eldest, but so too was she the meekest back then. She was also in attendance, even though you knew she wasn't comfortable. However, who else but her would give that personal touch to a cake? She always was the one that worked the hardest, and the whole lot of you were never ungrateful for it.
Of all the things she loved, they almost always involved making: she preferred writing to reading, knitting to shopping, and composing her own music to fiddling it out. That isn't to say that she never played, but that which she played was typically by her own hand; even if there was better music made by another, she would rather play her lesser melody.
Of the clothes she made you, not one was akin to the ugly sweater a grandmother might knit. Every single outfit has a purpose or appeal, even if some were tastes you grew out of, such as your matching outfits. Thankfully yours had shorts, but it still was a bit much.
As time went on, so did she mature. So too did she bloom, and in more ways than one. That meekness of hers wasn't to be, and she eventually left it at the wayside, instead settling for a curt quietness, even if she still aimed for that little bit of peace and quiet she always enjoyed.
That was, as well, when she bloomed magically. A sudden confidence in herself, whether through music or otherwise, was soon apparent. When the six of you hightailed it, she had a heavy hand in the plan to do it, even if she couldn't pull it off on her own.
This time you awoke not to pathetic whimpers or confused muttering, but to an unbridled rage. You shot up, crying out and panting, cold sweat sticking to your skin. You're getting used to these odd dreams, but that makes the way they end no less enjoyable.
"My, my, Dorkie. Another bad dream?" You feel a hand patting your head, and you whip your head to look. Seiga. And she was giving you a pillow again. ...Could be worse. "Goodness, you look like you've seen a ghost!" Laughing at her own joke you don't find funny, she continues, "Still, you seem rather haunted by bad dreams."
"Just... just heard my sister's scream for help. That's all."
Raising a brow, she points out, "Ohh, is that all? I see, I see."
You let out a sigh. "It's not important."
"Ohh? If you insist, Dorkie." She lets out a chuckle. "Still, perhaps some coffee might help clear your mind?"
[ ] You hate coffee. -[ ] You'll take it black. Might distract you from your thoughts. -[ ] You'll take it with sugar. Should wake you up. -[ ] You'll take it with the works. One last indulgence might be good. [ ] Write-in.
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[X] You hate coffee. -[X] You'll take it with the works. One last indulgence might be good.
"I'd rather not; I hate coffee." Never been a fan of the not-so-subtle 'subtle intricacies' that Lunasa always went on about. "Still, Coffee sounds like it'll help, I guess." If there ever were a time that called for pep in your step, you'll bet it's now. Layla's life is on the line, and you've got only one shot to save her, win or lose. But you're not gonna be stubborn about it — you're gonna make this coffee taste something approaching enjoyable, and you're going to like it. This could be the last thing you ever drink, so making it something enjoyable might help keep your spirits up.
"My, someone looks full of vim and vigor already..." Your ex-pillow lets out a chuckle. "Be careful, or I may have to call you Perky~"
As you get up, stretching just a bit, you shoot back, "Honestly, Seiga? You can call me whatever you want, if your help really does lead to my sister. I failed her once, and you're giving me a chance to fix that. ...Thank you." Leaving her nonplussed, you head for the kitchen, or what passes for one. You'll take silence; Seiga's far better company when her mouth is shut.
"...Very well, Perky." Sadly it doesn't last. "Still, do make sure to leave enough for Kasen. Why, without it, she'd be as if a member of the living dead~ She is at her best only half dead, I find."
"Yeah, yeah. I got it, Titters." You rummage about for something to pour it in, happy for the momentary silence.
After Seiga picks her bottomless font of teasing back up, she taps your shoulder. Looking to her, she seems to have a mug with your name on it. Thankfully, not literally. "Here. This should do, yes?"
You accept the mug, nodding. "Thanks, Seiga." With that said, you pour a bit of the black sludge, wincing a bit at the smell. Everything about coffee is just way too potent for your tastes, which is why you're hoping to make it more enjoyable. ...Actually, maybe you should make sure you can first. "Wait, is there creamer and sugar?"
Tittering, Seiga answers, "Ohh, yes. Kasen has a bit of a sweet tooth, you see, so she does have to have it. Myself, I see no pleasure in drinking such a bitter drink." Well, at least you can agree on that.
You hear the groan of what sounds like a zombie behind you, and snap your head in its direction, only to see some form of walking corpse— Wait, no; it's only Kasen. Seems Seiga wasn't blowing her energy levels out of proportion after all... She shuffles past you more lethargically than any one woman should be, a coffee-stained mug in her good hand and less clothes than you'd prefer on the rest. And then she proceeds to half-fill her mug and shuffle off to what looks like a fridge. Squatting down, she opens it up and removes the creamer, placing it instead on the table with the coffee maker. After that, she takes a half-full bag of sugar from a drawer. With everything before her, she sets about her deed; the blackest of coffee and the purest of whites come together in a great tan swirl as she adds the creamer.
Seiga muses, "It's amusing how unaware of her surroundings she can be in the morning, hmm? She won't be noticing you for a while longer, so just go ahead." Sure enough, Kasen doesn't even acknowledge her; she neither gives her a dirty look, nor does she even seem to register a sound. You take the moment to set down the coffee mug on the table passing as a counter, making sure to avert your eyes for more reasons than you hope would need to be described.
"You're not going to take a peek, huh? How dull..."
Your face reddens. "Seiga, that's not funny." She really is as bad as Merlin in far too many regards.
"I felt it was~" And you'll bet that she has the look of a cat playing with a mouse, too. Best to just ignore her, and she'll leave you alone. ...Ohh, who are you kidding; of course she won't.
Sighing, you reach for the sugar, and carefully pour a half-scoop into the bitter void. Next, you go for the creamer, but you find you weren't alone in this undertaking; Kasen grabs a handful of hand and creamer alike. Apparently she still needed more. You almost expect to lose the hand, as strong as she seems, but the grasp is as gentle as a lamb. When you try to tug your hand free, you're met with a little grunt of annoyance and the distinct feeling your hand hitched a ride on an unstoppable force.
Seiga, for her part, is giggling. "Ohh, how precious! I simply must capture this moment~" You're not sure what you hate more: Seiga making a Kodak moment out of your discomfort, or the degree to which Kasen can effortlessly emasculate you.
The flash of a camera isn't helping, however. Dammit, Seiga...
Still, Kasen maneuvers your grasp on the creamer as if your arm isn't even there, dragging you along for the wild ride that is making coffee something approaching enjoyable. You do take note of that which she does, and, seeing as the final result looks more white than black, you emulate it, effectively ending up with a mug of sugared creamer with some coffee in it.
You take a sip and still grimace. "Yup. Still hate coffee."
"My, Perky... I thought that Kasen hated coffee, but you certainly take the cake... Might as well add coffee to a mug of creamer at the rate you're going~"
Kasen seems to think that jab was aimed at her, as she mutters, "Jus' like swee's... Tha's all."
While you're busy rolling your eyes, Seiga titters near to the point of exploding. "If you insist~"
Still, once you force down the (comparatively) tasty(er) drink, you're left in a state of limbo to think. So many loose ends you left behind, from that odd man with the phone number to the one that sicced Seiga on you. So little resolved, and yet you bumbled along far enough to get a bead on her. It just seems so simple, that it was this easy to find her; too simple, even. As simple as it was made, you have to wonder why it wasn't an idea that even was on the tip of Rikako's tongue. You realize that there are different schools of magic, even if you also know that you have no idea what they are in particular, but from what you've seen, Seiga doesn't seem a thing like your sisters, ignoring how alike she looks to Merlin. No matter how much she teases you similarly, even if in her own way.
Makes it hard to hate her, even with her very obviously not being the best person. With her being sure to rub your nose in that fact as much as possible, you likewise can't reason out an exact why. Why would she, a mage of all things, be so... blatant? Why dress in a way that she can't be missed, yet at the same time stalk through buildings? If you had to describe her, it'd be like she's a living contradiction: her clothes extremely memorable, yet actively avoiding sight at the same time.
She wasn't your sister. No, that much is obvious; your sister preferred function to form. Merlin was no Reimu or Marisa with their fancy outfits. And she definitely wasn't the type to show off her body like that, even if their dimensions weren't that far off.
"What's wrong, Dorkie~? You're staring, you realize..." You blink, realizing you actually were. Well, you weren't staring at her so much as her general direction.
Snorting, you answer, "Just thinking. ...Not gonna be much longer I'll have much of a chance to just think."
Tittering with that ever-amused look on her face, she points out, "Assuming there isn't much traveling to do. Why, if it's bad enough, I may even have to wear those awful clothes women wear in this age. As many methods as I have at my disposal, a subway or train most certainly would let us arrive sooner."
You let out a snort. "How are they any worse than what you seem to never not wear?" Not that you've known her long enough to say, but still.
Looking like she was just slapped in the face, Seiga fixes me with a pout. "Quality of craftsmanship, of course; machined materials may be 'nicer,' in their own way, but they lack that personal touch of a craftsman. They are mass produced, and are just... a bore."
"I hardly care for that point. If I need money, it is easily attainable." With that needle-pipe thing, you have a feeling it involves a bank or the like.
Looking to Kasen, you find that she's slowly gaining in coherence. It'll probably be time to go soon, assuming she doesn't deck you for seeing her in that.
[ ] Anything left to settle before you get ready for the day ahead? Anything to ask either of the two? Anything to do? Write-in.
I'll take the silence as a no! For the time being, I shall focus on this and Youkai Academy over in /other/. You see, this story is approaching the end, so I'd like to focus it a bit. My estimates of remaining length is in the neighborhood of a few dozen update range at most.
...Your mind, quite frankly, is a blank. Is there anything else worth the time of day? Could there ever be? Something so important that your sister's rescue be delayed? Something so impossibly, improbably and incomprehensibly important that you missed? As far as you know, there is nothing; nothing so important that you could hope to find an answer in a reasonable timeframe. The one that flung Seiga at your face like they did can wait till you save the most important person left in the world from a fate fit for not even the worst of people. Not in this world, anyway.
Letting out a huff of a snort, you simply say, "I'll go get ready." It still feels unreal, knowing that it isn't Reimu, Akyuu or Marisa going into some situation possibly comparable to hell in some form. It's also not Harold, nor your older sisters, either. No, those four are a bit preoccupied, one way or another. Even if Harold was the only one found, the other three aren't so callous as to say nothing. And if the quieter two tried it, your only remaining noisy sister, Lyrica, wouldn't allow it.
There is no second chance; there is no second try. You've three guns, and they will all be taken with you. This is what you took them for, isn't it? What better use than your intended purposes, even if those purposes are more repurpose than their purpose proper. That said, you don't know how to maintain two of the three. All you know is how to make sure at least two of them are in working order. But the odd one, obviously made by Rikako's hand, is obviously a bit outside of your hope of scant capabilities. Aside from firing it and loading ammo, you're barely sure what it does, let alone how it works. And even then, you've not actually fired or reloaded it; all you have certainty in is that it has a trigger and replacement canisters, not to mention that they are easily changed. There's no bolt to pull, nor is there a proper magazine, either, but you know with certainty that you can work it.
Still, that leaves you needing to disassemble the broomhandle and to do what little you can to clean the phlogiston pistol, not to mention ensuring them both to be fully loaded. The broomhandle will have to be relegated to a backup weapon, but the other two will be more than a little important if you are to make it through this alive. You have no doubt that a mundane weapon like that will be all but useless against whatever took her.
The next hour is abuzz with activity and inactivity alike as you do your level best to prepare and Seiga does her part by way of watching, at least after a short break to change into something abnormally normal. (though keeping to her blue motif via a blue hoodie and jeans). You can tell she wants your thoughts on it, and while it's distracting in its lack of... distraction, you've better things to do as of right now.
Still, eventually Kasen comes out, looking as grimmly ready as yourself, and it's quite obviously time to get going. That look in her eyes is one you can sympathize with, after all. It's a look of acceptance and defiance. She knows she could potentially not survive, just as you know the same.
You have your broomhandle to the left, the phlogiston to the right, and the duffel bag with the aether rifle hanging off your shoulder. Should it be searched, you've still one layer of further protection when it comes to the rifle, but the handguns are another story; each is easily grabbed and each is hidden only as long as your jacket remains shut.
But, at the same time, if you are searched, both of your handguns are well within reach, so that is far from a terrible worry when it comes to the short term. Guns solve most of life's problems after all. That said, the long term is another matter entirely.
"C'mon. Let's get going before Seiga gets bored and wanders off." Looking to Kasen, you find her hair wet and her disposition on the happier side of things; it's plain to see that she's in a good mood, grim or not. You can hardly blame her. After all, she may finally be able to die in peace after so long, knowing her vengeance is complete. Not that you expect to know her so long that you witness that end, or for her to drop on the spot, but maybe she'll be more keen on it than you.
Before you can make any form of response, Seiga adds, "Shall we, Dorkie?" She has that typical layer of amusement, but beneath that you can tell she's a bit uneasy. As dated as her usual fare looks, and knowing her even only as vaguely well as you do, she honestly looks more out of place in that than the weird dress from before. Which, quite frankly, is a feat in of itself, making the ordinary more extraordinary than the extraordinary itself.
Still, your answer is as obvious as your path. "I am. Let's get moving."
Deciding now to be a good time to add in something more helpful than you'd have expected of her yesterday, Seiga chimes in, "I've managed to improve upon my charm system, thanks to that generous amount of blood you so helpfully donated~" That said, she pulls out something that reminds of a wind chime from her bag. You think of it as only like one, as it's lacking in any sort of chime, yet could probably still play the part if the charms were switched out. But what's odd is that there are many more sets of charms than yesterday, and only one seems to be active, with a fairly large distance written above it. "You see, as I was unsure how to properly travel there, I decided that I needed a way to measure distance. After all, taking a bullet train past a destination only ten steps away would be just a bit of a waste of time. As such, I mostly focused on the near, and the rest being each ten times as far as the prior. I found myself so very bored with my favorite dork and corpse preoccupied with sleep, so I made use of that time more productively than I might normally." Her words got an irked huff out of Kasen while she rubs her bandaged arm, though it is soon followed by a sigh.
Of course, that you woke in her lap like that while she still managed to find the time to do all that makes you wonder something. "Do you not sleep or something?"
Smirking, Seiga opens her mouth, only for Kasen to earn a huff from her by way of answering, "Are you really that surprised to hear that she doesn't?"
Putting on a pout, Seiga once more attempts speech, only for you to interrupt, "No, I guess not." It feels good to be the one bugging Seiga for a change, and you can tell Kasen is enjoying it even more.
The two of you finally allowing her to get a word in edgewise, Seiga says, "As I was about to tell you, I sleep when it suits me and likewise do not when it suits me. The current state of affairs simply called not for the former but for the latter is all. Not that I did not sleep a wink, mind you, but I did not seek out that ever elusive eight hours." What, as opposed to that frightful 12? "I did have plenty of time to rest while I was playing the part of pillow again, however." That look in her eyes is near on predatory, even if it was equal parts smug.
You almost ask about that look, only to find out the hard way; Kasen is snickering none too quietly. When you look, she's already asking, "Someone has an odd hobby, doesn't he?"
"Ohh, shut up, you." Of course she'd get in on the teasing, too. It's almost as bad as dealing with Merlin and Lyrica at the same time. ...But those days are long gone, and they are neither of them. "I didn't exactly ask to be deposited in her lap; she just seems to like shoving my head there while I was sleeping." You're not sure if it's a good or bad thing that you're getting so used to having to deal with Seiga's antics.
When Kasen raises a brow Seiga's way, the bluenette retorts, "And yet you have stopped in your complaints, have you not?"
The answer is obvious, though. "Would it change anything?"
Amused as ever, Seiga answers, "No, it would not."
Before Kasen can do more than roll her eyes, you just say, "C'mon. We've delayed enough, right? Let's get going."
Trailing a hand along your increasingly prickly cheek, Seiga teases, "Ohh? Is someone taking charge?"
Swatting her hand aside, you explain, "If I have to, yeah. Now, you know the way, so you guide us there."
"In quite a hurry, aren't you? The distance is long enough, however, that it seems we will have to bear with the horrors of public transit, as I had feared." Ohh, great. "However, the methods before us are fairly simple, though each does bear a different discomfort of its own. You see, by my estimates, our destination is on the other end of this island: over 100 miles away."
You let out a long sigh. "Great." After a moment, you ask, "Wait, which direction?" After she points, you look over the information in the phone's GPS, discovering that there's ocean only 50 miles off. "What, is it 50 miles offshore or something?
Tittering, she answer, "Perhaps? Although, I use chinese miles. There may be some difference."
"Chinese miles...?" You've never really used a measurement like that, so you're going to need help there.
"Why, yes! Miles as used in our wonderous homeland."
[ ] Suggest bus. It worked well enough last time, though you felt it was a bit more uncomfortable than you'd prefer. But, at the same time, the three of you together are a bit of an odd bunch between the blue hair and the pink hair. [ ] Suggest the train. A little more private than the subway, and you're a ways away from your destination. 100 miles or more, apparently. [ ] Suggest the subway. You are many things, but noticeable isn't your defining trait. You got by on the bus, and you'll get by on the subway. The others, though... [ ] Suggest a boat. If it's 50 miles off the coast, then you may need one. [ ] Suggest a rental. Hopefully there's no background check, or it could be a dead end. [ ] "Acquire" a vehicle. What's one more crime you hope to never be convicted of? [ ] Well, you told Seiga to lead. Have her choose. She has ages old wisdom, right? Have her actually bother using it for once. [ ] On second thought, Kasen can lead. Having Seiga lead smells like trouble.
If I make numbers specific, I start obsessing over them. We'll go with very little, yet also enough to get by. His anemic wallet would need a transfusion if the story goes on longer than it should, but for the scope of the story as I've planned it, he should have enough.
As for their amounts, I'm afraid I can't answer that sort of question outside of a Z vote environment, and even then that information would be an unknown to Harmon.
[x] "Acquire" a vehicle. What's one more crime you hope to never be convicted of? -[x] Have Kasen take point in acquiring it, though. You'd rather not have Seiga use her methods, or be even more indebted to her.
Too bad we can't seem to use Seiga's ability.
I say a little bit of both columns, as we do need a means of conveyance - and public transportation would be imprecise (I doubt our destination would be near a local service).
However, Kasen might be the better one to help in actually getting the vehicle, simply because it doesn't put us farther in debt, and if need be she can use the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique on anyone to find out where their keys are.
Seriously, probably be best to find some sort of criminal operation to... liberate a vehicle from. Or just a criminal. Less likely they'll report, after all. And if we have to use Seiga to save our butts, then I'd rather only do it once rather than twice.