KChasm !QC5jQtRXOo 2010/04/19 (Mon) 06:37 No. 116742 ▼
File 127165905457.jpg - (38.45KB, 600x544 , Dreamhours.jpg)
I would just like to sincerely apologize for taking as long as I did to hammer this out. There's no excuse. I should have finished this update a long, long time ago.
X Yes yes yes yes yes
'Yes! Yes! Yes, for goodness' sake!'
That's what you don't say.
What you do say is this: "Well, now that you mention it, I am a little bit hungry--do you know any good restaurants, Miss Mima?" Somehow, miraculously, you manage to keep that naive, vaguely clueless expression on your face, even as you look Mima straight in the eye.
Meanwhile, you discreetly pocket a few of those raspberries. Even if they are poisonous, you're sure you can find a use for them somewhere--maybe slip a couple into Shinomiya's soup and hope he ends up with a bad case of diarrhea. Well, if you ever get to Shinomiya's anytime soon, that is.
Mima, apparently, is reading your mind: "There is a restaurant or two along our path," she admits, "but surely, it should be no trouble at all to endure for a little while longer?"
She sounds disappointed in you. You don't need the guilt--you're disappointed in yourself already. Your sister's been kidnapped, and here you are, whining for a cheeseburger. How disgusting.
"Maybe we could stop, just for a little bit?" you plead regardless, cheerful smile carefully affixed to the front of your face (you feel like you might retch). "This is my sister's first time here, and I want to be able to recommend something to her when we meet up."
You recommend something to her? Maybe if she gets a degenerative brain disease, you think, and immediately feel guilty, guilty, guilty--
Mima sighs, theatrically. "Very well," she consents. "I suppose certain allowances must be made. It would be terribly irresponsible of me to expect perfection, after all--especially from your kind."
The nonchalance she insults you with is more than a little irritating. Instinctively, you scramble for some sort of retort--but by the time you've opened your mouth, she's already continued.
"Tell me, Mr. Harker. Have you ever had...yakitori?"
Actually, you haven't. In fact, you don't have the foggiest idea what a yakitori is--not that Mima needs to know that, of course. You're more than a little relieved once you arrive at the small, ramshackle stand and take a quick look-see over the counter:
Turns out "yakitori" is just Japanese for "chicken-on-a-stick". Who knew?
"Smells pretty good," you say (hoping to get on the cook's side), and point towards one of the meatier skewers. "How much is one of these?"
The cook behind the counter--a long-haired woman in a ratty, grease-stained shirt--rattles off some figure distractedly, not even bothering to look up from her meatwork. It's too high, of course--but right now anything would be too high, seeing as you left your wallet in a certain western-styled mansion somewhere.
First thing you do when you get back: ruin Mr. Shinomiya's testicles. Permanently.
Well, it doesn't look like you have much of a choice, then. You hate to resort of this kind of behavior, but it is, after all, for times like these that your skill was refined. Silently, with your cheerful smile steadfast, you call upon the blood of your ancestors to infuse you with a power that has not in ages seen the light of day: the power...of haggling.
"That's really expensive!" you exclaim brightly, doing your best to exude an aura of absolute naivety. "Is it really that much money just for one of those little stick-things?"
The woman behind the counter pauses in her frying--but only for a second.
"Take it or leave it."
Huh. Okay, that... that wasn't the desired result, there. You must've come across too strong. Or maybe too week, one of those. You can still salvage this, though--all you've got to do is play it cool, play it cool...
"I dunno." You muss your hair absently, taking on a bashful expression, like some sort of well-meaning yokel from the outskirts of civilization. "I mean, I'm not really an expert on cooking, and stuff like that and such, but I'm really pretty sure no one's gonna pay that much money just for a little bit of--"
"Take. It. Or. Leave. It."
Okay, you know what? Screw this nice guy crap.
Letting the smile drop from your face (and boy, is that a relief and a half), you place the palms of your hands firmly upon the countertop and lean forwards.
Irritatingly, the woman still doesn't look up, even when you're grossly violating her personal space. You could probably mess up her hairdo with a stiff breath, bows or no bows (and she's certainly got bows in spades), so the least you'd expect is a proper reaction. But no--she just goes on, turning yakitori. Just as if you aren't even there.
You lick your lips. Your head is pounding, just a little. When was the last time you had a drink of water?
"Can I come clean, real quick?" you ask.
The woman still doesn't respond. But she doesn't snap at you to back the hell off, either, so you continue.
"I haven't eaten," you say, tersely, "in two days."
"If you wanted a handout, you should've said so in the first place." Pow. Instant return. Smash ace, or whatever they call it.
She still doesn't make eye contact, of course.
"Yeah, maybe." You'd argue, but that'd take more energy than you've actually got. "Look--I don't have any money. Someone tried to kill me, so I didn't remember to bring any." That's a little bit out of order, you think, but honestly, who cares? Not you, certainly. "I can't pay, but I'll make it up, somehow."
The woman doesn't say anything--but you can see her frown. Which means you're finally having some sort of effect. Just a little bit further...a little bit further, and...
"Please..." you you beg, whimperingly, disgustingly, and you think: This is as far as I'll go. This is as far as I'll go--I have my dignity, you won't get me to go any lower--
And finally, finally, the woman looks up.
Her eyes are sharp--that's the first thing you notice. Sharp, almost impossibly so. And somehow--regal?
You're stunned silent. The bad kind of stunned silent.
"If you're strong enough to carry your pride," the woman behind the counter says, "then you're strong enough to walk."
Wait, did you say "stunned silent"? Sorry, what you really meant was "rendered inarticulate by rage". You're more than willing to tell this second-rate chef what she can do with her little book of proverbs--
Only before you can get a decent shot off, her eyes slide off you, off to the side, and she says: "Mima."
And Mima says: "Mokou."
And you don't say much of anything at all, because Mima's hand is suddenly around your throat.
The chef reacts even faster than you do, her entire body tensing instantly into some sort of stance. "Drop the kid," she growls. "Now."
Mima only laughs. "No sympathy, Mokou dear? How very heartless. Poor Terry hasn't had a proper meal in days, you know." Her tone of voice is perfectly amicable, as if she is simply catching up with an old friend, and the fact that you are clawing desperately at her bone-cold fingers is largely inconsequential. "At the very least, I'd expected you to spare a few scraps--or have you finally abandoned that silly hobby of yours? Playing savior to the lost and the damned?"
The chef--Mokou--does not rise to the bait. "Drop the kid," she says again. "That's your second warning, Mima. There's not gonna be a third."
"Oh? Resorting to threats, are we? And I was under the impression that your kind lacked a resilience to fire." Mima's grip tightens, ever-so-slightly, and you gag as the world around you begins to blur. You're passing out, you realize. Losing consciousness. And maybe it is only the lack of oxygen talking, but there is a dull, sickening certainty, screaming in the back of your head--
If you're swallowed up here, you'll never find Shannon.
"Such fragility--dying so easily, and through so many ends. Thirst, starvation, broken hearts..." Mima laughs again, a low, mocking sound. You can hear it clearly, even as the darkness begins to creep up the edges of your sight. "Of course, hearts are the least of things that can be broken. That's another shortcoming I'll have to rectify, once I'm in a position to do so. But for now, Mokou dear--if you might afford a proper last meal for poor Terry here, I'll be sure to grace your little franchise with a glowing commendation--"
You bring your foot down hard, digging your heel with no small violence into Mima's instep.
You're expecting--hoping--that Mima will scream. That the hold around your neck will loosen, just a little--enough for you to slip away and respond with a proper counterattack, maybe.
You're not expecting that Mima's foot will be intangible.
There is a instant of utter confusion as you try to understand what you have just seen--because surely, this is impossible. You can't just go through people, not without causing serious injury. You can't just...be gone through. It's impossible, and therefore--therefore, this woman has to be something else. Mirrors, or smoke, or something.
Which fails to explain, you think feverishly, how she is touching you at all--and then a voice whispers next to your ear, and you cease to consider the matter at all--
"Didn't your mother ever teach you," Mima hisses, "never to reward kindness with enmity?"
Her voice is ever-sweet.
"How disappointing," she says, and lifts you by the throat.
The black fog rushes in, and you struggle to stay afloat--but it is a battle you lost the moment Mima first began to strangle you. You never really had a chance. This woman--now that you're going to die, you suppose that you can admit it.
This woman isn't human.
Maybe, you imagine, as the thoughts come slower and slower--maybe, maybe, just maybe--maybe that cottage lady wasn't as nutzo as you thought she was--
"Hey, Old and Creaky! Let's rumble!"
There is a feeling like wind and fire and force passing by--all at once, and all too close--and the fingers fall.
You crumple into a heap the moment you hit the ground, your face throbbing--a side effect of oxygen starvation, you'd guess, if you cared to guess, which you certainly don't. Right now, the only thing you want to do is lie here on your back in the dust and wait for your muscles to start working again.
"...bite my hand, it seems. Now, whatever could I have done to deserve such a fate?"
"You mean you haven't figured it out yet? It's because you're a witch, obviously."
That's Mima's voice. Mima, and...somebody else, someone whose voice you don't recognize. Close by. Too close.
On second thought, forget relaxing--it's probably better to get out of this place, ASAP. Carefully, but with no small degree of urgency, you open your eyes--
_ Just observe, for now.
_ Let's get the hell out of here!
_ Now's the perfect time to strike!
_ Other... (Specify)