[♬] Sho' thang, Mama Bird.
All work and no food makes me a hungry youkai.
What better judge of food-providing places than a restaurant owner?
"Sure, sounds good!" I say, and accept her offer.
"Great, let me just go leave a note for them, and then we can go!"
All right, I'm intrigued.
Extra Bird pulls out a sheet of paper and puts pencil to paper, and pauses for a moment, then laughs nervously, quietly, mainly to herself. Then she doodles out two smiley faces, one with a winged hat and one with little horns. From them, she draws an arrow to a small person who wears the sort of hat which kappa seem to favor that, and who also holds a plate with a piece of cartoony meat on it.
Grabbing a pair of headphones, she sets the 'note' on her main console (Or maybe not main, but she was fiddling with something similar-looking more often than the others, last time) and the headphones on top to pin it down.
She turns and flutters up into the air, wings beating. "All right, let's go~!" she calls out.
I follow behind her, and we zip and soar through the air of the caverns.
Not many other people besides us, up here. I notice that most of the kappa seem content with walking. Maybe flying underground is a tourist thing?
I wonder if my kimono is garish enough to qualify as tourist clothing. Needs more loud flowers, I decide, so I'm okay.
"So..." I say, after a few minutes. "Do you have some place in mind?"
"...Have you been here before?"
...Okay. This is not what I expected.
"Do you know where we're going?"
"Someplace that smells good~"
It appears I have vastly overestimated my companion's food-selection process.
"How are you going to know where--"
"There we go~!"
Extra Bird banks down, skirt fluttering as she lands in the middle of a street.
We seem to have entered one of the busier, more commercial areas of this place... what was it called? Mizukan?
Signs are set up here and there for various businesses, and wow
it smells good.
She walks ahead of me, eyes closed, gently sniff-sniffing at the air. I figure it's best not to interrupt her, so I wordlessly steer her out of the way of kappa on carts Where are the horses?
and a few on some kind of metal-legged walking something. Somethings. And occasionally, one who just isn't watching.
There's a constant, light trickle of the rush coming into me as we walk through the area. Minuscule, but constant. I assume it's due to our appearance. This place must not see visitors very often.
like a dog... bird... thing.
"Aha!" shouts Extra Bird, all of a sudden.
Ya got somethin', girl? Go geddit!
A grin creeps over her face, and her path takes her to a building marked "Chinese Restaurant ~ They Kappa Food!"
Certainly an odd name, but it's an interesting change of venue from paytza and 'sandwiches.'
We head in, and are greeted by an enthusiastic kappa child who leaps to his feet and is falling all over himself to show us to a seat.
Extra Bird doesn't seem very worried about the menu. I don't think she can read--
I look back at my own menu
like any other menu, following the tried and true
item - description
item - description
item - description
And I have an Idea.
But first I will need to Ask some Questions.
Not yet, though.
--but she seems to already know what she wants.
Exhibit 1: she hasn't even picked up her menu.
I'm buried in mine, but my friend tells me what she's doing.
I decide on beef fried rice (she orders a few spring rolls. Maybe she's a light eater?), and the kid scurries off to the kitchen after taking our menus. I hear a
voice from the kitchen, confirming the orders, and then speaking to somebody else in quieter tones.
There's the touch of something I know on it.
Where have I heard that?
I shrug and put it out of my mind. I've had stranger things happen to me, and enough strange things makes everything else a little off, sometimes.
If I intently investigated every half-familiar voice I've heard, I'd...
I'd have a very strange hobby.
"...meet the Prismrivers, Kabuki?"
Ah, I'm being talked to.
I look back, as though recalling the past. "Well, I happened to make their acquaintance one day. One of them laid me out flat because I didn't see her. Heh, it was kind of embarrassing... I haven't really done much except wander here and there all over Gensokyo, recently, and when they heard that, they wanted to make it up, so... yeah, here I am. How about you?" you're lucky there's no real oni around, because they'd probably punch you
what? i'm telling the truth you're being misleading and tricking her; they
hate that sort of deception
why? there's no malicious intent doesn't matter, because it's still... 'human'
Extra Bird leans back in her chair. "Well... I've been feeding them whenever they come back from a concert tour, and plenty other nights besides. They already had a singer, but, well... me and sound, you know? Ah, maybe you don't. I'll tell you later. Anyway, I'd always wanted to help them out, and finally one of them said that..."
She goes on for a while, telling of this and that. How she runs a grilled lamprey stand, the customers, how she used to hunt people but doesn't do that anymore because of a nasty run-in with the hakutaku lady, how she likes to sing, her favorite songs, how long she's worked with the band, the charcoal girl whom she has a crush on (She didn't actually say as much, but it comes out in her expression and choice of words and behavior), and how she wanted to be the singer, but never volunteered, and how interesting it is to be working in a kappa city...
I get the impression that she doesn't get out as much as she used to, and treasures the occasions when she can.
"...and so she'd brought back an entire deer! So I sighed, and smiled, and chopped it up, and-- ah, they're done!"
I look at her strangely for a moment, then look around, and see the curtain to the kitchen part as a girl in green and yellow comes out, humming something in what sounds like Chinese.
She's very much not
She's of a far more normal height, and her clothes seem to match her song, but perhaps for their color.
Or her hair.
It's somewhat eye-catching; long, reddish hair, one long part of it tied with single a white ribbon, draped over one shoulder. She's like a walking collection of citrus-ness. It really stands out.
She places out food onto the table, and graces us with a wide, friendly smile. "Is there anything more I can get you?"
I see a few kappa by the counter who appear to be watching us, furiously taking notes.
"We're quite all right, thank you. But, I must say, if this smells half as wonderful as you look, I might come back again soon."
I turn to raise an eyebrow at Extra Bird for saying something so... so... trying to be charming. Cheesily.
But when I do, she's looking at me.
hold on yes
i said that? sure did
what the hell
where did that come from? dunno, but she's got nice legs and stop overreacting
I barely keep myself from looking at her legs. How can my friend even see them, anyway? trade secret
uncooperative bastard so harsh~
I try not to blush, but this Orange girl just takes it in stride, grinning.
"Oh, you're too kind! I'm just helping this restaurant get going, and showing them the ropes. Chinese cuisine is my specialty!" She adds a little wink at the end.
That explains why a human is working with-- no, that's no human. Kappa don't hang around humans too much, do they? Maybe she's a youkai of some sort, then.
Extra Bird assures her that we're fine before I say anything more, and we're flashed another smile from Orange before she trots off back to the kitchen. I can hear something like a lesson being given as the kappa scurry in after her and begin asking questions.
I turn back to look at my lunch companion, who giggles to herself and then pretends she hasn't done so.
Okay, so I slipped.
I happen to like that sort of look.
That's not a crime, is it?
...I hope not. I'd be doing hard time if it were.
Hell with it.
The food really does smell good, so I dig in.
I think I really might make good on my earlier comment. It's worth
it to come back here. I've never had such delicious Chinese food in all my life. Lives. Some of me and me and I and we never had any, so that's easy to say.
Easy for me.
It was Extra Bird's treat, so she pays for us. The boy working the till was very eager to make sure we had enjoyed the meal, and gave us both a little business cards marked with the name and address of the restaurant and a handful each of these funny little bent cookie things and some mints decorated in what looked suspiciously like danmaku patterns. And even a little box with a handle for my leftovers!
On the slow, lazy flight back, I decided to ask Extra Bird something that had been bugging me for a while.
"I know this sounds maybe a bit rude, but..."
I see her shoulders slump just a tiny bit. I think she knows what's coming.
"...you can't read, can you?"
I can almost hear her teeth grit from here. She doesn't know there's a kicker soon to follow.
"...No. It's kind of obvious after spending a few days around me, I know," she replies, wearily. "Or did Lyrica mention it when she hired you?"
"I kind of guessed on my own, and no, she didn't really say that." Not as such.
I let it stew for a moment.
"...But I'm pretty sure you can read, can't you."
Oh, theeere it is. I can feel it plenty. Reduced, as she's a youkai, but it's there.
Her head whips around, eyes narrowed. "What? No."
"Why would you ask me that?"
"Well, It looks like you were trying to make little notes by parts of that diagram you gave me. That really helped a lot, by the way."
Her voice relaxes, but not her posture.
"Oh, that. Ha, yeah. Thank you, Kabuki. But no, I was going to try and make little sketch of something to help elaborate here and there, but I figured you could get it with what I had there."
I think I figured out what makes her seem tense.
The lilt and trill are gone. She's definitely still on guard.
Guard be damned, I'm curious.
"Only I could see what definitely looked like writing, but it wa---"
I'm pinned against a section of rocky cavern wall faster than I can blink.
No, I'm... not?
Extra Bird's right arm is slammed against the rock over my shoulder, apparently having been pulled off course by my own hand, which grips hers by the wrist.
Her left hand is leveled at my throat and damn, when the hell did those nails get so long? And clawlike? And sharp?
Her eyes are wide, her expression dead serious. "You saw nothing,"
I don't think she's noticed, yet.
Maybe the shock is making me giddy. Or the unpleasant knock on the back of my head when she slammed me against the rock jostled some stupid loose.
Either way, I frown, seeming to mull it over for a few seconds, and then shake my head.
"Nope. Pretty sure I saw something."
"Are you that
eager to die, Kabuki?"
Extra Bird has definitely got some extra issues.
I take the arm in my wrist, and
a blur of motion
and now she's backed up against me, right arm held behind her just so that moving it any further would make things painful.
What the hell?
did you do that? i might've helped you a little
a little? you have a better plan?
i've got no plan at all, actually dammit do something an oni would do
wear tigerskin and eat people? you know, there's a funny song they have ab
ooh, i got something
This had better work.
They like games and bets and stuff, right?
I should get an award for this.
"Look, I can see this is something you're touchy about. Tell you what. Let's play a little game. I'll trade you one spooky dark secret for another, and then I'll let you go. Sound fair?"
Extra Bird struggles against me, for a bit, and finally slumps against me. She half-turns in my grip, and narrows her eyes. "Fucking hardly, but whatever, fine. You first."
"I'm not really an oni."
She blinks, and looks at me in incredulity.
I know she wants to accuse me of lying, but an oni doesn't lie. And yet---
Spin, gears, spin!
It's a little funny.
"So," I prompt her. "Now it's your tu---" "I can read and write Korean, all right?!
There, I said it! We're even! Now fucking let me go!"
I'm rather unprepared for how...
...this is, but true to my word as the not-an-oni that I am, I let her go.
She yanks herself away from me, and spins around to face me, one unpleasant clawlike... claw pointed in my face. "Don't tell a fucking soul," she snaps at me, expression a mix of anger and panic. "And neither will I."
After delivering that outburst, Extra Bird zips off ahead, fuming, leaving me to ponder things as I watch her rapidly departing figure. ...that's
i guess so you got ripped off, I think
she seems to think otherwise
some people just have hangups about the most minor things, i guess
I sigh, and brush myself off. My foodbox thingy seems to have not suffered any damage during that, luckily.
And with that, I set off for the concert hall.
All in all, back at the hall.
I think I'm on leave without pay Not getting paid anyway, though
so I won't bother Extra Bird right now.
That leaves me with a few options.
[ ] Scurvy Prevention
[ ] Spook Palaver
[ ] Snooze-Partaking
The picture for this was originally going to be a picture of a plateful of fried rice with the filename, "The best Chinese invention since paper.jpg" >>99685
Yes, and she realized as much.