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[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=vnU33nJFozE ]
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/vnU33nJFozE ]
[∫] She might, at that. Girl mentions Batty Betty n' shows the letter she done wrote.
"Ah... yes, I think I might." Crap, crap, crap, crap. "I have a letter of introduction written by a member of the, uh..." <historical brotherhood> "...the Historical Brotherhood. I was to seek help from their office in Dis using this letter." She looks very unconvinced <now connect those dots idiot> "...And during our discussion, she took a great deal of interest in these. I found them just prior to coming to Makai."
...I still haven't sat down and figured out how long it's been, have I? Ouch.
But at least Ms. Golden looks less frosty. "ġ'ωαи αиđ ġєт ίт, тнєи. иσ ѕυđđєи мσνєѕ, яίġнт؟" I nod in reply, and she gestures for me to get up.
I do just that, almost like I'm pretending to move in slow motion. I get out of my chair and walk slowly towards the drifting backpack. "Um, I want to point out something?"
"The pack is going to drop once I get next to it," I tell her, looking back. "So just so you know, like... I'm not trying to pull anything."
"ωє'ℓℓ ѕєє." Kinda feel like I should feel a little insulted at that, maybe. But not much.
The pack drops as I said. I don't know what her reaction is; I'm focused on the bag. Following her directions, I set it down, and carefully pull out the sealed letter. I suddenly wonder about how smart a move this is, but I'm already handing it over by that point.
She takes it, breaks the seal (a complex filigree of elaborate designs layered over the edge of the sheet of gati), and begins to read.
A minute in, I see her eyebrows jump. A smirk forms, but on thinly pressed lips. "тнίѕ єℓίѕ, ѕнє α тяί¢ӄѕу ѕσят؟"
Oh, I don't like where this is going. "Kind of, yeah?" My answer comes out sounding a lot less nervous than I feel <lucky huh>.
"σи тнє υρ, тнίѕ'ℓℓ đσ. σи тн' đσωи, у'σωє мє тωσ-ƒίƒту."
The demon lady with the yellow hair—it really can't be called 'blonde'; it's yellow—clears her throat and begins to read aloud. "'αѕ αи αđđίтίσиαℓ иσтє, ѕнσυℓđ тнίѕ ℓєттєя вє σƒƒєяєđ тσ αиу мємвєя σƒ тнє đίѕ яєєνє'ѕ σƒƒί¢є (σя σтнєя ѕίмίℓαя вσđу σƒ єиƒσя¢ємєит) αѕ α мєαиѕ σƒ ρяσνίиġ тнαт ѕнє мαу ¢αяяу υиℓί¢єиѕєđ σтнєяℓу-đίνίиє мαтєяίαℓ, ӄиσω тнαт ӄσ¢нίуα тяαиѕρσятѕ ίт υиđєя тнє αυѕρί¢єѕ σƒ тнє нίѕтσяί¢αℓ вяσтнєянσσđ. нσωєνєя, αѕ ί αм υиαвℓє тσ α¢qυίяє тнє ρяσρєя ραρєяѕ ƒσя ѕυ¢н ίи νίиα, ί нανє ρяσνίđєđ нєя ωίтн тωσ нυиđяєđ αиđ ƒίƒту jυℓίέиє ƒσя тнє ℓί¢єиѕє ƒєє, ωнί¢н ѕнє ѕнαℓℓ ρυя¢нαѕє υρσи нєя αяяίναℓ.'"
So, not only have I just been stuck with a bill, it was done in a way that I could have gotten out of doing it. Maybe <but elis is still a bitch>. Well, if she wrote that at all.
The woman with the infinitely fluffy hair just gives me an expectant look afterward. Oh, right. I take out my wallet and hand her... Oh godsdammit, these are 250 juliène coins, aren't they? That makes this even more likely, then. Elis, you are the worst.
After handing one of the sorta-red coins over, she tells me to leave everything out and unpacked and sit back down in the chair. Once she finds her place, the questions resume.
"нανє уσυ єνєя αттємρтєđ тσ ѕυммσи α яєѕίđєит σƒ мαӄαί σя αиу σтнєя ωσяℓđ, ρℓαиє, σя đίмєиѕίσи иσт уσυя σωи؟"
"нανє уσυ єνєя ρяєνίσυѕℓу νίѕίтєđ α ωσяℓđ, ρℓαиє, σя đίмєиѕίσи иσт уσυя σωи؟"
"Heck no." Gensokyo's still on Earth, after all.
"đσ уσυ đєαℓ ίи ¢σитяαвαиđ σя ѕмυġġℓєđ ġσσđѕ؟"
"Not knowingly." That gets a snort of derision, but she continues on.
"нανє уσυ єνєя ¢σммίттєđ ρєямαиєит мυяđєя, αяѕσи, яαρє, ӄίđиαρρίиġ, тσятυяє؟"
"¢αℓм đσωи, ρℓєαѕє."
Miiiight have been a bit too defensive. "Sorry. But no, I haven't done anything of the sort."
The machine stays silent. I would ponder what that means, but the questions do not stop.
"αяє уσυ, σя нανє уσυ єνєя вєєи αƒƒίℓίαтєđ ωίтн ѕнίитσ, jυđαίѕм, σя ¢няίѕтίαиίту؟"
Ssshhhhhit. "Huh? ...Well, I guess."
The machine wurbles. I try not to sweat as she pins me to my chair with a suspicious look.
"I've acted as an honorary miko for some of the shrines in neighboring towns. You know, when a festival is coming up, and they're a little short-staffed." And in my own shrine, full-time <dancing on the edge are we>.
She looks visibly relieved to hear that.
"đσ уσυ ρσѕѕєѕѕ α ƒσσđ нαиđℓєя'ѕ ℓί¢єиѕє؟"
"Not a current one."
"ωίℓℓ уσυ ѕυвмίт тσ αи ίиѕρє¢тίσи σƒ уσυя ίтємѕ αиđ вєℓσиġίиġѕ؟"
"Yes." Oh, like I have any choice.
"αđđί¢тєđ тσ αиу ѕυвѕтαи¢єѕ σя вєнανίσяѕ؟"
"Normal in both eyes."
"ίƒ нυмαи, вℓσσđ туρє؟"
"đσ уσυ ѕυƒƒєя ƒяσм αиу ӄиσωи мєитαℓ đίѕσяđєяѕ؟"
"иυмвєя σƒ ραяєитѕ؟"
"Two, deceased." Still amazes me to this day that I can now say that without shaking. "Two guardians, currently."
"đσ уσυ нανє α ƒαмίℓу нίѕтσяу σƒ αиу đίѕєαѕєѕ, ¢σиđίтίσиѕ, σя đίѕσяđєяѕ؟"
"αℓℓєяġίєѕ, мίиσя σя ѕєνєяє؟"
"Blueberries." No cedar pollen, thank all the gods.
"тυяи-σиѕ αиđ тυяи-σƒƒѕ؟"
"тнαт ωαѕ α jσӄє. ωє'яє đσиє."
I jump in my chair as the switch is flipped on the box once more.
"ί ġσттα нαиđ ίт тσ уα," she tells me, sorting the sheets of gati. "мσѕт σиjє υѕυαℓℓу тяίρ тнє яєαđ¢σяđєя α нαиđƒυℓℓα тίмєѕ. уσυ нαđ α ƒєω ωσввℓєѕ нєяє и' тнєяє, вυт иσ ℓєѕѕ тнαи мσѕтα уєя ℓσт đσ. 'ѕ иί¢є тσ мєєт σиє'α тнє ġσσđ σиєѕ."
...I... oh. It's over? ...It's over <and shes talking smack>! Who cares, I passed <unless this is a ruse>! ...Uh.
The golden-haired woman gets a humble smile from me. "I do pride myself on my conduct." <ahaha oh wow really> Well, in general <oh please who are you fooling>. Her, I hope.
She leans over and shakes my hand. "ί'м ѕєєίи' тнαт, ί αм. αиунσω, ωє jυѕт ġσттα тαӄє α ℓσσӄ αт αℓℓα у' ġσσđѕ тнєяє ωнίℓє у' ℓί¢єиѕє ġєтѕ ρяίитєđ υρ. ωнєи тнαт'ѕ đσиє, уσυ'ℓℓ ġєт уσυя тнίиġѕ αиđ ġєт мσνίи', αℓℓ яίġнт؟"
"Ah, sure... wait, is it getting printed here?"
[is it doooooooooone yet]
"иαω." Swish, swish. That hair is really just the most amazing thing, isn't it? "яєαđ¢σяđєя'ѕ ġσт α ѕнσят-тєℓℓу; ίт ƒєđ αℓℓ тнαт тσ тнє ѕтαтίσи ѕ¢яίвє тє¢н." I don't think I know what that actually even meant, but I'm getting the impression that the info got sent to someone who's writing it down. Or something like that.
She walks over to where my stuff is partially spread out, and begins taking it out, one by one, and examining each item before setting it aside. I point out the bags and boxes of UFOs before she touches them, so she has me open those instead <more than happy to>. I certainly don't say anything about what they actually are, or the not-really worms, though.
I do get confirmation that there are no sapient fish things in this region, which sets my heart at ease a bit. Some do exist, I'm told, but not around here. And besides, those ones would have ways of letting me "know that I'd gone and messed up." This was accompanied by a laugh and no further information on the subject <just enough rope to let you know you could hang yourself>.
The inspection goes fine until she runs into a few key items that I have to warn her not to touch—if I hadn't been watching for exactly that moment, I think I might have been in even more trouble.
"Heh, I guess I was going a bit overboard, right?" At the blank look (that I'd really hoped for after making that remark), I add, "Those are omamori from one of the shrines nearby." <lets leave out just which one> "They're for, y'know... luck, good fortune, safe travels, good health... Stuff along those lines." A well-timed look of embarrassment shows up on my face, followed by a rueful sigh. I'm not entirely faking either one "Guess you can see how well it worked out for me, yeah? Though I guess I'm still alive, so hey."
She nods a bit. Good.
"Those are paper seals. You see Buddhists using them—that is, they use them a lot for protection and exorcisms and the like. Like in manga, really. Oh, and onmyouji use a variant of them, too; that's part of my interest in Taoism, right?" Just need to sound excited, not nervous. "That's why I made these, too—!"
I grab for the spellcard pouch, but an arm <not very hairy considering> is thrust out in front of me. "ωнσα тнєяє! ѕℓσω уσυя яσℓℓ, ӄίđđσ! đσи'т ġσ яυѕнίи' αнєαđ," says the golden-haired woman. "σиє тнίиġ αттα тίмє."
"Ah, sorry, sorry."
"ѕσ, тнσѕє'яє ωнαт, иσω؟"
I explain the idea of a spellcard in broad terms to her, couching it as a mostly non-lethal but very showy spell pre-loaded onto something physical for later re-casting, and doing my best to imply that it's an offshoot of my interest in Taoism <well i cant say i dont have any buuut>. Can't mention Gensokyo or Reimu, of course, let alone spellcard dueling.
However, the more I go on, the more concerned the woman looks, until she finally motions for me to <shut up> stop talking, and looks me in the eye. "α-нυн... ℓίѕтєи, 'тωєєи уσυ 'и ί؟"
"ί ωσυℓđи'т ωανє тнσѕє αяσυиđ α ℓσт," she says, speaking quietly. "ѕσмє 'α уσυя ӄίт нєяє'ѕ ℓίӄє αѕ тσ яємίиđ ρєσρℓє σƒ тн' тяσυвℓєѕ ωє нαđ α ωнίℓє вα¢ӄ. ѕσмє яєαℓ иαѕту туρєѕ ¢αмє тняσυġн мαӄαί αиđ đσиє α ℓσттα ƒσℓӄ αиđ α ℓσттα тнє ℓαиđ α ωнσℓє ℓσттα ωяσиġ."
Like before, it isn't too hard to feign shock and worry. I'd heard it from Elis, of course, but the atmosphere here is a lot more secretive.
"ρєσρℓє đσи'т ¢αяє т' тαℓӄ т' σиjє 'вσυт ίт, αиđ ί αίи'т мυ¢н đίƒƒєяєит. σи тн' σтнєя, ίт'ѕ ραят 'α му jσв тσ тєℓℓ уσυя туρє 'вσυт тнίѕ ѕσятα тнίиġ ѕσ'ѕ у' đσи'т đσ ѕσмєтнίи' яєαℓ υиωίѕє-ℓίӄє."
"Really? Jeez, that's awful... But I understand what you're saying, ma'am. I'll remember that, for sure."
"ġσσđ. ωє'яє αℓмσѕт тняσυġн ωίтн тнίѕ, ѕσ ℓєт'ѕ ӄєєρ мσνίи'."
I sooooo want to bust out with some kind of victory dance, except I think doing something like that might well get me killed. Unless she's playing me, I think I'm home free. She bought it!
But it's still important to keep up appearances.
"тнαт συġнтα đσ ίт. у' ƒяєє тα ρα¢ӄ υρ уσυя ӄίт; ί đσи'т ѕєє иσтнίи' мυ¢н тнαт мαӄєѕ мє ℓєєяу 'вσυт¢нα, 'ℓσиġ αѕ у'ӄєєρ ίи мίиđ ωнαт ί ѕαίđ."
I nod as she closes my Grendizer box. "Of course, ma'am." It was very weird to go through a security inspection where finding a knife in someone's belongings didn't immediately result in it being confiscated or landing them in a lot of hot water <isnt makai great>. No. Overall, I'm gonna say no.
"ġяєαт." She jerks a thumb at the door. "ρα¢ӄ υρ αиđ ί'ℓℓ мєєт¢нα συт ίи тн' нαℓℓ ."
Even when the door closes behind her, I'm not dumb enough to let out a whoop of victory, even if I really, reeeaally want to. Still too premature. Plus, if I did, that'd be the cue for her to come back in just as I was yelling about how great I was and how I successfully lied my way through security.
I'm happy but I'm not an idiot <i disag>—nobody asked!
So that's why I take my time putting things away, repacking my bag a little more sensibly, and tightening my belt and the pack's straps.
I still hold my breath as I open the door, praying I don't walk into an ambush. Nothing felt weird enough to make me suspect one, but why would that ever matter in this place? It's Makai. Do better than your best and expect the worst <they should put that on the brochures>.
All that awaits me are the golden-haired woman and a black-haired fairy with oval wings, talking about something I don't catch the details of. As soon as I step out of the room, they approach me, brimming with fluffiness and smiles. I think there are people back home—Japan, not just Gensokyo—who would literally kill someone if they could have hair like hers.
"ѕσ нєяє'ѕ σƒƒί¢ίαℓ тяανєℓ ραρєяѕ ƒσя σиє ӄσ¢нίуα σƒ мσяίуα," the golden woman says, handing me a packet of papers bound together. "jυѕт ѕίġи у' иαмє тнєяє, αиđ уєя ѕίġίℓ тнєяє..."
The fairy hands me a pen, but before I even think of uncapping it, I give the top few pages a quick run-through. They're printed in something obviously Makaian, English, and to my pleasant surprise, Japanese. It's all fairly legitimate-looking; the top page is an oath that the questions were answered truthfully and not under duress, so on and so on. It's already got the signature and sigil of a couple people. While the signatures themselves are indecipherable, the text beneath them says that one of them belongs to the one in charge of administering the application process, and that the other belongs to the scribe tech—possibly the fairy. I see the pages beneath filled with the questions and my answers, but restructured like a filled-in application form for something official and governmental, and set in incredibly small type.
It still takes up five sheets in all.
The pen is an old fountain pen whose weight lends a literal gravity to the situation as I give the form my signature <normally id use my seal stamp but thats a no go of course> and a quickly-sketched star for my sigil. The fairy gratefully takes it when I replace the cap, and then both of them hold out their hands—for a handshake, I realize.
"тн' яєєνє'ѕ σƒƒί¢є σƒ đίѕ ƒσямαℓℓу ωєℓ¢σмєѕ уσυ т' мαӄαί, ӄσ¢нίуα," says the golden woman of incredible fluffiness. She sounds very serious about the whole thing, but still gives me a firm handshake and a smile, as does the fairy. "мαу ƒяєєđσм вє тнє ℓίġнт ġυίđίи' уσυ тσ ωнαт у' ¢αмє нєяє ƒσя, αи' яєѕρє¢т и' ρяίđє тнє яσαđ тнαт тαӄєѕ уα тσ ίт."
"Thank you," I say, speaking some of my most honest words yet since entering this building. "I hope they do."
And... that's it. I exit the building the way I came in, startling the heck out of a group of fairies fresh off the farm. After going out the other side of the tunnel, I stopped and just looked up, up, up, up at the cliffside of the plateau.
[heeeeyyyy over heeeeeeere]
Up ahead <above> lies Dis. All around me, people are passing through the little tunnels of the building, and flying up into the air, or turning their carts and pack animals onto the roads that cross back and forth against the cliff, taking them up the the city.
I'm on the home stretch, now.
It's good, feeling good again.
...Shouldn't just keep standing here, though. There's one thing I need to do before anything else once I get through the gates <get a damn towel>.
Like Suwa-mama says, damn right.
But then after that, there's something I need to take care of right away.
[ ] The people offerin' a way home. Meetin' with the people what got the keys to the exit seems a plan.
[ ] A nice warm spot to rest a spell. City's like to be real busy, she thinks. Better stake a claim on a bed.
[ ] Cities got places with real grub. Girl's real proud 'a her fish, but ain't no reason to pass on a real meal.
[ ] Somewhere coin n' goods switch. Got a few things could use some buyin', plus a few could use sellin'.
[ ] A different sort 'a destination. Even more 'n meetin', eatin', sleepin', and buyin', there's something else.
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