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I should try and find the kitchen. People go there often because, uh, well, I’m not sure why. I just know they do. Okay, so where’s the kitchen? I slowly open the door and leave the room. The hallway is pretty empty. There are only candles lighting the halls, and nothing else of note. Plenty of doors, too, oh, wait that is something to note I guess. Anyway, kitchen. Gotta keep focused. Down that way are more doors, and down the other way are stairs. Stairs sound right to me.
As I descend the stairs I find myself counting the steps. About halfway down is when I realize that I don’t actually know if I should count the very top or bottom steps as proper steps in the staircase. Do they count? Hmmmmm….
Oh hey, I’m at the bottom now. Oh, and I just noticed that the floor is a black and white checkered pattern. Weird. I feel like I could play a game using the floor, but I can’t think of what it would be. WOW I’m getting sidetracked today.
What was I doing again?
Ah, kitchen, right. What does a kitchen look like again?
I guess I’ll just follow my instincts. And my instincts tell me to go that way!
After going down another hallway, I find myself standing in front of a set of double doors. Slowly, I open them and peek my head through and see stone countertops, pots and pans hanging from the ceiling, brick ovens built into the wall, and a large bin of water in the corner. I guess this is the kitchen. Does seem to fit the bill, whatever that means.
At one of the counters I see a tall, young woman with long black hair adorned with a green bow. She’s wearing a white blouse with green going down the middle of the front and a green skirt that goes down to her knees. She also has rather large black feathered wings. She seems preoccupied with cutting up some sort of meat. It looks grey. Meat isn’t supposed to be grey, is it?
The woman looks up and notices me for the first time. “Oh, hi there!” Her voice is soft, cheery, and warm all at the same time. I like her voice. It’s easy on the ears, kind of like Satori’s is. Both are nice in their own way.
Oh, right, I should be polite and say something. “…” Well, I tried. In absence of words I simply wave.
“I saw Mama Satori and Rin bring you in.” She says as she continues to cut the meat up into fine strips. “Rin and I were adopted by her too you know. She has a lot of pets, but we’re the only ones who are big like this!” She gestures to herself with her knife, which comes dangerously close to cutting her. “Oh, I’m sorry, are you hungry?”
While I’m not quite sure what hunger feels like, my abdomen does feel strange. I think that’s where my stomach is located. I nod and walk over to her carefully, she seems fond of moving her arms while she talks. And I don’t want to be too close if she’s going to keep holding that knife.
I find myself staring at the blade for so long I go cross-eyed.
When I look up I jump back in shock. The raven haired woman is covered in blood! Her white shirt dyed red. But she’s standing there like nothing’s wrong!
I blink and everything is back to normal. What just happened? She doesn’t seem to have noticed anything, not even my surprised look.
Well anyway, I shake my head and look at the grey meat on the counter. It seems far healthier than trying to figure out what’s going on in my head.
The woman seems to notice my confusion over the color though and gently asks, “Have you never seen Ashbeast meat before?” Ashbeast? I shake my head to indicate that I have not. “Wow, what have you been eating this whole time? There isn’t much else down here. I mean, the Oni have fruit and vegetables, but they don’t let people have them for free. And they eat a lot of Ashbeasts too.”
Honestly, what have I been eating? HAVE I been eating? Well, I guess I haven’t been awake to eat. And if I was, I don’t remember it.
“Oh, I haven’t introduced myself!” She says, slapping her forehead lightly. “My name is Utsuho, but everyone calls me Okuu. You can call me that too if you want.”
I’m grateful to finally know her name, but I literally can’t tell her mine. She’s waiting for me to tell her though. I guess I should find some way to tell her I can’t talk, so I gesture to my throat, open my mouth, and shake my head. I hope that makes sense to her.
“Ooooh, you can’t talk,” she says, nodding her head. “That’s okay, I couldn’t talk at first either. All I could do was chirp.” Chirp? What? I guess she means that she could only make small noises when she was first learning to talk. “If you want, there are empty books up in the library. I’m sure Mama Satori wouldn’t mind you using one of those to write whatever you want to say in.” That sounds good, but I don’t even know if I can write. Maybe when I get a pen in hand I’ll know for sure. “Oh right, you were hungry,” she says quickly. She sets down the knife on the counter next to the meat and goes over to a cabinet. When she opens it, I can see a large number of plates made out of various materials stacked together. Ceramic, wood, metal, and what looks to be glass.
I know I’m not one to say anything, but why would you make a plate out of metal or glass? Glass would just scratch too easily and metal would get really hot. It makes no sense. I suppose a wooden plate doesn’t make all that much sense to me either. But then again, I have no idea what is considered normal. For all I know, everyone uses glass plates and ceramic ones are just for show?
Well regardless, Okuu has picked out two ceramic plates and brought them over.
Using her knife, she slides the meat onto the plates. Half for her, and half for me. I’m not even sure I’ll eat this much, but okay. She opens a nearby drawer and pulls out a pair of smaller knives and two forks, at least I assume they’re forks. Forks have prongs, right? Well, until I’m corrected by Satori, I’m calling them forks.
Okuu hands me one of each and slides a plate over to me. “Do you know where the dining room is?” She asks sweetly. Her voice really does have a nice tone to it. It’s kind of high pitched, but not so much that it’s grating. I quickly shake my head telling her that I do not, and also to get myself focused again. “Okay, follow me! It’s just through those doors.” She points to a set of double doors on the wall to the right of the one I entered.
Grabbing my plate, I follow behind her and note how her wings are actually pretty small for someone her size. But, what do I know about wings. It’s not like I have a pair. Wait…
I glance over my shoulders quickly and sigh. Nope, no wings.
I also just realized that I don’t even know what I look like. Aside from pale skin that is. Well, I guess my dirt covered tunic and slacks are something too. I’m pretty sure the tunic is supposed to be white though. My slacks are a faded brown, with more brown from dirt. I’m also wearing Sandals, which I find weird. Mostly because Okuu isn’t wearing shoes, but she is wearing socks that go to her knees.
ANYWAY! Sidetracks aside. Heh, sidetracks, aside.
GAH! There I go again!
Right, so Okuu and I are sitting at a GIANT table right now. The room is huge, the table has to be able to seat about thirty people comfortably, and the chairs are extremely cushy. They have wooden frames, to match the table, and red cushions attached to the seat and back to make them more comfortable.
Okuu and I eat in silence, due to her stuffing her face and me not being able to talk. The meat had already been sliced into thin pieces, so I don’t have to spend a lot of time cutting it down. It also doesn’t seem to be cooked…
“What’s wrong?” Okuu asks between bites. I point to my food and tilt my head inquisitively. “Oh, right, you never had ashbeast before. Well, since you probably didn’t know, ashbeasts have a thermal sac in their chest that they use to breath fire and filter out the ash in the air they breathe. Unless they get killed just right, their sac will explode. If that happens, the resulting fire will run through their veins, cooking them from the inside out.” I must have some kind of horrified expression, because Okuu quickly adds, “Oh, don’t worry. The sacs are completely destroyed at that point, and any meat gotten from an Oni butcher will have killed them properly and removed the sac themselves. There’s nothing to worry about.” I’m more disturbed by how we are eating something that was possibly cooked from the inside out…
Still, I get over that disturbing though rather quickly and find that the meat isn’t bad. It’s not good either, but not bad. It has a weird taste to it though. It’s sweet, but also kind of gamey.
I don’t finish my plate though. I don’t have that funny feeling in my stomach anymore. But instead it feels heavy. I guess that means I’m full.
Okuu, noticing that I’m done asks, “Do you mind if I have the rest?” I shake my head and slide my plate over to her. “Thanks! If you want to go explore the palace, I don’t mind. I need to clean up everything anyway.”
I nod in both thankfulness and understanding. I stand and stretch before heading over to the door that leads to the hallway. I wonder what I should do now?