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File 145732711228.png - (1.33MB, 1031x609, little shop of corners.png) [iqdb]
14636 No. 14636
(Previous music continues)
[ ♫: http://youtu.be/knC2kyRf-n8 ]
[ ♫: http://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=knC2kyRf-n8 ]
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/hqrrk ]


[Ļ] Not right yet, no. Girl asks th' dame what might be on 'er mind.

"Well, no," I reply. "Not yet, I guess." <well that sure was something to tell a demon> A demon who lives right next to the onje district? Yeah, that's totally how predators work <by looking as harmless as possible yes>. That's not a word I'd use to describe her. "I've got someone to meet after this, and then I'll check in for the night somewhere." Crashing in someone's shed seems like it would get me in trouble, here. I already know I won't be fortunate enough to find another Elis.

"O h ?" Verritine lifts a very orange eyebrow. Hold on, are those scales up by her hairline? "Y o u ' r e w e l c o m e t o t r y , I g u e s s ."

Huh?

"...Try what?"

"F i n d i n g a n o p e n b e d, l e t a l o n e a r o om , d u r i n g t h e S a i n t ' s S e v e n ?" She barks a laugh (I think), and it's like someone slapped a microphone. My towel is set lightly down upon the countertop and she looks me in the eyes. Hers are almost normal—brown eyes, like you'd see on any regular human, but the pupils are weird. Instead of a black circle, they look like commas, extending over the iris.

[Maybe light blue? ...Well, that'd be downright silly now, wouldn't it? I'd start getting all her mail~]

"Y o u ' l l g e t a n i c e r r e c e p t i o n t h a n u s u a l d u r i n g t h e Sa i n t ' s S e v e n , b u t t h a t d o n ' t q u i t e m e an p e o p l e ' r e g o n n a t r e a t y o u l i k e y o u ' r e n o r m a l , m a ' a m . Y o u c a n b e t yo u r l a s t j i n gl i n g j u l i è n e t h a t t h e r e i s n ' t a n i n n k e e p o r p r o p r i e t o r t h a t ' l l g i v e s p a c e t o a n o n j e o v e r a r e g u l a r p e r s o n ."

Oh. "That sucks."

She nods.

"Well, I'll keep that in mind," I say, kind of trying to keep things moving along. "Thank you for the warning."

"N o p r o b l e m ." She points off in one direction with one hand while a couple of others hand me my brand-new towel. "T h e o n j e h o s t e l a b l o c k u p t h e s t r e e t f r o m h e r e ' l l g i v e y o u a p l a c e t o s l e e p . B u t t e l l t h e m I s e n t y o u , i f y o u g o t h e r e ," she adds.

Oh, damn... That would help a lot <maybe shes in cahoots with the hostel>. Could be. If it comes to that, then that's when I'll figure it out. Ah, but wait—if something goes wrong at the Brotherhood office, I might be able to hitch a ride back with another onje!

"Thanks again, then," I tell the demon, feeling a bit more genuine when I say it this time. I collect my things, bid her farewell, and am a meter or two from the door when I turn around. "Sorry, but I just remembered. Could you show me where the office of the Historical Brotherhood is?"

"T h e w h o . . . ?" Verri gives me a weird look, then snaps three fingers at once. "O h , i t ' s r i g h t b y t h e m u s e u m , I t h i n k . I f y o u ' l l l e t m e h av e t h a t m a p a g a i n f o r a m o m e n t . . ." She gestures, and I oblige her, walking back over to the countertop. When I return the map to her, she unfolds it and...

...

Okay, that's not quite what I had in mind when I said I wanted a map.

[She almost heard tha~t.]
Expand all images
>> No. 14637
File 145732776325.png - (431.20KB, 1000x950, dis here map.png) [iqdb]
14637
[[ ⌘: http://i.imgur.com/H16Dcjl.png ]] (alternate link for post image)


The map isn't a sketch of streets, roads, and important buildings or places. It's more like a general layout of the city, separated into districts <yes complain more about that kosode why dont you>. I'm not being ungrateful! It wasn't what I expected, that's all. It'd take more time to do what I wanted, anyway, and this is already coming to me free. No way I'm going to complain about that.

Verri marks the store with a circle and an arrow on the map, then draws a little square and arrow for the Brotherhood's office. She looks up and is probably about to mention something when she trails off instead. Looking back down at the map again, she frowns. ". . . I d i d n ' t r e a l l y t h i n k a b o u t i t , b u t t h e n a m e s a r e n ' t m u c h h e l p i f y o u d o n ' t k n o w w h a t t h e y a r e, a r e t h e y ?" she muses.

"No, not at all! That is to say, it's a very nicely drawn map, and..." <wow could you have possibly said anything worse> Erg. "...I'm sorry, I didn't mean t—"

My apologies get waved off. "N o , i t ' s f i n e . I w a s t h i n k i n g l i k e s o m e o n e w h o l i v e s h e r e. L e t m e d r a w y o u a n e w o n e ." She starts to crumple up the map, but I frantically intercede, apologizing and reassuring her and trying not to sound too insincere when I do it.

She finally relents, but insists on giving me a brief run-through of the districts.

____________________________________________


Amacchiante
Long strip of trendy stores and bars, situated so that it's what many people coming in from outside the shire encounter first. This is the center of Dis nightlife.

Zannagro
Somewhat nice residential area, in that the streets are clean and people bother to plant shrubs. Largely made up of temporary housing or long-stay hotels.

Ditosto
The economic district. Thick with accountants and financial businesses. Almost all of Makai's major banks and trading firms have an office somewhere in this area.

Gaudanno
Light industrial area. Lots of storage and processing facilities for rail cargo. The railroad passes through this section of Dis up from underneath, and then out through the gates.

Algerasso
The onje quarter. Probably one of the worst parts of the city, but even then, it's not that bad. Lots of people'd rather you stayed here (or never came to Dis at all), but that's them, and this is you.

Railyards
Name pretty much says it all. Trains coming from both sides of The Over & Under pass through here. Most stop for passengers, cargo, and refueling, too.

Pelingua
Dis' main commercial district. Any business that isn't direct processing of what's shipped from the farms happens here, for the most part. Lots of export, trading, and wholesale.

Strugnello
A small, upper-class residential district. There are a handful of mansions and lavish estates here, but most of this district's population lives in what are essentially upscale condos.

Ezov Park
Ezov Park is a hilly, thickly wooded section of the city that even impresses people from the farms, as they're mostly used to flatness and fields.

Buscaglitore
Center of the municipal government and judicial offices. Several federal bureaus maintain branch offices in other districts of the city, as well. Dis is actually not the capital of Harla Shire, despite that.

Sibylla Plaza
The center of the city. Impossible to miss the fountain in the middle. This is where most of the big events of the Feast are being held.

Vetrompina
Heavy industry and manufacturing, mostly for goods and equipment used by farms all over the shire.

Lentoleone
A large portion of the Dis' permanent, non-visiting population lives in this part of the city. It ranges from apartments and tenements to small houses. Most of the people here fall between very low middle class and very high lower-class. Not pleasant, but usually adequate.

Baciaratto
When you need expensive but crucially important equipment for your farm or business, this is where you'll find the place selling it.

Rumogatta
A lively, vibrant market that caters to citizens of Dis and people staying in town. All kinds of goods from inside and outside of the city can be found here. A substantial majority of local shopping is done in the market.

Mendicante
The outer rim of this district bears almost no resemblance to the inner. Affordable shops, services, and retail on the outside; slaughterhouses, food processing, and more on the inside.

Scarbagna
If Dis has a ghetto, it's this. Barely-serviceable housing for the unpleasant but necessary jobs at the rendering houses and agricultural processing facilities that surround it. Nobody lives here longer than they have to.

Ciriatto
A small trading post outside of Dis, just set of the plateau. Sees a lot of traffic from those both coming and going.

Libecocco
Dis' river port. Almost 20 hectocubits pir of Dis. Sits on an artificial island in a river channel. Anything flying or floating docks here if the people aboard are visiting the city.

____________________________________________


I try to absorb it all, assigning meaning to name the best I can. She does add, helpfully, that the dividing spaces shown between each of the districts usually correspond to a major street or boundary. It does help put me at ease, I'll admit.

[...Ah. I found Waldo~]

After getting a few details down pat, I thank her and see myself out. Looking back, I return the wave she gives from the window.
>> No. 14639
File 145732802434.jpg - (53.20KB, 420x279, naturally it is historical.jpg) [iqdb]
14639
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/lkzfj ]
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/vlda ] (same track, alternate link)



I soon find that having even just this much information about the city in my head helps a lot when it comes to moving through it. I'd have appreciated some kind of Yahoo Maps-style thing, but if I could have what I wanted, I wouldn't even be here.

Weaving through the back streets of what can only be the Pelingua district isn't too dissimilar to doing the same through the Railyards and Vetrompina, except that it's more tightly packed. The streets are smaller and because lots of shops and businesses are closed up or closing up, there are a lot more people to contend with as I trot along the sidewalks.

Nobody's really flying here, aside from a rare exception now and again that I can't seem to figure out the rule for. As a result, I'm stepping off the sidewalk to allow the locals to pass by instead. Haven't been spat on yet, though I have a feeling that one person tried. Definitely getting my share of suspicious looks, too. That part hasn't been very fun.

[Y'know, if these people could just shoot webbing, the daily commute would become so cool.]

One of the streets spills me out onto a much wider main drag. The buildings across the street see a noticeable jump in fanciness and cleanliness from the ones over here, although there's something a bit off about them. I can see trees several blocks away in one direction, and a lot of people heading the other direction. After briefly consulting my map, I cross over into Buscaglitore.

As expected of a governmental district, it's rather nice—lawns are neat and manicured, the signage is much more ostentatious, and the clothes are much more formal... I think. They look sort of old-fashioned to me, like something you'd see in a sepia-colored photo. But they also look fresh and recently made rather than old and dusty. It's super weird.

...Not as weird as the buildings, though. After the first block or so, I notice that the architecture around here is a little... strange. Nothing obvious that you'd catch on a quck glance; it's something you only notice after seeing a bunch of them. Something about the lines of the buildings just doesn't feel quite even. And yet, if you stop and look hard at them, they don't look off-kilter or anything. Being exposed to it is starting to make something itch painfully in a part of my head that I can't reach.

It's not even very ugly. The actual styles remind me of some kind of European something I can't remember the name of, but with this crazy vibe I'm picking up on, it doesn't actually feel like that.

Mainly I just try not to look up very often.

Turns out that's not very helpful when you don't actually know what the building looks like or how to read the signs <no shut up i can find it eventually>. No I can't, and that's why I've spent almost an hour on a trip that should have been twenty minutes.

A couple of constables on patrol help me find the building—they seemed surprised that I actually talked to them. Personally, I think they probably would have given me a harder time if I hadn't been very specific about what and where I was going. I want to keep my interactions with them to a minimum, thanks.

[I reeeeeally wanna ask if we're there yet, but I can't even tell if there's a there there, up there. Is there~?]

Their directions lead me to a tall, light grey building that doesn't grind on my senses like so many others in Buscaglitore seem to—the constables mentioned that I'd know the museum by how boring it looked <hey if this is boring im all for it>. Yeah, I don't have any time for "artistic and fancy" if it means "the sight of it feels like someone's lightly sandpapering the back of your eyes". There's a big courtyard out front, covered in decorative paving tiles and more pillars out front than I think the builders knew what to do with. It almost reminds me of the shrine path back home, and I have to stop for a moment to let a pang of homesickness run its course.

The doors of the museum itself are set back a ways under a long roof, and flanked by statues of what are probably famous historical figures. They aren't abstract enough to be art, at least <but who even knows for sure in this place>. The windows to either side of the doors aren't exactly full of bright and welcoming light, so the place might be closed.

Not that it matters to me: I cut across the courtyard, and approach a smaller, much more conventional-looking building off to one side of the courtyard. No fancy statues for this one, just a door and a black sign with lettering very precisely carved into it <more demon scribble i cant read woo>. Man, how can they have a unified spoken language that even humans can use without training, but there's nothing like that for a written version <its like i forgot that crap namek earns its name all the time>? Stupid demons and their stupid world.

...Though if this place is Namek, then Reimu and Marisa would be Frieza, wouldn't they?

I pause in the act of reaching for the door handle, and let that sink in. It's almost funny, but... not really all that funny.

Whatever. It doesn't matter.

clung

Tugging on the door handle just shakes it a little in its frame <ffffffffff>.

clung

Ohhhhhh, no.

clung, clung

The door's just locked because they're at lunch, right? They aren't closed for the day. Please say they aren't closed for the day <unless im just being an idiot>. Well, uh, I can't rule that out, yet. Let's see...

clonk

Pushing's no good.

clack, clack

Aaaand it's not a sliding door, either. I take a step back and look at the off-white door that is supposed to be the Historical Brotherhood office's front door.

[Say "open sesame"!]

...

"Open sesame?" I ask, on a whim.

...

"Okay, that was stupid." Really hope nobody saw that.

[Hee hee hee~]



[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/njtpr ]


I start walking around the building, praying that maybe I was just trying to open the back door like some kind of doofus. It's painted the same inoffensive off-white as the door, all the way around. Much wider than it is deep, too. Nothing on the end, and.... oh! There is a door on the other side!

I hustle past a few windows that look over a short slope and a set of stairs that lead up from the street below to a more elaborate set of double doors. I guess that does make me a doofus, but you know what? I'll take it. With a bit more energy than is necessary, I grab both the door handles, and pull th—

clonk-chank

...

Okay.

I push the do—

clunk-chunk

...

I utter an oath.

I give the stupid locked doors my best death glare, but the stupid doors remain locked <and stupid>.

Movement from one of the windows catches my eye, so I hurry over that way. Oh gods, please be actual staff and not just a janitor. Please, please, please...!

The lights in the room through the window are out, but the deepening late afternoon daylight shows me an office that obviously sees a lot of use during the day. Papers, folders, and boxes are all over the place, but everything is placed neatly and carefully. Definitely feels like whoever uses it went home for the day. ...Speaking of which, I don't see anyone in here. It was this window, wasn't it?

The next window down looks into ...um. A pretty bare and basic-looking office, actually. Except that instead of a tile floor like the last place, this one has sand all over the floor, like someone just plopped down a desk, a chair, and a couple of filing cabinets in the middle of the desert. A hundred different questions crowd into my mind, and I throw all of them out, because as weird as it is, that doesn't matter right now.

Window number three has its curtains pulled shut. I don't even bother looking in there. Unfortunately, it's also the last one on this side of those doors. I give the desert office and the busy-looking office another check as I pass them, but there's no one to be seen <wait no there was something go back>.

...Hey, yeah. On second glance, I notice the open door on the other side of the normally-busy office. Part of a ragged, dust-colored wing is sticking out across the door frame, as if someone were in the hall on the other side.


[ ] Could just be doin' it wrong. Weren't any buzzer, but there's a door for knockin'.
[ ] Well, this fella likely works there. She raps on th' glass, tryin' to call 'em on over.
[ ] Hidin' seems a real queer reaction. Girl thinks she oughta check it out, quiet-like.
[ ] Awful unfriendly, ain't that? No joy today, but maybe tomorrow'll turn out better.

________________________________________________________________________________

>>14631
...Not bad, actually.

>>14632
I think you're actually close in some parts, but I'll explain it tomorrow. It's less complicated than I made it seem; I only used trig in figuring it out for myself because of how I drew the various iterations of the map.

But it's still a weird system.
>> No. 14641
File 145732946490.jpg - (69.83KB, 500x500, I can’t stand people who duckface.jpg) [iqdb]
14641
Previous thread: >>12501
First thread: >>9685

First thread of the previous story: >>/th/94836
>> No. 14643
[X] Could just be doin' it wrong. Weren't any buzzer, but there's a door for knockin'.
>> No. 14644
[x] Well, this fella likely works there. She raps on th' glass, tryin' to call 'em on over.

They might take this badly, but I feel like Sanae's antics with the door would be comparable to knocking already.

Wonder if the Brotherhood's acting different than usual because of the festival and/or Palanquin Ship. City info is interesting, also, I'm curious to see the onje quarter. And our companion is still cute as anything.
>> No. 14646
[X] Could just be doin' it wrong. Weren't any buzzer, but there's a door for knockin'.
>> No. 14647
File 14574077019.png - (28.58KB, 966x871, dis is how we do it.png) [iqdb]
14647
The very first thing to know about Makaian addressing is that Makai uses a metric system to measure things—a metric system, not the metric system: There are four units of measurement: the cubit, the league, the dram, and the pint.

Now, something to keep in mind about the Makaian addressing scheme is that it's all locally based. Whatever township, city, village, hamlet, burg, settlement, or even long flat stretch of land you call your own that you're on is bounded by a square (This is where the "___-relative" part of the address comes into play, since you can sometimes have overlapping bounding squares).

The square is then divided up into a grid, where each increment is 1 millileague. Therefore, within that grid, you can give any location in absolute coordinates. The third coordinate is height, also in millileagues. "vel zed" simply means a height of 0: ground level, in other words. "ix twelve" would be 12 mLg beneath ground level. Also, negative numbers are used for locations past the main axes of the grid.


As for how trigonometry came to be involved, I initially drew the map like in A. I had very specific dimensions in mind for the city when I drew it, as they were supposed to then later be converted into Makaian for the addressing system. At some point, I suddenly remembered that not only had I forgotten to rotate it 45 degrees towards the an (B), I wasn't drawing the city oriented incorrectly to the directions and geography I'd described (C).

This meant that I would need to recalculate the addressing grid. However, all of my formerly horizontal and vertical lines were now diagonals, so I had to do some trigonometry in order to figure out what the new dimensions of the grid were. Thankfully, 45-degree triangles have super-simple sides. I think the 99 x 155 figure quoted in the story isn't completely accurate, though, since I threw that one out before I redrew the map properly and placed all the districts.

Speaking of which, those names weren't designed at random. Two of them are borrowed, in fact.


>>14641
Apparently cross-board linking to really old archived posts doesn't work anymore. The last link there was supposed to point you to http://www.touhou-project.com/th/res/94836.html , which I now have to paste long-form like some kind of awkward asshole.
>> No. 14656
[x] Well, this fella likely works there. She raps on th' glass, tryin' to call 'em on over.


>>14639
> Yeah, I don't have any time for "artistic and fancy" if it means "the sight of it feels like someone's lightly sandpapering the back of your eyes".

You know, that sounds a lot like looking at a UV light source.


>>14647
> Speaking of which, those names weren't designed at random. Two of them are borrowed, in fact.

They weren't? (Not, admittedly, that I speak Italian.) They may have been handcrafted portmanteaux, I guess, or they could be the output of a cipher meant to mimic Italian; but they felt more like the output of a Markov generator.

The two that definitely aren't Markov output, of course, are Ciriatto and Libicocco:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malebranche_(Divine_Comedy)#In_The_Divine_Comedy

The others are all either gibberish or not obviously appropriate, when viewed as Italian:
> http://pastebin.com/senJE1qx

The non-Italian ones are mostly clear:
> http://pastebin.com/5i9XTZNH

And — poor >>12645 and friends! As much as I'm enjoying the culture bits, the big block of district descriptions really breaks the flow of the narrative. If not pastebin, perhaps >>>/words/?
>> No. 14658
File 145782180342.jpg - (6.81KB, 214x214, 1330065014813.jpg) [iqdb]
14658
[X] Could just be doin' it wrong. Weren't any buzzer, but there's a door for knockin'.

Peering through windows is not polite. Knocking on a window is worse. A man's home is is castle, so a winged touhou's place of business is their... whatever, the point is, peeping is offensive enough that you might be ignored or refused on matters of general principle, but being persistent is not.

Polite. But persistent. You are at least entitled to a formal greeting and polite refusal in turn, if you are polite yourself.
>> No. 14659
Gonna be a bit late. Expect the update tomorrow.
>> No. 14660
File 145810350375.jpg - (152.64KB, 454x589, no soliciting please.jpg) [iqdb]
14660
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/njtpr ]


[ɽ] Could just be doin' it wrong. Weren't any buzzer, but there's a door for knockin'.

Okay, I'm just going to give whoever that is the benefit of the doubt and assume that they don't like having to meet new people <no i kind of think theyre being jerks>. I'm... not ruling that out either. But peering into their windows might not make them think well of me, either. So, back to the big double doors.

[Abandoning it already? You'll never become a professional stalker at this rate! Where's that spirit I saw before?!]

...I really hope they don't think I'm some kind of stalker or prankster. I don't need that on my record <its already long enough>. Not officially. And I'm going to keep it that way.

I climb the short set of steps up to the porch at the top, and knock on the door. Not too demanding, but not too soft. I think about pressing an ear up to the door to listen for movement inside, and then immediately toss the idea out; that could go so wrong in so many ways. Instead, I opt for straining my hearing doorwards. ...The sounds of celebration sound a lot more than they should, I suddenly realize. Weird.

...

No answer. Hmm. Well, I know there's someone here. Sorry about this, mystery winged person, but I'm more interested in getting home than respecting your social phobias <or your jerkery>. Ha ha, yeah. Twice as much, if it's that. That's not even a joke.

I knock again, just like I did before. Kana-mama says that each round of knocking on a door says something new about a visitor. Putting aside what it sounds like (which says a lot on its own), it's a measure of how serious you are about your business. One round of knocking could be someone checking the place out, or just curious if someone's home. A second round means that this is someone waiting for an answer, someone who has business to conduct or a definite interest in speaking.

...

[So, trying to put this nicely, buuuut.... your vacation plans kinda suck. Like, there's a huge party or something going on in this c—wow, check out that hat~]

I look around while waiting that weird, undefined but pre-set amount of time you wait in between knocks. The stairs go between a neatly kept strip of terraced lawn on their way down a short, steep slope to the street below. I guess the museum's on a little bit of hillside.

Still no answer. True to Kana-mama's explanation, my thoughts as I knock for a third time are about what she says it means: I'm here, I have business, I'm not easily deterred, and I'm pretty sure someone's around to hear it <answer already you jerk>.

("Yeah, who is it?")

Oh, there we go. From inside, a muffled <and peeved i think> male voice finally acknowledges my presence. So kind.

"I'm here to speak to—" <oh godsdammit elis never gave me a name crap crap crap> "—a certain person regarding onje travel methods." Please let that pass on by. Don't examine it too much.

A pause. ("Go to Algerasso and ask some then, yeah? That sign out front don't say anything about us being their help desk, do it?")

Well. This is going great <totally called it for being a jerk>. I clear my throat quietly and press on. "I don't believe it did, no. But---"

("That's what I thought, right? Besides, we're closed, so come back tomorrow or maybe don't even bother, okay?")

I close my eyes and take one breath, then two, before continuing. "—But, I have a letter here from someone who specifically directed me to this place to ask about such things."

Quite a long second or few passes before the voice replies more guardedly, with, ("No you don't, do you? Who's it from then, eh?")

"Elis, The Innocence." I let that sizzle in the air for a second before following it up: "I recently had the pleasure of visiting her at her home in Vina." <yeah punk hows it taste huh> I still can't discount social phobias as the cause, but they're seeming increasingly less likely the more I speak with him <maybe the phobias from how every time he talks to someone they end up punching him in the face>. What a terrible, self-fulfilling spiral of events.

From about door-handle-height comes the mechanical sound of something metal clicking and then sliding. The door is opened to the sound of a pretty, glass-like chime, and I finally meet the jerk in person.

If there was a gargoyle that never bothered with the whole "hanging out on rooftops" job and just became a shut-in, it would look a lot like this guy: hunched-over, really pale, thin, two huge, folded-up bat wings, and pretty spooky. His eyes make him look either grim or just super-annoyed. Could even be both. He doesn't seem to be very happy to see me <i dont think theres anything that makes him happy>.

[There was a 7-11 in Bangladesh that made a noise like that.]

"You've got nothing like that, do you? It ain't nice to go using someone's name like that, you know?" That's one really irritated squint. And worryingly large hands.

I take out the letter, unroll it, and hold it up for him to read, while keeping my hands over the already-broken seal. I just know he'd use that as an excuse. He tries to grab the letter, but I take a step back, still holding it up. "I am fine holding onto this, thank you." I think my own annoyance is starting to bleed through.

The demon makes some kind of scraping, clicking sound in his throat when I say that, but drops his hands and peers at the letter. He finishes reading quicker than expected, and straightens up. "Fine." That single syllable uttered, he turns around and stalks back into the building. I wait outside, but he turns back just inside the entryway, and gives me a look of what is pretty much straight contempt. "You coming in or not, huh?"

Oh gods, please don't let this be the guy I'm supposed to talk to. This is not the time for irony.

Inside is a small room—clearly a waiting room. Some things just can't change too much across worlds. There's a very nice wooden table with some pamphlets on it, a few worn but dutifully maintained chairs, a door, and a smoky glass window behind which a receptionist probably sits during normal hours. It's dark right now, though. He wasn't lying about this place being closed.

He opens up the other door. "Someone will come and talk to you, so sit tight there, okay?" Without waiting for an answer, he goes through and closes it behind him, shutting it a little harder than he needed to.

Well <what an asshole>. Preeeeeetty much.

...

I guess I'll wait here, then.
>> No. 14661
File 145810356348.png - (122.38KB, 300x238, you’re gonna carry that wait.png) [iqdb]
14661
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=D86Geoomt7I ]
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/D86Geoomt7I ]


It takes me about five minutes to start wondering, and ten more to start getting angry.

He ditched me.

That ratfink jerk ditched me here.

Worst of all, I can hear a clock ticking softly, but I don't know where it is. Probably in the receptionist's office, which is quite dark. I remember, all of a sudden, the cheap blue plastic Doraemon wristwatch I had when I was little. Gods, I haven't thought about that thing in ages. I don't remember what happened to it, but boy would I love to have it back right now.

...Actually, it probably wouldn't do me any good here, would it? Twenty-nine hour days and all that. Crud.

I wonder if my Circadian rhythm is shot yet. Or did I already adapt? I don't think it's been that long. It doesn't happen very fast, does it?

Once again, I wonder how long I've been in Makai. How many Makaian days, and how many hours that makes. I feel a sudden chill go through me: What if time moves at a different pace? Was that ship my own personal turtle princess that I followed into the sea?

[I've got some important new findings to share: Don't try to fit yourself through a hole smaller than your head. It's a fool's errand! And I'm all chafed now, too.]

I calm myself down and try to look at the situation with a rational head. Okay, seriously: I don't think that's actually happening. There's a lot of wiggle room when it comes to inhuman beings and their apparent age, but if I compare the appearances of Elis, Keshti, and Kunigunde to how they looked in that picture I saw, they seem like they've aged at probably the same rate. If there was a significant difference in how time passed between there and here, Kunigunde would probably have looked a lot older.

Leaning back in my chair, I stare at the ceiling. Now that I think about it, if Reimu and Marisa and whoever else caused so much mayhem here and it's all been fixed up, it might even be the opposite case.

...Well, if I go to that onje hostel, I can ask the people there. They'd probably know for sure.

Still don't know how long it's been.

Although, hey: if I'm just sitting around doing nothing, I could use this time to figure that out. I close my eyes and think back. ...Right, so I was probably out for a few hours after landing, and it was getting pretty dark aft—

clunk

("Servant's tits.")

What.

A thump and what I think passes for profanity around here comes from deeper in the office, followed by low voices. I straighten up out of my slouch quickly—almost too quick, as the chair rocks forward and bangs against the floor when it lands back on all fours.

The voices stop for a second, and then a female one calls out. "Hey Scoose, that you?"

[Saaaaaaaved at last~!]

"Probably not," I call back, after a moment of internal debate. "Sorry." Whoever it is doesn't sound like shut-in gargoyle jerk guy, so I'm a bit less worried about talking to them <then again they probably work with that guy>. That doesn't mean anything <really>! Okay, it doesn't mean everything.

"Then who are you? You know the place is closed, right?" A male voice... I think. It's sort of on the fence, in that regard.

"I came here to ask about onje travel methods. I have a letter of introduction from Elis, the Innocence."

"...Huh. Seriously?" He sounds impressed, and a bit surprised. "Well, if you'd open the door there, I'd actually appreciate it lots. It, uh.... One second. ...No, it isn't locked."

This is getting a little odd. But it's not getting rude, so really, I'm already doing better. "Sure," I tell him. And indeed, the door leading deeper into the office is unlocked. I open it up, and immediately get out of the way as a very short, bald man backs through it, carrying an enormous and heavy looking roll of... something. Paper? No, it's fabric. It's at least sixty or seventy centimeters thick.

The man spares a second from checking his surroundings to look at me, confused. "I got some more questions for you in a second, but what exactly are you doing in our waiting room?"

"Well..." I look back at the door they came through. "Someone with white skin and big wings let me in after I showed him the letter. He said someone would come and talk to me, and that was about fifteen or twenty minutes ago."

A noise of disgust comes from the other end of the roll of fabric just as its owner comes through the door. "Lemme guess. You an onje?" asks a... a dinosaur? I don't know how else to describe the very reptilian creature that lumbers through the door, end of the roll clutched tight in green, scale-covered arms. A neck that's just a little too long, no tail, really long horns, and a very feminine voice. She squints at me. "Yep, called it." She turns her head completely around, and barks a single word that echoes throughout the building. "SCOOSE!"

...Ow <fuck my ears>. Ow, ow, ow.

[OH GOD THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING]

The front door opens, and Mr. Pale Jerk from before sticks his head in, not looking at all worried. "Eh?" An unlit cigarette <whys it got a plastic thing on it> pokes out from the side of his mouth.

"You're helping me truck this down to the Plaza," she announces. "Grab Tane's end."

Scoose looks in the room and seems unhappy to see me. "Tane's got it already, doesn't he?"

Tane—the bald man, I guess—scowls at him. "No, Tane's got to take care of something you didn't."

"But you talked to her, right?"

"About ten words."

"Then I kept my word, didn't I?"

"Shut up and grab the tapestry, Scoose."

Scoose grunts darkly, but steps inside, tucks the cigarette behind his ear, and grabs Tane's end of the roll. He relieves the shorter man—oh, wait, demon; I see the shaved-down horns coming from the forehead, now—of the weight, hefting it with surprising ease. "Ready when you are, yeah?" he calls.

The pair depart, leaving me and Tane in the waiting room. "Right," he says, looking at his hands before rubbing them together. "Mind if I see that letter?" I hand it over, much less concerned about it being in his hands than Scoose's <hes not much more trustworthy really>. Technically that's true, but anyone looks better than that prickly ass.

He gives it back after a minute or two. So there <yeah my judgments always going to be sound yep>. "So, onje travel methods? I'm assuming you're from Earth, looking at you...?" I nod. "Is this for you, specifically?" Another nod. "Damn."

That's not good. "What's the matter?"

When he winces, I suddenly realize that what I had thought was a thin layer of shaved hair growing back in is actually tons and tons of overlapping tattoos of geometric patterns going up and over and down his head. It'd be a lot scarier if his voice didn't sound like he ought to be in some kind of television show. "You lose your way back home, or something?"

[I think...]

I nod slowly, glancing out the windows. Maybe that isn't something I should go announcing to everyone.

Tane flops into one of the chairs in the waiting room. "Well, I don't know how much help I'm going to be, I'm afraid. I'm the only onje specialist for the Brotherhood in this city, but my specialty's the early Americas. Not a lot of physical travel there. Tons of astral, but barely anybody came here in person. At least," he says, looking up at me with mint-green eyes, "not to the degree where we'd have a wealth of information about how they got here."

"Shit," is all I can muster for a glum reply, slumping back into one of the other chairs <it was the best of times and then it was the worst of times>. "I... I was really hoping I'd be able to find a solution here."

The demon's shirt looks one size too small, but it doesn't seem uncomfortable for him as he stretches. "Well, hold on now. I'm not so thoughtless as all that. Let me tell you what. You got any onje friends?"

"Not yet," I admit. "I might go by the hostel later, but I haven't decided for sure." I'm pretty sure the Smoke-woman is an onje, but she doesn't belong in the same paragraph, let alone sentence, as the word "friend".

[...I think...]

He grunts. "Well, you can try asking them, though I don't think it'll do much good. Most of you make your own travel arrangements, but it's worth a try. But if that doesn't pan out, come back here around mid-day or the hours just after. Ought to be less busy then. Plus, we'll actually be open, you know?"

It takes a bit of work not to look guilty at that. "Sure," is all I say.

"Great." Tane hops up from his seat like an excited kid—or one that's been forced to sit still for too long. "Sorry about tonight. Oh, and don't mind Scoose all that much. His family's a real traditional bunch." He gives a kind of 'hey, what're you gonna do?' shrug.

"Thanks," I say. ...I probably could have taken Scoose, if it came to it <yeah and then where would you be>. In lots and lots of trouble, sure. I'm not going to do it, but I'm saying I could.

Tane sees me out, and wishes me luck. Up above, the sky is turning redder and redder as the evening grows closer.

That went kind of crappily.

But I don't think I'm 100% screwed, just yet.

Yet.

[...I think I want a drink~ Yes. Drinks.]

I sigh, and start walking down the steps to the street. The day isn't over yet, as much as I wish it were.


(Pick 1-2 options.)

[ ] A table to set a plate down on. Gettin' hungry, and th' fish'll keep a day more.
[ ] A bed for restin' a body right.
- [ ] Could be worth tryin' her luck at the hotels.
- [ ] Then again, there's a place fulla her kind, right?
[ ] A cup fer drownin' frustrations. Ain't no way that bars ain't a thing here. The hell? Girl shakes her head, says nah. She got real business to attend to.
[ ] A counter for tradin' n' sellin'. Got a few things in mind for pickin' up and unloadin'.
[ ] Another sort of idea. One that hadn't occurred to 'er 'til just now. (write-in)

________________________________________________________________________________

>>14656
Most definitely not Markov output. You got some of them close.

Also, I guess I could/should have put that in /words/. I didn't really even think about that as a possibility, but it probably would have been the smarter option.
>> No. 14662
[X] A table to set a plate down on. Gettin' hungry, and th' fish'll keep a day more.
[X] A bed for restin' a body right.
- [X] Then again, there's a place fulla her kind, right?
>> No. 14663
[X] A table to set a plate down on. Gettin' hungry, and th' fish'll keep a day more.
[X] A bed for restin' a body right.
- [X] Then again, there's a place fulla her kind, right?
>> No. 14664
[X] A table to set a plate down on. Gettin' hungry, and th' fish'll keep a day more.
[X] A bed for restin' a body right.
- [X] Then again, there's a place fulla her kind, right?

The obvious answer.
>> No. 14665
[X] A table to set a plate down on. Gettin' hungry, and th' fish'll keep a day more.
[X] A bed for restin' a body right.
- [X] Then again, there's a place fulla her kind, right?

Bandwagon ho! —but no, covering Maslow's base is almost always a solid plan.

(And only now do I learn that many of Dante's Malebranche are named with portmanteaux themselves! Had I known this I would not have suggested Markov. Alas, this grants me no further insight into their individual origins. Although Makelot is Italian for מַקְהֵלֹת Makheloth (Numbers 33:25-26)....and also Dutch for Bob the Builder's Can-A-Lot.)
>> No. 14666
Man, Makai doesn't really seem that bad. Lighten up, Sanae.
>> No. 14671
File 145870991585.png - (207.82KB, 316x600, Wow٫ it really IS the right of all living beings.png) [iqdb]
14671
This week is shaping up to be quite a picnic. Update on the weekend. Apologies.

>>14666
When you've committed a felony in a foreign land in which your close associates happen to be literally tied for the title of Public Enemy No. 1, you might have a different stance on the matter.
>> No. 14672
>>14671
Bah! Sanae's association with R and M is barely a factor as long as she doesn't blab about it. Who's gonna know? It's not like she's carrying around a picture of the three of them being bros.
>> No. 14677
File 145913204418.png - (338.77KB, 400x358, Back in my day we obeyed gravity and we LIKED it.png) [iqdb]
14677
[丌] A table to set a plate down on. Gettin' hungry, and th' fish'll keep a day more.
[ᇊ] A bed for restin' a body right.
- [ი] Then again, there's a place fulla her kind, right?

I make my way out of Buscaglitore the same way I came in, which is refreshingly easy <except for walking by all those weird buildings>. Thankfully, it seems I can still remember my way around a city. I've wondered before if some of my Outsider skills had gotten rusty during my time in Gensokyo. I've got an answer, now.

Having met with kinda-defeat at the Brotherhood office, my priorities are now much more personal and immediate:

 ① Get something to eat.
 ② Find a place to sleep that isn't a shed or a gutter or the wilderness. .

As proud as I am of having caught and cooked fish all by myself, I am in the mood for something a bit more professional. And judging by the price of the license I had to buy for the sack of UFOs, I've got much more than enough money to buy a good meal. As for sleeping, I guess I'll check out that hostel Verritine mentioned. If it doesn't look too sketchy and gross, I'll stay a night.

And now, to business.

I don't know of a better place to find something hot, tasty, satisfying, and probably unhealthy than a festival, so I start heading towards the growing noise and fanfare. The streets aren't choked, but you definitely couldn't run in a straight line through them for more than five meters without smacking into someone.


[ ♫: https://youtu.be/LNy8r-ZgKgQ ]


Taking a few side streets brings me past one that's notably more crowded than most. This is exactly what I'm trying to get around and bypass, but something about the music draws me in. The sound of rapidly played strings echoing off the buildings all around us stirs up a feeling of... excitement, I think, within me. It's enough to make me stop and take a closer look.

[There's no way that's a shortcut. Come on alreadyyyy~]

Hovering about a meter or so up—after noticing a handful of other people doing the same—I spy several demons and fairies in the center of the crowd. Some of them are playing instruments, but half as many again are dancing their hearts out. It's like seeing footage of Carneval, or something. Certainly no Oklahoma Mixer, that's for sure. There's so much life in it.

As I start bobbing my head to the music, I look over the dancers. I come to a stop on one of them, a woman with long, braided black hair. Something about her seems a bit off, and after fixating on her for a bit, it occurs to me that I don't see horns on her <no horns no weird bits nothing outrageous at all>. I squint, and peer closer. Heck, it's almost like...

Is she human?

The thought alone is enough to bring me back out of my fascination. Technically speaking, it shouldn't be surprising if that's really what's up. There's a whole part of the city <albeit not the nicest or largest> where onje live, after all. No reason for them to stay cooped up in there the whole time <especially not during a festival>.

As I start looking around me, I slowly notice that the crowd here has a definitely younger look. Again, hard to tell actual ages of non-humans at a glance, but in comparison to most of the people I've seen about the city... Well.

Interesting.

Right now, I've got priorities, though. Floating back down to ground level, I go back and search for another way to the next street over.

[Finallyyyyy. Mama needs her medicine, you know~?]

Streetlights—steady light, so probably electric. Or magical, maybe?—start turning on as I make my way closer to the sounds of the festival. As evening sets in and the sky reddens, the level of natural sun(?)light drops <it gets darker at night what a scoop somebody go grab a tengu and get me shameimaru stat>. ...Ha. Ha. Ha. Shut up. The point is, when the Makaian sky gets as red as it does at that hour, it's not as illuminating as you'd think that would be. Anyway, there's still plenty of orange up there, so that point's a while off, yet. Maybe an hour or so? Makes me wonder if the lights are on a timer, or they can sense daylight somehow.

If I didn't have every intention of getting out of Makai as soon as possible, I'd be real interested in getting a wristwatch. Actually, hitting up a few stores might not be a bad idea anyway. But again: not right now.

Finally, I break out of the alleys of Buscaglitore, and find myself where I knew this festival would be taking place: Sibylla Plaza.
>> No. 14678
File 145913245633.jpg - (736.38KB, 1920x1200, this but three or four times bigger.jpg) [iqdb]
14678
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=5Etx7AvmMbA ]
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/5Etx7AvmMbA ]
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/jbyaq ]


...

Gods, I didn't think it would be so big. I'm probably a few dozen meters away from the set-of-an corner of the Plaza, but I can see it stretching off for at least a hundred more in both directions. And it is packed.

[Oh wow~ Looks like the fair came to town!]

I see now how a mere festival is able to accommodate so many people. Heck, I was wrong to call this a festival, but I don't even have a word for an event like this. To me, a festival is a row of stalls and fun attractions about half a block long, and everyone goes there at night and wears yukata and we have fun messing around <add in lots of drinking and you have the gensokyan version>. But this...

Every centimeter of the Plaza is occupied by a cart, a stand, a stall, a tent, a temporary building, or a visitor. People are moving in and out of the place <mostly in>, and I can hear music, cooking sounds, bells and buzzers, cheering, and all the commotion and hubbub of a crowd. It's almost like an amusement park, come to think of it, only without any kind of theme. If an amusement park dressed up as a festival, this is what it would look like.

I step off the sidewalk and join the crowd moving in. There's temporary fencing set up around the Plaza, I notice. I guess we're being funneled towards some gate. Far ahead, towards what can't be anything but the middle of the Plaza, an alabaster white statue rises above it all. A female figure in robes leans back with her arms raised like she was lifting something terribly heavy. Streams of water shoot up all around her from below in irregular but constant bursts, crisscrossing around her.

...I know it's probably something very important and significant to the people here, but there's something faintly Dragon Ball about the whole scene. Maybe it looks more majestic up close?

Up ahead, I see that the crowd going in is getting funneled through several smaller gates. After listening to the chatter as we draw closer, I'm able to dig through my wallet and pull out exact change ahead of time. The thankfully-small fee gets me a small, flat chip of precisely carved red stone that indicates to all those who can read this weird writing that the bearer has paid for a one-day pass to the Feast of St. Sibyl.

Guess I know what to call this all, now.

[Gonna wander over this way to this fine spiny fellow with all those... kegs? I hope, I hope~]

I don't have to go very far to hit the concession area. I guess I could have found some brick-and-mortar <or eye of newt for all i know> place to eat at, but I knew that there was going to be something really good, here. Even back home, there's something different about takoyaki at a festival versus takoyaki from a store <yakisoba at the beach versus yakisoba at a restaurant>. Yeah, or even that.

And I'm not disappointed. The sounds of things sizzling, bubbling, and roasting, plus the sheer variety of exotic smells in the air creates a strange and mouth-watering atmosphere that, like the festival—or the beach—gives food that extra, intangible flavor of excitement. Taking a leisurely pace, I stroll from stall to cart to stand, eyeing what's cooking or being eaten and sniffing the air <and almost bumping into people>.

"'Ey, watch it."

"Sorry!"

...Don't even start.

I settle on a stall that appears to be serving up bowls of something hot, fresh, and savory-smelling. Although I think it wasn't even the food that I found appealing so much as how strangely close it looks to a yatai—mobile, well-lit, stools out in front, and a little curtain and roof for the patrons <barely a curtain more like a long awning>. Whatever. I'm hungry.

It's only after I've taken a stool two seats over from the other patron, a well-dressed <going by the scraps of makaian fashion ive seen anyway> demon with the horns of a ram and the body of a sickly hippo, that I notice the person working here <holy heck miss misty hes not>. I'm taken aback: I didn't think you could ever use the word "grizzled" to describe a fairy, but there's no other word that fits. They've always been youthful and attractive and animated.

He doesn't look happy to see me sit down here, but he doesn't look like the type who's happy about much to begin with. It makes me start questioning my choice of venue. On a more positive note, he doesn't chase me off, and a glance to either side doesn't turn up the "Onje not served here" sign that Keshti warned me about. Maybe I'm in the clear, then?

"Onje?" he grunts. I blink. If Quattro smoked and drank for thirty years and then started screaming on a daily basis, his voice would end up sounding a lot like this.

Still. I nod warily.

"Got money?"

"Of course." I smack the pocket I put the loose change in, which clinks obligingly.

He grunts, and turns back to the stove, where pots simmer and cooking racks silently warm the little open-air cart. "Three minutes," he tells me, and begins the business of the cook.

...Might not be too late to start drinking, after all.

I look behind him at a row of several well-secured bottles, and give them a longing gaze before internally shaking my head. No, that'd be a bad idea any way you sliced it. It's funny, though: normally, I feel a little bit of dread whenever there's some kind of party being thrown. Gensokyans love parties, and they love to drink. These two loves are frequently combined.

Right now, I'd give <almost> anything to be at one of those obnoxious get-togethers.

The world's a real funny place, isn't it?

I chuckle, and close eyes that suddenly feel too hot, too blurry.

clonk. "Drink?"

My head jerks up to find the fairy staring at me. There's also a bowl parked next to my head, and my mouth actually starts watering the instant I register the smell wafting off of it. My stomach doesn't growl, though. My mangaka dropped the ball there; you don't pass up an opportunity like that <shut up and eat already>.

...I notice out the corner of my eye that the hippo-ish demon is gone, and there's some change on the counter. Although if your currency is all coins in the first place, isn't everything change? Or maybe nothing is change.

Uh. He asked a question, didn't he. What was <booze yes no the answer is no>... Oh. "No, I need to stay sharp tonight," I say, politely declining.

His eyes narrow. "Don't sell liquor to onje. Asked about a drink." ...Even though I did just turn it down, I still feel a bit insulted. On the other hand...

"Is it extra?"

Without moving the rest of his body, a calm, translucent green wing flicks out and taps a sign <which i cant read at all thanks a lot dillweed>. ...It's true, I can't read the sign. But I do see a couple of Makaian numbers, each next to the unmistakeable ℐ symbol—twenty-four juliène and four juliène. That isn't too hard to decipher.

"Oh. Then yes, please."

[—and so then I say 'that's not my eye!']

Grunt. Surprised grunt, actually. He pulls a large cup made of red glass off a stack of several more, fills it from a pitcher, and sets it down next to my bowl.

When he turns back around to tend to something else, I press my hands together and speak an almost inaudible thanks before taking up the spoon <which is made of wood who even makes a spoon out of wood>, and pulling over that bowl. ...That big bowl, I suddenly realize. I... don't think I'd normally be able to polish off this much food. And even as famished as I am, I think it's still going to be close.

The bowl is full of some kind of very thick, pale soup; almost like porridge. The bulk of the soup is some kind of cooked grain shaped like a thin, tiny almond. There's also several cut-up vegetables and something that has the unmistakeable characteristics of bird meat. Looks grilled. And it smells really good. Creamy, tangy, and some kind of strange, exotic smell.

I take a bite and only remember my experience at Elis' house as my lips close around the spoon <oh godsdammiiiiiit>.

Well. It's not spicy yet.

I chew, full of careful hesitation, evaluating with each chew whether my mouth is on fire or not.

So far, not.

...Nope.

Still nothing.

It's pretty good. Those little grains have an unexpected but satisfying crunch to them. The smell of this soup made me thing of something strange and foreign, but the actual taste is like something vaguely European that I feel should probably taste worse and cost twenty times as much. Rather pleasing, in faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh there it is.

In the split second I have to glance at the drink, I note that it is almost alarmingly blue and opaque. A bit dribbles out the side as I drink quickly and pray that it isn't poison. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad, though, because then it would make the burning stop.

After putting away about a third of what was in the glass, I put it down, still breathing heavily. That dick of a fairy is laughing silently, shoulders heaving, shaking his head. I glare stonily at him, which just seems to make him laugh more.

You know what, mister? Screw you. I am not a godsdamned joke. In fact—

I make sure he's actually looking at me, first, and stare right back at him. Without breaking the gaze, I pick up the bowl in one hand and with the spoon in the other, take a large, hearty, healthy second bite.

His silent laughter dies down pretty quick, but he's still grinning like a total asshole. Because he is.

Well, I'll play your game, punk. And I'll win. Even if it kills me <which it might>. Don't care. Worth it.

After swallowing, the burning spiciness comes back, just as hot and hellish as it was before. My eyes water but I keep them firmly planted on my opponent, even as I take another drink of... the blue stuff.

Once the haze of spice and agony clears a little, I take another, smaller sip. There's hints of something aromatic—like mint... or maybe anise? More obvious is a definite sweetness and the very distinct taste of lemon. On the downside, it fizzes a little sharply on the tongue, like fermenting pineapple. Small price to pay for relief from misery, though.

[and then the next morning, they found a hook dangling from the door handle!]

His eyebrows creep upwards just a tad as I go back a third time. "'S pre'y gooh stuv," I say around the mouthful, finally breaking the gaze to glance over at the glass and tap it with the spoon. "Whafvit cah'd?"

"Maaliyv. Made an hour ago."

"Mm." Like that breakfast ages ago, it is good. What happens after, that's awful.

I continue this masochistic dance of spite and soup for the next ten or twenty minutes. I think. Could be more. Occasionally he refills my glass. So glad that this stuff isn't bitter like that tea was. Could do without that biting fizziness, though.

When the fires of the last napalm-infused mouthful of soup have been extinguished, I set my bowl down, lay my spoon on the table, and wait for him to glance down at the bowl. When he does, I inaudibly murmur my thanks, hands out of sight beneath the counter. His eyes come back up to meet mine.

Hey, look at that. No more sourpuss.

"Huh."

Damn right.

"Second bowl's just sixteen."

I chuckle and pat my stomach, showing how very casual I am being about this and not rushing to turn down that offer post-haste because I am just fine, completely fine, and have never been better. "Thank you, but that was actually quite filling," I say, politely declining. Actually more truth than lie, that. I'm actually a bit full; it was a big bowl of soup, enough for two or even three healthy-sized servings back home <and also spicy enough to kill mice and poison the earth>.

Well I'm sure that's just incidental <thats the official story is it>. It's the opinion of this broadcaster, at least.

He shrugs, making his wings bounce for a moment. "Suit yourself." Leaning forward, he reaches over and plucks my bowl and spoon up and puts them in... a sink, by the sound of it. Not just indoor plumbing, but mobile, too? I'm actually impressed.

Anyway, time to get a move on.

I get up and dig through my pocket for the handful of loose change, then examine the coins in my hand under the lights of the cart.
As I decipher the numbers on each one, I pull it aside if it's less than the bill. ...Damn, I should have done this ahead of time. Messing around with money in the open like this is probably not a good idea. Feels weird, too. Doesn't anyone know what a change tray is?

Gods, I really hope the currency is counted in regular, sane numbers like the yen is. If they do something stupid with decimal numbers like the Americans, I'm going to be in trouble. I don't want to accidentally give him way too much, and I don't know if I'd know how to tell the difference <physical signs maybe metal color weight size etc>. ...Hmm. I guess? It's not any kind of guarantee though.

Hooray, more uncertainty.

I collect what I pray is the right amount and lay it on the counter. I look his direction to give him my questionable thanks, only to find a thick packet of rough, waxy paper being handed to me.

"Fresh machavat. Adama, too." Finally, a word I recognize that isn't onje. Cool. ...No, wait. What?

My confused and now probably suspicious look prompts him to clarify. "Never seen any foreign layabout able to finish off a bowl of sh'luliyt, excepting a couple. You make three." He pushes the small parcel towards me. "On the house."

The combination of casual offensiveness and generosity throws me for a loop. I don't really know how to interpret that, so I take the packet in both hands and keep the stiffness out of my voice. "Thank you, sir. It's an honor."

Normally I'd probably just just leave, or maybe even tell him off, but even if I don't know what to think, I know for sure that I am not a girl who is possessed of much food <or pride>. Pride isn't going to keep me fed, though.

The fairy just grunts and shoos me off.

Stepping back out onto the well-attended row of food stalls, I can see already that the crowd's gotten bigger. Despite the most obvious meaning of the name, the Grand Feast of St. Sibyl is probably more than just a big dinner. Maybe I should ask someone what this is all about. Could probably do that tomorrow when I go back to the office.

[Eyyyyyyy, it's my shadow! Ahaha, whoops~]

I suddenly cra             destep a stumbling drunk and rejoin the crowd. While I make my way back to the gate, I glance up at the red sky above. It has yet to completely rid itself of the afternoon's orange, but it's well on its way to that point. I don't know what time it is and I don't even feel tired.

But the idea of going to bed and falling asleep just sounds so... nice right now.

After a couple of shortcut attempts that end in dead ends or more fence, I find a different exit and call it good. Judging by the light and the sorta-familiar buildings off in one direction, I think I'm on the mo-of-an side of the Plaza. I check the map of Dis again to remind myself of the hostel's relative location, and curse the lack of streets shown on it.

Well, there's a few different ways to do this.


[ ] Sticks t' bigger, brighter streets. Route'll be plenty scenic, but in the open, too.
[ ] Goes back on up the way in. Walked it comin' here, so it's hardly unfamiliar.
[ ] Less walkin' ain't ever been bad. Girl for th' shortest span 'tween two points.

________________________________________________________________________________

"Parts should be in around April" is not a note you want to ever see appear on your list of work orders.
>> No. 14679
[X] Sticks t' bigger, brighter streets. Route'll be plenty scenic, but in the open, too.
>> No. 14680
[X] Sticks t' bigger, brighter streets. Route'll be plenty scenic, but in the open, too.
>> No. 14681
[x] Sticks t' bigger, brighter streets. Route'll be plenty scenic, but in the open, too.

Wouldn't mind seeing the sort of character option 3 might turn up, assuming a seedier route, but this is probably better for Sanae. I like grizzled food cart fairy. Wonder how commonplace that sort of assholishness-turned-potential grudging respect might be in Makai.

And what do you do for work, Fell?
>> No. 14682
[????] Sticks t' bigger, brighter streets. Route'll be plenty scenic, but in the open, too.

>>14681
> Wouldn't mind seeing the sort of character option 3 might turn up, assuming a seedier route, but this is probably better for Sanae.

Shortest way between two points is a straight line, as the crow <or shrine maiden> flies. As much as I'd like to know what the local flying etiquette is, I'm not too keen on breaking it just to learn.
>> No. 14685
File 145983332578.jpg - (137.25KB, 500x375, red at night every night.jpg) [iqdb]
14685
[➨] Sticks t' bigger, brighter streets. Route'll be plenty scenic, but in the open, too.


[ ♫: https://youtu.be/oWQON2ldzCw ]
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=oWQON2ldzCw ]

But I'm not really interested in any that don't involve wide, well-lit streets. Not in this city <weird that the goal was the total opposite a few days ago>. Well, not all that weird, I guess. Unfortunately ironic, maybe.

I travel around the outside perimeter of the Feast towards what looks like the busiest street headed in the right direction. It's a long couple of minutes getting there, between the size and the crowd, but once there, I finally begin my trek mo-of-anward, winding carefully through the people mostly heading the other way, towards the Feast.

Only when I accidentally bump someone and feel the packet almost slip from my hands do I remember that I'm still holding the machavat. I hold it more tightly until I find an alley to step into.

Unslinging my pack, I set it down onto the lid of... a trash can? I glance at three other cans placed next to it, each one marked with something different. However, I'm in no hurry to go rummaging through them for hidden items <yeah this isnt mother 2>, so I leave the lids on and the contents unexamined.

"Guess it kinda explains why the streets are clean," I say to myself, after a moment. Unzipping my pack, I look again at the cans. Odd place to put a public collection site, I have to say. But I guess they figured out public sanitation, so more power to 'em? I shrug.

The job of stuffing the machavat bundle into one of my (increasingly fewer) unused food containers brings my mind back to the demon I got them from. At the time, it was... weird and uncomfortable, I guess. Even just thinking about it still feels like that, actually. I'm by no means a stranger to prejudice and suspicion—it's something I've been subjected to in various forms and for various reasons, off and on all throughout my life. Not so much in recent years, though. The tengu weren't our biggest fans at first, of course, and we got off on the wrong foot with Reimu, but both of those relationships couldn't be better today <especially for kana mama>.

...I really didn't need to think about that.

Anyway, the point is that it's nothing new, but it's usually been on or off, not this weird conditional thing. If this was a manga, people would look at that guy and just assume he was being tsundere, like he was the stock "gruff old man with a heart of gold" character. But the more I think about it, I think that while this fairy is still a jerk, he could also be a jerk with principles.

[Aha! Missed this place on the first pass~]

Doesn't make him less of an asshole.

I stuff the container back into my backpack, zip it closed, and then glare at it while my thoughts catch up to my thinking. Man, I can't ever recall being so damn cynical about manga cliches, of all things. Where did all this come from <from every other aspect of your life>? Yeah, but it never did this before. Why all of a sudden?

...

The most obvious answer sits in the recent past, just behind my head.

It sits there and grins and laughs and bleeds all over the place.

...

"...This whole place is bullshit," I say, choking down a sniffle with a coughing laugh, and rub at my wet eyes <dont have time for this right now>.

I. I just gotta make it to the hostel.

That's all.

And then... Then I can do whatever. Or sleep.

Sleep, and then whatever.

That's the plan.

I hate Makai so much.
>> No. 14686
File 145983357735.jpg - (290.18KB, 1067x800, any city at night is a city of night.jpg) [iqdb]
14686
I keep walking for several more blocks in an increasingly darkening mood. I'd probably have ended up going somewhere I shouldn't have if it weren't for the sudden shout from the street that makes me jump and almost slam into a lamp pole.

"One-eighty-eight-tack-se'en by one-si'ty-three-tack-nine!"

I turn around and almost end up punching one of those ugly bird-ish things when I find myself way more face-to-face with it than I find comfortable. It croaks and gives me a look about as black as mine, while behind it, two demons hop off the side of a cart and onto the sidewalk. One of them digs in a purse and flips a coin into the air, where it's caught by another demon sitting at the head of the cart <didnt even have to look>.

A few seconds go by during all this, while I take a literal and figurative step back in order to give this some context beyond "shouted numbers and ugly quasi-birds". There's a guy up there... and a cart. The cart has a roof? And I can see people sitting inside it.

Weird.

The answer doesn't sink into my brain until he's already about twenty meters off. I take off after him, shouting and waving.

He cranes his head back and whistles a low note. The cart doesn't stop, but it does slow down enough for me to jog alongside. "Hey," I call up to him, not quite yet winded but coming close. "This one go to the gate?"

"'Course." He points to a placard on the side of the cart that's a bit too dim <and probably too makaian> to read. "Condor n' Blackstrap lines both run gate-to-gate. Five'll getcha there," he adds.

"Great."

He jerks a thumb towards the back of the cart, where a disturbingly thin girl <oh gods i can see her actual ribs ew ew> moves a over to make room for me. I go around and climb up a little pair of metal steps into the back, and take the vacated spot, which is one of several canvas-flap chairs secured to the cart bed. From above, I hear a few rapid notes whistled, and the cart starts to move again.

So.

I guess they have buses.

Makai's still awful. But it's still full of surprises <and dont i know it>, too.

I let a few more stops go by with, thank you mamas, nobody trying to strike up conversation. It finally occurs to me that he's only shouting out those weird addresses, which sound a lot like coordinates. Only the occasional street or landmark is mentioned, but they're pretty uncommon.

[Maaaan, ghost riding the whip is a lot more fun if it's an actual car.]

Hmm.

I get out the map again, and start paying a little closer attention. It takes a while to figure out what's what, and where the bus-cart is going. First I have to figure out what the actual distance of the numbers means in relation to how far we've traveled. Each number seems like just a bit less than 5 meters. After checking the location of the sunlight over the wall and taking into account the changing numbers, I get a rough idea of what direction we're going. And finally, by cross-referencing the address I heard the constable give earlier, I know where the cart is in relation to Merry Verri's.

I'll be honest; I was a little pumped when I finally cracked the last part of that mystery.

Too bad we'd way overshot the point where I should have gotten off, by then.

At the next arterial, I hop off and hand the driver a ℐ10 coin—out of fives and not enough ones. Midway through my apology, he throws a coin at me—a five. My gratitude is answered with a wave and the start-moving whistle as the bus rolls away.

Cool.

The walk through Gaudanno isn't much to take note of. The architecture is dull and functional, the streets aren't heavily trafficked, and most places look closed or not open to the public. A chill blows through the area, finally dispelling the lingering warmth that had stuck around <evenings coming>.

When the buildings suddenly become older and crummier-looking, I know I'm in Algerasso. Here, too, the streets aren't very busy, but I do see people walking around <probably human>. Yeah, probably. Some definitely aren't, like the fairies, but many are either human or very un-demony demons.

I should feel more excitement about finally seeing fellow homo sapiens moving around, but I just can't muster up the energy. Maybe the Smoke-woman burnt it out of me. I don't know.

Something goes boom in the near distance. Not the bad kind. When a kappa screws something up, that kind of boom. Not the "Did something flammable just explode" kind. Living on Youkai Mountain, you learn to tell the difference.

On my left, I pass a well-lit building with an unreadable German name printed in heavy gothic blackletter. The paintings of beer mugs lead me to believe that it's probably a bar <gods i want a drink>. I can hear muffled horns coming from inside, but it's nothing I recognize.

[...hey, they're playing the Bosstones~]

Trudging onward, I finally arrive at my destination: A tall, thin, four-story wooden building that looks like a skyscraper compared to the short little one-stories around here. Out in front is a richly decorated sign flanked by honest-to-goodness palm trees, reading: The Laughing Gecko. Below that, in smaller but still prominent letters: Foreign Traveler's Hostel. There's also a picture of some kind of cheerful ...lizard? I think. Whatever.

I push open the front door, jingling a little bell. As I step through, there's the weirdest sensation of having a humming noise spilled on me. I stand there, blinking through it for a few seconds. When I look up, I find a very heavyset, dark-skinned <samoan or something maybe> man behind a counter, glancing at me over the top of the local newssheet <just guessing on that though>. Other stuff's in the room, too, I guess. Not important.

Coming to a stop in front of the desk, I look up at him. Very confident I am, yes. "I'd like a room," I say. And after a beat, add. "Soon." I mull that over, and as a courtesy, decide to add, "Please?"

He nods. "Sure thing," says the man. Something about the way he speaks makes me think of barrels under monasteries. Deep and rich. Amused. "If your license clears, it's fifty-five a night. Bunks are secure and warded."

I just stare at him for many long seconds. "...I expected you to talk funnier," I finally say.

"I can speak Pidgin if it'll make you feel better."

"Nah. I'm good." What a nice man.

...

...Oh, yeah. Money and license. I fish out my papers and after a few false starts, a ℐ100 coin. After taking both and examining the license, tapping it a few times with a pen, he hands them back along with appropriate change—in a tray, like you're supposed to do—which I stuff into my pockets.

With his knuckles, he knocks out a little rhythm on the countertop, opens up a drawer, and passes me a couple of keys from it. ...Well, calling these "keys" would be generous. That looks more like decorative grating than a key. Shouldn't metal be a lot more flimsy with that many bends in it? It doesn't bend, though, even when I try.

[That's a neeeeeat necklace.]

"Big one's floor access," he tells me, pointing to one key. "Little one's for your locker—you got bunk D. Most of your roommates're out at the Feast."

"Cool." Long pause. "I mean, thanks."

He just nods, and then points me to a very sturdy-looking door off to the side of this... waiting room? There's a couch and magazines and a fish tank without water. Later. "Second floor, room three. Third floor's kitchen n' rec. Fourth floor's the men's floor. 'S off limits."

The door leads to a concrete stairwell which I start to trudge up. About nine hours and seventy-four flights of stairs and twenty seconds later, I slot the key into the locking handle of a painfully-blue door with an enormous white 2 painted on it. Makes it hard to miss. Good customer awareness.

I don't think that thought made sense <iunno maybe>.

Entering the second floor dumps me into a small lobby with three doors, each easily identified by the big number right next to it on the wall. They're not as big as the 2 out in the stairwell. Good. I wouldn't be able to put up with that kind of noise. Room one and room three have identical doors, but for the numbers. The door to Room Two is open, though. ...Oh, it's a bathroom.

Good to know. For real.

I turn the knob of room three, and enter a very plain, wood-floored room. A long stretch of carpet before a window runs between four banks of bunk beds, each bank marked with a letter. All but bunk D show some sign of use or prior occupancy. In the case of the lower B bunk, current occupancy.

Said occupant is bundled up in and under blankets like some kind of bug.

"Manjit?" Guess it speaks, too. Sounds young.

"Nope, sorry," I say, walking towards bunk-bank D. "It's me, the interfering Kochiya."

The blanket-bug goes still for a second, then shifts and squirms. It turns <i cant actually tell> in my direction. "...You new?"

I unlock the locker marked D2, and place my weird sleeve-hat turbandanna and pack inside. That bit about wards had better be true. I am well past the point of being able to do anything. Thing. The stuff. ...I was just asked a question, wasn't I?

"...Kinda."

Shift squirm squirm twist shift upright. "You got a Coke on you?" Hopeful-sounding.

ksssst-click. Whoa. Some kind pressure seal?

"I actually haven't seen a can of Coca-Cola in years."

Shift sag slump. "Damn."

"Sorry."

The blanket bug grunts despondently.

...

Human contact might be overrated after all. I start to climb the lad[I CALL TOP BUNK~!]     ttom bunk is obviously the better choice. I could roll off during the night or something if I was up there. And that would be just terrible.

Besides, this way I can literally fall asleep when my head hits the pillow.

Like this.



flompf



[ ] Something Old
[ ] Something New

________________________________________________________________________________

Sorry it's late.

>>14681
I am the night.

I test medical and industrial electronics.
>> No. 14687
[~] Something Borrowed

... what do you mean that's not an option?

[X] Something Old
>> No. 14690
[X] Something Old
>> No. 14691
[X] Something Old
>> No. 14695
[☆] Something Blue

[X] Something New
>> No. 14697
>[x] Something New
Don't live in the past.
>> No. 14698
File 146139167640.png - (159.00KB, 800x840, kind of an obvious pun if you think about it.png) [iqdb]
14698
Votes are (obviously long since) called.

It is currently a busy and trying time.

The update is slowly (and painfully) but surely being prepared. Please--well, the image says it all.
>> No. 14699
File 146142794255.jpg - (13.79KB, 167x250, 1412551820389-0.jpg) [iqdb]
14699
>>14698
Spin warmly?
>> No. 14701
File 146165001128.jpg - (109.79KB, 850x500, home is where you hang your hate.jpg) [iqdb]
14701
[鬱] Something Old


[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/vlsir ]



High, high up, on a mountaintop in Gensokyo, Blue-white sits atop a long, long flight of stone steps, and looks out at nothing.

That is not entirely true. She is looking out at more mountains. Many, many more. But she is not thinking about, or even truly
seeing the mountains. This has been happening quite often, as of late. It has happened before, as well.

It has been a couple of months since Blue-white and her goddesses have arrived in Gensokyo. She has grown familiar enough with the land to breed just the right microdose of contempt, and is still new enough to definitely be considered an outsider. It is the perfect sour spot to breed a certain kind of state of mind in a certain kind of girl prone to certain kinds of moods.

When things are not going well, they can always go worse. This she has learned, and this she knows.

If someone were to ask Blue-white what had her down, they would be assured that she was fine, just fine. Really. Just thinking about things. Nothing wrong.

Blue-white could say that and in that instant, it would be something she believed. In fact, she would always believe it, the moment she said it. But then the moment must end, and other thoughts return.

She is sitting on the steps so that she doesn't have to get back to work. This strategy has never worked for very long in the past. Maybe it'll be different this time. Yeah.

This time, for sure.

First, there is the sweeping of the stone-paved paths all across the shrine grounds, a common task so often repeated that it has become a meditation exercise by this point. The mind centers itself while the body does useful work. An enormous, loathsome, tedious job.

There is the group of humans from the main village that need to be safely guided to the shrine in a couple days' time. All the new believers, curious onlookers, and people who just didn't want place all their trust in Red-white would be personally escorted by the new shrine's miko and thus be far more likely to pray and donate once they arrived. A time-consuming hassle where she was stuck playing tour guide for a bunch of naive people too weak to make the journey on their own.

Twice during the week, Blue-white must make the rounds of the villages and farms, and speak with people, promote her shrine, offer advice, and generally spread the good word. Anything that raised the numbers of the faithful would be a considerable boon for the shrine. Nothing but pimping out the literal favors of herself and her godesses, smiling and making nice and upselling and answering inane questions as if she were manning a booth in a godsdamned shopping center.

Soon she will need to write new charms for placing in the new line of omamori tailored to the needs of youkai. A strange, new application of her craft that nobody had ever considered, and one that should allow their shrine to get a significant edge over Red-white. An idiotic, pandering gesture that was sure to come off as cheap, thinly veiled marketing tactics.

However, the worst of them all would be the sweeping. Letting your mind wander was a natural tendency. Trying to engage in mindfulness in those circumstances was just
hell. And it was something she had to do daily.

Why did everything have to start going this way again? It was supposed to be great, this move. Her goddesses would be able to flourish again and she wouldn't have to keep dealing with the pressures of living two lives. Gensokyo, the land where strangeness and oddity lived, and where things forgotten and faded could find a new life.

That was the goal. That was the
dream.

And yet nothing was working out, was it? Oh, sure, they were getting new followers. Sure, they were being accepted. But it wasn't that simple. It just wasn't.

There was the humiliating defeat after their arrival. They were never going to live that down. People said that it was normal—expected, even—but Blue-white knew what was going on. She was no stranger to false kindness and empty reassurances.

Things were supposed to be better.
She was supposed to be better. And strictly speaking, they sort of were.

So why didn't it feel that way? If things were actually better, then why was there nothing but work, more work, mind-numbing drudgery, and general misery? None of this should have been a problem. Not for her.

Why couldn't it all just stop?

Just... stop. It'd be better than this. Better than the shame. Better than this unending hustle. Better than whoring their morals and services out.

Anything for some peace. Some respite. Some dignity. Anything. It wouldn't matter what.

Or how.

She wasn't really <worth anything to anyone here anyway>.

Blue-white nods without being aware of it.

Time to get to work. Take care of things around here. In the storage shed were a few coils of rope. One of those would do for her next job, wouldn't it?

"
Please fuckin' tell me you're the shrine maiden."

Blue-white yelps like a kicked puppy and jumps to her feet—or tries to. Her boots slip on a step and tangle her feet up with the broom resting there. She trips, turns in an attempt to catch herself, and pitches forward. Arms far too strong to be that slender catch her and roughly haul her upright. It's more like a helpful shove.

There is the strong smell of charcoal. Beneath that, sweat. Amidst them ...blood?

Blue-white regains her balance and steadies herself before looking at this person.

A being of red.

...No, just her soot-smudged pants are red, now that she looks at it. Her ragged, torn shirt is white, and that... that
mane of hair which an 80s singer would kill for—that's white, too.

But this is unquestionably a being that is red. That impression has no basis in anything, but it hits Blue-white hard, with a force that sends her taking a more careful step backwards.

The being spits something worryingly crimson, then mumbles an apology. She squints up at Blue-white, and after a moment, grimaces. "Shit," she opines.

"I... I am the shrine maiden, yes," says Blue-white, grasping for her customer service role and at last finding it. "Welcome to Moriya Shrine. ...Do you need help?" This being of red wearing white is bleeding from several small cuts and lacerations. Bruises and burn marks adorn skin and clothing. Offering aid and assistance is not even a question. That she asked at all is a formality. She is already looking her over for more serious injuries, when—

"It'll mend, don't worry." She looks back down the mountain. "You got some real dicks for neighbors, you know that?"

"W-well, the tengu do take security seriously." Blue-white's attempt to be neutral about the matter is marred by the fact that she did not need to ask who it was that was being spoken of. She will realize this faux pas in about three seconds.

...

There it goes. Just a flush of the cheeks. Knows better than to draw further attention to it, however, so she does not comment on it.

Luckily, it appears the newcomer doesn't notice. "Yeah, they do. Fuck 'em for it, though. And those eagle youkai? They can go right on and eat a long string of dicks, too." A disgusted sigh escapes her lips. "Anyway, how do I get to the peak?"

"Um." Blue-white almost answers, but is forced to consider the red being's state, and how she arrived at it. "Did you... I'm sorry, but did you
walk the whole way up here?"

She gets a sour look that shifts away from her a moment later. "Maybe ran more than I walked, but yeah. I walked up my first mountain, and look where that got me." The red being hooks a thumb under one of her suspenders, draws it out, and snaps it against her own chest.

A dry laugh, briefly.

"So don't worry 'bout me. How do I get to the peak?" After repeating her question she points a finger, and Blue-white turns to look—unnecessarily. The peak of Youkai Mountain is still some distance from her shrine, but it's obviously closer to that than the ground.

"The west exit from the courtyard leads to a path," Blue-white says, finally. "Stay left on the first two forks, go hard right, and it's a straight path from there. ...But ma'am, I must ask: are you
sure you're all r—"

Long white hair rustles softly as it moves past her, and a curiously stiff bow tied into the hair—one of many—brushes against her hand. A memory from school, back on the Outside: picking up each handout as the copier spits it out, the fading heat warming her fingers.

It felt like that, just now.

"Told ya, it'll mend." Red-in-white gives a wave to the shrine maiden without looking back at her. "Thanks," she adds as an afterthought.

Blue-white watches her go. When the woman has disappeared down the western path, the shrine maiden sighs and gets to sweeping. She does not even remember her interrupted task.



The morning's scream chokes off after an instant, turning into a loud, shuddering gasp. What is this. Where am I. Did someone kidnap me? How did I get in this house? I am lying on my front, body lifted half-upright off the bed up on my elbows, eyes trying to blink away the residue of sleep on their own as I look around the room.

PWOFF

Something large and soft hurtles in from behind me and to the left and smacks me in the head—a small throw pillow, I realize, as it falls away and lands on the floor. "Shuth'uh fugguuuup," moans a voice from that direction, whimpering and full of misery.

...What?

I stop.

No, really: what?

This time, I look around slower.

A room, yes. A window on the end. A city outside. I'm in bed—on a bed, actually. Around me, multiple bunks, each of them occupied by sleeping bodies, now.

Memory returns, and gaps fill in. The onje hostel, right.

I flop back down onto the remarkably nice bed and just enjoy the sensation of not sleeping on the hard earth for a moment. I'd kind of been getting used to it, though.

The light purple sky outside suggests that it's still early in the morning. Even traumatic times in a world of demons can't beat that habit out of me. But I'm still plenty groggy.


[ ] Starts th' day. Girl's gonna get clean, get fed, and get the ball rollin'.
[ ] Up n' at 'em. A walk 'round the block oughtta wake her up good.
[ ] Nuts t' all that. Back t' sleep; it's too early for thinkin' about movin'.

________________________________________________________________________________

Took way too long.

>>14699
Almost. Notice the timer on top of the cup?
>> No. 14702
[X] Starts th' day. Girl's gonna get clean, get fed, and get the ball rollin'.

It's not a bad habit, she might as well keep it up.
>> No. 14704
[x] Up n' at 'em. A walk 'round the block oughtta wake her up good.

What could possibly go wrong?

Hmm. Somehow I'm still on the fence about whether <angle brackets> is just the voice of depression/self-deprecation in her head or something more. Either way, I'd want to see more of Sanae and Mokou.
>> No. 14705
[X] Starts th' day. Girl's gonna get clean, get fed, and get the ball rollin'.
>> No. 14706
File 146173768232.png - (103.47KB, 310x354, Cirno windmill arms.png) [iqdb]
14706
[Ⴍ] Starts th' day. Girl's gonna get clean, get fed, and get the ball rollin'.

>>14698
「02:56」... 待つ語録? 鬼ごろ? 銭色? 蠱ろう? 混じ込む?... Oh. Right. Pic is me.
>> No. 14707
[x] Nuts t' all that. Back t' sleep; it's too early for thinkin' about movin'.

Need to be well rested.
>> No. 14708
[x] Up n' at 'em. A walk 'round the block oughtta wake her up good.
It calls to me. Up and atom, Sanae.
>> No. 14713
File 146336581979.jpg - (18.19KB, 236x332, the height of luxury.jpg) [iqdb]
14713
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=vMy3lSi7Djo ]
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/vMy3lSi7Djo ]
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/dgimt ]

[ᄡ] Starts th' day. Girl's gonna get clean, get fed, and get the ball rollin'.

This bed feels really nice—or maybe I've been so bed-deprived for the last... while or so that anything would be better. I'm in no shape to think that through, right now. But that just means I should go get in that shape. The shape of a dumb girl in over her head trying to pull out of her horrible situation <shaped like your shadow>.

Maybe I should.

Come on.

Aaaany minute now.

...

...Ah, forget it. I need to make a bathroom call, anyway.

I push myself upright again and stay up this time. "Every day, I'm getting stronger and stronger." The words are spoken quietly out of respect for my roommates, but with surety.

"Nnnnngh." Another moan (much quieter) from the same direction as the pillow had come. I don't think she heard that so much as she's just moaning generally. Probably sick. Or a hangover, maybe?

Shuffling off the side of the bed, I suck in a short breath as I step into the middle of the room. It's cold. If I didn't still have my boots on, that would have been worse. Might have woken someone up.

I walk as quietly as possible to the door. On the way, I note that the blanket bug has been replaced by a young girl with long, long brown hair. The sight actually makes me stop for a moment. She can't be older than... what, twelve or thirteen? I shiver. How did a kid like that end up coming to Makai?

...

It's not my problem, though. Nobody's going to save me, and nobody's going to save her. But we made it here, didn't we <by the scraped skin of your teeth>? Yeah, but we're both here and both intact <physically>. Shut up. The point is, we can't be completely powerless.

That thought gets put away and I exit the room.

It's dark out in the hub-room of the second floor, save for the meager glow of what I guess is a homemade "emergency exit" sign above the stairs—though all they did was just put a dim light behind some big green letters that say EXIT <come on wheres the running guy>. Somewhere in the building, there's something running which is causing that special kind of old-building noise you hear in the walls. Running water, or something with a motor.

A star-light comes to life in my palm after a quick motion, and I light up the place in silver. The bathroom I sorta recall from last night is dark, but the light in my hand illuminates the door, left thoughtfully ajar. Wouldn't want to do that awkward knock-to-check at this hour.

I fumble for a light switch just inside on reflex; it takes me a moment to become startled at how not only was it located right about where switches should be, but it also wasn't that style of hard metal switch I've been seeing all over. Flipping it lights up an opaque panel of glass on the ceiling <nice touch>. The room is decked out with sandy-colored tile from the floor to the walls. The stalls are some kind of polished wood, though.

And because I'm a total pro I totally don't forget that cold mornings mean cold toilet seats. Stupid Makai.

While washing up at a bank of sinks <theres soap thank the gods>, I look over at the switch. It's shaped like any light switch I'd find in a house back on Earth, but it's definitely not plastic. Still hard and smooth, yet not cold like ceramic. Weird. Something catches my eye in the mirror, and I look back over at the bank of stalls. It ends quite short of the wall, and instead of another two stall doors, there are... curtains?

Oh.

Ohhhh.

Is that what I think it is? It has to be.

I twist the squeaky faucet knob to shut off the sink, and don't even bother wiping my hands dry before walking down to the end and pulling aside one of the curtains.

"...Yes."

Thank all the gods and twice again for my mamas—there are showers.



My return to room 3 is almost as quiet as my exit was. I open up my locker and nervously look around after that weird depressurizing <or something i dont even know> hiss. A couple of my roommates stir in their bunks, but only for a second.

"Nuhhhhh." A dark-skinned (or maybe just very tanned?) arm flails weakly for a moment in my direction before returning to clutch a pillow tightly over her head <yeah im going with hangover on that one now>. Sure seems like it.


After going back into the bathroom, I go to the shower furthest from the door and put my pack down maybe a meter away from the curtain. I unroll my towel for the first time, and look it over. Not much to see but dark blue terrycloth, but that's exactly how it should be.

"...I think I'm gonna go with 'Ford', after all." It's a good name.

While disrobing, I notice the sorry, sorry state of my clothes once again. Worn hard, torn in places, partially repaired, and stained with dirt, blood, dust, and sweat. I gave them a rinse and a scrub a few times on the way to the city, but that's about it <and that wasnt much>. Yeah, they could use a little more care. Maybe I should have taken Verritine up on her offer? ...Eh, I'm not going to need new clothes, though.

...I wonder.

I stick my head back in the shower and see a few bottles and what is probably soap. No names on anything, sooo... they might be open to anyone? Let's go with that <nice justification there>. Guess how much I don't care. There is soap here. And shampoo. And I am gross right now.

The spoked handles of the shower faucet are labeled, thankfully. The hot water takes a few minutes to kick in, during which time I dart in and out of the cool, chilly water, soaping up and rinsing in quick bursts. But when it finally warms up...

"Oh gods, that's amazing."

Not since Elis' have I had hot water. I take a few moments to simply stand under the underpowered stream coming out of the antique-looking showerhead and focus on the water pouring over my body. I continue to bask in it, enjoying how it feels for the first time in...

...in...

tunk

The cool patch of tile against my forehead stands out in contrast to the warmth surrounding the rest of me. I inhale slowly, hold it, and then let the breath out.

Okay.

It started when I got here. I can't forget that red sky. ...Means it was the evening or somewhere around there. It got darker as I went to Vina, and then I hid in Elis' shed and slept.

...God, that feels like it was so long ago.

I close my eyes and lift my head, letting the water cascade across my face <dont inhale>. Right.

That was my first day <first night>. ...Okay, my first night. Woke up, found the note. Talked to Elis, made deals, got info, got some mail to take back. Got fed. She did that Innocence thing. I left Vina, did the henshin <it was great>. It really was. I hope those things don't need to eat, or something.

...I should start washing my clothes.


[ ♫: https://youtu.be/rAdOXyR6gS8 ]
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=rAdOXyR6gS8 ]
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/eypkm ]


Pushing aside the curtain, I grab my underwear and socks since they're on the top of the pile. With soap in hand, I begin the process of crudely cleaning my garments to keep my hands busy while my mind puts things in order.

After the henshin, I slept in the forest. Then that creepy talking monster-thing woke me up.

I shudder. Good to know the circles work.

That was the end of night three, start of day two, way too early in the morning. Kept flying, took a nap on the river. Flew some more, found that grove by the farms, and...

"...And everything went to shit."

My hands stop. I'm not a girl who throws around profanity very casually, if at all. That's weird enough, but weirder still was the fact that I said it in the Tongue of Man. That's weird, isn't it? I don't know what that means <but its weird maybe>.

Or not. Don't know.

Anyway.

So everything went horribly. Again. No more haraegushi, killed someone. Smoke-woman is a dirty, dirty, manipulating bitch. And dangerous. Ran away. Flew and flew and went all over the place. Went to sleep somewhere in the hills, I think. Did I really do all that on only the first day out of Vina? I stare at the bland tiled wall, push a strand of wet, dripping green out of the way, and go over everything again.

...Yeah, I think I did <this is the worst business trip ever>. I choke out a partially held-back laugh, and hang up my socks on the curtain rod, next to my underwear. Shirt's next.

Woke up, made those collector-spells. Had a long talk with myself. Flew a lot. Slept by those cliffs. Lots to think about during that day. I remember more about I was thinking than what I was doing that day, honestly.

That makes... Let's see. Fourth night, so three days.

Next morning was real foggy. Flew. Tried to rebuild my haraegushi and fucking failed <im not surprised>. Nobody asked and nobody ever will <and nobody can stop this>. One day at a time, that's how I kill it <but dont you kill faster than th>—"Shut. Up."

Wow. My throat actually hurts.

Somehow avoided tearing my shirt. That's good. ...It's about as done as it's gonna get, I think. Wonder if I'm gonna have room for all this on the rack. Skirt, you're up!

After that... Well, that's when I finally hit the plains, wasn't it? Went fishing, almost got attacked by an oppin. But I was able to get a meal with my own hands. That's worth something.

Oh man, I should have the fish along with last night's adama and machavat for breakfast. That'll probably be really good.

So then after that was all of yesterday: taking out the not-worms, coming to the city, getting my papers, the towel, going to the Brotherhood, then the Feast, and then coming here.

...

All told, I've been in Makai for seven nights and six days. This would be morning number 7. ...Almost a week, then <their week>. Oh, right. At twenty-nine hours a day, that's, uh... well, round up to thirty per day, that's a hundred and eighty hours, and add on a bit more for my first night and this morning. One-eighty-six is still probably under, but it's close enough. Divided by twenty-four... Seven, going heavily on eight.

Still a week. It feels like so much more.

Even in this shower, I feel very, very tired.

But.

I can't give up. Nobody's going to save me. Only I can save myself.

And there's work to be done.

I move onto the vest.
>> No. 14714
File 146336654674.jpg - (78.01KB, 800x462, yoo-hoo know who-hoo (or do-hoo you-hoo).jpg) [iqdb]
14714
]]]-

[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=opmwfRqdGsg ]
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/opmwfRqdGsg ]



You are The Deadly Carp, and right now you are on a bed of moderate comfiness in some kind of room with beds. Which is not a bedroom! Words are very tricky like that. Tricky like you, in fact. You are not at all tricky.

You do not exist. The Deadly Carp is real. You are The Deadly Carp.

You still do not exist. You have woken up, and that is a statement of high comedy, because such a thing is impossible for you to do. It's impossible for you because you are The Deadly Carp. It's true that you are upright and looking around and wondering where you are, but the answer to that wouldn't mean anything to you, anyway. Very little can, because you do not exist. The Deadly Carp is real, and you are The Deadly Carp.

These bodies all around you, did you cause them? You don't remember doing anything like that, but even if you did, how would that help?

Special hint: the answer is less than not at all and more than nothing anywhere!

The Deadly Carp
loves hints.

Ah, one of them moved. And another one. Well, that means maybe you didn't do something at all, but maybe you did something else. The Deadly Carp could do anything and be anything, if only you put your mind to it!

And that's noooooot happening.

Wonder if she's awake. Maybe swing on down and check. Whee~ ...Ah, looks like she's already up. Huh. No screamalarm? Weird~ But maybe The Deadly Carp just missed it. You miss lots of things!

Not that that has anything to do with it.

Well, you're feeling rested. Time to be a good neighbor, huh? Or maybe a bad neighbor, like the kind you've always been! Always and always and always and then you were The Deadly Carp and all worries about being any kind of neighbor just
vanished~ like tears on a stale wind.

Some of these people are more interesting than others. Maybe. You don't know for sure until you check! Oh this curiosity, how she burns!


[ ] Northern Aggression
[ ] Central Intelligence
[ ] Southern Comfort



________________________________________________________________________________

Hey, if you weren't aware:
HOLY SHIT, FALLOUT IN GENSOKYO IS BACK: >>/th/188130
>> No. 14715
Oh nice, another interlude with our imaginary friend. And even a vote for her! That's unprecedented.

[x] Northern Aggression
>> No. 14716
[X] Central Intelligence
>> No. 14717
[X] Southern Comfort

Please 無為t warmly.

> Deadly Carp
... okay, I kind of figured, but what was 'Highway'?
>> No. 14718
[X] Southern Comfort
>> No. 14720
[x] Southern comfort

Still no idea. Maybe I'm slow
>> No. 14722
File 146397942139.jpg - (11.35KB, 250x230, ziggity zaggity I’m comin’ for that zzzzz.jpg) [iqdb]
14722
[Music continues]
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=opmwfRqdGsg ]
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/opmwfRqdGsg ]



[Ք] Southern Comfort

Buuuut, if there's curiosity and it won't hurt you if The Deadly Carp jams a hand in it, then investigate it! De-curify! Or don't. It doesn't matter in the long run. The Deadly Carp doesn't know what the long run is like, though, so that's out the window.

Or any run. Run out a window! Take a dare! No, that could be bad for you. But how could you care about anything at all?

What's going on, now?

Oh, there's people all around with their eyes closed. Weird~ Like, weird just to be in this sort of situation, not weird for them to be like that. They're in beds, silly!

An idea strikes. Dismount!

hup

The Deadly Carp cartwheels off the bed and does a gymnast-perfect landing. Tens all around! Nagano was such a trip. You might say that, but who knows. It's important to visit home now and then though, but there's always room for side trips! Even if those side trips last years and years because it's the journey not the destination and there's definitely nothing being avoided ha ha ha ha.

Sure would suck to be that person.

Ha ha ha.

Right but anyway so yeah moving along and stuff, there was a lack of any Sun Tzu whatsoever in Nagano. Those signs were bullshit, you'd think. Did think. Probably, anyway! What you think doesn't matter, because you don't think at all.

You do not exist. The Deadly Carp is real. You are The Deadly Carp.

So, who's first? The closest? The closest! ...First for what? Was there a plan?

Pffffahahaha.
Plans. That's a good one.

tszzt

OW.

WOW. WOW AND OW.

A ha ha haaaa...
wow. And owwww.

Sooooo~ The Deadly Carp's got a nice little burn on the flipper, there! Yowch. No sneaking into bunks, it looks like.

Maybe that could have been avoided by planning? Or remembering certain things! So that wasn't ever going to happen.

You suck on the angry red mark on your finger. It stings quiiiite a bit. The surprise hurt more than the burn did, honestly.
But stiiiiiill. Stupid security systems. The Deadly Carp won't be outdone, though, see if it doesn't! Did that make sense?

Trick question! You've never made sense. Maybe that's why your ideas are bad! Who knows~

Speaking of questions, The Deadly Carp came up with a good one. Maybe it's one that's been asked before. It seems like the kind of thing that would be interesting. Like, more interesting than the kind of interesting that makes you do things. No, it's definitely interesting—that's why it should be asked. It's the kind of question that Everyone would benefit from.

Oh, but first, gotta put shoes back on. Gotta get up, get moving! There's no more dozing for you, not when there is curiosity to be satisfied and food to be eaten and things to do and people to watch and places to go and things to think and then forget!

The Deadly Carp? More like The Busiest Carp! ...Ah, but that one doesn't match at all.

All right, so there was going to be a question that was going to be asked. The Deadly Carp compleeeeetely doesn't recall what it was, though. So instead, a question from the heart!

Man, that would almost hurt to think, if you could hurt. Or think. Luckily, you can't, because you do not exist.

Ahem~

Testing, one two~

Welcome to a Morning at the Improv. This is the lovely host, The Deadly Carp! Wait for applause!

...Oh right. Shouldn't say that part out loud.

So.

What makes you feel better?

Not good. Not happy.
Better.

Gonna start with thaaat one over there. Short hair, and oh. Well. Um. Dark skin, obviously, or maybe just really tanned.

Morning meditation. Yoga. Umm... the coffee at Os Anjos.

Thanks for that! Don't forget to pull the sheets back up, commando. Next, short and tiny person!

A cold Coke. Eating ketchup sandwiches under the Christmas tree. Snoopy.

Isn't that just the sweetest~ And you think that one's kinda scary, so moving on very quickly and nervously to Goldilocks over here!

Quiet nights, for sure. Obviously, good tea... Mmm. Oh, when I'm the last one standing.

You can respect simple pleasures like that. And now, last but not least, the remaining contes—


"—tampffh!"

"whydya gots 'talk so much so damn early? oh sweet sacred, my fuggin' heeeeead."


[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J83lw0eFIJA ]

Aaaand cut to commercials!



-[[[


[ ] Something Dry
[ ] Something Clean

________________________________________________________________________________

Looks like work hours might be saning up at last.

>>14717
More related than you think but less than you'd hoped.
>> No. 14723
[X] Something Dry
>> No. 14725
[▽] Something Clean
>> No. 14727
>Even if those side trips last years and years because it's the journey not the destination and there's definitely nothing being avoided ha ha ha ha.
>Sure would suck to be that person.

Hm, that's unexpected but interesting. Sheds some light on why the little carp's traveled so much. And it looks like she might have been avoiding home even when she could still think...

[x] Something Clean
>> No. 14729
>>14727
I'm of the opinion she still can. How much of that is self-delusion?

[x] Something Clean

Also that song jesus christ.
>> No. 14730
>>14729
How can you hate the Globetrotters?
>> No. 14734
File 146458672187.jpg - (75.09KB, 700x679, hearth of gold.jpg) [iqdb]
14734
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/yndwb ]

[◎] Something Clean

If someone comes in here right now, there's definitely going to be some questions. Or awkwardness. No, definitely awkwardness. And lots of it. The partial nudity will actually be the lesser crime here, too; that's the worst <funniest> part.

Rather than jumping down, I ease myself off the countertop onto the kitchen's blue tile floor. Clomping around in my boots would just wake everyone up, and that is what I want the least. As early as it is, I know I don't have forever to get this done.

As expected from the circumstances, the spell isn't perfect—but it's working. Looking at the whole thing through my focused sight makes it easy to find where the wind needs to be shaped or deflected in order to keep the hot air from leaking out of the swirling sphere in the center of the room.

When I duck under one of the streams of wind feeding into the sphere, my hands reach up and reflexively tighten Ford. Not that anybody's around <yet>, but if they burst in here all of a sudden, I don't want the situation to get any worse than it is. I guess I could just lock the doors, or block them, or... Something. But I feel like that would get me in a lot more trouble <more trouble than prancing around the kitchen in just a towel>. There is no prancing going on here.

I check my reflection in the window glass just to make sure Ford's still covering me. It is, thankfully. ...Huh. With the boots and the towel wrapped like this, I almost sorta look like I'm doing half-baked cosplay of the woman from the first of those awful live action Biohazard movies that the Americans made <but less cool>. It was never cool.

My attention returns to the sphere in the middle of the room, where my clothes tumble and roll and turn. This whole venture is stupid, risky, and could probably have been avoided or improved with some careful planning <story of my life>, but I'm glad that I came up with this as quick as I did. Otherwise, I'd look more like Sadako than ...that actor. Can't remember her name. She was in something else really cool, though.

Whatever.

Over on top of the wood stove, my breakfast warms up—probably slower than if the stove door was shut like it's supposed to be. But my clothes need drying, I have no idea what these people do for taking care of laundry <if anything>, and I'm not about to go ask anyone. They're asleep <i hope> and I'm wearing a towel and boots.

So the stove door stays open and breakfast takes that much longer.

...You know, I'll bet I could have made some kind of crude robe if I'd thought to take my sheets and blanket. Jeez, that would have worked way better.

Crud.

Ugh. I have to find some way to pass the time other than literally sitting here and watching my clothes in the dryer. My manga, my phone, and my PSP are back in my room at the Shrine, nobody is awake that I can talk to, and it's too early and too Makai out to start drinking.

Off to one side of the room, well out of the kitchen, there's a shelf of books and a rack of magazines, all various ages and languages and subjects. I wander over there and start leafing through a National Geographic from 2007 printed in Russian. I can't read a word of it, but hey, it's National Geographic. I get two pages into a pictorial that looks like it's about commercial fishing somewhere in Northern Europe whe           ld have used a net back then. But you work with what you have, right?

[Aha! Found the dirty dog what done it~! Actually, not really dirty at all anymore, huh? Might be a good idea~]

I lean against a table near the bookshelf—no chairs available, since they're all arranged in the middle of the room, holding one of the slips of wax paper that I put a star on—and turn the page.

ker-chunk

tmp tmp tmp tmp


...And stop.

A closing door, and footsteps coming down the stairs.

They might not be coming here <oh please not with my luck>. ...Prrrobably best to assume the worst.



[ ] Goes t'get 'erself hid. Can't nobody blame someone that ain't there.
[ ] Heads 'em off at the pass. Tells a story to just put 'em on their way.
[ ] Stands her ground, girl does.
-[ ] Plays it cool, like there ain't nothin' rufflin' her feathers.
-[ ] Plays it hard, like she ain't takin' no guff 'bout all this.

________________________________________________________________________________

Sorry this one's so short.
>> No. 14735
[X] Stands her ground, girl does.
-[X] Plays it cool, like there ain't nothin' rufflin' her feathers.

"Yes, it's ridiculous. If you have any better options, I'm listening."

(... or would that be "hard"? I'm not really sure.)
>> No. 14736
[X] Stands her ground, girl does.
-[X] Plays it cool, like there ain't nothin' rufflin' her feathers.

Nothing odd going on here, no sir.
>> No. 14737
[x] Stands her ground, girl does.
-[x] Plays it cool, like there ain't nothin' rufflin' her feathers.

We're in god damn Makai, what do you expect? This place is weird.
>> No. 14739
File 14657998405.jpg - (21.82KB, 267x400, gray tee.jpg) [iqdb]
14739
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/buHCcPLX9Pk ]
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=buHCcPLX9Pk ]

[Ѡ] Stands her ground, girl does.
-[ӝ] Plays it cool, like there ain't nothin' rufflin' her feathers.

...

Nope. Writing this one off.

I just don't really see any graceful way out. It's going to be awkward no matter what, right <oh boy you bet>? Well, I don't have to play along with that! I'm free to do what I want! This is the twenty-first century!

Hmm. Those are probably actually both untrue for Makai. Like, super-untrue.

But screw it anyway.

—Wait, I'm not going to be flashing anyone who walks in, am I? ...Okay, phew. All my scandalous lady parts are still safely hidden by Ford. There's a good towel. Keeping me dry and my dignity intact <pfffahahaha dignity oh please>. It hurts because it's true.

Thee footsteps come nearer; accompanied, I now notice, by singing.

"...And surely, I'll be mi~ne..."

They came from upstairs, so it's got to be a guy, but that's a high voice he's got. Interesting.

"And we'll taaaake a cup of kiiiiindness yet..."

I somehow keep from flushing entirely red from head to toe when the door opens <worthy of a miracle right there>, and instead just glance up like I don't even care. I just need to look like me being here is normal, like Kana-mama says.

"...For auld la---goodness." A dark-haired guy in a loose white shirt (and the short end of average height) takes a couple steps into the kitchen and then pauses, giving my improvised clothes dryer a look. "You don't see something like that every day, do you?" He takes a few more steps in, noting the arranged chairs and the strips of paper on the wall, and giving them a wide berth.

[Sure don't~ And, um, something something double entendre! ...That's what you say in situations like this, right~?]

He stares at the tumbling clothes, then starts looking at the paper strips again, and the oven. There's a noise of dawning understanding, and he nods a few times before looking around the room some more. The moment he catches sight of me, he immediately turns his back, walks over to the sink, and takes a cup out of the drainboard. "I suppose that is yours then, madam?"

...I've never been addressed with 'madam' before. Don't quite know if I'd be okay with most people saying that, but from him? Oddly enough, I don't find much wrong with it.

"Oh, that?" Gosh, I'd forgotten all about it. "Yeah, it's mine. I did some laundry but I didn't see any dryers around." <more like i didnt really look too hard> "I don't have any spare changes of clothes on hand, so I had to figure something out." I think that sounds normal.

"Aha." He nods, turns around at last, and moves towards the coffee pot on the wood stove. "There's a fairy laundry half a block over..."

Oh gods da—

"...but I don't quite see them being open this hour of the day."

—I am totally vindicated.

"Er, this is a bit tricky to get around, though..." He shies away from the streams of hot air for a second, then ducks and weaves around them. Guy's got some moves, it looks like.

I wave a hand back and forth. "Oh, they probably won't be a, uh... problem." <im just the best at this words thing> "Passing through them won't mess anything up, but I wouldn't stand in the way too long." That seems to put him at ease with the magic... but he's trying quite hard to keep his eyes off of me. But like, actually trying; not even sneaking any looks <yeah real sweet of him>. It is!

[Hmm~ This one's a weird one, aren't you? Er, 'isn't he'~]

He grabs the coffee pot and slips back out of the path of the spell. Once safely out of the way, he lifts the little lid and then sniffs the pot. "Sorry, but, ah... is this tea, perchance?" he asks, looking down into it.

"I hope so." It smelled like it, at any rate. I didn't see any coffee in the kitchen, so I made do with tea, which was pretty plentiful... even after you discount the stuff in bags.

"Oh? Awful nice of you, then, ah...?"

"Kochiya."

"Kochiya." I can see him mulling over the name for a few seconds <maybe i dont know>. He smiles at nobody in particular, and pours himself a cup. "I'll be off, then. If anyone comes calling for Eric, I'm out jogging."

[Ki~nda want to watch that.]

...With a cup of tea <maybe this dudes kinda weird>? I've seen weirder <true>.

"By the way, Kochiya."

"Hmm?"

"You've probably got another twenty or thirty minutes, if that, before people start waking up and crawling down here." He finally looks directly at me. "Donny's made quite clear the rules about that kind of dress in the public areas."

"Oh. Um." Damn, damn, damn. "Donny?"

He gives me a bit of a look. "The large fellow behind the front desk, quite dark? Owns this fine establishment?"

...I recall something like that, now that I'm reminded. But I nod anyway. "Oh, right, right. Got it; thanks, Eric." He gives me a wave and departs, cup of tea in hand <dont spill>.

[Are you going to break anything~? Fall over dead? No? Well, all right, but you have to promise not to!]

Well, I'm not worried. Fifteen more minutes ought to cover it. I'm not going smash anything or fall over dead in that time, so everything'll be fine. I'll be fine. Or something.

I mean... wait, what?

[Great! Back in a bit~]

The door shutting startles me, but I guess he didn't shut it all the way. Pretty sure he did, but whatever. I continue to leaf through the National Geographic, which is making me feel a lot less homesick than I expected. Sometimes there'll be a bit of a pang when I see a logo I recognize in one of the ads. Kind of a weird place to find that feeling <not really>.

Lacking a clock, I wait what feels like the right amount of time before putting away the magazine and checking on breakfast. It's warm and ready to eat, and the tea is hot.

Awesome.

Now, the only way to top this off would be warm clean clothes, fresh from the dryer. I reach into the invisible sphere where my clothes roll around in the hot air—hotter than I expected, I notice. The first article I can lay hands on and pluck out is one of my sleeves. Smells a little bit like the soap from the shower, but only when I press my face up to it. It's a little stiff and wrinkled, but it's dry and clean, and that's all I care about right now.

And then...

Well.

I make the mistake of laughing as I grab the next piece of clothing out of my magical dryer. This causes Ford to shift a little too far, and start to come untucked <whoops crud>.

I stumble into one of the chairs as I attempt to tuck it back in, and end up knocking the chair over. The wind current blowing out of the piece of wax paper(?) is thrown off, and the containment of the sphere—and the clothes in the middle—is disrupted.

The magazines on the rack and the bulletin board <wait there was a bulletin board> start rustling and flapping as the air blows at them.

The containment of the spell completely falls apart, and sends my clothes flying around the room in a last burst of hot air.

I hear a bumping sound and cursing from the door, where I look to see "Donny" rubbing at his nose and opening the door—again.

The burst of air is gone as quick as it arrived, and the room falls silent.

I should be very, very afraid right now, but instead I cinch up Ford and give the hostel owner a smile that's probably far too bright and cheerful. "Good morning, sir."

My vest lands on his head a beat later.

...Okay, see, this is so much funnier when it happens in a manga. I can't say that it's translated very well into 3-D, though <but im kind of biased to be fair>.

If this were a manga, though, my towel would have fallen off, he would have fallen into my chest, and it would have been my panties that landed on him. And none of that happened. Positive thinking is important.

There's no reason I should be anywhere near this calm. Do I know something that I don't know <what does that even mean>? I don't know.

"Hmm. Maybe I haven't quite woken up," says the man, taking the vest off his head. He sets it on a hook next to some hanging utensils, then walks over towards the scattered circle of chairs. He picks up the fallen chair, takes it back to the table, and then sits in it.

"Miss Kochiya."

"Yes, sir?"

"Is that tea you brewed up?"

"Yes, sir."

"I'd like a cup, please. No sugar."

"Right away, sir." Who knew school festival maid cafe experience would actually ever come in handy again?

As I fetch a cup and saucer, I sneak a glance back at him. Shorts that go to the knee and an old, well-worn grey t-shirt with a cat design on it. Probably in his 40s, although it's really hard to tell. Long black hair, and physical features that place him from somewhere tropical, sunny, Pacific-y, and islandy. Guam, Samoa, Hawaii, or something like that.

I pour the tea into the cup, place it on a glass saucer, and set it down in front of him. He picks up the cup, and takes a drink. The way he holds it is like how Europeans hold their coffee in the commercials—elbows on the table, cup held in both hands, eyes closed.

"Thank you, Miss Kochiya," he says at last. "You've got about two minutes. Please explain what's going on and why this should just be something I look back on in a few years and laugh at."

Oh.

"Oh. Well..." Really don't see how the truth is going to hurt. Calm and easy does it, but don't get relaxed. "This was my first night in Dis, and I have only one change of clothes. They needed a wash, and I didn't think about how to dry them."

He opens his eyes. "There's a laundromat of sorts just down the way, you know."

"Truthfully, sir, I did not until about twenty minutes ago when a gentleman named Eric told me about that on his way to go jogging. But I only arrived in the city last night, as well. Thank you for letting me know, though."

"Would make it difficult."

"Yes it did, sir. But I figured I could make a clothes dryer of sorts with my magic and heat from the oven. Actually worked out kind of well, I think. Was about to get dressed, put everything back in place, and go have breakfast right before you came in."

"That so?"

"Yes, sir." This feels uncannily like talking to a principal. Or a judge, maybe.

"Miss Kochiya?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Why does nobody ever check the bulletin board for this sort of thing, first?"

"Would have expected something like that on a sign near the bathroom, sir."

There's a long pause. "...Hmm."

At last, he gets to his feet with a sigh, and looks at me. "Don't do this again, please. I don't like throwing people out."

"I'm very sorry for causing you so much trouble, sir."

"I can tell. Now, please go get dressed, and then come back here and clean up. Do that and I'll consider this behind us."

"Right away, sir."

He makes a face. "Just Donny's fine. Sir's too much. 'Mr. Haole' if you've really screwed up."

"Got it."

He pulls out some kind of pouch as I hustle around the room collecting my clothes. By the time I grab my other sock off the top of a tall cabinet, he's prepared and filled some kind of pipe, like the kind you'd expect to see a sea captain smoking. Didn't expect that; I haven't smelled anything like smoke or tobacco that I can remember. Weird.

Before I leave the room, I make sure to take my breakfast off the stovetop and set it on a plate on the counter. The fish smells fantastic <not bad for a day and a half without being in a fridge>. Good incentive to hurry up and get dressed, I guess.

I hustle down the stairs after collecting my things, and make it to the bathroom without incident. Two of the showers are in use, so the air's a bit misty and warm. Someone is singing in what I think is French, but that's only because I heard "Je m'appelle" at some point.

After hanging Ford on the hook just inside the stall, I get dressed and give some thought to what I should do after breakfast. It's still a long time before noon—it's probably almost sunrise right now, or whatever passes for it around here.


[Pick Two]

[ ] Retires to 'er roll for some more shut-eye. Naw, she's much too up n' waked now.
[ ] For a change, there's folks like her own self around. Could get t' know some of 'em.
[ ] Leavin' her holster empty's gonna eat at 'er. If she left aught untried, she oughta try it.
[ ] Saw all manner 'a shop n' store last night. Shelves is like t'be fulla stuff she ain't seen.
[ ] Goes a-lookin' for iron horses. Girl's terrible curious to see how the demons did rails.
[ ] That Grand Feast they got here, it run all day or only after the streetlights come on?
[ ] Takes herself a sweet mornin' constitutional. This town's got sights for seein', don't it?
- [ ] (Which area/s?)
[ ] Somethin' else came to mind, just then. (Write-in!)

________________________________________________________________________________

Schedule may be de-saning soon, but I'll try to keep it from doing that.
>> No. 14740
[X] For a change, there's folks like her own self around. Could get t' know some of 'em.
[X] Goes a-lookin' for iron horses. Girl's terrible curious to see how the demons did rails.
>> No. 14741
[ ] Leavin' her holster empty's gonna eat at 'er. If she left aught untried, she oughta try it.

Onje are untrustworthy; onje with weapons even more so. We definitely need to do this at some point... but that point is probably not now.

[X] Goes a-lookin' for iron horses. Girl's terrible curious to see how the demons did rails.
[X] Takes herself a sweet mornin' constitutional. This town's got sights for seein', don't it?
- [X] Not much around here looks like her mountain home, but Ezov Park's got her wistful.

... and maybe, if the opportunity arises...

[X] Asks about intraDitian flight etiquette. Beyond not giving another free show, that is.


> Or a judge, maybe.

Well, no worries, then, girl. You're innocent, remember?
>> No. 14742
[x] For a change, there's folks like her own self around. Could get t' know some of 'em.
[x] Goes a-lookin' for iron horses. Girl's terrible curious to see how the demons did rails.
[x] Takes herself a sweet mornin' constitutional. This town's got sights for seein', don't it?

>two
I defy you.
I don't see checking out the trains doing much, but Sanae needs a pick-me-up.
>> No. 14743
>>14742
Taking a walk requires a specific area or areas--that's why it comes with a prompt attached.
>> No. 14744
>>14742
Taking a walk requires a specific area or areas--that's why it comes with a prompt attached.
>> No. 14745
[x] For a change, there's folks like her own self around. Could get t' know some of 'em.
[x] That Grand Feast they got here, it run all day or only after the streetlights come on?

>>14741
I think the benefits of having an intact haraegushi (for instance, self-defense) would outweigh the possible negative attention being armed would attract, but it seems unlikely that Sanae would be able to fix it right now. That might be something we could get another onje's help with, if we find anyone trustworthy.
>> No. 14746
[X] For a change, there's folks like her own self around. Could get t' know some of 'em.
Yep.

[X] Saw all manner 'a shop n' store last night. Shelves is like t'be fulla stuff she ain't seen.
Gettin' Ford and meetin' Verritine havin' been some o' the things what've worked out best, and all.
>> No. 14752
[X] For a change, there's folks like her own self around. Could get t' know some of 'em.
[X] Saw all manner 'a shop n' store last night. Shelves is like t'be fulla stuff she ain't seen.
>> No. 14753
A weird multiple-way two-point tie? ...Well, iInstead of waiting longer to break the tie, I'm going to assemble this into some kind of weird mélange to resolve it. That's just how it go.

Also, called (a week later than I meant it to run)!
>> No. 14757
File 146700080375.jpg - (55.56KB, 390x488, Applies on all levels.jpg) [iqdb]
14757
[ق] For a change, there's folks like her own self around. Could get t' know some of 'em.
[Ⴉ] Saw all manner 'a shop n' store last night. Shelves is like t'be fulla stuff she ain't seen.
[ѭ] Goes a-lookin' for iron horses. Girl's terrible curious to see how the demons did rails.

[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/cbekq ]


I'm coming up a bit short. It wasn't like I was making plans for tomorrow last night... Which is today, now. I'm going back to the Brotherhood office around noonish, but until then, I've got not much to d—waaait. That's not right <oh right>. He suggested I ask other onje about ways to get back home, I now recall.

The thought of just skipping that and going in to see the guy I spoke to—what was his name, again? Must've been something easy to forget—crosses my mind and then parks itself there for a little bit, sets up shop. And then the shop burns down, because screw that. If there's any chance anyone can get me home, I'll take it.

I suppose it's time to be nice and sociable, then. Can't come right out with that; that's going to look awkward and desperate <so itll be genuine in other words>. Maybe even suspicious <extra genuine>. Of course, I've got to clean up the kitchen and eating area first.

The people in in the showers, whoever they are, leave before I'm done. My hair is still a little damp, not to mention sorta unkempt-looking <i cant believe nobody left a brush out>. Actually, I can. Those are a little more personal, but shampoo and soap are something you can buy anywhere <well maybe not in makai>. No, I've got a feeling they're not uncommon. This isn't the land of the bug, lizard, bird, and fish people; hair is still very much a thing. By extension, there's got to be a way to take care of it, too.

...Somewhere in all of that, there was a point I was trying to make <never to be seen again>. Yeah, whatever. Right now I've got warm, barely-stiff clothes that are nice and clean <now you look like a better grade of homeless>. I'm moving up in the world! My hair gets the same treatment as yesterday: rough ponytail pinned in place. Unless the day warms up, I won't need to re-create the turbandanna again, so my sleeves get stuffed into the pack.

All right, clean, dressed, and ready to go <and gone>.

I take the stairs two at a time and arrive in the kitchen again. Donny's gone—or wait, no he isn't. At the far end of the room opposite the kitchen are doors I hadn't noticed before, pebbled-glass windows set into them revealing a very Donny-like figure on the other side. I guess there's a balcony out there? Nice to know, but mess.

Back and forth I move across the room, replacing chairs where they'd been before, scratching out and tearing up the star-seals on the wax paper <seems like a safety hazard>, putting away books and papers that got blown around by the spell collapsing, generally tidying up the place at a quietly frantic clip, and praying that I finish all this before anyone gets down here.

When it's all done, I lean against the brick stove, which I guess Donny thoughtfully closed, because I know I didn't remember to do that. Nice of him, that.

clap clap clap

...Of course, there's no way my prayers could get answered <knew that when i got here>. I look over at the door, where a couple of spectators have gathered.


(Pick two. Seriously.)

[ ] Something Soft
[ ] Something Sharp
[ ] Something Springy
[ ] Something Slow

________________________________________________________________________________

This turned out to be criminally short and I hate that.
>> No. 14758
[X] Something Soft
[X] Something Sharp
>> No. 14759
[x] Something Soft
[x] Something Sharp

Short updates are better than no updates! Be nice if I had a clue who I was voting for though.
>> No. 14760
[☁] Something Soft
[⟿] Something Springy
>> No. 14761
[x] Something Soft
[x] Something Sharp
>> No. 14762
[x] Something Soft
[x] Something Springy

Don't be sharp with out compatriots.
>> No. 14763
File 146882417439.jpg - (15.36KB, 236x349, heat٫ seat٫ eat.jpg) [iqdb]
14763
[Ł] Something Soft
[ℍ] Something Sharp

(Music continues)
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/cbekq ]



"Bravo."

One of them's a blonde with irreparably tousled hair, wearing clothes that look like casual wear for the uptight—

"Ten out of ten."

—And the other is an older woman with mocha skin and black hair. Unlike her friend, she's in workout clothes.

"Good work."

"Excellent form."

"Fast and efficient."

"Not a thing out of place."

"...Well, no. She put the chairs back on the wrong side of the table." Oh, did I <whoops>?

Uptight-Casual's clapping stops, and she shakes her head. "...Jamie, that was awful."

"Huh?" Mocha looks back at her, the clap already in motion coming to a weak stop. "I wasn't making fun of her. I'm just sa—"

"You say, 'Yes, and'. Disagreeing or contradicting like that interrupts the flow and kills the bit."

...Who are these people, and what is going on <and when are they going to stop>?

"But I'm not—"

"—Professionally trained, I'm very aware. More importantly, it's time for breakfast, isn't it?" Uptight looks over at me and smiles, studiously ignoring the woman's glare. "And thank you so much for getting things ready, by the way. Do you mind if we join you?"

I guess I'm relevant again <booo>. "No, please do," I say, and gesture invitingly at the seats as I rise to get my breakfast. Being rude at this point wouldn't exactly help my case. "The name's Kochiya. Nice to meet you... oh?"

When I return to the table, I notice neither of them have taken a seat. Instead, they've decided to... ah <well duh they gotta eat too>. Yeah, no real getting around that. I decide to wait while they both head to the suspiciously refrigerator-like appliance I'd noticed earlier but hadn't examined closely. What I can see of it from here while it's open sure looks fridge-y, as well <no light when the door opens though>. Kind of a luxury in a place like this, probably.

Uptight takes a few things out of there, places it all into a frying pan she grabs off a rack, and uses that to carry it all over to the stove where she begins setting up. Mocha <jamie> does the same, taking several small packages and dropping them into a bowl, and transporting her load over to a clear patch of counter before unpacking it all.

"So, I'm Honne," says the blonde woman, taking out a large, polka-dotted white ribbon and pulling her wild blonde hair into a lazily-bound ponytail. "That's Italian for 'gullible', if you're wondering." Really? Jeez, that's a mean name. She finishes clearing out the pan and looks over my way. "Something wrong?"

"No, no... Well, maybe a bit?" I say, rubbing a thumb along the edge of the box with the fish in it. I'm going to wait for them to join me before I start. Seems like the polite thing to do, I guess. "That's a... it seems like there must be other names that mean nicer things." <thats putting it nicely>

Honne laughs. Shaking her head, she unwraps the packet, takes a knife, and begins chopping something up. "No, it doesn't bother me. My parents were the type to get confused without a whole lot of effort, if you catch my drift. My mother was pregnant with me for eleven and a half months because she didn't know any better."

What? Is that even—no, that can't be true <gotta be bsing for sure>. "Really?"

"Mm-hmm, absolutely." Gathering up the chopped stuff, she drops it into the pan where it begins to sizzle and cook. Must be some kind of meat. "But she had my brother in seven and a half just to make up for it, so it all worked out."

I'd be quicker to call her a liar if she didn't sound so serious. "So, um, how'd you end up in Makai?"


[ ♫: https://youtu.be/1JX3n-8LkzU ]
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=1JX3n-8LkzU ]
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/bxizn ]


She doesn't answer right away. Picking up a small golf ball <i think>, she cracks it <what> on the rim of the pan, like an egg. Or maybe it is an egg. "I went for a walk one day, and I thought the sign said 'Macau' but the guy who painted it just couldn't spell." She cracks another golf-egg. "This was not the case, as you can guess."

"Honne."

The blonde girl pours a third egg into the pan before taking a spatula and scooting stuff around it. She still doesn't look at her kitchen companion. "Yes?"

"The story you told me was better."

"Hey, this is new material. It's still being tested."

"I can see that."

A scowl, and a hard shove of the spatula. "Then why don't you share your story, O Wise Mystic."

'Jamie' is still where she was before, and still busy doing... something. I hear sounds of chopping, and occasional crunching, but can't see from here what's going on. "It's not very interesting."

I have the oddest feeling that I'm stuck in some kind of comedy routine. "Oh, I don't know about that," I say. "I'm new to all this, so anything's interesting." <also maybe someone can help me home please> "And pardon my asking, but what was your name, again?" I already know it, but it seems like a good place to get her started.

"Jamie Lee Curtis. But just 'Jamie' is fine."

...

She turns around and looks back at me. Been too quiet for too long. "Is something wrong?"

Okay, no, see, that's definitely bull. "Well... I saw Halloween, and I have to say you look very different."

"Of course. That came out decades ago."

Erm.

"No, I meant like, a different person entirely."

Jamie turns back. "Movies require makeup, don't they?"

"They do, yes."

"When was the last time you saw Jamie Lee Curtis without makeup?"

"I... W-well, I guess I haven't."

"So it's not impossible, is it?"

It definitely is! "Even so, that's a bit..."

"A bit?"

"It seems hard to believe."

She waves the knife she's using in a small circle. "Like magic?"

"Um."

...

I can't believe I'm losing this argument.

Jamie—I'm dead certain it's just an alias, but I'll stop treating the name with disbelief out of respect to her—finishes whatever she's working on, puts whatever's left over back into the fridge, and carries her bowl over to the table, and sits across from me. "Anything's true if you believe it enough, Kochiya."

"May I just call you Jamie?" I ask after trying and failing to come up with a good reply.

"Sure you can." She jabs a fork into the bowl, and brings up—oh, it's some kind of salad, isn't it? I don't recognize some of those vegetables, but leafy greens are leafy greens, even when some of them are blue. And orange.

—Oh, hey. I can start eating without looking rude now, can't I? Great. Just to be on the safe side, I take my time unpacking the fish and unwrapping the machavat and adama. The fish doesn't have quite the same delicious, freshly grilled smell it did the night I cooked it <theres a shocker>, but it hasn't started smelling bad, yet. Fishy, but not bad-fishy. I think I could probably push it another day before it started to smell weird. However, the scent of last night's bounty from the Feast is warm and delicious.

...Yes, warm. Things can totally smell warm.

Honne bustles over after a few moments, carrying a stoneware plate of eggs and unidentified meat. She sits on the end of the rough wooden table, so Jamie <she looks too nice to be that nutty> and I scoot our chairs closer to that end. The blonde seasons her eggs and after taking a bite, looks my way. "So, 'Kochiya', huh?"

What? "...Yes?" I look up from making a sort of weird taco with the foods at my disposal. Greasy fingers, but happy taste buds. Mmmm.

"Sounds Oriental."

Again: what? "Sounds...?" I ask, politely seeking clarification while trying not to betray how awkward and confused I feel right now <this was a terrible ideaaaaaaa>.

"You know, Oriental." Honne waves her fork vaguely in one direction. "China, the Dutch Indies, Japan, Siam... That whole area."

Weird thing to call it. I nod, and finish chewing on the bite I had before answering. "Oh, yes. Yes, it is. My parents were from there."

For no reason I can easily put my finger on, it occurs to me <again or for the first time> how easily lying and misdirection comes to me, now. Is it because my survival demands it? Am I just that kind of girl? Is it actually this simple for everyone and I'm only now realizing this? I don't feel bad about doing it, but I feel sort of bad about not feeling bad about that.

Not going to stop, though. I can't. If everyone else here wasn't lying about themselves, maybe I'd think differently. Weirdly enough, the fact that we're having conversation based on lies doesn't seem to bother them. Maybe I'm the weird one <as if i didnt already know that>.

That comment seems to be answer enough for her. "I lived out there for a little while with some friends," Honne remarks. "Things fell apart after not too long, so I moved on."

"I wouldn't have thought you to be the type to travel abroad." Jamie comments. "Aren't you Italian, right?"

Honne smiles down at her eggs. "Sometimes you should trust a map, but sometimes you should trust your heart."

And yet none of us trust other people.

...They're looking at me <oh damn did I say that out loud>. The blonde seems disappointed. "Kochiya, don't step on the joke. Manjit already does that often enough; two people doing that is going to kill me." Jamie doesn't laugh, but her relaxed expression turns amused.

"Sorry."

"Eh." Honne's reply is just a pout and a grunt. She takes that sort of thing seriously, I guess.

Jamie spears a forkload of salad, and then sits back in her chair, bowl held in one hand. "What brings you to Makai, Kochiya? If it's not too personal."

I try to look thoughtful or pensive, but I'm really just buying myself time to finish this mouthful. The fish goes strangely well with the adama, even though there's no reason at all that it should. Maybe because the machavat was lightly buttered before being baked? That's what it tastes like, anyway.

"Good intentions, ambition, and a lack of experience." Heh, that's the most honest thing I've said so far. Of course, both women give me a look like they're expecting more. "Weird things started happening where I lived. I went to check things out, because I'm pretty qualified to do that." <or so i thought> "Found what was going on and who was causing it, but during that time, they brought me to Makai and left me for dead." ...Pretty accurate summary, more or less. "I've got no journey or quest, besides looking for a way back home."

"...Oh." Jamie's eyes soften. "That sounds terrible. How long has it been?"

Hey, I can actually answer this, now! "It's been—" <okay maybe lets not give everything away idiot> "—a little while, but not too long. I'm picking things up as quick as I can, at least." A weary smile that might be just a bit fake turns my lips upward. "I don't want to make this a long-term thing, though. Don't suppose anyone's heard about how to get a ride back?"

Honne's fork pauses in front of her mouth. "You find the dirty dogs what left you in the dirt, yet? If they got you here, stands to reason they can get you back." Chomp.

I shake my head. "Thaff uhnlig—ah, mmpf." I cover my mouth apologetically, and swallow first. "Sorry. What I wanted to say was that that's unlikely. Makai is a large place, and I don't know where they're going, or why."

"You're not very likely to get help from other onje, sad to say," Jamie tells me. "It's hard to just open up some kind of magic door or what have you to Makai. There's easier ways to come over here, but they're a lot more restricting."

("—ANYTHING SHE WANTS—")

...I was really playing with fire, wasn't I? The woman in white's terrible honesty rings in my ears for a second before I banish the memory.

"Really? Well, that's... I was sort of hoping for better news than that." I straighten up, and forcefully inject some brightness into my attitude. "I'm sure I'll find a way back sooner or later, though. But now that I've come clean, how did you two come to be in Makai?"

Their stories are, like mine, very heavily edited and abridged. Jamie was a small-time fitness instructor in South America who took her practice 'very, very seriously'. She had an interest in new age nonsense like reiki, crystal healing, chakras, and so on, and did extensive research on them so that she could explain to people that there was a difference between things like that and things with actual benefits, like yoga or meditation.

I think she wouldn't have been popular in Japan, because there are still thousands if not millions of people who still believe in ESP and psychics there. Certain people may or may not have been one of them <well no duh living with literal gods bends a girls viewpoint just a bit>.

At some point, however, she started discovering that these things would actually work when she tried them. She handed her business over to her assistant, and immediately started traveling around the world, learning all there was about these mythical and often-bogus practices. 'And then,' as she said it, 'I had an astral projection accident, and now I'm here.'

Big chunks of that story are missing, obviously. But since they didn't pry too heavily into my recounting, I'll return the favor. Good thing I did, too, because Honne's was even shorter.

'Always had a knack for taking things and putting them in other places. Had some close friends, and we moved to the Orient. Opium was the big thing, back then. Lotta money in it. Had a falling-out with them, and just went for a walk. That thing I said about the sign to Macau? Wasn't making that part up at all.'

Not a lot of words, but a lot to digest. Suwa-mama would probably have a good saying for that.

Breakfast wraps up shortly after that. Jamie departs for the roof and Honne says she has sightseeing she wants to do. I bid them farewell, finish up the last of my cooling but still tasty morning meal, and go over what I've learned. There isn't a lot, though <im still screwed>. Yes, there is that, but that's been the case for a while already. I didn't learn that, I just confirmed it.

Well, except for the guy at the Brotherhood office. Tim? Ten <tane>? Yeah, Tane. That appointment's still a while off, though, so I should probably go do something in the mean time. I walk over to the <suspected> balcony, but Donny isn't there anymore—must have come back in while I was cleaning up.

Behind the pebbled glass is... confirmed, it's a balcony <years of debate put to rest at last>. It overlooks the humble streets of Algerasso, which aren't much to look at. The sky above suggests that it's starting to become the time of morning when you look at the clock and feel resignation and acceptance instead of confusion and irritation.
>> No. 14764
File 146882448353.jpg - (18.83KB, 852x480, like bruce willis catching travolta in Pulp Fictn.jpg) [iqdb]
14764
[[ ⌘: http://i.imgur.com/JZ4nhf3.jpg ]] (alternate link for post image)

People are starting to leave their houses for the walk to work—even during the holidays, huh? Then again, I saw with my own eyes how popular the Feast was with people from outside the city, so it sort of makes sense.

Maybe I should follow Honne's example, and go have a look around the city for a while. I don't know how much more I can really get done here, and I'm looking at a big chunk of time between now and my appointment. As long as I don't get in any trouble, I'll probably be fine <hahahahahaaaaa no>. I should go find Donny or one of the other guests here and see if they have any recomme—

hwoooooooo

I totally forgot there were trains. How did I not remember this?

...Guess I know what I'm doing, then!

I exit the balcony and leave the kitchen, humming 'Turn A Turn'. I start to head downstairs, taking the steps in time with the (unsung) lyrics. I'm halfway down the last flight when I stop and then double back—it'd probably be smart to make a bathroom stop, first.

Entering the women's dorm floor, I notice the hub-room's floor has been freshly washed or something. Cleaner and wetter than it was a few hours ago, but none of those folding yellow signs like they have at the supermarket. Is that something we're supposed to do? I think I remember hearing that some hostels ask guests to take care of chores around the place. I'd better ask Donny before I leave.


[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6_-BEPEFgg ]


When I go into the bathroom, the first thing I notice is the sound of a shower running. Hard to miss. I almost mistake it for a running faucet or something at first because the room isn't foggy with steam. Maybe she just started?

The second thing I notice is the blood on the tile floor.

Lots and lots of blood.

A long, smeared streak going through it, and curving around towards the shower stall in use.

The air in here is still a little humid from earlier. On the border of warm and cool.

I can actually smell the blood, there's so much of it.

...There's so much of it.

I feel my hand covering my mouth. Might be in horror. Might be from feeling sick. Neither of those are in my brain, though.

I just feel... cold. That's very strange, I think <very>.

"Ahhhh, shit, shit, shit, shiiiiit."

From the shower comes a young voice. The voice is saying things that no voice like that should be able to say so easily.

Following those words out of the stall comes a person—a girl <well yes this is the girls bathroom after all>. Young, with long, long brown hair. She takes a pink washcloth, and kneels down, wiping away the blood.

Pauses.

Looks up.

Our eyes meet.


[ ] Kid's already near ground. Locks 'er down n' gets some answers.
[ ] Gettin' closer's a fool's plan. Girl's fine with askin' where she's at.
[ ] This mess ain't hers alone. Backs out n' starts callin' an' hollerin'.

________________________________________________________________________________

Everything is fine, I'm just getting trained on a new product line. It's also rather overtime-prone.
>> No. 14765
[X] Gettin' closer's a fool's plan. Girl's fine with askin' where she's at.

I like option B, because it can very easily segue into option C if it seems to be called for.
>> No. 14766
[X] Gettin' closer's a fool's plan. Girl's fine with askin' where she's at.

Better get a handle on the situation first.
>> No. 14767
[x] Gettin' closer's a fool's plan. Girl's fine with askin' where she's at.

The other voters' reasons seem sound.
>> No. 14768
[X] Gettin' closer's a fool's plan. Girl's fine with askin' where she's at.

Forget it, Sanae. It's Makai.
>> No. 14769
[x] Gettin' closer's a fool's plan. Girl's fine with askin' where she's at.
Gently. If she don't wanna talk then leave.
>> No. 14776
File 146940487378.png - (35.19KB, 500x500, badge of office.png) [iqdb]
14776
[ȗ] Gettin' closer's a fool's plan. Girl's fine with askin' where she's at.


[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6_-BEPEFgg ] (Previous track continues.)


We stare at one another, neither of us moving <she killed someone she just killed someone and>.

—For a second.

<and if i dont do something im next>

My right hand starts forward <its empty damn reflexes> and then jerks down to my belt. In a scrambled, graceless second and a half <way way too long>, I have the pouch open and one of my ofuda out—it's marked with the charm for sealing. I'm not sure I can use one of the blanks on a human being <are you serious>. If push comes to shove, I might be able to. But even in the middle of a scene like this, I...

...I have to focus.


[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=aRw9CA3IhXA ] (Play with above track still running)


Her hands are up, waving frantically, then not-too-frantically; more restrained. Her eyes are wide, cheeks flushing. The washcloth falls out of her hand and lands with a moist plap onto the floor. Tiny droplets of blood splash onto her legs—bare; she isn't wearing much. Underwear and a blue t-shirt with some kind of garish cartoon horse from something Western I don't recognize.

Some long, ragged, fresh scars on skinny legs and arms. What the hell?

I don't know what's going on here.

So—

"What is going on here. Ten seconds. Speak."

...That wasn't what I meant to say. Or it was, but a lot less clipped and tense.

"Th-th-this is not what it looks like—"

"Nine." Where is this coming from?

She gets more frantic. "No no no no, seriously, I'm, I'm serious! I'm not lying! It's fine! This, this is—it's okay!"

It's okay? I take a step closer without breaking stance, mindful of the blood for when I have to make my move. "Eight."

The girl's eyes widen further, and she falls on her rear trying to back away. "Look, it's normal, okay?!"

"Killing is normal?" I spit. "Seven." I don't feel so bad about this, now.

"What? No!" she says, aghast. "No, I just said that! I'm not dead! I mean, nobody's dead!"

I glance meaningfully down at the blood-covered floor, and back up at her. "Feels unlikely. Six."

"Look, stop already!" Tears start forming in her eyes, and I think she's getting angry. "I didn't kill anyone! Nobody's dead! I... I fucked up, okay?!"

"...Five. Go on."

"I tried making myself bigger, and it didn't work!"

"...Huh?"

"That's, it's what I do! But like, more than that, I can do other stuff, too. I practice in the morning, and I got distracted or something, and then this shit happened!" She gestures wildly at our surroundings while the words finally flow freely. If only she actually made sense.

"Four."

"Oh, come the fuck on!"

"Where'd all the blood come from? Where's the body? Three."

"It's me!" she yells. Desperation and frustration and terror spill out in equal measure. "It's my—I own the blood! The body isn't anyone, it's me!"

"...Shouldn't someone of your size be dead from losing this much blood? Oh, and two."

The girl pulls at her hair. "I'm a fucking fleshcrafter! I lose this much blood ALL the time!"

"A what?"

She throws up her hands, and I nearly throw the seal at her. "Skin mage! Bone wizard! Gutter surgeon! Shape-rapist! Bodyfucker! Whatever the hell you call it, it's all the same!" The girl glares at me, tears streaming down her face.

Between us, there's an ugly haze of shame, confusion, and menace, and I don't know whose is whose anymore.

"Okay," I say, trying to buy myself time to think. It doesn't work. "Okay," I say again, because why not try the same thing again <par for the course>? "You're a, uh. A fleshcrafter." The words are concepts I know, I'd just never heard them put together like that. And now that I'm saying it, and having to think about it... "That means you... do stuff to bodies? Like, changing things?"

"...Yeah?"

She's still nervous. No, agitated. Let's try a different angle.

"What's your name?"

"Piper Cub." She sniffs, and wipes at her cheeks.

That could be a real name, for all I know. I don't think I've ever heard it used, but with how they name kids in the West, who knows? And if she's not American, it's all out the window. Which, now that I think about it, it probably is, because it's an alias just like everyone else uses. Has to be.

"Well, Piper," I say, trying not to fall into talking-to-children mode—which is hard when you're talking to a child—"I just came into the bathroom, and it was covered in blood. And then I see you trying to clean up the blood."

"Duh," she snaps. "I made a mess, so I'm cleaning it up." Okay, she has a point. Though it could be interpreted different ways.

"And you're telling me you tried to grow bigger, whatever that means..."

"Tryin' to look twenty," she mumbles, looking down. "I can get about seventeen, but twenty's my goal."

"...You can actually change your body to look older?"

Piper chokes out a short laugh. "Be older. Illusion's for chumps. I do it for real."

I could have done with some of that, growing up; I won't even lie. I could have gotten my moped license way sooner, for one. Stupid lift test <wait honda has a cub or something doesnt it like it was mega popular>. ...Oh yeah, I think they do. Well, I already knew it was an alias. Doesn't change things.

"Huh."

Silence fills the blood-soaked room <which is still a blood soaked room>. Yeah, that still needs some answering.

"Where did all this mess come from, then?" I ask, taking a step back. Gonna need to wash my boots off after this.

"Me." With a response like that, I'm not so certain she's afraid of me anymore. I give her my best Kana-mama-is-unamused look, which gets some uncomfortable squirming out of her. Good. You don't get to feel comfortable when you've covered a bathroom in blood, even if it turns out to be harmless. That's just freaky.

"...It's from all the sheets and stuff I dragged in here." She points back to the door. "I bundled them up right after I had the accident so it didn't stain anything else, then dragged them all in here. It spilled in the hall, so after I cleaned up the dorm floor, I did the hall floor. And I was gonna do the floor in here and then the sheets after..." Some locks are brushed aside so that she can better stare accusingly at me.

Well.

This might be BS, still. Or not. I don't know. But there are ways to easily find out.


(Pick 1-2 options.)

[ ] Still ain't looked at th' "body". Has a peek over in yonder shower t' verify it so.
[ ] Crime scene ain't yet been seen. Girl checks out the dorm, looks for corpses.
[ ] Don't seem like the kid's first go of it. Other folks here might have light to shed.
[ ] Not quite done talkin' here. Few more questions're millin' about in 'er head. (Write-in; 1-3 relevant questions for Piper.)

________________________________________________________________________________

I have too much fun with onje aliases. Aliaii.
>> No. 14777
[X] Still ain't looked at th' "body". Has a peek over in yonder shower t' verify it so.
[X] Don't seem like the kid's first go of it. Other folks here might have light to shed.

It looks like our protagonist might be getting closer to her personality in the game.
>> No. 14778
>>14777
Yeah, that was more than a little disconcerting after how she's been portrayed so far in this story. Vaguely reminded me of her reaction to the Palanquin ship, at least tonally.

No vote yet, but I think asking Piper more questions would be good. Trying to think of possibilities there.
>> No. 14779
[☔] Girl doesn't want to get too close just yet. Asks the kid to pull the shower curtain aside, so she can see in.
[☀] Don't seem like the kid's first go of it. Other folks here might have light to shed.

> Aliaii
   ಠ_ಠ   
>> No. 14780
[x] Girl doesn't want to get too close just yet. Asks the kid to pull the shower curtain aside, so she can see in.
[x] Don't seem like the kid's first go of it. Other folks here might have light to shed.

This seems a bit safer than the given option.
>> No. 14782
[x] Girl doesn't want to get too close just yet. Asks the kid to pull the shower curtain aside, so she can see in.
[x]Relax, apologize, leave. Regardless of what you see.
Gently! I said gently! Don't make it a big confrontation! Why would you go playing cop in a world where you're wanted for murder!? Why would you do this in your only available shelter immediately after the owner asked you to start no trouble!?
>> No. 14783
No update today. Check back around Wednesday.
>> No. 14786
File 14702852363.jpg - (0.96MB, 2157x1465, Sakura loves the pit.jpg) [iqdb]
14786
And then mandatory overtime for the rest of the week happened!
>> No. 14787
File 147031055818.jpg - (6.16KB, 117x107, 1466548458315.jpg) [iqdb]
14787
>>14786
Well, at least now I have time to finish Metropolitan.

Also, that pic is great.
>> No. 14788
File 14706303205.jpg - (33.52KB, 852x480, just like pennywise woulda done.jpg) [iqdb]
14788
[⁀] Girl still ain't keen to get so close yet. Kid best show it; even better if she stays put.
[∊] Don't seem like the kid's first go of it. Other folks here might have light to shed.


[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6_-BEPEFgg ] (Ambient — Sound continues)
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=aRw9CA3IhXA ] (Music --- Continues; play with above track still running)


"Right." I look at her, and nod my head needlessly. "Right."

I don't know what I'm doing. I'm not a detective. But if there was a crime committed here, then I have a duty as a human being to see that it gets exposed <hypocrite city population my idiot ass>. Self-defense is one thing. I don't know what happened here besides what she's telling me.

Piper stares back at me, anger and humiliation clear and present in what should be a child's calm, happy hazel eyes. I can't turn my back on someone like this until I know what's in that shower stall. Who knows what she could do?

I know the answer to both of those questions <two in one>.

"Okay, Piper. Why don't you show me?" It sounds nicer put this way, and I even make a point of putting away my ofuda. The pouch is left unfastened because I'm not a total moron not one word.

...

Right.

She gives me a wary look, but doesn't get hostile again. "Sure, fine." I stay where I am while she gets up. Blood runs down her legs, but the sight is more painful-looking than gruesome—because she was kneeling in it for a while earlier, it makes it look like she skinned her knees horribly. She notices, but doesn't make any move to clean them off. Maybe she's just that used to it.

Or maybe there's a really tense-looking lady who was threatening her just a bit ago that she's trying not to make any sudden moves in front of <but what do i know>. More than I'd like, and less than I'd hoped.

Piper goes to the shower and pulls back the curtain—slowly. "Thanks," I tell her. I wait until she gets the hint and steps back; two big, exaggerated steps. Sorry kid, but you're the one who got caught in the blood-soaked room, not me <lucky break huh>. Oh, please.

Keeping my hands loose and ready, I walk over to the open shower stall, and hold my breath before peering in. Even so, I can still smell the blood. Inside is... well, it'd be kind of horrible to call it a letdown. It's pretty non-dramatic, but the truth usually is. Actually, I guess Gensokyo is still full of weird and surprising truths, but most of them are pretty simple and uncomplicated.

There's a heap of sheets in there. A very bloody heap, but a heap of sheets all the same. They're losing some redness from where the water is pouring down on them, creating a runny red trail that flows down the drain. I nudge the pile with the toe of my boot, but don't bump into anything unnervingly solid <no body here inspector>. Sure isn't. Not one I can see, at any rate. And to that end...

"Trace on."

I focus on the blood coating the floor, and then the sheets. Even if it's not hers, it's all from the same source; that much I can see for sure. The only place where it gets all muddled up is where it's mixing with water. Which reminds me...

"Isn't it better to clean things with hot water?" I ask, still looking around. "Why did you leave it cold?"

"Nooooo way," she says emphatically. "Not with blood. It'll soak into fabric way easier if you do that. Rookies fuck that one up a lot."

"Really?"

"Speakin' from experience."

"Huh." I go a layer under the physical structure, and focus on the magical energies associated with the blood. "...Oh."

"Hmm?" She's starting to sound annoyed again.

I shake my head. "Oh, I'm just... surprised, actually. Necromantic magic usually looks a lot more... vivid."

An indecipherable noise form behind me. "Fuck off with that necromancy garbage," she says finally. "It's not even close. It's like—you know , those places where you stuff the animals and put them on stands? That's a necromancer. But me, I'm a veterinarian."

Taking a step back, I bring the spell back up a layer and glance at her for a moment. A young girl looks back at me, clearly with much on her mind and much on her body. ...It's still all the same blood. Don't quite understand how she can lose that much and not pass out, despite her saying that wasn't a problem.

I turn off my spell, and bow to her—not nearly as much as the situation demands; don't want to give that away, but enough to convey my regret. "I'm sorry for misjudging you, Miss Cub," I say. She makes a kind of amused huff of air, but I don't pause. "I seem to have overreacted and leapt to conclusions."


[ ♫: https://youtu.be/IzJlGTuPtpc ] (New music; ambient continues)
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=IzJlGTuPtpc ]


"Y-yeah, you—well, whatever, it's fine. I mean, it... yeah, it looks pretty bad, but this isn't the first time this has happened," replies Piper. Her words come out in a rush of dissolving agitation and relief. "Stuff looks pretty Kill Bill sometimes when I screw up. And that's just what's around me; I look ten times worse." She rubs her arms absently while looking down at the bloody floor.

"That sounds difficult," I tell her, eyeing one of the cleaner stalls. I need to go wash my boots before I leave.

Nod, nod. "Sure is. Thanks for not blowing my head off, by the way. Woulda made it lots harder."

That's a joke, right? I'm not sure if I should laugh <can she actually surv> No, no. Not going down this road. "Is that so?"

"Yep. By the way, what's your name?"

"Kochiya." Probably best to leave off the "of Moriya" part. Actually, probably even better to come up with a new alias altogether. It can't sound Japanese, though, so a lot of my first picks are out. Crud.

"Right. Mind if I get back to work, Kochiya?"

"Ah, sorry, sorry. Please, by all means."

While I go and rinse off my boots, I watch/listen to her do exactly that. She squeezes and wrings out the sheets <nice surge of bloody red water there yuck> before repositioning them under the water and resuming her cleaning of the bathroom floor. The fear she showed earlier is gone now, replaced with earnest focus on the tasks at hand.

I sort of admire that, but there's something extremely wrong with a girl her age being involved with magic like that. It's easy to see that it's changed her already. Oh, and she might still be a killer. Haven't ruled that out completely yet.

"Have a good day," I tell her, as I'm heading out the door. She waves a hand at me, but doesn't look up.


[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6_-BEPEFgg ] (STOP ambient sound.)


When the door shuts behind me, I take a moment to lean against it, thinking about my life and the choices I've made during it. Somehow, I feel like some apologies might be in order when I get back home... though I don't know what exactly for, just yet.

[heyyyy. someone in there?]

I go over to Room Three, and give it a walk-through. Piper's bed has been stripped of all its sheets and coverings, and the floor's a bit wet. The woman who seemed sick earlier is still in bed. This time, though, I see the end of a long grey braid sticking out from under several pillows—normal grey-with-age grey, not that unnaturally natural grey like Dr. Yagokoro has.

So... Piper, Jamie, Honne, this lady... who is still alive, yes; there's the rise and fall of a breathing body. And myself. All the room's occupants accounted for, as far as I know. And I think this lady here would have noticed if there had been a murder that bloody.

[c'mooon. lemme in, i'm a youkai.]

I exit the room and push the d           st pause for a moment with the door open, thinking.

[Hiiiii~! There was jogging and well-defined abs and bumping into people and lots of staring and maybe even breakfast along the way! It was great~ Ah, a little wider please. Perfect~!]

...Thinking about what, I don't know. Well, there's still the matter of Piper. I think it's probably likely she's telling the truth, but I should get it confirmed with someone, first. If somehow it's all a lie, I'm going to feel real, real bad about leaving things like this.

[ ] Mosey on up to th' roof. S'posed t'be a lotta wisdom in high places.
[ ] Heads down them stairs. Can't get no wisdom if y' ain't grounded.

________________________________________________________________________________

>>14787
Now there's a scholar. And yeah, it's pretty great.
>> No. 14789
[x] Heads down

There are more people in lower floors of buildings. Fact.
>> No. 14790
[X] Heads down them stairs. Can't get no wisdom if y' ain't grounded.
>> No. 14791
[▽̶] Heads down them stairs. Can't get no wisdom if y' ain't grounded.
>> No. 14792
[x] Heads down them stairs. Can't get no wisdom if y' ain't grounded.

I think Donny was on the ground floor.
>> No. 14793
[x] Heads down them stairs. Can't get no wisdom if y' ain't grounded.
Even in the land of flight, there's more possibility at ground level.
>> No. 14797
File 147184773982.jpg - (18.58KB, 345x230, commencing hostelities.jpg) [iqdb]
14797
[』] Heads down them stairs. Can't get no wisdom if y' ain't grounded.


[ ♫: https://youtu.be/IzJlGTuPtpc ] (Previous track continues)
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=IzJlGTuPtpc ]


Well, Jamie's on the roof, isn't she? She seemed to have her head on straight <except for being weird>. Sure, except for that. But I'm not sure there are even that many normal people in Makai. I sure haven't met one yet. On the other hand, she did say she was meditating, right? I don't know if it'd be a good idea to go bother her right now.

...Nah, I'll leave her alone. Let's see who's downstairs, first.

The sound of the second floor door closing behind me has barely finished echoing through the stairwell when I hear someone coming up this way with slow, deliberate steps. The person plodding towards me turns out to be... well, as close as you can get to a stereotype. An old man like you might see taking a walk down any street back in Japan, hunched slightly forward, hands behind his back, hair and short beard snow-white <makes him look like a real old colonel sanders>.

[Hey, saw him earlier, too~ Hiiii!]

I smile politely as we pass each other. "Ni hao," he grunts, although not unkindly <oh>. I almost expected Japanese to come out of his mouth instead. A stammered syllable or two later, I return the greeting a little more awkwardly than I meant it to sound. He doesn't say anything more, so we continue on our separate ways.

The door on the ground floor opens onto a stone-tile lobby. Donny's at the front desk, writing in a notebook. The lobby isn't very big, though I realize very quickly that all the furniture looks hand-made, and that most of the decorations are from Earth—travel-promotion posters, a flag I don't recognize, one of those nested Russian dolls, a maneki-neko, a framed picture of Elvis, and more. Lots of potted plants, too <and bars on the windows>. ...Yeah. And those.

Whatever. He'll do just fine.

The exit from the stairwell gives anyone coming down a straight shot to the front door—which is currently propped open—while the front desk is off to the side a little ways <lets him see whos coming and going i bet>. As I walk over to it, he looks up and smiles. "Kochiya," he says, and puts down his pen. "You're looking... clothed." I feel my face start to heat up, even though he's not saying it in a mean way. "It's probably for the better; there aren't many places in Makai I know of where a naturist would last long."

"Yeah, well," I say lamely, and look down at the wooden surface of the desk. "I'm, um. Gonna stick with traditional fashion." <whyd he have to say thaaaaat>

"Sounds smart. Are you leaving?" I look up, and he points to the pack on my shoulders.

"Huh? Oh, yeah. I mean, yeah, I am for a little bit, but then I'm coming back, probably." I fumble my way through an explanation, trying to power through the recent embarrassment. "Or I might be. Like, I'm heading out, but I'm not going to leave-leave." <see this is why we have different words in japanese for farewells>

[And let's leave it at that~]

"Okay," Donny says, somehow figuring it all out. "Would you like to pay for another night in advance?" I dig out the fee, and after counting out fifty-five juliène, place it onto the tray he slides forward. "Going anywhere specific?"

"Nah. Well, sorta? I want to look around the Railyards a bit," I tell him. "I like trains."

He cracks a smile, for some reason. "Well, it's supposed to warm up again this afternoon, so don't bring a sweater."

"I think I'm covered, there."

"Now, what did you want to ask me?"

"Huh?"

"You've got something bugging you, don't you? It's all over you."

Crap <its what im here for isnt it>. Yeah, but... "I, I am, yeah." I look to the side, then back again. Smooth. "What kind of person is Piper? Ah, if you can tell me, that is."

Donny sits back, looking thoughtful. "Well, she came here about halfway through last week along with Manjit. Those two've been traveling together for a while, I think. I don't believe anybody'd call her polite, but she pays on time, minds most of the rules, and doesn't get into... Well, she doesn't go out of her way to start trouble; let's go with that."

I stare for many long seconds. He looks back at me.

"...I... that's kind of blunt, isn't it?"

"Mm-hmm." He would be so screwed if he tried living in Japan.

"Is it okay to be just... saying that to anyone who asks?"

He shrugs a large shoulder. "It's no less than anyone else would learn after about a week."

[Ooh, ooh, ask about me!]

"What would you say about me, if somebody asked what I asked?" ...Wait, what?

He considers this for a second, then says, "I'd say you're real green."

...

That's it?

He chuckles. "No, there's more." Dammit, I did it again. "Nice young lady, but not experienced. Good head on her shoulders when it's not in the clouds. I also get a feeling I wouldn't like you when you're angry."

"Huh?"

[Na nana naaaaa~]

"That's another 'green' joke."

...I don't understand this man's sense of humor.

He shifts in his seat. "Did something happen between you two?"

"No, we're good," I reply, shaking my head. "There was a bit of a misunderstanding, but it's all cleared up now."

His gaze stays on me for a few seconds past comfortable, but at last he leans back. "Good to hear that."

"Yes. Well, thank you," I tell him, and start walking for the door. Gotta get out there and get moving. Piper's probably innocent. Good. Great <fuuuuuuck>. Shut up.

"Check-in time's at five," Donny calls after me.

"Got it."

Gotta mooooove.

[Hmmm~ What's eating... uh... Well, 'kale' is alliterative and it's even the right color, but it just doesn't have that ring to it!]


[ ♫: https://youtu.be/W9x-wDjNW1E ] (these are all the same track)
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=W9x-wDjNW1E ]
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/-DlC6rfXLxA ]
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=-DlC6rfXLxA ]
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/jpyql ]


The cool air of morning brushes across my face when I step out into the street <not quite that nice mountain chill im used to>. It's not bright enough that I have to spend a second adjusting to a change in light levels—that lobby's kinda dim—but it's getting close.

I have to stop anyway in order to look at the map Verritine drew for me yesterday so that I can figure out where I'm going. Orienting myself is no problem since an is always easy to find; just look for the glow. But figuring out where I am and where I'm going is another issue. It takes a little bit, but I'm walking down the street a few minutes later. I pass by Merry Verri's, but it's closed at this hour.

Gaudanno is a pretty dull and boring place, all things told. The architecture isn't very distinctive, and everything is built to last or to be functional. Carts and cargo are already moving through the streets, however, so it doesn't feel lonely or empty by any stretch of the imagination.

[Went out this way earlier, but not this far. This place is a draaaag~]

My path generally takes me pir, and I can feel my heart leap when the distinctive clangs of a train's bell sounds off in the near distance. I start taking a few shortcuts, especially as the terrain starts getting a little hillier.

One of the streets I turn onto is distinctly nicer, wider, and more decorated than most. There are actually stores and shops here and there, as well as the occasional front office of some business or warehouse. The stores are a little closer together, while you can tell a front office by the lack of anything else for a good distance to one or the other side of it—the facility it's attached to, I'm guessing.

Unfortunately it's also a lot busier here, with a moderate crowd walking the streets in both directions. Some are coming from the open city gates I can see waaaaay down on the far an end of the road, while others come from... whatever's in the other direction, but I'll bet anything it's a train station.

About twenty meters up ahead, an extremely tall, thin demon in overalls almost gets bowled over by the door to one of those front offices swinging open suddenly. Someone in a long reddish-brown dress slowly walks backward out of the building, pulling what turns out to be some kind of huge box. I'd almost call it a coffin if it didn't look so sturdy and old.

It takes the person a few moments to get it all the way out, so the traffic on the sidewalk is forced to spill out onto the street in order to flow around them. They lean back into the building briefly, presumably to say something, before closing the door and straightening up. ...Oh, hey. I think that's Honne.


[ ] Might be wantin' a spare hand there. Stops by n' sees how she doin'.
[ ] Ain't much in th' mood for others. Girl looks down; just keep on walkin'.

________________________________________________________________________________

When people ask, "Where does the time go?", I've discovered that the answer is, "My work ate it."

Also, Hell or High Water is quite the movie. Definitely worth your 8 bucks.
>> No. 14798
[X] Might be wantin' a spare hand there. Stops by n' sees how she doin'.

Sanae smash!
>> No. 14799
Jan, ken, pon~!

[] Might be wantin' a spare hand there. Stops by n' sees how she doin'.
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