File 128748487757.jpg - (177.39KB, 1300x996, 82.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] Convince her to wait until you can set up a private meeting with both Satori and the council head.
Yes, Satori deserves to know about this. Yes, you made a promise, and the council head deserves to know about this.
"Yuugi, we need to wait until--"
"--until we can get both of them together!" you finish hurriedly, raising your voice over Yuugi's objection. "If this is going to become public knowledge, then Satori needs a chance to give her side of the story now, before anyone else has a chance to draw their own conclusions. If she's not there, it's just going to be the council head, turning everything he hears into another excuse to storm the palace. You know it's true!" you say, rising to a shout again as Yuugi takes ignores you, taking another step down the stairs.
When she stop and turns her head to reply, though, it's not a shout you get back in reply; it's that same weary tone she used when asking you why you hid the truth. "What did she do that makes you want to defend her so bad?" she asks, an almost genuine curiosity in her voice that sets you aback. That's how she sees this? "I know what I told you about politics and all, but how did you get so sure that we're the bad guys here? What if..."
You wait for a moment after she trails off to begin speaking yourself. "It's not about good guys and bad guys, Yuugi. It may hav--" You stop yourself short, considering what you were just about to say. There's still some small part of you that isn't so sure that hiding the truth won't turn out to have been the best course of action after all, in the end, but... "It was a mistake to keep this a secret. I screwed up. But making a mistake in the opposite direction isn't going to fix anything." You take a step over toward Yuugi, leaning against the railing of the stairs to look down at her. "You said it. I'm supposed to be getting people together, making sure nobody has any complaints about how this is run, and that's it. But you know there's two sides to this, and if we go to the council head and tell him this, and he decides that it warrants an immediate search with a dozen guys carrying battle axes, then that other side's not gonna get heard, no matter what I say, because," you say as Yuugi shoots you a look like she wants to disagree, "because I don't know what that other side is. I don't even have any good guesses. Nobody does, because none of us have heard the whole truth yet. That's what we need before we can do anything."
That... almost did it. The look goes away without Yuugi saying anything, but she clearly isn't convinced, and you're out of arguments to make. "Look, you said yourself that you don't think Satori's some evil mastermind, right?" you try, working to keep the pleading tone out of your voice. "There is another side to this. Satori needs to be there because it's not my place to try to advocate for her."
Nothing. Yuugi just keeps staring impassively, no different than she was when you first called out to stop her, and with nothing else to say, you have no reply but to stare right back, silently willing her to understand what you're trying to say. The confrontation continues for one minute, then two, until it's not even a confrontation anymore, until it seems more like she's trying to stare through you than at you, and even with nothing to say, you open your mouth to speak again--
--and close it again as Yuugi finally speaks. And then open and close it silently one more time, just for good measure.
"You're right," she says with a slight nod, keeping her gaze locked on yours for a moment longer before turning away, taking the stairs two at a time. "We'll split up. You get Komeiji, bring her to... the steps outside the palace is the closest thing to neutral ground there is. I'll get the council head and--"
"Wait!" Snapping out of the stupor from Yuugi's sudden concession, you all but throw yourself down the stairs after her, reaching the ground floor at the same time that she reaches the front door. "I can't go get her alone!"
Yuugi pauses, hand on door, and an exasperated look flickers across her face as she turns her head back toward you. "Why?"
"I said I don't think she's some evil mastermind, but that doesn't make it so," you say, crossing the room in broad strides as you speak. "I'm not going to be able to fight back if she decides to shoot the messenger."
The exasperation flickers back on, and Yuugi gives you another long, hard stare before throwing the door open and stepping out. "Let's do this quick. I don't like leavin' the council head out of this any longer than I have to." She strides out into the street, and you shut the door behind you, hurrying off after her as she makes her way to the palace.
The atmosphere between the two of you still isn't what you'd call comfortable, but you're moving too fast to really notice; even Yuugi's short, quick strides are long enough that you nearly have to jog to keep up. You sneak a few glances at Yuugi, but her eyes are locked straight ahead; even if there was some sort of conversation you wanted to start, you doubt it'd get through with her like this. Resigning yourself to the circumstances, you focus on getting where you need to go, and you find yourself at the palace in short order. Yuugi takes the steps three at a time going up, and you're still a few steps short of the top as she opens the door--
--to an enormous black bear.
And before your feet can leave the ground, it raises one gigantic paw up to its head, then swings it down in a straight line towards Yuugi--
--who catches it effortlessly in a single hand. With a noise like a sigh, she lets her shoulders drop, and her other hand shoots forward, grabbing a handful of fur on the animal's chest.
And with a short step forward and a single thrusting motion, the bear is gone from the doorway. You can't see past Yuugi into the darkness of the palace, but you can hear the thing's growling shift into whimpers as it flies through the air, followed shortly by a thud and a crash from within as it hits the ground.
"Ah, fuck." As Yuugi speaks again, you remember to breathe, and you absently take the last few steps up the stairs, unable to keep yourself from gaping. She just won a fight with a bear in the amount of time it would have taken you to realize you were fighting a bear.
Wait, if that bear was waiting at the door, then... "Shit."
"Yeah. Come on." Yuugi swings the door open the rest of the way, sending it slamming against the reverse wall as she strides in, and you slip in after her, keeping your eyes peeled for more animals.
You... find them.
The entire main foyer is filled with a literal menagerie. Animals great and small, predator and prey alike, all milling about the space, with all the chaos you would expect from such a gathering; you have no idea how none of this racket made it outside, barring some sort of soundproofing magic. Your entrance turns a few furry heads, but oddly enough, you aren't immediately set upon, and the majority of them ignore you entirely.
"I told you not yet."
And amongst the hustle and bustle, kneeling next to the the prostrate form of the bear Yuugi just threw, is Satori.
"That's no excuse." She's talking to it, you realize, and it's responding; the animal pulls itself upright, but it still seems to slump under Satori's scolding tone, letting out a pitiful whine. "Upstairs with you." With a firm hand, she shoves the bear away from her, and it trots away on all fours, head hung low.
"Lady Komeiji." Yuugi's switched back up into that polite tone she seems to reserve for Satori and the council head, even if it is through gritted teeth. "What, exactly, is--"
"Stop that." Finally, Satori rises and looks at the two of you, interrupting Yuugi sharply. "Neither of us are in the mood."
"Fine. What the hell is this?" Yuugi booms, thrusting a hand toward a particularly busy corner of the room.
"My apologies for the unwarranted attack. Teodor has a difficult time following directions."
"I am preparing my pets to watch over the palace in my absence," Satori interrupts. "In the event that someone should try to enter while I am gone," she continues, staring pointedly at Yuugi.
"How thoughtful. Look, we're kinda in a hurry, so let's--"
"You misunderstand. I have no intention of going with you."
That stops Yuugi cold, and as you see her fist clench at her side, you decide to step in before she can form a response. "Then where are you going?"
"You already know that." As her attention turns to you, though, her cool detachment turns to cold anger, and her words take on a sharp edge. "Orin told me everything. I had hoped to get the details from you, but I see you were... otherwise occupied."
So she's angry now, too? "If you talked Orin, then you know I've been planning to tell you since the moment I left."
Her eyes flick over to Yuugi briefly, then back to you. "In due time, no doubt."
"You're mad at him for keepin' secrets?" Yuugi asks coldly. "I got some bad news for you."
"Satori," you begin again, taking a step closer to her, "we need to know that you weren't responsible for Okuu's actions."
"I wasn't. I swear it," she says bluntly.
You flinch. "Just your word between the three of us isn't--"
"And what more do you hope to get from me?!" And the ice-cold facade shatters into genuine anger as Satori stomps up to you, pushing her face up into yours. "What further evidence could exist?! And do you truly believe it would matter?! This 'discussion' you intend to lead me to is nothing more than a kangaroo court, and you all but know it already! And you," she continues, turning toward Yuugi sharply, "you do know it, and the only thing stopping you from believing it is your self-delusion as to the nature of your leader!"
She turns back to you, and the lid is back on the bottle, her face a mask of cold anger once again. "I told you when I asked you to keep this secret. There are bigger forces at play here than oni, or my pets, or anything else you can imagine. I have made my decision, and it is to fight the battles I can win." Anger cooling even further, Satori grimaces, taking another look around the room at the animals at work. "Do as you will," she says, talking to both you and Yuugi. "If you cannot restrain your collective desire to tear down the palace, I hope you will at least avoid harming the animals."
Bigger forces... wait, bigger than her pets? "You're not going down after Okuu?" She doesn't reply to your question, just continuing to stare. "Just what bigger forces are you talking about?" Silence. "What's going on here?"
Her stony glare lasts for a moment longer before cracking away, revealing the derisive, spiteful smirk underneath. "After all the effort to which I have went to keep my secrets mine... you really think I'm going to tell you?"
"I think you're gonna tell him." Yuugi steps forward, brushing past you to come toe-to-toe with Satori, the two's gazes meeting a foot away from each other as Yuugi towers over Satori. "I think you're gonna explain it to everyone, in nice, tiny words so we can all figure out what the hell you're playin' at."
"You intend to detain me." Satori seems unfazed by this development, looking up at Yuugi placidly.
"'Intend', nothin'," Yuugi spits. "You're gonna come talk with us, and I ain't really concerned with whether you want to or not right now."
"I believe you agreed not to use force when--" Satori stops, and that malicious smirk reappears on her face. "Ah, of course. That's a wonderful justification you've made up. I wonder if you really believe it."
"Satori, don't do this." The situation is going out of control rapidly, and you're not sure if there's anything you can do anymore to rein it in. Is it really all right to force Satori into this meeting? For that matter, is it really worth it? She doesn't seem to care about what's happening any more. Why can't she just tell you what's going on? Maybe there's some trick, some leverage you could use to get it out of--
"There isn't." Damn it.
"Last chance, Komeiji."
"Yuugi, wait. Let's--"
"No," Yuugi says plainly. "No, I've been lied to and jerked around and shit is not as it should be, so we're doin' things my way." She finally closes the distance between her and Satori with a firm hand on the shorter girl's shoulder. "Now, you've got it already, but I'll give you my word that you will be allowed to leave this meeting unharmed and no harm will come to your pets, your family, or your mansion while you're gone. So, seeing as how you did agree to work with us to resolve this dispute, I don't really see where you've got any good reason to refuse. That said, it's gonna be real embarrassing for both of us if I have to pick you up and carry you there, so I'm giving you one last chance to come along quietly and get this all sorted out. We clear?"
"...You're serious." No response from Yuugi. "Then I have no choice. Now."
And then you're on the ground face first, something on your back with fur and snarling hot breath and the strength to keep you pinned holding you down, and your flailing swing of the arm backwards strikes true, but a second one is there to replace the first before you have a chance to right yourself, its weight pushing into your lungs, and you catch a flash of teeth from the corner of your eye--
--and then the weight is gone, and you flip yourself over just in time to see Yuugi toss the wolf into one corner of the room one-handed.
"Yuugi, wha--" Yuugi jerks you to your feet in one pull, an experience almost as painful as hitting the ground in the first place, but then she takes off running, and as you spot Satori slipping through the door to the basement on the far side of the room, you chase after them both.
The staircase down is as dark as ever, and it's a minor miracle that you manage to avoid pitching yourself into the ground, at the rate you're going down it. Yuugi, on the other hand, isn't so lucky; you don't see her fall, but you hear the crash, accompanied by an unpleasant snapping noise. You nearly stop, but the urgency of the chase presses you to continue; besides, she didn't need your help wrestling a bear, so you doubt she needs you to dust her off after a fall.
As you reach the dim light signaling the bottom of the stairs, you see that your haste paid off; Satori's still there, wrenching the secret door into Okuu's lair open.
"Satori!" You spring from the lowest step, arms outstretched, and your hands close around--
--empty air, as she deftly ducks under your grasp. You're barely able to counter your own momentum to avoid the fist swung towards your midsection, and she dodges your next attempt at a grab even more easily than she did the first.
This time, you realize, you won't be able to pull back for another try, and as Satori's strike hits your solar plexus, you commit yourself even further forward, hoping to simply fall on her and grapple for long enough for Yuugi to arrive.
The moment the thought enters your head, though, Satori's moving, crouching to get under you, and when your weight hits her, it's your stomach against her shoulder. You let out a groan as the pain shoots through your bellybutton and out your back, and you can't even brace yourself for the landing as Satori 's fist jams into your ribs, pushing you off of her and to the ground.
"I'm sealing the door shut behind me, and reinforcing the entire hell of blazing fires magically," she says, turning back to the cave wall without a glance at you. "Don't come after me. If I haven't returned within two days..." She stops for a moment, straining against the frozen mechanisms of the secret door to open a gap large enough to fit through. "I hope you can find a way to get the animals to the surface."
"S-Sa..." Even considering your adrenaline rush, you've had the wind knocked out of you enough times in quick succession that you have no choice but to gasp for air, bending double on the ground.
"I can't tell you why." But Satori answers anyway. "If I could, I would. But I cannot. You have to understand that there is--" And then she stops, and after a moment, the ghost of an odd, crooked smile rises to her face. "Well... I suppose you really don't." And then it vanishes, and she steps through the doorway, pausing on the opposite side of the threshold to look back at you once more. "I'm sorry, Taizou."
And the door shuts.
By the time Yuugi makes it down to where you are, you've managed to drag yourself up the wall to a standing position, still taking shallow breaths to ease the pain from your midsection.
"Through... the wall..." you wheeze, pointing a finger toward the now-undetectable door. "S... She sealed it from inside."
For a moment, Yuugi's face twists with rage, arms flexing as though to lash out, but she's back under control before you can react, wearing a mask of cold determination.
"Here?" she asks sharply.
"Right here?" she repeats, jerking her thumbs towards the spot on the wall you indicated. You nod slowly, still not comprehending, and her eyes flash again as she turns her attention away from you, placing one hand on the wall as though to brace herself.
"Stand back." And drawing her opposite arm back, fist clenched. You realize what's going to happen just in time to--
KRRMMMM. Flecks of rock pelt your back as you shield your head and neck with your arms, the shaking knocking you to your knees. Even after the noise stops, the aftershocks seem to go on for seconds, rumbling through the ground beneath you, and you wait until your knees stop shaking to push yourself to your feet.
"Fuck," Yuugi curses sharply, and after a moment, you know why; even through the lingering cloud of dust, you can see that the wall is basically undamaged. As she pulls her fist away, you can see the small indentation it left in the stone, a network of tiny cracks spiderwebbing away; more than any human could have done, but not nearly enough to break through to the other side.
"She said she was magically--"
"Figured that out," Yuugi snaps back at you, raising her arm for another punch, and you barely manage to fall back to the opposite wall and grab a handhold in time for the next impact.
KRRMMMM. This time the aftershocks last even longer, and they come with some worrisome rumblings from the stone above your head. As you shield your eyes against the dust cloud and peer in once more, though, it doesn't look like this attack was any more effective; all you see is another fist-shaped dent, overlapping the first.
"You just wanna let her run away like that?!" Yuugi's up in arms before you can even begin to speak, shooting down the suggestion you hadn't yet made. "I just need more time to break through this goddamn--" And she throws another punch; a bit wilder this time, but still hard enough to send you staggering back to the relative safety of the back wall.
As much as you'd like to trust her on that, you get the feeling that she's acting more on emotion that reason now; not ten minutes ago, she didn't even want to come here, and now it looks like she's put all thoughts of the council head out of her mind.
You haven't, though. After what Satori's said and done, you're not really sure of what to do anymore. Part of you still wants to catch her, but you don't know what you'd do if you did; her mind seemed to be made up to... do whatever it is she's doing. Maybe it really would be best to pull back for now and take care of the other half of this unstable situation.
[ ] You can't just let this go; not like this. Keep trying to go after Satori.
[ ] You have nothing to gain from finding Satori; not anymore. Go talk to the council head.
[ ] Write-in.