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File 130372426861.png - (529.17KB, 862x600, she_is.png) [iqdb]
—We had strayed the caves for whole millennia.

No, to say that would be a bold overstatement.

One loses notion of time underground – seconds blend into minutes, minutes melt into hours, hours mingle into days. One could say time isn't much unlike a tankard of cheap ale in a wayside tavern – it is lost with neither heed nor notice, only apparent when you set your mind towards the past, to tally sceptically the gone-by numbers. Indeed; deep beneath the light-basked surface of the world, in the snaking bowels of Hell's foyer, time spilled between your fingers as drops of dilute golden brew.

Garion stopped, stooped against the cold, stone wall of the passage, then sighed – only to himself, of course.

He never would have directed such explosion of emotions at another.

He pricked up his ears and listened for the sounds of water seeping from the cracks in the uneven ceiling, measuring an interval at each loud tinkle when they crashed on the treacherous, crooked floor. His mind hovered just this side of restlessness, and the noise of falling droplets made a good substitute—however whole-clothed—for clocking how long he had been wandering the convoluted maze of sunless tunnels. His aching feet screamed Murder! but the screams went by largely ignored.

His feet's opinion had never been a point of much interest to Garion.

He ground his heel on an unoffending rock, then peered ahead, squinting warily.

He'd long drained his little oil-lamp of fuel, but even without its shine he hadn't shied from the dark. He'd stared it down. He'd glared stubbornly till the blackness thinned into grey, grey – into shades of blue, and those – into blurry shapes of sharp-edged stone. Soon enough, the darkness had held no more secrets for him. He'd found it a relief.

The darkness, needless to say, felt contrary. It's a timid thing; it much prefers its secrets uncovered.

That could be why it threw something else than itself at Garion.

An obstacle harder to scare off. A beast of a common kind.

A woman.

She came first a surprise and lasted one until the end. Her arrival stung Garion's ears with an out-of-place, mechanical screech of rusted wheels, then stabbed his eyes with a pale blue light of two incandescent spheres hanging loosely in the air over her shoulders.

Garion winced, shielding his eyes from the painful glow.

“Ah!” the woman made a gasp. So did Garion. He made it as small and quiet as he could, however.

He had seen magic before, obviously. He'd grown watching logic getting bent to ends of reason, bounced off of the borders of impossible, and tossed out the window of probability. He wasn't frightened by the fact that the woman seemed to hold floating orbs of light as pets on a leash. He was startled by how fiercely the orbs made violence on his dark-adjusted sight. He felt a pang of anger at the amount of effort they effectively robbed him of.

“Is little brother OK?” he heard the woman inquire amiably.
“Could little sister tell her orbs to settle down?” he snapped unwittingly. He immediately began cursing himself for it inside. The pang was gone now.
“Ah, yes,” the woman let out, “little brother will excuse little sister.” She gave a soft mutter and the light dimmed. “Now, is little brother all right?” she asked again.

Garion righted himself and turned to the woman with the conditioned blasé look that he always wore in face of others.

She wasn't a woman, he rectified. She was a girl, sixteen at most, small, although generously gifted. Her long, braided her was a riot of red, and it swayed playfully when she tilted her head, studying Garion's face also. Her habit was old-fashioned and green-coloured; a tight, low-cut bodice clung to her rich bosoms like an elastic mould, and she hid her legs behind the veil of a lavishly decorated dress. A pair of cute, tiny black booties peeked out from under plenteous frills like two curious rodents that have heard commotion outside their hideout.

She had fashioned the top of her hair to a cat-ear likeness and was pushing in front of her an old wheelbarrow.
Garion was baffled. He never would grasp the intricacies of underground clothing conventions.

“Can little brother understand little sister?” the woman—pardon, girl—pushed on. “Can little brother hear at all?”
“Little brother can,” Garion responded with a nod. “He can understand as well.”
“Ah, a smart one!” the girl cooed delightedly. “What is little brother doing down here? Little brother doesn't look like he belongs, little sister thinks.”
Garion took a slow breath. He would cut straight to the core of the matter. “I am looking for someone,” he said. “A woman.”
The girl cocked her head once more, then ran her hands along her bodice as though to check something. “Well, little brother found one,” she said then, smiling. “He must possess amazing luck, chancing on one so deep underground.”
He let that pass. “You're not the one,” he said flatly. “I am searching for a very particular woman, and you're not her.”
“A shame,” said the girl. “A real pity, if little sister may say. A woman underground, though? Sheer folly, if she can be blunt. Has little brother gotten lost, by chance? Did he get here by means of the bridge that connects to this place?”
“... Yes,” Garion admitted, “to both, actually. Do you live down here? Are you familiar with these caves?”
“Until now, little sister believed she was. It was her thought that wayward humans were an attribute of the above-world. Is little brother a human?” she asked then. “He smells mysterious, but unlike monsters or spirits—sadly, on that last count, too. And where was he going, all by himself? How did little brother wander into these parts, anyway?”
“... I was—”
“Ah, but little sister forgets her master's lessons!” The girl let go of her barrow, ran in front of it, and curtsied. “Her name is Rin,” she introduced herself, “Kaenbyou Rin, though little brother may call little sister what he wishes. What does little brother say his name is?”

[ ] “Teruo. Teruo Matsuyama,” he replied. He then asked for directions back to the bridge. He had noticed a house as he had crossed it.
[ ] “Spalding Gray,” he said his name was. He was weary from his travels; he sought food and shelter.
[ ] He made himself known as “Skellen, Stefan.” He had no great hopes in coming here. He was lured by a hunch.

[x] “Spalding Gray,” he said his name was. He was weary from his travels; he sought food and shelter.
[x] “Spalding Gray,” he said his name was. He was weary from his travels; he sought food and shelter.
[x] He made himself known as “Skellen, Stefan.” He had no great hopes in coming here. He was lured by a hunch.

Being looking forward to this
[x] “Teruo. Teruo Matsuyama,” he replied. He then asked for directions back to the bridge. He had noticed a house as he had crossed it.
[x] He made himself known as “Skellen, Stefan.” He had no great hopes in coming here. He was lured by a hunch.

Where is Tenshi? I need some Tenshi.

Yaf, you said there would be Tenshi.
>An obstacle harder to scare off. A beast of a common kind.
>A woman.
I lol'd.

[x] He made himself known as “Skellen, Stefan.” He had no great hopes in coming here. He was lured by a hunch.
S.S.? Well, I don't really like that, but the despairing vote works for me.
Little did they know that the real of title of the thread was "Tenshi is in this story, as an extra"
In hindsight, the fact that it said 'Thread un' instead of 'Thread uno' should've been a hint

File 130373851772.jpg - (930.28KB, 849x1201, Satori291.jpg) [iqdb]
It is a bit cruel to Tenshi fans, isn't it? (ARE there any Tenshi fans?)
File 130373852033.jpg - (8.17KB, 150x150, m_night_shyamalan-150x150.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] “Teruo. Teruo Matsuyama,” he replied. He then asked for directions back to the bridge. He had noticed a house as he had crossed it.

This is like 'Norseman in Gensokyo' meets 'Memoria in discord', written by U.N. Owen (Before -EDITED- ruined his prose) and directed by M Night Shyamalan
[x] “Teruo. Teruo Matsuyama,” he replied. He then asked for directions back to the bridge. He had noticed a house as he had crossed it.
[x] “Spalding Gray,” he said his name was. He was weary from his travels; he sought food and shelter.
File 130375230269.jpg - (280.57KB, 1280x960, Pizza eating surrending carpaccio.jpg) [iqdb]
>thread uno
Is YAF italian now?
[ ] He made himself known as “Skellen, Stefan.” He had no great hopes in coming here. He was lured by a hunch.
[x] “Teruo. Teruo Matsuyama,” he replied. He then asked for directions back to the bridge. He had noticed a house as he had crossed it.
[X] He made himself known as “Skellen, Stefan.” He had no great hopes in coming here. He was lured by a hunch.

We can't possibly go wrong with a guy whose initials spell S.S..
[X] He made himself known as “Skellen, Stefan.” He had no great hopes in coming here. He was lured by a hunch.

We can't possibly go wrong with a guy whose initials spell S.S..

Now if we could get a W in there as a nickname or something...
[X] He made himself known as “Skellen, Stefan.” He had no great hopes in coming here. He was lured by a hunch.
[X] “Spalding Gray,” he said his name was. He was weary from his travels; he sought food and shelter.

Let's be a story.
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[X] He made himself known as “Skellen, Stefan.” He had no great hopes in coming here. He was lured by a hunch.

Some might conceive an impression that something was amiss in the scene.

Garion, however, did not. He stored the name in a vacant nook of his memory and introduced himself also. “Skellen,” he said simply, “Stefan.”
He'd never had much flair for pleasantry.
“A foreign name.” The girl curled her lip in a mild grimace. “It was little sister's fear that he would try and make her knot her tongue.”
“I didn't choose it,” he told her truthfully. “And nobody considered vital to ask my sentiment.”
“Does little brother despise his name?”
“He got used to it after a time.”
“Would he then be vastly offended if little sister used the form of address she has up to this point?”
“If it humours you,” he said. “He probably wouldn't, no.”
The girl seemed happy at that. “Wonderful,” she made an almost purring sound. She perched on the edge of her tottering barrow and studied Garion with overt interest. She scanned him attentively from head to toe, pausing for a longer moment at the braces dangling laxly from from his rucksack. She then shook her head and returned her stare to Garion's face. “Did little brother hope,” she spoke anew, “to find the woman that he sought here in the under-world?”

Garion breathed in, picking his next words.“... A mere hunch led me here,” he answered honestly. “I had a few hopes of finding anything—much less anyone—this deep underground.”
He saw no profit in fabricating his reasons; he might as well see how far they took him.
“And yet,” said the girl, “he's found little sister.”
“A shock.”
“The conviction is mutual,” she replied graciously. “Old Hell had little sister thinking she would never make any more discoveries in its halls. And here is little brother.” She glanced briefly to the pendent straps, then jiggled her maroon locks again. “Anyway, he appears a whit alarmed,” she said. “Was there anything about little sister that caused him bother? He looks a shade bothered, if little sister may say.”

Garion made a mental note to look slightly less bothered in the future.

“No such thing,” he assured. “I merely wondered.”
“What about? Mayhap little sister might know.”
“Old Hell,” he repeated the ominous name. “Is that what they call this place?”
“A term from a time agone,” the girl explained. “Little sister's master read of it in a book once. It has changed since, lost most its charms... but little sister feels she should tell of it no further.”
“And why not?”
“It may be old and quenched, but it still flares when slighted. On many an occasion would little sister blunder an offending view only to hear cracking and grinding of stone below her feet. It realises its timeless beauty is gone, but it loathes being told.” She pondered the statement for a second. “A lot like a woman.” She grinned at Garion impishly. “Come to think of it, little brother may have come to the right place after all.”
“... He scarce appreciates being made fun of, little sister.”
“Then they have a lot in common. But that gives little sister an idea.” She rose. “Will little brother walk with her?”
“Where to?”
“Little brother said he had no destination, did he not? An exact goal should matter little to him, so little sister understands. There is a place that she thought might arouse his spirit,” she revealed. “He might also confide to her more about the woman that he so desires along the way, so that she might help him seek her out.”
“I did not ask for your aid.”
“And little sister did not need be asked,” she said pleasantly. “She is a cat, and cats are naturally inquisitive creatures.” She went to her barrow and began jostling it in the direction Garion had come from. “Her hunt was fruitless today. She is satisfied to have found another amusement.” She stopped and half-turned. “Will little brother follow?”

Garion considered the possibilities.

He could, on one hand, consent to what the strange girl had contrived for him and see to her selfish suggestion. He could, also, brave deeper into the caves from whence she turned up, unearth even greater dangers and revelations. An ordinary man may feel conflicted, but Garion's wit was brighter than flames and sharper than a sword. He'd sliced through countless dilemmas before, and he'd burned through more plights than he cared to count; he hardly required an intervention of powers that be to make this trivial decision in his stead. He'd already made it the moment it had presented itself.

He took off forward, into the darkness.

“Ah, why, little brother is so nice.”

That was a lie.

He joined at the girl's side and gave her a uniform look, indifferent to her jaunty air.

“... A chance is a chance,” he said.
“A chance of what?” she asked playfully.
“Human beings are attracted by noise,” he taught, “and you are, as I see it, adept at producing it in large quantities. If she who I seek has has by chance wandered down here also, it is more likely that I might find her in your company. Is that acceptable?”
“If it humours little brother,” she told him and started again.

Garion briskened.

The girl moved quickly, and she had a light skip in her step. She wasn't wary of the wails of her barrow, nor did she slow when it bounced on a bump or a hole. Although it seemed old and rickety, appearances mattered very little to its joyful owner. She strode heedlessly through the same corridor that Garion had stepped carefully through minutes earlier, and took a turn he had dismissed as he had thought it bore bad promise. He swallowed the mistake so smoothly his mind barely registered its existence. He was good at that.

“Well?” the girl spoke up “Will little brother tell little sister about his woman?”
“Ask, and I may tell.”
She made a tiny face. “Little brother isn't the most talkative human she has met.”
“Do you meet humans often?”
“No,” she said. “Little sister has grown to prefer the presence of spirits to that of humans.” She looked at him shortly. “A change of pace every now and again, however, does add spice to one's life – would little brother not say?”
“Who knows?”
“Let him answer, then. What is that woman he craves to find?”
“She is...” Garion made a pause. “... She is dear to me.”
“Is she his family?”
“Not at all.”
“A lover, in that case?”
“... I wouldn't go so far.”

They took another turn.

The girl pressed on. “Why is she dear to him, then?”
Garion allowed himself a minute smile. “She changed my life, is why.”

He rarely spoke words as kind as those.

“Ah, so he does love her?”
“So he hates her?”
“Does it have to be either the one or the other?”
“A woman might see it that way.”

And another turn.

Garion was startled to feel a touch of breeze on his face.

“I wasn't aware I'd strayed this close to the surface,” he commented out loud.
“Because little brother hadn't,” said the girl. “It is the warmth of Old Hell mingling with the cold of the tunnels. The difference makes a current between here and where little sister and little brother are going.”
“And where is that?”
“Little brother does his best to look steady,” she said impishly, “but he is strung quite high in truth, is he not?” She looked at him, but his expression was straight. “Ah,” she breathed out, “he is not fun all of a sudden. Little sister is struck with grief.”

Garion did not answer, and they walked in silence for a while. The breeze grew stronger as they went, and roared in Garion's ears as they reached an opening of an enormous cavern.

The girl ran ahead and stopped in the mid of the natural balcony that projected from its wall. “Here is that which little sister meant to show,” she announced. “Inspiring, no?”

Garion walked onto the balcony at a loss of words.

In all his readiness, he had never once thought he might one day behold such wonder as this cavern. It spanned to the sides as an endless field, its edges lost to pervasive darkness. Perhaps two dozen houses could fit within its vast height, and colossal pillars ran from ceiling to floor, coated in layers of rust-coloured tarnish and spotted with growths of glowing fungi. A dark mist stalked the bottom of the cavern, many, many a metres below.
Somewhere beyond that miraculous edifice, shrouded by the giant columns of stone, loomed a distant glow of orange.

It was that glow that was the source of the wind.

“Little brother may now begin looking,” the girl said then.
Garion tore his eyes from the wondrous sight. “... What did you say?”
“A woman may hide behind each of those,” she waved her hand at the pillars. “Little brother may wish to make haste, so that little sister might take him to her home before supper-time.”
He stared at her stolidly. “... I told you, I do not take kindly to—” He trailed off. Her face was intently serious, and her eyes shone with the glint of a duty well-done. Garion reeled back what he had intended to say and revised: “I don't recall that I agreed to go to your home.”
The girl wasn't daunted. “Ah, but little sister was of the thought that it would go without saying.”

As would any well-enough-mannered person.

“I am not a foundling or a stray animal for you to take home as you please,” Garion said bluntly. “I refuse to—” He fell quiet again. He grasped at last he had been attacking the least important aspect of the benevolent offer. “... And where is your home, little sister?” he asked.
The girl shot a finger in the direction of the faint glow. “There,” she said, “little sister lives with her master in the mansion over the lake.”
“A lake.”
“... And a house? Underground?”
“Is that so odd?”
“... I've seen odder,” Garion gave in.
“If little brother doesn't find the woman he seeks down below,” the girl continued, “little sister's master might know what he might do next. That was little sister's full thought. If little brother so wishes, she can watch over him from above as he flies to the bottom. Little sister wants to see the woman, too.”

[ ] Garion had had it. He demanded that the girl guided him at least back to where they had met.
[ ] “... And if I rather she looked with me, would she find that agreeable?” he asked. He wondered whether there was an alternative way down. He wasn't very comfortable with flight, and he trusted his legs still.
[ ] He chose to be direct. “I don't imagine that the woman could be down there,” he said. He also couldn't fly.
[X] "... And if I rather she looked with me, would she find that agreeable?" he asked. He wondered whether there was an alternative way down. He wasn't very comfortable with flight, and he trusted his legs still.

>>"She changed my life, is why."

That's so sweet. Are you actually writing a lighthearted story YAF? I almost can't believe it. Oh, and this Rin rocks.
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[x] He chose to be direct. “I don't imagine that the woman could be down there,” he said. He also couldn't fly.
Experimenting with genres and styles? I can dig this.
[x] “... And if I rather she looked with me, would she find that agreeable?” he asked. He wondered whether there was an alternative way down. He wasn't very comfortable with flight, and he trusted his legs still.
[X] "... And if I rather she looked with me, would she find that agreeable?" he asked. He wondered whether there was an alternative way down. He wasn't very comfortable with flight, and he trusted his legs still.
File 13041571304.jpg - (82.01KB, 657x600, 429ca96236d82c326b68df4d3625e084.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] “... And if I rather she looked with me, would she find that agreeable?” he asked. He wondered whether there was an alternative way down. He wasn't very comfortable with flight, and he trusted his legs still.
[x] He chose to be direct. “I don't imagine that the woman could be down there,” he said. He also couldn't fly.
>Tenshi is in this story
Dohoho! Oh you!
[x] “... And if I rather she looked with me, would she find that agreeable?” he asked. He wondered whether there was an alternative way down. He wasn't very comfortable with flight, and he trusted his legs still.

Good show.
[ ] He chose to be direct. “I don't imagine that the woman could be down there,” he said. He also couldn't fly.
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[X] “... And if I rather she looked with me, would she find that agreeable?” he asked. He wondered whether there was an alternative way down. He wasn't very comfortable with flight, and he trusted his legs still.

By a quirk of mind, Garion did not repulse the meddlesome girl straightaway.

He always—habitually almost—turned down all that posited an intrusive hand in his affairs. An offer of magnanimous assistance made his stomach turn and his brows knit in distrust. He deemed himself above such mean passions as “charity” and “clemency,” and he expected of others the same pragmatic self-interest. He was, one should remark, as often wrong in that assumption as he was fixed in it. But that was his upbringing. And he was a very practically brought-up young man.

“... And if I rather she looked with me,” he asked, “would she find that agreeable?”

Quick, too.

The girl had revealed her cause as selfish, and that swayed him to assent, but he had caught wind of a great possibility, and he had set to seize it. One could argue, of course, that it was the breath of the caves that he had caught and no wind at all, but he never would have listen. Garion could be unfittingly stubborn at times. It was one of his few lapses.

And if one was to be fair, more than impair, it became him.

The girl flicked the cat-ears at him in a puzzled fashion. Garion dismissed it as bad lighting. “And why, if little sister may know?” she returned. “Little brother did not strike her as terribly gregarious. She had imagined he would appreciate a moment free of her, ah, noisiness?”
“Did I offend you, little sister?”
She smiled at him, a deriding little smile. “Little brother is cute in assuming little sister cares for his judgement so much she would nurture a grudge, but he would exhaust himself inventing insults and he would find her plans for him haven't changed drastically. She thinks it is his fault for piquing her curiosity.”
“Then you will take me to your master even if I object?”

“Should there be reason to still,” she said, “she will.”
Garion sensed his rebelliousness well up, and he bridled it before it overflowed. “I felt,” he said then, “that there wouldn't be much choice left for me once I took you up, little sister.” He was lying, but unbeknownst to him, the lie was not far from the truth. “Anyway,” he continued, “you have piqued my curiosity also.” That, too, was a lie truer than he would have cared to admit. “And my desire to hear more about this place,” he added. “So, I ask of you again: will you look with me so that we may talk?”

“Truly?” The girl eyed him apprehensively. Then she brightened. “Little sister will then gladly tell him all that she knows,” she said. “She prefers, though, that he shows his interest less tentatively in the future. He is humble with words and gestures, and that confuses little sister immensely. She believed for a moment that he scorned her.”
“No such thing,” he said. “I simply learned to conceal my emotions so I would not be led a chase as easily by any old scoundrel.” That, in turn, he fancied a truth. One could tell, however, quite instantly, that it was a lie. “But little sister is better than a mere scoundrel. She managed to convince me, and that is something to be take pride in.”
“Why,” she said and bobbed her heels together, “she thanks little brother for his overweening kindness. But they tarry.” She bounded off the rock floor and hovered with her barrow perhaps a metre above it, staring at Garion expectantly all the while. “Is little brother ready to descend? Little sister will light his way, if he so wishes.”

Garion made a pause. “That won't be necessary,” he said. “But if little sister would listen, I had another question.”
“And what would that be?”
He pondered affecting a dismayed face, but nimbly forgot the notion. “The place of humans is on the ground,” he said. “Is there an alternative path to the bottom? A grade passage, or a shaft that I could perhaps climb down? Anything would do, as long as ”
The girl tapped back down again beside him. “And why won't little brother just fly?”
“We are not accustomed to taking our feet off the ground for too long.”
“Most humans that little sister has met had no qualms with flying.”
“They must have been remarkable humans then,” he told her. “Most humans lack such a privilege.”
“And little brother?”
“He has said already what his preference is.”
She circled about him, visibly uncomfortable with the new idea. “Ah well,” she sighed, “it is little brother's loss. There is a passage thereabouts,” she pointed, “and it snakes down in a big spiral, so the slope is gentle. It is an easeful walk, but a long one. Is little brother certain that he wants to take it? The woman might run off in the meantime, little sister worries.”

She sounded, amusingly, rather genuinely concerned.

Garion nodded. “Yes. I trust my legs. We will make good time.”
“If that is the way little brother would have it.”

She set off back into the spider-web of caves they had just exited, and Garion was constrained once more to spur his strength to keep pace.

The girl took into an unfamiliar corridor and braved on forward, Garion trailing behind. The passage was narrow, so that a group of people would have to file in a line to get through. Here, too, the gust of the wind was clearly tangible.

The girl craned her neck and spoke. “Little brother has yet to tell little sister what his woman looks like,” she said.

She seemed oblivious of the dangers ahead, of overhanging edges, treacherous swerves and lurking chuck-holes, either so acquainted with the tunnels that she had no need of watching her course, or too absorbed in her prying enquiries that she cared not for pain nor injury. Garion did not ruminate on the matter. All he knew was that albeit he might recoil from the fact, they were moving swifter together than he would have on his own.

“So then?” the girl urged. “What is she like? Is little brother going to tell?”
Garion regarded her blandly. “And why would little sister suppose that necessary?” he asked.

She grinned at him as if he was the silliest thing in the world.

“Why,” she said, “it is so that if little sister finds a woman in the cavern, she knows that it is the one that little brother wants.”

Garion decided not to think about that.

“... I cannot tell,” he said.
“I was but a stripling when she last came to me,” he explained. “I have grown since then, changed. And she might have, too. Gotten older. Wrinkled. Grown forgetful. As have I. She might not be as graceful as I recall her. And even if she once was, she may not any more.”

Garion meant no insult, naturally.

And nevertheless, though one might feel warranted to take offence all the same, one had to remember Garion was also uncharacteristically candid when it bore no cost for him, and he foresaw no harm in sharing this part of his secret history with the mischievous barrow-lady. He could, undeniably, let her pester him on with ceaseless queryings, or he could indulge her girlish attentions – and of the two directions, he favoured to take the one from whence he could steer the conversation to his liking.

It was his choice excitement, though he had not many of those. He adored being in control. He had devised ways of twisting a discourse to his requirements that made one blanch at the sheer impertinence.

“But I will recognise her,” he went on, “when I hear her voice and see her face, I am sure. So, if little sister finds a woman, and the woman does not bolt, little sister should call for me so that I may ascertain whether it is her or not.”
“Ah,” the girl nodded, “that stands to reason, little sister agrees.”
“I am glad that you see it my way.”

※ ※ ※
I'm liking this character.
Tenshi graceful?
Very nice, please write more. This is an enjoyable read.

Words can barely express how hard I HHNNNGGGG'd.
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※ ※ ※

They emerged at the foot of the cavern some minutes of animated gait after.

Garion peered up the enormous trunks of the soaring pillars, their far-off peaks fading in the dark aloft, and quelled deftly the trite, mortal compulsion to hold his own size slighted by their towering forms. A thick film of haze swathed around him and he chilled shrilly, drawing his arms about him. Troughs and crevices marked the uneven floor, and water had gathered in them, having dripped from above and streamed down the fissured bodies of the stone columns.

Garion trod slowly, chary of the hazards. The girl overtook him, untroubled, her barrow bouncing up and down in great clatter. Garion stopped.

The girl halted also, though for motives of her own. She spun around and beamed. “And thus they are here,” she announced. “Little brother and little sister may now begin their search for the elusive woman.” She lifted a thumb to her lips in momentary contemplation. “And they should perhaps split sides so that they cover more ground,” she said next. “Little brother will take the left, little sister thinks, as she takes the right. They will then both search thoroughly whilst they proceed toward her master's home, there,” she gestured once more to the vague glow. “And should he and she get separated—which she hopes they do not—they should meet again at its doorstep. What does little brother say?” she asked, satisfied with her own cleverness. “Would he say little sister is of the right idea?”
“Yes,” Garion assented. His plan had been roughly the same as hers, save for some few insignificant details, and he saw little hurt in forfeiting those. “And remember,” he cautioned, “should little sister chance on a woman—any woman at all—she should call me at once.”
“She will.”

The girl smiled at him shortly, then skipped off ahead.

Garion made some pretence of looking for vagrant females crouching behind the stems of the pillars and under the chips of rock strewn about the cracked floor even as he listened to the red-haired girl making her own rounds. She would push her barrow a few yards at a time, disengage from it, loop around the pillars on her side a time or two, then come back again and begin the process anew. Her tiny booties echoed quite clearly in the cold, damp air, and Garion surmised—with unintended comfort—that while the girl was deeply absorbed in the mission of searching for his woman, nevertheless she would be easy enough to trail, should she wander off and forget Garion completely.

They searched for perhaps a quarter of an hour before Garion spoke again.

“... Little sister?” he called. There was no answer, though the the girl's steps rang loudly still. “... Rin?” he made another attempt. He flinched at the bitter taste of a never-before-used name in his mouth. Rin. He called again to rid of it. “Hello? Rin!”
The steps broke off, and an absent reply reached Garion's ears. “Little brother?”
“I wondered!” he shouted back before he realised he did not need to raise his voice. “A thought occurred to me,” he resumed normally, “that I never asked about little sister's master.”
“Ah.” Rin's reply was as understanding as it was attentive.
“Could you maybe tell me something about her?” he suggested. “A full story of her life is likely too prying, but a brief outline so that I may avoid upsetting her when we speak should be in order.”
“Ah yes,” the girl brought her wits to bear at last. “Yes, little brother speaks sense. What does he want to know, exactly?”
Garion feigned consideration. “For one,” he said, “why she lives underground, and what she is. From what little sister has told me so far, I assume her master is not human.”
“She is not.”
“And why underground?”
“A secret little brother will have to find out by himself, little sister is afraid,” she said. “She doesn't think her master would be pleased that she speaks of her and her past behind her back.”
“Such is little sister's master.” She giggled and restarted her scouring of the cavern. Garion drew closer, but not as close that she could tell he was merely pretending to inspect his surroundings for his illusive woman. “As it were,” she continued, “little sister can tell that her master lives here with her sister and her pets, and that she already has for some years. She generally skirts visitors, but she will make an exception for little brother, little sister promises.”
“And you are so sure, why?”
“Little brother had a purpose in coming here,” she explained. “Little sister's master abhors when people bother her without a cause that might concern her, but little brother has a perfect excuse for visiting.”
“... That you invited me?” he asked. He'd deliberately hedged against the phrase “dragged along.”
“And that he is looking for someone that might be here,” confirmed Rin, “and she is the proper person to ask for aid.”
Garion stifled an urge to remind her once again that he required no aid. “And what happens to those that come here without a good excuse?” he asked instead.
“Nothing,” she told him. “They leave, and she becomes irritated at them, but that is about all that she does.”
“And what of the sister?” Garion changed the topic. “Does she also favour solicitude?”
“The master's little sister? She bides her days in the above-world, so little sister understands, she rarely sees her at home. But little sister spends a lot of her time in the caves and Old Hell herself, so she may know no better. Again, this little brother will have to learn on his own, should he find himself unfulfilled with little sister's master alone.”

Garion ignored that. “Right. And the pets?”
“Ah,” the girl made a happy sound, “that would be little sister and her friends, little sister is proud to say.”
“I see,” said Garion. He could appreciate the merit of keeping one's kin as pets. He could be disgustingly scruple-less when the subject was the personal freedom of persons other than himself. “So, ought I perhaps prepare for meeting your master in any manner? Compose a pleading speech, or an apology for invading her realm?”
Rin chuckled. “Little brother frets too much,” she told him merrily.
“And what if she finds my purpose not sufficient to justify disturbing her peace? I had better consider such a turn of events beforehand if I am to make a benign impression.”
“Does little brother always prepare for dealings with others?”
“When it is with women, yes.”
“Ah, that is sound thinking,” she granted. “But little sister's master is no ordinary woman, little sister should mention. She does not roar, and she does not hurl heavy objects.”
“Surely she must at least read romantic poetry.”
“No,” she said, still tittering. “She believes it, ah, ‘ostentatious,’ that was the word that she used. A mystery. Little sister adores a good poem. The rhymes put her thoughts at ease and make her warm inside. A sweet way to fall asleep after a tiring evening. So, as little brother sees,” she went on, “little sister's master is a very unique woman. He would hunt and hunt, and he would not catch one such as her in the above-world.”
“No,” he said, “probably not.”

“Little sister may envy little brother just a bit,” she confessed then.
“Why is that?” he asked without much heed.
“It must be all new to him,” she said. “Little sister knows Old Hell—depths and outskirts alike—almost by her heart. It bores her, if she may be so bold to say. Others dwell around here, she is aware, and they are kind, and the spirits also, but little sister wishes sometimes that something would change. The above-world is not as stale, and little sister is allowed to go out to enjoy it, but she is afraid that she wounds her master by doing so.”

Rin's resounding steps came to a stop once more, and she stood some distance away from Garion, looking out toward the light. “... Perhaps little brother will find that out also,” she said, “if he cares for all women as he does for the one in his heart.” She turned and smiled at him. “And as little sister mentions that, shouldn't little brother be looking? He will miss the woman if he continues to stand around and let his mind cruise as his curiosity leads it.”

Garion stared at her impassively. “Perhaps,” he said. “Perhaps I will.”

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As they went, the ancient stone trunks thinned and spread, and the air grew warmer, and soon, Garion beheld at last the source of the mystic glow.

An even greater chamber unfolded before him, miles in diameter, taller than the tremendous columns, and deeper than he had dared conceive. A stupendous drop marked its brim, and at the very end of it a sea of pure molten rock mingled and hissed, lighting the chamber almost as bright as day. A lone platform loomed not far from the edge, held up by a thick shaft of aged, crimson rock, and a bridge made of stonework connected the island to the cliff where Garion now stood, awed and—despite his dearest efforts—cowed by the sheer scale of the fantastic structure.

A house sat awkwardly upon the platform, as though it had long ago been swallowed by the earth and rested there since, but its walls showed no sign of disrepair. It was high and wide, and its front gaped with dozens of windows, out of which only one was lit.

“Welcome,” hailed Rin, “to the Palace of the Earth Spirits.”
Garion looked at her with his brows furrowed. “Your appearances mislead, little sister.”
“Ah, that they do, do they not?” She grinned. “And is little brother so amazed that he is ready to forgive her poor handling of the search? The woman must have slipped little sister's watch, and little sister is most ashamed.” She had not an ounce of ashamed air about her in the least. “In her defence, little brother occupied her with conversation, so her senses were dulled.”
Garion calmed himself. They had not found a soul, of course, but he had never expected that they would. “... Indeed,” he said then. “All my fault. Do not let it drive sleep from your eyes.”
She winked at him impishly. “Little sister would not do that anyway. Let little brother come,” she urged as she started across the bridge, “little sister will show him inside.”

Garion followed.

They crossed the bridge and slipped past the twisted, iron wicket in the fence that bordered the mansion's spacious garden. Stump trees and brush grew there, and vines coiled around their branches, and dark-red flowers spotted the neatly-maintained lawn. Garion forwent the study of the unnatural phenomenon and merely took the sight in as he would in the surface world. He disregarded it totally.

The girl let her barrow rest at the porch and went into the house, ushering Garion to come also.

“Little brother should wait here,” she told him as she took off her tiny shoes. “Little sister will inform her master of little brother's arrival.”

And then she dashed off down a hallway, leaving no room for protest.

Garion surveyed idly the commodious lobby.

The walls were lined with wood, and they were painted balmy colours that made one instantly feel at home. Carpets lay unfurled on the floors, and the carpets were fashioned in intricate designs, not abstract, but not quite regular, either. The lobby branched in two directions, one where Rin had gone, and one going opposite, its end lost on Garion's eyes. A set of doors marked both, though no noise was to be heard behind none of them, an eerie silence compared to the booming echoes of the caves.

Something touched Garion's leg, and he glanced down to find a litter of kittens swarming about his feet. They rubbed against his calves and purred up at him, demanding affection. Garion remained still. The kittens grew tired of his indifference before long and vanished in the darkened hall, their disappointed wails sounding time and time again until those dispersed as well.

Garion steeled himself when he heard voices engaged in a hasty exchange.

“He is waiting for master,” Rin said busily, “and he cannot wait any longer.”
Another voice responded in a hushed, slightly agitated manner. “Rin,” it said, “I don't know that it's necessary that I greet him in person.”
“On the contrary. He came to see master, and master will not shame Rin by turning him down.”
“I still don't think this is a good idea.”
“Master will see. He is just in the hallway here.”
“Rin, I'm not very keen on meeting him now. Could you—”
“No, master must see him immediately.”
They were close now.
“Rin, I'm not dressed—” the other girl struggled.
Rin, however, was relentless. “Master is as well dressed as she can be,” she said. “Master will see. He is right here.”

And then, they appeared.

The “master” stumbled out from around the corner, nudged from behind by her red-haired companion.

“Here he is,” said Rin, contented.

Her master straightened and locked eyes with Garion. She wiped the annoyance from her delicate, pale face and scanned him with phlegm and coldness that only he could match.

And match it he did. They looked coolly at each other, all trace of interest gone from their stares.

She was older than Rin, although not by much, and she carried herself with calculated dignity. She wore a faded blue smock that had a falling, white collar, and was trimmed with copious amounts of lace. The buttons had been crafted to resemble hearts, and she also wore a heart-shaped brooch in her oddly-coloured hair. A plain, pink dress hid her legs all the way to her bare feet.

She held in her hands a blood-red orb, and long, thin cables ran from her clothes to the orb, enclosing her frame in a peculiar net of wires. An eye glared from the orb at Garion, and its gaze spelled reserve and suspicion. The girl narrowed her violet eyes also, although her wan skin and pastel lips robbed her of any authority that she might have wished to cast on her guest.

She was, nevertheless, quite beautiful.

“Why, thank you.”

Unkempt, but beautiful.

She looked at Garion darkly and turned to Rin. “So?” she asked. “What is this about? I don't recall wanting a blond rug for the house.”
Rin laid her cat-ears, startled by that harsh reaction. Garion once again dismissed it as unimportant and light playing tricks. “But master,” she whined, “he is—”
“I've told you not to bring strays home, haven't I?”
“But he is not a stray!”
“No?” The master looked at Garion again. “Then what is he?”
“His name is—” Rin began.
“Let him do his own introductions, Rin. Tell me, little brother,” the ashen girl spoke to Garion. “What is your name? And what are you doing in the underworld? And please, don't be long; you interrupt my reading.”

Garion breathed in to introduce himself, as one always should when greeting a stranger.

She scowled at him crossly, but listened all the same.

[ ] “Auric Goldfinger,” he said. He had come here obliged by Rin's request.
[ ] “Sam Syko,” he told her. He did not want to come here. He wished merely to ask her a couple of questions and then he would carry on on his journey.
[ ] “Santuko Takumi.” He had heard that she was knowledgeable of the underworld and sought her counsel.
[ ] He would not be treated in so bad manner. He reprimanded the brusque young woman and left the house in haste.
[x] “Sam Syko,” he told her. He did not want to come here. He wished merely to ask her a couple of questions and then he would carry on on his journey.
[x] “Santuko Takumi.” He had heard that she was knowledgeable of the underworld and sought her counsel.
A half-lie, maybe, but he seems to be keen on these.
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[x] “Santuko Takumi.” He had heard that she was knowledgeable of the underworld and sought her counsel.

Have a substitution image.
[x] “Santuko Takumi.” He had heard that she was knowledgeable of the underworld and sought her counsel.
[x] “Sam Syko,” he told her. He did not want to come here. He wished merely to ask her a couple of questions and then he would carry on on his journey.
[x] “Santuko Takumi.” He had heard that she was knowledgeable of the underworld and sought her counsel.
[x] “Santuko Takumi.” He had heard that she was knowledgeable of the underworld and sought her counsel.

These names are all different from the ones we chose from when meeting Rin. Is that significant, or is the action selected the only important part?
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[X] “Santuko Takumi.” He had heard that she was knowledgeable of the underworld and sought her counsel.

“Santuko,” Garion humoured her, “Santuko Takumi is what they call me.”
Rin's ears shot up, and she thrust herself past her master and at Garion, her hands nestled upon her heart that he had wronged by this latest revelation. “But little brother told me!” she yelped. “Little brother told me! He said they called him—!”
He silenced her with a gesture. “A precaution,” he said starkly. “A name is powerful knowledge, little sister. It is the door and the key to your inmost self. There is no saying what one might do should he or she learn of yours.”
One might feel compelled to agree.
“Ah.” The red-haired girl seemed to understand. She calmed and loosened her brittle arms. “That does sound sensible.”
“I rather thought it did.”
“And wise.” She gave him a light smile. “Little brother also misleads in his appearances, does he not?”
He nodded seriously. “I have grown to lay on a subtle subterfuge, yes. Once you have abode in the surface world for a time, you will have inevitably adjusted to do also.”

“All right.” The plain-dressed one disrupted their talk. “Enough of your sermonising. I don't appreciate being lied to, Garion.” She pushed Rin aside and bore down inimically at Garion, her crimson orb eyeing him all the while. She stood perhaps a pace from him and glowered as well. “Am I wrong?” she asked. “Isn't that your real name?”
“No.” He elected to tell the truth for a change. “It is not.”
She blenched at that, although only ever so slightly. “... Is that so?”
“So it is,” he said plainly. “Though you may address me that way if you so must.”
“Well.” She pulled back and returned his flat manner. “It hardly matters to me one way or the other. And pray tell, Santuko ‘Garion’ Takumi, why did you go to the effort of venturing here, into the underworld, so far from home?”
“I am looking for a woman,” he said.
“I'm not interested,” she replied instantly.
“You misconceived,” he explained. “You are not the one I want.”
“Ah, is that so?” She scowled. A tiny offended note rang in her voice. “... Is that so?” she said again, grimmer. “Are you absolutely sure of that?”
“No. Not quite. You did not recognise me. And I do not recognise you. But you appear to know my name—or one of them, at least.” He paused. “I wonder...”
“Never mind,” she told him sharply. “I'm not very keen on what your wondering may lead to. So? Why are you here? Other than searching for females, that is?”

Garion adopted a more official tone. “I have heard of you,” he said.
“Obviously. You wouldn't have known where to find me otherwise.”
He brushed the shrewish comment aside and continued. “I have heard also that you are knowledgeable of the underworld. I imagined your knowledge might aid my search, and so I sought your counsel.”
“And why should I indulge you?” she asked. “From my experience, messing with the affairs of you people only ends in trouble for me. I am down here for a very good reason, you do realise?”
“I surmised as much.”
“Of course you did. And still you believed that I would forget about it and help you all the same? Out of what? Compassion? Good heart?”

Rin moaned. “Master...”
“Quiet, Rin,” the woman snapped. “You brought him here, but he says he wants my help. That makes him my guest. And I will deal with my guests at my own discretion. Understood? Well, then?” she said to Garion. “What could I possibly gain by giving you a hand?”
“Nothing,” she repeated. “Very tempting.”
“But you also have nothing to lose,” he said. “We think alike. Philanthropy does not appear of great concern to you. I concur. It is a safe and healthy philosophy indeed. I respect that.”
“Flattery won't work.”
“Flattery?” He fabricated a brief grimace of surprise. “No such thing. Let me disclose this to you, miss hermit.” He leaned forward to level his gaze with hers, cool and composed. “I have no interest in you. Neither do I have in your pets or your reasons to be down here. You are of so much moment to me as a drop in a sea or a straw in a wheat field. I have not the smallest speck of interest in giving you trouble. What I want is to find that woman. I know not what kind of encounters you have had with other aboveworlders to warrant this undisguised hostility, but I assure you I am not as them. My cause is well-defined and harmless to you, and you may aid it greatly at no expense. All that I ask of you is that you tell me of a few things. Then I shall go on my own way and disturb you no more. Or you may decide not to. Either way, you lose nothing.”

She lowered at him still, but as moments passed, her expression became gradually less warlike, softer even, and a kind of decision seemed to slowly form behind her eyes. That change persisted until a decided look washed over her pale features, and she gave her consent.
“Not yet,” she said. “I haven't consented to anything yet.”
“I did not say anything,” said Garion.
“No,” she agreed. “As a matter of fact, you didn't. Fine. I'll consider your plea.”
“I thank you, then.”
“Don't be too soon,” she warned. “I said I'd consider, but my last word will depend a lot on the kind of your questions. And my mood.”

Garion stood upright again. She would leastwise hear him out now. It was progress, however laggard and wilful.

“So don't test it,” she added.
Garion did not reply.
“Since you don't care,” she went on, “I suppose I may as well tell you my name. It's San. San Mei.”
“... Very well.” He reached out an open hand. “Garion.”
She did not take it. “I lied,” she said instead. “It's not San Mei.”
“... I see.”
She studied him for a while more, and then, a resigned little sigh on her lips, shook his palm at last. “Satori,” she said. Her grip was delicate, though she spoke firmly, and her skin was cold to the touch. “Satori Komeiji. And I am cold because the library is, and you barged in on my reading time.”
“... Yes,” said Garion. It was about the smartest response he could concoct.
“Don't dwell too long on that,” Satori said. “You're road-worn, aren't you? You're drenched in sweat. I suppose it won't hurt me any if I let you take a bath before we discuss your request. And it will give me time to think. Besides, you smell.”

Rin stepped forth. “Ah,” she said excitedly, “then Rin will—!”
“No,” Satori told her. “He is my guest. I'll take him to the baths. You can go and see if Okuu's back yet. She should be told that I'm having a guest. I don't want any accidents. And look in on your sisters. They've been missing since morning.”
“Right,” Rin said. She then made a fleet semblance of a bow and took off headlong down a passage.

“Don't stare,” the plain-dressed girl then said. “She may strike you as human, but human she is not. So try not to let your... instincts... drive you on an inane course.”
“I have no interest in your pet,” said Garion. “I have told you that just then.”
Satori glanced at him shortly. “... Yes,” she admitted. “That you did. Never mind. Follow me, then. And take off your shoes.”

And then she started also, down a shady hall.

Garion removed his stained footwear and followed.

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She led him to an ample bathroom where the walls were tiled with dark-green stone and the floor gleamed with clean, marble white.

A bathtub made of cast iron and smooth porcelain stood there, and a wardrobe lined with mirrors, and a sink also, and electric lamps lighted the room, which was warm and cosy, something Garion had not had the advantage to say of his places of stay in months now.

He shed his haversack, even as Satori moved toward the tub and asked: “Do you know how to use this?”
“No,” said Garion. The luxury of enjoying the eases of mod plumbery had never been given to him before.
“Is that so?” Satori said, more a statement than a question. She turned to the tub and began to teach. “The tap is built into the wall, so keep away from it. This spigot here,” she pointed, “is hot water, from the hot chambers below. It goes to a boil a number of times each day, so try not to burn yourself. The other one is cold water, from the underground river above. You'll find towels in that cupboard there. Use any that you like, but please, leave mine alone. Put them wherever after you have wiped yourself dry. And should you find the floor is a gigantic swamp once you finish, a rag or two ought to be in there, too. The soaps are in that cabinet above the tub. Did you get all that?”

“Yes,” Garion said.
Satori exhaled wearily and turned back to him, at which point she froze stock-still. “... What are you doing?” she asked.
“Stripping,” Garion said factly. That was not very accurate. He was naked already, and was now laying his clothes in a neat pile near his baggage. “Is it not how it is done?” he questioned. “Unless the custom here has become to bathe fully clothed.”
“Not that I know of.” Satori knit her brows. “Couldn't you wait until I left, though?”
He arose from his task and stood, unconcerned, in front of his pale hostess. “Why?”
She stared him in the eye for some seconds, then surrendered. “Never mind.” She looked him steadily up and down. “You really are like a blond rug, though.” Her eyes stalled at a certain part of his body, and then she averted them for a few beats, silent, before she returned them at last to Garion's sober face. She crossed her arms and pressed them harshly to her chest. “... Well?” she said.

“Well what?” Garion replied.

She maintained her piercing gaze and did not answer, as though awaiting an action, instead, on Garion's part.

[ ] Garion did not know what she meant.
[ ] He thanked her again, because that was, apparently, what she wished to hear.
[ ] Garion was growing impatient. He urged her to leave if his body bothered her that much.
[ ] He said nothing. If the girl kept wasting their time as inattentively, he would have to convince her to stop.
[x] Garion did not know what she meant.
[x] He said nothing. If the girl kept wasting their time as inattentively, he would have to convince her to stop.
[x] He thanked her again, because that was, apparently, what she wished to hear.
[X] He said nothing. If the girl kept wasting their time as inattentively, he would have to convince her to stop.
[x] Garion did not know what she meant.
[x] He thanked her again, because that was, apparently, what she wished to hear.
[x] Garion did not know what she meant

I'm really liking this.
[x] He thanked her again, because that was, apparently, what she wished to hear.
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Lady Komeiji is scary when she's angry.
[ ] He thanked her again, because that was, apparently, what she wished to hear.
[x] He thanked her again, because that was, apparently, what she wished to hear.
[x] Garion was growing impatient. He urged her to leave if his body bothered her that much.
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[X] He thanked her again, because that was, apparently, what she wished to hear.

Garion purposed to satisfy her anticipations. He apprehended, using his vast understanding of the inner works of psyche, that the woman, though bold in her invitation and open in flout, would not readily accommodate him after merely a single thanks. She might have shown contempt for his say, but she, too, it seemed, was prisoner to vanity and paltry female pride.

He would indulge that pride, even at the expense of his own, if need be. And need was.

He drew breath and bowed his head, also, shallowly, in a gesture of mild, but mannerly gratitude.

Satori, however, grimaced fiercely and spoke before Garion could deliver his words, “Ah, is that so?”
Garion turned his eyes upward under his sandy fringe. “Yes?” he said. “Is something the matter?”
She bored him still with her lavender stare and said: “No. Nothing is ‘the matter.’ Is that all you had on your mind? ‘The matter?’”
Garion straightened. “No,” he said. “I wished also to thank you again, madam, for your hospitality, and your—”
“Excuse me?”
“Miss. I'm not married. And not very keen on having that change any time soon, either.”
“... Right,” submitted Garion. “Miss Komeiji, then—”
“Satori,” corrected Satori. “Miss Satori is more than fine, though I can't for the life of me imagine why you would go out of your way to be so polite.” Garion did not answer. “And good riddance,” Satori commented. “It's painfully obvious that you don't really mean it. So don't go out of your way to impress me, ‘Garion,’ because I hate that in men – one of which you—rather blatantly—are, so you would do well to try and not get under my skin.”
“... I did not mean to affront you,” Garion assured.
Satori scoffed. “Of course. You never do.” She scrutinised him again, head to toe. “Vanity!” she grumbled. “Says a walking blond mat!”
“I did not say any such a thing,” Garion defended.

She stepped toward him, a fearless step, and she looked up at his face; intent, perhaps, on finding in it a sign of quip or mockery that could be made to further her mysterious resentments.

Garion let her do that undisturbed.

She was near, uncomfortably even, and he felt threatened by this unwanted proximity, but his wit had anything but left him; he would not imperil his search by angering the one whose instruction might set him on a promising trail. She might punch him, and knee him also, yet he would be stalwart, for the woman he sought was of greater importance than the well-being of him and his body.

Satori sneered. “Really?” she asked. “I discomfort you, and all you can think about is that... quest of yours?”
Garion cast off his obedient silence and nodded. “Indeed,” he said. “The woman is very important to me.”
“So much you ignore everything else?”

Satori shook her head and withdrew.

The nerve in her manner—whatever its cause—gradually tapered off, and she let her lips unbend, and her arms also, and they fell along her sides, to be covered by the long, loose sleeves of her too-large costume. A frown knitted her brows, and she pulled at the sleeves, glaring at Garion as though he wronged her in ways barbarous and inhuman.

She then pulled the frown from her features and donned a more sightly face. “Never mind,” she said, steadier. “We are both wasting our breaths here. Once you finish, find me in the library. That is through the passage which we came through, across the entry hall, and then straight ahead until you've hit a two-winged doors—you can't miss them—at the end of the corridor. Can you remember that?”
“Yes. And should I get lost...?”
“And should you get lost,” she answered stingily, “scream like your life is being torn from your chest, and I'm certain sooner or later someone will come and un-lose you.”
“Yes,” said Garion, “I shall do that. Thank you.”
An angry glower flashed in her eyes. She rid of it quickly and turned to leave. “I have all night ahead of me,” she said by way of goodbye, “so don't break your neck hurrying to speak with me. Unless, that is, you have a change of heart and decide you don't want to after all, in which case do as you pretty well please.”
“I shall take my time.”
“I was afraid you'd say that.” She exhaled and grunted. “Enjoy yourself.”

And then she flitted out of the bathroom and closed the door behind her.

Garion stood still, and breathed out himself, to calm his aroused choler. The woman had unsettled him. The contrary fashion she alternatively scorned and studied him with grated on his sense of logic. He had hazarded to take the advice of her cat-eared pet not to prepare in any manner for this encounter, and he was now paying the losses.

One would say he was not at fault. The one who had doomed their pleasant chatter to rapid decay was the sharp-spoken woman, for she had not acted as women were bound, as this Garion stood confounded against overwhelming odds. The advantage now, though, lay in his hands. Should she, in her momentary solitude, steel her heart against Garion and his request, he would have still a chance of converting her pet to his cause. And also, he would have already taken the bath at her cost.

And that, one had to say, was encouragement, however small.

Garion, though, did not smile, he did not whoop in gay celebration; he approached the tub gracefully—gracefully as he could in the nude—and turned the spigots that Satori had taught him about. Hot water gushed forward, and steam blew, and the room grew ever warmer still as the ample tub filled and filled.

Garion killed the stream before long, and he stepped in the water, and sank in it up to his nostrils.

He blew bubbles of air out through his mouth and eased himself.

He would succeed.

He swore he would find the woman, and find the woman he would, no matter what. He would search on till he hit the edge of the world, then he would turn right back and search again, in places he may have omitted and places where he had not dared search before. He would find where she hid, he vowed, even if it devoured the entire measly span of his human life. He would succeed.

And soon.

But for now, he bathed.

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As he walked toward the library Satori had spoken of, Garion stopped in the lobby, where he had been obliged to wait for the undecided, pale hostess to greet him.

His boots, caked in gravel and dirt, remained as he had left them, and bore no evidence of having been tampered by the lot of playful felines that he had found infested the manor.

A clamour reached his ear then, and he spun to meet its source, which turned out the very same drove of noisy young cats that had lost to his indifference not long before, and they were dashing down a hall, yowling and yelping at each other in loud, malicious meows. They fluttered past Garion and his two muddy companions, giving neither even so much as a fleeting look, and made off and disappeared in the dark of a yet unexplored doorway.

As he stood guard, fearing that the cats might return and savage his precious footwear after all, Garion heard another sound – a sound of steps slow and dispirited – and those steps soon became Rin, who, her cat-ears laid down, wore an anxious face that Garion would never, up to this moment, have thought existed in the cheery girl's array of emotions.

She noticed Garion and rushed to join him, the fuzzy cat-ears raising ever-so-slightly at the chance meeting.

Garion squinted. The time spent in the caves had obviously damaged his sight. The poor light of the electric lamps was not helping.

The girl came to a reeling halt at his side, and, her little hands wrung, asked, hopefully: “Did little brother see them?!”
She was on the verge of tears. Garion tore his eyes from the furry antennae on her scalp, and asked in return: “Did I see who?”
“Sisters!” Rin nearly cried. “Sisters, sisters!”
“Little sister's sisters!” She rubbed at her cheeks with her tiny fists. “They are playing pranks, she thinks. But she cannot think why. Did little brother truly not see them around? Anywhere at all? The baths, maybe?”
“Sorry,” Garion said.
The short girl snuffled. She threw a frantic look around, but found nothing. “Has little sister made them mad somehow?” she wondered aloud. “Has she made them cross with her?”
She looked at Garion. “Does little brother have any ideas?”
“No,” he told her.
“No,” she replied, “he should not be, he was occupied, he could not have seen the sisters.” She whined quietly. “Stupid, stupid sisters...! And where was little brother going, anyway?” she asked Garion. “He smells just like Master Satori does after she comes out of the bath. Did he use her soaps, by chance?”
“Yes. She said it was OK.”
“Ah. And why was he waiting here?” she pressed on. A thought seemed to occur to her and she glanced once toward the exit. Her cat-ears fell down again and she asked: “He was not planning to leave yet, was he?”
“No,” Garion said, doing his best to ignore the mischievous ears. “Not yet.”
“Ah.” She brightened. “Then perhaps little sister will show him around later?” she proposed. “The mansion is big, and the corridors twist in all directions. She could even sketch a map for him, so he does not lose his way.”
“If madam Satori allows.”
The girl tilted her small, red-tressed head at that. “‘Madam?’”
Garion made a shrug. “A polite form of address.”
She made a thoughtful hum. “Master Satori would not like it, little sister thinks.”
“I know.”
“Ah. And was little brother going to see her now?”
Garion nodded. “You are shrewd for your size, little sister.”
The girl smiled, though weakly. “She has a good nose, that is all,” she said. “And does little brother know where to find Master Satori?”
“The library, if my memory serves.”

“Ah.” She turned toward one passage and pointed. “The library is across here,” she said. “At the very end of this hall there is a large door. The library is beyond that door. The way is straight, unlike many in the mansion.”
“Thank you, little sister.”
She looked at him expectantly. “Was little sister helpful?”
“Yes,” he said. “Very.”

The smile on her little cherry lips widened into a flowery grin. “Ah,” she said, pleased, “that makes little sister happy. But shouldn't little brother hurry along? Master Satori should not be kept waiting, little sister thinks.”
“I thought that myself.”
“And little sister has to find her missing siblings and tell them off for making her worry.”

“That she does,” agreed Garion. “Good luck, little sister.”
“Likewise,” she returned. “And good cheer, little brother.”

And then they went each their way.

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You have the best images
Have you ever considered starting a porn thread for your tenshi images?
Waiting warmly
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The library was shadowed and cool.

A row of book-shelves greeted Garion immediately, made of rare woods and carved exquisitely, and it stretched to one flank, and its twin occupied the opposite, and many, many more stood behind them, forming a peculiar alleyway that led deeper into the cavernous library, toward a lone light that shone distinctively in the mid of it, in the dark ahead.

Garion spurred himself and moved.

At a small, ornate reading table sat Satori, a lit candle flickered at her side. She held a huge, hard-back tome of writing, made seem even greater by the pale, delicate hands that grasped it by both covers. She did not greet him, nor did she raise her fair eyes from the text contained in the book.

“Sit,” she said simply.
Garion looked around. The air was stale, and the smell of hot wax hung in it like smoke. “There is no chair,” he observed.
“Look again,” said Satori. “And sit, please.”

He looked once more.

There was a chair now. Garion drew it and sat.

He scuffled close to the table and the candlelight, and faced his hostess, only to find that she had lowered the book and was now contemplating him studiously, as was her blood-red orb that now rested freely at her bosoms. The orb loured, and its sinister eyeball twitched all but maliciously.

Garion scowled.

“I apologise,” said Satori, “I didn't know you found my attention so undesirable.”
She lifted the book and again began to read.

Garion waited, but she said no more.

He elected to speak himself. “And what is this?” he asked, more to restore that wilfully removed attention than of any real interest. “The book you are reading, that is?”
“Du Vair,” she answered flatly. She licked a finger and turned a page without looking up.
“Poetry?” pursued Garion.
Satori muttered. “No,” she said. “Philosophy, if you absolutely must know.”
“And how is it?”
“Ghastly,” she said without an ounce of shame. “The man was a fool and a blind patriot. And his king adored him.”
“Which school was he of? Sentimentalism?”
“Stoicism, mostly. Although butchered to suit his personal views and his sick country.” She slammed the book shut with great exaltation and looked to Garion. “I don't imagine you were genuinely curious? Because this is total drivel. Were you?”
“Not at all.”
“Ah, is that so? Fine then.” She put the tome down and leaned back in her chair. Garion mimicked her and did the same. As they both reposed, he began to watch the climb in her light-blue blouse, as it rose and fell, and he counted in his thoughts, trying to match the rhythm. “Stop that,” Satori demanded. “This only works at the first or the second meeting of persons involved, and only before they have been acquainted. And not when one of them is being so patent about it.” She brushed her pastel fingers through her hair. “Although I will say,” she added, “this is the first time I have witnessed someone try it in practice. On me, no less. Aren't you knowledgeable, Garion?”
“No such thing,” said Garion, still staring. “It is basic. Fundamental.”
“Ah, is that so? Then what's this?” She motioned at his palm that rested on the tabletop with the index finger raised. “Are you going to tap every time I display a positive reaction?”
Garion did not retract his hand. “No such thing.”
“Ah, fine,” she said. “So maybe you will stop breaking eye contact every eight seconds? It's so regular even an ape could tell you are doing it on purpose.”
“No such thing,” Garion said flatly. He averted his eyes for an instance, then returned them shortly to Satori's.
Satori snorted. “I'm impressed,” she said sardonically. “Very, very impressed.”

Garion tapped.

“... This,” Satori stifled a groan, “is going to take a long time, I feel.” She reached under the table and produced a tall, dark-tinted bottle and a wide goblet made of gold-coloured metal. A seal had been stamped near the brim. The seal was two contorted letters “K” with their backs to each other, swathed both in thick ropes of vine, thorny and twisted. “Wine, perhaps?” Satori asked charitably. “It's likely to be good vintage, though I don't know the first thing about wine-making.”
Garion declined. “I don't drink.”
Satori smiled as she uncorked the bottle. “I lied,” she said nonchalantly. “It's chokeberry juice.” She poured until the chalice was half-full. Then she inquired Garion again. “Well then?”
“I am not thirsty.”
“I didn't think you were.” She set the bottle aside, reclined again, and played idly with the golden vessel. “All right,” she said. “Let us assume I have calmed since your... episode in the baths, and that my mood isn't as gloomy as my face may make it appear. You're in luck, Garion. I am having an excellent day, and I am hardly willing to let your unexpected... visit... diminish my enjoyment of it.”

Garion livened. “Then you will heed my questions? And answer them?”
“If I can,” Satori said, “but you will have to answer mine first. As you mentioned on several occasions, you are looking for that woman of yours, yes?”
Garion nodded. “Yes.”
“And she is a human, as you are?”
“No,” said Garion. “No, I don't know,” he rectified. “I was of insufficient age to distinguish the subtle difference between human and monster. Even now I lack in that regard.”
“A ‘monster’ is such a crude term.”
“It stems from tradition, not disdain,” Garion explained. “Monsters similar to humans that if you meant offence by calling one a ‘monster,’ you would mean insult to mankind also.”
“Naturally,” said Satori. “Then you're probably not aware that I am—as you wish to name it— a ‘monster?’”
“I am aware.”
“And what?”
Satori stared at him for a longer while. “... Never mind,” she said then. “So you know how that woman looks, don't you?”
“No. Not in detail.”
“Surely you must remember. Black hair? Raven wings? A glowing egg-like artefact in the chest?”
“... That is not her,” said Garion. “She was as any ordinary woman. No wings. No glowing parts. No strange animal-ears. No...”
He glanced briefly at Satori and her cables and her glaring orb.
Satori smiled sourly. “Insult duly noted.”
“I meant none.”
“Of course.” She sipped daintily from the goblet. “Anyway,” she then went on, “I asked because I feared Okuu might have sired a child without my knowing. A disaster would no doubt ensue if she had and the child had come to do vengeance upon his dull-witted mother for the ridicule of the rest of his human kin. But I see this isn't the case. And I'm glad it isn't. You're making me happier by the minute, Garion,” she joked. “Don't tap, please.”

Garion tapped.

“... Never mind. So,” Satori resumed, “how are you planning to recognise the woman once you find her?”
“I'll know.”
“I'll know.”
Satori regarded him carefully. “... You hope you do.”
“I'll know,” Garion insisted.
“Fine.” She gave up. “And my last question is: why do you want to find her? And don't lie, please. I want to hear the truth.”
“She is important to me,” Garion said.
“How so?”
“She changed my life.”
“And?” Satori pushed. “What of it? I've changed the lives of many men myself, and yet your point fails to strike me.”

Garion hesitated. “... I wish,” he began, “I wish to thank her.”
“Thank her?” Satori sounded surprised, but the rest of her posture contradicted her voice. “That's all?”

She paused and looked Garion in his serious, steel-grey eyes. “Just that? You are sure?”
A moment passed in silence, then Garion repeated: “Yes. I merely wish to thank her.”
“For changing your life?”
“For all that she did for me, yes.”
“Is that so...?” She thought about it for a few moments. “... An extra question, if you will.”
“... Go ahead.”

Satori set the chalice beside the book and the bottle, and leaned closer to Garion. “What business in all reality would that woman have here, in the underworld, of all places?”
“I don't know.”
“Then why are you looking for her here?”
“Here is as good as anywhere.”
“... Are you—?”
“No,” Garion cut her off. “I am not stupid. She may be here as well as anywhere else. I will scour this place, then move on to another should I not find her. That is why I sought you out... Satori.” He winced. “I need to learn of this place,” he continued all the same. “And not the poetic balderdash. I want dry facts. The geography, landmarks, trails and the like. Spots where she might hide.”
Satori reclined and caressed her orb. “Fine,” said Satori. “This house you are in is the Palace of the Earth Spirits. Beyond it lies the Hell of Blazing Fires.”
“The Old Hell.”
“Yes. And the caves where Rin found you—”
“Their name is no import. They go wide, and reach far, even to the surface, that I know. Anyone could find that if they spent enough time in them. And I did spend a lot of there.”
“How long?”
“A week, perhaps?” Garion guessed. “I do not know exactly.”
“All on your own?”

Satori thought about that. A long crease blemished her forehead. She looked considerate with it, scholarly even, but should she keep it, it would in time ruin her flawless complexion. Something no sensible woman her age would allow to pass.
“Do you have to do that?” she asked irascibly.
Garion stared. “Do what?”
“... Never mind. All right, Garion,” she resumed briskly. “Let me share with you a secret. This place, the Palace and so on, is the crossroads between the Old Hell, the caves and the rest of the underworld. A hub, if you will. All that wish to travel to the surface from Old Hell, and vice versa, go through here. And no woman that might have been who you are looking for has passed through in years. I'm sorry.”

Garion, however, was not disheartened. “She might still be here all the same. Perhaps you missed her. Or she might wander the caves still. Had it not been for your pet, I would never have found your Palace, either. The possibility remains.”
“Maybe you're right,” she admitted. “All right. Let us suppose, just hypothetically, that I am not absolutely repelled by the idea of... letting you use my house as a base of your search.”
“Excuse me?”
Satori took hold of the chalice and began to fiddle with it again. “... Like I said,” she resumed, “everyone who wishes to pass from one part of the underworld to another passes through here. This is the centre, Garion, the focal point of it all. The underworld pivots around this place.”
“A poetic way to put it.”
Satori halted. “... You seem to have a misconception that you enjoy nurturing,” she said. Garion did not reply. “Anyway, this is how I see it. If your woman changes places of stay, she will have to go through here, so you will know at once. And if she is, as you believe, in the caves, you'll have a point of start and return. You're a practical... person, so you should see the benefit of that.”
“I do,” said Garion, “but I do not appreciate the idea.”
“I know,” said Satori, “and neither do I, not too much. But it is better than the consciousness of having a human sneak around in my backyard. And Rin has taken to you, so it appears, whether you—or I—appreciate it or not. Ah,” she remembered, “but it won't be free of charge, I fear.”
“... I have no money.”
“I rather thought that might be the case. A skill that I could put to use around the house, then?”

Garion said nothing.

He possessed many a useful skill indeed, though he shied from bragging of his vast talents. Among these were excellent persuasion, advanced astronomy, astrology and travel, and trapping also, and hunting and forage, and while those were useful skills on the road, and they served him well, they were unlikely to be of use to the home-dwelling woman. One would be inclined to side with her in this opinion.

Garion could also, however, prepare all manner of food and drink, from local to oriental. And that was a skill most appropriate in a household.

Satori smiled. “Cooking, yes? That is good.”
“I did not say anything,” said Garion.
“No, as a matter of fact, you didn't.” She gave Garion a minute smirk, then continued: “So what will it be? I'll let you dwell here with me for a period of time, and should there be no... conflicts... between us, I'll extend that period as you convince me is needed. Will you accept?”

He would.

“Ah, is that so?” Satori stood and reached out a hand. “Then it is done.”

Garion stood also, but wavered.

He could not argue with the logic of her offer, though a stitch of disquiet impelled him from within to decline. And yet he realised that her home would make a safe springboard for his search. Should he desire, he could even divide the underground into sectors that he would then schedule for scouring on chosen days.

The prospect was tempting, and reasonable also, and yet he felt a pull of self-loathing wrench at his bowels when he took the pale, flimsy hand of his beautiful hostess.

The hostess smiled at that. “Come,” she ushered, “I'll show you the kitchen.”

She let go of him, blew the candle out, and went for the exit.

Garion followed, sullen and silent.

Satori locked the doors of the library with a large silver key, then, quietly also, started toward the main hall.

She stalled after a few steps and turned around. “What are you doing?” she said to Garion, who stood still by the door. “Have you got second thoughts after all?”

[ ] He did. And he expressed them. Explicitly.
[ ] “No,” he told her. He wondered, however. About Satori. She confused him.
[ ] “No such thing,” he said. He tapped on the door. Then he joined her.
[ ] He did not. He was annoyed, though, for Satori had no yet answered his questions about the underworld.
[x] “No,” he told her. He wondered, however. About Satori. She confused him.
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[x] “No,” he told her. He wondered, however. About Satori. She confused him.

Hard vote. In one hand, I'm interested in the MC. On the other hand, there's Satori.
[x] “No,” he told her. He wondered, however. About Satori. She confused him.
Because if this is what we'll be thinking we know what we'll be thinking
[X] “No such thing,” he said. He tapped on the door. Then he joined her.
[x] “No,” he told her. He wondered, however. About Satori. She confused him.
[x] “No,” he told her. He wondered, however. About Satori. She confused him.
[x] He did. And he expressed them. Explicitly.
Delicious S.
[x] “No,” he told her. He wondered, however. About Satori. She confused him.
that choice basically has him changing his mind about working for her.
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All right, I usually dislike replying in a thread when it isn't an update, but here goes.
I swear I have no indecent pictures of Tenshi. Honest. Especially not of her, uh, enjoying her thick, saucy sausage or anything. Really.
Thank you. I'll try to keep up the quality.
And a belated reply.
>Are you actually writing a lighthearted story YAF?
Me? A lighthearted story? Of fun character interaction? And casual relationships? Surely you can't be serious.
Do you think he really has a choice? Yes. Yes, he actually does. Never mind.
[X] He did. And he expressed them. Explicitly.
YAF, the day that I'm not serious about anything is the day that the world ends.

[X] “No,” he told her. He wondered, however. About Satori. She confused him.
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[X] “No,” he told her. He wondered, however. About Satori. She confused him.

“... No,” after a pause, he told her.

That was no falsity, and yet, it was not truth, either; for he had many thoughts, of which a myriad was second, some third, and a few fourth loomed there also, though not many. A recourse, however, of withdrawing from the bargain he had but only now entered and not yet brought to fruition had not attained such level of advancement.

A degree of doubt was there, beyond question, but he pushed it back, quelled it, lest it swell and overwhelm his resolve.

“Ah, is that so?” said Satori, the slenderest curve touching the corners of her thin, ashen lips. “Shall we go now, then?” she asked, smiling that slight, pale smile. “The day carries on, Garion, and I would like if I could put to use what there is yet left of it. Would you please?”
“... As,” the young man gave a long, strait-laced nod, “you wish... Satori.”
He deftly hid yet another qualmish cringe. The name bore an acid taste still.
Satori extended to him one slim hand, smiling still. “Come on, then, in that case.”

And Garion obeyed, though wordless, and met Satori where she stood in wait.

As he did, she inclined her tiny head lightly—as though pleased—and started once more along the hall. She let him keep a respectful pace from her as he walked by her side, staid and thoughtful.

She, too, tolerantly kept silent as he readied himself to speak.

“There is something,” he confessed finally. “Something that puzzles me.”
“Yes,” said Satori. “As a matter of fact, I can see there is.”
Garion stole a glance at her; short, so she would not notice.
The crimson orb had twisted in its spot at her chest, and now it bore Garion with its sick gaze, as a tick might bore one's skin to reach the precious life-blood beneath.
“Say on, Garion,” urged its owner and host. “I'm dying to hear what pressing problems bother my guest.”
“There is you,” he told her.
“I am your problem?”
“I did not mean to say that.”
“No,” said Garion. “I meant to say that I need to learn you.”
“Ah, is that so?” Satori said unemotionally. “That's a rather bold suggestion, wouldn't you say?”
Garion let her meaning lap his mind. “If we are to coexist,” he said, “then that necessitates my knowing your preferences, if only the basest.”
“Of course,” she replied, “I never would have thought you'd be interested for any other reason. Ask on, then. Ah, and right this way, please.”

They turned a corner and ventured farther into the mansion, and farther from the windows and the glow outside.

A chilly shade now closed about them, the antique electric lamps all without exception dead and dark as night. The small hostess moved along at equal speed, though, and so did Garion; for he felt at home in the shaded and narrow passage, and a new vigour stole over him, and a soothing sense of peace.

“Ask on, Garion,” enjoined Satori again. “And not about my favourite poetry, if you'd be so kind. I abhor poetry – any and all.”
Garion erased then the question he had initially prepared, and said in its place: “The foods. A cook should know the taste of his public. What is yours?”
“Anything,” said Satori. “I'm not very picky, though the eastern dishes have grown tired over the years; so if you feel like experiments with something from the west, by all means, go ahead.”
“Adequate,” decided Garion. “I shall then adhere to western recipes. Although...”
“Go on, Garion,” advocated the girl. “Don't stop in the middle like that. It's rather impolite to get someone's hopes up then leave them cold.”
“No such thing. I merely wanted to approve that you do not flinch from trying a new angle in cookery.”
“Do people do that, up there where you came from? The surface world, I was told, progresses faster than a tidal wave. Doesn't that include the ways they make their meats and crops and all?”
“The progress is there, indeed,” said Garion, “but not the change.”
“How so? Turn left here, please.”

They went left.

“The isolation,” Garion explained, “it brought people into a cultural stasis. Their environments change, but they invent methods to make them back as they once were. That is the goal of their progress, to retain the status quo that they cherish – not to adjust to the passing of ages. This includes food-making.”
Satori seemed to understand. “... I see. And you believe that's wrong.”
“No,” denied Garion, “I do not think it is anything in particular. The nature of man is not easily changed. And it is his choice whether to go to the effort of adapting or defy the flow of time. I should not be the one to judge whether it is right or wrong, or good or evil. That is the domain of the gods.”
“Did that woman of yours tell you this, too?”
“... Yes,” Garion admitted. “The fact is undeniable, however. The man has refused to bend to the whim of the world since times ancient. And he always will.”
“You speak like you've seen it all.”
“I matured quickly. Quicker than most.”
“Too quickly, perhaps,” Satori noted. There was an edge in her voice. “Weren't you supposed to be asking my tastes, Garion?”
“Yes,” he said, “but you wondered—”
“Never mind,” she interrupted. “I guess I did, but never mind. Anyway, I lean towards vegetable meals myself. The pets, however, prefer meats. I don't eat a lot, and neither do they, but they're simple creatures; their appetite grows more the more they eat. So keep it lean, Garion, and don't let your enthusiasm run away with you.”
“I shall try,” said Garion blandly.
Satori looked at him briefly. “... I don't believe that should prove a problem, though,” she remarked quietly. “Anyway, straight at this crossways. The kitchen is just ahead.”

They went straight.

Satori led him to an indistinct doorway, one of the many etched in the walls of this corridor, and stopped there.

She turned her violet eyes at him and inquired, almost hopefully: “Was that all you wanted to know?”
Garion thought about it. “For now,” he said then, “yes, it was.”
“Is that so?”

Garion did not reply, and sank into thought again.

There were other questions that plagued him, yet he shrank from giving them voice.

“Fine,” said Satori. “We'll talk about those later, after dinner. I'll want to have tea, and I expect you to join me, so we'll have each other all to ourselves. I'll answer those nagging questions then. And you, too, Garion, will answer some more of mine.”
“Why should I?”
“Because you've managed to intrigue me, Garion, and I wish to learn more about you.” Garion did not answer, merely stared. “All right,” said Satori, “I lied. I am not that intrigued.”
“So why?”
“Because this is my house, Garion. Should I go on?”
“... No,” he surrendered. “I understand.”
“Very good. Then I'll go and bathe before we eat. There'll be three of us, I believe, but prepare a fourth and fifth set, just in case.”
“Someone might come?”
“Perhaps. My sister or my other pet. Don't pry, Garion, just do as I tell you.”
“... As you wish,” he said, though his welling temper dictated otherwise. “I shall prepare five sets.”
Satori brushed her light fingers through her hair again, as she had in the library. “Good,” she said, contented. “I expect great things of you, Garion.”

Garion lifted his brow at her, puzzled.

“Say my name,” demanded Satori.

Garion bode tenaciously silent.

“Say my name, Garion.”
“... No,” he resisted.
“Say it. Get used to it; you'll have to, sooner or later.”

Garion curbed a grunt, closed his eyes. “... Satori,” he drawled. “Komeiji.” And then he added: “... Miss.”

He was not in the least disconcerted when, upon opening them, he discovered she was smiling.

The smile was warm, though self-satisfied.

Garion did not answer it.

Satori then bowed, the minutest bow. “Very well, then,” she said, “I'll be counting on you.”

And then she turned and left. She directed her slipper-clad feet toward the hallway they had arrived from, soon to veer a swerve and vanish from Garion's sight.

Garion observed her flimsy steps and movements watchfully till she did, and even after tarried, still as a statue of salt, reverie in his gaze, for a purpose he and only he could fathom.


Shortly he shook it off, sour with himself, and purposed instead to engage his dispensed chore afore his overweening hostess returns and spoils his nerve even more.

He took firm hold the bedecked door-handle, turned it, and entered.

※ ※ ※
Well, the style is unique and so are the characters. It's things like this story that keep this universe from stagnating. Looking forward to the next update.
Also, I'm seeing the first pic as I write this. Allow me to say something long suppressed: DAT ASS.
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※ ※ ※

The kitchen, however, was empty.

The shelves were bare and coated in grime; the brass chopping board embedded in the countertop of the buffet was dark and patinated, and the larder belched dust once opened, and was empty also, as were the stain-glass-windowed cupboards mounted above.

Garion knelt and inspected the old cookstove, but there was but soot and grit inside; the iron panes seemed as though they had not seen use in weeks, months even, and the pannier beside the stove held no firewood, merely meagre splinters and grains of ground black charcoal.

Garion screwed up his mouth, stood, and wiped his hands on his tweeds.

The blustery young landlady had failed to mention the kitchen lacked the key provisions for his appointed work. Garion could cook, yes, yet he was no sorcerer to weave meals of ancient dust and air.

He had, as a matter of course, with him supplies of his own, though he quailed from the notion of making use of them here now. The supplies were scarce and made for travel, and though they were fitting of the trail, where conditions be harsh, they would not flatter an elegant household such as this.

Set as he might be, and though time and time again he searched the baroque furnishings, however, never once did they reveal to him a thing beyond a pinch of dried-up bread-crumbs or a scoop of rock-hard rice-grains. There was nothing he could prepare into a dish that would sate a person, let alone a threesome.

At the end, among the forgotten accoutrements he discovered a derelict folding chair, and he took it and set it up, and fell jadedly upon it, solemn-faced and pensive. The circumstance tested his indignation, and should he stay idle as he was, he would not wind up the only one upset.

[ ] He would, it appeared, have to make do with what he had.
[ ] Satori had said that Rin would come to his aid should he shout loud enough. The time was nigh to put that claim to the test. The little sister might know where all the food was stored.
[ ] The oversight was grave; the hostess would hear of it. Garion knew where she had gone, and he set out there, bent on making an issue of this lapse.
[x] He would, it appeared, have to make do with what he had.
This seems the MC's style.
[x] Satori had said that Rin would come to his aid should he shout loud enough. The time was nigh to put that claim to the test. The little sister might know where all the food was stored.
[X] The oversight was grave; the hostess would hear of it. Garion knew where she had gone, and he set out there, bent on making an issue of this lapse.
File 130663096995.png - (1.43MB, 1000x816, Satori505.png) [iqdb]
Poor YAF. Burning with the desire to post and appreciate Satori, but he can't because he's sticking to his gag. Enough to make a man cry, that.
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That's not true! I could post Satori any time I wanted!
[x] He would, it appeared, have to make do with what he had.
[x] Satori had said that Rin would come to his aid should he shout loud enough. The time was nigh to put that claim to the test. The little sister might know where all the food was stored.

More Orin~
[ ] Satori had said that Rin would come to his aid should he shout loud enough. The time was nigh to put that claim to the test. The little sister might know where all the food was stored.
[x] Satori had said that Rin would come to his aid should he shout loud enough. The time was nigh to put that claim to the test. The little sister might know where all the food was stored.
[X] The oversight was grave; the hostess would hear of it. Garion knew where she had gone, and he set out there, bent on making an issue of this lapse.
[x] He would, it appeared, have to make do with what he had.

Going to the person who gave Garion the job immediately after she asked for it seems wrong.

Either this or getting help from Rin, and Rin is busy still probably.
[x] Make do with what you have
A test?
[x] He would, it appeared, have to make do with what he had.
Tie breaker.
With a stupid choice? It's not like you could cook with nothing and trying to do so is just stupid.
[x] Satori had said that Rin would come to his aid should he shout loud enough. The time was nigh to put that claim to the test. The little sister might know where all the food was stored.

[x] Satori had said that Rin would come to his aid should he shout loud enough. The time was nigh to put that claim to the test. The little sister might know where all the food was stored.
[x] He would, it appeared, have to make do with what he had.
Why is it that people suddenly start crawling out of the woodwork when there's a tie? Someone needs to check these votes
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I am, personally, fine with whichever result, but if you are not, I will try to coerce someone to run a spamcheck.
Look for Satori: 2 votes
Make do with what you have: 6 votes
Yell for Rin: 5 votes
>Yell for Rin: 5 votes
That's 6. Count again.
Unless you're the person spamchecking?
Nope. Looks like I did miscount, however. Which happens from time to time.

>Look for Satori: 2 votes
>Make do with what you have: 6 votes
>Yell for Rin: 6 votes
And, there. It's fixed.
[x] Look for Satori

Extreme tide-pissing attempt is a go.
[x] Look for Satori

Why the hell not.
[x] Satori had said that Rin would come to his aid should he shout loud enough. The time was nigh to put that claim to the test. The little sister might know where all the food was stored.
File 130749242125.jpg - (220.96KB, 1074x1517, 3e89603b95babd6eb23265d189244e30.jpg) [iqdb]
>Why is it that people suddenly start crawling out of the woodwork when there's a tie?
Because that's when their vote matters. All clear, cap'n.
Huh. Makes sense. Sorry for the trouble, thanks
Nice pic.
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[X] Satori had said that Rin would come to his aid should he shout loud enough. The time was nigh to put that claim to the test. The little sister might know where all the food was stored.

To muse about it further meant to dally, and Garion would have none of that.

A foreboding conviction slunk throughout him; a conviction that should he stay in this seamy, hollow kitchenette, it would, before long, become his place of rest; indeed, his grave. One should permit a degree of right in that sense. The place was as though a grave already, underground, although certainly more luxurious than a coffin of raw oak, spiked with broken shards of nails and protruding splinters. It was, honestly, a homely grave, even if a grave still.

Garion was of a different sentiment.

As he resolved, he rose.

A solution loomed on the coasts of his mind even as he withdrew from the unswept room and entered again the cold of the shaded hallways.

Satori—or Miss Satori, as Garion persisted to dub her in his brainworks—had ordained him to give voice should he lose himself within the mansion's convoluted passages, so someone would hear his cries and come to his aid. Someone who, he conceived, could only have been the red-haired, cat-eared maiden that had led—nay, coerced—him to here in the first place. Now, as before, he would have no choice but to rely upon her help – help that, though likely willing, would surely leave a blot on his easily-stained pride.

And one knew Garion's pride washed arduously.

The august young man heaved a breath and steadied himself as he readied to call out.


But his voice was dead in his throat.

As a burst blister, he leaned against the nearest wall and slumped. A black mood clouded his thoughts – a mood of anger and self-pity – and ere he knew, he was gnawing on a fingernail, and he gnawed and gnawed, excruciated, an acid sensation swelling at the back of his tongue. He felt foolish – foolish, inane and useless – and the feeling gnawed at his choler as he gnawed on his nail. He was ashamed—angered, even—that it had come to this, even though the fault lay on someone else.

The nail broke.

Garion spat the bloodied snip aside, and, even as he clenched the aching finger in a fist, he bellowed:


The pain, as always, served him well, and he did not fail this time; his voice did not shake.

His call carried far, and deep also, into the maze of unlighted corridors, and it echoed through their twists and turns, reaching farther, farther even than he might have wished at first. Garion fell against the rough plaster of the wall again, drawing quick, hissed breaths, and let his tensed shoulders slip. The one call had cost his grit severer even than he had inferred from his grimmest estimations.

Alas, the deed was done now, however chagrined he might be. All that remained was to await its effects.

And lo, soon enough a pair of bootied feet tapped in the still silence.

The gracious figure of Rin sprang forth from a side passage, and she approached Garion in hasted, anxious steps, grasping at the front of her dark-green dress, her crimson braids bouncing. She called out even before she arrived at his side:

“Little brother? Did something happen?”
“Little sister,” Garion answered. This way of address he found the most agreeable after all.
“Little sister heard a shout,” she explained, halting in front of him, casting nervous peers around. “She thought Okuu might have discovered little brother and...”
“No such thing,” Garion calmed her. “I apologise for alarming you, little sister.”
“Ah, no.” She made a light-hearted smile. “That is good then. So, what else could little brother possibly shout about?”
“The kitchen—” Garion started.
“Not her sisters, she hopes?” the girl went on regardless of him. “She hasn't found them yet; did they by chance find little brother first and scared him?”
“No,” Garion said. “I called for you because the kitchen is empty, little sister.”
Her expression was puzzled. Garion criticised himself inwardly.
“Miss Satori appointed me to kitchen work,” he disclosed.
“However,” he went on, “this kitchen is empty. I cannot fulfil her orders.”
“I was supposed to prepare a meal for her and us and also others, but there is no food in the larder, nor anywhere I searched.”
“Ah!” She exclaimed in realisation; her cat-ears flicked. Garion paid them no heed. “Ah yes,” said their happy owner, “Master Satori does not use the kitchen very often. She may have forgotten the food was out, little sister thinks.”
“Forgotten?” Garion repeated acridly. “How does one forget the contents of one's pantry?”
“Master Satori eats very rarely, little sister believes.”
“... Indeed?”
Garion wondered how rarely that had to be.
“She has little sister shop for foods in the above-world,” Rin said, “but not very frequently. And little sister has many her own duties, anyway; she cannot remember to restock the larder herself. But Master Satori does not eat a lot, and neither does little sister nor her sisters – that is why Master Satori forgot, little sister would guess.”

It was all incredible, but Garion was not daunted.

“So?” he said. “I do not imagine your master has any... secret stash of goods that I could use in my commissioned task?”
“Not that little sister is aware,” said Rin. She affected a crestfallen little face. “Master Satori has been exceptionally absent-minded today; little sister is sorry.”
“Do not be; it is not you who is in the wrong, it is Miss Satori.”
“Maybe,” she said, “but little brother is her guest, and little sister—” She ceased suddenly, a curious spark lighting in her lively eyes. “Ah, but little sister might have an idea.”
“Master Satori might get mad should she find it out, though.”
“I am listening.”
“If there is no food in the kitchen,” she said brightly, “then little sister will have to make food herself.”

Garion was too forbearing, too tactful to discount the notion as simple. “Go on, little sister,” he said grandly, “little brother is all ears.”
“She has the spell in her nature, in a manner, but she is has never tried it this way before.”
“‘This way,’ little sister? Are you not being too cryptic, perhaps?”
“Does little brother not like it?”
“The idea?” said Garion.
“Ah no, she meant—Ah, forget little sister. The idea, yes. She will require something first for it. Will little brother wait?”
“He will.”
One might argue whether had an alternative.
She smiled at him charmingly. “She thanks him.”

And then she fleeted off, in a quest for the object she needed for her mysterious plan to be set in motion.

Garion waited for her, of course, as he had said he would.

An odd minute later, she returned, and when she did, she had with her a stack of books – tomes old and tarnished, of faded fronts and crumbling pages – and she shooed Garion away when he proposed to carry the weighty load in her stead.

“He should wait,” she told him, “little sister cannot focus the spell with others onlooking.”

She brought the ancient books into the kitchen and closed the door behind her. Garion stood staunchly outside, steadfast still even when rainbow lights and crackling noises began to escape through the slits and gaps of the aged door and frame. Untroubled, he waited till these abided also, and till Rin emerged from the kitchen, a pleasant countenance about her healthy features.

She invited Garion inside, where the formerly naked shelves and tables were now laden with products of all manner – pounds of raw meats, and whole vegetables, and spices also – and a fine scent filled and lingered in the air, fresh and delectable.

“Will this be enough?” inquired the girl.
“Workable,” replied Garion. He deliberated he should omit the precise origin of the foods. “I thank you, little sister.”
She curtsied, a dignified, but cute little curtsy. “It is all her pleasure,” she said. “Will little brother need help still? With the cooking, perhaps?”
“No,” he said. And after a brief pause, he asked: “Will she help him all the same?”
She gave him a full grin. “She will.”

And then they fell to work.

※ ※ ※
[x] Bone Rin right there.
No voting options? No problem. Fuck the law.
[x] Bone Rin right there.

[X] Bone rin right there.
[X] Remember that having thoughts such as those in the house of a mind reader is a bad idea

That said, I wonder why is Komeiji (the elder) trying very hard to fight her own kind nature. Ideas?
[X] Bone rin right there.

Fucking perfect.
This will only bring ruination upon you all. Mark my words.

Of course it will, but how do you see that and not second it? Writefag will probably say no anyways.
[X] Remember that having thoughts such as those in the house of a mind reader is a bad idea

Guys, do you really want a bad end this early?
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※ ※ ※

Garion learned in the following hour many a curious thing.

He did not speak much—if any at all—but the sprightly girl requited for it with hefty interest.

She was—in addition to being a pet, it turned out—a worker also, and her task, though gruesome, was of great import to the underworld. She was older much than she appeared, being, as Satori, inhuman; her disposition, however, was fitting of her youthful airs. She did not radiate a veneer of dignity as did her pale-faced master, and although it was not her line of profession, she was smart and swift with a knife, ladle and cleaver.

Garion found the sound of her voice and her prattle oddly soothing as he worked. She had a lot to say, indeed, but even when she was telling most excitedly the most engaging parts of her many stories, her tiny hands never stopped their labour once. Garion respected that; perhaps to some extent against his own will, but he did.

“And then little sister chased the shrine maiden,” the girl went on with a retelling of her encounter with Hakurei Reimu – one of the chief figures that governed this land, whom Garion had never met – an event which had transpired some months agone. “She was too strong for little sister, though. She beat her yet again, and then she left her and pursued Okuu.”
Garion felt obliged to gratify her with a question.
“How many times does that make?” he inquired from beside the flaming stove and the steaming cauldrons. “Three in total?”

Charcoal and firewood both, he had discovered, had also joined the foods in their inexplicable coming-into-being after Rin's intervention; and since convenient, the fact had not earned one comment from the efficient, pragmatic young man.

“So many as three in the end, yes,” the short girl confirmed with a bob of her red locks. “She was above little sister's level, as much as little sister doesn't want to admit.”
“Her reputation does imply a certain level of proficiency,” Garion said staidly. “She is the fabled Hakurei.”
“Ah yes,” Rin admitted, “little sister agrees; there is a reason why she is so rumoured among humans and monsters alike.”
“And after that, little sister? How did your friend fare against the legendary red-and-white?”
“She did not hold.”
“She lost,” she told him a shade sadly. “Ah, but little sister thinks now it was for the better of it,” she added. “Okuu had just received her power then; she was beside herself with enthusiasm, and it clouded her thinking. She swore she would drown the above-world in flames with her new-found power, and none of us had had any luck in knocking the idea out of her silly head.”
“Not even your master?”
“Not even she.”
“And what has become of that... Okuu... now? If, as you say, she lost to the shrine maiden's might, where is she now? I recall that your master has mentioned her – does that mean she lives in the mansion also?”

Rin had finished cutting a number of vegetables and was now arranging the slices on a big decorative tray she had found buried far in the entrails of one antique cupboard. “She lends her power to the people of a place called Moriya,” she said. “She comes home every now and again, but she bides a lot of her time in the above-world. She has her own mission now, even as does little sister.”

Garion did not reply; he turned the revelation over in his thoughts, and reassessed the state of affairs.

Above all, it had renewed his hopes, curtailed by the speech Satori had given him in the library. As he apprehended, the small, ashen lady was—throughout most of the days now—the sole present one in the manor. After all, Rin had said she fancied to spend her recess in the surface world, as did the hitherto-hidden sister of her master. And now, even the powerful Okuu person had also been revealed absent from home.

Garion felt what that indicated was a chance; a chance that his pallid hostess might have let his woman slip, unnoticed, into—or out of—the Old Hell, despite her claiming otherwise. As she had been the only one standing guard, the possibility of one being skipping her attention was more than apt. And though one might debunk that assumption with only the minutest effort and thought, Garion clung to the hope with unyielding strength still.

Unbeknownst to him, Rin had approached him, and she nudged her hip at his, thus breaking his hapless ruminations short. “Wouldn't little brother say,” she asked, staring intently, “that it smells about done?” Garion deftly quit stirring in the puffing pot, and he stepped aside, and allowed his cat-eared assistant to scoop timidly a spoonful of the dish for careful trying. “... She thinks it is OK,” she said. She drew another spoon of the sauce and lifted it nimbly to Garion's lips. “Here,” she said, “let little brother try and see. What does he think?”
Garion took and tasted the stew in a stern, professional fashion.
“Adequate,” he said in a qualified tone. “I do say, though, once coupled with the rice and the salad that you made, it will be made much more.” He presented her with an approving nod. “I may have said this already,” he spoke again, “but you are a surprise indeed, little sister.”
“All little sister did was mix the ingredients,” she said modestly. “It was little brother that told her the order and all.”
She beamed cheerily at the praise. “So, are little brother and little sister finished now?” she questioned, still smiling. “She sees that little brother has already cut the roast; and the stew, too, is nearly done.”
“Indeed,” said Garion, even as he undid the ragged white apron they had found abandoned in a dusty drawer. “We have done what we could. Now, little sister, would you suppose that we should abide here till your master has done soaking, or...?”
He left it hanging.
“... Ah!” Rin gasped after a confused moment. “No, no! Master Satori will wish to eat in the dining room, little sister is certain!” She discarded her apron also. “She and little brother will have to carry the dishes there, she is afraid.”

Garion took the broad pot off the stove and prompted: “Acceptable,” he said. “Lead you on then, little sister.”

She inclined her little chin, took two vegetable-filled plates in her small, pastel hands, and led outside.

※ ※ ※

Um, I'm pretty sure that whenever there's a ※ ※ ※ it means that there's more to come to the update.
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No, Really? I would have never guessed.
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All right, good deduction Sherlock.
Now let's find the doctor Moriarty, I'm sure he's somewhere in /underground/!
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Please don't litter the thread, thank you.
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※ ※ ※

Satori joined them soon afterwards in the expansive dining hall, where the walls were painted carmine and lined with portraits and images of the surface world, and a great chandelier dangled from the high ceiling, that illuminated the vast room with dozens of tiny sparkling lights.

She had folded about her flimsy frame a thick, scarlet bathrobe, and the deep colour of the soft fabric made her drawn-looking face seem even paler as she neared. A coil of that strange wire peeked between the buttons of the robe; Satori, though, made no effort to conceal it, mesmerised too strongly by the feast that lay set across the heavy top of the long dining table that could seat a legion.

She addressed Garion, uncertain, almost disbelieving: “Did you really make all this – all of it?”
“No,” Garion confided, “I had help, if that is what you were wondering.”
“As a matter of fact,” she said somewhat irritably, “that isn't at all what I was wondering. I didn't know we had so much... food... left in the larder—”
“In all actuality,” Garion interrupted, “you did not have even this much.” Satori lowered at him, though she said nothing. “In point of fact,” Garion continued in a sober, lecturing tone, “the kitchen, and the pantry also, were empty;” he leaned forward a few inches and revealed: “you ordered a cook to work with food that was not there, miss.”

An unexpected new expression slithered onto Satori's delicate face, one that Garion had not seen her exhibit before; it was an expression of abashment, even shame, and, though it was miserable, Garion found it oddly fascinating.

An absent hand raised slowly and touched her thin, wan lips. “Ah, um,” she blundered, flustered, upset and altogether lovely, “well, I... apologise... I suppose.”
“Accepted,” Garion said flatly.
“I'd forgot,” Satori defended. “I don't use the kitchen all that often, it slipped my mind to have it refilled—”
“Accepted,” Garion iterated. “I have no need of explanations; the task has been done, all is well.”
“... Is that so?”
“So it is.”
“... So it is,” Satori repeated. She exhaled an awkward sigh and said: “... Garion?”
“Speak on.”
“... Quit staring, please; it's rude.”

Garion made no smile, gave no hint of his amusement.

He moved quickly and quietly toward the table, where he held a chair for his hostess.

Satori sat, tentative, and glanced all around the great feast.

“Isn't it lavish, though?” she observed. “... Garion?”
“Yes, miss?”
“Satori,” she corrected vacantly. “Why don't you two sit, too?” she said and motioned at Rin, who stood nearby and shifted from foot to foot, eager and impatient. “I said we were going to eat all together, yes? Sit, please, both of you.”
“Not yet,” said Garion. “Should you find the dishes inadequate, we will—”
“Stop that, please. I won't find anything inadequate. I don't think I've laid my eyes on something so good-looking in ages.”
“I'm just surprised, Garion,” she affirmed. “Sit, please.”
“As you wish.”
“... Satori,” Garion obliged.

He drew a chair himself at her right, and he gestured Rin to do also; although the girl had ensconced herself already and was now loading her plate with a variety of available foods.

She seized hungrily several slices of meat, and lumps of mashed potatoes, and cabbage and carrots, and she poured the brown sauce over all, and proceeded to wolf it down, loud and joyous.

Garion turned from the heartening sight to find Satori was eyeing him cautiously yet again.

“Something wrong?” he asked.
Satori hastily sent her violet stare askance. “No,” she said. “I was about to wonder aloud where you got all this food. I've changed my mind, though; somehow I feel I'd rather do without the knowledge.”
“As you wish, miss.”
She breathed a very weary moan. “... Will you ever learn, Garion?”
“Will I learn what?”
“... Never mind.”

She began, once again, to browse through the dishes with her eyes, abstracted and unmoving.

Garion disregarded her; he stood to collect his share of the meal. He reached for the steak and took a slice, which he then set gently on his plate. And then he took the salad bowl also, and he returned over again to fill his plate, but hot discontent soured his mouth once he found that the steak that he had laid on the plate earlier was now insolubly gone.

Satori, he found as he turned toward her, sat motionless still, but a lone slice of steak now rested on her platter.

Garion wordlessly swept himself a helping of salad from the salver and returned it to its place among the other dishes.

As he came back once more, however, he found that the salad, too, had now disappeared from his plate, and an identical serving had been conjured onto the one of his ashen hostess.

Again yet, Garion stretched across the table, for drink this time, and he filled his glass from a pitcher, and put it back again.

As he bent to replace the earthenware vessel, though, his free arm lashed downwards, and he grasped Satori by her tiny wrist mere split-seconds before she stole his glass of drink also.

Satori flinched; Garion's grip, though, was as iron; not a single drop of the coloured liquid was spilled.

Satori, locked in his vice as she was, merely whisked the unruly fringe from her eyes with her other hand and stared up at Garion with an unshaken air of calm. Garion stared also; not even the slightest change graced his cold impassiveness.

A while passed idly, and Garion released the dainty wrist from his stalwart hold. Satori mutely set the filled glass beside her plate and began to eat.

Garion filled his plate anew; and though many words crowded on his tongue, he let none be spoken.

A quarter of an hour perhaps into the meal, Satori elected to address her pet: “Rin?”
The cat-eared girl peered up from her still unfinished serving. “Yesh?” she said, her tiny mouth full. “Whashis—”
“Swallow before you speak,” chided Satori.
“Ah, yesh,” Rin replied sheepishly. “Shohhy, Mashte Shatohi.” She gulped noisily and started again: “What is the matter, Master Satori?”
“Nothing in particular,” Satori answered, “I just wondered if I could maybe borrow some of your time tomorrow.”
“Master Satori?”
“Could I, Rin? Have you got that kind of time?”
“Ah,” the red-haired one exhaled, “yes, Rin thinks that she does. And what would Master Satori have Rin do in that time?”
“I'd like it if you went and did some shopping. I'll find money and leave it for you the morning, in the usual place. Do you recall where the usual place is, Rin?”
“Ah...” Rin fell thoughtful, “... Yes,” she then decided, “Rin guesses she still does remember.”
“Good,” Satori smiled. “Garion will sketch a list for you,” she continued, “and you'll try to buy whatever he puts down on it, no matter how exotic. I'm dying to see what other miracles he can make with these rough fingers of his.” She switched in her chair to look directly at Garion. A glint of red flashed in the gaps of her loosened robe. Garion knew; the dreadful orb was watching him also. “Will you make that list, Garion?” Satori asked, polite, though her manner doubtless proved she was not requesting; she was placing an order. “I'd suggest you ought to go along with Rin and see what is available with your own eyes, but you will be rather busy with your search tomorrow, won't you?”

[ ] He would, truly. He assented, though, to draw up a list of exquisite ingredients to the best of his ability.
[ ] Garion preferred, however, what Satori had proposed: he would escort the cat-eared girl top-side and select the foods to buy—or procure them—directly, on his own volition.
[ ] He turned the question right around: why should Satori not accompany him instead, and ensure that her wealth is well-spent, and not squandered on something she would never even think to put in her mouth?
[x] He turned the question right around: why should Satori not accompany him instead, and ensure that her wealth is well-spent, and not squandered on something she would never even think to put in her mouth?
Forget about Nazrin and Chen, THESE are real cat and mouse games.
[x] He turned the question right around: why should Satori not accompany him instead, and ensure that her wealth is well-spent, and not squandered on something she would never even think to put in her mouth?

It'll only be one day up there, and will secure Garion however long the food lasts a base for him to search.

More Satorin time doesn't factor into this.
[x] He turned the question right around: why should Satori not accompany him instead, and ensure that her wealth is well-spent, and not squandered on something she would never even think to put in her mouth?
...am I the only one who noticed that the pink letters in the starting post's image spell TiTS?
Also, my vote:
[x] He turned the question right around: why should Satori not accompany him instead, and ensure that her wealth is well-spent, and not squandered on something she would never even think to put in her mouth?

YAF got tired of Mokoutits and moved onto Tenshitits.
>I'm dying to see what other miracles he can make with these rough fingers of his.

[x] He would, truly. He assented, though, to draw up a list of exquisite ingredients to the best of his ability.
He does have an objective, you know. And apparently it's important, too.

[x] He turned the question right around: why should Satori not accompany him instead, and ensure that her wealth is well-spent, and not squandered on something she would never even think to put in her mouth?
>and ensure that her wealth is well-spent, and not squandered on something she would never even think to put in her mouth?
I'm not reading a random part of an update without the proper context ever again.
[x] He turned the question right around: why should Satori not accompany him instead, and ensure that her wealth is well-spent, and not squandered on something she would never even think to put in her mouth?
[x] He turned the question right around: why should Satori not accompany him instead, and ensure that her wealth is well-spent, and not squandered on something she would never even think to put in her mouth?

True there's a search to be done, but there's also something to be said of such a matter.
[x] He would, truly. He assented, though, to draw up a list of exquisite ingredients to the best of his ability.
There's Research to be done. Tenshi won't find herself.
[x] He would, truly. He assented, though, to draw up a list of exquisite ingredients to the best of his ability.

Isn't Satori prohibited from visiting the surface?

Everyone in the underground is prohibited from reaching the surface. Maybe Rin can get around that kind of because she has a job to do up there, but she isn't exactly doing her job if she is buying groceries.
Pre-SA that held true, I suspect in the aftermath of it, the treaty was undone upon seeing how most underground folk have no interest in invading the surface or such.

The back story for SA extra has Orin and Okuu hanging at the shrine for a bit.
[x] He turned the question right around: why should Satori not accompany him instead, and ensure that her wealth is well-spent, and not squandered on something she would never even think to put in her mouth?
Yeah, But thats as far as it goes. Let's face it, Satori and her family are considered the 'leaders' of the underground, Which is why only they are allowed to go outside of it. Who wants drunk oni storming out?
The general impression is that the Oni CHOOSE to stay down there for various reasons, mainly they were tired of being tricked by humans over and over.

As for the Youkai? The two we've seen outside the palace seem very content with things.
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Hey dude careful what you're sayi-

Oh, dammit.
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Not one vote in favour of Rin? I must say I am surprised. Not disappointed, though – just surprised.

Anon may be mentally unstable, but there is logic in there...somewhere.
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The logic is clear and simple. It goes something like this:

Eh, ok. Then my first vote here will be for Orin.

[ ] Garion preferred, however, what Satori had proposed: he would escort the cat-eared girl top-side and select the foods to buy—or procure them—directly, on his own volition.
Well it's pretty curious how Satori seems to have Rin do everything
[ ] Garion preferred, however, what Satori had proposed: he would escort the cat-eared girl top-side and select the foods to buy—or procure them—directly, on his own volition.

Satori is a jerk.
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Updates where?
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How curious, that image also more or less accurately describes my reaction to your lack of updates.
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>Latest bumped threads: Tenshi is in This Story, Thread un by !YIAN/YAfYk
>Ctrl F YAfYk
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What is that...thing to the right of the dodo bird?
That is why we dont inbreed.
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I laughed harder than I should have.
Officially, this story is on a weekly schedule (1-3 updates in the weekends). Inofficially, keep your eyes peeled. MiD comes first this week, anyway.
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Fuck you guys
A rat that eats brains. Some sort of DnD thing I think.
[x] He turned the question right around: why should Satori not accompany him instead, and ensure that her wealth is well-spent, and not squandered on something she would never even think to put in her mouth?
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[X] He turned the question right around: why should Satori not accompany him instead, and ensure that her wealth is well-spent, and not squandered on something she would never even think to put in her mouth?

Superficial though it was, Garion felt not necessary to deny himself satisfaction of curiosity.

“Certainly,” he declared, firm and true, “that is about what I had planned on indeed.”
Satori withdrew a shade; the corners of her lips quivered and turned down. “‘Had planned,’ Garion?”
“I do not much feature you could have misheard,” Garion replied. “Indeed you heard right; that had been but my initial intention.”
“So it's changed, I assume?”
He nodded. “Yes.”
“Go on, Garion; I'm still listening.”
“Yes,” he confirmed once more. “A certain notion occurred to me.”
“Amazing. Are you finally going to reveal what brilliant notion it is this time? Or would you rather I took you to a dungeon and tickle you with hot coals until you do?”

Garion did not reply; he sat back and squared his shoulders.

Satori waved at him a mollifying hand. “Don't be a child, Garion,” she said, “I won't do that; you're bigger than me, and I don't even have a dungeon. Continue, please; and quickly – the suspense ages me.”
“As you wish,” Garion said even as he lifted himself upright. “A notion occurred to me—”
“Haven't you said that, already?”
“—that the one,” he carried on regardless of her rude interruption, “to accompany me to the surface and choose which foods are adequate, should, by all means, be you.

She staggered a little, but recovered instantly. “... Is that so?” she delivered the almost customary now inquiry, a tight note in her gentle voice. “... Is that so?” she said again, even tauter. “And what in all the world made you imagine that is such a good idea, if I may ask?”
“A logical assumption,” replied Garion, serenely as he could; for though he had taken into account a mild protest from his tiny hostess, her narrowed eyes were warning. “I do not very strongly favour an outcome—” he set his arms diplomatically loose upon his lap as he spoke, “—where your wealth is fooled away on produce you do not find according to your taste.”
“Go on, Garion; say it all.”
“Hence I devised,” he obeyed, “that it would be just as well to have you go with me and select what type of cuisine you would have me work with of your own preference.”
“And why would I trouble to go with you if we could simply write up a list together?”
“I had thought of that also. As I understand, neither of us have been to the surface world for a time. As such, we do not know what trend may have swayed in the meantime the penchant of the ones tending to the fields and cattle. Surely,” he recapitulated, “you would choose to see what food is offered afore you decide what you might want to try.”

Satori listened a few seconds thence; she closed her eyes, however, and crossed her legs when Garion made clear that was the final of his explanation; and though the crimson robe climbed so her smooth calf, and displayed a part of leg one might under some circumstances deem indecent, she paid it all but no heed. “Garion,” she said at last, her slight features drawn. “Hasn't it occurred to you as well, that I may have a reason to be living down here? As opposed to, say, a nice cottage in a village, among your kind, under the sun?”
Garion knowingly inclined his head, but abruptly realised the inanity of the act. “Has it truly,” he said decorously out loud, “or has it not, miss, I usually prefer not to deduct from mere surmise.”
“Would you then like me to spell out it for you?” she bristled.

Garion chose not to answer.

Satori snorted. “I didn't think so.” She opened her gorgeous violet eyes again, and unscrewed her fair lips. “Compliments will not win me over, Garion,” she then cautioned, prickly, “so stop it, please.”
“I did not—”
“Ah yes,” she said, offhand, “I know – you never do. Anyway, I'm staying here, Garion. I trust Rin she'll be diligent with the shopping, and you should, too; though if you suspect you don't, no one's telling you not to go along with her, if you're so bent on having it your way.”
“An even better way, though—” Garion began.
“Garion,” Satori cut it short, “were you listening at all?”
“... Yes.”
“Just in case so,” she restated still, “I said I wasn't going anywhere.”
“... I am aware,” said Garion; “however, to ensure the best results—”
“—you would be impelled,” he persisted, “to accompany either one of us alone or both, as be your preference, miss, to the surface and a settlement or market there.”
“... Are you trying to goad me into agreement,” Satori asked acidly, “or simply aggravate me, Garion? One way or the other, long chance; I'm staying here, where my place is. Go yourself, if you wish; it's your say, not mine.” She rose and straightened her robe. “Now, you two, you'll excuse me.”

She started for the door, but before she crossed it, her steps reeled; and she turned, a remembered thought on her lips: “And don't you go and let anything ‘slip,’ little sister,” she demanded of her startled pet, “I'll tell him on my own time, if I feel inclined to. And you,” she looked to Garion, “you will come to my bedroom after this; and when you come, you will have better become accustomed to my deuced name, else I won't vouch for my hospitality any more. Understood?”

Garion acknowledged tersely.

Satori made a small throw with her head; and then she left.

“Ah, um—” the cat-eared girl immediately leapt into explanations, “—Master Satori did not mean to be rude, she only—”
“I did not ask, Rin,” replied Garion.
She batted her dark eyelashes frantically. “Ah, but little sister must clarify—!”
“I did not ask,” he repeated firmly.
“Ah... but—”
“A man must adapt,” he declaimed, twirling a fork between his fingers. “I shall draw up the most credible list possible so your part of the task is easier doable; and should Miss Satori judge it lacking, I shall take upon myself to abate the following of her wrath, even if it renders my wit blunt as a doorknob.”
“Ah, well,” she settled down and gave him a wan smile, “little brother sounds so serious little sister can scarce think what to say to him...”
“I am a very serious person, little sister will find,” he returned. “An average man may fumble, but I will not let an emotional outburst of a woman get in the way of my plans and ruin my resolve.”
“Ah, if little brother says so... because, little sister will confess, she gagged a little there, when Master Satori raised her voice... didn't little brother?”
“I am not that easily upset,” he told her. “Now, if you will, let us finish eating and I will set about cleaning the mess.”
“Ah,” she said, “yes, little brother speaks sense, let's, before it gets all cold; and little sister will help with the cleaning, too.”
“Good. I thank you again, little sister.”

And then they fell silent both as they resumed their meal.

Although his tone had born no sign of it, Garion had lied.

A taste hot discontent with his hostess soured his mouth, and rinse it with drink as he might, it remained, relentless, and soured his mood in turn.

Garion had in truth never learned to endure rejection that abounds in lives of men his age; but although one might worry for this aspect of him, should events sustain their current pace, one might speculate also that the unflattering blemish might be lustred before long.

※ ※ ※
Oh. Oh, wow. Satori's pissed, isn't she?
Looks like Satori is mad.
But on the good hand, we'll be alone with her in her room.
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Gonna count angry Satori as a win.
So does that mean potential hate-sex later, possibly?
Since it's YAF, I won't bet on it.

Come one, YAF, surprise me.
Will there be another update tonight? Or can I stop F5ing.
Wait until tomorrow.
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※ ※ ※

A time later, Garion stood before the stout oaken slab that was the door to Satori's chamber.

As Rin had proffered, he had let the chore of doing the dishes fall into her care so he might straightaway humour the command laid on him by his short-tempered hostess; and however hard might it gall his sense of duty, the droll, feline-eared maiden had been particularly insistent that he goes at once.

Garion had gone, then, though he had asked for directions first, and now he was here; and he breathed deeply, and cleared away the tart displeasure which had taken sway of his face as he walked.

He steeled himself.

And then—a quick, resolute move—he clutched the old brass handle and pulled, and as the door was set ajar, he stole inside, silent, and closed it back again behind him.

A small voice sighed, bothered, at his sudden entry: “Have you never heard of knocking, Garion?”

Garion, however, let it pass for now; he stood upright and surveyed this new place.

The room was warm—though dim—and snug—though garnished princely, with wreaths and bright garlands, and silky drapes trimmed with flowery frills, and rich antique furnishings. A canopied bed stood by one wall, by the wide, two-part window that was made of stained glass; opposite of it, meanwhile, squatted a broad, ornate wardrobe, a great mirror engrafted in its front. A bookshelf the breadth of the room itself spread across another wall, and a gold chandelier hung from the ceiling, dead, though shining still with the reflected light of the magmatic cavern outside.

Garion noted all these, then turned at last to the small in comparison wicker set of round table and chairs that lay in a corner, where, once again, he discovered the heather eyes of his hostess louring at him over a fat volume of undisclosed writing.

“Ah yes,” she said to him pleasantly, “how grand of you to finally notice me.”

She had, he observed, forgone the rich, scarlet bathrobe, and wore now again the same old clothes she had worn when Garion had met with her first – a washed-out smock of pale blue, and a faded pink dress that fell partly over her dangling feet. She reclined and crossed her legs at the ankles, amused.

“Are you perhaps disappointed?” she asked in a conversational tone. “I could change back, if you'd like.”

Garion ignored that.

Although he would sooner drive splinters under his toenails and kick rather than say it, he found this old outfit flattered the little hostess and her snowy complexion much more than the deep, fleecy red of the extravagant robe.

“Why, thank you,” she said; “it's great to know that we're both pleased.”

Garion disregarded that also.

“I believe,” he explained instead, “is an outdated and unproductive tradition.”
Satori gave him a half-smile. “How so?”
“I would have entered anyway,” he answered matter-of-factly, “and the sooner I did, the sooner we might start out on what you would have us start out; knocking would have been redundant.”
“And if I was in the middle of undressing?”
“And what if you were?”
“I asked first,” she returned. “What if you came in and I was naked, Garion?”
“... I would see you.”
“... And?”
“Have you no notion of decency, Garion?” she asked testily. “I can understand if you don't mind being seen yourself, but hasn't it occurred to you that some people may find it embarrassing?”
“... Not at all,” he replied. “Nudity is a natural aspect of our bodies; there is nothing shameful about it.”
“So,” she said casually, “what you're saying is, I could get naked right this very moment and you wouldn't mind, Garion? Not one bit? Not even a little?”
“Ah yes,” she said acidly, “then maybe I should do just that, what do you think? As a matter of fact, let's all strip naked and frolic with our extremities flapping about without a care in the world like wild animals, why don't we?”

Garion thought about that for a moment.

“I was joking,” she told him coldly. “Now, take a seat, please. I want to talk, and you're making me nervous with how tall you are. I don't care for being looked down on all that much. Are you men all so huge in the above-world? No,” she shook her head, “forget it, I don't really want to know. Sit down.”
“Must I?” he asked.
“As a matter of fact, yes, you do. Sit, Garion, pretty please. And don't take too long; we've already wasted a good deal of that time you wanted to save so much.”
“... As you wish,” he gave up.
“Good,” she said. “I just adore winning. I may yet take to telling you to sit, I feel. Don't you?”

Garion did not answer; under Satori's watchful eye, he approached, drew the chair, sat, and reclined; his legs stretched out.

As chance would have it, their feet touched—her bare, his socked—but they did not move, nor he, nor she; and they discounted the fact, neither willing to relent first. Satori poured for him a cupful from the silver tea-urn arranged on a tray on the small, round table, and slid it across, toward her straitlaced guest.

As he received it and lifted it to his lips, the small lady gestured at his coarse hand. “What happened to your fingernail, Garion?” she asked, more curious than worried.
Garion swallowed the hot liquid firstly, and then he revealed: “I broke it.”
“I see that. How?”
“Cooking,” he nimbly made a lie. “A mere accident. Nothing of great concern to you, though.”
She eyed him suspiciously. “... Is that so?”
“So it is.”
“Ah,” she said, “I see.”

A hush minute followed, where neither uttered a word; but then Garion felt her toes brush shortly his loose foot, and Satori spoke up, tentative at first, but soon determined.

“Garion,” she said, her violet stare turned aside. “I... must apologise to you.”

Garion said nothing; he elected to let her continue however and whenever she willed.

And will she did. “I've forgotten how you surface people are,” she resumed after but a second, “and I've forgotten that I should adjust when I speak with you and of your businesses. I don't really suppose you care for my apologies, but I'd like to say them anyway.”
“Go on.”
She cast him a wry kind of look. “Aren't you even going to tell me not to bother?”
“Why should I?” he said seriously. “It is your apology, not mine.”
“... Are you trying to make me mad again, Garion?”
“No such thing. Say on, if so you wish.”
Satori groaned under her breath. “... Actually,” she said, “do you know something? Never mind me; I should apologise for Rin most of all.”
“... Indeed?” Garion asked.
“She brought you here, didn't she? And, please, don't say otherwise; I know she did. She isn't exactly skilled at hiding her thoughts. She inconvenienced you, didn't she? I beg you to forgive her. She doesn't realise what she's doing; she sets her mind on something and she can't think about anything else. She gets carried away and does stupid things. She and Utsuho both; they're terribly simple. They think of nothing but food when they're hungry, they ponder mischief when they're bored, and they can grow very... impudent, let's say, when it's their time and they can't find anything to occupy their attention. They're animals, Garion, you can't blame them; they can't help it. I know, because I couldn't, either, once. I've learned a lot since then, but I've got a greater capacity for that – and my... other talents, too. They don't. So please, forgive them – Rin for forcing you to come here, and Utsuho in advance, because she is bound to do something stupid once she comes back from wherever she is right now. I can almost guarantee she will.”

“And you?” Garion inquired. “What should I forgive you for?”

Satori muttered something Garion could not quite hear; and she put one little hand over her pale forehead, and she sighed a plaintive sigh, a whine almost, and set her beautiful violet stare again on Garion, bashful, though cross still. “... I told you just now,” she said. “Never mind. And stop that, please; you're not being very convincing.”

Garion said nothing, merely waited, sober and unmoving.

Satori, meanwhile, righted herself, and even as she did, Garion felt once again her touch as it grazed his leg and stopped halfway across his shin. A more poised face now, Satori refilled her cup, and—holding it close to her small, ashen lips—she sat back, softer and pensive, though the eye of her orb scowled on, harsh as ever and unyielding in its glare.

A mellow smile twinkled across these tiny lips, and she spoke in a subdued voice: “I'm sorry if it makes you uneasy,” she said. “It's not scowling, that's its natural look; I can't do a whole lot about it.” Garion gave her a flat look. “And don't call it an ‘orb,’ if you'd be so nice,” she requested calmly. “It's my heart, Garion, it's kept me alive since I was born, and I think that warrants at least some respect, even if it seems a bit... rude at times.” Garion lifted a questioning brow. Satori nodded, pleased visibly with that small reaction. “A heart, yes,” she said. “It doesn't look like one, I know, but it's warm and it beats, just like a normal heart. Would you like to feel?”
“... No.”
She chuckled, a startlingly earnest chuckle. “I don't know that I'd let you, anyway,” she confessed, toying with the handle of her teacup. “It could get torn off, if you tugged at it too hard. I used to have nightmares about it. Of course, I wouldn't wager I'd die if you did that,” she added impassively, “but I'm fairly sure it'd hurt all the same. And I'll have you know, I'm afraid of pain just as badly as the next girl.”
“... I see,” he gave a bland reply.
“Do you like to cause people pain, Garion?”
Garion stared. “... No,” he said carefully. “... Unless it serves my plans to do so.”
Satori gave him a sullen little smile. “You're crueller than I thought.”
“As they say,” he tented his fingers and returned, “life is full of those little disappointments.”

Satori sighed at that. “Is that also what your woman taught you?”
“... Yes.”
“Somehow,” she said, “I knew that'd be the case.”

She fell once again quiet then, and wondered at some length; and Garion did not disturb her, even though the touch if the tiny foot on his shin grew more grating on his nerves even as the time went on.

Another minute passed, and neither he nor she uttered a word until Satori broke her idle daydream, and the silence also, and spoke in a settling tone, even as she laid the now-empty cup on the tray: “I'd love if you told me more about this woman, Garion,” she said.
“I would not.”
Satori made a small shrug. “I suspected as much,” she gave away. “If you'll let me finish, however, maybe—just maybe—we'll arrive at some kind of an agreement.”
Garion considered. “... Go on, then,” he decided, “I will listen, if you wish me to.”
“Ah—” she smiled, “—why, thank you; that's absolutely lovely of you.” She reached out and deftly seized his hand before he could tap his knuckles on the silver tray. “Garion,” she said reproachfully, “please.”
“... Yes?”

“... Never mind,” she breathed, resigned. She glanced down at their connected hands, and, the briefest stall after, wrenched hers away. “I'd like to hear about the woman, as I said,” she resumed the previous thought, “but I'll understand if you're too worn out tonight to entertain my curiosity. I don't think I'm that interested, anyway. I'll show you to the guest rooms. Come on, Garion; I can see on your face that you're tired.”

[ ] He consented. He was weary, and his nerve was strained. Sleep would do him good.
[ ] “Not yet,” he said. His body was wearied, but his mind was sharp still. He would tell her.
[ ] He stopped her. Although his strength was flagging indeed, he still had questions of his own.


Sorry I didn't update last night, I found myself beset by some unforeseen alcohol circumstances.
[x] “Not yet,” he said. His body was wearied, but his mind was sharp still. He would tell her.

We're Satori's guest. She's the priority. Our desires come after.
[x] He consented. He was weary, and his nerve was strained. Sleep would do him good.

Don't writedescribe while tired. Sleep and do proper justice later.
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[x] “Not yet,” he said. His body was wearied, but his mind was sharp still. He would tell her.
While it's true that her hospitality has been repaid by agreeing to her whims and mood-swings, it's fair to say that our MC hasn't been the kindest of guests. Does he feel no guilt? I doubt that, but I like to thing otherwise. Hence, my choice.
[x] “Not yet,” he said. His body was wearied, but his mind was sharp still. He would tell her.
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That bad, eh? Yeah, I probably should have slept and rewritten the whole thing.
[x] “Not yet,” he said. His body was wearied, but his mind was sharp still. He would tell her
[x] “Not yet,” he said. His body was wearied, but his mind was sharp still. He would tell her.

Might as well oblige the hostess.
[ ] “Not yet,” he said. His body was wearied, but his mind was sharp still. He would tell her.
[X] “Not yet,” he said. His body was wearied, but his mind was sharp still. He would tell her.

This choice seems best. It's not intruding like the third option, and we can always sleep after we tell her.
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[X] “Not yet,” he said. His body was wearied, but his mind was sharp still. He would tell her.

But Garion was of a different idea.

“Not yet,” he drew in his hostess as she stood. She viewed that interruption with some frown. “I am weary, yes,” Garion continued, “but I might yet have in me enough strength to indulge you with a story.”
“A story?” Satori asked even as she settled again in the wicker chair. “A rather flippant way to put it after you've made clear you'd prefer to keep it to yourself.”
“Why the sudden change of heart? I was under the impression talking to me gave you a turn and that you'd much rather simply admire my face without saying a thing.”

Garion did just that; he stared and kept his lips sealed so tightly blood drained from them.

A change of heart it was not—not precisely—for though Garion had made clear he would refrain from speaking of the woman if allowed, the reason for it was the woman claimed a special place in his heart; as such, whenever he spoke of those long agone times they had spent as one, he knew he was beside himself with youthful adoration, with inadvertent praise; and he avoided it, shunned it even, unless circumstance beset him that the absolutely could not, for that memory was riddled with untruths and half-lies that his failing memory had made to fill the gaps; and to lie about a loved one was an unsightly thing to do, even as the woman had taught him once.

But as justifying of a reason as that was, it was not all. The way his hostess had simply dismissed him, the cold fashion in which she spoke the aggravating words: ‘not that interested’ – these drove him to indulge her request in this adverse manner that he believed preserved his pride. Childish though one may call it, there were many things childish about Garion, and this was not the worst one had seen.

An instance could be that as soon as she had sat, Garion sought out the leg of little hostess, and touched to it his, only so he might pay her back, and settle that grating debt of malice that in truth existed only in his mind.

Satori was not impressed a lot, but smiled regardless. “I see,”she said knowingly, as though she knew exactly what went inside this imprudent boy's head. “Well, all right. I'll listen, then. What earthly good is an evening without a good story, after all? Am I right, Garion?”
“Yes,” he said, if only to gratify the small woman's whim. “Great many a children would agree.”
“Attempt at insult: noted.”
“I did not mean in that way.”
“You don't mean many of the things you say, do you, Garion?”
“I have learned not to.”
“And you've learned awfully well, I must say,” she told him. “Don't wrench your shoulder out of its socket trying to pat yourself on the back, though. Well, but we're straying. Am I going to hear that ‘story’ then, Garion?”
“Splendid. Ah, but before you begin, may I ask you a favour first?”
“Ask on.”
“Say my name, Garion.”
“... Satori,” he said after but a minutest pause.
Satori smiled delightfully. “Good, you still remember. I was beginning to have my doubts. Now, let's hear that story. Oh, and we may also work on that list in the meanwhile. I'll just find something to write on and you'll just write down whatever comes to your mind. I'd love to stay with you the whole night, but you're going to need some sleep if you're to make the trip to the caves and then back here again tomorrow. So we'll have to make it as quick as we can.” She quite deliberately kicked his leg aside and rose to find a pen and paper. “Well, Garion?” she urged even as she rifled through the drawers of her bedstand. “What are you waiting for? Talk to me, please. And don't mind me at all.”

So he talked.

※ ※ ※
Seesh couldn't he just SPIT IT OUT ALREADY!?
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That pic of Tenshi is the cutest one on this thread yet. Just FYI.
So we vote for Garion to spit out his DAMN story, and we have a whole update about WHY he'll spit it.

I really want to punch that guy in the face.
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※ ※ ※

He awoke late next morning.

The bed was down-filled and comfortable, and the covers were soft and smelled of home, and they made it so to sleep in was that much easier. Garion had wanted to rouse at first light, but found now that the plan lay in crumbles, for indeed, the cosy atmosphere of the manor had fooled his senses, and he had forgotten that there was, in fact, no sun underground – and thus no light, first or any.

Garion had lingered in Satori's bedroom for hours on the end also, and he came to realise now that the fault lay entirely on his side. Although he had intended originally to tell his beautiful hostess only the abridged version of the tale, the more he had told, the more his tongue unwound, and he had found himself revealing—not altogether inadvertently—many more a detail than he had wished at first.

He had told her of his first encounter with the woman – how they had met and begun their journeys in the towns and wilds of the Land, where she had confided unto the then-child Garion truths that not even adults had known, even now. He had recalled how she had taught what he now knew and cherished—numbers, and letters, and arts and sciences—and how she had shattered the inane illusions of the world that he had then held still, and showed him the world as it truly was, base and unadulterated.

He had recounted the now-ancient days when they would walk barefoot in fields of golden wheat in the day, and rest under the stars in the evenings, and how the woman would lull him to sleep with her gentle whisper close to his ear, reciting their favourite poems and songs until he gave into black languor, and how she would always watch over him until white morning, when the sun would wake him again to her voice.

Satori had listened to it all; she drank the words from his mouth with but a sporadic comment or question; and though Garion had found those jarring initially, the beautiful violet eyes would every time goad him to change his mind and answer.

He would yet come to rue it one day, he thought, but that day loomed still outside of view.

At that conclusion, Garion stirred from the covers and untangled his arm from the storm of red hair that had somehow sprawled across his naked shoulder and chest in his sleep. He forgot it, rolled deftly over the scarce-dressed body of the sleeping girl that lay beside him, and rose, swaying, from the warm, sweet-scented beddings.

The cold of the room hit him harder than it had the previous night.

Garion gathered his garments and clothed himself, shivering all the while. Satori had mentioned in passing she would not require breakfast, and what that meant was Garion could set out at once, no worry for the tasks his hostess had appointed him.

As the thought that, he slipped silently into the darkened corridors, his course laid out for the front door.

With a degree of luck, he should leave the house with no one's notice.

※ ※ ※
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※ ※ ※

As luck would have it, however, Satori was waiting for him in the lobby.

She was reading another of these thick tomes she seemingly adored, lounged in a chair that had not been there the previous day, but she sprang forthwith as Garion approached, and greeted him, though the young man's face was one of disappointment.

She set down the heavy book and went toward Garion to give him his own little oil-lamp. “I refilled it for you,” she said, smiling lightly. “I had some spare oil sitting around, imagine that. I'd offer you food as well, but... you should know why that isn't the best idea. I've also drawn up some directions.” She handed him a beautifully calligraphed note with a hand-sketched map on the reverse. “Hopefully you won't get lost and I won't have to send Rin out to find you again. She'd enjoy that, I'm certain, but I wouldn't really. By the way, she didn't bother you too much, did she?”
“No,” Garion said flatly.
“I'll talk with her about it,” Satori said all the same. “She gets cold at night when she stays in her human body. She normally sleeps with Utsuho or her sisters, but they've been missing since yesterday for some reason. I imagine they're just playing a prank again, but it's none of my business. Anyway, she sometimes sneaks into people's beds – mine, usually – I suppose she imagined you'd make a better pillow since you're much bigger. Please don't be angry with her. She means no harm.”
“I am aware.”
“And please, don't frown so hard,” she continued. “I know you'd have rather sneaked out on your own, but I had to see you before you left. You're my guest, after all.”
“I am aware of that also. Is that all?”
“Yes, Garion,” she said. “You can go now.”
“I shall.”

He turned at the front door and pulled open the bars that locked it.

A small, frigid hand grasped his free one, and he turned again to find Satori staring at him with an enthralling intent in her deep, purple-red eyes. “Garion,” she said, her pale lips tense. “I look forward to talking with you again.”
“Yes,” he told her simply.
He did not say he was, too.
“Come back when you're tired,” she told him. “I'll leave the door open.”
“... Yes,” he replied. “I thank you.”
Satori nodded and released him. “You're welcome,” she said. “Goodbye, Garion.”
He inclined his head also. “Goodbye,” he said, “... Satori.”

And then he turned and left, and closed the door behind him.

※ ※ ※
Tenshi being nice?
For real?
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Oh! This makes up for the missed weekend. Have some Satori for your troubles.
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※ ※ ※

He passed through the ghastly garden and the warped wicket.

He crossed the stonework bridge, not glancing once at the lava-lake down below. Gallant, he dove again into the great forest of rock-columns, retracing the trail he and the cat-eared pet-girl had gone the previous day. As silence fell around him, and the orange glow grew ever more distant, a sense of peace and a long-desired quiet spread through him gradually, slowing his pace.

Although his goal may lie beyond each turn and each step he took, it was all but absent from his mind. He lighted his lamp with a piece of flint and listened for the echoing water-drops that would now once more become his time – his seconds, minutes and hours. A wanton thought of christening these periods of time with new, appropriate names of his choice offered itself to him at one moment, but he dismissed it, deeming it too overweening to exert.

He traced the grade side-passage he had Rin had taken the day before and entered it, staid and resolute.

He found again the windy halls through which the red-haired girl had led him, and continued from there, taking paths he had not overlooked before. He strode, trenchantly, through these tight and narrow passages, lighting his way and letting his musings run loose in the tranquil dark.

Hours came and went almost unremarked as he discovered more and more of these coiling tunnels.

About noon (or Garion-noon), he stopped to rest and fast on his rations in a vast chamber where stone daggers protruded from the rust-red ceiling, and thousands of years of erosion had rent an abyssal rent in the floor, so deep and dark even Garion feared to come close.

Later still, he came upon an even greater chasm that barred his way onward. He doubled back unabashed to the snaking caves and picked another, more inviting path.

As evening (or, again, Garion-evening) drew near, the young man halted his aimless search in a low, twisting passage that branched ahead two-way and carried on, its ends undiscovered. Crooked and distorted though his sense of time was, Garion knew full well he had lost himself completely in the aimless stride, and that now a time neared when he might have to break off his hunt.

A pang of conflict flared at once in his mind. He had not yet found even the least sign of who he dearly sought, and a hot taste of chagrin burned within his throat and charred his conscience. And yet concurrently, a justified fatigue was slowly coming over him, seducing his thoughts that prayed him now to turn around at once and begin the tedious voyage back.

Garion was torn.

Should he persevere, he might find his woman had been hiding all along inches literally from where he now stood in merry ignorance; and even if not, he might unearth traces of her stay, or hints of her whereabouts, which thought cheered his somber mood. Should he, however, let his legs carry him in abandon farther than whence he could yet return to the mansion on the lava-sea, he might end constrained to stay overnight in these twisted tunnels, and to wait till his strength repaired afore he may see again his tiny hostess – and this thought tore at him also.

A half of him put a foot forward, toward the promising unknown.

The other held fast, though, yet undecided.

[ ] He went on. A chance was better than surrender.
[ ] He turned back. Satori awaited him.
[x] He went on. A chance was better than surrender.
Be a man. With all the strength of a raging fire.
[x] He went on. A chance was better than surrender.

Honestly, I'm torn. I like this Satori for some reason.
I think he does, too.

[x] He went on. A chance was better than surrender.
Satori wouldn't like to know that you gave up because of her. It breaks my heart, but a victorious return is a much better alternative... no matter how long that might be.
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>“I look forward to talking with you again.”
>“Yes,” he told her simply.
>He did not say he was, too.

Satori knows. All that is left unsaid, is clear as day for her. I think they make a good pair, really: the one that says too little and the one that listens too much.
[x] He turned back. Satori awaited him.
[x] He went on. A chance was better than surrender.

Also Tenshi as a mother figure?
Greatest thing ever.
[x] He turned back. Satori awaited him.

Better to live and try again tomorrow than to press too far and die.
[X] He went on. A chance was better than surrender.
Let's go find Tenshi.
[x] He turned back. Satori awaited him.

I want this too much.
[x] He turned back. Satori awaited him.

Garion has to cook, doesn't he? It wouldn't do well to go back on his word.

Also, warm bed (with possible Rin) versus sleeping on rocks is a no brainer. Garion has plenty of time to search and really shouldn't be killing himself rushing it.
[x] He turned back. Satori awaited him.
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Well, it is an /underground/ story and yaf stated it was a Satori-centric story, so I doubt it'll stray TOO far. If I had to guess, I'd say the first choice either leads to a timeskip or a premature ending. Still...

[x] He turned back. Satori awaited him.
Just in case.
[x] He went on. A chance was better than surrender.
[x] He turned back. Satori awaited him.
[x] He went on. A chance was better than surrender.
[x] He turned back. Satori awaited him.
[x] He turned back. Satori awaited him.

Continue Yaf. I really like the style of this story and many more things about it!
Really? No surface? Aawww...
Hi, >>7134 here changing my vote to
[x] He turned back. Satori awaited him.
not that it really matters seeing as how its prolly going to win anyways but I totally forgot that this is an underground story and is going to stay underground.
I wouldn't expect it to totally stay underground, so don't let such half-ass logic change your vote. What being in this board means is that it'll be centered there, not exactly completely restrained here. I doubt YAF'd want you to vote with such stupid logic either, otherwise he'd have written in /th/ where anon has even worse logic.
I'm not basing it solely on that, It's just the one thing that I said 'outloud'. In reality I'm kinda torn between the two options. I've never read a single YAF story, so I dont know if he's a prick and would make 'venture forth' into a bad end. This fear of mine is also enforced by the fact that he got lost once, and he will again.

But I also want to keep venturing forth as, again, Tenshi could be right around the corner. Numerous other reasons too, But I cant exactly think straight as I'm still trying to decide what the right vote is. I'm just going to stick with going back for now though.
I was also saying that about all the folks assuming things about the story and voting for going back under the moronic assumption that they could never leave.
[x] He went on. A chance was better than surrender.
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It's that time again. I hope you guys don't mind when I post in the thread when it isn't an update. Anywhoozle.
Probably not in this case, no.
There's already been one choice for going to the surface—sort of.
Good reasoning. But I'd never start a story in /th/ as it is right now. I'm allergic to retarded write-ins and ridiculous epileptic trees. I also told myself I'd drop the story if those occurred here as well.
>I dont know if he's a prick and would make 'venture forth' into a bad end.
I wouldn't. I don't do bad ends. It's a poor cop-out. I much prefer to have the characters (and you, the readers) face the consequences of the action taken. Unless a really dumb write-in wins – you can expect me to bad end the whole story then. I joke. I'd just pick another option of my liking regardless of the vote.

Also, thanks for your words of encouragement. It's good to see that I'm not the only one enjoying the story.

Maintain order Yaf, this is your story do what you like with it! If that means ignoring retarded write-ins, then so be it!

On another note. I really like the way you describe the whole underground area, it makes me actualy feel like this is underground.
[x]Whip it out
-[x] "Do not worry my dear, I am a gentlemen."

I know, It's the best write in ever.
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You're one of, like, three people here whose non-update posts I enjoy reading. Really enjoy, as in my day feels a bit brighter after seeing one.

but don't make them more often, or you'll ruin it
[x] He went on. A chance was better than surrender.
That was a frighteningly good impersonation of what you'd find in /th/ alot.
[x] He turned back. Satori awaited him.
This story has Tenshi in its title, Tenshi pictures everywhere, and yet, it's a Satori-centered story.

Also, changing my old vote (>>7147) to
[x] He turned back. Satori awaited him.

I don't know if I should earse my old vote. Might be confusing for guys reading stories after they're finished.
only for now. Try thinking more than a /th/ anon.
We're not on /th/ here, we're in /underground/.
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Sorry for no update in the weekend (I did a hueg MiD one though), wanted to get one done, but complications ensued.
I'll make up for that soon, though, so keep your pants on.
Until then, folks. Until then.
>Keep your pants on.
Too late.
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[X] He turned back. Satori awaited him.

And so he reached a conclusion.

A selfless conclusion, too; for though he ached, raring himself to move onward, the charge given by his hostess weighed heavy on his mind; and it urged him—craved, even—to take back his rash step and return.

But he did not. Not yet. He ran with the foolhardy foot an odd dozen a pace, and peered, hopeful, beyond where the snaking hall broke into two. A ring of light from his lamp daubed the basalt-black walls, but hope though he might have, no woman awaited him there – not even a shade – and what answered his faith was a lifeless quiet and that only. Garion rubbed at his eyes then, and looked again, but found they had not deceived him – the corridor was empty and void of women, his and other likewise.

A breath as deep and dark as the caves themselves touched his rigid lips.

Although assumed he had indeed that such would be the outcome, and nerved himself aptly, a sense of wounded longing blazed within him all the same – a keen certainty that should he persist and find different turns, different results would lie in wait there, and a different fate. And yet, he knew that was but regret speaking, and he shook it off with a shrug of his broad shoulders, even as one might shrug off an ungainly piece of robe.

And then, finally, he turned his back at the cold and silent hallways.

The journey back would be a long one, and difficult also; but he had with him the map and guide so considerately written by his hostess, and though he might never admit it, save if asked, he had done everything in his power to remember the trail he had gone until he had found himself here, at this peculiar crossroads.

But that was enough thinking for Garion. He had obligations elsewhere, after all, and it was only meet that he attend to them afore twilight falls and his hostess sleeps famished – even if there was no twilight where she lived.

Still, Garion knew it was time to go; and—map and lamp in hand—he went.


And so it came to pass that he crossed once more—thrice now—the high stone-made bridge; and he strode again through the crimson garden that hedged the enormous mansion, whose front, as before, gaped at him with scores of darkened windows. Garion passed over that hollow gaze, and went direct to the front door that, if one could believe what his kindly hostess had said, had been left unlocked that he may enter whenever he willed.

And so it was.

Garion pulled at the brass door-knob and went into the silenced lobby.

As he closed the door behind him, he calmed inexplicably. A strange feeling it was, and it baffled Garion, though he could ponder its meaning for only a scarce few seconds before a voice greeted him and called his attention.

“Welcome back, Garion.”

Garion righted himself to recognise the greeter.

It was Satori.
She was seated still on the same chair Garion had found her on this morning, and she held the same book in her pale hands, though it was thicker now on the side she had already read.

“... Were you waiting for me?” asked Garion, doubtful of her presence.
She made at him a wicked face. “Do you mean just now?” she returned. “Or do you by chance mean all the time since you went out?”
“Just now,” he said. “Were you waiting?”
“I was, indeed,” she said, brushing her fingers pertly through her hair. “Can't I, Garion? I at least should be allowed to do as I please in my house.”
Garion ignored that. “And since morning?”
“As a matter of fact,” she revealed a shade irritably, “yes, I was. I had very little to do all on my own, Garion; I supposed I may as well bide my time here, waiting for your return... Are you satisfied, perhaps, knowing that? Does it make you all warm and tingly inside? Are you about to break into an unmanly blush? No—” she shook her head, “—don't say anything, please. I already know the answer.” She gave him a little glare. “Are you going to stand there till you put down roots, Garion?” she asked then. “Haven't you got something to do?”
“... Yes,” he said. He bent down to unfasten his heavy boots, but Satori interrupted again.
“I said ‘welcome back,’” she said. “I should think you're worldly enough to know the proper answer.”

He straightened, dismayed, and looked into those intent violet eyes that had made him do so many things already. He was conscious of the words, of course; the expression was custom where had been born, and pointless though it was, it was engraved in him also, and he recalled it at once, though he had not heard nor used it in years.

“Welcome back, Garion,” Satori prompted once more.
“I am back,” he replied. And then he added: “... Satori.”

And that made her smile.

※ ※ ※
> Does it make you all warm and tingly inside?
I liked that cut off point. It was pretty warm and fuzzy.
>that picture
I'm falling in love.
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You broke it again, YAF. Everyone is disappointed.
Sorry. Shit weather. Mild depression. Also took a trip round the boards (don't usually do that) and the attitude and mindsets I witnessed made me almost physically ill. Been doubting rather firmly that I want to stay here any more ever since.
Which attitudes and mindsets, exactly? The only sickening attitude I can think of is rules Anon. And demanding updates Anon.

I wouldn't hold it against you if you left, for what that's worth.
I suggest looking at the boards with maximum tunnel vision, it helps a little.

If you do plan to leave, atleast let us know alright? And don't ever feel rushed with updating, if anon can read quality material like this, anon won't mind at all!

Yeah, /nue/ is quite cursed with that. Right after being ressurected, it was immediately spammed with "sage that shit" or "this board is bad and you shoud feel bad".
The /blue/ commandos are pretty shitty too. Can't take it easy at all.
It's worse when they decide to run after a writefag with pitchforks, torches and stuff.
>Which attitudes and mindsets, exactly?
Exactly the whole Magical Girl Fanfiction = Serious Fucking Business bullshit. God damned ELITE SECRET CLUB wankers leaping out of their panties over an emoticon. Every little(sometimes sarcastic or intentionally ironic) remark being looked at in virgin-ass-tight serious light and treated as absolute expression of fact. Some readers not allowing others to have their own opinion. For the love of eternal Mokou bosoms, we're here to HAVE FUN! Not fight over who's the best Touhou character, whose tits are the biggest, or whether OP is a faggot (he always is). We're here TO ENJOY OURSELVES. I just wish people would realise that already.
And this weather change is killing me, too. I've got a severe case of meteopathy; shit like this kills me psychologically. I'll see about doing something done once it blows over. And I'll drop a word in case I come to the decision that I can't keep this up after all.
I'll stay away from the IRC channel as well, because some people there just can't unwring their diapers for a moment and consider the tiny little possibility that NOT EVERYONE ON THE INTERNET IS OUT TO DESTROY THEIR FEEBLE SELF-ESTEEM.


Also, keep this thread saged, if you'd be so kind. I don't want my problems disrupting the entire bloody board.
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Oh, and if I check back in a few days and this thread is full of inane discussion on whether emoticons and other such moot bull should be allowed or not, I swear to all bullets in hell, I'm trashing this fucking thing and never coming back.

In the meantime, Tenshi.
It's not like this thread is very busy. Except your story and glasnost's occasional rambling about translation, there's nothing else.
But, okay, let's sage it.

I don't see why you're making such a big deal about it. Really the problem here is people like you who leap up in the air every chance there is to be stupid. Shut the fuck up and stop being such a Taisa and there won't be an issue. Or are you too much of a crybaby to handle something you don't like?
Nobody reply to this, please. No good will come of it.

Wow, sanity on the internet. It is a strange thing to see.

Why the hell not? He's obviously just trying to be a dick.


Hey faggot, I notice you're kind of mad?? Don't know what you're problem is but I can tell you're just here to stir up shit. Why don't you go back to sucking cocks or throwing around emoticons everywhere or whatever it is you unsufferable faggots do nowadays?
YAF, I really like you, I think you're writing good stories, but honestly, complaining in your own thread that there are mean and stupid people on the Internet is just plain stupid, even for you.
If you had shitstorms in this story about emoticons or namefag, I could understand it, but this just came out of the blue. Are you looking for an excuse to give up on this story or what?
>this just came out of the blue
>I've got a severe case of meteopathy; shit like this kills me psychologically.

All clouds and no sun makes YAF a dull boy waste his time worrying about other people's mindsets. I know the feeling, so I'm fine waiting for him to reduce his fuck output to below 1 and return to the YAF we all know and tolerate.

You stopped coming to the IRC channel because you got into another argument with Tree? Wow. I don't know who's dumber.
>I'll stay away from the IRC channel as well, because some people there just can't unwring their diapers for a moment and consider the tiny little possibility that NOT EVERYONE ON THE INTERNET IS OUT TO DESTROY THEIR FEEBLE SELF-ESTEEM.

You say this right after ragequitting upon being buttdevastated due to a conversation with Treia.
Buttdevestated would be an understatement from my conversation with him. Excuses were had aplenty, and I think at one point he tried to pass himself off as neurotic.
Throwing around curses doesnt make you cool, mister 'i havent hit puberty yet'

But anyways YAF, If you've got a severe case of meteowhatever (cant spell/to lazy to copypaste), Then why are you on an imageboard of all places? You know how many shitstorms can start on here.

I propose that emoticons should be allowed- nay, encouraged in this one thread on the site. If for no other reason than to piss this whiny attention whore off.

That said

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>stop being such a Taisa
Out of sheer curiosity, could I ask you what your issue with Taisa is, exactly? I don't think this is the first time I've seen you post with a fairly non-subtle implication of disliking him.

3rd time's the charm, HERE is the tripcode.
I don't know what happened with Treia, and I don't FUCKING care.
All I know is that you, YAF, are creating a shitstorm in your own story, and you're losing Anon's trust by doing so.

You had a fight with someone? Good. Go play Doom or Dungeon Keeper, and torture your pet until you feel better. But don't try to change the world, you just can't. Even an admin can't force Anon to act as he wants.
I propose we ignore this thread until YAF update his story.
I was wondering when you were going to throw another bitch fit.
Back to IRC with you, kiddies, you aren't wanted here.
I agree. See you guys later.
>Back to IRC with you, kiddies, you aren't wanted here.
Oh shit son, you sure told them! The Cabal™ will be reeling from this fantabulous witticism for days!
We are wounded.

Terribly, terribly wounded.

In fact, during the next clandestine secret gathering we hold, I will put forth the admittedly-outrageous idea of putting on hold the discussions on penii and how best to ruin stories, and instead focus on how to respond to this devastating slight we have been dealt.
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>YAF drama bullshit the 245th
Don't let the door hit you on your way out.
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>putting on hold the discussions on penii

This is an outrage!
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Penii shall never be removed from discussion.
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Bump limit. Sweet. I see your flood of posts and raise you a Satori.
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If all this stupid shit stops me from getting my Satori fix I swear to god I'll find every single one of you and put my testicles on all of your foreheads.
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731? This is why I don't number my pictures, it'd get depressing fast.

This. YAF, if you let trolls drive you off this site, your loyal readers will never forgive you! Yes we do exist, I know I'm not alone.

Fight the good fight! There aren't many intelligent stories left on this site that update with any solid regularity. Who would be left to stand against these fucking assholes that lynch new visitors and who generally find it impossible to take it easy?

You've chummed the water, and these fuckers came out of the woodwork. Don't let them win.
>Who would be left to stand against these fucking assholes that lynch new visitors
>implying YAF is not at the head of lynch squads
>implying this was a plan by YAF

So many things wrong with your post.
You've...noticed the contempt he speaks of /th/ with, right?
Why exactly do you think he hates it so much?
Oh for the love of fuck. This had to be the last story I especially looked forward to reading. GREAT GOING ANYONE AND EVERYONE.

Thank you!

Next up, his /shrine/ story!
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Your good-natured hatred is refreshing. It's almost like you don't hate him at all, but that couldn't be true.
>triple greentext

Nothing wrong with it eh?

Anyways YAF, I personally couldn't care for you more as a person, and I couldn't give a rats ass if you just murdered your brother for a penny. I like your stories, and if you leave I will be saddened.

However do mind you brought this shitstorm upon yourself for using an imageboard as a blog.
Meh. I've been here since the beginning and it's sad to see yet another story ruined by a bunch of faggots who don't even read anything here.
YAF was a bitch, that's for sure, but I actually liked his stories -the ones that lasted more than a thread, that is- I don't think he should care about what a bunch of whiny teenagers say about him, but if he's that frustrated then he probably does. Nothing I can do short of putting a gun through in his head though.
Wait, holy shit. Are you saying you take all this Cabal super secret rulers of THP stuff seriously?

Maybe you're just making a sarcastic statement but it's about two levels of sarcasm too far for me to translate it over the internet. So I feel like I should let you know that's more or less a running gag about a group of people that sit around all day shooting the shit and linking Touhou images at one another.
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Aw, you bunch of rogues, you know I'll feel awful if all you say things like that, right? Appealing to my sense of guilt? Not fair, folks, not fair at all.

And >>7301, pray tell, what the fuck conversation are you talking about? And what ragequit, >>7300? I stopped going to IRC altogether due to a software failure. I'm back on Rizon now, but I just don't feel like dropping by #THP. Quit tossing dirt at my upstanding reputa—er... Actually, forget it. Just don't lie about it, all right? Lying's bad for you. Well, not really, but it's bad for me. So there.
I miss you already. Thank you
To be fair, you did pop in for a handful of seconds in the middle of your period of absence, only to tell people not to listen to anything Treia says, before vanishing again.
To be fair Treia is a goddamn Tree.
Can't trust trees.
Can you guys post some chatlogs if you're going to argue about irc drama? I feel like I'm missing out.
I'm going to say this as bluntly as possible, in the hopes that perhaps multiple people will hear it.

TOUHOU STORY IMAGEBOARDS ARE FOR TOUHOU STORIES AND IMAGES. I don't get why everyone keeps flipping out and getting upset over what-the-fuck-ever it is people are getting upset over. It somebody disses somebody else on a chat, why freaking care? It's just some random prick in the wastes of the internet. We come here to read rediculous stories about fake people we like, and some people around here find something to get upset over. I personally find nothing wrong with YAF for the sole reason of HE WRITES A STORY, unlike a fuckton of people that try to start problems, so he actually at least vaugely sees the purpose of this website. I don't give half a shit about this "drama", and neither should any of you.

YAF, get back to work nigger. We love your writing.
>unlike a fuckton of people that try to start problems
>implying YAF doesn't try to start problems

Nobody said that didn't include him. My point is, does it matter? At least he contributes something.
Do not respond to >greentext posts.
So, what, you're saying writefags are entitled to being dicks and dumbasses just because they write?

I'm saying there shouldn't be anything other than writing around here. Whatever happens in IRC or /blue/ or whatever else should stay there. This is a story board. For stories. Just write and vote please. I haven't seen him make a nuisance of himself on any story threads, so I don't have a problem with him. If I just missed him doing so, then yeah, he did something bad. That doesn't mean this story should get ruined because of outside faggotry.
>I haven't seen him make a nuisance of himself on any story threads, so I don't have a problem with him.
>I haven't read a lot of story threads.
>I'm saying there shouldn't be anything other than writing around here.

I agree with that. In a story thread, you should have only updates, votes and maybe speculations or discussions.
> So, what, you're saying writefags are entitled to being dicks and dumbasses just because they write?

Pretty much, at least in their thread.
Noted. I'll make sure to be the douchebaggiest douche that ever douchebagged from now on.
Mission Accomplished
Ironic that YAF was seemingly ousted by the same method that was used to oust Ranmillia.
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Good lord, you're daft. Also, I fucked your touhoe.

Oh wait, what's this? A picture of Tenshi? GASP! I wonder what this means!
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Does it mean Tenshi is awesome? I think it does.
Be a gentleman and finish what you started.

And, I'm not a writer myself, I don't know what motivates you to write. But I know if I'd get to write, I'll write for myself, for my own amusement.

Fuck the haters.

And damn, I had this bookmarked since a few weeks ago, and just now read it all in one sitting. Wonderful.
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