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Where Tenshi may at last be put into prose
and where comes to completion the journey of “Garion.”

※ ※ ※

NOW A TIME CAME when even his feet gave under him of the day’s wear.

The young, stern-faced man halted and heaving fell beside a stout dripstone spike bulging from the rugged stone of the cave-floor. The caves had those in many: even as mushrooms sprout after rain, these also grew in each such place where water seeped from atop through the porous rock. ‘Twas the only sound in these dark passages; the water came down in drips from the jet-black ceilings and almost sonorously crashed on the cold stone floors. And it came to pass just so, that one such drip had made its life-goal to reach where none had reached before: down the young traveller’s collar.

The man jolted whence he was sitting and let loose a startled oath. The untoward word carried away unto the dark in long rumbling echoes. Then again he drew a deep breath and once more settled down for one more minute of rest.

The man was tall and bluff, but youthful; he was clad in a heavy rough-spun cloak buckled at the front with a chipped steel-cast crest. The sandy-gold locks of his hair glowed in the light of a rickety wick lantern he carried hooked to his belt. There a fat pack of gear and supplies was strapped to his broad back and a severe look stalked in his haunted, steel-grey eyes. The pack was laden with cloths, with ropes and clamps and hooks. The eyes were fixed on the darkness afore.

Then the young man pulled out of his pocket a torn-edged piece of rumpled parchment. The parchment was criss-crossed with many words and overlapping lines: winding and snaking about one another even as these stone passages. The man traced of these one more, then he pocketed his note, or map, and stood. The flame in his lantern guttered shortly at this present movement.

Then the wanderer squared his shoulders, dusted his clothes and started back toward whence he had come.

※ ※ ※
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※ ※ ※

When at last loomed before him the familiar-now host of soaring stone-columns, he quickened his pace.

Thence presently he made his way cross through this great subterranean hurst and erelong set foot on the edge of the cavern, where suspended at a maddening height ran an ancient stonework bridge; and where down in the abyss rolled and flared a great volcanic lake. Wide spaces spread on either bank of the bridge: darksome airs flushed by the orange radiance of the molten rock flowing below. Across now the tiring man would go: to arrive on the other end, on the tiny islet on the ghastly sea, where, squat and dark-windowed, a great mansion weathered on the hot underground winds. Surely this must be where his destination lay: in this faraway house stowed away so deep beneath the earth? Here, yes here indeed was where our traveller was bound; for this was the Palace of the Earth Spirits, where since times before times resided his host in this strange subterrestrial realm so alien to the human eye.

At once now he was across; through the warped metalwork wicket he slipped and stole into the blood-red garden which hedged the like-red walls of the vast mansion. A few but steps and he was at the porch; up the steps he hopped, and right entered: through the tall ornate front-door where there was no peep-hole nor door-knocker. The door then shut behind him and the howling wind ceased.

There in the soft-carpeted lobby came he finally to a sighing stop. A low reading table was tucked away at one corner of this room, and one chair; and in the chair seated was a tiny person cradling in her dainty hands a crimson-eyed orb. A host of like-coloured cords ran from the orb and vanished inside the gaps of the person’s clothes.

The person herself, seeing our traveller arrive, rose to her feet and approached. She had pale hair and even paler skin; but so little and so beautiful was her face and her deep violet eyes that the white complexion did not one repulse; nay, it served but to emphasise her charm. And so great a charm it was and so rare that one’s own heart might stop dead with a single look.

“Stop that, won’t you please?” she said in a long-suffering voice. “Welcome back, Garion.”
The blond man’s name was not “Garion,” but this was how she knew him and he knew it also.
“Satori,” he answered with a nod. “I am back.”
“That you are.” She gave him a loving smile. “Come along. Give me these. I have a bath ready for you.”

Then she took his pack and cloak and led him by the hand through the dimmed halls of the quiet mansion.

“Were you waiting?” asked the staggering Garion, of habit more than of any other thing.
The small hostess sighed. “You’ll always ask that now, won’t you? Only a bit, Garion. I went about other things after you’d gone out. I tidied in my room, for one. And I put back the books you’d left lying around. After that I cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom; then I swept the porch and the foyer. And then, after I’d finally run out of things to clean, I sat down and did a little reading while waiting—yes, waiting—for you to come back. Are you happy now? Am I excused for not devoting my whole waking day to you? Or would you rather I waited all day then leapt in your arms and wagged my tail the instance you came through the door? Well, would you?”

The young man did not reply.

Glanced he on down instead: where her tiny hand was pulling boldly at the cold his.

Almost it seemed to him she held his hand always in the house now. This began even as all had between them: through a clash of wills, where unwitting he made some minor offence for which the small hostess offered oversized vengeance; but what once had been but her way of plucking on his tautest nerves soon became an affectionate almost tradition. And the nerves loosened with it.

They arrived at the sumptuous bath-room, and the blond man bathed.

Once he had been done and dried and brushed his tangling hair, he invited the waiting hostess to come with him to work on their meal for tonight. Along the way to the kitchen, where they would side-to-side work on the many foods stockpiled in larder, they came upon another strange inhabitant of the house: one such curious creature as esteemed herself a pet of the mansion’s master, and whose red-trussed head was crowned with a two of all-hearing, all-heeding ears of a cat.

“Good day to little brother,” she said with a dip of her rich body and a tap of her bootied feet.
The hem of her dark-green dress danced with her.
“And to little sister also,” politely replied Garion.
“Are you leaving, Orin?” asked the small hostess.
“Ah yes,” said the cat-eared she, “indeed; Orin shall be leaving now: to duties, as Master Satori doubtless knows. So busy, yes, so busy and so hard is the life of Orin! Alas, she happens also to enjoy her work, so she has no grounds to complain. And so little brother and Master Satori will yet again be but two today—though by their own time the night is likely falling before long. When they cannot see the Sun, their days become strange. Anyway, Orin is best to set on the way. Good day once more to little brother,” she said to Garion. “And good cheer. Although Master Satori will likely see to that herself.”
“Orin,” Satori hissed.
“Orin jests. Anyway, they fare well now. And Orin goes to her own task.”

And then she bowed and was gone.

Satori murmured a few some words best left untold; then she and Garion continued on to the well-fit kitchen.

After they had cooked their meal they ate.

And after they had eaten they cleaned; and then they adjourned in silence to Satori’s satin-draped bed-chamber, where, till late, late night they would talk, and they would read and bide a peaceful time in one another’s warm company. And when the next morn came, they would part with a heartfelt good-bye until they met once again in the evening for more eat and more talk and warmth.

This was such a story.

As stories all, however, this one also must end: these halcyon days would erelong be times past, and the dark suspicions clouding like a storm at the edges of the young man’s mind would at last be given life. But before, he spent these last days with the queer folk of the underground mansion: with Satori, the lovely small hostess, and with Koishi, her blithesome little sister; and with Rin, the meddlesome pet-girl, and Utsuho, the raven-haired menace whose awesome wings strength filled one’s heart with fear.

But with two he spent the few most memorable of those moments.

( ) Satori
( ) Koishi
( ) Rin
( ) Utsuho
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Aww, is it ending already?
(x) Satori
(x) Koishi
(x) Rin
(x) Utsuho
(x) Satori
(x) Koishi

Doubt it. However, I think Garion will soon leave the Underground.
(x) Satori
(x) Utsuho
(x) Satori
(x) Utsuho
I approve of this selection.
Why did you create a new thread? The previous one has not reached autosage yet. There was no need for a this one.
(x) Satori
(x) Satori

I have a onetrack mind
File 133510743216.gif - (453.64KB, 250x188, 1333510299317.gif) [iqdb]
Just look below, god damn.
(x) Mononobe no Futo
(x) Koishi
(x) Tenshi
(x) Tenshi

I, too, have a one track mind.
(x) Satori
(x) Utsuho

Need moar Unyu time.
(x) Satori
(x) Koishi
(x) Satori
(x) Utsuho
That’s one for Satori and one for Koishi...
... and two more for Satori. Gotcha.
File 13351367738.jpg - (393.36KB, 930x930, 1239356680044.jpg) [iqdb]
(x) Satori
(x) Koishi
Have not seen enough Utsuho. The other one's nice too.
(X) Satori
(X) Rin
File 133517711429.jpg - (604.04KB, 850x1360, sample_4d80d6f9ee0f291231525452cb0062de.jpg) [iqdb]
Rin has been surprisingly unpopular throughout this story.
(x) Satori
(x) Koishi

It's how it is Orin: you can't be popular all the time.
File 133521085133.png - (767.83KB, 659x874, future update spoiler.png) [iqdb]
May be the way Uncle Y writes her, yes. Indeed, may be. Uncle Y may never know.
Or it might be just the amount of screentime... Storytime... Wordtime? Cat-time, I’m sure.
(x) Satori
(x) Utsuho
The story feels like it's about Satori right now.
I do feel like a romance would be good for them, and nice to read, but I trust you yaff to write something awesome.
>The story feels like it's about Satori right now.
Holy shit, REALLY? What tipped you off?
Watch out Moriarty! We have a Sherlock over here!
File 13352749227.jpg - (309.43KB, 850x1395, 066ab396a29128eb7a5ec8800bdc5403.jpg) [iqdb]
The pictures. Must have been the pictures. Hell, they almost had me fooled and I’m writing this story!

Oh yes. On another note, I’m in the dead of a hard week. The next might prove the same, too. What I’m saying is I’ve no idea whether I’ll be able to update, and if yes, if consistently. So don’t hold your breath. You might suffocate. And then who’ll be there to give me backrubs and whisper in my ear that I’m the best thing since sliced bread enjoy the story with me? Yep, that’s what I thought, too.

Uncle Yian
bluh bluh exams, bluh bluh whine FLAGS, bluh bluh STEALTH UPDATE
File 133566036069.jpg - (435.45KB, 495x700, 11454933.jpg) [iqdb]
(X) Satori

The first absolutely was the hostess.

It may indeed have come now that anyway she would hold of those moments bulk; for as short as their shared days were, most spent they of them in the confines of her bed-chamber, engaged in reading and in conversation both. This was by means none a special thing: ere too long they had settled into the routine and no more thought aught of their evening-ly come-togethers in the homelike room; but even as their times together were many, so the chances of some signal occurrence coming to pass by nature were numerous also. This was not to say our boy waited these. They were no more than flavour in his days: fraught with the sight of black rock and the cold of the caves. Satori’s retreat was unlike these dark hollows; it was warm and cushioned with satin-cased pillows and throws, and carried a smell of faded cloth that made one be at ease. It was a place to come from the dank chill of the caves. A home under earth. A place to return.

The room was one, truly; but Satori also was warm and soft, and her touch was loving. She gave him a bed, and let him bathe and eat, and talked with him always in the nights to take his mind off the search. She was good flavour, indeed, one that stayed him athwart of falling into madness in this darksome realm—but only that, and only so much. The other things were of little moment. The plans he yet held for her in his heart were not bound with the warmth of her hands, her peach-blow-blue eyes or the scent of her hair.

They were plans of such import as surpassed these Garion-thought mundane distractions.

But all in good time. Now he bode his days still.

Of those days one, their nightly routine was playing out: reading in tacit silence; but soon then the small hostess set down her book and called the gruff Garion’s eyes from his own.

Then the boy lurched behind the fat leather-bound tome: one he had engaged in some evenings prior and followed even till now. The tome was aged; it treated of Old Hell afore its stripping of function and such ancient times as when mythical judges gathered within its great hollowed-stone court-rooms and weighed the souls of the dead to pronounce their last fate. The tale was dry and surcharged with terms and names as which held no meaning for the blond man; nonetheless he read it, infinitely engrossed. Whether it was the honest truth, or a great fantasy or fiction, he could not say.

Chafing slightly at his interrupted reading, he anyway heeded his small hostess and lowered his book also.

“What is it?” he demanded, as one stirring at white dawn, quiet and coarse-voiced. “Wish you to know something?”
The small hostess summoned up that half-honest smile of which she was so fond.
“You’re the most absorbed thing when you read, Garion.”
“Concentration.” He shrugged. “Is there an issue?”
“Other than my ruining my throat trying to get your attention, perhaps not.”
“Were you?” he asked. He meant her alleged calling.
“Oh yes,” said Satori and ran a smoothing hand over her pale hair; “for some time now.”
“This is strange. How many times did you call?”
“Out loud?” she wished to be sure.
“Oh, not many. Once, is about how.”
The young man’s eyes narrowed.
“I kept calling your name in my mind, though,” Satori smiled wider and said.
“You mock me,” accused Garion.
“Yes. I do that. Or have you noticed?”
“Yes, yes—” she flicked her small hand in boredom, “—I know. As a matter of fact, you needn’t say. You don’t take kindly to being mocked. Why, you shouldn’t give me openings to, if it’s so awful. I’m kidding, Garion. You shouldn’t frown like that. You don’t flatter yourself with it. You look better when you smile. Although I haven’t seen that in a while, I don’t think. Anyway this is a burdensome topic. Why don’t we touch on something else: more recent, maybe? Where have you been today?”

The blond man marked the page in his tome then balanced it precariously on the arm-rest of his soft-upholstered lounge-chair.

The fickle small hostess looked on how he wrenched in the chair to face her. The ends of her near-colourless lips were turned up, and there was that too-familiar glint in her beloved eyes. The glint was one of ennui—but anticipation also. The book had bored her; now it was on Garion’s strong shoulders to entertain her whim. At times he wondered, yes he wondered: how-ever had her time been filled afore she had met him? But now it was he who filled her evenings. And he filled them with talk and story.

“I had thought today,” he began a musing tone of voice, “indeed, I had thought: to discover what lay wester-flankly of the main-way. Already I had gone from there to east, but the corridors there lead nowhere and wind around.” The main-way was the name he had given to the straightest path from the gate-way of the Underworld to Satori’s house. “And I chose so,” he continued, “to take the first branch to west and see where it should take me. Where that was was nowhere also—at first. A few open chambers and no note-worthy place; but then the tunnels opened and I realised presently I had come upon the underground city of which I had been told by your sister and your pet.”
“Ah yes?” Satori watched him with soft-eyed endearment. “And how did you find it?”
“Colourful,” said Garion. “Loud. Queer folk.” Then he added: “Alien.”
“That about describes it. I haven’t been there latterly. Has it changed any?”
“A somewhat slack-run eastern-fashioned village with houses falling apart from drunken remissness. That’s how I seem to remember it.”
“Then it has changed,” the blond man concluded. “There are many houses now, many-decked and well-maintained. The streets are paved and there are causeways over underground streams flowing through the midst of the city. The lanterns light these and the streets, but they give no smoke. There is music always pouring from one house or another and there are open-fronted terraces in each house. The dwellers eat and drink on those terraces and passers-by join them oft-times—even uncalled.”
“Also there are shops,” Garion went on to mark; “I had in fact thought to stop at one and see whether perhaps I might buy something for...”
“Yes. But I did not wish to reveal myself to any one might-be-telltale. The one they hail Yuugi had said there was rumour making rounds of me and you; I did not wish to reinforce any of it.”
“Ah.” The small hostess released a mournful sigh. “Well, it’s the thought that counts, I guess. You’ve yet to show me that dish you told me about the other day anyway. You can always make that by way of apology.”
“Yes,” said Garion. “At any rate I stalked the streets for some time afore at last I came by the other end where I made my stop. There were more tunnels beyond, but I had gone far already. Thence I began on my way back home.”

Home. The word came out of him unknowing.

Satori did not notice, or did not say. She thought on his brief account and at length posed another question.

“You’re still working on that map, aren’t you?” she asked.
“Oh yes.” The blond man switched on his seat. “I have not as of yet copied my today’s notes onto the main draft, but I work on it still. I tired too much today; I dread to work on it when my hands shake. It is a precise and delicate thing. This is why I keep the main draft in the library and carry on me only minor part-drafts and notes. These I then copy whenever I am at ability to do so.”
“You’re very enthusiastic about this, aren’t you?” she said with a keen little face.
Garion blinked, abashed with himself.
“It is a good task,” he argued. “It is well to map places of yet unmapped. It leaves behind something of one’s life-work. A mark on the world.”
“So that’s what you want to do – leave a mark on the world?”
“... Not so,” the blond man claimed stiffly. “That is not for me to presume. I do it merely for...”
“Amusement? Satisfaction?”
“... It might be well either or both,” he surrendered. “It is of no matter anyway. It is not my goal to make or change the world. Of goals I have but one, and always did.”

At once Satori’s lips took on a sour curvature.

She is everything to me,” said our boy with steel in his voice. “And no task shall ever surpass her.”

“... All right.” The small hostess grunted. “That’s enough. You’ve brought it up for the hundredth time now. You’re very possibly the most tenacious man in the world, did you know that, Garion? Gods, don’t I sicken of hearing of her on every deuced occasion.”
“You took interest in her at first,” he remarked.
“At first, Garion. I hadn’t realised yet then how bent you were on her and her alone. You’re worse than tenacious. You’re dogged.”
“... Mayhap.”
“Oh, believe me, you are. And believe me, that’ll have you very disappointed in the end. You ought to focus on the present more: on things that aren’t in some dark long-gone past. That are before you right now. That are moderately displeased with you at the moment.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean, Garion. Quit playing a fool.”
The young man studied her expression for a few moments.
Then he made his best guess:
“You wish me to hold your hand?”
Satori startled.
“What? No!” she choked out. “Gods, no! That’s not what I was...! Are you making fun of me, Garion? It isn’t funny, did you know? I don’t appreciate it. And no. We’ve held hands enough today. I’ve had more than enough, in case you were curious. So no. Was that honestly your best guess?” she wanted to know. “Am I really so simple in your eyes?”
“I did try,” he assured.
Her face became wry. “You’re not the most convincing, did you know that? Oh, fine then! Never mind. We’ll expand on that sometime else, I suppose. You aren’t in the best mind-set for these sorts of discussions today, and frankly, neither am I. As a matter of fact, I could as well do without it for a while. I’m the happiest to just have you here with me. You needn’t go out of your way to fix it at all costs.”
“As you wish.”
“That is—” she smirked, “—unless you were completely set on those hands?”
“... No.”
“Oh, well; I didn’t think you were anyway.”

And that ended that.

“So,” the small hostess proposed in its stead, “why don’t you show me those notes? I’ve never made too much study of maps; they were never a lot of use to me; but if it’s of my backyard, maybe I should at least give it a glance. Won’t you please let me? Come, bring your chair over here. I’ll make some space and you’ll show me what you’ve got today—just watch out for the tea-urn. It’s one kitchen-thing I can use to some effect; I should be very sad to see it gone. Will you? Thank you. Come now, don’t be shy. Closer. Yes. And the notes? Great. What’s this line? And, my word, why are there so many? Am I living in the heart of some gods-forsaken labyrinth? Oh, this is going to take a while before I can grasp all this. Could you maybe lean closer? I can scarcely make out where you’re pointing. Yes, like that. Anyway, as I was saying, that line...”

Wasn't it gonna be a memorable moment? That seemed rather mundane to me.
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As so, the night wore on.

At last belayed was their poring over these ink-splotched notes; when the small hostess let fly from her wary lips a broad, trailing yawn.

“Oh dear,” then she murmured. A wealth of tears welled at the corners of her eyes. She rubbed at them till dry. “Aren’t we running a touch late tonight?” she next made the question. “I’ve not noticed, but we’ve been at this now for a while, haven’t we?”
“We may finish, if you will,” said Garion.
“Why, what do you know, that sounds sensible.” She took her head from his shoulder. “This has been fun, though. I never have thought cartography was such a punctilious art. It’s always seemed to me you only ranged around and drew the roads as you went.”
“Hardly,” Garion disagreed. “A lax approach as such would fast lead to inaccuracies; the paths would cease to join at proper points, and landmasses would move from their real places. A slap-dash map as that would be a danger more than aid.”
“So you’ve said, yes. And yes, you’re likely right on that point. Ah, hold on. I have to do this.” Satori stuck out her breast and arched her creaking back. “Oh, I’m so stale. We must have been hours! I wonder if we’ve overdone it. Aren’t you a little tired, too?”
“I am.”
“Imagine that. Well, it’s been good, but suppose we’ll go with this on some other time. Could you let me pass? I’ve got to move my legs; I think they’ve gone dead.”

She stood and squeezed past Garion’s chair.

A half-drowsing bemusement, the blond man looked on how she stamped her slippered feet to make her blood anew flowing. The bottom-edge of her plain skirt leapt up and down and again up, and showed this length and that of porcelain-like naked leg. They weren’t bad legs, but cold, he mused. He minded not the fact that he knew. The stamping would do naught to warm them anyway, he did not think. An afterthought, he touched his coarse hands to his cheeks. The one which she had held was mild; the other: harshly cool. They were leastwise with this in common in that respect. They had both like shortcomings—only in different places. This was perhaps natural that they’d grown akin. Then again, perhaps they had not grown at all.

The small hostess walked on swaying feet and collapsed with carelessness on her wide canopied bed. The one of her legs went up, bent at the knee; the other: askew. Garion turned away from the business of her lower dress.

“Garion?” he heard her nigh-whisper.
“What is it?”
“Say... Why don’t you sleep here?”
Again he looked her direction, but she had her eyes elsewhere.
“Why?” he asked.
“You’re here most of the time, aren’t you?” she observed. “As a matter of fact, you only go to your room to sleep. Otherwise, you’re either here or in the kitchen or the library. Or outside. You’d spare yourself a good deal of walking if you slept here. Your room’s in the far end of the house.”
“Why should I not simply move to an adjacent room?” he inquired in a level tone.
The proposition, reasons unknown, had not sent him into instant outrage.
Satori turned about on the beddings.
“I’ve thought of that,” she admitted; “but those rooms aren’t exactly... habitable. When I took charge of this place, there was only me and my sister, and those that had lived here previously had been all gone. I didn’t consider necessary to keep all the masters’ rooms in order. This and one another were enough for the two of us. I did keep the guest rooms more or less seemly, but that was out of principle—or something like—more than anything else. I’m not even sure whether I have the keys to those other bedrooms in this wing.”
“Sloppy,” Garion marked.
“My ear. I didn’t need them one way or the other.”
“Oh, never mind. Anyway you’d be good to sleep here. You’d be closer to the kitchen and the library... and the front door. And you wouldn’t have to walk so far after we’ve tired ourselves out each night—nor would you have to run there each time you want something from your things. You leave them here afterwards, too. What I’m saying is, it’d be all-around easier.”
“We have slept together before,” said the blond man. “You know what I think of it.”
“Yes. We have. That’s why I’m even putting it forward right now. You needn’t worry, Garion; the bed is big, I’m small. I’ll lie on one end and you on the other, and you’ll never feel me kicking—if I ever do.”
“There is space for another bed. Why do we not haul one from another room?”
“Are you in strength tonight to do so?”
“Then that rules it out, doesn’t it?”
“We might wait until morrow...”
“I don’t want to wait until tomorrow, Garion,” Satori snapped. “I want it tonight.
“You want what?” the blond man asked. “To sleep with me?”

Satori fell quiet.

“And what if I do?” she mumbled at length.
“Then I shall deny,” said Garion.
“And if I order you?”
“Then I shall deny.”
“And if I ask you very nicely?”
“... Then I shall deny.”
“You know something, Garion?” she said, her voice flowing testy. “You never took your eyes from my legs all this time.”
“You’ll find that woman of yours someday, someway,” she told him; “and when you do, what will she think if I say to her you’ve been ogling my legs in her absence? What’s more, I’ll tell her we’ve held hands and that we’ve slept together anyway. And that we’ve kissed—because we have, once. What’ll she think then? You’ll burn of shame, won’t you?”

This was, by nature, nonsense. The threat was void. She knew it already also.

All the same our boy released a laden breath; he climbed to his feet and once more asked:

“You wish me to sleep with you?”
“No,” said Satori. “Gods, no. I’m only saying it’d be easier for you and me if you slept here and not on the other end of the house. Weren’t you listening at all?”
“... Very well,” gave up the boy. “I shall in that case collect my stuff and thence return.”
“Mm,” Satori murmured.

He turned and left the room; but afore he did he saw the small hostess squirm and bury her face in her hands.

She was even so when he came back, all his baggage and gear slung across his back.

The boy set it all in one free corner of the chamber.

“Satori,” he said and approached the wisp of a person who lay on the bed.
She stirred.
“Yes.” She was muttering. “Yes, Garion. I’ve passed out for a second.” She rose to a sit. “I have to change. I’ll sweat if I sleep in these clothes. You’ve already changed, though.” She gave him a deflated look. “You’re so smart sometimes you offend me.”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing, Garion. Anyway, I’ll change now, so—”
“I shall leave.”
“Stay,” she told him. “You don’t have to leave. Turn around and don’t look. I’ll be done in a wink.”

Then she began to peel off her faded-blue smock and Garion turned away.

After measured few instances he dared a look over his shoulder. She had her back turned on him. The back was bare and impossibly white. He stared. This had eluded him the last he undressed her, the night of the festival. There had been no light to see in their board. But here every detail was clear: even the dark birth-mark under one snow-white shoulder-blade: so human a mark that briefly his senses reeled. The rest of her form however was ever as ominous: the cords of her crimson orb ran and ran: around her frame as though a protective shield or pale or fence: threatening, threatening. She uncased her skirt. The cloth tangled with the blood-red veins. She took it; swung it over the back-rest of a nearby chair. Then she slipped her small fingers under the bands of her unmentionables.

Again Garion looked away. He killed the thought.

When the rustling of cloth ceased, and when the bed whined from the springs, he knew she was done. He turned.

The small hostess sat cross-legged on the silken beddings; she wore now the flimsy pink night-dress Garion had seen her wear once or twice or thrice before. She was brushing her short hair with a small jewelled comb. She did not say anything of his turning before called; she smiled at him in that warm way she had.

“I do this before bed,” she explained. “It helps me relax. It doesn’t do much, of course; it’ll all be tangled in the morning, but it feels good. And, like I said, it lets me unwind. You don’t want to try?”
“I didn’t think so.” She put the comb away on the night-stand. “Could you put the lights off? Thank you.”

The boy did. When he returned, Satori had lain, dug herself in the eiderdown. But even in the soft dark which had taken the bed-chamber he could see her beloved eyes watching.

“You’ll be angry if I joke and tell you to come hither, won’t you?” he heard her ask in a half-voice.
“I will.”
“Then I’ll spare you the nerve and won’t.”
“You are kind,” he said drily.

He crossed to the other side of the large bed and lay down also.

The springs once again complained under the down-coming weight. The sheets and covers were warm; but once more, everything was in this room. The blond man inched under the eiderdown and laid his head on the smooth pillows. He gave a sigh: an inadvertent one. Indeed, he tired greatly from the day. When with last effort he wrenched open his ever-serious eyes he saw Satori’s had never left him; little more than an arm’s-reach away they watched him in quiet mystery.

“What is it?” he made himself to ask.
“Nothing.” The answer was soft. “It’s only that I’ve just now realised how long it has been since I have slept with someone like so. I haven’t seen Orin sneaking in my bed since you came down here, and Okuu has been busy with heavens know what. And Koishi... I haven’t slept with her in so long. We would often sleep together in the past, hugged to each other—sometimes so tightly I thought I’d suffocate. She was cold, she was telling me: had to keep me close because I wasn’t big enough to warm her all.”
“You are sisters,” said Garion.
“Yes. Although I forget that every so often. She’s been home so rarely ever since... Ah, well, but this probably doesn’t matter to you a lot.”
“Perhaps not.”
“Only I’m just now remembering it all because—well, because you are here. I might have to take back what I said that other day: when I gave you that ugly gash on your forehead. I might just be lonely, did you know that? I just never realised. Or maybe I didn’t want to realise. It’s not a flattering thought... Garion?”
“... Mm?”
“Are you asleep?”
“Sorry. I’ll be quiet now. I was feeling nostalgic, is all. Good night.”
“Good night, Satori.”
“Yes. Good night, Garion. Sleep well.”

And that he promptly did.

What she said next, he never did hear.

※ ※ ※
And that was not so mundane.
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Managed to work those legs in there, huh? Good for you.
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Il y a un problème?
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Soit sympa mon p'tit pote, et t'essaye pas au français. Au mieux, t'auras l'air d'un pur clampin, et au pire t'auras l'air d'un niais ayant l'air de trop s'astiquer la couenne au coin d'un feu tout en s'arsouillant à la vodka d'importation.
Et ça mon p'tit scarabée, c'est pas positif pour ton image de marque.
That wasn't supposed to bump the thread. Look like I goofed again.
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A co jeśli powiem: idź sobie do diabła i zajmij siedzenie i patrz, bo ja jestem wolnym ptaszkiem który nie potrzebuje twojej pachnącej opinii, i zrobi co chce tak czy siak? Ah? Kolec ci w zad, panie. Zrobię co mi się rzewnie podoba. A ty nic nie zrobisz.

Nie ma aktualizacji dla ciebie. Boli?
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Ní bheidh mé brónach mura bhfuil tú suas chun dáta.
Feicfidh tú a bheith ar an deireadh amháin i ifreann ar aon nós.
A ligean ar a fheiceáil cé chomh fada is is féidir leat go deireanach i ifreann, gcáithnínísneachta.
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Předpokládám, že dlouho. Moje vejce jsou vyrobeny z oceli. Chcete pokračovat?
From Symposium in regards to Koishi:
>Since she cannot read minds, she no longer has anything that would make others hate her, but since her own mind is blank, she is also unable to be liked by anyone. Her presence cannot be felt except by coming into one's field of vision. Even if one is apt to have her projected from one's eyes, it would still feel as if she did not exist(*1). When she disappears from one's field of vision, one immediately forgets her.
From the horse's mouth, so to speak. To late to retcon I suppose? Also,
them day walkers.
>What if I say you go to hell and take a seat and watch, because I am a free bird who does not need your fragrant reviews, and do what he wants anyway? Ah? Spike you in the rump, sir. I'll do what I like bitterly. And you do nothing.

There is no update for you. It hurts?
I laughed.
Even in his native language, purple. Some things don't change.
>Spike you in the rump
Is this an actual saying? I'm gonna start saying it.
Also from Symposium:
>If you get to know her older sister Satori's existence, you will also gradually get to know that Koishi's exists as well.
Funny thing, that. The Polish I used there is actually quite plain and rather informal (if not rustic in one point). But I guess Google Translate read my spirit.
Not really. The usual combo you’d see would be “cock/stick you in the rump.” The exact wording may also vary depending on the degree, but then also the “stick/rump” combo is significantly more old-fashioned than “cock(or even dick)/ass.” Personally I prefer that second one. “Cock” in general is a very versatile word in Polish. You can use it quite anywhere: as an intensive (“It’s cocking cold!”), ambiguous adjective (“It’s cold like a cock!”/“It’s hot like a cock!”/“It’s windy as a cock!”/“That shit’s expensive as a cock!”), or even negative quality (“Na, man, video games are cocky.”/“I’ve got a splitting headache, man. I feel cocky.”).

I could talk for hours about “cock.” It’s really amazing where it can fit.
So that's why you like talking about dicks so much.
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※ ※ ※

And morning came, however it was in this Sun-less country.

And roused our Garion from his shatterproof sleep: eyes heavy, beset by orange light. A moment passed and the sting subsided; then fully looked he on to this new day... and faltered even as soon. There before, yes right before his very eyes, was the lovely form of Satori: nerveless, even thrilling was her graceful face as she did stroke the blond man’s cheek with one hand, the other who-knows-where. She did not sleep no more, nay; fully waking was she, amusement drawing her slight features as she saw Garion’s own expression wilden. The boy weaved; surely he dreamt still or some else a thing.

“I’m afraid not,” guessed for him the little hostess. “You wouldn’t dream something of this sort, either. Would you now?”
“True,” he gave his admission.
“Well, you have it, then. Good morning, Garion.”
“... Good morning, Satori.”
She favoured him with a smile.

After a quiet, Garion spoke once more:

“You are touching me.”
“Yes,” she said, unperturbed. “As a matter of fact, yes. I am. Why, you’re touching me, too.”
“Am I?”

The boy gathered himself; he took these some next seconds to locate his vagrant arms.

“Yes,” said Satori once he found out. “There. Ah, don’t grip. I bruise easily.”
“I did not.”
She reversed her hand and tugged wistfully at a lock of his hair. “Which is why I’ve said not to,” she explained to him meanwhile, “in the future, that is. And yes, I do bruise easily, that’s right; so do not you go and test that theory or I’ll twist your ears off. Also, this is fine if it’s in bed, but out of it, you have my word, I’ll slap you if you ever try.” She paused, awaiting his reply, but there was none. “Aren’t you going to say anything, Garion?” she asked.

He did not answer. At once he countered with his own question:

“You find no issue in this?”
The next tug came a painful one. “I do,” she said with annoyance; “but you sleep too soundly, I could never wake you up.”
“What are you saying?”
“You started it, Garion. I’m only returning the favour. You needn’t worry—” at this point she made a scheming smile, “—we won’t tell anybody about this, after all. Won’t we, Garion?”
“... No.”
“Great. We agree. As I said, though: in bed. I won’t care much for secrecy any more if you start these things in plain sight of everyone. And certainly not towards that person whom you’d rather not have know. Are we clear here?”
“... Yes.”
“Great. Oh, and not a peep to anyone. I’ve managed to stop blushing before you woke up, but this is all the same awfully embarrassing. You shouldn’t let my straight look fool you. You made me jolt when you started. I’ll confess to crawling to your part of the bed, but I hadn’t expected it’d go down like this. You neither; you did it in your sleep.”
“... Yes.”
There was nothing more for him to say.
“Then this’ll be a secret?” Satori wished to make sure.
“... As you wish,” Garion promised.
She breathed with relief.
“Good, good. Unusual or not, we shouldn’t let this get in the way of... well, anything. Are you hungry, by the way?”
“No,” said the boy truly. “Not yet.”
“Then why won’t we lie for a awhile more? There’s some time till you have to go; and if I have to be honest, this isn’t all too bad when you’ve someone your size heating the bed. I’ve said this before, but you’ve so many uses around the house it’s almost staggering. Are you positive you can’t at least consider becoming my pet?”
“You are not honest,” marked Garion.
“No,” Satori said. “As a matter of fact, no, not at all. I wouldn’t have you stoop that low. You’re made for greater things.”
His face took on a looser cast. “Such as?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Satori teased; “heating my bed, perhaps?”

The boy did not laugh. The small hostess however, did.

Thence they stayed, till late lounging and exploring the chances and potencies of resting in one bed.

They made no further talk of this night-touching; nor of the propriety of it or not. Too long, indeed too long had they now entertained one another’s company to worry for these up-cropping incidents which did come at when-ever a time when they were but alone two. And proper, improper, one should permit it; for this was their choosing, and once in a while even that is well. They were owed these moments to themselves, however sparse and far-in-between. And so long as they lingered, close so to one another, they put away these qualms, and one, and cared but for the sweet present.

When however at length there was a knock on the door they were caught unawares.

A shot as though, the small hostess flew forth from the covers.

A voice came afterward, muffled in the hall outside.

“Master Satori?” the voice said. “Orin has come. Master Satori! Oh, Master Satori!”

The door-knob turned; but the door remained as it had been – tight shut.

Then the small hostess spun panicked at the handsome young man sprawled atop her bed.

“Hide!” she hissed. “Go under the sheets! Orin?” she called at the door. “A second.”
“Yes, yes,” came in reply.

The small hostess waited as Garion slunk under the covers; then she heaped upon him an armful of pillows.

So-prepared, she went for the door. Garion heard a key turn in the lock, and the hinges creak.

“Ah,” came the cat-girl’s voice, “Master Satori. Good day—morning, maybe, seeing Master Satori.”
“Orin,” said Satori. She had stern control of her tone, but nonetheless Garion sensed to it an edge. “What is this about? Has there arisen something requiring my attention? I’d thought I’d catch up on my sleep today.”
“Ah, no, not so,” said Rin. “This is but a few mundane words Orin brings. Ah, but how cruel of Master Satori to lock the door! Orin might have wanted to come, she might; little brother was gone from his room and it was cold where Orin’s sisters slept. Cruel, oh cruel is Master Satori!”
“Orin, please, don’t.”
The cat-eared she let off a round chuckle. “Orin jests, as she does so often. But anyway Master Satori may wish to hear before Orin goes to work on the corpses and the furnace: Master Koishi is to come home today. And Okuu, yes, and she. Orin met them last day up-surface. They were coming from some mis-adventure each of their own. They said they would come this day to eat and to rest.”
“That’s good to know beforehand.”
“So thought Orin. And yes, one of Orin’s sisters is once again missing. Should Master Satori find her...”
“Yes. I’ll tell her what.”
“Good, good. Then Master Satori has heard everything Orin should say to her. Orin will go now: to work. Oh!” she sounded to stop and add; “but Master Satori does know, does she not? She cannot hide it. Orin has a keen sense of smell: very, very keen.”
“Orin!” Satori blurted.
“Yes, so keen;” Garion could nearly hear her grin; “but now, now she goes. Good cheer to Master Satori! And to all that may listen. Good-bye!”

Then her booted feet echoed down the hall and vanished.

The door closed.

Out of the fragrant sheets Garion rose, and looked gravely at the flushing Satori. She made a powerless sigh.

“So much for secrecy,” she murmured. She walked and sat beside him on the bed. “As a matter of fact, I don’t believe any manner of asking or bullying would stop her now; Orin has a terribly loose tongue. I’m sorry, Garion.”
“You might not help it,” he said.
“No. As a matter of fact, no, maybe not—but I did open the door. Who knows, maybe she would have gone away if I hadn’t answered, maybe she wouldn’t have smelt... Oh!” she wrung her little hands, “this is so embarrassing...!”
“You might not help it,” Garion said again. “You are not at fault.”
“Why, thank you,” she told him archly; “but I’ll agonise about it a bit all the same—maybe it’ll help me head accidents like this off next time. Anyway,” she went on afore he might ask what “next time” she meant; “you want to go now, don’t you? You’re almost fidgeting.”
“Yes. We have dallied.”
“I thought so. You can go, then. I’ll skip breakfast. You don’t have to make me anything.”
“As you wish.”
“You’ll forgive me if I don’t see you to the door? I’m overcome suddenly with this urgent need to lie down.”
“Great. You’re a dear.”
“... Yes.”

The small hostess smiled; then she flung herself in the sheets and the eiderdown and pillows and gazed on how the blond man stood and readied to leave.

She lounged, silent and watchful, watchful: her arms about one pillow, her white legs on show; her eyes a riddle. When though the stern Garion began to undress, she turned those away. What strange a thing, now! A strange thing: for had she not viewed him so undressed the very first day they met? When she had led him to bathe afore she had had him say his circumstance? And now away she looked: ashamed. What indeed a strange way!

“Things change,” she whispered in her defence.

“Satori?” Garion looked from his undressing.
“Never mind,” she told him. “Hurry on. The caves might run if you’re late.”
“... Is that so?”
“You can never be too sure with the Underworld. Anyway, don’t stand there with your pantaloons down. Honestly.”

When strapped he had the straps and buckled all the buckles, the young man pulled his dark cloak about his back and levered his pack; without a word all, as was his wont.

When however he was headed to leave, he halted at the door and faced his small hostess with a bleak cast and sombre eye.

“Then I shall be gone,” he said without emotion.
“Be careful,” Satori told him simply.
“I shall.”
“Come back to me.”
“... I shall.”

And then he turned and, truthful to his word, he was gone.

Of the moments, this was one.

※ ※ ※
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Why is Garion so inconsistent?
Day one:
>“We have slept together before,” said the blond man. “You know what I think of it.”
Day two:
>They made no further talk of this night-touching; nor of the propriety of it or not. Too long, indeed too long had they now entertained one another’s company to worry for these up-cropping incidents which did come at when-ever a time when they were but alone two. And proper, improper, one should permit it; for this was their choosing, and once in a while even that is well. They were owed these moments to themselves, however sparse and far-in-between. And so long as they lingered, close so to one another, they put away these qualms, and one, and cared but for the sweet present.

Pick a thing and stick with it, you misbegotten boob.

That's called character development, you blockhead. That, or he's simply trolling with that first statement, as par the course.
isn't that from an Akyuu article? Anyone with a brain knows it can't be taken 100% seriously.
Keep your opinion for yourself and stop bumping this thread if you're just bitching you fucking dumbass.
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>>“You started it, Garion. I’m only returning the favour. You needn’t worry—” at this point she made a scheming smile, “—we won’t tell anybody about this, after all. Won’t we, Garion?”
“... No.”
Just fuck already.
too bad YAF's writing it so it'll likely be horribly dragged out for no good reason.
I don't know, it's been fairly well-paced so far, no?
Here's a good reason: This story is wonderful.
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(X) Koishi

Accordingly came of them another, came the evening of the selfsame day.

As a rule now, had our Garion laved and taken food, therewith he with his hostess had gone to their chambers; took up there their books and read on whence they’d left afore the previous day had broken. They’d not made talk yet of his maps, ways or else; nor inevitably of taking again to bed: yes, not yet. Time their yet was peaceful, slow; and according, they were also. There would come one when they must decreed make issue of it someway, but not now: now still in quiet they read: their dust-touched tomes.

Of home-coming siblings, or pets, there was no sight.

The treatise of Old Hell’s history which had so beguiled our boy resumed even so in a fashion which did one put to doze. ‘Twas said now, the book professed, of leaving Old Hell (or indeed Former Hell as its Lords had styled it) there had risen talk once no more place had been left for the new souls to have, the olds taking of it all:

—Whan coome thime whan naught more spiright was abil to kepen withine, said it, and to the róote hath arechent they, hloverdes and residentes akin gonne apon fet to lenne apon, for niue plasse to seek. And found they, and denament they this plasse Niue Hell and dwelt thereupon, and nament themselfs iuge. And berent they this bærde prout. A spiright dredeth therewit to do outrages whan iuges looketh, and knoweth it payne whan it displeseth to the iuges and they sayeth it doth to they displeseth.

So the ancient monograph kept on in like way. The words leapt from the crackling leafs and stabbed at one’s mind and eyes with their sharp-ends; but withal the stalwart Garion trudged through, naught making of this old-speech scarcely known to him before. The book had enthralled him.

Indeed; so was he drawn by its bygone charm that he had never seen how the droll little sister of his hostess had come at last home, and here.

Garion had not heard her enter (nor indeed even open the door), but there she stood before Satori’s chair, looking at her with silent wonder. Afore he might say a thing (though he did not aim to) the silver-headed miss slunk, like to a kitten or maybe a snake, under her sister’s slim arm to her lap; where she sat, mischief playing in her apple-green eyes. Satori moved not, took no note of her sibling’s roguery; nor even when the golden-clad prankster smacked her lips soundly on her pale cheek, the hostess made no note. Smacking her tongue at this patent defiance of love, the little sister wormed out of Satori’s arms; then she went to her feet, groomed her clothes, and faced to Garion. Anigh she came: the same rapt smile on her, and no say of Garion’s bland (even flat) stare. Then the same she did to him: climbed to his lap under his arm, made there herself at home; reached out.

And kissed him.

Satori’s book crashed shut.

“Would you pretty well quit that?” she growled at her sister, anger glowering from her face. “It isn’t funny—nor clever—one whit.”
Koishi rolled her eyes at the ceiling; but there was no spite in those eyes: only a waggish show.
“Also,” Satori went on, “where have you been? Where did you go? You were supposed to come today—day!— not in the night.
“Not night!” said Koishi, “oh no, not night: morning. It is now. There was stars.”
“Yes. I watched. The night went. It is morning now.”
Garion recalled what the cat-eared Rin had said about their days without the Sun.
“Oh,” Satori understood also and said. And then again: “Oh.”
Koishi kicked her feet back and forth while she mused aloud:
“There was clear sky,” she said on, “clear: no cloud! The first time in time. Glowed. The stars did. And I stopped and watched, gazed: how they blinked and moved. Is it bad? I am here. Is it bad, big sister? After all I am. Home. I’m come. Come home.”
“Well yes,” agreed the small hostess, “but you’ve made me worry.”
“Worry!” Koishi huffed. “All big sister does is it. Worry! And when Orin goes, does big sister worry, too? And when Okuu does? I am old—yes, old. I can go, too. Worry!” She turned up her nose. “Oh shush! Like a child. Really!”

Garion might scarcely give faith to his ears: she appeared upset!

The selfsame thing thought Satori. She stared on at her younger sibling in unspeaking disbelief. At this reaction Koishi once more puffed and turned to Garion for more.

“And did Dias worry, tell?” she asked him to say.
The blond man gave it some deliberation. “... No,” he said at length. “He did not.”
“So he didn’t!” Koishi triumphed. “Only big sister worries; Dias knows I am big and can take care. Isn’t that true, Dias? Isn’t it? Koishi isn’t a child, yes? Yes?”
“... Yes.”
“So he says!” She took the book from his hands; laid it aside.

Then those freed hands she put on her hips, and her own – round his neck. And once more: kissed him.

The kiss was everything but childish.

“Koishi!” Satori gasped; even she blushed at how it was.
But Garion did not blush. He looked questioningly at the love-filled girl on his lap.
“This I saw,” Koishi explained, still holding him; “yes, I saw. I saw humans doing: not children. They were bigger: like Dias. And that’s what they did. This is what one does.”

She lifted again to have her way with him; but Satori would not have it.

The small hostess set her lips in a strained line, anger coiling within her; but she flushed it out with a will, and soon spread out inviting arms. The colour of her cheeks was beet-red; but she spoke in a quiet, even bashful, way, to her blithesome little sister:

“Fine!” she said, “you’re right, fine! Come here. I won’t worry any more. Come, gods be damned, hug me.”

Koishi gave a high whoop. She tore off her hat; then she screwed it on top of Garion’s wide head, sprung from his lap, and rushed into her sister’s grudging embrace.

The hugs and kisses proceeding were many, and hearty, and all noisy. All the same our boy paid them no heed.

Calmly he wiped what he took for lipstick from one corner of his lips. Then he opened back his book, found the page, and read on.

The words were ever as fascinating.

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Three dots mean the scene will continue, before you ask.

Also, bump because some of you are convinced I should for some reason bump my updates. Psh. Tomfoolery and race for attention, I say.
Don't be retarded. If there a few updates (and there always are) before someone of us read this, it gets buried. All stories could use a friendly bump or two (three is pushing it)
Don't be retarded. Since hartmann left, there are only two other active stories on /underground/. No enough to "bury" this one, as you said.
Don't be retarded. Writers should bump their threads when they update regardless.
Don't be retarded. It's YAF's job to bump this thread. Not us, unless we're voting for something. I see no need to bump a thread if people aren't voting/updating.
Don't be retarded, you literally said the exact same thing I just did.
Don't be retarded, it means we agree on the fact that it's not our job to bump this thread.
I am retarded.
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Time waned; so did the night.

Garion tired; but if at first he’d been let to tire by hisself, in the fullness of time prayed he had been to join with Satori and her sister: as was due course. Told he then the usual: how he had wandered, and where, to which place; but for Koishi’s interest, he weaved with the present also the past, which the little sister had not yet heard. Satori made no point of it; more so: she gave full ear, even with the same wist-eyed wonderment as always before. “You’ve picked up new quickness of it,” she had said to him once after hearing one story. “I should so,” he’d replied; “I have told you stories each evening.” Satori had laughed, but bade him nonetheless never to stop.

Now the tale, which was scarce more truthful than his betrothal to the mistress of the house, purled unrestricted from his tongue, as though a high mountain-brook may purl: swirling, and crashing, and taking all with its indelible flow. Often he halted for breath; often he found he drew broad arches with his hands when he spake of the great under-halls and hollows of the Underworld. The story grew erelong new life: life of its own, Garion its mere instrument. The underground city became a stage of queer happenings; the bridge and the tollhouse – a scene of dread and menace, whilst the monstrous toll-keeper hungered for our boy’s meat-flesh. The tunnels twisted, oh twisted, darker even and even deeper, barbed with black perils: monster, pitfall, or otherwise. Such a story Garion told to the embracing two sisters.

All of this the sisters harked with naught a sound but for the chance frightful draw of air. When at length his voice gave (still unused to this volume of talk), he ended the tale with an ominous thought, and fell: on his deep arm-chair, his blood hasting, roused. He breathed. This had been foolishness, yes; but queerly he felt no shame. Mayhap right had been the red-clad priestess of the Hakurei: to say he was crafted for tale-telling; mayhap he might yet find use for this strange talent.

“That mightn’t be such a bad idea,” granted Satori. She made a smile at him. “You’re wonderful, Garion. You could talk the wolves right out of their hides. And they’d delight in every moment of it, too.”
The blond man peered at her from beneath his sweating forehead. She was not mocking; or leastwise, it didn’t so seem.
“Yes, yes!” joined in Koishi. The younger sister was gazing at him almost worshipfully. “Oh yes! This is right: Dias tells well, yes: well. He is wonderful. Dias is.”
“Garion,” Satori corrected. “When will you learn?”
“Ah?” Koishi tilted her head. “Ah?”
“... Never mind. Anyway yes, it’s a point: he might do well to exercise this... ‘talent,’ so-called. I’d be glad to help, too. As a matter of fact, I’d love if you lied to me this way from now on, Garion. Your ordinary lies hurt, but these were good—even very. It’d be just darling if you could keep your lies to your stories alone. Well, the lies I don’t want to hear. You know which ones.”
Garion did not reply.
“You know he was lying of course,” the small hostess said to her sister. “Awfully big, too.”
“No true!” Koishi cried out and messed up her hair. “No true, no true! He says he was chased, and ran. That is true, isn’t it? He said he was—and did. Yes, it’s true! True!”
Satori threatened the awful storyteller with the briefest of glares. “Oh Garion,” she seemed to mouth. Then took she her sister to her breast and kissed her dearly atop the silver-tufted hair. “Very well,” she said, “it’s true, if you’ve decided.”

At once the simple girl forgot all of the story; however she loved to be in the right, still she loved her sister more.

Afterward they spoke at length of different matters: next dinner, the house and so.

All the while the hour grew old, the gentle Satori oft looked to the bed, to her sister, and once again the bed. Garion understood all but wholly; only he did not fathom how the small hostess may prevail upon her sister to come away that they might go to rest. This, erelong, turned to non-issue, when, divers of cavernous yawns past, the last left the droll one sunken in sleep. Satori called over her man with a motion: to take the dozing little sister from her arms.

Garion sketched in his minds-heart an aweary question.

She sketched a nod.

The boy stood; on soft toes he went and received the stilly girl.

Almost naught she tipped his arms: a feather of a little person. To bed he brought her; there laid down. Swith he wished to come apart: to leave the small one with her sister, to let them be alone; but now open shot the sweet moss-green eyes, tight erewhile, close; and the tiny hands gripped him: stalled him in place. Awake once more, though not fully, the little sister spoke:

“No. Dias too.” She moved to pull him down, but he’d prepared; as a stone pillar he stayed: where he was. “Dias too, too!” she went again, feeling him oppose. “Come! Too!”
“Too what?” he rasped in response.
“Sleep! With me. And big sister.”
“That would—”
“He sleeps here anyway all time, does he?” she made a shrewd mark. “He thinks Koishi is silly—that I am silly; but I’m not. I see. See his things, and clothes, and... Ah, he sleeps here, doesn’t he? Today then. With me and big sister. It will be warm. Come, Dias! Sleep. I want.”
“Koishi...” Satori began behind the blond man.
“It will be cold if big sister Satori only sleeps,” said Koishi. “Cold, no. Warm with Dias. I want like that—warm.”

The boy turned; thought another yet inquiry.

They held a look. The small hostess flushed.

“... All right,” she gave up; “yes, it should be easier if... Oh, marry that!” she muttered, “fine! Sleep, yes; let’s do that, why do we not? You’ve said it. We’ll be warmer leastwise with him, if nothing else. You’ll look the other way now for a minute, Koishi. He’ll have to change. So don’t look until I say.”
“Yeees.” The little sister rolled over. “Change then, yes. I won’t look, peek. Change and come. Come!”
She was giddy.
“You’re too insistent, Koishi,” Satori scolded. “It is unseemly.”
“Yes,” said Koishi; “yes I am—and will. Until we sleep.”
“Only this once, Koishi.”
“Only,” she echoed. “Only once.”

And thence she was quiet.

The blond man changed, his hostess waiting; then she changed also. They were aware both they should thole this request with unflinching face; but both halted. They went however at length; the little sister welcomed them to the silky beddings. Smartly next, she arranged them by own whim: Garion in mid, Satori and she to each side. Thus she was pleased.

She nestled to him, flushed with rose. She did so when she thrilled. And she thrilled a goodly part of her time.

Satori reached out; flicked her lightly on the forehead.

“Quiet,” she snapped. “You won’t have us come to bed with you only to keep us up with your giggling.”
“Yeees, big sister.” The vigorous one giggled once more; then she quietened.

Satori sighed. She edged closer to our boy; whispered in his ear:

“Stay, Garion,” she begged him softly. “You’ll have to endure it.”
He felt her cool touch under the covers.
“... I am aware,” he replied.
“This isn’t to your best liking, I know. I’m sorry.”
“... No.”
“You’re right,” she confessed. “I’m not. You’ll forgive me though, won’t you?”
She took his hand.
“... Have I choice?” he asked with a bitter tinge.
“Maybe not,” she said. “You might someday. You might just, one way or the other. Ah, but enough now. We’ll waste the night this way. Good night, Garion.”
“Good night, Satori,” he said.
Then looked he shortly to the other side of him.
“She’s asleep, Garion,” Satori chided. “Leave her.”
“... As you wish.”
“I do. You have me anyway.”
“... Yes.”
She smiled.
“Good night, Garion,” she told him fondly.
“You have bidden one already,” he noted.
“Hush. You needn’t say. Good dreams.”
“... You also.”

Anon he sensed her breath turn shallow as she gave to sweet sleep.

Alas, he himself might not. Wide awake he lay, wresting from the coming sleep. And time went by and still he lay, petting his hostess’s hand, in his cold heart keeping a debate. Till his strength allowed him, so he held.

At last however even that was no more, and presently a black languor took him, together with his troubles.

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By morn, his tale had come partly true: he woke beset by monsters.

A gentle light kindled the silken drapery: a dim glow of the molten rock-lake behind scarlet barriers. Garion fluttered back. He had slept as well as he could for the circumstance, but the sleep had left him tender to light. He rubbed at his eyes—nay, he tried. His arms were locked.

There Satori’s head tousle-haired weighed on one; on the other lay silver-locked Koishi. They were upon him but the most outward parts, yet stilly in this orange morning. Over his broad chest they held clasped: one another’s hand, sisters-like, one pale and the other Sun-browned. They were sisters, doubtless: the same blood and kin, alas, but worlds apart. They were not all.

Where would have been their eiderdown Garion saw a coat of feathers: a ruff of them, jet as the night. These were the wings of the powerful Utsuho: no more indeed now than a mere house-pet, sprawled across them all any-old-how, clutching at Koishi’s nude feet. The feathers were rippled and smelled; but it was no such stench as one might think from an animal. There was smoke in that smell; and Sun and soot, all mingled, calling to one’s heart the time of wander, of open land and camp in the woods. A lonely smell, but homelike.

Another yet monster had found haven twixt our boy’s legs: wreathed up unto a ball, soft, clad in rich greens. And knew Garion at once which that one was; for there sharp-tipped ears peeked up from her curled shape; and they flickered each time the boy moved and they brushed on his cloths. This was Rin, the cat-girl, who knew more than ever one should fathom. Also she slept, unduly at ease where she was.

To the left of the bed, upon a tossed pillow, coiled in warm sleep a litter of cats of all shade and shape.

All this Garion absorbed with dulled sufferance.

This he had not seem passing in his wariest heart; but what might he do? Alas he’d succumbed to Koishi’s queer wish, and reapt now queerer even fruit. What might he do?

Satori murmured in her dreams.

She crept closer, pushed tighter to the boy’s side.

She breathed his name.

Garion sighed.

This day he would stay at home.

At home.

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As a proof of my retardation, one more scene coming up sometime in the next few days.

Pajama Satori.
...is that the name of the pic or the scene?
Garion forgot to turn his swag off for the night.
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I don’t know. Which would you prefer? And did you ever count the votes on the last choice?
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Whatever nets me more Satori time.
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I can feel my teeth rotting out because of how sweet this post was.

Nicely done, YAF.
Not really as you're to fill a large void left by past writers. That and it's the Satori moments that keep me coming back to this story.
So I’m just a replacement? That’s cold…
>This day he would stay at home.

>At home.

Stop trying to give me a heart attack, you fool Reavle. I-it's not like I like your writing or anything!
What was the last vote?
Not a mere replacement, but I was just telling you of the general expectations.
Yeah, a replacement of Blankfag.

I’ll astound you. I’ve no idea who Blankfag is.
>What was the last vote?
Well, more or less this.
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(X) Utsuho

On the morrow he recouped; woke in pale forenoon.

Straightaway set he himself loose from the snarled covers; delivered himself from his hostess’s arms on the sly. Stood he; turned out his dress, all that while peering and peering whether the small lady had not roused. Slung he on his pack, yes his ever-ready pack, and wrenched on his boots. Saying not a good-bye he left then, so light his steps and so soft they mightn’t stir a speck of dust, and stole so for the kitchen. There our boy fixed some for himself modest provisions: some dry-bread: tough but healthful, and cheese: foul-smelled, with great gaping holes, and a fat slice of smoked ham: for flavour, if none else; these he stowed, and once more hefted his pack. Thence went he readied out from the mansion.

The great hot winds furled and whipped about him at once. Their growl and roar deafened, but for the nonce he made naught worry of it. An eager mind, he made through the scarlet garden; through then the arched wicket, to the bridge. Unremarked. The to-day rove began, with peace.

Till then, there. The bridge stood all but free, but one soul leaning by the balusters near to this end. The soul was tall, raven-haired; her wings, great and coal-black, fluttered unrolled on the hot blasts. The dress of she was white and dirt-green, laced, long to the ankle. An orb glared from her bosom: an eye of crimson jewel, licks of fire prancing within its core like a furnace.

The name of her was Utsuho, and Garion wished not to meet her.

She looked not upon him as he approached: eyes shut, turned sideface. Till the utmost moment he hoped that this might hold; but alas, he came close, and at once, oh at once the eyes opened; at once she swung round in alarm, her great wings lashing. There was fire on her face: dark and portentous. “Who!” was her call. The wings spread; barred the bridge from one edge to tother.

Then though she saw this was no ill-intent invader, no sneak-thief nor prowler. This was but the grim-fronted Garion: known to her, harmless and blameless. Thus the flames in her eyes went away as quick as they’d flared. The wings lowered, though stayed in the way. She looked to him with eyes curious and blinking.

The blond man made short work of his chagrin. Straight he rose; hailed:

“Hail Utsuho.”
The words were raw in his throat but the winged one took no heed.
“Ah,” was her reply. Then she gathered her footloose mind. “Good day, ah...”

A deep furrow creased her high forehead.

“You needn’t,” said Garion mercifully. “It is of no matter.”
“Will you not tell Master Satori?” Utsuho fretted. “She says: no manners, no dinner.”
“I shan’t tell if you won’t.”

This summoned a smile on her freckled face.


The way onward opened as she turned once more sideways to the winds.

Yet Garion held. A queer curiousness stayed him. The freckled one did not speak, busy at catching the wind in her wings like great black sails. Garion also was silent. He had found over the years that with the simple, silence yielded at times more than querying. And so it was with this one also. Utsuho felt his look on her and explained:

“I was wing-drying.”
“Wing-drying?” the boy said, doubtful.
“Too big. Can’t dry them at home. Here I can have the wind do. I’ve come out of bath just now. I do not bathe most often,” she added by way of defence, “but once and then it’s good so the feathers don’t stick. Orin hates to bathe, but I can bear if it cleans my wings. The problem is drying.”
“I see.”
“Ah, but the wind!” She stuck out her breast, fluttered her wings; gave a pleasant breath. “The wind is best here: otherwise than on the surface. It is home.” She spun again. Garion backed out of the way of the sweeping wing. “Then like home I should stay, but I must go,” Utsuho went on. “Were you going, too?”
“Ah. Well, this is good-bye then.”

She braced her wings for flight.

An idea flashed to Garion’s head.

“Will you not walk with me a ways?” he asked.
Utsuho halted. On she looked at him, confused. “Where?”
“Any place.”
“... You might walk with me till the end of the cavern, there—” he pointed, “—and we might speak. We have not often.”
“Ah. Well.” She folded her wings. “Speaking’s good. Walk. All right, I’ll walk. Where? Ah yes, to the end of the cavern.” She started without him. “On, come, person!” she called back. “Slow going’s bad. Come, come!”

The boy went after her.

They went ‘cross the bridge to the place where began the stone-forest of great pillars. The dark deepened as they went and the columns closed about them. After even all these days, all these weeks, still they dwarfed our boy, steeped him in dark chill. Soared they up, infinite, their tops unseen, tall ancient shafts: not builded; carven rather in black stone by eons of rainwater straining from the world above. There it ran in rills down their scored trunks, changeless in the time. And what if these weren’t pillars but shafts of dripstone, so ancient that man-kind had not borne witness to their birth? A human might compare to a building, a tree sometimes, a toy or tool—but these? Garion trembled.

“Utsuho,” he called forth.

The winged she looked past her shoulder.

She had not spoken all this walk; more so, Garion sensed she’d forgot him altogether.

“Ah, person!” she answered. “Was there something?”
“We were to talk.”
“Ah? Ah yes.” She slowed so he might level with her. “About what? Foods? You make good foods, person; you might talk about those.”
“Alas, I had something else on mind,” Garion said.
“Ah.” Utsuho fell sorrowful. “Well, all right. What’s it?”
“You go to the surface often.”
“You fly.”
“I do, do.” As though to assure him she swung down her wings. The gust flapped the boy’s garbs. “Almost anyone does,” she went on to say, “but I fly on these. The goddess and the priestess and others fly, but just on nothing. Master Satori even, and Orin. It isn’t good, don’t I think. Without wings. Unnatural.”

Garion’s brow rose hearing this fashion of sense from the artless girl.

“Anyway I fly,” she resumed. “What’s of it? A bird flies, that’s our own truth. And I am a bird, proud and through. Why say? Why ask?”

The blond man phrased the coming question with care.

“You fly,” he said, “but how far have you? This Land is vast. You cannot have seen the ends of it, even on these wings.”
Utsuho bristled. “Cannot!” she echoed. “Cannot, ah? Well, I’ll tell you I have! I’ve been to two and more ends of the Land, I very well have! Cannot, he says! What’s he know of flying? Stupid human!” She breathed out her anger. The tips of her feathers settled after the outbreak. Then it occurred to her what she had said and her freckled cheeks exploded with a lush pink. “Ah, not stupid, not stupid, not so!” she panicked. “Master Satori does not love humans stupid. This one not stupid, no. Ah, stupid bird-brain Okuu! What’s she saying, just what!”
“Still yourself,” calmed Garion. “I take no offence.”
“No, no offence,” she blurted on; “but ah, Master Satori...! Master Satori will yell!”
“We shan’t tell Master Satori.”
“We shan’t?” She looked to him. Tears stood in the corners of her eyes. “We shan’t?”
“Then we’ll lie? We’ll lie to Master Satori?”
“There is a gross line ‘tween lying and not telling. You shan’t speak of this, and neither shall I.”
Nor think, with some luck, he marked inly.

She pondered at that with a crinkled frown.

Then she brightened.

“Wicked,” she said with a grin, “but good. Master Satori won’t yell this way. And Utsuho can eat. You’re smart, person.”
“I am.”
“Smart boy, smart boy.” She reached out and mussed up his hair. “Good boy. Good for Okuu. Good.”
“... You are welcome.”

She went on at him, smiling, till no strand remained untouched.

Then satisfied, she resumed on their walk. Garion followed, tousled like he hadn’t been in weeks.

'twas a constantly depressed guy that never returned to hyphenless-THP. People were blaming a guy called 'YAF' for bringing up shit in a thread of his, he left, YAF was banned, mods changed etc etc. Nevermind, it's old news now.

>“Smart boy, smart boy.” She reached out and mussed up his hair. “Good boy. Good for Okuu. Good.”
I like this eloquent, yet still bird-brained Okuu. Also, with that 'You couldn't have seen all of this land' I thought he was setting her up for a question... but he didn't ask anything. Uh.
>I’ll astound you. I’ve no idea who Blankfag is.

One of the best writers we've ever had on both THP and TH-P. His story would be on the "Must Read" list, if we had such list. Unfortunatly, he left, due to some unfortunate faggotry I don't remember clearly, and never came back.
What are the names of his stories?
It really doesn’t ring any bells. Then again, I’m not even aware of half the things “YAF” allegedly did, so yes. Why you’d let yourself be chased out by a “YAF” is beyond me though. Weak-willed much? He has my pity.
It's RaAN
Oh, that dude. He was nuts. And I mean seriously nuts. Clinically insane. I had the displeasure of talking with him in private on a few occasions. He’s absolutely bonkers. I shiver just recalling our conversations. I’d be glad he’s gone, if I cared any. Although it might have been fun to see him detonate with mod powers still on him.
Ah, isn't his the story that got removed from the site? Pity, I've always had a penchant for authors with mental diseases of one form or another because I have a couple of my own I'm afraid. There wouldn't happen to be any manner of finding that story now would there?
You’d have better results if you asked in some kind of general thread. I can actually recall just vaguely someone posing the same question in one of the big threads in /gensokyo/. You god damn loony.

Anyway, update coming up. Hold your zippers, chaps.
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“Of your flying then.”
Utsuho half-turned. “What of it?”
“How far have you flown, at most?”

The winged one fell shortly thoughtful.

Garion suffered himself to be made to wait as she scoured her memories for answer to his questions. She hadn’t been the ever most engaging talk. Withal that she heeded what he had to ask, herself she put no effort to holding the talk aflow. Often she trailed off, a wandering turn of mind; often had Garion to restate his words after each such flight, or whim. He had a confused sense that whosoever an ancient deity designed her, something for a certainty they had left amiss. All about her was at once intense and powerful, at once strong and well-hewn. There in the stems of her wings muscles twitched and rippled, each as long and thick as a man grown’s thigh. There her feet stamped on the hard cavern floor, each stamp nigh crushing the rock beneath her heel. There was an air about her which spelled doom at a wry word, or glance, and countless moons of monster-hunt to hone it. A powerhouse of destruction, in a thin shell of beauty.

Alas, one part of her had been cruelly misremembered: a wholesome wit.

“Ah far,” she said presently, “far I’ve flown. Across the Forest of Magic. To the Mountain of the Wind Goddess. Wide and far.”
“And ever have you flown from one end of the Land to another?” Garion asked, wary.
He might never tell if she should recall the offence he had given her some minutes afore.
“At once?” She did not seem to. “Not ever. Almost, once. Why so?”

The blond man bolstered himself for the next.

“How big is the Land, really?” he asked.

The winged one halted.

“How?” she mused. “Well, big, for one. You may not know. You may not see the ends. The Land is big, yes, big as years, but its ends are hidden. You may never know.”
“Come along,” Garion ushered her to walk on. “You have said you’ve flown ‘cross its length almost once though.”
“Well. You may not see the ends but everyone can sense them. There’s places you do not go further. You feel them. You turn back. Or...”
“The old ones will punish you. You do not go after those points, no. You aren’t allowed. I do not know what world’s after them but they don’t want us in that world. We’re to be here. In the Land.”
“Woeful,” said the boy in dry tones.
“It is, it is.”
“About that ‘almost’ time however...”
“When you flew nearly from one end to tother.”
“Ah. Well yes, I have.” Utsuho brandished her wings: perhaps to better recall. “From those far places up to the Goddess’s Mountain. Almost as big as the Land but not so. A long fly, yes, long. My wings even tired.”
“How many leagues?”
“What’s league?”
“A measure of distance,” explained the boy. “About so much as you might walk in an hour.”
“I do not walk,” she declared hotly.

Garion did not deign to disprove the truth of the statement.

“Anyway,” he said, “how long a time had passed ‘tween your starting and arrival?”
“How long?” She thought on it. “A day, maybe? Maybe more.”
“You fly faster than your Master.” He told it more than asked.
Utsuho grinned with undisguised pride. “Of course.”
“Twice as fast?”
“Or more. On good winds a bird goes as fast as them.”
“A day then,” Garion murmured. “On good winds...”

He did some quick computation.

His heart nearly failed at the end number.

“How droll,” he muttered.
“What’s droll?” Utsuho overheard.
“The Land.”
“How vast it is, truly.”
“Ah yes.” She nodded. “As years.”

Garion breathed out explosively.

A sudden and odd amusement came over him.

“What is wrong?” Utsuho wanted of him, seeing him stare at her in this queer way.
“Nothing, little sister. Merely thinking.”
“Who’s a little sister?”
“You mind if I call you that? I apologise. Ah, but truly,” he went on with his thought, “how indeed droll. In a Land so vast. What luck should it be, would that I find she whom I seek here, in these forgotten holes? I might waste away my years straggling ‘round this realm half-blind and I might not. And yet, here am I...”
The winged one looked at him sidelong.
“You talk funny sometimes,” she said.
“An inherited quirk,” replied Garion. “No more than that.”
“Someone who cared for me once spoke in this fashion. Though,” he added, “I know not that she does still.”
“You need not concern yourself with my words,” he told her. “It is enough that you listen and learn.”
“I don’t feel I’ve learned no thing,” she said.
“You will mayhap—in time.”

They came within next minutes to the endless black wall of ragged rock which marked this edge of the cavern.

The opening which Garion did as a rule take for his “searches” lay easterly of here, some few whiles of walk hence. They pulled in at this parting point. The boy turned to see how the winged one craned her neck up to the dark aloft, where faint, a mirage scarcely, high up loomed jutting out of the stone wall a half-broken balcony. A heap of rubble lay not a few steps from where they stood: pieces of rock the breadth of a small calf, or a hound, cracked or split asunder by the fall. A sense of dread stole over one’s mind; but Garion paid at best scant heed to it.

Again yet he spoke to the winged Utsuho.

“Shall I tell Miss Satori whenas you should return?” he asked.
The flighty-headed she startled. “I do not know when,” she said.
“What do you say as a rule?”
“I never.”
Garion paused.
“Very well,” he then said. “Calm yourself, I shan’t mention it to her.”
“Ah.” She calmed. “Well, I’ve done what I could. Walked here. Am I free now?”
“As ever.”

The sable wings unfurled with a wind.

“Then!” Utsuho called with a true smile. “Good-bye then. You’re a good person, person. You never forget that. Good-bye!”

She was gone afore he might frame a reply.

The great wings beat on the air and took her to the far-off balcony. Garion watched till the maddeningly high structure swallowed her and the gust of her pass had gone. Then he kneeled and nimbly lit his lantern. Took out his maps, notes. The opening was there; but there was yet one passage, some ways into the maze, which he hadn’t still traversed. Today it would be his.

He fastened the light to his belt and bravely set out to walk.

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Aaaand, that’s it for the fanservice for now.

Next up on Satori is in This Story: Garion “Plot” Fancywords.
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Your contribution is appreciated, comrade.
Wait, that was fanservice?
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Well, I don’t have any fans, so I suppose not really?...
>authors with mental diseases

The best kind of authors. It's no wonder he was so good.

Also, you can probably find an archive with all threads of the story on one of the threads in /gensokyo/. It is a common request.
I attributed YAF 'recent' jump in quality to maturity, but I guess I can just add him into the 'fucking bonkers' list
I actually consider myself a fan of yours.
For good or ill.
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DO I?!


Completely bonkers, my good sir
See, things like this are the reason I love you. You give no shits and actually interact with your readers unlike most other writers who fear the reprobation of their readers/general anonymous. That and the satori route.
I can't actually see you, but yes.
We are precariously near ego hyperinflation. Deploying emergency countermeasures.

we don't need /underground/ ending up like /shrine/ after the last implosion of YAF's ego.

Also am I the only one who had no idea what was going on in that Okuu "fanservice" scene?
They were walking and talking, what's there not to understand?
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Well, that's it folks. See you space cowboys.
>See, things like this are the reason I love you. You give no shits and actually interact with your readers unlike most other writers who fear the reprobation of their readers/general anonymous. That and the satori route.
That's a very nice way to say "you're a faggot constantly insulting your readers".
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※ ※ ※

The days turned, laggardly. A date of holy-day arrived to the Land.

A time of celebration ‘twas, of remembrance and of rest. Aside were set the tillage, commerce and hunt; to home and kin the folk returned, from fields and farms and shops, with their children and loved ones to stay these days. And emptied were the roads, the mills and works; and in each house a flame was lit in honour on the hearth. The aged and young likewise came together to its warmth; ate they together and drank and laughed, talked of affairs and harked the stories of old. A most blessed time ‘twas, merry for all beloved and wed. Cruel past belief for all bereft and lone.

Threefold was the holy-day (a full week, in sooth), wherein each part was occasion otherwise than the last. The first-most, The day of the Emperor, held on the breaking of Spring, saw families mass to their elders’ homes for meal and talk and fostering of ties. The day was tradition not of the Land, but of the Out-world; here brought by those whose lives had twistedly had them to walk on paths and roads as no human ought walk. The peoples of the Land seized this day erelong upon hearing (if in their own way), inasmuch as any day of just leisure (and out of the scorching of the Sun) is a splendid day indeed, worth having. Thus The day of the Emperor (though we might not say what Emperor that was) found home in the Land.

The second holy-day, The day of Greenery, saw, true to its name, bloom a love for flower- and green-life of the likes as not even the eldest plantsmen had held in the roots of their hearts. Colourful was the day, and joyous; for since the earliest morn children and adults twined garlands and wreaths of tulips and lilies, orchids and azaleas, peonies and forget-me-nots, to at high noon come all at once out and hang these from windows and porches of their homes, to see the town flower with a pageant of scents and motley colours. This also was fashion from the world without; yet, penchant for plant-life had ever been custom of our folk. Thus The day of Greenery found home in the Land.

The third of the holy-days was The day of Children. Of them perhaps the happiest, this day had the young take to the streets where, on behest of our elders, townsmen pitched stalls with play- and food-stuffs of the greatest variety. There were tubs with goldfish twinkling in the water, sling-shot galleries with sweet and precious prizes, game-boards and maypoles. The foods were plenty and always luscious: rice-cakes and sweet rice-paste, biscuits with crumbs of chocolate, candyfloss, strawberries and sweet dumplings. Till late, late evening the children played; then in the night, their young abed and sleeping the wear of the day away, the townsmen trickled one by one into taverns and tap-houses, to parley of matters of the state and the coming work. Thus was marked the end of the three-piece holy-day in the Land.

So it was; but in the household of the pale Satori there was no such celebration.

The great underground palace stood darksome natheless of the merry date; its halls fraught not with cajolery and merrymaking, but with ageless quiet. ‘Twas but the promise of Koishi coming home all at once with both her sister’s pets that marked these days as otherwise than any else. The day prior, the small hostess prayed our boy Garion to forgo his search and remain with her at home. Would he be with her that they might make use of these last moments of peace? “‘Twill be loud hereon,” she had said to him, by way of explanation, or enticement.

Only she had used no such fine words.

Anyway the boy did say yes. They spent the first holy-day thus, each in constant at the other’s side. Twain, they laboured on his maps in the cool library, with but slim tall candles for light and their own hands for warmth. They slaved away in the kitchen, making in advance foods to last them, the sister and the home-coming pets. They sat until late hours in her chambers, reading and talking of small stuff. At the last, the hostess shut off the lights, took the boy by both hands, and drew him gently to their bed.

She was quiet that night, softer than a kiss; though her arms and lips were greedy.

Mayhap she sensed these tranquil days were nigh at their end.

※ ※ ※
So, are they fucking?

By the way, you can't use a semicolon with a conjuction.
Ctrl-fing I can see you've done it often, I never noticed it before. Whooops.
That’s because I use punctuation to pace the text. I don’t stick to grammar all too rigidly (and I’m of the opinion that fiction writers shouldn’t; propriety is for other genres of text). I take it it bothers you?
Not particularly.
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※ ※ ※

‘Twas on The day of Children that they came crumpling about their ears.

The sister and the pets had repaired back home on the prior noon. They’d come bearing smiles and gifts from the places above: fruit and flowers and sweetmeats. They had supped, lounged, and spoken some deal on the queer scenes and happenings aloft. There joined them even had the cats of Rin’s unruly herd; begged in low whines for pats and for treats. Garion had looked on them in pensive quiet; he’d looked for that which had impressed him with steadfastness those long days before, but he might never tell the one from the others. They’d slept all in one bed once more, afore late on the morrow adjourned each to their room.


Satori’s sweet voice jarred him back to the present.

The small hostess stared, her small face a study in delight. The boy looked down on his lap, where the ancient tome lay, its leafs crinkled under his limp hand. He’d let it slip.

“That’s one thing,” said Satori. “You were going somewhere with that thought, I suppose?”
Garion palmed the aged pages right.
“I misremember,” he said.
“Ah.” She did not believe him. “Yes,” she said, “actually, I don’t. Anyway, there’ll be plenty of time to recall. As a matter of fact, you’d do well to take this time to exhaust your gloomy views. I’m going to bathe. I don’t want any grim ruminations when I come back. You take my meaning.”
The blond man tipped his head down.
“Great,” Satori praised. “You might go yourself after I’m done. I’ll refill the tub. How’s that sound for you?”
“... As you wish.”
“I somehow knew you’d say so. All right, I shouldn’t be much too long. You enjoy yourself in the meanwhile.”

After, she stood; in passing brushed his shoulder and betook herself out of the silenced bed-room.

Garion bode watchful till the taps of her small feet faded down the hall. Then put away he his book; shut his eyes and pinched the tough bridge of his nose. He wearied. It was nigh to evening now; though it felt as though he’d roused but moments afore. Would that he might, he never should have lain with the sisters and the pets so late in the day; yet the clutches of Koishi were too lovesome, Utsuho’s black wings too mighty, for him to mount an escape. It had pained him, but with iron will he’d endured it.

The trouble was the time.

The days blurred now. He’d allowed himself to laze. He’d grown doze-some in the wit. The cushioned seats and beds of the place had poisoned him. The soft pillows had made him sleep too deep. The wealth of foods had pampered his tight belly. The loving smiles of his hostess... The boy swore at them. They’d blighted him in ways he mightn’t ever confess. This dalliance must end, and before long, he knew well; but how?...

The plights were three.

The foremost was Utsuho. The winged one indeed came and went; to and fro with never a word of forewarning ere she came slamming her wings on the narrow walls and door-frames. She left somewhither each day almost; the hell of it was, one might never say for a surety whenas she should loom out of a turn or random door in the mansion. The truth chafed our boy, and not by half. This was the sorest wedge in his plan.

Somedeal lesser (though smarting still) was the cat-girl. The cat-eared servant left the house near to never; only she went out to care for her gruesome work, staying the nights and the odd days and watching her master dally with the boy. Utsuho might go; but the queer-spoken cat-girl would be there always to thwart him. This also tested our Garion’s wit.

The third, lastly, was Koishi, but the grey-haired little one should leave the picture once the holy-days had gone and she’d had her share of kisses and hugs. This one worried our boy of all the least. Yet what of the other two?... The strait mocked him. At least there should be ways to lure them from the house with a certainty that they should not return too soon? The boy rose and paced the bedchamber in dark thought. At length he cursed himself: there’d been chance enough to do this erstwhile; why had he faltered? Ah yes, because of her...

This restive reflexion screeched and halted when he picked up a noise from the hall out.

There were voices; thrashing and kicking. The one, of Utsuho; she shouted and cowed in tones she had when first she had found her master had taken in a boy; the other... The heart throbbed quicker in Garion’s chest. At once he launched through the door, tearing it near out of the hinges.

“Hold!” he cried, ‘fore even he stopped. “Hold there!”

Utsuho halted, reeled, some few pace out in the hall.

A pitiful form dragged on the floor at her feet; but Garion might not say in this dark who it was.

Yet he heard: a cry of rage; a hiss and a punch.

“That’s right you hold, you black wood scarecrow, you vile thing! I’ll have your head on a bloodied stake! I’ll bring the whole damned place down on your head, I will!”

Utsuho crooked a foul grimace and drove the edge of her boot in the figure’s stomach.

“Ack, no!” it coughed and whined. “I won’t! I say! I beg you, no more kicking! I’m a good girl, I am!”

The winged one ceased, but muttered in distaste.

“Utsuho,” Garion called. “What is this?”
Utsuho stood upright; made a proud face. “I caught an intruder!”
“Intruder!” snarled the one on the floor. “I’ll show you an intruder, I pretty well will! I’ll intrude on your bowels, you daughter of the earth, you wild living filth! I’ll hook your guts out!” The boot came down again. “Ack! Ack, not so, not the dress, not my prettiest dress! I say, not on the dress, not it!”
“Hold, Utsuho,” Garion pleaded. “Hold, pray leave her.”

The shape squirmed beneath the winged one’s heel.

“And who are you, ah?” it growled at him, “who to say hold, hold like you are? Go bother your own affair, you damnable mole, crawl to your dark hole and wait! I’ll have this one for supper, and then I’ll have you! Oh, I’ll have you all, I will, and then we’ll see who the real monster is, the real one! Come! Show your face so I may know what you are! And you!” it clacked its teeth at Utsuho, “release me so I can see the damned face of him! Un-boot me, you, damn it!”

The tangle of arm, cloth and hair under Utsuho’s hold writhed and turned, spewing on spleen and vile oaths.

“That is plenty,” said Garion in the firmest way. “Utsuho, let her be free.”
“I shall be responsible for this intruder. Now!”

The winged one wavered; then with grim reluctance she stepped from the pitiable shape on the floor.

At once the intruder scrambled to her feet. A gleam of rainbow flickered from the shadows.

“I’ll have your head rolling down this hall, I will!” she swore to Utsuho. Then her keen eyes flashed to our Garion. The eyes were the shade of the noblest rubies. “And yours!” she began, “yours I’ll toss out the window to that blasted furnace outside! I’ll have it roast in the damned... the damned...” She trailed off. “... Cassy? Cassy, you?”

The little crimson-eyed interloper gaped at the blond boy in dumb unbelief.

And then, all at once, she did things three: she whipped about on her heels; she slammed her fist in Utsuho’s nose, and flew hotfoot to the safety in Garion’s arms.

“Cassy! Cassy!” she cried over the winged one’s groans. She climbed on her toes and smothered him with kisses. “Ah, Cassy, you!”

The staid young man suffered her affections with a face that betrayed nothing.

“Yes,” he said. “Angel.”

※ ※ ※
>crimson-eyed interloper
I can't believe you corrected it. I really though it was Sariel.

Well, guess I have to erase my posts then?
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>“Yes,” he said. “Angel.”

No, Tenshi. Leave this Satori story and never come back.
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Tenshi is finally in this story, yaay. Kisses for everybody, yaay.
Time for an epic catfight between Satori and Tenshi.
Holy shit Tenshi is in this story. And she's adorable.
Methinks your perception of adorable is a wee bit warped.
She punched Okuu in the face, you know.

Punching is adorable.
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Tenshi as mother/older sister figure route go
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My girlfriend thinks the same.
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I would deny you the Tenshi Angel? I?
>had an Akyuu story? Dropped it.
>had a Mokou story? Dropped it.
Well, I'm not accusing you or anything, but...
>Mokou story
I knew I hadn’t pooped out that wall of text in vain! >>/blue/8633
I'm not asking why you dropped that story. I'm just annoyed by the fact that you dropped it.
You aren't actually gonna be calling her Angel, right? I mean, I can buy 'monster' for 'youkai', but Tenshi is her name. Come on.
He's calling a satori Satori. Why not call an angel Angel?
Because she is a monster.
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Because Tenshi is not an angel. She's a celestial whose name happens to mean "angel".

Sariel is an angel.
An angel of death no less.
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※ ※ ※

“The caves have been unkind.”

Garion wet a sliver of fleecy cloth with wine from his flask and took one of Angel’s slim arms. Held it softly by the wrist; turned it over. The arm was scored with cuts. Aglow with bright-red bruise. The boy loured. He gripped stronger the slight arm and stippled the cuts with the moist cloth.

“The cavemen, too,” said the girl, flinching from the sting. “Ack. Had a rumble with a or twain, I did. And then that one. Ack, hiss. Where have you sent her, for all that?”
“No place. ‘Twill be soon that she comes returns.”
And not alone, he marked inward.
Angel stirred. “And let her!” she said fiercely. “I’ll pluck her feathers out then one by another, I will! I’ll wring her until she bleeds from her hairs! Won’t no one get away giving me pain and live! Ack!”
“Still!” Garion ordered.
“Ack. Yes. Sorry.”

The boy kept to clean her hurts.

Angel moaned; but whether she willed or no, she endured. She had hid past his back all in a scare whilst the boy had prayed the bleeding Utsuho to pull in her wounded pride and tilt her head so the blood stops. The winged one though had had a mind otherwise; for naught had she listened to him, only wiped at her nose dripping red with a sleeve and went off in a scream. And with her echoes yet in the air had Garion moved as the wind: he’d seized his kit, then Angel, and carried her off, grunting, far from the danger, to here: his old guest-room, cool and unlit; untouched and abandoned since he had moved in with his slight but passionate hostess.

The bed here was frayed and rough when vied with the one in Satori’s chambers, but he gladdened at this change. It roused his mind. Hard it pressed now, plotting a way from this new strait...

... Or may be that it was a blessing?

At any rate the plotting broke for a time when he’d done with one arm and moved to tother, alike unseemly marked with all fashion of gross hurts. Again he spilled the red drink from his hipflask on the cloth and began to scrub at the darkened blood.

Angel giggled.

All at once then Garion felt the fingers of her cleaned hand touch softly to his cool lips. The sour stink of dried wine made his eyes water; yet it wasn’t all. A sharp reek of blood vexed his nostrils. A trace of wet earth mingled with the scent of her sweat. And over it all, a treacly fragrance of some sweet fruit he mightn’t tell... They mocked him. He lifted his blond head and looked Angel full in the face. The face beamed a smile full with youthful insolence.

“I haven’t washed since weeks,” she bragged, an impudent cast. “How do I smell?”
“You stink with old sweat and soil,” said Garion. He smacked her hand aside. “Cease moving, lest I hurt you.”
“You’ve missed me, I do see.”
“Well, I have you. Ack!”
She flinched.
“What did I say?” asked the blond man.
“Ah, no mind,” Angel said. “I love it when you do this, I do. I love you.

Garion did not reply.

The ruby-eyed girl grinned.

“I love you, Cassy.”
“... An it please you,” he grunted in response.

All too well he knew this was but pert play: that she loved him not.

Young, indeed young and scarce out from her child-years was this one; quick and foolish with words. She did not love him, no; but the word excited her, thrilled her heart. And often had she said it when they were together, for a certainty that the boy should never answer, never make her show proof. She might say she loved him how many times she wished and never bear a consequence. And so she did, as it please her.

“How have you found me?” asked Garion, even as he dabbed one ugly cut.
“I asked, that I did,” she told him. “I asked—well, no, did not. I hadn’t asked, but she told me, same all.”
“Hakurei. I chanced to talk with her some days ago, as I passed. She says to me: good I’m done no bad, ‘cause there’s rumble brewing and she’d loathe to have me, too. And I say: say what? And she says: there’s a human snooping in the underground and she don’t like it one tit. A good nice lad he was, she tells me: good and sensible, but all same she’s itched. I went from here there.” She gave him a light kick in the foot. “She says to me you were at the festival.”
“... I was. I saw you. I mightn’t catch you, afore you ask.”
“Why didn’t you call me or some? I have an ear, even two.”
“I might not,” Garion said, “for the circumstance.”
“I cannot tell.”

The girl seemed to give...

... And yet, a moment after her eyes fired, and she lunged at our Garion; gripped his shoulders with both hands, shaking with thrill.

“Have you found her?” she all but whooped. “Have you? Is it her?”
“I cannot tell!” the boy snapped. “Still! Still, you thing! You’ll spill the wine!” He pinched her thigh. “Still, I say!”
Angel yelped. “Ack! Ack, yes, you have the right!” she cried, beating on his hand. “You have the right! I’ll quit! I will! I’m a good girl, I am!”

The boy released her, as she did him.

“I cannot tell,” he said, once more. “You shall understand anon. In the meanwhile, have you any more injuries? On your legs, mayhap? You’d better show.”
“No, legs not,” she said. “I wore my pants and boots good. I only hadn’t good shirts on me. I’m good.”
“Very well.”

The boy threw away the blood-blackened cloth and plugged the flask.

And then he sighed; limped down on the bed. The lids of his eyes fell, heavy as stone. This was done, but how was he to proceed? An inkling of a plan gathered: a cloud of frowning black on the sky of his mind; yet he feared grasp it, for a part of him pained at the prospect. What might he do with this? What mightn’t he? Were it a gift from heavens? Or a curse? He may have great use of this girl. He may have need of her, wished he to succeed. And yet... a part of him halted. Quiet, so quiet, he wondered.

The bed groaned as Angel crawled up and mounted him. The weight of her body pushed him down hurtfully on the stale springs in the mattress. She laid her palms flat on his chest and swayed her hips. The bells in her dirty hair chimed. I’d given her those, Garion thought with chagrin. And now they come to haunt me. I wish silence!

Angel did not relent. She leaned down and squeezed him ‘tween her thighs. “As I think on it though...” he heard her breathe near to his neck. “As I think,” she was saying, “there may be some on my shoulders or breasts, don’t you know? It’ll be sad if my breasts go bad before they’re grown, won’t it? Shan’t you check?”
“You do it,” Garion growled.
“You do better than I. You check. Cassy...”

The boy opened his eyes.

A bright, loving face looked on him from above. It smiled at him with total trust.

Garion’s might well be cast of hard cold steel.

[ ] He did with her as he had always.
[ ] He was more careful now and did not.
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I sure hope nobody saw me post this update five god damned times with numerous minor corrections. I should burn to death of shame if someone did.
>“Have you found her?” she all but whooped. “Have you? Is it her?”
Fucking CALLED IT, thread one.

[x] He was more careful now and did not.
Whoa there! It's the dreaded, story ravaging "Patchwork Pattern" choice. Control your dicks, gentlemen.
[x] He was more careful now and did not.

What? The real person he was looking for was Satori? Or is Angel referring to 'Have you found your special someone?'

Anyway, the plot twist I was expecting for is that the one whom he was actually searching for wasn't angel but Iku. I was wrong.
Crap. On the one hand we'll get Tenshitits...but on the other hand, I'm not sure if the second choice leads to more Tenshi. "More careful" might mean more careful of Satori, or more careful with Tenahi's feelings.

I'm gonna wait a little more before voting.
[x] He was more careful now and did not.
[x] He did with her as he had always.

Things have changed, but Garion shall still be the same. Let's just hope Satori doesn't walk in.
[x] He did with her as he had always.
[x] He was more careful now and did not.

Satori would seriously have our asses, and not in a good way.
[x] He was more careful now and did not.
You mean Garion's and by proxy YAF's ass. Don
t go self inserting yourself, GarionYAF earned this.
[x] He was more careful now and did not.
[X] He did with her as he had always.

Tenshi needs love and care~
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Nigga, you high?
[X] He did with her as he had always.
[x] He did with her as he had always.

[x] He was more careful now and did not.
[x] He did with her as he had always.

We saw her at the festival?
[X] He did with her as he had always.

There was a mention of seeing someone, but I don't think it described Tenshi specifically.
I’m helping!

>And heedless of the shouting and cursing he left in his wake, he bolted, to catch the momentary phantom of someone he knew.
>But the phantom would not be caught.
>After what felt as though years of hunt—of trudging through the reckless, swarming revellers, of running for some distance, stopping and scanning around in growing indignation—he came wheezing to a stop in the mid of the teeming road, his lungs aflame and his choler swelling.
>At once he spat on the ground and opened his mouth to call in spilling anger:
>But he could not.
[X] He was more careful now and did not.

Satori will probably barge in. Besides, Garion seems to just be Tenshi's booty call.
You mean, "certainly".
She certainly "raised" him quite well for that as it's easy to get him to do things (look at all the times he easily swayed to Satori's whims in the story) than not and despite what he thinks, he's clearly stuck on her.

Odds are we'll have to make a choice soon of who... and I already know who I'm picking.
Tenshi isn't the woman he's been searching for.
>“Have you found her?” she all but whooped. “Have you? Is it her?”
Also note how he notes she 'may have great use', when the only explicit objective Garion has had the whole story is to find whoever raised him. I thought this was obvious, but apparently not.
Or maybe I'm misunderstanding something?
[x] He did with her as he had always.
Well all the stuff he's mentioned lines up more with tenshi than anyone else, hard to tell with how YAF does things.
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What stuff? As far as I remember, all we've been told about Garion's 'mother' is that she's kind, likes to tell stories, taught him most of what he knows and doesn't have any crazy inhuman parts. And on that note, Tenshi is, quote, "Young, indeed young and scarce out from her child-years". Would she really have the responsibility and attention span to raise some human kid, not to mention skill to teach him all the crap he knows?
Plus, would he really have this little reaction after meeting the one he's been searching for, what, 10+ years for? He's stoic, but not a robot.
Didn't he say he wanted to thank her? I don't see any thanking going on last update.

I'm straining to think of any indication there might have been that Tenshi is the one, but I can't come up with anything. How did you come to that conclusion anyway?
I just assumed they met on his travels and traveled together for a time or something, thus why she knows about his search: he told her about it.
You know...canon-wise, Tenshi acts childish as a response to being a celestial and all the baggage that implies. Furthermore, she only became a celestial when her parents ascended.

So...What if Tenshi - when she was a completely normal human - was Garion's 'mother'? We know very little about Tenshi's personality as a human, but given that her parents managed to become Celestials, it's at least possible that Human!Tenshi that she was mature enough to take care of a tot like Garion back then.
Oh god this makes sense. It is, at least, a very interesting idea for another Angel-related thread.
Bit of a stretch, wouldn't you say? And if we're talking canon, according to the official profile, she was spoiled even before she became a celestial in addition to being just a young girl when she ascended.
There's also the possibility that Angel isn't Tenshi, but that would be really retarded and everybody would yell at yaf for it (or at least I would), so I don't think so.
There's also the fact that Tenshi has a wise side to her but rarely shows it and to an impressionable kid, it might had greater impact.

As far as if it was a another woman, it's really hard to tell as there's no other woman hinted at in this. Then again it might be YAF being too in love with his words to really go about it right.

And Tenshi is closer to human than not.
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[X] He was more careful now and did not.

And of steel cast did it remain.

This was no while for lark and blithe frolicking; mindful was our boy of that. A true chance lay yet within this intrusion; yet ought he to tread lightly should he wish seize on it. Nay, he must. Over-late, yes over-late had he been in his planning; now hounding it came to snap at his heels. But with this girl a new chance did present itself on the mind. ‘Twas his now task not to squander. And firstly to prevent the wrath of his hostess...

“Angel,” his voice whipped, keen as quicksilver, “enough play!”

The ruby-red eyes went as wide as saucers.

“Shall I?” he said. “Have a care for your words! You are yet but one foot in danger; step not another pace, if you might. This is scarce the proper time for these games. Are you hurt or no? Say!”
“N—No,” she stammered. “Not nowhere too bad, no.”

In body mayhap; her love bled, as plain as plain.

Still she gave not; at once she slid her cut-marked hands from his breast to his shoulders, better to win him. She rocked her hips, forward, then back. Smiled.

“Cassy...” she whispered in the gentlest of tones. “What is with you?”

Yet the chill-eyed young man was still, dead to her movements.

Angel whined. “Are you cross with me? Have I done bad coming here? What did I do?” she cried. “I have looked for you since months, do you know! Are you cross for that? Cassy!”
“Surely not,” he said; “still I might, should you not listen and take heed. Angel! You and I are in peril even now. Yet I shall say this: you might not have come at more opportune hour. Come off me now! You shall know all ere the day is out; but we ought not be seen like this, not by her.

The girl kindled with new zeal.

“Then you have found her!”
“I cannot say,” said Garion. “Think not of it. You need but listen what I say and heed. You will be at my side again for the nonce. I will care that you are granted stay. You are learned in the ways of this world. You will know once you see. Now!” he grunted, his breath on the wane, “come off me. Or I toss you.”
Angel teased him with a grin. “Only if you kiss this girl first.”

Garion rose without word on his arms and pecked a quick, perfunctory almost kiss on her narrow, boyish lips.

And well-timed. At once when he drew away her teeth closed with a cluck where his own lower lip had been a trice before. The boy hissed something about “no marking,” then he watched how the girl unabashed climbed off his lap to sit on bent knees atop the stale old mattress. The bed squeaked. The boy himself drew his legs under him for a sit. A wheeze made out of his parched throat, unrestrained. The fix had worn him thin. Too long had he gone without this young wanton girl he’d named “Angel;” he’d misremembered which way her appetites inclined.

The girl in the meantime stroked her scraped fingers through her hair. The hair was knotted. The bells tinkled madly as she pulled at those knots, wanting to set them straight. Twice she jerked, thrice: the sound like gold in the air heavy with her smell. A half-year—nay, that and three moons, and she didn’t rid of them, Garion mused. He’d done well, peradventure: not to relight the whole of her affection. After all someone else was waiting him...

“Cassy?” he heard Angel say. He tore his eyes from the maddening bells. “Have you my celestial cloth still?”
“Your dress?” Garion asked. “I do. You wish it returned?”
She said no. “You hold on to it, Cassy,” she said. “I shan’t have it back yet.”
“An it please you.”
“You do have it though?” she wanted to be certain.
“Shall I go fetch it?” he chanced.
The dress was still someplace in Satori’s wardrobe. He’d near forgot it.
“Ah no,” Angel said, “that’s plenty. I’m saying because just, so long as you hold it, I’m sticked to you, in a manner. You’d have me wash firstly anyway than you’d let me have it back. Ack!” She pulled at her hair once more and swore. “Why, mightn’t be such a wild thing, either. Has it a washroom, this black ugly place? I might do with a wash.”
“You will have your wash soon,” assured Garion.
“That’s plenty,” she said once more. “Is that someone coming I hear?” She let her hair drop. The bells rang a last time; went quiet. “Yes, yes it is,” Angel murmured. “You were right she’d come back. Cassy?”

Garion leapt straight on his feet.

To Angel he said roughly, “Still!” and by himself marched for the door. The knob grated and turned when he was but a step from it. And it opened, and Satori was there: damp-haired and pulled in rose bath-robes, Utsuho at her back; but ere the small hostess might get a longer look on Angel, the boy grasped her by the hand and drew her away hence, down the darkened hall.

“Garion?” Satori blurted, seeing him so bold.
Garion did not reply.
“Stay!” he barked over his shoulder at the dazed Utsuho. “Stay and don’t touch! Also you, Angel!”
“Is that wise?” Satori said.
“We shall find.”
“As a matter of fact, yes, we shall.”

The man threw a fast look back at his small hostess.

She flicked a free hand through her hair and challenged:

“You do have some deal of explaining to do,” she said. “You curb your own thoughts so hard, but there is one who was there and doesn’t possess nearly so nimble a mind.” She made a face. “What did you call her, by the way?”
“Angel,” Garion answered. “She fell from heaven. Or so she says.”

The fashion in which she said it was sour, but Garion heard no anger in her voice.

All the more he grew cautious. As he took her second hand, her always loving fingers gripped him to the edge of pain. There was warning in that grip. The voice was cool; yet her palms radiated such a frightful heat, they might set these darksome corridors aflame, were they to be let loose.

Or mayhap only his were so cold. He may not say.

Anyway he held them, whether he was the last ward from a great fire or not.

※ ※ ※
So much for not pissing Satori off.
It was a lose-lose situation. We did what we could.
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※ ※ ※

“You must not be wroth,” Garion implored in a rushed voice. “I beseech you, be not.”

To level with his hostess he went to one knee.

The small Satori glowered at him with plain mistrust.

She masked her temper with a face kept elegant and firm, yet her sweetest eyes betrayed it. Cherry-red, her cheeks scowled: flushed from the hot-bath, the walking or the rage; one mayn’t tell. They had come a ways from Angel and Utsuho and stopped in a shadowed alcove in one passage; yet even here in the soft dark the boy saw each part of her was everything but calm. The belt of her robe was strung tightly round her small waist; her silk-smooth shoulders were set. The lovely little hands burned.

And yet she looked on him like he was the worst: a fool.

“Wroth? I?” she said. “Why should I be, do tell?” She shook one of these hot hands free of him and swept the pale hairs from her brows. “As a matter of fact,” she went on, “I shouldn’t worry overmuch for me if I were in your boots. Why, I may be small and not the most worldly, but for certain I’m not stupid. I heard my sister mouth off about the dress that you carried. I wore the deuced thing myself after. I watched when you ran off from me at the festival. I’d suspected there was someone else. Why, though, would I ought to be wroth for your entertaining some loose-skirted, hare-brained girl somewhere on the roadside sometime in your colourful past? Why-ever would I be wroth that you bring her to my house so she may brag? Why,” she said, “that’s perfectly fine by me. I’m so used to humiliation, after all.”
Garion tsked. “I did not know she should affront me here.”
“Or did you? At any rate, it does not matter. I am everything except angry. What do you wish of me, Cassy?

The question was made of ice.

Garion chose his words with mind. “I wish,” he said, “that you should grant her stay.”
“Oh, that’s fair,” Satori snorted. “A bed. Wrapped in ribbons, I assume? And you’ll want to feed her too, will you? Out of my kitchen?”
“Only for a few days. I shall repair for it. My services—”
Satori stamped her foot. “‘Services!’” she huffed. “I don’t want your deuced ‘services!’ I gave myself to you, Garion, I was completely yours all these weeks, day and night, save a time or two, and you won’t even show me the courtesy of an excuse. All right, she’ll have a bed. What do I care? What did I fancy we were, anyway? She can stay, curse me; but you’ll tell me at least what she is, truly.
“A companion,” Garion said, “past. We journeyed with one another for a time... once.”
“Ah, and you’d prefer if I believed that?”
“It is the truth.”
“You did well to take me away from her,” Satori said darkly, “but you’ll remember what thing I said on the evening I told you I could read minds. That girl, whoever the deuce she is, realised pretty well what I was the instance she saw me. And, she had just wide enough of a window to think the most unlovely of things. Companions or not,” the small hostess gnarled, “she sooner thinks you something else. What do you have to tell me about that, Cassy?
“I tell you to be sensible.” The boy gripped her remaining hand. “Whatever it may be she thinks, it is nothing if not but her fatuous whim. I shan’t indulge any of these thoughts.”
“So you say.”
“I would already have done so, had it verily been my intent. We were alone aptly long. And yet I did not, or would you doubt me? I should have been away with her even now. And yet I am not.”

Satori chewed her lips, but had nothing to say to that.

“Also,” went on Garion, “I ask for but lodge for her and nothing more. The foulest room, if it please you, though you are above such low acts. A few days. I will... sever my ties with her very soon.”
“Oh yes,” Satori said, her look as hard as agates, “you will all right.”

Was it so, or had he merely imagined it, that as she spoke a sudden gleam of knowing had flashed in her dearest eyes?

Yet it went as fleet as it had appeared. The small hostess wrenched her hand from him and kneaded at the fingers, as if he’d hurt them someway. The anger also had gone: naught now but a cracked illusion, and the pale lips of her let fly a weakly sigh.

“You are right, Garion,” she said, her voice drained. “I am acting the fool, not you. She can have what room she very well wants. I couldn’t turn down a request from you, not even if I wished. I won’t deign to see her, though. Whatever you do with her, I care not to know. I’ll pass on dinner tonight and go straight to bed. As a matter of fact, I’ll go and remove myself right now. You needn’t even kiss me,” she japed, though it was bitter, “I’ll go either way.”
“Are you certain?” Garion asked.
“As a matter of fact, yes. I am. I won’t bear to watch that girl spread her legs at you and picture you down her underclothes doing... stuff... through all the evening. I couldn’t trust myself not to start to throw things. As a matter of fact, I’m tempted to throw some already. I’m going to my room.”

“Shall I come to you later?” Garion inquired.

“As it happily please you... Garion,” Satori replied; “but I can’t vouch that I’ll be done throwing by then. You’ll pardon me.”

Then she gathered up her robe, her pride, and on soft naked feet made off toward her chambers.

Garion stayed.

A million of thoughts in his head he stayed. And when she had vanished at last in a turn, he thought no more; he looked down on his hand: the one he had seized and held her with, not only now but all these past weeks also.

Then he clenched it into a rock-hard fist.

※ ※ ※
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Pft, women.
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※ ※ ※

He’d decided it meet if Angel should stay in his old guest-room.

After Satori had taken leave, he’d gone himself, eft where he’d left Angel and Utsuho. The girl-lover and the winged one had not reduced the room to clinkers, but crouched both on twain ends of it and showed their teeth and hissed each other’s way as battling cats may do. The black-haired pet-girl had been still dribbling blood from nose. As the boy had told her to stopper it someway, toss her shirt to washing (the front of it had soaked through with red), find her cat-eared comrade and tend to dinner, the girl had raised a cry. She’d ripped the cloth from her breast and tossed it indeed: strewing in Angel’s face. Then she’d fled.

The boy had reined his (past) companion’s wrath and led her to the bath-room. There, in steam and sprinkling and scented foam, he’d washed her hair and allowed to her a lone time to steep and flake the wear of the road away. The girl had made some sparse remark of having to wear the same old cloths, but for the while she’d had none else to wear and she’d said no more.

The two had made thence to the dining room.

The table had been set with the food and drink Satori and he had made afore the previous day.

And erelong saw Garion that at the same time as Utsuho bore yet a black sullen grudge, the cat-eared Rin took fast interest in Angel and her common speech. The two fasted now on sweet desserts, done with the main course, and spoke lively of fashions and matters of above-ground and its places. At some point Koishi came to bid and kiss our boy good-bye (as she told she’d be long away); she kissed the cat-girl also, stroked Utsuho’s surly head, and thieved Angel’s slice of lemon-cake, but the girl never did mind, or notice. The jolly little sister fare-welled then our boy once more and flew from the house.

In some more tender part of him he wondered whether ever he should hear her laugh again.

Yet for now he set these ponderings yonside his mind.

Angel was distracted. The cat-girl beguiled her from him for the nonce. This meant twofold: he might slip away now ere she took heed to him again, and he might retrieve her dress with her none the wiser. Or else, he might make away with her now, ere she tell some awful lie which doubtless she would having time enow. They had need of talk at any rate, and he should do well to have done with it soon.

The boy did not take long to choose.

[ ] That he would go for the dress.
[ ] That he would have words with her now.
[x] That he would go for the dress.

Let's take care of that first, talk can come later.
[x] That he would go for the dress.
Last time Satori was throwing things, things went wonderfully. Let's go.
[x] That he would have words with her now.
I don't think she has cooled off by now. Or that he ever will.
[x] That he would go for the dress.
[x] That he would have words with her now.

A dress can wait, words cannot.
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An 11 vote difference between updates? That's awfully suspicious...
[x] That he would have words with her now.

Get that Tenshi out of here.
It means that YAF has a lot of readers. That's suspicious indeed.
What did you expect? A possibly perverted choice came up.

I'm just glad it ultimately wasn't the choice that won. That would have made the situation even worse.
Oh INDEED as it was the fact we did nothing that helped smooth things over mostly with Satori.
How about you stop fucking bitching and just enjoy the story?
[x] That he would have words with her now.

DRTwritefag wrote a good post on this.

Can't seem to find it though
>>>th/155382, I think.

If that's not it, the end of the previous story post has some relevant stuff.
You done goofed. Here, let me fix that: >>/th/155382
Satori is overreacting and that is her own fault.
you mistook my acknowledge that the majority choose a good choice as bitching?
[X] That he would have words with her now.
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Oi. No hwighting. Or I hold off your cupcakes.
I clearly and obviously mistook the fact that you bumped this thread to give an useless opinion.
It wasn't on the top at the time? There's rarely a time where this story isn't on the top of the page.
At first, I was going to call you a stupid fucking moron for your stupid cheap-ass logic.
But then I saw YAF's Koishi, and I decided to give up on that argument, despite the fact that you bumped this thread while not voting.
Have a nice day, and that's a very nice Koishi you have here.
I did warn you guys. No fighting. I am serious about this.
Anyway, here is the late cupcake. You could have had this yesterday, too.
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[X] That he would have words with her now.

The words bore no wait.

The chair grated under him when he rose. The noise did not escape the cat-maid. Twitched her heedful ears now; flicked wary his way. Her flaming eyes espied him. Aware, ever to him, on every turn. There drew on her face a phantom of a smile; but no more did she give sign that he approached to Angel, that sat with her back turned, cloaked in her precious hair with its precious bells. The bells gave a startled chime when he laid a hand on one of Angel’s shoulder and pinched. The girl followed in suit.

Apace she whisked round, ruddy on cheeks, mouth bent with half a twist of pain and half a grin. The blond man made as little of it as naught; looked on to Rin. The cat-eared one bestowed on him a winsome smile.

“Smile not,” said Garion solemn. “I shall have favours of you.”
“Always if little brother says,” said the red-trussed girl: rising, curtsying. “Whatever will he wish of little sister this day?”
“I must needs retire before time today. I fear me there are matters calling my quickest attention.” The boy gripped Angel’s forearm and pulled her to a stand. “May I request that little sister care for the dishes wanting my help today?”
“As it pleases little brother,” she acquiesced. “It will be lone, yes lone, but little sister will cope with it someway. Or perchance!” she said in a risen voice, “perchance she should have one Okuu give her one hand or two with the plates and washing for some change?”

Across the table the winged one lurched from her dark pouting.

The instance passed and her mind pieced together the words “washing, plates” and her name. The result had her flying from the room on batting wings.

“Or perchance not,” Rin said with fooled regret. She laughed. “So ends a fair friendship in need! Alas, little sister is not faster nor stronger than she, else she should have had her over the knee one day long agone. There are few faster or stronger than Master Satori’s Okuu. Aside however with these, little brother may call on whatever matters he does wish. A time it will be; but little sister will fare, yes she will.”
“I thank you.” Garion tipped his head.
“There isn’t need. After all, it is not of little brother’s fault that he has these matters, is it not?”
“Go he then! Attend, as he pleases. And little sister will ever aid him from the wing.”

Again yet she curtsied: the gentlest dip of lean shoulders and lift of the skirts’ hem; and shooed them from the way of her new task.

The cleaning was plenty; but the boy had no fears for the curious pet-maid and her lissom arms’ strength. Too strong they were, indeed too strong and lissom for his like. The straight-lipped Garion betook himself with posthaste from their reach, the great dining room, Angel stumbling and slipping as he bulled her without in front.

Yet not ‘fore the doors slammed after them the manner of his face became grim as the storm.

“Cassy?” Angel whimpered in his vice. “What is wrong, Cassy? I was a good girl, I was, yes? What is wrong?”
“Still, girl!” Garion hushed. “Speak not. Whether there are ears about, I do not know; but we must be still! We will speak, but not here.”
“Where will we?”
“Our room,” on he whispered. Her room. “Until then, you be still!”

She was.

When they arrived to the guest-room he wrenched open the door and jostled her inside. The frame crashed. The bolt thumped. The boy turned.

“On the bed,” he said. “And listen.”

Angel obeyed, listened: no question, not a face.

The girl may ask a high price, Garion realised, but leastwise she knows well when to pull her tongue and grit her teeth. He should also.

“I shall speak plain,” he said. “Can you take the winged one?”
“I must act,” Garion said. “I shall require her out of the house for...” it does not matter in the end, does it, he thought, so long as I may do what I am to do, “... some few hours, once I call it,” he concluded, “two, mayhap three; though I dread to take so much. I ask you thus: can you engage her in fight till that long?”
Angel furrowed her brows. “She got the jump on me the last, that she got,” she mused. “I can’t know. She fell on me in the dark. I never could do fight, not square.”
“You will then. On the morrow, you shall issue her a challenge.”
“A challenge?”
“Your mock-battles,” Garion said. “I am wist of these. The light and noise also should serve me well, come the time. May you not?”
“I may,” Angel replied, “I do may, but... Why fight, at once?”
“‘Tis the one thing should hold her mind,” he said. “Talk won’t, task won’t. ‘Tis the sole way that one is like to consider.”

The girl-lover narrowed her ruby eyes in shrewd understanding.

“You haven’t doubts it is the one then.”
“No,” said Garion.
No more now, he thought.
“It comes together now, does it?” Angel reflected. “What you said to me she did: knew always and always what to say to you, what to do. Small wonder. What of the other? The one with cat-ears?”
“I shall think of something yet.”
“You will, too.”

She went on her feet, walked; embraced him.

The bells tinkled with golden love.

“The search ends,” she said.
“Will you be my shield till the end?” Garion asked.
“I may... for a good prize.”
“Anywhen except tonight.”

The girl came away from him. A forlorn gloom frowned from her eyes.

“Why not?”
“... Simply not.” The boy breathed out discreetly. “The morrow marks a decisive step. Set your mind to that. And body also.” He looked her from head down to toes. “You must rest, Angel. You cannot sleep in these however. Hold now. I shall lend you some cloths.”

He swept her hands from the waist of his doublet.

The pack he’d brought from Satori’s chambers lay tossed in one corner of the room. The boy crouched and unlaced the thongs. He dug: for a moment or more yet; then he pulled out a loose white evening shirt he’d rarely worn himself and flung it past his shoulder at Angel. The girl giggled peeling the cloth from her head.

Then she began to undress.

The buckle on the belt of her trouser came undone. The cloth shed to the floor down her skinny legs. Garion tied his pack, sank against a wall; watched. Angel stepped out of her discased pants. She pared off her socks using nothing but her toes. All the while, she worked the varicoloured buttons of her frilled overblouse. The buttons. It seemed to Garion as though no matter what fashion of dress was thrown on the girl’s under-ripe figure, before long every button would be gone and these shards of rainbow-metal would be sewn in its place. Once, he’d asked what queer material this was, and whence it had come. She had told him the metal was “forged from the thickest clouds” and “left to tan in the rays of the Sun” for its fantastic colour. The boy had dismissed it as fairy-tales.

The blouse rustled to Angel’s bare feet.

The girl stuck her tongue out at the blond man and spun tother way, her blessed bells mocking. The modest smallclothes went off; fell along the rest. Her arms reached to the air as she stretched and gave a pleasing yawn. Her naked back showed through the falls of her aquamarine hair. She bent down for the boy’s shirt; wriggled her head through and tugged it over her slight breast and hips. At last, her cut-marked hands went to her neck where they loosed the clasps of her black leather collar. The solitary pale-blue bead of glass mounted on its front glittered in the cold electric light.

Angel left her cloths where they lay. She went on soft toes to where Garion sat pushed to the wall.

She knelt between his resting legs and kissed him. The kiss lasted a full breath.

Angel drew away, flushed up to the ears, but content.

“You will have her, Cassy,” she told him. “I swear to it, on love.”

The boy wiped the wet from her lips with the edge of his sleeve.

Her love had glanced from the stout fence of ice he’d built around his heart, but he said, “So be it. Now sleep,” in the quietest of voices.
“What about you?” Angel wished to know, her own words hushed.
“I must yet see to one more chore.”
“All right.” She let him go. “I’ll go first then, to bed.”
“Good-night, Cassy.”
“You so too.”

The girl stood, smiled; walked softly to the bed and slid under the beddings, not touching nor indeed seeming to notice her discarded cloths.

The boy paid it no mind. Climbed he on to a stand, leaning this time on the wall. He flicked off the lights and tiptoed out to the hall and shut the door behind him. Thence, dark as a grave he set out at a heavy plod down the shadowed halls.

He found who he sought just without the kitchen door.

“You are done?” he made the question. “Already all of it? A pity. I had thought I might yet lend you aid.”

The cat-eared Rin spread her arms in feigned helplessness. “A pity, yes,” she said knavishly, “a pity, but she is quick when she sets her thought to it, little sister is. Although if little brother so wishes, we may yet dirty some dish for him to wash. There is always dish to wash where there is want.”

“I shall pass,” Garion said. “At least this night I am glad to see no dish.”

The boy let his shoulders sag and cursed under the breath.

“Say, Rin...” he began.

“Yes?” The cat-girl smiled.

“Where do you sleep tonight?”

※ ※ ※
I used to love her, but I had to kill her~
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※ ※ ※

The morrow came, as do morrows.

And Garion woke, as do indeed Garions; yet the place whereinto he woke was different matter altogether. A dim and grey room, cool, and dim, and grey: one room somewhiter in the deep reaches of the mansion, lost and forgotten. The air here was dust-thick, heavy; the light was naught. The bed was... it was, and this was the best as might be said. Yet here was where he woke, our daring boy, betwixt a light-clad Rin and a score of cream and piebald kittens. Neither woke: not when he stirred, nor when he stood; nor even when he huffed and pulled on his breeches (or when he shook them clean of cat-hairs afore) did they rouse. Unhindered, the boy dressed his yesterday’s clothes, and through the old, scratched-raw oaken door left. The hallways struck him with chill.

The walk to Satori’s bedchamber was not long, though once or twice he halted ere a turn, thinking which he was to take.

There eventually, he slipped, noiseless, past her crimson door. Quieter than her nightly whispers he padded inside and inched the door shut behind. The small hostess lay, stilly, on the great canopied bed. She lay, motionless in her sleep, wrapped in the selfsame rose bath-robe, same since the yester-day. The robe tangled, climbed roguishly up her smooth-white calf and thigh. There was nothing under that robe but Satori.

Garion prised his eyes, elsewhere, elsewhere. The wardrobe: his goal.

The wings of the ancient cabinet turned open without sound. And there, there in the faded skirts and blouses of his hostess he saw Angel’s livery: the tough travel-dress with straps and studs and cotton pads woven in the sleeves. The dress was washed; howbeit she’d stowed it here, the prickly hostess, rather than return it to the boy. Yet he, also, had himself well-nigh forgotten someway. Folly. Folly and nothing else, he chastised his self inly. Folly. The word pleased him somehow.

Satori tossed about on the whispering covers, then again. Happenstance, the boy turned and looked.

Her ashen face contorted in some dreamed anguish, though it hadn’t been this way ere these last few moments. Again she squirmed, made a sound; traced her arms across the satin sheets. The nightmare did not go, sudden, so sudden and queer, but unremitting.

Garion stopped, torn by a disquieting thought.

[ ] He went and sat on the bed.
[ ] Folly. He took the dress and went to wake Angel.
[x] He went and sat on the bed.
I think saying why is unnecessary at this point.
[x] He went and sat on the bed.
[X] He went and sat on the bed.
[x] Folly. He took the dress and went to wake Angel.
[x] He went and sat on the bed.

You might as well have put
>Bring Ilya back
>Bring Ilya back
>Bring Ilya back
[x] He went and sat on the bed.

Because having Tenshi around doesn't mean we have to suddenly ignore Satori.
[x] He went and sat on the bed.

Sit on that bed and show it who's boss!
You do know that in english "girl-lover" means lesbian not lolita, right?
It can mean a lover who is a girl or someone who loves girls. I don't see the issue.
It just reads weirdly to me.
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All right, cheeky monkeys, bad news.
I’m feeling dreadfully demotivated, so I can’t guarantee I’ll do much this weekend, save this update right below. I have no idea why I’m feeling like this. I’ve literally no reason to be down. It might be the weather, the air pressure has been sort of low lately and as you all know, I’m an awful, awful meteopath. Who the bloody cock knows, maybe this country is plotting to kill me for what I’ve done to its booze stocks.
Oh yes, to the dudes above, thank you. If you don’t like something about the story, you say it. It doesn’t matter whether the complaint is legit or not (“girl-lover” can and does mean a lover who is a girl, for one), you tell me and I’ll do my best to avoid it in the future. As long as it doesn’t conflict with my own pretty liking, I see no harm in adjusting it a little to yours.

Anyway, here’s your Satori... Or will be, in a few minutes, when I find a bloody picture to go with this.

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[X] He went and sat on the bed.

The thought it had been, that had him turned.

And the selfsame now, on inverse, thrust him to do move. The wardrobe he left alone, pulled ajar. He made no bid to hide why he had come. It was a bitter struggle to recast his plans, but the ill was soon to pass. Across the chamber he crept, on those furtive toes that he had; lowered himself light on this side of the bed near to his hostess. The bed murmured, and at the sound, the dreaming mistress of the house stilled. A small pale knee went wary up somewhere behind him, but he gave it no mind. A face as grim and worn as weathered stone he looked full on his sleeping hostess’s features. He knew them, and yet, did he in truth?

They were present to him yet, yes they were. The grape-lilac hair that spilled in finger-long curls on the pale forehead and brow; that smelt so often of rich scented soaps as of the old faded cloths that she dressed day-to-day. The dainty small nose that twitched whenas they busied on sweets and meats in the kitchen. The rose-quartz pink lips that nonetheless weren’t near so hard as the gemstone, yet more than so precious. The modest breasts, the graceful shoulders and blood-red orb, which she’d never let him touch. All these he knew well close as by heart, closer than he deemed meet. And yet these were but recent sights; and if indeed she was who he’d long surmised, she had guised herself well. If indeed... The doubt ate away at his gut.


She’d all but told the tale herself.

Angel had said it came together, and for sooth: it fit. That she saw his most inner thought he had no misgiving. That she spoke to it at this time and that: yes, truly that she did. She had hailed him with the old name, “Garion,” that which only one had called him with. She had made him tell her of their past, as to test his memory. And she mocked him... oh yes, she mocked him cruelly with her stares and smiles and gentle love. Angel had said it: it fit. And it did, gods be damned, it did! Then yet why... why might he not remember?

He set his jaw and strained, wrinkles drawing on his forehead. He fought, battled to recall: her softly warm touch on the five-summer-old he, the shine of her eyes as she taught him the truths, the scent of her hair and skin and palms as she held him to her bosom... for naught. That part was dark, blurred, hollow-black. Only he, on the fields of gold and green and she at his side, who he may not see. She had guised herself well.

The whilom wardress turned her legs in restless sleep.

The blond man swore and piecemeal mastered his bloating indignation. The time was nigh, yes, but not yet, no. The sight of her in this state unnerved him in ways it degraded him to say. Angered, not looking, he shoved one hand backward to right the damnable robe, but his fingers caught instead the tender inside of her thigh.

He spat an oath through his teeth and looked, as he damned should have at first. A sharp, artless pull, he jerked the fuzzed fabric down to her shins.

When again he twisted front-ward, he saw the twain purple eyes wide open.

At once he froze rigid, scrambling in his mind to kill all the thought. When had she woken? Had she heard? Why had she not said a thing? Quiet! he thought, but what if she had? What should he do? What should he... No, no, no! Silence! SILENCE!

“What should you do?” Satori finished for him. She smirked. “A question for gold. What would you do, Garion? Or maybe you would have me do something, rather?”
“... Have you heard?” the boy croaked.
The smirk melted into a scowl. “I felt,” Satori said, “and that’s enough, if you want my view.”
“Then you—”
“—woke to you feeling up my legs,” she broke in. “Were you by chance doing something else before?”

Garion ventured not another word. He would breathe easier... if only he might.

All the same he took his voice on rein and said,

“... No such thing.”

The pale hostess smiled a small, cocked smile.

“Is that so?” she said. “Well, even if, you’re very bold to touch me in my sleep anyway. What did I tell you about that, Garion? About touching me, if you’ll remember?”
“Only in bed,” he said at once. “You are in bed,” he marked.
“Yes, but you aren’t. You didn’t come to sleep with me, not even to see if I hadn’t broken anything valuable. As a matter of fact, I didn’t; I chipped your teacup though, but that’s your fault for leaving me on my own. Why, you’re not saying anything, Garion. Did I upset your ‘plans’ so much when I woke up just then? Why do we not continue where you left off, tell, how would you find that? Or, maybe you’d like more if I did something for you instead? Would you like me to catch you and pull you in the covers like a giddy teenage girl? Act as if I was overcome suddenly with a mysterious weariness and fell right back asleep? Or maybe you’d prefer if I waited idle making doe eyes at you as you make up your mind? Time’s wasting, Garion. Any time now your little Angel will burst in... and your chance will be gone. And I’ll be very, very cross with you. Make a pick, and quickly.”

“I pick none,” Garion drawled, his eyes grey and cool like steel. “My intent was else.”
“Oh yes?” Satori challenged him from the pillows. “What-ever was it then, in that case?”
The blond man motioned at the open wardrobe. “I came for the dress.”
“Oh yes. The cursed dress. Of course.” She screwed up her lips. “You did at that, didn’t you? You shouldn’t have bothered. She won’t have it back, not yet anyway. At any rate,” she pushed on ere he might ask, “how exactly does it relate to touching my legs?”
“You were tossing up your robe,” he said stiffly. “You were having nightmares and tossing it up.”
“... Yes,” Satori gave up. “As a matter of fact, yes. I suppose I was... Well enough that I can’t remember.” She sighed. “You have a reason for everything, don’t you, Garion?”
“I try.”
“Might I convince you to think of one for me?”
“What is it you want to reason for?”
“I want you to help me up.”
“Are you sick?”
“No, but I want you to help me up regardless.”
“... I may not help you in this.”
“Oh yes? How about I try my hand? As a matter of fact, why don’t we go with: ‘because I say to?’” She held out her snow-white arms. “Help me up, Garion. And don’t break my wrists squeezing, if you’d please. I need these to hold my tea.”

The boy rasped, “... As you wish,” and took her waiting hands.

Yet ere he knew she thrust forth of her own strength, and even sooner he found himself full in her tight embrace.

A small but warm breath blew playfully in his ear. The boy felt his insides coil. The scent of flowers and soap and faded cloth and the heat of her body fell on him all at once like a blanket of the warmest, loveliest fleece. The little loving hands gripped his shoulders from below. The small hostess exhaled; pressed harder, wanting more and more of whatever it was she had of him. She whispered to love her. And he... he blotted out the worming thoughts, for now; returned the embrace. He dipped his fingers in the hair on the back of her head and tugged: a little harsh tug but exactly how she liked. He traced a rough thumb down the length of her spine and felt her shiver. She gasped, caught her breath; begged for more. Already he moved to oblige. She’d trained him too well, oh much too well for one’s good like.

And yet, even as he pleased her, someplace in the pit of his stomach he felt a black sickness swelling. Of what cause, what purpose, what doubt, he might not say. He bit her neck and listened to her moans, numb and cold and dead inside.

It was a blessing when he tried to take her lips and she pushed him away.

“That’s enough,” she breathed in hot tones. “That’s quite enough, Garion.”

They’d never gone farther than that.

“And we won’t. Until all is said and done...”
“Satori?” Garion said.
“Thinking aloud,” Satori excused herself. “Anyway, that’s enough. I hadn’t thought you’d be so... eager. Have you marked me a lot? My neck, I mean.”
“Great. You’ve won it. I don’t think I’ll be leaving my room today. Aren’t you happy for yourself, Garion?”
“... No.”
This much was truth.
“Well, this way or the other,” said Satori, “you’d do well to take this day to do... whatever it is that you need to do. When I drag myself out of here, I promise I won’t be nearly so forgiving...” She touched a finger to her bite-marked neck. “... I forgive you now though,” she said, part-willing. “I do, if it damn me. So do what you have to do while it lasts.” She slid out of his arms. “And you’d best start before much too long. I’m already starting to cool.”

Garion made a nod and stood.

“Oh yes,” Satori remembered. “Would you mind terribly if you could explain why you smell like cat?”

The blond man shrugged. Satori dismissed him with a flick of the hand, “Oh well.”

She watched him yet as he removed Angel’s dress from her wardrobe and slung it over one shoulder.

She watched as he went on tense feet for the door.

She watched as he stumbled past and wrenched it shut behind him.

Then she may watch no more.

The boy leaned on a wall and let fly a grunt twined with a curse.

Satori had had the right: he’d won, a small victory but one doubtless. She’d stay out of his hair for this day, as he had pleased she would. He may ready however he wished for what come next free and unchecked. The day was his.

And yet...

And yet, why did he feel as if he’d scored last in this queer race of wit?

※ ※ ※
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I now have priapism. Thank you, YAF!
So Satori may be the one he was seeking... Wishful thinking or is this the truth? He said at first that he would recognize her by voice, but he seems so unsure now...

I'll cross my fingers for you Garion. I truly wonder how this tale shall end.
This is YAF: Garion will end up trying to kill Satori and failing.
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Goodness me, what a morbid thought!
Did satori eat his mother?
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※ ※ ※

He sucked in a curmudgeonly breath.

The parquetry of the guest-room lay bestrewn with his gear and cloth-stuffs. The flax-hide frame pack sagged, gutted, under a far wall, flung aside after giving up its innards. Here were his coats, winter-clothes; there: tools and odds pulled in rags and stout twine, pieces of steel eaten by weather and kissed by rust. Tossed any-old-how, his smallclothes lay on heaps of long-pants and sweat-shirts and blazers. And among them all was Angel, crossed-legged and awkward: as though a dog amid the licked and gnawed effects of its master upon him coming home.

The girl hiccupped and stammered seeing him step past his things, deft and face undecipherable.

“I was looking,” she said, “I was looking, only—!”

The blond man seized her under the arm and threw her squealing on the bed.

Here!” he said and pitched her dress on her lap. “Here’s your celestial cloth, you fool!”

Angel might not trust her sight at first.

She gathered the bodice and the skirts in her hurt-specked hands and smelt them. The glint in her eyes was doubtful when she cast them at him, holding the dress to her paltry lips.

“Where’d you have it?” she demanded.

The boy licked his teeth, but for all outward appearances stayed composed.

“I took it to washing, but forgot,” he lied. “A food I carried had spilt on it.”

Angel choked on her spit. She raised the dress and turned it and turned, seeking a fictitious smirch.

“The breast-part,” Garion offered. “The left tip.”
“I don’t see a shade.”
“It’s washed out, all?”
“As you do see.”
She expelled a feeble air. “What a scare! I’d feared...”
“You’d feared?” The boy was sceptical.
The girl sniffed the blue-and-white fabrics once more and sighed. “I feared some scary thing, but never you mind. These I can’t wear though, oh no, that I can’t. Cassy!” That fast she was all Angel again. She shoved the dress out at him with an Angel-like smile. “They’re yours. You keep them, and where you think best.”
“What is this?”
“I shan’t have it back yet, that I shan’t,” she told him. “I say so, you hold them. I’ll bear the dirt and smell and wear something otherwise: these—” she nudged her chin at her messy tunic and pants, “—and you hide my dress. That will be good, yes, good for us.”
Some madness again, thought Garion. “Wear it,” he said. “I shan’t discomfort you.”
“I can’t!” She beat her arms up and down. “I said it’s yours!”
“What matter does it make? Wear it.”
“No!” She was set.
“Then I return it therewith.”
The girl flew into a panic. “Say what? No!” she cried. “You don’t, please no! I’ll wear it, I will! Only say it’s yours and I’m holding it just! And yes, yes will! Only say so! I’m a good girl, I am!”
“Very well,” said Garion. “The cloth is mine; yet I entrust its keeping to you, gods be witness.”
“May I wear it?” she asked. “Yes, I do so want to wear it.”
“An it please you, Angel,” he said.

Angel flushed gratefully and skinned the shirt he’d given her to sleep.

Two perky breasts like halves of lemon, cream and red-tipped, showed in her reckless tussle to pull on the many layers of the dress. The loose white under-shirt alone was enough to make them vanish. A grave silence in human skin, Garion bent down to round up his strewn clothes and gear. There were his fire-steels and cooking-knives, lonely of disuse. There was the hooded dark cloak he donned to go unmarked amid his kin. There, his hammers and flint and tent-stakes. And there...

The boy’s mouth soured.

... There in turn was the soft rope he had bought on the festal night, those uncountable weeks agone. What fortune, to come upon it now, days—if not hours—ere he shall at length make of it use. Whenas had he forgotten he’d had it at all?... Yet this was the least of his pains. There still was the cat-maid whom he must rid of someway... and a hatchling of a plot in his head when he espied Angel wrest with the clasps of her bodice.

The girl saw him look and said, “They must have loosed in washing.”
The boy lied, “Yes.” He remembered well why they’d been loosed. He did not hazard to say. “Shall I give you a hand?”
“Oh yes,” said Angel. “Give.”

He went up and helped her with the things.

Angel gifted him a warm, beholden smile. She rose on her tiptoes and would kiss him on the lips... if she were taller yet a foot. The corners of her mouth curled down with red-faced trouble. The blond man sighed inwardly, but lifted her to her pleasure by the sides. She locked her legs about him and had her kiss... and another, and another, and indeed another still. The clasps and buttons on her front hurt, nothing to cushion them on neither side. She gagged for air but did not stop, too ardent to. She tasted of sweat and smelled of him, but also of the road, and the Sun, and that mysterious, mysterious fruit...

Scarce he had paid attention, his mind astray; but when the fanciful girl bit his lower lip and drew blood, he must needs cease it.

“Got you,” Angel delighted, drawing back. A dark-red dribble stained her colourless lips.

He had not the capacity to anger. Nay, contrary: the dull metallic tang in his mouth and the throbbing sting of lip roused him somehow from his daydream. The day trickled away, and where was he, tasting the tongue of a once-abandoned self-appointed lover? When had he grown so willing for the female whim? He had never been innocent, no, but he had been firm, and yet now...

Folly. He had groundwork to lay, life-crucial groundwork. He ushered Angel to come off.

“Are you quenched yet?” he asked in a tightly controlled voice.
Angel grinned at him with blushed pleasure. “Yes. Yes, oh yes, Cassy.”
The one useful thing to hear.
“Good. I shall have you listen now for you and I must attend to a task today.”
“I am yours,” she took his hands and declared. Where had he heard that before?
“Very well,” he said. “The task is such: we sweep the house, the halls and rooms and all, from the right-most wing to the left. We must locate a place: a far, solitary place where none may stumble by chance, far from the entrance... and from her chambers. I shall go from north-end to south; you, otherwise. We shall meet in the mid-point and you shall report. We will eft go again to your part and see once more. The place must be well-hid.

“Should you chance on any of her pets,” he went on, “pray, say you are on search for me: that I had gone without you somewhither. Should you see the animals: the cats, for one, pay them no mind for they are of no moment.”
“There are cats here?” Angel said. “That says why you stink of one. Have you slept with them by chance?”
“In some manner.”
“Ha.” She saw his heavy stare and bowed—after a fashion. “Yes, oh Cassy, yes,” she said. “I will do whatever you’d like me—for love. And when we’ve done with her, you’ll be free, oh yes you will. I will see that you are, I will. I will free you. I love you, Cassy.”

Garion did not say anything of that.

“Go then,” he said though, “go first; I will also once I have made order here. Afterward, we shall eat with the rest; then you shall test the winged one in battle. Go now, Angel.”

Go, do my bidding, he added in thought, my foolish unfledged catspaw.

And Angel smiled a trustful smile and went.

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Garion waited till the door shut after her and her foot-steps vanished down the hall.

He let his taut shoulders stoop and licked his broken lip.

The blood had a keen iron taste, yet he was everything but. Was he doing right? He had said to Angel he had no more doubts, but did he? The course was clear now: he need but carry it through. The truth was close, so close, yet why did he dread to grasp it?

He quivered, and not with cold.

For the first time in many a long year, he was anxious.

※ ※ ※
That Tenshi is lovely. But, I dunno, I have a really bad feeling about this.
Yep. Bad feels all around.
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Would you say she’s loverly?

Har, obscure references, how educated.
Wouldn't it be *shot*
>... There in turn was the soft rope he had bought on the festal night, those uncountable weeks agone. What fortune, to come upon it now, days—if not hours—ere he shall at length make of it use.
>Go, do my bidding, he added in thought, my foolish unfledged catspaw.

Gee, I wonder how could you have a bad feeling about this?
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※ ※ ※

The basement was black, dank and chill: raw stone and old shadow.

A mildewed torch-ring scaled away by the headlong stair, but ‘twas the sole point of mark in a bare room otherwise. The boy raised the lantern ceiling-ward. The light doddered and crept up the far walls: naught but black-sombre stone, stone, stone. He paced cautiously along these walls, inchmeal, testing the length of each with a hand spread-open. The coal-sable blocks seemed near to drink the warmth straight from his flesh. An instance came and went that he willed himself away, to bury his palms a certain place warm, but it was brief, brief in passing, and imprudent to his mind. He shouldered the will begone. The sanded flagstones of the floor were raked with dirty-grey drag-marks, but whatever it was had been dragged had gone together with the dragger; no trace was there to behold of either. Nor was there entrance otherwise than the one through he had come. The room bore no sign of use, and all it played well to Garion’s tune. The rotten torch-ring crunched and broke down to crumbs in his hand when he grasped it, green and brown and sickly moist.

He lashed away the rusted remains and wiped the hand on the tunic.

A knock drummed from up the stair: once, twice, and again. Angel.

The boy turned from the icy maw of the basement and mounted up the whining oak-wood steps. Angel had been first to find this place: a pitch-black hollow in a trapdoor, below the floor-slabs of some derelict storeroom. She wouldn’t come in it for some shattering fear, trembling so much as on the sight of the darkness, but gladly she had summoned Garion to brave the uncharted by his own. A girl come from the high plains of heaven... To be sure this world-under-earth was queerer even to her eye than it was to his. He pondered (impassibly) how she had borne the absence of Sun, the stifling tightness of the caves, and why.

Yet she was smiling when his head loomed up from the square cut in the floor and the rest of him afterward. The smile was a tale of relief, as though the basement had been some deal of frightful monster with a taste for young gold-haired lovers named Cassy.

Fortuitously for her, that was not his name.

“Cassy!” She called him with it still. “Well, I have gotten it, I have. And quick, as you said.”

She placed before him a padded chair from the dining room.

“Were you seen?” the boy asked.
“No, near as I saw. There’s scant anyone here in this house—if any for real at all, save you and me and the winged one and she. The best to err on the side of caution though, so I was sneaky-fast, not fast alone.” She held a look with the frowning black hole in the floor. “Heavens.” She shivered. “What’s there inside? Anything worth a care?”
“Naught but old chill and stone.” He heaved the chair on his back. “Hold for yet a short while, and watch the coast.”
“Yes, Cassy.”

She scurried out to the hall while the boy carried the chair down to the cellar.

There he set it in the square centre of room, faced forward to the stair. A slow pace he retreated, making count of each step on the polished stone. He snuffed out his lantern and set it in arm-reach from the entryway. Then he scaled the stairs and lowered the trapdoor behind him. There was no key-hole in the trap nor padlock nor bolt, but he worried not at it overmuch, for the storeroom was a safe long way from the inhabited portion of the manse. He joined with Angel in the hallway, the unquiet set pushed from his face but for his ever-haunted eyes.

“You did well.” He mussed up the girl’s hair for the bells’ merry song.
The sound cheered him but a touch, but still. Angel cuddled to his hand, making happy noises.
She truly is as though a pup, he thought, but for the soft tongue and the smile he must concede she was no dog.
“There’s your thing,” she purred, nosing at his fingers, “done now, and done. What next? The eating, I make the guess?”
“Are you hungry, Angel?”
“I may eat your mother as well if I see her, so I’m famished,” she said. “I have not eaten since two days.”
“You ought have said.”
“I was full with you, Cassy. I’d forgot.” She kissed the inside of his palm. “I should perish for a bite of meat now though. Have you meat here that I may eat—not cat-fodder, that is?”
“I speculate yes.”
“Then show me to the kitchen and I may just hold myself till it’s cooked. I’ll cook it, in fact, just as you’ve taught me. The better that I’ve not forgotten. Come—” she pulled, “—show me, show me.”

They repaired to the kitchen and busied at the stove.

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Sorry for the sluggish pace, every-nyan. I have no other excuse than I’ve simply not been feeling up to it. Will you ever forgive me?

EDIT: I suppose I should bump this.
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Normally? Yes.
Now? With such suspense? No.
I’m going out tonight, but I’ve got an update half-written. You can expect it done soon, I promise.
I really can’t help this. The weather must be shifting again, my blood pressure is killing me. You know I love writing this and wouldn’t slack off if I could help it.
Just move to the middle of the Australian desert or something. I hear they have good booze.
Far too many Abos
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Satori did not entertain them with her presence.

As like as not, this was her own choosing rather than effect of his efforts, but full as certain she had forgone this early meal, Garion was thankful. Utsuho, on the flipside, had been ravenous. The company of Angel balked her only for a moment ere she took seat by the great set table. The winged one was indeed truer to her stomach than her pride, though the boy did often catch her knit her brows at Angel as if struggling to recall. A yellowing bruise stained still her freckled nose, but she herself seemed in possession of but the merest memory why it had been hurt. The cat-maid had been no-place to be found, nor was there sight of her nor trace nowhere they had looked. Half through the course only she had come and nipped at this food and that, but near as soon she baffled Garion with a cryptic wink and eft departed. Thence, she had not returned.

The passing of the challenge went smoother than he might wish. As quick as to fill her belly, the winged one was wont to play after, and an offer of bout was met with a sprightly grin (and a bemused frown right next). They filed out the hallways and the front door (leaving the dishes for later) and marched past the red garden for the bridge over the fire-lake. The volcanic winds caught in their faces and the black mighty wings unfurled with a sibilant whoosh when they felt their touch. Angel fought for breath in awe, but husbanded her thoughts for a later time.

The boy and his once-lover flounced, marshalled by those great wings, until they halted near to the mid-point of the bridge.

“Ah. Ah yes.” Utsuho stood and arched her body and arms with a delightful sound. The feathered tips of her wings fluttered but whether of anticipation, the torrid current, or of some else a thing, one knew not. “There’s room enough here for flight and fight,” she announced, a good bright voice. “The house’s in the way a whit but we’ll be watchful, oh yes. The house is nothing. We can have field here.”
“How many?” Angel inquired vaguely.
“As many as there is. As you’ve got.” The winged one giddied. “There is time, oh yes there is.”

Angel tittered: ah-haha, a nervous sound, cowed by the enthusiasm.

“Ah, why do we not, say, settle for a starter?” she bargained. “A best-of-three to begin. That should be enough, just.”
“A three!” Utsuho exclaimed. “That’s not a lot. I had thought there’d be more fun.”
“I say for starters.”
“Ah, well,” she floundered, “that, yes... Good, have it! A three for starters. That’s enough to start.”
She steadied her wings as though for flight, but Angel prayed her stop.
“I’ll need warm up first, I will,” she said. “I have not flown for days. A minute, no more. Won’t you stay?”

Utsuho pondered on it.

At length she said, “A minute, no more,” and went back to catching wind.

Angel nodded in thanks, drew a ways to the side, and began to stretch her limbs and back.

The silent Garion stalked after her without hurry. Almost casually he waited till she was mid-bend, when in turn he pushed his knuckles down twixt her shoulder blades, that she bent even lower and her spine popped. He asked coolly if she’d been shirking exercise since they’d parted ways. The grin she gave him was as much pained as tempting.

“Have no illusions,” he told her surely, “you are tasked and the task you will do.”

She stuck her tongue out at him and started at her squats.

“She scares me, that one does,” she said between wheezes. “Without she goes easy on me I see myself poor after this.”
“Are you saying to forfeit?” Garion asked.
“No. I say she scares me, that she does—but I will fight her anyway since you say to.” She rose and twirled her arms a short while. “Ha-ah. There’ll be hell, oh yes there’ll be hell if I forget to hold my air in the heat of it. I mislike the underground—here, especially. I would bring it all down on their heads and seal the way in if it were for me to say.” She turned her upper body left and right, hands on hips and feet apart. “I should do after we’ve done with them, I should—as a prize for your finished adventure, if nothing else. What say you?”
Garion was patient. “We shall see.”

Angel giggled.

She clasped her hands and cracked her fingers.

“All right,” she breathed, “I’m all ready—”
“Then let us—”
“—but for one thing,” she rode over him. She climbed on her toes and pouted her paper-cream lips. “A kiss,” she said, “for good luck.”

You have no need of luck, Garion went inly, only to do as I say.

All the same he spied back at Utsuho; but the winged one was close-eyed and warming her face on the hot wind. The boy leaned down and curtly brushed his lips on hers. The tear where she’d bit them to blood ached. Angel smiled fitly to her name when once more he straightened. She squeezed his cold hand once; then she flitted past his side and called to the winged one, “Let us go!”

And the winged one took to the air with a gust, and Angel went in pursuit.

Garion released a harsh breath. The day tired him already.

He lumbered to the edge of the bridge and propped himself on the limestone balusters. The two flying hammered out the finer points of their match far aloft, as far as not for him to hear the words. The boy watched how the winged one beat her great wings again and again and again and how Angel’s long hair tossed on their wind. He stifled a sudden yawn with the back of his fist. This was not the time to doze. There was an agreement, and the girls put a wide distance ‘tween one and tother, twenty-pace or thirty or more. Angel called the start. Utsuho’s wiry arm shot up, hand opened.

Then the spectacle began.

At once an orb of furious gold light burst with an ear-splitting crack at the tips of her fingers. At once the vast air filled, filled with its many children, each golden-white and luminous as a miniature sun. Angel whisked back out the way of the incandescent barrage. The first bombs flew and fell, popping and sizzling on the stone of the bridge like soap bubbles come aflame. The boy shielded his face with a tail of his coat. The orbs rapped and ruptured on the rough-sewn fabric, yet left no damage in their wake. As fierce as brilliant, the battle was but make-pretend still.

A misplaced curiosity led him to seize one descending orb in his hand.

The glowing matter burst on his palm, leaving him to clutch at the meat of his arm, a hundred daggers of pain prickling the skin, the muscle beneath. The fight was a play; the pain was real enough. The boy swallowed an oath and clenched his teeth on the stiffening flesh.

He had scarce heed to pay the ceasing of this monstrous first barrage, but still the next had him give all the heed he may muster.

The orbs aglow vanished each in snakes of dark smoke, and Utsuho raised her other arm, to join to the first. A great blare came forth, like the blast of a great horn or some mad beast yet unknown to man, and a brand-new star flared to life in the winged one’s hands, brighter, mightier, even than all the previous. Angel whipped her skirts behind the knee, her unflinching ruby-red eyes set on that dreadful glow. And Garion did hide again his grey face, for the light was a wondrous blazing white.

The star throbbed and shattered with a thunderclap. Its burnt-red outer shell shed in great flaming chunks and sailed majestically for the far magmatic bed of the cavern. Again the expiring core flashed and belched forth: a broadening rim of energy this time, ice-blue, round and razor-edged. A thousand like-coloured orbs came gushing after it: nothing if not chaos given many a pale-blue little life. They went and went in each and all direction, spattering around the blond man with no rhythm, nor pattern, every which way racing: left, right, down, ceiling-ward, same all. Angel danced in the fearsome hail, spun this way and that and again, her dress swirling. The orbs hissed and perished on her flapping sleeves and skirts, but missed always someway the thin nimble body. The seething rain raged on, the girl caged in it, though unscathed.

And Garion might have seen all through this awesome dance, except for the pat of slippers on the stone, nearing.

A voice cried, “Garion!” He. “What’s going on?”

The boy turned on a heel.

The small hostess plainly had dressed in a rush. The shoulders of her smock were askew. A sash of half-translucent peach satin was wound many times round her white neck. The socks on her feet were mismatched. She held up the folds of her skirt as she hurried toward him.

“You were to remain in your chambers,” said Garion, a dry remark.
Satori bristled. “Am I your ward now,” she demanded, “for you to say what I’m ought to do and not? Aren’t you rising above your station a bit?” She threw down her skirt and slapped her hands on her hips. “Your kissing and touching me in places does not grant you command of me, counter to what you’d think, so do not you go and presume to order me around only since you’re allowed in my bed. Now, what is this, Garion?”
“A match,” he said simply. “A challenge was issued, hence it is.”
“And you let that to pass?”
“Children must play.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Children? Is that what you think her as? A child?”
“As it is, she is one way or another.”
“That’s some very round-about reasoning. There was nothing else to it then, you are sure—no quarrel or nothing? They’re at it for the fun?”
She let out her air. “That’s better, I guess,” she surrendered, “if little. Oh, bothered well; let them have their play, if they must.” She looked on up to the incessant orb-fall overhead. “There’s a sight though,” she murmured, “and what a sight. It’s been some while since I saw Okuu have at it so intensely. She isn’t being the most forgiving, even for this stripe of opponent.” She studied Angel as she wound through an intricate stream of orbs. “You’ve a passing limber... child... though, I’ll give you that. She’s bending awful lots to slip those bullets. What moves! She might bend all the way backwards to her heels if she wanted, I suspect... or have you perhaps noticed?”

Garion ignored the stab.

Here he stood, yes he did, stilly, the grey stare bored into the small woman before. The fight glittered reflected in her eyes, but for him, it may well be gone and lost.

The part-pellucid sash annoyed him. He felt a stray wish to grasp it, tear it from her neck: to see, ascertain, be sure—but of what, he mightn’t say. He knew still the taste of her skin, oh yes: salty from the lack of bath the night before. A meet taste, he thought. She was his life, his salt, now even as ever. The fact tickled his tautly chained choler.

With never a glance, he swung out his coat’s tail to screen her from a random spurt of azure orbs. They crashed on the cloth, whistling and snarling as they died. The small hostess gave him a look. They held it: him cool, her insolent.

“I don’t need you to knight for me, Garion,” she chided him after the quiet. “I could have well taken that.”

He let the tail fall defiantly along his side.

Satori summoned up a shadow of a smile. “It was nice of you though,” she said softly, “... if uncalled.”
“... Be welcome.”
“I am... or so I should like to think.” She drew the hairs from her forehead behind her ear. Her eyes smiled cunningly and her tiny brow lifted. “Garion,” she said, “say, what-ever happened to your lip? It seems cut.”
“I bit it,” he grated, “on the meal.”
“What a clumsy thing to do. And how unlike you. Well, I won’t stoop to rub it in your face. Only do try not to do that too much often, if you’d please. I dislike blood. Yours... principally. Yours makes me squeamish.”
“I won’t say. As a matter of fact, this isn’t something I’m the most partial to talk about. I don’t enjoy... the sight of your blood, that’s all. I’d be glad of it if you shouldn’t show it to me when you needn’t. Would you try that, Garion—for my sake?”
“... As you wish,” he said.
Yet she sighed. “You’re soon to make promises,” she said as one that likes not what is replied, “and I fear here you’re the keenest on those you won’t likely keep. I have to wonder: how many such promises have you made to me before this morning? Are you planning to keep even one? And how many like sweet vows have you made to that silly child up there?”

The point of her stare drifted up to the fighting two.

And then her eyes widened and she blanched in dawning horror.

“Garion! What are they doing?”

The boy traced her terror-struck gaze.

The two fought no more.

Nay, they did—yet altogether unlike was this fight: fists and knees and teeth in place of bright magicks. They had not marked the barrage end—neither the hostess nor her boy—yet it must have sometime; for the angel and the bird were laying savagely into one another like to scuffling beasts, and the brilliant show truly was no more. The winged one crashed a mighty blow into Angel’s belly and the foolish girl toppled downward as a rock; but a moment hence and she flew once more; and she charged Utsuho with a bloody cry; ripped a hand of coal-black feathers from the batting wings.

The feathers fell and wafted, dancing on the air as dry leaves on the wind.

“What are they doing?” again Satori gasped, fretting at his side. “Stop it! Garion!”

The boy sensed he’d felt a touch on his hand; but when he went and looked, Satori’s were well far from his, twined worriedly on her chest.

Mayhap he’d imagined it.

She caught his look.

“Stop them!” she begged him despairingly. “Garion!”
“... As you wish,” he said.

And drew he in a mighty breath, the name clear on his mind...

... Yet when came there the utmost moment, the mind changed inexplicably and his tongue twisted, and he roared:


at the highest top of his lungs. The shout left a ring in his own ears.

The winged one heard the call.

And when she faced them, then Angel shot at her from the flank; but the single-minded Utsuho brushed the girl aside with one wing and dove for the bridge and her master. Angel was soon to follow, but where the winged one fell in behind her master’s back, Angel swooped behind Garion’s. They were painted both with blood and scratch, and bruise as purple as plums, and trace of spittle and torn hair.

“She, she!” Utsuho whined, accusing with a finger, “she started! She did!”
Angel countered: “Cheat! Cheat! I’ll show you to play it dirty, I will! I’ll pull the rock down on your black head! I’ll—”

Satori silenced her with a glower. Angel whimpered and hid.

The pale hostess gave her eye to Garion. “Would you perhaps like a leash with that collar she’s got?” she asked him, icy-calm. “She’d give you less trouble if you kept her tied to your hand at all times and jerked when she acts wayward.”
Garion bowed. “I apologise. Angel!” he barked. “On your knees.”
“I don’t know that will be necessary,” Satori said. “A dishonest apology is as well as none. And you,” she told the growling Utsuho, “you were as quick to exchange punches, weren’t you?”
“Master Satori—!”
“Quiet! Sit!” The hostess crossed her arms. “What a farce! I hadn’t even intended on leaving my room today but you must drag me out into your foolishness. What in the world were you thinking? As a matter of fact, you needn’t crowd to answer; I could do without knowing. Garion. You won’t accomplish anything by this, neither of you. Take her back in, patch her hurts. She’ll leak dry at this rate—not to mention she’ll stain the carpets. And tell her, I beseech you, this is nothing but stupidity. Go, now. You be still, Okuu. I won’t hear who started it again; let them pass.”

The boy once more inclined his head. He pinched Angel by the scruff and shoved her squirming toward the mansion. The girl snapped her teeth at Utsuho as they went by, but this was all he allowed. The elsewise and there should be another fight—belike with a sad end to them both. The blond man pushed her on.

The wind picked up and howled, throwing their clothes.

“Garion,” Satori called from behind.

He halted; turned.

“This really is foolishness,” she said.

For you, mayhap, he thought.

She answered not.

Garion turned back and resumed for the house.

Satori stared after them, after him, Utsuho fuming under her hand, she stared: till he was well gone from her deep violet eyes’ sight.

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I'm still not sure what he is doing
welcome to my world... and YAF's for that matter, where he writes a 3 word statement in nine.
Want terse? I can do. Say the word.
"Glockenspiel", thats the word, right?
Nope. I thought everybody said what was the word.
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“Idiocy! Idiocy! Thrice idiocy!”

The boy stormed. At Angel, he did not glance, fearing for his own anger. Yet she heard him; cringed at each crack of his voice. When he’d lunged her on the undone bed she’d seemed near to excite at the rough promise; but then his temper had blown and there was no more thrill on her face, but fear instead. The bed bemoaned her every wince with a squeal of old wood. The noise drove him further into madness.

He swore and toppled an unoffending chair. His blood churned in his head.

“Test the monster, I said! Test!”
Angel mewled. “I know! I know,” she said, “I do! Only I’d thought—”
“You thought to assault her.”
“No! Well, yes.” A sniff. “I did.”
“What possessed you to so think? What manner of idiocy did take hold of you to imperil us as so?”
The girl wiped a sleeve across her face. “I wanted only to test,” she said, “only to see—see if I could take her by surprise, as she had me, as last time.”
“On the eyes of her master?” said Garion. “Were you rendered witless by some overhanging rock in your descent here? On the eyes of her master?
“I couldn’t see she was here, Cassy!” she sobbed, “I couldn’t! I couldn’t see that she’d come. I was up there, flying, fighting... And you besides... you said it, you did—that you’d made her stay in her chambers! That you’d done so. You said, ‘she shan’t trouble us today.’ How might I know? How might I?”

There was no answer, unless it were the nasal whistling of his breath.

The girl had the right of this, he realised; withal her over-yearning wish to help him, he’d not counted the sound of battle should draw Satori from confinement. The rage was just, yet misaimed. ‘Twas on his shoulder where the fault lay the most heavy. To conceive somehow she should stay locked away for a few bite- and love-marks and mussed hair... The fault lay on him; his wit it was had been dulled and not Angel’s. And lulled, lulled by those artless words: “You win,” the loving eyes; perhaps the touch of soft skin and soap-scented hair... ‘Thad been his doing, all. He’d been fooled—and by himself natheless.

Anger bled from him as though through a sudden-made puncture. He ground what remained of it to bitter dust with a thought: folly, folly, thrice folly; mastered again his ragged breath. When had he turned so ready to madden? This was not he.

He thought he knew who to impute for it. Yet now, different matters called.

To Angel he faced, and to her said, “Strip.”

The girl gaped at him wide-eyed, cheeks blushing in rose-red.

He misliked that blush, the quick unthinking way it came to her homely face. Why could she not blush some way more... refined? The boy chafed at his own thoughts.

“You did so yesterday,” said he to the girl. “I washed your hair also. Why be shamed now?”
Angel shook her waist-long locks. “I did of my own accord. When you tell me, it’s different.”
“How so?”
“It is... is different, it is. You were furious first, now you say to strip... What am I to think?”
“Think not. Obey.”
“I’m embarrassed too.” She embraced her chest. “I don’t know that I want to strip particularly...”
She feared him, one might see as plain as plain; yet he made naught of it, seeing blood drip from her hands.
“You might not,” he said, “but we must tend to your hurts still. I will turn. You strip.”

Angel said not “yes,” nor “no,” but still the blond man did turn and went for supplies, for his pack.

And he heard the whisper of cloth, though after still a moment. Until it finished he made a pretence of searching through his gear for what he’d long found; and but afterward, afterward he returned to his foolish past lover.

Angel perched on the precipice of the bed, dress skinned and laid besides, like almost to the peel of the fruit of which she smelt. The fingers of each hand—two, no more—she pressed timidly on the tips of her breasts: two swells of flesh no bigger than half his palm. The length of her hair tumbled down her bruised and scabbed shoulders, all round her small body; but Garion drew it to her back like two pale-blue curtains. The skin of her breasts reddened where her nails dug into it for the shame of being seen.

The girl watched him fearfully with uncertain eyes as he cleaned her half-clotted scratches and claw-marks. The second instance this should happen, he observed inly, only now on his behest. The task was relaxing, enough that he may rethink his course from here. He traced the dried red trickles on her chin and neck, collarbones and belly. He wiped a cut lip. He pried one of the hands away from her chest to swab it of black blood, but nimbly the other arm flashed across her breast as not to show him too much. A low “Cassy...” was her sole protest. He acknowledged it not, his mind hard at work. He took that arm also.

“Cassy!” The girl yelped at once.
“This is useless,” he said, twisting the gangly arm about. “You are too much dirty to have it off with swabs. You must bathe.”
He felt clearly the pull of her hands wanting to cover her nakedness, but he held them firm.
“Cassy,” she pleaded, “please...”
“You will bathe—but leave your clothes here.” An idea budded in his head. “You can have mine in the meanwhile, but these... Where is your undershirt?” He saw it tossed among her other pieces. “I will have need of this.”

He released her wrists and took up the blood-stained smallcloth. The size was adequate—barely,but so.

Angel fumbled with her freed hands, not certain any more she had dignity left to protect. Neither was Garion. Though he had once taken solace in her body, now it seemed to him an image of poverty. The tan of her arms no longer pleased him. The lack of colour on her lips no longer reminded him of youth. The smell of grass and dirt in her hair reminded him still of the forest and the trail... but he did not want it. The way she squirmed under his scrutiny was no longer endearing, but clumsy, inelegant.

So much he had to look elsewhere.

He conjured up a change of clothes from his pack, for Angel. The towels were in the bathroom, he told, as well as the soaps and shampoos. They were as much Satori’s as they were his now, so she may use them however she wished. She knew the way, for he’d shown her to it the day before. She should go, now. She must go.

And she went, half-nude and shaking, the foolish old lover.

The boy gripped the filthy undershirt and went out also. The direction was all too familiar.

To Satori’s bedroom.

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Satori wins the TiTS
of course, hers are bigger (if the scene of her struggling to fit into that dress of Tenshi's is any sign)
Is Garion becoming more of an asshole, or is it just me?
Nah, he just usually doesn't get a good chance to show it.
I see it too.
It hasn't been really subtle, so I guess we should hate him now?
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Soon he was returned to the tired guest-room, in hand his objective.

The small hostess had been accommodating. A glance at the bloodied cloth, a read of thought, and she’d honoured his seeming-brash wish to lend him a clean garment for Angel. They were after all of like stature, and like height, and she was nothing if not the utter soul of courtesy. There’d been no talk of the mischance with Utsuho (without an apology counts for a talk); and they’d parted erelong, for some trite excuse the boy had concocted on the spot.

At the door ‘twas where she’d stopped him.

“Oh, Garion?” was what she’d said. “There is one more thing.”
“Yes?” replied had he, holding on to both the cloths.
“I’m sending Orin out on an errand on the surface in a few hours. Would you like if she should bring you something? Think whether you have need of anything.”

“... No,” he’d said, at length. “Nothing.”
“All right.” Satori had slid a hand through her pale hair. “She likely won’t be back until late tomorrow, by the way. Or later even; I can’t much feature she’ll be in too much of a rush to have done with it.”
“And you tell me this, because?”
She’d brightened the room with a smile. “I thought you might want to know.”

‘Twould be the end of him if he forfeited his plans for her words. He’d learned by then this lesson.

With the guest-room door shut now behind him, the boy raised the white singlet to his face and breathed in the scent. The conclusion bode well: if his human nose may so easily recognise the sweet smell, doubtless so also would the one of the cat-eared pet-girl. He bundled up this cloth and stuck it safe inside his cloak. The blood-smirched one he threw back together with the others. Angel might wear whatever she willed, but the one cloth he required for another end.

She came from her bathing an idle time later, steaming, complaining for the size of the dress he’d given her to wear. He’d given her clothes; he gave her no heed. He wished but to say to her where he’d be: in the library, should a need for him arise; there she should find him, he said.

And then he left the room and her: cold, confused, and staring.

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The library bathed in prancing shadows from the solitary candle on the desk.

The maps, sketches and notes lay spread across it with no sense nor order. The quill and inkwell dried on the stale musty air. The blond boy sat sunken in an armchair, still, dark and brooding: for hours now, hours quiet and passing unremarked. Angel had brought him leftovers some unreckoned time agone, but the food lay cool and untouched on a plate where she’d set it. She had not made herself to speak to him; and if she had, he had not favoured her with replies. There was but one thought in his head, yet it drove all others far away:


The boy had set his mind. Tomorrow this should end.

He looked on the ink-scrawled sheets and parchments as if only now noticing. The work of those many previous weeks he’d idled away on a mummer’s sham of life. A false pastime to justify his “searches” for what he’d known he’d found already... or hoped. There was anyway scant little to do underground, else than this, studying tomes, or cooking... or seeing to her in her bed, he added on sourly. And yet when he called back those times when they’d lounge on the soft mattress with one another for pillows, he felt a turn inside: not in the stomach, yet higher, nearer the breast. The thought turned black in his head. Tomorrow, that also shall end; but would he truly feel no remorse from it afterward?

An arrowhead of sudden anger pierced him through the chest. Afterward? There was no afterward; there never had been. There was he and his mission; ‘twas all which made matter to him since that fateful day when she’d found him cold and bleeding in the forest; when she had him lick his wounds, told him to wrap them in leaves and scraps torn from his clothes... and when she made him listen to her lectures, oh the lectures, on such dreadful truths as a child should never hear.

And yet, how ungrateful was he, that years after, still he hadn’t thanked her once for her kindness?

“This changes tomorrow,” he said aloud, “oh yes it will.”

He rose sharply from the chair, for good measure swiping his worthless scribblings to the floor. Then he dragged his feet outside.

Angel hugged her knees under a wall just without the stout oaken double-door.

At the sight of him, she leapt upright. A gentle call of not-his name, that fake name she would surely forget not a fortnight after he was gone, she encased him in her bony arms. She whispered something in his ear, and soon they were once more in their dim-lit guest-room. There yet again she cast off her dirtied dress. She acknowledged not his scowls and glares; ushered him instead onto the frayed old bed. She smiled feebly and offered herself to soothe his nerve, though her heart quailed when she laid his golden-crowned head on her bare chest. The stiff peak of her breast stabbed softly into his cheek. The little heart beat: tick-tock, tick-tock, tick, as a tiny clock, ticking away her minutes and days. A strange, alien almost sound: one he had only ever heard from this girl — never from her: his teacher, and never...

... and never from Satori, whose heart hid elsewhere than her breast. Of course. How had he been so deaf, so blind?...

“Cassy?” Angel murmured to him from near his ear.

The boy willed away the thought. This was the last of their times. Should he now fail to please her, she may fail him in the direst of moments on the fatal morrow.

She sat up at his barked command; watched as he turned viciously slow out of his habits. He joined with her in the tousled beddings and took her. He cupped and pinched her measly breasts, and sucked patches of her cream skin where it wasn’t spoiled with red bruises and cuts. He suffered silently as she kicked and clutched at his hair in choking ecstasy, and kissed away each impassioned attempt to bite. He lost himself in her adolescent body, and for an instance, a single dream-like instance this day, forgot everything about his lifelong quest.

When she lay asleep under him, he quit the bed; donned back his clothes, and padded out the room.

The unlit hallways had no sound for him but the echoes of his rumbling footsteps. Again and again, on more weighty feet each proceeding time, he traced the route from her chambers to the storeroom with the basement, and again and again yet, till he may walk it with his eyes bound. And even after, he did walk still, unable somehow to stop: for Angel, the racing blood, the fear: he may not say. Walked he and walked, till his legs flagged and his strength left him.

And when it did, then fell he under the first wall, pulled himself tight in his cloak and squeezed close the aching eyes. Yet sleep would not come, however long he lay. The vile word, same from before, swirled now and glowed hatefully in his mind’s blackness, blood-crimson, hot as white coals: “tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow...”

... Tomorrow. Tomorrow it ends. Now be quiet!

Tossed he and squirmed from then on, tossed and squirmed on the carpeted floor, but sleep eluded him that night.

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And before long, tomorrow became today.

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The more I read this story, the less I understand it.
Okay, so he has a chair set up in an isolated room of the basement and rope, so there probably will be some tying up going on, but beyond that, I can't figure out what the hell he's doing or why.
>The conclusion bode well: if his human nose may so easily recognise the sweet smell, doubtless so also would the one of the cat-eared pet-girl.
Why does he need that?

>A strange, alien almost sound: one he had only ever heard from this girl — never from her: his teacher, and never...
... and never from Satori, whose heart hid elsewhere than her breast.
So, Koishi makes sense too. Would also explain why he doesn't remember her at all.

I also still don't see the significance of the whole ghost possession thing.
Guess we'll be finding out soon enough.
I think I've got an idea of what he's planning.
I'm probably not right. I hope I'm not right.
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Come that evanescent moment, he rose from his sleepless throes.

Stretched he his rigid limbs, joints snapping. The bone in his body felt like cold clay. The sensation was rotten, but no more rotten than a night spent in writhing on the floor. He must move. The time drew nigher each heartbeat. He would later bewail his sordid mood. Time wasted now.

Stalked he on on furtive feet out of the manse, all the while feeling as though eyes had been on his back, yet knowing this was but how he was when he had been sleepless. The scarlet garden flashed by his eye and mind and anon he was crossing the great windswept bridge on the chasm. On then, on; he went among the great stone columns, their humid gloom and growing shadows. The lantern which he’d left behind in the cellar became present to his thought as the orange glow vanished, swallowed completely by the great underground forest. Yet still went he on, the good boy, half-blind but hard and dauntless.

The far end all but leapt out at him from the dark. There was his mark: a notch he’d hammered in the trunk one pillar by way of a waypoint. This meant the balcony-mouth Rin took as a rule loomed now someplace overhead. The boy withdrew the wrinkled shirt from the inside stashes of his cloak and dropped it unceremoniously on the pitch-black rock. The sting of guilt that befell him was as he told himself inane as easily crushed out with a choice oath. The scent should catch in Rin’s keen nose if she should untimely return ere he has done with her master; and her curiosity should have her investigate the smell; buy him a handful precious of minutes. And if even the hostess had lied, and the cat-maid lurked still in some derelict room in the mansion, he would have anyway scattered more counterfeit tracks as he hauled off the traitorous wench.

The plan quick on his thought he stumbled back toward where the friendly light had gone extinguished by the darkness. Today would not wait.

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The house welcomed him back as always, his plan unbeknown to it, nor its haunting quiet, nor its crimson carpets nor mantles. The boy pressed on through its unsuspecting corridors.

Angel woke at his coming and greeted him with the smile of a girl witless with adoration. Garion all but breathed easy. She would do everything for him, and even more; leastwise he may count on this. She went to him, wearing nothing but that foolish smile, and threw her arms around him in some lingering need for touch. And when he murmured in her ear: “Today,” then she kissed him and came away to dress with no needed prompt; for he had explained to her the intimacies of his scheme the night afore, when he lay, limping, filled with dark thoughts repairing from the momentary exile of sex, and when she cleaned the flat of her belly after the act with her own shirts. The memory did nothing for him but make him sick; but for her, it tied her fully to his will and all which it held for her: be it pain, hurt, or threat of death. The girl put on some mismatched clothes: his and hers at once, and urged him on without. She exulted at the nearing end of his journey; tapped the heels of her shoes and spun round her blue skirts as she walked. He did not.

They found soon the room where Utsuho slept those seldom times she did so in the manse. Angel went in alone as Garion pressed into a near alcove and listened as his soft-witted fool delivered the renewed challenge: to settle the score well and away from eye- and ear-shot of the master of the house; for she had broken their match the day before and as such it chafed her, hung and unresolved. The winged one agreed almost at once, even roused from sleep as she had been; and the two tiptoed away toward the front door to do violence upon one another where no one should disturb them—and better for our boy, where they should disturb no one.

This left but him in the great house... him and his small hostess.

Nay, his enemy.

He extracted from his pockets the rope and the rags: gag and blindfold.

Then he slunk on like secret feet to her satin-draped chambers.

The familiar door balked him for a beat on the utmost moment; for he faltered. Yet he must; he must. The chance would not grace him again. The time was now. He must.

He held the rope with his teeth and mouth and slipped inside.

※ ※ ※
Finally it is sexy bondage time.
If this is going to end how I think it ends, YAF might get chased from the site again.
Why? For striking down a monster?
Don't kid yourself, Anon. If a satori ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about.
Save it.
For actually doing what many accused Kira of doing: setting up a massive troll ending.
I am willing to see how he does it.
That's more important than what the ending is.
I don't think this story has enough readers for that.
There's usually a group of readers that don't vote (particularly with YAF's lack of choices as of late), and don't rule of someone getting reinforcements to avenge a Satori-related trolling or anti-YAF agendas. Not me though, I'll just sit here and watch the show.
Oh, a troll ending?

Now I'm interested in this story.
>If this is going to end how I think it ends, YAF might get chased from the site again.

If YAF gets chased out of this site but Kahi is not, there is no justice in this world.
I’ll go off on my own.
Please don't
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