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A familiar cry, growing in volume fast, along with the rapid thumping of naked feet on wooden floorboards.
WHAM, and the poor abused doorknob widened the dent in the wall next to it by another bit. I internally saluted whatever master craftsman managed to make something so sturdy.
Shizuha – for it could have been none other – stood on the doorway sporting her usual sunny grin, holding out a colorful collection of straps and strings.
“I got us swimsuits!”
Looking up from her book, the younger sister breathed in deeply and closed her eyes, as one does when they're about to sigh – but stopped there.
Shizuha's smile didn't fade in the slightest.
“'So?' What do you think, silly?” She skipped her way to Minoriko and pulled on her arm. I'd learned Shizuha was quite fond of touching as she talked, for whatever reason.
I didn't mind it.
“We're going swimming, is what. Today. Now.” She shot me a look. “You too.”
“No, we're not.”
Shizuha mock-pouted. “And why in the heavens not? You're not doing anything either way. Don't you want to go have some fun?”
The answer was immediate. “It wouldn't be proper for a goddess.”
“Oh, please,” Shizuha retorted. “Not that again. What does it matter if you go for a swim? Will anyone stop praying to you because they find out you go out to play sometimes? Plus, you've been doing some other rather 'improper' things for a goddess this past week anyway, or have you not?”
Minoriko silenced, but gave no hint of wavering. The older sister made a displeased face for a moment, before a sly look displaced it. She slid behind me, putting her hands on my shoulders.
“Well, I can't do anything about that, then. I guess I'll just be taking this one with me.”
She stirred at that. Shizuha noticed, and I could feel her smile turning dangerously predatory behind me. She leaned closer, wrapping her arms around my neck.
“Who knows what might happen when I'm completely alone with such a cute boy?”
This earned another twitch.
Shizuha held out the swimsuits again.
“And wearing so little clothi–” Minoriko stood up abruptly, interrupting her.
“Fine,” she said through clenched teeth. “I'll go.”
The change in Shizuha was immediate. She bounced off me, returning to her normal cheery disposition.
“Great! Come with me, let's put these on.”
Minoriko followed, grumbling.
Funny how I didn't even get any say.
We walked this time, to my well concealed disappointment. Or, I should say, I and Minoriko walked while Shizuha pranced and twirled around.
Through the unused-looking paths – I wondered briefly who had built them – she lead us to a secluded spot somehow surrounded almost entirely by mountain face; small trees and shrubs grew through cracks in the stone, coloring the place a pleasant green. A waterfall, short and small compared to others in the mountain, ran down the rocks, forming a clear natural pool just the right size for swimming, before going dropping to and running through the forest, further down. Minoriko's sour look was easing by the minute.
As soon as the pond came into view, Shizuha yelped and, in one swift motion, threw her dress to the ground like it was nothing.
Now, I'll let no man say I'm a lecher, but to not take what you're offered is just impolite.
True, she didn't have as much as her sister, but what she did have was perfect. She was sleek, hints of toned muscle spread throughout her physique. A flawlessly curving navel and strong thighs – a runner's body, to be sure, as seeing her in motion proved. The swimsuit matched her dress, orange with maple leaf prints. Cute.
Unfortunately, I only managed to get a small peek before she dived into the water headfirst.
She waved us closer, only head and arms out of the water.
I glanced to the side: Minoriko was glowering at me. I made an apologetic gesture – I was a healthy young male, what could I do?
Then, it was her turn; and as she undressed, I was reminded that she was, indeed, a goddess, in all possible senses of the word.
I realized that her usual poofy dresses actually did wonders in hiding her figure, and even then, I could tell. I couldn't help it. My eyes went straight to the obvious feature... that is, features.
Her breasts strained against the swimsuit – matching her sister's – and it rebelled, stretching wonderfully and delineating every curve perfectly. She wasn't as slim as Shizuha, but by my life, that was just fine.
So she said, gravely, but the blush in her cheeks was clear to see. I don't think anybody would have blamed me if I didn't, but I averted my eyes anyway.
Shizuha was already making the best of the excursion, darting back and forth in the pond like there were sharks in it. Minoriko, after having some time to soak, looked quite relaxed for someone who didn't even want to come in the first place.
I dived in as well, and found the water pleasantly warm, hot even. Volcanic spring water, perhaps? I'd heard the Youkai Mountain was actually a volcano. It was relaxing enough to make me forget entirely that we were in fact smack in the middle of a mountain chock-full of dangerous youkai.
At some point, Shizuha took a break from her fevered thrashing in the water to swim my way, looking like she was up to something.
She draped herself over my shoulder, touching me with altogether too much of her body, and apparently thinking nothing of it. I thanked my guardian angels for the good sense of self-restraint I was bestowed with.
“So, what do you think?” she whispered conspiratorially, her eyes glued to Minoriko, laying with her eyes closed in the shallows.
In times like this, it was better to play dumb.
“Think about what?”
“What do you mean, 'what'? I bring you this great present, and you won't even acknowledge it?” she returned, affecting a shocked voice; the effect broke right away as she grinned.
“You're really lucky, did you know? Even I have to go through the trouble of barging into the bath just to get to see this. Her. Them.” Did this girl even know what she was saying? Did she feel no shame at all?
She looked down at her own modest self, evidently not having the same thoughts as I. “They're pretty nice, but I think I like mine better. Can you imagine what a pain it would be to run with those? They'd flop all over the place.”
I didn't think she noticed, but at some point she'd gone from whispering back to her normal tone of voice. Her quite loud normal tone of voice. With each word she uttered, Minoriko – not quite far away – got a little redder, her frown a bit deeper. I wisely kept my mouth shut.
She continued, heedless. “Speaking of which, I just want you to know that if you want to try something, you don't have to worry about any interference from me. I think she needs to cut loose anyway, so this might be a good opportun–” “Shizuha.”
She froze on the spot. I think she realized she'd gone a bit over the line, as not another word escaped her mouth, even though Minoriko didn't say anything. She just stared, furious, and blushed bright red, though if from anger or embarrassment was unclear.
Shizuha stopped being quite so rowdy after that, but only for that day, I suspected. Minoriko told me in hushed tones to “forget what I heard”, but that was quite the tall order.
Nevertheless, I felt reinvigorated, and it looked like I wasn't alone. For all her reluctance, Minoriko looked content, almost swaying her hips as we walked back, although that last detail might have been just the result of my state of mind.
I had to thank Shizuha sometime. She did provide a stimulating day, in various ways.
[ ] One nosy tengu stopped by for an "interview", as she called it.
[x] Shizuha dragged me and her sister out for a swim in the river.
[ ] Minoriko took me fishing, resulting in an interesting encounter with a river kappa.
[ ] We were visited by yet another infamous goddess from the forest.
[ ] Shizuha whisked me off again for another short adventure.
[x] One night, a strange noise woke me up, and I just had to investigate...
[x] And finally, I had a chance encounter with a certain green-haired shrine maiden.