You briefly consider taking credit for the whole thing, but decide not to.
"Well, I just mentioned the idea," You say, "Sanae agreed that it might be good so we went to discuss it."
Kanako seems a bit more appreciative of that answer. "Showing some initiative, I like that. Sorry, continue."
Feeling a bit awkward after being praised by a god, you take a few moments to recount where you were. "Right. So after the reporter left, we decided to make our way down to the village..."
Your retelling of the day's events echoes over the calm lake as Kanako and the frog listen. Neither seems bored, so perhaps you're doing a good job. You recount your encounter with the worshippers, Minoriko, and your trip to the village.
"... so, we ran to investigate and found the smith building on fire."
Just as you get to the part about the fire, Kanako speaks up.
"And then, a miraculous rain-storm put out the fire, right?"
"Oh," You say, "I guess you would know this part already."
"Actually, no," Kanako says, "I was just working away up here. Sanae asked for some heavy rain, so I sent some. She doesn't usually ask lightly, or think to tell me why half the time. Was my guess right?"
You nod. "It showed up in a few moments and put enough of it out that the villagers could handle the rest. We pretty much got overrun by a mob after that. They clearly knew Sanae did it."
You can see the old god's eyes light up at that. "Again, good work! That's exactly the kind of thing we need to be doing right now. How many will be coming?"
"They seemed pretty put off by our location," You say, frowning a bit, "We scouted it on the way back, mostly by foot, and can see why."
"How was it?"
You detail the attack, the dead youkai, your attack, and your subsequent dealings with the kappa. Although you try to give a neutral telling, the bit surrounding your attack and the fact that they seemed pretty happy about killing a man causes some anger to bubble back up.
Upon hearing this, Kanako stops listening and clearly starts thinking, looking across the vast lake as she does.
"Did you find the man's body?"
You think about Kanako's question for a moment. "No, but they admitted---"
"I wonder if he wasn't already badly wounded," Kanako continues, "These Kappa aren't supposed to be too troublesome. I'm not sure I believe they're randomly attacking merchants."
"They did mention something about him being an outsider," You say, "But we met at least one other person like that in the fields today. It would be bad if the kappa were randomly attacking those."
"Yes, it would," She says, looking back to you, "That's why I'm wondering if that wasn't just part of it."
[ ] Reiterate that they attacked you, too. It's a serious problem. [ ] It could just be part of it, you guess.
"Well, it could be just part of it," You say, "I just hope it won't turn into a real problem."
"If it does," Kanako says, "Sanae and I will fix it. Don't worry. If humans are using the trail at all, it must be, well, usable."
"You don't sound convinced."
"I'm not," You say, after thinking about it for a bit, "But maybe I'm missing something. I guess it's not worth worrying about."
"Not today, anyway," Kanako says, nodding, "It doesn't sound like they had much of a power structure anyway. If it is a problem, fixing it will be a serious undertaking. Let's see if it's a problem first."
"That's true," You say, thinking back to your conversation with them. Something about kappa gonna do what kappa wanna do. Didn't sound like there was much of a king or even any kind of organization. "By the way, how did the dealings with the Tengu go?
Kanako laughs. "It's too early to tell. These things take time."
"Really?" You wonder, "It sounded like you and the king were on pretty firm footing when we left."
"Well," Kanako shrugs, "It's not good or bad, it's just one step in the process."
"That... doesn't sound good."
Again, Kanako laughs. "I just said it wasn't good or bad, didn't I? We're resuming negotiations tomorrow. For now, we're all still considered visitors on the mountain, and they don't really seem keen on evicting the shrine itself."
"Think they're spying on us right now?" You wonder.
"Oh, most definitely," Kanako says, "They're probably writing down everything we say. So, did your trip end with the kappa?"
[ ] Shall we move inside? [ ] That's fine - if she's not concerned, you aren't.
[x] That's fine - if she's not concerned, you aren't.
It's a bit odd, knowing you might be being listened to, but you continue anyway. The tengu can listen if they want and the Boss doesn't care.
"Pretty much. We flew up over the falls and back here. Sanae took a nap, so I decided to take a walk."
"And here we are," Kanako says, nodding sagely, "Watching a sunset over the lake. A good first day, I think. You pass."
Although it isn't quite sunset yet, the sun is starting to get pretty low. You're attention to detail seems to have taken up quite a bit of time.
She's joking, but you decide to play along. "Pass?" You laugh, "Wait, was I being tested?"
"What kind of boss would hire someone without an interview?"
"An interview? I thought I already had the job?"
You both laugh, gazing out over the lake. "You two seem to work well enough together. But do watch yourself, OK? You almost got killed at least once today."
"Oh, so this is where you two are!"
From behind you, you hear the now familiar voice of Sanae call out.
"I was just filling her in on what happened," You say, "We just finished, actually. And you look pretty energized."
Sanae raises her arms, stretching a bit. "I definitely needed that. Wow, this is a lot of work."
"We've been sitting on our duffs for the last few years," Kanako says, standing up, "Well, not me, but the rest of you. Of course it's going to seem like work."
"Eh? That's not fair! I've never slacked off."
The two of them laugh, and you get the feeling that this isn't uncommon for them. They both seem like they're in a pretty good mood today - and you guess you are too, all things considered. Long day, but satisfying.
[ ] Ask if they're hungry. [ ] Ask about one of the other things that came up during the day. ================================== Mainly asking for where the conversation should go, not specifics. Though I guess if you had some burning question that would be OK.
Also, I'll say in advance that I don't plan to update on the 25th though I will update tomorrow.
"Hey, are you two hungry? It's getting late enough that we should probably start thinking about it."
"Sure," Sanae says, "I was just about to get started cooking, actually, but I wanted to see if other people were ready first."
"Oh, I was thinking I could do it."
Sanae laughs. "I'll have you know, I like cooking. Now that I'm all rested I'll be doing it tonight."
She's not going to let you cook for her tonight, you feel like, but maybe you can figure out some other way to help.
"I'll be joining you two as well," Kanako says, looking out over the lake, "Although, I do feel like something lighter than normal."
"How about you?" Sanae asks.
"Well, I'm pretty hungry," You say, "But I probably shouldn't eat until I'm full."
"Me either," Sanae says, giggling a bit, "But, OK, got it. I'll come find you when it's ready."
She turns around and heads back down the hill. You decide that maybe the way to help now is just to give her a bit of space, and if she enjoys cooking, you'll let her cook... tonight, anyway. You and Kanako watch her go.
"I have a few things to attend to, too," Kanako says, finally, "Try not to catch a cold sitting out here. The autumn air will do that, you know."
"Or maybe I should say, try not to catch a frog in your throat." Kanako says. "Anyway, thank you for the summary. It helps."
You nod. "Good luck attending to... well, whatever it is you're attending to."
"'Whatever', indeed." Kanako laughs, heading up into the sky. She seems to be heading across the lake. You exchange goodbyes, and watch her go, eventually dipping beyond the far edge of the lake.
Well, after being passively expelled from the kitchen, you've got to find another way to kill time.
[ ] Remain here. [ ] Take a walk around the grounds. =================================================== >>30942 Y-you too.
Well, this place is really as good as any. Who knows how often you'll get a chance to really rest like this, so maybe it's best if you take it for what it is.
Again, you gaze out over the surface of the lake.
You glance back to your new companion. No, wait - there's two now.
"I'm just taking a break," You tell them, glancing away. "Don't mind me."
They quiet themselves after that. You know you didn't miss two of them in that shrine before, so they must be able to get up there themselves, somehow. Presumably, they can also get down. You guess you won't bother taking them back into the lake.
As you sit, you faintly feel like you're being watched. Not by the frogs, but by someone else. Maybe it's the mention of the tengu that Kanako made, but it's uncanny. You can't see anything, though so you try to put it out of your mind.
... although, maybe it is by the frogs. Who knows.
You stay like this for a while, undisturbed, until one of the amphibians wriggles it's way into your lap.
You look down, and see it looking up at you. With a hop, it launches itself up into the shrine to join the other two frogs.
Just what is going on here? You're no expert, but even you can tell this isn't normal. You wonder if it's the shrine, or the frogs.
[ ] Examine the mini-shrine. [ ] Watch them for a change.
Clearly, there's something about this shrine that's drawing them to it. Since you're just sitting around anyway, you decide to check this thing out a little more thoroughly.
It's looks to be carved out of solid rock, and incredibly old to boot. It's been pitted by years of sitting outside, the rain taking away little bits at a time. It's shaped a bit like a an old lantern, but with a small figure inside, and the inside is only open on one side.
... although, it's not clear who or what the figure is. Human-ish, you think, but it's very old. Like something you'd see in a museum. You're sure the artist was good for their time, but it's more like something a child would put together these days.
Beyond the small figure, there's nothing of note in the design other than being a bit fancy. At least, nothing that you can see. And certainly nothing that would draw all these frogs up here. You peer inside again, looking for a spider web or something, but nothing. It's disturbingly clean. Sanae, or someone, must be doing upkeep on it.
"What's so interesting about this shrine for you guys, huh?"
"Ribbit." "Ribbit." "Ribbit."
You scratch your head. Mysterious. But, you really don't think you're going to figure this one out on your own. Still, it's a shrine and it clearly has some place in the Moriya shrine, so you decide to offer a prayer to the unknown one inhabiting it.
... and, although you're not quite sure what you expected, nothing happens. Opening your eyes, you see all three frogs blankly staring.
"Well, that's that then---"
For just a second, you hear an unknown voice. You look around, but see nothing. And you're not even sure you heard it, after thinking about it for a bit. It was more like the sound appeared in your head.
Strange. Well, if it worked once it'll work again. Maybe you're just getting the process wrong or something. You definitely want to figure out who that was that you heard.
This time you'll get it for sure. Enthusiastically, you close your eyes again and begin to offer prayer to the unknown god.
Time passes. And not a little bit, either - you get so into it that by the time you open your eyes again, the sun has dipped below the crater containing the lake. But still, you hear nothing new in response. The frogs at the mini-shrine have taken to just staring at you now rather than making noise, although their family down in the lake have gotten quite chatty.
As you contemplate what to do next, though, you do finally get your response.
"Mmmm... I'm trying to sleep. Ask Sanae if you need something."
... you're not quite what you were expecting, but that's definitely the same voice - although a bit more groggy sounding than last time.
"Sorry for what?"
Sanae's now familiar voice rings out from behind you. Turning around, you see her standing there - still with her apron on.
"The food's ready," She says, "Where's Kanako? She's not around the shrine."
"She, uh," You stand up, "Took off somewhere. I'm not sure to where."
"Huh. Should we wait?"
[ ] We can wait elsewhere. Wouldn't want to disturb the sleeper. [ ] Pepper her with questions about this lake and mini-shrine.
[x] We can wait elsewhere. Wouldn't want to disturb the sleeper.
"Yeah," You say, walking back towards Sanae and the steps leading down, "We don't have to wait up here, though."
You've got question, but they can wait - at least until you're out of earshot. Or... well, whatever it is that gods use to sense things like prayer or presence.
Sanae nods. "Have you been up here this whole time?"
"It's a nice place to sit," You say, as the two of you descend, "Although the frogs and the shrine are a bit strange."
"The goddess of that shrine is a friend of frogs everywhere," Sanae says, "So it's not too strange that the frogs like it."
Thinking back to earlier, you run across one of the questions you've got queued up for Kanako. "It's not Kanako's shrine, is it? It must be that other goddess."
Sanae nods, but doesn't say much more. Definitely a topic for dinner, when everyone is there.
"I think I disturbed her earlier," You continue, "That's why I said sorry earlier."
Sanae laughs. "Oh, she sleep talks, I wouldn't worry too much about it."
"She sleep talks about being asleep?"
"She sleep talks about everything," Sanae laughs, again, "I don't have to be up here to hear it either."
The two of you make idle chat as you return to the main shrine. You scan the sky, half-expecting Kanako to come swooping down at any moment, but instead you see...
"Is that a person?"
High above the shrine there's indeed a human-like figure silhouetted against the evening sky. They are definitely keeping their distance, though. Your mind again slips back to Kanako's note about the tengu spies, but... would one of them really be out in the open like that?
"I don't see anything," Sanae says, looking skyward. You raise your arm to point, but as you do, you take your eye off of it - and it's simply gone.
"Weird," You say, your arm slumping back down to your side, "I don't see it any more."
"What are you looking at?"
A loud, commanding voice rings out from behind you. Kanako, you can tell. It's still startling, but you're also becoming familiar with it.
"Illusions, I guess," You say, shrugging.
"Good timing! We're ready to eat if you are."
"Starved," Kanako says, "I hope you made extra."
Didn't she just say she only wanted a light meal?
"I always do! Even I'm starved today."
Confused, you follow them inside. She... wasn't kidding. This is even more food than last night. Just how long were you up there? Or is Sanae just that much of a professional?
As the two of you sit down, Kanako sets a few small glasses around the table. You see Sanae's smile fade just a little bit as she does, as if she knows where this is going.
"Drink?" Kanako asks, simply.
[ ] You'll pass. [ ] Sure, but only because it'd be rude not to. [ ] Fill er' up. ============================================================= Forgot I was helping a neighbor with their computer around noonish today. I'll shoot for noonish tomorrow though.
Not that you drink often, but today seems like a reasonable day to have one. "Sure. What's the occasion?"
Before the words are even out of your mouth, though, Kanako has already procured a bottle from somewhere started to pour. Sake, you imagine. It's glass, with a modern cap - you imagine this came into Gensokyo with the shrine. After pouring all three glasses, she sets the bottle on the table.
"Our first real day in Gensokyo was a success," Kanako says, "So we're celebrating that."
Sanae looks to you questioningly. "What did you tell her?"
"Huh? Only what happened."
Kanako laughs, raising her glass. "I didn't say it was perfect, did I? But it was all better than it could have gone. Well done, to both of you."
You take up your glass as well. Sanae seems a bit hesitant, but she joins you two in celebration for the first round.
The sake is incredible, and coupled with Sanae's equally incredible home cooking you find yourself enjoying the best meal you've had in years. So, you have another helping - because Sanae seems keen on keeping your plate full. And, another glass, because Kanako seems intent on not leaving your glass empty for more than a few seconds.
... you go with it for a while, mostly listening to Sanae give a much lighter version of the day to Kanako. Hers is focused more on the goddesses she met and their abilities, and she seems relieved to have Kanako fill in most of the blanks by recalling your telling.
The sake is definitely starting to hit you, though. And you've started to lose count of how much you've had - not a good sign. But you count two bottles on the table now, one empty, and you can't recall Sanae's glass being refilled even once.
"This is all a lot to go on," Kanako nods, sagely. She's drinking at about the same rate as you, but seems completely sober somehow. "I wonder how many we'll get on our side."
"Hmm... they all seem pretty content," Sanae says, shaking her head, "But I think we could convince them eventually."
"You think?" Kanako says, reaching for the bottle. She tops off your glass as well as her own. "Well, I guess it's something for later."
[ ] <You start to feel a bit silly> [ ] <You can hold your liquor well... enough> ======================================================= Been a bit off this week, and tired this weekend. Apologies if this is even rougher than usual. It probably will be for another week or so.
You feel your face start to flush a bit. "They do seem pretty... uh, happy on their own. Independent."
Kanako nods, sagely. "Most do."
Although you vaguely consider slowing your pace, like Sanae, you decide to keep it up. Worst case, you'll end up incoherent or asleep. Besides, how many bottles can she have stashed over there? It's not every day you can drink with a goddess.
With dinner absolutely destroyed, and you no longer stuffing your face, you decide that maybe you can get some of your questions out of the way now.
"So, if this isn't a thing to ask, stop me. But what's up with that mini-shrine? And the lake?"
"That's... a long story," Kanako says, "Even for a god."
You take another drink. Again, she fills your glass with amazing speed. No, maybe Sanae has the right idea after all.
"I'm, uh..." you stumble over your thoughts a bit. "How long?"
"Kid, Rome was still around when it starts," Kanako shifts her gaze to Sanae. "Think I should trust him?"
"I don't know," Sanae laughs, taking up her glass but only taking a sip from it. "What do you think? Maybe we should put him through some trials or something first?"
The goddesses' gaze meets yours, as if she's looking to see what's behind your eyeballs. Hah. She acts tough, but yeah, she's definitely getting a bit drunk herself. You can see the mask starting to crack a bit. Not that you are much better - you find it physically hard to return her gaze.
Finally, she turns back to her own glass and takes a drink herself, seemingly satisfied. "Well, I'll give him the short version. But we'll need some snacks."
Looking strangely relieved, Sanae nods and stands up. "Should I get some more sake, too?"
Oh. You hadn't considered this possibility. That wouldn't be good. But, it seems Kanako had - and she sets another bottle on the table. "No, I've got that covered."
Sanae just laughs, "Wow. Were you really that thirsty?"
Even Kanako is starting to seem a bit drunk. "Absolutely. I worked hard today... but I'm not sure what his excuse is! And besides, something like this is fine every once in a while."
The only thing fearsome you find in this god now is her drinking habits. Strangely, you're perfectly at home with this kind of banter. "Yeah. And... uh, that's my excuse."
"Hey, that excuse isn't bad either," Kanako says, lifting her glass, "Cheers."
Sanae takes the opportunity to leave the room, smiling and shaking her head. After she does, Kanako leans over the table towards you. You lend her your ear.
"She's incredible, but do you know her weakness?"
"Who else would I be talking about?"
"... what is it?"
"No, no," Kanako says, "You have to guess."
"...mmm." You pause for what feels like a genuine minute. Alcohol, obviously.
...swing and a miss. Too distracted and sleepy this week - and that's why I was doing noonish updates for a while to begin with.
Since night isn't working, starting tomorrow I think I'm going to switch to morning updates. Grab a cup of coffee, some breakfast, and write after I've waken up a bit. Can't hurt to try it for a while.
Kanako leans back, a puzzled look on her face. "... you know, I hadn't considered that. I wonder if she is?"
"You don't know? I figured you knew everything."
Kanako laughs. "No, I don't. It's a good question. Could you find out for me?"
You admit... you're a bit tempted by her offer, especially in your current state. But, no - none of that. No. Bad idea. It's several months too early for something like that.
"Find out what?" Sanae asks, returning to the room. Oh, those snacks look good. Perfect for sake and a story.
"Are you ticklish?" Kanako asks, bluntly.
"Am I what?"
Sanae looks to you, suspiciously. "What are you two talking about in here?"
You snort, unable to even give an answer to that. Yeah, no. You can't do this either. Too silly.
"We were discussing your weaknesses," Kanako says, playing it straight, "If he's going to be parterning with you, he'll need to know them."
"O-oh, I see."
Sanae sets the food down in front of you two. There's a moment of silence, but Kanako breaks it shortly.
"... yes," Sanae says, before looking up. "But are you?"
"What?" Kanako laughs, "What kind of god would just admit her weaknesses?"
"I bet you are, aren't you!"
"Wai--hahaha! No, stop!"
Sanae, sitting on the side between you and Kanako, has no trouble reaching the poor goddess and testing her theory. You aren't sure what to do when confronted by this scene, so you quietly take another drink and contemplate reality. A powerful, and very ticklish, goddess being subdued by her priestess. Fascinating.
"W--hahah--what about him?"
Both of them turn to you. Uh oh.
[ ] Apologize profusely for starting all this. You may be spared yet. [ ] ... yes. [ ] Not at all. =================================================== That might have worked, had, well, work not got in the way bright and early today.
And as a side effect of a bad case of work flaring up, I'll be in various states of travelling through Wednesday night. Guessing I won't be able to update until Thursday next, but I may manage something Monday if there's time.
You're not sure whether your current state of mind helps, but you quickly roll into your own defence. "No... not at all."
Sanae gives up on Kanako for the moment, looking at you quizzically. "Really?"
You shake your head. "Honestly. Really. Absolutely positive."
Much like Kanako's never ending sake, the words just pour out of your mouth. Yeah, you don't think you're getting away with this one. Sanae's questioning expression turns to one of suspicion as you babble on.
"Whha..ha...hat do you think, Sanae?" Kanako asks, still catching her breath.
Sanae is still holding Kanako with one arm, but with her grip loosened Kanako wriggles free.
"Ahem," the god coughs, straightening out her clothes, "Why don't you find out for me?"
Sanae takes a rare drink herself as she considers her options. Realizing that you, too, are within arm's reach... you pre-emptively scoot away.
She's seemingly not interested in lunging for you just yet, though. Instead, she looks a bit bashful at the suggestion.
"Phahaha! Oh, this is fun," Kanako cackles, filling all three of your glasses. She looks to you. "So, you do know you won't be escaping divine justice for your lies, right? Not even one as brazen as that!"
"No, I'm not lying," You say, taking another drink. You'll need it for where this is going. "Definitely no---hehhah, stop!"
As you answer, something tickles your foot. Or, more likely, a rather well controlled draft does. You shift your weight off of it and look behind you, but as you do, all you see is Sanae's smile growing more mischievous.
"I'm a kind god," Kanako continues, "So I'll let you choose - who's going to administer your punishment?"
Neither is going to hurt you, of course, but you instinctively shy away from the kind of punishment a several thousand year old god could come up with.
"It's gotta be you," You say, turning to Sanae with as much of a bow as you can manage at the table, "Please, be gentle."
Kanako howls with laughter. "Sanae, I'll leave it to you then. But if you need any ideas..."
Meanwhile, Sanae takes another drink. And another. You hope she's not trying to catch up with you two.
"No," Sanae says, the alcohol causing her words to stick a bit in her throat, "I'll come up with something. Hmm..."
Your host pours another round. You decide to shift your focus to the snacks rather than your glass. Somehow, you suspect she's got even more than these three bottles stashed somewhere. "So, what happened to that story?" You wonder out loud.
"Hmm. What story?" Kanako wonders.
"About the lake and the small shrine."
"Oh... right. The short version," Kanako says, "Basically, that's the original shrine for this shrine, if that makes sense. The Moriya shrine started off as just the lake and a pile of stones. The first humans to worship here carved that small shrine. We added the grounds much later."
"But... it's not your shrine, right?"
Kanako shakes her head. "It is now. But it wasn't always. The god of that shrine and I were enemies once, but we're partners now. She still likes it more than the one out front so we leave it around."
[ ] Try joking about this being shady business. [ ] Listen respectfully. ===================================== It slipped my mind to post last night. Hard to get back into the rhythm of writing when nothing else is in rhythm right now.
I'll call and start writing in about 17h or so. Need to resume my plan of morning updates - technically I did this today, but my concept of "morning" is really screwed up right now thanks to last week.
You munch on a few snacks as you listen. Partially to keep you quiet. This all still sounds pretty shady still, but... you don't care too much, you guess, not after all that sake.
The short version glosses over most of the details. These two fought, although Kanako avoids mentioning the reason, and Kanako won. Rather than kill her enemy she decided it would be better if they worked together, so now she gathers all the faith at the main shrine. Somehow. You don't understand the details.
"The whole story is pretty boring," Kanako continues, "But that's why this is the Moriya shrine, and not the Kasaka shrine. We didn't want to change the branding too much. As an assistant priest, you should at least know---"
"Take off your shirt!"
Suddenly, out of nowhere, Sanae interrupts. You burst out laughing. "What?"
"Your punishment!" She says, her speech starting to sound a bit slurred as she takes another drink. Guess your hunch about her weakness was right. "It's cold in here, so... it'll be a little uncomfortable."
"Oh, Sanae," Kanako laughs, "That's not bad. But are you sure you want to use your punishment right away?"
Sanae seems bewildered. "Huh?"
Kanako closes her eyes and nods, like a teacher who has seen this mistake a thousand times before. "You see, holding a punishment over someone is pretty valuable. Spending it so frivolously..."
[ ] <take off shirt> [ ] <wait> =============================================== Failed again, but I'm getting tired of my utter failure in waking up not letting me update so here is one.
Before Kanako can finish, you wriggle your way out of your shirt. It's a bit difficult given the formality of your priest clothing, but you still manage with pretty good speed. The garment drops to the floor behind you.
Kanako shakes her head sadly. "... well, I guess there's always next time."
"W-wait!" Sanae cries, "I wanna---"
"Nope," You say, firmly. "I will take my punishment like a man."
With that opening, you got lucky this time... though, it is actually pretty cold in here. That autumn air must be creeping in from somewhere. The warmth from all the sake will keep you warm enough, though.
"Like a man, indeed," Kanako chuckles, looking over your upper body. She seems pleased, somehow. "Sanae, when is the last time we even had a man stay overnight at the house?"
Sanae, finally realizing she's just made you half-strip in front of her, blushes a bit and looks away from both of you two. "Never?"
"Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
"What's that supposed to mean?!"
She handled Aya so skilfully earlier, but you guess Kanako probably knows all her weaknesses.
"For example," Kanako laughs, "I'd never turn down another drink. What did you think I meant?"
Kanako goes to top off all three glasses, but she only gets through Sanae's and half of yours before the bottle runs dry as she does. Disappointed, she sets it near the other two.
Two? Wait, when did she even open the third one? And why is there a fourth on the table already? Things are definitely starting to get a bit hazy.
[ ] Do what you can to slow the pace here. [ ] Go with the flow. This is getting amusing. ===================================================== I'll call about an hour earlier than this, and update maybe a bit later on a normal day. But this is about the correct time.
Although you briefly consider what will happen if this continues, the idea quickly falls out of your head. As Kanako unscrews the fouth bottle and refills your glass, you offer no resistance. You'll go where these two lead - you feel that wherever that is, it'll be an amusing time.
"You sure wouldn't turn one down," Sanae says, taking another drink herself. Then, she laughs. "How can you even drink that much? My head's getting all funny."
"How can you tell?"
Kanako laughs, before turning to you with a worrying gaze. It reminds you of one a snake might give a mouse. "Sorry, sorry. I guess I should be picking on our new guest more, shouldn't I?"
"You should. We should! But what can we do?"
With the attention turning back to you, Kanako seems to think about it. "Then again, what if we just scare him off? I can only tease you so much because I know you won't run away, Sanae."
Not wanting to dig your own grave, you mostly keep quiet and chuckle a bit. These two are something else. But this sure beats what you were doing yesterday morning.
"Hmm. And he's so quiet," Kanako says, leaning over the table to look you in the face, "Maybe he's hiding some dark secret from us? You can't exactly tease a murderer about murder, can you? Or an exhibitionist about exhibition? Although, maybe you can if they like being teased..."
You raise your glass and offer a clumsily worded toast. "To the Moriya shrine. I guess I'm not even mad that you guys dragged me here."
Kanako laughs. "Sure, sure. It's fun to have someone around to drink with for a change."
"I can drink too!" Sanae says, sounding slighted. As if to prove a point, she downs the rest of her glass after the toast. "See?"
"Mmm, you certainly can."
They try for a while, but eventually give up on the idea of finding some way to tease you. The final verdict is that they just don't know you enough, and that we'll need to do this again in another month.
With that settled, the conversation mostly drifts off into a haze. You, and you suspect Sanae, aren't too sure where the conversation is going, but it's fun. That's what matters. Or at least, what matters at a thing like this.
... as time goes on, a 5th bottle appears in Kanako's hands, dispensing sake into your glass.
"You know, that's probably enough punishment for him - don't you think, Sanae? He's going to catch a cold if he keps sitting around half naked like that."
"Huh? Oh... yeah..."
She's sloshed. But you aren't much better. Kanako gives you a nod as you touch your shirt, so you put it back on... sort of. You leave it open in the middle, mainly due to getting confused with the rest of the outfit.
"Hah... well, maybe we didn't need this one," Kanako says, setting the bottle next to the others at the end of the table. "I wonder if the locals make sake this good. I didn't think to check when I was scouting."
You notice that Sanae's glass is empty, but Kanako doesn't seem to be in much of a rush to fill it. She seems OK filling yours and hers, though.
"I'd get fat if I ate the food there," Sanae says, definitely slurring her words a bit, "But it smelled good."
You nod. You can still remember the smell of the village square. "Some of that yakitori from one of those stands would be really good."
"Oh! It would! Let me---whoa---"
Sanae stands up, but her balance seems pretty off as well. She sits back down, abruptly.
"You'd burn down the shrine," Kanako laughs. She must have noticed the temptation in your eyes as well, because she looks to you. "You're not much better off. I forbid either of you from using the stove tonight."
You lean back on your hands. "No, I know my limits. It's impossible. We're doomed to no yakitori."
"Break your limits!" Sanae cries out, "Hyper limit BREAKER!"
A strong gust of wind sends some of the lighter dishes still on the table spinning a bit, with lighter bits of food and salt scattering as well.
"I'm... gonna go to bed," Sanae says, suddenly looking ridiculously tired. "Goodnight."
Kanako gives her a nod. "Goodnight, Sanae."
You bid her a goodnight as well, and watch as she stumbles out of the room.
"Honestly," Kanako says, after a few moments, "She always gets like that when she drinks."
"Right down to the going to bed once she's realized she's really drunk," Kanako nods, sagely, "It's like clockwork. I didn't think she'd join us, because she knows it too."
"By the way," Kanako says, "How are you liking Gensokyo so far?"
"It's fun," You say, honestly, "When I'm not almost being killed."
"Good answer. How fine are you with staying here for a while?"
"... what do you mean?"
"Months, maybe years."
[ ] Mostly fine. [ ] You'd probably be killed before that. [ ] ... ask me again tomorrow. ===================================================== So I actually tossed what I wrote and wrote this in the time I intend to write. Progress.
"Well, no sense being misleading," Kanako says, shrugging, "The shrine's faith needs come first, and that's going to take months. Maybe just a few, but maybe a few dozen."
You think back to your old life. It wasn't great, but it wasn't too bad either. You won't miss your job, and you're not really all that close with anyone at the moment. But if you suddenly reappear after a few years, it's gonna be really weird.
Still, you can't really force a god to value you over her shrine.
"Do I have much of a choice?"
"You don't have to stay at our shrine - I imagine we won't really need your help for more than a week or two," She says, pausing to sneak a few more snacks, "If you stay in the village, you might meet someone else who can get you back sooner. We could come find you if you're still around when we're ready."
Quietly, you think about that for a bit, sneaking a few snacks yourself.
"I guess I'm mostly fine with it," You say, finally. "But I'm drunk and it's only been a day and a half."
Kanako gives you a sage nod. "I won't hold you to it just yet. But, you know, a god should know where her priests are at. Physically and otherwise."
You offer a toast at that, draining your glass. Yeah, definitely won't miss your old job. "Thanks. But are you saying you can't read minds?"
She laughs. "I wonder? But even if I could, it would be rude to do it, don't you think?"
You think back to the first time you saw her, and how she was commenting on your entirely internal prayer.
"I wonder, but... hey, didn't you do something like that when we first met?"
"Prayer is different," She says, with a grin, "Those are mine the moment they enter your head. And it's pretty obvious when someone is afraid, you don't need to read minds for that. Another?"
She holds her hand near the bottle of sake, clearly giving you an opening to turn her down if you wished. It looks like she's enjoying herself. You are too - so whatever. You nod.
"Tomorrow's gonna be rough," You say, "But the sake is delicious."
Kanako pours you another one. "Well, you might be surprised about tomorrow, actually. Sanae is a miracle worker after all."
[ ] (write-in) ============================================ Today I snoozed the alarm... forever, apparently. I guess my body is only an hour off of my target time, rather than 4. So, that's not too bad. I almost had time to wrap this up before heading to work.
Not a huge fan of write-ins, but I don't think there's anything lost by offering it if I'm gonna write tomorrow anyway. I'll just come up with some topics myself if you can't think of anything.
[x] "Miracle worker, indeed. She really helped me today" [x] "I wonder if I'll be able to do things like that..." [x] "I've heard of Kappa and Tengu in myths... I wonder which other fantastical creatures are here"
There are a million ideas in my head but I'll throw just these three for now.
[x] "Miracle worker, indeed. She really helped me today" [x] "I wonder if I'll be able to do things like that..." [x] "I've heard of Kappa and Tengu in myths... I wonder which other fantastical creatures are here"
[x] "Miracle worker, indeed. She really helped me today" [x] "I wonder if I'll be able to do things like that..." [x] "I've heard of Kappa and Tengu in myths... I wonder which other fantastical creatures are here"
"Miracle worker, indeed," You say, thinking back to the events of the day. "She really helped me out today."
"Those were all just little things," Kanako says, a bit dismissively, "Just wait until she's in good metaphysical shape and feels comfortable showing off."
"What do you mean?"
"You said she seemed pretty tired, right? Everything she did today is really pretty trivial. I think she's trying too hard, but once she realizes it's easier than she thinks you'll see some real miracles."
That thought depresses you a bit. "Really. I wonder if I'll be able to do things like that, some day."
"Feeling a bit left out?"
"Well... a little. Earlier today I didn't think it bothered me, but it might be useful if I could defend myself."
Kanako thinks about it for a moment. "Well, you're just a human, and Sanae isn't. But stranger things have happened, and normal humans can defend themselves from youkai with proper training."
"Isn't Sanae just a human? She mentioned she was stronger because she was a priestess... or something."
"She's semi-divine. That's part of why she's so strong."
"What, like Heracles or something?"
Kanako laughs. "Sure. Well, a bit more human than that. You'd have to go back quite a ways in her family tree to find where the God entered it. I've trained her since birth, though, so she's pretty far above a normal human."
The idea of a Kanako getting a baby involved in her schemes makes you laugh. "Doesn't that break some kind of child labor laws? Ow!"
The god playfully swats at you from across the table. "Not like that, you nitwit. But she has lived at the shrine all her life. I've just made sure she was always aware of her power. People tend to forget their talents if they aren't reminded in some way."
Does that make sense? You're not entirely sure, but you nod anyway. And the idea of a little baby flying around or whatever is enough to make you chuckle.
"You've probably got some embarrassing stories of her, then, if you've been around her that long."
Kanako's face beams, and her old woman suddenly shows through. "Ohohoho, if only you knew! Sanae would never forgive me for telling them to you now, but... eventually, maybe. We can tease her about them together some day."
"It sounds like I'm pretty much out of luck on getting any kind of power, though," You muse, returning to your drink, "I figured as much."
"Didn't I just get done saying Sanae was a miracle worker?"
"... oh." She's right, of course, but you hadn't really though about it like that. "That's pretty much manufacturing luck. So I guess it doesn't matter if I'm out of it."
"Phahaha! I don't think I've heard anyone put it like that before. I'll need to remember that one."
Your drinking buddy pours another round. "That aside, this is Gensokyo. There'd be consequences, but you'd be able to get that kind of power in one way or another if you wanted it. Do you?"
"... I wonder. I don't think so. Not right now."
"Sending you out with Sanae is still the plan," Kanako says, "And it sounds like it worked pretty well today. She won't let anything happen, especially not if you have faith in her."
"And you, I guess."
"Well, it wouldn't hurt."
"Still..." you pause for a moment, "We've already met some kappa, tengu, and a few other goddesses today. I wonder what else is out there."
"Do you know what Gensokyo is?"
"... no, not really."
"It's a place for youkai that that can't exist in the outside world. So if they existed in the past, they're probably here. Kappa and tengu do exist outside Gensokyo, but it's easier for them to live here."
"They look a little different than they do in the pictures, though. Those kappa were pretty cute, and not green old balding things."
"Did you actually see if they were balding or not?"
You think back. They definitely had hair, but...
"They were all wearing hats. ...no. That's horrible. I refuse to believe it."
"Pfft. The truth is hard sometimes, isn't it?"
"It's not truth." You laugh. No way. "I refuse, damn it!"
Kanako laughs along with you. "Another? We're almost done with this bottle."
You've accepted your current fate. But maybe you don't have to doom your entire future. "Sure. But don't open another one."
"I wasn't planning to. You'd keep going if I kept opening them, wouldn't you?"
"Even a miracle wouldn't save you if you tried to keep up with me." She says, clearly enjoying herself. "I'll show mercy on you tonight."
You talk about nothing much of importance after that. Kanako does seem interested in your past, but there's really not much to tell about it, so the whole thing fits nicely around drinking the remaining sake. But this is definitely a good stopping place. After the two of you munch down the remaining snacks as well, you just face each other and nod.
Yes, all three of you will get along fine, you think. You feel pretty confident in that now.
"Well, that's that. I'll see you tomorrow," Kanako says, standing up first, "You can still stand, right?"
"Dunno. Let's see."
... your balance is bad enough that you definitely can't do so on your own power. But you're able to manage using the wall behind you. "Hah. Yeah. I'll see you tomorrow."
... you wake up disoriented, still in your clothes, and lying sideways on your stomach across your futon. You don't remember the walk back to the room, but you vaguely remember "taking a rest" when you got there before getting ready for bed. And now here you are.
Rolling over, you find that you just feel a bit tired and maybe a bit sore from your sleeping position. The sun is pretty bright, too - so you imagine you've overslept. But, somehow, your head and stomach both feel fine.
"It really is a miracle," You mutter, sitting up. There's a pretty wonderful smell wafting down the hall. Sanae must be awake, at least, as Kanako doesn't strike you as much of a cook.
[ ] ... you wonder if they have a shower. [ ] See what's going on in the kitchen. =========================================== Started at almost the right time, but it ended up a bit long. If I'm going to update in a given day, don't expect it much later than this post.
Even if someone else is awake... you are very much not. You could use something to help wake yourself up. You wonder if they've got a shower? Would it even make sense for them to have a shower? You know they mentioned a bath earlier, but... well, you guess you'll just look.
Changing out of your priest clothes and into your street clothes for the moment, you slide open the door. Dang, that does smell good. You'll make this quick.
Sanae's room is definitely empty as you walk by. Seems she beat you this morning.
Fortunately, you remember your way to the bath... and find that there is indeed a shower. The whole thing looks pretty modern, much like the kitchen. It wouldn't be out of place to find this kind of bathroom in a modern home.
There's a towel folded neatly near the bath, with a cute frog-shaped bar of soap and a bit of shampoo nearby. For you, you'd guess - there's another towel hanging nearby that looks like it was used recently, and there's only two in here that you can see.
You briefly consider a cold shower, but even just walking over here has helped a bit. You run the water until it's hot, and hop in.
As you wash your hair, you hear a series of loud thumps from what you'd guess is outside the building, or in a distant room. A pause, and then a few more - these ones being much more rapid in succession.
[ ] Can't be that important. [ ] ... maybe you should hurry this up.
... well, whatever it is, it can wait. If it were someone at the door, maybe, but something outside can't be that important. You go back to scrubbing.
You end up taking a pretty long shower. The water just feels too good on your aching body. It probably wasn't the sleeping position, you realize, but all the walking you did yesterday. Today, you hope you get to do a bit more sitting - or at least, maybe get a few more breaks.
As you step out of the shower, you hear another series of thumps. These ones are definitely coming from the roof. You reach for your towel, unconcerned, and begin to try yourself. Then, another series, and another.
Then, suddenly, a blue blast of light pierces into the bathroom, missing you by a few feet. With it, wood splinters and dust spill into the room.
[ ] Look up the hole [ ] Flee =============================================== No update tomorrow, next one will be Monday.
After all that went on yesterday, you're surprisingly calm about the whole affair. You gird yourself with your towel and look through the hole, hoping to catch the source. With your eyes, that is, and not with your face.
On looking up, you see three familiar faces - Sanae, Kanako, and... oh, it's that reporter from yesterday. Aya, you believe?
Before you have a chance to react, the tengu snaps a quick picture of you in your undried glory. Then, with a blast of light, Sanae starts up some danmaku and they both launch into the sky. Kanako remains hovering just above the new skylight.
"What's going on?"
"Just a little morning danmaku play," Kanako says, seemingly unconcerned about the damage. "Sanae seems upset about something that reporter did."
"Huh." A few thoughts run through your mind... but really, the first one is that you should probably get dry and dressed. "You mind? I'm still in the bathroom."
"No, I don't mind."
You answer with an unflinching stare.
Kanako laughs. "Hmm, fine."
No more rogue lasers pierce the living quarters while you dry yourself. As you return to your room, you decide that you should probably go outside and see what's going on. But, what to wear...
[ ] Casual clothes. You won't be leaving the shrine just yet. [ ] Priestly clothes. You resolve to always be on the job.
[x] Priestly clothes. You resolve to always be on the job.
... you put on your priestly clothes. You guess going forward that you should consider yourself to always be on the job. They're also pretty cool looking. Today, you manage to get them on without much difficulty.
Cleaned, clothed... the only thing missing now is some breakfast, but you suppose that will have to wait. You want to see what's going on outside.
You pass through the main room on your way out. It's spotless. Someone must have cleaned up after your shenanigans last night. The food smell seems to be coming from the kitchen, so either it's all gone or it's waiting patiently for people to eat it. You decide it best to ignore it for now.
The morning sun and a brilliant light show greet you as you step outside. Just based on the sun, you don't think you've overslept too much, so that's good.
Sanae's blue bullets and lasers light up the sky with Aya's red and orange ones. Sanae's patterns are a lot more dense than you remember them being yesterday - and you don't remember the lasers at all. Aya's seem to be at about the same level. If those thumps that you heard earlier were stray bullets striking the living quarters, they've been at this a while. Doubly impressive.
You look around, expecting to see Kanako somewhere, but she's nowhere to be found. You do notice a paper lying near your feet - "Bunbunmaru News". The headline?
"Strange God Invades Mountain!"
[ ] Sit on the porch and read the paper. [ ] Quietly watch the fight. [ ] Cheer Sanae on.
Yep, got too confident. With my target time, I'd have to wake up earlier one day a week. I guess I should have set my target time at the earliest I'd have to get up so that I can wake up at a single time (and not be thrown off like this).
You turn your eyes skyward to look back up to the fight. The paper isn't going anywhere, but this battle will eventually end. The two combatants have moved to the far end of the shrine grounds, near the entrance - probably so that they don't hit anything else.
The more you watch the patterns unfold, the more you start to understand the point of all this. Or at least, you think you do. It's meant to be beautiful, and honestly, it feels a bit like a game to you. Or maybe a sport.
Maybe like boxing?
As you watch, you see that the dodging from both these two is pretty on point. From your perspective, it's a bit hard to tell exactly where all the bullets are going or how to even follow what is going on. But, after a minute or so, Aya's pattern suddenly dissolves.
You can't help but let out a cheer when it does. That's good, right? Sanae looks at you, but just as she does you see that Aya's pattern starts back up again.
You do your best to cheer Sanae on.
"She's getting pretty good. Go, Sanae!"
While you were engrossed in the battle, Kanako took a seat next to you. She's intently watching the fight.
The battle just gets more intense the more you watch. The density and speed of the bullets just grows and grows, seemingly limitless... for probably five or so minutes, anyway.
But, eventually, both patterns stop in unison. The combatants lower themselves to the ground. Sanae nearly doubles over in exhaustion when she lands, but Aya looks about as you remember her yesterday... although, maybe a bit unsteady.
"Did she lose?" You wonder aloud.
"No," Kanako says, "A draw. But I suspect the crow could have won had she kept going."
[ ] Wander over. [ ] Wait here. ===================================== Kind of funny how fragile that sleep victory was. Guess I will have to try harder. Update tomorrow at the usual time (hopefully).
Turning to Kanako, though, you notice... she's no longer there. It's a bit disturbing, but you guess vanishing randomly might be fine for a god. She's probably got stuff to do.
With a shrug, you make your way towards the center of the shrine grounds where those two are. As you draw near, Aya notices you - and waves.
"Yo, shrine boy! Good morning!"
You wave back, unable to help yourself before her friendliness. Sanae seems to be catching her breath, but she gives you a weak wave as well.
"Good morning, Sanae. Aya. Beautiful show."
"Ahaha, no," Aya says, "Thanks, but that was just a normal one. Well, I'd better get going---"
Sanae doesn't seem to have any intention of letting her leave so easily. She stands upright, that gleam still in her eyes. What's she thinking?
"It's a draw, but we could go for another round if you want. Otherwise, I need to get going on my delivery route. People are waiting!"
"What's this all about, anyway?" You wonder.
"Did you... see the paper?" Sanae asks. "It's no good."
You shake your head. "I just saw the headline."
"I keep telling you, it's 100% accurate," Aya says, "I don't see the problem."
"We aren't a couple!"
Aya just laughs, shrugging a bit. "Well, I'll leave that to the readers to decide. Anyway, it was fun, but I'll just be---"
A blue bullet streaks past the crow as Sanae looks to her. "Oh? Did you really want to go for another round? I'll win this one, you know."
[ ] Try to cool things down a bit. [ ] Complain about that bathroom photo from earlier. ============================================================= Nothing tomorrow as usual. Back Monday, hopefully in the morning.
The winter weather - or rather, the random bits of spring weather melting everything into sheets of ice - is kicking my ass. This morning was my chance to run into town for the first time in a week and possibly the last time for a few days.
[x] Complain about that bathroom photo from earlier.
"And what's with taking that photo of me earlier?" You wonder, feeling a bit of Sanae's frustration. "Can't I take a shower in peace?"
Aya turns to you, a puzzled expression on her face. "A good journalist can't miss that kind of opportunity. We need to get our stories in any way we can."
It takes you a second to parse what she's implying. That was a story? "... wait, you can't print that!"
Turning back to the flustered priestess, she adds, "He's not a bad choice, honest. I don't get why you're trying to hide it so much. Just be true to your feelings!"
"Now, just hold on a minute---"
"We are not a couple!"
"I'll give you a free issue tomorrow," Aya says, bolting into the sky. You guess she's had enough. As a parting shot, she adds, "Thank you for all the material!"
Sanae has a few parting shots of her own, but none of the bullets or lasers land. Aya somehow manages to dodge them while looking over her shoulder rather than facing them head on, although you suspect Sanae is just tired. In fact, she looks pretty defeated - not just
You just scratch your head. Well, at least you managed to grab your towel before the dust settled. "Maybe getting involved with her was a bad idea."
"She did print the part about our opening event, so it's not a complete loss."
Kanako suddenly appears behind you, startling you a bit. She's holding the paper out for you to see. You lean in close to read the tiny newsprint, but yep, there it is is.
"It's even on the front page," You say, reading it over. "Must have been a slow news day. How many pages did we get?"
Kanako thumbs through the paper. "... about half of them." Then, she pauses. "Oh. This one's good."
She turns the paper back around, showing you a clear photo of you and Sanae. This must have been when you were walking back from the mini-shrine. Somehow, she got the photo at just the right moment and angle that it looks like the two of you are holding hands as you descend the stairs.
You lean in, trying to understand how she could even manage a picture like this. Is this doctored? You can't imagine computers exist here. No, you guess it's just the angle. Now you're a bit concerned about how your towel was positioned this morning.
You push the paper back to Kanako with a laugh. "Well, I can't deny that that's a perfect photo if you're making stuff up."
Kanako continues looking through, amused. "Oh, here's another. My... when I said the tengu were probably watching, I wasn't thinking about this. Maybe we'll need a night watch."
There's a photo, although not one with a very wide frame, of the three of you from last night. The photo is blurry, but it's clear enough that you are shirtless, and Sanae is doubled over in laughter for some reason. From this angle, it's not instantly clear that you're only shirtless, though it's clear enough if you look closely. That's... a bit more concerning, but still harmless enough you suppose. No sense worrying about it if the boss isn't worried.
"I wonder if that's where the draft was coming from? Maybe next time we should invite her in."
"Ho," Kanako says, clearly amused by the idea, "Do you really want to add a tengu into the mix next time? They're legendary drinkers, you know. We might still be going."
"Let's have breakfast. I don't want it to get too cold."
Suddenly, Sanae speaks up. It sounds more like a command than a suggestion. You wonder if she wants you to just drop the topic for now.
"Sure, let's eat," You agree, fine with the topic change. Kanako folds up the paper and tucks it under her arm, and all three of you make your way inside.
As you sit down, Kanako opens the paper again. You offer to help Sanae carry the dishes out, but she refuses. In a few minutes you all are eating, although Kanako doesn't eat a whole lot, instead opting to finish her modest portion and go back to reading.
"Is the writing good?"
"Eh," Kanako shrugs, "It's passable. Sensationalist. I just need to make sure there's nothing in here that will bite us later."
[ ] Wonder about the plan for the day. [ ] Wonder about the miraculous hangover cure. [ ] Wonder about what exactly is in these articles. ============================================================= Next one will be tomorrow around lunchtime.
>>31109 Oof. "not just physically, but emotionally" was the basic idea. Not sure how that got eaten - maybe when I closed the doc at some point.
>>31113 Thanks. I hope you will continue to enjoy it.
You'll leave that to Kanako, you guess. After a tremendous yawn that you just can't stop, you turn to Sanae.
"So should I thank you for not feeling sick this morning?" You wonder. "After all that sake, I'm surprised I'm not feeling worse. By the way, breakfast is excellent."
Sanae nods, though she mostly seems focused on eating. "It's... well, we have a few miracles we specifically train for when becoming a Moriya priestess," She says, "Curing hangovers one of them."
You laugh. "Really?"
Sanae smiles a bit. "It's a simple one, so it's good to train with."
The two of you chat a little about her family. You guess that only the priestess is allowed to live at the shrine itself, so her parents are living near where the shrine used to be. And breakfast really is tasty.
After a while, Kanako finally folds up the paper and sets it aside.
"It's a bit embarrassing, but we're good," She declares. "And I learned something interesting, too."
"Oh?" You wonder, noticing Sanae glance to the floor at 'embarrassing'. Kanako seems mostly pleased with whatever she found, though.
"Well," Kanako says, standing up, "I should probably get ready for more negotiations with the tengu. I'll tell you later if it actually was interesting."
"Oh, luck doesn't really factor into it," Kanako says, "Good luck to you two, though. You were going to work on the road today, right?"
[ ] Confirm. Although you're not sure on which end... [ ] See what Sanae is thinking. ========================================== Right, gotta keep moving. Will try to be back tomorrow around lunch.
You turn to Sanae. "I think that was the original plan... what do you think?"
She seems lost in thought. When she realizes both you are looking at her, she snaps out of it.
"O-oh, that sounds good."
"Sanae," Kanako says, a serious look on her face, "Try not to let it get to you, alright? After reading it, I have a hard time believing that anyone takes this paper seriously. You shouldn't, either."
Sanae takes a deep breath, but her expression finally seems to lighten a bit. Turning back to you, she asks, "I wonder what end we should start on?"
"Probably the bit leading down to the tengu," You say, "The merchant path seems mostly fine if you ignore the youkai."
"Actually," Kanako says, "I'd prefer if you started near the bottom. The tengu still think they own the mountain. It might be bad for negotiations if they realized otherwise right now."
"Maybe we can meet those kappa from yesterday," Sanae says, sounding somewhat cheerful about the idea, "I wonder if they'll stick around?"
Kanako laughs, turning to you. "Watch your backside."
You can't say you're thrilled about that idea either, but... who knows? Maybe you'll meet something else. And hopefully not something like that awful dead creature from yesterday. The two of you bid Kanako farewell, watching as she heads out of the building.
"So," You say, after surveying the table. "Looks like we're done here. I can clean up, and then we can go."
"I can do it," Sanae says, quickly standing.
[ ] It'll go faster if you help. [ ] Fine. You'll wait. =============================================== Nothing tomorrow. I'll try to be back on Wednesday morning.
Came down with the flu as I usually do after travelling and encountering diseased people. My head is mush but I can't imagine it getting much worse. I will try to resume the normal schedule on Monday as I should be good by then.
Although she initially looks a bit reluctant, her face slowly drops into a smile. "... well, OK. But are you sure you'll be able to keep up?"
You stand yourself, and start gathering the dishes. "How hard can it be?"
Sanae laughs softly, turning away. "Well, I'll start in the kitchen. Can you take this room?"
You gather the dishes up in short order, stacking them in a massive tower. Japanese style meals are nice, but... all the individual bowls can be a bit unwieldy. You do manage to get them in one trip, taking care not to drop them.
When you get to the kitchen, though, you see that it's already clean. Spotless, in fact - and all the cookware is sitting neatly in the drying rack already.
"Where do you want these?"
Sanae turns around. "Oh! Right here, thanks."
You set the dishes down in the sink. Looking around though, you don't see a rag handy. "Can you get me something to wipe the table down with?"
"Here." You turn around. But rather than handing it to you, she tosses it right at you. "Catch!"
[ ] <Natural 20> [ ] <Pathetic 1> [ ] <Somewhere in between> =============================================== Tomorrow, I'll try to get it out in the morning. And I have no momentum right now so sorry for the clunkiness that will be these next few.
With one smooth motion that surprises even you, you swing your arm around and snatch the rag firmly out of the air. You can't help but ham it up a bit, bringing your arm back into a resting position with another ridiculously smooth arc. There's no way that'll happen again.
"W-what's with that catch?" Sanae laughs, "I thought I'd at least surprise you a bit."
"I'm not sure," You chuckle, heading for the door, "Maybe your miracles are rubbing off on me."
She laughs again. "Definitely not! Go scrub that table."
"Yes, bossman," You say with a grin.
With the atmosphere cleared by a bit of humor, you head out to wipe down the table. Obviously, it doesn't take too long. But by the time you return, the dishes are already done. Does she do everything with miracles, or is she just good?
"You're... quick," You say, taking a look at the even higher stack of dishes now. "Oh, and here - catch!"
Sanae's motion is at least as smooth as yours. Dang. She's a real pro in the kitchen.
"You ready?" You wonder, "I want to get this road underway."
"Me too," Sanae nods, as the two of you begin to walk outside. "But let's not do any more interviews today, OK?"
As you wander outside, Sanae doesn't head straight out onto the grounds - instead, she heads around behind the living quarters. You're a bit confused, but follow anyway.
"I think," She says, "If we're starting near the bottom, we'll probably just want to clear brush and put up signs. What do you think?"
[ ] You think it might be better to focus on the kappa. [ ] Sounds good. But you feel you might just slow her down. ========================================== Not morning, not... anything really. Whatever. Will shoot for tomorrow morning.
[x] You think it might be better to focus on the kappa.
"What about the kappa?" You wonder aloud, "I think people can find the trail easily enough, so they seem like a bigger problem."
Sanae frowns a bit. "Hmm. You still think so?"
"There's other outsiders in the village, right?" You say, "Even if the villagers can handle it, those guys might not be able to."
"Good point!" She says, before a smile rises to her face, "Plus... I can get some more practice. But maybe we should bring the tools anyway?"
"I thought it would be good," She said, looking around as if to see if anyone is watching, "If we did the road as much as we could by hand. Maybe someone could see us and write an article about how humble we are!"
"Maybe we could do that while we're looking for the kappa. What did you have in mind?"
She motions for you to follow. Around the side of the shrine is a set of heavy wooden doors secured by a lock. Sanae opens it, revealing a myriad of tools. There's definitely enough in here to keep up with the needs of the shrine. It's a mix of western and eastern tools - you guess that's probably fine if they're locked up like this.
"Um... well, something in here, anyway. I guess we'd be digging holes, stacking stones, and cutting brush."
You see a few tools nearby that could work for that. First, you grab one of the larger pairs of gloves you see in a basket nearby and try them on. Perfect fit. Next, you...
[ ] ... grab the machete. [ ] ... grab the shovel.
... grab the shovel. Not as good as a post hole digger for putting up markers, you imagine, but you don't see one of those nearby. It fits nicely in your hand, and seems in pretty good shape.
Sanae walks over to the machete and pulls it from the wall. She holds it naturally, as if she's used it many times before. Noticing your discomfort, she turns to face you and smiles - holding the large blade behind her back as she does.
"Hmm. I won't use it on you, so don't worry~"
You laugh, holding your shovel at the ready as if it were a spear of some kind. "That's even more suspicious!"
Sanae relaxes her posture, clearly enjoying herself. "Are you ready? I'm not sure what we'll use for signs... but I think we'll figure something out."
"I guess even some carefully placed sticks would work," You say, letting the shovel fall back to the ground. "But yeah, I'm ready."
The two of you walk out of the shed, and after Sanae locks up, you feel that now familiar feeling again. Your legs suddenly find themselves without ground to stand on as Sanae's wind gently lifts you into the air. It still feels a bit like a dream, but...
"Can I try something?" Sanae asks you, "I think I can go even faster."
You think back to that battle you were watching earlier. Although you don't exactly know if you're up to it, you give her an affirmative nod.
... it's insanely fast. The sudden movement almost makes you lose your shovel, but you manage to get your free hand on it before it flies out of your other one. After that, all you can do most of the trip is keep your eye on the machete that Sanae's keeping just slightly in front of you.
But, in the end, nothing bad happens. In maybe only ten minutes or so you find yourself floating over the river from yesterday. It's not the same spot you were attacked... but below, you can see a well worn trail a short distance from the bank.
"Hmm," Sanae wonders, looking around, "I wonder how we'll find the kappa? I don't see them from here."
[ ] Scan the length of the river. Maybe you'll see something. [ ] Start working. Maybe you'll seem like good prey again. ===================================================================== Monday morning for the next post. ...though I might call it tomorrow night and write it then.
[x] Start working. Maybe you'll seem like good prey again.
Actively looking might work... but yesterday, they were pretty well hidden until they jumped you. Might be best to bump into them "randomly" instead.
"Let's get started on the trail by the river," You say, "Maybe I can bait one of them out."
Sanae looks a bit worried at that. "Are you sure?"
"I'm probably better bait than you," You say, shrugging. "And you'll be watching over me, right? So it'll be fine."
After a slight pause, as if she's not sure how to respond, she nods firmly. "That's right."
The two of you lazily float over the river for a while, looking for where the trail first winds out of the woods and along the river. As you head down, you actually recognize where you were yesterday - the clothes you pulled out of the river are still folded up along the bank.
Eventually, though, you land. Looking at your shovel and to the path, you wonder how this is going to work. The machete is easy to see - the path is very overgrown, especially at this end.
Sanae looks at you, puzzled. "What's the problem?"
"What're we using for marking the trail?"
Both of you look around. There's enough sizeable saplings that you could easily cut them down and make an eye-catching path. But there's also enough larger, elongated stones along the bank that you could roll some of them over and set up.
Sanae finally scratches her head. "Hmm. Why don't you choose?"
[ ] Be a bit feisty... have her choose. [ ] Big stones are more aesthetic. [ ] The saplings will let you cover more ground.
Despite your tiredness earlier, you're starting to feel a bit energetic now that your stomach is full and you're getting some sun. Halfway measures? No.
"How about these?" You wonder, wandering over towards the bank of the river. "I think we can roll--- oof --- a few of these into place, and stack some smaller ones on top."
They're honestly heavier than they look. But cairns would look so much nicer than your alternatives. Assuming you don't throw your back out, this will work fine.
"Do you want some help?" Sanae wonders as she watches you slowly move one of the stones.
"Not right now," You look to the machete in her right hand. "Though, I might regret not taking the easier job later today."
Sanae laughs. "It's harder than it looks. If you don't swing with confidence," She says, slashing a nearby sapling in half with a smoothness that shows she's definitely done this before, "You'll just be hacking things rather than clearing them."
You're sure the sharpness of the blade helps, too, but you just nod instead. "Let's get to work."
Like a well trained grounds crew, the two of you get to work. It takes you a few rocks to finally decide on a size you're comfortable with, but once that's out of the way you start putting up your cairns like you'd done this before. Nice stout pyramids, clearly visible among the cleared grass.
The shovel mostly ends up being useless, but you do use it as a lever on occasion. Still, it's a bit of a comfort to have it nearby.
As you work, you start to get the feeling you're being watched. That feeling served you well yesterday, so you scan the treeline and the river as you shuffle rocks about. You look skyward as well, but you don't see anything obvious. Sanae seems to be happily massacring random plants, unconcerned - so you wonder if it's just you.
[ ] Shrug it off. [ ] Be on guard. ============================================= No update tomorrow. Back Thursday morning I hope (seem to actually be waking up at the right time).
... still, you can't shake the feeling. And you'd rather be paranoid than ambushed.
So although you head back to work, you do so in a way that keeps your head up and where you could drop the rock you're rolling without much effort.
Finally, you do catch a glimpse of movement in the forest. Wait... no, that's just a bird. And that's just a dragonfly. And...
It goes on like this for a while. Finally, Sanae notices you from up the trail and waves at you to get your attention.
"Is something the matter?" She calls out when you finally notice her.
Well, there goes all your careful acting. You stop what you're doing.
"Maybe," You call back, taking another broad glance around as you walk closer towards her. "Something just feels off."
"Hmm? Like what?" She wonders, meeting you halfway.
You laugh. "Dunno."
The two of you look around for a bit, but eventually, Sanae shrugs. "Maybe you're still hungover?"
"... hmm. Maybe."
Well, whatever. You shrug as well, and Sanae goes back to hacking at brush. You head back down the pa---
Your foot snags on a branch right in the middle of the path, sending you tumbling forward. You manage to land on your shoulder rather than your face, fortunately. It hurts, but you don't think you've done any real damage.
"Hey, what happened? Are you ok?"
Sanae extends a hand, helping you to get back up.
[ ] You're fine. But you can't believe you missed the branch... [ ] Fairies! Damn it! =============================================================== Sorry, didn't get to it yesterday morning/lunch and I forgot to post where it was.