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Previous thread: >>31609

There are only a few patrons in the pub, mostly sitting at the bar and making light conversation among themselves. An old man, the owner, nods at you as you come in and Komachi picks a small table towards the back of the place. She orders right away, reclining in her chair as you wait for drinks.

“Been a long day, hasn’t it?” she asks.

“Has it?” you reply, “it feels as if most of the time you were napping, eating or sitting around.”

“Keeping an eye on you is pretty tiring, trust me,” she ripostes, none too bothered. The sake is quick to arrive, brought by a young girl who asks if you’d want something to eat as well. You tell her that you’ll think about it and Komachi agrees. “Cheers,” she raises her glass, “to work.”

“To work,” you echo, somewhat more seriously. Sake is nice and all, and you drink it gladly, but you also take the opportunity to write down more thoughts in the notebook. It’s not quick-going since the shinigami keeps talking to you throughout but over the next hour—while enjoying a few more drinks and some finger food—you manage to build up a satisfactory record of the day and what was going on in your mind. You close the notebook with a satisfying thump and finally put it down.

It is fortuitous that you decided to do at least that much as Komachi’s freewheeling drinking session comes to an abrupt end. She was in the middle of a story about putting a celestial in her place. In an instant an ample smile and ruddy cheeks morph into a reserved stare and ashen face. Your back is to the door but you turn to follow her eyes and see the source of her sudden transformation: Lady Shiki has come into the establishment.

The Yama spots you instantly, offering a sober nod as she comes over. “Candidate. Komachi,” she greets each of you with a polite nod.

“Enma,” you stand to return the greeting.

“Lady Shiki,” Komachi speaks quietly, “come to join us for a drink?”

“A tipple would not be unwelcome,” the Yama says to her surprise, “It has been a long day.”

Komachi does not wait for the waitress to come around again, leaving the table to order directly from the owner. It is obvious that she is nervous to be around the Yama and does not know what to expect from her. As such, she is foisting the responsibility of first contact with Lady Shiki unto you. It is a burden you welcome.

“How has your day gone, Candidate?” Lady Shiki asks, voice quiet but firm.

“It was interesting, Enma,” you answer. “I met many different sorts of people.”

“I look forward to hearing all about your experiences,” she says and eyes the black cover of the notebook, “I trust that you have used what I have given you appropriately?”

“I have attempted to organize my thoughts and feelings on what I’ve seen and those I’ve spoken to today,” you inform her.

The Yama still has her rod with her, placing it in front of her on the table as she reaches out for your collected thoughts. Anxiety, of the sort a student might feel as his teacher marks an essay, begins to manifest itself in your mind. You watch as she reads your notes quickly, dispassionately, without a single hint of what she may think of your efforts.

“I would have you explain some things to me,” she says without looking up from the book, as she flips to another page. “Your companion, the one that hesitates coming over with the drink for fear that I might scold her, has clearly made a positive impression on you. Though you note that she does delay, if not outright shirk her duties at times, as well as indulge in overfamiliarity you have continued to tolerate these failings. Why is that?”

You believe there is a subtly worth clearing up. You wait for the Yama to assent to the question before asking, “After ferrying me across the Sanzu, Komachi was not accompanying me in any sort of official capacity, is that correct?”


[] Risking constant antagonism would have made the day’s objectives needlessly more difficult.
[] Her idiosyncrasies were tolerable because she wished to be helpful in her own way.
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2020/03/27 (Fri) 12:10

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[x] Her idiosyncrasies were tolerable because she wished to be helpful in her own way.
[x] Her idiosyncrasies were tolerable because she wished to be helpful in her own way.
[x] Her idiosyncrasies were tolerable because she wished to be helpful in her own way.

She neglected her duties, but helped ours. We are trying to understand people and someone that provides a new perspective is invaluable.

The first option is not untrue, but that's not really the reason, is it? He doesn't seem like someone afraid of antagonising people, and he could just ignore her. He couldn't, as she pointed out, order her around though. That's not his prerogative-yet.
[x] Risking constant antagonism would have made the day’s objectives needlessly more difficult.
He ain't a judge yet, so it's not his jurisdiction. Simple as.
[x] Her idiosyncrasies were tolerable because she wished to be helpful in her own way.
[x] Her idiosyncrasies were tolerable because she wished to be helpful in her own way.
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“In other words, you are saying that her intent excuses some of her actions,” the Yama summarizes your position.

“In essence, yes,” you nod, feeling that your explanation is weak. Then again, nearly anything you might have said would seem weak in face of her sharp, unemotional gaze. You cannot begin to fathom what it is she is thinking in her heart of hearts.

“It is true that she was not subordinated to you and chose to accompany you of her own free will,” Lady Shiki recapitulates. “This, however, does not make impropriety acceptable.”

“I understand that,” you simply say, feeling that trying to argue details would simply diminish your position.

“…” the judge says nothing else. She continues to read from the notebook. You don’t even have a leg to stand on when it comes to claiming you attempted to reign in the shinigami’s excesses. Familiarity clearly won out.

The woman central to the discussion eventually comes back with more to drink. Lady Shiki thanks her. Komachi makes an excuse right away that she would like to get fresh air as she’s maybe drunk a little more than expected. The Yama accepts the excuse at face value, taking a sip of her drink while continuing to read.

When Lady Shiki speaks to you again, it is about one of your encounters. “Was an ambush necessary? Would approaching openly and with conviction not been the more proper course of action? The way it’s framed here it seems like yet another unnecessary indulgence of your companion.”

“In retrospect, given their reaction, they may have well scattered before I could speak to them,” you say.

It is a weak excuse and the Yama is right to imply that it was conduct unbecoming someone from the ministry. She does not need to belabor the point. “This kappa you caught,” she instead continues, “seemed to be in distress throughout.”

“She did not understand that I merely wished to speak, Enma. There was a preoccupation with the exchange of valuables of one sort or another.”

“So I see,” she carefully analyzes a page of your notes, running her finger along the paper and tapping gently on things that you imagine she thinks insightful. Without daring to interrupt the process you drink some more, calming nerves with sake. Though far from being outright inebriated, you worry that you may say something unfortunate so you keep quiet as the Yama reads. Finally, she repeats, “I see.”

“Is there anything the matter, Enma?” you ask, perhaps foolishly.

Lady Shiki takes another drink from her cup, emptying it. A thought occurs: she is not acting in an official capacity. Else you would not be in the human village, much less drinking together. This thought drips heavily with hope.

“Though clumsy at times, there is an attempt to extract information and learn here,” she says, “the over-reliance on others to intervene notwithstanding. However, I believe you forgot something key.”

“What would that be, Enma?” you try to contain developing feelings of despair.

Judgment,” she states. Her blue eyes seem to stare directly into yours and you feel utterly exposed. “You assessed this kappa to be living according to her values and that she would manage well because of it. That is a facile conclusion. This lack of trust she showed, an inherent disbelief in people, it is sinful.”

As if by habit, she places her hand on the rod but does not raise it. You are mesmerized by her intransigent stare, subsumed by her commanding aura that harbors no doubt. There is no world beyond her, the casual conversation in the pub made by other patrons does not exist as far as you are concerned. You say nothing as she continues, “To not use the opportunity to help others better themselves, to find the correct path, is unbecoming for the yama. The work we do does not begin nor does it end in formal trial. Is that understood?”

“It is, Enma,” you nod as a marionette whose strings have been pulled. There is no other acceptable reply.

“Is there anything else you wish to add before we move on?” she asks.
In official capacity or not, your own trial continues.

[] There was nothing else.
[] If there was anything overlooked with your approach.
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2020/03/28 (Sat) 12:30

[x] If there was anything overlooked with your approach.

Yama rant, yama (xana)do.

... sorry, that was a little forced. Not exactly my best.
[x] If there was anything overlooked with your approach.
Dang, we're towards the end already? I was convinced this was poised to go on longer.

Then again, I guess if Dork & Ghost and/or Other Awoo are to continue, then this necessarily has to be short.
Why do you have Enma judge a kappa not trusting people as being sinful? I'm confused.

Isn't kappa lack of trust kind of integral to their identity as youkai? To enable them to retain their heavy curiosity but not get overly familiar with humans.

That's just like...her opinion, man.

[X] If there was anything overlooked with your approach.
[x] If there was anything overlooked with your approach.
[X] If there was anything overlooked with your approach.
[x] If there was anything overlooked with your approach.
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Instead of answering your question, Lady Shiki is silent for a moment. Her eyes move to the notebook and then back to you. Quietly, in a half whisper akin to a guarded revelation, she says, “You have been thorough in cataloging things beyond mere observations. That there are illustrations, assorted thoughts and emotions characterize this as something of a looking glass.

“The true insight here,” she continues, “is how you would adjudicate any issue. To what end would you have us concern ourselves with minutiae? Whatever perceived failures you would entreat me to discuss shall be discussed, if they are relevant. We mainly concern ourselves here with the actions taken and words spoken, not with those left undone and unsaid. Doubt, regrets, intent can mostly be dismissed as irrelevant when weighing up the sins of the departed. We cannot fall into the trap of ‘what could have been’ and instead must believe in the righteousness of our mission.

“I have made note of the zeal employed throughout for your task,” she smiles as she speaks, “but do not use that as cover for insecurity or, worse, as a misguided attempt to curry my favor. The truth is in this looking glass here, plain to see.”

With a firm tap on the notebook, she moves on, “It is certainly an unusual choice to converse with a fairy. More than once you note that a shinigami’s scythe might be intimidating, so I understand why you chose to leave Komachi behind.”

“I did not wish to make a distinction as to who I spoke with,” you tell Lady Shiki. There is no time to overthink your responses. You are already on the back foot, having been the target of a pointed lecture. “I was open to all encounters.”

“Yes, that’s commendable,” the judge of paradise nods. Catching the eye of the waitress, she signals for more to drink.

“Fairies have simple natures but it was still an interesting experience,” you preempt her reading of the notes with an explanation. “I felt compelled to take a hands-on approach with Cirno to impart a lesson.”

“And she lay hands on you in return,” the judge says with a raised eyebrow. You’re not certain if it’s meant to be a joke as she is otherwise deadpan. It’s not something that she dwells on either, moving on, “They may not hold much in mind nor spirit but they can be a measure of how well nature is doing. It is not necessary to spoil them with attention but neither is it wise to ignore them completely.”

“I’ll admit that I had fun talking to her,” you say, perhaps carelessly due to drink, “but I think that it was also valuable to understand that aspect of Gensokyo as well.”

“Curiosity well directed,” she agrees, “and though you had to condescend to communicate, it was an earnest interaction. It is questionable whether or not a fairy will truly understand your meaning but the idea of teaching a meditation technique is certainly novel. Not to mention somewhat amusing to imagine,” the Yama says with a soft laugh. She places her rod flat down on the table again and leans forward, the lock of longer hair on her right side brushing over her shoulder.

There are rare instances where you manage to see beyond the fact that she is the Yama of Paradise and your superior. In those instances, you feel a warmth and dedication that colors all her words and actions. It is no doubt persistent, you tell yourself, but merely not obvious. The woman sitting before you is at least as convivial and kind-hearted as Komachi. Her conviction and dutifulness obfuscates this.

The talk of fairies and their simple, straightforward, nature inspires you. There is less reason to censor yourself, you reason. It is even possible this is not a trial at all. It may be worth risking some more impertinence.

[] Express a desire to continue to take notes and perhaps sketch during your conversation.
[] Confess that it’s intimidating but also interesting to be out drinking with a yama.
Time remaining: ::Timer ended at: 2020/03/29 (Sun) 12:30

[x] Express a desire to continue to take notes and perhaps sketch during your conversation.
draw her like one of your Gensokyan girls
[x] Express a desire to continue to take notes and perhaps sketch during your conversation.
[x] Confess that it’s intimidating but also interesting to be out drinking with a yama.

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