“It’s down the hall and to the left. Should be at the end of the corridor.” Tewi gives you a knowing look. “Though, you’re heading elsewhere, aren’t you?”
“What? Who, me?” you say, careful to keep your voice hushed. Don’t want to wake the cute bunny pile. You inch out of all the napping rabbits’ grasps. “Naaaaaw. I’d never. I ain’t one to lie, y’know. I just really need to go. Badly.”
“Then I guess I believe you. Just don’t disappear again, alright?”
Ha. Tewi thinks that you’ll really disappear like that again? Just because you feel like it? Absolutely preposterous. Impossible, even! No way you’d do something like that.
...She knows you too well. But whatever. That won’t stop you from trying. Once you finish your business in the washroom, you head out the nearest window and slip away into the night. Of course, you have no idea where the heck you are and it’s really dark and now you’re suddenly lost, but no big deal. You’ll find your way. You always do, even if it takes a while.
You make it past the mansion, but Tewi’s already outside at the entrance waiting, hands crossed at the chest and foot tapping away arrhythmically.
“Hi,” you say.
“Yeaaaaah, I knew it. At this point, I can’t even say that I didn’t expect this to happen. Trying to sneak away again?”
“I wasn’t aware gods have curfew. Besides, I did have to go to the bathroom, thanks.”
“Gods shouldn’t need to use the bathroom,” says Tewi.
“So...” Tewi scrunches her face up into a frown, and a serious one at that. She twirls her tacky carrot pendant by its cord, letting its string coil around her finger. It’s a rare sight to see the one and only Tewi Inaba as sober as this. You’ve half a mind to call her face silly but now isn’t the best time.
“Are you going to come back after you do… whatever you’re doing?”
“Sure. I’m not going to hi-and-bye again after we just reunited. In fact, you can come with. It won’t take too long.”
“Okay, but where are we going?”
“There’s this plain at the base of the mountains. It’s got a nice view and everything. Fantastic real estate, I tell you.”
“And why do you want to go there now, in the middle of the night?”
“Why, to pay my respects of course.”
“To what?” she asks. “To whom?”
You remain silent.
All things considered, you didn’t think that you’d be back at her resting place again. But here you are, watching the night sky on a grassy hill, thinking about memories past. Funny, you say that you barely care about her now but you return again—as you always do.
Tewi sits at the top of the hill, leaning her head up so that she faces the stars. “A penny for your thoughts?”
“What’s the point of raunchy undergarments if their purpose is to be discarded to the floor shortly after being seen? It goes completely against my belief of aesthetics. I guess people could leave it on but that’d be more in-the-way than if you had—”
“Forget I even asked,” sighs Tewi. But rather than returning to her star-gazing, she scoots closer to your side and starts rubbing her arms.
“Itchy?” you say.
“Don’t you think it’s kinda cold right now?”
[ ] “Actually, it’s only about nineteen degrees Celcius.” [ ] “Cool.” [ ] “Should’ve brought a jacket.” [ ] “Are you sure? It’s actually kinda hot. Like, I feel-like-a-towering-inferno-is-seconds-away-from-hitting-me hot.” [ ] Offer her your robe. The one still somewhat stained with your blood.
You remove the sash from your robe and cast it off your body. Wordlessly, you drape it over Tewi’s shoulders. The robe’s more of a blanket than a jacket to the bunny—because she talks so big, it’s easy to forget that the girl herself is actually tiny.
Satisfied, Tewi sighs contently and snuggles into the robe. She leans her head on the side of your arm, mostly because she’s too short to reach your shoulder.
“Thanks,” she says. “But if I were to guess, the red splotches on the robe aren’t by design, right?”
“I may or may not have gotten a little roughed up by youkai earlier in the afternoon.”
“A ‘little roughed up’?” Tewi lifts up the front of the robe by its hem, peering straight into a gaping hole in the chest area. “The thing skewered you straight through the heart.”
“It wasn’t exactly the highlight of my day. Most days, I prefer to keep my vital organs in one piece.”
She laughs. “But where’s the fun in that?”
“Maybe you should try getting your heart ripped out and see how fun that is.”
“Consider it on my to-do list.”
“Lame. I was looking for more of a reaction than that.”
The rabbit exhales. “I’ve seen your heart, arteries and everything, get ripped out of your body more times than I can count. At this point, I couldn’t care less.”
You breathe in, careful not to waste any words. “I’m cold.”
“You want your robe back?”
“No,” you say stubbornly, “I’m good.”
“Alright. Then we should go back soon.”
“Yeah.” You look to the sky and stare at the ethereal lights above, basking in the moonlight. The moon waxes half-crescent and, oddly, you feel nostalgic of older times. “Any longer and I’ll freeze to death.”
Tewi guides you back into the room stuffed with rabbits. You’re thankful that the room is floored with bamboo mats because there is no way you can secure a spot on the bed: the bunnies are everywhere. Instead, you settle for a plot on the ground, securing Tewi in your arms. She doesn’t object, which you’re also thankful for, because she still has your robe on and you need something to warm you up. The place is cold as hell—and not the literal hell because that place is toasty.
But before you can drift off to slumber, you think of your next move before morning hits.
[ ] You should look for a place to build a shrine. [ ] Shrines are fine and all, but the most important thing is followers. [ ] Get sidetracked with your thoughts. Come to think of it, how are you cold if you don’t have a true physical form? [ ] You can play with all the bunnies instead of doing any work.
>>196974 Or he could just be becoming what counts for being mortal as far as youkai go. After all, he was once a regular wolf who was elevated to the status of a god. Though that's equally concerning, probably.
As with any other god, you are nothing without your followers. You have exactly one—and a tentative one at that. Said follower is currently napping in your arms with a peaceful smile on her sleeping face. Tewi is a good follower, but you should start looking for more. After all, what’s a god without his people?
You’ll deal with all that tomorrow though. You have precious Z’s to catch.
When you wake, you find yourself covered in more bunnies than before. Everyone can’t get enough of you, huh? You shake a few bunnies off and head outside the room—time to find something to do. You didn’t find Tewi sleeping so she must have woken up before you.
It takes all of thirty seconds before you’re lost. You blame the mansion. Who the hell built this place, a maze architect? In any case, you’ll wander around until you find something to do. After a few minutes of mindless roaming, you hear a couple of muffled voices through the paper-thin walls of Eientei.
“Reisen! You’re back!” That is without a doubt Tewi’s voice.
And then you hear the sound of Tewi being shoulder thrown into the tatami mats.
“Cut it out. You know how much I hate it when you pull your stupid pranks on me! It’s been a long night and I didn’t get much sleep. I don’t need any pitfalls on top of that. Do it again and I swear I'm going to pull your ears off your head.”
“You’re so mean,” Tewi whimpers, “I only do it out of love.”
“Show your love some other way, punk.”
They don’t let up on their conversation. You can’t really find an appropriate time to enter, so you just slide the door open and barge in anyway.
Two heads turn to your direction.
Reisen stares blankly. “Uh, who are you?”
[ ] “This and that happened and now Tewi's my follower.” [ ] “That’s a hard spiritual question you’re asking, girl.” [ ] “I’m Hakurou and I have a tendency to sleep with rabbits.” [ ] Leave the explaining to Tewi. [ ] Shrug.
“That’s a hard spiritual question you’re asking, girl.”
The purple-haired rabbit stares at you blankly. “...Huh?”
“Who are we to say who anybody is? Who am I really? A wolf? A god? Do I really have the authority to declare who is or isn’t, metaphysically? What am I but an intangible being at my very core—swayed only by the faith of those lesser than I.”
“Um.” Reisen looks over to Tewi for help, but the smaller rabbit only shrugs.
“Who am I to a mortal?” you say. “An ephemeral spirit, or something much lesser? I don’t know. Do I dare describe myself as an abstruse being? Would I disappear if I were to explain to another who, or what, I am? Am I but only an abstraction?”
Tewi lightly taps your shoulder. “I think she was asking for your name.”
“Oh, really? Well shucks, why didn’t you say so?” You beam at Reisen. “I’m Haiiro.”
“Your real name,” Tewi says, jabbing you with her elbow.
“Hakurou,” you correct yourself.
Reisen’s brain is in critical disarray. She furrows her brow, leaving her mouth agape as she mentally fumbles through your words. “Excuse me,” she says, and then turns to Tewi. “Is this another one of your pranks?”
Tewi bats her eyelashes, putting a finger to her chin all cutesy-like. “Would you believe me if I said no?”
Reisen rubs the bridge of her nose and closes her eyes. “It’s too early in the morning for this. Haiiro or Haikurou—whatever your name is, I’m going back to bed. Pleasure meeting you.” And on that note, she proceeds to slide open the door to head to her quarters, but a wave of little bunnies come crashing into the room and swarm the purple-haired rabbit.
“Reisen!” says one.
“She’s back! Let’s play, let’s play!” squeals another rabbit.
“Welcome baaaack!” a third chimes.
What is left of Reisen’s broken soul is fully crushed when the pile of cute little bunnies climbs all over her. Wistful acceptance washes over her face as she sinks deeper and deeper into the rabbit horde.
“Can I get a break?” she asks.
“Nope!” squeals a younger rabbit. “You promised to play with us when you got back!”
Reisen sighs. “Okay. Fine. One game. I’ll play with you all for exactly one game. Then I must sleep. Master is going to call me back to work in the afternoon so after I play with everyone, all of you must not bother me after. It’ll be your heads if you do. Okay?”
All the little bunnies cheer. “Okay!”
Reisen escorts all the little bunnies away, taking them to a comfy patio just outside. Tewi follows, taking you along as well. And despite her initial reluctance, Reisen’s already smiling and giggling along with all the kids.
“Reisen is a good girl, isn’t she?”
“Yep,” answers Tewi. “Just don’t try and wake her up from her beauty sleep. She’s the devil if you do.”
Reisen, in the middle of being chased by one rabbit and death-cuddled by another, finds the time to say, “I heard that, Tewi.”
“Oooh, I’m so scared! What are you gonna do, fight me—aaaaaugh.”
Reisen’s dangling her by the legs. “I have something better.”
“Reisen—wait—stop!” Tewi wriggles back and forth, but the purple-haired bunny’s iron grip is too strong.
“I didn’t wear underwear and you’re holding me upside down and my—my dress is gonna faaaaaaaaall!”
“Oh god.” Reisen drops the girl like the plague. Face colored in embarrassment, Reisen dips her head. “Sorry.”
“Heh,” snickers Tewi, who lifts up her skirt. She’s wearing tasteful black underwear and you approve. “Just kidding.”
You expect Reisen to backhand Tewi into next week, but the girl just sighs and shakes her head. “Whatever. I don’t care anymore. I’m going to sleep.”
“Oh,” you say, “I’ll join you.”
Reisen almost twitches. “What?”
“Sorry. Force of habit.”
With that, you allow Reisen to leave. And, also with that, you have now become every bunny’s next target. Several eyes are on you.
[ ] Bunnies are taking over your free time and you’re absolutely okay with that. [ ] You really want to see Tewi’s master. She must be impressive if she got Tewi of all people to follow her. [ ] See Tewi’s master’s master. If Tewi’s master is impressive, then her master’s master must be exponentially more impressive. [ ] You’ve had enough of these fluffballs. Time to split.
As you may have noticed from the first thread 'till now, updates are going slower. Don't be alarmed (and if you weren't, o-okay) - I'm just taking more time on the updates. There might be a few hiccups along the way because I need to move in to a place for a while (and then start working) but the story should still keep going.
The bright-eyed bunnies all look at you expectantly, but you must resist. You have other plans—you want to see Tewi’s master’s master. If her master is impressive, then her master’s master must be exponentially more impressive, right?
“Hey, Tewi. Can I go meet your master’s master?”
“Then who’ll play with us?” cries a bunny.
“Hmm,” you say. “You know what? Why don’t we all wake up your master’s master so she could play with you all?”
“That’s a terrible,” one of the rabbits says.
“That’s a great idea!” squeals one of the younger rabbits. “Let’s do it, let’s do it!”
“Your thoughts, Tewi?”
“Okay. Sure, why not?” She does a little wicked giggle. “I want to see how Kaguya reacts to a mass of alarm clock bunnies.”
And so you lead the march with First Lieutenant Inaba at your side. Behind you are your ragtag, run of the mill, rank and file rabbit militia. They’ve taken arms against the opposing force, and their munitions are white, fleecy, and feathery. That’s right—the prophesied ‘pillow-fight’ is upon them.
“Orders?” whispers Private Mimura.
“Full frontal assault,” you reply. “We leave no survivors.”
You squeeze as many bunnies as you can in the hallway leading to the room leading to Tewi’s master’s master. Kaguya is her name—and you’ll refer to her as such from now on because the title you gave her is a real mouthful.
The air is calm before the execute. For an entire squadron of loud, boisterous squirts, they’re surprisingly quiet under your command. That is, until you signal the go, to which they charge in screaming and squealing.
And before Kaguya gets a chance to open her eyes, the bunnies dogpile onto her.
“Oh,” she says, voice muffled underneath pillows and rabbits. “Is it spring already?”
“The kids wanted to play,” says Tewi innocently, as if she took no part in this scheme.
Kaguya, amidst the flock of rabbits going at each other with pillows, brushes aside a lock of hair from her face and allows herself a gentle smile. Of course, she’s then beaned by a rogue cushion, but she quickly recovers. She makes eye contact with you.
“An intruder?” she asks.
“A guest,” Tewi answers.
“I see.” Kaguya then looks down at herself. “Fortunately, I wore my nice gown.”
You can attest to this—she’s wearing pretty much nothing but thin silk—or satin. You don’t know which is which. Anyway. You don’t really mind what’s she’s wearing because that’s not the important matter at hand. Then again, you don’t even know what the important matter is in the first place.
“Now then,” Kaguya says, shrugging several bunnies off her person. “If all you little ones could excuse yourselves, that would be ideal. I’d like to chat to our guest.”
“Eirin shall play with you all,” she declares.
The bunnies are hesitant. One speaks up. “She won’t get mad?”
“I personally bestow you all permission to disturb her. If she has complaints, please forward her to me.”
“Okaaay!” Permission granted, they all file out to go visit their next victim.
Kaguya waits patiently until the last rabbit is out. It’s just three left—you, Tewi, and Kaguya.
Kaguya returns with a tray and enough tea for three. She lays the tray down at a table and prompts you to sit down.
“Don’t you have servant to do that kind of thing for you?” you say, taking a seat.
Kaguya smiles. “I do, but I’d rather serve tea myself.”
“Would you trust any of the rabbits to bring tea here in one piece?” laughs Tewi.
You shrug. “Fair enough.”
“Now, Tewi.” Kaguya looks over to the rabbit for guidance. “Who is this wolf?”
“He’s Hakurou,” Tewi says, scooting over to your side. “An old friend of mine.”
“Oh, Hakurou? As in, the god, Hakurou?”
“Whoa.” Somebody actually remembers you. “You know about me?”
“I do,” says Kaguya, taking a sip of her tea. “You are the ‘White Wolf,’ are you not?”
“The ‘Great White Wolf,’ thank you very much.”
Tewi snorts. “I bet you added in the ‘Great’ yourself.”
“Listen here, bub—” you say, but you’re cut off by the door screaming open. And, before you have a chance to repeat yourself, a sea of flames engulf you.
“Ah.” A voice says. “Oops.”
You take a sip of your tea, thankful the cup didn’t explode on you. At least it’s hot again. “Rude.”
A white-haired girl in stupid-lookin’ suspenders comes rolling up into the room, kicks the door open, just to throw some hot Celsius your way. Seriously? You throw a big glare her way because you’re seriously miffed.
“U-Uh.” The intruder sheepishly scratches at her head. She’s a bad girl and she knows it. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to hit you. I meant to hit—”
“Could it wait?” Kaguya snaps. “I have a guest, who you have just rudely set ablaze.”
The girl sits cross-legged behind the door. “...Okay.”
“Good.” Kaguya returns to her focus back to you. “So, did you need something from me?”
[ ] “Could I interest you in some good ol’ blessings from a god?” [ ] “Actually, I’m here to borrow a rabbit for a while.” [ ] “Not really. Just wanted to see who’s at the top of the food chain.” [ ] Something else
[x] “Could I interest you in some good ol’ blessings from a god?” -[x] "Actually, I'm here to borrow a rabbit for a while." --[x] "Not really. I just want to feast on the blood and souls of a thousand humans." ---[x] BLOOD AND GUTS
[X] “Actually, I’m here to borrow a rabbit for a while.” -[X] And maybe some assistance quelling the flames recently strewn about my person. No big rush though, This certainly wouldn't be the first time I've burned to death in horrible screaming agony.
[X] “Actually, I’m here to borrow a rabbit for a while.” -[X] And maybe some assistance quelling the flames recently strewn about my person. No big rush though, This certainly wouldn't be the first time I've burned to death in horrible screaming agony.
[X] “Actually, I’m here to borrow a rabbit for a while.” -[X] And maybe some assistance quelling the flames recently strewn about my person. No big rush though, This certainly wouldn't be the first time I've burned to death in horrible screaming agony.
Apologies for the delay. I don't have a huge pool of time due to work. Admittedly, I've also got sidetracked working on a little doohickey for THP (not another story, mind you). Expect updates hopefully by this weekend or sooner.
“Actually,” you say, patting away at the flames. “I’m here to borrow something.”
“What is it?” asks Kaguya.
“This thing here,” you reply, pointing to Tewi.
The rabbit pulls out a frown. “Says who? I wasn’t aware I was part of an acquisitions deal.”
“That is fine.” Kaguya respectably ignores Tewi. “Please treat her well in our stead.”
“I can’t make any promises. Do I need to fill out any forms or can I just bring her back by the due date? And, if I don’t, will I be subjected to a late fee?”
Resigned, Tewi crosses her arms in frustration. “...I’m not a book, you know.”
“As far as I’m concerned, I do not think we have any paperwork for this kind of matter.” The lady of the mansion furrows her brow. “I could ask Eirin about this.”
“It was a joke,” you explain.
“Apparently it wasn’t very funny because the joke flew straight over her head.”
“Tewi. I’m beating you up the moment we leave, capisce?”
“Oooh, I’m just quaking in my pants.”
You once-over the rabbit. “You’re wearing a dress.”
“Yeah. Ever heard of something called, ‘figure of speech’?”
Kaguya laughs in a way only an immortal could: mellow and weightless to the ear. Mirth’s in her eyes—probably because she’s busy having a chuckle at the expense of you and your dumb rabbit lackey. “Your company is most appreciated, friend. How long have you two been acquainted?”
Tewi shakes her head. “For far too long now.”
“Still, I never would have supposed our Inaba was acquainted with a wolf—and a wolf god at that. I’m surprised you haven’t devoured her already.”
“I mean, I already did—”
“Hold, Hakurou.” Tewi raises an eyebrow at her master’s master. “What do you mean by that? Hakurou’s an old fool of a god, but him? Hurt me? That’s so outside the realm of possibility I can’t even wrap my mind around that.”
“I understand. It is just, ah—how did the legend go again?” Kaguya tilts her head up and examines a corner of the ceiling. Then, with a small gasp, she levels her gaze back to Tewi. “Ah. Right. It was storied that the White Wolf became a god by maiming a priestess and consuming her spirit.”
Tewi jumps in, indignant. “Hakurou would never do that.”
“Forgive me,” Kaguya says, shamefully covering her mouth with her hand. “It was just how the legend was told. I hold our guest in modest esteem and I trust your judgment in character. So, friend.” With a sympathetic smile, she turns to you. “I look forward to our next meeting. Let us part on agreeable terms.”
“Sure, sister. I’ll catch you lates.”
“Ah, ‘sister,’ he says?” Kaguya is somewhere between concerned and puzzled.
Now is about the time when Tewi chews you out and does her little sigh and head-shake, but she’s busy doing her own thing, mumbling to herself.
“Don’t worry about it.” You grin. “It was, as Tewi would put it, a ‘figure of speech.’”
You make your exit from Kaguya’s quarters and start to embark on your spectacular adventure to snatch up some followers, but Tewi interrupts your quest by pulling you back by the arm.
“What’s the deal, floppy ears? There’s work to be done.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s just, uh.” Tewi can’t muster up the words, so you decide to guess her thoughts.
“Too distracted by my hot bod?” you suggest.
“Yes—I mean, no.” Tewi scratches her cheek. “What’s up with the bogus legend? Where’d that come from? You’d never do something like that.”
“I’ve killed plenty a human before, no?”
“Yeah. But with reason. You wouldn’t just kill a shrine maiden for your own personal gain, right?”
[ ] Right. [ ] You could not care less about what humans blab to each other. [ ] Let Tewi believe what she wants. [ ] You would if someone triple-dog-dared you to do it.
“Right,” you say softly. In all honesty, you could’ve just dodged the question and gone on your merry way, but you didn’t like the thought of leaving her question unanswered. “That’s how the legend goes, though.”
“And then what? You didn’t try to stop the phony legend from spreading?”
Tewi eyes you. “You didn’t care?”
“Not a single bit,” you lie. “But I do appreciate you believing in me.”
“I’d be a terrible follower if I didn’t.”
Tewi leads you outside—or at least, tries to. The rude flame girl blocks your travel with her fat ass. In the confines of the hallway, she’s pacing the halls, grumbling to herself.
“Man,” the girl sulks, “I come around to hang out and this is what I get? Shouldn’t have even bothered coming here. Damn, I’ll kill her next time when I get the chance.”
“What, are you that lonely?” you say. “Yo, White Hair. Wanna come hang out with us instead?”
“Who, me?” The girl quickly turns around. Her eyes light up and not in the she-set-her-eyeballs-on-fire kind of way. “Boy, do I!? I mean,” she coughs, “I guess I could. You probably need help getting out the forest, right?”
“Actually,” Tewi says, pointing to herself, “I got that part covered.”
“Then… uh, protection? You need that, right?”
You shake your head. “Nah. I’m my own bodyguard. I don’t need protection from somebody who can’t hit a stationary target, thanks.”
“My aim is fine,” White Hair says, glaring. “I just had a bad angle.”
“Her aim is ‘fine’ she says! Pffft. Haha. Ahahaha.” Tewi lets a long laugh escape her lips. “That’s a riot. You couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn!”
“Tewi, stop,” growls White Hair.
“Man, oh man.” Tewi’s clutching at her stomach, struggling to breathe with all the giggling she’s doing. “I still remember that one time where you missed Kaguya when she was sleeping. Sleeping! Ahahahaha! Set her bedroom ablaze, sure, but you missed the easiest target in the world!”
The girl’s about to blow a fuse—a metaphorical one because she’s unfortunately not on fire yet. “Fine. FINE. You know what? You guys can piss off. I’m taking the day off and going fishing or whatever.”
You do the only thing you can do. “Okay, sounds good. Let’s go, Tewi.”
“God, wait!” cries the girl. “I was just kidding! Isn’t this where you’re supposed to be like, ‘We can’t let her go like this, Tewi. Weren’t you being too rude? Let’s just get along and invite her' or something?”
“Uh.” You blink. “No?”
“C’moooooon! You gotta take me! I’m so bored there’s nothing to do in the forest and Keine’s been ignoring me ‘cause of work and Kaguya’s just a biiiiiiiiiitch!”
“I heard that,” a faraway voice snaps.
You sneak a look at Tewi, and Tewi just stares back at you.
“Whatever, man,” you say. “If you want to join us, then just say so.”
Tewi scoffs. “She’s not gonna say it because she’s holding onto her stubborn pride.”
White Hair takes a deep breath. And then, with a solemn face, she says, “Okay-okay I want to come really really badly please please please let me join.”
“Never mind. I’ll eat my words,” says Tewi, disgusted. “Threw her shame all away, didn’t she?”
So your party of two becomes a party of three.
"Cool,” you say. “Let’s head out.”
“Uh. Also, aren’t you forgetting something?” asks Tewi.
“Not that I’m aware of."
“Hold on.” Tewi disappears into the heart of Eientei. She returns, dragging a familiar object into view. It’s Nitori. Somehow, the kappa’s still sleeping. “What are you going to do with this?”
Oh yeah. She was a thing. “Oops. I guess we'll just bring her along, too."
You make White Hair carry the kappa for no reason other than the fact that it’ll be funny when Nitori comes to. She’ll wake in the middle of travel carried around by some random white haired chick in suspenders. You stop yourself from chuckling to yourself and get a move on.
In the morning, the path through the bamboo forest is a clear one—you almost forget the fact that you can get lost in here for eternity. You pass by thickets and trees and who knows what else because you stopped really paying attention to the scenery. It’s just the same ol’ boring flora and fauna. You stop for a moment to bask in a ray of light that had sneaked past all the forestry.
Tewi glances at you. “Hakurou?”
You soak up the fleeting sunlight a little more.
[ ] “The days are rather peaceful now, aren’t they?” [ ] “Even these days are troubling.”
“I suppose,” says Tewi. “Aside from the wild youkai roaming the lands recently, it’s been all calm.”
“You think times are changing?” you ask, keeping your eyes trained on the rabbit. “Maybe for the better?”
“Hmm.” Tewi looks to the sky, idly stroking her chin as she thinks about her answer. “Maybe it is. I wouldn’t really know since, after all, I’ve been living in the middle of nowhere for the past couple hundred years. But—this is just from my own experience—recently, people do look happier, I guess.”
You nod your head slowly. “I see.”
“Why do you ask?” says Tewi.
“No reason,” you lie. “Just curious. For now, let’s continue walking, yeah?”
One winding path through a forest and a climb up a mountain later, you’re met with party-wide complaints and rather peculiar infrastructure. A paved road kisses the peak of the hill and on top is an outlandishly red gate—you’re not really a fan of the faded neon red but you can kinda dig that certain maroon on occasion. It’s real saccharine—reminds you of better days. Days where you relax, do things that gods do, and bother shrine maidens.
Fortunately for you, today happens to be a day with shrine maidens. Broom in hand, a miko stares you down from the top of the hill. Her hair is tied up with a rather nostalgic red ribbon. You smile and almost laugh—oddly enough, just the sight of the her makes you all sentimental.
The miko doesn’t really feel the same. Scowling, she shakes her broom back and forth angrily. Or maybe she’s just sweeping? “What are you lot doing here?”
“We’ve come to hang out… I think. Actually, yeah.” White Hair turns to you, bewildered. “What are we doing here?”
“I just felt a little nostalgic, so I came to visit the shrine. Looks like same old same old.” You glance up to the crest of the hill where the miko is. “Except for one little thing.”
“Which is?” asks Tewi.
“The shrine maiden scowling at us with a face that says, ‘Please leave.’”
“Hey,” says the shrine maiden, shrugging. “I never said that. But if you could leave, that’d be great.”
Sure, you could. But when was the last time you’ve listened to anyone? You don’t even listen to yourself—so you take several mighty steps up the path. The rest of your party follows suit, albeit reluctantly.
“What if I don’t?” you ask.
Tewi snorts. “He says, already halfway up the stairs.”
“Do whatever you want,” sighs the shrine maiden. “It’s not like anybody else will come visit and donate. But on the rare chance that they do, could you all be so kind as to skedaddle when I say, ‘Begone, youkai.’? I gotta keep up my image here.”
“What about him?” Tewi says, jabbing a finger at you.
“What about him?” repeats the miko.
“He’s a god, not a youkai.”
White Hair turns to you then to Tewi, grabbing her shoulders. “He’s a god!?”
[ ] You’re a god. [ ] If you minus the wolf ears and tail, you’re basically human. [ ] You’re just a wandering rabbit harem enthusiast.
“Excuse me?” White Hair goes absolutely ballistic, throwing her hands up in the air frantically. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You never asked.”
She takes a moment to consider. Then, with thought, she says, “Oh.”
“Also, how are your arms free?”
“Weren’t you carrying someone? The kappa?”
“...What?” She remains there, looking lame as heck with her mouth ajar. Then, after a moment of realization, White Hair’s face likens to her hair color. “Oh. Funny that, haha. Where is she?”
Utter silence. Somewhere along the way, this incompetent fool managed to lose an entire person.
Nervously, she makes her way down the shrine steps. “I’ll go find her.”
After watching the other girl sulk all the way down the hill, the shrine maiden sighs and scratches her head awkwardly. “Uh. Well then. Tea?”
Inside the shrine is clean, though barren might be a better word for it. There isn’t much to look at—just a few trinkets lying around the place here and there. But aside from the tatami mats and the flimsy knee-high table, it’s empty.
“Not much for décor, huh?” you say.
The shrine maiden scowls. “I haven’t bothered replacing anything since the last time this shrine got crushed to smithereens.”
“It’s been like two months,” Tewi points out.
“I was busy doing important things like maintaining the peace.”
“Maybe you should maintain your shrine, too.”
“Miko,” you say. “You’re the new Hakurei? What’s your name?”
“It’s Reimu. And—wait. You know our shrine?”
You stare at her.
Reimu drops her head in embarrassment. “That was a dumb thing to say. Of course you do.”
“I don’t blame ya for not knowing. You’re still so young. I’ve been messing with the Hakurei since… well, like ever ago. Even knew your mother when she was—” you motion to your waist, “—about yea high?”
“Really?” Reimu looks up expectantly. Then, after a pause, she blushes and focuses her attention on her cup of tea. “What—what was she like?”
“She was a good person. Took it upon herself to right every wrong. She thought she could solve every problem without fighing, so I guess she was kind of dumb, too?”
“So you’re nothing like your mother!” laughs Tewi.
“Which is a good thing,” you say. “Since I would’ve hated you if you were like her.”
Reimu blinks. “And why’s that?”
[ ] Cue silence. [ ] You hate good people. [ ] Do some forlorn, looking-off-into-the-distance staring.
“Because,” you say, propping up your chin with a free hand, “I hate good people.”
“Uh,” Reimu says, furrowing her brow, “why’s that? If—if you don’t mind me asking, that is.”
“It’s simple, really. They just die too quick.”
“Ah.” The shrine maiden makes a face like she bit her tongue, what with instant regret filling her profile. “I suppose it was the same for my mother.”
“It was. She—like many other good people—found an untimely death waiting for her in the midst of her idle life. Clawed, maimed, and left to die at the very steps of this shrine. And yet, I know this for fact: no youkai could even touch her if she did not let them. But she talked, she compromised, and she laughed with youkai—a fool she was. I suppose she let that youkai shake her hand completely off, too.”
“She fell in love with her ideals. And in the end, it was that which killed her. Really, she was silly to think that everything could be solved by talking it over. In an era without any spellcards, no less. She was unsound. Stupid, even. She reminded me of something—of someone.”
“Hakurou,” Tewi cuts you off. “Mind yourself.”
“He’s fine. I—I never really got to know my mother anyway. Anything I can know about her is welcome, even if it's about, well...” Reimu cuts herself off, embarrassed. “Go ahead and finish.”
You laugh, if only because the current shrine maiden is amusing. “I imagine, if she were in your shoes, the late Hakurei would be crying up a storm by now. Quite the crybaby. So, perhaps you are nothing like your mother. She was unbeatable, but she was also foolish.”
“Just so you know, I’m unbeatable as well. But unlike my mother, I fight first and ask questions later.”
“Oh?” You raise an eyebrow at her. “How strong are you?”
“Then what about the Watatsu—”
“Undefeated,” Reimu repeats. “I fly, I defeat gods, I solve incidents. I can do anything.”
“Have a match with me then,” you say.
“I’m game. Do you have your spellcards prepared?”
[ ] You never said anything about spellcards. [ ] You’ll just make some up on the spot.
[x]You’ll just make some up on the spot No spellcard doesn’t mean no danmaku, it just means she’s not gonna hold back unless it’s just.. no spellcard but the rule is still in play and even if she’s gone full cqc, she should be pretty good at it considering the fighting game.
Yea I've never seen a spellcard battle done well on this site. I've never even seen an honest to goodness fight with the powerhouses done well. Except for that final battle against Yukari in Gensokyoland Saga. That was amazing.
“Oh, I never said anything about spellcards, dearie.” You let that sentence hang in the air for that maximum ominous effect. Ooh yeah, you’re just basking in that silence.
From the look on her face, Reimu doesn’t quite get it. She just does that stupid stare until she pieces everything together like a puzzle—a fifty-thousand piece puzzle, maybe. “You mean...”
“We could do shogi—I’m real good at shogi you see. We could do, uh, a little dance contest, maybe some bed wrestlin’ or—”
“I’m a shrine maiden,” she says.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff. Or we could—”
A gust of wind passes through the shrine and you’re gone, up close and reaaaal personal behind the shrine maiden’s back.
“Got ya,” you whisper into the shrine maiden’s ear, before swiping at her neck. She dodges, if barely, by ducking and stumbling away. You could’ve went faster but what good would be a dead shrine maiden, right? “Damn. I would’ve gotten you if I didn’t open my big mouth there. Good instincts though! You ducked like your life depended on it!”
Reimu opens her mouth but the dummy forgot that she was holding her breath. She wobbles over to the table, resting a hand on top as she does a big ol’ exhale. But she’s quick on the recovery, that shrine maiden. “Yeah, well, I’m not too bad at the whole miko business. Got a real knack for it.”
“Sure you do,” says Tewi.
“Do you only open your mouth just to mock me, you dumb rabbit?”
“No. Sometimes I laugh at you, too!”
“Are you asking to be exterminated? Because that’s what it sounds like.”
“In any case,” you say. “I think we’re done here. The match is over—I hope you’re humbled, shrine maiden.”
“Not like I can outdo a god without spellcards,” she grumbles. “That’s just unfair.”
“But hey, if it’s any consolation, you did pretty well just by yourself!”
Reimu’s dumb gaze sobers to something more wary. “Just what do you mean by that?”
“What I mean is that you did pretty well… without your god, that is.”
Man, you thought that Reimu looked especially pale when you went for her neck, but she’s on a whole ‘nother level after you said that. Real marble statue-like, the girl is. You guess that she was playing kinda reserved before because she’s now anything but.
“Y-You—I, gah… how?” Reimu pauses, presumably to find some vocab. “How did you find out?”
“More like how did anyone else not find out? I don’t sense a lick of that old fool here. Spill the beans, miko.”
“Fine,” she says. “God’s been weak since I’ve inherited the shrine. Doesn’t really help that faith’s been waning. So, with all that combined, one day, God just… disappeared. I mean, nobody except me even noticed. Everybody just assumes the obvious—that I have a god because I’m a shrine maiden.”
“Uh-huh,” you say.
Reimu swings her gohei around at you and the rabbit. “I’m trusting you two not to tell anybody—or else.”
“You’re really threatening a god? One that just totally showed you that he could slice you up like a watermelon?”
“I was thinking that if I got serious, you’d be intimidated… or something like that.” Embarrassed, Reimu directs her frustrations to Tewi. “And as for you, rabbit—actually, why are you even here?”
“Funny story, that,” says Tewi. “I’m his ‘shrine maiden,’ term obviously used loosely.”
“And since you don’t really have a god anymore, that makes me more of a shrine maiden than you, right?”
“What.” Reimu scrambles over the table and paces back and around all quick-like, muttering to herself. “Oh, man. This is the worst. A bunny’s more of a miko than me. How do I even fix this?”
“It’s pretty obvious.” Tewi says. “Just find yourself a god again.”
“Oh, well duh. Of course. Let me just go and pick one up at the market.” Reimu scoffs. “Just where am I going to find a god that’ll—huh.” Reimu does a hurried scoot to you until her eyeballs are up in your grill. “Waaaaait a second.”
You point to yourself. “Who? Me? Shucks, I don’t think I’m cut out for this. It’s been so long since I’ve been a god. What if I’m rusty? I’m sure there are better fish in the god-sea than me! But I mean, if you insist. If you reaaally insist. Since you’ve asked so nicely, I’ll do you a solid and do some part-time for your shrine.”
“Enough with the farce, Hakurou,” says Tewi. “Just god yourself already.”
“Fine, fine. Now, Reimu.” You let a smile creep up your face. “All you gotta do is one small thing for me.”
“Usually,” says Reimu, “when anybody says that all I have to do is ‘one small thing,’ it never is.”
“You’re gonna have to trust me on this. But it’s real easy.” You move a hand to your left breast and catch a pendant by its chain, dangling the jeweled stone up for the shrine maiden to see. “Just take this talisman here and crush it. It’s only a small stone, after all. Brittle, too.”
Naturally, Reimu’s real suspect about the thing. She inches forward and, without touching it, gives it a look-over. “Y’know. I feel like I’m being tricked but my intuition says to do it anyway.” After a moment, she leans over to cup the blasted stone in her hands, and, slowly, she squeezes the talisman between her hands until it grinds to a fine powder. Without much effort on her part, it blows away like sand against the wind. “Now is this the part where you go on an unstoppable rampage across Gensokyo?”
“If only,” you say, shaking your head. “But I’ve done that already. All you did was unseal my powers. I don’t really have a need to cause a scene.”
“Cool. I’m sealing you back.”
“Let’s not get too hasty there, miko,” you say. Reimu’s limbs lock up in response, though you can see her hand still twitching its way to her gohei. “I’m telling you all this because I want you to give me a chance.”
Reimu’s taken aback, holding a look on her face like someone told her that they ate all her snacks. But she deflates a little and shrugs. “So do I get a choice in this or what?”
“I don’t really believe you, but I’ll humor you for now.”
“I’m obliged,” you say, gazing straight at the shrine maiden. “If you weren’t aware prior-to, I am an aged god. Humans gave me many names. Okuri-inu. Yama-inu. Ekirei-Okami. Haiiro-Okami. I won’t story you with old memories, so I’ll summarize: humans worshiped me at their own convenience. And I, a younger god at the time, wallowed in my insipience and foolhardily believed in the good of humanity. Stupid, right? In retrospect, it was pretty inevitable that I got stabbed in the back.”
“And how’d they do that?”
“They took away the only thing I cared for in this world. It’s kinda funny how humans have a knack for doing that, right?” You wait for the miko to respond, but she only replies with an uneasy silence. “It was after this time—but before I adopted the name Hakurou—that I fell from grace. I killed, plagued, maimed, and cursed more beings than I was able to count. Humans, youkai, gods—it didn’t matter to me. They were all the same in my eyes. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that I never lost sleep over the whole shebang. Thought I was administering divine judgment and whatnot.”
“You’re not really selling me with the heartwarming ‘I killed a ton of people indiscriminately’ story,” says Reimu.
“I’m not here to convince you. You chose to become my vessel the moment you ground that talisman to dust. And since you wanted a god, you now have one. With him, you have his truth and his regrets, his plague and pestilence, and his long-since quelled wrath.”
Reimu’s face is nothing short of ghastly. “And what do I do with all that?”
“That,” you say, “is ultimately for you to decide.”
“I don’t even know what you want from me.”
“Just keep doing what you’re doing. You’re still a shrine maiden. Just under new management. But if you can, I’d like Gensokyo to be a more peaceful one.”
“What?” Reimu struggles to find her words. “You’re kidding, right? You tell me that you were all gung-ho about blood-and-guts and now you’re telling me that you want Gensokyo to be more peaceful of all things?”
“Yes,” you say.
She’s flabbergasted. “That’s—that’s ridiculous. But you know what? That’s fine. We’re within acceptable levels of ridiculous. As long as you’re not asking to destroy the universe, I guess we can reason things out like adults, unlike the last god that just upped and left.”
“Contrary to popular belief, I’m actually a reasonable god. As long as you don’t go out of your way to destroy the things I cherish, that is.”
“I’ll, uh, try not to do that,” says Reimu. “Oh. Also. Just one last question. You rattled on about how you had many names, but what should I call you?”
[ ] Amatsu, since you’re feeling nostalgic. [ ] Ekirei. It’s a little insulting, but it serves as a reminder of what you are. [ ] Haiiro. One village worshiped you as Haiiro and it really stuck with you. [ ] Hakurou. You’re still just Hakurou.
[x] Hakurou. You’re still just Hakurou. -[x] Humility gives perspective. I don't want to forget that again.
The last time he thought he was the 'Bringer of divine justice' he went on a bloody rampage. Let's not make him forget that his vengeance was fullfilled, his rage abated, but his pain remained the same.
“Hakurou,” you say. You’re still—corporeal form included—just Hakurou. “But you, under no circumstances, are to call me that to your followers.”
“Then what?” Reimu whines. “What do they call you?”
“Just have ‘em call me the Hakurei god for now. In fact, yeah, let’s go with that. It’d be bad to admit that your god went missing, so why not tell them this? Your god finally adopted a physical form again. And it’s me.”
“I… hmm.” The shrine maiden raps her knuckles on her gohei. “Yeah. That could work. I seriously doubt that anybody remembers the real Hakurei god. Okay, let’s go with that. That’d save me a lot of embarrassment. One thing though—what if I mess up? Just blabber out your name on accident after some sake, maybe?”
“Trust me, you won’t. Bad things will happen if you do. Ruin, mayhem, everything awful you can dream of, multiplied a thousand times. Then multiply that by another million times and that’s what you’ll have to deal with.”
“Right. Yep. Gotcha.” Reimu bobs her head up and down. She finds her eyes leading down to the bottom of her skirt. After nodding some more, maybe as an act of reassurance, she lifts her head up and asks, “Uh. By the way. Why do you do that?”
“Talk like that. Like… this.”
“Oh,” you say. “You mean like this?”
“Yes. Like that.”
“Because it sends a message. Awakens the kind of fear that mortals tend to forget.”
“Why?” she pointedly asks.
“Fear is easier—and faster, too—to create than respect.”
“Do you enjoy alienating everyone you talk to?”
“As a matter of fact, yes. Sometimes, dialogue isn’t even necessary. So, if you have no further questions, I’m outta here.”
Reimu stops you. “Aren’t you supposed to be the Hakurei god?”
“Yeeeep. And I’m going to be the Hakurei god elsewhere. But don’t worry! I’ll be back. And soon! I can promise you that. I just need to be somewhere that isn’t here. But, hey, at least your problem’s solved! You’re up a god again!”
And Tewi, who’s been silent up until now, says, “Great. Let’s get going then.” She gets up from her seat and heads out, waving once to Reimu.
You, keen to skedaddle, follow the rabbit.
Tewi speeds up a little as you catch up to her. Even though she’s not facing your way, you’re a hundred percent certain that she has a sour expression plastered on her face.
“Ever think you’re not really needed?” she says.
“I’m not pouting,” she says, crossing her arms.
“Then would you be happy if I said I needed you?”
“I mean, yes—but only if you’re not lying through your teeth.”
“Okay. I need you then.”
“It’s not really convincing when you’re telling me like that.”
“So hard to please.”
But contrary to her beliefs, you do need her.
[ ] She keeps you from going overboard. [ ] She keeps you from getting lonely. [ ] She’s your only constant in Gensokyo. [ ] She’s a rare source of comfort in an otherwise hostile world.
She’s a rare source of comfort in an otherwise hostile world. You carry a lotta baggage. And you wouldn't say that you hate Gensokyo, but let's just say that you weren't exactly the nicest fella on the block. And you don’t forget—or forgive—that easily. Likewise, neither does Gensokyo. You’re sure that your past will follow you, whether the humans remember or not.
“I need you because you make me feel at ease.”
“And that’s good, why?” Tewi says.
“I get antsy when I don’t feel comfortable. Like, the total-destruction kinda antsy. Oh, also,” you add. “You don’t run away.”
Tewi slows down for a moment, gazing at you from over her shoulder. “That’s because I know I can’t.”
“Everyone will tell you I’m anything but.”
“So is a finger puzzle but you don't ever need those, do you?"
“You don’t hate me.”
“Look,” she says, stopping to turn around. “Maybe you just have really low standards.”
“I actually have high standards. It’s very easy to hate me.” You politely wait for her to respond, but she’s at a complete loss. So you grin. “See here, Tewi. You always remind me of the past. I was doing the usual the day I met you. Y’know, going on a summer stroll, chatting with the fairies, making plans to destroy the next human village I find, all that good stuff. But then I got sidetracked—hard. I happened to chance upon a rabbit. Lovely lass, I’ll tell you what. Stole my attention for a whole day, and all I did was talk to her. See, all the plans I made for the next human village? Totally forgot.”
“Sounds like you’re just bad at remembering your grocery list,” says Tewi.
“Yeah. Absolutely terrible at stuff like that, I am.” You wrench Tewi to you with a free hand. “I just do things on a whim so I get a little forgetful.”
The rabbit shakes your arm away. “So?”
“So maybe I like talking to you more than mass genocide. Jury’s still out on that one. Weird how you can quell a lonely god with affection, huh?” You breathe out some air—for yoga purposes.
“That’s rare. A sigh coming from the great Hakurou?”
“I’m doing yoga. Would’ve been one step closer to zen if it weren’t for you rudely interrupting me.”
“How precious,” she scoffs. “You, enlightened? Hell would freeze over if that happened.”
“Hey, once upon a time, hell did freeze over. It could happen again, and then all I’ll say to you is, ‘I told you so.’ But in any case,” you say, twirling Tewi around to face the road. “Let’s get back to movin’.”
"Where are we headed to?"
"I was following you, ma'am."
Tewi blushes. "I never had a destination in mind."
"Don't worry—because I do."
[ ] Get lost on purpose. [ ] Pay a visit to Hieda no What’s-Her-Name. [ ] See if you can get into that mansion near the lake. [ ] A while back, you heard from Hina that there was a new shrine up in the mountain.
“We’re paying a visit to Hieda no… no, uh—what’s-her-face,” you say.
“You don’t even remember her name?” Tewi asks.
“Look, she’s got more names than me, and I’ve got like a million. Let’s see—there was Aichi, Ani, Ayo, Aho, Achoo, A-blah-blah, Adagio, and Ayu. Probably more.”
“Uh-huh,” Tewi nods absentmindedly. You swear she’s been getting better at tuning you out when you mouth out anything stupid. That’s fine because, really, you only talk because you enjoy listening to the sound of your own voice. “And where are we going to find her?”
“Probably one of the human villages.”
“...Do you mean the Human Village? The only one really around?”
“Yeah!” you say, laughing. “That one. Silly me, I forgot there aren’t a whole lot of them around.”
“Yeah,” she replies with that dismissive tone again. “Right.”
The way to the village is long and boring. Who would’ve known that going down a mountain wasn’t a walk in the park? That begs the question: why didn’t you just fly? Well, you would have if Tewi didn’t tell you that it was “conspicuous” and would “draw too much attention.” Lame. Then again, you’re still subscribed to the idea that humans should cower before you, so maybe you don’t have the best idea how to travel around the village with subtlety.
In any case, when you arrive at the village, the people are eyeballing you so hard you’d think they’d fall out. Maybe they’re staring because you’re giving off an intense aura. Then they start indiscreetly pointing at your wolfish ears and your dumb head puts two and two together.
“...How come they’re just gawkin’ at me and not at you?” you say to Tewi.
“You see.” She winks and puffs out her chest. “I’m good fortune. You—well, you look just like a regular ol’ wolf youkai.”
“But I’m not a youkai. I’m a god.”
“Humans can’t tell the difference unless you show them.”
You raise an eyebrow. “You want me to?”
“Uh, are you going to show them in the usual way you do?”
“Either way works for me. They can look at my figure all they want.” You flex on some poor saps, but they go hurrying the other direction. “Too bad, though. Nobody’s got a sense of humor here.”
It takes maybe two blocks of harassing the villagers before you find the Hieda house. It wasn’t really hard to miss. In front is a huge sign that screams, “HIEDA” at you. Now, you don’t mind the huge bolded letters, but it could’ve been a little more polite. Damn tsukumogamis don’t know how to use their indoor voices.
You step inside. A couple of people—servants, probably—look at you funny, so you look at them funnier and mosey past them. Tewi just sheepishly smiles and waves at them before following behind you. Too bad all the hallways look the same. In one door, out the next, and it’s just tatami mats after tatami mats—would it kill the Hieda family to get some décor? You can't landmark for shit around here.
After a full circle around the manor, you finally find some hope—a room that has more bookshelves than walls. In its centerpiece lies an office desk and a woman much too small for her chair. Her kimono screams “awful sense of color” so it had to be her.
You grin. “There you are, Hieda.”
She smiles and takes off her glasses, setting her book aside. Then her eyes meet yours and suddenly, it gets weird fast. The smile she has? Wiped clean. It’s replaced by a grimace—mean, isn’t it?
“How did you get in?” she says.
[ ] “Well, we just kinda walked on in.” [ ] “The tsukumogami up front gave us a VIP pass.”
>It takes maybe two blocks of harassing the villagers before you find the Hieda house. It wasn’t really hard to miss. In front is a huge sign that screams, “HIEDA” at you. Now, you don’t mind the huge bolded letters, but it could’ve been a little more polite. Damn tsukumogamis don’t know how to use their indoor voices.
I don't know why I didn't think of this play on words before.
That's only true if the author presents a meaningful tone/connotative difference in the wordplay. In this case, both options have the same snarky undertone and the expected difference in outcome isn't clear.
>>199388 >snarky undertone Nnnnnot really seeing it, honestly? The first option seems more like a blunt admission, and the second comes off as a bantering non-sequitur. I think that's a question of interpretation.
>expected difference in outcome isn't clear There's no certainty, granted. Still, making a crack about a tsukumogami is likely to lead things off on a tangent, while going with a direct comment on the topic at hand will probably just continue the conversational train of thought. It seems like a logical conclusion, at least. Of course, CYOAs can and do break away from grounded logic, so...
“The tsukumogami up front gave us a VIP pass and all—with complimentary seats to the Hieda Gallery too.”
The corner of her mouth twitches, and it isn’t because she couldn’t hold herself back from smiling. “That so?” Hieda says, drumming her fingers on polished wood. “Well, consider them void because—” Her expression went from irate to looking like somebody poisoned her soup. “Did you say, tsukumogami?”
“You betcha,” you say, holding back a grin. “The damn thing yelled at me like no other. You should be embarrassed to even have it be a part of your estate. No manners at all.”
“Could you—” she stammers, “—could you, um, excuse me for a moment?”
Before you can say no, she’s already through the door, a trailing “YUKARIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII” echoing through the manor. You cock your head towards the hallway, but you don’t need wolfish ears to hear the sound of a sign being ripped out of the earth and clattering to the ground—partly because the manor is silent, and partly because the sign was screaming bloody murder the whole time.
You and Tewi exchange looks as the lady of the house returns, her kimono disheveled and slightly muddied. The funny thing is, it looks better that way. Whoever told her that green and yellow were good colors for her should be put to flames.
“Glad to see that you work out nowadays,” you say, dispelling the silence. “I’ve always been telling you that you really need to get out of the house every now and then.”
“I… value my privacy,” Hieda responds between slow breaths. “So nothing irks me more than eavesdroppers in my own estate.”
“I see,” you say.
“That also includes you.”
“Oh, then what about me?” asks Tewi.
“Come back without this nuisance, and then we’ll talk.”
“Hieda,” you say, sighing. “Are you still mad at me?”
“Of course I’m still mad at you, you ingrate.”
“What do you mean, ‘Why?’ You killed me!”
Tewi turns to look at you. “You killed her?”
“It was just once, alright?”
“Twice,” Hieda says. “You killed me. Twice.”
“The second time was an accident! Besides, you know just as well as I do that—”
“You managed to kill her twice,” states Tewi, though really you wish she had phrased it as a question because she’s not helping. Like, at all.
Meanwhile, Hieda looks like she’s about to burst a vein. “Yes. Twice. But never mind me and my notoriously short lifespan. I guess it doesn’t matter since I’ll just get killed off like always.”
“Oh, for crying out loud, that happened like a thousand years ago.”
“And you decide that now is a good time to apologize?” she spits out.
“I didn’t exactly come here to apologize.”
“Then what?” Hieda narrows her eyes. “I suppose you aren’t here to have a lovely chat and catch up.”
“While I’d love to reminisce, I’ve actually come to tell you something. And, for the record, I’m not saying this as Hakurou.” You gaze directly at the Child of Miare. “I’m saying this as the White Wolf: I’ve returned to take back what is mine.”
“Yes, yes, I’ll have my servants return it.” Hieda just sighs. “It took you long enough. We’re even now, so don’t kill me through collateral damage again, you hear?”
“At least you can laugh about it after you reincarnate, as you always do.”
“You really love to just push my buttons, don’t you?” Hieda growls. “But if you think you can rattle me then—well, I have three syllables for you.”
You flinch. That name.
“Don’t forget that it’s my job to record history. Even yours. Even Koharu’s.”
“Don’t say that name.”
Hieda smiles bitterly. “Whose? Koharu’s?”
“Uh,” Tewi says, snaking her way into the conversation. “Not to be rude, but who is Koharu?”
“You want to know? She is—”
“She was,” you say, correcting Hieda, “my priestess.”
“Okay, and?” Tewi shrugs. “So what’s the big deal?”
“Then why fuss about it?” She waits for your response. You have none to offer, so she huffs, crossing her arms in a fit. “What? You don’t trust me?”
“I don’t, but that’s beside the point,” you say.
[ ] You’ll talk, but you won’t like one bit of it. [ ] You’re not here to re-open your old wounds. [ ] You’re done here.
“To set the record straight, I’m just saying that nobody enjoys bringing up their dirty past—not even me. Of course, Hieda’s having a field day airing my dirty laundry, but that’s because she likes watching me squirm. But in any case—” you say as you walk to the wall adjacent to the hallway, placing a hand over a thin cut of wood. Then you sink your nails in and rip a chunk of wall into splinters, the wood crunching as you brute force through the planks behind the wall’s exterior.
Tewi looks at you like you’ve lost your mind. Of course, ripping apart walls isn’t what you’d call totally sane either, but you have justification. You prod open a hole in the wall and uncover two servants in the hallway. They had their ears pressed to the wall until you ripped a good part of it off, so they responded with what most humans do when an arm comes reaching for them through a wall: screaming and running. Again, no volume control—you can see that it’s a sad trend in House Hieda.
“You were saying about eavesdroppers, Hieda?”
“Hakurou, you already know that my servants won’t tell a soul.”
“If they don’t need to know, they’re not going to know. The less who know, the better.”
Tewi looks dumbfounded. “Couldn’t you have asked them to leave instead of destroying private property?”
“Well, yeah,” you admit, “but this way they’ll leave for sure. Besides, that’s payback, Hieda.” You look at her. Obviously, she looks cross, but now that all the annoyances are out of the way, you can get back to what you were saying. “Anyway. The name—Koharu—it holds a certain power over me. See, names are powerful. Just by saying a name, you find lineage, heritage, memories—everything. Saying her name means she is just that: history, hers and mine.” You close your eyes and already, you recall that lonesome shrine and two figures on a distant hill, waiting, waiting, waiting—
“And? Weren’t you, self-proclaimed, ‘all-powerful’ and had more miko babes than you could count?”
Hieda pulls out a thick booklet labeled White Wolf, hastily stuffed with ripped pages and bookmarks, and licks her finger, thumbing through the pages until she finds the right place. “Actually,” she says, “he only had one shrine maiden.”
“She was a priestess,” you correct her. “The particulars are different.”
“So all the stories you told me about your shrine maidens—or priestesses, whatever—were they real, or were you just lying through your teeth?” Tewi says.
“Who knows? So maybe I lied about her name, or her title, but sometimes, I give a little truth in what I say. And consider this: names are important to me. You know me by Hakurou, but I have many names still. Take comfort in the fact that I bestow this knowledge to you. I am Amatsu, he who once wrought death and destruction. I am Ekirei, he who once cursed the lands with pestilence. And I am Hakurou, he who once wandered. These names—they are all me. And I do not easily give them out. Likewise, the priestess’s true name—it is powerful and should be used with discretion.”
“Was she really that powerful?”
“No,” you laugh. “She was weak, pitifully so. Her name is only powerful because it’s bound to me.”
So begins the first Nanowrimo update. Finished with five hours to spare for the day. Maybe, if I'm ambitious, I'll try and get two updates in one day over the weekend. In any case, next timer for me to beat. >needing to check the update box to make the timer work
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/03(Sat)07:00
Hieda scoots off her chair and stands. “Alright, I’m going to step out for a bit. On the way, I’ll go notify my servants that they’re not going to die and that it’s safe to come out and return your belongings. And also, Hakurou?” She spreads her arms out, motioning to the entire room and its bookshelves. “For the love of everything holy, don’t touch anything.”
“Me? Touch books? Oh, you, ever the jokester. You know I can’t read to save my life.”
She turns to Tewi unfazed, promptly ignoring everything that you said. “I’m counting on you. Don’t let that fool run wild on my books. Please.”
“I don’t think you’re asking the right person,” Tewi says.
“Just—just keep Hakurou entertained so he doesn’t get bored and does horrible things to my precious babies.” Hieda glares at you one more time before she’s satisfied and leaves the study.
As soon as Hieda’s gone, you tilt your head towards Tewi and stare wordlessly.
“Something on my face, or are you just admiring the view?”
You start. “Five—”
“Huh?” she says, appropriately befuddled.
“...Why are you counting down?”
“Entertain me,” you explain, “before I get bored. Two—”
“You skipped three, stupid!”
“Um, uh—” Suddenly put on the spot, Tewi runs up and wraps her arms around you. Clearly, five seconds wasn’t enough time for the poor bunny to think of anything clever, but she’s soft so you have no complaints. Once you stopped counting down, she realizes what she just did and buries her face into your robe, hiding her face out of embarrassment. Still, she had the audacity to ask,“Entertained yet?” through a muffled voice.
Man, youkai rabbits—even ones like Tewi—are the cutest things alive. “I am, thoroughly. I just think it’s funny how you tried so hard to keep me amused.”
“Something about counting from five really puts me under pressure. And you know I’m no good at stuff when I don’t have time to plan things out and think.”
“What I’m saying is that you don’t need to help out Hieda. I mean, who even cares about her books? It’s not like I’d just rip her bookshelves to shreds because I was bored.”
Tewi says nothing, but instead lets go of you and points to a rather conspicuous-looking hole in the wall.
“That was about sending a message. It’s not like I did that just for fun. Even though I did enjoy it. Besides, all I’d get out of ripping up her books is just a long, long lecture from that purple-haired blabbermouth.” That being said, you do enjoy frustrating Hieda, so you plop straight into her chair, swipe the booklet she was scribbling in, and put your feet up at her desk. Looks like Hieda’s been keeping busy. Her notes go uncomfortably into detail about everything and everyone. Even Tewi’s in here—though there’s substantially less content than, say, a certain “Kanako Yasaka” who controls the Moriya Shrine. Funny. You’d think it’d be called the Yasaka Shrine instead, but you guess that frog’s still skulking around somewhere.
Hieda returns with something that resembles a wooden mochi box, except much larger. On it were a mix of talismans, some yellowed from age and some not. The box, or at least what wasn’t covered in charms, looks remarkably well-kept—you can still see the finish on the box glint under the light.
“Good to see that everything’s still in one piece,” Hieda says, placing the box on the table. “And—hey. Put that booklet down.”
“But I was just getting to the good parts.”
“Those are my private notes.” She juts out her hand like a child would for a piece of candy. “Give.”
“Fine.” You relinquish the booklet, instead securing the bento box lookalike. “Only because you’ve been such a dear for holding onto this for me.”
Hieda shakes her head, immediately jotting things down in her booklet. She’s probably had enough of you at this point. “Inaba, I don’t know how you stand being around him for more than ten minutes at a time. He’s nothing but trouble, so you’re better off wasting your time elsewhere.”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” says Tewi, laughing.
“I mean it.” Hieda frowns. “He ends up devouring anything that sticks around him for too long. And—as for you.” She tries her best to lean over your chair menacingly, despite being such a shorty. “Would it kill you to try and be nice for a while?”
“Yes,” you and Tewi reply simultaneously.
Hieda heaves a long sigh that betrays her real age. “Then at the very least, could you please get people to stop hating you so much?”
[ ] Yeah. You’re a god after all. Love and happiness is your thing, yo. [ ] You could, but for only one person. [ ] That’d be nice. [ ] Nope, not a chance.