1342/A Meeting with Oinari

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A Meeting with Oinari
Date of Scene: 16 January 2015
Location: Azuma
Synopsis: The Union and allies enter Takamagahara to meet with Oinari on the subject of Kagenashi and the troubles spreading over Azuma.
Cast of Characters: 85, 183, 232, 369, 481, 518, Zero Kiryu, 570, Ayako Hasekawa, 642, 652, 655

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Most of Azuma's regions are locked in a single season, no matter the time of year: spring in Seiryu, summer in Suzaku, autumn in Byakko, and winter in Genbu. However, the central region, Koryu, the towering mountain that serves as the path to Takamagahara, seems unbound to any particular season. Below the cloudy sky, the air is neither warm, nor cold; neither dry, nor humid. The leaves do not fall, but neither do fruits grow on the trees that blanket the mountain in darkness and fog. It's remarkable how ominous the looming mountain is, considering that its peak houses the path to the Celestial Plane.

    The forests are the home of crow-like kotengu, who would leap at the chance to assault travelers if their daitengu leader weren't paying attention, but there is one safe path from the base to the peak. Flanked by large kitsune statues carved from light stone and poised with a regal alertness, the entrance is obvious to any who would look for it. Additionally, the wide path is framed all the way to the peak by bright red torii gates spaced only a few feet apart from one another, each one supporting a paper lantern to be lit for travel at night for additional safety. It's a long trip, considering that Koryu's mountain is the tallest in Azuma, but it would be a peaceful one. The kotengu keep their distance, only disturbing travelers with rustles of black feathers among the shaded woods and croaking crow's calls echoing in the shadows.

    At the peak, the woods open into a wide clearing, where the gate to Takamagahara is finally clearly seen. It's a very large arch formed entirely of a mixture of green and white jade, the stone polished to a perfect, smooth gleam and carved with carefully-etched Japanese writing along its curve. "As long as the sun shines, our beautiful land will know peace," it says, easily readable by those who know the language. A blessing and a gesture of faith, but has it held recently?

    The gate is guarded by a regiment of kotengu: humanoid creatures with bodies covered in black feathers, arms and legs like a bird's talons, crow heads, and broad black wings, each dressed in rudimentary plate armor with long swords sheathed at their hips. It's only a matter of informing them of the group's intention to meet Oinari to get them to allow entry. With croaks of assent, the kotengu move aside, allowing free passage to the portal whose surface ripples like water and distorts the bright image beyond. What the group is presented with upon passing through is a greatly changed landscape, a sight paired with the scent of air both fresh and sweet.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    (BGM: http://goo.gl/gG4ysU)

    The portal exits into a gate identical to the one on the top of Koryu's mountain, but the landscape is dramatically different. The Celestial Plane lies high above the clouds, high enough that the light of the sun that hangs low in the horizon is undisturbed. The landscape is made up of floating islands of earth, each hovering perfectly still in the air and each of different sizes, from a small house to a broad field. Not a single patch of bare earth can be seen on any of the islands' surfaces: each one is covered by vibrant grasses, colorful wildflowers, glistening ponds that serve as home for small carp, and peach trees of various sizes, each one laden with fruit and flowers. Arching bridges of red wood connect each island for easy, safe travel, each one lined by strings of paper lanterns to provide light when night falls.

    Takamagahara is not at a loss for life, either. Large serpentine dragons fly through the sky without the aid of wings, their iridescent scales gleaming in the sunlight, their manes billowing in the wind. The trees serve as perches for hou-oh, whose musical songs are nearly as beautiful as the rainbow of long, streaming feathers that cover their bodies with the radiance of the sun. Kirin wander the fields, too; creatures of many colors somewhere between dragons and deer, their forms covered by scales that crackle with light and power, their heads decorated by branching antlers, and their manes long and flowing from their heads to their tails. Most apparent, however, are the tennin themselves: they seem like normal people, men and women alike, but their clothes are instead billowing robes of rainbow feathers that change colors as they move. Now and then, some take to the air, using their robes like broad wings to carry them among the youkai that dance in the sky above. The tennin are at peace here, content to savor Takamagahara's beauty and serenity however they see fit.

    In the center of the broad landscape of broken, beautiful land is a single giant island, taken up almost entirely by a golden palace of resplendent beauty and wealth. It reaches up for several levels, each one decorated by a sloping roof, the peak mounted on either end with large carp statues whos tails curl over their backs. No outer wall surrounds the palace, and why should it in a place where nothing would dare attack? The doors are open to visitors who come and go, either kitsune or tennin, and the path to that island isn't much more of a trek from the jade portal back to Koryu. Nothing will obstruct the group from reaching the palace.

Shizune Nakamura (369) has posed:
    This outing was Shizune's idea. It would be utterly silly for her not to be here. But at the very least, she has come in her very best, a kimono far more formal than her usual fare, done in earthy tones that accentuate her hair and eyes nicely. She has even paid heed to the traditional meanings of the kimono's style and cut, a thing seldom seen in the more modern areas of Japan. The only concession she's made to comfort or convenience, at least visibly, is the pair of comfortable tabi she wears to make the long walk much less painful on her feet.

    Even for someone who's seen the wonders of the Multiverse, though, this place is something else. The moment they step through the portal, Shizune stops to look around... and for just a second or two even she can't keep the wonder out of her eyes. She quickly pushes it down under a polite, calm expression, but there is at least a murmur of, "There aren't many places in the Multiverse this beautiful."

Kirika (481) has posed:
    While she is under no real rush, Kirika does seem to waste little time to get through the forests. The kitsune moves swiftly and alertly, tail flowing behind her as she moves down the path until she reaches Takamagahara itself.

    This land grows more and more akin to Kasun as Kirika begins her way up the mountain, careful not to disturb the local kotengu, eyeing the birdlike beings with red eyes of curiosity and mild wonder.

    Her journey past the gates leads her through the portal, and she emerges on the mountainttop. Kirika pauses only for her eyes to observe the landscape from up high, and the skies as well. Her gaze is wide with awe, as if Kirika's breath has been stolen from this world's beauty. Her tail flickers, and then the half-blood notices the kirin, and tennin as well. "Hmm..."

    Shizune's assessment is echoed with a nod, as Kirika nears the student and martial artist.

Landon al Cid (642) has posed:
     Helping and seeing other worlds is one of the few pleasures Landon al Cid currently has not tremendously tainted by politics and concerns of his world. Here, on this beautiful world far from his own, he can appreciate the scenery without worrying about impending war. He can enjoy the serpentine dragons, marvel at the kirin and the hou-oh, record snatches of song and take pictures on his mPhone of the stunning beauty of the world. Much of it looks as Ramuh supposedly did in days long past, and much of it looks completely new to him. It is an experience that he wishes so many of his people could enjoy and appreciate, because if they could, surely, they might see that open arms and smiles is the way to approach the vast Extraverse Galianda has found itself neighboring. Yes, there are dangers amidst the worlds that are unfamiliar to them and strange and terrible, and yes, there are nightmares and demons across the land, but there are also things like this - visages of moving, celestial beauty. Surely this must be some glimpse of what the Palace Of Raiden is like.

     It is for all of this that Landon has a genuine smile on his face. It is the first genuine smile he's had in a while - utterly untainted by any concerns of his world, he is freer now than he has ever been, and he revels in it. He delights in it. There are no innocents to be saved, no battles to be fought, nothing he need argue or bicker or be troubled by. There is only glorious beauty.

     He is not wearing his Judge's helmet, but the silvery plate mail and purple cloak wrapped around his shoulders are nonetheless heavy and mak the climb difficult. He bears no weapons at all, not even his Judge Sword, though that's hardly a problem - it will spring to life in an instant if he needs it. He doesn't think he will. For now, he's simply recording everything - everything he can see, everything he can hear, all the beautiful things around him. He almost feels bad at the quiet 'clang' of his Judge's Armor - for though he is most used to wearing it, and he makes little noise, he cannot yet fully eliminate the sound, and each clang is an intrusion upon a harmony that he would rather enjoy.

     "But for each one that is, we are enriched," he replies to Shizune.

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko Shinobu is here. She has not been, previously, though not for lack of interest. In fact, her reasons are rather personal, sufficiently so that her suspicions are unlikely to be shared. This makes the quiet magical girl no different from usual.

    She's here transformed, if slightly differently from her norm--her dress is long and even, though still she possesses those detached sleeves. Formal enough for some places, though perhaps inappropriate here. She's entirely unarmed, for the sake of politeness. And she does rather feel that it would be impolite to openly carry arms in this place; as few locales have managed, this places awes her, as small as the reactions in her expression are that show it. While her facing is kept straight ahead, her eyes dart to either side as each new sight reveals itself.

    Nakamura is of some long acquaintance of hers, and that may explain why she's staying close.

Dominic Masoch (655) has posed:
Dominic is incredibly inexperienced and lacking in information on the myrdiad of problems and inter-Kitsune warring occurring in Kagenashi's homeworld. But that won't stop him from trying to learn none the less.

He has an mPad in his hands which is hooked into a device on his waist wirelessly. He's pouring over a huge briefing file and trying to make sense of it all with a scowl on his face. He looks over to Landon and says, "So it would seem that on this world, one of the fox-tailed beings is defeating the leaders of the others in an attempt to accrue more power by stealing theirs."

He looks up and around a bit, taking in the surroundings, "The result of this is that it is allowing numerous y... y..." He scowls a bit at a word, "Yo-oo-kai." He struggles with the word and then continues, "Monsters, I guess. To roam the land and threaten the human population. It is a seriou-"

Hey! Feed me! Hey! Feed me, kupo!

Dominic looks around and then swipes tabs on the mPad, switching over to his My Pal The Moogle app where his pet Moogle is sitting on the ground and bawling for food. He carefully drags some Green Cherries over and sets them down in front of the digital creatures. Some stats flash across s<span class=" bold_fg_r bg_n ++ reen.

chr">+1 Status Immunity</span>
-20 Hunger
+7 Spoiled
+10 XP

Moogle Status: Content

And then he swipes back over into his work window, "A-anyway. Uhm. It seems like a very dangerous situation. I will help the Union how I can, but until I know more I will follow the lead of those more experienced than I." He looks over to Shizune on this one, as the reports flag her as one of the more involved parties.

Audrey Stormfist (652) has posed:
    Tall mountains are the natural habit of Monks. It is where they go to be pilgrims. It is where they meditate, taking in the light of the sun at the highest peak, enduring the elements. It is where they hone themselves, climbing, braving the wild. It is where nature allows a man to reach peace.

    Audrey Stormfist is not a Monk.

    "Ridiculous, already out of signal range?"

    The Heritor (slash Monk, but shut up) is pushing buttons on a holographic screen being projected out of her opposite hand, from a screen atop it. If anyone really wants to peak, it is obvious that she's trying to get Wi-Fi (well, Mognet's variant) and isn't. She is dressed as usual, a blue overcoat, a sheathed sword, a stern glare.

    It's certainly not that the beauty of this world is lost on her, it's more that she's... well, alright, it's completely lost on her in favor of the equipment failure. Grumble grumble.

    When she finally pays attention, it seems the group has already arrived at their destination. The island lies ahead without obstruction, after a scenic route that she wasn't able to enjoy.

    "Masoch. What is the status on those signal boosters?" Audrey snaps towards him, as her way of saying hello. Possibly explicitely because he's either getting signal or getting to enjoy his tablet regardless. Landon gets a much flatter: "Al Cid." While others mostly get a glance. She does not know anyone else here, after all, so it would be difficult to greet them by name.

D (232) has posed:
    To say Azuma is 'beautiful' would be an insufficient claim; no, to journey here is to experience true paradise. Every sight, scent, and warm breath of air is like a spiritual and physical balm, enabling any traveler to feel at ease, and even the the sun does not feel so harsh. Yes, there are pitfalls to be found here as there exists in any other world, but few such troubled places could boast such a flawless facade.

    Whether or not D has any true appreciation for Azuma is impossible to tell, of course. He rides in brooding silence all the way, his lidded gaze directed on the road ahead and nowhere else. One would think at least one of Azuma's glorious vistas would capture his admiration, but he can't seem to emerge from his brooding enough to give the land any consideration whatsoever.

    "Nothing half so lovely out here as your own face, eh?" the cruel voice of the carbuncle snickers. D doesn't pay him any mind, either; without the Hunter taking the bait, the carbuncle keeps quiet for the rest of the ride.

    The climb is a long one, but not difficult for a horse enhanced by cybernetics, and a man used to the road's challenges. At last, he arrives at the mountain's summit in silence, and dismounts from his saddle in grace, all without any feeling disrupting the icy serenity forming his pale yet regal face. After winding his horse's reins around the saddlehorn to keep them from dangling in the horse's way, he finally turns to become part of the group, entering their periphery with no more than a slight tip of his hat to convey his greetings.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    A pleasant mountain climb surrounded by friends? How fantastic!

    The curious seasons of Kagenashi's world are a surprising change from those of Yuuki's nameless land, though the nearly-always cold and snowy peaks mirror lightly with Genbu. It was here that Yuuki had clashed with Kagenashi and the corrupted D for the first time. Now, she was here as a token of exploratory friendship! Or... something.

    Honestly, it was because hanging out in her giant mansion (that Zero hated), or Zero's apartment (which Aido hated) was boring either way. Being a secret TOTALLY NORMAL princess sucked. Nobody let you do things! Well, Zero did. Sometimes. Especially when she dragged him out. It was supposed to be a climb up a dark and shrouded summit, and then...

    They break into the great openness of the Celestial Realm. Wincing, Yuuki quickly pulls on some sunglasses. She looks put out by SOMETHING. Maybe she's light-sensitive! Then again...

    The sounds of a needy moogle cut out her reverie. "W-what is that?" She asks, of Dominic, drawing close over his shoulder, as he plays with his mPad. A WONDEROUS DEVICE!!! What is it?

    Her world didn't really have... super awesome luxury technology. "It's so cute!"

    Yep, the glories of fantastical awesome heaven is ignored in favor of pixellated moogles. It's like Yuuki is a high school girl or something.

Mizuki (183) has posed:
    It's been a bit too long since the last time Mizuki indulged one of her many niggling desires to visit a place entirely unrelated to anything she normally concerns herself with. Far too long since she's played the role of aimless, capricious pseudo-deity with intentions as mysterious as the mount she finds herself on this evening. Though, perhaps it's not entirely random; some months ago, Mizuki had lent her aid to a wolf who claimed to be the avatar of Amaterasu in purifying the land of their home. At that time, the lady met Kagenashi who, to this day, is one of the only confederates with whom she has had any time to 'socialize' in earnest. So maybe it's natural that she would find herself curious of the woman's dealings, at least so she could know the character of that person she had met so fleetingly before.

    Regardless, she steps through the portal with her parasol drawn and its handle rested in its usual position on her left shoulder. She would idly twirl the thing as she takes a brief few moments for analysis of the setting. Earnestly? This all seems pretty natural to her -- the beautiful yet eerily placid atmosphere, the sense of stillness... really, all those sorts of things are pervasive in her home as well. It feels as though the realm itself has some degree of artistic sensibility from the panoramic peaks of the mountains to the individual kotengu. But she has to admit, it's still quite stirring. The similarity it bears to her world helps this rather than diminishing its impact, even, as though this world were an echo of a melody she had many times heard, played in some form of blissful reprise that was just changed enough to make it fresh again.

    Ah~. That thought might bring a smile to her face.

    She gradually makes her way to the palace, silently marveling at the nuances of its design and the fineness of the materials that were likely used to make it. She knows that no one here had her in mind when any of this was created, but 'zen gardens' and 'flying cities' are two of the loveliest domestic creations fathomed into existence during the stint of sapience's sovereignty over Creation, to her eyes. She would continue to twirl her parasol with glee, almost incorporating the whisper or a hint of a skip into her step, quite blissfully unaware that anyone she has already been acquainted with might see her this way.

    ... thooough this would immediately cease once the girl lays her eyes on Kimiko, whom she most certainly does know. Thankfully, having an incorporeal form does wonders to stifle a blush when you are cognisant of the fact that your cheeks have become rosy, so she may yet start this whole venture off without any crushing blows to her ominous witch facade.

Ayako Hasekawa has posed:
    Ayako lazily follows the path while sitting sidesaddle on her broomstick, her amber gaze darting about to gaze upon the trees that make up the forests that border the path up the mountain. There also happens to be room on her broomstick for another person if they want to save their feet the hike up the path! Once in a while, she looks over fondly at the large kitsune statues and red torii gates. Such things remind her of a time long, long ago... and make her smile a soft reminiscent smile. And then she arrives up at the arch of green and white jade.

    That material... she definitely reacts to the jade and blinks her eyes quickly for a moment. Followed by a bright smile and a soft clap of her hands. "Aa~aahh... how wonderful." Ayako then carefully reads what is written on the arch out loud. "Hmm... well, that's a nice thought!"

    When the group makes it to the gate guarded by kotengu, Ayako lets someone else do the talking. She's not really the diplomatic type, anyway! And then floats after the group once they enter the portal proper.

    While Ayako could care less about the fresh and sweet air that breezes through Takamagahara, she is quite delighted by the plant life and particularly, the ponds. She tends to spend a few moments to poke the water of each pond she comes across with her pointer finger, and giggles softly when she spots a few carp inside of said ponds. Of course, she has to float quickly to catch up with the group often, but those are the breaks for enjoying new water!

    They've arrived at the palace, huh? Ayako glances up and takes in the golden palace. Then glances at how Shizune is dressed... and then glances down at her witch outfit. "Hmm... am I underdressed?"

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    You know what Zero is? Zero is grumpy, and this trip isn't helping. It's not the first time he's been here, and he hasn't got any good memories of this world. All of it is nonsense and attempted murder, and it's not helped that they're here in daylight hours (sort of). If he wasn't such a stubborn fool he could lay down and fall asleep through this entire trek, and his stomach is grumbling at him as surely as it would at anybody else who declined to eat while walking so far. In short, the man looks about as approachable as an incredibly hungry, angry badger.

    He trails alongside Yuuki for the majority of the trip, silent as a ghost. Unfortunately for him she's a social butterfly who is easily drawn to aggravating, noisy little things that he'd just as soon keep away from. As soon as Yuuki's interest draws her over that way, Zero drifts off to hang around near D, whose demeanor most closely matches his own.

    Zero's only explanation of his presence is a jerk of his head in Yuuki's direction. Much like D, no amount of majesty or fantastic environment seems enough to shake away whatever it is that makes him such a grumpy jerk.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    The journey to the palace is short and undisturbed. Certain members of the group, like Zero and D, get curious looks from the tennin and kirin, but nobody is very interested in stopping them. The feather-robed people only murmur thoughtfully among themselves, curious about the Oinari's new guests.

    The palace interior branches off into many hallways and passages that disseminate into the rest of the sprawling structure, but the main entryway is a straight passage into the broad hall that is Oinari's throne room. It's a very large space, big enough to fit dozens of people at once. Polished stone floors spread from one wall to the next, and red pillars curled around by giant fox statues line the hall to support the high ceiling. There are balconies above, as well, for people on the upper levels to sit and watch the proceedings, though for now these remain empty. The ceiling is broken by a large window tinted with gold to allow the sun to shine gently through, though at this hour, it's not quite so bright: lanterns near the walls need to be lit, and even then, the room is a dim, but comforting place. The air is graced with the gentle scent of incense, just subtle enough to be missed unless one consciously tries to focus on why the air feels so serene.

    "Greetings, travelers," a soft, welcoming voice echoes through the hall from the far end. "I am pleased that you have arrived."

    (BGM: http://goo.gl/33Tk7e)

    Kitsune are naturally beautiful, and their leader, tantamount to their goddess, is no different. Her station is elevated off the lower level by a small set of stairs, and on top of the platform it leads to, she kneels on a soft cushion of fine gold and silver. She is a graceful figure, her features slender and elegant, her form blessed by fair skin. Flowing hair of dark brown is done up partially in a bun and decorated by pins and brooches of gold shaped into blossoms, a fair compliment to her bright, narrow eyes that shine like amber beads and the gleaming earrings that hang from beneath the sweep of her hair. Her outfit is of a similar golden color, a form-fitting dress that drapes off her shoulders with a lining of soft fur and pools around her wrists in wide sleeves. The light of two lanterns beside her dances off skin, fabric, jewlery, and hair, giving her a soft radiance as if she had been touched by the sun itself. She is at once regal and gentle, a fitting representation for a benevolent race of protectors. (http://goo.gl/ZYljyc)

    Hanging behind her is a large broadsword, its golden blade lined with nine sharp, alternating branches like the tails of a fox, and its hilt decorated by an opalescent orb brimming with light. The same kind of orb that shines in the center of Oinari's tongue when she speaks.

    The kitsune greets the group with a gentle smile. Whether over or underdressed, whether welcoming or brooding, she doesn't seem to care; her hand lifts from her lap to gesture to the array of soft cushions arranged on the floor at the foot of the stairs in open invitation. "Please, have a seat. You all must have had a very long journey, and I assume you would like to rest before we begin. I will have tea brought over shortly, if it would please you."

    Her hand settles back with the other in her lap, and though her smile fades, her expression remains gentle and welcoming as she looks over the assembled group. Not exactly the sort of people she expected, but she should be the last to question anyone based on their appearances. A final nod is given before she speaks again; she seems satisfied, at least. "I understand you have several questions, which I hope to be able to answer. Whatever I can offer, I will, if it means ensuring Azuma's peace and safety. Please, feel free to speak as you wish."

D (232) has posed:
    D isn't surprised to see Yuuki arrive, considering he could probably smell her coming from a few miles off, yet even braced against the effects of her close proximity, he offers only a reluctant greeting. "...Miss Kuran." The cool voice delivers far from the warm welcome the girl deserves; however, the last time he'd seen her had been some time ago under less than ideal circumstances, so perhaps it's understandable that he's withdrawn. Still, Yuuki has a way with people of D's type, so it's likely he'll thaw soon enough, given enough time in her company. After all, hadn't Zero?

    "Zero." Of course, wherever Yuuki goes, her guardian follows. D offers his fellow Hunter a respectful nod. After a moment, he looks like he wants to say something further, but then, Oinari bids them welcome, and the opportunity is lost.

    Rather than ask any questions right away, D merely makes the polite pretense of accepting an unnecessarily cushy seat. He will wait to see what others ask before he voices any of his own thoughts.

Shizune Nakamura (369) has posed:
    "Very much so," Shizune replies to Landon, smiling warmly. The Multiverse really could use more places of beauty like this. To Audrey she looks more amused than anything. "We aren't just out of your world, I think we're a bit out of the way for the Multiverse in general. Especially if we're going into another plane or a pocket dimension." Bad reception is to be expected in situations like this. Ayako does get a critical gaze for a moment, but Shizune's conclusion is simple. "It should be all right. They're expecting people from other worlds, after all."

    D's carbuncle receives a brief look, an arched eyebrow, and a slightly dry, "Do I detect a hint of jealousy?"

    But the time for teasing and idle banter is past. The martial artist folds her hands in front of herself as they venture into the palace, taking in the sights but being careful to keep her reaction to them well-concealed. Even with someone ostensibly on the same page, it can pay to keep your cards close to your chest after all; even so much as 'letting it be seen that you're impressed' can weaken the other party's impression of you. But that also doesn't mean she can't offer complements. "Oinari, thank you for welcoming us into your home. It truly is a beautiful place," she says, opening with a deep and polite bow. "Nakamura Shizune. Pleased to meet you at last." She is careful to take a seat on one of the cushions, seiza-style, with her hands folded in her lap. "We do. They aren't easy questions, of course, but we all have a vested interest in stopping their subject, so it's our hope you'll be able to help us. We would like to know more about Kagenashi, and especially the sword she's taken up, Nageki. We have the basic information about its forging, and you seemed the most likely to be more knowledgeable."

Kirika (481) has posed:
    Kirika has dressed, despite what her desc implies, properly enough for such a meeting with a person as important as Oinari. Her kimono is immaculately designed and fitted, and she gently removes her geta upon entering the palace. The half-kitsune has been accustomed more to this than small-talk, sometimes, given her upbringing among Shukutou's family, and by extension hers as well. "Greetings, Lady Oinari. I am Kirika Half-Blood of Kasun, Warden and Vassal to Matron Shukutou Nine-Tailed."

    Her tone is polite and calm, the half-blood bowing reverently to Oinari as tradition dictates, her tail perfectly still as she rises up again and approaches the cushions. "Thank you for your hospitality, and for agreeing to see us for this discussion, your grace."

    She takes a seat near the much much MUCH older kitsune, her tail wrapping around her legs and her sword handed to a servant should one request its surrender, or laid besides her. Upon settling in, Kirika takes in Oinari's grace and splendor as though she was beholding the sun for the first time. It's familiar, like a lot of what Azuma offers, and familiar is good to her.

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko notices Mizuki here, as she notices everyone. She does not, for whatever reason, comment on her skipping. Perhaps she considers this normal. There are a few others here whose presence is more likely to cause her concern, but what are the chances of running into another man-eating forest, way up here?

    Shizune and Landon got a murmur of assent regarding the beauty of the place, while complaints of reception are carefully ignored. When they arrive, Kimiko bows, stiffly and formally, no matter how relaxed the greeting. To relax and address casually is the privilege of such a domain's ruler; she has no expectation of being able to do the same, herself. She does take a seat when offered, primarily because it was offered, arranging her dress and sitting on her heels. Her shoes have disappeared at some point. She's not particularly tired, even after a climb like that, but it wouldn't be polite to stand at attention in a case like this.

    She does not introduce herself. She does not speak at all. She may not speak during this entire trip, if not directly addressed; it wouldn't be surprising, at least. She does, however, listen.

Landon al Cid (642) has posed:
     "Lady Stormfist," Landon replies at Audrey's greeting. She may be kind of rude, but he's a prince. You aren't rude to anyone when you're a Prince. "Ah, Dominic, I don't know how you can play around ith at in a place like this. It's too beautiful. It's a shame it's marked with such problems."

     They enter the palace and meet the kitsune's leader. Landon bows politely. He is a diplomat. He deals with diplomacy all the damn time. Literally every waking day of his life is spent representing the people of Ramuh or the al Cid family to some degree, so he's used to being extremely formal. He pulls his cloak around himself and everything, and even keeps the armor from making creaky clanky noises when he bows and straightens.

     "I am Prince Landon al Cid, heir apparent of the plate of Ramuh. I am honored to be here in your presence, my lady, and see the staggering beauty of this world and the staggering beauty of one of its leaders." Landon takes a seat, because to do otherwise would be terribly rude.

     Once he's comfortable, he looks her in the eye. His face is firm and strong and steady, and his eyes are the same - determined and honest. "How can we help you?"

Ayako Hasekawa has posed:
    Ayako hops off of her broomstick before entering the palace proper and stashes it away inside of her witch hat. She walks along with the group inside and then smiles softly when she is greeted by the Oinari. Ayako bows deeply and politely to the kitsune and then smiles softly. "It's wonderful to meet you, Oinari! I am Ayako Hasekawa, a Water Spirit." She then quietly sits down in the standard seiza position on one of the offered pillows. Past that, however, she's quiet... and just listens.

Audrey Stormfist (652) has posed:
    Audrey grumbles, muttering something or another under her breath. It sounds unkind, but at least not directed at anyone. More this place in general. This is in direct response to Shizune, whose explanation puts several bullets into the idea of maybe getting reception anytime soon. She really needs to upgrade her gloves, now that spreading Mognet to the Extraverse has become a thing.

    "Audrey Stormfist. A pleasure," she manages, prying her eyes off her screen. She taps her hand over the screen slash projector, shutting it off for now. Seems she has lost interest in repeatedly refreshing her email page for now.

    Though their host offers them to sit, Audrey stays standing, her glance falling back onto Landon. Rude? Nah, she's not rude. Just curt. She lets him speak, though; she has nothing to say, just yet. She is not quite here to help, merely to satisfy her curiosity. See some sights. Gather intel and experience from the outside world. Though if that means playing hero, well, that's fine too, it's what their school teaches them.

    Maybe Kagenashi will have a use for her.

    Ayako is one she recognizes, if a bit late. She extends an idle wave. "The water spirit. Aren't you working at the Academy too?" They haven't crossed yet, evidently. Or if they did Audrey wasn't paying attention.

Dominic Masoch (655) has posed:
    "They're in testing, still. I can't get you guys test copies until they've hit patent," Dominic says to Audrey with a sheepish smile. He can feel her pain, his MogNet is suffering out here too, so he can only use apps in offline mode. In contrast to her grumbling, he gives her a polite and slightly warm smile. But that only lasts a moment before a teenage girl is asking about his little friend on the mPad.
    "Oh, uhm. It's called My Pal the Moogle," Dominic says, tabbing back into the application on his tablet, "You see, I named this one Mogsworth. You raise him from a little Moogle, and then when he's grown up enough you can team him up with other Moogles and he'll run dungeons and bring back rare items to equip on him. Then the next Moogle can inherit his stats and gear when you've leveled him up all the way. You can also team them up with your friends Moogles and run raids and stuff. But since I don't have signal out here, I can't show you that." He adds, "It usually takes stamina to run dungeons, but you can spend Gil and get these Ethers to give him more energy to do more in a day before he has to recharge." He adds, after a couple moments, "I also bought a tophat to put on him."

    And then Dominic gets distracted. Not by the very attractice woman, but by the very attractive sword hanging behind her. You can practically see the stars, "Fwaaaah! A broadsword variant. Hand-crafted, it looks like, with magical enhancements inlaid to the blade as patterns. Between fourty-seven and fifty-five inches in total length and weighing probably five or six pounds. I'd say the blade is about fourty... four inches? Maybe fourty-five?" He doesn't bother to introduce himself, forgetting for the moment. He doesn't even remember to sit down, he's just standing and staring at her sword, "Do the additional protrusions affect the balancing of the blade and does it require frequent repair? It seems like combat use would wear or warp its designs. Is it more of a display piece, then?"

Mizuki (183) has posed:
    Mizuki would lower her parasol as she enters the palace proper, gingerly tossing it into the air before her where it dissipates into a milky stream of sparks. Then her arms would move to their usual, official-casual position behind her back, her eyes glimmering just as the lights from her departing parasol as they make their way about the building. Architecture of this buildings' ilk is, unequivocally, one of her life's loves, though she feels so utterly mystified in its presence that she often has a difficult time settling to a calm mindset as she normally would elsewhere. Still, it is unlikely that this would show in any way more apparent than that meaningful glint behind her irises, and the wide grin that she greets Oinari with. Ah, but not moments after she has entered, she is being offered tea.

    In lieu of a Haiku poem, she simply internally states the following it a rhythmic fashion: tea, the elixir of life; tea, the Intermultiversal symbol of hospitality; tea, the thing that inspires meetings of reconciliation which not even rivalries of the most eternal longevity may withstand. Tea, the thing that foretells of a mirthful evening in this bower of elegance.

    "Tea would certainly please me, if I may be so bold as to say so." Smile smile~. "And might I praise your hospitality? Even though I've only been present here for but a few moments yet, already I have been seeing ways in which your gracious manner might surpass my own. But ah, I've not come here to goad you into a discussion of proper hosting practices." With that, she would bow her head, at least engaging in her typical rituals of greeting. "I presume you are the one called 'Oinari'? It is a pleasure, Miss Oinari. I am Mizuki, and I had, prior to this evening, only made the acquaintance of but a single denizen of this world. As such, I am perhaps not in the best position to be posing inquiries just yet, though it is my hope this evening shall educate me so that I'll not need to in the future." After a brief pause, she would add somewhat abruptly, "-- ah. And before it fades out of mind, thank you very much for welcoming me, and those with me, into your abode."

    After this, she, like many others, would fall silent. As far as gestures go, though, the quirk of her brow that she aims at Landon's commentary is fairly loud.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Oinari bows her head respectfully to those who personally greet her, though when the subject is opened up, her expression settles into one that is slightly more grave as she looks over to Shizune. "Yes, Nageki. She stole the sword that was forged for her defeat, as I have heard. I assume you already know the reasons for its creation, correct?"

    Two tennin enter the room, one female and one male, each carrying a tray containing small cups of green tea that are offered to Oinari's guests. Weapons are then requested to be taken and set aside on the other end of the room, mostly for safety's and courtesy's sake. It's a difficult time in Azuma, these days.

    Oinari continues as the tennin tend to her guests. "My mother, the former Oinari, went to seek the aid of a particularly wise and skilled blue kijo who resides in Genbu. Aoihana is her name, and while she is often reclusive and prefers to stay outside of Azuma's conflicts, my mother was able to convince her to aid in the creation of the sword. Aoihana is very capable when it comes to magic both beneficial and malevolent, so it did not take very long to finish the process, culminating in the sacrifice of one of Oinari's own tails that now graces the blade's hilt. The previous Oinari was not patient enough to linger for the proper countermeasures to be placed on the sword, however, for she required a weapon that could steal the strength of another, which is an inherently malicious ability. Without that countermeasure, the sword grew to lust for blood and strength, and so, after Kagenashi was stripped of her power, it was sealed away in Jigoku under the guard of the oni."

    The nine-tailed kitsune sighs quietly with a fleeting air of dismay. "...it was intended that no one would be able to descend that deep and past so many fiends to get it, let alone learn where it was in the first place, but it seems Kagenashi managed that anyway. She has not had it taken from her yet, I assume?"

Shizune Nakamura (369) has posed:
    Shizune gives a little shake of her head. "No, she still has it. And I'm afraid that its bloodlust has affected her, though I believe that she has become aware of this and learned to curb it. It still pushed her to do things that I don't believe she'd have done when she opposed your mother. But that's a story for another time, I think. I would actually like to know what you remember of her last bid for power, from the perspective of yourself and your predecessor." The more information they have about Kagenashi's previous behavior, her tactics, her tendencies, the better. It can help predict her movements, and it can also help contrast her past behavior with what the sword may have done to her. And of course, it could provide a clue they don't even realize exists yet. It never hurts to delve deeper.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Landon's flattery at least manages to draw a light smile from Oinari as she looks to him next. "You speak with kind words," she replies, amusement faintly coloring her tone. "Thank you, however. I am pleased to have such visitors today."

    That question is taken with a more serious expression, however. A moment is taken to consider what words she might offer in return, but soon she speaks again in a level tone. "Kagenashi is creating a threat to the safety that the Oinari and the kitsune have long worked to establish. A peace that has been maintained for centuries, only through vigilance and care. I would see her stopped, though the ways I am willing to accept seem to be growing broader by the day. At the very least, if her sword can be taken from her, then she will be forced to slow her efforts, though then I fear it falling into the hands of someone without proper resolve."

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    "Zero. Bodyguard. Pay me no mind." Zero offers to their host, having no real place here apart from making certain that Yuuki stays out of trouble. He claims -two- of the cushions that have been arranged for them, laying his jacket over the one to his left. He seats himself next to D, so there's no other cushions nearby to claim anyway. A puff of air escapes him, an exasperated sigh. It's not that he's utterly uninterested, but this sort of thing definitely isn't his ballpark. The only reason he's considered for leadership within the Hunter's Association is because they are violent by nature.

    It only stands to reason, then, that somebody who can beat the whole lot of them would be the organization's chief successor... however socially maladjusted.

    "D." Zero answers his partner in brooding. He glances towards him, expression turning vaguely curious. "What's your business in this affair?" Surely he didn't just follow Yuuki's scent. It just goes to show that Zero is not particularly familiar with all of D's activities.

    Distantly, he eavesdrops on Yuuki's conversation with the other guy. The entire thing is exactly as annoying as he expected it to be. He can't possibly catch the entire conversation, but Zero can tell what the general subject matter is. Yuuki having some sort of noisy, electronic pet is...

    ... Well, maybe if it kept her out of trouble. Doubtful, though, if she could just carry it around with her.

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko has no weapons to give up. This is not to say that she has no weapons to declare, but that was not asked of her, fortunately. Tea, she accepts--as if there could be any doubt. You don't /refuse tea/. Not unless you plan on immediately leaving.

    Her gaze is drawn, briefly, to the sword, as Dominic's was--but she ignores it soon afterward. It's not her type.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Dominic's sudden gushing over the sword behind Oinari draws a faint hint of surprise over her expression. She responds evenly, however; it seems she's had plenty of practice keeping composure and calm. "Your guesses are about right. It is far from just being a display piece, however. My mother, when she passed, demanded that we take her star orb, the source of her power, to ensure that it would not fall into the hands of those who would see it used for malevolent ends. We forged a blade of enchanted and reinforced metal and implanted it into the weapon so that it could channel her strength. It has not yet had reason to be drawn, but the time might soon come when it is needed. The power of a nine-tailed kitsune in a single blade is not to be used lightly."

    She glances back at it for a moment, then. "Though I have practiced with it now and then, for recent events have given me reason to fear that it may need to be used. It is a unique blade, but not very difficult to get used to, and sharp and sturdy when brought against a target."

Ayako Hasekawa has posed:
    Ayako returns the wave that Audrey gives her softly. "That I am. As a nurse. Although not having to see me is a good thing, right?" She smiles at her cheerfully and then resumes paying attention to Oinari.

    Her head inclines to the side gently. "Hmm... I don't suppose said countermeasures could still be placed on the sword, could it?" Ayako then shakes her head quickly. "No no... that's more of a question we would have to ask Aoihana... huh..." And then is served some tea. She gracefully accepts the tea with a happy smile given to the tenin, and then takes a long sip from it.

Kirika (481) has posed:
    Kirika accepts the offer of tea graciously, taking a cup and sipping gently as she eyes DOminic complementing Oinari's blade. Her gaze shifts to inspect the sword itself with fascination, and she nods in approval after a moment before she sips tea again. "It is a truly immaculate blade indeed." Her tail swishes side to side, before the half-kitsune glances to Kinugiri.

    "These creatures Kagenashi seeks to release, what do you know about them, and might there be others she seeks to free and command?" She ventures a question of her own for a moment, before nodding to Oinari's own assertions. "Aye, my mother played a part in the forging of my own sword as well, as did her vassals, an oni smith and his mate, a swordsman who served as my protector, and later teacher."

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    Yuuki sees D and Zero hanging out in the BROOD ZONE, where PRETTY BISHOUNEN WITH PERFECT HAIR go to be DARK and MISUNDERSTOOD and GRUMPY together. In Yuuki's estimation, this means that they're bonding and making up for lost time and being friends. She truly doesn't understand that they gravitate together like planetary bodies, congealing their Grumpavity (That's Grump Gravity) Field to make sure that normal people annot enter their orbit. Only a truly strong - or truly foolish - person could pierce that veil!!!

    Oh, hey, look, Zero saved a spot for her! And there's tea! Awesome.

    Before joining her bodyguard (And that guy who one tried to eat her), Yuuki grins at Dominic as he explains his app. Though, her big, soulful animu eyes start to glaze over as he gets into the mechanics. Blah blah blah pets blah blah blah moogle blah blah blah - Ooh!

    "A top hat! How adorable!" She beams up at Dominic, before heading into the GRUMP ZONE. "Thanks for saving me a seat, Zero." She offers, sitting down, accepting tea.

    "Ah, I'm Kuran Yuuki. But you can just call me Yuuki. Ah... Sorry, I've only been here once before, but I'm eager to help! I'm just... Well, I don't know how I can." She admits.

Dominic Masoch (655) has posed:
'Hey, we took this incredible power, condensed it into a sphere, and forged a sword around it in order to contain its power.'

Dominic's eyes light up even more, "Woooow, that is so fraying cool." Unlike Landon, the more composed of the two nobles, it's not hard to tell why Dominic is the less successful in negotiations and meetings. His formality slips easily and he's not a leader at heart. He looks towards her and says, "Oh! Dominic Masoch of Ramuha. I'm something of a swordsman. Sorry for not introducing myself sooner."

Dominic then asks the logical escalation of his prior questions about her sword: "Can I hold it?"

Yuuki is spared any further explanation or sales pitch about My Pal the Moogle by the fact that he's more enraptured by the sword. He does give her a small wave as she goes to join her friend. Her friend (Zero) also gets a nod, but that guy looks like he doesn't wanna be bothered, so he leaves it at that nod.

D (232) has posed:
    Tea offers no sustenance to any dhampir; to drink it would serve no purpose for any of D's kind except to create the illusion of humanity. D takes the offered cup, anyway, and keeps it held in his hand as if he means to drink, but anyone watching him will never see him actually commit to the ruse. He's here to look polite, and to ask questions, not to pretend he's something he isn't.

    The steam wafting up from his tea cup is disturbed by the thoughtful sigh he lets out before he answers Zero. "I'm here to learn something more about Kagenashi. I believe I owe her my life twice over." He looks to Zero, and shakes his head in the slight way one does when unable to understand even the most basic aspects of a strange concept. "It's difficult to explain, and I care not to detail the matter here, given our company."

    Some of whom might be quite foolish; D at least does not well recognize everyone who is present.

    "...Oinari." D's voice doesn't lift above a cool, quiet timbre, yet it cuts through the gathering anyway, reaching the kitsune goddess's ears without trouble. "I would like to know how you perceive Kagenashi's motivations. Do you know anything of her reasoning, and why she seeks to threaten Azuma?"

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Mizuki is given a smile and a nod of greeting at her own effusive compliments. "You are correct. You have quite a way with words, Mizuki. Fitting, I suppose, for one with a beautiful name to match. You may listen or speak as you please, for I am sure you will learn plenty tonight that will help you."

    Oinari's attention shifts back to Shizune again as the girl answers her own concerns and speaks again. "Hm," the kitsune murmurs, her expression narrowing into a hint of a frown. "I feared as much, but I also expected that. As for her last attempt...to be honest, neither I nor my mother even knew of her existence before she went into action. She managed to move among the shadows and inform various other youkai of her plans, seemingly focusing on those who were particularly powerful and in opposition of other kitsune. The spirits of Fukuro Shrine, the centipede Omukade, the black oni Kurokabe, just as a few. It seems she had arranged for a particular moment to strike, for when the illusion hiding her palace in Byakko faded, all her forces spread out at once. The kitsune were stretched to their limits, at the time."

    She considers for another moment more, slender fingers lightly drumming against her thigh. "They went far and wide. The walls of towns and villages were assaulted, but never completely breached. Those humans who stayed within their homes were safe, as it only took the course of slightly over a day for the event to start and finish. I imagine it was only the vigilance and determination of the kitsune that spared the humans from death. Kagenashi herself remained in her palace, and my mother, after realizing where the command of the events was coming from, immediately made her preparations. I cannot say it was very directed, however; more like she simply loosed the youkai from their cages and spurred them into action. I myself was placed in Koryu with the daitengu and the kotengu to ensure none of the youkai entered Takamagahara, though none of them approached the mountain, and I went to my mother's aid the moment I heard she was in combat with Kagenashi. It was just in time to see Kagenashi's fall and my mother's final faltering."

    Oinari's brow furrows, but only for a brief moment. It's enough of a moment to show, however, that a hundred years haven't quite allowed those events to pass from her mind. She shakes her head, then looks back to Shizune with a soft, even gaze. "It was chaos for the hours that it happened, but once their leader was removed, the youkai's strength faltered, and they were herded back into their territories easily enough."

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Ayako's question comes next, and Oinari answers after only a second's consideration. "I do not really know, to be honest. Such arts are not something I have studied. Perhaps it is worth trying, but I imagine that a hundred years of starvation in Jigoku have left Nageki ravenous enough to resist even that. Aoihana may be able to give you a more certain answer, if she can be rooted out again."

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko has somewhat more interest in the sword after it's explained, but that's precisely nothing in comparison to D's recent admission. It's enough to get an actually clear and visible reaction out of her, as she looks over toward him. Only for a moment. Then her attention returns to Oinari.

    There is a point on which she sees some possible, unexplained meaning. Perhaps it is nothing. Perhaps not. Thus, she speaks.

    "Attacks, everywhere, without concentration, yet nothing takes advantage of the distraction. Curious."

Audrey Stormfist (652) has posed:
    Dominic gets quite the stare from Audrey. Forget the signal boosters for now. "That's an uncanny eye for swords you have. Does your fencing really require such studious work?" She likes weapons, herself; but evidently, not as much as Dominic.

    Speaking of weapons, Audrey will politely hand over her sheathed gunblade, although she makes no mentions of the inventory space within her pockets. If she had to empty that, we'd be here all night counting knives, swords, spears and axes, and then another night for her to repack them.

    She actually addresses Oinari now, resisting the urge to also ask to hold that sword. Her question is more practical. "That blade contains the power of a nine-tailed kitsune; is that not what Kagenashi is attempting to become? I have only heard about this once or twice, but there was something about her stealing and acquiring power. Aren't you concerned fielding that sword of weapon against her might precipitate her ascent? A sword is easier to steal than several legendary beasts' powers."

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Kirika asks next about the youkai, drawing Oinari's focus. "She appears to be aiming for those that are particularly unique and powerful. Those she can command, perhaps with grudges that can be bent to her benefit. Omukade is a creature of pure spite and venom, but he loathed his defeat by Tawara a hundred years ago in Kagenashi's first assault, and before that he was the hated enemy of the dragons. The Fukuro spirits are driven in their mad inspiration and wisdom to create, and their usage of humans as objects in their inventions caused them to be rendered inactive. The last remaining Yatagarasu is necessary in the he is the source of our sun, but we cannot allow him to fly as freely as he wished, for his kind nearly burned Azuma into the ocean when there were more of them."

    "There are others across Azuma, still. Shinju, a sazae-oni whose wrath was tempered when a song lulled her into slumber in the oceans of Genbu. Nami, a spirit of mindless vengeance and hatred who resides in Yomi, the land of those who were unable to continue in the cycle of life after their death. I have begun to question Kurokabe's malleability after his and the oni's participation in that assault, as well. There are others, but not quite as strong; those are who I can think of right now that could be the greatest threats."

Mizuki (183) has posed:
    Mizuki does not have any weapons on her person this evening, and though that does not mean she does not possess any weapons at all, they unfortunately aren't the sort that one can relinquish, temporarily or otherwise. So she instead vows to remain on her best behavior, though this vow is, of course, made to no one but herself. Every other external feature of the world must just take her on her seemingly harmless attitude and appearance.

    Her gaze, for the most part, would follow the conversation. To the sword with the storied past, then to Oinari when it comes time for more words that concern Kagenashi. Really, there are so many questions she has that she doesn't have the foggiest idea of where to establish her baseline. But as she's considering that very thing, Oinari conjures her own response, this time catching her too off-guard for her to manage a swift withdrawal of the rosiness that spreads over her countenance. Of -course- the people of this world would know precisely what her name meant, wouldn't they? Seeing as she chose her name for herself rather than having it given to her, it carries quite a lot of meaning, though -- and an even more pronounced reaction, clearly, whenever that meaning is brought up.

    "Ahahaha... ha. Well." She would clear her throat. "Words are... my niche, really. I've not the dexterity of a painter nor the tender ear of a musician, so they are often my only method of conveying what I'd like to." She would fall silent afterward to yield the conversation to Shizune whilst continuing to allow a question to fester in her mind.

    And finally, after some moments, a line of inquiry resolves. Something fittingly basic, since she's uninitiated. "What exactly are Miss Kagenashi's goals? Rudiments are fine, if you are not fully aware of them. She did not seem inclined toward violence when I met her, and though that meeting was an ephemeral thing and likely holds no bearing on reality whatever her disposition, it seems terribly odd that she would wish to shake the foundations of such a hard won peace for no particular end." Her cheek would fall to rest in her palm. "And if I may extrapolate this further -- what would occur were this period of latency to be moved? Any insight you have into that might be important to note, for in the event that we fail to stop her, we'd best be ready to lessen the ensuing consequences and their impacts on those who lacks the means to defend themselves."

Kirika (481) has posed:
    Kirika nods, mulling this information slightly as she frowns with thin lips. She rubs her chin softly, before she asks again, "Where might they be found, this Shinju and Nami?" She asks, before her tone softens. "Any information you can present us with before Kagenashi can find them herself will be of great use to us, my lady." Kirika adds.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Yuuki is given a warm smile at her admission. "There are many ways one can be of help in times like this. If the fields of battle are not suited to you, that is fine; the humans could use aid in recovery and lifting their spirits, certainly, in the face of the removal of many of their guardians. The youkai have begun to grow more bold, as well, and I have heard reports of many issues sprouting up around Azuma. Statues of the dead built in respect coming to life, patches of Seiryu's lush forests withering, people vanishing from villages in Byakko. I have been trying to send the kitsune to these matters, but...our numbers are stretched, certainly."

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Oinari, despite her surprise at his effusive personality, still seems more amused than offended by Dominic's excitement and questions. She smiles as his request, but shakes her head. "You will forgive me, but I would rather not simply hand over something of such power and sentiment, even for a moment. Perhaps, however, if you continue to prove your benevolence to our aid, I would be willing to allow it."

Shizune Nakamura (369) has posed:
    "I'm skilled both on and off the battlefield, personally," Shizune replies to Oinari. "I'd be just as glad to help with negotiations or with securing areas, if I can find the time in my investigations. I'm trying to learn all about Kagenashi I can, after all." She reaches up and adjusts her glasses. "Which brings me to my next question. I wonder if you might give me a letter of introduction to Aoihana, and directions on how to find her. She would have the most perfect understanding of Nageki out of anyone in Azuma, I believe. And at this point, Nageki is the key to Kagenashi's strength, and possibly her bloodthirst as well."

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    D's question is one that draws out the longest silence Oinari has shown so far tonight. She considers the question carefully for several moments, and when she does respond, her tone is lower than usual. Just like Kagenashi, she doesn't seem keen on displaying her emotions very clearly, but the thought of Kagenashi and her motivations doesn't seem to be one she holds any pleasure in considering.

    "Selfishness," she finally summarizes. "Or a lack of compassion, more accurately. Outside of any contact with the kitsune, something unheard of for such a long period, she lasted for nine hundred years and directed her efforts solely on assaulting our peace the moment we knew of her existence. She never stated her wishes, and vanished the moment she was defeated, and all I can assume from what I know of her is that she is a force of complete chaos. As soon as she had power, it was used to break the chains we had carefully established, with no clear benefit to herself."

    She sighs quietly, shaking her head. "Perhaps, if I were to be /gentler/ with my opinion, I would guess that she sympathizes with the youkai whose actions we have limited to ensure the humans' safety. But if the youkai roam free and unhindered, the humans will be helpless, as they were ages before even my own birth. That is why the kitsune have acted as they have for so long. I believe that nothing good can come from her."

Dominic Masoch (655) has posed:
"Sure, I understand. I apologize for my overzealousness, maam," He starts to slip back towards his normal demeanor, "I am something of scholar of swordplay, myself. Being a Fencer and all." He actually forfeited a rapier to the two attendants who took the weapons over to the other side of the room, "If I can help in any way, feel free to call upon me."

He slowly moves into a seated position on the floor. Much of what is being talked about is over his head and beyond him. So he doesn't say much. This world's political positions and the nuances that Shizune and D are talking about are beyond his current grasp. So he kind of sits next to Landon and listens.

D (232) has posed:
    D bows his head in solemn thanks. "You have said enough to indulge my curiosity, Oinari. You have my gratitude."

    He considers the tea in his cup, and other things far away.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Oinari's expression doesn't shift from its pensive severity when Audrey asks her own question. "Yes, that is exactly why it has not been brought to bear yet. Were she to take this sword, it would be all too easy for her to rush to her goal. Fielding the weapon is then a question of risk over reward: if I, a nine-tailed kitsune, hold in my hands the additional power of another nine-tailed kitsune, its strength should be enough to completely overpower her. But so too would it be at risk of her thievery, were it to be brought out into the open. I hope that the time does not come when I will be forced to use it, for that reason."

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Mizuki's initial question is answered with an unfortunate lack of information, but Oinari still has a response for her second inquiry. "I assume you should be aware of the dangers of a normal human wandering into a wilderness of wolves and beasts. Should the kitsune be removed from their position, those dangers would be tenfold, and the wilderness would be all of Azuma. The youkai are capricious and selfish, and even the weakest may be capable of overpowering a human. They would wander free and unrestrained, open to assault any human they come across and do whatever they wished with them. Walls could easily be shattered, villages raided and trampled, homes turned into places of violence. It would not be genocide, exactly, but the human population and their freedom would suffer greatly in the result, and Azuma would be a place of chaos."

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    "Shinju is located in the oceans off the northern coast of Genbu," Oinari replies to Kirika. "She rests deep under the waves, at the darkest point of the ocean. I doubt any who are not capable of swimming in such cold depths would be able to reach her easily, unless a second song were played to awaken her again. Yomi, meanwhile, is located below Genbu's mountain, its entrance sealed off by an enchanted boulder. Nagi, a seven-tailed kitsune who resides with the monks at the mountain's peak, ensures the stability of the seal. Yomi itself is a dangerous land; the grudges of the dead have made the very air like a poison."

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Oinari nods to Shizune next, a light smile of gratitude curving her lips at the sound of better news. "Thank you. Both will be required, I believe, to prepare for the future. And yes, I will certainly give you the information you would need to meet with Aoihana. She lives in Genbu now, too, I believe, though I will have to ask a scout to confirm the exact location of her home. I would warn you, however, that she is still a youkai, and related to the oni, as well. As much as she may be wise and willing to aid now and then, her kind's urges are still violent and untamable. Be cautious if you speak with her, and make sure you do not accept any offers that do not have clear conditions."

Kirika (481) has posed:
    Kirika nods, already well accustomed to yokai-human politics. The situation here sounds no different than in Kasun, really. If anything, Kirika feels she's perfect to do so, as she says, "I believe that given your numbers, some assistance might be merited, if I may say so. If you would permit me and others to do so, my lady, I would be interested to look into these occurances and mayhap assist the defenders there in solving this land's troubles."

    The prisons these three beings are posted, might be a bit difficult to see to immediately, but Kirika could possibly render aid in other ways herself. "I am willing to assist with blade and words as well, if SHizune does not mind another to look into these affairs as well." She offers, nodding to the student graciously.

Mizuki (183) has posed:
    Mizuki would nod along with Oinari's reply. It's what she had begun to infer as she had learned more about the groups involved in this whole affair, but nevertheless, it helps to be sure. Still, it would be a disturbingly... traditional bout of villainy to unleash such a horrible situation upon a world that had finally managed to find some 'happy medium'. So all she can wonder now is, what piece of this is she missing? Do the Youkai have any sort of a cohesive opinion on the matter, or are those opinions polarized? She feels compelled for the moment to try to fathom some situation in which Kagenashi's actions might be oriented toward a mutually desirable 'end', even if it was one where the means were difficult to justify. If there's one thing that the Multiverse and genre savvy has taught her, it's that things are always - always - more convoluted than they appear at first glance with this like this.

    And for once, she kinda hopes that gut feeling is right. She really doesn't want to believe Kagenashi (or anyone, really) is that callous.

    Though all these errant thoughts would be belied by a rather dry 'I see' in reply. "Regardless of her rationale, that is, clearly, a thing none of us can allow to occur." She might smile, faintly. "... I apologize for the bland reply, but alas, I can fathom no other way to do so until I have more information. It is my hope that I will be able to find some, now that I at least have a basic idea of the checks, balances, figures, and concerns of this world." She would bow her head, faintly. "Thank you for elucidating."

    Though, to be honest, she doesn't know how much more she might be able to learn from Oinari at the moment. So she'll just slide into the background and catch what hints of revelation that she can.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Dominic is granted another light smile. She seems to be taking a liking to him. "No apology is needed. Such zeal is admirable in these times, and it shows no small amount of knowledge and skill. I might like to see your ability with a sword first hand in the future, if you would be willing. As far as how you can help...yes, I will certainly be willing to call on you. I might suggest looking into information on the various youkai of Azuma, if you are not already familiar with them. I would not expect you to know everything about them immediately, but even some knowledge will help in the future."

    Kirika gets a nod of understanding, though her expression settles somewhat. "You are correct. That is why I have reached out beyond Azuma's borders for assistance. We are dwindling, as much as I would not wish to admit it, and any aid we can have is aid to be welcomed. I will offer what information I can about these situations, and perhaps something will appear that falls under your skills."

    Mizuki draws Oinari's attention next. The kitsune shakes her head, offering another smile of reassurance. "Emotion is not always required for such things. You understand; that is all that really matters now. I am only pleased you have all come to show such interest in lending your aid."

Shizune Nakamura (369) has posed:
    Shizune inclines her head again, this time grateful. "I appreciate your help deeply. And don't worry about me, I'm more than capable of taking care of myself, if it comes to it." If the kijo offers her a drink, there might be some trouble, but she can defend herself just fine, and she's more than capable at handling negotiations and pacts. "Ah, there is one other thing, although it's not so much a request as... an offer, I suppose? I wonder if you could prepare us a list, of the areas of Azuma in most need of help. I can pass it along to my allies and see who we can bring on to provide assistance."

D (232) has posed:
    "You may count on my assistance as well, Oinari." D sets aside his tea cup, perhaps sensing the meeting will soon draw to a close. "Thank you for your patience in answering our questions."

Audrey Stormfist (652) has posed:
    "I see. That makes sense. Does she know this sword exists?" Audrey asks, to close the matter of the blade and using it. There are no ulterior motives to this question, nope. None at all. "For that matter, how much does she know about you and your intentions? You have been allowed to remain passive for the time being, but what prevents her from targetting you directly?"

Ayako Hasekawa has posed:
    Ayako might not need to eat or drink, but she still slowly finishes her tea. It is offered hospitality and... of course, said tea was made with water from this place. Which is more than enough for her. She gently places her empty tea cup aside and then nods her head once. "Yes! If I can be of help somehow, please let me know!" Her amber gaze moves off to the side for a moment, "I'm not sure exactly how I can be of assistance, but... I still would like to help."

Dominic Masoch (655) has posed:
"I would be happy to demonstrate my skills with a blade if you wish to match me against a champion from your village. Alexander Academy encourages all its students to encounter as wide a variety of situations as possible to foster personal growth," Dominic notes, watching the woman carefully. He tilts his head a bit to the side and adjusts his beret.

"But yes, I will get you my contact information at the Academy for whatever you may need me for."

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko places down her tea, and her hands in her lap.

    "My name is Shinobu Kimiko. I am of the Puella Magi--those who hunt demons. If I am called on, and I am able, I will assist." That is all she has to say.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    "Of course, I would be very willing to give that information," Oinari replies to Shizune. "It may take some time, but I will ask the kitsune for input and have a list prepared and delivered as soon as I can."

    Then Audrey asks another question, one that Oinari only needs a moment to consider. "No, she does not. At least to my knowledge. Neither she nor her allies have entered Takamagahara, and my mother's wishes were spoken only to me. I see no reason why she would know, and if she has, she has not made any attempts toward it. As for me...she will come for me, inevitably. As I am the only remaining nine-tail in Azuma, she will have to come to me to gain the last leg of her power. The only thing preventing her from directly coming to me is the array of defenses that have been established to prevent unwanted entry in Takamagahara, as well as my own power being capable of destroying her. She would need to amass an army to overcome the barriers in front of her, if she does not come close to me in power."

    With that, Oinari takes a breath, then releases it in a slow, careful sigh. "I suppose that is all that we have for now, then. I am grateful that you all chose to come here and learn more of our situation. To have such willing assistance is a relief to me, at least somewhat. Be certain that you all will be called on if I find that I need your aid, or wish to speak with you for your counsel. For now...we can only hope that the sun continues to shine, and that Azuma's peace regains its earlier strength."

    Once everyone is ready to leave, their weapons are returned to them and they are escorted from the palace. Night has fallen by now; the sun has set in Takamagahara, though light still remains from the lanterns across the land and the stars gleaming in the sky, watching over the affairs of the world from afar.