Description: Having returned as promised, as a tanuki always keeps their word, Daichi and Tsinghua discuss the trade with the Spirit World's Ancient and what -- if anything -- a human has to offer...
Back in that same forest, in that same rural part of Japan. It was a wonderful place, albeit it one full of mystery. Tsinghua Tao had navigated back here, around the same location he met the, uhm. 'eccentric' Tanuki for the first time. He is wearing his beige and-green robe, with a fairly small cotton handbag. It looks quite full, and weighed-down.
Truth be told, it was luck he was able to make his way here.
9 days had passed, and the Tanuki did not come and find him. Day 10, and day 11 went down similairly. Tsinghua was afraid his chance would have been blown, until he heard someone needed to visit with that local businessman again- he jumped on the opportunity.
Day 12 had come, and he's back here- A bit too late, but hopefully still in time to see off the Tanuki. He was focusing, seeing if he could sense the creature- Sense that familiar, natural source of energy. Thus far, he had not been successful. But he kept searching.
He could not bear to pass up an opportunity such as this one.
Although it's only been a couple weeks, it has been one heck of a time for Daichi. After everything that happened and his minimal progress, he was eager to retreat back towards the familiar, comfortable embrace of the deep forest; he'd claim the overlap with Tsinghua's potential arrival a coincidence, but the bi-monthly flux that can allow him to return home is almost near, and he has every intention of taking a long break until that time comes to pass.
Which isn't to say he didn't try... but once he found out it was literally impossible for him to travel to China, even a tanuki's word has limits. Yet what a miserable few days this has been, after that girl drank all his remaining sake... he brought some human drink, but compared to the wine he had before, it's passing little muster. Lounging on trees, sleeping, whittling, tossing hoops, recreation is the name of the game for now.
Eventually, the search bears fruit. A stronger sense of natural energy is felt, and honed in on, by the youth. If approached with the proper reverence, Tsinghua will come across a spot of natural leylines culminating in a sunny clearing... where Daichi is apparently deep asleep atop some rocks, empty sake bottle and staff somewhere nearby as maybe nine beer bottles are settled in random spots around him.
Apparently he snores, deeply... and seems entirely unaware just yet that he's finally been found out. What's the rules about letting sleeping tanuki lie...?
The boy approached, to see Daichi in that... interesting state. He can't help but to raise a brow at the wild scattering of drink bottles. Tsinghua decides not to wake him-- if he's sleeping at a time like this, he'd have to be tired, right? Instead he silently gets to work on making a fire once again. A similair, safe construction as last time. Rocks to ward the flames, as he uses a tinderbox to set some dry twigs alight. Eventually setting an iron pot of water up above it, leaving it to slowly come to a boil.
It seems he planned on seeing his friend off with some Tea again. Just a little way to thank him again.
And when it's all set up, he sits down on one of the rocks himself- fairly close to the Tanuki. Waiting as the water heats up, and waiting for Daichi to wake from his liquor-induced slumber
A discerning eye would note that it's a human beer, native to Southtown; proof positive he's been in the city to some degree, at least long enough to take some of it with him back into nature. Still, noise doesn't seem to do much to wake him, not that the forest is a very silent place in the first place... only when the fire goes, and smoke wafts past his whiskers, does his nostrils twitch a few times...
One hazel eye opens, then the other. He realizes he's not alone, but that does not seem to bring any instincts of concern... at first. When it dawns that there's a human nearby, he tenses and shoots up to a crouch, before recognition thrums into his mind. "Ehhh... you. Human..." he says, kneading at a puffy cheek. He steps down to retrieve sake and staff, seeming quite bitter and annoyed in general...
Still, without much comment, he makes his way over to the fire and sits down on a rock, sniffing forlornly at his sake before letting it dangle from a rope at his side. "You neglected to inform me this 'China' was across an infinite stretch of undrinkable water, you know!!"
"A-ah! Good afternoon, mr. Daichi.." He begins, before the Tanuki begins to reprimand him, he shrinks a little- closing one eye at the loudness of his voice. "I am terribly sorry, mr. Daichi. I did forget. I won't forget next time something such as this occurs." The boy admits to his mistake in the matter, though he continues with a smile. "Though the fact that you know of this shows me that you did really intend to find me. That is very kind of you, mr. Daichi- Thank you."
He takes another peek at the bottles, a concerned expression spreading. "So uhm, is everything alright? You.. It seems that you-" He pauses, not wanting to upset the Raccoon. "Nevermind, apologies. How have your experiences been thus far, in.. earthrealm."
Crouching down, he adds a few twigs to the flames while waiting for a response.
Ah, already the tanuki is grouchy! It took some time for that to happen in the first meeting. Clearly, things must weigh upon his raccoon dog shoulders. He rests an overpuffed cheek into a paw, one foot bobbing in a frantic, restless pace. "Mmm... I considered making a boat to sail, but I had no idea where to go..." Probably a good thing he didn't. Who knows the end result of him being stranded randomly in sea?! "Definitely the most fascinating part of this world, thus far... oceans exist somewhere in the Spirit Realm, but I had never personally bore them witness...
Eyes shift, narrowing as if in quiet accusation. "This place is miserable. So... fast, and crowded. And... people are soft, and complacent, in the clockwork machines and artifacts that ease their life... I cannot wrap my mind around so much potential and ease being so readily squandered..." That might not be entirely true, mind. He can absolutely understand the joys of sloth, but he's still going to judge people for it! "A boy from that Library attacked me, I met a demon, and some strange woman who controlled human currency somehow knew my name and purpose, and harried me in a hotel... some kind of seer, I think she was... it's been unpleasant. Unpleasant, indeed. And I've gotten not one step closer to my goal..."
"I think that would have indeed been a poor idea, the ocean is dangerous and fickle." He nods along, in understanding. Now adding a broken-in-half larger branch, before backing off from the flames. "I am very glad I was able to catch you before you would have left." Another smile, before his expression turns more neutral- Hearing of the Tanuki's poor experiences. Thinking along, and scratching his cheek.
"I would agree, in part. We are a lazy species. Though there are a lot of very smart people actually using our clockwork to their fullest. Creating new things, so that humanity can do more... and, well. To make life even easier." A flash of recognition, at the description of Sybil Katherine. A woman Tsinghua is dangerously familiar- and intimate with. "Oh no..." He mutters softly, unsure what to respond as he feels a cocktail of mixed emotions bubble up- Although he sets it aside. "I met someone from the library recently as well.. He was really creepy. He carried a sword, and got way too close to me- on multiple occasions." Tsinghua pouts, at that memory. Maybe Daichi would comment on the fact that they met the same person, maybe not. The water comes to a boil, and Tsinghua reaches into his bag to retrieve a small satchel of dried herbs- sprinkling them into the water.
"I am sorry to hear not much progress has been made, I am sure you will find what you seek in due time."
"Ehh...? It's just water. Water's not that dangerous!" Daichi grumpily rejects, setting his sake gourd upon his knee and carefully balancing it with a clawed finger. He seems to be giving it more attention than the human, obviously lost in thought and frustration. "Pfeh. The way they treat my kind here is atrocious... like we're monsters. That term you used, 'darkstalker', certainly says it all. I heard Earthrealm use to be in harmony with nature and the world, and many of my kind used to choose to live there... but not so much anymore. That much is certain!"
After a few heavy moments, Daichi levels his gaze back towards Tsinghua. "I need a better way to find information... there are massive amounts of books in some buildings, but little of it is relevant. And I still don't understand much, like what those tiny things that humans poke at constantly is they keep in their pocket... at the very least, a person who knows nature well! If you cannot give me anything on your side, then I'm not going to take your gift to the ancient for a new staff!!"
"Well, the water in the ocean moves around a lot, mr Daichi. It creates waves that are powerful enough to level boats or chip away at stone. It is very dangerous." He nods, sadly at Daichi's experiences. "It is unfortunate, indeed. I wish they were nicer to you too." But that is mostly the commentary he is able to give- It is certainly not an area he knows a lot about.
As Daichi tells him he needs to help him in return, he actually looks a little panicked!
"E-euhm. I will answer any questions you have, yet I have little to offer in the way of actual resources. I will do anything I can- But those things humans poke at? Those are called 'Smart Phones'." Tsinghua scratches his cheek, both unfamiliar with the devices himself- And unsure how to explain the concept to someone like Daichi. "It is like.. an device you can use to talk with people from long distances. You can also use it to access 'the internet.'" He looks a bit lost as well.
"I think the Internet is like a.. database of information? Master Chao says you can find anything on the internet.."
"He had a disturbing grin on his face when he said that, however..."
There's some bitter noises from Daichi; not so much that Tsinghua is right or wrong, but that someone so infinitesimally younger than him is daring to think themselves a superior sort of wisdom! Not that the tanuki has even the slightest idea of naval navigating, of course, and has only ever used a boat fishing in lakes or running down rivers... pride is not always the most rational of things!
"Smart phones...? Is a phone like a helpful spirit that answers questions? What's this internet?! Do you have one of those on you?" He seems suddenly curious. Some arcane access to greater, easier sources of information would certainly help him more then his current random flailing! "I'm not sure what dimension this 'internet' is, but it might be worth the risk to delve... fine!! Help me procure access to it, and I'll accept your gift to give to the elder as he agreed!"
"A phone is one of our... machines- Like, clockwork.." He tries to explain something he barely understands himself. "I- I am sorry to say I do not own one, mr. Daichi. I am not allowed to by the Taskmaster, not until I am older." He admits to the fact with a bit of embarrassment. "It is not I dimension, mr. Daichi- It's... difficult to explain. I you need an advanced phone or computer- Both pieces of technology I do not have easy access too..."
He thinks deeply, tapping his cheek- Afraid of not being able to deliver on this request. He is going to try though.
"I- Visited a Library in southtown recently. I do remember seeing that they had computers for public usage. We could go there, or alternatively I could seek contact with an acquaintance."
"I am sorry to admit that I am amongst the most poor of choices to ask how these things work- Ms. Yao does not let me use these things. She does it for my own safety though, she says..."
"Egh. Useless..." Daichi grouses. He's seen enough people poke at the things to know that a smart phone is not particularly uncommon, even amongst the young. Plucking up his own walking staff, he idly inspects the piece of spirit wood, bushy tail giving some agitated flicks behind. "If I know they exist, I can figure something out... but not being able to even try or explain this phenomenon, pssh... fine. What can you offer, then! That tidbit alone is not worth the great gift of something from the Spirit World... out with it, human! Or do you truly have nothing you can barter!"
"A-Ah?!" He looks a little confused and taken aback, Tsinghua is trying- But his friend does not seem to be all that receptive. "L-Like I said, I can get us access to the internet through a library or a friend. But that would admittedly require just a bit more time, a few hours, at least. I do not know if you have that time to spare- But if not, I will gladly arrange something and do it when you return from the spirit world. Besides that..."
He shuffles on his feet, afraid that this chance will slip away! "Finding things to offer is difficult, mr. Daichi- Especially when I'm not entirely sure what it is you want to accomplish. I know a handful of other uhm, 'darkstalkers'. I could have you find contact with them: I'm sure they would have much more knowledge of the arcane and spiritual, to help you find where this corruption comes from."
"As for material things, I have little much to offer. A messenger travels light, and I have little in the way of possesions. But my duties do mean that I know a lot of people- People that could assist you."
Indeed, grumpy tanukis seem to be hard to reason with. He's still staring off towards nothing, cheek in a paw, clearly finding reasons to be unhappy with most anything. "I need constant access to such a powerful force... if it's as simple as going to some spot or asking for it, I'm not sure how YOU would help..." He's reminded of Sybil; she had offered him information. Why did she not mention this 'internet' thing? Maybe the requirements for it are not so simple...?
"Meeting people... meeting people's your best bet." Daichi mumbles, tail thumping to the ground. "I need to meet both of those sorts. And... I need people to spar with. I've... no master currently, and with her gone, no proper match to better myself. I've tried to refine my techniques, but this world is obsessed with battle. And it was not easy to repel that blood-crazed Library fool... if he is not considered strong in these parts, then..."
"R-Right.." Tsinghua admits, a bit ashamed of his lack of usefulness on this part. "I suppose the best way would be too get in possession and learn to use a 'smart phone'. And that is something I admittedly cannot help with as much as most." He finally returns to the tea, as it risks to boil over! Before that though, he pours the beverage into twin cups, one for each of them, and hands it to Daichi.
"I will help you to meet these people, as soon as you wish this to occur. Velvet Blue and Lyraelle Darkheart come to mind..." He sits back on his rock, as he begins to explain. "Velvet is also a uh, darkstalker. He is extremely familiar with Southtown, and knows of the Arcane. He.. he makes me a little nervous, but he is a friendly person- A good one, even if ms. Yao disagrees.." He nods, blowing his tea.
"Lyraelle is a- She is some sort of.. demon- I think? That's what she calls herself.. I can tell that she is not quite human, at least. Lyraelle is quite a powerful woman, and master Chao told me she is very popular on the 'internet'. She'd for one be offer much more in the way of explanation and information on that subject."
He breathes in, a bit hesitant to enter his next offer. "And on top of that, I would be glad to spar together. I do not like fighting, but sparring would help both of us improve- I am on the weaker side when it comes to this world's combatants. But I hope I could still be a decent challenge to overcome."
"Mmm... a demon master of the internet, you say? That does sound interesting..." Daichi wonders, idly. "I already know a demon, somewhat... Echo, she called herself. A mage, or something. I'm not -- comfortable with people from Makai. Technically, we're anathema to them... makes me wonder why you only seem to know such people!" He takes the tea and sips it idly. "And I'm not sure who Ms. Yao or Mr. Chao is..."
Fingers drum away at his cheek, before his shoulders give something of a shrug. "If you're not considered strong, then I'd be interested to spar... to see where I place myself, I guess. If I struggle against you, then clearly I underestimated the human world! Heh... how would that be for a trade? A friendly bout, and you introduce me to a few people... that should cover potentially bringing back a relic from the Spirit World..." After a few moments, "Assuming you did manage to find a gift for the Ancient, at any rate!"
"I know plenty of people besides people like Velvet or Lyraelle- But I think these would be of the most interest of you." He nods. "And those other names I mentioned are simply people above me, in my community- The Gong Estate. Sifu Chao is my mentor when it comes to my job within the estate, and Taskmaster Yao- Well, she-" He trails off, and gulps. "She disciplines me and relays me my duties. She is a sorcerer, a skilled one: Traditional Chinese arts of magic and shamanism. But I do not think they are of importance here." And finally, he sips the tea.
"E-Echo, you say? I... I did meet her. She approached me in the night- I think she wanted to eat me! She uhm, let me go eventually though.." He shivers at the memory. "No matter- I did bring something for the Ancient. It was very difficult to think of something, when I could not speak to him- Not to mention he has no sight, as you mentioned." He breathes in, nervously. "Now, I do hope he has a way of interacting with the world- I used all my allowance to purchase a solar radio.." He tilts his head.
"Although you wouldn't know what a radio is- It uhm, it is a machine of clockwork that regains it's energy through sunlight... you have a sun, or something else that gives off light, I hope?" He is actually not sure, but this was the best he could come up with. "This.. artifact it to play sounds and music, sounds and music that it has heard a long time ago.. I guess." He takes out the machine, and a few CD's that go into it. It is very yellow, with a small solar panel at the top. "You see, you put this little disk in this slot after pressing this button.." He demonstrates the process, pressing the large, central 'on' button before gently pushing in one of the CD's. "Then you press this little arrow, and.." With that, audio begins to play from the machine softly: It is a song, a instrumental song with subtle vocals. For one knowledgeable, it would sound as traditonal japanese music. "Every disk contains different sounds- A few of them have different types of music, and another contains tales and mythology I recorded myself- I had to ask Master Chao for help, to get it all to work.." Each disc packaging had a different shape engraved into it, that could be identified with touch- The boy seemingly had put a lot of thought into this, and can only hope it would be recieved well.
"It would probably take a little bit for him to learn how to use it, but I think he would enjoy it, if he can use it..."
"Ehh... I know a thing about taskmasters..." Daichi murmurs, seeming to pale slightly. An impressive thing, for someone covered in fur. "Magic I know a fair amount of, though. It's common where I am from! I've the knack for it, but never bothered to train... my transformation you could consider an innate form of it, I suppose." He tilts back his muzzle to drain the rest of the tea and then sets it near the fire, instead of hucking it over this time around.
"Mhm. She feeds on humans, most like. Demons do that. I guess you consider it different... being considered food to some things in the world... but to me, it's just the natural order of things, I guess. The food chain, eh?" Although when things return to the gift, he can't help being curious himself.
He shifts closer, squinting suspiciously. "Like a wind-up music box...?" Although what he hears seems to surprise him a bit. "Eh? Eh?! That's far beyond anything like that!!" He sniff-sniffs at it, ears perked, poking a talon towards it. "And it'll operate in the sun, you say? He can probably be taught to use it, if I can figure it out... interesting, very interesting... that might do just fine..."
Shifting back and sitting once more on a rock, Daichi draws up his own walking staff and rests the end on the ground. "Then that just leaves our spar... It's still -- two days until I return home, if you don't want to now. That, plus some networking, and I'll make sure to take that tribute to the Ancient and bring back any item he gifts in return..."
Tsinghua smiles with relief, as his gift seemed to have been recieved well! The possibility and potential that gives the boy is refreshing, in getting his super cool spirit realm TM stick. All he can do now is hope! "I am glad you think so, mr. Daichi- And I hope the Ancient will think so as well. I can explain it to you in more detail later on, if you like- I had to learn to use it as well... I really struggled wrapping my head around it!" Ever the unknowledgeble boy, when it comes to technology. "I eagerly await to hear back. In the meantime, however... I think I would prefer to spar in a few days time. I like to be able to prepare myself... mentally." He says, with a goofy smile. "It does not have to be a one-time thing, I would gladly become a more frequent partner of yours.
Tsinghua reddens a little bit, before explaining further. "P-partner in sparring, of course. As much as I do not like actually fighting, I have come to realize..."
"That I do want to get stronger. If fighting has to be a part of my life, as it eyes to be, I might as well try to become more proficient.."
"As long as it's before I leave..." Daichi says, simply. Twirling his walking staff a few times between his fingers; nothing impressive, simply listless orbits at a modest pace in his paw. "Not like I'm ever in a rush to fight... although after so many centuries of war and conflict and fighting for fun, I imagine your average human has come much farther then most of my kind. My age might not be as much advantage as I'd hope..." Still, he gives a lazy sort of shrug. "You cannot always escape conflict, depending on what you choose to do in life. Me, I'm a defender of nature... I've no choice! And wish I had taken that duty more seriously long ago!"
Tsinghua nods. "That is most correct. I have not been able to avoid conflict fully, and I expect that too continue. As such, I think it would be in my best interest." The boy looks at Daichi's empty cup. "Would you like some more tea?" In the meantime, he continues talking and sipping his own. "Would you be so kind as to tell me how old you are? I personally have lived for 16 years. I am quite young- Or people tell me as such. I suppose they are correct." Tsinghua's head tilts curiously at his last sentence. "There was a time where you were less adamant in your protection of the natural world? I find that hard to imagine- With that determination I sense."
There's a bit of a lazy, noncommittal shrug when it comes to tea, but Daichi does take the cup and extend it to get some more to start sipping at. "My precise age...? I dunno. My kind doesn't really keep track of that in the same way you humans do. The precise amount's not important, we generally go by decades... mmm...?" He considers carefully, before deciding, "I'm somewhere in the area of... a hundred and eighty, I think? A bit past that? Not especially old in a place where nobody passes of old age, hahaha! The Ancient is thousands and thousands. Aye, you're old when you break ten centuries... that's when a kitsune fully matures, I suppose. I'm still young, I guess!" Although there's a souring of things when Tsinghua makes that implication. "I--I was recruited to protect a certain area. But there was no reason to expect trouble... so I did not hone my skills or training to the level I should have... that's all I meant!"
Tsinghua gets the impression he stumbled upon some sort of Trauma, or otherwise difficult event that came about due to Daichi's potential negligence. "Wow, that is... Extremely old for the human world. Humans rarely pass 90 years..." He doesn't go into it quite yet however, instead opting to give him the tea his outstretched cup is asking for- Smiling warmly as the Tanuki seems to enjoy it. "That makes it apparent where your wisdom comes from, mr. Daichi."
After easing in a little, the boy feels tempted to adress the more touchy subject. "It is understandable if it's something you'd rather not talk about, and I shan't force you- Not th-that I could!. Protecting that area, I mean. I get the impression there is more to this story, however."
"Spirits do not grow like you humans... you've the potential for explosive increases in power. Me, there's not much I can do to increase my strength. Beyond age. What I am now... I can refine it, perhaps, but I know the barrier of my limitations well. I'm not sure how far almost two centuries will measure against the likes of humans and demons... a long life does not translate to strength the way you might expect, even if I hadn't been slacking in my training." Guzzle, guzzle, guzzle goes the tea, after that. "Feh... I would speak more of it, but I do not trust this world. There are seers, magic, artifacts, and machinery I do not understand. I cannot trust anything I say will only be heard by you, human! ...and that assumes you are someone I can trust to keep secrets in the first place..."
"Is... that so? That sounds.. a little frustrating. To be stuck like that." He admits, re-filling his own cup of tea. "But let us do our best to refine that strength to the fullest- for the both of us." A smiles, raising up his cup in a sort of toast. "And, that is understandable, mr. Daichi. I do not mind. Perhaps some other day."
"Is there anything you wish to do now? Before you leave, that is. I have the luck of staying around these parts for the night, so we will be able to spar tomorrow- if you'd like. I am... nervous, admittedly. But It should nontheless be done- Since I am leaving come nightfall tomorrow. I am flying out to another contact then..." This contact would be Sybil Katherine: Yet he decides on not mentioning the name.
"Ah- I guess you wouldn't understand how we fly.. You see, we have these big, big mechanical vehicles called 'planes'. They are able to fly through the air to take people places fast. I have come to get used travelling by them.. though I do dislike them quite a bit. They make me feel sick, you see!"
"Ehhh, stuck isn't the right word... it just takes patience! Every year I get a bit stronger, whether I train or not... I'm sure compared to your average human, I'm high end!" Daichi pats at his belly a few times like it were some kind of a drum. For someone only a couple inches taller then the human though, he hardly has the most formidable of physiques. "Still, techniques and skill, and using it to the maximum... those all are another thing... I might not have more wellsprings of power or the like for a long time, but. Gimme a few more centuries..."
He finishes the rest of the tea, then offers the cup back with a muffled burp and wipe of his muzzle. "Flying metal birds, huh...? Not any more strange then what other things I've seen and heard... fine. We'll do our spar tomorrow, and you can arrange for me to meet that girl who you think might help me master the internet realm... I'll take your gift to the Ancient with me, and when I come back, you might have your new staff... ...no promises..."
"O-of course. Thank you!" Tsinghua repeats, elated. "I understand that the Ancient also has to be happy for it to work, so I will not expect the unreasonable." The messenger looks towards the rays of sun breaking through the trees, and smiles. "I am certain that you are. The 'average' human is nothing special. Though with some training any average human can become of decent strength- No doubt still weaker then mr. Daichi, however!"
More flattery. He chuckles after that. "The internet realm... apologies, mr. Daichi. That was simply an amusing way to word that. I will do the best I can: I am sure Queen Darkheart will be interested in an audience.. perhaps I will have to plead a little with her, however.."
"I do not think I'll be able to arrange a meeting in the two days before you leave, but I will gladly have something prepared for you when you return from your realm, indeed." Another nod, another sip of tea.
"W-Would you like another cup, by the by?"
"He is unlikely to give you nothing... and I imagine compared to what you are used to, there will be no regrets about what you get, human. It should suffice well, especially to someone who is already attuned with natural chi." Daichi slips up, getting to his feet and doing a languid, growly sort of stretch. "Not immediately, no, but... if you can, at some point. For now, I think our business is concluded until you're ready for our spar... I'll stay in the forest until I need to leave! Still some final things I'm puzzling out... I'll be seeking some counsel when I return home, after all..."
"Understood, mr. Daichi. I am glad to hear that- And more then that, I will be happy to meet with you tomorrow." Tsinghua begins to gather his stuff, putting the remaining tea in his own cup before downing it- It's lukewarm at this point! No need to sip anymore. The boy bows deeply, before he begins to take his leave. "I will see you then. Have a good evening."
And with that, he begins to walk back toward the nearby village- A bit of a spring in his step. Today was pleasant. Tomorrow might.. not be pleasant in the same way, but it should be a good experience regardless.
And secretly, the boy is excited to finally see the Tanuki show his strength and techniques- Especially after the revalation they almost completely share at least one technique.
Log created on 13:39:47 06/25/2021 by Daichi, and last modified on 17:31:18 07/04/2021.