First Corner of the Earth

Daisuke agreed to look for signs of Sailor Earth's existence in the lingering remnants of the Golden Kingdom. Step one: Kunzite's palace. The caracal is exactly as helpful as usual.

Date: 2017-06-26
Pose Count: 16
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-26 17:12:42 79636
When Daisuke asked to visit Kunzite's palace with him, Kazuo didn't actually ask many questions. They were, in fact, limited to 'When?'

Which is how the two of them wound up descending a rather significant set of stairs, emerging into Jadeite's peaceful garden shrine. Back at the end of one shadowed gravel path in that garden is an archway out of place among the greens of the place. Sandstone stark and white, reinforced by steel.

Kazuo, who has not thus far changed into uniform for the trip, places a hand on the stone door within that archway, and it swings open to show the antithesis of the garden. Rather than dappled sunlight, greenery, open air, amiable warmth, there is cool and dry shadow, a feeling of deserted emptiness, a hall of that same white stone. Jadeite's garden embraces nature. Kunzite's fortress stands in defiance of it.

Not entirely barren, though. High upon the wall, a strip of mosaic tile runs -- a blue vivid enough to be clearly a color even in the shadows, decorated with images in gold. Flowers. Birds. Vaguely catlike creatures. Sometimes, writhing dragons. At regular intervals, the simple clear figure of the quartered circle.

Sometimes, here and there, the walls yield to half-hidden carvings as well: a winged figure high in a corner, arms stretched as if to hold up the ceiling; a faint intricate design of intersecting circles, in just enough relief to cast a strange and lovely pattern of still-deeper shadows.
Daisuke Hansuke 2017-06-26 17:27:39 79637
Daisuke Hansuke has been worn ragged by 'one too many late nights out following Venus around doing weird Venus things but the weird Venus things are actually teaching him things on some level and he's overall just kind of tired now. He of course, just looks tired. He doesn't discuss it as he walks past Kunzite into the the uh...

"Huh. Why do I have a feeling I remember it looking better than this... somewhere.. in.. the back of my head or something." he scrunches his nose. He shakes his head and turns to Kunzite. "Right. Just a reminder. I'm not here questioning like. Mamoru's Endyiness." yes he says that. "We both know that's the case. We FEEL it. What I'm interested in is finding if there's any connections to this Sailor Earth or hints." he says.

He looks around and there's.. a lot of mosaics. and apparently hidden corners and stuff like that. PERFECT places to look and explore.%RHe digs out a digital camera. "It's alright if I take pictures, right? I mean. I won't if you don't want me to. Your place and all." he admits sheepishly.

"Out of curiosity, these places. Are they physical or not?" he asks wonderingly. "Or are they. Pocket dimensions? Have you guys explored them all?" he asks as he walks and examines carvings. Half circles. Basic Symbology of birds. He taps his finger. Cats.

"Sorry if these are dumb questions. I'm covering bases is all." he says with a shrug.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-26 18:02:57 79638
"It looked better when it was populated," Kazuo says, answering the question whether or not Daisuke's shaking it away. "People mark the places they live and work. Decorate them. Change them by being there. And the place was an oasis in fact rather than in name, then; the air wasn't as dry."

The question that isn't shaken away takes Kazuo longer to answer. "It's all right if you take pictures," he confirms. "I'd prefer it if you keep them safeguarded, and not share them. Sometimes an image is enough to create a magical link. But keeping them for your own reference, if you keep them safe, is fine."

He paces behind Daisuke, letting Dai be the one to choose where they go, what they look at. "Semiphysical. Not entirely. 'Pocket dimension' is a good word for them; they're tucked between Earth and somewhere else. That's why the four of us have the amount of local control over them that we do. And why Mercury was able to arrange the construction of this body; she arranged for physical things with the correct content and associations to be brought here, at time that would enable the process, then placed them in a situation that let them be reconfigured under dream-logic and this place's laws without losing their essentially physical nature."

He's detouring into technicality to avoid the question; he pulls back from it, then. "This place I'm aware of in detail; I reconfigured it from ruins when Venus and I first stepped into it, and after Fiore's attack I went through again to repair the damage. I haven't explored the others' entirely. Jadeite's I've walked through the public areas of; Zoisite's and Nephrite's I wouldn't try to examine closely without permission. They are ... as aware of their places as they wish to be. And I don't think the questions are dumb."

Quartered circles, rather than half. The symbol of Earth, the Shitennou's symbol that Jupiter used against Kunzite while he was under Beryl's control. Catlike creatures -- something a little like the shrine-guardians of Jadeite's palace. Birds ... the great raven that watches over Zoisite's, that Daisuke saw in passing when they went to Paris. Daisuke may not have seen the thunderbird that guards Nephrite's yet, but he's heard what Nephrite calls Jupiter sometimes. And it's here, too.

Running throughout Kunzite's palace, in the form of that mosaic, is the silent symbolic presence of Endymion and the rest of the Shitennou. But it remains blue-and-gold ... not black-and-white with red-and-gold. Not Sailor Earth's colors.
Daisuke Hansuke 2017-06-26 19:08:18 79639
Daisuke Hansuke nods. "If you wish, I can leave the camera or the pictures with you, I just need something to look back on without not just coming back here." he admits. He does take some pictures of some of the symbols. He frowns a bit. "Hrmmm..." he mutters.

"So far, not really seeing anything that I don't think shouldn't be here..." he says. "Of course. It'd be silly for it to be out in the open." he says as he tries peeking into small hidden areas and lighting a penlight, because he came prepared with a tiny LED attached to a battery he bought for 1 Yen somewhere.

He's exploring as he sighs as he purses his lips. "How have things been at Mamoru's place?" he asks softly.

"Sorry I haven't been around. Just. Stuff. I tried a couple times but all I could catch was Kyouko-san and Ami-san." He leaves it at stuff.

He nods. "Yeah. I mean. These are your guys places. I have no business being here unless it's an open invitation or I ask." he says. "Otherwise we call that 'breaking and entering'." he insists with a slightly joking tone.

He thinks a little bit. "Hey. How much do you we know pre Endymion? Maybe. She's... like. Some jilted former incarnation of an Earth Princess Pre-Endymion and she's resurrected for some reason and confused?"

"Ugh. It's all speculation. Really."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-26 19:46:01 79640
"As long as you don't hand them out, and you tell me if you find them stolen, then keep them where they're useful to you." Kazuo tips his head toward Daisuke, steady. "You I trust. Her I don't. Not because of her story. Because of the energies she's using and the way she's using them."

There aren't so many hidden areas; shadowed, yes -- places designed to have supplemental light from inside, and lacking that supplemental light the way they lack things like carpets, and wall hangings, and furniture. The penlight is useful for those, and sometimes it turns up more unexpected bits of sculpture: curling and spiralling foliage motifs, sometimes interlaced with some kind of abstract work or perhaps calligraphy. But not so many places for things to hide. The place is straightforward, efficient, military. It lacks the kind of sheltered nook or quiet bower that Zoisite's palace might be full of, or the privacy created by meandering paths in Jadeite's.

As for how things are at Mamoru's place? "We manage," Kazuo says. "We help where we can. We've been sheltering a couple of people in trouble for a while, but one of them's reached the point at which she can live on her own now. There are always transient problems, disasters, what-have-you. And none of us are at our best yet. But that's life. We'd like to see you. But." Another tilt of his head toward Dai. "Stuff happens. You look like there's been a lot of it of late. Just remember that if you could use a spare hand with any of it, you can ask. Even if it means asking Kyouko to bring us a message."

His mouth tugs at one corner at the breaking-and-entering comment. "If you want to come here when I'm not here," he adds, "then as long as the door opens when you touch it, feel free. There are a couple of rooms that I consider private; but they've been redone in the last year, and wouldn't have anything you're looking for anyhow. Nor did they have anything like decoration when I began. And the Great Irritant would keep you out of them, anyhow."

"I heard that," rumbles a rather deeper voice from down the hallway behind them.

Kazuo glances back at the voice's owner, apparently unsurprised. Also unsurprised that the voice's owner is a giant tuft-eared lynx the colors of sand and the size of a draft horse. The hall may, perhaps, have been designed specifically to accommodate it. "I should hope you heard it. You'd be asleep on the job again, otherwise."

One of the cat's ears flicks sharply. "I am by definition allowed to catnap. You're just mad because the blonde girl likes you better."

"Yes. I am in utter wrath and despair because Usagi brings you fish so that I don't have to deal with your tremendous gullet as often." Kazuo waves from Daisuke to the cat. "Daisuke, this is my palace's guardian spirit. Ignore all the threats about eating people; as long as you don't attack it, attack any other guests, or start prying out bricks or setting explosives without asking first, it won't break the skin." He glances back at the cat. "This is Daisuke Hansuke. Be polite. And answer his questions if you can do so without causing what you consider a security risk; if you can't, refer back to me."

The cat narrows green-gold eyes, and half-sits back, bent over with the back of its head pressed against the ceiling. "I don't know anything pre-Endymion. He's the one that made these places. But since nobody thought to make them before, I figure nobody before him had the power to."

Kazuo eyes him. "You're one of the only entities with continuity of memory back to the Golden Kingdom, and you're telling me you don't remember its history?"

The great lynx yawns (it is better not to discuss the length of its fangs) and curls down again to stretch itself along the floor. "Can't eat history. If we're talking, can we go to the courtyard? It's cramped in here."
Daisuke Hansuke 2017-06-26 20:16:53 79641
Daisuke Hansuke ponders. "Do all the... 'guardians' have the same long memory? Maybe others might remember if you don't." he says as she eyes the feline. "Though the fact Endymion made the palaces to begin with might make this whole thing moot." he says as he taps his finger.

"But there's always that long impression stuff sometimes? Just gotta cover bases." he says as he he'll begin walking to the courtyard.

"Do you have a name?" he asks to the caracal.

Daisuke does shift a little uncomfortable. "Yeah. Been meaning to come. Visit and talk. Like I said. Have! Even just. Not a lotta people around when I do, ya know? Busy and all that."

He then nods. "Unmei was her name, was it? The one that left off?" he asks.

"Been careful when visiting. Since you told me she was kind of jumpy."

"Eh it's been long nights for the past month or so. Been working on some uh. School stuff." schools stuff.

"How's University been on you guys so far?" he asks.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-26 20:34:55 79642
"Don't know," the cat says with a yawn.

"Let me guess," Kazuo mutters. "You can't eat memory, either." Somewhat more aloud and considerably less sourly, he says to Daisuke, "Nephrite's and Zoisite's guardians are likely to be the best candidates. Jadeite's have trouble holding a conversation without getting distracted by mauling each other. But Zoisite's raven is clever, and one of Nephrite's attributes is intelligence." He pauses for a moment. "You'll likely want to keep a safe distance from that one, though."

Apparently the thunderbird worries Kunzite more than the giant people-eating cat.

The caracal in question blinks at Daisuke. "Why would I want a name?" it asks. "Names are for telling different ones of the same kind apart. There's only one of me. A name would just be a distraction. Like you people get distracted all the time, pretending there's a difference between who you are and what you do." It paces several steps, then pauses long enough to pat the floor with a paw. "Or you could say this place is my name. Suppose you'd find it hard to pronounce, though."

Kazuo gives the cat an over-the-shoulder glance that suggests he's thinking of christening the thing 'I'm Going To Strangle You,' but returns his attention more neutrally to Daisuke instead. "That was Unmei, yes. She's doing better now, but still somewhat jumpy. Reasonably so. I'm going to keep checking up on her in case of trouble." A pace, and another pace. "Mn. University is less difficult on most of us than getting into it was. I've taken this year's material before; Mamoru's studied his coursework for years in advance; Nephrite could pass his classes in his sleep, and I think he's setting out to actually prove that. The commute to campus is long this year, though. Next year will be better."
Daisuke Hansuke 2017-06-26 20:56:13 79643
Daisuke Hansuke leans towards Kunzite and whispers in that 'I know you can probably hear, cat-thing but I'm saying it any ways'. "Have you not actually told him there's other carcals in places?" he asks. This more than a jest than anything else.

He looks back. "Good. I mean. She's on her feet. But why is she jumpy? If you introduce her to me I can help keep tabs on her if there's still a problem." he offers.

He looks around as he sighs a bit as he takes another picture of some stone work. He lowers the camera. "I don't think they'll be anything here to help me figure it out- or rather. We're finding exactly what we expected but nothing more." he says.

He sort of shifts uncomfortably. He looks to the caracal and then back at Kunzite. "None of you guys are. Upset at me for anything. Right? I mean. Like. Not mad.. but...." he just shakes his head. "Sorry. I'm good at helping people with their problems but I stink at my own really." he mutters.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-26 21:12:30 79644
Kazuo starts to answer Daisuke, but the caracal's rumble cuts through them. (There is absolutely zero pretending to politely not hear.) "Yes," it says. "We used to have some here, for hunting. But they're little, and they die. And they don't talk." (Kazuo mouths something silently at the floor. The first syllable is definitely 'thank.') "Not the same kind as me at all."

The question about Unmei brings another glance from Kazuo, this one more thoughtful. "I don't have the right to give up her secrets," he says. "She ... wound up working for some unfortunate people, because they offered her an escape from an untenable situation. When she came to understand what working for those people entailed, she was brave enough to quit. There are consequences to all of these things. So she spends a great deal of time nervous, and there are many things she's still working on understanding. I'd be pleased to introduce the two of you if the occasion arises, all the same. You might get along."

The courtyard is an open space, an enclosed garden with a wide channel for water running through it like a miniature river. Or, at least, it ought to be. It's more than possible to imagine the rich greenery that ought to be here, the contained oasis, the sounds of the water and the sweet cool air that it and the garden's green and shadows would bring.

In practice, there's a faint trickle of water in the center of the channel that dries up long before it reaches the far end, and there's maybe a dozen stubby little half-wilted plants. The stone of the palace is doing just fine; everything else, apparently, not so much.

Kazuo's frowning at the channel when Daisuke asks his last question. It interrupts the frown; he turns hia head and blinks at Daisuke. "No," he says. "Not in the least. Not troubling you, no, since you've seemed to be both overburdened and uncomfortable. That discomfort worries me a little. I don't know its origin, and I'm not good enough with people to try to make sense of it, other than by stepping back and letting it have a chance to work itself out. But so far as I know, none of us are upset with you at all, and I don't know of any reasons why any of us might have been."
Daisuke Hansuke 2017-06-26 21:56:13 79645
Daisuke Hansuke puts the camera down and tries very hard to put something into words. "Have you ever felt like. Someone might be disappointed in you? or upset? But is too afraid to show it, because they're also afraid of how you might take it?" he asks. "It's a feeling kind of like that." he says.

"I know it's been a year. But I'm still kind of. Not really. great. From the Fiore stuff. You know?" he asks.

"Because it's like I failed twice in a row. First, when we saved him the first time in Mamoru's apartment- then that thing got too deep into him. Then the last time on the moon. It's like....."

"Maybe if I'd managed to hold onto my staff instead of it getting lost in the mess of plants... I'd have had more ability to save him." he says.

"I mean. I know it's not my fault?... but. I feel other people can see it the other way. Because I'm supposed to stop it. You know?" he asks a little morosely.

"Ugh. Sorry. I know. Like I said. Been a while. Just. yeah." he shrugs as he looks down to the camera.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-26 22:51:52 79646
Kazuo glances at Daisuke while he's talking, sometimes -- enough to make it clear that he's listening, and listening intently. The rest of the time he looks away, watching the empty channel, studying the stubbornly struggling little plants from a distance.

He's quiet for a few moments after Daisuke's done speaking, too.

"Everyone who was involved in that thing," he says finally, "has a maybe-if about it. Maybe if we'd moved faster. Maybe if we'd done more. Maybe if Nephrite had figured out a way to pull himself out sooner, when he tricked Fiore, then he'd never have been hurt and Riventon would never have been able to catch Jupiter. Maybe if I'd been strong enough for my shields to hold, I'd have been able to keep Fiore from taking Endymion. Maybe if Usagi had found the right words, or if Mamoru had been able to find the right way to touch him, one of them would have been able to pull Fiore out of that parasite's hold before things ever came to the crisis at all."

He turns toward Daisuke -- not coming closer, only turning to face him. "What matters isn't that what-if-I-did-better. What matters is that you tried. That you kept trying. That you made things better by trying. None of us stop these things alone. But if enough of us try, then between us, we find a way to make it work.

"You healed him, on Earth. That preserved parts of him that the flower would have let die. That, in turn, opened the way to his coming back to himself on the asteroid. You came to the asteroid. You gave of our magic, of your energy. If you hadn't done that --

"It took everything that all of us could give, for Moon to be able to destroy the flowers in the wild. Anything less. One flower remaining, buried in some forsaken place where humans rarely went. Where it could reproduce and grow. And we would have lost everything. Perhaps she might have stretched a little farther, somehow, and saved the Earth; but then Fiore's gift would not have been enough to bring her back."

Kazuo shakes his head, and his voice is a little more quiet. "Either way. Without you, without your efforts, we failed. With them -- you can feel free to apologize to Fiore if you like; he's put up with it from the rest of us. But we still have a planet to do that apologizing on. And I think you'll find that that's what people think of, not the maybe-ifs."
Daisuke Hansuke 2017-06-26 23:16:52 79647
Daisuke Hansuke takes a deep breath. "It's the maybe and ifs that bother me because I work a lot trying to prevent that sort of thing." he says quietly. "All the charity and person work I do and all that. Supposed to prevent the maybes and what ifs. Because it's better to wonder about the what ifs if things went bad, rather than good." he says. "It's easy. That. When you compare it to.... stop someone from dying or something." he mutters.

He sighs a bit and just shakes his head. "God. That doesn't even compare to like the other problem?"

"Do you know. Natsumi Ginga?" he asks. "Weird Space Botany Club Girl? The one that bred that Fiore plant to sort of take over a school room for a night? Well she absolutely hates Daisuke." he talks in the third person here. For a reason. "However. Asclepius is a dreamboat and she wants to date him." he says flatly.

"And I am an idiot. So I agreed to it. Because I am terrible around that sort of thing." he says. "and freeze up. And smile and nod."

"Also if you tell Venus I'll hate you forever." he says flatly in the way that is most certainly 'joking'. Probably. He is.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-26 23:25:17 79648
"Yes. But you aren't those charities by yourself," Kazuo says quietly. "We work together. Or we wither and fail."

The caracal makes a low, scoffing noise. "You should know," it rumbles, and stalks over to nose pointedly at one of the plants.

Kazuo eyes it sidelong, and says aside to Daisuke, "And then there are those situations in which you never have to wonder whether something is disappointed in you." He exhales, and rakes a hand through his hair. "Space Botany club -- this is that girl who -- yes. I remember her. She was ... somewhat overwhelming."


"And I have no intention of telling anyone who would start planning your wedding ceremony in detail without your consent. Only ... please tell me that this girl doesn't consider human sacrifice an appropriate occasion for the first date?"
Daisuke Hansuke 2017-06-26 23:43:34 79649
Daisuke Hansuke sort of shakes his head. "She wants to go out for milkshakes. 'And share one like they do in the movies because it looks romantic'." he says. "Nothing that set off any alarm in so far when she was describing her date. I also need to figure out some logistics of ... getting into some clothing while also be Asclepius because I can't just show up in robes and all that." he mutters.

"Yeah she seems strange. I mean. At least she's stopped trying to chase Mamoru since she started chasing Asclepius? So that's one less problem out of his hair I guess." he says. "For the moment." he mutters.

"Just need to figure out how I can slow this thing down without. You know. Hurting her?"

"I mean it isn't like a full thing. She asked me on a date. Not exactly -- right. Yes." he says. "That. Wedding and what not." he sighs and rolls his eyes a bit.

"I think Natsumi may just be. Odd. Rather than a direct danger. Really." he suggests.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-26 23:49:53 79650
"If you need someone to guard a secret clothing stash for the duration, you have only to say the word." Kazuo apparently takes those logistics issues in stride. Possibly because Mamoru has occasionally pulled stunts like, oh. Putting on a tuxedo and then henshining into a tuxedo while already wearing a tuxedo under it, just to name one. Daisuke's dilemma is at least less of a nesting-doll headache. "And believe me, when Mamoru finds out why she's no longer stalking him and clinging to his elbow, it will be appreciated."

The 'without hurting her' part Kazuo opts to leave where it lies; that's not exactly a topic he has experience in. It's the oddness that he nods to. "Agreed. She seems much more likely to be a danger by mistake than by intent. In honesty, she reminds me more than a little of the ones like the Guardians; like them, she has a passion that she clings to without consideration of the consequences. And for them, the benefits are well worth the drawbacks."
Daisuke Hansuke 2017-06-27 00:04:11 79651
Daisuke Hansuke seems to take a long suffering sigh. "I have to do. Something tonight so I should probably get going." something that probably involves being flung overhead into alleys into dumpsters by Venus or something. Again. For the third night in a row.

What's sad is that it's actually kind of working and it's making him avoid danger. Ugh. What's also sad is he's just keeps telling himself the thing Venus told him the first night.

He shakes his head and turns off the camera and tucks it away. "I'll probably check Nephrite's place out next then." he says as he looks back towards the door. "I'm going to stop by a cafe on the way back I think. Want something?" he asks.