Cursed with a Blessing

Hokuto Minase shows Miho Kagami the fruits of her research into the Shadow Jade over lunch, and Miho wields the Life Blessing for the first time. Jiaying Maki shows up, and is energetic. Miho discovers she's wracked with indecision about whether she wants to become a magical girl.

Date: 2018-05-31
Pose Count: 85
Hokuto Minase 2018-05-31 01:40:26 91735
    "Yeah, that does sound familiar," cousin Suzuka had said, when Hokuto explained what she was looking up in the Minase family library. "Mmm, I think... maybe the Kyoto Ayakashi?" Hours pass while the two pore over old tomes and records, soon joined by other members of the clan, and eventually a picture begins to come together. And it's not a comforting image.

    Eventually, wanting to check on something, Hokuto reaches for her phone to try to get in touch with Miho.

    >>> Was this the first time a youkai's come after you?
Miho Kagami 2018-05-31 01:51:29 91736
Miho is doing much more ordinary homework when her phone buzzes. The hairs on the back of her neck stand up as she looks at the cracked screen and sees that it's a message from Hokuto.

Naturally, the first thing she does when she opens the chat screen is to hit "send" by mistake.

    >>> Found anything? Because
    >>> Whoops, wrong button.
    >>> Not really, unless you count one of the Shadow Witch's leftover familiars suddenly popping up, and I think it was after Mamoru Chiba anyway.

She hesitates for several seconds. Well, might as well just ask. Reluctantly, she types out the question that's been burning in her mind for nearly a week and a half now.

    >>> Have you found the name "Miho Oujino" in your research?
Hokuto Minase 2018-05-31 01:56:43 91738
    >>> Nah, that doesn't count.

    Hokuto looks from the phone to the yellowed photograph tucked away in the book she's been looking through, and then back to the phone.

    >>> a few maybes. some really dark stuff.
    >>>And yeah, 1949, yes?
    >>> Things get kinda vague before then.
Miho Kagami 2018-05-31 02:03:50 91739
"Aha," Miho mutters. She automatically grasps her left arm with her right, then resumes typing.

    >>> She's my great grandmother, yes.
    >>> Got kidnapped in 1949, none of us knows the details.

She types "Should we meet and talk more?" and then ... her social anxiety battles with the fact that they obviously should meet. Her finger hovers a few inches over the "send" button.
Hokuto Minase 2018-05-31 02:14:06 91740
    Hokuto grins and holds out a hand to Suzuka, rubbing fingers together. The other girl sighs exaggeratedly, then reaches into her purse for a thousand-yen note to slap into the extended palm. Other family members and fellow researchers pay off their own wagers as Hokuto tucks the money away and takes up her phone again.

    >>> Looks like it runs in the family, hey?
Miho Kagami 2018-05-31 02:19:37 91741
Miho was just about to hit send ... and then she carefully deletes the message.

    >>> Took the words right out of my mouth!
    >>> Or ... keyboard, lol
    >>> Already noticed something, might be too long and cumbersome to type ...

She grumbles, and starts retyping the message she'd just erased, but more slowly this time.
Hokuto Minase 2018-05-31 02:21:06 91742
    Hokuto looks once again from the phone to the book, and back, as the messages come in, then pre-empts the next.

    >>> Talk about it over coffee?
    My treat.
Miho Kagami 2018-05-31 02:25:52 91743
She hits send at the exact moment Hokuto's message appears.

    >>> Should we meet and talk more?
    >>> Whoops, awesome.
    >>> I dunno, I'm not a coffee drinker, how about the park instead?
Hokuto Minase 2018-05-31 02:29:53 91744
    Hokuto grins and nods. The park is perfect... semi-public, but defensible in its way. Enough trees and such to set up an easily-concealed ward or two...

    >>> Works for me.

    She pauses a moment and looks at her watch, then shakes her head. "Somebody get me a cup of coffee?"

    >>> Noonish? I'll bring a picnic lunch.

    "Frell," she mutters, "I need a shower." Glancing at the phone occasionally, she gathers up the papers summarizing their findings, hugs Suzuka quickly, then heads off to get ready for her meeting.
Miho Kagami 2018-05-31 02:47:36 91745
    >>> OK, sure. I'll meet you just south of the playground.

And so, Miho spends finishes her homework, and with noon coming around, she bicycles over to the park, wearing a purple helmet, a pale blue T-shirt with two magenta horizontal stripes, cargo shorts, and pink girl's shoes. She swings by the playground, angles to the southern part, and then ... frowns and comes to a stop as she comes across an oblong-shaped crater, looking like it had been caused by a human-sized object hitting the ground at an angle. "What ...?" She looks up at the sky in the direction it had presumably come from.
Hokuto Minase 2018-05-31 02:58:13 91746
    "Yeah, not quite sure what happened there," comes a voice from behind the girl.

    Hokuto had hurried through her shower and gotten into clean clothes - jeans and a t-shirt, the latter displaying the classic USS Enterprise from Star Trek, paired with blue sneakers and a large bamboo basket slung over one shoulder on a leather strap.

    She'd gotten to the park just moments behind Miho, following the other girl in at a discrete (at first) distance. "Looks like somebody lost a pretty major fight."
Miho Kagami 2018-05-31 03:07:55 91747
Miho turns, clearly not realizing she'd been followed. "Oh, hey," she says in her usual scratchy and androgynous voice. "Yeah, wow." Then she frowns. "Actually, hang on ..."

She pulls out her phone, opens the map, and checks her current location against the route from her apartment to the Gullwing Cafe. "... Okay, yeah, I think I actually saw when it happened. It was this bright light that fell from way up the sky last Thursday. Uh, the Thursday before last. The, the twenty-fourth."

She pockets her phone and starts walking her bike towards Hokuto. "I think my --" One of the pedals on her bike slams into the back of her right leg, leaving a few red marks and causing her to stumble and let out a boyish squawk.
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-02 00:26:46 91835
    Hokuto nods briefly, pausing while Miho checks her phone, and pulls out her own to take a few pictures of the crater.

    "I'm surprised, really," she says after hearing the date of the event. She'd heard that something happened in the park then, but relatively few details. "It's been a week, I'm surprised they haven't started cleanup yet. Usually they're pretty quick about that."

    She puts her own phone away and starts walking, to join the other girl halfway, then winces at the sudden accident. "Hey, hey," she calls, hurrying over more quickly. "You okay there?"
Miho Kagami 2018-06-02 00:34:13 91836
Miho glances over the back of her leg, letting out a grumble that's a bit higher-pitched than even her usual voice. "... I'll be fine," she says. "I mean, it's not even as bad as the scrapes I got when unagi-san blew me up." She starts walking her bike again, watching the pedals for a moment. "Okay, yeah ... Got a spot planned for us to sit?"
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-02 00:48:55 91837
    "If you're sure," Hokuto concedes, and looks back out over the park. "I had thought to find a picnic table, but now I'm not so sure there'll be one available." She hmms to herself and considers it. "Maybe we should have met somewhere a little less.... blown up?"
Miho Kagami 2018-06-02 00:54:11 91838
Miho shrugs. "Dunno," she says. "Let's just find someplace out of the way, and, and just flop onto the ground or whatever. Preferably a place where we don't have to worry about youma jumping us," she adds under her breath, but loud enough for Hokuto to hear.

At that moment, a landscaping truck starts trundling over towards the crater.
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-02 00:58:42 91839
    Hokuto nods and hefts the basket onto her shoulder. "Sounds like a plan to me. Youma interrupting my lunch is definitely annoying." She balances the weight, takes another look at Miho, then adds, "Especially when I'm sharing it with a cute new friend."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-02 01:04:51 91840
Miho nods along until that last comment. She nearly stumbles again, blushing a bit. "Uh. Oh, right," she mumbles. "I, uh, thanks, but, uh, ... let's just ... head over this way." She quickly brings her bike off the road and lads Hokuto over to a small group of trees which just manages to avoid too much visibility as far as passers-by are concerned.

The truck stops on the road right by the crater, and a few workers get out and immediately start complaining about red tape causing delays.
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-02 01:22:12 91841
    Hokuto grins at the blush, winking at the girl, then nods and follows her over to the clump of trees.

    "Good choice," she says as they round the first tree and she gets a look at what lies beyond them. "A little private, and a little noise-blocking..."

    She smiles and sets the basket down, then reaches in to produce a blanket from the top layer -- it's light blue, decorated with a geometric print design -- and she spreads it out over the grass.
Miho Kagami 2018-06-02 01:30:36 91842
Miho lets out a soft sigh, and manages to keep her social anxiety under control long enough to set down her bike and helmet and get herself back into the mindset of their original reason for coming here. She sits down on the blanket, sitting with her right leg propped up by her foot so she isn't sitting with her wound on the ground. "What's for lunch?"
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-02 01:40:55 91843
    Hokuto settles onto the blanket and unpacks the next layer of the basket. "Hmm, let's see. How about some miso soup and a small salad to start? I've got some sandwiches after that, and a small cake to finish." She produces a thermos - probably the soup - and a pair of small plastic tupperware containers clearly filled with lettuce.

    "How have you been this week? Haven't had any more monster run-ins, I hope?"
Miho Kagami 2018-06-02 01:50:06 91844
Miho nods. "That, uh, that sounds like an awesome place to start," she says drily, glad that Hokuto isn't trying to press with the flirting. "Ittadakimasu!"

She shakes her head in response to the question. "Mostly kind of worried about what your research was gonna turn up. I've been staying away from places like the ECFH and whatnot, just in case there was any danger of something spreading. But now ..."

She thinks for a moment. "You know how, after unagi-san blew me up and the shadowiness and glowing appeared, I was holding my arm like this?" She folds her arms with her left hand grasped by the right. "It's this sort of ... habit I get into, when I'm sort of worried or upset and stuff. Mamoru Chiba was the first person to notice me doing it, back when he was telling me about magic." She gives her arm a light squeeze. "The day after the attack, my mom noticed me doing it, and she said that all the girls in her family had that habit, but stopped when they got older." She looks up at Hokuto significantly. "Almost as if it's been passed down from mother to daughter. She specifically mentioned her 'grandma Miho', who I'm named after."
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-02 01:59:07 91845
    "Mmm, that might not have been the best course... I find that when you're worried about that sort of thing, having someone aroudn who can tell what's going wrong is all kinds of helpful." Hokuto nods, though, and pours out the soup into bowls, passing one over with a spoon.

    She watches attentively as Miho demonstrates her 'nervous twitch', and makes note of the family tie as well. That is rather odd. "It is kind of odd," she agrees. "And you've been doing this all your life?"

    She tries a sip of the soup, and looks back up at Miho. "Grandma Miho... this would be Oujino-san, that you mentioned earlier?"
Miho Kagami 2018-06-02 02:13:18 91846
Miho shrugs. "I'm just ... bad with people in general," she says. "It's why I didn't call you first. Or Kurosawa-san or Maki-san." She takes a sip of her own soup. "This is good, by the way," she murmurs.

She shakes her head at the first question. "I never noticed it until Mamoru Chiba pointed it out." She grimaces. "I mean, I kind of feel like Tokyo's been giving me more stress than I ever had back when I lived in Nishimura, which is a really small town. But I kind of have a hunch that it's got something to do with the Shadow Jade." She shrugs. "And yeah, 'grandma Miho' is Miho Oujino. Her husband changed his name when they married, for the record."
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-02 02:26:41 91847
    Hokuto smiles at the compliment. "Thanks," she says simply, then finishes her own soup and sets the bowl aside in favor of the salad, and to pass one to Miho as well.

    "Chiba's a good man... if he says it's so, I'd believe him." She muses on it for a moment. "Tokyo, stressful... nah, never imagined it." The sarcasm is thick and heavy all of a sudden. "Shadow Jade.... yeah. It... might be. Changes in behavior after a major mystical incident... mm, not unknown, really." She pauses for a moment, enjoying the salad, then adds, "Obviously that trend hasn't continued, or you'd be Oujino yourself, yes?"
Miho Kagami 2018-06-02 02:34:52 91848
Miho nods, taking a moment to finish off her own soup. "Yeah, that's the impression I got from him," she says. "I mean, when he was actually being serious. But yeah, he said his first instinct was to ask if my arm was hurting."

She chuckles at the last comment. "Yeah, no, her daughter and my mom took their husband's names. Watanabe, then Kagami." She hesitates, then distracts herself with salad for a moment. Finally, she works up the nerve to ask, "So what was the 'major mystical incident' in question?"
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-02 02:49:21 91849
    "Yeah, that's Chiba for you," Hokuto agrees. "Always ready to worry about someone." She smiles lazily, shifting one knee to rest her arm on it while that hand holds her salad bowl.

    She pauses a moment to scribble down the name 'Watanabe' on her phone's notepad, then nods. "Well, things are kind of vague before the 40's," she starts to explain. "We found mentions of 'dark jade' or 'shadow stone' and things like that, might be the same, going back to the Sengoku Jidai... usually associated with one or another youkai, typically an oni or the like... once with what I'm fairly sure is one of the Senshi's youma, impossible to verify now, though..."

    She pauses for some more salad, flipping through her notes. "19...49, is the first solid mention of it as 'Shadow Jade', complete with capitals. From the rather less than coherent description of the monster, I'd call it a jorogumo, for some reason it specifically singled out Oujino-san despite her young age at the time. I'm reasonably certain that she wasn't magically active before this -- but I could easily be wrong about that."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-02 02:58:47 91850
Miho finds herself tensing up slightly as the story begins. This is it. She starts eating her salad on autopilot; she finishes it fairly quickly, whereupon she immediately sets down the bowl and crosses her arms and grasps her left arm again.

(The battle between the two forces inside her kicks up a few notches. Still, this is nothing remotely like a life-threatening situation.)
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-02 03:14:06 91851
    Mikoto finishes her salad and sets that bowl aside, then goes on with the story. The sandwiches can wait until later. "Oujino-baasan was ten, at the time, and got very very lucky. Her kidnapper had already engaged several onmyouji - and killed two - over the course of his depredations, and it was pretty clear that he was getting ambitious and arrogant."

    She pauses a bit to page through her notes, pulling up a grainy newspaper photograph of a girl in what is probably a colorful, if rather modest by modern mahou standards, costume. "This is the best picture I was able to find of the one who rescued her. No clues to her civilian identity, but she gave her name in monster-taunting speeches as 'Life Mahou Wonder'."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-03 01:04:03 91903
Miho peers at the photograph. The magical girl depicted therein has several heart-emblems on her costume, including one on a ribbon tied around her forehead. "... huh. Looks kind of heart-themed, I notice," says Miho, and her voice has a very slight downward shift in pitch.

... and she suddenly finds herself with a very clear idea of what Life Mahou Wonder must have looked like, as if the photograph was of someone she'd seen before.

Or at least, someone something inside her had seen before.

She gives her left arm a little squeeze. A part of her feels like she already subconsciously knows what Hokuto is about to tell her. "Um ... go on?"
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-03 01:12:44 91904
    Hokuto shrugs. "Mahou names are ... frequently weird. I just don't bother with them, myself." She flips to the next page of her notes.

    "There was some mention of a curse, not too many details, and this 'Life' girl apparently did something to counteract it, since there's no sign of any particular misfortune in Oujino-san's later life." She looks further down the page of notes. "Judging from the name, and what other reports I've managed to dig up about her, 'Life Mahou' was some sort of healer, possibly a positive-energy type, like Sailor Moon."

    She has several newspaper clippings, showing people who'd been affected by youma attacks and healed by the same girl.
Miho Kagami 2018-06-03 01:28:31 91906
Miho nods, looking over the newspaper clippings. "Positive energy," she says. "Life Mahou ..."

And then suddenly, without warning, she --

    A group of young women are standing around her point of view, with an unconscious ten-year-old girl lying on the ground nearby. "Easier done than said!" quips Life Mahou Wonder. She points her heart-wand directly at Miho's point of view. "Wonder Shining Ray!" A blast of chartreuse light fills Miho's entire vision, and then ...

-- gasps softly as the memory plays through her mind. "Death curse," she blurts out. A few wisps of shadows briefly emanate from her left arm where she's grasping it, and a minty green glow appears around her right arm, but they vanish almost immediately.
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-03 01:36:04 91907
    Hokuto's eyes go wide as she sees it, not sharing the vision, of course, but still. The words 'Death Curse' stand out. "Yes... it makes sense. It had to be something powerful, something extreme, for it to carry over from generation to generation, for her not to be able to just cure it completely."

    She reaches out for Miho's right hand. "Hold this," she says, placing an ofuda in it. "Just focus on it, try to... to push some energy into it, if you can."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-03 01:42:09 91908
Miho sits there, panting for a moment. "I ... the Death Curse 'remembers' going into Miho Oujino," she says. Her voice sounds ... less feminine, but nothing like the complete disaster during the youma-attack. "And ... the Life Blessing, too."

She looks uneasily at the ofuda when Hokuto puts it in her hand. "Um, okay," she says. "Um ... what will that ... do? I mean ..." She takes a few deep breaths as she tries to bring her thoughts back into the here-and-know, and her voice back up to something resembling its usual pitch. "... among all my other worries, I think I might lose my concentration if ... its ... reaction ... is surprising enough." She looks up at Hokuto. "... and also if it's going to do something to me? Kind of?"
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-03 01:48:46 91910
    Hokuto pauses, then nods. "It's possible," she agrees. "You're walking a tightrope, really. Too far one side, and the curse overwhelms the blessing, and you die. Probably slowly and painfully, it's a curse, after all. Too far the other..."

    She waves a hand. "At this point we just don't know enough about Life-chan and her power. Given the time frame she's either dead or in a nursing home, by now, so... not like we can ask."

    She pauses for a moment, then adds, "Just try to focus a little bit on it, like a whisper...."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-03 02:03:37 91912
Miho furrows her brow at the tightrope metaphor. "Now that's comforting," she grumbles. "Have I mentioned Tokyo's been giving me more stress than I ever had in Nishimura?" She hesitates, then adds, "At least now I know what that grasping-gesture was about. I guess it's some sort of ... metaphor for the fight between the Death Curse and the Life Blessing."

She looks back down at her hand. "Okay," she says. "Might as well." She focuses on the ofuda, breathing deeply to try to calm her nerves. It's hard to calm herself completely, but really, that's to be expected.

A minute or so goes by. This part of the park is quite calm. The sounds of the city are off in the distance. Occasionally, voices are audible, and birdsong is nearer. Miho wills the Life Blessing to emit from her hand ...

A very faint trickle of life energy flows into the ofuda. It's almost like moving a limb she didn't know she had.
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-03 02:12:23 91915
    "Yes, as a matter of fact you have," Hokuto answers. She nods in agreement with the comparison, but stays silent to watch the experiment. She's not at all surprised that it takes time for Miho to focus her energy.

    "Now, that's interesting," she murmurs, as the ofuda starts to glow softly green, the inked characters a slightly brighter, paler green. "Definitely life-energy in some form... I'd say 'Life Blessing' is a good term for it."

    "You can stop anytime," she adds a moment later.
Miho Kagami 2018-06-03 02:20:28 91916
Miho blinks, and the glow vanishes. "Uh ... wow," she says, handing the ofuda back to Hokuto.

And then she just ... flops onto her back, staring at the sky, still keeping her right leg propped up. "This ... is a lot to take in." She holds her left hand up, and then ... for a brief instant, there's a very faint minty green glow on her fingertips. "... guess it's not limited to one hand, either, grasping the left arm is just a metaphor ..."

She turns her head to look towards Hokuto. "... I just realized that this must be why I found it so easy to believe in all this magic stuff when Mamoru Chiba started telling me about it, even before the Shadow Witch's familiar showed up," she says. "It's because there was always magic inside me, doing stuff." She smiles faintly and looks back up at the sky. "Only gets passed down to the girls, too ..."
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-03 02:23:33 91918
    Hokuto nods. "It would seem so," she agrees, "It's entirely possible that Oujino-san or her daughter may have used the power in that way as well. If you can draw on their memories of it..."

    Well, lots of things you can do, then, to be sure. "You might also be able to draw on the curse, but ... I'd be very careful about that." The curse getting out of control could be extremely dangerous, after all. "Still, it might make for a useful attack against any monsters that might come after you."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-03 02:31:04 91920
Miho giggles and props herself up on her elbows. "Yeah, no, my gut says there's no way trying to bring out the Death Curse would actually benefit me." She frowns. "... especially if I tried to use it against a youma that's getting boosted by one of the Shadow Jade's shards, since that's where the Shadow Jade comes from in the first place. Hmm ..."

She sits back up, then puts both hands on her right leg, around the marks from the bike pedal hitting her. "The Life Blessing healed my arm after unagi-san blew me up," she says, a note of determination in her voice. "Lemme see if I can't do that on purpose this time." She takes a deep breath and starts focusing her power once again.
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-03 02:45:44 91922
    Hokuto has to admit, Miho might well be right about that. Trying to draw on it actively is dangerous in the first place, so she's not going to object to the girl being reluctant to try it.

    "Alright, that seems like a good try," she agrees, and squats down so she can see the leg more closely. She flicks out a pair of ofuda, one to either side of it, each one seemingly forming into a dial or meter of some sort as it activates. "Go ahead."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-03 02:52:49 91923
Miho chuckles at the presence of the ofuda. "Okay ..."

This time, it takes her nearly two minutes to get going. There's a couple of false starts as she expends life-energy without actually doing anything with it, and it abruptly cuts off more than once as her concentration breaks. But then there's sustained glow as she focuses the Life Blessing in a more controlled fashion, and the marks simply vanish over the course of a few seconds.

Miho flops onto her back again, panting heavily from exertion. This time, she rests her legs completely. "Oh, wow." She grins at Hokuto. "Actually doing something is way harder than not doing anything in particular!" she adds dryly.
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-03 02:55:19 91925
    "And healing, repairing, is always harder than breaking and destroying... because you have to put things right, not just any-which-ways." Hokuto smiles and reaches out to squeeze Miho's shoulder briefly.

    "You did well, though, for your first try. It took me quite a bit longer to manage it that well." She picks up the two meter-ofuda, spreading them out on ... mid-air... to show the readings. "See this peak here, in blue? That's where you fizzled... and it slides back down as you focused again, and here where it turns green is where it started working for you."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-03 03:02:17 91927
Miho smiles faintly. "That's actually reassuring," she says. "I wonder if the Life Blessing itself is ... 'helping me out' somehow. Like, 'it knows' how it works better than I do. Or something."

When the ofuda comes out, she blinks, and sits up again so she can get a better view of the readings. "... Wow," she says. "Huh. I ... have no idea how to read this, ahaha ..."
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-03 03:09:22 91928
    Anything's possible, and Hokuto thinks it entirely likely that the Blessing has some ... active component... of its own. She's not quite sure if there's a sentience there, though. Or a link to some external entity. She keeps her speculation on that quiet, for now, however.

    "Well, you see how the line squiggles a bit, and gets even more wavy right around where you lost focus? That's energy flow wavering up and down as your control over it shifts. Now, watch what happens when I try."

    She focuses energy, almost effortlessly, it seems, and another line sweeps across the paper. This one is a deep violet, sweeping up in a smooth curve, then arrowing to the right in a pure electric blue, arrow-straight. "Now, don't feel intimidated... that's years of practice showing. But the better your control, the more power goes into what you want to accomplish, and the less wanders off into other things."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-03 23:57:11 91946
Miho does, in fact, feel intimidated! Of course, she was also intimidated by classmates saying hello on her first day of school in Tokyo, so this doesn't actually say a whole lot. "Okay, um, got it!" she says. "I mean, um, yeah, it's not like anyone would expect me to be ... jumping into being perfect right away or anything ..." She looks down at her hand thoughtfully. "Hmm ... I wonder ... Heh, well, I mean, I'm wondering a million different things at once at the moment." She shakes her head. "Wow, this feels even ... bigger than when, uh, when Chiba-san first started explaining magic to me!"
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-04 00:04:20 91947
    Hokuto nods, and carefully rolls the 'meter' ofuda she's been using. "Keep this for now, it'll last about a week if you do this at least once a day. If it stops responding, or burns up, or something, let me know and I'll get you another one to practice with." She flashes a warm smile, trying for comforting, and maybe even succeeding. She's good at it.

    She presses the paper into Miho's hand and smiles again. "So, want to try one of these sandwiches? I bet you could use a break from the weird for a few minutes." She reaches into the picnic basket and produces two long, paper-wrapped bundles.
Jiaying Maki 2018-06-04 00:10:32 91948
Jiaying Maki is in her casual clothes. Which isn't all that rare to be fair. A pack slung over her shoulder weighted with books with the head of a stuffed bunny rabbit visible at the top of the bag. Every once in a while it almost looks like she's talking to it, but it's probably just a headset for her phone, right?

In hand is a sandwich. In her other hand is a bag with more sandwiches. She's devouring the first one ravenously and it's with the scant remnants that she waves to the two familiar faces with before running over. There's an awkward moment where she wants to say something. Stops, tries to swallow her food, coughs and turns away. Then dances around. Then gets the food down to finally say, "Hi."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-04 00:15:41 91949
Miho laughs weakly and takes the proffered sandwich. "Okay, yeah," she says. "I ... guess sandwiches are ... a good thing right about now. They'll, uh, go well with the butterflies that're already in my stomach."

And then sudden Jiaying! Or ... not-so-sudden, as she has trouble talking for a moment. "... Hi, Maki-san," Miho says dryly, giving a little wave. She makes her hand glow with the Life Blessing's minty green light as she does so.
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-04 00:17:31 91950
Hokuto is starting to unwrap one of the sandwiches when Miho calls out to Jiaying, and she turns her head to check out the new girl. "Hey, stranger. Pull up a blanket, join the party." She grins impishly and waves, beckoning her over. "Just been working out a few things for Miho-chan here."
Jiaying Maki 2018-06-04 00:20:35 91951
Jiaying Maki glances at the glowing hand. Tilts her head from one side, then to the other. She taps her chin and asks, "Is it always green?" While pointing with said finger after. She twirls her fingers a few times, conjuring up that grey-green mist that seems to follow her and grins, "It's close to the same color. Mine has gotten more grey than green lately though." A look back to Hokuto, a nod then she crouches down, scoots forward then sits on the blanket just in case. "Thanks!" She offers, then offering the bag of sandwiches to add to the sharing. There's... a lot in there. All kinds.
Miho Kagami 2018-06-04 00:26:51 91952
Miho chuckles and unwraps her own sandwich. "No, I've been getting help from, uh, Hokuto-chan," she says. "She found out that in 1949, my great-grandmother, Miho Oujino, got kidnapped by, what did you say it was, a jorogumo?" She shrugs. "And she got rescued by magical girls, and one of them was called Life Mahou Wonder, and she smashed the Shadow Jade, but it gave Miho Oujino a Death Curse, so Life Mahou Wonder put a Life Blessing into her." She makes her hand glow again briefly. "And ... now I have healing-powers that I can use on purpose." She stares at her hand. "... Wow it feels weird just saying it all like that." She hasn't actually started eating her sandwich.
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-04 00:31:54 91953
    "A Jorogumo, yes. Sort of a spider-youkai," Hokuto explains. "It seemed to think Oujino-san was the key to getting its claws on the power of the Shadow Jade... which I still have less than satisfying information on."

    She shrugs and finishes unwrapping her own sandiwch, a hoagie loaded down with grilled chicken, barbecue sauce, melted cheese, and crumbled bacon. (Hokuto likes her sandwiches.)

    The first bite chewed and swallowed, she sets it in her lap for a moment. "So, how have you been?" she asks of Jiaying. "Staying out of trouble?" As if she expects the girl to even try.....
Jiaying Maki 2018-06-04 00:35:27 91954
Jiaying Maki drums her fingers on her chin, then points at Hokuto and asks, "Do you guys hold Jade as a sacred stone sort of thing?" She's not familiar with the local myths yet, let alone the local yokai, though the latter's getting better. "I haven't heard of any spiders acting out on the other side lately, though I did hear there was an abandoned shrine that might have something to do with it." She trails off and adds, "Uh, shrine over there, not over here. Here like this world. The uh.. human? Whatever." She scowls.

There's a sandwich pulled out, she begins to tear it apart, using a hint of actual claws to do so, because she's lazy and most people just assume cosplay, which contributes to the lazy. The question from Hokuto gets a curious look, "You think I cause the trouble? I try to help! Then I get lit on fire. Then I hug the girl at the end."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-04 00:40:19 91955
Miho privately wonders at the "Jorogumo" explanation, on the basis that Hokuto came out to the pier expecting a kappa when the eel showed up, but she says nothing. She does, however, manage to corkscrew her way through Jiaying's scattershot explanation. "What girl? Hisakata-san?"

Almost reluctantly, she takes a single bite out of her sandwich.
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-04 00:54:18 91956
"Can't argue with that," Hokuto muses, "Hugging the girl is the best part of it." She grins and winks playfully at Miho. (Whose Hokuto-provided sanwich is identical to her own, naturally.) She hmms softly, then looks over at Jiaying. "What's this, then? Gone and got yourself a girlfriend? Or just leading on yet another of our fair maidens?"
Jiaying Maki 2018-06-04 01:04:20 91957
Jiaying Maki looks to Miho and says, "The hugging part, yes, the rest no." She says it bluntly and dismissively. Like she's trying to push that part away. Even if she's joking about it. Then she gets indignant, "I've been dating her for two years! Don't be mean! I'm not that weird!" She huffs, bites into her sandwich and mutters. She doesn't seem genuinely upset though!
Miho Kagami 2018-06-04 01:10:33 91958
Miho nods to Hokuto. "Literally the first thing I learned about Maki-san when I met her for the first time was that she's Sora Hisakata's girlfriend," she says. (A faint detail pokes at her subconscious, but unbeknownst to Miho, henshin-magic does things to your ability to recognize people, and so she completely fails to make any kind of connection to Cute Witch Kazeko.) She takes a second bite out of her sandwich, seeming to regaining some momentum, and she actually cracks a faint smile as she swallows. "... This is also good, by the way, Hokuto-chan." She turns back to Jiaying. "I didn't know you'd been with her for two years, though, wow."
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-04 01:20:18 91959
    Finishing another bite of her sandwich, Hokuto grins. "Hisakata-san is a very lucky young lady, then." She winks again. "Are you seeing anyone, Miho-chan?" (Henshin magic isn't quite the big deal for her as it is for some, given that she doesn't bother with a secret identity.)

    She smiles and leans back a little as she sits. "Two years... that's definitely doing well. I wish I could keep something going that long." She shrugs. "Sempai is sempai, but... well, sometimes I wonder if she even notices me."
Jiaying Maki 2018-06-04 01:25:32 91960
Jiaying Maki rests elbow on her knee and props her chin up. "Sora and I have been together since uh... an after school awkward conversation that started out semi-joking and turned into a date?' She shrugs, then takes a bite of sandwich. Nom nom nom. "It's a bit under two I think, but I'm happy enough!"

A glance at Hokuto, then she asks teasingly, "What kind of priest..ess are you?' she then scowls. She can't remember what anime that's even from. "It's uh... there were some rough spots."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-04 01:29:07 91962
Miho just ... hurriedly shakes her head in response to Hokuto's question, then hesitates and finishes her current bite. "Well, uh ... Haruna Kurosawa was trying to set me up with her sister Aki, but I haven't heard anything in a week and a half, and, well, I'm just sort of not holding my breath. At all."

She nods slowly to Jiaying, though. "Good to hear it's doing well," she says. "I'm just thinking, a lot can happen in two years." She looks down at herself briefly, but doesn't say anything more than that, and continues eating her sandwich.
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-04 01:33:04 91963
    "There are always rough spots in a good relationship," Hokuto insists. "Getting past them and recovering is what makes it worth it... from what I've seen, anyway." Not that she has more than outside observation to judge from. "I don't know Haruna that well, but I've never heard bad of her or her sister. So..." She shrugs. "If you like her, have fun."

    She focuses on her own sandwich for a moment or two, now, giving the others a chance to continue their chat without jealous interjections.
Jiaying Maki 2018-06-04 01:38:40 91964
Jiaying Maki nods and says, "Yeah, quite a bit. Did you know my family frowns on using spirits and ghosts to lash out at someone?" She twirls her finger like she's bored, "They made me come home to Taiwan." There's a faint scowl as she adds, "They were right, I shouldn't be holding them here even if I was sure I was trying to get them to move on."

"We are past those rough spots though, yeah!" She nods to Hokuto and takes it as an excuse to stop thinking on a rough year. "I've met her a few times. She's nice. Her bird shared a cheese burger with me once."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-04 01:42:53 91965
Miho shrugs at Hokuto's comments. "... I guess I've never really ... taken the idea of me being in a romantic relationship seriously," she says. "But I'll keep that in mind, I guess."

Jiaying manages to throw Miho even more off-kilter, however. "... that ... sounds like it would have been a really rough spot, yeah," Miho says softly. She looks Jiaying over. "I can see why you'd get along with Kurosawa-san, though, you're both very ... energetic."
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-04 01:51:28 91968
    After a moment, Hokuto nods. "That's probably wise of them," she agrees with Jiaying. "One way or another, that tends to lead to bad places." She smiles, though. "At least you've learned now, though, yes?" She grins at the mention of the cheeseburger.

    She also has a smile for Miho. "I suppose that makes us partners in dismay, then. Or at least loneliness?" She shrugs. Takes another bite of sandwich. That occupies her for a moment, during which she casts a brief but curious look at Jiaying.
Jiaying Maki 2018-06-04 02:16:37 91972
Jiaying Maki looks to Miho and tilts her head, "Why not? Even my dad found someone and he's a weird otaku sometimes!" She hesitates and adds, "So was my mom. And me, but that's not the point alright?" She shakes her head and continues, "Energetic?" Seeming confused at the description of herself.

"Well, we are a family of that sort of thing. At least we don't convince the e-... you know what, nevermind." She devours the last of her sandwich while they're distracted and uses that time to fish another one free. Tuna by the look of it. "What? Th- I meant she gave me one, not the bird. Probably should slow down. Japanese is a weird language. No tones."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-04 02:24:48 91973
Miho shrugs. "Trust me, in Tokyo, I have mostly had the opposite problem from loneliness." She grins weakly at Jiaying. "I was telling Hokuto-chan, I've had way more stress and worry in Tokyo than I ever did in my hometown. And that was before unagi-san decided to show up." She suddenly turns back to Hokuto. "Oh! That reminds me, one of the things I was wondering was how unagi-san was going to 'use' me to find shards from the Shadow Jade, but, uh, you know what, I think in practical terms, I don't want to know."

She looks at Jiaying sidelong. "Statements like that are also why you're energetic," she says wryly. "I'm having trouble keeping up with you and Japanese is my native language."

She takes another couple of bites from her sandwich, nearly halfway done with it, and flexes her left hand a bit, then makes the glow flicker a few times. "Hmm ... uh ..." She frowns.
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-04 02:28:47 91974
    Hokuto arches a brow at Jiaying, then shrugs and looks back to Miho. "Yes, I was there, after all," she says. "It's a fairly simple thing... I could do it, too, with a little effort. Especially if I had a sample of it to start from." She shrugs. "Fairly simple bit of magic, to be honest."

    She's about halfway through her sandwich by this point, and pauses to open a can of cola and offer a couple more of them around. "Energetic, yes. Personally I'd be wary of anything that a bird cooked for me." She's a bit distracted from Miho's flickering hand, however, as she's focusing on something close to Jiaying. "Would it be possible for me to have a look at that plushie?"
Jiaying Maki 2018-06-04 02:32:16 91975
Jiaying Maki "Unagi-san? Who is that?" She seems honestly confused. Does she know them by a different name? Maybe something weird is happening. She isn't sure. She frowns for a moment. "ANYWAY! You never did come visit did you? It's great, it looks haunted, but it's not. Uh... not haunted normally?" There's a faint whisper of Chinese from behind her.

She looks at Hokuto and sticks her tongue out, "Don't let Tengu hear that, they'd take offense and their noodles are awesome."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-04 02:43:50 91976
Miho nods curtly at Hokuto's explanation about the spell. "OK, good, don't need to know anymore, thanks." She transfers her sandwich into her left hand, then grasps her left arm with her right.

She blinks at Jiaying. "I just meant the eel-youma," she says flatly. And then that turns to guilt at Jiaying's next remark. "Oh, uh, sorry, I'm just ..." She laughs nervously. "Really bad with making phone calls and texts and things ... and I didn't want to just ... invite myself over. Even if you and N--" Her eyes flicker towards Hokuto. "-- Lacrima-san both already invited me."

And then she does a double-take at the ... talking bunny, and just sighs and squeezes her arm. "Yare yare da wa ..."
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-04 02:51:41 91977
    Hokuto sighs softly. "I was going to point out... but I suppose you already know." She shrugs. "And yeah, the eel-thingy was deeply annoying, and I'm glad it won't be bothering us again." Of course, she's just doomed the trio to 'Unagi-baka: The Sequel', but hey, that's life for a mahou.

    "I suppose your, er, friend, is a welcome guest, and not just around to annoy you?"
Jiaying Maki 2018-06-04 03:04:47 91978
Jiaying Maki shrugs and says, "Can't it be both?" the doll doesn't respond, but does make an annoyed sound. She looks back to Miho and adds, "It's fine, just come bang on a door. Or my window like-... well either way, I don't mind. I keep weird hours."

To Hokuto she sticks her tongue out, "Of course she is, the spells holding her to it are mine! Otherwise, she'd be stuck in some run down house all aloen and angry again!"
Miho Kagami 2018-06-04 03:08:51 91979
Miho gives Hokuto a look. "Know which?" she says flatly.

She just shakes her head at Jiaying. "Yeah, I know, I know, it's just ... social anxiety is a jerk."

Distractedly, she stretches her arm out, fiddling with the Life Blessing as she eats her sandwich. There's a few more flickers, and then a longer sustained glow which starts to spiral around her arm ... and she hurriedly flicks her wrist and makes the glow vanish. "Uhhhhhh, I thiiiiink I might be able to become another Life Mahou Wonder," she says, in a tone that might be expected from someone announcing that a youma the size of a freight train was charging towards them.
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-04 03:12:48 91980
Hokuto was about to say something to Jiaying about the polterplush... but she's rather completely distracted from it. "Uhm. That'd be ... interesting, certainly. I'd be careful about it... you don't want to press the magic so far that the curse overpowers it." She peers worriedly at Miho, asessing the magical levels in the girl's system. "And think real hard if you want to do something like that... it's not an easy life."
Jiaying Maki 2018-06-04 03:21:52 91981
Jiaying Maki sticks her tongue out at Hokuto and says flatly, "She's a friend, she's happier, I don't think it's a curse." Then there's a moment of hesitation and says, "I'm trying to get her to move on. I've had her passport for a few years now. She seems addicted to TV and giving people scares." She shrugs at that.

To Miho, she asks, "Do you want to? That's the real question. That stuff hurts sometimes. But uh, we can help if you need it."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-04 03:33:05 91982
Miho laughs nervously. "I know, I know!" she says, more or less to both of them. "That was literally ... what I was about to ask you guys next!" Contrary to Hokuto's first concern, the Life Blessing's energy is descending from a point where it had been at least twice as powerful as the Death Curse, which was merely becoming more ... energetic.

Miho takes a deep breath, and the disparate energies settle as well. "I ... am gonna be frank with you guys," she says. "The, the youma-attack was literally the scariest thing that's ever happened to me." She hesitates, then adds, "But, I mean, part of the whole reason for that in the first place was because of how helpless I felt!" She carefully sets down the sandwich in its wrapper and crosses her arms with her left arm grasped in her right. "Ugh, I am absolutely terrible at deciding this kind of thing ... it isn't a clear-cut thing, like ..." She just shakes her head.

There's a brief shadowy wisp, and a brief glow from her arm, and a very faint voice that seems to come from Miho's shadow says, "Doubt ..."

Miho instantly goes completely still as the glow and wisps fade.
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-04 03:38:38 91983
    Hokuro looks back to Jiaying, and shrugs. "Okay then." The issue of the polterplush is dismissed, no longer bothering her. So she's got attention to focus properly on Miho, now.

    "Well, that's why we have teams," she starts, "And friends. To help us figure out these things... and to stay sane." She grins impishly. "Not that some of us bother with that last."

    She listens attentively, nodding as Miho reveals her thoughts regarding the attack. "Don't try to decide right away... take time, think about it, make an informed choice. Maybe talk to some of the others. I bet Chiba-san could tell you a few things..."

    And then the shadow speaks up, and she trails off, focusing down at the arm. "Ahem."
Jiaying Maki 2018-06-04 03:44:32 91985
Jiaying Maki shakes her head and says flatly, "Teams? No one's said anything about teams. It's always a chaotic mess when I see things! But that's half the fun isn't it?"

Glancing back to Miho she says softly, "I get that, I really do. I think... you should still consider the risks. You'll paint a bigger target on yourself if you do." Leaning forward she adds, "You'll get help either way though!"
Miho Kagami 2018-06-04 03:57:34 91986
Miho glances at her arm, then off to the side at her shadow. "... Okay," she says, and her voice is sounding scratchier and has taken another downward shift in pitch. "The ... Death Curse can talk? And is officially confirmed for total jerk. Before, it was merely unofficial."

Miho exhales, and nods to each of them in turn. "Well ..." She clears her throat and brings it back up to its usual pitch. "I was pretty much already thinking of getting in touch with Chiba-san, now that I know I'm not an actual danger to people around me. He seems to be the ... go-to guy, I guess." She smiles weakly. "Not like I was going to just drop all the friends and support I've gotten either way, Maki-san, I really do believe in the people who're keeping Tokyo safe ... or, I mean, as safe as you can." She looks back up to Hokuto and adds, "I, uh, I don't know how well I'd do in a team-team, though, I'm, uh, not a very sociable person ..."
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-04 04:11:03 91987
    Hokuto nods. "Well, teams aren't an absolute, but you'll note there are several folk who seem to work together often. Whether it's formal like the Senshi, or informal. Or a crazy cult thing like my family." She shrugs. "Having people you can rely on is a huge help."

    And jerk curse is confirmed. Ah, well. "I wouldn't listen to anything it says," she advises Miho. "But I think you already knew that."

    Then she pauses to finish her sandwich while the girl talks. "Don't worry about it. Find people you work well with, is all... and remember them. Keep them in mind, keep in touch with them... there's a whole library of strategy and stuff I could prattle on about, but I'll save that for later." If Miho even decides to go ahead with the Life Mahou thing at all, that is.
Jiaying Maki 2018-06-04 04:29:50 91988
Jiaying Maki shrugs and says, "It's a team if it's got a name and a jersey alright?" She then sticks her tongue out and huffs. Then fishes her third sandwich out and begins to munch on it. "The crazy cult thing?" She asks, not having heard that story before.

Looking to Miho, "I don't see him out and about often, but there's quite a few of us. It uh.. he helps though. Not saying he doesn't?" She shrugs. "We are trying, really. Even me, even if I'm not great at it."
Miho Kagami 2018-06-04 04:35:49 91989
Miho nods to Hokuto. "Yeah, it's pretty obvious listening to something called a Death Curse is bad news," she says. "I figure it just wants me dead and doesn't care how, basically." She hesitates. "And then it comes back to 'maybe I could defend myself', buuuut we've pretty much already covered that one, too."

She nods to Jiaying as well. "Got it," she says. "Chiba-san's ... I got a good feeling from him, really. But yeah, I'm just gonna try to get more than one person's input, I guess."

She sighs, and starts wrapping her half-eaten sandwich back up. "Sorry about this, Hokuto-chan, but I'm ... not really feeling hungry right now and I think I need some time to myself for the rest of the afternoon. Could I box some cake to take home or something?" Then she blinks and turns to face both of them. "Oh, right, also! The cover story I gave my parents for ... the incident with the youma-attack was that I got caught up in the stampede when people were running away and I almost got hit by a car, and you two and Kurosawa-san helped me back to my feet."
Hokuto Minase 2018-06-04 04:42:57 91990
    Hokuto shrugs at Jiaying. "Eh, we don't do jerseys so much here. Except for the school sport folks. And the Giants fans." She waves a dismissive hand. "Folks make a team if they work together well and often, that's all. As for cults, we've been onmyouji since Abe no Seimei's grandson took my great-to-the-umpteenth grandfather for an apprentice, lo ye many year ago." And quite possibly longer.

    She turns her attention back to Miho as the girl starts packing up to go. "Not a problem, Miho-chan. Glad to have been able to help you out. I'll keep a close eye out for any more news about the Shadow Jade, and I'll let you know if anything turns up." She makes a mental note of the cover story, and adds, "I'll remember that. Give your family my best wishes."
Jiaying Maki 2018-06-04 04:54:34 91991
Jiaying Maki looks really confused and asks, "Giant fans? Like... otaku or are you talking a team?" she seems honestly confused. She then shakes her head, glances to Miho and says, "Yeah I'm not saying he's bad, just meant more that I don't see him out and about that often. He's elusive. The other one that lives there helps out a lot more."

Crossing her arms then, she leans back, almost falls back, then rests on her hands instead. "Well, if you're that kind of unlucky... uh." She taps her fingers, "You've got my nummber already. Call me, maybe we can experiment with magic or something!"
Miho Kagami 2018-06-04 05:01:09 91992
Miho nods them. "Thank you, both of you," she says. She picks up her bike and helmet, then deposits the sandwich and cake in her bike-basket, along with the monitor-ofuda Hokuto was letting her borrow. "See you guys later."

She starts moving away from the trees, and she pauses as she sees the landscapers finishing their work on the crater. In spite of herself, she grins. Her exact train of thought, when she saw that light falling from the sky, had been that there were probably other magical girls already there, so that Miho herself would be redundant. A bit of an irony, really.

She bikes to the edge of the park, and then gets off her bike and gets out her phone. A few of her other friends, plus the ECFH phone number for good measure, receive a brief series of texts:

    >>> I have healing powers!

    >>> It seems I inherited a Life Blessing and a Death Curse from my great grandmother Miho Oujino

    >>> also the death curse can talk, sort of, and it's a jerk

A noticeable pause, and then:

    >>> i have absolutely no idea whether i want to be a magical girl