Author Topic: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars  (Read 12146 times)

Stuffman

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Re: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars
« Reply #30 on: December 02, 2013, 04:55:42 AM »
Quote
?Anyhow, this means that, well, don't be surprised if the young woman who shows up at your apartment acts a little oddly. She's trying to be in character. So don't be alarmed, it's just part of how our theatre company works.?

Oh my.

Also, Ruro, did you notice that YuugenMagan does indeed seem to have a humanoid form in the middle? Or did you just omit it because it was unclear?



It looks like a person in a robe and hakama with their arms folded into their sleeves, and a sweet-ass hairdo.

MatsuriSakuragi

Re: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars
« Reply #31 on: December 02, 2013, 12:31:22 PM »
It pleases me to see how much detail you can go into based on relatively little information and visuals given from the game to show how the characters' outfits look. As expected of Mari, I would suppose!

Also, I like how much confidence kannushi-san has in Mari-- he's so sure everything she's done is just right, and I can imagine that this would be quite a boost to her confidence :D

I look forward to seeing who this actress is who is going to pick up the outfits~

Excellent work! And congrats for completing NaNo on time once again, as well. <3

Alfred F. Jones

  • Estamos orgullosos del Batall?n Lincoln
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  • y de la lucha que hizo por Madrid
Re: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars
« Reply #32 on: December 12, 2013, 09:04:21 PM »
Okay, now that I'm not dying, back to writing this. Well, no, not writing yet, but I still have plenty of buffer between what's been posted publicly and the farthest I've gotten. But to make up for my absence, there is a nice chunk of bonus material at the end.

Also, Ruro, did you notice that YuugenMagan does indeed seem to have a humanoid form in the middle? Or did you just omit it because it was unclear?



It looks like a person in a robe and hakama with their arms folded into their sleeves, and a sweet-ass hairdo.
I did know about that before I wrote the chapter and looked it up while I was writing it, but ultimately I omitted it because I don't... I don't think it's got solid enough evidence. I think those lines are coincidental, and it really is just a mass of electricity in the center that only by chance, and by squinting and selectively removing some of the lines, looks like a person. But thank you for pointing it out, because I totally just realized I can make it an in-universe argument.

Anyway, on to the fic!



Chapter Eight

When Mari awoke, it didn't take long for her stomach to remind her that she hadn't fed it properly in a day's span.

?I am so sick of cereal,? she muttered as she headed into her shower. ?I'd rather eat something like pancakes.?

When she left the shower, she wrote down pancake mix on her grocery shopping list. It was already pretty lengthy. Cookies topped the list. She also had to buy apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, tortillas (wheat or maize, depending on what was available), chicken, fish (tilapia or salmon, either was nice), frozen shrimp, rice, cereal, stir fry mix, sliced bread, ham, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, mushrooms, assorted seasonings, and now pancake mix. And also other stuff, like soap (for both bathing and for washing dishes) and shampoo and so forth. She was sure she was forgetting a bunch of things, but there was no helping that. She had let her refrigerator run too close to empty for too long.

Thankfully she now had a working cart (two, in fact, now that she had wheels for her old one) and she could totally buy them all at once if she wanted.

She found some decent looking clothes that were not wrinkled because she was actually going outside today. Then she left some of the last bits of cereal on the windowsill for her avian spectators. She had actually woken up later than she expected, probably because her hands had been so tired, but they felt better now, along with her lowered stress levels from working. Not that she didn't relish every moment of it, but it was still factual that she stressed herself out when working and sewing like a woman possessed the way she had been this entire past week.

She read from one of the anxiety management books she always had around her apartment while she waited for her hair to dry, then she combed and brushed it and threw on a headband because she was feeling too lazy to put on anything else. Plus, her fingers didn't ache anymore the way they had yesterday, but they still felt a bit stiff.

Mari headed out. It was just about nine in the morning. Once again, she ignored the perpetual question of what she would do if the elevator stopped or ran out of air, and headed out of the building.

Akihiko was there, and he was crumbling up a cookie and kneeling down to toss it to the pigeons, crows, and magpies that seemed to be always hanging out at her apartment. She stopped and stared for a moment.

Okay, she knew for a FACT that those birds got plenty to eat. And those cookies would be so much more appreciated by HER. Sigh.

He seemed to notice her after a moment. ?Saihoshi-san! Good morning. How are you feeling??

?A little sore,? she said, brushing her hair back. Oops. She had forgotten to take off the bandages. Ah well. ?I was working really hard this week, so I guess it was sort of inevitable. How about you, Habara-san??

?Tired. I stayed up helping my little brother with his history homework last night.? Akihiko laughed. ?I confess, I'm also a little hungry because I rushed my breakfast.?

?Really? I am too. But that's because I ran out of food in my apartment, ahahah.?

Akihiko laughed at first, but then he stopped. ?Wait, seriously??

?Ahahaha. Yeah...?

?Are you gonna go shopping soon??

?Y-yeah. I wrote down a grocery list, but I figured that I would just go to the supermarket later.?

?If you want, you can grab it now and we can go together. I don't have anything to do today either. That is, if you want to go with me.?

?N-no, sure, I would appreciate the company,? she said, shaking her head. ?I just figured that we would be hanging out and all...?

?Yeah, but running out of food is a serious issue,? he said, his face completely serious. ?You have to be well fed, Saihoshi-san!?

?A-all right, I-- I'm sorry?? She laughed, hoping it didn't sound as awkward as it did to her. ?I'll be right back, then, I just have to go get my cart and the shopping list...?

?I can wait here.?

Mari left Akihiko there, then, as she went back up to her apartment. She felt somewhat embarrassed. It was sort of silly to combine a shopping trip with a day out with a friend, was not it? Still, if he insisted... and if she was completely honest with herself, she preferred the idea of going into a crowded supermarket with someone she knew by her side rather than by herself.

While she was up here, she also grabbed a package of the small valerian root capsules she had bought. She hadn't found much use of them as of late, having been happy as a clam in her room alone over the past week, but if she stressed out while she was outside, she would need them. She threw that along with her shopping list and some money into her small backpack, and pulled it onto her back and went back downstairs, taking her cart with her. She took the stairs this time. She had had enough of the elevator and its treachery for today.

Thankfully the stairs were carpeted so the thudding of the cart didn't make a sound. The last floor's stairs were not carpeted, so she carried it for that part.

As before, Akihiko was waiting outside. He nodded when he saw her come back out, this time with her folding shopping cart. ?So we're going shopping at one point. After we get something to eat, anyway.?

?I was going to ask about exactly that,? she said as she came up to his side. ?Do you have any recommendations for a good breakfast??

He put a finger on his chin. ?What do you think of miso soup with rice??

?Well...? She frowned. ?I do not dislike it, don't get me wrong, but I was hoping for something with more... er,  substance for breakfast.?

?You too, huh? All right, how about this western-style restaurant I know? I know it has waffles.?

Mari's eyes widened. ?Yes. Absolutely. Definitely. Let's go. Lead the way.?

?I see you like waffles,? he laughed as they set off.

?Maybe a little.? She let herself fantasize a little as she walked a little behind him since she didn't know where they were going. ?They're glorious. Along with pancakes. And cookies. Mmmm.?

?You'll be pleased. This place also sells oversized cookies.?

It was like she had died and gone to heaven.

-----

Akihiko laughed as she shoveled in a crepe in one mouthful.

?Man, I had no idea you were this hungry.?

She waited until she had chewed it all, swigged some chocolate milk, and then jabbed her fork at his plate, accusing. ?Well, look at you!?

?It is perfectly reasonable for me to get five waffles and eat them all at once. I'm a growing boy,? he said in a perfect deadpan.

She was going to object with ?no, you are not, you're twenty-one? but then she realized she could totally make another joke at him instead.

?Mmm, I guess you're right,? she said as she cut a pancake with her fork and knife, raising her eyebrow at him from the side. ?You are only five years old, after all.?

Akihiko nearly choked. ?H-hey! That was not fair at all!?

?Yes it was,? she said, snickering as she glanced to the side.

?It was clever,? he admitted, sticking out his lip. ?But still, that was a low blow.?

?I don't care. I'll joke about it forever.?

?Hey!? He looked at her with such an exaggeration of despair that Mari nearly snorted on her milk. Thankfully she got it away from her just in time, or else she would have totally ended up snorting up chocolate milk.

?Shh,? Akihiko whispered. ?I think we're being too loud.?

Mari glanced to their side to see other guests trying to hide that they were looking over at them with looks of disapproval. ?Ahahah. Sorry, Habara-san.?

?It's okay,? he laughed a bit, settling back down. ?So, you got seven outfits done in five days? Damn, that takes some serious skill.?

?It was fine,? she said, taking a breath as she settled down in turn. ?I've had worse rush jobs before. WAY worse rush jobs.?

?You sewed when you lived back in, uh, Lima too, right??

She nodded. ?More than once. I got frenzied mothers and fathers whose precious baby had ruined her dress before the party that night, or was suddenly deciding to get a completely different colour, or whatever, and they didn't want excuses, they wanted me to sew them another one right now, this very day, and by the way could I have it done by five o' clock this afternoon, yeah we know it's noon and you are literally in the middle of eating lunch with your sister, but we need it by five so she can have it in time for her boyfriend to pick her up in his rented stretch limo??

Akihiko winced. ?Wait, really??

?Oh yeah.? She shook her head. ?Isabel isn't even very good at sewing, and she still learned a thing or two about sewing on ribbons because there was just no way I could do it all myself in such a short amount of time. And I don't even mean, like, a simple hip pleated skirt or anything, they wanted a full ball gown, like the sort of thing you'd wear to prom or to a major event.? She sighed deeply. ?Those were the worst.?

?And you still sewed it for them?? He sounded impressed.

?Yeah. Well... Isabel tried to argue me out of it sometimes, but, well, honestly, I just feel kinda bad that I can't work outside the house because of my anxiety, so I didn't like to turn down jobs, y'know? I saved a lot of that money to move here later, but the rest of my earnings went to my parents, to pay the bills and all.? She shrugged. ?Of course, since they were rush jobs and those parents were desperate, I did totally get to charge them a lot. And they couldn't exactly object, because if they wanted a custom job, then they were just going to have to put up with it.?

?What I don't understand is why they wouldn't just, like, go to a department store and buy a new one,? he said, eating an orange slice.

?A lot of these people were rich. See, my dad works as a professor at the university, so he was pretty well connected and for some reason I could never quite fathom, a lot of rich people ended up getting my number for my dressmaking service.? She shook her head. ?Well, they were rich alumni types, but I still don't quite know how that worked out. Anyway, they didn't want cheap department dresses, they wanted custom ones. Status and all.?

?I see,? he nodded as he bit into his five waffles (cut into small triangles). ?But still, why not, like, buy a simple one quickly, and then take it to you to make adjustments and stuff??

?My best guess is that they were really stressed out and didn't think to do that.? She shrugged. ?But they seemed pretty insistent that I make it for the most part.?

?That's because you're probably amazing at making them,? he said, nodding.

?You haven't even seen any of the clothing I've made,? she replied, shaking her head.

?But you did mention earlier that you've been sewing since you were a little kid, right? You've been practicing for, like, fifteen years. How could you be bad at doing something you've been doing for that long??

?Well, I don't think I'm the greatest in the world, but I will admit that I'm... decent.? She looked down. It was okay to say that she was actually a really good seamstress in the privacy of her own room, but accepting compliments was just... ahhhh. It made her face burn with embarrassment and pleasure to hear that.

Akihiko was smiling. ?I wouldn't mind seeing the things you design someday.?

?Heh... maybe I'll show you one of them someday.? She couldn't keep a smile off her face. ?But yeah, that's why I haven't actually been outside since I saw you.?

?Well, it's good that you're getting out now. Everyone needs fresh air. Though...?

?Hm?? Mari looked up from her strawberry-covered pancakes.

?Did you have any place you wanted to go other than the supermarket??

?Not really. I only came outside today because you said you wanted to hang out.? Mari shrugged. ?Otherwise, I probably would have just gone there, bought everything I needed, gone back home and stayed there.? She paused. ?Though, I guess....?

?Hm?? He blinked, a mouthful of waffle preventing him from doing much else.

?I think I'd like to go to the library,? she said after a moment, looking up from her own pancakes. Huh. He had light brown eyes. She had never noticed that before. ?I have kind of wanted to go for a few weeks now, but...? She felt her palms get sweaty just remembering. ?The first time I went, there was a crowd of students walking around in front of it and I just couldn't deal, you understand? And then I couldn't work up the nerve to go back again.? Her head sagged on her shoulders. ?Which is silly, I know, since libraries are quiet and perfect for someone like me to hide in...?

?No, don't even worry about it,? Akihiko said after he swallowed his mouthful and chased it with a swig of orange juice. ?Of course I would be fine with going to the library with you.?

Mari brightened. ?T-thank you, Habara-san.?

?Which reminds me, I was meaning to tell you this today,? he began, tugging at his shirt collar. ?'Habara-san' makes me feel like you're talking to my mother or something. You can call me Akihiko-san if you like.?

Mari blinked. ?But... calling someone by their first name, in Japanese culture, is meant to indicate emotional closeness...?

?Sure is,? he said, reaching across the table and punching her lightly in the shoulder and winking. ?And you're my friend, right??

The young woman blinked again, then a smile spread across her face. ?Y-yes!?

He put his hand on his face as he leaned on his elbow. ?You know, you're a really weird Japanese person, when it comes down to it.?

Mari winced.

?No, I don't mean like that,? he said, sitting back up. ?It's just that... how did you end up coming back here? I-I mean, I... I was kind of curious, y'know? Since you said you were half Japanese and half Peruvian. Why did your parents leave in the first place? If you... are comfortable answering that, anyway. You can ignore me.?

?No, it's fine, I understand.? Mari scratched the side of her head. ?I suppose that question was inevitable.? She set her fork and knife down. ?Well, I think... I can't be certain, but I am pretty sure my great-grandparents came to Peru around the turn of the century. Well, it would have been my father. The first immigrants back in those days were all male. The ones that came over on the Sakura Maru were, anyway. I know that the later immigrant ships did bring women with them.?

?What were their names?? Akihiko asked.

?I.... don't rightfully know.? Mari laughed awkwardly. ?I... you see, it gets kind of fuzzy really quickly. My parents didn't have, like, any ancestral records with them, and they never talked to me about even their parents, much less their grandparents. I'm just guessing from some small items and a newspaper from 1903 I found stashed away in one of the boxes I got from the basement.?

?That's... really weird,? her companion replied, chewing thoughtfully on a piece of Mari's pancakes he stole. ?That your parents wouldn't tell you about your heritage, I mean. It could mean...?

?No, I considered that they might have been fugitives from the law. They were not, as far as I can tell.? Mari shook her head. ?The Japanese-Peruvian community center in Lima actually has records of this kind of thing, to help those people like me who are looking to trace their ancestry. I looked through all the passenger lists of the ships that came over, and I couldn't find anyone who was named Saihoshi.? She sighed. ?My guess is actually that my parents came up with the name themselves. They were those kinds of people.?

Akihiko thought she was done talking, but then he distinctly heard Mari mutter, ?damn hippies.?

?Hippies? What??

?No, I'm serious,? she said, scowling. ?Both of them, in fact, always traveling and leaving me alone in the town I grew up. Well, my dad would, but my mom was also kind of unconcerned. They were, like, free love types and everything. They had kind of a shaky grasp of parenting in general.? She put her chin on her hands. ?It's actually completely in character for them to have just invented my last name. Which would explain the likely grammar error in it, actually. Anyway, I have no idea which one of those original immigrants could have possibly been my great grandparents.?

?I... see.? Akihiko shook his head. ?What did they do? Like, for a living. Jobs.?

?My mother was a seamstress,? Mari replied with a nod. ?She taught me how to sew after she realized I had an aptitude for it. And my father was a rancher.?

Her friend raised an eyebrow. ?And then he became a professor? Not bad.?

?No, he never became a professor. He's still a rancher, I guess.?

Akihiko frowned. ?But didn't you say earlier that your father was a professor??

?Ah...? Mari looked to the side. ?Yeah, that's my other father I was talking about.?

He blinked.

?He's... your father is bisexual??

?Eh?? Mari turned her head back towards him. ?Oh. No, he's not, I was actually just, uh... how to explain this...? She laughed nervously, again. ?No, I have two sets of parents. I'm adopted. I guess.?

?You do? You are?? Akihiko had a look of surprise on his face.

Mari facepalmed slowly. ?This got way more complicated than I expected it to get.? She sighed and put her arm down.

?Okay, so. What happened is that both of my parents by blood are each half-Japanese. So with me, it's more like one fourth Japanese, one fourth Peruvian, one fourth Japanese, one fourth Peruvian. Half and half, for short. And my mother was a seamstress and my father was a rancher. I grew up in a small town in the Andes, actually. But when I was seven years old, my parents, uh...?

She fell silent for a long moment.

?They died?? Akihiko asked, moving his plate aside and taking his hands in hers. ?I'm so sorry for your loss, Mari-san.?

Mari rolled her eyes. ?No, that would make too much sense for them. Instead, they basically just left.? She shook her head. ?Damn hippies. Apparently they wanted to travel together, and they, uh, left me behind.?

?... eh?? Akihiko had a look of confusion on his face again.

?Yeah. Really. See what I mean by irresponsible?? Mari sighed. ?You can let go of my hands, by the way.?

?Sorry about that.? He let go of her hands and scratched his face.

Mari's mouth twitched in a smile. ?It's okay. But what happened after that was, apparently my mother asked one of her friends to take me in, and she did. So that's the family I've grown up with.?

?All right. So they were Japanese too??

?No, they were not Japanese. Are not Japanese.? Mari chuckled. ?My adoptive father, if we're calling him that, is Spanish. His name is Enrique Almanza. His family fled Spain when Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator, took over after the Spanish Civil War. A lot of Spaniards fled the country and came to Latin America, from Mexico to Chile. His family came to Peru, where he was born, raised, and married a Peruvian woman. That's my mother. Her name is Ana Amasifuen. They had one daughter of their own, and that's my sister. Isabel Almanza Amasifuen. I am pretty sure Amasifuen is, like, Quechua or something, since my mother has a Quechua grandmother.?

Akihiko's eyes were blank.

?Um, I apologize. I forgot that you do not know a whole lot about Spanish-speaking America.? Mari giggled. ?But yeah, that's how I ended up in that family.?

?I'm sorry, it was just a little hard to follow.? Akihiko put one finger tip on the table. ?So, just to make sure I have this all straightened out in my head... you're half Japanese, half Peruvian, since your parents were both half Japanese, half Peruvian. But they left, and you got adopted into a family that was Spanish and Peruvian, not Japanese Peruvian.?

?You've got it,? Mari confirmed with a nod.

?So.... your full name is... what?? Akihiko asked. ?You would have taken their last name, right??

?Yeah, once we got the legal paperwork all sorted out. I guess my name is... oh, right, I've never told you my full name, have I??

Akihiko shook his head.

?Well, when they were adopting me, they asked me if I wanted to keep my Japanese last name and I said yes. So I became Maria Soledad Saihoshi de Almanza. Or Marisol for short, which is what my sister and my parents call me. Or Mari, which is even shorter.?

?Wow... that is a long name for a Japanese person.?

She rolled her eyes at him. ?It's not that long. I was studying Kabuki theatre recently and apparently one of the best kabuki playwrights ever was named Chikamatsu Monzaemon. And that's without any other last names or middle names.?

?Okay, maybe some Japanese names can get long. But still!?

She chuckled. ?Anyway, I just grew up in that family, but when I got older I started to get more and more curious about Japan.? She scratched her chin. ?I was not exactly raised speaking Japanese or particularly immersed in my own culture, you know? So I wanted to learn more. I also really wanted to make cute clothes, and some people at the community center were talking about recent Japanese fashion and how maybe the designs I make would find a niche here. With help from the community center, I managed to scrounge together enough documentation to prove my Japanese ancestry and got a long-term visa for about three years, and that is why I am here now.?

?So how did you learn Japanese, then?? Akihiko asked.

?Took classes at the community center.    I was pretty good at hiragana and of course katakana, but kanji is like a trial by fire and glass and LEGO bricks underfoot.?

?Yes, that is pretty much what everyone raised in the school system here says too, so you've got that much in common with me,? he said with a chuckle.

?Okay, now that I answered all those questions about my family, it's only fair that I get to ask about yours,? Mari said, pointing at Akihiko with a stirring spoon. ?And if you won't talk, then we have ways of making you talk, Mr. Bond.?

He laughed, raising his palms. ?No, no, you don't have to force me.? He cut into the last bits of waffle he had left on his plate. ?The story of my family, huh... well, I think it's less colourful than yours, by a long shot.?

?Your family is all Japanese, I'm guessing,? Mari said.

?No, actually,? he said, glancing up from his plate. ?I know my father was Thai.?

She had been meaning to ask about his father, actually. She had noticed the conspicuous absence of a father whenever he talked about his family. She was already willing to bet he was dead. ?Wait, 'was'??

?Yeah. From what my mother tells me, it was just a fling when she was younger. When she had her job as a secretary, like I told you about last week.?

Mari nodded.

?Anyway, he was just here for a few months as a foreign student studying here at one of the universities. From what my mom said, it really was just a fling, a college relationship that both of them figured would just end when he went back, and that was fine with the both of them. He learned Japanese and programming from her, and he taught her how to play the piano.?

She found herself somewhat amused and charmed by the idea of Akihiko's parents practicing Japanese while playing music together. ?So what happened then??

?Well, he went back at the end of his last semester and they went their separate ways, but then it turned out that she was pregnant with me. When she tried to contact him, it turned out that when she called, the only people who answered the phone didn't speak any Japanese and she didn't speak enough Thai to find out if he was there, so that was no good. And then he had to go and do his mandatory military service for two years, which Thailand requires of all male citizens, so his home address wouldn't reach him and she didn't want to write a letter to him and have his parents learn about it, or have them just throw it away because they couldn't read Japanese.?

?So why not just wait two years?? Mari asked.

?Well, she did, but by that time she had lost the paper he had given her with his phone number and address on it,? Akihiko said, shrugging. ?It happens. She was busy with me, after all.?

?So he's out there somewhere??

?Yeah, I guess so. I don't really care about him one way or the other. I guess it was just bad luck all around, but it doesn't seem like my dad intentionally walked out on my mom or anything, so much as it seems that they just fell out of touch.? He scratched the back of his head. ?I don't hate him or anything, I just don't care. I have no connection with him.?

?Fair enough,? she replied. ?And your brother? I guess he doesn't have the same father.?

?My mother got married a couple of years later, yeah. I was already, like, seven years old when my mom was dating him, and then they had Masahiko. Oh, and I guess I should mention that his father was Japanese.?

Mari nodded.

?They got divorced a couple of years later because he got promoted at work, so he kept going on business trips and they barely saw each other anymore. They just figured that they'd both be happier if they tried to find relationships that their schedules could actually accommodate. Again, they didn't hate each other or anything.?

?Unfortunate, though,? she replied. ?People who get along that well even though it doesn't work out in the end make me kind of sad to think about.?

?Yeah, Masahiko didn't take it all that well when he was younger,? Akihiko said, shaking his head. ?But, eventually...?

?Time heals all wounds, and all that, I suppose,? Mari said with a sigh. ?So, is that how your family is now??

?Huh? Oh, yeah, I guess. It's just me, my mother, and my brother now, and she hasn't been seeing anyone. I don't think she would be against getting married a second time, but she hasn't found anyone yet.?

?Your mother sounds pretty cool, I have to say,? she said, eating a strawberry. ?Everything I've heard about her impresses me.?

Akihiko smiled. ?She's amazing! I love her. You should meet her someday. I'd take you to meet her today, but she's out with her friends again.?

Mari smiled. ?I don't think I'd mind waiting to meet someone like her.?

He swallowed his last bit of waffle. ?So, are we done here??

?I think so,? Mari said. ?Let's split the bill.?

?Sure, that sounds fair,? Akihiko agreed. ?So, we're off to the grocery store and then at some point to the library. Wait... we should probably head to the library first.?

Mari nodded. ?Yeah, that sounds about right. I don't want to end up going to the library after the grocery store and have to wheel in a cart full of food and cans and stuff.?

They paid separately for their breakfasts and headed out, with Mari talking about the sewing project she had just completed and Akihiko talking about med school and the upcoming summer festivals, like old friends catching up with each other.

-----

Alfred F. Jones

  • Estamos orgullosos del Batall?n Lincoln
  • *
  • y de la lucha que hizo por Madrid
Re: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars
« Reply #33 on: December 12, 2013, 09:10:17 PM »
A few hours later, Mari returned to her apartment, none the worse for wear. The day had been quite productive, having gone grocery shopping, to the library, and without coming close to a panic attack again. It was pretty close to idyllic. She knew that for other people it was such a small thing to be able to walk down the sidewalk seeing a crowd up ahead and not panic. She had always known that. It was something that had long made her jealous of her sister Isabel. But she would settle for holding on just a bit tighter to the arm of the person she was walking with, pinching their shirt to make sure they were in arm's reach. She was also grateful that Akihiko didn't hold it against her or even point it out, because that would have been really embarrassing.

But for now, she was back and she could relax.

Or maybe not. The mail slot had had something for her today. It was Isabel's letter back. She had already gotten a letter back from her parents, but not from Isabel, and she generally held off writing replies until she had both of them in her hands.

After putting away all the things she had bought in the refrigerator, on her table, in the bathroom, and her desk, she sat down to read the letter. A quick knife was all she needed to open it up. It was in Spanish, of course. Mari, however, experimented with reading it to herself in Japanese, to practice.

A mi querida hermana Marisol,

   As I write this, there is a small group of economics majors in the otherwise quiet campus library about eight tables away from me, talking very loudly about how unfair it would be for the super rich to get taxed more, how they can't believe they have to share the same campus and facilities with women's studies majors, how worthless liberal arts majors are in general, how intoxicated they are planning to get over the upcoming summer break, how many girls they plan to have sex with while vacationing in Ibiza and Formentera, and how this major class assignment they can't figure out how to do and haven't touched in two weeks is due in half an hour. I hope they all fail horribly.

   Anyway, moving on...

   Life is rocking as usual. And by that I mean that it's full of suffering. Ow ow ow. My homework load these days is absolutely brutal. The guy who teaches my mathematics class teaches mathematics as if it were for physics majors and not a bunch of liberal arts majors. I have a major project in his class that I'm totally putting off until the last week and I don't even feel guilty. (okay, fine, I promise I've been working on it since he gave it to us. This class makes me so mad, but I'm never going to let a class I hate give me less than an A, just to be spiteful.)

   But the rest of my classes are going swimmingly. Death and Concepts of the Afterlife is ridiculously interesting, since we just got to reincarnation throughout the world (turns out Hindus are not the only ones who do it! There are a bunch of native American peoples in, like, Alaska and the Russian Far East who believe in it, and also a few west African religions. Neat, huh?) Mythology club is also really fun. Last weekend we had a symposium of ancient erotic poetry of Rome and it makes me laugh how similar people everywhere, through all time, are. Also, I should mention that I've been trying to read more east Asian mythology to the club, so that when I go visit you in Japan, I can identify all the various mythological beasties there are there, ahahah. And of course my literature of Spain and Colonial Latin America classes are going great, as before.

   Of course, what's really been occupying my mind is the upcoming trip to Cantabria. Remember the cave paintings up in Altamira? The advisor finally decided to let us go visit for the summer break! No excavating, unfortunately, but we will get to assist the group of researchers who are already working up there if we want, and of course I totally want to. I am so excited I can barely contain it!

   I am totally not overworking myself, while we're at it! I promise I've been getting at least five hours of sleep every night. I can't guarantee any more. But who needs more than that when there are ancient texts to be deciphering, am I right? (More like essays for mediocre teachers to be writing...)

   I'm really sad to hear that your panic attacks have been continuing. Have you been reading the books I sent you? Should I send another one? But ugh, I know that I could send you a library's worth of anxiety management guides and they still wouldn't make your attacks go away. I really wish I was there for you right now, but I can't be. God damn it. You asked me when I can come home for the summer, but I don't think I'll be able to, unfortunately. The two weeks of the trip to Cantabria overlap with the summer semester. At least, I don't think I'll be able to go to Lima for the first half. If you come to Lima after July, though, then maybe I'll be able to come, but I'm not completely certain. You see, some of the friends I have made here want to head up north to Andorra, Marseilles, head up to Paris for a bit, then finally spend the rest of the summer in one of their houses in S?te, and they're inviting me to come. I'm really tempted to go, since I've always wanted to travel through the rest of Europe. But if you come home, I will too. Just say the word. I really want to see Paris, but I want to see you more. Please, I promise.

   And wow, that definitely sounds a lot like a fairy tale. Is he offering you any pomegranates to eat? Don't eat the pomegranates. Or anything a witch who lives in a house made of gingerbread and candy offers you. It's a bad idea, I promise. But no, seriously, how has that turned out? It sounds way too good to be true. What's the name of his theatre company? Maybe I can look him up, since we have internet here at university and our own server. Speaking of, you should get an email address if you can. I'm sure they can help you with that at the library where you are! Then I can email you rather than having to send you letters all the time. International postage isn't that expensive at first, but it adds up, you know? I could eat, like, so much cookies and cream gelato with all the cents I've had to spend on postage. Have some compassion!

   And geez, Marisol, stop saying you're sorry so much. You already do that enough in real life and now you have to do it in your writing too? If you don't have the energy to keep up with the news or with TV anime, then you don't. That's not something to feel sorry about. If anything, it just gives me an excuse to catch you up when we do see each other again!

   I hope things get better for you sooner rather than later. I'm always thinking about you. It's what sisters do, you know? I miss you dearly. I love you so much. Take care of yourself. I look forward to when we can see each other again in person.

   Extra??ndote mucho,
   Isabel


Mari sniffed as she put the letter down. Isabel always found time in her packed schedule to write the most affectionate letters for her. She would have to think about her response for tomorrow.

But for now, she deserved a break. Just because she was able to go out and about as long as she had a friend with her now, didn't mean that being outside didn't stress her out quite a bit. Though, she had enjoyed herself a lot today, so it was an okay tradeoff.

Thinking about it... she had never had agoraphobia before she had moved to Lima to live with her new family. It was hard to have panic attacks set off by crowds in small sleepy mountain villages.

Maybe if her parents had stayed, she could have lived her whole life there, free of her worries and anxieties.

But then again, she would have never met Isabel either.

It was an impossible tradeoff to make. Both of them had their good points. The idea of being able to live her entire life quietly with her parents in peace had undeniable appeal to her. But then again, she enjoyed life with her adoptive mother and father, and Isabel's teasing blowing of breath on her ear whenever whey were having fun together, which had been often.

It was a meaningless hypothetical, but one she indulged in for about five minutes, thinking of all the ways things might have turned out differently. And in the end, that's what she thought would be the final outcome of it. Not better or worse than her present situation. Just different.

But then her stomach growled.

Right. She had new VHSes on her TV set to watch, pomegranate aloe vera juice to drink, and delicious shortbread cookies to devour. She sat back up.

Tonight, she was going to relax. But first...

Mari went over to her kitchen area, opened up a cupboard, opened the bag of sliced bread, and pulled out three slices. Putting that back, she opened up the windowsill that she had closed on her way out earlier. The magpies in the tree right in front of her window (along with a few odd crows) turned to look at her.

“For you,” she said, leaving the bread on the sill for them to eat. “Thanks for everything.”

The birds had their feast, and she spent the rest of the night with the first of three videos in a twelve-part series  of an NHK documentary, this time about the Silk Road, and enjoyed it immensely.

Even if it was honestly kind of a simple happiness, to be eating cookies alone in a simple apartment in front of a TV while watching a documentary with gorgeous music, in that moment, Mari wouldn't have traded this life for any other. This was the life she had ended up having, and she was... well... she was not miserable, and she was not ecstatic either.

But right here, in this moment, she was content. And she was okay with that.

------

End of Chapter Eight

This chapter sure had a lot of HISTORY. Allow me to pretend I am a docent volunteer at a museum again and talk about it!

First off, there's something going on with Mari and Isabel's names, which I noticed earlier in November:

[19:49] <Sakura-Rurouni> I just realized
[19:49] <Hanna-Justina-Matseille> hm?
[19:49] <Sakura-Rurouni> I have literally been writing a story in which Mary and Elizabeth are sisters and... like each other a lot
[19:49] <Sakura-Rurouni> oh my god
[19:49] <Sakura-Rurouni> I didn't even notice it until the Tudor historian part of my head pointed it out
[19:50] <Hanna-Justina-Matseille> oh wow ahahahah

then when I got around to writing the actual chapter just above:

[2013-11-22 23:37:14] * Sakura-Rurouni gives Isabel's parents' names the same names as Elizabeth Tudor's parents, Henry and Anne as Enrique and Ana.
[2013-11-22 23:37:34] <Sakura-Rurouni> the initial name choice was a total coincidence, but I am so going to run with it.

I actually do not know if Amasifuen is Quechua or one of the other various indigenous languages of Peru. I only have personal experience with Nahuatl and Maya.

The bit about Spaniards (mostly Republicans, but really everyone who didn't like the idea of far-right Falangist psychos shooting their families) escaping General Francisco Franco's Spain and fleeing to the length and breadth of southern America is true to real life. In fact, they fled in such numbers that by 1944, the Mexican delegation to the United Nations was packed with Mexican Spaniards who were hellbent on making sure that Fascist Spain would be scorned in the UN, for good reason.
(Mind, this wasn't necessarily the case with the major governments of Latin America: Mexico supported Team Republican, while Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru supported the Nationalists, which is to say, Franco. But even so, thousands of individual Spaniards decided to get the hell outta dodge over the course of Franco's dictatorship, and went to those countries.) My source for this tidbit is in Nicholas Best's book Five Days That Shocked the World: Eyewitness Accounts from Europe at the End of World War II, which is a really great book to read if you don't want to be able to sleep at night for a week without agonizing about how that war ended.

Mari also talks about ship manifestos, in regards to immigration to Peru. This is also true to real life. For anyone who is a history-loving loser like me, you can read more about the ships that brought Japanese immigrants to southern America (particularly Brazil) here:
http://fylatinamericanhistory.tumblr.com/tagged/japan the entire tag, really, since it's pretty short. You gon' learn a thing today.
http://web.archive.org/web/20010507072741/http://www.nykline.co.jp/english/seascope/200007/index.htm and specifically for Peru.
There is also much sunshine and rainbows available here: http://www.wfu.edu/history/StudentWork/AsiaPacificWar/asia-pacific-alexis/background.htm Did you know that Peru also interned its Japanese population during the Second World War? This is a student's project, so there are sources to go with it at the end.
And yes, there really is at least one community organization for Japanese-Peruvians in Peru, which Kerigis told me about since he actually lives there and I asked him for help on this entire fic some time ago: http://www.apj.org.pe/ They do exist in real life, but I have never been there, so obviously liberties have been taken.

As for erotic poetry at symposiums, I invite you to feast your eyes on some impressively filthy Roman poetry: http://www.well.com/~aquarius/martial.htm
And no mention of explicit ancient Roman poetry is complete without a mention of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catullus_16
The text of these last two links are not even remotely safe for work.

Iced Fairy

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Re: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars
« Reply #34 on: December 13, 2013, 10:54:37 PM »
Some theories up in flames, others confirmed, others forming.  I was certain there'd be more corpses in the backstories Ruro.  You fooled me!   :V

An interesting look at Mari and Akihiko's relevant pasts, and their growing interaction.  Kinda curious how it will play out alongside her new job.

And her array of feathered friends keeps growing.  I hope she doesn't break into song there.  Singing to birds around sewing equipment leads to dangerous things.

nintendonut888

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Re: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars
« Reply #35 on: December 16, 2013, 07:17:48 PM »
Damn hippies.

I was considering just leaving the post there, but that was an interesting chapter. I always love the detail you put into your character's backstories and the nerdy amount of history you insert into your writing. It's fun to see Mari happy, and my only worry is that her creator may soon yank her chain.

Spoiler:
Maybe with some possibly insane method actors...?!
nintendonut888: Hey Baity. I beat the high score for Sanae B hard on the score.dat you sent me. X3
Baity: For a moment, I thought you broke 1.1billion. Upon looking at my score.dat, I can assume that you destroyed the score that is my failed (first!) 1cc attempt on my first day of playing. Congratulations.

[19:42] <Sapz> I think that's the only time I've ever seen a suicide bullet shoot its own suicide bullet

Alfred F. Jones

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Re: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars
« Reply #36 on: January 20, 2014, 02:25:10 AM »
No, I really am continuing with this, I promise. I've just been busy volunteering my otherwise NEET time at my local elementary school.
This chapter was very fun to write. Some theories will be dashed, others affirmed, and yet others left waiting!



Chapter Nine

It was afternoon in Mari's apartment, and the young woman lay on her bed, staring up at the ceiling, slowly peeling off the last bandage she had had to put on her fingers.

It was really strange to her to just not do anything all day. Especially coming off a week where she had worked so hard without breaks or stopping. But so it was.

But she had been a responsible adult already and she was still reaping the benefits, so there really was not a whole lot to do. She had been told not to worry about the remaining characters: Yuugen Magan, Kikuri, Sariel's second form, and Shingyoku's orb form. She had put finishing touches on all the other outfits she had sewn, since she had done them so quickly that she didn't get to put on as many flourishes as she had wanted. Now she had, and they looked perfect. So that was work.

She had also gone shopping for everything she needed in terms of food and apartment maintenance. Then she had cleaned and vacuumed and swept her apartment, and swept up all the bread crumbs the birds in her windowsill always left.

She was now running somewhat low on money, which worried her to an extent. She had been eating into her savings this entire time, after all. She had worked very hard back in Lima to get ready for this trip for over a year and a half, tailoring and sewing and resizing everything for as many people as she could reach, and had come to Japan with a surprisingly hefty nest egg. But now... well, she was not scraping the bottom of the barrel just yet, but she'd have to restrict her spending money more than usual. Her rent was still a-okay, but she'd just have to be more careful from now on. Maybe she could get a job here teaching people how to sew, or repairing clothes on the fly...

Since Akihiko was working today, she also didn't have a good conversation partner. She was fairly certain she could at least spend her day going to the library, and that she would be fine walking that far on her own, but she honestly felt kind of uninterested in doing much today.

What she had done, though, was write her response letter to Isabel. Next to her sister, her words were not nearly as flowery, but she hoped she had done a good enough job.

   Dear Isabel,

   I hope this letter finds you in good health.

   I am glad to hear you are enjoying your time at college, annoying econ majors aside. Every time you write to me, I swear I hear something new and interesting about your life there. Hearing about your workload, though, makes me happy that I only ever bothered with an associate's degree and not a bachelor's, and you're going for your master's. My homework load was never nearly as bad as yours seems to be.

   That said, I can read between the lines of what you wrote and you're overworking yourself again, aren't you? Seriously, you need to relax more. Please try to get six hours of sleep on average, for my sake if not for your own. I want to make sure my sister does not sleep through her classes or gets drowsy while walking through crowded intersections.

   And yes, I remember the cave paintings up in Altamira you talked to me about. Prehistoric cave paintings... you know history isn't my thing if it doesn't involve fashionable clothing, but that does sound sort of interesting, I guess... I hope you thoroughly enjoy yourself there up in Cantabria, though. :)

   I have been reading all the books you sent me, but, yes, you have it. I tend to think it's more of a body chemistry issue than anything, so I have been keeping a good diet for the most part. Your books really have helped, though! I have been trying to slowly change the way I think about my anxiety, and the books you've sent me have given me a lot of good tips in that regard. It really helps that I have finally made a friend here.


Mari smiled while writing the next bit.

   Have I told you about him yet? No, I haven't! So let me tell you about him right now. His name is Akihiko Habara (and that name is in given name, family name order, so his last name is Habara) and he is a med student, but right now he is working in the post office. I ran into him when I was in a really bad situation, and he helped me out. He is very kind, and I think you would like him if you met him. He has helped me get out of my apartment and go grocery shopping and to the pharmacy and to the crafts store.

   Oh! Speaking of the crafts store... yes, that theatre thing seems to have worked out quite well! I went to the crafts store about a week ago to buy up a bunch of fabric for sewing costumes for his play together. Do not worry, I didn't spend any of my own money; he sent me all the money I would need for it beforehand, and it worked out just fine. The only thing I have really had to spend is my time. I really hope everything on their side works out, because as I understand it, I am going to get paid as a percentage based on the total income from the play, so I hope plenty of people come. Oh, and in response to your question, he is the producer, manager, and playwright for a newly formed group, the Shanghai Alice Theatre Company. I know you said you could probably look him up online, but since it is a new group, I'm not sure you'll find much... Anyway, even if it does not work out in the end for whatever reason, I had a lot of fun.

   As for coming home for the summer months...


Mari had had to pause while writing this line, and laid down on her bed to think for a while before returning to her desk to write the rest of the sentence.

   ... I'm still not sure. I strongly doubt it, though. If this doesn't work out in the end, then I think I would at least like to spend the summer here, burning through the rest of my previously paid rent before going back to Lima, and I don't want to bother with spending money on a plane ticket to come home for two weeks, come back here, and then return home for good after a month. I still have two months of rent, after all. So yeah, definitely go have fun in France with your friends for the summer! And take lots of photos. And bring me a souvenir from there. France is the fashion capital of the world, so I am actually sort of envious of you going there, hahaha.

   I finally was able to get a library card when I visited the library here with my friend Akihiko, so hopefully I will be able to get myself an email address of some sort. I have never had one before, so no guarantees... but I will try, so you can email me things!

   And, uh, sorry I say sorry so often. Um... sorry. (Maybe I should just stop here.) (Sorry.)

   Thank you for thinking about me. I have definitely been thinking of you too. If this theatre thing does not work out in the end and I do not find another job before my prepaid rent ends, I might not even be all that sad because at least I will be able to come home to Peru, and you can visit home at the end of the year. :)

   I can't wait to see you again. I miss you very much.

   Love, your sister,
   Mari


Satisfied with that letter, she wrote a truncated version of the same letter to her parents, and for once she was able to leave in the anxiety related portions of it, because it was in the context of them finally easing a little. She did mention getting the valerian root, to further reassure them, though it was now too late to add that sentence to her letter to Isabel. (In the end, however, she went back and added it in as a postscript. Isabel deserved to know, so she could feel less worried about her sister.) She left in Akihiko, as well. She worried that her parents would think of their relationship as romantic somehow and then start encouraging her to go out with him, so she emphasized the platonic nature of their friendship a bit more than in her letter to Isabel. She was not interested in romance, not ever, and neither was Isabel at the moment, and she figured her sister would understand anyway.

She also made sure to mention that she was going to try and get a psychiatrist's appointment soon, to get a diagnosis or to show them her preexisting diagnosis of agoraphobia and get a prescription so she could get it from the pharmacy. Just in case. Though, because she had spent so much time indoors as of late, she didn't feel especially stressed out. But she did have to be careful, because what if she had to leave the safety of her solitary apartment for something in a crowded area and Akihiko was not available to provide support? Yes, better to get the medication and have it around and not use it than to not have it and desperately need it.

She also told them that she wouldn't be coming home for the summer, because she would be spending that here, enjoying what would potentially be her last months in Japan.

Now doubly satisfied, she folded and sealed both letters into envelopes that already had addresses written on them. She would try to walk them to the post office tomorrow.

She felt a faint shiver go up her back at the prospect of going out to that place again, since the last time she had gone...

No, no, she was not going to let her mind fixate on the idea that she would just have another panic attack if she went. She had read about this in the self-help books. She had to change how she thought of her agoraphobia and anxiety to overcome it. Indeed, she had to believe it could be dealt with and overcome in the first place. And she was determined to do it.

Just then, though, she heard a sound that she hadn't heard in a while, and was not expecting at all.

The buzzer for her apartment number.

Mari actually stared in stunned silence for a moment after the first buzz, unmoving. Then the anxiety tickled her spine and she swallowed hard. She hadn't ordered any pizza today, so why...

She waited until the third buzz to work up the nerve to press the button.

?H-hello?? Her voice was shaky. How embarrassing, to think of yourself as finally confidently moving past your issues and then have a reminder that she was still a pathetic anxious mess of a human being delivered to her front doorstep...

?Yo! Sis, you gonna let me in??

?S-sis?? Who in the world was this? That was not Isabel's voice... ?Eh? Who are you and are you sure you have the right apartment number??

?Apartment 49? Saihoshi Mari-san??

?Y-yes, that is... that's me. Do I know you?? At least now she was more confused than afraid.

?Eh, I thought you knew I was coming? I was sent here by, uh... the head priest.?

Head priest? Mari didn't know any.... oh!

?Oh, you are the... t-the person who said-- who the kannushi said--? She stammered, fell over her words before stopping for a moment to untangle her tongue. ?Y-yeah, you've got the right place! Come on up.? She hit the button to admit someone up through the front door.

Mari looked around at her room. It was not especially dirty, and looked presentable already. She did throw away the banana peel from the banana she had been eating earlier, and threw her dirty dishes into the sink. She would get around to them later, but right now she just wanted to get them out of the way so her visitor wouldn't see them.

She was straightening out the covers on her bed (slightly wrinkled by her lying and sitting on it) when she heard a knock on her door.

Right, this was the person the kannushi had told her would be coming by. One of the actresses from the Shanghai Alice theatre troupe, sent to pick up the outfits she had made.

She peered through the small peep hole in the door to see who it was. The person was turned away, but she had.... huh. Long red hair, braided, under a black newsboy cap? How very Anne of Green Gables...

Mari opened the door. ?Good afternoon.?

The person turned around to see her, and then raised a hand in greeting. ?Yo!?

She was somewhat taken aback by the person's... demeanor. The person's hair colour. Oh, forget it. She was taken aback by the person's everything.

Speaking of... she looked down.

She recognized that outfit.

?H-hello. Are you here for the costumes?? she forced herself to ask before she could fixate on the dress that person was wearing.

?Sure am, sis!? The actress held out a hand. Mari looked down at it, and noticed how long the woman's fingernails were. And how... sharp.

?Kaenbyou Rin's my name,? the woman with long braided red hair and nails that looked like claws said with a smile.

?Saihoshi Mari,? she introduced herself. ?Please, come right on in.? She opened the door a bit more, to accommodate her guest walking in past her.

Alfred F. Jones

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Re: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars
« Reply #37 on: January 20, 2014, 02:27:44 AM »
?Thank you, thank you-- whoa there!? The woman, Rin, had been nodding with approval as she walked in past Mari, but then she had turned to her left and seen the half of Mari's apartment where the mannequins were standing.

?Those are the costumes, yes,? Mari said behind Rin, smiling and feeling somewhat proud of herself for surprising her guest like this. ?Five out of seven of them, in any event.?

?They're fantastic!? Rin said, moving forward. She reached out and touched the silvery wing insignia on the front of Sariel's robe. ?You made these all yourself??

?In one week, yes,? Mari replied, relishing how amazed Rin's facial expression looked while looking the mannequins up and down. ?And that's not the only thing I've made.?

?Hm?? Rin turned her head to look at her. ?What else did you make??

Mari nodded towards her.

?That dress is one of mine, isn't it??

?What should I do with the bag of clothes? I guess I can't send that by the regular post.?

She froze, remembering. ?O-oh....?

?Would you like to come by and pick them up??

Her arms started to feel cold again.

?N-nnn....? Her apartment suddenly started to feel less cozy, more empty.

?Or could I hold on to them for a bit longer? I hope you don't mind, but I did look around in the bag before I found your card, and I found a few really cute clothes in there I was thinking I would love to use for some performances-- not this one, but maybe later.?

?Y-yes!? She sat up in her chair. ?That sounds excellent, kannushi-san. Please feel free.?


Rin blinked, then tugged at her dress. ?You made this??

?Sure did. About two weeks ago, I lost a bag of sample clothes I had brought with me to an idol agency to try and get them to sign me on as one of their designers. The... the head priest found it, and I asked him to hold on to it for me, and he said that he would love to use some of the clothes he found in there for other performances.? Mari smiled. ?I'm glad it suits your look.?

That was evidently the right thing to say, because Rin immediately turned on her excited mode.

?You made this? Thank you so much! I had been looking for something to wear that was stylish and kind of on the dark side, elegant enough to blend into more serious situations, and I couldn't find anything until I found this dress at the... at the set! Thank you!?

Mari was somewhat surprised by how pleased Rin looked, but inside she was bubbling with happiness at being praised. She concealed the blush on her cheeks by glancing to the side. ?But your cute look is not just me. Your accessories work great too. Like the black ribbons on your braids.?

Rin tugged at her long red braids. ?I tried to get ribbons that would suit the look...?

Mari peered closer. It looked like there were little skulls on the ribbons, in the center. She was a little surprised at how this girl had taken her dark green dress and turned it into... some kind of gothic lolita style, even if she hadn't gone all out with ribbons and frills. She had given it a very macabre look, and while she was mildly creeped out by it, she was definitely appreciative of the creativity involved.

Still, she couldn't help but be curious. What was the point of the long nails? And the fangs that showed whenever Rin smiled. Were those fake Dracula-style fangs? Her hair was red, but Rin didn't look like she was anything but Japanese, nor did her words falter like Mari's occasionally did. Dyed, probably. And the almost cat-like pupils? Contacts. She was definitely impressed by the commitment to her look. Then again, they were all method actresses, were not they? Still, it was somewhat offputting to be in the same room like this with someone who had such a serious dedication to her craft that she wore it in strangers' homes.

Mari had drifted off. Bringing her attention back to the present, she found Rin standing at her windowsill, observing the birds who seemed to be completely lacking in fear. Indeed, the magpies and crows just cooed at her.

?You feed the birds?? Rin asked, turning her head towards Mari.

?Y-yes, I do,? she replied, scratching her head. ?How could you tell??

?There are bread crumbs everywhere. You bring them bread, then.?

Mari nodded again. ?I do. They are... sort of my cheerleading squad, ahahaha. So I return the favour by bringing them nice things to eat.?

Rin nodded, a smirk on her face.

Mari turned red again, feeling embarrassment and anxiety like butterflies in her stomach. ?I-is that weird? Or...?

?No, no, not at all! In fact, I approve.? Rin even reached out and touched one of the birds, a crow, and patted its back. ?Anyone who's a friend of crows is a friend of mine.?

?O-oh.? Mari flushed with embarrassment, but the good kind, this time. ?Truth be told, I like magpies just a tiny bit more than crows, but I love crows a lot. They like to cheer me on.?

Rin smiled. ?All right, I guess I'll be taking the costumes to the, er, theatre now,? she said, walking back towards the mannequins.

?Indeed. I can't take them myself, so...? Mari trailed off.

The redhead turned to look at her. ?Why? Oh, is it because the theatre is kinda far? I can understand that.?

?That, and, well.? Mari looked down. ?I, er... do... badly in crowds.? She held her hands together in front of her. She paused before continuing. ?I hope I didn't inconvenience you too much by having the kannushi send you out here...?

?Naw, that's fine,? Rin replied in her oddly casual style. ?I was going to be in the area anyway. I had some other stuff t' pick up. No worries.?

?That is a relief,? Mari said, releasing a breath. ?I really wanted to bring them to the theatre myself, because I wanted to make sure everything fit absolutely perfectly. But I... I can't do that.? She held her left arm with her right, sighing. ?But I am glad you came. Do make sure to tell me if I need to make any adjustments or refitting with the outfits, as well. It's not like I've seen the, er... characters who will be wearing these.?

She very nearly said ?actresses?, but then she thought it would be insulting their commitment to suggest that they were not quite the characters they were supposed to be portraying. For that matter, she didn't know what character Rin was, exactly. There was no one like her in the description for The Highly Responsive to Prayers, so... was she from another play they were putting on at the theatre, perhaps? Yeah, that made sense.

Rin seemed to be thinking. ?Adjustments?? she asked after a moment.

?Yeah. Just in case the act-- er... Sariel is too tall for the robes I made for her, or if Reimu is more heavy set than I expected, or something like that. I want everything to fit perfectly, but I won't be able to actually go and see in person, so I'm relying on the kannushi to tell me if I need to change anything.?

The red-haired girl fiddled with her fingers.

?Is that... only for these costumes here??

Mari got the strangest feeling that she knew what Rin was getting at.

?No. In fact, since I sewed that dress, I'd be glad to help you adjust that one.? She smiled when Rin jerked her head up in surprise. ?There's something wrong with it, isn't there??

?Y-yeah...? Rin played with the bell on the front of the dress collar. Mari blinked. She hadn't even noticed the bell, on a red ribbon she had tied around the neck. It was like a bell that you'd put on a cat to hear it coming. ?It's a bit too tight.?

?Tight where? Around the waist, or hips, or arms?? Mari was actually totally fine with the prospect of adjusting a dress that she was getting good free publicity with. They were costumes after all. She would, however, have to bring it up later to the kannushi, that she would have to be compensated for the use of her other outfits in the bag that he rescued that day.

?Around the... bust.? Rin scratched her cheek.

Mari laughed. ?All right then, I would certainly be willing to adjust in that case. Do you want to adjust it now, or would you like to wait until later? I can adjust it now, if you want, but you would have to give me about a half hour to do so.?

Rin was already nodding when Mari continued. ?And you would have to take the dress off.?

The red-haired young woman blushed a little. ?I don't mind that, but can I have something else to wear in the meanwhile? It's kind of cold in here.?

?Certainly. And it's, like, 18 degrees celsius in here, how is that cold??

Rin shrugged. ?I guess I'm used to somewhat warmer temperatures.?

Huh. Was Rin from a tropical country? Or maybe she was from the south of Japan. Anyway, she nodded towards her bathroom. ?You're welcome to any of my clothes in my closet if you want, but if you want to be nice and warm, you can always take my bathrobe that's hanging in the bathroom. I never actually use it, so it should be clean.?

?That's fine,? Rin said, adjusting her cap. ?Hold on a moment, then.?

Mari wondered why she was wearing it indoors, as Rin walked over to her bathroom and closed the door.

After about a minute, the red-haired woman inside opened the door a crack. ?Here you go.? She held out the black-green dress she had been wearing. Mari took it from her hand and the door closed again. A few seconds later, Rin emerged in a light pink bath robe, tying it together at the waist.

?So you said it was too tight around the bust?? Mari asked as she took the dress over to her bed. She slung it over her shoulder as she knelt and pulled out her sewing box from beneath the bed.

?Yeah. Not by much, mind, but enough to be somewhat uncomfortable,? Rin replied.

?How loose do you want it??

?Not very much. Like, enough to accommodate someone who's a bit, er...? The red-haired girl coughed. ?Bigger, up here. But still kinda tight.?

Mari sighed. ?Kaenbyou-san, I apologize if I sound a bit harsh...?

?Eh?? Rin asked, blinking at her as Mari turned around with a large sewing needle in her hand.

?But I refuse to be embarrassed about a person's sizes if they have come to me for help. Please, tell me honestly, what is your bust size and how wide do you want me to make the adjustments??

Internally, Mari sighed. This always happened. Why did people get so flustered about their own bodies and measurements? She would never understand this.

The redhead stammered, looking down. ?I-I, um....?

Mari could be patient. The needle was really just for show, after all.

?I, er.... don't.... know my bust size??

Her face was scarlet. Mari, on the other hand, just blinked.

?Oh. Well, it's a little unusual, but I guess there's nothing wrong with that, inherently.?

?Eh?? Rin looked up to meet her gaze.

?I do occasionally run into clients who are not completely sure of all their sizes. Taking new measurements isn't especially hard, however.? Mari put the needle back into a random spool of black thread, and pulled a measuring tape out of her sewing basket instead. ?May I??

?Ah, yeah... I guess.? Rin shrugged the bathrobe off her shoulders, wearing only a black brassiere underneath.

?Please don't be shy. This is my job, after all,? Mari said, pulling the tape out. ?I've done this many times before.?

Rin nodded as Mari wound the tape around her torso. ?Still, it's kind of embarrassing, to be down to lingerie in a stranger's apartment.?

Mari shrugged. ?If I had a proper shop and had a sign outside the door saying 'tailoring and refitting available, walk-ins accepted', would that make you feel better? It's not a big difference.? She held the end of the tape close to Rin's side. ?Is that comfortable? Too tight, or too loose??

?It's fine,? Rin replied. ?I think I'd like the dress to be just a bit looser than that.?

Mari released the measuring tape. ?All right, I can do that. I'll just have to use some black cloth under the armpits to hide the adjustments... since I don't have the original fabric I made that from anymore.?

Rin nodded. ?Understandable. Um... can I put the bathrobe back on, sis??

?Of course.? Mari was already working out in her head where she would have to pull the fabric forward a bit, and what seams to undo. Thankfully, the dress was dark, so the black would be unnoticeable. ?Also, if you like, you can go ahead and start folding up the costumes I made. I need one of the mannequins so I can fix your dress, anyway.?

?Ah! Yeah, I'll do that,? Rin said, moving behind female form Shingyoku's costume and unbuttoning it from the back.

?You can also take off your black hat if you like,? Mari commented. It did seem a little weird to see her wearing that along with a bathrobe.

?Nah, it's fine.? Rin moved her hand up, adjusting it on her head. ?I like this hat.?

Mari shrugged. Rin returned her attention to unbuttoning female form Shingyoku's costume down the back,  then pulled it off the mannequin. ?Huh, it's lighter than I expected.?

?Yeah. It's designed in the style of kabuki theatre, so it's easy to pull right off and reveal the next costume underneath.? Mari smiled, pulling at one of the many small knots along the sides. ?See? They come right undone.?

?Wow!? Rin exclaimed. ?That's really neat, sis!?

Mari blushed a little, feeling happy butterflies in her stomach. She loved it when other people noticed the tiny details. ?A-anyway, if you want to fold those up, be my guest. Konngara and Reimu Hakurei's outfits are already folded up, right over there,? she said, pointing at the two costumes folded neatly on the floor, at the bottom of Mima's outfit's mannequin. ?And this shouldn't take me more than a half hour. An adjustment like this is no big deal for me.?

Rin nodded and went to do that, slowly pulling them off their mannequins and folding them. Meanwhile, Mari threw Rin's dress, one of her earlier designs, onto one of them to hold it in place while she began to undo some seams and adjust others. The mechanics of it were already all worked out in her head.

Rin finished folding them while Mari was cutting away at some seams using a very small but very sharp knife, to cut only the threads she had used to sew up the sides. Mari was concentrating hard, so she didn't really take note of Rin, who was polite enough to stay quiet. Out of the corner of her eye, she didn't notice that the red-haired woman sat down next to the windowsill on Mari's desk chair, petting the magpies and crows.

She had actually rather enjoyed making this dress, now that Mari saw it up close and personal again. It had been one of her first forays into a darker aesthetic, and she was very pleased that Rin had selected this dress for exactly that reason. The red ribbons around the collar and at the wrists, though, she hadn't thought of herself. Those were Rin's own flourishes, accents on the outfit. She wished she had been the one to think of them, because they made the entire outfit look great, especially with her flaming red hair.

Come to think of it, though... Mari paused in the middle of her work. This was a great opportunity to find out something that she had never gotten a clear answer on.

She stuck the needle and pin that she had previously been holding in her mouth into her sleeve instead, and plucked up the nerve to strike a conversation. ?Kaenbyou-san,? she said.

The red-haired woman seemed to jump a little. Had she somehow come off as scary to her? Or was she just startled after being distracted? ?Yeah??

?Where exactly is the theatre? The theatre where Shanghai Alice performs, I mean.?

?You don't know where it is??

?No, I am afraid I do not. I have been told it is somewhat far from here, but that is all I know of its location.?

?Ah. Well, you know where the market district is??

Mari's heart began to sink. ?Yes.?

?It's in that direction. It's on the exact opposite side of town from where we are now, actually.?

Mari had only been in that part of town once or twice, on the bus and by train. She was not familiar with it at all, and apparently if she wanted to cross on foot it would take her through the busiest, most crowded area of the city.

Fantastic.

?All right. I was just... wondering, I guess.?

Mari sighed and went back to her work. If Rin noticed her disappointment, she didn't comment on it, which Mari was grateful for.

It didn't take her much longer to finish. She had gotten much faster at sewing over the past week, now that she had shaken off her rustiness with the big project she had done. She sewed up the shoulders back into place, and covered any small holes that would have been left by her pulling out the fabric at the shoulders and under the ampits with black fabric, also sewn in with green thread to resemble the original pattern she had used.

?Kaenbyou-san,? she began again, turning towards her. ?All right, I think I'm done. Would you like to try it on and make sure??

?Sure would, sis!? Rin smiled as Mari pulled the dress off her mannequin and handed it to her. Rin went to the bathroom with it in her hand, and less than a minute later emerged with the slightly refitted dress, stretching out her arms.

?It fits like a dream!? the red-haired woman exclaimed. ?It's not tight around my chest anymore. Thank you very much.?

?You are quite welcome,? Mari replied with a smile. ?Though I only have two questions now.?

?Oh? Shoot away, sis,? Rin said as she went back to her chair to pick up the outfits.

?Question one. How did you get all the way over here from the theatre? I'm curious, since I'm wondering how to get over there myself someday. To watch the performances, you know??

?Oh, you should definitely come watch,? the redhead said with a fanged smile. ?And I actually came over here on my bicycle.?

?Bicycle?? Mari blinked.

?Well, it's not really a bicycle,? Rin said, walking towards the door. ?It's got a wooden cart attached to the back of it. I was already in the area to pick up some other things, like I said, so I have the cart with me. And a cloth bag in there to carry groceries, but I'm gonna put the clothes in there instead today.?

?Ah. And here I thought you were going to stuff them into a backpack, like I tend to do with my things,? Mari said as she opened the door for her guest.

?No way! I wouldn't like them to get all wrinkled.? Rin winked as she walked past Mari, flashing her a V sign. ?Leave it to me! I'll make sure everything gets safely there.?

Mari smiled. ?I am grateful for the reassurance. Oh, and the second thing I wanted to ask about,? she said as she closed the door behind them and walked with Rin into the elevator.

?Huh? Go ahead,? Rin said as the doors closed on them.

In the small closeness of the elevator, Mari asked her question.

?Why were there so many small little burn marks on your dress??

Rin seemed to freeze up. Mari pretended not to notice, and instead kept on going.

?There were all sorts of little singes all over the fabric. Like... exactly the kind that you would find if burning ash were in the area, wafting around.?

Rin was staring ahead, determined not to make eye contact, apparently. Mari leaned forward a bit and forced her to see her eyes, and spoke in a low monotone voice.

?Just where exactly have you been taking the dress I made that you borrowed, Kaenbyou-san??

Alfred F. Jones

  • Estamos orgullosos del Batall?n Lincoln
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  • y de la lucha que hizo por Madrid
Re: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars
« Reply #38 on: January 20, 2014, 02:38:01 AM »
Rin couldn't escape Mari. Not in here, not for two more floors down. And for once, Mari was thinking in the elevator about something other than if it was going to run out of air. She was thinking of the work she had put into the dress, and how Rin didn't seem to notice it.

“I-I, ummm....” Rin couldn't meet her eyes, and looked up instead, at the corner of the elevator cabin as if that held the answer she sought. “I... tend to wear this dress a lot to work...”

“And where do you work?” Mari asked, narrowing her own eyes. Even she was really surprised at how she was acting and how naturally this was all coming to her, but no one damaged her beloved dresses like that with no good explanation. “A furnace? A coal shoveler?”

Rin swallowed.

“I work in, ah... a... close to what you said, actually.”

Mari noted that they had reached the bottom floor now. She had one second to force out a good answer.

“A... crematorium, I guess you could call it.”

--oh. Well, that... was an explanation that made sense.

“A crematorium,” Mari repeated, deadpanning. This time it was not intentionally freaking Rin out. She was distracted by the idea of someone wearing a nice dress like hers to work throwing dead bodies into fires.

“Y-yeah! It's not.... I know it's not your usual kinda job, but yeah! And, well, I wear this dress because... it looks kinda dark, doesn't it? P-people always appreciate it when funeral workers look as somber as they are.”

“... I see.”

And the door finally dinged open. Rin practically leaped out of the elevator and out to the front doors that led to the street. Mari followed her.

Right outside her apartment, Mari watched as Rin unlocked the small chain that held her bicycle in place. Indeed, it was not actually a bicycle; it was more of a... not a tricycle... but whatever you called a bike with a cart in the back to hold things. She was impressed by how big it was and yet how Rin apparently managed to drive it down these streets.

“That looks sort of heavy,” Mari commented as Rin was putting the clothes away into a cloth sack.

“W-what does?” The red-haired woman asked, still looking sort of nervous.

“The big old cart you have there. And the, uh...” Mari peered closer. There was a long box in the back covered with cloth of its own. Was it a... coffin? “... cargo,” she said, trying to be as tasteful and vague as possible.

“I guess... but, you know, I'm in pretty good shape,” Rin said, flexing her bicep through the dress with a wink, laughing a little too loudly.

“I suppose you'd have to be. Say, I think I have a third question,” Mari said, taking another step closer.

Rin seemed to shrink back a little. “Y-yeah, sis?”

“Is the acting thing... er, I mean... I'm sorry to have you break character like this, but your character works in a crematorium, then? Or do you work in a crematorium, and act for fun?”

The redhead blinked.

“N-no, I really do work in a crematorium.”

“As a character?”

“... yeah. I do.”

“Ah...” Mari nodded. “Then I can't say I'm happy about the singe marks, but I am pleased by your dedication to the craft. If you do end up burning it at some point, though, I'd be more than glad to sew another one if you commission me.”

Rin gave her an awkward smile. “I'm sorry I burned it a little, sis. I'll take better care of it.”

Mari heaved an exaggerated deep sigh. “That is... really all I wanted to hear, Kaenbyou-san. Thank you very much for everything.”

“You take your outfits very seriously!” The redhead replied with a smile as she put one hand on her bike's handlebars. “No worries, sis, I totally understand. And thanks for adjusting my dress.”

The black-haired seamstress nodded and stepped back, seeing that Rin was ready to leave. “You're welcome. Drive safe, Kaenbyou-san. Or, er... bike safe. Yeah.”

“Thank you much! Hope ta see you around, sis.” Rin waved as she hopped onto her bike and began to ride away.

Mari waited until she rode out of sight, then she walked down two blocks to pick up new videos to watch, since she was already out here. And also a sleeve of cookies. Always cookies. She tossed two of them onto the ground for the crows and ravens that hung out near the entrance. Then she went back upstairs to her apartment and gave bread to the magpies and ravens on her sill.

“So what did you think of her?” Mari asked, sitting down as they pecked at the bread.

They responded with cooing. She patted one of the magpies' heads. She was so happy they were comfortable with her presence. They were adorable. They had also been comfortable with Rin's presence, too, which had been surprising and nice.

“She did get along with you guys,” she said aloud, “and she was... kind of weird. But nice in the end.” She nodded to herself. “Though, I probably should have asked while I had the chance, but I got distracted by the singeing...”

Mari touched the seat she was sitting on, and between her fingers, she pinched some hairs that were too short to be from her head, and too dark to be from Rin's red braids.

“Just why did the inside of her dress have so much cat hair?”



End of Chapter Eight

Rin is just a really big cat lady, Mari, don't even worry about it.

Anyway, some end of chapter bonuses, to make up for the delay in updating!

Name: Mari Saihoshi
Full name: Maria Soledad Saihoshi de Almanza
J: Saihoshi Marisol, 祭星 マリソル
Age: 20
Birthday: 7 April 1976 (Aries)
Blood Type: A
Height / Weight: 157cm (5'2”), 55kg
Function: Pro seamstress

Name: Isabel Almanza
Full name: Isabel Amasifuen Almanza
A: sometimes she writes her name “Isabel Almanza” in Arabic as ألمانز إيزابيل  to screw with people, because she wanted an intimidating-looking way to write her name along with her sister
Age: 20
Birthday: 25 December 1976 (Sagittarius)
Blood Type: O
Height / Weight: 172cm (5'6”), 58kg
Function: Super university level archaeologist (in training), general know-it-all

Name: Akihiko Habara
Full name: Akihiko Habara. Asavasopon was his father's last name, but he was not around to give it to him.
J: Habara Akihiko, 刃薔薇 明彦
Age: 21
Birthday: 29 February 1976 (Aquarius)
Blood Type: B
Height / Weight: 180cm (5'9”), 80kg
Function: Basketballer, postal worker, med student

Akihiko's last name having that specific kanji for Habara is a short little tale all to itself because I could NOT think of a good family name for him and eventually just decided to take the name from the writers of one of my favourite films, Hula Girls:

[20:37] <Sakura-Rurouni> Right I need a last name for this dweeb too
[20:39] <Sakura-Rurouni> gah I hate creating characters
[20:39] <Nadeshiko-Matsuri> what's a fun word that goes with suffering
[20:40] <Sakura-Rurouni> I dunno, I don't think "Meguca" is a valid Japanese last name
[20:43] * Sakura-Rurouni looks up some Japanese films she enjoys to see cast lists
[20:44] <Sakura-Rurouni> "Habara" sounds good as a surname, let's go with that
[20:44] * Nadeshiko-Matsuri is looking up words for pain and suffering
[20:44] <Nadeshiko-Matsuri> none of these sound appealing
[20:45] <Nadeshiko-Matsuri> oh
[20:45] <Nadeshiko-Matsuri> so I typed in habara and looked up some of the kanji options
[20:45] <Nadeshiko-Matsuri> http://i.imgur.com/hqLHpOW.png
[20:45] <Nadeshiko-Matsuri> that's so fucking metal
[20:46] <Sakura-Rurouni> wat
[20:46] <Sakura-Rurouni> okay hell yeah then
[20:46] <Sakura-Rurouni> I just stole the name from one of the writers of Hula Girls
[20:46] <Sakura-Rurouni> that was a good movie
[20:47] <Nadeshiko-Matsuri> :D
[20:48] <Sakura-Rurouni> that writer's name seems to have boring old kanji, but we'll give him "Blade Rose"
[20:48] <Sakura-Rurouni> because YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

Iced Fairy

  • So like if you try to hurt alkaza
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Re: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars
« Reply #39 on: January 20, 2014, 02:54:52 AM »
Kitty~!

*Iced moves far away enough from Orin to get back brain power*

An excellent chapter and an interesting but very well thought out choice.  Orin's got transit abilities, the skill to keep herself hidden, and several reasons to be wandering about the city.  The interplay was amusing as well.  Now the question is 'where from here?'

MatsuriSakuragi

Re: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars
« Reply #40 on: January 20, 2014, 03:02:12 AM »
Go on, Rin! Let her know where you've been, for real

I am amused at how Rin's been managing to hide her ears and tail so far without Mari noticing-- even after having to take her own dress off to be resized. (Which Mari is a total pro at of course :D) The cat hair though...

More importantly I can't wait to see Mari and Isabel interact because they seem like they love each other so much and they both have their own eccentricities and they're so supportive of one another and eeeeeeh it's gonna be great.

I'm really interested in seeing where this goes next! It's wonderful to see an update. Excellent work~ :D

nintendonut888

  • So those that live now, pledge on your fists and souls
  • Leave a sign of your life, no matter how small...
Re: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars
« Reply #41 on: January 20, 2014, 04:42:11 AM »
The mystery thickens! If these are actual Touhous though, I wonder just how many of them Kannushi-san has stashed in his theater trapdoor...

Anyway, another great read. I know I've probably said this before, but I always love your careful attention to detail and characterization. Every chapter it seems we see a different side of Mari. I love how one moment she is all terrified that a stranger is coming into her apartment, but the next she is like all business when it comes to asking body measurements.

Again, great chapter, and I hope to see more from you soon~
nintendonut888: Hey Baity. I beat the high score for Sanae B hard on the score.dat you sent me. X3
Baity: For a moment, I thought you broke 1.1billion. Upon looking at my score.dat, I can assume that you destroyed the score that is my failed (first!) 1cc attempt on my first day of playing. Congratulations.

[19:42] <Sapz> I think that's the only time I've ever seen a suicide bullet shoot its own suicide bullet

Alfred F. Jones

  • Estamos orgullosos del Batall?n Lincoln
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  • y de la lucha que hizo por Madrid
Re: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars
« Reply #42 on: February 16, 2014, 08:51:08 PM »
Not an update! I'm working on writing, promise, but mostly what I've been focusing on is drawing. My new years' resolution was to draw one new picture a week for an entire year, so back in week 3, I wondered, why not draw Marisol?

The flower in her hair is an actual legit flower, so feel free to try and figure out what it is. Hint: this is a lot easier to figure out if you are familiar with the pre-colonial history of the Americas.

Eventually I will get around to drawing Akihiko and Isabel, after writing more and drawing more, but for now, have some of Weave the Stars' perpetually nervous agoraphobic protagonist.

Alfred F. Jones

  • Estamos orgullosos del Batall?n Lincoln
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  • y de la lucha que hizo por Madrid
Re: [Nanowrimo] Weave the Stars
« Reply #43 on: November 01, 2015, 01:33:36 AM »
Watch this space! Weave the Stars will be returning this National Novel Writing Month. Here's to another 50k words!