Topic: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars (Complete)  (Read 23657 times)

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FinnKaenbyou

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Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars (Complete)
« on: August 09, 2010, 02:26:52 am »
Nearly twelve months ago, a young man sat down at a computer and wrote what was intended to be a short. He underestimated how long the story would be and how much detail would be involved, and accidentally produced his first OC. 20,000 words and roughly 2 weeks later, Third Eye in Pure Waters was concluded.

Embarrassingly, it is to date the only sizable piece he has ever finished. But perhaps because of this, the character he created remained memorable, likable to him. He worked on other projects and stories and practiced the art.

Now, twelve months later, the time has finally come to attempt to write a follow-up. Dolphin loli is back with a vengeance.

(Note: I intend to make it so that knowledge of TEiPW isn't necessary to figure out what's going on. There hopefully won't be any continuity issues, so don't be scared off due to lack of knowledge. :V)


-----

"Ugh."

It's a little-known fact that ghosts can, in fact, get tired. Manifesting in a form that can interact with the physical world takes more effort than most people give credit for, and it's not uncommon for ghosts to be caught napping after overexherting themselves.

Captain Murasa Minamitsu, self-appointed Event Handler of the Myouren Temple, knew this for a fact. She just didn't mention it for the sake of personal pride. So after a night where she'd had to keep the ship in check more than usual, she was starting to feel the effects.

"Stupid Hijiri and her festivals. I'm not her goddamn mother, so why do I end up having to keep these faithful followers from tearing shit apart?"

The most memorable event of the night for her had been one drunken partygoer convincing himself that Murasa's steering wheel was a sacred artifact and trying to yank it from its socket to take home as a memento. Murasa had given him a warning, but she may as well not have bothered - from the dull, glazed-over eyes, it would have taken a slap in the face to get a reaction from him.

So that's what she gave him.

Of course, Hijiri had given her a good talking-to for that. Sometimes she wished the woman would show genuine irritation than her whole 'I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed' deal.

Anyway, by now everything had just about returned to normal. Hijiri was off meditating in her room, while Shou and Nazrin were busy recuperating after the festivities (Shou had taken part in it mostly out of obligation, and Nazrin knew better than to let her master drink unattended). Ichirin had been the only member of the temple to avoid the party entirely, currently taking a quick stroll on the deck while murmuring to Unzan about...what did they talk about, anyway? Murasa had no idea.

What mattered was that nothing was needing done around here anymore. For the next few hours, at least, she was more or less off the hook.

Time to take a break, I'd say.


She didn't want to look like she was sleeping on the job - if Hijiri came in to check on her and found her lying on the floor snoring, she'd get another lukewarm rant. Instead, she decided to take advantage of the fact that comfort was hardly an issue for ghosts, and simply stayed standing next to the wheel in her quarters as she let herself recuperate.

"Zzz..."

She had snored while she was alive, and death had done nothing to change that habit. Her form leaned forward slightly, still affected by gravity. Her hand, still physical, pressed down on the wheel the tiniest nudge.

There was only a light whirring noise as the Palanquin Ship took flight for the first time in weeks.

-----

But while some of Gensokyo's residents were falling asleep, most of them were waking up along with the morning sun. Morning was always the best time to visit the foot of the Mountain of Youkai, because it was now that the light glistened off the surface of its lakes and rivers. Several times, the god of the shrine on the mountain's peak had been praised for doing such an excellent job of keeping the waters pure.

It was praise she responded to with a blank stare and a raised eyebrow, because she'd done nothing to help out on that front. Unbeknowst to her, the true mastermind behind the mountain's sparkling waters was a little-known and less thanked youkai, currently waking up along with the rest of Gensokyo.

Well, half-waking up. Dolphins don't ever stop thinking entirely.

Another great day, huh? Guess the mountain god's feeling generous.

Time to partake in her favourite morning pastime. This one would take a little bit of a run-up, so after quickly surfacing for her first breath of the morning she dove back down towards the centre of the lake.

Then, with an impressive burst of speed, she leapt above the surface of the water, hanging in the air for more time than most would have thought a sea creature capable of. Maybe she couldn't fly like all those other youkai, but this looked cooler in her opinion anyway. This was her best chance to look downward at the water itself, to see what her efforts had managed to produce, to see the perfectly clean waters of the mountain and give herself a pat on the back.

Whoops. Can't really do that with this little flipper, can I?


The dolphin pouted a little as it landed back in the lake with a mighty splash, a sound that served as a natural alarm clock to most of the youkai nearby (another reason why she only did this once before bolting away from the scene of the crime). She started to make her way down into one of the connected streams, starting her scouting duty in earnest.

Clean, clean, clean...huh, that doesn't feel right.


She didn't usually try to find out why the river had been dirtied or what it had been dirtied with. Neither mattered, and the latter usually mad her want to be slightly ill. Which would inevitably mean she would have to clean up after herself. The hypocrisy made her head spin when she thought about it too much.

Less thinking, more cleaning!


She'd need another clearance for this, so she dove down to the bottom of the river before leaping upwards again. This time, though, as she broke the surface she appeared to be something else entirely - where before there'd been a dolphin, now there was a teenage girl with a dark grey fin poking out of her back. Her long silver hair sent droplets of water flying in every direction as she looked down on the river again with dark blue eyes.

The girl's hand reached down to one of the two vials at her waist - just a matter of keeping it pure this time, so she reached for the vial filled with what looked like ordinary water. Its companion was for turning freshwater into saltwater and vice versa, so it never really saw any use, but one vial on its own looked awfully lonely.

"It's not that bad. Just a little drop oughta do it-!"

She hung in the air for just long enough to open the water vial, letting a single drop of its contest slip into the river. Physically, there didn't seem to be much of a change - but as she slipped beneath the water, taking on dolphin form once again, she could feel the difference. The flow of pure water had changed subtly, but undoubtedly for the better.

Heh. I owe myself two pats on the back now.

This, basically, was her morning routine - swim through the mountain's waters, find out where people are throwing their [insert awkward dirty object here], clean up, rinse and repeat. It was a thankless and unpaid job.

And quite frankly, Sango Tororetsu loved every minute of it.

-----

In fact, she loved it so much that she took no notice of the black dot in the distant sky. A dot that grew larger and more visible as time went on, but wavered and trembled against its blue background.

It was like it was being driven by someone who wasn't paying attention...someone sleepdriving, perhaps.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2010, 12:19:23 am by Roukanaya Maryam »
Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2010, 02:56:09 am »
the only thing that can make me happy from a lack of rising star is more sango.

Esifex

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2010, 04:15:12 am »
Little known fact - this takes place within the Rising Star universe, but, of course, after the conclusion (of that and UFO NURHUR I'M SO CLEVER)

Drake

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2010, 04:32:23 am »
Oh god yes.

A Colorful Calculating Creative and Cuddly Crafty Callipygous Clever Commander
- original art by Aiけん | ウサホリ -

Kasu

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2010, 01:26:53 pm »
Oh ho~  A sequel?

Apparently, Thomas the Tank Engine isn't one to take crap from anyone.

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2010, 11:01:40 pm »
"Um..."

It took Ichirin a few minutes to fully grasp what was happening. The temple had been firmly on the ground, when with a hiss and a whirr it lifted off once again into the skies of Gensokyo.

Not that this was surprising for the ship. It was technically wooden, yes, but a variety of charms and spells had powered its flight system. What was puzzling to Ichirin was that there was no reason for it to be in flight anymore; after Hijiri had escaped from Makai, the intention was for the group to settle down and live out life using the ship as a makeshift temple.

"Unzan, you didn't hear any plans about this, did you?"

The pink cloud at Ichirin's shoulder turned to face her, with the same stern look that always hung on its face.

I am as in the dark as you, I am afraid.

Ichirin bit her lip. Given that the rest of the ship was busy dealing with a night of festivities while she had slept, there would have been alcohol flying around. Had there been some sort of argument she'd missed? Was Murasa staging a one-man mutiny and holding the temple hostage?

"...I think we need to give the captain's quarters a visit, Unzan."

She decided not to rush on the way over - if this was all some misunderstanding, then she didn't want to barge in and look needlessly aggressive.

There was no need to rush, anyway. What could possibly go wrong?

-----

Well, that just about finishes up the morning rounds.

Most days, there wasn't much for Sango to do in terms of keeping things in order. Her scout of the mountain's lakes and rivers would take maybe an hour at most, and she'd only have to take care of a dozen or so impurities in one search. That was only thanks to her making the inspections like clockwork, though - things would build up quickly if she let off for a few days.

That left her with an awful lot of spare time, which she usually spent chasing around her fin-flaunting friends and talking about anything that came to mind. She wasn't really comfortable getting too far from the water - not because it'd do her any harm, but because in terms of the great power hierarchy of Gensokyo she was relatively low on the scale. She had one spellcard to her name, and it was a relatively weak one to boot. Even the local kappa could probably beat her in a duel without breaking a sweat.

So as a result, all the land-dwelling friends she had people that came, to her, rather than her going to them. Fortunately, saving someone's life is almost invariably a good way to start a friendship, and in that department Sango could certainly pull her weight. A strange coincidence had managed to guide two sisters of the same family to this lake, the one Sango called home, both leaping in without having a clue how to swim. On both occasions the dolphin had been around to save the day, and after giving them some pointers so they wouldn't end up in trouble again she made her first friends without gills.

Soon she met the family's pets and grew to be friends with them as well, though not without going through some dangerous times together. And Sango learned from them in turn - she'd come to accept that no-one was going to applaud her every success, and continued with her work simply because she loved it.

The days of thwarting demented scientists were long over, but the Komeiji sisters still visited on a regular basis. Satori, the elder sister, was much more routine in her visits - it would always be on the end of the week, arriving around noon, usually bringing her pets along as well. The younger sister, on the other hand-

"Heeeey! Sango-chaaaaaaan!"

Well, she had a habit of sneaking up on Sango when her guard was down. The dolphin flinched visibly as a voice called out from behind her, drawing her attention to the shore. Sure enough, Koishi Komeiji was waving at her with both hands like a desert island strandee calling for help. While her sister was more humble and calm, Koishi's emotions were on constant overflow, and you've have to be blind not to know what she was thinking at any given moment.

Sango dove back down into the lake for an instant, surfacing in her humanoid form. Dolphins were hardly masters of conversation, after all, and they weren't very good at pulling themselves out of the water. She emerged from the lake in her usual wear - a pale blue shirt with its sleeves covered in bubbles, and a light grey skirt that was soaked through (unsurprisingly).

It was this last piece of clothing that caught Koishi's attention, as it clungy tightly to Sango's legs. She squinted at it, barely managing to see through the fabric and catch a sight of her bare skin. She pulled her head down, looking for just the right angle to make out her pa-

"Where are you looking?"

Sango gave Koishi a much deserved karate-chop to the head, ending her perverse inspection of the dolphin. It hadn't hurt, but it was clear enough sign to cut it out, even for Koishi.

"Sorry, sorry. It's just that when you make it barely visible like that, there's this urge to look, y'know? It's like Pandora's box. Except, uh, with your underwear."

Sango's lip twisted into a look of confusion. Koishi seemed to have a thing for following whatever random urge made its way into her head. Satori had told her once that there was a long and ugly story behind it, so she'd never had the nerve to ask. Whatever it was, she seemed to be over it now, so no need to bring up an ugly past.

"...Moving on. What're you up to today? Last time I saw you you said you were going to visit the Celestials or something."

"Yeah, I went up to their heaven or whatever. Kinda dull, got bored fast, decided to come back here and get a dolphin ride."

A nervous pause.

"...What?"

"A dolphin ride! Y'know, like how little girls always wanna ride ponies, except with a dolphin! It's the sort of thing they'd make stories about outside the border, right?"

Sango's brain ground to a screeching halt. Where exactly did she even get that idea? It was nuts, it was absurd, it was...

"C'mon, pleeeeease? It'll be fun, honest!"

...exactly the sort of crazy idea she expected to hear from Koishi. Sango sighed, before pulling the bravest face she could.

"Well, alright. Never really done this before, so you'd better hold on tight. I'm pretty fast, if I do say so myself."

Sango stepped backwards into the water as Koishi let out a little squee of joy.

"Yaay! Thanks, Sango-chan!"

Koishi undressed in record time, placing her hat neatly on top of an otherwise disorganised pile. Beneath her layers of clothing was a simple, white swimsuit with her name written on the front in childish lettering. Sango raised an eyebrow.

"Uh...do you always wear that under your clothes?"

Koishi looked down, puzzled.

"Of course I do. What would I do if I had an impulse to go swimming and I wasn't wearing a swimsuit?"

Another few seconds of awkward silence. Sango dipped her head beneath the water so that Koishi wouldn't see her slam the palm of her hand into her face. Someone in the mind of Koishi Komeiji, a screw had come very loose. Maybe it had come out entirely. She was childish, immature, irresponsible.

But that was what made her so interesting.

When Sango surfaced again, she was back in dolphin form, ready to take on a new passenger. Koishi at least had the common sense to slowly step on rather than jumping on poor Sango, and the youkai was able to support her weight comfortably. Koishi sat on Sango's back, pointing into the distance with all the emphasis she could muster.

"Alright, Sango-chan, full speed ahead! Dolphin Rider Koishi, to the rescue!"

-----

"Murasa?"

Ichirin slowly opened the door to the captain's quarters, taking care not to step on any nerves. She knew Murasa hated these festivals, and the morning after was never a good time to try and talk to her. From the doorway, Ichirin could see her slumped over the wheel, making slight adjustments to the direction now and then. The ship shook slightly, never quite settling on one direction and making Ichirin feel a little queasy.

"Um. Sorry for interrupting, but I was wondering if you could explain why we've taken off?"

Silence.

"If it's a rough subject, feel free to take your time on it. I don't mind."

More silence. Murasa was giving her the cold shoulder. Ichirin felt slightly hurt - she hadn't done anything wrong, had she?

"I'll just wait until you feel like talking. It's okay, I don't have anything else to do."

Murasa didn't give her so much as a nod in response, continuing with her lazy steering. Ichirin counted the seconds she waited for a reply, growing irritated by the time she made it to thirty.

"Alright, this isn't really funny anymore. What's going o-"

It was that exact moment that Murasa turned the ship a completely different direction.

"Aah!"

Ichirin found herself slammed into the wall as the ship abruptly changed trajectory, Murasa's hands guiding the wheel with a sudden burst of grace. For a moment, Ichirin thought that the captain had seen some sense and was ready to land the ship.

Then she saw the viewpoint outside of Murasa's window, and that hope went firmly out the window.

"M-Murasa! What are you doing?!"

Unbeknownst to what she was doing, Captain Murasa Minamitsu continued to snore quietly, driving the ship onwards in her sleep.

She had spent her time among the dead causing shipwrecks. Now it looked like her subconscious was going to continue the trend.

Ichirin watched on, eyes wide open in shock, as a lake came closer and closer.

-----

"Whee!"

Koishi let out a cry of joy as Sango burst out of the water again, performing a little loop in the air. Koishi was clinging on for dear life by now, but from the sounds of things she was having the time of her life.

Sango wasn't having a bad time of it either. Even if she was just the trusty steed of the mighty Dolphin Rider Koishi, the hero who dedicated her life to defeating the Dark Crab King and thwarting his nefarious plots to rule the seas (seriously, where did she come up with this stuff?) it was exciting to play out nonetheless. Seeing Koishi smile so earnestly made her feel a little warm inside.

"Alright, Sango-chan! We've got to penetrate the King's underwater fortress! Let's go!"

Sango followed her cue, pointing her nose downward and sending both of them straight to the bottom of the lake. They prowled along the floor, searching for the Crab King's lair, set to pounce him while he was unprepared with the Super Iruka Beam. Only them would they recover the last of the seven Tidal Teardrops and bring peace to the waters on Gensokyo once more.

Yup. She's definitely crazy to come up with all this stuff. But it's kinda cool, in a way...

They passed by a cave on the lakebed in the midst of their search. Sango glanced at it for a moment, but quickly turned away from it. If that was the cave she thought it was, then it wasn't worth going in there.

She felt the weight on her back getting lighter.

!?

Looking backwards, Sango discovered that Koishi had abandoned her steed, heading on into the cave without her. All she got in response was a single wink from Koishi before she swam into the mouth of the cave, leaving her behind.

H-Hey! Wait! Don't go in there!

Sango had to make up for Koishi's head start, turning around and dashing into the cave behind her at full speed. It was an unstable place, prone to caving in at the slightest tremor, and that was why she'd tried to keep Koishi away from it.

But apparently, the girl had developed another one of her urges to see what was hidden inside. Maybe she was still playing out the game in her head, and treating this as the King's fortress. These were the times when Sango wished Koishi would display just a little common sense...

There she is!

Sango caught up with Koishi as they reached the end of the cave. All Koishi gave her was a shrug in response, but the playful look on her face said 'Curses, we've been had! It's a trap!"

This wasn't the time for games. Did Koishi even realise-

-----

"-how much trouble we'll be in if you crash!?"

Ichirin was shaking Murasa violently, trying to get her to pull up at the last minute. She'd had tried to do it herself, but the magic controlling the ship was designed so as to give Murasa - and only Murasa - power over it at all times. Unzan was doing all he could to help out, working his cloudy form into Murasa's ears and reaching in as far as he could.

The water was coming closer and closer now. At this speed there was no hope of the ship floating - it'd be on a crash course straight for the lakebed. That'd lead to all sorts of damage and flooding and...gah, it wasn't worth thinking about! Right now she had to get Murasa awake before things were too late!

"I didn't even know ghosts had to sleep! You and your stupid ego...!"

Closer, and closer still, until now all that Ichirin could see out of the window was a wall of blue. She would have taken the time to note that the water was brilliantly clean if she wasn't preoccupied by her attempts to avoid crashing into it.

"...Nnnh...yes, sir, I'll be in the mess hall in five..."

Murasa grumbled something as Ichirin's efforts finally paid off. The captain pulled her head upwards, rubbing her eyes as she squinted out the window.

"...Huh? Did I fall asleep at the wheel or something? The sky looks awfully blue..."

It took a few seconds for her brain to process that the sky didn't have ripples. Or fish.

"...Oh."

Her hands gripped the wheel tightly, trying to pull the ship up at the last minute.

Too late.

"Aw, SHI-"

-----

THUMP.

For a moment, the earth shook around them.

What the-?!

Sango and Koishi both turned to the path backwards as a massive bang echoed through the water. Something had landed, and it was huge - the impact was enough to send the waters within the cave all over the place.

On the ceiling, the rocks started to tremble, almost in slow motion. Sango turned around, realising what was about to happen, but not quickly enough to do anything about it.

Koishi only got one glimpse of the cave-in, her mouth slipping open in shock. Then the rocks came down around her, bringing up a wall of dust that blinded Sango for a few vital seconds.

By the time she could see again, the dolphin rider had disappeared beneath the rocks.

Koishi!!

-----

For all you people who appreciate irony, this sample of a C78 doujin was uploaded today. I'll be watching intently for it. :3

Also, Dolphin Rider Koishi may receive a spinoff after I'm done with this. I put it together at random, but it's...strangely appealing.

Drake

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2010, 11:30:26 pm »
Best line.

A Colorful Calculating Creative and Cuddly Crafty Callipygous Clever Commander
- original art by Aiけん | ウサホリ -

Kasu

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2010, 11:56:45 pm »
Oh snap.  Things seems to be getting serious.

Apparently, Thomas the Tank Engine isn't one to take crap from anyone.

Esifex

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2010, 12:14:26 am »
Is anyone else picturing Koishi declaring herself Dolphin Rider by pulling an Iku-fever pose while wearing her swimsuit? Kinda like an 'in-the-name-of-the-moon' fashion?

This needs to be drawn.

I would if I could. :<
« Last Edit: August 11, 2010, 12:21:45 am by Roukanken »

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2010, 03:25:06 am »
why can't i write updates at a decent hour like an ordinary person :ohdear:

-----

The world exploded.

Ichirin watched in shock as in front of her, the front wall of the captain's quarters ceased to exist. Fragments of wood went flying in all directions, deadly weapons at the speed they were moving.

Lady Kumoi!

Unzan's first reaction was to move in front of his master, using his cloudy form to repel the shrapnel. The makeshift bullets bounced off of him, protecting Ichirin from the first wave of attack.

Murasa hadn't been so lucky, and at the moment of collision her head had slammed into the steering wheel, putting her out of commission. 'Dead' was the wrong word to use when it came to Murasa - for her, death was just a momentary setback.

The second wave, though, Unzan could do nothing about - and this one was a literal wave.

"U-Uwaaglb!"

The room flooded almost instantly, as the collapsed wall gave the lake water all the room it needed to enter. The pressure sent her spiralling back out the doorway, carrying her along with the tides. She was hurled through the corridor, spinning in all directions, losing sight of which way was up and which was down. Even when the water came to a halt she was still spinning on the spot, eyes glazed over and not even trying to make sense of her surroundings anymore.

Luckily, she'd been pushed up towards the surface, and Unzan extended his form to lift her up out of the water. Ichirin spluttered for a moment as her brain started to function again, though the current situation wasn't exactly making itself easy to comprehend.

For example, the corridor continued upwards rather than forwards.

"...She crashed the ship at that angle?"

She tried to get track of where exactly in the ship the water had reached. She recognised that door - that was the kitchen door, which meant that this was roughly the ship's centre. Further to the back were the exit and the main 'shrine' portion of the ship; at the front were-

The living quarters...!

No-one would have left their rooms after last night. Hijiri would be meditating, and Shou would be sleeping the morning away along with Nazrin. Both of those rooms were a good way along - or down, as it was now - and Ichirin was well aware she wouldn't be able to make a trip that far and back in one breath. Even if she could, it was possible that the ship coming apart had blocked the way back, so there might not even be a way to reach them from this side. Unzan could help, but he couldn't move away from Ichirin, so he was out of the question now.

"...Unzan, let's get out of here. There have to be local youkai who can help us here!"

Unzan nodded, lifting Ichirin into the air and up towards the back of the ship. The rooms weren't quite airtight, but they'd take long enough to flood that help could make it before it was too late.

Please...please let there be someone!

-----

...Well, this was a new way for Shou to be woken up. Nazrin had poked her in the eye, dropped a bucket of water on her face, and one time she placed a block of cheese on her nose for one of her mice to nibble at.

She'd never thrown her face first into the wall before. It worked, that was for sure, but it stung like hell.

"Oww...jeez, Nazrin, why are you being so forceful? Last night was rough, can't we just sleep in for once?"

She looked to her side, expecting to see Nazrin looking down on her disapprovingly. Instead, she saw her servant in the same state as her, with her whole body pressed against the wall.

Wait a minute. That makes no sense.

She was no scientist, but Shou knew a little about physics. Mainly, gravity - it shouldn't have been possible for either of them to lie on the wall, no matter how they tried.

Unless...

"We crashed."

Nazrin blurted out the end of Shou's thought process. Sometimes she wished that she could figure something out first for once.

"How could we crash? The ship isn't even meant to take off anymore."

Shou was the first to remove herself from the wall, trying to make her way back onto what had once been the floor. The incline was too steep, though, and every effort to get back up had just led to her sliding back down again. The beds had been sent sliding down as well, which would by all accounts suggest that the ship was almost on its tip.

Before anything else, the first step was to figure out what was going on. Murasa would have a better idea than anyone, undoubtedly, so it was time to take a trip to the captain's quarters.

Shou noticed a puddle of water making its way in under the door, spreading across the floor. She grumbled, taking a mental note to clean it later. Was she that crazy when she was drunk...?

"Huh?"

Shou pushed at the door, jerking at it forcefully, but it refused to budge. It wasn't locked - it never was, Murasa had lost the keys to this place months ago. It felt as if something was keeping the door closed on the other side, pressing it back and refusing to let her open it.

"Gah, door's jammed. What's that trick Murasa mentioned again?"

"...Shou. I don't think you should open that door."

Nazrin muttered something as her master fiddled with the doorway, gaining no results. The puddle between her feet continued to spread into the room with unnerving speed. That was one hell of a spill outside, apparently.

"Nazrin, what are you talking about?"

"Look outside."

Shou blinked once, with no idea whatsoever what Nazrin was talking about. She looked out the window without really paying too much attention, not expecting to see anything truly extraordinary.

Her brain failed to process the information her eyes passed on.

"Nazrin. Those are fish."

"Yup."

"And they're underwater."

"Yeah. Which is right outside, apparently."

"So that means the puddle is..."

"Precisely."

The water continued to rise. It would take a while, but eventually it would flood the room completely.

"...I'm going to kill Murasa the next time I see her."

"Yeah, good luck with that."

-----

Meditation was a process that required absolute concentration and total focus. It was said that a trained practitioner could stand in the eye of a tornado without noticing it.

So when the ship on which she travelled shook violently as it crashed, Byakuren Hijiri was too lost in her meditation to notice. She had centuries of training, after all, and in this state she was almost entirely disconnected from the world.

So it was no surprise that she didn't feel the water flooding into the room through her open window. It rose rapidly around her, reaching her waist, her chest, her shoulders.

And still, she did not move.

The water rose past her lips, her nose, until finally her whole head was submerged. It continued upwards, until in a matter of seconds the entire room was as flooded as the corridors outside.

Byakuren paid no mind to any of this. Until her meditation came to an end, the world around her was immaterial. Her body responded in the only way it knew how; by stopping her breathing. No matter - her magical prowess had enhanced her physical capabilities to the point where she could go without air for hours if need be. She was in no danger.

Others, on the other hand, were not as fortunate.

-----

Koishi-chan! Where are you?!

Sango darted out towards the aftermath of the rockslide, feeling her heart tremble. She should have paid more attention and stopped her before she even went close to the cave. She should have known Koishi would go off on her own no matter how dangerous it was, she should have kept her out by force if she had to-

Not the time!


If she wasn't in dolphin form, Sango would have slapped herself across the face. Every second she spent thinking about what she could have done was a second she could be using making up for that mistake. She examined the rubble more intently - she had to be fine, Koishi had to be fine...

"Mmmh!"

A groan emerged from underneath one of the rock piles, and with it a tiny trickle of bubbles slipped out. Koishi was squirming around underneath it, but the rocks had pinned her down.

Sango felt her brain click off, running solely on instinct. She shifted back to human form for this - no way she could move rocks with those tiny fins of hers. She swam over to the rock pile, quickly grabbing the largest stone she could see and heaving it to the side.

Gah, these are heavy...!

It took longer than she wanted to shift the rocks out of the way, but she couldn't allow herself a moment to catch her breath. After clearing up the worst of the debris an arm reached out of the wreckage, trying desperately to sweep away the rocks holding her in place.

"G...g-glb!"

More bubbles rose up from within. The streams were getting larger, and longer. She was running out of time.

Hold on, Koishi-chan! Just a little longer, I promise!

She started on the smaller stones. Koishi had been lucky with this - if the larger ones had come down on her first, she'd have been dead for sure. Now, though, she might still have a chance if Sango could get her out of there fast enough.

The rocks started to shake more violently. With every stone Sango shifted out of the way, Koishi had a little more room to squirm out from underneath the rocks. Her arm reached out further, and after a little squirming she managed to get her other arm out as well.

Alright, now hold on!

Sango took Koishi's arms and gripped them as tightly as she could. She pulled upwards with all of her might, working alongside Koishi's own attempts to lift herself out. It took only a few seconds, but to Sango it felt like a painful eternity.

When at last she was free, Koishi almost flew upwards out of the rockpile, still holding Sango's hands tightly. Her cheeks were puffed up, and the occasional bubble forced its way out of her lips. She wasn't going to make it to the surface swimming on her own.

Good thing, then, that there was a friendly dolphin nearby ready to give her a lift back to the surface.

Koishi didn't waste time seating herself properly this time - she wrapped her arms around Sango and held on for dear life. The dolphin kicked through the water furiously, dashing back through the tunnel and towards the surface. There was no time to figure out what had caused that impact now - Koishi needed air, right away.

The pair broke the surface at full speed, flying up out of the water faster than ever before. Koishi let go as she managed to take a long deep breath, hanging in the air for a few seconds. Anyone else in her position would have been thankful simply to be alive, and would be taking this time to thank their god or their saviour or something along those lines.

Not Koishi Komeiji.

"Woo-hoo! That was awesome!"

She splashed down, rose back up and lifted herself out of the water. Her arms and legs had various scrapes and bruises, but besides that she was almost entirely unharmed.

"That was pretty dangerous, but it looks like Dolphin Rider Koishi managed to escape the Crab King's ingenious deathtrap! We make a great team, don't we, Sango-chan!?"

Sango took a while to respond, slowly playing out the motion of swimming to the lakeside, reverting to human form, and sitting alongside Koishi. She was allowing herself to catch her breath at last, now that Koishi was out of danger.

"...Koishi-chan...do you even realise...how dangerous that was...?"

If anything, Sango seemed more out of breath than Koishi did right now. Anyone who happened to walk by right now would have thought it was Koishi who had saved Sango, not the other way around.

"Eh, I'd have been in trouble if you took a few seconds longer. But you didn't, so what's to worry about? I didn't die, you didn't die, no problem!"

This was the sort of situation where Koishi's carefree attitude was less than thrilling. Sango honestly had trouble understanding how her mind worked.

...I guess she has a point. I can give her a lecture about water safety later.

"And look! We found his headquarters after all!"

Sango blinked.

"What?"

"Look, over there! We must have activated something to make it rise out of the water! ...We didn't get it all the way, though..."

Sango thought for a moment that Koishi was talking nonsense. There was nothing poking out of the lake. There never had been. Look, she was going to turn her head right now and confirm nothing was there-

"Ah."

Sango's eyes widened. She found herself taking a few steps backwards from the lakeside.

"Huh? Sango-chan, you okay?"

Sango offered no reply. Her eyes were focused only on the giant wooden...thing that had decided to crash land in her lake. There'd be broken planks everywhere, all sorts of leaked goods, entire rooms with their contents just floating around the lake bottom - it would take her an age to clean up the mess made here.

And this wasn't like the minor mishaps where she would just let it slide. A food wrapper here, or a bucket of greywater there. This was, in her mind, an ecological disaster.

And someone was going to pay for it, she thought to herself as she broke into a dash, running towards the edge before leaping forwards into the lake.

"WHO THE HELL IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?!"

-----

Murasa jerked back to attention.

"Uh, yes, captain, I did swab the decks...sure, I'll go and help with lunch duty. Thanks, capt-"

Her semi-unconscious rambling came to a sudden halt when she realised what was lying in front of her.

It was her physical form, slumped on her own steering wheel, with a wound on her head where normally blood would be flowing out.

She was also floating around the crumbling, submerged remains of what had once been the captain's quarters.

"...Weeeeeeeell. This...kinda sucks."

-----

My sleep-addled brain has been building up ideas for the inevitable Dolphin Rider Koishi spinoff at a disturbing rate. It's just so awesome in my head. If it weren't for the fact I'm already juggling enough stories as it is, I'd probably start writing it right now. Anyone who wants to offer pictures as suggested by Esifex will be greatly appreciated. Swimsuit accessorising encouraged!

Anyway it's 4:23am as I write thisssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

* Rou has collapsed on his keyboard...
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 01:54:45 pm by Roukanken »

Esifex

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2010, 03:48:03 am »
You need to add Dolphin-Rider Koishi stories to your short-stories thread :derp:

Nine West

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2010, 11:05:14 pm »
Dolphin loli is back with a vengeance.



Sango-sama approves~

Oops. Considering the current predicament, I couldn't have picked a more inappropriate time to post this. :3

ilu

<Ruro> Damnit, I thought I was the only one drawing fanart for this :<

!?

<Nwbi> Get to work, puppet. >:|

<Ruro> SHUT UP NWBI I WORK AT MY OWN PACE GOSH

<Nwbi> That was directed at Roukan for not having an update for 4+ days, but okay. I can't say I'm not guilty of being a lazy bum myself when it comes to drawing.

P.S. Shitsurakuen <3
« Last Edit: August 18, 2010, 03:01:51 am by Nwbi »

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2010, 04:47:36 pm »
As a warning to Nwbi in particular: I'm sorta juggling this, DRK, Nitori Quest, and various other things that arise. So sorry that I can't give frequent updates. >_<

Anyway. On that note...an update!

-----

"Hey, Sango-chan! Wait up!"

Koishi ran along the side of the lake, unable to keep up with Sango's speed. She had never seen Sango get angry before, but from the looks of things it was a sight to behold.

"Give me a minute, Koishi-chan! I need to find whoever dropped this thing in my lake and show them what for!"

Koishi would have offered a point about how it technically wasn't 'her' lake, but by that point Sango had already dipped back into the water. She swam straight down to the lakebed, still in human form, examining the point where the ship had made its collision. Sure enough, there were wooden planks floating around in the water, moving in all directions. There were various other trinkets floating around as well - discarded books, maps, and...an anchor? These were probably in one of the front rooms when the ship crashed, and now they were floating around the lakebed waiting for her to pick them up.

Typical. If I get my hands on whoever did this...


She made her way through the sizable hole in the ship's hull, making her way straight into the captain's cabin. She took care not to accidentally stab herself with one of the dozens of glass shards floating around - why did humans insist on having windows everywhere? Did they even know how much trouble glass was to clean up? A sign at the back of the room declared it to be the quarters of Captain Murasa Minamitsu. All the better - if the culprit had been stationed here she had to be nearby-

Oh. Damn.

Sango couldn't hide her disappointment when she found a single body floating in the water, slumped against the ship's steering wheel. It was a young-looking girl in a sailor uniform, her short black hair bobbing about in the water. Her hat was slowly making its way out of the room, beckoning for freedom unlike the rest of her. She pouted - maybe she wouldn't go so far as to kill them, but she certainly thought that a crime of littering this extreme was worth a few good punches in the gut. She poked at the body, wondering if she could at least draw on the face. It was as close as she could get to payback now-

"Quit that, okay? I spent weeks putting that thing together."

!?

She hadn't expected a voice to come from anywhere - she'd examined the room, and besides this body there was no-one to be seen. There were doors, but if they'd been opened she would have heard them.

She didn't expect something to phase through the wall and talk to her from behind.

"Uwaagbl?!"

Sango let out a little yelp as she turned around, seeing the dead girl standing in front of her again. She could see through her now, though, and her body was a light tint of green. Sango tested her curiosity by poking an arm through her, and sure enough it went straight through.

Haunted shipwrecks? In her lake? Apparently, it was more likely than she thought.

"Jeez, I check some of the other rooms for damage for 2 damn minutes and some scavenger youkai is prodding at my corpse. Knock it off, okay? I'm gonna want this stuff back once we get out of this lake."

The ghost seemed unfazed by the entire ordeal. Surely death should have upset her a little more than this? Not that Sango cared much - now she'd managed to find the culprit, and if she couldn't beat the crap out of her she'd have to settle for giving her a good talking-to.

"Whagblt gle heglb abbl-"

Sango stopped mid-sentence, as a garbled series of gurgles and glubs made their way out of her mouth. The ex-captain looked on, lost for words.

"...Sorry, I don't speak blub blub. What was that?"

"Ibl saibld-"

Sango's second effort was no more successful than the first. Even if she could stay under for hours, she was still an air-breather, so speech was pretty much out of the question. She was forced to settle for waving a fist threateningly in Murasa's face, before pointing upwards as she made her way back to the surface. She was clearly hoping the ghost to rise up as well so they could have a genuine conversation, but unsurprisingly Sango surfaced alone.

How am I meant to lecture her when I can't even talk to her...?

Koishi was sitting at the edge of the lake as Sango re-emerged. She splashed some water onto the dolphin's face to try and cool her off. From the frown on her face, it didn't work.

"Don't worry, don't worry! I'm sure it was just an accident."

"I'm not trying to say they did it on purpose, I'm saying that they need to pay more attention!"

Sango punched the hull of the ship with a dull thunk.

She regretted it.

"Owowowowow..."

For wood, this stuff was pretty sturdy. Sango clutched at her hand, blowing at her red knuckles. Koishi stifled a laugh.

"Sango-chan, isn't that just going to give you more to clean u-"

"Hello! Is anyone out there!?"

Someone called out from the top end of the ship, turning Sango's attention away from her aching fingers.

"Hey! Get down here, already! I need someone to tell me what's going on here!"

The survivor looked down from her vantage point, making out Sango as a pale dot in the water. She jumped down, stopping in midair as a light pink cloud broke her fall. It had a face, which disturbed Sango slightly, but it didn't look like it wanted to hurt anyone. If anything, it seemed concerned, occasionally looking towards the ship as it carried its master down to the water.

As she came closer, Sango started to become aware that the girl's face was far from relieved. She herself had escaped, true, but she was still afraid.

"Right. Feel like explaining why someone dropped a giant wooden ship into my lake?"

The girl didn't look like answering that question was her main priority, and indeed she ignored it entirely.

"Ah, you're one of the local youkai, aren't you? I'm Ichirin, of the Kumoi clan...please, I'm sorry for the trouble, but I need your help. There are people still trapped in the ship..."

Sango's blood ran cold.

"I know this is a lot to force on you so suddenly, but my friends are trapped in there. I want to help, but they're too deep down for me to reach...I'm sorry, I'll explain everything later, but I don't know how long we have."

Any anger Sango had been feeling seeped away. She had time to get angry later, but the last thing she planned to do was let people die in this lake on her watch. The captain dying was bad enough-

"You don't have to worry about the girl who got us into this mess. She's been dead for a few hundred years now. It's everyone else I'm worried about..."

Okay, scratch that. That was some guilt off of Sango's shoulders, at least.

"Well, I can't really say no to a request like that, can I? Sango Tororetsu, reporting for duty."

Ichirin sighed with relief. The cloud she was standing on seemed to exhale as well, letting out a small gust of wind.

"Oh, thank you...! There are three people still inside, but only two of them are in any real danger right now..."

-----

"So, what's the plan?"

The water was at Shou's chest now, and it didn't show any sign of letting up. She was looking out the window for any sign of help, but besides a few fish passing by in the distance there was no-one approaching them.

"Well, either we hang around and hope someone breaks us out, or we make a break for the surface ourselves before the air in here gets stale."

"That's it?"

"Pretty much."

She'd hoped that Nazrin would have come up with something a little more enthusiastic than that. If they waited and no-one came in time then there wouldn't be enough air left to even attempt an escape, but if they made a break for it and there was something blocking the way to the back of the ship they were screwed anyway.

"Let's give it a few more minutes, at least."

Nazrin nodded. By now the water was just about at her neck, so she started treading water to keep her head up.

"This is...kinda har-glb!"

Nazrin's head dipped under the water for a moment. Shou pulled her hands out to hold her up, but she managed to surface herself.

"What's wrong? I thought you knew how to swim?"

"Yeah, but...these clothes are pretty heavy when they're wet."

Nazrin's movements in the water were rough and violent. She might have been able to keep herself up like that for a while, but it'd tire her out eventually. Shou looked down at her robes - they already felt like they weighed twice as much as they did before, and she didn't want to imagine how hard it would be to swim in them. Still, the alternative was-

"Just a second."

Nazrin took a quick breath, and dipped back into the water again. Shou was ready to lift her up if she ended up in trouble again, but she didn't expect something else to surface before Nazrin did.

Especially not Nazrin's dress.

"Uh."

Nazrin emerged shortly afterwards, apparently finding swimming a lot easier now. She was still covered by a set of simple grey undergarments, but the rest of her clothing was currently floating beside her.

Shou was on fire.

"N-N-N-Nazrin! You can't do that, what are people going to think when they see you coming out of the water wearing almost nothing?!"

Nazrin stared blankly at her master in return.

"I prefer staying alive over public decency, personally."

The water kept rising. Now it was at Shou's neck, bringing the two of them face-to-face.

The tiger sighed.

"Fine. ...But you'd better not peek, okay?"

"Can't make any promises."

Shou pouted as she placed her head beneath the water, removing every piece of clothing that would hold her back. So, the dress, the ring around her waist, the shoes...pretty much everything, unfortunately. All she had on by the time she surfaced again were a sarashi to cover her chest and a pair of pants to cover her lower area. It was more coverage than Nazrin had, though.

"Your robes sank. My point is proven."

Nazrin allowed herself a sly smile as she watched Shou's discarded clothes drop to the bottom of the room. Her master initially struggled to look her in the eye, blushing furiously, but she eventually found another way to express her embarrassment.

"You think Hijiri will let me away with killing Murasa twice for this?"

"Only if you get to her before I do."

Nine West

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2010, 12:52:39 am »
As a warning to Nwbi in particular: I'm sorta juggling this, DRK, Nitori Quest, and various other things that arise. So sorry that I can't give frequent updates. >_<

Caught on when you posted 3 different fics in a row. Don't worry, it was just me having nothing better to do. Sorry if I came off as a bit of a jerk about it. :ohdear:

That said, nice fanservice scene.

Aaand this is probably the last thing I have for Sango for a while. I'm not Roukan, so take everything you see with a grain of salt. :3

Kasu

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2010, 12:58:55 am »
"Highly intelligent. [Citation Needed]"
Oh God...  I laughed out loud.

Apparently, Thomas the Tank Engine isn't one to take crap from anyone.

Alfred F. Jones

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FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2010, 09:47:23 am »
"Rescued the passengers of the Titanic once in her sleep"
That would finally give me a reason to watch Titanic.

Thanks Nwbi :3
Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2010, 12:51:10 pm »
Quote
"You think Hijiri will let me away with killing Murasa twice for this?"

"Only if you get to her before I do."

lines like this remember me of why I just LOVE your stories.
also, I really enjoy what you did with Dolphin Rider Koishi, silly as the premise is.

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2010, 06:44:48 pm »
OK, let's get-a rescuin'.

-----

"Gah."

Murasa muttered curses to herself as she continued to inspect the damage. This thing was smashed up pretty bad. Just from looking at it, the main propulsion system was completely out of whack, and getting it back together would take both a lot of time and the help of the rest of the crew. It wasn't a physical engine like most boats ran on - rather, it was a catalyst through which the driver channeled their magic energy. This one had quite clearly breathed its last - the stone had shattered into a dozen pieces, one of which was careening out of the window at its own leisure. It could be replaced, but they were the sort of channeling stones only magicians would ever own.

Besides, that was the least of their troubles. The actual mechanics connecting the stone to the ship had been wrecked in the crash as well, and those could only be replaced through cold, hard effort. They ran along the length of the wall, too, so it was a two-man job at the very least.

And currently, the only other people who knew how to fix this thing were trapped in the rooms further up in the ship.

"Dammit..."

Murasa tried to punch a wall, and hissed as her hand phased through it. Dying wasn't as easy as it looked - her spirit was still connected to her mortal form, even if it was by a bare thread. She couldn't go anywhere she liked after she died - she was stuck where she was for now, and over time she would be able to stray further and further from her latest corpse.

But do they have that long to wait for me?

Murasa looked up the corridor, feeling powerless as she imagined what must be going on in one of those rooms. Hijiri would be fine, Hijiri was always fine - it was the other two she was worrying about.

"Nazrin, Shou...sorry, guys..."

There was only one thing she could do to help, and it was barely anything right now. She focused her mind, summoning a weapon to appear before her. An anchor emerged, surrounded by a faint green aura. She'd made a slight change to it, one that she hoped would get noticed when it mattered. This was going to take a little work, and it wouldn't be any help unless things went just right.

But it's this or nothing, isn't it?

She flung the anchor out of the room and through the broken wall, focusing her attention on it even after it had left her hand. It curved through the water at her will, following orders in spite of the lack of physical connection between it and its owner. In her head, she pictured the layout of the ship, adding in the fact that it was currently face-first at the bottom of the lake. That would make it...

There.

She positioned it at exactly the right place. Or at least, she hoped so. It was hard to focus on the ship's image in her head while controlling the anchor at the same time. It was all she could do, but it would have to be enough.

Ichirin...you'd better find someone, dammit. Hurry up...

-----

"OK, OK, OK..."

Sango walked along the shore of the lake, her mind concocting escape plans as quickly as it could. She occasionally pulled the flower in her hair off, spun it in her fingers, and put it back on to vent the nerves. She'd never had to work with anything more complicated than 'grab person by waist, lift to surface, bask in unending praise' - she'd never quite made it to the last step, but she was working on it.

"So. They're trapped in one of the side rooms, right?"

Ichirin nodded. Her initial worries seemed to have resided now that she'd found someone to help her through this ordeal. The pink cloud, who she'd introduced to Sango as Unzan, occasionally whispered in her ear to remind her of any particulars she forgot to mention. Koishi was strolling around examining the flotsam and jetsam emerging from the ship's innards - Sango got the strange feeling she wouldn't have had anything to contribute to the discussion that wasn't point-blank impossible.

"Yes. The living quarters are at the front of the ship, just before the captain's quarters. They were sleeping up until the ship took a nosedive, so I'm certain that's where they'll be."

Sango was getting more and more worked up with this. She needed a plan now, but nothing was coming to her - there were too many unknowns here for her to work with. The route inside could had been blocked by wreckage after the crash, effectively blocking them in. The alternative would be to enter through the captain's quarters and take them out the long way, but there was a good chance that the people she was trying to rescue wouldn't be able to hold their breaths for long enough to make the journey. She needed a third option, one that could get them out fast enough for that not to be an issue.

Aw, crap. I'm not going to have to...

Something was coming to her, but she didn't like it. It'd give her more cleanup to do, which was never a good thing, but in the end it was just about all she could think of. She sighed, biting her lip and trying to hide her immediate dislike of this idea.

"...How solid are the walls on that ship?"

Ichirin put a finger to her lip thinking it over.

"Hmm...they're rather strong, yes, but I think Unzan here should be able to make it through with a good punch. Unzan, would you be up for that?"

The cloud wavered up and down, the closest it could get to nodding. Sango did her best to look excited about the concept of more broken planks floating around in her lake. She failed.

"Alright, so here's the plan. You swim down with me and have Unzan...blow a hole in the wall. Then I grab those two and get them out of there. Sound fair?"

"Definitely. I won't be able to follow you in, but I should be able to do at least that."

Deep breaths, Sango. You can deal with a little mess when lives are at stake. For one, corpses are harder to clean up after than wooden planks.

She had the strange feeling Ichirin wouldn't approve of that joke at a time like this, so she kept that thought to herself. This was hardly an eloquent plan, but this was the best they could come up with on such short notice. There was only one niggling concern that Sango had to worry about.

What if they've already tried to escape by the time I get there?

This all ran on the assumption that the two trapped youkai waited around like good little girls for someone to save them. But that would be a risk in and of itself - waiting around that long would kill off any chance of escaping themselves if they let the air get too stale. They could have made a break for it, and just tried to swim through the flooded corridors up to the surface. In and of itself, there was nothing wrong with that plan - they would have plenty of time to get up to the non-flooded area, at which point Ichirin could have Unzan lift them out of the water.

But there was one big flaw with that plan. If the corridor had collapsed as a result of the crash, they'd be well and truly screwed. Even if Sango managed to find them and lead them out, the trip back would be too long for them to handle on one breath. She needed to find some way to bring air down to them in case the worst case scenario came to light.

Well, other than the, um, obvious method of giving them air. That was a last resort that she really wanted to avoid. Once was awkward enough.

"Hey, Sango-chan! Look at all this cool stuff!"

Koishi called out for her as she tried to figure out the last step in the plan. She really didn't seem to realise that this wasn't the time for playful scavenging, did she?

"Koishi-chan, I'm kinda busy here. I'll take a look at your-"

Sango turned around to look Koishi in the eye while she was speaking to her. The satori was wearing the same carefree smile as always, carrying a pair of empty bottles that must have once held sake. They were corked up, just enough to be airtight.

"Sorry I can't help you with your rescue, Sango-chan, but I can't find that ring you gave me...maybe I left it in my pockets?"

Koishi dropped the bottles at Sango's feet, suddenly running off to the pile of clothes she'd left behind to look for this magical ring of hers. Sango stared at them in wonder, as if they were made of solid gold.

Either that girl is a genius, or she's just really really lucky.

-----

"Taking their time, aren't they...?"

Shou couldn't keep the same joking attitude she'd carried beforehand - not when she could feel it getting harder to breathe. There was maybe a minute left before the room flooded completely, and she wasn't sure if the air would even be breathable up until then.

Nazrin didn't bother to respond directly to that statement. There was nothing she could say that was comforting and honest at the same time, and she was hardly going to lie. They'd waited for as long as they could, and staying here for any longer could easily be fatal.

"Shou. It's time."

The tiger sighed.

"I was afraid you were going to say that. Doesn't look good for us, does it?"

Nazrin slowly shook her head. Murasa hadn't emerged to help them, which meant that she'd been 'killed' in the impact. By the time she could stray into the living quarters, it would be far too late for her to be of any help to Shou and Nazrin. Ichirin was unaccounted for, and it was very much possible she hadn't survived either. Hijiri...well, Hijiri was a different matter entirely. She would undoubtedly be able to help out, but there was literally nothing that could pull her out of her meditations ahead of time.

"...Let's stay together. Whatever we run into. Right?"

Shou's hand reached out in the water, wrapping around Nazrin's. The mouse flinched slightly, but accepted the gesture. She was still very dishonest with her emotions, but Shou knew her well enough to interpret it as 'I don't want to look like I need your help, but I appreciate it'.

"Alright, then. On three."

They didn't need to discuss the plan. There was only one way they could make it out, and they'd just have to hope it wasn't blocked. Otherwise...well, it wasn't worth thinking about that.

"One...two..."

The pair took deep breaths in unison, before diving down into the water together. The door opened easily now that the room was just about flooded, and they made their way out into the corridor.

Later, Shou would regret not staying where she was for that final minute.

-----

"Ichirin. Ready?"

Ichirin had removed her headdress, revealing her long purple hair in its entirety. It was a necessary move, because water would undoubtedly cause it to flare up and block her vision. She nodded, getting a final OK from Unzan.

"Alright. Let's do this."

Sango was much more confident now that she'd worked out a solution to the worst case scenario. In fact, she was so certain that this plan was going to work that she honestly believed she could pull it off in her sleep.

The only uncertainty left was Ichirin - she had to remember where exactly on the ship Shou and Nazrin's room was, a job that wouldn't be made any easier by its new orientation. After that, everything was hopefully in the clear.

"Good luck, you two! Go save those innocents from the Black Claw!"

Koishi had appointed herself team cheerleader, offering words of commendation from the shore. Sango had made no objections - it got her out of the way, and that was all that really mattered right now. She played along for a moment before dipping into the water, Ichirin following close behind.

This was definitely the only uncertainty - the last time she'd checked, the wall of the ship was more or less totally featureless beyond a line of windows. This was going to be a test of Ichirin's memory for sure-

Hm?

Something had changed in the time they'd been making their plan. Rather, something had been added - there was something on the wall that hadn't been there before. An anchor - or at least, some sort of spirit in the form of an anchor - had been attached to the wall, its end pointing down at one of the windows. And if that wasn't enough of a hint, the bottom of the anchor had been hastily engraved with the word 'H E R E'.

The captain left us a message...but is she trying to screw us over?

Sango looked over her shoulder, checking if Ichirin had any idea what was going on with this. To Sango, the captain of this ship didn't exactly have a faultless record when it came to being cooperative, so she found it hard to believe that she'd suddenly turn over a new leaf now.

In return, she found a giant pink fist facing her, with only herself between it and the wall.

...Okaaaaay. Guess I'll take your work for it.

She awkwardly got out of the fist's path, and Ichirin gave Unzan the order with a dramatic finger point. The normal cry of 'CHARGE!' was understandably omitted, and the fist drove into the wall in relative silence. Of course, there were all sorts of sounds when it collided with it, smashing the wood into several dozen splinters that would all inevitably need to be cleaned up later.

Sango died a little, deep down inside.

"!!"

Ichirin's eyes widened as she got a look inside the room. Sango pulled herself out of her internal tantrum to follow suit.

There was no sign of the two targets, but a pair of dresses were lying forgotten in the room. The door hung open.

Well, looks like we're gonna have to go for the race against time after all.

Sango nodded in Ichirin's direction, giving her the all-clear to surface. The youkai nodded in response, and both the nyuudou and its master rose upward, their work done. It was all down to Sango now.

But against someone like me, time doesn't have a chance!

-----

"Mh?"

Shou looked back for a moment. There had been a strange sound in the corridors beneath them, in the direction they'd come from. She'd heard the sound of something getting smashed, and she was tempted to go back and check.

The hand tugging her along convinced her otherwise. Nazrin's eyes were severe, wordlessly saying to her 'why the hell are you stopping?' Shou shook herself before she started kicking for the surface again. She was hearing things, surely, and even if she wasn't it was probably just things coming apart after the flooding.

It hadn't been long, but so far things had been good. There had been no blockades, and at this rate they had a decent chance of making it to the surface. Nazrin lead on, putting her better eyesight to good use. She seemed optimistic - or rather, as optimistic as Nazrin usually got.

Not much further now. We just need to keep going up, and-


"Mmgbl?!"

Nazrin's grip on her hand suddenly grew tighter. All Shou could see from here was a dot in the distance. She was unaware of what had Nazrin so spooked until they came a little closer.

She felt her heart sink when she saw the corridor's newfound ceiling. Various planks from the walls had come half undone, then caught the planks that had fallen from higher up to create one, heaping pile of debris. And Shou and Nazrin were right under it.

You're kidding me. You are kidding me...

Even touching this thing was dangerous, because if they unsettled it there was a good chance the entire pile would come down on them instead, but the only other option was to go back the way they came and take the long way out. And that wasn't even an option, because Shou was well aware neither of them could make that trip without running out of air.

Nazrin looked back at her, her eyes containing the tiniest hint of fear. For Nazrin, that said a lot, and the grip around Shou's hand grew tighter still. Shou did the only thing she could, and squeezed back in response.

Let's try and look for an opening, okay?

There was an unpleasant creaking as Shou pushed at the pile of fallen planks. The pile shuffled slightly, but only by a matter of inches. Nazrin fared no better, her smaller frame giving her even less success than Shou.

"Mmph..."

Shou felt her cheeks starting to puff up. She gave the pile one final heave, but all she received in return for her efforts was more ominous creaking.

...There's no point. I'm just wasting my energy.

She gave up on trying to shift away the barricade, accepting that no amount of effort on her part was going to get anywhere. Nazrin was more tenacious, and if anything as she grew short of breath she started pushing harder.

"Mmbl...mmbwaagl!"

Her struggling came to a sudden stop as Shou put her arms around her. Only now did she realise how little they were wearing - Shou's skin was against hers, her hands were running along her back. The tiger pulled her in, pressing her against her chest.

If this is how it's going to end, let's make it count, alright?

Shou tipped her head forward, her lips pucking up. She did ninety percent of the work, leaving Nazrin to lean forward for the final ten. Her lips were warm, warm like she'd always remembered them being. She held her close, wanting to be found dead in her lover's embrace whenever someone came across this shipwreck. If these were her last moments, she was sure as hell going to enjoy them.

She ran a hand down Nazrin's back, feeling her soft skin for the last time. She felt Nazrin's hands do the same, carefully caressing her now while she still had the chance. Neither of them had much air to go, but what they had left they were sharing. This was no time for petty restraint - this was the last chance Shou would ever have to hold Nazrin, so she was going to do everything she could. Her hands grew brave, and finally she plucked up the nerve to move down to Nazrin's-

Poke, poke.

The loving, desperate embrace was cut short as Shou received a poke on the shoulder. Her eyes jolted to her side, suddenly realising that there was a spectator to the affair. Nazrin took a few seconds later to notice the newcomer's presence, but both of them responded in the same way.

Namely, by jumping away from each other and blushing awkwardly.

Even if Sango had been able to comment on what she'd just walked in on, she would have simply said nothing and let it go. As it was, she reached down to her waist and offered her secret weapons to the two floundering youkai.

...A bottle?

Shou examined what exactly she'd been given. It was one of the sake bottles from yesterday's festival - it must have been left on the ship after the party had come to an end. To specify its new purpose, the word 'AIR' had been quickly cut into the label by a fingernail.

She pulled off the cork, put the bottle to her mouth, and downed its contents like she was drinking ambrosia. Nazrin, at least, managed to look less extravagant as she took a breath from the bottle, but Shou was doing what she could to shift attention away from what she'd just been caught in the middle of.

She's not a regular at the temple. She's not going to spread the story. Nothing to worry about, nothing to worry about...

Shou's panicked inner monologue was interrupted by the creaking from above reaching its absolute peak.

?!

They may not have made an opening, but they'd done enough to slowly tilt the balance. The trapped planks started to come loose, obeying the laws of gravity.

Laws that were set to bring the planks down on their heads.

Shou and Nazrin both turned to the third youkai. Or at least, where she'd been - now there was a friendly-looking dolphin looking at both of them, offering its fin as a handle before it started on a quick trip out of the shipwreck. Neither of them found any reason to reject the offer, and grabbed onto Sango with all the strength they could muster. The planks were coming down in droves now, but they couldn't hope to outspeed the dolphin youkai at full velocity.

Shou hadn't expected the dolphin to take a hard turn into her own room - she knew full well it was a dead end. Or at least, it had been until someone had...smashed...the wall...open.

You mean I could have waited around a little longer, and avoided...that?


Shou buried her head in the dolphin's back, dying of embarrassment. Nazrin's face was the slightest hint of red, which was Nazrin-speak for 'the shame will haunt me for the rest of my life'. Neither of them shared their saviour's enthusiasm as she pulled them out of the hole in the wall and up to the surface, taking on human form once again and wrapping her arms around them.

"Thank you for choosing Tororetsu Marine Rescue. We hope your trip has been a pleasant one, and that you refrain from crashing your ships into innocent, unsuspecting lakes from now on. Thank you, and stay safe!"

"Sango-chan, that was AWESOME!"

"...Are they alright? They don't look too well..."

Shou could make out Ichirin's voice, speaking concern for her. So she'd made it out after all. Right now, though, she was pressing against Sango's arm, too disgraced to face the world.

Really, just go ahead and let me drown now. I don't mind.

-----

...Ah, another good meditation session.

Byakuren allowed herself to come out of her state of trance as she reached the end of her daily training. It had been a productive session, as was the normal after a night of celebration. It lifted her spirits, and that always meant the next day turned out splendidly.

She had felt completely calm and resolute, even in the face of all the odds that her mind could throw at her. She stayed strong, even when it felt like the world around her was descending beneath the waves with a violent crash. It had felt incredibly real, and yet she had fought the emotion and turned out triumphant. All in all, an excellent session.

"Mm?"

It took her a few minutes to realise that her mind had conjured nothing. The big giveaway was the fish swimming past her nose, looking at her with one beady eye.

...Oh.

-----

People who want to point out 'but didn't you say the window was on the ceiling now?' - I sort of realised that if that was the case then it couldn't possibly be looking outside, so I went back and edited it. Apologies for the mishap. :V

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2010, 07:20:58 pm »
Byakuren being oblivious to everything that's gone on strikes me as incredibly funny. :3

And ack, your Nazrin is adorable. Tsundere tsundere.
Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2010, 10:04:19 pm »
you know you had a good meditation session when...

... the first thing you see when you come back is a fish swimming in front of you.

It is true. Byakuren says so!

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2010, 12:12:59 am »
After being pulled out forcefully onto dry land and laid out in front of an overexcited bystander (namely, Koishi), Shou learned another interesting fact about water. Namely, that wet clothing got very cold very quickly.

"Brrr..."

Nazrin probably had it worse - at least Shou had pants for extra cover, but Nazrin was more or less stripped to the bone. She was very much tempted to wrap her arms around her servant for cover, but she had already been caught in one embarrassing display of affection today. Fool me once, shame on you and so on.

Ichirin was luckier than either of her companions, since she'd been forcefully ejected out of the water and hadn't needed to undress, but her robes were heavier as a result. Even on land she was struggling to walk alongside everyone else, her clothing weighing her down heavily.

"Oh yeah, you people have trouble with the whole soaking fabric thing. Guess it's not really something you consider when you spend most of your time on land, is it?"

Sango had never experienced any sort of trouble along those lines - for one, her clothes never impeded her movement in the water, and even if she was soaked she could wring out the water automatically with a single click of her fingers. It left a few awkward puddles behind on the ground, but she splashed water onto the lakeside anyway so it was no real issue.

Nazrin in particular looked so cold now as to be unhealthy. If she stayed like much longer, she'd probably end up catching something nasty even if she'd avoided the imminent danger. Sango had been told several times that there was no need to worry about the ship's final passenger - she'd emerge when she felt like it, and something as petty as the ship crashing headfirst into a lake would have no chance of stopping her.

Sango needed confirmation from another crew member that this was not a joke.

"Anyway. I figure you guys need to get some new clothes fast if you don't want to freeze to death. We can deal with cleanup duty when you three aren't about to catch pneumonia."

Sango pointed into the distance, tracing the path alongside the river.

"You'll find a store there that should sell something a little more protective. Tell the girl running it that Sango sent you, and she should give you the OK - I did her a bit of a favour a while back."

The shipwrecked crewmates were more than willing to take the dolphin's advice on that one, standing up collectively and making their way down towards the store in the distance. Nazrin and Shou wrapped arms around each other's shoulders - affectionate without being too clingy, which was what they needed now - and Unzan offered his master a little breeze to help her keep up.

For a moment, it was back to just being Sango and Koishi. The cheerleader took the opportunity to finally offer Sango a hug from behind in congratulations.

"Sango-chan, you did great out there! I'll bet the White Pearl must be so proud of you, huh?"

What was the White Pearl, exactly? Koishi had come up with this entire fantasy herself, but she hadn't bothered to fill Sango in on any of the important details. It sounded like the sort of joke that would end up expanding into a dramatic story all on its own.

"Yeah, sure. Just doing my job."

Sango wasn't as cheerful as Koishi would have liked her to be. Of course, given that it was Koishi, her standard of happiness was just about unattainable by the rest of Gensokyo, but Sango didn't even come remotely close. Koishi pouted, sitting down on the side of the lake along side her.

"Sango-chan, cheer up! No-one's dead or anything, so there's nothing to feel bad about!"

That did nothing to lift Sango's spirits, and only served to raise a deep sigh from her. It sounded childish, as if letting out a whined 'phwee'. Koishi seemed intrigued by the sound, as if taking note of it to use later.

"What's gonna happen when all's said and done, Koishi-chan? These people will fix their ship up, take it up to the sky again, and fly off like nothing's ever happened, right?"

One of her hands curled up into a fist, as the other rubbed against her temples.

"Yeah, I know that these people have been through a ton of trouble, but is it that much to ask for an apology from this captain of theirs? She's the one who caused all this trouble for everyone, so is it too much for her to just say sorry?"

Was it petty? Maybe. But the fact was that this ghost girl had caused her crewmates no end of suffering - hell, two of them nearly died because of her acting so irresponsibly. So why was it okay for her to just get away like nothing ever happened?

She would get an apology from this Minamitsu girl, sooner or later. Maybe she'd have to stalk her around the shipwreck, or poke at her steering wheel until it snapped, or feed some of those books in her room to the local fish. But whatever it took, she was going to make her apologise for what she'd done.

Fortunately, she didn't have to wait long before an opportunity emerged. The sound of something walking out of the water distracted Sango from swearing vengeance.

"Yeah, thanks for that little releasing ritual, Hijiri. I was about to go crazy waiting around..."

"No need to thank me. I'm certain you're keen on starting up on repairs right away, aren't you?"

Two people emerged from the side of the lake, but only one of them was walking. Long purple hair ran down her back, shifting colour to a dark brown on the way down. Her dress was running wearily along the ground as she left a long, heaving puddle in her wake. She was carrying something black under one of her arms, but Sango couldn't make out any more than that. She was talking cheerfully with-

"YOU."

Sango's attention immediately turned to the woman's companion - the ghostly captain who had caused this whole mess. Murasa sighed at the sight of her, her eagerness draining away double-time.

"Aw, great. The fish hung around to lecture me, huh?"

The monk - Byakuren, they'd said her name was - watched the staring contest that resulted with a puzzled look on her face.

"Oh, have you two met before?"

Koishi walked over to Byakuren's side, taking her by the hand and pulling her away from the feud. Byakuren followed willingly - a relief, because otherwise she would have been pretty much unmovable.

"Lady, let's go take a walk. I think these two need some time alone..."

-----

The store was much more impressive now than it had been when she'd started it up. It had taken coming into a good bit of money to make the first big jump, but now she'd earned a reputation her little emporium jumped from strength to strength. She'd grown a little more confident with every purchase, and by now she was just about willing to call herself a pro.

Gone was the nervous wannabe who'd been glad to get a single commission a month. Nitori Kawashiro was open for business, and business was booming.

Still, she'd always had an appeal for the dramatic, and thus she was sitting with her back to the door waiting for that beautiful ringing sound as someone opened it. It could be a long wait on slow days, so she tweaked at one of her latest contraptions to pass the time. The idea had come to her in a flash - she'd finally discovered what a television was. She would build a machine that could transmit a visual message across to other monitors across Gensokyo through radio waves! It'd be faster than the Bunbunmaru, and with a lot more content as well, not to mention more genuine facts. She'd have the Tengu pretty much at her feet asking for rights to broadcast-

Oh, who am I kidding? An idea this absurd is never gonna catch on.

Ding, ding!

That was it. The glorious sound that signalled the arrival of a new customer. Nitori dropped the remote she'd been prodding at so eagerly, twirling around in her chair.

"Gooood morning, good morning, good morning! Welcome to the Kawashiro Gadget Shop, where we put in 99% inspiration so you can settle for 1% perspiration! I'm Nitori, and I'll gladly do what I can to meet your needs. If there's water involved, I'm the kappa you nee-"

Her sales pitch stopped abruptly as she noticed the state of her customers. All three of them were soaked to the bone, and two of them were huddled together to conserve warmth with almost their entire bodies exposed.

"...Yeah, looks like you three need me pretty badly."

Ichirin was the one to do the talking, mainly because her companions were too busy shivering in each others' arms.

"Apologies for barging in like this, but Tororetsu-san from the lake nearby said that you could help us with our...wardrobe malfunctions."

She'd dropped a key word, and Nitori's eyes lit up in delight. It was thanks to the dolphin that her business had flourished to this extent, so she figured there was no harm giving out freebies where freebies were due.

"Oh, Sango-chan sent you guys? Well, in that case, you three had better come on in!"

Nitori jumped out from behind the stall, pushing the three customers off into one of the side rooms. All manner of gadgets were lined up on the shelves passing by, most of them mechanical, and none of them with a purpose that was obvious from first glance. Shou caught sight of something unusual called an Ip Od, which according to the note written beneath it was some sort of instrument given that it could produce music. Who would carry something like that around?

But now wasn't the time for silly sound gadgets. Now was the time to stop Shou and Nazrin freezing to death, and for that Nitori had them well and truly covered. She pulled them into the room at the end of the corridor, with the fancy sounding title 'Fashion of the Fathoms' written above it. Three cubicles were placed at the end of the room, ready to be locked from the inside. She nudged each of the customers into her own cubicle, throwing a towel in after each of them. They needed it.

"Alright, so I understand you're in a bit of a rush to get clothed, so I hope you don't mind if I pick out some designs for you. Don't worry, I'm a professional, really! Just undress in there and I'll take care of the rest."

No-one was in any rush to argue, and after drying themselves off the three crewmates quickly discarded of their soaked clothing. Nitori pressed a button on the side of the wall, and a panel in front of her flew forward, revealing a rack on which several dozen swimsuits had been hung. There were three panels opposite the cubicles, along with slots for the swimsuit of choice to be slotted in.

"Hm, first is the girl in the fancy robes, right? You seem like the simple, refined type, so pure white should suit you just fine, right?"

There was no complaint from Ichirin, and silence was consent in the language of the shopkeeper. Nitori quickly pulled out a white one-piece from the rack and placed it in the slot. The machine swallowed it, sending it around whatever mechanical system the kappa had installed.

Shou had no idea what was going on. All she could hear were mechanical whirrs and beeps. It unnerved her slightly, but she didn't hear any obvious complaints from Ichirin so she assumed that everything had worked as planned.

"Next is the mouse. I assume you'll settle for that shade of grey, won't you? Stoic, yet proud. Or at least, that's what the colour booklet told me..."

Well, that was reassuring. Not that they were in any position to complain, given that they were being handed all of this for free, but she had to wonder how much of this 'professional' shtick was just plain fiction. She listened out for cries of pain coming from Nazrin as the machine descended upon her.

Nothing. She relaxed her body, relieved that this wasn't some sort of deathtrap after all. She was probably just high-strung after all she'd been through today-

"And finally, the tiger. You're the lucky one - you've stepped into my prototype deluxe cubicle! I know just the thing for you, so sit back and have a blast!"

OK, that sounded really, really bad. Shou was torn between the urge to get the hell away from whatever this machine was going to do to her and the need to keep her levels of public indecency down to a minimum. Not that she had a choice either way - the door had already locked itself.

A variety of mechanical devices emerged from the wall behind her. Most of them were definitely NOT for changing purposes.

"Oh, for the love of-"

-----

"We will not speak about this."

Shou was the first to leave as they left the store, the kappa attendant offering them a final wave as they made their way back to the lake. Her swimsuit had a simple tiger print running along it, presumably Nitori's attempt to act clever with her fashion choices. It didn't work.

"I heard something whirr in there. Was there a saw in that thi-"

"I said we weren't talking about it, Nazrin."

After Nitori had let her out of that...thing, she admitted that there were still a few fine points she needed to work out before she could use it properly. Apparently, her various complaints and yells had been very instructive and gave her a variety of points to improve on.

More importantly, she'd supposedly mixed up some of the wiring with the machines from the hardware department, located on the other side of the wall from the cubicle. She would have offered a refund, but that was pointless considering they hadn't paid for it anyway.

"And what was that you said about a drill coming up from the floor?"

"Nazrin, this conversation is over."

"But why did you shout-"

"OVER."

Kasu

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2010, 01:05:40 am »
Pro-Nitori is crazily awesome.

Apparently, Thomas the Tank Engine isn't one to take crap from anyone.

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2010, 05:11:26 am »
I gotta admit, I'm with Nitori here. Three soaking wet girls come to my doorstep and need whatever clothes I can put on 'em? Dress-up time! :]

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2010, 02:21:47 am »
It sounded like the sort of joke that would end up expanding into a dramatic story all on its own.

I lol'd

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #25 on: September 01, 2010, 11:46:00 pm »
"OK, let me clear something up right now. This lake is not a parking space for your fancy-schmancy flying ship. If you're going to use it, at least have the decency to land the boat on the lake, not in it. Does that sound fair to you?"

"What, you think I picked out your little puddle to crash into on purpose? Damn, guess one of your grandparents annoyed me with his click click crap and I decided I'd drop a ton of wood onto his kid's lake for payback."

It was a relief that Sango and Murasa couldn't physically make contact with each other, because otherwise they would have come to blows some time ago. As it was, they had to settle for verbal conflict, but even then there was no love lost. If looks could kill, Murasa would have made history by successfully dying while already dead. Nazrin, Shou and Ichirin had seen the fight from a distance and had wisely chosen not to interrupt while things were still volatile.

"Well, you've got to get points for accuracy! All this land around, and even a mountain to crash into if you feel like it, but you somehow manage to crash this ship square in the middle of a lake. A perfect ten!"

"Look, shipwrecks are in my nature! Causing them is sort of what I do, even when I'm not really trying! Don't hate me for doing what comes naturally!"

She'd heard the story - apparently the captain had fallen asleep at the wheel and sent the ship crashing down into the lake - but Sango really hadn't cared about that. She knew it had been an accident, but she just wanted to see the culprit take some responsibility. All Murasa was offering her were excuses and shameless buck-passing.

"Besides, I didn't manage to get a wink of sleep the night before because Hijiri was having another one of her lousy festivals! You have any idea how loud drunken Buddhists are? They say that the empty vessel rattles loudest, don't they?"

"And don't you think there's a lesson in there somewhere? It's easier to not nearly kill all of your crewmates by sleeping in bed instead on the job!"

Sango was growing more and more frustrated as the conversation wore on. There was a light phweeing slipping out of her mouth as she let out a breath, almost as if she was letting out steam to avoid overheating on the spot.

"Now, now, you two. Play nice, okay?"

Byakuren returned from the little walk Koishi had taken her on, now clothed in an entirely different garb. This was the object she'd been carrying earlier - a simple black bikini, for use when making visits to the families of the local kappa. Koishi had been nearby when she'd changed, and had since walked off making muttered comments about 'those things on her chest that I don't have'. Byakuren walked over to the arguing pair, placing hands on both their shoulders like a mother breaking up her two daughters.

Murasa only reacted to her touch because of the link between the two, but she along with Sango glared at the monk with an accusatory glance. The pair cried out in unison.

""She started it!""

Byakuren couldn't help but chuckle at that one.

"I understand you may have differences to settle, but could they at least wait for another time? We have a slight issue that still needs resolving."

She looked out into the water - namely, at the upturned back end of the Palanquin ship. Murasa and Sango looked at the wreck with disgust, though they both did it for different reasons.

"I'm not asking for the two of you two kiss and make up. The fact is we all want to get that ship out of the water, and it'll be much faster if we all work together."

That was a fact neither of them really wanted to admit, because unfortunately neither of them could deny it. Byakuren could feel Sango's body relax a little, and even if she couldn't feel much from Murasa she could tell the captain felt the same.

"Freaky fish girl."

"Drunk driver."

One last immature exchange of insults, followed by Sango sticking her tongue out at Murasa. The captain responded with a gesture that will not be described for the sake of decency.

"Anyway. Murasa, what's the scale of the damage?"

Byakuren let go at last, and Sango could feel the circulation starting up in her arm again. Murasa let out a heaving sigh as she looked out onto the lake.

"Obviously, the outer construction isn't the issue - that, at least, I've got control of. After we get the thing out of the water, it should be possible to just order the planks to return to their old formation - they're pretty resilient like that. But the channelling device is completely outta whack - no lines, no Stone of Focus, nothing. We've pretty much gotta rebuild the propulsion system from scratch."

Byakuren's face shifted into a pout. Not a frown, it didn't quite reach that level of sadness. Sango's heart rose a little at the first half of the damage report, and promptly sank back down again as Murasa described the extent to which the ship was floundered.

"Question. What's a Stone of Focus?"

"Well, sardine-for-brains-"

Byakuren gave Murasa a quick glare for that one. She cleaned up her act pretty quickly.

"-I mean, Sango-san! Sorry, I suck with names. A Stone of Focus is basically a magical artifact that strengthens whatever magical energy flows through it. What this means is that to get the ship running, the power I use to control the ship goes through the stone, then travels through the ship to make sure the whole thing rises up."

"So you're saying you're too weak to lift it without help from a rock-phwee!"

A hand 'accidentally' hit Sango in the back of the head in response to that one.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I suppose I must be in shock and not fully in control of myself."

Sango rubbed at her head, wincing from the blow. This Byakuren woman was frightening not because she was strong, but because she could somehow get angry without getting angry. Maybe it would be a good idea to cut down on the name-calling for now - she would live longer, if nothing else.

"...Anyway. Our Stone of Focus is more or less out of order. Kaput, kablooey, finished, broken, dead. Thing's lying on the floor in my room in about three dozen pieces, and no amount of work is gonna be enough to put it back together. We need to find a replacement, and for that we're gonna need to get in contact with a magician who'll have one in stock."

Murasa looked out into the water again, stepping out from the land and walking onto the lake's surface. Sango couldn't explain where the thought came from, but for some reason she felt that Byakuren was better suited to the whole walking on water deal.

"Not much point in getting a stone if we don't have a place to put it, though. First thing's first - we need to get the internal wiring back in action."

"And I assume that's where I come in?"

"Well, yeah, but it's a big job. I can give you guys instructions, but obviously I can't do any of the lifting because...yeah. Hijiri can go down there with you, I guess, but two people on the job is pretty much the bare minimum, and it'll take a while. If we could get the others to go down with you they'd be one hell of a help, but..."

Murasa pointed at her own chest. She didn't need to put the problem into words.

"Yeah, the bottle gimmick I used before isn't gonna work. That was pretty desperate, and it'd only be enough air for a few minutes anyway. That said..."

Sango cast her mind back to the events with her friends underground. There'd been a time when she and a friend from the underground needed to travel through a flooded tunnel. She had repressed a lot of memories of that escapade - mainly the ones that involved lips coming into contact with other lips - but one instant still remained fresh in her head. Now she was beginning to regret sending the three crewmates over to Nitori's store - there was more they could have picked up while they were at it.

"That kappa, the one who owes me? She came up with some sort of kooky invention for times like this. I don't remember the shiny fancy explanation she gave for how it worked, but long story short it's a gimmick that'll help out the people here who can't get over their breathing addiction."

Byakuren smiled at the sound of that. Apparently their new dolphin friend was knowledgeable in her field. She looked over to a nearby bush with a smile, staring at the light pink object poking out one of the sides.

"You three, does that sound like a good idea to you?"

The bush shook a little, until shortly afterwards three bodies fell out of it at once in a fumbled heap.

"Shou, I told you she could hear your stomach rumbling."

"But I haven't eaten all day! I couldn't stop it..."

"I'm pretty sure that translates into everyday language as 'we'd love to help you, Hijiri'."

Ichirin was the only one of the fallen three to actually answer Byakuren's question, while her companions went through the exchange of accusations that made up the bulk of their relationship. None of it was ever meant with any harsh intent, though, and the pair had apparently made quite a lot of noise the night before while the festivities raged on.

"Excellent to hear! Now, I'm sorry that you three have just come back from that walk, but is it too much to ask you to-"

"DUN DU-DUUUUUUUN!"

The sound that flew through the air couldn't be called a scream. It was a war cry, and its owner was headed right this way. Sango heard the sound of something being dragged along at high-speed, and immediately she knew exactly what was going on. Everyone else present, though, turned in the direction of the yell with looks ranging from confusion to aggression.

"Oh, these are tragic times indeed! A ship smashed, its scurvy scuttled sailors scattered ashore! But though men of the sea they may be, none of them are fish! How can they hope to restore their ship to its former glory?!"

As the self-proclaimed hero of the hour dashed towards the lakeside, there were no words from any of the youkai she was apparently saving. They simply watched, dumbfounded, as a girl in a plain white swimsuit leapt out in front of them, carrying a bag in one hand while pointing dramatically towards the shipwreck with the other.

"Worry not, my fearful fin-less friends! When the Black Claw sits down to play chess with Dolphin Rider Koishi, it's always a win for White!"

She landed in the middle of the crowd, posing with a dramatic flourish. The bag fell to her side, with four metallic tanks poking out from within.

The round of applause she was waiting for never arrived. Everyone present turned to Sango, who simply offered them a shrug.

"...Yeah. She's like that."

-----

"You two, careful with that pipe. It's pretty heavy. Lift with your knees, Shou! Naz, watch it, you're tipping that the wrong way! ...No, Ichirin, that's not where you want Unzan to punch it in. Take it out and start over."

It had been annoying enough beforehand listening to Murasa talk beforehand with that self-righteous tone of hers. Now the entire thing was worsened threefold. because it was literally the only voice in the room. Everyone else was either breathing from one of those mechanical contraptions or wasn't breathing at all - Murasa alone was the only one with the power to give out orders, and it was a power she abused for all its worth.

"Fishface! Quit staring at me! Those are eyes you should be using to slot that pipe into place!"

Busted. One moment away from the job, and the captain's eyes were on you like you'd just committed murder. Sango was glad to know she didn't serve on this ship.

As annoying as she was, Murasa's words were producing results. The pipeline was starting to resemble its old self rather than simply looking like a pile of discarded plumbing. Shou and Nazrin had been grouped together to take care of one end of the job, while Byakuren and Sango worked on the other side. Ichirin would walk around and have Unzan punch a pipe into place when it was set up right, and Koishi...well, she retained her position as team cheerleader, performing some sort of interpretive dance to raise morale. (There was no real place for her now that there were five people working on repairs, and there was a general belief that she was more likely to cause harm than good.)

"Alright, go pick up that pipe there and- godDAMMIT, Shou, stop breathing so loud! I can barely hear myself think over you!"

Shou flinched for a moment, then let out a little whine before she got back to work. From the look on Nazrin's face, it was a complaint she had wanted to make for a while. Listening to one of these things gurgle had been annoying with Orin, and being exposed to four of them at once did nothing new to win them Sango's approval. Either she got to focus on the four asthmatics, or she got to hear the captain yell at her for every wrong step she took. Joy.

"Mm?"

Or maybe there was a third option. An option that was barely audible, but just enough for Sango to make out from her side of the ship. There was a sound of movement in the water - something was approaching at high speed, and it was bringing some friends along with it.

In the back of her head, an ominous theme began to play.

"...!"

She ignored the pipe she was meant to be working to slide in, leaving it to Byakuren for the moment. Fortunately, the monk was more than strong enough to hold it herself while Sango's eyes suddenly looked through the hole in the wall.

"Oh, come on. Fishface, what are you even doing over there?"

Murasa muttered another complaint as she walked over to Sango, ready to whip out an anchor and try to smack her across the face with it now that she was back in her element.

As it turned out, Sango's distraction had been much more important than some measly pipe.

"Wait, those are..."

Sango had made a deal with them before to keep away from this lake, but rules, like ice on a lake surface, were made to be broken. There was a small army headed their way, each one looking hungry enough to swallow a youkai whole. And they were close - really close.

Murasa bit her lip.

"Uh, guys? You might want to put aside whatever you're working on. We've got company."

Sharks. It always had to be goddamn sharks.

-----

PLotSS Koishi is so fun to write she should be illegal.

Esifex

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #26 on: September 02, 2010, 02:59:20 am »
Koishi is always fun to write with.

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #28 on: September 10, 2010, 02:36:59 pm »
Immediately, several problems came to light. One - no-one had bothered to bring along anything resembling a weapon, because with everything else they were carrying around things like spears and dousing rods seemed a little excessive. Two - in addition to that, most of the crew hadn't brought spellcards either, mainly because these outfits didn't come with any pockets to hold them in. There'd been no consideration that anyone would attack them in the middle of repair duties, and now it was a decision they were seriously beginning to regret.

"Tch..."

Murasa pulled out a trio of spellcards; one was covered in a light green aura light that surrounding her body, but the other two were still made of regular paper. Sango looked over at them, reading a trio of strange-looking names. Maybe she wasn't kidding about shipwrecks being in her nature.

Murasa glared back at the body still floating around by the steering wheel.

"Dammit. Without that thing over there, these cards are useless. Guess one will have to do..."

Deep Vortex and Dragging Anchor would have to wait for a day when she wasn't dead. She placed them back in her pocket and held onto her third card like her life depended on it.

It didn't, but maybe everyone else's did.

There was no time for strategy or formation or any of the other intricacies they could have prepared to make the fight any easier. By now, the sharks were covering the exit, and they'd locked the door to the corridor so it wouldn't hang open and get in the way of reconstruction. If they made it inside, it was going to be a matter of everyone fending for themselves.

Murasa held her single card into the air. It shone for a moment as she made her declaration.

"Spirit of the seas, return from the abyss to bring forth a watery grave!
[Sinker Ghost]!"


The light green aura around her grew brighter, and Murasa quickly clicked her fingers. Another anchor emerged in her hand, but there was a key difference now - with the use of that spellcard, she could interact with the world in a limited number of ways.

Fortunately, these ways mainly involved inflicting pain upon the living. She glared at the oncoming hordes as she prepared to strike.

"Every good captain goes down with the ship! Bring it, losers!"

Sango tried to make her way out of the ship, holding her own card in tow, but Murasa put a hand out to stop her.

"Stay back, okay? Looking after this thing is my job."

Sango tried to start on an explanation, reaching into a pocket for her own card, but Murasa pushed her back inside before she could show it. Sango bit her lip - the card was useless in here, where it'd do more friendly fire than actual damage, so she was stuck trusting Murasa for now.

The sharks seemed to have been waiting for a moment of weakness, and upon finding none began charging in recklessly one after the other. They knew full well that it was a bad idea to attack Murasa, the only member of the crew who could properly be considered to have a defence, and so made to try and storm past her and feast on her less prepared companions. Murasa's method of defending the entrance was blunt - literally - but it was enough to hold off the initial wave as half a dozen sharks hobbled backwards with anchor-shaped bruises.

They circled the ship for a short while, looking for another way in. Thankfully the hole in the wall Murasa was covering was the only viable entrance - they could get to Shou and Nazrin's room, but they wouldn't be able to do much in the corridors after that. Eventually they came back around to her, injured but ready to take another shot.

Murasa beckoned them one with one hand. She knew that she could take them on, and unlike everyone else she didn't have to worry about injury. This was the best defense they could muster.

But every defense had a weakness, and the sharks had figured it out.

"Wha-!?"

The entire pack charged in at once, this time storming towards Murasa in pairs. She swore beneath her breath - no matter how well she could stop a shark in its tracks, two at a time was one too many for her. Even if she did nothing, there was still enough room in the gap for them both to get through.

Note to self: We're gonna need a smaller boat.

"...Alright, incoming! Watch out, guys!"

As the entire army of sharks charged towards, it was all Murasa could do to cut down their numbers. For every pair that came towards her, one of them was sent spiralling away with a well-placed anchor to the side, but its companion made it past her without a scratch. She cursed, but she was too busy holding the enemy off to do anything about the sharks that were already inside.

The first lucky infiltrator only had time for a quick glance of the insides of the ship, and quickly chose his target. That mouse there looked rather enticing, it decided, and it didn't look like it was in any state to defend itself. Dinner had just been served.

Shou and Nazrin both saw the attack coming, and glanced at one another for a moment. There was a nod of approval between then as they placed their hands on each other's shoulders, as if to make a final embrace.

It was anything but, because when the shark came for them they pushed against each other's shoulders, pushing each other out of the predator's path. It came to a quick stop between them, set to turn around and focus on Nazrin now that she'd been separated from her master.

It didn't get the chance, as from both sides a pair of elbow strikes slammed into its sides. Shou and Nazrin struck in perfect unison, and even if they weren't up-to-date on their marine anatomy they knew enough to determine that an elbow to the side hurt like hell. The creature promptly passed out, and above its limped body the pair exchanged congratulated one another.

Shark number 2 witnessed this turn of events, and decided that the mouse and tiger weren't worth going for. Now, this girl here, with the purple hair...she didn't look like she'd pose much of a threat. It pounced towards Ichirin, jaw gaping open to bite her in two-

Smash!

...and after a devastating punch from the ghost over her shoulder, the shark suddenly found its mouth a lot emptier. Its teeth floated around in the water, and it glanced at them blankly before fainting from both shock and blood loss.

The third shark was now very aware that these crewmates weren't as vulnerable and delectable as they'd looked before. Three of them had proven themselves capable, but that still left a few potential morsels. Third time was a charm, so the shark decided to take a risk and go for the largest of the group, the one with the strange gradient hair. She seemed totally distracted from the ordeal, busy trying to attach some sort of piping to the wall, so it had the perfect chance to strike her from behind. It opened wide, bringing its teeth slamming down around Byakuren's torso, waiting to savour the taste of fresh meat.

Much to its surprise, it didn't so much as pierce the skin.

"Mm?"

Byakuren looked away from her work momentarily, examining the shark that had just tried and failed to bite her in half. Its mouth was still hanging open around her, trying over and over again to bite into her, but all it gained for its efforts was a tired jaw.

My apologies. May you find better fortune in the next life, friend.

She gave up on the piping installation she had been working on, instead holding it in both hands. A few seconds were spent on preparing her swing, and after that Byakuren slammed the pipe square into the creature's nose, knocking it right back the way it came. It flew back out the hole in the wall, taking another infiltrator back out with it and removing them both from the equation.

"Nice shot, Hijiri!"

Murasa yelled out a quick congratulations as she continued to hold the attackers off. Byakuren gave the captain a bow, then simply returned to her handiwork.

The crew had defended itself effectively, but there were still two heads unaccounted for. The next shark to break through turned upon a familiar face - one it recalled being knocked out by a few months ago and keeping it away from a good meal.

Sango tried kicking away from the shark, but she didn't have the obscene methods of defending herself everyone else here had. All she had was her spellcard, but again that was more likely to hurt other people than it was to hurt the sharks in this enclosed space. She quickly found herself with her back against the wall, and the creature closing in at full speed. Sango winced, ready for it to start chomping down on her, until she heard something slam into it from the side.

The shark did all it could to burst free, but apparently Dolphin Rider Koishi was capable of some very strong hugs. Sango needed a moment to stare at the scene, before offering Koishi a puzzled thumbs up.

Screw what the ghost says, she needs some backup!

Sango made her way to the entrance again before the next wave could break through. Behind her, Ichirin ordered Unzan to punch out the shark in Koishi's grip, leaving the self-proclaimed heroine groaning about how she'd lost her new friend.

Sango had to duck around Murasa's swing as she made her way outside. This time the captain was too busy playing defense to stop her, and simply watched with a look of annoyance.

"What the hell is wrong with you, tuna-twerp?! Just get back in the ship already!"

Sango took pleasure in ignoring Murasa's complaint, pulling out the card she'd been trying to show her earlier. The ghost's eyes widened for a moment, before returning to her default emotion of frustration.

"You had a spellcard?! Why didn't you tell me earlier, dammit? I could have used the help!"

Sango resisted the urge to slam her free palm into her own face as she mentally declared the card. She'd had a little training with her underground companions, so she'd managed to make things a little more dangerous this time.

As the dirty waters are made pure, strike down my enemies with what remains!
Cleansing Sign [Purified Greywater]!


A long wave of pale grey bullets lined themselves up in front of Sango, ready to be fired forwards at will. Now there was no need to worry about hitting anyone behind her, she could let off an attack like this. It would only be enough to take out one wave, but it would have to do. She made to click her fingers and release the attack.

"Hey, outta the way! You're gonna hit me with those!"

Murasa called out to stop her, and in the time Sango needed to turn to her she'd already taken a swing at the wall of bullets with the anchor. They flew forward into the remaining sharks, still moving too slow to really pose a threat.

Sango's eyes glistened with understanding.

...Wait. That's brilliant.

Sango had to do something a little different, but she ordered the bullets to slowly travel forward, their pattern deviating only slightly from the straight line they had taken before. Murasa probably didn't even realise it, but she'd just given Sango a brilliant idea.

The sharks were aware of danmaku, and so they knew the grey spheres approaching them were a threat, but they responded simply by swimming over them. The bullets continued to trail on forgotten behind them as they stormed the entrance again.

Sango clicked her fingers.

The bullets burst apart, each one transforming into two distinct spheres. Moving forward, a wave of jet-black bullets continued to travel harmlessly into the distance, but another wave of bright blue bullets was quickly flying back the way they had come, towards the totally unaware sharks. Murasa only barely caught the sight in the corner of her eye as she fought them off, eyes wide open.

The sounds of the bullets colliding with the remaining sharks from behind were almost orchestral to Sango's ears. Each of them were knocked unconscious by the attack thanks to the non-fatal properties of danmaku, but they'd likely wake up in a lot of pain and with no more ambitions of eating the crewmates of this particular shipwreck.

The fight was over.

Murasa and Sango had needed to dodge the oncoming wave, but the crewmates inside were only aware of the loud 'pichuun' noises coming from outside. A few heads poked out the window, relieved at the sight of their aggressors well and truly defeated.

There was a tiny, miniscule, miniature fragment of a moment when Sango and Murasa looked at each other with something resembling respect. They made a good team, apparently.

"Great idea. Glad I thought of it. OK, people, back to work."

It didn't last long, as Sango found herself hauled back into the ship by Murasa's semi-corporeal form. They'd just fought off an army of ravenous man-eating sharks, and they weren't allowed so much as a tea break?

"Phweeblblbl..."

Just five minutes, please...

-----

The mental image of Koishi hugging a shark is possibly the strangest/greatest (delete as appropriate) thing this fic has produced so far.

Drake

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Re: Pure Lotus of the Sunken Stars
« Reply #29 on: September 10, 2010, 02:46:27 pm »
Quote
The mental image of Koishi hugging a shark is possibly the strangest/greatest (delete as appropriate) thing this fic has produced so far.
Seriously where does this stuff come from.

Mainly? Sleep deprivation. Which means when university starts my writing will either get a lot better or a lot worse. :V
« Last Edit: September 10, 2010, 03:12:01 pm by Shou Toramaroukan »

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