2018-06-17 - LOTUS DREAMS: In Defence Of Normality

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Title: LOTUS DREAMS: In Defence Of Normality

Legends say that those who climb the mountain never return. Mikoto Minagi has something to say about that.


Mikoto Minagi, Mai Tokiha


Mount Moto, Nishitama Park

OOC - IC Date:

2018-06-17 - April 25th, 2015

.****************************** Tama Outer City *******************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Nishitama Park District +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
 The largest, but least densely populated area of Tokyo, Nishitama is on the
 westernmost border of the great metropolis, where city has become town,
 which becomes forest, which finally becomes towering mountain. Consisting
 mostly of woods and mountains, Nishitama is home to lush greenery, ample
 wildlife, and fresh flowing water that has yet to be tainted by the city
 below. Fishing and hiking are popular here, and in good weather,
 city-dwellers who long to stretch their legs can camp out in the forest
 without ever leaving Tokyo's borders.

 The spiritually inclined can find a wealth of opportunity in Nishitama's
 mountains. The nearby Mount Mitake has been regarded as sacred since time
 beyond memory, and a Shinto shrine at its peak safeguards its considerable
 power. Mount Mito was forbidden ground throughout the Sengoku era, a policy
 which preserved some ancient beech trees on its hills. Finally, the
 2000-meter Mount Kumotori is the tallest in the area, with a clear view of
 distant Mount Fuji and much of the region from its summit.

 All of this natural beauty is a mere hour and a half from Shinjuku Station
 even at the extreme end of the district.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto Minagi knows how to attack every type of youma, because the Minagi shrine is devoted to one singular, noble purpose: they are the last, best line of defence against any malevolent threat. There she has trained her whole life, to ensure that no monster can possibly beat her.

Of course, the HiME attract Orphans, the worst of those dark creatures - and so they dwell upon the forbidden Mount Moto, where no travellers will foolishly tread. The monsters come to her, and not the city below.

Even though the city is a twisted and complicated place, even though it cannot compare to life in the mountains, the people do not deserve to be hurt.

Today, Mikoto has finished her training early, bokken against wood-blocks. Her Lord Brother's training has a different focus, tactics and command, and he is still occupied with their Grandfather's teachings - and Mikoto would hate to interrupt them. So she follows one of her cats, as it stalks some unseen mouse through the forest outside of the shrine. And when it catches its prey, she beams with pride.

But she'd hate to make her cats feel as if their prize might be taken from them, so she moves further out, through the forest, leaping from treebranch to treebranch just like her feline friends. Her black robes flutter from the silent motions, a clearly displayed obsidian-bead necklace caught in the motions just like her braids.

She's just exploring, at first. It's fun to roam about the forests of the mountain.

And the mountain is quiet, now, so it's fine...

... right?

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

There are rumours about this mountain.

Some say it is the realm of the gods. Some say a home for youkai. Some say a lair of demons. The only real point of commonality is that the mountain is mysterious, dangerous, and forbidden. Any sensible person would stay far away from the place, and never give it another thought.

No one really ever accused teenagers of being sensible.

Mai Tokiha had an evening like any teenager might, the night before. It was a test of courage with more than a few friends, one that went remarkably well...if nowhere near frightening enough. Naturally, as teenagers are wont to do, the subject of raising the stakes came up. Challenges were met by higher challenges, met by teenage bravado, and eventually every participant had some sort of dare to enact.

Mai's challenge was to climb this mountain, and frankly she counted herself lucky. Rumours are just rumours, and it's a nice climb. Maybe a little spooky, but she has a flashlight, and that's enough flame to ward away the darkness, right? Just a long, and maybe a little tiring, hike.

A human denizen of the mountain, were they in the area, would not see Mai hiking up a slope.

They would see her running for her life.

It's like a living shadow, a beast of deep crimson. Three heads on serpentine necks lick the air, while a body of some mighty alien hound bounds from rock to rock. It's just big enough that the trees are impediment - were it bigger they could be trivially crushed, and were it smaller it could find a route. Still, it pursues, teeth seeming to burn against the air, searing and tearing at obtrusive branches. The Orphan hungers, and it has found prey.

"Oh gods oh gods oh gods...." Mai is running, panting heavily, and winces as her arm catches on another branch. She would stop for breath if she could, but the crashing from behind means she dares not. Her feet stumble, and she frantically scrabbles to find her footing again - unless there's a miracle, she won't last much longer. "Why didn't I just suggest a singing contest..."


<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The sound of branches cracking and dirt being overturned isn't completely unusual, in this place. Animals hunt; a fleeing deer makes much the same noise as a fleeing person. But there is an upper limit to the size of the animals on the mountain -

- and deer don't scream for help.

Mount Moto is forbidden ground, and there oughtn't be any help to be found. And yet, impossibly, there is - because as that middle head crashes down to punish Mai's misstep in the most final possible way, there is a scream, and it is two words:


And crashing through the branches from above, that scream is matched with an obsidian blade, which takes that monster's head just as the jaws open to swallow its prey whole. It is held by a girl, tiny and yet perfectly able to handle the giant claymore she wields. She holds it in ox-stance before the girl, glaring at the monster. "You want me, right?"

It howls, and launches itself towards her; she rebukes it with a slash, though one of the heads manages to nip through an arm of her robe and scratch at skin beneath, and leaps forward to press the attack. It latches to an ancient tree, not quite small enough to maneuver, and she cuts through it in an instant; canine paws are not dextrous enough to leap away before it's crushed beneath the weight of hundreds of years of wood. It snaps, and bites; she leaps above their flailing heads, and plants her sword straight through its midsection. "MIROKU!"

And because her Child has always acted in accordance with her, obsidian spires erupt from the ground to spike both of those heads, and its body matched with two more of those black-glass spikes; they fan out to either side her, framing her in all her monster-slaying glory.

It cannot last, against an assault like that. It explodes, as she leaps away; only sparkles remain.

It's only once the Orphan is gone that Mikoto turns to the girl, frowning in concern. "You..." ... but there's something in that fiery hair which makes Mikoto's heart ache, again. "- um --"

Her brother isn't here to explain, this time. So she shakes her head, dismissing the momentary strangeness. She's never met this girl before. She must just be surprised to see another girl on the mountain. "... you okay?"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

There's that horrible snarl, far closer behind Mai than she'd thought, and she realizes she's about to die. She doesn't have a weapon, doesn't have an Element, doesn't have anything that would save her in this situation - all she can do is throw her arms around herself and pray it's quick-

-and then her earlier prayer is answered.

Against a normal girl, the Orphan was an unstoppable monstrosity. Against the trained warrior-priestess that is Mikoto Minagi, it never truly stood a chance.

As Mikoto turns from the Orphan's demise, she can see the intruder to the mountain. A teenage girl, somewhere around Mikoto's age give or take a few years, dressed in clothes from the world beyond Mount Moto. A red shirt to go with fiery hair, white shorts stained from the dirt of her rapid flight, and at least slightly sensible hiking shoes. It's the kind of outfit that frankly wouldn't have helped any kind of camouflage - whoever she is, she can't have known about the darkness upon the mountain.

She is openly staring at the warrior, illuminated by the Orphan's death-sparkles and framed by spires of obsidian.

It really is quite the sight.

"...what? Oh! Um, I think so? I...think so." She puts one hand on her chest, taking a shuddering breath before letting it out. Two, three - she's forcibly calming herself down, as best she can, though her eyes don't waver from the sight before her.

"...you saved my life..." There's awe in her voice, audible though it's nearly a whisper.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

A normal girl. What a bizarre thing to see here. There are no girls here; and certainly no one normal belongs here. Mikoto finds herself staring just as much as this other girl is.

"Yeah," Mikoto blinks, as if it's obvious, wonders why her chest flutters with the admiration. Is this what it means to save people? Is this what it means to be needed?

She shakes her head, braids whipping back and forth, and presses a hand to her chest in a motion which feels, for some reason, to be entirely familiar. "I'm Mikoto. Mikoto Minagi." With that introduction, she retrieves her sword-case - it's nearby, naturally - and returns Miroku to it.

As she moves, she speaks. "Why come here? Not safe here. Mountain's forbidden for a reason."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

"Mikoto...Minagi." It's like she's in a dream, almost - an adrenaline crash is an awkward thing - but the girl's eyes are on the sword-wielder sheathing her weapon. It's almost entrancing - and then she seems to remember herself all of a sudden. "Oh! I'm Mai. Mai Tokiha. And I..."

The awe in her eyes and voice quickly fades to shame, and her gaze flickers away. She hasn't stood up from the ground just yet, and instead pulls her knees up to her chest. "...it's stupid. My friends and I got into this stupid debate about who was the bravest, and I figured that climbing this mountain was a great way to prove my courage." She laughs, though there isn't humour in it. "There were rumours, sure, but...I didn't think any of this would happen. Didn't know anything like that..."

The adrenaline is definitely wearing off, now, and she shivers. "...I'm no amazing warrior. If you hadn't shown up, I would have..." It's sinking in, and she pulls her arms around herself, as if warming herself will help with the aftereffects of a near-death experience.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.


... it's a nice name, Mikoto decides, as she shrugs her sword-case onto her back. She turns back towards her, tilting her head as she considers her story. "So... just a bet with friends... that's what normal people do, huh?" Because she is, in fact, entirely normal.

Mikoto frowns with concern as she sees the other girl curling in on herself, stepping up to her and crouching down beside, a hand on her shoulder. "It's okay, Mai. I fight so people like Mai don't have to. Mai should get to mess around and make mistakes without worrying about that stuff, right?"

She straightens up, offering Mai that hand to help pull her up. "Mai's okay. I won't let anything happen, okay? Come on, can't stay here. Gotta get Mai back to where Mai belongs. Friends'll worry, right?"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

For a moment, Mai flinches at the touch - but seems to relax, just a bit. Recover, just a bit. There's a hint of a laugh, caught on the edge of being a sob. "...yeah. Thanks - it's great that there are people who can fight, huh? Great that you're here, fighting those...whatever they were.."

She's shivering, still, but that could just as easily be how light her shirt is. She takes the hand that's offered to her, grasping it as tightly as if it were a lifeline. "Thank you. Thank you so much, for...for saving me."

It's slow, how long it takes her to stand.

It's a little slower, how long it takes her to let go of that hand.

"...yeah. Home. My friends all had bright ideas about how to prove their courage, but I don't think any of them hit my level of bad idea. We basically challenged each other to see who was the bravest and none of us had the sense to back down. Normal teenager stuff." There's the hint of a smile on her face, thinking of those distant friends of hers - and then she laughs, suddenly. "...do you want to come meet them? I think you'd automatically win the prize for bravest, facing monsters like that."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Ken Gao - Born A Stranger https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqSzB_xBmtM

"Orphans," Mikoto supplies, as Mai stumbles over what to call them. There's no need for her to lie, after all. "Attracted to HiME, like me. Especially me." Why she's such a lightning-rod for monsters has never really occurred to her; it just seems entirely sensible. Perhaps it's the pact they've made with the kami of their shrine.

... it's nice, to be thanked so sincerely. It's nice, and Mikoto is a steadying force as long as the other girl needs. "Don't worry about it!" She chirps, in response. "I'm just glad Mai's okay!"

She listens with great interest to Mai's tales of what normal people do in their normal lives. "Sounds like Mai has lots of fun," Mikoto smiles, and for some reason she sounds incredibly relieved.

It's because Mai didn't get hurt, she thinks.

The next suggestion, though, visibly surprises her. "Me?" Mikoto blinks, a hand curling at the bead at her chest. "I..." ... her Lord Brother said that there was nothing good in Tokyo, but then again, maybe he just didn't know about people like Mai. And if she knew more about it, she'd be able to help him better, and surely one day she'd have to go there to protect it, and...

In the end, Mai's a normal girl, and Mai would be in danger if Mai tried to go down the mountain on her own. So Mikoto nods, with an affirmative noise. "... I guess it's okay!"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

"...Orphans..." Why one of those weird monsters would have gone after Mai herself is a mystery - she's no princess or anything. The thought stalls out in an instant as another, more important one comes to mind, and Mai's gaze whips around to Mikoto in a flash. Her thoughts are blurted out in a confused rush - "Wait, you're a warrior princess?!"

She sounds kind of impressed by the idea.

Before setting out, Mai checks over herself as best she can - making sure those scrapes and scratches aren't openly bleeding or anything. The shirt's probably a write-off, but...she really does seem to be okay. Putting a hand on her chest again, she breathes a sigh of relief.

Mikoto's final answer about coming down with her brings an earnest smile to Mai's face - a bright smile like none Mikoto has ever seen on the normal girl, bright like the sun. "That'd be great! I'd really love the company...you're definitely right that the mountain should be forbidden."

Why is Mikoto on it, then, Mai never asks.

It's cautiously that Mai starts forward, eyes out for...whatever nightmarish creature might find them again. It could be that another attacks before they leave this mountain, but...for whatever reason, Mai doesn't seem terrified by the thought. It's dangerous, sure, but...there's a warrior by her side. She couldn't be safer.

"You'll like meeting them! Well, some of them. I'll make sure to tell off anyone who tries giving you trouble, and they'd better listen up. Maybe we can try going to a cafe - there aren't any cafes on this mountain, right?..." For the travel, though...Mai's upbeat again, almost bubbly, with plenty of answers to any questions Mikoto might have about the world outside. It might be slower going, walking with a civilian, but certainly not boring...

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto tilts her head at Mai's confusion. She grins, a moment later. "Yup!" It's strange that someone would be so impressed by it - but perhaps it makes sense. A normal person would be impressed by the nature of a HiME, right..?

And then she smiles, and it's like the sun coming out, and Mikoto decides she much prefers the smiling Mai to the scared one. It's worth making sure people like Mai can smile. "Yeah," Mikoto nods, smiling in turn. "I stay up here, monsters stay up here, no one down there's gotta worry... but if I just bring Mai back, it'll be fine, right? Won't take long. And if anything happens, I'll take care of it!"

She sounds entirely confident, but then, she has no reason not to. After all, she's spent her whole life learning how to deal with monsters.

"Cafe?" Mikoto blinks, confused. "What's 'cafe'?" Well, that answers that question. There are a hundred more, as she guides Mai down the mountain - asking her to explain all the normal things she mentions, like arcades and computers and trains. She's familiar enough with mountain geography that she can take Mai down an easy path - even as they go further down the mountain than Mikoto's ever gone before.

And she's listening out for dangers, just as much as she's listening to the bright girl she leads, but nothing more assaults them. It does mean she can point out several interesting things on the way, though - a deer which leaps away at their approach, a flock of birds in one of the trees. She's able to teach Mai as much as she learns.

It's nice, how they can learn from each other equally.