2019-01-18 - TIMELINE 2: String The Banners High

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Title: TIMELINE 2: String The Banners High

The Horseback Archery Festival is almost here -- and preparations are underway! Rei Hino has personally pressganged several of her friends and associates into making sure that this celebration of yabusame culture will be a success. ... oh, fine, there are snacks too.


Rei Hino, Adrien Agreste, Fuu Hououji, Steven Universe, Hayato Nishi, Ami Mizuno, Niramo Umokeshi, Setsuna Higashi, Endo Naoki, Madoka Kaname


Yamanote High City - Hikawa Shrine

OOC - IC Date:

2019-01-18 - 2014-04-18

.***************************** Yamanote High City *****************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Hikawa Shrine +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
 At the entrance to this shrine, a red torii gate signifies passage from the
 mundane realm of Tokyo to sacred ground. Ascending a long stone staircase
 with moss in its crevices, one reaches an open, stone-paved veranda
 surrounded by a copse of old trees, many of which wear plaited ropes
 dangling long strips of paper, signifying the presence of a tree kami.
 Ferocious carved lions and heavy, stylized stone lanterns accent the
 traditional Japanese architecture, with its oversized gabled roofs,
 rough-hewn wooden pillars, and thin walls. This is the Hikawa jinja, a
 Shinto shrine almost 300 years old, and a cherished cultural touchstone for
 a city too often starved for quiet and serenity.

 The square veranda has a building on each of three sides, with a second,
 unpainted torii on the fourth that guards the top of the stairs. The left
 structure is a small open-air theatre for the performance of rites and
 ritual dance. The right structure contains the living quarters for the
 priests and miko that live here, as well as their offices and the iconic
 donation box. The central structure is also the largest, as it is the
 haiden, or hall of worship, where people can kneel and quietly pay tribute
 to the kami, or attend religious ceremonies. The most important building on
 the grounds, however, is behind the haiden, and not open to the public.
 Called the honden, it is protected by a strong fence, for it is the home of
 the spirits that reside in this place.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

It's the afternoon before the Horseback Archery Festival! The sun is shining, there's a pleasant breeze in the air, and you have been invited to make the festival happen, perhaps at lunch or over an after-school snack. The word may possibly also be 'invited'. Rei Hino has excellent persuasion skills.

And for those without any invitation at all, well. There's a banner out there with 'SNACKS ABOVE' indicating up the steps and through the torii gate. Surely it's not some sort of trap designed to get people to come help after school! (It is absolutely a trap, and Rei feels no shame whatsoever.)

The Hikawa Shrine grounds are already showing the signs of a festival. A long track has been set up, corded off for the horses; there are a few archery targets not yet placed, as well as some kusajishi, grass deer - it used to be that they'd be literally woven from grass, but in the modern day they're of sturdier make, held up by wooden frames. They're all clustered together, as if they've just now been brought out of storage.

Rei, in traditional shrine maiden's haori and hakama, claps her hands together. "We'll neet someone to set up those targets! Three along the course, and let's get the grass deer set up in the field for the foot archers!" She gestures towards the area of the grounds which has been designated for standard archery. "Oh, and the turnip-headed arrows need to be checked!" They're peculiar, blunt, round things, and there are two varieties, because some quivers have V-shaped prongs. It's important that they're in distinct quivers; an archer isn't going to be looking closely at the arrow they're drawing, after all.

"We also need to get those banners up," she sweeps a hand towards the trailing banners by the cords they're meant to be strung up along. There are an awful lot of colourful flags just waiting to be hung up. "This is a sacred festival, so let's do our very best, okay? Right! Let's get going!" She encourages everyone, with a broad smile.


Rei pauses, and sighs. "Also there are snacks over there," she adds, gesturing open-palmed to a table she's set up with juice and soda and cookies. "So don't go hungry or anything."

<Pose Tracker> Adrien Agreste [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Adrien looks around the area. He has never been to an archery show, and frankly he was amazed his father was allowing him to attend tomorrow's show. It was something about it being a good place for photos or something? Adrien wasn't quite certain who made the call, but upon hearing the request to help set up he figured he might as well give a hand.

He looks around hoping to see a familiar face among the crowd as he makes his way towards the snack table. He never did get to eat his full lunch, might as well snag a cookie to keep his energy up.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

It doesn't take the offer of snacks to draw Fuu's interest for the Horseback Archery Festival, and with her interest comes her willing participation. Hopefully there *will* be some snacks left by the time she turns her attention to refreshments.

For now, though, she's busying herself checking the arrows - making sure the shafts are still straight, the fletchings are in good shape, and that the normal and V-pronged arrows haven't gotten mixed up. "Rei-san?" she calls out once the miko is done giving instructions to the new arrivals. "How many arrows should there be per quiver?"

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.



Well... that was easy.


It doesn't take long for Steven to show up to the event at the proper time. And while he is not religious or superstitious, shrines have a lovely sort of wonder to them. A tranquility everyone seems to enjoy in some manner. And of course, to help the situation more, is to help set up some kind of sacred festival thingy!

That boy will go to just about anything.

"Ooooo! Pretty deer!" he says, looking toward the scuplted deer decorations. "But don't run away! We wouldn't want you to..." A giggle.

"...Leaf, or anything!"

He seems so proud of his pun it and of itself may make people laugh. "Hiii Rei!" Steven says, scampering his way over to her. "I can help move the deers! Or is it deer? Whats the plural of deer?" Kids these days.

<Pose Tracker> Hayato Nishi [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The Fortune Telling Mansion - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkR_J9yYodg

~~ Earlier that day... ~~

In the woods, there stands an ominously creaking mansion. One of its denizens, a towering teenager, opened the door in response to a strange knocking sound. In spite of rumours of fortune-tellers, not many people tended to drop by...and today seemed no different. No customer, not a soul to be seen. Perhaps the door could have closed, and solitude returned -

But for a caw. The caw of a crow, perched on a nearby branch. The teen stared, the bird stared back, and then a flyer was noticed. Puzzled, he picked it up - but confusion still turned to delight, and the door slammed shut with excitement.

Another caw, in the woods, with no one to hear...and then the bird flew off, to retrieve another flyer.

~~ Now... ~~

Hayato Nishi, when not in an Infinity school uniform, is fond of a puffy orange vest. Today is no different, though at least an excuse could be made that he's wearing something like safety garb. His gaze goes back and forth between the map-flyer in his hands and the shrine before him, a thoughtful expression furrowing his brow.

"I...guess this must be the place, E- Setsuna! Let's hurry, they might run out of snacks soon!" There's a lot of steps to run up, but eagerly run up them he does - only moderately winded when he reaches the top, and Rei Hino's instructions. Confusion crossed with betrayal - but the snacks were, in fact, not a lie so it's all good.

"I guess that makes sense." He nods towards Setsuna, a confident nod accompanying his words. "This place wouldn't have completely free snacks - but it looks like there isn't much work to be done. Make sure there's a chocolate cookie left for me, all right?"

With that, he jogs towards the heaviest items - probably those grass deer. It's a slow jog, though, as he's looking around like literally everything here is new to him. The deer stand out as an animal he...might not have seen before, and he peers into their leafy eye-equivalents. Whever he sees in them just confuses him more, and he turns to Steven. "I'm surprised she didn't just command them - are these creatures so bad at listening we need to use force?"

...and then he places a hand under the belly of one, lifting it with a single arm. "Not that that's a problem!"

<Pose Tracker> Ami Mizuno [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"Deer can refer to both a singular deer and a group of deer." Ami Mizuno's voice echoes behind Steven. "Deers can be a accepted vernacular, but it's easier to just say 'deer'."

Ami of course is here to support her sister schools and one of her dear friends, Rei Hino, who of course didn't even have to bribe Ami. Friends don't bribe friends.*

"I'll help move the deer." She says, cheerfully moving to carefully look at the structure of the deer before moving them.

  • friends absolutely bribe friends, right, Rei 'karaoke queen' Hino?

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

School has been a rather mentally exhausting event for Niramo today. Okada Saburai was his usual hateful self as a math teacher and has sprung an unexpected pop quiz on the morning class as soon as the day started, and it only went downhill from there. Extra homework for social studies and the school running out of her favorite juice has this Juuban student trudging along from school and just wanting the day to be over with.

But the sight of a sign proclaiming free snacks by a torii gate has Niramo making a slight detour. "Oh, good! What's the worst that could happen?"

Only the fact that she was in public was stopping Takk from saying that "one shouldn't tempt Fate so" out loud. The Kwami will just have to wait until later tonight.

Starring up at the shrine maiden with half-lidden eyes, Niramo doesn't say a word to this betrayer. Not a grumble leaves her lips or a protest about this injustice and false advertising. There's no hiding the fact that this was one girl who wasn't so happy about getting roped into setting up a festival!

Sure, Niramo could just go back down the stairs, but that would be leaving the snacks behind...surely it's worth the effort, right? "I think i'll help with the deer, then. I don't know the first thing about arrows except you fire them from bows."

But first, a snack, and then the deer! Making a detour towards the free* snacks, Niramo snatches up two cookies with only a trace of chocolate chips. A sure sign it's store-bought, but it's still sugar! "Hopefully the shrine maiden won't find more things to set up as time goes on." Then again, she was sneaky enough to trap 'volunteers'...

Steven's pun is enough to bring a smile to Niramo's face. Exhausted or not, a good pun deserves to be enjoyed! "That really was a tree-t, Steven-kun. Ready to re-tree-ve some deer, or maybe something else?" Regardless on if someone laughs at the follow-up, Niramo's making sure to help with the deer as well, being careful to lift a deer under the stomach and carring it along.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Setsuna Higashi is not in traditional haori and hakama. Setsuna Higashi would not know tradition if it bit her. She is only vaguely aware of the definition of the word. And yet, through no fault of her own, here she is, helping at a weird place with weird things where there's going to be weird animals. It's all weird! Who would even use something like this???

She doesn't voice these complaints though. At least, not very loudly. At least it's not particularly out of character for her to be a little sour. Because...

~~ Earlier that day... ~~

"What?" 'Setsuna' asked 'Hayato' back at the mansion, scowling at him. She considers... "Well, if they're good snacks..."

~ Now... ~~

Setsuna Higashi has changed into fairly ordinary attire, a long-sleeved black shirt, shorts, red sneakers. She looks up to the shrine and its banner, and has a Feeling about this. "Hey--"

She sighs, abrubtly. "...Ugh, they're going to think I care," she mutters as she watches him run, making her way up a little more slowly but still in time to hear the instructions. "A..." Sacred... festival? She blinks. She frowns. She is perhaps not entirely off of Rei's radar--after all, people are still regularly asking the Infinity student for fortunes--and yet--

"These are barely snacks!" she hisses in a whisper towards Hayato before he runs off, leaving her stuck with... helping, or else becoming very obvious. She frowns. She considers. ...And she sees Adrien.

"Hey," she says to the younger boy, "...You should make sure to get the chocolate chip ones now, before they all go away. It seems like they're the most popular."

Then she picks up three at once and, while no one is looking, shoves them into her mouth. Surprisingly they're gone in moments.

"What..." She eyes the banners skeptically. It looks like she's concentrating hard on their design. ...this is kind of true.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

"Oh? Do you want this? Hmm?" Endo holds a slice of fruit procured from the snack table in his hand, wagging it in the face of one of the mock-deer. "No? Are you sure? Well, if you insist..." Chomp. Endo swallows his snack in one gulp.

"Okay, time to go." He too is pitches in, hefting his chosen deer and teetering with it toward it's designated area. Hayato wandering by gives him brief pause to contemplate, and then Endo too attempts to hoist his deer overhead. With a single hand it gets somewhere near his head before it fumbles out of palm and onto to the ground with a hollow thud.

"Ah..." Says Endo, wincing. Should questioning eyes turn toward him, he offers this: "It must have been shot."

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Desiderium https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cy94_j2423w


It's safer and easier than ever to be a magical girl! And there's kind of a whole vibe about helping Homura-chan and others master their powers -- about training -- that has infected Madoka's off-time.

So, she joined the Ohtori Archery Club. To better herself.

She isn't very good at the spiritual, almost artistic side of the traditional form. Which is honestly a little bit surprising, considering who it is. But then, everything she knows about a bow, she learned on a battlefield.



Madoka does like the traditional outfits and she wears them to basically every club event. Including this one.

Shh, shh, goes her own black hakama as she counts careful paces, heel to toe, across the courtyard. Click, click, goes her armguard against her breastplate as it holds something very big and very round.

Thud. She sets the huge archery target down in its place, expanding its tripod as she goes. Madoka must have been working out!

Then she heads back for another one, which brings her back towards the table -- and a great many new arrivals.

"Wow, Rei-chan!" she bubbles over with enthusiasm. "You're really good at recruiting volunteers! Hi everyone--"

Her eyes warm triply as she espies The Least Likely Volunteer. "--Hi Secchan!"

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Adrien absolutely got an invitation! Rei may have been slightly cunning in thinking that if someone like him came to the preparation he'd absolutely attract more helpers, but she also wanted to include him. Both those things can be true at the same time.

"Three V-pronged arrows to a quiver for the horseback archers, or two standard arrows for the ground archers," Rei responds to Fuu, cheerfully, as she pins up a banner. "Part of the skill is not getting any second chances, right, Fuu-chan?" She gets halfway through pinning up the blue cloth when she hears Steven, and turns to him when she hears him trailing off deliberately. She smiles and giggles, because it's nice to see him having fun. He's not even the only one enjoying bad jokes, and Rei waves to Niramo, too. "Hi, Steven-kun! Hi, Niramo-chan! Thanks for coming!"

Luckily, Ami is here to explain the difference between deer and deers! Which... Rei hadn't entirely known herself. She just thought 'deers' was wrong. It's a good thing there's a genius on hand to explain this stuff. "Right - it's 'deer!'" One of the people she has attracted from the public emerges to help with the kusajishi, too, and for all he seems unbothered by the frame's bulkiness... Rei laughs, a little nervously. "That's not..." Rei trails off, and clears her throat, doing her very best to be level-headed about what sounds like a completely ridiculous assertation. "The grass deer were an essential part of training samurai, in the past - you see those white circles on their flanks? Sons of samurai would work at hitting those points, so that later they could hit targets while riding on horseback. Because they were meant for practice, they weren't real!"

That's - that's obvious, right? Everyone knows they're fake, right?

At least the other guy who is engaging the deer seems to be doing it on an ironic level, and Rei just kind of rolls her eyes at Endo and his fruit antics while no one's looking. But let's be real, someone was probably looking, because Rei has collected quite a large amount of helpers to the shrine, as Madoka points out. She's a bit of an odd duck, compared to the other members of the Archery Club (or even the wider Archery Club Network, because multiple schools have Archery Clubs, and they surely aren't shy about meeting up for joint events), but she tries hard, and Rei has stood up for her many times when other club-members tried to tut about her lack of grace. "Oh, you think so?" Rei smiles, clapping her hands together. "It's amazing how many people will get together with a little persuasion, Madoka-chan -- oh!"

Unfortunately for someone at the snack table, Madoka has pointed out another of their new visitors. "Secchan!" She calls out, in greeting. From one fortune teller to another, she's certainly chased her up by now. Competition has really been heating up in the fortune telling fandom, and it's obvious in the way her smile goes a little more nefarious. "Could you get that banner and hang it up? Thank~you~," she chirps, singsong, as she turns back to -


"Ah..." Rei sighs, fingers rubbing at her temple. "Don't worry, they're sturdy enough," she insists. "Steven-kun, can you help him get that over to the shooting range?" Hayato seems to be handling his okay despite being a show-off boy, at least, and naturally Niramo and Ami seem to be doing things responsibly.

<Pose Tracker> Adrien Agreste [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Adrien blinks at Setsuna that just ate far more cookies than he would normally be allowed to eat at once. "Uh yes, I'll make sure I grab a couple then," he says as he snags two in his hands. He then looks to Madoka and offers a smile to her.

"I have to see, it's so cool to see all the archery outfits. I feel like I walked into one of my favorite anime from when I was a kid," he then nibbles on a cookie and dusts his hand. "Better get to work." He waves to Rei as he approaches. "Hi..um, what should I be doing exactly?" He tucks his hand behind his head. "I've never had to help set up one of these kind of events before."

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Wait aminute, that disturbance, what is this...?

Oh, it was more puns. Of course! "Hiii Niramo!" Steven says, turning to face her. "Hey, that's my thing! How did you get good at jokes?!" he says, more curious than anything. Most folks around here seemed to not be of the pun-favoring variety. Niramo was different.

"Ohhh. Okay! Yeah, I guess I never thought about it until now. Deer does sound better for some reason!" he comments to Ami. "How have you been, by the way? Higher grade classes goin okay?" he asks politely.

A pair of individuals show up to help but seem to beeline more to the snacks than anything. "Huh," he comments. Especially to the lack of reaction to his and Niramo's jokes. Must be the serious types. The fellow strong-arms one quite handily though with some serious muscle. "I uh, I think they are made of wood! They aren't alive after all, though that'd be pretty cool, wooden deer scampering around the forest and blending in and stuff."

The movement of pink hair get's Steven's attention across the area. "Heeey Madoka!" he calls. "I like your outfit!" A pause. "I really should get something to wear for frestivals. I'm not exactly sure how star shirts fit into the atmosphere..."

"Oooh, I should get a shopping party together to find one!" he states, jubilant.

"Oh, sure thing!" he states, his flip-flops clattering on the ground as he goes. The sound of a happy child moving, if anything. "Hiiii Endooooo!" he calls with a fake deep voice. "Oh no, deer down! We should get it... uh."

The boy's repetoire for leaf or deer based puns appears to be tapped. "I got nothing. Let's get them out to the field!" he says, reaching for one to help lift. And boy does he lift his side. For someone his size, he seems to have little effort for his half of the work!

Maybe he has lifted heavy equipment before.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Fuu listens to the reply, and nods in both acknowledgement and agreement. She's not confident enough to try her hand at horseback archery, but she still appreciates the skill of those who *can* do it. "Three V-pronged for horseback, two normal for ground," she repeats, and starts separating out arrows to go into the quivers, continuing to examine them as she goes. Arrows which she's not content as to the quality of are being set aside - but it does seem like there should be plenty of good arrows.

... Probably. How many competitors are there going to be in total?

Steven's volley of deer-related puns draws a wider smile from Fuu as she listens, even though she doesn't chime in with any wordplay of her own. Other than that, the attention she can spare from arrow inspection is spread among seeing how many other volunteers are pitching in, and occasionally noddingbowing to familiar faces - of which there are quite a few.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"Good," Setsuna says, satisfied that Westar's punishment has begun. But--

The unlikeliest volunteer is right. Madoka's sheer enthusiasm is like a bubble itself, and somehow she always seems to surprise the otherwise-grumpy Setsuna. There's the cute nickname, the warm look--

Setsuna briefly has a look resembling one of these deer but in headlights. "Ah--"

It turns quickly into a smile. "Hello, Madoka-chan," she answers, because she already lost the battle over being totally aloof to her. "You..." Pause. "You seem very in your element." It would seem that her sharp tongue sort of disappears a little when she's talking to Madoka.

"There's no need to explain to him," Setsuna says about Hayato, and shows that it's not entirely gone. Naturally, as a proponent of more Western fortune styles than Rei's, they have been clear rivals. She notices the smile. "...Sure," Setsuna answers very sweetly--super sweetly. And starts to move towards the banner.

"So," she says to Madoka, "You're a part of this then? I'm not... entirely clear on it all."

She naturally gravitates towards one of the red banners, of course.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo smiles sheepishly over in Rei's direction, and in his immediate vicinity. He waves his hand toward Steven when the younger boy approaches, calling, "Hey, Steven-san!" A motion is made to the deer, and then he reaches to pick up his own side. Up it goes.

"Hmm," Muses Endo, "Deeramedics?" He offers, seeming unpleased with this after a moment of thought. "Ah, that's a hard one. I'm glad you came out to help, though. I bet it's your first time seeing a festival like this, right?"

He shuffles along slowly, but the deer will get to it's destination eventually. When it does Endo pauses to wave at Hayato, calling, "You're really strong, Hayato-san. You could probably carry us while we carry the deer, right?" Endo's smile belies this for some good-natured fun, a short nod of satisfaction made when he and Steven finally do get the deer into position.

<Pose Tracker> Hayato Nishi [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Hayato is absolutely certain that Setsuna will preserve his trust and make sure there will still be cookies later! There's absolutely no way she'd betray that hope. None.

Surely, stolen cookies are the most delicious.

There's...quite a few people helping with the deer! Some of them are making quips that don't really seem to sink in - the art of the pun seems to fly over his head these days. It doesn't matter too much, though, and at Rei's direction he carries the plant-deer to the indicated location. She and Steven both have a few comments to say about the apparent animal, though - the history, the nature, and how alive or real they're supposed to be.

He slows to a stop upon reaching the ideal spot, looking the deer in the face. Hesitantly, he knocks on the side of it, feeling solid wood, and waiting for a response.

It...feels pretty real? But...maybe it's not alive?

"Right! That would...make sense." Gingerly, he sets down the deer, backing away while eyeing it suspiciously just in case. "It's not a real animal. So you can shoot at it."

...is his cover blown? Does he have to throw everything aside and just turn one of them - no, Setsuna has his back, and is diverting the issue. It's fine.

Endo has a suggestion, and he looks a bit thoughtful. "Well, I probably couldn't carry all of you - that might be a bit much. It also seems kind of inefficient..."

...wait, was that supposed to be a 'joke'? How to cover for this, er....

His gaze flickers over to the snack table, where the cookies are slowly diminishing, and the cheerful conversation there. "Huh. I wonder when Setsuna made so many friends?"

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Aw, I've always liked your star shirts, Steven," Madoka says with a friendly grin. "But I'd go to your shopping party if you want!"

She moves to help Setsuna with the banners, and before long is taking more than her share. Heavy fabric wrapped around even heavier poles, it's a lot! Chinning over at Adrien, she gestures inward, for him to join them. Across three shoulders will go even easier than two, after all.

"It's a festival! And a contest! We shoot bows. Well, uh, we shoot arrows from bows, actually."

Now she's explaining to both newbies; two for the price of one.

"These are pretty heavy, so it'd be great if we all worked together to stand them up and get them stretched out... I think they were over here last year."

Despite being a newbie to the club she is not to the festival. There are always classmates to support. Also: horses.

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Rei is proving to be a surprising fountain of knowledge on the history of the festival. Even though the shrine is hosting it and everything, Niramo wasn't quite expecting Rei to have so much information, and to be confident about it as well. Just how long as she been running it? "You're welcome, Rei-san. Just...try to be upfront about needing help next time, that's all!"

All is forgiven in the end, since the snacks were here!

The deer is a little hefty, but by keeping the weight spread out on her two arms, Niramo is able to move her deer well enough. "Looks like the deer will be set up first thing at this rate. Do you think the deer are cute, especially for targets, Ami-san?" Niramo has talked to Ami several times in passing, mostly due to Wakatsuki being in the Science Club, but surely there's a normal girl behind that reputation of being a genius?

Setting her deer down, Niramo waves both of her hands in greetings at the pinkette. "Hello Madoka-san! Have you helping Rei-san with the setup for a while?" Madoka does cut quite the impressive figure in her outfit...

Looking between Endo and Steven, Niramo puzzles over this one for a moment. "It's just having a deer-death experience? It'll be okay!" A few seconds pass before Niramo bows her head. "Okay, I apologize for that one. That was terrible."

Hayato gets a puzzled look for a moment before she just shakes her head. "I hope so! Deer might be hunted but I'm certainly not for watching a real deer get shot at. Even if these are fake, they're adorable, and no one should just at such a cute thing!"

<Pose Tracker> Adrien Agreste [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Adrien follows Madoka's lead and nods. "Sure, I can help with that." He quickly goes to help stand up the equipment and discovers Madoka wasn't kidding these sure were heavy. "You now, I know it's not Japanese but seeing bows and arrows always make me think of Robin Hood." He holds his hands as if he is holding a real bow and arrow. "You know, rob the rick and give to the poor? I always thought it was a neat story as a kid."

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Helping. Right. Setsuna is definitely helping Hayato. Just like she's definitely noticing the puns. Clearly!

It is a lot, more than Setsuna was expecting frankly; how are decorations so heavy? Naturally, she tries at first to get them herself...

"Oh." Setsuna pauses, glances at Steven and his shirts, and then to Madoka again as she hefts some poles. "Arrows, from bows..." She thinks about it. "So, you find out who's the best?" she asks.

She definitely isn't considering trying it. Obviously!

"...Are you sure it wouldn't be faster if we each took one?" Setsuna ventures, though obviously she's not having the easiest time with them all on her own. Nevertheless she shifts, starts to move to unroll one of them as they reach the spot. "If you say so. Here?" Hrm. "...Do they..." She starts to trail off, and looks at Adrien as he mentions and mimes the thing.

"Rob the..." She tilts her head, curious.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Adrien-kun!" Rei greets him, and, you know, maybe she's being a bit familiar, but they're totally friends. "Could you help string up these banners?" Surely a fashion designer will know how to arrange them so they catch the eye.

"Maybe not a star shirt," she says, to Steven, "but you could get star patterns! Traditional clothing has all sorts of colourful features!" It's always remarkable how that boy manages to be so strong even though he's so young. Niramo tells her to be more upfront, and she laughs it off, waving a hand. "You're all here now, right? So it's fine, it's fine!"

Her Infinity Archery Club associate has the arrows handled, and her fellow Ohtori Archery Club member handles explaining the festival. In the past Rei has gone out of her way to engage Setsuna on the topic of tarot, the Western style she's most familiar with, as if to prove she can best her on her home ground -- so perhaps now she can leverage that rivalry to get Setsuna wrapped up in setting up the banners with Madoka and Adrien. Everything as planned.

(There was no plan. Rei just competes over everything.)

It seems that the strange boy - who, as Endo estimates, seems entirely capable of hefting someone up bodily - knows Setsuna, too. And there's something in his wondering which makes her frown, briefly, before she smiles again and steps on over to him. "You're Secchan's friend, right? I'm Rei - Rei Hino. Why don't you come help me with this target?" Madoka's set one up already, but they have to be pretty sturdy to withstand the expert archers who target them.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Madoka is a skilled banner-bearer even if a year ago her elbows would be touching her knees and her cheeks would be puffed out and completely red from trying to lift this stuff with her noodlearms. Being bad at something never stopped her from doing it, that's for sure. So, she's able to help them unroll neatly, without letting the banner touch the ground, and then heave the sticks upwards into position with a YOSH-HA! worthy of her jocky best friend.

All the while she smiles agreement with Adrien, and when Setsuna asks the question she's ready to help answer. The banner flaps in the breeze above them gamely.

"Papa loved to read me that story! Mama doesn't like it very much. Ahem, once upon a time..." Somehow her voice can twinkle along with her eyes. "The good ruler of a kingdom was replaced with a bad, selfish one. He took the resources everyone needed--"

--Madoka is wise to Setsuna's tendency to understand things in abstract, theoretical ways, and speaks accordingly--

"--all for himself, so they didn't have enough to live. So, like, some of the ordinary people started taking some of the resources back, enough so that they could live, and they used bows and arrows to do it? And also there was a ROMANCE, between a princess and the main good guy, Robin Hood, even though her guardian was mad at him for sharing the resources with everyone. Her name was Maid Marien." (Madoka actually said 'Robb Hud and Maido Maren' but let's cut her some slack, she's never been to America. Yet.)


Madoka looks up to see her preppy best friend, Hitomi Shizuki (long, soft green hair; big, soft green eyes; a certain refinement), riding up to Hikawa Shrine on a horse. This tracks: Hitomi is in eight million prestigious clubs and one of them is Equestrian Club (which is massive at Ohtori for obvious reasons).

"Hitomi-chan!" she says, happily.

"Kaname-san," Hitomi replies in her soft breathy voice. "Special delivery. Can you take Robin? I have to hurry or I'll be late for Tea Ceremony Club. It doesn't do to be late for my senpai." (This tracks: Hitomi is in eight million prestigious clubs and one of them is Tea Ceremony Club (which is massive at Ohtori for obvious reasons).)


BGM: The Ecstacy of Gold https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOr0na6mKJQ

Narrator: And so it was that Madoka Kaname came to hold the reins of a huge white horse with gray spots here and there on its rump.

She turns around to look at her companions, her smile threatening to break her face in half.

"Look," she breathes, unnecessarily but joyfully. "Secchan, Adrien-kun, have you ever cared for a horse?"

That question might have been a little more necessary. She doesn't sound worried exactly, but the curiosity is genuine.

<Pose Tracker> Adrien Agreste [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Adrien nodded along with Madkoa as she describes the story. "Yeah, that's basically it," he says as he looks to Setsuna. "There are a ton of old movies about it. They're really fun to watch, especially when he brings out his bow and arrow."

Then the horse arrives and Adrien can't help but look in awe. "No, but I've always wanted to." He recall there were several times he had wanted to learn to ride a horse, but his father insisted it wasn't a required skill and too dangerous for him to learn.

Upon seeing how big an average horse was, Adrien felt like he understood that feel but he still couldn't help but look in awe. "So cool," he mutters.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

"Hmmm... I dunno if that one works!" Steven says toward Endo. "No probs! And yeah! I haven't been to one before! I wanna check out the culture! Especially since were gonna be living here now." Heav-ho goes the Half-Gem, excited as ever by mundane tasks.

A call to Hayato. "Yeah, with bows I think!" Hopefully he can go and cheer them on when the archery starts!

"Thanks! I-I didn't pick em, my dad did. Says I'm a little rockstar, so I needed a shirt to prove it!" Heehee. A cute little grin blooms on his face. Though his shirt isn't the only thing starry at Madoka's next comment "O-Ooooh?! Yes! I need all the fashion judges!" And Madoka sure did seem fashionable.

"I feel like a deer in headlights o nthat one!" is called back to Niramo. It keeps happening. THeir exchange has boiled down to throwing puns in this event.

"Star pattern...!" the boy repeats, getting even more excited at the aspect of shopping, if that was possible. "Maybe theres one out there in my shirt colors with star patterns!" he muses happily toward Rei. "Though I'm not picky! Anything pretty can work!"

And then a horse arrives. Steven had been listening while working, thoughtful of the story told. "Oh! Horsey! Ooooo...." The boy sorta stands there from afar, admiring its beauty. Such a strong and noble creature! "I-Is someone gonna ride them at the festival?!"

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo at least laughs at Niramo's attempt, noting, "That's a good one too. Better than I did, Niramo-san."

"I'm sure you'll have fun," Endo tells Steven once they've moved their deer. "There'll be lots of horses, too. Like that one." A pause is taken to examine, and he adds, "They're always bigger than you think they are, right? You think they'd be people sized, but they're way bigger." Endo extends his hands, to demonstrate.

"You don't really have to." Endo assures Hayato after a moment more. He's distracted from any further teasing by Rei coming to recruit the deer-lifter, and the matter is dropped. Endo peeks over toward where the banners are being raised, though he seems to decide to take a small drink break before helping further.

<Pose Tracker> Hayato Nishi [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Animal safety is the topic of the hour, it seems, and Hayato nods sagely at Niramo's comments while carrying a second deer into position. "Having the substitute seems like a better plan. No running around, no having to get food, it's a better plan. Oh, one moment - "

Steven's strength is surprising, and as he passes the pint-sized porter Hayato takes a second to have a brief flex-off, There's a grin on his face, though - he's getting into the swing of things.

And then - there's a sound. An unfamiliar sound, like some inhuman footsteps. That faint stomp of metal on stone - but too elegant and cautious to be some mechanical monstrosity. Hands on one of the non-deer targets, Hayato turns to behold -

The beast. The glory. The horse.

"What..." He blinks twice, disbelieving. The wooden deer were one thing, but that - that height, that power, that majesty. That can't be an Earth animal, can it? "What is that?!"

There's answers from those around - a 'horse'. Something related to the upcoming activity, apparently, but to see it in person. Hayato can't help but abandon his task for a moment, drifting over to behold the behemoth. "...Amazing. I've never seen a horse in person before. It's..." He struggles to find appropriate words, and fails.

He shifts to moving some of the targets closer to where the horse is...berthed? Docked? Held? To where the horse is, so that he can glance over every so often.

Earth really is filled with amazing things.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Setsuna, of course, doesn't have a competitive bone in her body. This is because bones are not sentient beings separate from the person in which they're kept. She is incredibly competitive and she's at least fifty percent of how excessive her contests with Rei get.

But it seems that Rei doesn't have to leverage the rivalry to get Setsuna involved. Madoka's already taken care of that.

At first, the story of Robin Hood seems entirely alien to her--but the way Madoka explains it... "Hmm. An inefficient ruler, hoarding resources..." She murmurs it thoughtfully to herself. People would fight for this. She actually gets pretty engaged thinking about it--

But bows and arrows are distant from her the instant she hears about a princess, and there's a little sparkle in her expression, real interest. "Did they beat him?" Setsuna finds herself asking, but when she sees what has made them pause--

Setsuna turns towards Hitomi and is struck by a strnge vision. "I..." She blinks, and answers Adrien first, because that makes sense to her first. "Movies..." She will have to find one. But--'Horse' is identified.

Setsuna stares. "...No," she answers, blinking. "I've never..."

Animals know what they're supposed to do. Right? Like cats, Buki told her. "I haven't..." Hayato seems to be having the same reaction as she is. She blinks--she actually glances at Hayato once, then back to the horse again.

"...What do you... do?" Blink blink. Yep she's forgotten the banners.

<Pose Tracker> Ami Mizuno [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Ami Mizuno has been greatly distracted by her cellphone. There are a variety of reasons for this, including but not limited to Minako asking for homework help, Usagi asking for homework help, Makoto asking where Usagi is, Makoto asking for backup because Minako got swarmed by fans, Usagi asking for directions, Minako asking for the best way to get to a certain location that may or may not actually be the shrine, Usagi asking for directions, looking up facts on horses, Usagi asking for directions, and even Minako asking for homework assistance.

- and possibly Usagi asking for directions.

Finally, however, Ami looks up, face flushed guiltily as she realizes she stopped doing work in order to do non-social things, and quickly gets her deer situated before heading towards the banners, stopping to give Setsuna a polite wave while avoiding the 'omg horsies!!!' crowd.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Here comes a noblewoman on a noble steed-!!

Well, okay, Hitomi is more like a noblegirl, but the ideal stands. "Oh, beautiful!" Rei says, of the mighty horse which has joined their ranks. She can't blame Hayato for wanting to get a better look at it; it seems like a lot of people here haven't seen horses much.

Rei has, of course, because she goes to Ohtori and ostentatiousness and absurdity go hand in hand at the Academy. But Rei, like many girls, is secretly a fan of horses, so long as she doesn't have to actually involve herself in any horse work which ruins the majestic horse illusion.

Ami's vital work coordinating the Senshi (which is more like herding cats than horses) is sadly unrecognised, but once Rei puts it together later she will surely be quite grateful. The deer, by many people's efforts, are arranged artfully in their arena -- and it looks like the banners are taking shape well, too, even if some of the people working on them have been distracted by large animals.

Just as Endo says, horses are much bigger than people-sized. They are, in fact, large enough to hold a person on their back, as Steven asks and Rei explains. "That's right!" She says, sunnily. "The archers ride them down that track," she indicates the long corded-off course, where Hayato and Madoka have set up the targets, "and try to hit all three targets while they're in motion. It's a show of skill meant to entertain the gods, but it sure is impressive for us, too!"

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Mm, mm!" Madoka hums agreement to Rei's explanation to Steven. She's still a little bit transfixed by the mighty steed herself; playing it cool has never been her strong suit or even really her preference. "Um. I've been on one a couple times but I don't... ano, eto..."

Robin, perhaps sensing her nervousness, snorts. It ruffles her hair. And then she remembers!

"Right! If you want to make friends with a horse you blow in its nose. It's like a horse hello."

Up on tiptoes, she does this very thing. Losing her balance and wavering, she winds up smooching its snoot on accident.

It wickers and lips her back, affectionately, then turns to the others and stares at them with shining big brown eyes.

Madoka, beneath its head, does the same. "Wanna try?"

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

caught up in the moment as she is, Setsuna briefly forgets to keep her aloof cool going (as she often does) and waves back at Ami, glancing to her and then back to the horse again thoughtfully. "You... ride them?" Setsuna asks, apparently skeptical. Something to entertain the gods, is it...?

Briefly, Setsuna has a vision of wearing an outfit like Madoka's, sitting on a horse with a bow. They charge through the streets of a huge, empty-seeming city. Supreme Ruler Mobius nods once in approval as Setsuna hits the targets.

Then she shakes her head. "Uh," she says, suddenly ducking her head as if embarrassed by something. "You... huh. Okay." The horse stares at Setsuna. Setsuna stares at the horse. ...Then she looks at Madoka and, "Well, if it's an ordinary greeting..."

Setsuna steps up close. She peeeers up towards the horse's face. "...Pfoo."

She does this in utter seriousness.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The last of the arrows is sorted, and Fuu starts setting arrows into quivers - although by this point, her attention is a little bit more divided than it already had been. She's seen horses before, but rarely this close up and personally ...

She doesn't load all of the quivers, instead pausing to gather up the arrows which aren't quite up to par, carefully nestling them in her arms before she heads over to where Robin is drawing a generous quantity of attention. "Is this one of the mounts for the festival, then?" she asks quietly. She smiles, asiding to Steven, "You can't have 'mounted archery' on foot, can you?"

If she can borrow some of Rei's attention, she'll either attempt to hand over the bundle of sub-standard arrows, or at least get instructions on where these need to be stashed for straightening, salvaging, or disposal.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Madoka explains how to make friends with a horse, and Rei has to laugh to herself, behind a loosely-curled hand. "Madoka-chan, you can't just smooch all the cute animals!" Sure, normally it's cats instead of horses, but...

Hey, if she laughs about it like it was on purpose, no one will notice that Madoka tripped.

It wouldn't be the first time Rei's passed off something Madoka did as totally on purpose and completely functional so as to avoid the scorn of their classmates.

Setsuna bravely takes the bullet instead, befriending the big friendly giant. Rei is saved from the indignity of admitting she, too, adores cute animals by the fact that there are arrows which do not pass inspection. "That's right," she says, to Fuu. "The Equestrian Club has kindly volunteered to offer their support for tomorrow's festival, too!" It was a whole negotiation Thing, complete with tea and seiza, because that's just how the very old clubs at Ohtori work.

"Oh - these are worn-out, huh?" She says, of the arrows. "Thanks, Fuu-chan, you've got a great eye." They can just get put out of the way while she figures out what to do with them! That's a problem for Future Rei.

Or, you know, for Future Rei's Helpers.

Rei is very good at pressganging assistance.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Madoka casts a look over her shoudler at Rei -- pink eyes meet purple -- and there's a tiny, grateful smile there, like a candle's flame, that lives entirely in her gaze.

The rest of her smile is reserved for Setsuna, as she gets blown back at amiably. Robin whickers; lifts one hoof and then replaces it on the ground, very deliberately, very gently. Horses are massive, powerful things.

They can be massively gentle, too.

Madoka slides the reins into the girl's hands. "Now lead him gently -- don't pull too hard, it will hurt his mouth. We can get him out of the way..."

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

In the moment, the banners can wait. The negotiations... Can wait. Setsuna doesn't even entirely recognize that Madoka slipped because it's not much weirder to kiss a horse than to kiss at all if you think about it. And yet...

That smile actually gets one out of Setsuna in return, who looks down in fascination at Robin's movement. "Oh..."

She blinks, as she's handed the reins. "Oh," she starts to say, and looks down at them, and then to Robin. "...All right," she says. "We're going this way, then."

She outright talks to him, unselfconscious about that much, and begins to lead him gently--very carefully--out of the path.