2020-01-11 - Midnight Camp Diner! Tokyo Ghost Stories!

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Midnight Camp Diner! Tokyo Ghost Stories!


Part 2 of the 2015 Sister Schools camping trip. Dinner is campfire kabobs, but TERROR is for dessert.


Setsuna Higashi, Takeo Akamizu, Usagi Tsukino, Fuu Hououji, Rei Hino, Steven Universe, Nori Ankou, Tsuru


Nishitama Park District (#512)

OOC - IC Date:

1/11/2020 - 07-29-2015

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Nishitama Park District (#512) +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
  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.                                      
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.


  • Bus!
  • Hike!
  • Fog!
  • Lake!
  • Boats!
  • Island!
  • Tents!


  • Food!

By the time the campsite is in good working order, with everyone's tents erected, air mattresses inflated, sleeping bags unfolded and little camping chairs placed outside, the sun is setting in earnest. Probably. The only view of the sky is directly overhead, since trees surround the area, and directly overhead is on the fade, blue transformed into a gentle gray that has nothing to do at all with clouds, towards purple, towards pink. Anyone who wants to skip dinner preparation to hike back out to the edge of the island and watch the sun set will enjoy a spectacular view, at the possible price of their campmates' ire.

Because there's a fair amount of work to do!

The other half of the pre-packed Sister Schools bags the group hauled out here have non-perishable (or at least only mildly perishable) food (fruits, some tougher vegetables like onions, yellow squash, mushrooms, and zuchinni; marshmallows, and instant cocoa mix), and supplies to get or prepare food, including a handful of fishing poles, tackle, and small bait boxes. A couple chopping knives, presumably for the vegetables, and a thin plastic cutting board.

The heaviest, with Setsuna, turns out to contain a cooler. Russian Doll-like, it in turn contains, on ice, the meat. Unlike the vegetables, which will require a little prepping, the little chunks of beef and chicken are already chopped; there are also some small sausages.

The lightest pack, with Tsuru, contains a bundle of metal skewers, long enough to be used safely over a campfire with meat and veggies threaded upon them (or sausages, or, presumably for later though there are no adults here to police, the marshmallows), or unsafely for other purposes. She also has the utensils, the paper plates, and... the matches.

Mari Cherie and Jean Paris, the perennial celebrity chef guest instructors at the Sister Schools, were apparently the ones who put this menu together, and they have helpfully included instructions at the bottom of one of the packs. You can really tell who wrote which part, not just because it's a photocopy of actual handwriting, but also... well.

  • We packed you hand-sanitizing wipes. Use them first, children!
  • Slice the vegetables into even chunks.
  • Carefully remove the marinated meat from the cooler and season it lightly, with the salt, pepper, and thyme. You may want to omit the pepper for younger students.
  • Put the sliced meat and vegetables on skewers.
  • Roast the skewers over the campfire until fully cooked. If unsure, cook for longer. Don't forget to turn them occasionally.
  • Don't burn yourself.

They don't include firesetting instructions. After all, Mr. Cat covered that in a separate lesson.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.


Setsuna finds the source of the weight of her own pack, and immediately forgives it completely as she discovers that she has a cooler that contains meat. The addition of vegetables in other packs will only make it better! Especially if she doesn't see any green peppers. ...Which can't be guaranteed. And--So, with tents set up, Setsuna cheerfully closes the cooler again for the moment and says, "We have food!"

She takes one of the little packs of hand-sanitizing wipes though she doesn't actually open it just yet; instead she smiles around to the group. Still in front of it, she says, "I think there's enough for everyone," she looks around to see what's in the other packs as she goes. "Does anyone have matches...? We have firewood over here."

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Takeo reads the instructions. Then Takeo, slowly looks over to the meat. The glorious. Delicious. Savory and ready to roast on a fire, meat. Of course before there can be roasted, delicious, and seasoned life sustaining, far better than any veggie meat, there needs to be a fire. He rubs his hands together as Setsuna mentions the necessity of a fire and says with a roguish grin eyeing the stacck of wood. "I'll start the fire..."

He then dashes o the pile of firewood and begins to stack the firewood in the fire pit. This isn't to say he's stacking the fire neatly. He buiding a bonfire with the amount of wood he begins to carelessly toss into a pile at the fire pit. The hotter the better. Because the hotter it is, the faster the meat will cook. "Yes. I'll build a fire. A gloriously huge fire that we cna see from orbit. The heat of which will reflect the fires of our hearts as we consume the meat!!!!" His roguish grin deepens.

He might have giggled. Just a little bit.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Usagi Tsukino emerges from the edge of the forest as Setsuna says with a load of branches, each one has an end stripped of some of the bark. "Way ahead of you Secchan! I've taken care of the most important part."

And with that she hands the girl a branch. Then continues passing them out, one to each of them. Keeping a branch with two equally long forked prongs on the end for herself.

"Don't hold back on your praise now. Because-"

Usagi reaches into a pack and pulls out a bag of marshmallows that she'd found existed.

"-dessert is on the menu all night long. There'll be no talk of ruining our appetite tonight!"

A branch passes into Takeo's field of view, "And also - I declare this island monster free. After all-"

She wags the branch Takeo's way, perhaps at his earlier insistence that it could be a haunted island, "If a monster were here then I definitely would have disappeared while I was out gathering that alone-! So we are completely safe to have a good time."

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"We'll need to keep the fire burning all night, Takeo-san," Fuu points out, smiling, from behind the roguishly-grinning Takeo. "And - we should probably make sure not to use too much of the wood, or whoever's assigned to this campsite next is going to be rather unhappy with us, and quite reasonably so. Besides, a great big fire is going to be terribly inefficient for cooking; we want it hot, yes, but a *controlled* heat."

Hopefully the voice of reason is enough to forestall Takeo from building it Even Bigger, or jumping the gun on lighting up the night. "Put it this way, Takeo-san," she says as she works. "If you try to cook bacon over a stove that's too hot, it'll burn to a crisp before you can serve it up for eating, right? The same applies for tonight."

COIN FLIP: Nori Ankou flips a coin. It lands on tails!
<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

They have food.

Rei brightens, at the discovery of what was in some of the other packs. Of course, first they have to build a fire, and -- there's Takeo, helpfully starting a blaze. As Usagi passes her a stick, she sighs, dramatically: "Boys."

She does not spare a shred of irony for the countless times she's happened to set too many things on fire, because obviously the innocent Rei Hino would never do that.

She has not once turned up the heat at inopportune moments.

Rei, for one, wipes down her hands and gets to chopping vegetables. It might be purely to spite Usagi's plans of marshmellow domination. No one can prove that. "Are you sure the monster didn't just follow you back here?" She can't help but throw out, with a sly smirk. "Why eat one lonesome girl when you could snack on an entire crew?"

It turns out Rei's ability to keep a cap on egging on monster stories only extends so far.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

As Steven looks to prep the fire pit for later ignition, he hears his name called. "Hm? Hey Nori! What's up?" The boy runs up, his hiking boots clomping in the soft soil. "Help? Yeah, sure!" he says, looking amongst the parts used to build the tent. "Hm. I am not the best at these kinds, but I can totally offer help!


It takes some sweat, effort, and getting entagled at least once, but the tent manages to get erected!


"Well I mean, Usagi, being this far out, there are no Students to eat usually. Be better to be closer to town, so he can have more peopel to get to, and get replacements for his hook hands!" The boy looks up fro mclearing loose brush near the fire and holds his hands up, hooked like a praying mantis.

"Gosh, having hook hands would be awful, if both were hooks. How do you open doors or start your car?"

The food is now being removed from their containers, and readied for being cooked! "Oh! Um, can I watch? I am still getting better at cooking, so I wouldn't want to mess anything up way out here."

A look towards Takeo. "Oh! You might wanna make a pile of small dry ruchs around a log. It can help start it!"

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.




Food has many benefits and many helpful things to provide to the people of the world, and it might fairly be said that eating food to survive is an ironclad rule.

Nori Ankou is pretty hungry after all that rowing. Even a model must stay well nourished. "Don't burn down the island," she says to Takeo without looking. She has also taken off her proper AkaMira blouse - now hung up in front of her tent - in favor of what seem to be a classical cloth wrap around the chest and midsection. "Phew... even with the lake, it's warm... I thought it'd be cloudy today."

"Thank you, Steven," Nori says to him. And then she glances at him, and Rei, and perhaps also her passenger, offering as she does, "I brought a little sauce from home, for the dinner, if you would like to try it..."

But then the question comes of how to start the fire.

Nori Ankou, the Red Future, rubs her chin in thought. "Mm... Well, someone must have the matches, right?"

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Tsuru sits on her heels, the runners on her sandals keeping her a bit off the ground. Motion by motion she dismantles the knot keeping her pack closed, letting the pullstring loosen step by step. Then, with the last tug, the mouth of the pack sags open all at once, barfing up a brace of needles.

She makes eye contact with Nori over all the sharp metal tips for a moment. Then she gathers up the drawstring of the bag as though it were an old Japanese purse, and carries it dangling from her hand over to where the cooking has started to begin.

Setting the bag down next to Rei's foot, Tsuru stands next to her while she chops for a few seconds, watching Fuu's pedagogical efforts on Takeo's behalf.

"Home?" Tsuru inquires of Nori, not idly. There is a distinction to be made.

Other than carrying over the skewers, Tsuru has not thus far shown an inclination to be of assistance, but her eyes do follow the activity curiously.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Setsuna blinks as she takes a branch. "...?" she wonders because they come without a lot of explanation before--"Oh!" She looks at the branch, and nods firmly. "But I don't need it yet," she says simply, setting it down gently and rising again to stand, stepping around as--. "It's... That wood pile isn't very organized," Setsuna says with a frown, lifting an eyebrow at Takeo. But Fuu has the matter of what a fire should be covered. Instead Setsuna looks to Rei, and then nods, walking over to her. "Hmmm. Well, if Usagi-chan says so, then that's fine."

She seems much more willing to accept this than most.

Setsuna, too, moves over to Rei to begin chopping vegetables, and this time she doesn't actually try to race her. She in fact starts with the hand-sanitizing wipes as the instructions state. "Everyone should make sure to take some," she says pleasantly. She is happy to chop zucchini, and and yelloq squash, and onions, and mushrooms...

Is that a specific list?? Well not exactly but also it is yes. Soon, they will be ready for skewers.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Peering at Fuu Takeo says deadpan, "That doesn't make any sense. Hotter cooks food faster, which means it gets in my belly faster." He gestures to the stack of wood. Then blinks as Usagi waves a branch in front of him. He grins to the younger girl and gives her his BEST charming grin. It's a grin that has gotten him in trouble more than once, and one that has gotten him smacked twice as often. "That is because oh pigtailed woman, the monsters come from the lake." He leans in closer and gives a wink to her as he whispers in Usagi's ear, "At night."

He then looks back to Fuu and frowns slightly. Pointedly Ignoring Rei's "Boys" comment. "Look Fuu. Crispy Bacon is good bacon. It's like. The Best bacon. The bestest bacon that one could ever bacon." He gestures to the fire. "It's scientific fact that making things really hot cooks things faster. That's Thermos Full Dynasty."

He says that with a straight face. He thinks that is how you say it.

Then he casually, without breaking eye contact drops another piece of wood into the firepit

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.


Rei Hino discovers carrots and green peppers in her bag.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"It's not your own belly I'm worried about, Takeo-san," Fuu replies, taking the additional piece of wood and inserting it into the proper construction she's been working on. Rather disobligingly, she's not meeting his gaze (how rude?), but is fully focused on her task. "And it's not only the meat that needs to be cooked, after all; if we cooked the meat the way you want, the vegetables would be inedible chunks of carbon alongside it, wouldn't they?"

"As for bacon ... well, there's something to be said for it being nice and crunchy," she concedes. "But the more crumbly it is, the harder it is to keep it arranged within, for instance, a BLT. I don't believe we have bacon tonight, but if they included some for breakfast, we can see how well you cook it - *without* singlehandedly depleting our supply of firewood, mind you."

The smile Fuu offers to Takeo as she steps back from the firepit may be a little more acerbic than her typical friendly demeanor. "Was there kindling somewhere, or other fire-starting material? Simply tossing a match into a stack of logs won't get it started very effectively. Also, we should probably have some buckets of water on hand if nobody already thought to get those."

She does not particularly want to go fetch water herself; thinking about the last water-retrieval jaunt she was on makes her hands hurt from the memory. But if nobody else is on that task already ... she can drag Takeo off to help with it, or something. Probably.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Usagi just giggles at Rei sighing dramatically over 'boys', as she whispers conspiratorially at her, "Oh come on Rei-chan. We're out camping - unsupervised. How are you expecting for it to become a summer of romance with that kind of attitude?"

Usagi had straighted up to pass Takeo the stick but she looks startled at Rei's implication for a moment, and then she seems to regain her composure. "Don't be silly Rei-chan! Everyone knows monsters are terrified of shrine maidens! So of course a monster would pick us off while we're separated from you."

Usagi pulls open the bag of marshmallows, and puts two marshmallows each on the twin forks of the roasting branch.

Just as Takeo adds that detail by her ear - and Steven relates about the hook hands. Usagi stops stuffing the final marshmallow on her branch at that moment. For a moment she looks genuinely uncertain of herself, and then she simply closes her eyes, "That's fine. My tent is definitely going to be protected. There's no way Rei-chan didn't pack like two dozen lake monster with hook hands scaring talismans for this trip."

Her Marshmallow skewer prepped, Usagi starts clumsily preparing her own skewer, which means doing it one handed. Yes that includes the hand sanitizing wipe. Then rather than threading the veggies and meat on piece by piece, she uses one hand to upend her meat skewer and clumsily stab it into one veggie, then a piece of meat, one by one, using the motion of the next piece to push the others on one up, like she's building a tower.

Why is she doing this? Well her other arm is stretched out over the fire casually, trying to multi-task and roast her marshmallows, as she hums happily all the while.

Someone should probably tell her that not watching her marshmallows is causing them to come dangerously close to the fire though maybe...

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

A summer of romance, Usagi says, and Rei issues her a deadpan look. "Trust me, Usagi, not that boy." That's an Ohtori boy. Rei has gone to Ohtori far long enough to know there are no keepers amongst Ohtori boys.

"That would be wonderful," she's much more enthusastic, addressing Nori's special addition. She, of course, does not have matches, because she hauled up tent supplies instead. What she does have, all a sudden, are skewers, delivered by the ever-graceful Tsuru. "Ah -- thank you!" But as much as she's bowled over by Tsuru's -- everything, she at least has the wits about her to ask: "Have you done much camping before this, Tsuru-san..?"

Setsuna seems more willing to accept Usagi's explanation, to Rei's ears, and perhaps it's better that she isn't trying to race Rei on this, because knives for chopping vegetables tend to be very sharp.

But as she pulls a squash from her bag, she finds what it was covering...

Carrots and green peppers.


Does she...

... slip the carrots and green peppers onto the skewers obscured by other ingredients, for a nasty surprise???

... make entire skewers based off of carrots and green peppers to torment her friends with???

... include the Forbidden Ingredients in what would otherwise be the tastiest skewer combinations???

... use her dark powers to ensure that neither of her friends will steal the skewers full of food she personally likes???

Let's have a moment of silence to judge all of these fantastic options which absolutely run through her head.

"Oh no," Rei deadpans, to Setsuna, as she finishes chopping up the squash, "it looks like they didn't fill this bag up. Looks like I'll have to use yours."

She just sort of tucks the bag full of carrots and green peppers off to the side. It's fine. No one has to know.

She immediately covers for her subterfuge by calling over: "Usagi, there are no talismans just for scaring away hook-handed lake monsters!"

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"A sauce? I would like to try some," Setsuna answers Nori. She seems to have been briefly distracted by looking over at Takeo. She frowns. Meanwhile, Setsuna is no longer certain of her decision to trust Usagi Tsukino when it comes to monsters. "Everything is fine," she says instead. She doesn't seem as thrilled about the monster talk as some of them and instead is occupied with preparing at first, beside Rei. She smiles Tsuru's way in what she understands as a greeting and says, "Summer is good for romance, isn't it...?" and is on board with trusting Usagi again. "Do you have anyone in mind, Usagi-chan?" She asks it calmly. Clearly. Like Usagi might have an answer. Well...!?

She does not know how close she has come to peppery unpleasantness, thanks to Rei. Not yet, anyway. She just lifts an eyebrow when Rei deadpans something as if she thinks there's something about that... "All right," she answers instead. Seems to have slipped right past her. Though...

"If he has hooks for hands, maybe he's just upset that he can't hold a skewer of his own. I say we feed the monster a skewer."

She sure doesn't notice Usagi's marshmallows as she moves from the veggies to start assembling a skewer of her own...! "Did you want to see how they're put together?" she asks Steven if she can catch his eye, and then to him and Takeo both, "Cooking doesn't work that way. I can make a skewer for you since you're busy with the fire." Then--

"Oh. Usagi-chan, do you like your marshmallows blackened?"

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

The small boy gives Nori a wholesome little thumbs up in response. Tents can be hard! "I would hope we have matches! We can start a fire without, but it makes things easier."

He hears Rei's comment, and... yeah, she's pretty right. Boys indeed. "Need some help with the fire?" he asks Takeo. It is possible they me may need it. "We could give him a skewer!" he adds toward Setsuna. "He could be mad that he keeps dropping his food on the floor and is just hungry."

Another possible argument on that dumb movie with Amethyst!

"Oh, sure, yeah!" the boy says, and quickly makes his way over near Setsuna. "I don't think I have ever had a skewer like this before. I am excited to try it!" Looks like meat and veggies. All fresh and well-picked. The veggie section seems a little thin though. Eh, could be more in a bag someone will find!

"Theres marchmellows too?" he asks, perking up in attention.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

As Rei says "Not that Boy." Takeo realizes he's hot, and fling his jacket aside, revealing a T-Shirt that shows off that he is in fact, quite in shape. Then he runs a hand through his newly shortened hair, and gives Usagi AND Rei a wink, before he picks up a skewer and eyeballs the Vegetables there very cautiously.

He sighs. He did promise a certain Red Head to eat more of the food that his food eats. He finally looks to Fuu and sighs. He didn't understand a word she just said. "Carbon? IS that a made up word? No. Nevermind." He shrugs and puts the skewer down. "I'll go get the water. You guys can chillax. It's the least I can do, I'm not a very good Cook. I think I can manage a Cup of Instant Noodles. I'm told I make a really good cake though!"


A long abandoned cake with one fork full take out of it sits at the base of a heap of trash. Despite the months it was abandoned it hasn't decomposed. It hasn't even begun to mold. It merely sits. Unloved, discarded, and as it was the day it was given to one Mai Tokiha, uneaten save for one fateful, dissasterous bite. Perhaps waiting for the day it too can be a cherished snd loved Desert.


Takeo Shrugs. "Anyway. I'll go get the water." He lifts two buckets and begins to saunter off toward the nearest shore to fetch the requested water. He whistles as he goes, content and actually ... relaxed ... for the first time in a long while.

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Oh, the ingredients are from Tsukiji where I couldn't get them from the store," Nori tells Tsuru. "And I made it in 4-4-4, but the *recipe* is from home."

She watches the revelation of the skewers. "Ah...!"

Nori doesn't have to go far to fetch the mystery sauce. It is in a sealed glass jar that would be said to hold perhaps four ounces, sealed with some wax. It looks like yellowish-green chopped stuff with some visible slices of daikon in it -- it's probably some kind of Hokkaido pickles or something.

Nori opens it downwind of everyone. Those who get very close would catch a scent of garlic, cilantro, daikon radish and... peppers?


5 cups Scotch bonnet pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup distilled vinegar

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

6 cloves garlic

Juice of 1 lime

Sliced daikon root, or any other vegetable really

Basically, you chop up all the vegetables, chop the peppers extra-fine, and mix well. Pour sauce into containers -- add chopped vegetable to make a flavorful pickle for garnishing rice!


"Just add a little bit once your food is cooked," Nori advises. "Oh, though we could dig out the daikon if we're short on vegetables... is it okay to grill it if it's pickled?"

"If the lake monster has hooks for hands, we should make a plate, not just give a skewer," Nori answers Setsuna. A beat passes. "Where did the monster come into this?" Nori looks round as if to identify the culprit who invited the hook-hand monster.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The case could be made that 'carbon' is as made-up a word as literally every word in any given dictionary, but Fuu has better concerns to pursue. Like washing her hands (if a sanitizing wipe counts as 'washing') and helping to cut vegetables, followed by loading a skewer of her own with meat and vegetables. "Some green peppers might be a nice addition to the mix," she remarks idly. "They'd help balance out the meat-to-vegetables ratio, too."

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"Wellllll-" Usagi titters lightly as Setsuna asks, catching Takeo's wink, before she begins to demure with a lowered voice, "Come on Secchan you just don't ask that kind of thing right now - everyone can hear-!"

Rei's declaration that there is no such talisman results in a simple, "If you say so Rei-chan!" In such a cheerful tone.

In that moment lowering her voice by the food prep area to say to Setsuna, "She's just being modest."

Usagi is not actually following the steps of skewer prep at all. She hasn't even seasoned the meat yet and she's not actually helping. More just following up on her work. Perhaps she thinks her own work is done because she brought the marshmallow sticks...?

Perhaps she did that just so she had an excuse not to do any cooking.

And then Setsuna calls her, "Hmm? What do you mean by-" Usagi looks back - at her marshmallows that are now on fire. "Ah-!" Usagi starts waving her stick back and forth rapidly, "-Ye-AIIIIII!" As she starts waving it rapidly, in a haze of flickering flame before she simply brings it up near her face and starts blowing on it rapidly until the fire is out.

Crisis averted. Thanks to - Setsuna Higashi.

In the end her marshmallows are smoking, crispy gooey messes on it.


Usagi simply blows on them further. And again. And again.

And then she simply puts her mouth on the end and extracts the ruined mess of a marshmallow into her mouth. Chew chew swallow.

"Still good this way." She notes, before pulling another off into her mouth.

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Tokyo," Tsuru summarizes Nori's response.

Rei puts the bag of carrots and green peppers down. Tsuru, who has been watching her work, picks it back up. She does not comment, or seem to be defying Rei in particular, and yet it is not clear what she is doing with them. She just stands with it in her hands.

In a while, Fuu approaches, and wonders about green peppers. Tsuru extends her arm into Fuu's personal space suddenly, and there it is, a dangling bag with just what Fuu asked for.

"It was not empty," she tells Rei. Then, taking a skewer with her, she glides off over to the fire.

Covering her mouth and nose with her sleeve, she kneels next to it. Reversing her grip on the skewer, she stabs down into one of the outlying chunks of wood with a dry THOK, then walks off with her own personal fire, much the way Usagi would impale a marshmellow. Finding a dry bit of ground, she plops it down, where it begins to slowly die. Before it can, however, Tsuru has returned with some kindling. A few more times, a few sticks and stones, and she has her own very small little fire. It requires much more frequent feeding, due to its small amount of fuel. But once Tsuru seems contented with it, she sits for a moment and stares at it, twin orange candles in her eyes.

Rising, the slim girl touches her sleeve to her mouth again and coughs. She seems to change her mind, kneeling again before her little flame.

"Nori," she calls, in that bare, familiar way of hers when speaking to her models. She waits for Nori to come over a bit. "Might I request that you bring water?"

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

"That would be me!" Steven says toward Nori, jutting a hand into the air. "People were talking about mosnters on the hike, and my mind went to this really really bad low budget movie of a guy with two hook hands. ALl sorts of plot holes, you can see the camera crew in one shot, stuff like that." Wow that sounds awful.

Steven eyes the produced sauce. Oh, should he try it if offered...? He can do spicy! "That's the cool part about marshmellows, I gotta say. They are hard to mess up."

The boy watches intently as the skewers are assembled! So meticulous in production. Steven loves to cook, but presentation is everything, and he worries about messing that up. Even if the food still tastes good.

"A shame the cooks aren't here to see you make these!" he further comments. Cooking is a valuable skill after all!

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"Oh, so you want to keep it secret," Setsuna says, slightly quieter but not really matching Usagi's tone. She tilts her head at Takeo winking at the other girls and leaves it at that. Instead she looks to Usagi, leaning in conspiratorially, "I'm not sure you know what modest means, Usagi-chan." But she grins as she says it. She does of course do the seasoning for her own as she works on it, but--There!! Usagi gets it. "...It does smell nice," she admits.

But as Fuu mentions... the vegetable.. Setsuna pauses. "That's... right! You're very right. Green peppers would... even it out..." Setsuna continues not to try to find any to place on her own. But she blinks and Tsuru has--"..."

She just sort of watches Tsuru for a moment in wonderment. But then, "...Thanks, Rei-chan." It even sounds sincere.

"Hmm..." After smelling the sauce while her skewer is on the fire--which it is, now, caaarefully placed--"It smells a little too hot for me..."

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Oh, I haven't seen any..."

Rei is halfway to telling Fuu that they just didn't bring green peppers when Tsuru, helpfully investigating Rei's ignored bag, interjects.

Rei laughs, loudly, her cheeks reddening. "Ha ha ha how did those get there?! I guess I just didn't see them! Woops!" It is a very unconvincing, nervous sort of laugh, the type which only tries to be more convincing with volume.


wait hang on there's Setsuna genuinely thanking her.

"Ehh, no problem," Rei waves a hand, conciliatory, in her direction, as she preps a skewer for her own snacking purposes. Okay, maybe that can make it better.

She makes sure to make something which would go well with a hot sauce, because she will definitely brave Nori's special recipe.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Ah, Tsuru-san, thank you very much!" Fuu smiles, sanitizes her hands again, and quickly begins cutting up some peppers.

Also peeling and cutting some carrots, too, because why let them go to waste?

"Should I save some for you, Rei-san, or were you hoping to avoid them?" asks the Infinity archer, looking a little sheepish as she throws the question out there. She doesn't actually know most of her acquaintances' favorite/least favorite foods, which seems like a bit of an oversight to her. But that's the extent of the fuss she'll make about it.

.... *probably.*

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

As he left, Takeo called over his shoulder, "If you could make one for me I'd appreciate it!" Then he's gone and out of sight. He makes his way to the shore and kneels there looking at the lake. He peers at it intently, looking at the fish if he can see them, looking in the distance. He fills one bucker, then does the same for the second.

He's still kneeling there when he pinches the bridge of his nose. This is literally the first time he's been around a lake since he first found out who he was, and since arriving, it had been nagging at him. Finally he whispers to the lake. "Hey. Lady of the Lake. You get reincarnated like the rest of is? Is it a specific lake, or like can you show up in a puddle of water?" He waits for a long moment. "Um. If you were. Merlin can't talk because of something Morgana did. If you can help, that would be awesome. If you can't. I get it." He tilts his head. "Good talk." Then he stands up and grabs his buckets and heads back to the fires.

He sets one down next to Tsuru, and then one next to Rei. He looks at her. Then points to the bucket. "That for when you catch your food on fire." He states plainly. Then goes back to his spot. He looks at Rei gives her that same charming smile and leans back casually. Just. Relaxing.

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Nori gazes at the burnt marshmallows. Things are caramel and delicious. She watches Tsuru for a moment, as she fishes out a flower of warmth from the burning column and brings it over. Nori trusts Tsuru knows what she is doing, and so her attention turns towards the main fire for a moment.

"Shouldn't we wait for the meat before we make our dessert?" she asks Usagi, but not with great force. She knows enough of Usagi that she expects an answer. She awaits it - but then she is called, and she rises from the crouch she had sunk into to say, "A moment -"

Her eyes turn towards Tsuru as she draws closer.

The request is made. "You might," she replies, before she smiles and then rises. She moves again towards her packing, but when she has returned with a bottle of water, she sees that a small bucket has been emplaced by Takeo. Nori exhales with some force, but then she proffers the bottle to Tsuru, as yet unopened.

Her pepper sauce, unguarded, sits out there, like an undetonated landmine. "I hope you'll stay warm enough, once it gets dark," she tells Tsuru.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

And now, finally, Setsuna's skewer is done, a delicious combination of zucchini, yellow squash, onion, pork, and other highlights, nicely seasoned as per the instructions. As offered, she has one ready for Takeo as well, while he was getting water and everything. Nothing else now is clear; nothing else matters.

She speaks not of reincarnation, or avoiding anything. She doesn't even speak of Fuu and Tsuru's terrible maneuver with the green peppers. No...

Setsuna Higashi simply takes her cooked skewer, raises it up, and--

Nomph. She is content. ...Best not to try to talk to her for a few minutes.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Oh, please," Rei rolls her eyes at Takeo. "Like I'd ever."

Here she makes brief eye contact with Usagi, as if to say, 'PLEASE DON'T TELL HIM ABOUT THE MANY TIMES THAT HAS HAPPENED.'

To Fuu, she replies: "I'd love some!" She instantly pivots on her CLEVER PLAN to eat the carrots and green peppers herself. She doesn't mind either of them, after all.

Now, if they'd brought canned food up here, she might have a specific vegetable to complain about.

But no one was cruel enough to make them drag canned goods to a campsite so it's fine.

Preparing her skewer, Rei boldly goes to Nori's Extremely Hot Sauce.

Rei puts a little dollop on the skewer. Just a little bit.

Rei takes a bite.

Rei does not literally breathe flame, but it might well be animated that way. "PHEOWWWW!" She yelps, blindly groping for water. Maybe someone will help! Once she's gotten under control again, she takes a looong breath. "You weren't kidding about using this sparingly, Nori-chan," she puffs.

She takes a long drag of water, and tries another bite.


<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"You are kind," Tsuru acknowledges. By this time she is unbinding the cloth wrapping around a wooden box. Inside is a tiny little cast-iron teapot, and cups made of the same, as well as a cylindrical container. Taking the bottle of water, Tsuru fills the little teapot carefully, then sets it down atop the fire.

Sliding her forearms into opposite sleeves, Tsuru looks up at Nori. Her dark eyes give a single slow blink. "You are very kind," she says, correcting her earlier sentiment. "Ask the others if they would like a little tea."

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"Ask me later...!" Usagi say to Setsuna. Before - "E-Ehhhh!? Of course I know what it means!"

"Nori-chan what's the point of being in high school now if we can't decide to have dessert before supper sometimes?"

And then as Takeo sets down a bucket of water, "Oh perfect placemen-"

Just as she catches the look from Rei. Usagi looks like she just double takes on the spot and corrects herself. "B-Because she's so good at fire safety. Rei-chan is such an expert at it that her Grandpa almost never has to leave a bucket in the Hikawa Shrine's bonfire room."

Everyone can perhaps see the progression of thought within her head - before her next question, "It's called the bonfire room right Rei-chan?"

However, Usagi is turning away as Rei dips her skewer in the dollop of sauce.

"Aaaaa-! Rei-chan! Are you okay!?"

In a frenzied flurry of movement, Usagi picks up the closest vessel on hand of something that looks like liquid and holds it up to Rei's mouth, "Here cool down some more on this!"

... ... ... ...

Of course what she's holding up is the little bowl containing the Nori-Nori sauce.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Rei...! Will be fine, eventually. But not before she chases Usagi around the campsite for a while.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Are You Afraid Of The Dark? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcTNU5gwptg


Time passes. Food disappears and so does the last of the sun. The latter is replaced with an ever-growing cascade of stars that embroider the sky first in single pin-pricks and eventually in such tightly wound whorls that it is difficult to separate some of them as individuals. There is no Moon tonight, or else it's very late to the celestial stage, but the overflowing starlight spilling into camp is enough, on its own, to let people walk safely.

If anything, the campfire is light pollution; stare at it for long and eyes not only feel hot and dry but can no longer so easily resolve the starscape spinning itself into existence high above. Still, it has its own cozy appeal, especially set against the falling temperatures. It's never going to be TRULY cold, not in July, but it isn't really warm anymore, either. And the fire is, in all respects. It would in fact be hotter if more expertly managed, but really that's a happy mistake, as it's possible to get quite close to it without being uncomfortably blasted by raw heat.

It has been going for more than long enough to generate some excellent coals, though, although a few smaller flames still leap and tickle branches offered the pyre. And it casts excellent shadows. They are many, dark, and deep. Like the lake, whose proximity looms... not as an imminent danger, but it's less friendly at night. Everything smells wonderfully of smoke, except when the still air is moved by a gust of wind, and then the nothingness that was 'freshness' and 'openness' before, now holds a place in the nose for 'emptiness'. A lonely aroma.

Something replaced the food, too, just as the sun was replaced; nature abhors a vacuum. The arrival of satiation, however, brings with it an adjustment to mood. In the last few minutes, it has become quieter, around the fire. A little bit contemplative. A little bit small, in that way that is all but impossible in the big city, and all too easy out alone in the vastness of the world.

The late evening spreads out in front of the group, filled with infinite possibility. Infinite mystery.

OOC: This is a timeskip! Do not respond to poses from prior to the timeskip. We are moving on and picking up at a later time.

OOC: Before someone asks, big eaters can still be roasting marshmallows or hot dogs. The food doesn't have to be 100% gone.

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"I was reminded," says Nori, "by what Rei said earlier... about the creature with the hooks. Of a story about a babysitter..."

"You see, she was called to a house down facing the bay and asked by the parents if she could stay the night, so that they could travel to visit the father's ailing relations," Nori said. "The house was a big old thing, built before the war, but it was friendly enough in the day time. The baby sitter was shown around, shown the room where she could sleep - all neatly made up, all pretty, with a beautiful view of the ocean, a couple of paintings - and in the corner..."

"There was this hideous statue of an old pirate," Nori says. "An ancient one, like the ones that sailed to China! It was made of wood but it was pale wood, so it was dreadfully realistic. But it just looked ugly in this light, and so the babysitter laughed it off."

"The children came from their school and the parents left. The babysitter played with them - they ran down to the shore, which was familiar to them, and then they came back, and they cooked dinner. They played some Uno cards - did anyone bring theirs? - and as the sun set, they watched a little TV... but then it was time for them to go to bed."

"Little Fumiko first, then big Junichirou - he was a whole six years old, very brave... they had their own rooms, upstairs, just down the hall. The baby sitter turned off the light and went into her room, where she saw the statue again, and this time it seemed really quite uglier, with the wind howling from the sea, and in the light from her bedside..."

"But with the radio on, and with a nice stack of comics to read, it was alright. Time passed, for a while, and our babysitter couldn't focus, because she kept looking at that statue - whenever she sneezed, or shifted itself, it was just there, in her field of vision, staring... It was a relief when the phone rang, at 8:30 or so, and she went downstairs to answer it. (This was long ago, so the phone was plugged into a wall.)"

"The babysitter went downstairs, and the house seemed to be creaking in the ocean breeze... but downstairs was bright enough, and comfortable enough. She picked up the handset and oh - it was mama! She asked how things were, if Fumichan and Junikun had gone to sleep alright... yes, everything was well... she'd had the dinner they'd set down for her... but she only had one question, really."

Nori pauses. Her eyes turn over the others near the fire. She has been holding a teacup, from which she has had a small bit of Tsuru's kindly offered tea, and which she has been unwilling to let go of. Perhaps the earthenware comforts her. Especially as she reaches this hidden pitch...

"The statue in her room... it was surely beautiful and very important, and she knew she was a guest, but would it hurt it if she draped a towel over it, or something? It felt like the statue was watching her."

"Mama was silent for a moment."

Nori takes a deep breath.

"and Mama said... What do you mean? What do you mean, the statue?"

"There is no statue up there... And it was then that the babysitter heard steps - big steps, heavy steps, coming down the stairs...!"

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

While Nori speaks, Takeo casually roasts a hot dog on the fire. He dangles the dog over the crackling fire, occasionally turning it, but this doesn't stop it form turning black in more than one spot. He lays there, skewer with the hot dog over the fire, his legs stretched out and crossed at the ankles and just listens to Nori speak. Telling the story.

As she mentions the steps coming down the stairs he looks over at her and quickly checks his dog. He is raptly paying attention. The kid who likes horror movies, takes his dog off the skewer and noms a big bite, listening, waiting for the blood curdling death, or to learn that the Children were the Statue, or .... However it's going to end. Either way, for ONCE Takeo is paying attention, and listening attentively.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"No Uno cards, I'm afraid," Fuu says quietly. "Just normal playing cards."

The story continues, though, and Fuu shuts back up ... except for a suitably alarmed squeak as Nori speaks of the heavy footsteps coming down the stairs.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

With good teamwork comes good results, and a delicious dinner was made, and consumed. Since the meal, Steven has been lazing about, mostly staring up at the sky. The lack of light reminded him of days on the lighthouse hill, laying i nthe grass, staring at the stars.

He wonders if the stars are brighter here, or there?

He has also been considering grabbing a hot dog in a little while. Because, well... hot dogs!

For now, he kicks his feet around in the grass, and listens to Nori's chilling tale.

He visibly grimaces when something begins to come down the stairs for the rest of the family!

He thuds the ground with his hiking boots as he imagines what it might sound like. It probably didn't like the towel to the face.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Usagi is still drinking part of Tsuru's tea when this is going on. Her fingers clinched around the little cast iron cup...

"N-Nori-chan don't you think this story is going to give Steven nightmares?" She whispers lightly, but after that, she doesn't actually interrupt.

Because the story is weaving itself into nail-biting terror.

Usagi huddles back down by the fire, "That poor babysitter... no... no..."

There's a little shake of her head, a shake that becomes more frantic as she hears it.

By the time it's revealed that the statue is - not so inanimate. Usagi's got her eyes closed and is shaking her head.

She seems like she may have a hair-trigger on screaming.

... if someone felt like provoking that with a prank.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

The stars never cease to sparkle for Setsuna Higashi, and how can she not look up at them when they are so clear? Walking safely is good, for her hopes, but here and right now, this distance away from the bright lights, her eyes continue to slip towards that starry sky.

She's come up closer to the fire; even 'not very cold' is a little chilly for her. It makes her curious naturally about the shadows, and what might be within them. She doesn't know... But she finds she wants to. Feeling small can be terrible... But feeling small in something so open is so different.

Her marshmallow stick is in hand but empty, well-used by now, touched with the remnants of charred marshmallow. But she sits calmly, comfortable. ...Besides which, she's inclined to sit quietly in a lot of situations...

"Plugged into a wall..." Setsuna murmurs to herself and to someone close to her in something between consternation and skepticism. But it's not loud enough to interrupt. Instead, she listens.

One would be forgiven for thinking that the way Setsuna looks is 'staring' at Nori.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Rei is also drinking tea, in proper seiza, because of course she is.

(She might wriggle around a little now and then, but, you know, subtly, just to make sure her feet don't fall completely asleep.)

After all the excitement of the afternoon, she's now in an excellent position to relax, and she listens with contentment to Nori's tale -- it's difficult to really frighten someone whose part-time job sometimes involves ghosts, but she can get into it anyway. It's in the spirit of things!

And if the tingling numbness of her toes sometimes makes her twitch a little before she realises nothing is behind her, that's just coincidental.


"Ehhh?" She smirks, as she looks sidelong to Usagi and issues a quiet comment. "Are you really worried about Steven-kun, Usagi? Ne? Ne?"

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Tsuru is mounted on the balls of her feet atop her sandals, as though they were not so much shoes as a little platform she's using to keep herself off the ground. Ballerina that she is she seems comfortable in this position, knees to her chest. As Nori tells her story, this larger fire fills her eyes.

She does not seem to be paying attention. She has selected a campfire rock with a flat face to sit in front of, and she doodles on it with her vade-mecum calligraphy brush. With little flicks of her skinny wrist she slashes strokes across the stone, and by the time they form a character they are already fading away. For it is not ink she uses as her medium, but water, dipping her brush into her little mixing pot from the tea set, which she has filled from Nori's bottle.

The heat of the fire renders this diverson of Tsuru's even more ephemeral than it would be normally. Flick, flick, she carves out the Chinese characters, and the fire steals them.








<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

A gust of wind rushes across the campsite, rattling branches and people alike. The fire, spurred by this unexpected breath, leaps higher. The shadows that follow Nori's hands grow longer.

The air continues on its path into the beyond, but in its wake it leaves behind a present: the tiniest hint of mist. Much as the stars seemed to spin themselves out of thin air above, now fog is doing the same from below. One finger. Two. They swirl into being, then are forgotten, lost in the darkness away from the campfire.

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Nori looks at Usagi for a moment, enigmatically. The fire flickers.

"When mama and papa got home," Nori says, "they found that all was well. Junikun and Fumichan were snug in their bed - they were very glad to see mama and papa, if a little early, and grandpa and grandma had come back with them too. It was a great relief to all of them that all was well, and as mama cleaned up the dishes, she clucked her tongue. It was terrible of that babysitter to play a prank like that, and to leave so early."

"Papa found that the bed upstairs had hardly been slept in... and that there were little wooden splinters, trailing out the back door, down to the beach..."

"And just at the high tide point, he saw, standing in the doorway, a single shoe... but he dared not go to the beach that day, to check."

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

As Nori gets to the climax of the story Takeo picks up a stick. He plops the last bit of Dog into his mouth and then leans over to Usagi who is clearly frightened, and then SNAPS the stick right between her and Rei just as Nori Finishes her tale. He grins to the girls and chuckles slightly as he says to to Nori. "Nice story!" Then grabs another dog to roast on the fire. He stares up at the stars, harder to see after setting the second hot dog to roast, but no less pretty.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"Of course I am Rei-chan! W-Why wouldn't I be... I don't want him to be scarred for l-"


Cue the blood curdling, night-rending shriek. Loud enough to disturb diurnal birds. Just in time for the story climax.

Takeo might end up regretting it a little, because during that time frame Usagi threw the only weapon she had on hand in the direction the snap came from.

Her half full cast iron tea cup. The tea isn't hot of course. Tea never is when you'd like it to be.

Usagi ends up sprawled out behind Rei with her hands on her shoulders in a pose that just screams, 'eat her first not me.'

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.



"Usagi!" Rei snaps, as suddenly there is something behind her. She jumped a little, too, but she sure doesn't act like it as she looks back at the terrified girl behind her. "You big baby, it was --" she looks around Usagi for an instant to make sure she's right about this -- "just a stick!"

Definitely just a stick.

"Besides," she huffs, "you can't tell me you're scared of ghosts with rules. It's obvious that pirate had grown fond of the house, or its occupants. I mean, why else would the children be spared? We see it all the time." She might be exaggerating a little. She does not, in fact, deal with ghosts every day.

She still has a greater exposure to ghosts than most people, though.

"It's common, in Japan. Like, for instance... let's say you're a Buddhist priest, travelling between two regions. Before the modern age, so you can't just call a taxi to pick you up when a storm blows in. No car for shelter, no hotels along paved roads... just the wind, howling, and the rain."

She pauses. "It was no less safe back then than it was now, out in the woods."

But they're perfectly safe, right, Usagi?

"At a time like that, if you come across a hut -- you'll hope for shelter. And at a time like that, you'll be welcomed in. It's just hospitality, you know. An old woman lived there, and despite being on her own, she had plenty of food -- delicious cooked meats," she adds, with a glance to Takeo, "and a nice warm fire. She was the most welcoming woman you could have imagined, except..."

"She told him, strictly, not to look in the back room -- no matter what."

Rei raises her teacup, in consideration. "But when someone tells you not to do something like that, of course you do it, right? So -- what do you think he found there?"

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Setsuna waits--and waits--and glances at nothing else--the fire leaps higher, and Setsuna blinks, looking towards it, and then back, before she looks back over, only to hear...

"Oh--" Usagi shrieks. Setsuna jumps in surprise, looking over to her immediately in worry right before she tips backward and about falls off the spot she'd chosen as seat until she flails out and catches her balance--

"...Oh." She frowns, a little. "...Did anyone look for the babysitter?" she finds herself wondering, but reminds herself it's a story. She worries anyway. But shortly she starts to look over at Rei as she speaks up, talking about normal things in Japan. Safe... And unsafe. Like it was, back then. Being welcomed in--

Setsuna smiles at the matter of hospitality. But the rest... her head tilts slowly, her expression draws in concern.

"..." She looks around to see if anyone else has the answer. She sure doesn't know what you'd find in an old hut's back room. Besides Setsuna can't say something dumb and wrong to Rei.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

Nori's take sends a bit of a chill up Steven's spine, but it shant dissuade him from his love of the beach! He may look to make sure there isn't an errant pair of shades in the doorway though.

"Good one...!" he says quietly from his resting stop.

The boy picks his head up off the ground for a moment. "What, really Usagi? Hahah..." Even Rei questions it. "I appreciate the thought! But I have heard quite a few ghost stories, and some very wild theories from a friend of mine that should qualify as ghost stores. I'll be okay!*"

Usagi screeches suddenly from a loud sond. That actually scares Steven. The boy scrambles to his feet! "Wh-- oh. Yeah, just a stick I think!"

Now Rei gets to spin a tale! One of travelling sanctuaries that may not be entirely what they seem. The boy goes over nearby and sits down, pretzel style. What could be in that room?!

  • - There is a chance he might get scared and not be okay.
<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Nori settles after her story.

OK, mostly after Usagi's shriek. Her metaphorical ruffling takes a moment to settle down. "No one knows," Nori murmurs to Setsuna, but then her attention turns to Rei as she extemporizes. Her eyes flick towards Tsuru's calligraphy at times; and she reaches, too, for a metal skewer and a marshmallow, in anticipation of an opportunity.

She had her dinner, after all. It's time for the sweet.

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

When Nori settles back to let someone else take a turn, she feels a quick wet tickle on the back of her hand. It is difficult to tell what character might have been written, if it is a character at all. But Tsuru, getting her attention, dips her head in a little bow of thanks. Then, not reacting in any particular way to a girl's shrill scream, she shifts her eyes to the next storyteller.




Now and then she looks up, less frequently at Rei than at the faces of those listening to her.



<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.


Takeo takes the tea cup directly to the chest. And is now covered in Luke-Warm tea. He blinks. Then LAUGHS as he falls backwards. Sure. His cloths are now wet, but sitting next to the fire he'll dry, and he might even smell good thanks to the Tea. Not that he DIDN'T smell good. I mean. Nobody is sniffing him. It's just. Look the kid showers okay?

He chuckles as he straightens himself and pushes himself into a sitting position once again. As Rei begins to tell a tall tale, so Takeo once again shuts up, allowing himself to dry by the fire smelling of nice tea.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

The fire is getting smokier. Mercifully, miraculously, that smoke spirals mostly upwards, rather than into too many faces and lungs. It replaces a piece of sky the size of a quarter, blackening out that chunk of Milky Way as surely as any ink.

Suddenly -- CH-CLUNK! -- one of the larger logs splits in two.

Half of it falls into the coals, sending up a cloud of sparks to replace the missing stars. They linger only for a breath before they wink out, firefly-like in their brevity.

The other half remains propped up on another log, beneath. But where it broke, its inside is revealed...

...to be a face. The sort that emerges upwards or sideways from a bed of needles at the science museum, if the needles were wood and unkindly sharp rather than dulled to invite student faces. Individual splinters of varying lengths combining to map the jut of a hulking brow, the curious contour of a bulbous nose, the curve of a stolid chin.

The eyes are absence, defined by deep shadows cast by the underlight of the coals upon the jagged edges of the log.

The left one is the first to catch fire...

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Usagi is breathing hard initially status post scream, but eventually she gulps down air and responds to Rei - and Steven.

"So!? A snapping stick sounds like something is coming!"

... ... ...

"Why is a ghost with rules less scary Rei-chan! It's still a ghost! And it's not like ghosts pass out handbooks on how not to be spirited away!"

Balancing backwards on her bottom nervously, she asides to Tsuru in a little bit of embarrassment, "Thanks for the tea. It was really good."

Before she then notices Takeo is covered in tea, and she passes him a napkin. "Aha... sorry about that. Um- here you go-!"

... she hasn't figured out he snapped the stick.

"And let me just... get that..."

As she grabs the cup, and brings it back over to Tsuru.

Rei gets a puzzled look as she starts talking about travelling into Japan in the past. "Rei-chan. I don't get it. Why are you talking about-"

No less safe.

"-This is starting to sound suspiciously-" And then she realizes it might just be, "Rei-chan don't you dare-!"

Usagi gives her a look of betrayal as suddenly she scoots herself behind Nori instead for protection.

Now it may be that Nori's story spooked her last...

Or at least she hopes so.

"Nori-chan being from the Sea of Tears makes all ghosts like you right? Since it's such a goth place?"

She whispers near her ear.

"Asking for a friend."

And then Usagi's eyes freeze on... the face... in the log.

Her breath catches.

She just stares, her pointer finger jabbing towards it. Her voice wheezing before it can even form words.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"You can ask how I dare," Rei issues, to Usagi, "but it's the priest who dared, Usagi. He was just too curious! During an unwatched moment, he glanced through a crack in the door... and found the remains of travellers who came before him. As a priest, he put together the pieces: this woman was a yamamba!"

At the exact moment her voice rises to name the demon, the log cracks. The hair at the back of her neck prickles. It's very good timing.

But Usagi points in horror, and Rei seizes her chance, all caught up in telling her tale. "There -- can you see her face in the fire? The image of the mountain hag? It wasn't a fashion craze, back then." That is to say, the dark and white makeup and multicoloured hair which is one of the more striking alternative styles of Tokyo. "No, those girls are evoking something much older..." It's a line which earns some gravitas; old stories have power, after all.

"The old mountain hags of myth -- the yamamba -- they have a real taste for travellers who can't follow the rules. The priest realised just how much trouble he was in, and fled into the storm. He never looked back... and he always listened to what his hosts told him what to do, after that."

That last part is not, strictly speaking, part of the story.

It's just that Usagi keeps stealing her manga and she could really use that particular lesson.

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Nori looks at the back of her hand - but the pale skin, and the fire's warmth, means that the written moment would be a mystery. She attends to Rei as she speaks, but then Usagi comes up behind her and asks a question.

Nori glances over her shoulder. Her eyes gleam like sapphires in the firelight.

"Ghosts from the Sea, yes," she murmurs. "But that's nowhere near all of them... Usagi-chaan..."

She did drawl out that last part deliberately, but then a moment later the log snaps. Nori stiffens, sitting up straight, eyes going wide as Rei slides it into her tale. A cold trickle up her spine, and Nori finds herself asking, "Is that really what happened...??"

"But if it wasn't," Nori muses, "then..."

Her eyes turn back to Usagi. "We would have never known..."

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The sudden snap of a stick, RIGHT at the climax of Nori's tale, causes even Fuu to jump where she's been sitting, gasping in startlement. She regains her composure quickly, though, and quietly - or at least, more quietly than Usagi's freak-out session. By the time she's settled back down, Rei is beginning her own story, and once again, Fuu listens, quietly and politely.

She has a fairly good sense of where this story is going, too ... but she remains quiet, except for a muffled yelp when the log splits in the fire. She's actually relieved that she can't quite see the face that Usagi and Rei are pointing at; she wouldn't even be totally cognizant that there *was* a face to be seen, if Rei didn't point it out.

And the idea of those mentioned girls' makeup style, evoking the yamamba? *That* creeps Fuu out. "One wonders," she muses aloud, "whether the old spirits would be honored or offended by such an unwitting homage. It's not usually ghosts that threaten to spirit you away, though."

Fuu pauses, getting seated more comfortably. "Akihabara's history goes back further than the fans who gather there today know," she says. "Even the electronic markets a couple of decades ago are recent, compared to the black market which organized there just after the war. But you can still find members of the old guard, if you know where to look. And some of them know people, and shops, which are even older. One of my senpai at the Infinity Computer Club was telling me about a store he found, one rainy day. He'd ducked into an alley for shelter from the rain; it was drier than he expected, but more curiously, there was music coming from somewhere - a traditional onbu song, he thought. And he started following it, deep into the maze of back alleys and side streets, following the music further and further from the main street."

She pauses briefly, taking a swig of water, letting the story hang there for a split second. "Eventually, he found an open plaza amongst the buildings - smaller than this campsite, barely large enough for an Inari shrine and a little wooden shack. Asagiri-senpai was curious enough to look into the shack, and discovered a game parlor - not like the electronic games we play at Crown or other game centers, but old mechanical pachinko machines. There was an attendant perched on a stool behind the counter, old and withered-looking, a hood drawn over his head, and most of the machines had elders seated before them, playing contentedly, loading balls into the machines and launching them -" She makes a plunger-pulling motion. "- into the field, ball after ball, one by one."

"The attendant spotted Asagiri-senpai, of course, and asked if he'd like to play. Senpai started to demure; he'd never been into pachinko, and didn't want to spend his money. But the attendant spotted him ten balls, for free, to get him started. 'Turn those ten into a hundred,' challenged the attendant, 'and I'll make sure you get something incredible.'"

Fuu pauses again, as if thinking back for the details. "It would have been rude to turn down the free offer, of course, so Asagiri-senpai found a machine and started playing. Of course, with those old machines, you had to launch each ball manually, so he did that. The first ball, the second, and the third, all rattled through the field to the 'dead ball' zone ... but the fourth one landed in a goal, startling senpai as the bell rang and more balls dropped into the prize slot. 'See,' chortled the attendant, 'I knew you were a natural! Keep going, something good will happen!'"

Asagiri-senpai hesitated again. He could tell that this was how people get hooked on pachinko - but again, leaving would have been rude, and he wasn't sure how to find his way back. So he kept playing ..."

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Setsuna's face doesn't exactly offer a lot. She shows interest, but there's something simple about her expressions. Maybe, on the other hand, that's a lot in and of itself. Setsuna glances upward to the smoke and briefly reflects how nice it is that she's not coughing from the smoke. Talk of rules and ghosts and scary--

But the priest ddared, and suddenly--the lock cracks and Setsuna blinks, looking towards it without jumping this time, though her eyes widen as she sees a face and hears Usagi's cry. "What--"

Mountain hags... Travellers who can't follow the rules. Setsuna blinks again and hesitates once, uncertain. Nori asks. But Setsuna realizes--

"Oh, we're not in the mountains." She blinks away the light glare blinding her from staring straight into the fire. As she does, she listens to Fuu begin, of a game... It's not one familiar to her, but the way Fuu tells it gives her enough of an idea.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Takeo takes the napkin offered by Usagi and grins at her. He cleans himself up and listens to the end of Rei's story and smiles as he leans back in the grass. When the tale is over he grins over to Rei and nods to her. "Nice." He says with a wink.

Then, not long after, Fuu begins and he listens heartily. His eyes gleaming with delight as they tell the tale. He tilts his head a slow smile spreading on his features as he listens to his friend tell a story here in the dark surrounding a fire that ...

Takeo blinks as he looks into the fire. His head tilt rotating to the other shoulder. Is that a ... ? He shakes his head. "Stories must be getting to me. That or there was something in that tea." He mutters to himself. He then goes back to paying attention to Fuu carefully.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Setsuna sees right through Rei's attempt to spook everyone. They're not in the mountains, after all. Even though there's a mountain towering over them...

Rei will probably regret pushing Usagi's buttons when they go to sleep, or can't go to sleep, as the case may be. But that's a problem for Future Rei. Current Rei creates problems for Future Rei habitually.

The yamamba girls lead to Akihabara, though, and Rei settles back as she turns to listen to Fuu, and a tale which sounds old in its own way. Well, she thinks, of course he'd keep playing. Even if this story can't possibly have a good ending, how could he know that? It's a challenge.

Her tea is cool, by the time she goes to sip it again, but it is still mercifully in her cup and not thrown on a boy. She keeps watching Fuu as she talks, though.

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Tsuru carves out the first few strokes of "rain," then flicks her wrist curtly, slinging a little spray of droplets roughly around where the final strokes would go.

"They wish so deeply to be afraid," she comments softly to Nori.



"What a long shadow a story has, before a campfire." Hers, too, stretches out behind her like the yawning maw of a ghost. She gently plucks out another character on the stone.


<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

It's a face.

It's a log.

It's a face.

It's a log.

It's an inferno.

The opened interior has fully gone up in flames, craggy wooden features vanishing into the greater campfire.

Look too long at the light, however, and you might not notice how the darkness has changed... until it's too late.

Where, between the vault of the sky and the distant arc of the lake, there used to be this incredible sense of space, things are getting more and more claustrophobic.

It's too dark out there to see the tents.

No... it's too THICK out there to see the tents. The fog from this morning has returned with a vengeance, strung together from a thousand thousand fingerlings of mist. Only the campfire's heat is keeping it at bay, and for being comprised of countless droplets of moisture, it is curiously reluctant to sparkle. Only the vaguest gray shimmer, and that only when the flames leap particularly high, explains where the rest of the world has gone.

It's as though the whole world has shrunk to the size of a single room...

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"It's nice to be scared, when you know you're safe," Nori murmurs to Tsuru. "Like eating pepper sauce."

But her attention is resting on Fuu, with the occasional glance round - particularly to try to grasp the characters Tsuru writes, though she always seems to be too late to be sure.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"The jackpot he'd won was only about forty balls, but it was enough for senpai to keep going for a little while," Fuu continues. "He'd almost lost track, except for a little - not even a voice, really, just a sense in the back of his head. Ten ... twenty ... thirty ... and on the thirty-sixth ball, he scored again. Asagiri-senpai collected those in his basket, and did a quick, rough count. It was close to a hundred, but not over, and he decided he'd better make his departure. But the attendant still wouldn't let him return the balls, even without a prize."

"'Make ten into a hundred,' the attendant repeated. "It's not hard! Look, you're so close already. Keep on playing! You can do this!' He seemed almost angry, and that made senpai even more hesitant to argue. He was almost ready to put the basket down and leave, but he turned away, ready to play a little more, just to leave on good terms. But one of the other players was behind him, and they jostled each other - spilling their pachinko balls all over the floor."

"Asagiri-senpai panicked, reaching out to try and catch the old lady so she wouldn't fall; he missed, dislodging her headdress - and felt, not hair, but fur, and an ear perched atop her head."

"Senpai turned and fled the parlor, skidding on the spilled balls, but the furious roar from behind him spurred him onwards. He thought he heard wood crunching as he bolted back out into the daylight; he fled down the alleys again, trusting his gut more than his memory, and eventually reached the street again. He turned to look once more into that fateful alley - but as the rain soaked him anew, he realized: the alley ended in a fence, not three meters in."

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Takeo grins to Fuu. "HA! Awesome." He is silent for a moemtn as he looks at the log and then the inky blackness of the night. When he speaks he's quiet, forcing those around the fire to lean in to hear his words. Not quite a whisper, but not normal converational tones. A steady and deep vocalization tumbles form the boy, his eyes glittering in the firelight. "The Wilderness here in Japan is vast and ancient. Miners and loggers having worked the land for centuruies .... Longer. In a land with such stories of Oni and Samurai and Dragons, it's easy to look over this tale. A tale that is as old as the land. As old as the people who have dwelled here on these Islands of ours. Men and women who toiled and worked the earth and the rivers easily looked over as tales of high fantasy and grand adventure where told around fires and at hearth and home. "

Taking a breath he continues, making sure to look at each person as he speaks, trying to make it so that it seams that the young man is speaking to each girl (And Steven) directly and not just telling a story for all to hear. "In a village that once dwelled not too far from this lake, men and women toiled as I said. They were a logging village, harvesting the wood for their Samurai Masters. One day, they found a vein of Silver, and soon the Village became very rich. The men working in the mines instead of gathering wood and timber. All was well, until while digging, the ground shook, and the Mine entrance collapsed."

Takeo shakes his hands for emphasis, simulating an earthquake. "Eventually, the miners were dug out, all of them had survived, but they were distant. Not the same. They rarely spoke. They rarely ate. They would drink, but only water. They were restless and were seen wandering the streets of the village at night. Their wives and children said the men were not themselves. As if they had .... "

He leans in and whispers "Died. In the tunnels.... "

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The night is deep and deeper still, and there's really something unnerving, in the back of Rei's mind, as she glances out at the fog.

But Takeo is telling a tale, too, and for all the grief she's given him he is another representative of Ohtori, and so she listens. It is a tale of the people, she thinks; mining accidents are something which could have happened to anyone, especially back then.

And they came back, but they came back wrong.

That's a chilling thought.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Fuu shivers. Whether it's from the lowering mist bringing a chill, or from the eerie overtones of Takeo's tale, she's not sure and isn't going to speculate.

But if she did? It's totally the fog. "Might be about time to turn in for the night, before it gets any colder ..." she suggests.

You know. As if she actually figures on sleeping tonight. Like that.

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"But the pepper sauce, it does not pretend to burn you," Tsuru disagrees in her gentle tone, quiet below the stories. "And your tongue does not pretend to feel pain. A small heat, but not a pretend heat."

Tsuru carves out her final character for Fuu, SALVATION.

"There is no such thing as true fear and false fear. If you feel it..."

Now it's on to Takeo. UNKNOWN

"Then it is real."

She paints the words as they pass through her thoughts. And when he finishes she finds she must write DEATH again. The most honest ending to a story, though not always the true one.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

There's music coming from somewhere, piping from somewhere. A traditional song.

It trails softly from out in the fog.

Its source is moving, slowly, as though it's circling the camp.

Every so often it fades to such quietness that it is possible to write it off as mere imagination -- or as having come to an end. Then it starts back up again, just a few sweet, subtle notes.

This happens several times before a longer, perhaps more final, silence...

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Nori listens to Takeo's story as the fog rolls in. She can hear her breathing, she thinks. She hears Rei too; she hears Tsuru. She hears the fire. She hears -

A song?

She glimpses one of those characters true and direct, and oh, why did it have to be THAT one? Nori thinks with a sinking sort of feeling.

"Do you think so?" she answers Fuu, in a murmorous tone.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Takeo continue after taking a dramatic pause after that last sentence. His eyes scanning the girls (And Steven). When he continues it's in that same whisper. "The Village itself never really fully recovered. None of the miners went back to work, and there wasn't enough of the next generation old enough to take up the pick. As it was, the Vilalges pets, and some of it's residents began to dissapear. People assumed they were jsut fed up and moved away. Well. One day, a wife of one of the Miners followed her husband when he went to wander the streets. She flitted form shadow to shadow, staying out of site as they moved."

Takeo takes a sip of water before he continues. "Eventually to the wife's surprise, they all, to a man end up at the Silver Mine. There they pick up their axes and begin to work. Not a word is spoken. They jsut begin to cleave at the tunnels and produce more silver. The wife, confused approaches her husband and grabs his shoulder. What are you doing? She asks angrily to the man's face and with some confusion."

Takeo springs with two hands forward. "The Miner grabs his wife, deadish eyes look into her's. You're eyes are to bright. Mistress will want them ... He intones without emotion. The wife struggles. She screams as the miner takes her into the tunnels."

He pauses, looking over the group before he continues a sly smile on his lips. "There she finds a woman. Her hair is long and not grey but strands of silver, and when she turns, her eyes the silver of the mines. The wife recognizes her as the spirit of the land. She falls to her knees and begs the Spirit to release her husband and these men. To help her vilalge once more." He leans forward and whispers again. "The spirit did so. But the cost was the woman's eyes, so that the Spirit could see. For you see, long ago a Priest had blinded her with molten silver, and now, she just wanted to see agin. The wife screamed, and was cursed to find new eyes of her own." He looks around. "She looks at night, drawn to the warmth of Campfires." He hugs himself. "And on nights jsut like this, they say you can hear her wailing as she stumbles through the woods, over lakes, to find the eyes of a Maiden so that she can see once again, and finally die ... "

He whispers to Fuu, "Two bright White Eyes stare out in the Darkness. Hunting. Searching." He then whirls on Nori "SHE'S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!"

He grins and leans back. Just waiting to see if anything happens.

COIN FLIP: Nori Ankou flips a coin. It lands on heads!
<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Nori had been leaning in. Takeo may not always have been her top eight friend spaces in the MySpace of the heart, but the picture he is painting is drawing her in. There is resonance there. Resonance, similarity, a connection and then


Nori kicks off and flies most of a yard back in a fish-thrashing display of fright, letting out a shriek that's loud enough to be FELT on a faint level, like she was sitting on an amplifier. Her eyes are wide and goggling at Takeo for a moment, and she has to look behind her several times before she can do anything else. Anything at all.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

SHE'S RIGHT BEHIND YOU, Takeo pins to Nori.

Nori leaps from the perch at the edge of her seat.

And maybe it's the dense, dense fog, or a song at the edges of her hearing, or the fact that the shrine maiden of Hikawa is not quite as unflappable as she makes herself out to be...

But in that moment Rei Hino springs up, pulling out an ofuda, chanting: "Rin, Pyou, Tou, Sha, Kai, Jin, Retsu, Zai, Zen!" Each word comes with its own hand gesture, across the sacred slip of paper, and she sends the holy sign sailing off into the blackness, right where something would sneak up on Nori Ankou.


She might have just purified one of the tents.

It's probably fine.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Maybe Fuu manages not to scream. Maybe Nori's shriek overwhelms Fuu's own frightened noise. The fact that Rei, of all people, sees fit to launch an exorcism ward to cover Nori does *not* help the bespectacled blonde archer's composure.

Either way, one look at Fuu's face in the firelight makes it clear that no, she did *not* escape Takeo's story emotionally unscathed. "Correction, bathroom first and then bed, who's with me for the former, nobody should go anywhere on their own until morning *if then* ..."

She tries to give Takeo a threatening look. However, in the immortal words of a certain series of games ... it's not very effective.

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Tsuru lifts her brush-hand to press her sleeve to her mouth, covering what appears, from her eyes, to be a smile. She watches as Nori casts about to find some unseen threat. Her shoulders twitch as she coughs twice--the smoke, or the chill perhaps--but it does not seem to dim her placid mirth.

An ofuda zips by, disturbing Tsuru's updo but little. She sets her brush aside. "May I?" she asks. She settles her hands on her lap, neatly as a dinner napkin. And when the tumult has calmed enough for a voice as soft as hers to be heard over the crackle of nearby wood and the insect song of wood distant, she begins.

"Once upon a time, you were born or you died, and in either event you were buried."