2020-05-15 - Uminari Matsuri: Lord Of The Rings

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Uminari Matsuri: Lord Of The Rings

It's the beginning of the night at Uminari Matsuri. A shell-painting booth and a ring toss booth both gain some attention, as friends run into one another.


Setsuna Higashi, Nori Ankou, Ye-jin Song, Rei Hino, Chitose Shiratori, Fuu Hououji, Usagi Tsukino, Takeo Akamizu, Haruka Tenoh, Michiru Kaioh

GM: Pink Moon Stick


Uminari Seaside Park

OOC - IC Date:

5/15/2020 - 08-29-15

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Soundscape - Japanese Summer Festival https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dp3ZVX6BAhs

The sun is down.

The lanterns are up.

It's festival time!

The street that runs along the front of Uminari Park has been transformed. Cars have been banished since morning, allowing plenty of time for the two rows of booths to be erected. Neither the storefronts across from the park, nor the park itself, is easily visible behind stands packed cheek-to-jowl next to one another, festooned in brilliantly-colored streamers and banners and signs, announcing their manifold delights.

It's a miracle that there aren't lines around the block, but the queues are being kept at bay by the sheer DIVERSITY of options on offer. Games! Crafts! Every conceivable variety of fried food, and even a few that aren't fried as well! There are a few professionals, folks who unload their food truck setup into matsuri stalls a couple times a year, but mostly the staff is made up of volunteers, and the mood is good-humored, merry, and excited on both sides.

For that reason, the distinction between staffer and festival-goer is ephemeral at best, and other than who's on which side of a booth, it's often impossible to tell on sight. Not everyone is in a summery and festive yukata -- there's a pretty strong gender bias there, though some boys and men do dress up, and some girls are in shorts and a T-shirt -- but if there's one single day a year anyone DOES put on this traditional attire, it's on matsuri day.

It sounds like laughter and chatter and, in an unsteady, winding backbeat behind it all, Japanese drums, flute, and sometimes chanting crowds. This matsuri is big, which means it is LONG, many blocks long, and there's more than one intersection where a lantern-laden structure has been set up with instruments being played on by -- you guessed it -- more amateurs! But the enthusiasm of community taiko and shinobue groups cannot so easily be denied, and to the extent that it's imperfect, it is also comfortably in the background, rather than overwhelmingly loud, unless you're right in front of a band. And behind all of that, occasionally, one can just barely catch the chirp of crickets, the soft calls of twilight-birds.

There's so much to see and do that it's difficult to take it all in at once. Fortunately, the night is young.

It is inescapably, blissfully summer: an almost bittersweet evening in its sheer perfection, because when shall another like this come again? But it is here now, here to be enjoyed, the air like a warm caress, the darkness beyond the lanterns' glow soft and peaceful. The incredible food smells, mingling with the citric bug-warding devices and, beyond it, the open water of the Bay, which is not too distant.


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

Summer... Summer is not so new to Setsuna Higashi anymore, but it always stands out. Maybe it's the particular warmth of the air, the cast of the sky, the combination of smell and sound and feeling. It is something that someone with a more poetic mind might be able to capture in more detail, but for her, a small smile will have to do as she walks down the transformed street.

Setsuna, for one, is dressed in a yukata; hers is a vivid red, setting off well the same shades in her long purple hair. Summer...

Naturally, of corse--as she looks away from her phone that she'd been checking, she moves towards the scents of food. The night is young, and...

There are many things not yet fried.

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

GOOD MOOD KITCHEN, a Jamaican-style restaurant not too far from this shore, has gotten a couple of stalls together to provide a suitable source of island flavor. The food arm of things has an authentic jerk drum - not a drum for jerks, but a place to smoke vividly-spiced meat, which are served up on rice bowls. Pork, chicken, even tofu, all of them prepared fresh. "Festival," a cornbread that goes with it...

Tasty. But look away, dear reader, to the booth sitting catticorner from GOOD MOOD MATSURI.

To the volunteer stall. To the place of amateur enthusiasm. To a place where you can get your


Which is to say that they have obtained quite an enormous supply of white-eroded scallop shells, and have painted over several others to provide a canvas of uniform color, and are providing basic paints and the opportunity to design your own visage in shellular form or indeed paint anything you want, ranging from daruma-style faces to inspiring messages to animal faces!


Nori Ankou, wearing a black yukata with a mothlike pattern round the hem, is standing there, industriously inscribing the back of a shell with - something. It's hard to tell since she's holding the shell in her hand and working with a small paintbrush, but she's got a complex palette to work with - red, white, orange, green...

<Pose Tracker> Ye-jin Song [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

This is the first time that Ye-jin Song has had the opportunity to participate in the Uminari Matsuri. While throughout the summer she's had plenty of opportunity to enjoy the small festivals and fireworks shows that mark this time of year, things of this scale have been few and far between.

She's wearing white to the occasion, a modern summer dress. She's also made sure to equip herself for the warm evening, having already found a kakigori stand and retrieved a small bowl of green colored ice to munch on.

She is presently deciding what she should partake in: Games or crafts. The former seems like it will yield a greater reward, and Ye-jin soon finds herself wandering among ring games and shooting galleries, eyes scanning the shelves for items that strike her fancy.

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

Deep in a shadowy meeting room, the mysterious COMMUNITY FESTIVAL PROMOTION COMMITTEE congregates...

Wait, hang on.

This isn't that sort of story!

There is a group of older citizens collected together, though, some carefully attending keyboards like typewriters to make sure last-minute orders and messages are sent through, others attending phones. That woman does bridge with Grandpa Hino every third Friday. It's a long story. Less long is the reason Rei is part of the Committee: nominally, she started helping out here as a favour to Grandpa.


"Ehh? You're telling me Tohno-san is still tied up..?" One of those fellows adjusts his traditional Haori jacket as he puts a hand over the phone's receiver. "Hino-san, we have an emergency!"

In long red yukata, trimmed atop with light blue and patterned purple below, tied back with a yellow ribbon which contrasts the purple one tying her hair into a loose ponytail, Rei salutes. "Rei-chan's on the case!" She says, brightly, as she heads out into the night.

"You know," says the resident bridge expert once the door closes, "I swear she was looking for a reason to get out there."

"How mysterious..."


Of course, once she's on the street, Rei immediately gets pulled into solving five more problems. There's a yakisoba stand whose entire vat of noodles was ruined when a ring toss went very, very wild. There's a little girl who got lost while she was distracted by all the pretty decorations. There's a prize booth whose shiniest prizes keep getting stolen by lurking crows. (That one was at least pretty easy to solve. Someone has to go keep an eye on the shrine, crows.)

It's after solving that last HIGH CRIME that the very hardworking Rei puffs out a breath, and decides that making the festival run smoothly can wait for five minutes while she actually enjoys the festival.

At least she can leave her goldfish-scooping stand in the capable hands of her victi-- friends. Her friends. That's it. That is Rei Hino's perfect solution.

And that's why she sees Nori and her shells and immediately indulges her curiosity as to Nori, and those shells.

"Oh, Nori-chan!" As she steps up, she greets her, smile and little wave. "These shells are so darling -- how's it coming along?" She tries to peek! She is but a girl, with all the curiosity therein.

<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose Shiratori enjoys festivals, if one can believe it. The girl who generally enjoys staying indoors does occasionally like to get out and enjoy the outdoors, even without encouragement from certain individuals who live on the back of her head. Granted, the winner of today's outing was White Omen, above and beyond. He's been silent, even to her, since she showed up here tonight. But she had an odd feeling that he was just taking everything in. Which at least scored a slight smile from her.

Today Chitose's... actually dressed for the occasion, wearing a yukata that's not black, but a super dark blue that could be considered black, especially tonight, with a dense scattering of dots around her that could, perhaps, look like the night sky.

Chitose's mostly just enjoyed herself walking around the festival grounds, more looking at the booths than actually participating in them. Well, the activity booths, anyway. The booths selling food, she happily partakes of from time to time as she continues milling around.

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

There's a hawker nearby who really wants some ring-tossers.

"TOSS rings," the pot-bellied man, his balding head unnecessarily contained in a twisted white headband, calls into the crowd. "RING toss! BIG prize, SMALL prize, win what you can!"

This does indeed appear to be the case. There are vast shelves of prizes; mostly plushies of various shapes and sizes, the smallest crane-game size (and possibly sourced; there are, among other things, some Sailor V dolls), the largest bigger than a small child. There are also some other toys, like noisemakers, slingshots, and one -- one! -- inflated plastic Master Sword that's honestly pretty fabulous. Glory awaits.

The rings themselves are tan plastic and possibly not very well-balanced. The targets are a fat cluster of brightly colored glass bottles, sloping upwards to a WALL of them. Red bottles are one point, green bottles are five, and the elusive blue bottles are ten...

"RING toss, ring TOSS, toss your rings, win some things--!"

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

It was a surprisingly busy day for Fuu; she'd expected another fairly relaxing day at home before going out to the festival. Then her father asked if she was busy, and like a good daughter, she truthfully answered that she wasn't ...

And the next thing she knew, she was helping set up a shooting gallery stall with some of the staff and their family from the computer store where the Hououjis buy almost all of their hardware, Fuu's own beloved desktop PC included. It was pleasant enough as work goes, and there were enough strong backs to handle the literal heavy lifting, but somebody still needed to get boxes ready to line up as prizes, make sure the popguns work correctly (just enough force per cork, but not too much), and confirming that the countertop was stable and solid and wouldn't collapse if someone leaned too heavily, or smacked it too hard in frustration, etc.

So Fuu is still, at this point, in T-shirt and shorts and sneakers, as she had to dress for practical reasons. Hopefully the festival will avail her of some chances to go about in her yukata - but right now, feeling the cooling evening breeze on her arms and legs is a refreshing and welcome sensation. She's mostly wandering around in reconaissance mode at this point - seeing where the stalls are she'll want to visit when she has more time and energy, which games she may want to make a play at sooner rather than later, and just keeping her eyes open for friendly, familiar faces.

The ring toss booth catches her attention, thanks in no small part to the hawker working the booth, and Fuu meanders that way, reaching for her purse to double-check what kind of small change she has handy ...

<Pose Tracker> Ye-jin Song [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Ye-jin is easily swayed, the siren song of ring toss drawing her form the path and over toward the booth in question. She dumps the empty kakigori cup at one of the trash bags attached to another food stand, dusting her hands before she steps up to the stall.

"Hello, Hououji-san." She greets Fuu as she approaches, digging out several neatly folded yen as she moves. The other girl receives a bright smile, as does the man behind the counter as Ye-jin lays down her money and begins to gather several rings for tossing. "Let's see if we can win a prize." Ye-jin seems confident that she'll be able to do so.

Until she actually starts throwing rings. Even with an eye scrunched into a squint and an awkward lean she still has trouble getting the poorly balanced hoops around her targets. It doesn't help that she's going for the bottles hardest to hit. Those are worth the most points, after all.

By the time she's nearing her last rings Ye-jin's lips are set in a vicious scowl. Ping ping ping go the rings, bouncing off targets from the sheer force with which she hurls them.

Takeo Akamizu walks over from Tokyo Bay.

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

"Say - would either of you two ladies be looking for an escort?" Asks a low voice, whose gruffness is obviously fake to the flank of Nori and Rei Hino at the SHELL PORTRAIT stall.

The moment they look though, they're greeted by the sight of a rounded, lined face, a winking eye, pursed lips comically protruding in a circle as it leads back to a head scarf of green scales and crimson patterns. It's peeking through one of the side curtains of the shell stall, letting only it's shiny, lacquered face be seen, and not a single centimeter of hair.

If they look. It just stares back. Again. And again.

Except both of them having grown up in Japan - and particularly Rei would notice after any initial surprise that it's a Hyottoko mask. The kind you might find on any number of mask selling booths around the festival.

A moment passes, two, and then dramatically the curtain sweeps back, and a hand reaches up to untie the head scarf. Two blonde twintails unfold out of it, unravelling down, as Usagi removes the mask off to the side to reveal a gleefully smiling face.

"Eeeheehee! Did I fool you? It's just me-! Usagi Tsukino!" As if neither of them would have known that unless they'd told her.

Right now sans mask and head scarf, she's currently wearing a vibrant pink yukata with aquamarine starbursts of flowers, a green obi around her waist, and a pair of zori sandals. Bringing up an arm, she poses with a sideways V near her eyes, as if they were like a second mask. "Reporting at the festival for a night of making thrilling memories with the two of you!"

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

Takeo walks the festival with some meat on a stick, munching merrily as he goes. He hums to himself in between bites of savory and crispy delights. He pauses as he spies the people tossing rings and watches a toss or two before he spots somebody and sidles up next to her. He finishes the stick 'o meat he was eating and leans over to Fuu and says. "Heya Fuu-Chan. How are you? Whatcha doing? Little Ring toss? Looks fun." He holds out a stick to Fuu. "Can I offer you some meat on a stick? No idea what it is. But it's crispy!"

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

Where does Setsuna come in???

Carrying a mostly-empty tray of yakisoba all of a sudden, she walks over behind Usagi in her mask. "Oh, you took off your mask," she remarks at Usagi, tilting her head. "It's interesting..."

The yakisoba's paper tray is that much more empty in the space between that moment and the next.

"You're painting?" she asks of Nori, curious but unable to see very well because of the position here at the moment.

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

Where does Setsuna come in???

Carrying a mostly-empty tray of yakisoba all of a sudden, she walks over behind Usagi in her mask. "Oh, you took off your mask," she remarks at Usagi, tilting her head. "It's interesting..."

The yakisoba's paper tray is that much more empty in the space between that moment and the next. There's not actually a point at which Setsuna seems to have stopped to eat any of it. SHe looks with some interest at Nori's work, and smiles at Rei next. To an outside observer it might seem like a bland kind of expression but for Setsuna it is actually just sincerely nice.

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

"Ah, Rei," Nori says to Rei, smiling faintly as she cradles her shell close. It's a slightly tense posture, despite the calm on her face and in her voice. "It's going alright; I'm just doing something a little detailed, from memory, so I don't know how it's coming. Can you tell me if you can tell what it is?"

Nori tilts the shell to let Rei see it. The dots suggest a pair of eyes but everything else seems to be stripes thus far - orange-red ones right near the eyes, green and sunny yellow-tinged white further along.

Then she glances up at the masked person nearby and says, "Oh, yes, actually, do you think that you could find me someone who I don't loom against?" before pausing, looking at the both of them for a moment, peering at the masked figure...

And then blanching as the Hyottoko Surprise is revealed. Nori steps back a half pace, her hand coming up to cover her heart. "Usagi--!"

"I need to set this down to dry, but after that, let's tour together," Nori tells the both of them. "Though before I do -"

She fishes out her phone in its reliable and trusty OtterBox and shifts herself round, raising it up to take a brief, askew picture of herself with the two of them. (And if Usagi is willing, one with the mask as well.)

And with that Nori sidles to the other side of the booth to negotiate a space on a drying rack for particularly involved pieces. This will occupy her for some time, leaving our heroines in a conjunction of Mars and Moon with no outlier influence from another system to get in their way.

Hopefully chaos does not reign too hard.

Or perhaps it shall... for a fox speaks nearby. "Ara ara," says the fox, before slipping into something more eloquent: "Perhaps you could indicate the way to the tofu stall, my dear Hyottoko...?"

The fox, of course, is a gently curved paper mask being held by a slim wooden stick over the eyes and nose of an elegant young woman. As her fingers slide the mask aside without moving her arm, Michiru Kaioh, radiant in a honey-gold kimono bearing abstractly moderne shapes and the dotted bright spots of red and white flowers en total, says, "It seems both of you have gotten into the spirit of things..."

Her eyes flick to her right, and upwards. "Though I meant it," Michiru says as she passes the mask's stem down to the hand holding a cloth bag, "about the tofu."

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

"Ah, Song-san, good evening," Fuu greets Ye-jin with a friendly smile and a polite bow. "Already enjoying the festival, I see? - And best of luck," she adds smoothly as Ye-jin takes first crack at the ring toss.

And then there's another familiar face! "Good evening, Takeo-san," the bespectacled blonde greets the Ohtori carnivore when he strolls up, while Ye-jin is still slinging rings at the field of bottles. The offered meat-on-a-stick draws a mildly wary look from Fuu - but it doesn't seem deep-fried, and it smells appetizing enough, so she accepts it with a smile and a bow of her head. "You're extremely kind to offer it; I didn't get much of a chance to break for lunch today," she admits before taking a decorous nibble of the mystery meat.

A bit too salty for her taste, perhaps. But good enough to take the edge off her appetite; she really should look for something a bit more balanced. To the extent that matsuri food is 'balanced,' at least, but you can do better with some options than others.

Her attention shifts back to Ye-jin as the latter's exasperation edges upwards; Fuu watches the technique which Ye-jin is attempting to apply, and does her best to gauge the angles and vectors. It'll be a challenge to win a major prize, to be sure, but it shouldn't be impossible ...

<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

"You should help this mysterious fox find her meal as well as you can," a second voice advises. "Fairy tale creatures always reward you for a good turn, in the end."

Naturally, Haruka is wearing a men's yukata, having selected from their thrilling range of darker blues and subtle patterns a medium blue with subtle, overlapping patterns of pale circles, like raindrops landing in water. His arms are crossed contentedly in their sleeves at the moment as he flanks Michiru a half-step behind; her proximity is related to his comfort. He sports no mask tonight, or none that has a handle.

"But then," he equivocates, eyes up as though thinking, "cute little bunnies should take care exactly how they're helping a fox to eat tonight."

His eyes fall again, an incongruously wholesome smile on his face. "Hi, Rei-chan," he greets, as if the other greeting were already achieved.

<Pose Tracker> Ye-jin Song [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Ye-jin does not have much success, despite several more attempts. The girl purses her lips, complaining, "This isn't fair." She bangs a fist on the table. At least twice.

"You do it." She tells Fuu. "Or you, Akamizu-san." Ye-jin scoots aside to give room at the booth, so that someone else can fail in her place. That'll prove that the game is a farce for sure. Ye-jin's arms cross impatient.

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

Everything is brushstrokes, from far enough away, and maybe that's why Rei leans in. "Ano..." It's a sound which gives space for her thoughts, a finger coming up to rest against her lip. "The eyes look a bit like a tiger, but the rest... is it a bird?" She can't think of many animals which are green.

She is DEEP IN THOUGHT as she evaluates Nori's artwork, and so, looking up from where she's stooped over:


Enter: a spooky monster escort.

That moment of surprise fades quickly, though, because, yes: Rei recognises the mask. Usagi unveils herself and Rei's shock turns into laughter, hands coming up about her belly. "Usagi!" She exclaims, between giggles. She at least manages to calm down enough to pose relatively dignified for selfie time, though there's still a wide smile on her face.

Don't think she hasn't noticed someone else lurking nearby, though. "Secchan!" Rei calls out, waving her over. "How's the food, tonight?" Of course she'd ask her that question. She might not be the only food expert in residence, but...

It seems like Usagi shares the role of mask-wearer, too, as far as Rei can tell. Because here's a fox, except, of course, this inari turns out to be the elegant Michiru Kaioh.

(She would never guess that someone so elegant could be a nogitsune.)

"Oh!" Rei gasps, and for a moment is too struck by that entrance to possibly reply. Especially because Michiru has not come alone. Her cheeks colour to hear his advice to Usagi, but she smiles and claps her hands together, regardless. "Michiru-san, Haruka-san! You look lovely! I'm sure we can find you something good -- right?" Here Rei turns to Usagi and Setsuna, as if to say: surely between you you can answer this question.

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

Ring Toss Man smiles gamely at Ye-jin, ignoring her distress, and tosses her the participation prize: a little gatchapon. This one, it transpires, has a Snowmaru mascot in it. Not exactly summer-oriented.

Three boys: small of stature, small of pants, big of mouth -- arrive.

"OI OI OI," says the one in a red shirt. "Oba-san* totally sucks!"

"Yeahhhh," says the yellow-shirted kid. "Let us show you how it's done!"

The green-shirted kid is nicer. Maybe. But it's kind of patronizing to be told, "Don't worry, oba-san, I'll win you something," even as he tries to shoulder past Fuu and Takeo to the front with his friends.

  • Oba-san: 'Auntie,' ish. A mortal insult to any young woman. But then, almost everyone's a mummy when you're nine.
<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Takeo Akamizu blinks at the rings and crunches down on another piece of meat on a stick. He steps up and putting the meat in his mouth holds out a hand for rings. When Ye-Jin is called "Auntie" he winces. Around the meat in his mouth he says, "Ish oka kidthies. Takeo hath thith thing beat, Jutht watch." He cracks his knuckles, and then once he has the rings he feels the weight of the, Gets an idea for how they'll fly.

After a moment he nods. Tosses a ring up, Catches it, then winks to Ye-Jin AND Fuu and let's the first ring fly. Once that one lands, for good or ill, he tosses the second, and then the third. Watching the rings fall where they may. Each toss carefully aimed and thrown with a flick of the wrist.

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

Fuu was still nibbling at the meaty munchie that Takeo gave her, so she isn't quite in position to take her turn when Ye-jin finishes. The three pushy kids draw a slight frown - really, the high schoolers got there first fair and square, and it's not like Ye-jin, Takeo, or Fuu will clean out *all* the good prizes.

"I'm sure your offer is appreciated," she says, mustering a smile, "but unless you've played these games before at considerable length .."

She trails off, watching Takeo's technique. *He* seems to have the hang of it.

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

Happily giggling along with Rei as she realizes that she made her laugh. Usagi seems quite accepting of Nori's excuse, as she tries to catch a glimpse of the fruits of her shell painted labor. "Okay okay! I understand, you wouldn't want to let your hard work go to waste! Just be sure to catch up before too long!"

"It's hilarious!" Usagi holds up the mask beside her face as she presents it proudly to Setsuna. "Look - look! I love its silly face! You should get one!"

She's in the midst of trying to wink and purse her lips to mimic that silly face when Michiru Kaioh walks up. "Michiru-s-" Immediately she starts, looking embarrassed, yet the moment that it registers that elegant Michiru - the Kitsune, asking of her the Hyottoko, she half slides her mask back on. "Kitsune!" If it's good enough for Michiru to wear a mask, why shouldn't she have her fun?

She's in the middle of fumbling for it though when Haruka walks up, in a men's Yukata. It's kind of slid down extra far, so that Usagi's bright blue eyes are now looking up just over the edge of its forehead at Haruka.


There's a lengthy pause, as its like the mask is being used as a shield for her cheeks, and she truly is bunny like in how she peeks over the edge of it at the handsome man, looking into his eyes extra hard, as if to perhaps find... something.

Yet she ceases that soon enough, to answer him. "That - may be true, if I were Usagi, I would be very worried! But as the Kitsune pointed out..." Usagi fixes the mask back into place as she declares to Haruka, "I'm the Hyotokko - here to assist her on behalf of the god of soy!"

She then puts up a fist to its pursed lips and coughs as she turns to Michiru and offers her a serious answer, "But for this journey we could use a Guardian...! Who knows what we could run into on our way? And there's only one that is fearsome enough..."

The Hyottoko reaches behind her, into the bow of her obi, and produces...

A fearsome crimson long nosed, mustachio'ed mask with yellow eyes and thick eyebrows, holding it towards Rei Hino. "The Tengu!" Rei can only imagine the silly face she's making behind that mask, almost certainly suppressing laughter as she offers it to her, to join in on this quest for Tofu.

Given how well she knows Usagi - it might instantly bring to mind the path not taken: Rei-chan! Rei-chan! Look I got this for you! It kind of looks like your angry face! Oh you know what I'm talking about - the way you look when you're mad at me!

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

"Good!" Setsuna answers cheerfully when Rei asks. The little paper is now empty save for a little sauce that will remain as a warning to the rest of the food. She turns then to smile Nori's way as she gets back to her work, just in passing, and then--"Ah1! " She laughs a little along with Usagi's impression as much as the mask, before pausing mid-laugh when she spots Michiru and Haruka.

She could be forgiven for not noticing that she remains paused near-expressionless for a few moments, one imagines. She is quiet while Usagi is louder though, and certainly isn't helping Rei yet--

"Ah--yes," Setsuna starts, "Hello!"

She could guide them. Or perhaps... !

<Pose Tracker> Michiru Kaioh [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Michiru's eyes narrow with what might be fondness at the words of Rei: "I hope so," she states. "I haven't been to a proper festival in months..."

Her head tilts, and she smiles, at Haruka's words.

Michiru raises the mask to her eyes again and answers Usagi with a sonorous note in her voice, a faint quaver as if she were performing in an old stage play. "How wonderful...! To have the aid of such a bright eyed guide. Surely, Haruka, this -"

A deliberate second's pause.

"Prognoathous fellow shall find us the meal that I crave." To Setsuna, then, she murmurs, "It's a little exciting here, isn't it? Well, then, let's not dally..."

SOON - a brief interlude at a stall selling fried tofu, followed by a returning walk with the group. Michiru holds the fox mask in the same hand holding the paper wrap that contains triangular pieces of delectable tofu, each of them dabbed with a little light sauce. She is eating them, yet carefully... but could she do otherwise?

As they move together, Michiru's eyes rest on the ring toss, and the prize counters behind it. That inflatable 'Master Sword' is a place where Michiru's gaze sits for a moment, but it soon moves towards slingshots, towards stuffed dolls, towards -

Michiru raises an eyebrow.

The plan is put into motion with glass-smooth ease. She shifts her posture, and silently, after a few more steps, Rei and Setsuna are briefly separated from Haruka (and - incidentally - Usagi) for a moment. A moment for Michiru to say to them, "I hate to intrude..."

The rude children speak up and give her another breath's space or two to lower her voice into a confidential register, to draw the younger girls into her web of intrigue. "But could I ask you to help me with something...?"

Lower yet. It's a secret now. Michiru indicates with her tofu - "Do you see that racer character plush...? It looks like it's a rather high value, but I think it would suit Haruka, don't you? Yet I admit I'm not likely to come out on top. Do you think I can ask you for your aid...?"

Having laid her dark designs, Michiru speaks in a more normal register. "Ah! That rabbit... Shall we see how we do at this game, Haruka?"

And so, Kaioh's ambition began...

<Pose Tracker> Ye-jin Song [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Ye-jin's eyes slant sharply toward the children heckling from the sidelines. Her fingers clench into a tight fist when given such disrespectful address. She lets Takeo take the lead, too distracted to be bothered further with the ring game. She is, now, focused entirely on the young trio that slandered her so.

"What'd you say to me, you little brats?" She snarls, rounding and making a sharp, pointing gesture with her hand. "YOU suck. Say that again and I'll shove one of these down your throats." She fumbles for one of the rings remaining in Takeo's pile, raising it up menacingly.

Very much like an angry oba-san would.

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

As the rings clink on the bottles Takeo watches carefully. The first one clinks off harmlessly, and he nods. The second ring hits the bottle and circles the top. Resting on the neck, while the third follows suit after a harrowing spin around the rim of one of the bottles. Takeo watches this while he munches on a meat stick and then nods again as it sinks. He bows to Fuu and Ye-Jin and gives them another wink. "Two out of three. Not bad." He grins to the pair and says, "Ladies. I'm glad I could be of Ring Toss service."

He leans over to Ye-Jin and takes a bite off his meat stick. "Ya know Ye, I could have thrown FOUR rings if you hadn't threatened to choke a kid with one. Mighta won ya a .... " He stops and looks at the prizes. "What the heck they giving out anyway? Is it more meat? OH! Maybe Beef Jerky!"

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

"There's more to life than bacon and Mountain Dew, Takeo-san," Fuu replies smoothly, her smile possibly wavering a *little* bit. She's finished the meaty munchie by now, and discretely discards the emptied stick before stepping up to the counter. "Let's see if I can top Takeo-san's performance, and avenge Ye-jin-san's honor ..."

She pauses, glancing back at the three kids, and her glasses glint in the light as she smiles - not *quite* her usual friendly self this time.

Look, you just don't call one of Fuu's cohorts 'auntie'. They're not even in college yet. You just ... *don't* ... use 'oba-san' to them.

She pays, she collects her rings, she draws her gaze over the field of bottles and picks out the blue ones - the highest-value targets - while discerning which shots should be easier, and which are clearly bait for a low score or a complete whiff. It's not archery, true ... but it's still all about aiming, control, and patience.

Wishful thoughts of that inflatable replica of the Master Sword are carefully boxed up and put away, freeing up her concentration for the actual task ... and she begins her play, tossing one ring at a time, an archer's relaxed concentration visible on her face.

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

"Wh-WHOA!" gasps Yellow Shirt with big eyes and a bigger grin.

"It's... a MONSTER!" yelps Red Shirt, living up to his moniker, perhaps.

"Go go go!" shrieks Green Shirt.

The three leave dust-shaped silhouettes of themselves behind. Also Ye-jin, if at all possible. Baiiii.

Now there's plenty of room at the Ring Toss for more than one person to throw rings at a time...

Ring Toss Man meanwhile gives Takeo a prospective glance. Man to man. He'd rather give away someone else's stuff than his own.

"You want meat?" he confirms. "Tell you what... my cousin's sister is running the karaage booth this year. You take this ticket over to them and she'll hook you right up."

Turning to the unexpected rush of glamorous competitors, he bows a little more obsequiously than he treated the other kids, young and old. No more yelling RING! TOSS! at the top of his lungs.

Instead, carefully avoiding Fuu's line of shots until she's done, he profers an armful of rings towards Michiru like a fine jeweler...

"Or," he adds to Takeo and Ye-jin, apparently not so subdued as to pass up a chance to make things more interesting for himself, "You could put your prizes back as collateral, and bet on your pretty friends here..."

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

In an alternate universe, Rei rejoins: That's just my normal face, Usagi! Everyone claps because it definitely isn't a burn against Rei as much as a burn on Usagi. The world is at peace.

This is not that world. (Maybe it's for the best.)

Rei can practically hear the laughter in Usagi as she hands over the Tengu mask, and maybe that's precisely why she can't quite suppress a smile either. "Why not?" She wonders, as she reaches back to tie on the mask, and so become...


THE WISE TENGU OF TOKYO waves, as they reach the booth: "Fuu-chan! Ah, and Akamizu-san and Song-san, too," though the wise Tengu, being very wise, doesn't linger long on that last girl.

Instead she is partitioned, curiously along the fault line of 'girls who pass their PE classes'. (Well, as much as Rei is passing any of her classes right now. All those sleepless nights are playing havoc with her grades. But that's a problem for when school starts up again.) This curiosity is immediately answered: Michiru has a plan.

The wise Tengu of Tokyo is of course merciful, so of course she claps her hands together. Not the most stealthy immediate response, but at least she keeps her voice down. "You can count on us, Michiru-san," and it's a bit muffled because speaking quietly in a mask is a bit of a procession, but it's fine.

"Excuse me!" The Tengu -- who, by the way, is Rei Hino, not fooling anyone -- turns to get the ring-toss attendant's attention. "I'll play a round, too!" And once she's got those rings in hand, it's time to consider...

Her battle plan.

She only has so many rings, and the harder targets are rigged, she's sure; Rei has tried to make sure the festival stalls are at least passingly fair, but there's only so much one girl can do, even in her position. She tries to run the maths in her head.

This lasts about, oh, fifteen seconds before Rei realises she doesn't actually understand statistical probability and Ami is off somewhere else.

Strategy out the window, this girl given to war just lobs a ring out at the first target she sees.

<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.


"It's so difficult for me when I don't understand what you're saying," Haruka sighs amiably. "And it's not even my fault this time."


Haruka glances down instinctively when Michiru's posture shifts unexpectedly. Seeing that it is not tension, his brief alertness dissipates, and he seems at any rate to be unaware of Michiru's machinations. Such a supple deception; the other pedestrians separate them naturally and Michiru strikes.

When they're rejoined, Haruka follows Michiru's eyeline to the red-eyed rabbit plush. "Oh. Well, that's a nice thing." He sighs. "If only there were a little bunny here, I know just who I would win it for, too." Mirthfully avoiding looking at Usagi, he returns his gaze to Michiru with good-natured suspicion. "But what's to become of it if you win, pretty fox?"

Placing some coins down, Haruka waits for his rings, watching Fuu and Takeo. "Pretty hard game, huh?" he muses.

Men's kimono sleeves don't drape as low, so they're easier to roll, and Haruka does so, just to the elbow. Then, taking his first ring, he affects a faint smile, his eyes grow hazy despite how intent they become, and here comes those rose petals. His hair gets blonder, his eyes get bluer, and the way his arm and wrist draw back is like the angelic staircase of a harp.

"There you go," Haruka says with warm gentleness, and he tosses the ring as though letting a dove fly free from his palm.

With a clink, Haruka's ring finds its target. With distinguished nonchalance, he stands straight again. "How many of these do I need to win to take the rabbit home with me?" he asks the Ring Toss Man.

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

Takeo raises an eyebrow at Haruka. Did .... Did somebody just out Bishonen me? He thinks and peers very deeply at Haruka. As the ring hits his eyes slowly track to the landed ring. He hands his ticket to the Ring master. "Yupp. Betting on him. Right there." he whisper conspiratorially toward the Ring Master. He then nods to Haruka and looks at his nails as uf he didn't just make a bet. "Yeah. It's pretty hard. All in the wrist though. See you got it down. Nice." He looks to Rei. "Wrist Rei-chan. Not whole upper body with a side of legs and anger management issues."

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

Ring Toss Man looks between Takeo and his handsome choice of bet, and begins to slightly regret his idea. He scratches his pate under his flagrantly unnecessary headband, contemplative. This is a Ring Toss Man who's seen a lot of Ring Tossers. And a lot of men. Haruka looks to be a tosser among tossers AND a man among men; he's about to lose some real nice prizes, PLUS give this punk a little more for it?

Oh well, it's all for fun. Festival, festival.

He grunts.

"Okay kid, you're getting one-piece-of-extra-karaage-on-top odds here, not 2:1 basket odds," he agrees, quite without whispering at all.

<Pose Tracker> Michiru Kaioh [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

"I'll have to finish my tofu," says Michiru to Haruka, "and see whether I'm in the mood for..."

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

Tofu!! It's delicious. Setsuna ends up with a lot of fried tofu, and she shows significantly more speed in this endeavor than the rest of the group; she started with more and yet has less by the time the group separates out a little. A little moment, where Michir so smoothly makes a request.

Setsuna gamely listens; she need say nothing when her eyes indicate her listening, her shoulders shift to mark her leaning closer to hear. She looks over the plush, and considers it. "..."

"...I'll do my best," Setsuna says in that same quiet tone, her red eyes burning with competitive spirit. She remembers, after all, how much she still loves the giant cat plush Lera once won her in a contest. She must spread this particular happiness...!

Setsuna watches Haruka with the rings, but she watches with a critical eye; she considers the haze, the rose-petaled beauty of the moment, the warm, gentle approach--"....Don't count us out," Setsuna counters Takeo, and looks to the Ring Toss man. "I'd like some, as well!"

Strategy? The only strategy that matters is the strategy of hitting the target. +_+!

With intent red eyes, Setsuna Higashi steps up to the line, testing the weight of the ring in her hand. Her purple hair tumbles down her back, worn loose with her yukata; her red eyes narrow to focus only on the target. There is no roll of her sleeves; instead, she adopts a loose stance, graceful on her feet as if in running shoes instead of more traditional footwear. The night air is warm, and she purses her lips, thoughtfully--

It is not with gentleness but with firm intent and competitive instinct that Setsuna will toss her first ring to the target, and the evening light sparkles against it in mid-air!

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

Usagi had her mask on, the lips near the Tofu, it made it genuinely look like she was going to eat them. "Oh! Oh hey!" The Hyottoko waves to the other trio as Rei points them out. "Having a good time?" Before she examines the booth and asks, "Did you win anything?"

BGM Change: You Spin Me Round - Dead or Alive - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpmTe3TDdVU

Usagi leans in as Michiru beckons, and she slides her mask off just a fraction. And as she asks, Usagi nods eagerly. Michiru is so elegant that as far as she's concerned there ought to be nothing she could help Michiru with - but if she's asking, that seems to elevate Usagi just a touch, by being someone Michiru can rely on!

"Of course!"

Usagi's eyes trace a line from Michiru's tofu to. "That one?"

It's like she's being inducted into some secret sisterhood, by simply being trusted with this important Haruka Tenoh fact.

"We've got this!" She immediately declares to Michiru, simultaneously with Rei's 'You can count on us.' And immediately slides up her mask as if she were putting on war paint for the task that lay ahead.

"Me too! Me too! I want to play!" Usagi shoves her way up to the front alongside Rei.

Taking up the rings, Usagi has full faith that this game is on the level. After all who would rig festival games? The very idea of it! Usagi takes up a stance beside Setsuna and Rei, who for now she regards as rivals.

And that's before she sees Setsuna's sparkling toss. The competition is fierce enough that she's becoming worried.

Licking her lips with her tongue, she starts slowly making an experimental underhand motion. She has this dreamy quality on her face, like she's remembering Haruka behind her, directing her arm on the volleyball court, a memory which causes a sort of blissful giggling behind her mask. She does this practice a few times without releasing the ring before... Haruka... says...

"A little bunny? Wait d-do you mean-?"

Suddenly she sees an image of Chibi-Usa shoving herself aside, and there's like a mirror crack of glass, as a distinct possibility of who it could mean. Steam fills her Hyotokko mask of rage, as she muffles a shriek of CHIBI-USA! Such that it only seems like Usagi is mumbling to herself.

Suddenly she throws one ring underhanded. Letting rage fuel her. Deflected. Two hands... deflected. Three- she keeps a hold of it, not releasing it at the last second.

Usagi Tsukino looks at the ring, then brings it up to her forehead. Then it's like a lightbulb goes off. Suddenly putting the ring up to her forehead, she takes up as wide a stance as she can manage in her Yukata and with a spinning motion flicks it out with the motion of her wrist like she's trying to let a discus fly. "Moon Wanage - ACTION!"

Releasing it with a flick of her wrist, it glides over to one of the harder targets. The edge of the ring slips over the target....

Usagi clenches her fists as if in anticipation, her breathing picking up. The ring catches and spins around that narrow edge... round and round and round and round...

Usagi Tsukino leans forward, pumping both of her hands, eyes sparkling with delight, as she breathes faster and faster. "Come on - come on...!"

She can just feel it - the image of her giving that cute little racer to Haruka. His inevitable gratitude - his decision that she's the little bunny after all.

... suddenly with no fanfare the ring slips off the narrow target, clattering uselessly below.


It's like she doesn't even recognize what happened for a few short seconds. Like the image of her winning was so clear that it was seared into her brain. The Hyotokko crumples on the counter that serves as the barrier between them as she lets out a terrible sob, "I lost-!"

<Pose Tracker> Michiru Kaioh [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Just how many do you need to take the rabbit home, Haruka? It's not clear - or is it? His rings fly with deftness - and it's a narrow thing, but that rabbit can be his, if he wishes. But he could have almost any of the others instead. Spoiled for choice... where does the devotion lie?

Usagi's efforts receive a little plastic barette with a colorful fish - on the theory that nobody should truly be a loser in these moments - but perhaps a consolation prize isn't what she wishes. "These are always tricky," Michiru murmurs to Usagi with sympathy, as she accepts her own rings and steps forth -

Michiru's wrist, of course, is supple and well trained. Her first ring is slightly off the mark, purely from inexperience -- it may be her legitimate first time throwing them -- but the rest fly clean and neat and true...

But the bottles defy two of them. Her eyes narrow, as she is left with an offer for a prize, and answers with a "hmh" and a brief fold of her arms while making her visual selection. She finishes off her tofu.

Meanwhile the remaining two take their innings. Rei has the strength of her guardian crow, and the precise eye for throwing these rings, but the same bottle that defeated Michiru defeats her enough to leave her just below the threshold. Though she can pick out from the same shelf as Haruka... what if their desires should overlap? Who would triumph in such a conflict?

But it is Setsuna Higashi, the girl from another place, alive with the beauty and glamour of this gorgeous night and this glowing ambiance, whose hand is truest. Perhaps she was aided by the efforts of her colleagues, to show her what did not work - but such advantages are minor. In the end, as the rings clatter, it is she who has the opportunity to select from the shelf - the one that contains that charming racer doll...

Michiru, for her part, tells the Ring Toss Man, "I think I'd like that fan, with the seaside pattern." Once she receives this fan, a folding model, she holds it up to veil her lips, glancing over towards Haruka and tilting her head to the side just for a moment - her lips almost but not quite hidden...

The smile of a woman whose ambitions are complete.

And so the evening develops...

<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Haruka is watching Setsuna during her toss. "Ho-ohh?" he admires. "You're taking this seriously."

Haruka is a very competitive person at heart, but part of her charisma is her ability to turn that off most of the time. But might not Setsuna be getting competitive over there on her own? She's about to test that theory, probably flirtatiously, until she sees Rei making a toss as well. Could Setsuna be competing with Rei? Well, that's just as fun really.

"Good luck," Haruka tells Setsuna instead, a mixture of sporting and benevolent. He turns back to his own task for now. With another gentle toss, he sinks a second ring right atop the first.

Haruka blinks twice at the miniature masked girl, unsure what Usagi is so stressed about in there. Maybe Haruka is overloading her a little. With that mask on it's tough to tell... but Haruka mustn't become spoiled. She gets to see the Princess blush quite often, she thinks, settling her posture back for another casual throw. Not always due to anything Haruka did. It might be one of her cute friends, that's fun. It might be Moonlight Knight's hand resting lingeringly in the same spot presently hugged by Usagi's obi.

The ring slings out fast instead of gently, and clinks against its target instead of falling around it. Haruka rolls her eyes at herself, annoyed and amused. Not like she's still mad about it, huh?

Of course, the graceful princess Haruka is sworn to defend is currently bent over sobbing on the counter of a cheap festival stall because she wasted all of 50 yen. Closing her eyes briefly with a smile, she glances over her shoulder and shrugs at Michiru, 'what can you do?' Then he pats Usagi's back consolingly.

"There there," he says, philosophically somehow despite its brevity. "You always hit that throw when it counts."

That too-hard toss will remain Haruka's only failure tonight, at least within the realm of rings. The rest are sunk in short order; enough points for the shelf the rabbit is on. Haruka catches Michiru smiling at her and gives her an intrigued but quizzical grin. Shaking her head, she turns back to the counter.

"The rabbit, please."

Tugging her dark blue sleeve back in place, Haruka gives Michiru another glance and then, as the beautiful sea-oracle had foreseen, walks to Usagi and bends his knees and waist a little, to help narrow the tremendous height gap. He lifts the rabbit by pinching its scruff, as though it were actually alive.

"You can have this," he intones overseriously, though his sky-blue eyes are like little sparklers right now . "But only if I get to see your face when you take it."