2020-05-16 - Uminari Matsuri: Masks of Fate

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Uminari Matsuri: Masks of Fate

A group of friends pay a visit to some Not At All Suspicious fortune-tellers at the festival, while others use the mask-making booth to try to create disguises for themselves.


Yumi Ohzora, Rei Hino, Steven Universe, Chitose Shiratori, Fuu Hououji, Honoka Yukishiro, Nori Ankou, Nagisa Misumi, Kozue Kaoru, Homura Akemi

GM: Pink Moon Stick


Uminari Matsuri

OOC - IC Date:

5/16/2020 - 08-29-15

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Japanese Festival Sounds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pB0OlDzeW4

The festival is in full swing. Its main street, lined with booths on both sides, is packed with people. Families, groups of friends, romantic dates, solos -- everyone's here. The crush is getting dense but not unpleasant or dangerous, and most people are willing enough to make way for someone trying to slip through. It's a beautiful summer night whether one is wearing a yukata or not, and most people are carrying at least one item by now... a fan, a yo-yo water balloon, a booth prize, something-to-eat-on-a-stick...

This particular block has a cotton-candy booth (they're spun on the spot, but sold in a clear bag with anime characters on it, in case you want to be able to put it away for a minute while you do something else); the gatchapon machines (there are a bunch of them, and for something that can be found everywhere in Tokyo all the time if you know where to look, they're surprisingly popular, especially with the spontaneous flea market of little kids who are engaged in some complex-looking trading schemes); sizzling yakisoba, it smells great; the mask-making booth; a pop-the-water-balloons dart game; and a fortune-telling booth.

A good time seems to be being had by all.

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

One booth is a riot of bright designs--because the mask-making booth has a number already made as well as available to decorate. A number of traditional faces are on display, from Oni to Tengu, all lovingly detailed with holes for eyes and designs both familiar and unfamiliar. The masks are done up in rows, with the bigger ones just taking up multiple spots, hanging with little cards beside them, and next to those is a little table and a number of unpainted masks, both those sculpted into interesting shapes and relatively blank, too, and already plenty have been made and taken away. There's more supplies though.

One of the seats behind it is empty at the moment, though.

The one who might occupy it (she will in a bit!) is walking down the way not far off, dressed in a pale green yukata with stylized sunflower patterning, the obi a cheerful yellow. Her gray hair is down, her glasses are firmly on, and Yumi Ohzora is ready to festival! But what is she doing at the moment other than turning the corner back onto this row???

Well mostly putting back away her phone. Shh.

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

The WISE TENGU OF TOKYO has not visited the mask-making booth, despite that lovely face, because a friend did it for her.

Also, the Wise Tengu of Tokyo is Rei Hino in a tengu mask. That never stopped being a thing or anything. Below it is her red yukata, light blue and purple decorations and yellow about the sash; her long hair is tied back, for the festivities, with a purple ribbon.

She is carrying in an arm a floppy puppy dog plush. It has all the stiffness of a bean bag, so she can just sort of rest it on an arm without worrying too much.

Of course, she's keeping an eye out for MATSURI MALADIES; Rei is helping with this festival, after all. But if she happens to find something good on the way...

She's considering the wata-ame stand and its delicious cotton candy mysteries when she spies Yumi. She changes her route to cross with the other girl, lifting her dog-clad arm in a wave. "Oh, Yumi-chan!" Calls the Wise Tengu of Tokyo, who momentarily remembers that she is wearing a mask. "Haha --" She comes up beside her, and lifts her mask up to reveal: the tengu was Rei all along. "Seems we're meeting at a festival again, huh?" There's a little quirk of her lip into humour a touch gnarled, but it's said with good humour.

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

Among the crowds of the festival, among the sounds of celebration, a large box is hefted above someone. It bobs slightly to the left and right as it is moved.

Underneath said box is Steven! He is carrying something he should have no business carrying. It is both too big and possibly too heavy for someone his age. The boy is not yet with correct garments for the festival. That is soon! But right now, work is needed, and it would be best to not wear that until it was time!

The box carried in particular is some kind of case-- possibly a cooler? It seems to have a list of cooking materials inside.

The cooler has some kind of fish for a symbol. It appears to be mostly made of pizza for some reason.

However, as Steven walks (He actually is wearing traditional wood sandals instead of flip-flips despite the rest of his outfit being normal) he walks past a stand displaying a variety of fancy masks! His stride slows, slows, slows... and eventually stops. Then begins to backpedal!

"Whoah..." he gawks from the walkway. He has been successfully distracted! "I didn't know these were a thing during a festival...!"

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

Chitose Shiratori is still milling around, still wearing her night sky yukata. Though she's still walking around without... doing much of anything

Well, she's eating something. She's not exactly sure it is. Some sort of mystery meat. She didn't pay attention, honestly. She just felt the need to have a slight bit of a snack.

But, other than occasionally grazing from the stalls, she hasn't really done much. She looks occasionally at some of the activity stalls, but each and every one gets a slight shake of her head. Chitose never was much of a physical activity girl. So she continues just walking around and taking in the atmosphere. When it comes down to it, that's enough.

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

And just as Steven is passing the yakisoba stand ... for the second time, as he backpedals ...

"Hm? Ah, Steven-san, good evening," Fuu Hououji greets him with a smile, then turns her attention to follow his astonished gaze. "Ah yes, festival masks. They're quite popular, although I'll admit I'm not quite sure where the tradition arose ..." She purses her lips briefly, drawing out her chopsticks from their sleeve and starting to gather a bite of yakisoba from her take-away box. "I wonder if it's a spin-off from youkai masks at more traditional festivals? Certainly there are no shortage of heroes to pick masks from."

She's also curious what that box is that Steven's toting around ... it does look like a delivery box, or something. Fuu herself, though, is in her yukata - a grassy/foresty green color, with swirls of lighter green along the hems and sleeves, and a drifting-clouds pattern printed across the back.

<Pose Tracker> Honoka Yukishiro [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

It's unusual -- possibly unprecedented -- for Honoka Yukishiro to NOT wear a yukata to the local matsuri, but that is the world we're in. One might think it the darkest timeline, but instead, tonight, it is having the opposite effect; she is luminously distinct from the crowd in a gentle blue maxi that gathers beneath the bust, then flows broadly, like the night-lost endless sky, down to her white-sandaled feet. No jewelry, no makeup, just Honoka and the simple cotton gown; she adorns it, rather than it adorning her.

Her eyes, always blue, are VERY blue tonight, paired with that dress, in much the same way that the right wine can make meat taste meatier. Her pale arms and shoulders are bare, but for the spaghetti straps of the dress, and unlike her eyes, create a soft and submissive palette for the festival's lanterns and LEDs. They paint her skin golden or crimson or whatever their frequency demands, but the rising Moon reveals the truth, whenever it hits her directly; she might as well be kin.

Also unusually, she's wrested her shadowsilk hair back into a high ponytail -- even her side-locks, which are more than long enough these days to be so contained. The ponytail is glossy, and very heavy-looking, especially when it's set to swaying, side-to-side, by the momentum of her stride. It descends from her crown to well below her shoulder blades. The handful of bangs too short to pull back are secured above her temple, except for a few inevitable escapees, by her signature pink-heart barrette -- her only accessory, other than a small purse that dangles from a cord from one shoulder and across her chest.

She came alone. Honoka enjoys an uncompromised self-possession that allows her to be by herself in an unpitiable way; she seems quite comfortable on her own, floating sedately through the crowd on light feet, her wide-eyed expression a mix of thoughtfulness and delight. On the flip side, however, she's unlikely to be solo for much longer. Gazes follow her wherever she goes, and some elbowing-each-other-to-make-the-dare high-school-age fellows, in tank-tops or tees, are beginning to gather around her. Dolphins in her wake... or sharks.

One finally takes the plunge and skirts around her, approaching from the front. He blocks her path, which was towards the mask-making booth. Her sandals have a low heel, but her middle-school-era height is no longer competitive against boys; he has a significant advantage.

Bending down, he coos something at her; an invitation about to be reinforced by the comparably massive fingers approaching her upper arm. It's the first move in a dance that will end with her being escorted on HIS arm instead, if it's allowed to continue.

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

Nori Ankou, still in her mostly-black, moth-themed yukata, emerges from the drying rack area, having been momentarily diverted in her quest for a place to dry a particular gift. (Nori was behind a shell-painting stall which is sharing some staff with a Jamaican-esque food truck stall. What is the connection here? Nori loves the food.)

"I see you've been busy, Tengu-san," she remarks to Rei, before asking Yumi, "Are you enjoying yourself so far?" Her eyes, however, are drifting towards the masks.

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

"Ah?" Yumi greets, making a point of looking a little puzzled given the mask, and only once she reveals her face, "Rei-chan!" A laugh back. "I'm not surprised," she says. "I figured I'd run into you if I hung out here long enough anyway. Hm, is that one of ours?" she wonders of the mask, before, "It's nice!"

Yumi, delayed on her way over to the booth, instead turns towards Rei for the moment. A stray breeze ruffles a little of her gray hair as the very tall girl takes a step slightly out of the way, always conscious by habit of the space she takes up.

"I'm more surprised that I managed to catch you while we're both free! So who's your date?" She gestures to the dog plush cheerfully. And then--

"Oh, hey!" to Nori, as she waves at her cheerfully. It's a good connection. "I am--I was just making a few rounds before I got back to my booth in a bit. How about you?"

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

"It must be!" Rei exclaims, on the topic of her mask, as if she doesn't even know. "To be honest, I'm not certain -- it was a gift."

Down the mask goes, as Yumi asks that next question, in time for Nori to greet the Wise Tengu of Tokyo. "Oh, there's always something for me to get done. But you know," says the tengu, who is still Rei, considering Yumi's question on her date (the puppy dog, and not even the one usually trying for that position), "he doesn't have a name yet. Nori-chan, what do you think this little guy looks like?" She holds up the floppy pup in her talons, right at beak-level. Is it obscuring the terrible fate going on not so far from here..?

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Golden Saucer - FFVII OST https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CA_0EGsyFJY

Wow, the Fortune-Telling Booth is getting a lot of attention this year!

Well. Fortune-telling tent. It's on the park side of the street, so there's lots of room for it to go back, and it does seem to be quite large. It must be, since its long line is both fairly fast-moving and admitting more than one person at a time. Blushing couples, giggling children, groups of friends; whatever skeins of fate are being woven within, it seems it can accommodate just about any combination. A production line of fortunes, churning happily away.

But enough about the inside, still invisible, still a mystery. The OUTSIDE is glorious indeed, made of heavy, expensive-looking fabric: the tent is mostly a brilliant purple, slashed here and there with red and gold and green and blue. It is embroidered all over with wild, mystical constellations, though they require a little bit of staring to pick out properly against the darker shades, as every five-pointed sigil is done in black thread.

Standing next to the tent flap is a pretty young woman with green hair in buns; Lulu Teruno, well-known at Infinity Institute as a high school senior, a PE teacher (...well, it's Infinity), and caretaker of its botanical garden -- it's also said she recently joined the ranks of small business owners as a florist. Tonight however she is doing nothing related to any of that; she wears a white lab coat over her bronze-and-blue yukata, reading glasses over her forested eyes, and is wielding clipboard and pen in a perfectly professional fashion. It seems she's interviewing customers as they go in, though with a casual, easy manner. She writes something down after each interaction.

It is somewhat jarring to watch, not at all keeping with the whole MYSTERIES OF FATE theme.

Lulu's an extremely friendly person, approachable; and it's definitely possible to get her attention for conversation without having to wait in line first. As long as it isn't a lonnnng one. There are customers to interview, after all.

<Pose Tracker> Nagisa Misumi [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

"Nagi-sa! Isn't it time you learned how to tie your own kimono?"

"How am I supposed to remember how to do something I only do once a year?" Nagisa is holding her folded pink yukata against her chest the way one might hold a large book on the way to class.

"Yeah mom!" Ryouta joins in. "Neechan can't even remember how to do stuff she does every day!"

"Yeah!" Nagisa exults, unused to having her little brother support her against her mom. "--I mean, hey!" she realizes, bristling. Rie Misumi sighs as her daughter begins to chase her son, as usual.


"He's being rude!"

Rie lets that part go. "Aren't you going to be late?"

Nagisa's eyes widen. "What time is it?"

"Come on, let's put that on you," Rie sighs.


If it were allowed to continue, it would end with her being escorted on HIS arm.

It is not allowed to continue.

There's the sound of a smack, not unlike a fist striking a palm in celebration of a good idea. In this case, however, that slapping sound is the interdiction of a bad idea. In less metaphorical terms, it is the sound of an overbold boy's wrist caught by an overprotective girl's palm.

Nagisa Misumi used to be exactly the same height as Honoka Yukishiro, but she has gotten taller faster, and tonight the top of her bleach-orange head splits the difference between Honoka's inky tresses and this would-be swain's generically short dudecut. For he is taller than Nagisa as well. Nagisa compares well to the height of boys her age often, but actually approaching Honoka Yukishiro takes a rare courage, which has found has a soft and inconvenient association with size. Not that young men of any dimension are immune to the draw of Honoka. Nagisa's tiny little brother Ryouta is one of her most devoted admirers after all.

But this one is large. He startled when his wrist was intercepted so sharply, but staring down at the amber glare of a girl in a bright pink yukata, he smirks rather than snarl, and looks over Nagisa's shoulder at Honoka. "This your frien--"

He tries to tug his wrist free, then, and feels a grip that he expected to be like hard taffy crush down tightly. "Ha, ha," he acknowledges Nagisa sarcastically. Then he twists his wrist around hard, rotating it to lever Nagisa's wrist and rip her fingers free. He manages to get partway through a rotation before Nagisa's arm hardens beneath her pretty trailing sleeve and forces him right back to where he started... and a little further, as if to assert herself.

"What the hell?" he complains, a persecuted expression on his face. He tries to yank his arm back, but again Nagisa only lets it get a few inches before she drags it back to where it started. He keeps pulling, and so does she. "What's your problem?!"

"Sorry," Nagisa says darkly. "Do you not like your arm being grabbed?"

When he gets it, which only takes a second, Nagisa releases her grip suddenly, and he stumbles back a step. "Oh, am I not allowed to say hi?" he mocks.

But Nagisa is not facing him anymore. The mood of a moment ago has disappeared, and she looks as bright as the garish yellow sunflowers that adorably proliferate upon her cheap, mass-produced yukata. "Ho-noka!" she sings. "You haven't been here too long, right?"

"Eh?" Honoka's attempted suitor actually blushes; being ignored was not the plan.

"I just had a snack for lunch," Nagisa enthuses. "You gotta bring an empty stomach to a summer festival!"

"Hey!" the suitor's ego says aloud for him.

Nagisa looks at him without resuming her prior cold demeanor. She looks like any other annoyed high school girl. "Naa-ni? What do you want?"

It turns out he didn't want anything he feels comfortable putting into a sentence, because he just makes a rude gesture and leaves. Nagisa resumes her conversation without apparent distress. For better or for worse this situation is not novel for her. Honoka is as popular with boys as Nagisa is with girls, and boys have more initiative, to put it politely.

It's been a long summer, and Nagisa honeyed tan is at its darkest right now. Her hair just seems like a more colorful version of her skin's hue, the way cinnamon brightens a snickerdoodle. So different from Honoka, whose skin and hair are extreme opposites.

The brightness of her sunflowers-and-pink yukata is a stark contrast to the cool tone of Honoka's dress, as well. It is not as bright as how Nagisa beams at Honoka, particularly now that she's undistracted. "You look, ah."

Nagisa slides her fingers into the loose tomboy shag of her short hair, just above her nape.

"Good," she says. She is looking off elsewhere while she says it, so she can get it out, but she looks back right after.

"Where do you wanna go?"

<Pose Tracker> Honoka Yukishiro [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nagisa's Theme - FWPC OST https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1V846COjTrc

Those who know her well know that Honoka is QUITE capable of taking care of herself in such situations, not least because she's been fending off boys since at least one standard deviation below the average age. Maybe more. As long as it doesn't get physical, she is at no disadvantage at all; her emotional maturity is a thunderous and righteous force. And, indeed, as she's advanced on in an uncouth fashion, her chin takes on that particular, pre-lecture angle peculiar to her personal poise -- not quite defiant yet, but definitely PREPARED to be.

It is somewhat like watching a coiling spring. Or the gracefully wielded trigger of a gun, drawn back one hair at a time, delicately, carefully, dangerously...

Then something begins to go inexplicably wrong. She's surely been pawed at countless times in her life as a winsome member the high-density populace of Tokyo, but this time, as the punk's fingers close around her arm like iron bars, something in her expression becomes caged in turn. Her breath strangles in her throat, and not with rage. Not even the garish orange light of a nearby display can disguise how pale she's suddenly become. So far along that spectrum that she's threatening to invert, a being of light becoming shadowed...

And then they don't. Close, that is. They never quite made it to their goal, blocked as they were by a heroic, last-minute defense worthy of any sports field.

As Nagisa and the boy spend the next few moments bickering, Honoka returns to herself; gradually, in stages. Recomposure is a delicate process, but by the end of it, her breathing has loosened and her eyes are so only for her rescuer that it's like a final, echoing slam of the door in the retreating suitor's face -- as well as all the others, who slink off to give him shit and pretend it would have gone differently if it had been THEM.

Yes, Honoka's expression was described as occasionally 'delighted' earlier but the lie is put to that now. It was amused, maybe entertained. But true joy enters her for the first time at Nagisa's arrival, branding those other feelings as the pale shades that they are. And it leaves her, in turn, it exudes from her expression, contained more purely in her eyes than on her lips, which are secondary, and unneeded for her truest smiling.

"Nagisa-ttara," she happily sighs in reply, some sentences further into the heretofore one-sided conversation, but it packs all the other required responses, neatly, into five extraordinarily tender (and, apparently, efficient) syllables. Gratitude. Affection. A little humor.

Most of all, a contentment that can't help but overflow. "As do you," she returns, WITHOUT looking away, her earnest enjoyment of everything about Nagisa's appearance plain as day, which it has locally become. It's nighttime now, sure, but the moon burns with reflected sunlight; that's what makes it glow.

Nor is her pleasure tainted by the faint irony that dwells in her response: "I was thinking... of making a mask."

Under the circumstances, such as they are.

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

In his backpedaling, Steven senses someone addressing him. "Hey Fuu!" Steven calls from under his box. "What'cha doin?" he asks. That food smells really good she is near for sure! "I wanna get one of those masks! Like, are they spirit animals?" A pause. "What do you think our spirit animals are?"

"I wonder if I should get a mask and wear it at the booth I am helping at..." he muses. "Would attract more customers!"

He gives awave with a few fingers toward Rei and Yumi, to find they are dawning masks "Oh, super cool!" he says, super excited. From whence did this tradition come from?

But nearby, there is also another cool booth! "Fortune telling! Oh, I wanna know the future!" he says, looking at his container of chilled food. "Garnet won't tell me the future..." he pouts.

Instead, he could ask that nice bun-haired young lady! "Anyone else wanna try and see their fortune?"

He doesn't seem to tire holding that crate. What does Greg feed that kid?!

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

The naming of plush is a difficult matter.

It isn't just one of your festival games.

For a plushy companion is vital and loving.

And that is why it must have the right Name.

Nori gazes upon the plushie... and then up to Rei, to tell her, "He's a D'artagnan."

"May I pet him?"

"I was enjoying the shell painting," Nori then tells Yumi. "It's very charming; I made a present for my patron, just a little something that reminded me of how she carries herself at times... You should try it, it's very unique! They're real scallop shells, from the Atlantic Ocean..."

Her eyes then turn for a moment towards the contrasting figures of Nagisa and Honoka as they seem to get past something Nori could not quite make out (though, she thinks, I did almost see it, didn't I?) But they're a bit in the distance, and Nori's eyes are drawn towards--

"Oh! That's different, isn't it," Nori says. "Rei - and Yumi, if you don't mind me being familiar - do you know if that fortune teller is any good? I think I want to give her a try, but it's always more fun to have someone with you..."

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

Yumi was only curious about Rei's mask, so she gives one of her usual semi-hapless smiles in reply. If she doesn't know, she doesn't know! "Nice though!"

The naming of the plush... Yumi nods firmly. "Nice to meet you, D'Artagnan!" she grets the plush cheerfully. And then she trns to Nori, focused for the moment on the girls near her. She slouches just a little bit, which doesn't do a lot to conceal her boy-rivaling height but does a little.

"Shell painting... That sounds like a lot of fun, maybe in a little while you can point me to the booth?" She doesn't want to impose right this instant or anything, but painting on a shell--well, painting is Yumi's main outlet to begin with. "Real shells..."

Yumi considers the fortune-telling booth, herself. She's looking too when Nori does--and then, familiar? "If you're in Rei-chan's year I'm only a little older than you, so first name is fine," Yumi answers Nori. "I... You know, I don't know? I was a little curious too though. I like that kind of thing." She thinks she hears a box talking. She can't be sure. She doesn't recognie Steven with the box!! Yet.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Underneath a lamppost, lit up by strings of festival lanterns stands a girl who is waiting passively as the festival buzzes all around her. Aohime is wearing a cyan Yukata decorated with pink and white floral designs, the colors of her sleeves becoming a gradient of pink, but never quite ever becoming any shade of red.

Stuck on the side of her hair is a traditional hairpin that terminates into a jeweled turtle dove, beads trailing down from it. It does not look brand new, something bought - only brought for the occasion.

Over her wrist rests a purse, and in her hands is a phone. As she texts a few characters to someone.

>Held up?

The lack of immediate response simply causes her a furtive smile, as she looks up into the festival lights. "Imagine that, being kept waiting is new to me."

There's no sense in her just standing around though, and immediately she steps into the crowd. Wave of nostalgia passing over her like tiny strands of recollection through each of the booths and the flea market.

...can't do it! Onii-chan - you'll get it for...

...really eat that? It looks like a cloud...

...want it though! Please? I'll practice extr...

... can't miss the firewo...

... what about Say...

Sometimes there's nothing more jarring than something unfamiliar, the kind of thing that pauses her step in the midst of other festival goers that bump her and move around her. Kozue finds herself examining the tent with a certain amount of strange fascination. It's not that she's skeptical of its presence or anything. It's simply that suddenly, she decides that she'd really like her fortune read.

Yet perhaps its the fact she needs an excuse, that causes her eyes to wander until...

... she notices her rival present.

And simply steps up into the shell stall behind Akamira, waiting for an opportune moment. In particular, after Yumi answers Nori... "... Oh? Is there a fortune in particular that'd be more fun for you to hear with someone else you barely know..." Comes a very familiar voice whispered right into Nori's ear, "...Nori-chan?"

Peering past her at Yumi, she puts her fingers delicately on the shoulder of Nori's Yukata, and has to turn her chin up to wink at Yumi, given her height, as she continues speaking to Nori. "... well I'm proud of you. Might as well aim high."

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

"Rei-san may be the better person to ask about kitsune or tanuki masks," Fuu admits. Then she pauses, re-evaluating Steven's question. "... I'm not really familiar with the idea of *people* having 'spirit animals' either. Is that an American belief or ... no, the Gems wouldn't really believe in anything animal-related, would they?" she muses. Aloud, but quietly.

Then she pulls her thoughts back to 'here and now'. "I'm sure you've had yakisoba before, haven't you? I'd be happy to buy you a box, when your duties allow. Where *are* you working, out of curiosity?"

She doesn't respond right away to the fortune-telling question. Part of that is because of her own no-more-than-partial belief in fortune-telling; Fuu is fairly sure she knows the broad strokes of what her future holds as it is - and anyway, the Magic Knights are supposed to be capable of carving out their own future, aren't they? She doesn't want the despair of "knowing" that they're doomed to fall, but neither does she seek the certainty of victory, for fear it would put her too much at ease.

But if anyone *else* wants to visit the fortune-telling tent, who is she to stop them?

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

"D'artagnan-kun!" Rei exclaims, happily. "I bet he'd love that," she says, the Wise Tengu of Tokyo holding out that yellow retriever for petting.

Rei of course does not yet know D'artagnan for the secret-keeper he is; she'll look it up, later, on the laptop which is the concession to modernity even traditional students must make in a digital age. She will be delighted. Though -- to be fair -- she is already delighted, present day, present time.

Arms extending out to share the warmth of a small dog (is there a word for dogs, but when they're little, though?) Rei happens to catch the act of bravery of a girl's defence, and really, she has to admire what she catches of it. Is that the difference one grade makes..?

Maybe it's not so much of a difference, as Yumi points out; she's in her eleventh, too, and only one year older. "Oh! They were real? That must be why they were so glossy..." Rei wasn't distracted or anything. She's part of this conversation!

Certainly one ought to hope she is, because: fortune telling. Hikawa's resident psychic puts a hand to her chin, as she looks over to the fortune telling tent. "Well, I..."

On a night like this, Rei might have even admitted to her friends that she does not know every other fortune-teller in Tokyo.

Everything changed when Kozue stepped up, casual as anything, right into Nori's space. The Wise Tengu of Tokyo straightens, dog pulling back close in to her chest. "Kaoru-san," as if she'd never left, "there's a mystery to the future which would interest anyone, don't you think?"

A step forward, and she gestures with wriggling fingers, "In fact -- I think we should go check it out right now. Unless the future's too much for you?"

<Pose Tracker> Nagisa Misumi [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Nagisa unfortunately had been otherwise occupied when Honoka had been rebuilding her composure, and she does not notice anything amiss by the time Honoka has the percentage of her attention that she deserves.


She grins proudly at Honoka's sigh. Honoka despairing of her can be some of their closest moments.

"Ehhh?!" she asks in disbelief, looking down over herself as if she were not an envy-inducing athlete in her hard-bodied prime, but rather just a cheap yukata walking around. "...well, I guess it looks good," she allows. She likes pink. "I should have used a bigger word for you to begin with, I can only blame myself." From another girl this would be charming, conspiratorial banter. Nagisa seems to actually be analyzing her error in resorting to the only word that her love-floaty brain had been able to come up with at the time.

"A mask, huh?" She sounds suddenly calm, which from Nagisa can be a sign that she's thinking, or that she's a little sad. She gives something like an apologetic look, though not on behalf of herself. Then, not without a little glance around her, she offers her hand, low near Honoka's hip. This isn't their more common finger-entwining handhold she's offering. Sometimes it's fun to hold each other's palms instead, like siblings or kids coming home from school, or girlfriends on a first date instead of an anniversary.

"I wanna make a tiger or something," she enthuses, the moment of rumination dispelled.

Nagisa arrives before the mask-making stall, tan and excitable next to her shorter, calmer counterpart. She doesn't let go of Honoka's hand yet.

"Hey, do you have animal stuff?" she asks whoever is at the booth. "Or do we sorta... paint it on?

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

The line moves quick, and is surrounded by entertaining moments, as festivals are wont to have. Cute kids arguing with each other. A too-many-thousand-yen yukata passing by, attached to a comically old grandma. A New Challenger Approaches the unofficial aromatherapy contest, as one of the booths runs out of one kind of fish and switches to grilling another.

Something a LITTLE bit weird emerges as they approach the front, however: having just had a few minutes to watch the backs of a good twenty people, they have yet to see any of them again.

Just how big is that tent??

Or is it... a one-way trip........

Lulu beams at the clump of her peers as they make it to the front. "Hey guys!"

Her pen starts scratching rapidly, WITHOUT her asking any questions, until she gets two rows down. Fuu and Yumi realize that they've been recognized and recorded from school, because she turns to the others and asks merrily, "Name, age, school, favorite color please!" (If they peer at the clipboard, Fuu and Yumi both got put down for green, and can dispute this at their leisure.)

Expecting to be interrogated as to the unusual nature of this registration, she explains with a giggle before anyone can answer, "I'm just helping out my friends, they wanted me to collect data for like, a sociology study...? Don't worry, it'll all be anonymized if it gets used in a journal article, for sure."

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

"Maybe we can go in together," Nori tells Yumi quietly before -

There is a frisson as she hears Kozue's voice in her ear. A complex rainbow of emotions ripples through the shadowy recesses of Nori's shaded heart, and she exhales at the same time that her face flushes and she lets her shoulders sag just a little bit.

There is something, even now, so inutterably wonderful in hearing that voice.

And so she seems lilting as she replies to Kozue, "I am thinking about it... but I'm coming up short; are you thinking of something in particular?"

She is then spoken to in the line. Nori blinks at the approaching inquisition, and she says, "Oh, yes -"

"Nori Ankou..."

"Ohtori Academy..."

"Fifteen..." even if that looks a little implausible


<Pose Tracker> Honoka Yukishiro [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Honoka doesn't let herself get drawn into Nagisa's personal review of her own compliments; she just rests a hand on the merry sunflower adorning her partner's forearm for a moment, and that is answer enough. Her palm slides down eagerly to join Nagisa's, the contrast in their hues never more stark as when they're skin-to-skin.

Nor does she linger in the underlying sadness; she's perfectly content to rise to Nagisa's enthusiasm. Her own, quieter happiness at being together, here, now, no matter what, has never wavered.

"You'd make a cute tiger," she agrees. "Maybe I'll be a bird..."

It transpires that if you want to be an animal, the mask-making booth is really a mask-DECORATING booth, the wood-and-paper bases premade, and it's all quick-drying paint and glue and glitter and puffballs, that sort of thing. Honoka tenders up the yen for two seats from that little purse of hers (white leather, silvery clasp) with a completely casual air that will nevertheless brook no argument or even conversation, as the necessary pleasantries are exchanged between her and the attendant immediately.

Only once they're seated does she, reluctantly, release Nagisa's hand. Freed to do so, Honoka's sensitive fingertips trace the curves of many a mask, including a couple of birds.

But they LINGER on a full-faced oni, a spectacularly monstrous demon even in its current, pure-white state.

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

"That'd be nice," Yumi starts to say to Nori. She doesn't spot Kozue at first. It's not that Kozue doesn't stand out, just that she's kind of focused. ...Which means she's thoroughly surprised when Kozue winks up at her. So Yumi blinks back and reddens faintly, though immediately she wonders to herself why and then realizes that no she definitely caught Kozue's meaning the first time and she glances anywhere but at the two models. "Ah, ha--ha..."

"U-um?" Yumi asks as Rei straightens and abrubtly moves forward. "W-wait this is kind of sudden, isn't it? I mean we were going to go but--"

Coming up short?? Ah--Yumi can't actually turn that into anything so she finds herself a little relieved.

"Oh, hi," Yumi greets, quickly getting the message that she's already been written down. She does peer over at the clipboard because she can, and decides green is probably fine. Yumi Ohzora - Infinity Institute, 16, Green. (But really picking a favorite color is like picking a favorite hand. Also that's not terribly specific... But this isn't Art Club.)

"Oh that's... cool," Yumi says of the data collection. Is she slouching a little more than she was??? Maybe but she sure has put Rei between her and Kozue purely innocently.

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

Isn't that a little suspicious...?

The Wise Tengu of Tokyo has taken off her face by the time she's at the top of the line, which is to say, it's resting on the side of her head, beak pointing up to the heavens. Maybe she got sick of Kozue not recognising her. (Maybe it didn't help.)

"Hmm," she remarks, as Lulu rapid-fire demands their categorisation. "That's..."

But her friends are pressing forward, and Rei doesn't really have anything to found her suspicion on, so with a little shrug of a shoulder she says: "Rei Hino, sixteen. Ohtori Academy. My favourite colour is red, too." She stands with Nori on this vital issue. All colours are good, but only one is Rei's.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Kozue's eyes drift down from Yumi to Nori, then she lofts an eyebrow, and chuckles darkly. "So that's your preference..." She gives Yumi a look that seems almost apologetic.

Then comes - the TENGU. "Oh - it's you." Kozue says, as if noticing Rei Hino for the first time. Though she immediately seems to perk up at the challenge. Not so much because she's actually being challenged, but because this is precisely what she wanted.

An excuse.

"Oh please. As if I need to have some third rate psychic tell me what's in my future? Some people just have no confidence..."

Once at the front of the line though, Kozue seems to pay little attention to Lulu, until its her turn. Inspecting her nails with an unserious look, she answers her.



"In transition."


She can't be serious - right?

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

Ah, Rei and Yumi look busy. Maybe later! "Oooh, what are those?" he asks Fuu. Maybe some kind of mystical spirit thing? "Oh I dunno, I heard it from a friend who got it off the internet." It sounded important...!

The box heft is adjusted in his grip. It tilts slightly to the right. "Oh, those are those noodles and veggies, right? Stir fried?" he replies with. "It is really good, I like the noodles a lot!" Japanese cuisine is so terrific. It admittedly would be a nice change of pace to try some food from home though soon...!

"C'mon, Fuu! Let's go check it out!" he says excitedly, leaning backward for a second before catching his footing and striding forward, even with the box in tow. He falls in line, and despite the fact he could probably set that down, he seems to refuse to! (Though is sure it might have to be done at the tent. The food will stay cold for a while yet.

Just long as no one opens it...!

He waits his turn, and provides the answers when prompted by the kind Lulu.

"Steven Universe!" he begins with, starry eyes peeking from around the side of a box. "I just turned twelve a week and a half ago! I am in uh, sixth year! And I like pink like me shirt!"

"Also can I set this down outside when it is my turn?" he asks nicely.

<Pose Tracker> Nagisa Misumi [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

"Uwah, I hope we get along," Nagisa laughs. "Birds and cats."

Their hands part, but they are seated together. Nagisa peruses the masks at the same time, not quite sure which of the bestial ones are feline. She peeks at Honoka's work, as so many have done before, and finds her pausing on a horrifying demon. She looks up at Honoka's face, not surprised exactly. But as much as Honoka's lingering suggests interest, it also implies hesitation. Little wonder.

Nagisa places her hand on Honoka's forearm, the way one does prior to whispering in an ear, as a sort of warning to avoid bonking heads. She does not whisper, exactly, but she leans over and speaks quietly.

"It looks like you." She gives a small, scampish grin. "When I leave my homework at home after you helped me with it."

The hand on Honoka's forearm lifts, to browse further. Selecting some orange paint, she makes to dip her brush in, but then murmurs one of her typically family-friendly curses under her breath and sets the brush down. The problem she realized is illustrated swiftly, when she lifts her elbow and starts rolling her right sleeve up loosely. Lacking a cord, she can't do more than slide the gathered cloth over her bare shoulder. A pink curtain slithers up past her forearm and up the smooth column of her arm. At a brief glance it's little different from any arm of a girl her age; it is not bulging with muscle. But the circumference is a bit thicker, and swells a bit thicker yet than that at its midsection, all on the bicep side. The spot where the width of her shoulder narrows to that of her arm is more distinct than is common, like an inverted triangle. There's no immediate impression of definition other than in that spot.

But there is an impression that those smooth lines could become sharp and hard. An uncracked geode of an arm.

With her sleeve up, Nagisa is painting the mask. "Whoop," she realizes, as her quick progress goes perhaps too quick. "Honoka, are tigers white on the bottom? Or orange too?"

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

Gravity is not only a force exerted among astronomical bodies; there is a gravity among people as well, and Fuu's desire to keep chatting - with Steven, and with other familiar persons - draws her into the line, in spite of not having any major fortunes to seek in their telling.

That does not rule out *minor* fortunes, though, and by the time she's face-to-face with Lulu Teruno-sempai, Fuu's basically made up her mind. "Thank you for all of your hard work, Sempai," Fuu greets Lulu with a smile and a bow. (She sees no reason to argue with the color noted as her favorite; green is a fine color, and one with which Fuu retains a long and favorable association.) Then she pauses, leaning to one side and peering at the tent's entrance.

"Is the exit on the other side ... ?"

With that question nibbling at her curiosity, Fuu finishes the last of her yakisoba, closing the box up so she'll be ready to consign it to the trash (or possibly to recycling) when an opportunity, and a suitable receptacle, present themselves.

Unescaped comma in final arg of ANSI by #6. This behavior is deprecated.

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

"Hmhmhm," Lulu hums to herself as her nimble pen effortlessly keeps up with the rapid-fire results. Finally she sheathes its tip with a quick 'click!' against the bottom of her chin, something she has probably been doing all night. "Nice, Sister Schools represent!"

She gives Kozue a game smirk and disguises what she writes down for her with a well-manicured hand.

"Sure, I'll watch your box for you, kid."

She pauses for a moment, and then with no discernable cue, proceeds: "Okay, they're ready for you, go on in."


<SoundTracker> Lazy Usagi (is not affiliated with this production) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4X1Gb301-fE

The interior of the tent makes even less sense than the exterior did. It is small -- almost claustrophobic with the size of this group. The last group went in barely a minute ago, and they were four people...

It is dark; its ambiance can be summarized as 'essence of blacklight'. A lot of snot-green glow-in-the-dark decor, though none of them are stars or moons or celestial, at all. There are instead a jumble of letters, like alphabet soup, and the occasional heart.

At the far side of the tent are two COMPLETELY OPPOSITE PEOPLE sitting next to one another behind an unreasonably large desk; one is red-haired Yuuko Arimura, also in Lulu's class, also in a (red) yukata and a (white) lab coat, tapping away with one hand at a laptop whose glare reflects in her own reading glasses, while her other hand is occupied by her miserable chin. She's a serious person who does serious things, teaching the Etiquette Class among them. Also Judo. And her mood is grim, as though she's envisioning utilizing those skills on her counterpart...

...okay, so The Idol Mimi Hanyu was DEFINITELY outted as the Death Buster Mimete that one time she tried to steal Jagged Stone's Pure Heart on stage at a big concert, like, unequivocally, there's no question. But... maybe this isn't The Idol and Goddess On Earth in question? The orange hair's the same (what little of it can be seen beneath an immense turban that occasionally bonks her counterpart's cheek), and so's the black hole of self-obsession that comprise her eyes, as seen above the round, bottle-thick glasses that have slipped down her nose, which in turn are white with the glare from Yuuko's screen.

There's a helpful sign hanging off the desk in front of her that says, VERY calligraphically:


She is NOT in the lab coat plus yukata uniform. She is in LAYERS AND LAYERS of gloriously arcane-looking robes. There are tassels. There are sequins. There are runes.

As far as showing skin goes, most of what's visible are her maidenly hands (and even they are dripping with rings, ALL of them garish beyond belief), which surround and caress the air a hair's-breadth from her GIGANTIC CRYSTAL BALL, which itself looks like it was stolen from the Infinity Institute Of Taxidermy, by way of the Giant Squid department or something.

"OoooOooooooo," she coos, pseudospookily. "I see-- I SEE!--"

The back of one of her hands slaps against her turban-covered forehead. It has a feather. An increasingly bedraggled feather.

"--so MANY! FATES!"

Yuuko doesn't even look at her. She just lifts her chin from her hand, gestures for the group to approach, then puts her chin back into it.

"Single file, please."

Hell really is other people.

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

Nori laughs a little, without words, at Kozue's remarks - to Yumi she says quietly, "She likes to tease," and leaves it at that, because, oh, she thinks: Pick on me, Kozue. I don't mind so much, when you're here to do it.

Eventually this shine will be lost. But not yet!

She does glance at Kozue when she gives that answer regarding the matter of color. "Ah... are you testing their psychic abilities so soon?" she asks Kozue, folding her arms loosely and calling down the line, "Good choice!" to Steven.

And then they are called into the tent...

... and Nori eats this up, visibly, with a spoon. "Ah!" she says, almost gushing at the sight of the luminous characters floating across the walls. Her hands clasp together. Her fingers, honestly, lace together, her huge wide blue eyes (for they have become wide in this space) drinking in the atmosphere. Layers upon layers of mystery...!!

One of which is why that person is on a laptop, but, Nori thinks to herself, that's probably where you... pay? Maybe she's just here under protest and she wants to play a game or watch a movie or something. And then, she is faced with the Marvelous Mysterious Mystical Medium Madam M-Sama.

She tiptoes forwards. "Please tell my fate, magical marvelous mistoffelilies medium madam M-sama," Nori pleads, hands still clasped together, eyes shinding in delight. She looks down at the crystal ball, mouth forming a perfect "OH" as she tries to see if she can, indeed, see *herself* within it...

(Once her sooth is said, one way or another, she moves along.)

(at least, if she can................)

<Pose Tracker> Honoka Yukishiro [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

It couldn't be more different from what happened before, when she was (almost) touched unexpectedly. Honoka is comforted, not afraid. She is more, not less, present, the moment Nagisa speaks to her. And while her forearm is claimed, she claims the hand perpetrating its heist in turn.

No wonder she's gravitating towards some other option; Honoka ALREADY has an animal on her face.

Two of them, in fact.

One fuzzy black caterpillar ARCHES, and the other DROPS, as she side-eyes Nagisa's grin. Don't say unnecessary things, her eyebrows warn.

But she doesn't mean it. Beneath them, her baby blues glow, their merriment every bit the equal of Nagisa's lips.

So encouraged, she claims the monster mask and gets to work. It is slightly slower going than it might have been without the distraction of Nagisa's arm; a practiced natural life sketch artist (though without any particular aesthetic goals), some of the strength of its curvature, the hardness within its softness, winds up accidentally tracing alongside half of the oni like a gigantic scar. And also a beautiful scar.

Honoka's lips join her eyes' smile, when she's delicately brushing what her eyes see. They really do need those masks. It is not an entirely appropriate expression for best friends. A little too dreamy.

Okay, a lot too dreamy, just now.

She pauses at the question -- blinks, realizes what she's done -- pinkens, very, very slightly.

"Striped," she coughs out hastily. Swallowing, she dabs at the oni some more, painting in the unscarred eye a little too casually. Her lecture continues, all earnest helpfulness. "White and black on the belly, orange and black on the back. A little white around the eyes, and above them, almost like eyebrows... some more along the contours of the cheeks, often, though it really varies by breed, some have more or less white on their faces. And then of course there are white tigers and golden tigers due to recessive genes, and certain extinct subspecies..."

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

Nori approaches.

Yuuko's laptop goes BEEP!, and Mimete's crystal ball goes PING!, and lights up.

Its radiance is a sparkling pink, with just the faintest edge of red.

Kind of like how, properly appreciated, M-sama is also radiant and sparkling.

"OoOOOOooooo," she chants through a grin. Then she openly schools herself to seriousness, real thespian practice on display, at one point she prods her cheeks straight. "A beautiful girl, with a beautiful heart... yeeees, I see... the... sea..."

Yuuko is expressionless at this revelation.

".......and........in your future... take care!" M-sama points a perfectly manicured orange nail right at Nori's nose. "For something stalks you.......r dinner........... something brown......... and furry........"

Yuuko closes her eyes.


<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Nori is taking Kozue's presence way better than she expected. It gives her this disquieting feeling. Is something strange going on that she's not realizing? Nori gets this faint sensation that Kozue is watching her every now and then.

Kozue tries to glimpse what Lulu writes, but finds her efforts frustrated by her hand. As she walks away, she says absently to herself, "I should start charging for interviews..."

And then suddenly, they're in the tent...

... Kozue Kaoru has this immediate feeling like the tent just got smaller. Though not really, she's not expecting the supernatural per se, but she suspects this is part of the atmosphere they're trying to cultivate.

Looking from Yuuko Armiura at the laptop, to the Marvelous Mysterious Mystical Medium Madame M-Sama, she eyes her with an expression that hides how she truly feels.

Of course...

... what was she expecting?

And yet, with an air of being entirely unaffected, she listens to the psychic coo, and declare...

Kozue fishes out her phone from her purse as she waits single file, and starts filing through apps, tapping something. Then again. And once she gets to her destination... speaking the muted words aloud as she types what comes next.

"Marvelous... Mysterious... Mystical.... Medium... Madam... M... sama... Five Stars - I'm not sure if she can see anything in those glasses but she's still a much better psychic than Rei Hino."

Is she reviewing her online!?!

Just as she's about to hit enter and post it up, she pauses at Nori's enthusiastic plea. Staring at her rival. And then adds a small addendum to the end of it. "Definitely an Akamira."

All the same, when it comes to be her turn, she steps up... with no expectations whatsoever. "Alright - let's get this over with."

Even though in her heart, she truly wishes that were not so.

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

Somehow, Yumi is not comforted by Kozue's apologetic look to her. "Um," she answers eloquently, and then looks to Nori for an apprecative moment. ...Still, that 'apology' makes her feel like she just lost a contest she didn't remember entering...

Then she smiles at Steven once she sees him and as they're given the cue to go in, Yumi does so. She ducks down and... Well. She doesn't mind essence of blacklight exactly. No--she's not quite as enthusiastic as Nori about it, but in fact she looks immediately more comfortable, particularly as Nori steps up in front of her.

In point of fact she feels a lot more affection for Akamira just in that moment, stepping out of the entrance as well with a game smile. The contrast between the two of them is... well. It's really something.

"...Haha," Yumi starts softly, not so much laughing at anybody as suddenly more comfortable than before. She listens--she waits. The sea...

Hmmm. Yumi starts forward next of course for her turn, bu--

"Aw, c'mon," Yumi suggest to Kozue. "Enjoy it a little. It's fun!"

She may regret this, but really!!

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

"Eeeh... Steven-kun, how long have you been holding that..?" Rei can't help but ask, with light concern. He doesn't seem terribly bothered by the weight, but...!

Inside, Rei judges the tent; but quietly, because Nori wanted to come and experience this, and Rei will defend ferociously Nori's right to do things she wants instead of just things she ought to do. And Nori sounds so honestly captivated at the whole experience that not even Rei Hino could possibly infringe on her delight.

Even if Rei, personally, would have used more fire.

(This isn't just a fortune thing. Rei would pretty much universally use more fire, in basically any situation.)

And that lady, in those robes...

Well, Rei has never met the Marvelous Mysterious Mystical Medium Madam M-Sama, whose name is right there and very clearly unknown to her. She'd remember that many sequins!

She stands between Yumi and Kozue, obviously. It means she has a good vantage point to give Kozue the most scandalised expression as the girl narrates a five-star review. "Excuse me?" She demands, under her breath but no less pointed. "I don't remember ever reading your fortune, Kaoru-san!"

Still, with that addition...

Rei settles back, and instead of going on the attack leaves Kozue to find out her fate.

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

KOZUE winds up waiting a whole lot longer. Long enough for the silence to get kind of awkward.


Both girls are leaning into their respective devices with great interest.

"A broken heart..." they say in unison, before shooting each other a death glare, neither appreciating the shared nature of their insight.

Yuuko cuts M-sama off with a swift, spread hand, before she can say more. Instead she issues further fortune with swift precision.

"Darkness. Journey. Misery. Not ALL of it of your own creation. NEXT."

Yumi's reading is more normal: "A tender heart.... oOOooOooooo, take caaAaaare, for you will be... betrayed..........."

And Rei's reading is EXTREMELY quick. It's like approach-beep-ping. This time Yuuko and M-sama exchange looks voluntarily.

"Your fate has already transpired," Yuuko announces, sounding bored. "Your grand destiny has been fulfilled."

"NO SLOPPY SECONDS!" giggles M-sama, somewhat inexplicably.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Homura Akemi slips between chatting festival goers like a whisper through a windstorm. Jeans and oversized grey hoodie help her fade into the background amid all the yukata, though they don't really make her a part of the crowd she navigates. Even her glossy black hair is under hooded wraps this summer's night, and the light fabric hugs her red ribbon to her head.

She pauses by the mask booth. The tengu and oni don't hold her eye, though the nearby Honoka and Nagisa get a glance where they lean into each other. Expressionless, Homura looks at the unpainted masks before releasing the temporary hitch in her smooth stride and moving on.

No, what keeps nagging at her is that extremely purple tent with the long line. It's not what she's here for, but...

It does not seem possible that a fortune teller could know less about Homura's future than Homura herself knows, now. What does she have to lose?

She steps into line. All nonchalant-like. Quite a few people behind Kozue (and Nori and Yumi). Purely coincidence.

And once she's at the head of it, and subject of Lulu's questionnaire: "Homura Akemi of Ohtori. Fifteen. Pink." This icy-calm girl doesn't seem to have much in common with the charmingly effusive boy who declared the same favorite -- she's not even wearing any.

<Pose Tracker> Nagisa Misumi [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Honoka's baroque eyebrows are a powerful counterpoint to gentle features. Nagisa does not consciously think about them often; what she notices is that Honoka's eyes are very expressive, that her 'looks' can hit hard. And though she takes her warning, she also takes some of Honoka's glow with her as well as she resumes her painting.

As if she senses Honoka's brief distress over what she painted, Nagisa looks down at it, but not with a year's contemplation would she recognize the curve that was painted there. The ironic effect of her looking directly at it without the slightest comprehension is akin to seeing her play that forehead game they've done every now and then in school, except the sticky on Nagisa's forehead just says Nagisa.

Nagisa swabs her brush and dips it in white, then starts coloring in the bottom of the mask, over some half-dried orange. But Honoka's instructions continue, and so Nagisa follows them around, to the eyes, above the eyes, eyebrows, cheek contour... never with enough time to actually paint there. "Wait, which..." she murmurs to herself. She looks up nervously as Honoka starts to talk about extinct tigers. She's trying to remember what she was just told. She's questioning her mental image of tigers.

She draws BIG old eyebrows on the tiger, because for some reason that part stuck with her. Then she sets to work with what she can remember.

She does manage to slowly work out what she'd been told, but strictly accurate coloration was always too high a goal, with not enough focus on the less glamorous parts of art, like checking if you're drawing the left eye at a similar height as the right eye. Nagisa sticks some fur on the jowels of her tiger, and attaches some fishing-wire whiskers (that clear thread having been provided to attach things rather than as ornamentation). Then, placing the mask over her face, she turns to show her fearsome visage to Honoka.

"Jaaan!" she announces. "I mean, nyan!"

The eyes are not the least bit symmetrical. One is huge and too high, one is tiny and too low. The muzzle is twisted up in a goofy, lackadaisical smile, and the stripes tend to terminate in round blobs of half-dried black paint, courtesy of her excessively saturated brush.

One thing can be said for this tiger: it looks like it is having a good time.

"What do you think?" Nagisa asks, with a little smothered reverb.

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

"Thank you!" Steven says nicely. "Uh... I walked from the delivery truck to here? So uh, ten minutes?" he replies to Rei with. He is a growing boy! Steven makes sure to set it off to the side properly and out of the way. Kofi cam wait a few minutes, can't he?

...Eeeeh, it is a tossup. He can be grumpy.

The interior of this looks like something Ronaldo would make back at the lighthouse. Glowing stars and shapes against a near impercievable light. This isn't how he saw a fortune telling booth. Perhaps another tradition is to use blacklights?

The boy does his best to get a good look around and see the megic at work here! "A-Are they good fates?!" Steven says toward THE MYSTICAL M-SAMA. A look toward Yumi. "Have you gotten your fortune told before?" he asks. He is starting to worry a bit.

The boy does hear someone else behind him say pink as well, and turns to see Homura. "Hey! Same color! Nice," he comments. "Good pick! Bright and welcomeing and easy to remember!" He of course has larger reasons to remember that color.

So does she, though.

"Fuu, what do you want your fortune to be?" he asks curiously. If only one could pick their fortune!

<Pose Tracker> Honoka Yukishiro [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

When Nagisa gazes at the oni mask, she's dooming it to appear strangely confused as well, an offputtingly incongruent expression, wrought by Honoka's affectionate observation... innocence on a demon. She picks it out in reds and greens and blacks, though not without her own sloppiness, and for much the same reason: haste.

Even making an effort to not slow down their night, though, her partner finishes first, and is rewarded with a delighted and delightful silvery tinkle.

"Kusu kusu," Honoka giggles, her eyes disappearing at last, devoured by mirth. "I think you're wonderful."

And that's the truth.

The mask is wonderful, even if it's not actually going to accomplish anything. And that's okay. This disguise does not need to function to justify its existence.

'Jaaan!' was justification enough.

Because Nagisa's wonderful too.

Honoka knew that masking up Nagisa was a pointless endeavor before they even began, because she's wearing the same yukata as last year. That plus her haircut... it's hopeless. The subsection of Tokyo that would be looking out for the two of them together with a prosecutorial eye is a tiny sliver, but one for which that level of detail would be sufficient.

What she doesn't realize is that -- the tell of Nagisa's company aside -- that despite, or perhaps even because, of the painstaking labor she's put into making her mask scary, even ghastly (along with arm-y, in its way) -- it is similarly pointless to try to mask herself.

Standing up, the maiden of moonlight shrouds herself in demonic visage, then places her hands on her hips, and looks just like this:

HON ( >8E ) OKA

Even in Western clothes, the truth shines through. SHE shines through.

She can't not.

Turning, her hands worrying at each other a little bit nervously, she presents herself for Nagisa's inspection.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Steven calls back his appreciation of her appreciation and, after a long moment in which Homura does not move or speak or blink... she nods his way, once, solemn. Her hood bobs. Society for the Appreciation of Pink, right here.

Yes, deep down Homura Akemi is a SAP, too.

She ducks under the tent flap, a shadow joining the rest. Homura doesn't stop and stare at the... vivid interior decorating, because she is accustomed to hiding her reactions. There's something unsettling about the two behind the desk -- the Marvelous Mysterious Mystical Medium Madam M-Sama earns a slightly longer look -- but ultimately the puella magi concludes that it must be all those tassels.

She reaches up and gently eases her hood over the ribbon and down, leaving her hair tucked into the garment by its length. "One fortune, please," she says, simply.

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

Lulu writes down Homura's info, then gestures her into the tent.

"Might as well go with them," she advises kindly. "You'll get the group rate. Doubt Em-sama," a little dripping sarcasm there, "Will notice one more."


The group rate is apparently zero, nobody's been charged yet.


"OOOOOOoooOOoooh!!!" squeals M-sama, leaning across the desk to stare openly at Steven. That wasn't spooky at all. It was the sound someone makes when they're offered chocolate cake. "What a pretty little hea...boy... you are..."

Yuuko's face is back in her palm, only this time it's her forehead, not her chin.

"There is GREAT MAGIC in your future!" M-sama gushes at Steven. "Look forward to an UNEXPECTED VISIT!"

Homura passes Fuu in line, but neither of them seem to mind.

As with Kozue, it kind of takes a while.

And then longer.

And then longer.


(There was no BEEP from Yuuko's laptop.)

"Replyyyyy haaaaaaaaazy," M-sama mugs for Homura. "AaaaAaask again laaaaater... wait."

She clutches her throat.


Her claw of a fingernail launches straight out at the subdued girl.

"I FEEL! A PRESENCE! AMONG US! Is it... a ghoooOOOOOOOOOOOST?!?!?!????"

"I'm so sorry," Yuuko says flatly, into her hand.

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

The interior of the tent is, to put it mildly, somewhat disconcerting. The tent doesn't look *that* big, although the extremely subdued nature of the lighting (and those glow-in-the-dark decorations) are likely messing with her sense of the size. And while Fuu definitely notices Homura passing, the bespectacled blonde definitely doesn't seem to mind; she's in no particular hurry to get her own fortune told. (She might, in fact, be just fine with leaving the tent again without a fortune ...)

She may or may not be a skeptic about this whole thing, even if M-sama hardly seems particularly suspicious. The fact that the crystal ball seems to be getting info *from* the laptop is rather interesting, though - she'd love to catch them when they're closed and try to nerd her way into getting an explanation. Oracles via computer? THAT has Fuu's interest - even if the predictions are ultimately worthless.

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

Rei blushes, at her swift reading. "Y-you--!"

There is an art to telling fortunes; the heart opens like a wound to the teller, and it is their hallowed task to be surgeon over butcher. In three too-casual words and a giggle, M-sama violates that trust, and in doing so earns eternal enmity.

But the breath she draws sharp through her teeth does not come with a thousand knives, because her friends are still having fun, and Rei's sense of professional pride might not actually be worth ruining their experience.

Besides -- there's something to distract her.

Ducking into that tent, another shadow in the dark of the tent...

The anger on Rei's face drains in an instant to see someone elusive, and she smiles, instead, a thing gentler. "Homura-chan," she repeats that invitation, once and once again, "it's good to see you."

One fortune comes up --

Yuuko buries her face in her hand, and Rei Looks to her: you know the type. It's the eternal shared expression of someone who knows nothing about you, nothing about your relationship, except that there is something here long-suffered and how do you put up with it.

(Rei has complaints about her dismissal, certainly, but she kept a certain grace to what she misread. Only one woman here has earned her eternal enmity.)

<Pose Tracker> Nagisa Misumi [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Whatever its failings when it comes to supporting a disguise, Nagisa's hair is great for a tiger mask. It's orange, the tiger is orange. And it's short enough that it doesn't look like a tiger wearing a wig.

"I feel like it's not bad," Nagisa says, without irony but also without any false modesty, which would be disturbingly delusional if expressed in regards to this particular objet d'art. Taking it down shows her face again, and though it's been but seconds, there is a certain freshness to her features the moment they stop being a weird, swirl-faced tiger with crazy-angled whiskers. She's so pretty compared to the mask. The bar could scarcely be much lower, but the contrast is startling, especially when her amber eyes are fixed warmly upon Honoka once unmasked. There is a faint flush on her cheeks, delight rather than embarrassment, owing to Honoka's really cute laugh.

"Whoa! It's spooky." Nagisa examines the demon Honoka. Now it's her turn to find the contrast weird, in this case even with the mask up. Hideous demon heads rarely sprout from such comely forms. Like a death's head unfolding from a flower bud.

Well, perhaps more like a child's drawing of a death's head. But Nagisa, famously bad as she is with drawing, is impressed. But she has that calm about her again, and her smile is gentle, earnest. "I think that's the sort of face that would scare off all the bad guys."

Swiveling in her seat, she offers her hand to Honoka, palm up at the very edge of her knee, without waiting for the mask to come off. It's like her palm awaits Honoka in the middle of a big happy sunflower, what with the yukata beneath.

"Probably hard to get seated in a restaurant like that, though," she considers. "Maybe we get carry-out and sit on a bench at the park."

Implied though never once considered in Nagisa's idle imagining is the fact that she would keep dating Honoka if she switched from being breathtakingly beautiful to growling around with a sloppily drawn demon face.

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

Yuuko and Rei have a moment. But it's a flawed moment, because there's something a little 'off' about Yuuko... properly they should have exchanged souls in that gaze, just a little. And certainly Rei, and everyone, can feel Yuuko's SEETHING RESENTMENT at having to be a part of this RIDICULOUS SCHEME.

But there should be something more... some extra connection... and there isn't. Rei just kind of slides off of Yuuko like glass. Or maybe she slid off the shine on her glasses.


Yuuko grunts at the laptop. M-sama, however, is giving Fuu a skeptical look. You can't play a player. And while Mimete occupies few 'first places' among her cohort of five, the Witches have no greater cynic in their number.

"You will leave this tent with the same preconceptions with which you arrived," she announces blandly, her voice uncolored by drama.

"Please take a souvenir as you exit the back," Yuuko suggests.

Indeed, another yukata'd-and-lab-coated assistant is waiting for them at the rear of the tent. It's Yui Bidou, head of the Infinity Science Department and also their Computer Club.

"Oh, hey Hououji," she greets her clubmate amiably, absently pushing her silvery hair behind an ear, where it's slipped out of place. "Here, give it to a friend if you already have one."

She's got a basket of smartwatches on her arm -- she started handing these Computer Club products out at the Get Your Love-Love Events, and evidently still has more to burn -- and delicately drops one into each customer's palm as they pass. They all have cute little hearts on them, in various hues. Perhaps that's the real reason why Lulu was taking their info, because each of them is gifted their favorite-colored fitbit-thingy.

Kozue is given a blue one.

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

Somewhere, Batiste sits bolt upright, knocking over the mini-TV, which falls in the water. "I immediately regret my actions!!!"

Here, though, Nori's lips part in astonishment. Her cheeks flush. She puts a hand to her heart. "I understand... I'll remember... I'll remember this always, M-sama--!!"

As she sidles off to the side, she glances at Kozue again. It has that same residual fondness, that genuine joy.

But then Kozue gets a dire prediction and Nori's face becomes a visage of concern - of sympathy! If Kozue is not careful her hand will briefly be clasped. "(Occult people are rude sometimes, I'm sorry.)"

Steven is augured to have Great Magic Ahead of Him. Nori's reaction is another beaming smile. She is CERTAIN this is true. Homura slides up then and...

Nori's beaming turns into a look of horror, her hand coming back to her chest. "... Oh no... oh, she's going to need an exorcism... Stay strong, Homura, it's going to be alright. We won't abandon you to the unquiet spirits of the afterlife."

On the way out, Nori immediately puts on her new smartwatch.

"Is this something Infinity is sponsoring...? Even at Ohtori it's usually not this generous," Nori continues, gazing benignly on that proud red heart.

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

Well, if nothing else, M-sama deserves points for making as accurate a prediction about Fuu as was humanly possible; the blonde smiles, inclining her head in polite gratitude, and proceeds towards the back entrance (proving at least one of *her* suspicions correct). Granted, M-sama didn't answer the question that Fuu was actively entertaining ...

'Which subject will I have the most difficulty with in the coming term?' did seem like a fairly safe question, as well as one she could have used an answer to. Just not that life-changing - she'll still apply herself as diligently to all of her classes as she's able.

"Thank you as always for all your hard work, Bidou-san," Fuu replies to Yui with her usual friendly demeanor (and nigh-perpetual smile), accepting the mini-smartwatch on her way past. She can't help but glance at the basket - how many more of those watches have they given away today? - but it's more idle curiosity than trying to tackle a serious mystery. As long as the Computer Club doesn't get busted for misuse of school-granted funds ...

(.... as if any single student organization at Infinity is ever going to get pinned to the wall for that, considering what some of them get up to.)

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Kozue sighs at Yumi's prodding, as she passes her fingers through her hair. Though then she stands in silence, staring at the two in the tent. "So... are you going to get start-" BEEP. PING.

Kozue stands up straighter, and then pales at their voices in unison.


Sounding genuinely a touch shaken, her voice stops trying to interrupt, and suddenly she finds herself leaning forward.

She gets an answer. Though not the answer she was hoping for. It simply is the answer she should have expected.

Why did she expect anything different?

Stepping off to the side, she just looks off into the middle distance for a while. Nori's attempt to offer sympathy just gets an absent nod, like she's saying something obvious.

Yet, it is Homura stepping up to the front that draws her eye at least. How can she fail to notice the girl that earned her enmity after what happened to her?

And when her fortune is delivered...

Kozue feels thoroughly gaslit. One moment she was feeling a sense of despair, and the next she's believing that 'M-sama' is a phoney. Perhaps it was the other woman (who seemed way more competent) who delivered her fortune but...

... it's one of those comforting little lies she can wrap herself around.

Now appearing decidedly nonplussed as Nori says she won't abandon Homura. "Speak for yourself. I'm writing her off."

Kozue starts towards the exit, waving her fingers, "Ja ne - Akemi. I know better than to stay when Sadako is out to get you."

Upon exiting the tent, Kozue is given a blue fitbit. Even though she notes everyone else is getting their stated favorite, she simply shrugs it off as having 'brand recognition.' Without complaint she slides it onto her wrist, explaining simply, "It matches my Yukata."

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

"Ouch," Yumi says ahead in line of Kozue. But for her own she blinks. A tender heart, huh? "Oh..."

She guesses that's true. But betrayed, huh? Well, "Thanks!" she says, since she can't think of anyone who'd apply for it but it's still fun to give it a shot. She's sort of obligated to be game for this kind of thing, isn't she?

She doesn't spot Homura behind her at first; it's easy to miss the quiet girl when she isn't trying to be seen. Instead she finds herself musing over her reading for a little while, looking back to the others and then--

...She slooowly tilts her head back at Homura's reading. "Huh...."

On the way out though she has a green fitbit-thingy! It might even be nice to use! Though Yumi laughs a little to Nori, "Yeah, I've seen these around. I feel like it's kind of a waste to give me one of these, though. It's like, it might be sad it's not somebody who's going to exercise more..." She glances off at Kozue--but doesn't go after her. Instead she slips on the little smartwatch instead. "But still, fun, right?" she suggests to Rei.

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

There's something... strange, in that moment...

It's not quite a thing you can see; because it doesn't involve the eyes. It's not a whisper; there's no noise. It doesn't smell like anything, or taste like anything. Perhaps the closest analogy -- though it is an analogy, imperfect, narrative, a story humans tell themselves as they look into a world not quite made for them -- is touch.

Like a prickle at the back of the neck.

Rei -- senses it is not quite right, in that ephremal way stood apart, and her eyes narrow for a moment and -- BEEP.

Could it be that Fuu, out of all of them, has defeated this charlatan..?!

Out they go. "Oh," she remarks, "you know each other, Fuu-chan?" If she's Fuu's friend, well... Fuu has good instincts for this sort of thing, so Rei takes the smartwatch without hesitation.

"It's a little high-tech, though, isn't it..?" She wonders, sceptically, which might call into question how much Rei will actually use her shiny new toy.

She can't help but roll her eyes, as Kozue makes her exit. "Oh, please. If you were haunted, Homura-chan, I'd know about it." It's kind of a backhanded way to reassure her. Does she employ that technique on purpose, or is she just a little rankled by Kozue..?

It's an eternal mystery.

She has to smile to Yumi, though. "You're right," she says, lifting D'Artagnan-kun in demonstration. "There's nothing like a festival."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Homura was not aiming for notice, but neither is she anonymous, even before she pulls back her hood. She meets the other girl's eyes, and: "Hino-san," she returns with her customary cool quiet before taking her turn.

The Marvelous, et al, gives her a "Replyyyyy haaaaaaaaazy" which washes over Homura like she's a particularly smooth black rock enduring a crashing wave. She feels a dull, hollow lack of surprise at her apparent lack of fortune, and evinces it not at all.

But WAIT! There's more!

The finger points her way and calls out a presence, a ghost, and the grey girl -- blinks. She tells herself all these fortunetellers use vague things to get reactions. Nori, though, saves her from making a reply, and privately she registers faint gratitude.

It's a tease, of course, and Homura levels that still gaze at Nori. "Are you so sure one would work?" So dry. She might be teasing back, or she might not, who could tell?

Her gaze doesn't go to Kozue, but she's clearly listening. After a moment Homura shrugs, allowing the overlarge hoodie to accentuate an understated gesture. There's something about the dismissal which fits better than anything else, and after all, Homura isn't so sure that she isn't the ghost, herself.

She doesn't put the pink activity watch on... but she does pocket it. Homura can't bring herself to throw it away.