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It had taken Otohime hours until she had found someone willing to take her to her destination. Well, willing was a stretch. There had been quite a bit of browbeating involved, but she was too determined to care. She had a lead. She would not let it slip through her hands. Let the people think she's crazy, but she refuses to give up so easily. So, as the boat sped towards the most dangerous place of the Digital World, Otohime took a spit at the front of the ship, ready to hop off as soon as they arrived. Master Keiji Madayoshi was a very calm man, very focussed and patient. But the prospect of ringing on the door of some family he hadn't met before, much less the family of his child's best friend, made him shudder. Masaki, his Alraumon companion, poked him through the fabric of the backpack he was in, and encouraged him to ring the doorbell. As soon as the door opened, the old man bowed. "Good Day, Miss Toriya. I am the father of Otohime, the friend of your daughter Naoko. May I speak to Naoko?"
Last Edit: Nov 20, 2018 14:10:12 GMT by Otohime: it only now occured to me that this counts as a Spirit Hunt
Good grief, these last few weeks were one hell of a drag. Work was as big a thing as it usually had been, Haru still hasn't picked up (yet she was still assured that her firstborn was, in fact, a-okay) and to top it all off they were out of soda. Yet, Setsuko Toriya did at least take a few small victories in the tedium of life here and there. Namely, Naoko had been getting out of bed and eating more often. Well, she was pretty -sure- that was Naoko. Last she recalled, Naoko had black hair, not blue hair, and no figure comes overnight...
She wasn't even sure what happened to cause such a thing in the girl. But she was happy that the one daughter she could wrangle was starting to do better. Of course, that didn't take precedence -now- now. What took precedence was the doorbell ringing. The woman made her way to the front to find herself confronted with one old guy.
"Good morning! Ah...Otohi-...Oh, Naoko's girlfriend?" The way she said it sounded very casual. "Sure, though I'm not sure if she's awake or getting ready to go out...Er...Let me go check, my apologies. Feel free to wait in the living room." Setsuko promptly turned around and proceeded into the household.
The door opened...and the mother of Naoko had opened. Keiji straightened out immidiately. "Ah, yes, her...girlfriend." He cleaned his throat. "Ah, I will graciously accept your offer." He bowed again, and then followed Setsuko in, taking a seat in the living room. Keiji's backpack wobbled. "What's the matter? We've been over this!" Girls can love girls!" "Ah, I apologise, it is just...in my many springs it has never been a thing I had been confronted by, so I need to wrap my head around it. ...that, and someone falling for Otohime romantically at all." Masaki giggled inside his backpack, and then feel silent as they waited for Naoko.
It took a few moments. A long few moments, but Setsuko did return. With...well, Keiji and Masaki had seen Naoko before. They knew what she looked like.
The person that Setsuko had returned with did not resemble Naoko much at all. For one, she actually looked like a girl, and for another, she had blue hair, with equally striking eyes to match. She was also lacking her signature hoodie. Yet, those with a keen eye for detail could note that the same figurative flame that burned in everyone bearing the name Toriya was behind those eyes.
"Ah, Madayoshi-san. Uh...Is something the matter?" The girl even spoke like Naoko. What happened?
When Keiji spotted the changed Naoko, he hesitated. This was not the girl he remembered. Did teenagers really change this fast? Well, his sister did, too. He just didn't expect this to happen to Naoko. He cleaned his throat awkwardly to return to the matter at hand. "Ah, yes, something is indeed the matter." He turned to Setsuko. "It is a matter concerning Naoko's girlfriend, my daughter, so if I may request privacy so we could discuss the matter among us?" He had no idea if Setsuko knew about these Digimon youkai, but Masaki had told him that secrecy would be important. And making it a matter of the heart was a surefire way to get that privacy.
Naoko blinked as her mother made a swift exit from the room. She was oddly skilled at that, and that was something Naoko wanted to emulate one day. Privacy was swiftly granted.
Now left alone with the old man, Naoko took a deep breath. "...So...uh. Otohime, right? What's up with her...?" She was, quite frankly expecting to get a talk about not hurting the daughter of this man. It was a reasonable assumption to make. Either way, Naoko took a seat next to Keiji and tried her best to maintain eye contact.
Something she found she was getting pretty good at, startingly enough.
Once Setsuko left the room, Keiji exhaled in relief...but was quickly back to holding his breath when Naoko's inquiring eyes stared into his. He scratched his cheek, trying to not look at her too much. "Ah yes, there is something amiss with Otohime. Uh, Masaki, you heard her talk about it. You tell Naoko about it." Masaki wobbled out of his backpack, and took an exaggerated deep breath, as if he had been suffocating. Then he turned to Naoko. He looked quite surprised when he saw her. "Whoa gal! Puberty must've hit you like a truck!" Keiji reached behind him and gave the Alraumon a dopeslap. "Focus." "Ow! Sheesh, ok! So, you know Otohime? That lovable idiot? Yeah, she's on her way to the Dark Area as we speak."
"Uh...Yeah. Puberty. Let's call it that." Naoko gulped. In reality, she was not about to disclose the events of the last few...Digital World days to anyone that she knew in the real world. Such would be...strange. A long story. One that's best saved for later. "...So...Something's amiss with her...?" The girl inquired.
Of course, the revelation that she was on her way to the goddamn Dark Area elicited a look of shock from Naoko. "She's..." She trailed off. What the actual...
"That's...why? What could be over there that interests her?" This was already one unlikeable conversation to be having with the guy that's your best friend's adoptive father...How could this possibly get any worse? Well, Titania wasn't here so it couldn't be that bad...
Masaki was surprised. He'd expected Naoko to panic at the news! Keiji, who had no frame of reference for how bad this Dark Area is, just stroked his beard. "I do believe she is following an impulse. Ever since her partner Jiro passed away she was very sullen, and spent a lot of time out in the Shibuki Forest, hoping to meet his spirit. Then one day she returned home looking determined, muttering "He's still alive..." under her breath. I was concerned, so I asked Masaki to keep an eye on her." The Alraumon nodded. "Yup! Since I don't need sleep as much as humans do I could stay up and keep an eye on her! And good thing I did! I overheard her talking about going to the Dark Area to find Jiro! The stupid gal talks to herself all the time, y'see. I confronted her when she left the house, and told her not to go, but she just said that this was her only chance to get him back and ran off!" Keiji nodded. "Which is why I am here. I would have followed her myself, but Masaki said that this Dark Area is lethal for me, as I have no "Digivice" and I am not a proper "Tamer". I have no idea what this means, but I trust the judgement of a Yokai." Masaki rolled his eyes. "Look, Miss Naoko, you're the only one who can save the girl from getting herself in deep trouble! Please, try and get her back!"
"W-Wait, Jiro..." Jiro was -dead?- What the... "What the f-...How? Why?" That was the first she had ever heard of this! "I...I'm really sorry to hear that but..." But nothing. She listened to Masaki and Keiji explaining the deal behind this. In truth, she was...very much panicking right now. She just was doing a good job of hiding that.
"...Yeah. It's a deadly place. I'll...Yes, I'll go get her back. She doesn't...deserve to die there. Or be harmed there. I'm not losing anyone else." Naoko was more mumbling than anything at this point, as she rose, and walked back to her room. So, was this a good idea or not? The girl emerged a few moments later wearing her usual hoodie and with Titania in tow...in the hood portion. "Just sit tight, I'll be back in a jiffy."
A jiffy meaning even she didn't know how long this would take. Anyone with the keen eye could note that Naoko was unsure, and clearly very stressed...But, still, she was doing a good job of keeping her cool for now as she walked out the door. Presumably to head to the Digital World.
Masaki blinked, then looked at Keiji. "Did your kid never tell her girlfriend about her loss?" Keiji stroked his beard once more. "She did mention Naoko had gone through a lot of hardship recently...it would be like her to not mention it so that Naoko would not have to worry about her, too...she truly has more heart than brain..." Masaki could not help but chuckle at these words, then cleared his throat and returned to seriousness. But by then Naoko had already gotten up and dressed, ready to leave. "Hey hey hey, wait, the old man got a gift for ya!" Keiji nodded, got up, and pulled something from his yukata. It was a small, silken charm, its stiffness revealing its contents to be paper. It was black, with golden kanji and decoration on it. "I went to the Meiji Shrine, and prayed to the Gods and the Emperor to wish you success. This is a katsumori, a charm to guarantee success. If you keep it on you, then you will succeed for sure."
It was true that Naoko didn't know a thing about that, so...hearing of it just now was a huge shock. She paused and turn to Keiji and Masaki. "...Huh?" A gift? For? What? Though, upon seeing the charm, things sort of clicked. This was important. This was incredibly important for Keiji and herself alike.
"I...see. Thank you." Great, as if she needed -more- pressure on her to succeed in this. She took the katsumori and pocketed it. "...Sit tight, this may take a while." She told them as she and Titania made their way out of the house. They then opened up a Digiport to...Well, they hadn't been to the Dark Area yet. So, no use in teleporting there directly. No, they just went as close as they could. In actuality?
They teleported to the Digital Core, with Titania promptly evolving into Crossmon Iris and picking Naoko up, before she took off into the skies for the Dark Area. "...So she's inbound to the Dark Area, but...where? Place's huge, so we could be searching for a long time." The metallic avian mused. "...Knowing her, she's probably gonna stick out like a sore thumb."
Keiji nodded as Naoko accepted the gift, then watched her run out of the house. He remained there, standing, for a bit, then he sought out Naoko's mother and thanked her for the hospitality, gifting her a small bag with melonpan before leaving. He heaved a sigh of relief when he was outside. "Ah, encounters with new people always dry me out like a fish on a rack..." Masaki wobbled around in his backpack. "Yeah, and you smell like one when you sweat!" Keiji chuckled at that. "Why'd you give that nervous wreck that talisman, anyway? Now she's gonna die from pressure!" "You underestimate Miss Toriya. She may seem nervous, but she possesses a lot of determination. That Talisman is merely a focus, a promise of success. Everything else will be thanks to her own capabilities. My faith in her is absolute." Still, he heaved a sigh as we went home. He hoped Otohime will safely return... Indeed, Otohime stuck out like a sore thumb the second she reached the shore. She leapt off the boat, tossed some Credits to the boatman and then ran inland, following the sensation in her heart, the remnant of Jiro leading her to him. She liberally used her bat to swat hostile plant life into submission, too determined to notice the malicious whispers hanging in the air.
Setsuko had returned quite swiftly after Naoko had departed. "...Is everything alright? The talk go over well and all of that?" Questions like that. She accepted the bag of melonpan--she knew Naoko liked this stuff to the point it was almost crippling.
Titania had decided to make the first place they searched simple. The coasts were probably where someone who was seeking passage would be first seen from. So, that's where she proceeded towards first. It took a bit, even with the speed this form allowed her.
When they had arrived a little too late, they were...left stumped. "...Remember when I said she'd stick out like a so-" Naoko began, only to be interrupted by a metallic "SHUT. UP." from Titania. The Crossmon remained still in the air for a few moments. "...Further inland. Maybe. Only way to go ahead from here." And as such, her flight continued!
Keiji cleared his throat. "Yes, everything went well, fret not, Madam. Thank you for letting is speak, your trust means a lot to me." He then bowed to her. Otohime had made her way deeper inland, walking along a thing, blood-red brook, following the voice in her heart. The world around her was pitch black, everything seemed to be spiky and deadly, and countless eyes rested on her jugular veins. This would terrify anyone, but Otohime was too determined to follow the voice to notice. A wild DemiDevimon jumped at her from the thick, black underbrush, but she just smacked it into a nearby tree. The thorns of the undergrowth were starting to cut gashes into her leg, making her bleed and attracting more hungry eyes, but she did not care. She would carry on.