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HOSHINO NORIAKI


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D A T E
April 10th 2018

L O C A T I O N
Hinotori Highschool

T A G S
@Hero@Scribe of Thoth@Lord Orgasmo@RiverMaiden
It didn't come as much of a surprise that the cat brought a collection of Noriaki's peers along with her. She had managed to gather quite the number of errant students beforehand, after all. Unlike them, however, the teen actually knew at least the first one to approach. Hinari put forth a theory about kittens, and for all his love of felines, he couldn't offer a rebuttal of worth for that. Maybe she was just looking for a lost kitten that managed to find its way into the school. Certainly didn't explain why she was so affection with him, but maybe his uniform picked up some kind of smell from his own cat earlier in the morning. He didn't have too much time to ruminate on it, as others quickly began to assemble around the mystery animal.

One of them, the next tallest kid in his class, expressed shock there really was a cat after all. Noriaki had heard the rumblings too, during lunch. Apparently they blamed the shattering of one of the gym's mirrors on the poor little thing, as if something her size had the strength or leverage to pry one off the wall. Not that he especially minded the loss of gaudy, polished glass. He had been wary of mirrors ever since the night he rescued his own mouser from the burnt out ruins near his home, ever since that girl—imagined or not—warned him about straying too close.

It was in that moment, the vague acknowledgment of memories he had spent the better part of two days trying to bury, that it clicked for Noriaki.

That was where he had seen the bewitching eyes this little kitty possessed. On the back of his sudden realization, he recalled another phantom from his hours spent dozing.

"The previous denizen of the stage has made it to your world,"

His expression immediately soured. This was not what he came to Kyoto for. He was here for a new start. New school, new friends, new job, good grades and a pleased parole officer. No weird, mysteriously regeneration houses down the street. No creepy mirrors full of grasping hands. No bloodcurdling demons trying to stab him in the chest and no god damn ghost girls pretending to be cats. He didn't have a choice that first time—hell, up until that very moment, he had been content to consider everything that happened that night a stress-induced nightmare. But now other people could confirm the weirdness was real. Mirrors were exploding, cats with mystical eyes were wandering the halls, and it all managed to find its way back to him.

"I told you last time I wasn't doing that shit again," He hissed under his breath, using the fingers that had so gingerly been searching for a good spot to scratch to force the little imposter's gaze up to meet his own. "I don't want a damn thing to do with you, or your house, or your immortal demon bitch."

It might have occurred to him how crazy he sounded to the others assembled, but he didn't care. He wasn't going to stick around long enough for the girl crazy enough to go back into the viper's pit to do more of her spooky magic and end up dragging him into who knew what. He stood up from his crouch and turned back to his locker, pulling out his sneakers and dropping them to the floor so he could change and get the hell out of there. Whatever soul-eating kitten she wanted him to find could be someone else's problem.
SEIMEI KEIKO
tags - @Hero



The trip from the tower to the village proper wasn't long, but it was just scenic enough that Keiko sometimes wished it was—never mind that she didn't tend to enjoy her time in town to begin with. Even from her place at the outskirts she could see folks bustling back and forth, partaking in the aforementioned lantern hanging and bean scattering and all manner of festivity. She tried her best not to look sour about it, as if any of them particularly cared. After all, it was a bright, crisp morning. She had enough fruit to sate her all through the afternoon, and she had all the time in the world to do as she wished. It was just finding what she wanted to do with all of it that was the problem. Luckily enough, as she wandered the streets and pondered the issue, a distinct sound managed to snap her out of her contemplation.

Ting! Ting! Ting!

It was one relatively familiar to her. To everyone, in truth, as few in the valley knew how to work their own metal. They all inevitably ended up at the town's smithy for all their needs, although ironwork was scarcely what brought Keiko to the humble little forge. The proprietor's nephew, Tsubasa, was something of an acquaintance of hers. She had been picking on him since his folks sent him waddling up the hill to learn how to Sign, and long after his time at the tower ended after an especially amusing incident involving an old tome and her mother's enduring wrath. To the lad's credit—if she even had the right to call him a lad—he had always taken her teasing in stride. An unfortunate thing, as it only encouraged her to keep doing it.

Before she knew it her feet had taken her towards the market square, and ever closer to the source of the sound. As she caught sight of the young man hard at work, she grinned wickedly. She had always prided herself on her light-footed nature, but it was so rare she even needed to sneak up on him. He always got so absorbed in his craft that she probably could have walked right on into the work area and he'd be none the wiser. It still didn't stop her from meticulously toeing her way towards the forge, careful to avoid his peripheral vision as approached from behind.

Only once she was within striking distance did she make her move. A quick pair of fingers reached up high to tap him on his right shoulder, just enough to get his attention. Then, nimble as could be, Keiko ducked to his left and hopped up onto the table besides his workspace, careful not to land her behind on any of the cooling works in the process.

"You lookin' for someone, pretty boy?" She asked cheekily as she kicked her legs back and forth, nonchalant as could be.
HOSHINO NORIAKI


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D A T E
April 10th 2018

L O C A T I O N
Hinotori Highschool

T A G S
@Hero@Scribe of Thoth
It became apparent to Noriaki that even the other grades had been struck with the same lethargy the 2nd years had been hit with—the first floor lockers were surprisingly underpopulated. Usually there was a rush of students looking to free themselves from academia, or at least find respite in their clubs. The drive to escape the building certainly wasn't lost on him, though. Showing up early for work based appointments made a good impression, and after his little spat with the school's council president the day prior, he was sorely in need of them. Such was his rush that he scarcely noticed the cluster of boys and girls around one locker in particular. It undoubtedly contributed to the expediency with which he arrived at his own, and that concerned him more than whatever they were gawking at.

Until the source of their excitement made itself his problem. A loud mrrrow not unlike the ones that woke him up that morning caught his attention, and he peered away from his shoes just in time to see a feline hurriedly making its way towards him. At first he was almost impressed, having thought it was his own, but the little guy back home was a mite bit whiter than this one and a little bigger to boot. Stranger or not, it seemed to like him quite a bit, as he soon found it winding itself around his legs in its attempts to rub up against him.

"I'm really popular with you guys lately, huh?," He asked rhetorically as he bent down to get a better look at it, "Not that I mind. Always liked cats."

It certainly didn't look like any stray he had ever seen—it was too clean on closer inspection, with its soft yellow coat being the result of pigment rather than stains. He also couldn't help but notice its eyes. He was pretty sure having different colored eyes was common among some dog breeds, but he had never seen them on a cat before. What was worse, they seemed weirdly familiar to him, but he couldn't quite place it. He extended a hand, figuring it wanted to give him a good sniff before he tried making contact. If all went well, a good chin scratching would follow.

"What's a pretty lil' thing like you doing in a place like this? You don't have a collar, but you look too well fed to be from the streets."
I just noticed the OOC was one post shy of 50 and wanted to remedy that.

Carry on.
SEIMEI KEIKO
tags - nobody



Warm, comforting water. Thick, billowing clouds of fragrant steam. Soaking away ones woes on a chilly spring morning was something most of Heiseina's residents would probably relish in. Most of the working sorts didn't have the luxury of bathing in the comforts of their own homes. Most probably preferred to do it in public anyway, where they could unwind and discuss all the little happenings of their sleepy village among friends and peers. Maybe that was why, even steeping with the smell of sweet citrus in her own private tub, Keiko could not find solace from her melancholy. The Dance of the Serpent was upon them, a time of merriment and of new beginnings, when the villagers would be gathering together to celebrate Miorochi's return. For Keiko, it was nothing to look forward to. Every year, the festival only saw her sink into a black mood in the days leading up to and during. Witnessing friends and family line the streets, joking and playing, enjoying each others' company—it all served as a poignant reminder. A reminder that such things were absent from her life. She wouldn't have anybody to hang lanterns or exchange gifts with. If she was lucky, maybe her mother would accompany her to the shrine to leave an offering.

That would be the extent of her celebration. It always was.

The sullen thoughts swirling through her mind were far more bitter than any stray orange blossom floating about the bath water, and it didn't seem like a prolonged stay in the tub would help clear them. It was a foolish idea in the first place. Keiko knew herself—she was the type to get stir-crazy without things to do, and while she liked to busy herself whenever she slumped into dejection, this particular week had left her with no matters to attend. Her mother had insisted she take the week off to celebrate the holiday and enjoy herself, either a cruel joke or a vain attempt to force the mending of bridges long since burnt. There was always studying, but she couldn't bring herself to retain the bounty of old tomes and scrolls in her current state.

A sigh, half of which came out of bubbling water, announced her rise from the bath. She couldn't just mope around home all day and expect it to lighten her mood. At least getting outside would provide a distraction, something for her to hone her mind in on aside from gloom that had overtaken her. The splattering of water on smooth, cold stone filled an otherwise silent chamber as she stepped out of the wooden tub. The air was chilly despite the hot moisture that hung heavy in it, but this was a trivial enough for her to overcome. She extended a thin finger and traced familiar symbols before her, a pale glow at its tip as she marked the space before her with two kanji. The glow brightened, then faded, and in its place a gentle stream of hot air flowed from her digits. A flow she wasted no time turning on herself, sending droplets and wild strands of damp hair every which way.

If only it was as easy to Sign away her other problems.

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As cold as it was inside, it somehow managed to be even colder when Keiko stepped outside. There had been some vague hope that the sun would have banished some of the chill in its benevolence, but that hope was quickly dashed. It would surely warm up as the day went on, but that was of little comfort to the Signkeeper's apprentice as she descended the stairs of the tower and made her way around the side of the landmark she called home. There was one small treat waiting there for her—the fruits of her labor in seasons past, in the most literal sense. She had managed to convince her mother to plant a garden behind their illustrious home, ostensibly so that the many young farmers who came to practice their Growth signs had something to practice on. In truth, she simply wanted to have fresh fruit on hand to sate her sweet tooth whenever she wanted.

She had set about raising six trees in the year or two prior, and raise them she had—they were already taller than her, and producing fruit in spite of the unseasonably cold weather, a result of her daily tending as much as it was the valley's fertile soil. Even as she approached the largest of the bunch she could see fat, ocher fruits hanging from its many limbs. Big enough to be her breakfast, for sure. Maybe even big enough to taken into the village on market day. She wanted for relatively little, but there was usually something interesting to bargain for, and if nothing else, she could always gloat at those sour-faced Moriyama about how much more productive her fledgling grove was compared to their own.

They would also make thoughtful gifts, she couldn't help but think as she plucked one, then another from its branches. Not that she had anybody in particular to hand them out to. But the matriarch of her little clan had been stressing in the months prior about turning over a new leaf. She wasn't a little girl anymore, she said. It was time to start making connections. To turn set down some real roots. She would be the village's Signkeeper eventually. Heiseina was her home.

"Tch."

Keiko couldn't contain her cynicism at the thought. An armful of oranges wasn't going to undo a lifetime of ostracism. If the villagers wanted to make friends with their would-be Signkeeper, they could do it on their own. Maybe if they were lucky she would forgive them.

Maybe.

Satisfied she had picked the ripest of the bunch, the girl tucked what extras she had into the folds of her kimono for safe keeping, holding the finest of their lot held between slim fingers. She tore into its unblemished exterior with them, peeling back the outside with just a deal more aggression than she had intended. The catharsis it provided, however mild, was enough to pull her from the downwards spiral of her thoughts, and she feasted upon the pulpy flesh within, one wedge at a time, as she set off in the direction of the village. Perhaps the walk there would clear her head, and if not, well, at least she was in good company for the journey.
HOSHINO NORIAKI


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D A T E
April 10th 2018

L O C A T I O N
Hinotori Highschool

T A G S
@WXer
The chiming of the school's intercom announced an end to the day's toil, and it prompted Noriaki to snap out of his absentminded daydreaming and into a stretch. The last few hours of the school day were always hard to focus during, and the way the sky seemed to darken with rolling clouds and the low rumble of distant thunder had only further muddled his mind. He hadn't the forethought to bring an umbrella to school, having been fooled into believing the clear morning skies, so it was almost assured he was going to get soaked after leaving the building. The manager over at FamilyMart had insisted he come in the following afternoon to finalize all the bullshit paperwork required, so he was doomed even if he had wanted to sprint through the unfamiliar streets of Kyoto to beat the rain home.

He had half a mind to do it anyway—despite his purchases the day before, he hadn't gotten around to actually broaching the idea of keeping a cat around the house to his mother. He had spirited the little fluff out of the house before she got home again, confident he would be fine with the weather as sunny as it was. Now Noriaki could only hope the feline could find adequate cover until he could make it back to collect him.

Ruminating on the misfortune of the day wasn't going to get him anywhere, though. He summoned the strength to rise from his seat, haphazardly sweeping what few supplies littered his desk into his bag. He swung it over his arm, turning to the blue-haired teen behind him.

"Gonna go do job shit at FamilyMart today. Don't wait around for me." He told the closest thing to a "friend" he had made in his two days at Hinotori, figuring the clingy teen would want to do something after class regardless of the poor weather. Giving him notice was the least he could do, and even then, he couldn't say for sure that would even discourage Asakura from following him.

What was for sure was that Noriaki didn't intend to dally around for a response, and no sooner than he had said the words did his feet start him off in the direction of the door. The crowds in the halls weren't as frantic as usual—he imagined a number of the student body were either biding their time to see whether or not the rain would come, or simply wishing to wait it out on campus. Their lack of initiative was one small blessing on an otherwise shitty day. It made his job of getting to the lockers early all the easier.
HOSHINO NORIAKI


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D A T E
April 9th 2018

L O C A T I O N
Commercial Kyoto

T A G S
@Hero@Scribe of Thoth@WXer@psych0pomp
Noriaki stood stoic as his would-be boss looked him over. It wasn't a very long appraisal, in truth, and that was something the teen took in stride. As the older gentleman listed off the benefits of the job, he mowed them over in his head. It didn't exactly pay much, but it was also a part time job ringing up drinks and stocking shelves, so he wasn't going to be making a fortune any time soon. The flexibility of the schedule was nice, though he didn't foresee himself doing much after school to begin with.

Especially not to a godforsaken Lawson's with the shitty chicken apologists that had been accompanying him.

"Yeah, I did," Noriaki answered nonchalantly when questioned on his recent arrival, "I just got here this week."

He briefly cast a gaze over towards Asakura, glaring at the teen who had the nerve to both imply his employment was ruse to get them away from crap food and throw away a perfectly fine sandwich in his presence. He was starting to understand why the man spent his lunch on the roof sucking on eggs alone. But his irrational irritation aside, the former athlete had more pressing matters at hand. Namely, locking down this job.

"When do you want me to start? Or is there like, paperwork I gotta fill out first?"
HOSHINO NORIAKI


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D A T E
April 9th 2018

L O C A T I O N
Commercial Kyoto

T A G S
@Hero@Scribe of Thoth@WXer@psych0pomp
It was a great relief that for all her disinterest, the clerk seemed to ring the group up with a sense of expediency. It was probably just so she could go back to flicking through some trashy rag or another, but it didn't matter to Noriaki. All that mattered to him was the greasy slab of boneless meat inside the wrapping he held, and the bread with which to sandwich it. He tore through plastic and paper alike with his teeth, and hastily assembled his mid-afternoon delight before the group even had a chance to leave the store.

The payoff was heavenly, and as he bit through soft dough and crunchy chicken, he was privy to perhaps the one time he had been truly relieved since leaving home earlier that morning. The humble famichiki sandwich had been his reprieve after way too many long, arduous practices. A reward for a day of hardworking, shared with friends now lost to him, where he could sate his hunger and laugh away whatever woes the coaches and upperclassmen had caused among like minded individuals. It had been months since he could relish in the familiar comfort of its taste, and it seemed that the fellows that had accompanied him had also tucked in during his reverie.

But they did not share his bliss. Like Senators to Caesar, they drove their dissenting opinions into his brief moment of happiness until it all bled away from him like an Emperor betrayed. Gripping his precious sandwich in one hand, he placed his other on the edge of the counter, leaning towards the duo with animosity in his eyes entirely unwarranted by the critique of a simple piece of convenience store chicken.

"You're both disgraces to your uniforms." Noriaki told them as if it was plainly obvious fact, and he was its arbiter. It was all he could do not to launch into a tirade against these Lawson's apologists, and their preference for overpriced, over-breaded garbage. It was warranted, absolutely, but it was inevitable that Noriaki would become a regular at this location, and he didn't want to start a scene here. Especially not in front of the manager, who had apparently materialized while he was enjoying his brief walk down memory lane.

The presence of the older man gave him an excuse to redirect his anger to something more productive. Leaning on the counter as he was, he couldn't help but notice the help wanted sign that had just been smoothed out before him. He scanned it with icy eyes, pondering for a few seconds. He certainly could do with the money; the Hoshino family was not an especially wealthy one, and the pet store trip had burnt into what meager savings from birthdays and holidays he called his own. Usually, a part-time job would have cut into his baseball practice, but that wouldn't be a problem any longer, as bitter as that thought was to him. It would be good to have something to spend his afternoons doing. Might even impress that pin-headed parole officer.

"I'll do it," He suddenly piped, straightening up so he could look the manager in the face, "I'll take the job."

Hopefully the cashier wouldn't make good on her promise of an impromptu throat surgery.
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