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supermikotan in ghostsugar_rp

Good Luck [tag Yadoru]

The afternoon air was warm and heavy with springtime scents. From where she sat at her window, Nao could see a white butterfly dancing on the breeze. She watched it flutter and twirl up into the sunny sky. The insect was pretty much the only activity in all of Kasuga Shrine right now. There weren't usually many visitors on Saturdays.

Like most Shinto shrines, Kasuga-jinja had a small shop and information booth. From the shop window, one could keep an eye on the wide gravel-filled main compound leading up the the main altar. Make sure no one took money from the offering box, that sort of thing. It wasn't much more than a long window cut into a wall. Rows of trinkets, lucky charms, protection amulets, and other such things were lined up neatly on raised wooden displays on the counter, with prices marked in a careful hand.

Dressed in pressed, starched white kimono and red hakama, Nao was watching over the shrine's shop booth for the afternoon. The butterfly now out of sight, Nao redirected her attention to her work. Her long, heavy sleeves tied behind her, she had finished writing a large stack of protection amulet papers and was now busily studying for her midterms. She was sure that the science test was going to be a disaster. Shibata-sensei's quizzes were so hard!

Nao frowned at her notes and erased a sloppily written equation, rewriting it neatly with her mechanical pencil. The dangling panda and heart charms on the end of her pencil went clickety-clack as she wrote. It felt like the only sound for miles.
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It was only natural for an onmyouji to try to establish and maintain favorable relations with local shrines. There was no telling when a safe haven or a charm on the fly could be a very, very important thing. Of course, Yadoru had been so busy as of late that he hadn't even thought to go to the shrine until his brother's latest letter asked about it.

Really, he had been thinking about it! He would have gone there as soon as things slowed down! It was just on his mind, really!

Regardless, Yadoru made his way to the shrine, a little baffled that there seemed to be no one there. It was clearly a valid shrine, he felt relaxed and refreshed from the moment he crossed into the purified lands. Why then was it so desolate?

Those thoughts on his mind, Yadoru cleansed himself and then prayed at the shrine, throwing in a donation after he did so. The prayer, of course, was two-fold: strength to do his job as an onmyouji, and safety for Chiaki now that his mother was on the loose. It was a long shot at best, but it was the least that Yadoru could do for screwing up so royally.

After that, Yadoru made his way over to the shop booth, glad that there was at least one person there. "Excuse me," he said in his usual imperious, yet polite, tone, "I was wondering if I could see those protection ofuda?"
Nao jumped at the unexpected voice, her pencil slipping out of her hands. She quickly hid her chemistry book behind the wooden trinket display. "Y-yes, sir, right away," she announced, using respectful language to refer to her customer. Wow, someone had come by! That made three for the day. This was a boy around her own age. What was he doing here? All her other regulars were senior citizens. She wanted to stare at him, but she kept her eyes glued to the merchandise.

Nao swallowed and stood, selecting the tray of ofuda and setting it before him on the table. "Which sort of protection?" she asked. "Protection in traffic, protection from misfortune, from evil, from crooked politicians, from sickness, during pregnancy, or protection while traveling?"
Yadoru tried his best to hide a guilty look when the girl hid her book away. It wasn't that he had disrupted her, but rather, he knew that homework was still awaiting him when he got back to his dorm room. Homework, and oh, so very much more. He felt exhausted just thinking about it!

So he didn't. Instead, he pushed that completely out of his mind, and focused on the talismans presented. Better to think about the job right now, and worry about school when he was actually back in school. Homework could worry about itself, for right now!

Meanwhile, the boy leaned forward and peered at the ofuda carefully, trying to feel for one that had been infused with the most spiritual energy. Usually that would be one of the first ones, before the writer had gotten exhausted, but it could take a moment to figure that out. So, for the moment, he offered a tiny smile to Nao, and offered, "I don't think I would need a protective talisman during pregnancies... but perhaps one against evil power?"
Nao smiled a nervous smile at her guest. "I guess that's right!" she answered. She took out the different sorts of protection against evil ofuda and placed them on a red velvet cloth in front of Yadoru for inspection. "But, sometimes people buy them for family members. You never know what people might need until you ask, after all. Right?"

"If I may," Nao continued, "I have a few different sorts to offer you. This one here," she indicated one with the fingers of her hand flattened politely, "is for protection against forms of evil in the hearts of human beings. This one is used for repelling evil spirits, ghosts, and beings that are not completely made of physical substance. Works very well, if I do say so myself."

She took a breath and indicated the third. "This type is used for repelling evil creatures with a physical body, such as ogres, kappa, and the like. I also have ones that are made to protect a body or area from being possessed by an evil entity. Would any of these types be helpful?"

Her brown eyes darted up to Yadoru's, intently gauging his response to her words.
There was something about the way that the miko looked at him that made Yadoru feel just a tiny bit on edge. In a way, it felt like she was judging him based on the decisions that he was going to make. Ridiculous, but nevertheless, he felt it.

Still, she certainly did have an interesting selection of ofuda. Yadoru nodded as she explained the stock, then motioned to the second and third charms she had mentioned. "I think I'll take those two, if you don't mind? And a few of the ones for protecting an area, if you have more than one?"

He had spent five of them to create the barrier in Chiaki's room, after all, and while his mother's talisman kept himself safe, he needed to make sure that he could protect others if it came to that. While he hadn't encountered anything beyond ghosts, he could never be too careful.
Nao inclined her head and picked out the best, neatest written ones from the appropriate stacks for her customer. "Certainly, we have plenty," she agreed.

So he didn't laugh at her explanation of the uses of the ofuda. That meant he wasn't the average person. Average people wouldn't buy protection from evil creatures with a physical body. They tended to buy things like protection in traffic for their cars. Nao offered him a polite smile as she wrapped up his purchase. "Please use them well."

"That will be... let's see." Nao counted in her head. It took a little longer than it would for most people. Five ofuda at... "Ten thousand yen, exactly, please. I.... I know it's expensive!" she added, quickly. "But they really do work very well. My grandpa and I made them. I offer a money-back guarantee, too-- save your receipt."
Ten thousand yen? For most normal people, that would be a staggering sum, but for Yadoru, it wasn't much at all. Especially not for the tools of his trade, when he didn't have the energy to make more of his own. "Okay, um... I guess that you don't accept cards, so..."

Yadoru pulled out his wallet and started counting out cash, glad that he'd gotten more in preparation for this trip. It was rather inconvenient to carry that much money around, but... what other options did he have?

As for the last statement? He smiled a little, bemused at the idea of someone having a money-back guarantee for the ofuda. If they didn't work right, then Yadoru wasn't going to be able to ask for his money back, more than likely. "Ah yes, of course. I'll be sure to do so."
Nao counted Yadoru's money slowly twice, trying to contain her excitement at such a big sale. Unbelieveable! She had hit the jackp-- er, found a great new customer!

When she was satisfied that she had the math right, she turned to use the ancient cash register that was hidden behind the counter. The receipt she passed to Yadoru with two hands, then she gave him a deep bow with her hands folded neatly on the counter. "Thank you for your patronage," she smiled. "We look forward to serving you again for all of your spiritual needs." That last part was her own personal flair she'd added. Pretty cool, she thought.

A thought occurred to her as she lifted her head again. Had she seen this boy somewhere before? Downtown, or.... she tried to remember where, but it just wasn't coming to her.
For all his spiritual needs? Yadoru blinked at that, just a tiny bit baffled. Sure, it was understandable that a shrine maiden would be trying her best to make the shrine more upbeat and contemporary, but that just sounded... odd. Especially for someone like Yadoru, who was used to shrines that were quite a bit more... traditional.

Of course, if his brother knew that he had to buy his ofuda, he'd never be able to live it down. It wasn't Yadoru's fault that his handwriting was so bad! But still, if it worked, that was the important thing.

Speaking of... "You're welcome," he said, almost dismissively, "but I was wondering, when is this shrine open? I have school, you see, so sometimes I have odd hours..."
Nao passed Yadoru a business card with the shrine's shop hours printed on it. "Our altars are always open, actually-- it's said to be bad luck to close it. They say that Daimyo-sama will become angry. But the shop closes at dark, for people's safety," she informed him. It wasn't safe to encourage people to be galavanting around this area after dark, but if her customer didn't know that for himself, she didn't need to get into it.

"If you really did need something after closing, though, our family lives right behind the shrine," she said, and gestured with one hand to the ancient-looking house beyond the main sanctuary. Nao hoped that he wouldn't notice the missing roof tiles and the crumbling plaster. "You could just knock on the door. Someone's always here."
"Ah, I suppose that is true," Yadoru affirmed. A shrine was a holy place, but sometimes that meant it served as a beacon to the other side. Someone who went into a shrine at a late hour could find all sorts of trouble waiting for them by the time they left. Better to mitigate that risk as much as possible.

He couldn't believe the state of the house, though. He didn't say anything about it, of course, as that would be amazingly indiscreet, but there was still a brief flash of bafflement as he looked at it. Clearly, hard times were to be found here. "Erm... well, I'd hate to inconvenience your family, but... if it is an emergency, then I'll be glad someone's there."
Nao fidgeted, desperate to think of something to say that would take Yadoru's eyes off of her family's house. He was totally looking at the plaster, she could tell. Her face reddened.

"Um!" she blurted out. "I hope it isn't rude to ask, but! You... you mentioned school. Do you go to Kikuryou Academy? By any chance?"
Ah, the Academy? Yadoru looked back at her, smiling a little as he nodded. Couldn't hurt to just talk, could it? Especially here... he could relax here, of all people. "Ah, yes, I go to Kikuryou Academy. And it isn't rude at all; would I be correct in guessing that you also go there?"
"Ah, heh," Nao let out a laugh that sounded rather clueless. "Yeah." She pulled her Chemistry book out from behind the display rack to show him. "I'm trying to study for my Science test but, there was just so much stuff that my teacher wrote on the blackboard. Uuu.... I don't think I'm going to do very well."

She rubbed her face, embarrased. When she did, a few little slips of paper and various lucky items fell out of her book. "Oh! Oh no. I need those."

She ducked down behind the counter, rummaging around for the things she'd dropped and stacking them back on the counter. Fuda, an awful lot of omamori (how did they fit in the book? that was her secret), fortune cookie fortunes, a feather, a pressed clover...
Yadoru blinked at the sheer amount of lucky items Nao had in her book. It seemed rather silly, how many there were, and Yadoru smiled a little at her. "Ah... you do know that so many items don't help you, right? They'll kind of cancel each other out, don't you think?"

More was not always better, especially in regards like that. Still, if she was determined, then Yadoru knew that he wouldn't be able to do anything to change her mind. Just like he hadn't been able to get around the counter to help before she'd picked everything up.

"...then again," he admitted, "I don't usually use anything like that for my tests, so I wouldn't know for sure..."
Popping her head back up over the counter, Nao blushed bright red. She juggled her chem notes and her lucky charms. "Cancel each other out?" she repeated, eyes wide. "Are you sure? Are you serious? Er..." That was confusing. And come to think of it, how did he know?

Was he into fortune-telling? Maybe he was! Maybe he had a pack of tarot cards on him right now. Maybe he was really popular with all the kids at school because of his accurate predictions, like, "Today you should be careful of elephants" or "A stranger you meet today will turn out to be the love of your life." Maybe he was psychic, and he was reading Nao's mind RIGHT NOW.

Whoa, that would be super embarrassing. She had better clear her thoughts so he didn't find out anything bad. Like about her underwear or something. Clear, clear, clear.

"H-h-how do you mean?" she stammered. "Do you mean... like, yin and yang? That's not really my specialty." She frowned lightly, tapping a finger in her bottom lip as she considered it.
He hadn't anticipated Nao blushing quite that brightly, nor had Yadoru really thought that she'd take what he'd said all that seriously. He blinked as well, then quietly smiled. Why not go with it?

"Well, those omamori are dedicated to Tenjin, aren't they? The god of scholarship and and passing tests? If you think about it that way, having more charms is roughly equivalent to saying that you don't trust the results, right?"

Granted, Yadoru tried to keep his voice light, as though he was joking with Nao, but otherwise he was serious. When someone was dealing with the kami, sometimes less was really more. Especially when it came to things like this.
Nao thought about this very, very hard. "Hmmm... Maybe, but. I'm not sure," she said gently. What the boy was suggesting sounded so foreign to her. "I don't think it's a question of faith as much as mathematics. If each one of these omamori has a paper inside it that possesses a certain amount of spiritual energy that has been put into it... let's say," she pointed to her different charms. "2, plus 2, plus 2, and the end result is six." Now as far as four-leaf clovers and such things, she had no good explanation. It just felt good to have a little bit of nature's energy nearby.

"Then again," she backtracked, feeling bashful talking about such things. She dipped her eyes to the red tablecloth before her. "I'm terrible at math. I might be wrong about this, but that's as far as my training has taught me."
"Hm... I suppose that makes a certain amount of sense..." Yadoru guessed it depended on what the omamori drew their power from. If it was from a god, then Yadoru was probably right. But if they were just generic charms, then there would certainly be a geometric increase in power, the more that one possessed.

In any case, he couldn't pretend like he was too interested in it! If that was the case, then he'd probably attract more attention, and that was the last thing he needed right now. "But, um... for what it's worth, I hope that you do well. However the charms actually work."
"You as well," Nao said, and she picked out one of the good luck on tests omamori, a bright pink with red flowers. She gave it to Yadoru with two hands. "Here, my grandfather made this, so it's pretty powerful," she informed him. "More than mine." Nao had scented all the omamori with incense herself after filling them with the papers containing her grandfather's holy writings. She thought that the fact that they gave off a pretty smell might make them sell better. It wasn't just a good luck charm, it was also a sachet. Useful!

Nao smiled brightly and bowed to her customer with both hands on the table. "Thank you for coming today, sir, please come back soon. I can show you the garden sometime if you like. There are a lot of ancient statues and things there." There were also a few very secret spots, but Nao didn't know anything about this boy, just that he might be a fortuneteller. She couldn't tell him too much.
If Yadoru wasn't so staunchly polite, he would never have accepted the omamori. That bright pink cover almost felt like it was burning his hand when he accepted it, and his face was almost as red as the flowers as he muttered a quiet "Thank you very much..." Perhaps it was powerful, perhaps it would actually work, but... but he'd never live it down if someone caught him wearing it! And it smelled! There was no way he could conceal it even if he wanted to!

But it wasn't like he could just refuse it, so he put it away and returned the bow with an inclination of his head. "I would like that very much, the next time that I come here. Thank you again, for everything."

While it might sound dismissive, Yadoru was actually grateful. If the charms worked as promised, then he wouldn't have to worry about creating his own or running short. Indeed, this was a heavy weight off of his mind... something he really needed, considering how tiring his life was at the moment. Hopefully soon it would slow down, but for now, he'd just have to survive as best he could. So he smiled one last time, then turned on his heel and walked away. Of course, he'd keep his own tools for now, at least until he could confirm the viability of this new source of power. Or the lack thereof.