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ryurei

the Ryumise

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OOC: this story was written as a chalenge to myself to write in a more limited scope than what my T'hera story has. it was inspired by Ran yoko's antique shop of dreams. i hope you all enjoy it.

 

Ryumise first visit: love potions.

 

Welcome to Ryumise!

In this shop dreams take flight and live,

Legends and wishes can be made real,

And anything can be found for the right price.

But take care,

For nightmares are also dreams,

Wishes do not always bring happiness,

And sometimes. . .the price is simply too high.

 

 

“Hey, Yumiko! Wait up, I’ll walk you home!” called a boy wearing an un-tucked St. Michaels’ high school uniform. His hair was cut short and bleached out so it looked orange-ish. He had several piercings in his ears and lip. He approached a girl wearing the girl’s version of the same uniform. She had her light brown hair pulled back into a neat braid.

 

Hikaru, go away!, thought Yumiko desperately as she ignored him. Now I know what they meant by be careful what you wish for. She added gloomily as she hurried down the street.

 

A week ago Hikaru wouldn’t speak to me; let alone follow me everywhere. And now I can’t tell him the truth. If only I had never stepped into that shop I would never would have this mess. Yumiko continued as she thought back to that day.

 

 

Twenty-nine days earlier

“ I heard that there is a new store opening in the outskirts of Chiba. It’s called the Ryumise, and they have the cutest shopkeepers ever!” Yumiko over heard her classmate saying as she nibbled on a onigiri. The boy was surrounded by his friends as they discussed where to find hot girls in town.

 

“So what do they sell there? Be nice to know what to say I’m looking for,” asked one of the guys at the table.

 

“Well, from what I hear what they sell depends on who goes in…” the first started with a strange look. “Supposedly, an ugly chick went in and came out hotter than that star from America. A guy went in nearsighted, and came out with 20/20 vision. Another person went in to get advice on how to get a girl and the next day he had a girlfriend.”

 

“Wow! That’s a different kind a store,” said another guy with a look of surprise.

 

“Are you guys talking about Ryumise?” asked an average-looking girl as she walked over to the table.

 

“Ah… Kaname-chan! Hi… what are you doing here?” asked the first boy as color rose in his cheeks.

 

“I though I heard you describing the store and came over. Do you have a problem with me being here in my own class room, Mako-kun?” Kaname responded with an irritated look.

 

“Er… Ah… no, there’s nothing wrong, but you just don’t normally come over during lunch. So, you kinda threw me, sorry,” Mako replied as his cheeks turned deeper red.

 

“Um... well, I wanted to… um… I mean… ,” Kaname said as she suddenly left blushing fiercely.

 

After school was over, Yumiko found herself being dragged down the street by Kaname. “Why do I have to go again? You know I want to go see Kaoru’s game.”

 

“I don’t want to go alone… you know how I feel around good-looking people, Yumiko,” Kaname said as she continued to pull.

 

“Alright, I’ll go with you if you stop pulling. You’ll tear my uniform,” Yumiko said with a look of defeat. “Besides, what are friends for?”

 

“Oh, thank you so much! I’ll pay you back for this sometime!” Kaname said with a huge smile as she let go. “Maybe we can find something to get you and Kaoru together!”

 

The train ride to Chiba was for the most part was as uninteresting as every other trip she had taken. The two girls quickly found the store near the station. When they entered the store, Yumiko stopped just a few steps inside the door in amazement of the messy appearance of everything. There were shelves haphazardly filled with books and bottles of strange looking liquid. There were vases, end tables, chairs, and various antiques scattered in no discernable order in the room. In the back of the room she could see what looked like a liquor bar on which sat an antique cash register. As she stood there, a mirror caught her eye and drew her in. She took a few steps over to it, passing no fewer than three different barrels filled with what looked like pickled foods. She stopped in front of the mirror, only to see, on closer inspection, it was actually a picture of a princess or wealthy lady from the Heian period in Japan. Yumiko stood transfixed till a voice near her shoulder made her jump.

 

“Can I help you with something, miss?” asked the voice.

 

“Huh? Um… no I’m just browsing.” Yumiko replied as she spun around.

 

“Are you sure? You seem to have been left behind,” said a tall woman wearing a white tee shirt and jeans. Her blond hair was pulled into a pony-tail and her ice blue eyes seemed to peer deep into her soul.

 

“What do you mean by that?” Yumiko asked as she looked around for Kaname.

 

“The girl you came in with left already,” the clerk said as she motioned Yumiko to a chair.

 

“She left already?!?!” Yumiko said with a look of surprise as she sat.

 

“By the way, I’m Maki. Pleased to meet you, Miss……? ”the clerk said as she sat in a chair across from her.

 

“Oh! I’m Yumiko,” she said as she looked around her. “Sorry for coming in the wrong door, I didn’t mean to get into the store room.”

 

“Store room? No, no this is the front of the store. Would you like some tea or coffee?” asked an identical voice from behind a nearby book shelf.

 

“Uh… sure. I’ll have some tea if it’s no trouble. But this is the show room?” Yumiko replied as she turned to look at the speaker. She did a double take as she saw an identical face making the tea. This clerk wore a traditional shrine maidens costume with a set of light blue prayer beads around her neck. Her black hair was shoulder length, and her ice blue eyes also seemed to see right through to one’s soul.

 

“Let me introduce my twin sister, Naru. And, Naru, this is one of our customers Yumiko,” Maki said as she stood up. “Would you make me some chai tea while you’re at it, Naru?”

 

“Sure, if you go get the cups from the sink. I forgot them,” Naru said with a smile. “And as for your question, Yumiko, I got the idea for the store’s layout from a friend’s store. So was there anything in particular you were looking for?”

 

“Well, I came with a friend to see what you sold here,” Yumiko answered as she looked over a selection of books. “Legend of the Loup-Garou….History of the Vanhellsings, Magic for dummies, Time Travel Made Easy, Thousand leagues under the sea, The basics of Lifesong,” Yumiko said as she read some of the titles aloud. “The life and times of Lord Kageryu….Who’s this Kageryu guy?”

 

“Oh, he was a great daemon lord who ruled over the elements and thousands of devils till he gave it all up for his one true love. His love happened to be one of his greatest enemies for several years till they meet off the battle field,” Maki said as she handed Naru three clean cups. “But that’s just the overview of it. You’ll have to read the rest your self,” Maki added with a mischievous wink.

 

“Sounds like an interesting book,” Yumiko said as she moved to look at a bookshelf with many bottles half full of liquid on it. “So what are these exactly?” Yumiko asked as she started to examine the labels.

 

“Just a few home brewed placebos and magic potions,” Maki answered as she turned in her direction. “Be careful not to mix them up, though. Despite the appearance, we have them in a specific order.”

 

“Ok,” Yumiko said as she pulled her hand back. “Hey, are these really magic potions? Like the kind witches make?”

 

“As real as the floor beneath you, if you believe it in your heart of hearts,” Naru said as she handed a cup of tea to Yumiko.

 

“Do you happen to have a potion to give courage to someone who can’t seem to have enough to tell a guy she likes him?” Yumiko asked as she blew on the tea.

 

“Well, let’s see what we have,” Maki said as she started to look through the bottles. “You sound like you need a Love Potion Placebo. But you need to be careful with it. Even though it’s a placebo, this can make your dreams come true, if you truly want it in your heart of hearts. And of course as with anything we sell it comes with a reminder: be careful what you wish for.”

 

“Ok, I’ll take one then. How much for the tea, this book, and the potion?” Yumiko asked as she reached for her purse.

 

“Let’s see it’ll be 1500 yen for the book and potion and a smile for the tea,” Naru said as she moved towards the register.

 

“Are you sure it’s only 1500 yen??” Yumiko questioned as she dug out the money.

 

“Yup! You’re our sixth customer so far, so tell all your friends if you’re satisfied with your purchase.” Naru said as Maki handed Yumiko the bottle of potion. It was shaped like a fruit drink bottle and the liquid had a reddish color to it. “The directions are on the potion; if you have trouble, give us a call.”

 

Yumiko put her purchases in her bag, left the store, and hurried home. When she arrived at home she hurriedly kicked off her shoes and went in her room. She took out her home work and briefly skimmed over it to make sure she hadn’t missed any problems. “Yumiko! Dinner’s ready!” her mom called out as Yumiko finished skimming through her papers.

 

“Alright I’m coming!” Yumiko shouted as she opened her door and went in to eat. After dinner she washed the dishes and then went to her room. She sat on her bed and remembered about the potion. She grabbed her bag and then took out her purchases. On the potion bottle was a tag. Yumiko pulled it off and read the directions printed on it. “Do not open bottle till your ready to use it. Can be added to any drink or food, however this will dilute the effects. Effects last up to one month when used straight, one week if diluted. If you capture the heart of the one who consumes it by the end of that time, they will be yours forever.” After reading the directions she lay back and plotted how to get it to Kaoru. She promptly fell asleep planning what she would do at his next practice.

 

 

The next morning she started the day like any other: she got up, packed her homework that she had done during her free study period. She showered and then, went in to get breakfast. After finishing it she went into the entryway and got her shoes on and left for school. “Yumiko! Sorry for leaving you yesterday. I had to see Mako about something.” Kaname said as she caught up with her.

 

“It’s ok, Kaname. I had to have a talk myself,” Yumiko said as she suddenly remembered she had gone in with Kaname. “So what did you and Mako talk about?”

 

“Um… well…” Kaname started as she started to blush.

 

“Did you finally tell him how you felt?” Yumiko asked excitedly. “Or did he tell you?”

 

“Well… we’re going on a date this Saturday. We are thinking of going with another couple if they are together by then,” Kaname said with a meaningful look.

 

With a sudden blush Yumiko replied, “I think I’ll ask him today. If you could run some interference for me that is…”

 

“Sure thing! I owe you for yesterday anyway,” Kaname said as the bell started ringing.

 

Later that afternoon Kaname and Yumiko were at the soccer field watching the practice. As all the players came back to the bench for a drink, Yumiko hurried over to Kaoru with the potion in hand. “Hey, thanks! Just what I needed!” said a voice as the bottle was taken from her.

 

“That’s not for you!” She shouted as she whirled to look at the person only to see he had drained the whole bottle.

 

“Wow, you’re beautiful! My name is Hikaru. You wanna go out?” The boy said as he looked at her. As Yumiko suddenly burst into tears, Kaname hurried over and led her away giving Hikaru an angry look.

 

“Hm, stupid girl….bawling cause someone drank her drink,” Yumiko heard Kaoru say.

 

“Shut up, stupid! I should’a asked before just drinking it!” she heard Hikaru say as she then ran into the building.

 

After going to the rest room to calm down, she stepped out to see Kaname standing there waiting for her holding a sports drink bottle full of red liquid. “Hikaru went to the convenience store and bought this for you,” she said as she handed the bottle to Yumiko. “He said to tell you he’s sorry to have not asked for a drink before downing it. He seems nicer than Kaoru, considering how they reacted to your crying. Why not give him a try?”

 

“Why would I give that guy a chance? He’s probably nothing more than a street punk. Just look at him!” Yumiko said as she tried to keep from crying. “The only reason he got that is because he thought it would get him some!”She added trying to convince herself.

 

That night she made a detour to the Ryumise only to find that the shop was closed for family matters. The next day, Yumiko was sitting in her seat during break when she was called to the door of the class room. There stood Hikaru with a bottle of sports drink and a red rose. She promptly told him to go away and sat back down at her desk. Hikaru brought her another bottle of sports drinks and a rose trying to ask her out again for the next ten days until Yumiko finally gave in and agreed to go on one date as long as it was a double date with Kaname and Mako.

 

They went to see the newest of the ‘Love story for two’ series. They sat through the movie till Yumiko couldn’t stand it anymore. She turned to see Kaname and Mako sitting there seeming to enjoy the movie. Hikaru kept shifting in the seat and seemed to be trying to keep awake. Yumiko leaned over to him and whispered, “Are you as bored as I am??”

 

“You too?” he whispered back. “Do you want to find another movie?”

 

“Sure--anything but this one,” she whispered back as they got up to leave. For a moment she wondered about telling Kaname where they were going, only to decide not to after seeing how into the movie they were.

 

When they got out into the lobby they looked at the listings on the walls. Their options were the movie they just left, the Werewolves Revenge (a comedy), Strike force omega, the witches curse (a horror), Living with Shina (another comedy). After strenuous negotiation Yumiko convinced Hikaru to go and see ‘The witches curse’ with her. Yumiko was enjoying herself as she watched the movie till they got to a point in the movie. The witch was supposed to have been killed and the heroine approached the body. At this point the witch suddenly jumped up and tore off the girls arm. Hikaru suddenly jumped and grabbed at her in fright. Yumiko promptly forgot the movie and asked, “Are you ok, Hikaru?”

 

“Y..Yes I think so,” he said as he tried to hide his fright.

 

“Oh… Ok then,” she said as she tried to finish watching the movie. About ten minutes later she finally gave up on finishing the movie, and took Hikaru by the hand and left the theater. They spent the next 6 hours walking through the mall talking to each other and looking at the goods.

 

At first Yumiko only stayed because she felt bad about making him watch the horror movie with her. However, she found herself enjoying his company more and more as the day went on. She found out that she and Hiraru had the same taste in music and books. She also found out that Hikaru, although he dressed wildly, preferred a more conservative look. “The conservative look just doesn’t work for me,” he lamented as they passed several racks of clothes. After some prodding she got him to try on some things for her.

 

“That looks good on you,” she said as he came out of the dressing room wearing a simple t-shirt and blue jeans.

 

“You sure?” he asked as he looked at himself in a mirror.

 

“Yeah you should buy it to wear out sometime,” Yumiko said with a smile. Instantly, an image of the two of them hanging out passed through her mind making her smile gently to herself. Like I would ever be caught dead hanging with him on a regular basis, she thought as she shook her head. Hikaru had ducked back into the dressing room and stepped out this time wearing a different outfit which, for some reason unknown to her, made her jaw drop in amazement as she stared at him.

 

“Who’s the hottie?” asked a sales girl to another as they too stared at Hikaru.

 

“You should get that outfit,” Yumiko said as she tried to stop staring.

 

“Sure thing, if you like it, that is,” he said as he leaned close to her, making her heart skip a beat.

 

“Yeah, it looks great on you,” she said as she turned away from him.

 

He insisted on walking her home that evening. The next fifteen days, she went out with Hikaru each day and found herself falling for him. On the sixteenth day she went with Kaname to the Ryumise to pick up a rare book.

 

“Good day, Yumiko!’ Naru greeted her with a smile as they entered. Today she wore an outfit that made her look like Lina Inverse from the Slayers series.

 

“Nice to see you again, Naru,” Yumiko said as she went to a book case in the back that was covered in miscellaneous trinkets and knickknacks. She looked at them as Kaname stood talking with Maki. She heard someone else come in the store and turned to see Hikaru stroll in. With a gasp she ducked down and tried to hide, which wasn’t hard considering the state the showroom was in. She heard two sets of feet walking towards her.

 

“I want to thank you for the service,” she heard Hikaru saying.

 

“Not a problem. We do these kinds of things all the time. Connecting people is one of my hobbies,” Naru said as she stepped around the Dresser that Yumiko was hiding behind. Without a thought Yumiko rushed out of the shop crying. Kaname followed her, only barely managing to keep up with her when she boarded the train home.

 

“What happened?” Kaname asked after they had sat down on the train.

 

“They all used me!” Yumiko bawled as she hugged Kaname. Thankfully there weren’t many people on the train as Yumiko told Kaname the whole story. “I got a love potion from the store and tried to give it to Kaoru but Hikaru got in the way. And then after that time in the mall I had started to fall for Hikaru. And now I find out that he was toying with me all this time! He got those girls to make a way to meet me.”

 

“I’m so sorry,” Kaname said after she listened to the story. “Perhaps you should go and tell Kaoru how you feel after school tomorrow,” she suggested with a helpless look. “if you’re sure that you don’t like Hikaru, that is.”

 

“You’re right! Since I don’t actually love Hikaru it’s no problem! Right,” Yumiko said with a thoughtful look on her face.

 

During lunch the next day, she went to see Kaoru. She got him to talk to her privately and she told him she loved him. “Sorry, I hate girls,” he said bluntly and walked away from her.

 

At the end of the day, she saw Hikaru waiting at the gate for her. “Hey, Yumiko! Wait up, I’ll walk you home!” he called when he caught sight of her.

 

Hikaru, go away!, thought Yumiko desperately as she ignored him. Now I know what they meant by be careful what you wish for. She added gloomily as she hurried down the street.

 

A month ago Hikaru wouldn’t speak to me; let alone follow me everywhere. And now I can’t tell him the truth. If only I had never stepped into that shop I would never would have this mess. Yumiko thought angrily as she continued down the street. Hikaru wouldn’t stop and followed her all the way to her house. Ignoring him completely, she shut the door in his face and went to bed early. When she left for school the next day, she found him asleep on the door step. “Damn you! Are you really going to this length to make fun of me, you jerk?” she shouted as she knocked him over and stormed off to school.

 

Yumiko refused to have anything to do with him for the rest of the day, thinking that she only had to ignore him and she’d be rid of him for good. That night, she managed to avoid being followed by Hikaru and went to see the twins to confront them. After hearing what she had to say, Naru stood and sighed. “I probably have no right to say this, but did you know that Hikaru’s first time in this building was a week ago?” she said as she led Yumiko to an empty chair.

 

“A week ago?” Yumiko repeated, setting down.

 

“And he asked us if we could recommend a good carver,” Maki said as she fixed a cup of tea for Yumiko. “He wanted to get some carving lessons so he could make something for you.”

 

“For me? And I’ve been so awful to him these last few days,” Yumiko said as she looked dumbfounded.

 

“So what about you?” Naru asked Yumiko staring into her eyes with her ice blue eyes. “How do you feel about Hikaru?”

 

“Well I… I…” now that it came down to it, how did she truly feel about Hikaru?

 

“You have till midnight to tell him,” Maki said, looking at a book she picked up. “You did say that you had given it to him twenty nine days ago. And at the beginning of the thirtieth day, the spell ends.”

 

With this Yumiko stood and rushed out of the store. That means Hikaru might still be mine. She suddenly stopped, realizing she had never seen where Hikaru lived at. She ran home hoping to find him there. He wasn’t there and as she rushed around looking for him, she grew more and more desperate in her searching.

 

“Hey, sweet thing, you wanna go have a drink?” a drunk asked her as she searched. She paused to see she was alone in a seedy part of town.

 

“No thank you,” she said as she backed away.

 

“Come on, missy. I don’t bite,” he said as he reached for her.

 

“There you are, Yumiko!” said Hikaru as he appeared from nowhere. “You gave me a start when you were late.” He added as he took her hand and led her away from the drunk.

 

“Hikaru, I’m so sorry for how I acted recently,” Yumiko said once they were safely away. She proceeded to tell him the whole truth and how she truly felt about him.

 

After hearing her whole story, he turned to her and asked, “So you got a placebo love potion to give it to Kaoru and I drank it instead, right?”

 

“Yes, and that’s why you fell in love with me. Because I believed that was a real potion,” Yumiko said as she sniffed. “And I had to tell you before midnight.”

 

“Do you have the time?”Hikaru asked as they started toward the train station.

 

“Um.. it’s 2:00 am. Why?” Yumiko asked, looking at him.

 

“Well, your father called about midnight asking where I had taken you this time and threatened me if I had let harm come to you. So I came looking for you,” Hikaru said as he put his arm around her. “And if I may point out a few things to you?” Yumiko nodded as she softly sniffed. “First of all, you used a placebo. This means it had no magical properties. Besides all that, I fell in love with you on the first day of school, silly. But you only had eyes for that creep Kaoru. I hoped you would fall for me some day, so I purposely started to dress in a way to stand out and took up the same sports and such as Kaoru.” As Yumiko digested this, Kaoru reached into his pocket and pulled out a roughly hewn wooden pendant. “I’ve been trying to carve this so I could give my heart to you.”

 

Yumiko looked at the pendent and noticed it was vaguely heart shaped. She broke down crying as she looked at Hikaru, “Could you forgive me for my foolishness?”

 

“If you say yes to becoming my girlfriend,” Hikaru said with a mischievous look on his face.

 

“Oh, yes!” she said as she stopped and hugged him tight.

 

Back at the store, Maki and Naru sat looking at the events that had unfolded in a small mirror that sat on the table. “Do you think she would have realized her feelings sooner?” Maki asked as she took a sip of tea.

 

“Probably not. Although it’s not impossible,” Naru said picking up the mirror to put it up.

 

“Maybe we should have let her know that the potion would be attracted to her true love… even if she didn’t realize who he was yet,” Maki said taking their supper dishes to be washed.

 

“Perhaps we’ll tell the next one that?” Naru said with a thoughtful look.

 

“No, it’s more enjoyable this way,” Maki said with a mischievous grin.

 

Fin.

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Ryumise side story: the birthday

 

Welcome to Ryumise!

In this shop dreams take flight and live,

Legends and wishes can be made real,

And anything can be found for the right price.

But take care,

For nightmares are also dreams,

Wishes do not always bring happiness,

And sometimes. . .the price is simply too high.

 

“Hey, Naru! What are you doing in there??” asked a tall woman as she carried a small grandfather clock through a nearly hidden path through the mess in the storeroom. She wore a black t-shirt with a pair of faded blue jeans. As her ice blue eyes glanced around the area for any unknown obstacle, the calendar captured her attention. The calendar announced with bold print and big letters: August 12. Next to the date was a small drawing of a cake.

 

“I’m making some toast and goat cheese sandwiches. You want one, Maki??” asked a girl as she popped her head around the corner, revealing an identical face. This woman wore a ‘sailor scout’ school uniform, her dark red hair was pulled back into pigtails.

 

“Never mind that! We’re late! Today is his birthday!” Maki said as she dropped the clock, rushed further back in the storage area and started to frantically dig through things looking for something.

Naru rushed to the door and switched the sign to say ‘Closed’. Then she hurriedly locked the door and rushed back to start digging through things, trying to find something. “How about the ‘Unending cup of tea’?” Naru asked as she pulled a large plastic gas station mug up.

 

“No, we had that last year. How about this one? A ticket to the Country Stampede?” Maki asked as she held up a piece of paper.

 

“When would he go??” Naru asked as she caught sight of a large recliner sitting in the back of the area. Pointing to it she asked, “How about the Lazy-man supreme comfort chair?”

 

“Then when would we see him?” Maki said with an exasperated look. “Seriously, we only see him once a year as it is.”

 

“Sorry! If someone had kept a closer eye on the date, this wouldn’t be happening in the first place.” Naru said as she cleared off a trunk and started to dig through it. “How about this pocket watch?”

 

“He’s turning 3,242 years old! You think he wants a reminder of how much time has passed?” Maki asked as she continued searching, ignoring her sister’s complaints. “How about the Ghost Rider’s motorcycle??”

 

“Like we’d even be able to track him down, let alone get him to part with it. How about the endless gas can?” Naru asked, growing more and more frustrated.

 

“No, it’ll run out. The enchantment wore out after the latest price hike, remember?” Maki said as she turned to catch a glimpse of the perfect gift. “You don’t think…” she started as she touched Naru’s shoulder.

 

“You’re right! It’s perfect!” Naru said as she saw what Maki was indicating.

 

“Then let’s go!” Maki said as she grabbed it. She stepped over to a chest of drawers, opened the top drawer and pulled out a pair of rings. They put them on and instantly their surroundings vanished and they reappeared in front of a large abandoned castle. The countryside was covered with blackened grass and there were dried and dead vines and bushes surrounding the walls. Naru came up to the gates and with a touch they swung inward. The inside was as dead and desolate as the outside. The once beautiful rose bushes and ivy that grew up the walls were dead and faded, only a single delicate pink blossom clung to a branch of the Sakura tree in the main courtyard.

 

“It seems he’s not forgotten after all these years,” Maki said as they approached the main entrance.

 

“Of course not. She’d never let him live it down,” Naru said as they opened this door with the same amount of ease as last time.

 

As they approached the audience chamber, they slowed slightly, making sure to avoid the traps set to discourage intruders. When they arrived at the doors, they stopped and set their hands against the huge splintery doors. With a small tug on the magic in the room they said in unison, “I ask for passage through these unsettled mists to the palace of our fathers and to pay our respects there.”

 

With a small sigh and groan, the doors opened to reveal an elaborate throne room filled with every color imaginable. As they stepped through the yawning gates and into the room, a ripple flowed out, instantly rejuvenating everything in the area. The throne was a simple ‘Spartan’ like affair--two blocks of solid granite with a small indentation for the comfort of who ever sat there. As they approached the throne, they could see tables set out with their gifts from previous years for all to see. They drew nearer and nearer as a semi-transparent image started to take form on the throne.

 

“Happy birthday, Father,” the women said as they handed the box they had hastily put the present into to the figure on the throne.

 

“Thank you my ‘daughters’,” the man said as he took the box and opened it. With a chuckle, he took out the book they had packaged and opened the cover. “A photo album with pictures of me and her. Thank you for the gift, Naru and Maki.” He began fading as they stood there smiling at each other. “It seems that Yue is waking. I must go now, but enjoy the sake and stay as long as you like.”

 

“Sure thing, Dad!” Maki said with an energetic smile. As he vanished with a wisp of smoke, the castle was once again in its desolate and empty shape. “Too bad he had to leave,” Maki said with a sigh.

 

“Don’t expect him to remember that he is the life-blood of the palace. After all he turned 3,242 years old today,” Naru said as they made their way out and back to the shop via the rings. “I know, let’s go to a restaurant and celebrate for him!”

 

As they left the building, they caught sight of a young girl approaching. She wore a pair of cut off shorts and a red shirt bearing the logo of a local pizza chain. In her hand was a large pizza bag and she moved very quickly as if to make up for lost time. Her black hair was pulled back into a braid that went down to the middle of her back. “Excuse me, is the intersection of Ichi and Kage near here?” she asked in flawless Japanese as she looked at them through her copper colored eyes.

 

“Sorry, it’s about twenty blocks that way,” Maki answered, pointing down the street.

 

“Okay, thanks,” the girl said as she took off.

 

“Happy birthday, Father,” the girls muttered as they watched her speed off.

 

OOC: a birthday present that turned out better than intended.

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Ryumise: out-of-the-shop day.

 

Welcome to Ryumise!

In this shop dreams take flight and live,

Legends and wishes can be made real,

And anything can be found for the right price.

But take care,

For nightmares are also dreams,

Wishes do not always bring happiness,

And sometimes. . .the price is simply too high.

Unless the store is closed…..

 

It was a hot summer day; Maki was sitting in the front of the store, wearing her blue jean cutoffs and a white tee shirt. Naru was in the back, changing into an Arabian princess costume. “Tell me again why we needed to move the pickled food barrels,” Maki asked.

“They were spoiling,” Naru called back.

“So why did we take them through the store?” Maki questioned, sounding irritated.

“Because the trash guys won’t pick it up,” Naru said as she changed her hair color to a dishwater blond.

“And who was it that insisted on carrying the barrel that spilled that putrid liquid on the AC?” Maki pressed yet again.

“Ok it’s my fault I spilled the brine on the AC and killed it! Happy now?!?” Naru said as she came in, looking angry.

“Well, the repair man should be here soon. Let’s lock up the magics for now,” Maki said as she stood and drew some stray magic to herself.

“All that resonates with this I touch vanish to the plane of old, sealed till we call again,” the girls chanted, as all the magic items in the room vanished from sight, leaving the room suddenly half empty.

The door chimed as a gruff, “Hello?” called out.

“Over here!” Naru called as she headed to the door.

The repair man’s jaw dropped as he saw Naru running up to him. “Um, I’m here to fix an AC unit,” he said eyes glued to Naru.

“It’s back here,” Naru said with a grin as she led the man to the AC unit in the back of the store.

“Phew, what happened?” the man said as he held his nose.

“Well, we had a mishap with a barrel of rotten, pickled daikons,” Maki said as she walked up. “It spilled and we need the unit replaced ASAP. Otherwise our business will take a hit.”

“Alright, I’ll have this replaced by this evening, although I will have to charge overtime for the rush,” the man said as he looked it over.

“Okay that’s fine,” Maki turned and looked at Naru. “So, what do we do in the meantime? If we stay here, you’re going to distract him from his job.”

“I know! Let’s go see the twins and Kaname!” Naru said with an excited grin. “We haven’t been over since the statue incident.”

“You know Kaname will probably find a way to make us pay for that,” Maki said as she headed to the front of the store.

“So? At least there will be AC!” Naru said with a wistful look on her face.

“Alright, let’s go then,” Maki said as she grabbed some sun-block and put some on.

“Mister Repairman, we’ll be back this evening. Leave the bill on the bar if you get done early, or if we’re late and we’ll take care of it tomorrow,” Naru said as she too put on some sun-block.

The girls went to a deserted street and touched an open doorway, opening a portal. They stepped into the portal and were instantly whisked into an abandoned building just outside of Chinatown. They walked about two blocks into Chinatown and stopped in front of a building with a weathered sign hanging over the door stating “Antique Shop of Dreams.” As they entered, Satsuki and Nadeshiko turned and cried out “Hey, guys!!” as they waved cheerfully.

Kaname was seated in front of the air-conditioner, dressed in her tank top and cut-offs. She looked like she had just come in from the heat recently as sweat was still clinging to her forehead. Satsuki was dressed in a yukata decorated with Chinese dragons, and Nadeshiko’s yukata was decorated with birds. A wind chime could be heard from somewhere near the AC.

“What are you doing here, Naru, Maki?” Kaname asked, turning to look at them with an extremely annoyed look.

“Our air-conditioning broke,” Maki said as she stepped closer to the AC. “So we hoped to hang out here until it’s replaced. The repairman said it would be done this evening.”

Naru and the twins sat in the corner, complimenting each other on their outfits while the cat dozed on the counter.

“So why should I let you stay here again?” Kaname asked, slowly standing up. “Last time you were here, you broke a statue.”

“Yeah, about that. . .” Maki started, as she reached into her pocket.

“And that statue had a demon, who wanted to destroy Earth, sealed in it, and two of the Guardians had to come here to help with it. And it still took three hours for all of us to seal him away again. You still haven’t repaid me for that,” Kaname went on, staring at the two visitors, as if she hadn’t heard them.

“We said we were sorry, and we even tried to help,” Naru said, sounding irritated with the conversation. “It’s not our fault the Oni feed off of chaos magic.”

“Hey, Kaname! Calm down!” Satsuki said.

“How about we play a game of Rich Man, Poor Man?” Nadeshiko said, hastily.

Ten minutes later, Kaname was the King, Nadeshiko and Satsuki were the Noble (Wo)Men, and Naru and Maki were the Poor (Wo)Men.

“Yay!! We won!!” Nadeshiko and Satsuki jumped up and down happily.

“So what’s the penalty game?” Maki asked, looking disappointed.

“You’ll be running a delivery for me,” Kaname said suddenly, in a voice that left no room for argument. “I need you to go to Subaras to deliver something to Alexis for me.”

“What are we delivering?” Naru asked.

“Come upstairs and you’ll see.” Kaname replied with a grin that made Maki and Naru’s hearts sink a little.

The procession filed upstairs and into the Portal Room. The portal flipped through several places before stopping on a door made of black metal. Kaname touched it and it rippled, as if it was a pool of water. Her hand went in, and withdrew with a small flat, round package.

She handed it to Maki and said, “That’s what you’re delivering. And I’ll be keeping an eye on you, so don’t you dare try to look at it. And this might help a little.” She handed Naru a small item, which looked like a rolled up carpet, hanging from a short chain.

“Where’s Subaras, and who’s Alexis?” Naru asked.

“Alexis is one of the Guardians. I would suggest that you stay on his good side. And Subaras is. . .” Kaname said as she circled around behind Maki and Naru. When she got behind them, she suddenly shoved them through the portal, just as it showed a desert.

As the girls tumbled through the portal, they suddenly felt heat radiating at them. As they landed in a sea of sand, Maki said something unintelligible, quickly casting a small spell that caused ice to appear below her and Naru.

“That jerk Kaname! Leaving us in the middle of a desert without any directions as to where we’re going!” Naru complained. “And no wind to cool us!”

“Perfect,” Maki said as she reached down and grabbed a handful of sand. Tugging on the magic in the area, she chanted. “Which way will we find Alexis? Will you tell me sands?” She let the sand trickle through her fingers and it started to look as if a wind was blowing, even though there was none.

“Let’s hurry, so we can get into the AC,” Naru moaned as they headed in the direction the sand indicated. “Hey, what about the item Kaname sent with us?” she asked after several minutes.

“We’re not going to use it. She’d probably charge us a rental fee for the use of it,” Maki said as she took it from her.

After several hours, they found a small oasis that they stopped at and cooled off. After another few hours, they found a small hut sitting in the middle of the desert. They approached it to find that it was built in front of an oasis, and housed camels to trade for tired camels of the travelers in a hurry. As they approached the building, they saw a camel approaching at a fast clip. They knocked on the door as the camel slowed to a stop. A tall, gloomy sort of guy wearing jeans, worn boots and a large light colored cloak over it climbed off the camel. His black hair was pulled into a short ponytail, and his black eyes seemed to glare at them. He had a jagged scar on his right cheek from cheekbone to jaw line and the large, worn sword strapped on his back seemed to show he was capable of dealing with anything that came his way.

“Who are you two? You don’t work here, do you?” the man said coldly.

“No, we’re just looking for someone,” Maki said with a sigh. “You wouldn’t know someone named Alexis, would you?”

The man sighed and glared at Naru who was trying to cool off in the oasis, “Well, you found him.” He turned and took the package Maki offered while he muttered something about never seeing Kaname anymore. He turned and got on the camel and left.

“Naru, I’m leaving now. Are you coming?” Instantly Naru was over next to Maki, helping with a portal to go back to the shop. Naru and Maki came jumping through the portal, looking very haggard and tired. Sweat and sand was plastered to them as they glared at Kaname.

“Kaname, you jerk!! You sent us to a desert!!” Maki complained.

“Why did you do that to us!? It totally ruined my look!” Naru demanded as she motioned to her tattered outfit.

Kaname didn’t bother to look up from the newspaper she was reading. “1: you’ve sufficiently repaid me for breaking that statue. 2: none of the rest of us wanted to go to the desert, so you were kind enough to go. Right?” she asked with a pointed glance. “And 3: the girls and I are going to a summer festival this evening over in Japan. Do you want to come?”

Naru and Maki sank to the floor exhausted, while Satsuki and Nadeshiko got them some iced tea. Yue was on the counter still dozing away, seemingly indifferent to the visitors.

FIN

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