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[15:13] <PersonaGM> [The docklands area had been an important part of Katashiba for centuries, both culturally and economically. It had been through here that European missionaries and merchants had once travelled into the city proper, bringing with them firearms, books and Christianity. In the Shogunate, it had been home to gunpowder factories and gunsmiths, but then too culture and art had claimed its share of the area, carving a slice out to house part of Katashiba's sprawling ukiyo district- a place of pleasure, of music and art, and of drama, gossip and infidelity.-
[15:15] <PersonaGM> [This dichotomy had continued up to the present day, where the busy, crowded docks shared space with hole-in-the-wall bars, small street theatres, itinerant performers, host and hostess clubs and more.-
[15:16] <PersonaGM> [It wasn't necessarily seedy, despite the connotation. Most of Katashiba was safe, and the docklands were as well. It just wasn't a region that felt the need to put on airs.-
[15:19] <PersonaGM> [The street theatres looked shabby, but their owners were constantly dusting them, rearranging their props and ensuring the pathway in both directions stayed tidy. The bars were small, but they were kept scrupulously clean, and the owners regularly purged their shops of unnecessary furniture, bric a brac and other flotsam, until all that remained were the comfiest seats- veterans of years, tried and tested- and the most comforting of glasses and mugs.-
[15:22] <PersonaGM> [The Blue Finn Bar was quite similar to these bars, although much larger, having enough room for a music stage and a small backroom for performers. Music flowed out of the doors and windows, the melody of horns, pianos and drums mixing in with the constant low level thrum of the sea lapping up against the beaches and sea walls, punctuated with the irregular booming of a ship's bell.-
[15:26] <PersonaGM> [The sign for the Blue Finn hung over the door, proclaiming 'Blue Finn Music Bar' in bright neon letters, underwhich sat a fat tuna wearing a suit and trilby hat.]
[16:01] <Sachiko> For a moment Sachiko frowned up at the sign, bathed in neon as she considered the logistics of ichthyosartoria.-
[16:02] <Sachiko> Still, the music filtering outside from the bar proved a more tantalizing prospect before too long. She headed for the door, trying to spot whether there was anyone likely to stop her before she actually got there.
[16:06] <PersonaGM> [Nothing and no one stopped Sachiko.-
[16:08] <PersonaGM> [A few seconds after Sachiko was in, the neon sign flickered. A series of dead neon letters below the title sparked to life for a moment. Some had been removed, leaving only the outline, whilst a few remained, shedding enough light to illuminate the entire row, both the letters and the gaps they had left. A character and a word beneath the well-dressed fish:-
[16:08] <PersonaGM> ["& Tailor's".-
[16:12] <PersonaGM> [The Blue Finn was popular. Not crowded, far from standing-room-only, but busy enough to carry an atmosphere of relaxed conviviality without becoming deafening. A jazz quartet were up on stage, serenading the room with an instrumental piece.-
[16:12] <PersonaGM> [It was… Alright.-
[16:14] <PersonaGM> [The room was clean, polished, and well-lit. Most of the tables and flooring was solid wood, with the chairs and stools covered in blue stuffed pleather. The bar itself was a highlight, being varnished, shiny mahogany with golden trims. All in all, it looked as though it had been stolen from a more expensive establishment.-
[16:15] <PersonaGM> [The bartender was a tall, white man with black hair, bright blue eyes, a crooked nose and a crooked grin. He wore a sharply-cut, well-fitted suit and vest- of dark, velvety blue- with a matching trilby.-
[16:15] <PersonaGM> [He eyed Sachiko as she entered and smirked.]
[16:30] * Sachiko met the smirk without concern, but turned her attention to the band onstage. She found an empty table out of the way of the rest of the bar and sat down to watch.
[16:45] <PersonaGM> [The band on stage played out the rest of the set. Again, they were… Okay.-
[16:45] <PersonaGM> [Still, the audience applauded appreciatively once they were done, bartender included.-
[16:48] <PersonaGM> ["They've been playing here since they were old enough to drive," said the MC, walking onto the stage, "And they'll probably be here for longer still. Give it up again for local university band, Spuuki Tanuki!"-
[16:48] <PersonaGM> [The applause resounded as Spuuki Tanuki took their bows and filed away.-
[18:12] <PersonaGM> ["And now, for our next performance… it's a tradition dating back years, a meeting between town and gown that leaves both parties just a little more satisfied," Said the MC. "Please welcome to the stage our resident Big Man on Campus…" He squinted down at a card in his hand. "Kawlan? Tshawlan Choi?"-
[18:12] <PersonaGM> [The bartender pinched the bridge of his nose.-
[18:14] <PersonaGM> [Caolán Choi emerged from the backroom, bedecked in a pair of neat black pants, black leather shoes, and a white shirt underneath a sable vest. He marched across the stage and took the microphone.-
[18:15] <PersonaGM> ["It's Qwale-lan. Actually." Said Choi. "It's Gaelic."-
[18:18] <PersonaGM> [And then Choi smiled. "You know, thinking about that, there's another Gaelic name that comes to mind. FitzGerald. And it's to a FitzGerald that I dedicate tonight's performance. Ella FitzGerald."-
[18:19] <PersonaGM> [The backing music started. Choi tapped his feet, and Sachiko would've recognised the tune practically immediately.-
[18:19] <PersonaGM> ["It don't mean a thing…" Said Choi, his eyes lighting up, "If it ain't got that swing."]
[18:30] <Sachiko> Sachiko's eyebrow had quirked up the minute the name was called, and went higher still once he began to sing. She watched with critical curiosity, fingers of her left hand following the rhythms of the pianist backing him.
[18:39] <PersonaGM> [Choi had a rich, melodious voice, deeper than his pretty-boy looks would lead people to expect. He sang well. Not perfectly- sometimes he missed a note, or struggled a little with a word…-
[19:18] <PersonaGM> [But importantly, Choi didn't let it get to him. Throughout the entire song he appeared relaxed, even easygoing. He sang, and he grinned, and he tapped his toes against the hard wood. He laughed a little, and the deeper into the song he went, the wider his smile became. He had fun.-
[19:19] <PersonaGM> [And as he came to the end, he let out a large laugh and bowed. The audience applauded heartily as he quit the stage and made his way over to a table a little ways away from Sachiko. He didn't see her.-
[19:19] <PersonaGM> [A drink- some sort of cola- was waiting for him when he sat. Even off the stage, he was still glowing a little.]
[19:45] <Sachiko> And he'd have some time to enjoy that, but then Sachiko dropped into the chair to his left. She'd clapped along with the rest of the crowd, of course, and now she gave him a thin, lopsided smile. "Good performance, Mr. Student Council President."
[19:49] <PersonaGM> [Choi had been taking a pull of his drink when Sachiko had arrived. He glanced at her questioningly, then glanced away. Then his eyes did a double-take. They widened. He continued to drink, but his face went a bright crimson.-
[19:50] <PersonaGM> [After a few seconds he lowered his drink. "What the- what are you- no one was- hello, Ms. Kurata. I wasn't expecting this."]
[19:55] <Sachiko> "That makes two of us, then," she said lightly.
[19:57] <PersonaGM> ["Quite. May I ask who told you?"]
[20:01] * Sachiko laughed, just high enough to cut through the lighter noise of the bar. "You're flattering yourself, Mr. Student Council President."-
[20:02] <Sachiko> "I'm here for myself, not for you," she said. "And I won't pass it on."
[20:03] <PersonaGM> ["I would expect nothing less, but I wasn't aware that this place was that well known."]
[20:06] <Sachiko> "Yeah, I had no idea it was here until someone passed me a card," she said, glancing around. "It's… nice, actually."
[20:15] <PersonaGM> ["It is, isn't it? A fine, atmospheric establishment." Said Choi. "So what brought you here? The music? The (non-alcoholic selection of) drinks? The ambience? Or was it the bespoke tailoring?"]
[20:21] <Sachiko> "The music, though I'm open to the tailoring," she said, tugging at the edges of her faded jacket. She nodded at his vest. "Can you recommend it?"
[20:25] <PersonaGM> ["I couldn't say." Said Choi. "The vest is mine. Tailoring costs money."]
[20:26] * Sachiko actually slowed down for a second on that. "Right. Sorry."-
[20:26] <Sachiko> "I did like the performance, though."
[20:27] <PersonaGM> ["Good to hear. You came here for the music, after all, it'd be a shame if I let you down."]
[20:39] * Sachiko watched him for a second and shook her head, still smiling. "Nah, it wouldn't be."-
[20:39] <Sachiko> "You got that on stage, I think. That's why it was good."
[20:40] <PersonaGM> [Choi was silent for a few moments before chuckling quietly.-
[20:42] <PersonaGM> ["Good answer. And I appreciate hearing it, too. It's been awhile since I've really practiced singing. If nothing else, I wanted to make sure I still knew how to get into the spirit." Said Choi. He drained the rest of his drink.-
[20:43] <PersonaGM> ["How did the question go? It's been far too long since I was a first year high schooler… There was a music shop over near the school. The owner would ask something… Are you a maker or a lover?" Said Choi.]
[20:50] * Sachiko actually spoke the words at the same time as Choi, although she pitched her voice to a decent approximation of Tony's register. She'd heard the phrase enough to memorise it, and it wasn't bad as party tricks went.-
[20:50] <Sachiko> "As I said to him, it's a false binary," she said. "But we'll say maker, though it's a bit hypothetical right now."
[20:52] <PersonaGM> ["Aha, you've been to the same shop, I see." Said Choi with a grin. "Tell me about your making, though. Hypothetical or no."]
[21:55] * Sachiko rolled her shoulders and glanced. "It's piano, mainly; I used to play for the music club before I learned good taste. Sometimes I got to play small-time stuff out in the Yokohama clubs. That was cool."
[21:55] <Sachiko> [glanced at the stage*]
[21:59] <PersonaGM> ["Yokohama?" Said Choi. "I've never been there, but from what I've heard it's not so different to Katashiba, albeit a lot bigger and without the University at the heart of it. How was your scene there?"]
[22:15] <Sachiko> "Amazing. It's probably the best in the country, at least as far as I've seen," she said. "I only played at the edges of it, mainly warm-up acts at places where I knew people, but I'm not complaining."
[22:24] <PersonaGM> ["Oh, that's excellent." Said Choi. "Practical, too. Hands on, part of the scene. And in such a place… What was your favourite set?"]
[14:59] * Sachiko laughed a little under her breath. "Ok, I feel… almost bad for springing your secret show, so you get the real answer."-
[15:00] <Sachiko> "There's this club there called Grace Note… or at least there was, I think they might have closed. Anyway, it was small enough not to mind some kid playing on occasion, and empty enough that nobody took much notice."-
[15:00] <Sachiko> "The people who played there were mostly small-time, or they were groups made up of people with day jobs. I used to spend a decent amount of time there, and I got to know people. One night I was there talking to two parts of a three-piece that were waiting to start," Sachiko said, leaning back in her chair. "And naturally while I'm there, their piano player calls to say she can't make
[15:00] <Sachiko> it."
[15:05] <PersonaGM> ["So they called on the local understudy."]
[15:11] <Sachiko> "Not right away. They had to complain for a while, then they started joking -" A pause for airquotes. "- About how they should ask me to step in. Eventually they crack and ask me for real, though. I'm 14, and I've got people egging me on, so… yeah, sure, fine, let's do it."-
[15:11] <Sachiko> "And so we do it."-
[15:11] <Sachiko> "And I just bombed." She was grinning ear-to-ear now. "There's barely anyone in the place, but the few who are know exactly who the problem is."
[15:20] <PersonaGM> ["How did you take it?"]
[15:54] <Sachiko> "I got pretty spooked," she admitted. "In the moment anyway, but it wasn't that bad. The pair I was playing with laughed it off, and there weren't really any stakes except for my pride."-
[15:54] <Sachiko> "It taught me what I needed to improve on in a way the other shows never could have."
[15:56] <PersonaGM> ["That's… Really nice."]
[15:59] <Sachiko> "Mm."
[16:01] <PersonaGM> ["When you say 'improve', do you mean more than just technique?"]
[16:34] <Sachiko> "Sure, depending on how you define technique," she said. "I had to learn how to relax, how to be less of a rote player and engage with the other musicians… stuff you don't really learn playing alone. Or at least I didn't.
[16:39] <PersonaGM> ["Ahaaa. I get it." Said Choi with a smile. "So you failed, and what you took from that was it showed you what was missing. I understand that."]
[16:40] <Sachiko> "Pretty much."
[16:45] <PersonaGM> ["You described yourself as a maker earlier. Were you thinking of playing here sometime? The Blue Finn's music isn't really my go-to genre- it's been awhile since I've sung like I did today- but I'd be happy to come along and give feedback."]
[17:11] <Sachiko> A hefty pause as she looked towards the stage again. "I don't know. I'm thinking about it."
[17:12] <PersonaGM> ["Fair."-
[17:12] <PersonaGM> [A moment later, both of them were blinded by a camera flash.-
[17:13] <PersonaGM> [The bartender was standing at their table, a camera in hand, held up to take a portrait shot.-
[17:13] <PersonaGM> ["Oh yeah, say cheese or somethin', I guess." Said the bartender.-
[17:14] <PersonaGM> [Choi grumbled and rubbed at his eyes. "You can't just take pictures without permission! What kind of miscreant are you? What's it for?"-
[17:14] <PersonaGM> [The bartender waved the camera around. "It's tradition, y'know."]
[17:16] <Sachiko> "… you move quietly," Sachiko said. She seemed less put-out than Choi, but she still gave the bartender a very skeptical look.
[17:22] <PersonaGM> ["Thanks." Said the bartender. "S'a kind of tradition too. Y'all seen the Presidential Wall yet?"-
[17:22] <PersonaGM> ["The what now?"]
[17:24] * Sachiko glanced around for evidence of such a thing.
[17:31] <PersonaGM> [Tucked away in a corner of the bar- near the stage, but separated by a partition- was a wall covered in just under thirty framed photographs, too far for Sachiko to see any detail.]
[17:32] <Sachiko> Hm. "I'm assuming they're not actual presidents."
[17:34] <PersonaGM> ["Well they are. Student Council Presidents of Sophia." Said the bartender. "It's a tradition that started thirty years back, back when my daddies ran this joint. The Student Council President used to sing right in this here bar, and almost every year since, that tradition has been upheld."]
[17:46] <Sachiko> "The 'almost' years must have been embarrassing."
[17:50] <PersonaGM> ["Naw, stage ain't for everyone." Said the bartender. "Half the time we just had the last year's president come back and be a 'two termer'."-
[17:51] <PersonaGM> ["There's no way they all sang." Said Choi flatly. "I knew last year's president. He was a good man and I was proud to know him, but he sang like venereal disease. You really had him in here trying to croon like it's his day job?"-
[17:52] <PersonaGM> ["Well no. Not all of 'em sang. They just had to perform. Poetry, dance, speeches, you name it. Your pal just gave us a breakdown of Napoleon's life for six hours."-
[17:52] <PersonaGM> ["That sounds like him." Said Choi glumly.]
[18:14] <Sachiko> "That sounds miserable," Sachiko muttered.
[18:28] <PersonaGM> ["It was actually very entertaining." Said the bartender. "So fie on you both."-
[18:28] <PersonaGM> ["Y'all wanna take a look at my Presidential Wall, then?"]
[18:29] * Sachiko looked between the bartender and the wall for a moment and shrugged. "Sure, why not?"
[18:30] <Sachiko> … and a second later her eyes lit up as she made some connection.
[18:35] <PersonaGM> [Choi and Sachiko were led by the sauntering bartender over to the Presidential Wall. And indeed, almost thirty pictures hung there, a great many of them caught in stages of surprise. Each picture frame had a little plaque beneath it, listing a name and the year they presided over.]
[18:43] <Sachiko> "You could ask for your pictures like an adult, you know," Sachiko said, scanning the wall.
[18:49] <PersonaGM> ["Where's the fun in that?"-
[18:57] <PersonaGM> [There were a few who weren't surprised. Last year's president- a gaunt, hollow-eyed fellow ("Jacob Kell, 2017")- looked entirely bored with the flash. The inaugural President ("Olivie Durand, 1988") was smiling sweetly at the camera. Smithson was here too ("Suzie Smithson, 2008"), flashing a peace sign at the camera, a microphone in her other hand. Her red hair waved around her like a scarlet cloud, and she was grinning. She was young, cute, and relatively carefree.-
[18:57] <PersonaGM> ["I mean there's fun in not being sued." Said Choi.]
[19:14] * Sachiko smiled for a moment, then turned her attention back to the conversation at hand. "Not being sued seems more fun-neutral to me, but I see your point."
[19:37] <PersonaGM> ["God, you young people are so litigious these fuckin' days." Said the bartender. "We take a prepared shot later and ask which one you want put up. Geez."]
[19:37] <PersonaGM> [("You're like what, twenty five?")]
[19:39] <Sachiko> "So you're the owner, then?"
[19:41] <PersonaGM> ["Sure am. Name's Finn. Finn Blue." He took his hat off, bowed lightly, and shot them both a smirk.]
[19:42] * Sachiko stared. "… I want to say that I hope the bar was named after you were, but to be honest both scenarios seem like cruelty.
[19:42] <Sachiko> "*
[19:44] <PersonaGM> ["The bar was named for me, and for the record, my daddies named me that 'cuz Blue Fins are absolute units worth a big goddamn. My name is prosperous and powerful."]
[19:45] <Sachiko> "You mispronounced 'preposterous'."
[19:50] <PersonaGM> ["I don't approve much of making fun of the name a person's parents gave to them," Said Choi, who was staring at the presidential pictures with a frown.]
[19:52] * Sachiko gave Finn a friendly smile and shrugged.
[19:57] <PersonaGM> ["Pff. All in fun." Said Finn, punching Choi lightly in the arm and earning a scowl in return.-
[19:57] * Disconnected
[19:57] * Attempting to rejoin channel #StudyinVelvet
[19:57] * Rejoined channel #StudyinVelvet
[19:57] <PersonaGM> ["Pff. All in fun." Said Finn, punching Choi lightly in the arm and earning a scowl in return.-
[20:01] <PersonaGM> ["So that leaves just your name, you shit-stirrer." Said Finn, turning toward Sachiko. "I bet it's one of those cute but kinda fucked up Japanese names like Yukiko or some shit."]
[20:11] <Sachiko> "Sachiko, actually," she said. "Hi."
[20:11] <PersonaGM> ["Sachiko? The Sachiko?"]
[20:12] <Sachiko> "Probably not."
[20:13] <PersonaGM> ["A-ha-ha." Finn tapped the side of his nose. "Good answer."-
[20:13] <PersonaGM> ["I should head back to the bar. Let me know if you want that 'official' photograph."-
[20:13] <PersonaGM> [Finn slid away.]
[20:16] * Sachiko watched him go, still smirking. Then she looked at the photos for a while, then finally at Choi. "What's up?"
[20:20] <PersonaGM> ["I'm just looking at these faces." Said Choi. "We have a gallery like this at the school, for presidents I mean, but it's all very official and stately. These are more… Candid, I suppose."-
[20:23] <PersonaGM> ["They had their own councils, their own problems. How many of them had to handle their own crises and scandals? How many of them lived their lives in secret? Did they have to handle victims and targets of abuse? Were some of them perpetrators, God forbid? Were they scapegoats for the administration, patsies to soothe the feelings of students, or did they help perpetrate, in their own way, the environment in which the school now exists?"-
[20:25] <PersonaGM> ["No doubt some think I'm taking this too seriously." Said Choi. "But either the position I occupy is powerless, and this is meaningless, or it has some power, and the key is in using it correctly… Whatever 'correctly' means."]
[20:38] * Sachiko folded her arms. "You're getting bogged down in their thinking."
[20:39] <PersonaGM> ["Hoh?"]
[20:40] <Sachiko> "Yeah, the position is powerless. They wouldn't give student access to real power," she said flatly. "None of that means you're powerless, or that this is meaningless."
[20:49] <PersonaGM> ["Hm." Choi folded his arms behind his back, each hand gripping the opposing forearm. "So I may occupy a figurehead position, but my power doesn't stem from the position."]
[20:55] <Sachiko> "Yep. You might have to burn some bridges, but if you want to do something about this, your power is in your platform and not your title."
[21:28] <PersonaGM> ["That rings true." Said Choi after a long pause. "Then again, it always has. Rats are afraid of cats, they don't fear little boys pretending to meow." He unfolded his arms and turned back toward Sachiko. "There's more than our fair share of rats lurking about. The same system that gives me that title is the same one currently protecting them. I can either cling to the pretense, or turn my back on the system- if that's what I need to do to flush them out."]
[21:35] * Sachiko smirked. "That's the spirit."
[21:41] <PersonaGM> [Choi chuckled ruefully.-
[21:43] <PersonaGM> ["Well, tonight's been rather eventful. In a good way, for a change. I take it you were planning to stay for awhile and soak in the atmosphere?"]
[21:49] <Sachiko> "That's the plan. What about you?
[21:49] <Sachiko> "*
[21:52] <PersonaGM> ["Well, I'm out of shape, performance-wise, so I'm more knackered than I otherwise would be. I… would drive home. But the car is a 'sometimes' convenience." Said Choi. "So I might wait around for another ten minutes, until it's a better time to catch the train."]
[21:59] <Sachiko> "Cool," she said, turning her back on the presidential wall. "Wanna find a couple of those non-alcoholic drinks? I'll pay."
[22:00] <PersonaGM> ["Sure. But apparently if you drop Ms. Smithson's name, you can get your first few free, so keep that saver in mind."]
[22:01] <Sachiko> "Oh yeah?" She smiled, then started wandering in the direction of the bar. "Good to know!"
[22:01] <PersonaGM> [ The Emperor Arcana Deepens…]

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