8 0 2

[11:01] <Minaplo> "Ugh." Roy lolled on the desk. "This is useless…"-
[11:08] <Minaplo> Thanks to their bad ass black ops hacking, they had a list of the names of every student in the school, as well as the university, as well as staff. A deep and thorough search of it had revealed exactly three people with the name Morokuzu. The first and second were a set of twin girls in Ume Hall- elementary schoolkids, basically.-
[11:09] <Minaplo> The possibility of them being a pair of creepy schoolgirl doom twins was weighed, considered, and ultimately discarded as being 'Frivolous, with a bit of twin racism, honestly' by Roy.-
[11:11] <Minaplo> The third was a post-graduate university student studying the unknowable and unfathomable subject of Russian Socialist Literature. A brief investigation revealed that the post-grad was currently not in Japan.-
[11:12] <Minaplo> "Maybe we should revisit the doom twin hypothesis again." Said Roy, frowning at his Tomephone, which had a scroll of notes psychically being recorded. "I mean, maybe we should scope them out and talk to them, and if we get big doom vibes we can, I dunno… Take 'em out."
[11:25] <Hideki> "Well, yeah, obviously." Hideki nodded, peering down at his laptop. To the side of his mouse was a notepad with some elaborate diagrams scrawled on it. "But maybe instead of taking them out, we could watch them. Like I said, they could have accomplices. Or, hey…" His eyes widened. "Hey. What if the culprit we're looking for swiped one of their names for his shitty little kidnapping plan?"
[11:26] <Minaplo> "Hmm…"-
[11:26] <Minaplo> …-
[11:27] <Minaplo> Haru Morokuzu was crying.-
[11:27] <Minaplo> This was because her sister Hinata Morokuzu had just thrown a water bottle at her face and with pinpoint accuracy, smacked her right across the mouth.-
[11:27] <Minaplo> It hurt a lot.-
[11:27] <Minaplo> Now Hinata was crying because Haru was crying.-
[11:28] <Minaplo> Just two six year old girls crying in the middle of a playground, one on the ground clutching her face like she'd been shot, the other just standing there screaming into the sky.-
[11:28] <Minaplo> "…" Roy peeked out of Hideki's bag. [Aight, y'know, not really getting any sort of vibe from these two at all except the usual kids are dumb vibe.]-
[11:29] <Minaplo> As Hinata was crying, an entirely unrelated boy sprinted across the field and clotheslined her.-
[11:29] <Minaplo> [Aight aight aight, cool cool cool, this is some mad max bullshit, but I don't think this is relevant to our investigation. Now we're just a high schooler and a cat watching a bunch of kids be idiots.]
[11:33] <Hideki> Hideki grumbled, easing further back into his hiding place - around the corner of one of the school buildings overlooking the elementary school's playground. He took out a pen and his notepad and crossed something off it. "Damn. You know, this means we're back at square one."
[11:39] <Minaplo> [Let's think about this. The person is probably a middle schooler or high schooler. Lion Hall, basically." Said Roy. "Knowing them, they'd probably use a pseudonym.]-
[11:40] <Minaplo> [But because of how Sophia kinda works and how dumb-ass teenagers work, the name isn't going to be some stupid name picked at random like Spectre or Dandy Spectre. It'll have some thought put into it, maybe taken from a book. Teenagers are dramatic like that.]
[11:49] <Hideki> "Like 'Dandy' had any though behind it either?" Hideki twirled his pen. "But, alright. If they're being that dramatic, they'll pick a pseudonym that has something to do with the stuff they're doing now. Kidnapping. But, isn't that kind of dumb too? Like leaving behind a calling card?"
[11:51] <Minaplo> [Motherfucker. You have a cape and a cane! Your Persona is Dorian Gray! Oscar Wilde is like, the stereotypical dandy! This fucking guy!]-
[11:52] <Minaplo> With immense psychic effort, Roy reeled back his righteous fury.-
[11:53] <Minaplo> [It kind of is like leaving behind a calling card. But lots of writers do that with their characters and teens just kinda copy that. Sophia is a place that tends to have a lot of miasma floating around too, making people all literary and shit, and more to the point, calling cards can attract attention, which can mean power.]-
[11:55] <Minaplo> [Now you're not exactly, heh, the most literary person I know, but do you know anyone who might be able to help?]
[12:02] <Hideki> "Bullshit. You know I read plenty. In fact, I was in the literature club at the beginning of the school year."
[12:02] <Minaplo> [Does Morokuzu ring any bells for you then, dumbass?]
[12:09] <Hideki> "It might… if I had a few hours and access to all the books in the clubroom. Or the library."
[12:10] <Minaplo> [Well we can do that, or we can try and find someone who knows books.]
[12:13] <Hideki> Hideki sighed. "Alright, alright. There's this one student from the club. I'll ask her to meet me for coffee or something. How's that?"
[12:15] <Minaplo> …-
[12:15] <Minaplo> "But I don't like coffee." Said Parvaneh.
[12:19] <Hideki> "Oh," said Hideki. There were only a few minutes before the next class period started, and the hallways were already rapidly clearing around them. He would have to be brief. "How about you pick the place, then?"
[12:22] <Minaplo> "Um…"
[12:25] <Hideki> "It doesn't even have to be a place with food! If you want to hang out the clubroom or a library, that's cool too."
[12:26] <Minaplo> "The library." She said immediately.
[12:27] <Hideki> "The library, then." Hideki nodded. "Thanks. See you after school?"
[12:28] <Minaplo> …-
[12:29] <Minaplo> Finding Parvaneh in the library had been a chore. She'd managed to hide herself away in the most quiet, remote corner of it.-
[12:29] <Minaplo> [Modern History, huh.] Said Roy, eyeing the shelves. [There she is!]
[12:36] <Hideki> "Hey!" Hideki waved happily as he approached, and then sat next to her, carefully sliding off his bag and placing it next to himself. "Been a while, huh?"
[12:36] <Minaplo> "Yes. Have you been busy?"
[12:43] <Hideki> "Yeah. This is my final year so teachers want me to study, like, all the time now. Plus things are heating up in baseball."
[12:44] <Minaplo> "Oh, yes. You like baseball more than literature."
[12:46] <Hideki> "Um. Not necessarily. It just takes up a lot more of my time and focus."
[12:48] <Minaplo> "It's more intense?"
[12:53] <Hideki> "It makes me practice a lot. So it's more intense physically. But books can be emotionally intense! Ever read 'The Setting Sun'?"
[12:54] <Minaplo> "Yes."
[12:57] <Hideki> Hideki nodded. "If you follow the story of a family slowly unraveling, it sort of feels like a couple of punches to the head after a while."
[01:01] <Minaplo> "I didn't feel like that at all."
[01:03] <Hideki> "No? What did you feel, then?"
[01:10] <Minaplo> "Interest. Intrigue. The story behind the story is more interesting. Mr. Uehara, the author Kazuko falls for- is essentially a stand-in for the author of the book itself."
[01:10] <Minaplo> [zzzzzzzzzzz]
[01:14] <Hideki> "S-seriously? He didn't exactly treat her that well. What with being married to someone else and all."
[01:14] <Hideki> Hideki gave the bag a slight shake.
[01:21] <Minaplo> "The book is based on the diary of a fan of his. He tried suiciding three times… Just like the author. He also believed in communism, just like the author."-
[01:21] <Minaplo> [Shoulda gotten out of the bag before we came in. Fuck me.]
[01:41] <Hideki> "I guess real life has a lot of material for this sort of thing. All his novels weren't like that, were they?"
[01:43] <Minaplo> "His other famous novel, No Longer Human, is heavily autobiographical. It is sometimes considered to be a literary adaptation of his last will and testament."-
[01:49] <Hideki> "Hmm. If you wrote a story about your own life, what do you think it'd be like?"
[01:50] <Minaplo> Parvaneh fidgeted.-
[01:50] <Minaplo> "It would be a story of isolation, too."
[01:50] <Minaplo> [This could've been so simple. Hello, little nerd girl, can you find some info for us? Now we're gonna have to play therapist.]
[02:13] <Hideki> "Yeah? I think the protagonist would be someone who's super smart and a little quiet, but who's still really nice. But… isolated, huh?"
[02:13] <Minaplo> "Smart, quiet and nice people can be isolated too."
[02:22] <Hideki> "I know. Are you… comfortable with the whole isolation thing?"
[02:23] <Minaplo> "Yes." She said, frowning.-
[02:24] <Minaplo> "Well no. It's confusing to say how I feel. You are nice and gentle, so I don't mind talking to others when they're people like you. But most people are not like you, and isolation is better than them."
[02:31] <Hideki> "Well… I think if you're hanging out with lots more nice and gentle people, then you won't be that isolated. The trick is picking them out."
[02:31] <Minaplo> "I don't know how to do that."
[02:40] <Hideki> "I do it by trial and error, but that's time consuming and a little stressful. Another way is just kind of hanging back and watching people to see how they act before approaching."
[02:42] <Minaplo> "But that sometimes scares people, and you can't always tell people from that…"
[02:50] <Hideki> "You're not wrong," he said thoughtfully. "Ok. What about Plan C? I'll poke some people I know who are pretty calm. Then I'll introduce you to them."
[02:50] <Minaplo> "… Okay. But I don't want to be a burden." She said, shrinking away a little.
[02:50] <Minaplo> [You know what'd help her not feel like a burden? Asking for her help.]
[02:55] <Hideki> "You're not. This is what friends - social connections - are for. And, uh," He grinned, awkwardly the back of his neck, "I'm going to ask you a favor in a second anyway."
[02:55] <Minaplo> Her eyes lit up. "A favour? No one ever asks me for favours. I can be helpful!"
[02:57] <Hideki> "No doubt! It's about literature too."
[02:59] <Minaplo> "Really??"
[03:04] <Hideki> "Yup! Now, you're good, seriously good, when it comes to this stuff. So… do you know about any really famous characters who go by the name 'Morokuzu'? I heard a reference to it the other day, but I have no idea who it is."
[03:09] <Minaplo> "Morokuzu…"-
[03:09] <Minaplo> "Did you know I memorised every kanji?"-
[03:09] <Minaplo> [She what?!]
[03:10] <Hideki> "You what?"
[03:10] <Minaplo> "I memorised every kanji. 'Morokuzu' is a two-kanji name meaning 'A lot of kudzu'."-
[03:10] <Minaplo> [What the fuck? Where do you find these diamonds?]
[03:14] <Hideki> "'Lots of kudzu'. Like… the plant? That you turn into baskets and stuff?"
[03:14] <Minaplo> "Quick-growing vine plant." She nodded.-
[03:15] <Minaplo> "It's a rare name."-
[03:16] <Minaplo> She got out of her seat and danced through the nearby Modern History shelves, into an altogether different section. She returned a minute later.-
[03:16] <Minaplo> "It's a surname derived from a Chinese name, and like many it has two different readings. Morokuzu is one reading, but the other reading that you might be more familiar with is Shokatsu."-
[03:17] <Minaplo> She threw the book- Ancient biographies- down on the table and pushed it toward Hideki, flipping through the pages. "The person most Japanese would think of when they hear that name is Shokatsu Ryou."-
[03:18] <Minaplo> She found a page. Hideki was confronted with the image of a white-robed Chinese man.-
[03:18] <Minaplo> "But in China, he's known as Zhuge Liang."
[03:23] <Hideki> "No kidding?!" Hideki stared, bright-eyed, at the image. "That makes sense. Someone who's a big-time strategist and military administrator."
[03:24] <Minaplo> "Yes. Usually depicted as a genius at politics, government and military affairs. He- and his nephews- were the powers behind the throne of two separate kingdoms in ancient China. Even though they served their emperors loyally, they still essentially called the shots."-
[03:25] <Minaplo> [This. This is some peak teenage nerd bullshit right here. This has to be it. It's the perfect mix of foreboding and drama.]
[03:29] <Hideki> "This is pretty useful. Thanks! Now I get it."
[03:29] <Minaplo> "My pleasure!"
[03:33] <Hideki> "And now for the stuff I can do for you…" He snapped both fingers. "Have lunch with me at the end of this week. It won't just be me. There'll be maybe two other people there who I think you'll gel with."
[03:33] <Minaplo> "Two people…"
[03:34] <Hideki> "Is that ok? Is one easier?"
[03:35] <Minaplo> "One is easier."
[03:35] <Hideki> "Then there will be one other person there who I think you'll gel with," said Hideki with a grin.
[03:36] <Minaplo> "That sounds good. Thank you. Sorry for the inconvenience… I should be able to handle this better."
[03:40] <Hideki> "Don't sweat it. Everyone has their own pace." He started to stand up, but paused and looked around first, eyes settling on the book she had pulled from the shelf and opened at their table. "I don't suppose you'd mind if I borrowed this and took it home with me? Ah, maybe you know about some other books that would be fun to read too. Like… horror stories?"
[03:42] <Minaplo> "I'm not the librarian, you have to ask the librarian to borrow a book. As for horror…?"-
[03:42] <Minaplo> "What kind of horror?"
[03:45] <Minaplo> The Priestess Arcana strengthens…
[03:45] <Minaplo> The Hanged Man Arcana strengthens…

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License