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[X]Communicate peacefully, if carefully.
[X]Treviso, fall back!
-[X]And look for whatever (if anything) is controlling these things!
Though my first instinct - and not just mine, it appears - is to cut down these... grotesque parodies of dolls, I still my arm, not willing to pass on a chance to gain new help, even from ones such as these. I nod to Treviso, communicating a soundless intent to her, which she takes to calmly; a moment later she takes off, skirting the boundaries of the lake.
It's a stroke of luck, I guess, that the eerie horde focuses on me rather than her. I move slowly, half not wanting to startle them, half still caught in a tense crouch.
They circle me mindlessly, their spinning movements naught but a mindless ritual or perhaps a dance. And yet, even as I wave at them and try to draw their attention, they don't seem to acknowledge my presence. Only the fact that they'd centered their dance around me showed they knew I was here. Perhaps it's their form of communication, or.. wait, the setup of an attack?!
Just in the nick of time, I pull my greatsword free of its banding and block one of the constructs lunging at me, stiff arms grasping and trying to catch me in a deathgrip. The upswing lifts it over my head and sends it soaring into the figure opposite. But now they swarm in unison, a solid circle closing on me leaving no way out.
Except up, of course. A short jump up gets enough height to clear most, and a downwards spinning bludgeon knocks back the rest. But they still come.
I'm faster than them, but they have the number advantage and I can't just leave while my sister might still be around! They swarm again, a host of ill-will and darkness. I act only to disable and protect myself, knocking them back with wide swings, but it barely deters them - it's hard to guard from a full 720 degree view, and one of them manages to snag my ankle, trying to force - something into me. It gets the flat of my blade in its face as a response but the shock of the contact puts me off and my grip falters as I flub my next dodge.. I shouldn't have been so arrogant to think I could have defeated all those dolls on my own and trying to show off by not defending myself better, they've nearly got me now, you told me to be careful and I wasn't I've failed you I've failed you
A singing voice cuts through our battle, and.. they stop.
They, they're flying away.. and heading to.. a figure garbed in red and.. green? Who's.. spinning around. She's the one singing, drawing them away.
They-they didn't manage to catch me. Whatever magical or spiritual despair I felt lifts, leaving me feeling drained but still standing, unharmed - I'm ok! I'm ok, really! Even though that was really scary I'm not sufferring any ill effects whatsoever!
...Is that Treviso on that person's shoulder?
She waves to me as the makeshift dolls grasp at the woman's clothing, and fall silently to her feet.
"Oh? You aren't one of my normal helpers, are you?"
She's pretty... almost as pretty as mother... green hair and long red ribbons, a festive sight bedecked in frills and lace. Yet.. she seems solemn despite her cheerful voice.
"This little one managed to gain my attention just now when she saw me taking the misfortune from some of my other nagashi-bina dolls.. did they hurt you? I'm sorry for that."
Well, I'm fine, thank you for asking.
"How can I ever make it up to you?" She squats and holds out her hand in an invitation. It takes just a jump to step into her grasp, and just another second for me to be almost knocked off as Treviso jumps onto me, embracing me.
"Ah, she's your friend? Well, of course, you are so similar, after all.. Well now. Interesting, you're not guided by misfortune like my dolls. Thank you for not destroying them, by the way - if you had, the misfortune they carried surely would have spilt forth everywhere."
Misfortune? This woman is surrounded by a similar aura as the dolls, but it's slightly different. The pain, the wrongness, it's.. dormant, here. It seems right.
...No, I don't know how to describe a how a sense of wrongness feels right other than that.
Treviso and I look up at our erstwhile saviour, who is inspecting us closely.
"How interesting.. both of you are much more durable than the dolls the villagers make for the ceremonies... but you're both powered by something far, far away." She bows her head, the funny braid of hair under her chin within reach.
"Let me introduce myself.. My name is Hina Kagiyama, goddess of misfortune."
"And, I have a proposition for both of you..."
Trevisio and I have something to report. Heading back to Mother's house now.
The goddess, Hina Kagiyama, has offered a number of places for dolls like us as her servants who would seek out and gather misfortune for her.
She needs a more reliable class of servant to help her - the dolls made by the villagers - the nagishi-bina were animated by their gatherings, but they were hardly sentient, driven by the simple summons of the goddess of misfortune and out of control beyond that, as shown by their attack.
By using us, dolls with a consciousness, I think she hopes we'll be able to keep them under control, and guide them to her without incident.
..I'm sure you'll be able to figure out the way we could benefit, sisters.
If we could harness misfortune, we might be able to become free from our power limits. Able to go forth without a range stopping us.
Not just this - if we take this power, we could perhaps manipulate the misfortune around us, changing fates and animating our own minions, if Hina allows. Probably much more than that, if you can think and research it. And, of course, another powerful patron who'd have a vested interest in our wellbeing. Not something to be looked over carelessly.
She's given us a few days to think it over, though I bet she'd still accept if we came to her later. I don't think she has very many followers.
...I don't like it, to be honest. Being touched by one of those.. constructs - I haven't lived long, but to feel something as terrifying just by its grip.. I can't imagine that essence inside of us, powering us. And I don't want to leave mother so soon after being created by her. She might notice us gone, after all...
I'll of course abide by your decisions, but-
Anyway, we're back.
What do you desire, sisters?
[ ]Take the offer. You, Treviso and all of the dolls - each and every one shall take this new power.
[ ]Take the offer. Treviso and you, and a few others will try this scheme.
[ ]Some of us, the more experienced dolls, can take this position. You (and Treviso?) can remain with the rest of us.
[ ]We won't take this offer now. The risk is too great.
[ ] Let's see if mother needs us.
[ ] We have other priorities (write in?)
(I went to a wedding today. It was quite nice, but too many crowds and flags. I'm blaming this rather than portal 2 or ten desires for slow updates as then I can be all smug and patriotic. God (or goddess, of whichever faith you'd like) save the queen!)
(Also, thanks to the admin who helped clean up that posting mess earlier!)