[x] "The sooner that law is changed, the better; there was too much potential to abuse it!"
[x] "It’s good to see Miss Keine will be in good hands."
[x] "The village shouldn’t attack the Syndicate! The last thing Arthur would want is for us to sacrifice our peace to go to war!"
I clear my throat before speaking "I have a few things to say about the proceedings thus far. First, I'm glad the tengu self-defense law was changed; there was too much potential to abuse it!"
"I'm surprised to hear someone who's fond of youkai speak like that," Lord Kaiba responds. "I would have thought that you'd be against anything that hindered them."
"I am not ignorant on the dangers of youkai, I merely hope that those not out to harm humanity be treated fairly. Miss Shameimaru had good intentions but another tengu might not, especially in these times of unease."
Mr. Yaguu adds, "I agree. I am glad that the altercation in question didn't result in more trouble."
Lord Hojo nods in approval. "Good to see you're starting to take into account that not all youkai are reasonable, Yuki. If laws were written as though they were, humanity would we doomed to subservience." I feel like he’s taking things a bit too far with that statement. "Is there anything else you care to add?"
I collect myself and answer, "On the matter of Miss Kamishirasawa's transfer, I'm glad to finally see this happen, she'll be in good hands." I mull it over briefly before continuing, "Pardon my tone, but she should have been released from the council’s control much sooner. The village guardian is meant to protect the village same as the hunters and warriors, not get tied up in politics."
Lord Kaiba quickly responds, "Quite a bold statement, coming from a sheltered young man who barely knows about such things."
"Lord Kaiba, that's uncalled for!" Miss Keine responds. It’s annoying how he tries to divert the conversation when the issue is very obvious.
"Even I can see that someone like Mr. Yaguu is a better fit for teach her about defending the village than you, sir. If it was purely a diplomatic position, I would see the reasoning behind the initial appointment far better," I add, resisting the urge to voice my thoughts about Lord Kaiba more clearly.
"Ah, but tha position does have a diplomatic side, and it can’t just be ignored. There’s only one village guardian after all, so whether Miss Kamishirasawa likes it or not her actions and words represent both the village and the council. Acting hastily without thinking things through reflects poorly on all of us, as everyone remembers." Tch, why does he keep bringing that up?
"Maybe, but I still think letting Mr. Yaguu train her is the right decision." Better move on and address my last point before the discussion ends. "However, I absolutely don’t think the village should attack the Syndicate! The last thing Arthur would want is for us to sacrifice our peace to go to war! I say this as someone who's spoken with him personally. He fights to preserve the peace in this land and if he were to see it disrupted, he would feel as if he failed."
Mr. Miyamoto shrugs, "Agreed, and well said. I must say, you're certainly showing as much backbone here as when you yelled at me in the market."
"You make it sound like he's responsible for your change in stance," Lord Kaiba laughs.
"He merely reminded me of what’s important in life. As an adult it's too easy to lose sight of things," Mr. Miyamoto responds.
"Haw haw! Now that is entertaining, to imagine that Hideo Miyamoto was so easily cowed by a single youth." What?! Mr. Miyamoto was relieved when he made up with Ginji after kicking him out… wait. Lord Kaiba’s peering at me intently out of the corner of his eyes. I shiver involuntarily under his malicious gaze, until he turns back to the other council members.
I sit down to take a breather and notice Akyuu is blushing. "Is there something a matter?"
She pauses before answering, "You're certainly growing up fast. At this rate, Wriggle'll be hearing about what a fine man you are." I'm slowly starting to believe her myself. Better pay attention to the rest of the proceedings, though.
"Yes, well, on to the next matter. Lady Hieda previously mentioned something else that warrants discussion: the Syndicate seems to be capitalizing off of discontentment to recruit new members. I will let her and her assistant explain." Wait… he’s referring to me, isn’t he? I knew this was going to happen.
Lady Akyuu, looking more composed, stands up first. "While it’s true that they swell their ranks with promises to change the status quo, a greater threat is posed by the youkai who’ve started to join them as well." I hear a few shouts of surprise among the councilors. "My assistant, Yukikaki Kojima, suggested they might also be joining because of the stigma against them, at least as far as the male youkai are concerned. I’ll let him explain further, and as for the self-defense matter I am for training a defensive force. However, going on the offensive may cause some to defect." She sits down and motions for me to stand.
Here goes. I stand up and start explaining, "From the various books I've read, again and again there's proof that if someone's persecuted unfairly, they may end up doing what they're accused of. Reducing unneeded hatred towards male youkai would do a lot to keep them from joining the Syndicate, and help spread true peace and progress regarding human and youkai relations. Yes, I am aware this won’t work as well with female youkai since they aren’t as hated, but it would still help. Furthermore, it might prevent another tragedy like those that plague Gensokyo's history, like the deaths of Reimu’s parents." I notice Mr. Yaguu flinch at that; he still remembers that incident. I should apologize to him after this; I didn't mean to bring up painful memories.
"You may sit down now," Lord Hojo says. As I do so he continues, "The idea holds merit; anything that might reduce the number of attacks is worth trying. This is a sensitive issue since the kind of action the Moderates want would be too broad and generalized, so we instead must make a reasonable, informed decision." He pauses to gesture to a servant to leave the room. "To that end, I have admitted a guest to provide his views on the matter."
A few moments later, the servant comes back with- Wait! That's the giant I ran into a few days ago, Kumamaru. Lord Hojo speaks, "Do not be alarmed; despite what you’re about to see, he has been one of the village's strongest allies when dealing with malicious humanoids, youkai or not. Please, you may introduce yourself." Wait… I can sense something different about him compared to everyone else.
Kumamaru pulls back his hood… revealing a pair of bear ears underneath! Some of the councilors just stare in shock, while others start shouting in anger or dismay. I guess that explains why something about him felt different, and why he’s as imposing as he is.
"This is an outrage!" Lord Kaiba shouts. “What the blazes are you thinking bring a beast like that in here?! He could kill us all before the shrine maiden could even hear our screams!" He leaps to his feet, trembling in indignation.
Kumamaru barely reacts to Lord Kaiba, though. "My name is Kumamaru. If something escapes from a manhunt, I hunt it down. I don’t attack the village." Wow, he sure gets straight to the point.
"Oh, what a relief! And here I was worried you were just another frenzied brute who murders with reckless abandon. Thank the Dragon for our good fortune!" Lord Kaiba hisses in mock adulation. Insulting a youkai is far from the wisest thing to do.
"You don’t trust me," Kumamaru states. “Listen to my story, then do what you will." He sits near the door and takes a breath before continuing. "Before Gensokyo was sealed I gained this humanoid form, and befriended a family with a young daughter. We were friends until I grew old enough to notice her femininity. I had thoughts like other young men had, but the infamous youkai intensity nearly overwhelmed me. Terrified, I fled to a secluded area to learn control by living as a hermit. I didn’t keep track of time, but when I returned, Gensokyo had been sealed. Others told me of the youkai attacks, so I decided to try to find other males and teach them to deal with their impulses. Any who couldn’t learn were killed before they could further stain our reputation by harming others." Wow… that’s pretty brutal, but if there was no other way… "I lead a small group of those like myself to help keep peace in places far from the village."
"Hum, how enthralling. And I suppose you’re just taking care of the Syndicate over there as well, hmm? Killing not just youkai, but any humans who don’t start thinking the way you do?" Lord Kaiba asks spitefully.
Mr. Yaguu responds, "Lord Kaiba! You shouldn't speak to him like that! His strength dwarfs my own!"
"It’s fine, Hayato. I am used to men like him. Yes, Kaiba, we take care of the Syndicate despite Arthur’s requests. We will not sit by while they intentionally poison the spirits of others and attempt things that make a youkai attack seem insignificant. Unlike Arthur, we have no mercy to give. Lately, activity around our patrol areas has dropped off. That should speak for itself." Geez, this must be what Keine means when she says youkai think differently from humans. "Or, maybe they think Arthur’s a bigger threat and are taking steps against him and his group. We haven’t pursured them; we focus on our original duty before all else. But to make things clear, I do not pretend that all youkai are friendly. If anyone has any questions, please ask."
Lady Akyuu is quick to respond, "Mr. Kumamaru, what sorts of male youkai are out there? And why do you think male youkai are so prone to trouble when they're younger?"
"Some live in the wilderness like myself, and there's a few that live in distant towns. For animal youkai, males are pretty similar to females. Old Garai, an older cat youkai, is fond of napping half the time. I've sighted a few magician males too, but they love their books too much to be a threat to anyone who doesn’t try to take one from them. Against each other, they still prefer thinking games or magic instead of fighting. For your second question, I think the sealing of Gensokyo somehow promoted the… humanization of female youkai and also curbed their instincts." Kumamaru grits his teeth. "That restraint hasn’t spread to males. There's not many youkai my age because most end up provoking something they can't beat," he answers bitterly. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to bring up the subject of Lady Yakumo around him.
Wait, this is my chance to ask questions!
[ ] Write in any questions you might have.
[ ] Oracle! Take the wheel!