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wat is this i dont even
goddamn it kc
The powers of a God, huh? If, by some small chance that woman wasn’t lying, you’d really want to see them for yourself. Still, you don’t want to sound completely stupid when you ask, so you begin thinking of the best way to word your question, your eyes glued to the television screen.
“… Hey, Sanae,” you finally begin after a few minutes’ contemplation. “Can I ask you something?”
“Mmm?” she responds, hardly looking away from the TV. Her current favorite TV show was on, after all.
“What can a shrine maiden do, anyway? I mean, besides expose their armpits,” you quickly add with a grin.
“Uuu… that’s just how the outfit is,” Sanae says with a frown and a blush. She shifts around to look at you, still red-faced but apparently also thinking over your question. “Um… what do you mean? You mean... their duties…?”
“They say shrine maidens can talk to gods, right?” you offer. “Can you do anything like that?”
Sanae looks uncertain, shifting her gaze to the floor. “Um…” she starts slowly. “I can’t talk to the God of the shrine, but…” She suddenly looks back up to you. “Can you wait for a bit?” she says, getting up from the floor.
“Huh? Uh, sure,” you say, watching her hurry on over to her room.
Minutes later, she emerges from the door, wearing her shrine maiden outfit again and carrying that
paper spatula gohei wand in her hand. “Okay, I’m ready,” she says, looking somewhat reluctant, but also excited.
“… Ready for what?”
“You’ll see,” she says with a grin. “Follow me!” she eagerly rushes to the door, sliding it open and stepping off of the porch with a skip in her steps.
You get up from the floor, following her at a much more relaxed pace. Sanae patiently waits for you on the ground below the porch, and keeps silent as you slip on your shoes and step out of the door.
“Over here,” she says, quickly walking off somewhere. You shrug and follow her along. She’s headed towards the lake next to the shrine, huh?
The two of you stand at the edge of the lake. Come to think of it, in all the months you’ve been around, you’ve never really paid much attention to the lake. It was huge, though.
Sanae takes a few deep breaths, as if trying to calm herself. “Watch me,” she says. “I… I can do this.” She reaches down, taking off of her shoes and stepping on the earth with her bare feet. Spreading her arms out to both sides, she closes her eyes, and begins walking forward.
“Hey, what’re you doing?!” you say as you start to step towards her.
“Don’t!” she says sternly. “Watch me, Hoshuu.”
You reluctantly return to standing position. What was she up to? She steps closer and closer towards the lake. She isn’t trying to drown herself, is she?
Finally, the tip of her foot touches the surface of the water. Sanae hesitates, as a ripple forms around where the bottom of her toes touched the lake’s surface. And then… she puts her weight onto her foot. Another ripple, larger this time. She lets out a relieved breath as she steps forward with her other foot.
You can hardly believe your eyes.
A step, and then another step. Each of them, accompanied by a ripple in the water, but… She didn’t fall through the surface of the lake. She was walking on water as though it was glass she was standing on. Further and further, she walks until she’s quite far out in the vast lake, and yet she stays on top of the water.
Finally, she turns to you, opening her eyes at last. Her expression indicates that she’s just as surprised and as incredulous as you are, as if she could hardly believe that she was floating on top of water. She waves her arms at you, and then cups her hands around her mouth. “Look, Hoshuu!” she yells. “I can do it, I—“
She suddenly falls through the surface of the lake with a shrill shriek.
“Sanae!” you rush forward without thinking, not even bothering to take off your shoes before diving into the lake. Quickly, you paddle towards her. You don’t even know how to swim properly, but you race on anyway. But… your head is getting is lower and lower, and it’s becoming increasingly hard to keep your nose above the water…
You begin to sink down. But even as you start to fall to the bottom of the lake, you look about you, searching for Sanae. You can’t see anything. The water looks too cloudy for you to be able to look around, and it hurts to keep them open.
But it’s a pleasant feeling, sinking. Even though you’re drowning, you feel a small degree of inexplicable comfort here. Safety, even. Gah, what are you thinking? You need to get back up there…
Suddenly, you can feel cold air chilling your body. You open your eyes, and see yourself surrounded by some sort of pale light. You… you can breathe. Not only that, but you‘re also floating up, up and away. Your head breaks the surface of the water, and you feel a small pair of hands taking hold of one of yours.
Looking up, you see Sanae struggling to keep hold of you using her small, childish arms. Wait… Sanae? You look a little bit down. Her feet are… floating above the surface. Not standing, but floating. Holy cow, she’s flying?
“Uuugggh… you’re heavy,” she whimpers as she struggles to carry you away from the lake, almost dropping you back in several times. Finally, she lets you down at the edge of the lake, falling to the ground herself.
You take a moment to steady your breathing, coughing up the water in your lungs. Sanae sits next to you, looking at you with worried eyes.
“Are you okay, Hoshuu?” she asks, concerned.
“Yeah, I’m fine…” you say, waving your hand. “But what about you, Sanae?”
“I’m fine, too,” she says. “I just feel a little tired, that’s all.”
“… Sanae, that was amazing.”
“Walking on water, doing that thing you did to lift me out of the lake, flying…” you list, still completely awed. “You… that’s… I don’t know what to say, I…”
“Ah…” Sanae blushes heavily, looking down at the ground. “I-it’s not really anything special, I don’t think…”
“Are you kidding?” you say, grasping her by the shoulders and forcing her to look into your eyes. “Listen to me, Sanae, that really is something special. It was like…” You pause, trying to think of a way to express it.
The powers of a God, huh?
“… It was like you were a living god.”
“A living god? N-no way, not me…” she says, looking flattered but unconvinced. “I mean, I can’t even really control it very well, a-and I messed up and you could have been hurt because of me…”
“Well, that’s why you’re going to keep practicing, right?” you say excitedly. “If you can show your powers to everyone, then all those people will have to acknowledge that your God exists! You really can revive the shrine like this!”
“But…” she frowns. “Do you… do you really think I can…?”
“Of course,” you reassure her. “And I’ll stay with you until you can. I promise.”
“Really?” she brightens up. “You really won’t leave, right? You won’t break your promise?”
“That’ll never happen,” you say, raising your hand to her with its pinky finger outstretched. “Here, pinky swear.”
She raises her hand to yours, and her small finger wraps around yours as you shake her hand. “You’ll have to swallow a thousand needles if you’re lying,” she says, looking every bit as likely to carry out that threat at the moment.
As you sit in the bathtub, you begin to think over everything unusual that happened today. You’d seen Sanae’s supernatural powers for yourself, so you have no doubt that there’s definitely more to the world than just the normal… but does that mean that everything that woman told you is true? Maybe. You’re not sure. But it really does seem much more likely now.
Come to think of it, she also did mention something else about you, didn’t she? About how you had some sort of advanced spiritual vision. That’s peculiar, because you can’t remember ever seeing anything abnormal, with the exception of that woman herself. Ties to one of Japan’s native gods? Divine ancestry? What does all that mean to you?
Maybe you can have powers like Sanae’s. You hold your hand in front of you, visualizing, half-expecting for something to happen. …Yeah right, as if you could really do anything. Still, seeing her powers for yourself, for some reason, really makes you want to help her be successful. Maybe it’s because you’re excited to be so close to something out of this world, maybe it’s something else. You don’t really know.
Finishing your bath, you quickly dry yourself off and get dressed. Heading out of the bathroom, you walk back out into the living room. On the floor, you see Sanae lying down on her side. At first, you worry that she might have collapsed, but you soon see her chest steadily rising up and down. She’s just sleeping soundly.
You look up at the clock; it’s night, but it isn’t very late yet. She must have been tired. You don’t want to perturb her rest right now, so you grab a blanket from her room, flicking the room’s light switch off as you return to her. Kneeling down, you carefully place the blanket over her.
You lie down next to Sanae, facing her with one arm propped against the floor, supporting your head. But to think she was really capable of all that. You still find it really hard to believe. She really might become a living god of sorts, if she advertised her powers. Suddenly, you have this image of Sanae as a national celebrity, appearing on television programs to display her miracles. Somehow, it doesn’t really suit her.
But, she’s still just a girl, after all. You place your hand on her head, caressing her hair fondly. She stirs a bit, but she doesn’t wake. Instead, she curls up next to you, nuzzling against your chest.
“Mama…” you hear her whisper.
And now you don’t feel like moving. Ah well, guess you’ll just have to stay like this for a while longer. Wrapping one arm around her small body and using your other arm as a pillow, you close your eyes and allow yourself to fall asleep next to her.
The final season of the year had passed, and the arrival of spring came the New Year, decorated with flowers and cherry blossoms. There was a bit too much of both lately, though. Still, it wasn’t as though the outbreak of flowers was particularly harmful to anyone, right?
“Don’t get distracted, Mikio!”
With a sharp impact, your wooden sword flies out of your hand, landing quite a ways away from you.
“You don’t look much focused today,” Miss Momizi says, lowering her own training sword as you slowly go to pick up your discarded weapon.
“No, I guess I’m not,” you sigh. “I’m sorry, Miss Momizi, I know I’m the one who asked you to train me, but I seem to have my mind elsewhere.”
“Well, do you want to talk about it?” she asks helpfully.
“I was just wondering why all these flowers are suddenly popping up,” you say, indicating to the overgrowth of flowers all around the grasses of the mountain. They seemed to shake in the wind, and you swear you can hear them whispering to one another from time to time.
“Ah, that,” Miss Momizi says, instantly comprehending. “Don’t worry too much about it, Mikio. It’s a natural phenomenon that happens from time to time.”
“… I guess,” you shrug, raising your sword again. “Okay, let’s continue, Miss Momizi. Here I come.”
“Whenever you’re ready.”
Still, you can’t quite escape your own curiosity, and you find yourself thinking about the outbreak of flowers from time to time. You know a few vague facts, that it occurs every some tens of years, but you want to know more about it. Maybe Miss Aya’s intrepid reporter nature is rubbing off of you a little. You feel a little adventurous, even.
You’ve decided: you’ll go out and investigate too, by yourself this time. It feels like it’d be cheating if you consulted Miss Aya or any of the other tengu.
… Come to think of it, you’ve changed a little too. A few years back, you couldn’t have imagined yourself investigating an incident on your own.
But well, the problem now is where to start.
 Examine the flowers.
 Search the skies.
 There must be other people looking into the incident. Try to find them.