A Different Story of an Eastern Wonderland: Chapter 1
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The problem with exploring a new world when your background was physics and psychology was that you didn't know where to start. Everything was new and unfamiliar; there was no way of knowing what was important and what wasn't, because it was all different; everything was a distraction from anything else. Before Maribel knew it, she'd filled up a quarter of her camera's flash card, and so had Renko. She was glad she'd brought backups.
"I thought that flower was extinct!"
"A fern like that ... I thought those were only in movies!"
"No, Mari-chan, that's ... er, it looks like a Japanese painted fern, Athyrium niponicum ... but I've never seen one with that kind of coloration before ..."
"Those little lights ... They can't be fireflies, they almost look ... cartoonish or something ..."
"Amazing," said Maribel, in English.
"Uh, I said it's amazing," she said in Japanese.
Renko nodded. "Well ... bet it'll look fantastic under the moonlight," she said.
"Yeah," said Maribel.
They ran out of things to say after a moment. A bird ran across the path in front of them.
"That was a Japanese Crested Ibis," said Renko.
"Huh," said Maribel. "Aren't they critically endangered?"
"On Earth, anyway," said Renko. She looked up at the sky thoughtfully. "Wow, 19:21 already, and ... 6.52i, 24.38i," she murmured. "Heh, it's easier to calculate them when I know they're ... imaginary. Mari, I think I'm forming a theory about this world."
"Me too," said Maribel, looking around. "I'm thinking ... this is a world of dreams. Maybe even something formed by our collective unconscious, or directly from our hopes and fears and desires."
"Not quite," said Renko. "But ... hmm. I don't have it properly formed yet. I'll have to think about it some more."
"There's definitely a lot more magic just ... in the air here," said Maribel. A sudden thought struck her. "I wonder if we can do our spells more easily here than outside."
Renko stopped, and grinned. "Want to try it?"
Maribel considered this, and shrugged. "Sure, why not. What did you have in mind?"
"I suppose we could start with just something simple, like holograms," said Renko. "We've learned the principle, at any rate."
She held out her hand and concentrated.
"Hmm ..." Maribel held up her hand and focused. She knew the theories behind magic. She could feel the magic all around her. She knew that if she concentrated the magical energies, and gathered them up, and ... and ...
Nothing resolutely continued to happen.
"Well, damn," said Renko. "I suppose we can't win 'em all."
"Oh well," said Maribel as they continued down the path. "It's not really something you'd expect to suddenly know how to do just because we, er, wanted to."
"Yeah," said Renko. "I'm not sure just having magic in the air around here should make a difference, anyway."
"Now that you mention it, you're probably right," said Maribel. "It probably makes even less sense than — huh?"
Renko turned. "What?"
Out of the woods and onto the path floated a fairy. That was the best way to describe it. It looked like a blond-haired girl, barely three feet tall, wearing a white dress and with wings that looked like those of a butterfly. She had a ditzy expression on her face. She was also hovering about ten feet off the ground.
There was a pause. "Hello?" said Renko uncertainly.
"Hello?" said the fairy, parroting Renko's tone.
Renko and Maribel exchanged a glance. "Uh ... Do you speak English or Japanese?" Maribel asked in English. She held her camera uncertainly, unsure whether to ask if she could take the fairy's picture.
The fairy hesitated, then said, "Uh ... Duu ... yuu ... s ... peak ... er ..." Then she shrugged, said, "Oh, whatever," in Japanese, and sort of waved her hand. Three balls of light suddenly appeared, about the size of a baseball, pure white except for a greenish halo, and suddenly rocketed towards Maribel and Renko.
Maribel threw herself to the side. So did Renko, but one of them hit her leg and vanished with a soft pop, and she stumbled. "Augh!"
"Renko!" exclaimed Maribel, feeling a sudden burst of rage building up in her. She reflexively shot her hand forward, feeling the magical energies drawn into her hand. An orb of light with a bluish halo, just like the ones the fairy had created, flew out and slammed into the fairy, who squeaked and flew off quickly into the trees.
Maribel ran over to Renko. "Renko-chan, are you all right?"
"Yeah ... I think so ..." said Renko, getting unsteadily to her feet. "That ... spell didn't seem to have any real effect except stinging for a few seconds. What the hell did you do?"
"Huh?" Maribel blinked, realizing had just happened, and stared at her hand. The hairs on the back of her neck began to stand on end.
"Mari-chan," said Renko, in hushed tones, "you used magic."
"I ... I did," breathed Maribel. "I ..." She concentrated, trying to draw the same magical energies to get another orb to appear. Nothing.
"It looked just like the orbs that ... er ... that fairy threw," said Renko. "Can you do it again?"
Maribel tried simply wanting an orb to appear. "I ... no," she said. "I guess not ..." She shrugged, looking off into the trees where the fairy had fled. "I guess the natives aren't exactly friendly ..."
"Really?" said Renko, shaking her head to clear it. "I would've thought you'd find them positively charming. Anyway."
This is the point at which a swarm of annoyed-looking fairies came out of the trees.
Renko whirled around. "Wha —" She practically jumped backward. "Uh ... Mari ..."
"Hi!" said the fairy that seemed to be leading the group. "We're here to punish you and stuff!"
"Run for it!" exclaimed Maribel, and began sprinting down the path with Renko behind her.
With a collective sort of chiming sound, the swarm of fairies let loose an even larger swarm of orbs. It probably would have made a nice fireworks display, if not for the fact that it was close enough to the ground that it could cause injury.
Maribel ducked and dodged, most of them missing, though a few grazed against her arms and sides. "Ahh!" Let's see ... er ... how had she done it before? She tried to fling her hand backward, willing the energies to come. Nope, that wasn't it either. Crap!
... and then, of course, she let tripped over a root with a yelp. Renko spun around, tried to dash back to help her up, lost her balance because people are a lot less agile when they're wearing a fully-loaded backpack, and crashed headlong into the ground.
The fairies broke into giggles, pointing.
"Ow," muttered Maribel, sitting up dazedly.
Renko sat up, rubbing her head. "Mari-chan," she murmured softly, "can you throw more than one of those bullets at once?"
"I'm still trying to figure out how to throw one of them voluntarily," said Maribel.
"Just our luck," said Renko. "Hmm ... we'll just have to sneak off, then." She nodded down the path, which curved out of sight just ahead.
The fairies continued chattering obliviously. "How should we punish them next?"
Another one shrugged. "I dunno ... more barrage?" she said. At least, Maribel assumed that by "danmaku" the fairy meant "barrage" ...
"Yay! More danmaku!" said a particularly excitable-looking fairy.
"I dunno, they're only gonna fall over so many times," said the first one.
"Well, she hit me!" said the one that had originally shown up. "I wanna hit her back now!"
"Let's come up with more danmaku patterns then," said a different one.
"Yay! More danmaku!" said the excitable one.
"I know! How about we lead them to a man-eating youkai?" said a fairy in a red dress.
"I still wanna hit them!" said the original fairy.
"Nah, there aren't really any of those around anymore," said the one that had suggested more patterns.
"So ... danmaku?"
"Yay! More danmaku!"
"More danmaku it is then!"
"Uh ... hey, where'd they go?"
... and may the gentle reader permit the perspective to shift backward, away from the the fairies, and pull the old trick of revealing that the most recent perspective is actually being viewed from afar on some sort of screen or magical contrivance — though in this case it seems to be a slit in reality, tied off at the ends by red ribbons, with demonic red eyes peering out of the slit ...
Oh — and a pair of violet eyes, framed by golden hair.
"What stupid creatures," said Maribel as they wandered down the path.
"Fairies aren't exactly renowned for their brilliance in any mythology I've read," said Renko. She glanced at the sky. "19:31, sun's going down," she added.
"You think we should try to head back?" said Maribel, glancing back over her shoulder.
Renko considered this. "Well, we have enough provisions for a couple of days at least," she said. "I mean, assuming it doesn't get stolen by fairies ... which is something I never thought I'd say seriously ..."
Maribel nodded. "We were planning on spending the night," she said thoughtfully. "Of course, that brings up the question of how safe we'd be, all things considered ..."
"Yeah," said Renko. "I think we're going to need to come up with some way of defending ourselves in any case. Especially if you can't throw another one of those orbs."
Maribel nodded. "Especially if we run into one of those ... man-eating youkai," she said. "They seemed ... too stupid to be easily fooled about the existence of something like that."
"Yeah ... anyway, it'd make more sense to try to get 'em worried about fairy-eating youkai," said Renko. She shrugged. "Well, guess we'll have to set up camp soon."
After a moment, the trees began to thin out. They began to catch glimpses of buildings, all old Japanese-style. They seemed to be on the outskirts of the forest, which began on the outskirts of something else.
"A village?" murmured Maribel.
"Looks like it," said Renko. "Let's ... hang back and try to observe it from further away. We don't know how friendly the natives are likely to be, especially after that roving gang of fairies."
In fact, the natives seemed to be nonexistant.
After several moments of skulking around at the edge, they determined that the village seemed to be devoid of human life. Er ... humanoid life. They began to get more bold, and directly entered it.
An eerie silence hovered over the village — even more silent than the forest had been. All the buildings looked more or less as you'd expect a medium-sized Japanese village from 1884 to look like. They were arranged around a somewhat twisting road which meandered along, and fanned outward from it. They all seemed in perfect condition — not necessarily as if they'd been built yesterday, but as if they had been properly and very carefully maintained.
"This is ... very odd," she said.
"You're telling me," said Renko. "It looks ... not abandoned, so much as just ... empty." She looked around, then hesitated as she glanced between a pair of buildings. "Ah!"
Maribel blinked and looked. "What?"
"Thought I saw a fairy, but it flew away," said Renko. "They must not like being around ... human ... settlements ..."
Her voice trailed off, leaving behind the unspoken question whether it was, in fact, a human settlement.
"Maybe ... she was just creeped out by this place," said Maribel.
Renko frowned. "I'd certainly understand that, too," she said.
"Why? Are you scared?" said Maribel.
"No," said Renko. "You?"
Maribel considered this. "Terrified," she said.
Renko nodded. "Me too."
At that moment, a loud mrowl filtered over the rooftops. It sounded like an ordinary housecat, except with the volume turned up, and a somewhat odd modulation to it.
Maribel took a deep breath. "Right, I think we'd better head back," she said.
"Me too," said Renko as they both turned around. "I have a feeling it's a bad idea to be out at night in Gensokyo this close to a full moon, anyway."
"It'd be easier to see, uh, things," said Maribel.
"Yeah, but they'd see us, too," said Renko.
A cat suddenly ran across the street in front of them. At least, it looked like a cat.
"Hmm," said Renko.
"Ah," said Maribel.
There was a moment of hesitation. Neither of them particularly wanted to be the first one to point the strange parts.
"Did it have two tails?" Renko said after a moment.
"Er ... maybe," said Maribel, not entirely sure she wanted to know the answer. "Was ... was there a sort of reddish glow?"
"It had to be a trick of the light," Renko said automatically, as if she was trying to reassure herself.
There was a moment of silence.
"We're in Gensokyo," said Maribel crisply. "What kind of light?"
"The light of the smouldering ruins of Hell," said mewling, feminine voice from somewhere nearby.
It didn't actually sound all that sinister. In fact, it sounded like the speaker was imitating a carnival announcer, selling a haunted house or a scary show in the exact same tone of voice in which every other announcer was selling everything else. However, Maribel found that this was more than cancelled out by the circumstances, particularly since the way it echoed around the houses made it impossible to tell what direction it was coming from.
Then guitar music began to play. It was a somewhat forlorn tune, and part of this seemed to be because it would sound much better with at least three other instruments.
Maribel exchanged a glance with Renko. This entire evening was turning out to be rather surreal. They began hurrying back down the road leading out of the village.
They rounded a bend in the road and saw a figure reclining on the roof of one of the houses. In the dimming light, they could see that it was a young woman who looked like she was in her late teens or early twenties, with bright red hair in a pair of braids. She wore an elaborate green dress, and was playing on a Spanish guitar.
Oh — and she had a pair of black-furred cat-ears. And a pair of black-furred cat-tails.
Below her, a grey metal wheelbarrow rested against the building.
"Hey there," she said. "Welcome to Mayohiga."
"Er," said Maribel. "Hi." Wait, Mayohiga? Isn't that ...?
"Hello," said Renko.
The woman grinned like the cat, Maribel thought, who was about to swallow the canary. She nodded at her guitar. "'The Lullaby for the Deserted Hell' wasn't made for this place, but I kinda feel like it fits well enough," she said, in a conversational tone which managed to sound vaguely threatening in a "can't be bothered to eviscerate you this very minute" sort of way. "Most people don't end up in this place unless they're lost. 'Course, you look like you're outsiders, so that probably goes double for ya." Her left cat-ear flicked. "Name's Orin. You?"
Maribel hesitated, then bowed. "My name is Maribel, and this is Renko."
"Nice ta meetcha," said Orin, still playing on the guitar.
"Er ... if you don't mind my asking," said Renko, getting out her camera, "what ... are you, exactly?"
"A youkai," said Orin conversationally. "A hell-cat. A kasha." She grinned down at them in a predatory manner. "Feel free ta take pictures."
Holy shit. Fairies were one thing, but when Maribel thought about it, she realized that this was an actual real-live creature with human intelligence. It was like first contact with some sort of alien race. On the other hand, there was still the vague threat in the air. What the hell were they supposed to do? Run away? Bombard her with questions?
Just to see what would happen, Maribel looked at the borders. It wasn't exactly sight, or at least the multicolored ghostly shapes she saw in the air didn't exactly obscure anything behind them. From this perspective, Orin seemed to be in the center of a dark red sphere which distorted the view behind her.
"So you take corpses away?" said Maribel nervously. "In your ... cart?"1 Wait, she has cat-ears ... and human-ears?
"Yeah." Orin smirked. "Oh, stop lookin' like that, heh. I take corpses, I don't make 'em. Don't be all worried about me." She gestured. "Worry about her."
"O-rinnnnnn!" A younger-looking girl literally flew over the rooftops and landed on a roof across the street from Orin. She wore a red dress and a poofy green hat, and also had cat-ears and two tails. "You've been scaring the fairies away — huh?" She blinked, glancing down at Maribel and Renko in surprise.
Maribel stared back up at her, feeling a sudden rush of familiarity. What!? It can't be ...
"Hey there, Chen," Orin purred (figuratively), smirking. "These are two outsiders who just sorta wandered in here by accident."
"Um ... right," snapped Chen, recovering. "Well, you still can't just barge in here and scare everything away!"
"Everything?" murmured Renko.
"Probably more youkai," said Maribel, still frowning as she stared at Chen. With the border vision, she could see a much fainter and dimmer aura around Chen.
Orin stopped playing, and put down the guitar. "Yeah? Whaddaya gonna do about it, kitten?" she sneered. "Hit me with yer stage-2 danmaku?"
Chen glared at her, and rose up into the air, showing flagrant disregard for the law of gravity. Orin stretched as she did as well, giving the impression that this was tiresome on principle, but some upstart needed to get the crap beaten out of her, and Orin was the only one who could do so at the moment.
"I think we should take cover," said Renko.
"Me too," said Maribel, backing away.
Orin drew what appeared to be some sort of card out of nowhere, and exclaimed, "Cursed Sprite 「Zombie Fairy」!" That last part was in English.
A dark red and purple glow surrounded her, and a glowing hexagram in a circle appeared around her. Several spectral figures appeared around her, resembling the ghosts of fairies, complete with little haloes, and then they began to release tiny white orbs of light.
Chen hmphed, drawing a card of her own. "Oni Sign 「Red Oni, Blue Oni」," she snarled, and became surrounded by a red and black haze, a ring of light appearing around her. Her border-aura shrank, and began glowing more brightly
This seemed to give Orin pause. "Do what now?" she said in English, then let out a yelp as a pair of giant bubbles of light appeared, one red and one blue, and began soaring towards Orin, leaving in their wake a veritable cloud of orbs.
Renko and Maribel hid in one of the houses.
It was basically just a single room with tatami flooring, paper walls, and a roof. There were almost no furnishings, beyond a table in the middle with a single bowl resting on it. It didn't look like something anyone could even sleep in, let alone spend any considerable time in. Clean and well-kept, though.
"No one could possibly actually live here," murmured Renko.
"Yeah, really," said Maribel. "Uh ... with my border-vision, I could see auras around them. Orin was bigger and brighter at first, but right before the fight began, Chen's shrank and became brighter than Orin's ..."
"Hmm ... interesting," said Renko, tapping her chin as she looked at Maribel. "That's a use for that power we hadn't thought of before."
"Yeah," said Maribel. "Um ... Renko, I think I've dreamed about meeting that smaller catgirl before."
"What?" Renko looked sideways at her. "What do you mean?"
"It was when I knew I'd really gotten the hang of learning Japanese, because I started having dreams in it," said Maribel. "One of them was ... well ... you know that woman we keep seeing around downtown, with the purple dress?"
"The one who looks like you?" said Renko.
"Renko, having blond hair does not make someone automatically look like me," said Maribel, mock-indignantly.
Renko shrugged. "Well, go on."
Maribel nodded. "I had a dream that I was her," she said, "and that I was having a tea party with ... Chen, a nine-tailed fox, and two ghosts. Or, well, one of them was supposed to be a half-ghost."
"Half-ghost?" said Renko. "How's that supposed to work?"
Maribel shrugged. "Beats me. I just ... knew it in the dream."
"Guess it was just a strange dream, then," said Renko.
The sounds of combat filtered in from outside. "Oni God 「Soaring Guardian God」!" yelled Chen.
"Augh! When the hell did you become an Ex-Boss!?" exclaimed Orin. "Atonement 「Needle Mountain of a Former Hell」! Ow!"
Maribel cautiously peeked out the door. Curiously enough, while both of their attacks seemed rather impressive, and many of them struck the houses, there seemed to be no actual collateral damage. The various orbs and bubbles simply vanished with bursts of light as they slammed into the ground and buildings.
Chen was circling around Orin, leaving a trail of blue arrowheads of light, releasing bursts of large purple orbs at regular intervals. Orin was unleashing a shower of slow-moving shards of light, as well as spinning rings of orbs that scythed through the air. The ghost-fairies were nowhere to be seen.
As the two humans watched, several arrowheads struck Orin, who let out a yelp. Immediately, all the various arrowheads and orbs and shapes vanished in a dazzling shower of green sparks.
"Dammit!" whined Orin, showing signs of tiring. She whipped out a card. "「Rekindling of Dead Ashes」!!"
She began to unleash a swarm of glowing red bubbles and much smaller blue and red orbs, while Chen resumed her slow circling, both weaving and bobbing as they avoided each other's barrage. After less than a minute, Orin got caught between several purple orbs and another set of arrowheads. There was a loud thunderclap and explosion of light from Orin, who fell out of the sky and crashed to the ground.
Maribel winced. "That must've hurt ..."
"Yeah," said Renko. "Uh ... what was that she said earlier? In English?"
"Um." Maribel tried to figure out how the hell you were supposed to translate phrases like that into other languages. "It was ... a nonsensical expression of utter confusion."
"Ah," said Renko.
Orin got to her feet, dusting herself off and looking almost completely unharmed, though there did seem to be a bit of a wobble to her movements. "Well, crap," she said without rancor. "Ah well ... I lost, so it can't be helped." She wandered over to her wheelbarrow, jumped up and grabbed her guitar, and gently set the latter in the former. A haze of light surrounded her for an instant, and then cart, cat, and guitar disappeared, leaving behind a black-furred two-tailed cat, with an unearthly red glow. It promptly dashed away in the direction of the forest.
Chen sighed as she landed, her ears drooping slightly. "So annoying," she muttered. "Well ... at least she didn't find out I was only an Ex-Midboss ..."
"Ex-what?" said Renko.
Chen glanced at the two humans. "Oh. Hi," she said. "Er ... sorry about that." She rubbed the back of her head. "I'm Chen. What's your names?"
Renko bowed. "I'm Renko, and this is Mari ... er ... Maer ... i ..."
"Maribel," said Maribel.
"Yeah, that," said Renko.
"Pleased to meet you," said Maribel.
"Yeah, uh," murmured Chen. "Um, look ... I can't stay really long since I fought her off ... but, er ... I'll lead you find a clearing near here, you'll probably be safe there." She sounded like she'd get in a huge amount of trouble if she let them stay.
"That's all right," said Renko. "We were ... well, sort of planning on staying in Gensokyo overnight anyway ..."
Chen's ears flicked. "Uh ... what?" she said. "You wanted to wander around in Gensokyo, and you don't even know about danmaku or even how to fly?"
Chen gave a brief explanation as she led them through the forest. It was like this:
If you could fly, and intended to fly anywhere you might run into fairies, you needed to learn to use danmaku — the collective term for the various orbs and arrowheads of light which they swarmed around. One bullet, two bullets, a curtain of bullets.2 They didn't really cause harm, but they tended to hurt like hell, and were great for nonfatally chasing off intruders.
Because they couldn't actually seriously injure each other, given that (a) they were youkai and much more durable, and (b) actually harming humans was frowned upon these days, they had a set of rules, generally in terms of how many danmaku-patterns you had — and they had to be patterns; utter randomness was greatly frowned upon. You had to create a "Spell Card", which was a particularly interesting danmaku pattern. Spell Cards took a fair amount of power to start, but once you'd done so, you could usually sustain them for several minutes, and even "pause" them for a second or two without harm. You and your opponent then dodged each other's patterns.
You started with your weakest patterns, and when it ended, you moved onto the next-strongest, generally alternating between Spell Cards and normal patterns. Getting hit by too many attacks caused your pattern to fail. Your opponent was required to pause their own spellcard while you recovered and launched your next one, though this was generally dealt with by the fact that all bullets in a certain radius disappeared. If you ran out of energy or Spell Cards, you lost the duel. This tended to be signalled by a sort of critical-explosion of your magic when you got hit for the last time. The system wasn't perfect, and didn't quite level the playing field between humans and youkai, but it seemed to work well enough.
You were rated based on (a) the volume and complexity of your patterns, and (b) how many distinct patterns you had energy for. The first was your "stage," and was on a scale from 1 to 6 (the sixth was sometimes called "final"), followed by Extra, or Ex for short; the second was Weak, Normal, Midboss, and Boss, and was relative to your stage: if you had three Spell Cards and you were at stage 1, you were a Boss, but at Extra Stage you were a Midboss; Ex bosses could use up to ten Spell Cards. Weak and Normal combatants didn't actually have Spell Cards, just maybe one bullet pattern.
"Orin was a Stage 5 Boss," said Chen, as she led them down a path which, for the most part, wasn't actually there, but she seemed to slice her way through the underbrush with her claws. "I'm usually a Stage 2 Boss, but I can focus my power to become an Ex-Midboss, especially with Ran's help. Ah, here we are!"
They arrived in a small clearing. It was one of those small naturally-occuring groves, a gap in the forest which had come into existence more or less by coincidence.
"Ran?" said Maribel, starting to take off her backpack. "Who's that?"
"Ah," said Chen, her ears perking up. "I am the shikigami to Ran Yakumo-sama!" she said, bowing. "She is a powerful nine-tailed fox! She's a mighty Ex-Boss, and a shikigami herself!"
"Really," said Renko, glancing at Maribel. "A shikigami with a shikigami? Who's her master?"
Chen beamed. "Yukari Yakumo," she said, as if she was talking about a beloved grandmother. "She's the greatest youkai in Gensokyo! She's so powerful they had to make a new stage called Phantasm for her!"
Maribel felt the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. Are they friends with any ghosts? she did not say. Instead, she said, "Well, thanks for helping us find this place," she said.
Chen nodded and bowed. "You're welcome," she said, and then seemed to tense up a bit as if realizing how late it had gotten. "Um. Sorry I can't stay longer, I'll look for you in the morning. Goodbye!" She leaped into the air and flew away.
"Hmmm," said Renko. "Now I've gotten curious. A nine-tailed fox ... You should've asked what Yukari looks like."
"Mm." Maribel looked up at the sky. "Well ... I guess Chen thought we were safe enough here," she said. "The way she was talking about other youkai, I'd say Mayohiga was the scariest thing for miles ..."
"Let's hope she was right, then," said Renko, getting out the bundled-up pup tent. "To be honest, I'd rather stay indoors than try camp outdoors around here, but I don't want to get on this Ran Yakumo's bad side. I think both are better than trying to get back to the Shrine at night, anyway." Then her stomach grumbled. "Ah! I guess it's time for dinner, then. Followed by sleep," she added. "The evening went by quick, didn't it?"
"Yeah ... guess that happens when you have to dodge fairies and ... danmaku," said Maribel with a shrug. Great, a word which meant something entirely different in a different context whilst using the same characters and pronounciation. It was her Japanese growing pains all over again. Meanwhile, she felt hungry herself, come to think of it ...
Renko grinned, pulling an apple out of her backpack. "Well, itadakimasu,"3 she said.
1The Japanese term for wheelbarrow, "nekoguruma" (猫車), literally translates to "cat-cart."
2Danmaku (弾幕), the Japanese word for "barrage," was made up of the characters for "bullet" and "curtain".
3Said in Japan before every meal as a way of giving thanks.
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