Alleyway to Heaven pt. 2

August 04, 2015:

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…


No shit, it's a bit of a walk. Down paths lit with stone lamps throwing out ghostly otherworldly light. Through the forests and along the river into the main Fujin shrine, which is a far larger and more ornate affair tended by Priests and priestess who offer the pair waves and bows as they go. Across the road and, well the city just sort of explodes from nowhere. Busy sidewalks, cute little japanese shops and it's all pleasantly anonymous. Maybe half an hour, and the city has begun to look decidedly more sparse and quasi-industrial with lots of steel and warehouses. Here, across the street sits a little motorcycle dealership in a cute two story brick building. It's notable because of the little Fujin statue in the shop window, beside the battered black and gold race bike set there. The neon lights above, well presuming Tim can read Kanji read "Tsukino Honda Racing". What did Sho say his last name was?
Anyway, down the alley across the street from the dealership sits a cute little shop next to a trio of used book stores. Theres a logo of a Rabbit jumping out of a top hat, and a pentagram etched into the glass on the front window but the kanji isn't terribly descriptive. Inside it's dimly lit, and the shelves are stuffed with card decks, top hats, wands, trick coins. It's a magician's supply, well the stage magician's supply anyway. Seated behind the counter sits a girl maybe not quite eighteen, dressed in a dinner jacket tuxedo cut from bright red and white. She's got, well look at that. A japanese translated version of…well the symbols are not stage magic for sure. This is all arcane and entirely european in nature, the sort've thing used to summon, contain or banish demons. She's enough into this tome, that all she does is wave until Sho clears his throat.
"Hello Nao, how are you today? I brought you somone to meet, I hope it's not too much trouble to ask you to speak english?"She looks up, deer in the headlights for a moment before her jaw drops open and theres a rapid fire exchange of japanese before she turns to offer tim a polite bow. "Hello, and welcome to Mori Illusions. I am Nao Mori, my brother here tells me you would like to discuss magic so please. Let me close shop, Sho would you please escourt our guest to the backroom?"Wait wait. Mori is Sho's fake last name, right?


As they stepped away from that initial building the small Owl fluttered across the way to land upon Timothy's shoulder, settling in nicely for the journey.
Along the way, Tim had been chatting reasonably to pass the time. Nothing too terribly controversial or exciting, more perhaps comparing and constrasting food types. He'd explained the differences between the quartet of pizza joints in Greenwich, had gone on to the Moroccan place, and then had just started covering the other Middle-Eastern choices when they wandered past that Honda Racing sign. That, of course, brought up the topic of fast dangerous two-wheeled vehicles and it became clear that Timothy wasn't the sort to ride in such things.
When they reached the store, however, his words trailed off. Something about the place seemed compelling, intriguing to the young man. There was once again that air of potentiality that floated on the edge of awareness, like a subtle taste of ozone on the tip of the tongue the split second before someone french-kisses a light socket.
They wander inside and Sho makes the initial introduction to which Tim hushes up and lets them be conducted as suitable by the fellow. When he's introduced he smiles and offers a small wave as well as a slight ducking of his head as if trying to approximate a bow.
"Well, I don't know how interesting of a conversational partner I can be. Just a fair amount of magic has entered my life of late."


She offers the sort've smile that could just kill a man "Oh shush you, if you're a friend of Sho you're a friend of Nao. Now go make yourself at home, I'm going to lock up alright?"She jumps the counter and eases towards the front of the store with a bounce and a hum. Sho seems, well he's still doing his cool guy thing. Leading Tim through a beaded curtain and up a narrow flight of stairs to a large room above. A library, of a strictly occult nature. There are books full of power in here, charms and all sorts of the nuts and bolts of actual practical magic. "How can you not love motorcycles Tim, they are practical for this kind of life you know? When we get back to New York, I'll have to teach you how to ride. It's you're heritage you know."Sho pauses at the round table in the center of the room, slipping out of his jacket.
Nevermind that T-shirt of his covered in Kanji, or the vivid ink which graces his arms as he sits down."The modern motorcycle evolved because of England, Mr.Honda himself had great admiration for the English in his life time. He traveled to England many times to discuss design with the companies there it-"Cut off with a shush, as Nao finally arrives with a tray of thankfully English tea. She takes a moment to set the table, before taking a seat herself. "Nao, Tim here is aware of the Tokyo Nightmare. He came to speak with Kuro Neko, Fujin seems to like him so there is that."
Nao eyes Sho quietly for a moment before nodding and in a burst of brilliant green flame that Tuxedo is replaced by, well theres a black dress and what can only be described as a witch's hat. A black cat emerges from beneath the table to wander, as Nao Parks her broom off to one side to let it stand straight up all by itself. "So, Tim. Friend of the Tokyo Nightmare and Sho, who has been approved by Fujin himself. What can the Black Cat do for you hmm, you wanted to talk magic?"


Yo-Yo, the owl, abruptly squawks at the burst of flame but not in the squawk of a sort of fear… more somehow of recognition. That doesn't stop him from eyeing the cat, however. Those wide saucer eyes of his focus on the kitty but then he turns his head up as if sniffing affectedly.
Tim, on the other hand, is involved in chatting pleasantly with Sho and Nao. At first in response to Sho's comment about motorcycles he replies, "Oh just I never got over those old driver's educational films they showed us in school. Made a promise to my parentals to never ride such a contraption…"
But then Nao makes her appearance and Tim smiles back as he replies, "If you like, I don't really know too much though I have been taking up a bit of a study. Apparently I'm supposed to know a good amount, but for me magic as theory escapes me entirely it seems. Applicable magic perhaps is a bit easier, but…"
He pauses and looks at Sho, but perhaps perceives that the man is following along easily enough and so he continues. "You see…" Timothy looks back to Nao, "A month or so ago I was told that I had to take up the study. My home was overrun with various tomes, I realized I apparently had a familiar that I'd never gotten acquainted with, and people started proclaiming all sorts of titles for me. Of late Faeries have been appearing in my dreams and the other week I apparently made a deal with the North Wind to fend off a skeletal army."
He takes a breath, then adds. "It's a bit much to take in."


Sho quiets down to let the nerds talk, thankfully. "Well, what are these titles you have been bestowed with?"Nao's fairly relaxed here, pouring tea for Tim and herself. Honest to god English tea no less, holy shit! "I find there is nothing to understand, magic is much like philosphy or art. You may read all you want about art theory, but it will not make you an artist. You become an artist not from a book, but from a brush do you not?"Pausing to sip after her tea. "I began at a very young age, classical Japanese magic which is for all intensive purposes more paper based than Chinese but much the same. My more, european arts were the result of a little study but mostly experimentation. I would do a thing, and then read about why it did or did not work. It is I think wrong to read, and then try. You must try, and then read if you are to truly learn anything."
Theres another pause as she lifts to set her hat atop that broomstick of hers. "I believe, much like Sho that you cannot ever truly learn anything new. We are all born with the totality of knowladge and understanding, you merely remember or forget. Years ago when we were researching our unorthodox connection, we spent some time scrying into past lives. I was not terribly good at that art, but would you be surprised to find Sho has been a swordsman in every past life we could detect? I have been a priestess, shamaness or similar in all of mine. We are born to the lives which fate dictates for us, we are born and we die as we are. I'm going to borrow a page from Sho's book and qoute some buddhist nonsense for you to ponder. All knowing comes from within, and this was apparently said by the Buddha himself."


For a time Tim sort of hems and haws. He looks aside, taking up the cup of tea in both his hands and holding it there. Hey, more tea, but this kind is different. He looks back to her as he perhaps prepares her for his revelation. "Well, you guys have to promise not to laugh. It's sort of… weird, a little embarassing. To me it's like…"
There's a pause, then he looks over. "Like rock and roll." He seems to embrace the metaphor, brightening up as he develops it. "So say one day you're sort of doing your own thing in your life, then suddenly out of nowhere Colonel Tom Parker shows up at your door and tells you that you've secretly been Elvis all this time and what are you doing here sleeping in your one bedroom one bath apartment?"
Searching for looks of comprehension, Tim looks between them, then sighs and says. "Well that basically happened. Yo-Yo," He gestures to the owl, "Showed up, and then all these… animated books started to show up so that it's pretty hard to get around my home now. And I am being called The Merlin, The Opener, The Rider, The Shaper of Ways."


Sho doesn't seem surprised, but this is sufficient to produce a little smile from Nao. "Well then, I take it you are not so sure? It's probably true, especially if Fujin approved of you walking into his heart along with Sho. The Ninja would never admit it, but the Wind god is a curious sort. He probably wanted a look at you, he probably heard you're Merlin so he wanted a peek. The fact that Sho didn't kill you at his request, suggests it's true."
"You should never presume to know the will of heaven, Nao. It's ways are not for your knowing, so please do not speak as if you've just had tea with my lord."Sho's tone is measured, but Nao only waves a hand dismissively. "I am no assasin, it would be like using a sledge hammer to swat a fly."
"Sho, you've killed plenty as long as they're not human and not still alive. All at his request, I was standing right beside you for most of that so don't you go bury it under your bushido nonsense. -Anyway-, Tim. If you're Merlin then so what, you're Merlin. It does not matter if you were told you were King Arthur, these are men who learned. If you've got some doubt you're not the real thing, forget that. Not knowing everything instantly is the way of human existance, everyone was ignorant of things at one time or another. Everyone had to learn, or rather to remember and this takes time and practice and experiences. You're sitting with Japan's most infamous witch, it's most infamous Ninja and you just walked out of the inner sanctum of a wind god. To use coarse language, that sounds like some pretty Merlin type shit to me how about you?"


"Oh no, don't misunderstand me…" Tim straightens up at that resounding speech from Nao as he listens to her. He smiles openly and gestures with his hands as if asking for her to take the answer from him. "I am fairly certain I _am_ Merlin. On some level. It's hard to explain, but the few times I've felt myself be able to _do_ things, it felt entirely natural. It's just sort of frustrating to apparently have missed out on a large chunk of my life and have to rediscover it, or reexperience it again."
He takes a breath and looks between the two of them, then takes a sip of tea. A beat passes, then he adds, "Though it has gotten me to actually study now, since I want to come up with a way to keep various things from interfering with my dreams. It's hard to sleep when it seems like any old magical sort can saunter on in."


"On weekends, I'm a shrine maiden to the Goddess Inari. So allow me to impart some advice as a priestess, alright Merlin?"She smiles a little at that, because well chilling with Merlin is -cool-. "The desire for perfection, ruins the soul. Perfect understanding, perfect wealth, perfect happiness. In Japan we have an art called Kintsugi, it's repairing broken pottery with gold. The idea is that, this broken imperfect thing is all the more beautiful for it's flaws. We use gold so you see the damage, so you can appreciate it's flaws. This is very important, it's why in Japan we do much of what we do. Why Sho raced with black and gold, though theres a story there too. Why the Tokyo Nightmare cavorts around in black and gold too, I would but gold just does nothing for my eyes."
She pauses there, sipping after her tea. "You are all the more perfect for your faults, for newness, your ignorance. It makes you perfect, it makes you you. The journey between Tim, and everything Merlin is claimed to be? That's the point, thats what you should experience and enjoy and take great satisfaction in. It would be very easy to make a mistake, think of it this way. If I pointed at the moon, you should not focus on my finger. Does that make sense?"


A small chuckle comes form him as she finishes speaking, and he even does take a glance upwards as if trying to espy the moon. But he looks back at her and laughs faintly before responding with a murmur, "I suppose you're right. I suppose that there is more of a story there in the journey than if I simply woke up one day whole and complete."
He takes another sip of tea and then sets the cup back down. He looks between the two of them, "In any case, that's enough about me and my problems. Was there something that I could help you both with? I had the inclination that perhaps your lord might have use of me in some capacity, else why go to such trouble and gain my presence?"


"It is not our place to question the will of heaven, Tim."Sho finally throws that line out, -again- before sipping after his tea. "I'm quite fine for the moment thankyou, though Sho might have a point there. Fujin isn't human, it's a mistake to believe he shares human motivations. I mean he travels in all five dimensions with complete freedom, that is the world he was born to. I'd ask for you to look after my brother, but I doubt you're that type. The Tokyo nightmare, does have a well deserved reputation for playing rough. Might not be the sort of thing you're suited to, but then again maybe it is you who need Sho?"She shrugs some, swirling her tea as she muses. "Maybe this, maybe that, maybe something else. Though well I will say this, tagging along with Sho was a learning experience. He doesn't have enchanted gear you know, and he's not allowed to use guns or anything."


"Yeah, he already showed me a bit. There was this robbery in the local bodega and he was able to…" There's a pause, then Tim smiles a bit, "Of course you're probably well aware of what he is capable. Foolish of me to relate such." He straightens up and then Tim gives a nod, "Well then I am sure if he wishes aught of me then eventually those wishes will become clear. Perhaps I should just… enjoy the ride, as it were."
With that said he moves to refill his cup of tea once again, also offering to do likewise for their cups should they so wish. Once that's down he sets the pot down with a faint click of ceramic then takes up his cup again. "I had a momentary burst of anxiety there as I thought I would have to be at work in a few hours, but then realized I don't have to worry about that anymore after all."


"It's called the falling leaf slice, it is a technique taught to me by my sensei. He was a brave and noble Ninja, I once saw him perform that trick with a butter knife. I am not yet quite that good, but yes you can be an associate of mine if you want. We'll need to teach you how to ride a motorcycle"Que the eyeroll from Nao as she throws her hands in the air.
"Sho, this is nuts."Nao clears her throat, setting her tea down before looking to tim. "Daiten Futekina, Sho's old Sensei? I'm sure you saw the armor at the temple, blue and white and hacked apart? Yeah Daiten got bitten by some sort've cursed monster in England, came back strange. One day he finally falls to whatever darkness he'd been tainted with. Tries to turn Sho, who was still just an apprentice along with him. "Sho lifts a hand, but well Nao's rolling now. "Kills my big brother, wants Sho to kill me. Snot nosed and still wearing just a scarf cuz he was too little to have earned the mask, he kills Daiten with one blow. There was maybe eight of us there, two other Ninjas even. Blade was so fast nobody saw Sho draw, nobody saw him hit Daiten but he cut him nearly in half. Bouncing bullets I'm guessing is what you saw him do, Sho's too humble for his own good but that had fuckall to do with Daiten and everything to do with Sho."Sho just, mumbles and sinks back into his tea.
"He tried to console me, I think I was maybe nine? Told me he'd be my big brother from now on, protect me. Lovely story, you see like most Biker types. Sho over there is mortified at the thought of coming off sappy, but he's just a big softie who's swordplay is rare."She smiles, apparently pleased she's gotten Sho to squirm. "He's a natural, staffs, kama, bows and arrows, shuriken, his hands. You name it. Daiten had nothing to do with any of it."

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