((A/N: So... I have no idea where this inspiration came from (yes I do, it's because I'm reading fanfics again, likeSail Smarter, Not Harder by fringeperson, and some other stories written by Tsume Yuki). I'm being mauled by college right now, and my muse won't let me focus. So you guys get the benefit. There may be some other stuff coming out in the Final Fantasy 7 section, and the Hunter X Hunter category, so keep a look out! And away we go!))
Work smarter, work harder was a saying Nanami identifies with well. She would have to with a part time job, full time school, and juggling an irresponsible father longer than she could remember. But a whole new society and culture revealed to her just because some guy kissed her forehead takes the cake. Now she is a part of this new world, and she's determined to not screw this up by rushing in like an idiot.
Nanami sat down in front of the Will 'o Wisps, "Alright, so I'm apparently the Land God of this shrine. What does that mean for me?"
That Tomoe jerk had left a few minutes ago, and the Wisps had only just calmed down from their panic. One of them perked up at the answer. "There are many responsibilities of the Land God of the Mikage Shrine! The collections box needs to be kept clean, the yard needs to be weeded."
The second Wisp took over in excitement, "The shrine and yard needs to be purified, the donation money needs to be counted, and the backlog of prayers needs to be acknowledged!" Sometime during their list, the two Wisps started to dance, coming to stop at a kabuki pose when they had finished.
The new Land God smiled at them, they were cute children. "How many of those tasks can you help me with?" Nanami asked.
The two shook their heads, moving to sit respectfully in front of her, "We know how to cook, but Master Tomoe was the one to maintain the shrine and record the prayers."
She nodded, a plan formed in her mind. "Do you know how to read or write?" She asked and got a shake of the head in return. She let her eyes wander over the small room. "Then that's what we're going to do for the next couple days until you've gotten the hang of it, and you can read the prayers out loud while I take care of the place." The Land God glanced back at the Wisps and asked, "Can you bring me the prayers?" The two nodded, and scurried away in search of the tombs.
Nanami moved so she can lean against the wall, and shifted until she's comfortable. The Wisps were back, and with them, many stacks of bound paper. The God lifted the top book from the closest pile and beckoned the two Wisps to sit on either side of her.
She began to read, her finger following the words on the page. "Please God, I want to meet her again..."
Nanami woke to rays of sunshine in her eyes. She sat up from the futon she slept in, to look around the bare room. There was a knock, and the door slid open to show the Wisps floating in with breakfast. "Good morning Lady Nanami!" They chorused as they placed the food down in front of her. She greeted them back just a warmly, having learned their names the night before.
Breakfast was soon eaten, and Nanami was pulling on her clothes from yesterday. "I have to run errand, I'll be back later!" She called before walking through the Tori gate.
Only to be crashed back inside the gate's threshold. "Onikiri! What was that for?" She shouted at the robed bundle in her arms.
Kotetsu floated above nervously, "Lady Nanami, you can't leave the shrine without some protection. There are demons that will kill you because of your status and powers as the Land God. Demons with the intention to do harm are repulsed from these grounds, so you a safe within the boundary, but no further!"
Onikiri rose to float next to Kotetsu, and Nanami pushed herself to her feet. "So I'm stuck here until I'm strong enough to protect myself from demons? How can I possibly do that? I'm a human!" She shouted up at them, brushing the dirt off her clothes.
Kotetsu looked like he was about to cry, and Nanami felt guilty for losing her temper. "You acknowledge prayers given to your shrine, and practice creating talismans to increase your divine power." The Wisp said.
In her mind, the prayers just were bumped up to the top of her priority list. Outwardly, she sighed. "I'm sorry for yelling at you two, but I really have to let my school know that I can't attend for a while, and possibly a refund for the rest of the school term."
"There is a way for you to be able to leave the shrine grounds!" Nanami's head snapped up in attention. "All you have to do is make Tomoe-dono your familiar, and he will protect you from harm!" Onikiri said enthusiastically.
"I refuse." Nanami stated without a beat of hesitation. "You want me to force a demon with a bad personality that obviously doesn't like humans to become my familiar? A demon that almost killed me the moment we met. A demon that in order to protect me, would have to be stronger than the demons -and possibly more than one at a time- that want to kill me. Me, a human with no experience as a God whatsoever against that demon? No thanks." She spun on her heel and walked back to the shrine.
And on the open deck lazily sat Tomoe. "At least you have some sense. For a human." He commented, she saw him idly glancing at the stack of prayer books that she had been told that he had written over two decades.
The new Land God had managed to get around halfway into the third book before falling asleep the night previous. Which was where she was planning to resume right then. "I suppose I can deliver a message to your school for something in exchange..." The fox demon trailed off with a sly expression, stopping Nanami from cracking the third book open to where she left off.
"In exchange for what?" The God asked suspiciously. The fox demon had given quite the first impression, and it wasn't at all positive.
Tomoe scratched his chin with a long fingernail. "If you say, "Please Tomoe-sama, grant this lowly human a favor," with a low bow, then I'll consider it."
"Not going to do it." She said, and opened the book.
"Then make me some bamboo rice cakes to my standards, and I'll deliver your message." He said with a wave of his hand.
Nanami stared at him with a measuring look, "Promise?" He did so, and she nodded. "Kotetsu," she called, handing the book to the Wisp, "you're going to try reading out loud while I cook. And Onikiri," the Wisp floated closer, "can you get the rice and bamboo leaves out, and show me where the spices are?" The two Wisps nodded and led their mistress to the kitchen, leaving Tomoe alone sprawled across the front deck.
He could hear the burner sizzling against wet metal, the quiet thumping of a knife chopping against wood, the sound of water boiling, and Kotetsu stumbling his way through the sentences of prayer with quiet corrections from the human. He wasn't paying too much attention to the passing time, lulled by the unobtrusive sounds until he was half-asleep, but he knew much of it had passed when he heard a pair of thumping feet getting louder. He sat up to watch the human place the platter of neatly wrapped rectangular bamboo rice cakes by his side.
He snatched one off the top, and peeled the leaf back to take a bite. The fox demon probably would have gaped at the surprisingly good flavor and texture in his mouth if the human wasn't sitting next to him. It wasn't the very best he's had, but it was a close second- maybe third. Instead, he removed the rest of the bamboo from the cake in his hand and tossed it in his mouth when he was done with his first bite. Tomoe noticed the human was waiting for him to say something, so he looked thoughtful for a moment before shrugging, "Good enough." He grabbed another off the pile and noticed the human had walked back inside.
There were only a few left on the platter when she returned with a paper in her hand. Popping the remaining into his mouth after peeling them, he took the paper from her hand without a word. He stepped into his shoes, and began his walk towards the human's school.
He opened the folded paper, and read the note he was supposed to send. He tucked the message into an inner pocket, and followed the smells of the school campus to the Administration Office. There was a woman with greying hair behind the front desk staring at the computer screen with a pinched look. "Excuse me?" Tomoe asked respectfully, a mask of difference on his face.
The human looked up. "What is it?" She asked sharply after returning to her computer. There was some tapping from the keyboard beneath her fingers as she typed a few lines.
"I am here as the representative for Momozono Nanami, and I would like to request a copy of her transcripts as recent as they can be, and the paperwork that will need to be filled out in order to withdraw her from your respected establishment." Tomoe said smoothly with a serene smile on his face.
The woman typed for a few moments longer. "Momozono?" She clarified, typing the name into her computer. "It says here that she's prepaid for the rest of her schooling through senior year. You're gonna have to jump through some serious hoops if you want to see any of that cash back."
Tomoe shrugged, the life of sloth lost its attraction after the first night, and he had nothing better to do for the foreseeable future. "May I have the paperwork to begin that process as well?" He felt quite satisfied with the disbelief on the old woman's face. She remained silent throughout the process of printing out forms and the Land God's transcripts. Eventually, she explained how he should go about the steps to get the tuition refunded, and how low the chance of success was going to be. "Good luck to ya, brat." She said to him as he left with paperwork in hand.
When the former familiar returned to the shrine, he handed a thick packet of forms to the new Land God, leaving the thicker portion for himself.
Nanami noticed. "What's all that for?" She gestured with a pen she had found in her bags. Tomoe swiped it from her with a sly smile, and didn't answer. She sighed, and went back to her bags in search for another pen. When she got back with another pen in hand, she was surprised to see Onikiri with one of the prayer books. She smiled at him, and sat down in front of her own paperwork, determined to finish it so she could get back to her shrine duties.
She stole a glance at what Tomoe was writing after a few minutes, but he had settled himself at an uncomfortable angle to read from.
"I have a message for the Land God of the Mikage Shrine!" A new voice interrupted Onikiri. Nanami looked up from her paperwork to see a bird on the table in front of her. It was wearing a hat and ceremonial robes that seemed to fit it well. It opened its mouth to repeat its message. She blinked. This bird could talk. From the corner of her eye, she could see Tomoe twitching in annoyance.
She shook herself from her daze. Really, a talking bird wasn't close to being the weirdest part of her day. "Yes? I suppose I'm the Land God." A quick glance at the fox showed he hadn't reacted to what she said. "What is the message?" She asked with a smile at the bird.
The bird flew off soon after delivering the message that the Queen of the Tatara Swamp would be visiting on the night of the new moon, which was only five days away.
"That wasn't a normal bird, right?" Nanami asked the others in the room. "I mean, it talked."
"That would be correct, Lady Nanami." Kotetsu floated into the room with a tray of drinks and snacks, and placed it between her and Tomoe, who had yet to look up from his stack of paper. "That was a Shikigami, hatched from an egg after absorbing the spiritual energy of their master for a week." The Land God munched on a rice cookie while the two masked Wisp children settled themselves on the floor. "They perform different tasks depending on the name and purpose their master gives them after they've hatched."
There were practically stars floating in Nanami's eyes. "Do you think I could hatch one?"
"Definitely not." Tomoe interjected firmly, the pen in his hand still rolling over the paper without a hiccup. "They would suck you dry within a day. Try when you have no need to use the White Talismans." And that was that.
"What's a White Talisman?"