Okage Densetsu – Lookit the Fancy Japanese
Chapter 1 – A Downside-Up World Within a Nutshell
This is not the start of the story. No, rather the introduction to the start of a rather peculiar story, a rambling and ongoing introduction that needs NO introduction itself. In fact, all good things need to start off with an introduction, so it's fitting that this one leads onto the story of the beginning of the story. Without it sense would be hopelessly lost and order run amok- without it, the story could not be started. The introduction is everything.
With that finished, let me actually introduce the story. This is a tale, a tale of positives and negatives, of ying-and-yang, of light and shadow. Literally. Of course, the hero- or, rather, victim, of our story was the least expected to be the lead of much of anything. We're speaking of course of the 'ordinary boy' from the 'ordinary family' from the 'ordinary' town where nothing out of the ordinary would ever happen.
That is, if Luck hadn't given the entire community the finger.
Somehow, though he was ordinary, our little man (lovingly called Ari by his mother, the dear) his life never was as ordinary as it should've been, but he never noticed since the community had been eccentric since he could remember. Somehow, he always had thought, that this wasn't how it was suppose to be, but could never figure out why. He eventually learned to live with it, since his family was the exact same way.
He, of course, had the 'ordinary' family: Little sister Annie, beloved Mom, awesomely rambling Dad, brave and once-strong Grandpa, and the slightly offbeat Grandma. They lived, as well, in an 'ordinary' house – the big, spooky old, creaky manor at the edge of town.
Okay. Not so ordinary. In fact, let's just drop the word altogether.
It was a particularly sunny day, the day before it all happened. Mid-summer, the morning was warm with the songs of the forest birds flitting through the air. All around the sounds of nature could be heard, ringing in the new-
"Good riddance." Ari dragged himself lethargically back to his bed after having slammed the window shut to get rid of the god-awful noise. It was summer vacation- why should he be forced to wake up before noon, anyhow? Though it seemed his intervention was a bit too late- after trying to pretend he was asleep for a few minutes, he gave up and headed downstairs. The light scent of warm pancakes was still lingering in the air, making him wonder if he had actually woken up at a decent hour. "Damn nature…"
Opening the door, he found otherwise. Nothing was on the table but a bottle- no doubt the microscopic crumbs of the breakfast that came before were spotted by that unforgiving Mom's eye and wiped into oblivion.
"Good morning, dear! Well, rather, good afternoon!"
"Afternoon?" He paused for a minute, then mentally cheered: "ZAAALLRIGHT!"
"Yes, you missed your breakfast, mister sleepyhead. And you're so thin- you need to eat more to get some fat on that frame, dear! No girl wants to hug a skeleton!"
"Oh, nevermind." Mom laughed a bit while scrubbing at a stubbornly dirty dish, "My hopes are just a little high this morning."
"Nothi- oh, dear, why don't you look at that bottle! Your Dad picked it up- he's so crazy about antiques."
"Hm?" Walking to the table, Ari absent-mindedly gave it a poke, whereupon he swore it gave out a groan. "Hey Mom, what's with-"
"Oh, dear, where did you put your sister?"
"Right here, Mom!" Bursting through the doorway, it was none other than annoying little sister Annie, the only other person in the household Ari could recall as actually having a name. "Morning, grizzly bear, did winter just get out?"
"Did your face just meet a mirror?"
"Sorry, Mom. Sorry, Annie. I'm still a bit 'off' this morning." He grinned to himself, extremely quietly adding, "Otherwise it would have been sharper."
"Hmph. Mom! Mom! Didn't he miss breakfast… AND LUNCH?"
"Oh dear, I forgot all about that. You did oversleep past lunch. Really dear, you need to wake up earlier. Nobody likes a lazy husband."
"What is with all this girl talk?"
"Oh… hehehe…" Mom turned back to her dishes, hiding a smirk, "Nothing, dear."
"She wants you to leave the household ASAP." Annie grinned.
"Mom! Can I hit her?"
"Heavens no, you two behave! You both have such ants in your pants! You need to get outside and enjoy the day- in fact, I know just some things you could be doing."
"Uh o- Oh! Mom, I can't do whatever it is you're doing. I have to do homework- there's a test tomorrow!"
"Test? We're on sum-"
"Ari says he will do whatever it is for me in my stead. What a good big brother, I love you!" She winked as she slid out the door, laughing with a hiss like a snake as she fled off outside.
"You little… you'll get yours!"
"Ari? Did you say something?"
"Oh, uh, no Mom. Now, what did you need?"
"Just some bread for dinner. It's at the bakery- could you pick it up? It's on our tab, so all you have to do is bring it home. No picking at it now!"
"I won't. See you in a few, then, Mom."
Heading outside into the unusually perfect day, Ari almost ran into Annie who was plotting out her actions for the day at the start of the path that led from the house to the main road. "Excuse me, roadblock, didn't you have 'homework' to do?"
"Oh. That? Well, it is kind've homework…"
"Yeah? And what kind of homework are we talking about?"
"Oh, a little something I like to call Man-baiting. Can't taste the boy flavor until you catch it!"
"Boy… flavor?" Suppressing a shudder, Ari simply watched his Sister take off, heading for town, singing something about nabbing a husband. "Girls are… are… like pythons, awaiting their mice- What am I talking about?"
Shaking his head, Ari headed for town, just trying to forget the thought entirely.
Grinding to a halt, in the central clearing just before the town, Ari found himself being addressed by the local 'cool kid' who, as far as Ari could remember, didn't have a name himself. Didn't matter much- the kid was an arrogant snob that nobody liked. Ari just stared in silence.
"Yeah, you know when you're called. I bet you didn't know the circus is in town!"
"You better try and claim a girl for a date, dorkwad- oh, I forgot, you're afraid of girls. Good thing all the good ones will be gone by now! Hahaha!"
"Your inane idiocy fills me with mirage-like glee, as I am reminded that you as an ignoramus will never have interpersonal connections with a dame of high class."
"What?" Snob-boy scratched his head for a minute, "Hey, are you calling me a lady? … Where'd he go?"
"Whew. I thought my brain would collapse." Having run the rest of the way, Ari was taking a quick break near the closest building, just barely looking up enough to notice the person standing opposite to him.
Her blonde hair shone prettily in the sun, her brown eyes sparkling in the afternoon light. Her hands were neatly folded against her pure, lily-white dress, and her mind seemed to be off on some distant, sunny field…
Dancing among the flowers…
Singing with the birds…
"WAKE UP, JUBA!"
"Oh!" She blinked, eyes refocusing on Ari, "I'm sorry, I was daydreaming. Did you need something?"
"Just trying to say-"
"Hi, hello, how about, 'Julia, will you come with me to the circus tomorrow night?'"
"I'm glad you asked, Ari! But, oh, I believe I've already been asked out. What a pity. You need to wake up earlier to ask me, you know. I need to go now…"
"Ari… sometime later… we need to talk. Goodbye." Heading off with her face to the sun, nothing looked more pure and sparkly than the innocent little Julia.
"…Yeah, good afternoon to you too. Now what was I doing?"
Regaining his thoughts, Ari headed for the bakery, saying hello to a few people. After awhile, he paused, noticing a small silver cat asleep in the doorway of the bakery. "A kitten! I love kittens…"
Thoughtlessly, he reached his hand out to pet it, but paused when it woke up, staring at his hand. "Kitty kitty, kitty kitty, can I pet you?"
"Oh dear, that sounds like another victim…" The woman who ran the Bakery headed out from behind the counter, holding up her flour-dusted dress and apron, coming to find Ari trying to pull a cat off his fingers. "No no, dear, you cannot do it that way, let me help you!"
She took the other end of the cat and both pulled for great glory, until the little kitten let go, hopped off, and curled up asleep in a flower patch. Looking back at Ari, the bakery woman rose an eyebrow, "Are you okay, boy?"
"I'm bleeding! Aigh! Medic!"
"Oh, don't be such a baby. You must have come for your mother- wait right here, whiny."
"But I can't feel my hand!"
"Oh hush!" She came back out with the bread-for-pickup, all neatly tied up in a hankerchief for easy travel, "Now no picking at it on the way home and- stop that, what ARE you trying to prove by holding your hand like that?"
"Here you are, crazy kid." She forced the bread at him, then headed back inside, "You're the only person I know who can be felled by a kitten. You'll have to be careful, otherwise you might get devoured by your own shadow! Hahaha!"
"I don't think it's funny…"
"AIIIIIGH!" He jumped what felt like fifty feet, then whipped around only to find little sister Annie laughing her head off at him. "Oh yeah? You… you just shut up!"
"Your threats are empty, pumpkin head! Beaten up by a kitty-"
"That thing was vicious! It had huge teeth and just tore into me!"
"HAHAHA! My big brother, afraid of cats! Think of that! Hahaha!"
Turning and heading home, Ari had to put up with the constant tormenting laughter of his Sister. And so came the end of another 'ordinary' day, ending in the usual way and probably for the better.
Of course, that was all just an assumption, as nobody knew what lie in store the next morning.
"Gooooooooooooooooooooood Mooooooooooooooorning, Son!"
"Aiigh!" Literally falling out of bed, Ari rubbed his head upon sitting upright, "What? Who's died?"
"Nobody, son, but you might if you sleep for too long! Hahaha!" Dad laughed heartily enough that he had to push his glasses back up his nose, "Your mother told me to wake you up at a reasonably decent hour."
"And what time is it?"
"Oh. Rapture. Thanks, Dad."
"Any time, son! Haha! Breakfast isn't quite done yet, so you might want to say good morning to your grandparents- they really do like you, you know! Grandma is especially active today!"
"Gee, great to know."
"Now don't fall back asleep or I'll have to introduce you to mister water pitcher! Hahaha!" Dad, in his jolly mood, headed off down the hall, more peachy keen than anyone needed to be this early in the morning.
"Ugh…" Getting up, Ari tossed his bedspread messily back on the bed then headed downstairs. Walking through the foyer, he stepped into the messy, once-a-den room where his grandparents could usually be found. "Hi Grandpa, Hi Grandma."
"Hello Ari!" Grandpa looked as sharp as ever this morning, "Good morning!"
"Uh-huh, uh-huh, that's right, dear…" Grandma casually waved her hand about while speaking.
"Uh…heh…thanks Grandma. How are you two doing this morning?"
"Just dandy, isn't that right, dear?"
"Uh-huh, uh-huh, that's right, dear."
"Do you have any plans for today, Ari? Oh, that's right, I heard from Annie- the circus is tonight! Planning on going, Ari? Of course you are!"
"Uh…yeah, you read my mind, Grampa." Ari gave a small smile, "I thought it would be rather fun."
"Indeed- ah, I smell breakfast. Go see if it's done, will you?"
"Uh-huh, uh-huh, that's right, dear!"
"Yeah, sure. See you in a minute!"
And heading into the kitchen and greeting Mom, it seemed like a perfect, ordinary morning. And so it was that perfect, ordinary morning, with Ari doing things here and there for Mom and Annie casually avoiding responsibility. In fact, everything was quite normal until the evening, just as the family had finished dinner and had the usual evening check-in in the den.
"Well, Mom, Dad, it's been fun talking and all," Annie beamed, "But the circus is going to start soon!"
"That's right, dear!" Mom smiled, "You two will have lots of fun, won't you? Annie, wait for your brother to bring you out, it's dangerous to go out at night."
"Ah, but Mom!" Annie spoke before Ari could comment, "I'm being picked up. See you all later! Tralalala…"
"Oh, she has a date! My little Annie is growing so fast!" Mom fell into fantasies as her little darling cutely skipped out the door. "Ari, you go now and have fun."
"Wait, son!" Dad caught him by the arm before he could go, and dragged him to the center of the room. "I need somebody to talk with for a few minutes, to get some ideas flowing, you know?"
"Uh, yeah. Fire away, Dad."
"Right!" Dad pointed at the bottle (the one from before that sat on the kitchen table and made off noises as it was poked, the ugly violet one) "Son, this bottle! The bottle I found… yes… this bottle…"
"It's a lovely shade of purple- bye now."
"Wait! I'm not done gushing over it yet! This is a very special bottle- indeed, more than an antique! I feel it is magical, the magical kind of magic like breadsticks roasted in the oven at a solid 360 degrees, the magic of magic that makes up vinyl wall coverings and gogo boots, and…"
And at least three hours later…
"…and so you see, Son, don't you?"
"…Uh…huh…" After having endlessly nodded his head about fifteen billion times, Ari felt as if it was ready to fall off. "Gee… that's swell…"
"Thank you for being so patient, son! God, this is why I love having kids. Well! Off you go!"
"The deep end?"
"No, my no! Haha! Off to the circus, my boy!"
"Oh. OH! Right! Bye, Dad!" Bolting out like lightning, Ari hoped against hope that the circus wasn't over. Running in a blinding dash down the pathway, only stopping to swing open the gates, he –almost- ran into a girl standing right in the middle of the merge between pathway-and-road. "Woah!"
She continued to stare off into the distance, making an odd, slurred 'ooo' noise. Her brown hair reflected the soft moonlight, giving her head a faint aura. She almost looked lost, slightly slouching forward.
"…Are you okay?"
"Huh?" She slowly looked back at him, blinking her deep brown eyes, "Me?"
"Yes. Are you okay? You look lost or something."
"…I could be lost again… I do do that sometimes… where is this again?"
"Tenel Forest… eh, I haven't seen you before. Where are you from?"
"Where's what? Are you looking for something?"
"…yeah. I'm going to the circus- was that where you were heading?"
"A circus?" Her eyes suddenly lit up with more life than seemed possible, "I've never been to one before! Oh… but I can't go alone when it's so late…"
"Well… If it's still open… I guess you could come with me."
"Okay, you're a very nice guy!" She patted his head, "Nice guy."
"Yeah. Introductions later- let's hurry!"
Both hurried off to the clearing where the circus was, just barely making it when Julia and her date, the rich snobby kid, were exiting.
"Oh look, the little worm finally made it. Hah! Dorkwad, you totally missed the entire circus! Oh, and you had the nerve to find a date, eh?"
"A date…?" The brown-haired girl paused for a moment, then slowly pointed at herself, "Me?"
"She's not a date…" Ari grumbled. He was indeed crushed by the fact the circus was over- but why in the hell was his mortal enemy with his childhood friend, Julia? He barely noticed as the two walked past into the moonlight. "…damn it all, Dad."
"Oh dear… I missed it all. No circus… My strawberry heaven crushed again…"
"What in the HELL are you talking about?"
"My strawberry heaven… it exists beyond the stereotype…" She stared off into space for a few minutes, the stars reflected in her eyes…
"Yeah. I'm going home… god damn it…"
Suddenly, a sharp scream split the serene (although confusing) night air. Of course, Ari's trained ear immediately matched it up with the person who used to emit the same kind of shrieks when he'd put spiders in her hair- "Annie!"
"Annie! … Who's Annie?"
"Never mind!" Ari grabbed the girl, tearing off down the road to the source of the scream, "Just come on!"
Ari skidded to a halt when coming across Annie, who was lying on the ground. A blue-tinted wisp of magic looked extremely surprised, the odd creature being a ghost.
"A little ghostie?"
It suddenly fled in panic, just as Dad came running from the house. Both son and father met up and exchanged panicked words, also getting Annie off home. At the same time, our brown-haired vixen wandered to the trees, looking at where the ghost had disappeared off to, aimlessly staring as poor little Annie was rushed home.
"Have you gone to strawberry heaven yet, ghostie?"
So the adorable, picturesque family was interrupted with an attack of the paranormal on the most adorable member. The evening was filled with a doctor visit, while Ari took a few minutes to clear his head. Then, just as the doctor left, he walked into Annie's room where the entire family could be found. And just as they were to explain it…
…the author ended the chapter.