Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko's week hasn't been the best of her life, but she's not sure which is worse - that she can't figure out her lover's dark secrets, or that supernatural forces seem to have aligned against her.

Volume 3, Issue 10

"Breaking the Spell"

 

"Cursed?"

"Contest?"

Hachi and Mariko looked at each other, confusion, concern and amusement clearly warring for supremacy in their voices and on their faces.

"Cursed?" Hachi repeated, obviously waiting for the punch line. "You're kidding, right?"

"No, no," Mari insisted, waving her hand, dismissively. Let's do the important one first. What contest?" she asked, her eyes traveling from one woman to the other. "And most important - what's on the line?"

Yuriko bowed slightly in Midori's direction. "When we were visiting her family, Midori challenged me to guess what hobby or interest she had in high school. Since I can't guess, I give up. But, in retaliation for being mortified that I couldn't guess correctly, I'm going to make her announce it in front of you two," she leaned forward smiling, and said in a stage whisper, "in case it's *really* embarrassing." She sat back and grinned. "And the prize is 'something fun' whatever that might be."

Mariko grinned salaciously at that, "You can't give up, Yuri - you have to persevere!" With a laugh, she patted Hachi on the arm. "Let's help, Hachi...I want Yuri to win! Midori-san, give us to the end of dinner to guess?"

Midori smiled and nodded, "Of course," she said confidently. "because you'll never guess!" She laughed at the determined looks on their faces.

"How close did she get?" Hachi grinned.

"Not." The author shook her head.

"Okay," Mariko said thoughtfully. "Hints?"

"It wasn't anything high culture or literature-like," Yuriko said, ticking off ideas on her fingers. "Or crafty, or artistic. Actually, it wasn't anything, as far as I can tell." She threw her hands up in a gesture of surrender. "Maybe you'll figure it out. In the meantime, Hachi, can I help you in the kitchen? I can lift things and put things on plates. Sometimes I can even cut vegetables without hurting myself."

Hachi smiled, "Come on and help me with the salad."

As they worked in the kitchen, Yuriko and Hachi could hear Mariko's voice coming from the living room as she attempted to fathom Midori's secret.

"Hockey? No? Bookbinding? No, okay...how about fishing? Hmmm..."

When they rejoined the two women, Mariko was looking exhausted, while Midori's face expressed a smug amusement. She looked at Hachigoro, "Care to try?"

"I'm thinking," Hachi said with his usual quiet smile. "I'm sure I'll get it." He seated himself next to Mariko. "I'm good at games."

"I'll tell you what," the author said, "If you guess correctly, we'll all do something fun together, my treat. How about that?"

Mariko laughed. "The obvious lascivious comment aside, I say - you're on." She looked thoughtful. "Hair and nails. Your true dream was to be a beauty stylist."

"No!" Midori looked scandalized. "Good gracious, no."

They all laughed.

"While they're working it out, Yuri, why don't you finally tell us what's going on with the tour?" Midori leaned towards the blonde to get her attention. Yuri's blue eyes focused back on the present from wherever they had been and she smiled apologetically.

"Like I said - we're cursed."

"Your tour in particular? Or should I be contacting an exorcist, as well?" Mariko asked. Without pause for breath she shot a look at Midori and said, "Animal husbandry - you used to raise pigs."

Midori only shook her head and smiled.

"I'm not sure - you might want to get one on principal." Yuriko answered the first comment, but let the second slide.

"Well, for pity's sake, what's been going on, already?!" Mariko and Midori both snapped simultaneously, then laughed at their mutual outburst.

Looking petulant, Yuri said quickly, "A lot of stuff! Ren-san's car was damaged. Madame Sophia was injured in an accident and one of the sets was destroyed...for a start." She looked up to find herself confronted with three politely blank faces. "My co-star has screaming tantrums at everyone *but* me, even though she's already told me she hates me and my dresser is terrified of me because she was told I was violent." Still, no one looked convinced. Yuriko sighed again. "I just have this weird feeling that it's cursed." The idol lapsed into a sulky silence in the face of her friends' skepticism.

"That doesn’t sound like much," Hachi finally voiced what they were all thinking. "I mean, it just sounds like a lot of coincidences. Don't you think?"

Mariko sipped from her glass thoughtfully. "Do you remember insulting any wizards? Or did you refuse to kiss an old woman that you met in the forest?" She sat back and reflected. "Maybe an evil priest has it in for you, or Mayumi-san. Or both of you."

"Go ahead and make fun of me," Yuriko said petulantly, "But I'm telling you..." she thought about telling them about Kishi, but she hesitated. She opened her mouth to mention it, when a loud buzzer interrupted.

"Dinner's ready!" Hachi announced. "Please, seat yourselves and I'll bring everything out."

Yuriko, all of a sudden, felt silly and embarrassed about her concerns. Her friends were right - it was just a series of unrelated coincidences. She stood and helped Midori to her feet.

"You guys are right. I guess I'm not as strong as I thought - the pressure must be getting to me." Yuri laughed at herself. Even as she said the words, she believed them. "Thank you for setting me straight!" She followed Hachi into the kitchen, where, ignoring his protests cheerfully, she proceeded to assist him with serving dinner.

***

Dinner with her friends was exactly what Yuriko had needed, apparently. She felt refreshed and relaxed in a way she hadn't in many days.

They were all laughing at Mariko's increasingly silly attempts at guessing Midori's youthful hobby, when the author turned to Hachigoro and pointed at him genially.

"Come on, Hachigoro-san! You have to at least *try!* You haven't said a word."

"I've been listening," Hachi protested.

"You've been cheating!" Mariko insisted with an elbow to his ribs. "You're making me do all the hard work."

"But I just can't see Midori-san being a spelunker," he said, shaking his head, "I just can't."

"So, what do you think she was into?" Yuriko prodded. "Come on, now, you have to guess at least once, so you can join the ranks of those of us who have lost the bet."

"Hmmm..." Hachigoro put his hand on his chin in a gesture of profound thought. "I think..." he hesitated, then smiled. "My guess is that Midori-san was into professional wrestling."

Mari and Yuriko howled with laughter at the idea of the stylish author at a professional wrestling match. As they flailed in amusement, it was Yuriko who noticed that Midori was not reacting with the expected hilarity.

She turned a stunned look on the author. "Midori? He's wrong, right? You have to tell him he's wrong."

Midori's wry expression changed into one of maniacal glee. "Actually - he's absolutely correct!"

 

Continued

Saiyuu no Ryokou, all characters and situations copyright E. Friedman and Yurikon LLC. All Rights Reserved.