The day was winding to a close as Go-Shirakawa Teishi tended her family's small sweet shop. Her parents had left earlier in the day on some business, and had yet to return, but the sun was setting outside and the time for closing was at hand. Before the small Bakeneko could make her way to the door, however, a tall, lithe figure stepped through it. The last customer of the day, perhaps. Upon closer inspection, the stranger was a woman of middling age dressed in the traditional accouterments of a shrine maiden. Her robes flowed loosely about her, cinched properly in the correct places with a care and precision that was easily evident, and her long, black hair fell about her shoulders in rigid straight lines. What caught Teishi's attention the most, however, were the woman's eyes. Though they were wide and dark, otherwise unremarkable, there was an edge, a hardness to them that seemed at odds with the rest of her appearance. These hard eyes now fell upon Teishi, still halfway to the door, and the woman stopped, seeming to judge the small other with her head cocked slightly to one side. "Go-Shirakawa Teishi." she stated. It was not a question, but the woman still seemed to be waiting for some kind of response.
Teishi continued looking into the woman's eyes. Teishi, herself, seemingly adamant and standing her ground as though she senses danger... Oh no, I shouldn't be looking directly at her eyes, wait... it's too late, what do I do...no, it's not too late, I can still look away. Teishi begins to look away, but as she averts her eyes, her head and body quickly turn as well, outwardly showing her back to the guest in a rude manner. Oh no, I nervously turned too much, she's going to think I'm some ill-mannered girl. I can save this, I just have to act normal... "Perhaps, what is it that you want?", Teishi "cutely" asked, but unaware that her tone was more crude than cute. Yeah, that works. That should save this first impression. Teishi is quite pleased with herself and smiles for her accomplishment, with her back still towards the mysterious shrine maiden.
"Let's have a look at you, then," Teishi feels the woman come up behind her, those hard eyes boring into her back. "Soft, and you don't move right either. Are you really her daughter?" the tone of disapproval in her voice is obvious, "You're small, at least. There might be some hope for you yet. Turn around, girl! I'm speaking to you."
Teishi turns around quickly and stare straight on with a strong look on her eyes, her facial expression seemingly giving her a demeanor of seriousness. Though, she was, in fact, not fond of being called "small". She continues looking straight, her intentions were to meet eye to eye with the stranger that has called her "small". Slowly she realizes she's staring straight on to the woman's upper body. Teishi quickly aligned her eyes to meet the shrine maiden's. Wh--what do you--who are you--wh-why... Teishi's mind stutters and scramble to find a question to ask the stranger. "Just, who are you exactly?", comes out from Teishi's mouth. Teishi's mind still jumbling, Teishi herself unaware she had already asked a question.
The woman looked as though she was about to retort, a frown creasing her features, but, looking at Teishi's expression, seemed to relax. "I am a colleague of your mother's. We worked together many years ago." She turned from Teishi, now examining the cakes and candies arranged carefully around the shop. "I've come here to see if you showed any aptitude for the same job." She does not turn from the display, back still to Teishi as she speaks. "You participated in the tournament at Wakigami, and almost bested the legendary Black Blade. Tell me about that."
Where are y--would you like to buy--are you my mother's friend... The mention of the stranger's relationship with her mother slowly brings back her mental composure. Ah, she's mother's colleague from her first store, so she must be here to work while mother's gone? Oh no...she's inspecting my skills in baker--Black Blade? Teishi recalls her match with the charming masked man at the tournament. Her face turns red remembering the details of the outmatched battle. The red turns to a blush as she remembers the Black Blade's strong gaze and clear, overwhelming power he was hiding in battle. No, no, I shouldn't like him, he's also afraid of those...those things, no, maybe he was faking it... "He--he was toying with me." Teishi unintentionally speaks her mind. Oh no, she asked me a question, I'm being rude not answering it... "I--I was hoping to improve our reputation [of the candy store] and to attract more clients (she meant customers) by participating in the tournament." Her mother's vocabulary clearly influencing her own. Remembering the tournament results and deadly injuries though, Teishi realizes that she could have suffered the same fate or worse... I could have died... @_@ But, I was lucky the Black Blade didn't take the fight seriously...w-was he saving my life? Teishi blushes harder. Oh no, I'm falling for him... "I--I need to find his weakness [of the heart] and win [him over] next time.", once more her mind speaks out loud.
The woman pauses as Teishi speaks. "There's something in your voice when you speak of that fight," she ponders, speaking slowly, "But no matter. You do not give yourself enough credit. The Black Blade is known to be a skilled and cunning fighter." She turns and locks those piercing eyes on Teishi, suddenly speaking with a deliberate, forceful cant. "I have not introduced myself, nor do I intend to. My name is not important, but I represent an organization far to the east of here. Your mother served with us, and retired with honors," she frowns as she looks down at the Bakeneko, "You are soft, but despite your appearance you have potential. I'm here to offer you a chance to realize that potential. To offer you a position in our organization."
Teishi is overjoyed and near the verge of tears upon hearing the stranger's words. It has been a dream of hers to learn from the organization that taught her mother how to bake and prepare sweets. And to be complimented on her potential as a candy chef as good as her mother, it becomes hard for her to hide her facial expressions. "I...", she pauses with small tears in her eyes. She inhales a large amount of air and exhales slowly. "I will make my mother proud and surpass her." She said confidently, staring into the woman's eyes with fierce determination. "I can leave as soon as possible, my mother will understand." She hesitates. "Though, I should finish closing the shop and leave my parents a note." Teishi hurries sweeping, gathering more dust in the air and frantically looks for paper and ink.
The shrine maiden smiles thinly at Teishi's response. "You've made the right decision. As for whether you can surpass your mother... that remains to be seen, but I believe you have the potential. It will not be easy." She turns from the sweets, and begins walking slowly to the door, arms clasped behind her. "I will return in an hour. Finish whatever preparations you wish to make. Notes, cleaning, or otherwise. We'll leave when I return." The woman places her hand on the door as if to slide it open, but pauses. "Also, have a piece of chocolate pastry ready for me. I will pay for it when I get back." With that, she steps fluidly out of the store, leaving Teishi alone in the darkening interior.
The store is neat and tidy. Teishi had thought of covering the sweets and pastries, and putting them in the storage, but she decided it would be better to give them away since the house and store will be empty in the coming days. Teishi packed several chocolate pastries for the stranger and she had put the rest in a basket. "Here are several chocolate pastries.", she said as she hands the woman her request. "I shall be handing the rest of our baked goods as we travel along. I cannot allow for food to waste while no one is home." The little girl's eyes burns with a passion, determined to hand all of the food before their journey is done.
"Your enthusiasm is well, but the road ahead will not be easy," the shrine maiden says, as they step out of the building, "Now that I know you will be accompanying me, I will introduce myself." Not looking at the other, she continues forward with long strides that Teishi has to scurry to keep up with. "You may call me Chiyojo. Chiyojo-sensei, to be precise. It is not my real name, of course, but that will come if you are able to gain our trust," she sticks her hand out as they walk, apparently waiting for Teishi to put something in it, "We will travel mostly by night. You must train yourself to operate at any hour of the day without fatigue,"