1:30 PM, District 4
On the streets of Neo-Kabukicho strode an unusual pair - a tall and well-kept woman who an onlooker would never have suspected to have been parading as a knight only an hour ago, now wearing the ornate and feminine outfit of a geisha, and another whose face was concealed by the basket-like shape of a rōningasa, the hat once upon a time used to obscure the identities of warriors without a master. Upon the hip of the latter was sheathed a long sword of Japanese construction, a gilded cloud design adorning the sheath and a visible tsuba taking the form of eight twisted serpent heads converging around the base of the blade. They wore a yukata with a vibrant design of flowers being consumed by dragons, and carried an expensive-looking umbrella over their shoulder.
"So you say the city itself was made a weapon? How curious…" the concealed figure's voice was feminine, but devoid of emotion as if deep in thought. "I must admit, I was not before aware of the late mayor's ability, but I suppose this makes sense given his station."
“And many youths of varying power, you should know, appeared,” the other informed, staring askew in recollecting what they were like and their capabilities. “They must have reconvened by now, but I left almost wordlessly after helping them defeat those metal serpents, to inform you and inquire what you should like done. Ah…but this kind of folly typical of the prince would have me found, even through these scented robes,” she played with a stray horse’s hair which made its way through her outfit from below its outermost layers, “shining sunshine alone would have undone me then, inauspicious as if I had found a laughing mask in my sickbed, but I am not sick.” She let the wind carry it away with a new manner, where the stress from earlier would have worn someone else down, or accustomed them to particular gaits or postures to compensate, or even some appropriate muscular tension, but she gave away no such secret, and seemed more separate in convention and habit from her previous appearance than any analysis could predict, though never so far as to invite suspicion on that front alone.
A light chuckle could be heard from underneath the woven hat, "Ever the poet, aren't you, Sarashina." The figure reached underneath the hat, making a motion that appeared to be moving a stray hair from their face, "You seek my guidance in interpreting this bizarre occurrence. It is true, such an event is unprecedented. I would wager the one to blame is my longtime enemy. I'm sure you suspected the same. This appears to be the work of the vicious monster that hides within the depths of our beloved district, The Dragon of Neo-Kabukicho." The figure paused in their stride for a moment, as if contemplating whether to elaborate, but continued forward instead. "In this small sliver of the city, those who do not bow to The Beast are forced to hide themselves away, and not in the fantastical way you manage to. I can't imagine this is a fate you want to see befall all of Megalopolis."
She eyed the serpentine sword guard at the mention of the dragon, connecting the figure to her enemy motivistically as in music—a useful parallel for the future. While her impressions lead to considering the same possibility as the other person, she was quite epistemologically agnostic, at least in these material, real-life affairs, and chose her response quite carefully, “the low ant, the pig, our mayor, or our high Dragon, you may press your finger into and measure its fatness, but its origin is nowhere to be found what ordains the sunflowers prostrate themselves to the, deep as you go; these myriad things, I am aware of less than I am unaware, and of those few of which I may be expert, it is only in their fatness, not the plot which conspired to make fatness initially necessary. I would not have the dragon’s dominion be gorged on the rest of the island, but to know his body is not to know everything else, or the origins of all deeds his character and station make him eligible to commit, or to determine a dimensionless locus as the essence of a fungal network, at a point of time which excludes all others.” Her response, though asserting ignorance, intended to communicate ultimate receptiveness and fidelity to any sort of possibility.
"Remind me to commission haiku from you when I sit upon the throne, Sarashina. Not a better storyteller lives in this city. You mentioned you had allies…" the figure paused and turned mid-stride, a glint of a red eye visible through the tight mesh of the hat. "I understand that there may be delays in rallying them, but as soon as you are able, bring them to me. Powerful as I am, I am no myojin. I will require help to slay this serpent." They turned away from Sarashina, a hand reaching up to grip the hilt of their sword, "This city, tumultuous as it is, was far worse several years ago. Without that man, I expect it to be worse than ever. We must nip this in the bud, for the sake of Neo-Kabukicho, and the rest of Megalopolis." After a pause, they looked back over their shoulder.
"I'll have a car for you to return to the scene post haste."
Not much later, a most luxurious car bent around into the gradual beginnings of charmless, disorderly wreckage. Sarashina had ordered her driver to follow the least damaged paths, and to not take certain routes turning them toward certain directions in obedience to old superstitions, however inconvenient it may have been for him, and returned the hateful sight impressed on her vision with a disconcerted look of her own, enough of it hidden behind fanned cypress. That this had to happen at a bar irritated her, with her retinue of a single driver to take care of nothing for her, but she did see someone she heard of, a good fortune she was momentarily distracted from by the person—Sei—possessing great stature, which Sarashina disliked but would expertly, as per her professions, not let show in the slightest in any act, expression, or word. As her driver opened her door, she told him to summon the tall, exhausted woman to her location, and to offer her a seat in the car while she stood outside it, distant from the rest so that they may establish a connection at an undisturbed pace.
As Sei lay her head on the bar, replaying events in her mind for something she may have missed, yet another figure entered the scene. He didn't seem to be a fount. And based on the big fancy car parked behind him, he definitely wasn't somebody Sei knew, or connected to anyone she knew. He had gestured for her specifically, to follow him into the car. In any other circumstance, she wouldn't trust this guy. For all she knew, he was a lackey of one of the offending parties, here to kidnap her after helping foil their plans. But to send what seemed like just one guy, the plan was either to kill this guy instead, or it was too elaborate to likely work.
So, albeit reluctantly, Sei got up, and trudged along the distance between the bar and the car. He kindly opened the door for her, and once inside, Sei saw that the sole occupant was a geisha. Last time Sei had seen one of those was... just after moving in with Alice, come to think of it. She'd gone to Neo-cho to get souveniers, since Alice wanted some and refused to go there herself, lest, as she'd put it, "my power reacts to the place and sends Megalopolis to the bottom of the sea."
"A geisha in a limo, huh?" Sei observed, taking a seat and slouching down to avoid letting herself stiffen up when she was already worn out. "To what do I owe the pleasure of such a distinguished visitor?"
These interactions with strangers call for some covering of the face on Sarashina’s part, but she had her fan put away to look more personable to her temporary guest. This exception came about by several reasons, including pity, and she had already arranged with her driver to clean where Sei was seated after they were alone again, so she had little to fear in the way of cleanliness, and in fact by now, this kind of protocol was tacit. There was great incongruity between the person and where she was, and for Sarashina, Sei and the others in the bar seemed emergent, as if they had only spawned into existence from the rubble to serve as furnishing to the destruction, and in standing outside with Sei in her space, she fulfills a self-sacrificial sort of hospitality—in return for daring to deign to stand outside in the space of the wreckage, her guest rests in this just-isolated space—though she could still act the part of tolerance if needed, alongside a true understanding she only has problems with formally, and not fundamentally. “You can recline your seat, you know, miss Sei, and your leisure is earned after what we know happened here. We can speak briefly, and you can rest where you lie as long as you see fit. I can have you driven home after we are done here as well…. I have requested your conversation because we are aware of who you are, and trust you in acting as an intermediate between us and your new connections. Precisely, we have suspicions ranging from peripheral to essential of the fourth district being connected to what happened with the mayor, namely through the Dragon of Neo-Kabukicho. Are you already aware of who this is?”
"I've heard of the dragon here and there," Sei answered as she made good on the geisha's note that her seat could recline. "Not the first time I've heard rumors about someone eating kami either. Why me, though, to play middleman? Why anyone for that matter? Don't like crowds or something?"
“To be seen in that eyesore of a destroyed bar is a much greater concern to me than any crowd, but my personal proclivities, I suppress before the emergency in question. Now, you like fighting for important causes, don’t you? Your vigilante history corroborates a legitimate conviction for revolution and experience in unpleasant business I would never expect from civilians, or children….We can let the rest prattle about this after we find ourselves at the same page, and have some plan for dissemination and engagement, wherever my district comes in the order of business, and you can catch me up with the theories in vogue at the same time. What do you think?”
"Not much to discuss in the theories department yet, I'm afraid. All we know is someone... hypnotized Stratford, or something. I wasn't paying much attention to the details, to be honest. But working together to put a stop to this? Sounds good to me. How should I contact you?"