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Summary: A snake, a ghost, and a fox walk into a shrine…

Date It Happened: February 10th, 2002


Down a dirt back alley, flanked by dumpsters, shady looking youths and the ever present glow of cheap neon signs theres a shrine. You have to know where to look of course, its down at the far end from the main street and backs into the basement entry of some generic storefront shop. You needed to know what your looking for to recognize it, as otherwise its just a steel door and a small window just like everywhere else. Here however, the window was dark and to one side the doorway stood with a bright red molding around the heavy steel door. The Kanji written lovingly across its center span, identified it as Torii all the same. Its not like the door is ever locked of course, because if any evidence the lingering glances even a casual study grants it might be rather unhealthy to even consider vandalism.

Ezekiel is here of course, clearly evidenced by the distinctive CB-750 parked to one side. THe otherwise dull gray helmet decorated with bold red paint declaring, if you happen to read Kanji, "shinken shobu" or real sword. To particate in something, with the same seriousness and resolve as if fighting with real swords. It didnt mean much to most, but thats ok. It meant plenty to the people who could read it, and understood its meaning.

The sounds of a second bike can be heard thrumming down the path to the shrine, only a few seconds before an electric blue Kawasaki rolls leisurely up to the side of the door, just behind the bike already parked there. The man sitting up upon the seat idles where he is for a few seconds more, patiently turning the motorcycle off and swinging his leg up around the back; once the helmet comes off, Samuel is able to run a fingerless glove through his hair, tilting his neck back to examine his newest surroundings. His helmet gets left on its usual place with the bike for now.

Ten or so seconds pass by uneventfully before Sam moves again; his posture is straight, but his limbs seem almost languid as they move. A few steps forward, one step to the side,a hand rising up to run fingertips over the steel door- even his neck tilts with what could seem reptilian curiosity. The glimmer in those honey-colored eyes in the midst of the dark are fitting. This is it, isn't it?

The naga's palm drifts delicately down to find the handle to the door, eyes shading under his lids and just the momentary echo of a complacent hiss of breath follows as Samuel makes a motion to pull it open and allow himself inside.

Inside the shrine, its dark first off. Theres a section, sunken where a pair of boots lay. Beyond is a raised floor, finely polished hardwood. Its really not an overly large room, walls covered in sections of rice paper and an open wooden trellis above make it easy to forget where you are. As soon as that door shuts, the room terminates into silence.

It smells of sushi, because theres alot of it here. Sushi and incense, which glows faintly in a small little burner. The shrine itself isnt really that incredible. Hand worked hardwood, topped with a simple mirror. Its flanked by a pair of stone foxes, wearing their traditional red "bib" to indicate they're messengers of the goddess. Spread before the shrine to either side, is an impressive array of sushi. All of which incorperates some sort of rice, and theres an incredible diversity of inari-zushi in particular. Off to your open side(the right), a beautiful but entirely too pale young girl kneels. Her white silken dress could be considered not just classical but downright vintage. Her long straight black hair pulled neatly over one shoulder. She offers a delicate smile, as she brings a match to a small lamp. Providing some manner of illumination at least beyond the glow from that one window.

Ezekiel isnt one to hide of course, especially not now. Granted, being cast in a mixture of black and trimmed ever so slightly with gray he looks entirely to be stone himself from range. Just another fox, parked curiously off to one side. Motionless for the moment, as he lets his mind seperate from the ethereal world for just this small time.

Like a creature peeking into a den, Samuel's stillness as the door closes again is apt to make him seem made out of stone as well- figuratively, of course. his eyes follow the pop of firelight, both of habit and in question. His gaze is scrutinizing, almost- and it only swivels away when he bends his spine back to reach at an uprising heel behind him. A finger hooks around the back of his shoe, depositing this one and that one on the floor in succession. At least the foreigner seems to pay enough attention to these surroundings that he tries his best.

When Sam lifts his eyes back up, they search again for that pale form having lit the lamp, and his head follows suit and visibly tilts a cheek to the front and his chin down, as if he were only looking out of one searching eye. The man doesn't move from beside where his shoes have been put just yet, for now only inquiring to where that girl had been on whether he should keep going or not.

Smoothly, the young woman rises to set the lamp on the ledge surrounding the window. Her form is immaculate, but as one's gaze lowers her legs just sort've fade into nothingness by the time you get to the floor. With the lamp set, she steps back and retakes her position without sound. As soon as her gaze lowers, she begins to slowly fade back into a dimly lit shadow thats hardly recognizable. "Your welcome here, just be respectful."Comes a voice from nowhere in particular, masculine and young.

The naga is almost too entranced with watching the spirit that he notices the words in the air just a word too late. In response to the voice, his eyes decide to roam around the shrine again, with little to show for that effort. There is certainly someone watching him, but it is not paying off in trying to locate whatever it may be. Samuel still says nothing, only pursing his lips and stepping quietly onto the raised floor. He is just as quiet on his feet as he is by his mouth; the barest of noise. There is only a touch more when he pauses in his steps- and in what is almost one fluid motion, he goes from that pause on the ball of his foot and down into a matching kneel a few feet from the spirit girl.

No, he does not worship the deity Inari; but his respect for such is not one to wane, regardless. That is why from this sitting position, he reaches down into the front of his thin jacket, tight around his shoulders as he shifts. What comes out in his fingers is an elaborately painted bronze statue, no more than seven inches tall, but with a sheen, and glittering, gem-eyes that make it seem much more than that. It is a fox- however obviously not Japanese. The design of it matches the origins the man bringing it in, who leans forward to set it down before the innermost part of the shrine.

Ezekiel watches intently, as soon as Samuel passes him anyway. "Thats a very fine offering, sir."His voice is soft but at least this time its entirely directional, he isnt hiding afterall. No he rolls his head back, tail swishing slowly to the side. His eyes are positive proof straight away that he isnt just a fox, no they glow ever so slightly with an unnatural brightness. A delicate hue of orange not far removed from orange peel, making him look like quite the holloween fox.

Still he ought not stare, so our favorite fox returns his attention to the offering instead. "I dont presume to speak for my mistress, but I believe she will be so honored by your offering."as if he felt the need to play the part of priest, but hell its not like anyone else was.

Samuel takes his eyes from that little bronze fox to flicker in the direction of the voice. If his expression could speak on its own, it would say 'There you are.'. Samuel's voice as it funnels from his throat is particularly smooth, and paced with a natural tune that at times will seem melodoic. "He needed a better home than that which he had before." Which really, was all the reason he needed to satiate his curiosity and come here. The reason behind his first was much more innocent. Somewhat childish, in his arbitrary decision to come and visit the shrine.

If foxes would smile, Ezekiel would be. "I am the Demon Fox of Hokkaido, welcome to the shrine of Inari. There are not many here in America, and surely this is the most difficult of all of them to locate. What brings you here stranger, beyond the kind relocation of a fox to a place where he shall be so honored?"His mouth doesnt move, indeed he speaks without moving entirely.

Samuel tilts his head slightly back to where it have been focused before, honey-colored irises darting silently from detail to detail, and finally, back to the slip of a fox. "A scholarly interest, and moreso… mutual respect." For just a moment, it seems as if Samuel blinks- but his eyelids don't move. Maybe it was a trick of the light across his face. Or maybe not.

Stranger things, right? Ezekiel adjusts his gaze as well for a moment or two, before turning to avail himself of the menu. "She cant talk."noted simply,not wouldnt no he was certain she was rather incapable of speach by now. "Do you know what an onryo is, thats what she is. Some sort of Onryo, I just dont know what kind."admitted almost shamefully.

"They are… spirits that return for some manner of justice for wrongs done unto them, yes? Not unlike this usual Western ideal of ghosts, however not the same type of vengeance as such." Samuel's head seems to swivel loosely, the muscles in his neck hardly tightening as he looks back to the Onryo. In his calmest moments, such as this- he is snakelike even as a man. "Do you know how she died, kitsune?"

Ezekiel shakes his head slowly "No, no I dont even know her name. I've met Onryo before, they are beings of incredible vengence. They murder mercilessly, destroy all in their path. Never have I met one not eager to do harm to another, but she is pleasant and helpful. She seems more lost, than angry does she not?"

"Of all, you should know that they can be fueled by love, or sorrow. Perhaps it is such with her." Samuel sits straighter, his back tightening in a stretching contraction. "Broken promises, broken hearts." He speaks the second as if that is what he assumes it to have been. A young girl, in his mind, is more likely to have had her inner resolve and heart cracked than something else.

"Yes, but they rarely stray from the object of their affection. She is a recent visitor, so I'm unsure. Typically when the subject of one's affection passes they too pass to follow their loved one into the beyond. I have never found one just wandering before, so aimlessly. I'm just thankful this shrine sustains her, I fear what fading away would be like."Terrible, Ezekiel had thought about this alot. It'd be terrible, absolutely terrible.

"Then just maybe they are not passed yet." Maybe there is an old man in Los Angeles minus one young love. "I hope that she finds what she is searching for." Samuel understands the feeling of wandering all too well. Not sure what you are somewhere for- it's how he felt before coming to the States for quite some years.

Ezekiel nods solemly"Yeah."deep words from Ezekiel over here. "I did not catch your name, I gather your not really from around here?"He wasnt going to pry, but foxes did tend to be curious sort as a whole. Not everyday you meet a stranger in a strange shrine, talking about a strange ghost.

"You did not catch it, because I did not throw it." The naga almost hums, a curling at the edges of his lips signaling a moment of self-satisfaction. "Samuel Jai." But alas, he does throw it once that moment is over with.

Ezekiel cocks one ear upright to catch the name. "I see, its a pleasure Mister Jai."he pauses, working neatly at a little inari-zushi for a moment. "So, If your not abject to my curiosity. You dont seem very human, but then again I'm young as foxes go yet. Perhaps I'm just inexperienced."

"I fear if I were human, the moment I saw a ghost or a talking fox I probably would have fled." Which is his way of saying 'you'd be right'. "And I, little kitsune, am as young as Naga go." Samuel, incidentally, is ancient by human standards. Looks good for his age, doesn't he?

Ezekiel hmmms"A snake, a Fox and a Ghost. I'm sure theres a joke in there somewhere, but in anycase Mr Jai I do need to be getting along. I'll leave you my card outside, no sense in not knowing one's neighbors right? Very few in this city, who's company I can appreciate. Even fewer, who can appreciate this place."

"We will think of one eventually." Samuel smirks again, looking very certain. "Even if you didn't offer to leave a card-" My, how efficient kitsune are these days. "-I may have come back anyway. Birds of a feather, flocking together. I hope you have a pleasant evening."

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