A/N: Well, fk me sideways. I accidentally uploaded this chapter without any editing whatsoever. Yeah, really sorry about that everyone; I was just so excited to get this posted. Anyways, I hope you're all excited to read some more work from your favorite rookie writer! This is Mamono One-Shot Collection: Aftermath, and it is going to be even better than the overwhelming success that the previous two collections were. I originally wanted this to be called 'S3', but it sounded redundant, so I went with 'Aftermath' instead. Once again, the list for this series is entirely reader-requested, so I have absolutely no say in what chapters will be coming out. This brings me to some awesome news that I want to give you all: everything you need is on my Google Plus profile. I'm serious, too; this is not a self-advertisement plug or anything. I post secret information like my current list of requests, progress updates on my current work, links to my other profiles around the web, and even ways to directly contact me if anyone wants to. All that you need to do is search for my name on Google Plus and look for the 'Human' avatar that I've started using recently. I felt like the Poochyena (bless his cuteness! X3) was making me distant from readers, so I opted to use the Protagonist from Persona 3 instead. Now, onto the main topic for today, which is the Gandharva one-shot. I really enjoyed working with this species, since they are very unique in the way they can seemingly change the world. There's been so much new material that I added in that I was worried about making the chapter too long. So, to all my readers old and new, I present to you the first one-shot!
-Ring Ring Ring- -Ring Ring Ring-
-Ring Ring Ring-
“Nnngghhh, that's not my cellphone...”
-Ring Ring Ring-
“Drake? Are you awake yet?”
“Holy sh-! Pon!? How are you doing, buddy?”
“I'm doing fine. Yuuko is outside teaching the twins how to use magic, so I'm basically stuck here making sure the town is running smoothly. Listen, I've got a string of important village meetings coming up soon, so would you mind it if I dropped the kids off at your place? They've been begging to travel around and they also wanted to hear more of your stories.”
“Go for it. I'm not really busy at the moment, so I can watch them for you. Your kids are like family to me, so don't worry about imposing. I'm pretty sure Rhia will be excited to have them around the house again.”
“Thanks, Drake. We'll be at your house for lunch. By the way, have you had a child yet? I still think you'd make a great father.”
“You know my answer: no. Rhia has been banging me every single night, but it just doesn't get us anywhere. Even if we had a child, I keep far too many secrets to be the loving father that I want to be.”
“...Right. I respect your decision, old friend. See you at lunch.”
I check the time on my phone: 6:00 AM, which gives me plenty of time to prepare for Pon's arrival. My Werecat wife, Rhia, turns over beside me with her tail lazily waving back and forth. Her raven-black hair shines against the morning sun and looks quite cute despite being kept short. I reach a hand out to pet her soft ears, earning me a satisfied purr from her lips. I lie back down on the bed and snuggle closer to her, letting her tail wrap around my waist as her arms come around my neck. I lean in gently brush my lips against hers in a teasing manner. She takes the invitation with a hungry lust, rushing forward to close the distance and meeting me in a deeply passionate kiss.
“I love you, Drake. Promise me you'll never leave again...” She meekly requests in between shaky breaths.
“I promise, my dear, that I will always be at your side. I don't ever plan on letting you go, sweet kitten.”
“Nyaah~You only call me that when you're ready.”
“That's up to you to find out...” I tease with a grin, happy that I'm married to this amazing Werecat.
“Coming!” I call out from my seat in the living room.
As soon as I open the front door, I feel a hard impact against my waist and fall backwards onto the floor. Luckily my body is a bit sturdy, so it didn't hurt at all. Greeting me in front of my face are two young Youkos with sunset-red hair. Their furry ears swivel ever so slightly with excitement upon seeing my face. Despite being identical, I've known them long enough to be able to tell the difference.
“Asuka...”, I address the twin with bright gold eyes, “If you don't get off me, I won't give you any candy~...”
“Hmph, fine.” She sulkily rolls off of me, allowing me to pick up the other twin as I stand.
“Mmm...you're so cuddly, Sakuya...” I muse as I hug the other twin in my arms.
Sakuya's dull amber eyes fill with a cute panic as she struggles to break free.
“U-Uncle Drake! I-I-I don't really l-like this so...” Her voice is so cute when she's embarrassed!
“Pwff...haha alright. I'll let you go this time. You really need to work on relaxing around me. Take Asuka, for example.”
The moment I set Sakuya down, Asuka jumps into my chest with a squeal. Her two tails are wagging excitedly while she licks my cheeks similar to a dog; then again, she is a Youko like her mother. Just as I think about that, I spot Pon and Yuuko walking towards the house. My former assistant looks the same as he usually does: light brown hair, red eyes, a faint scar over his left eye, and dressed in a spring-green yukata. I can see that he's been working out more often as well, since his powerful muscles are just barely contained in his loose clothing. Yuuko has grown more tails since I last saw her, with 9 now instead of 4, and so she has taken on a very regal look. I've only ever seen her wearing a kimono, so sometimes I wonder how many she really has. The one today is white with flowing blue waves alongside scattering sakura petals. Her flowing red hair tops off the look and if I weren't married, I would briefly entertain the thought of propositioning her.
“Hey, Kisuke. Can these two do magic yet?” I ask with playful curiosity as I set Asuka down next to her sister.
I promised Pon to call him by his real name in front of his kids, to save him from embarrassment.
“They are both naturally talented, but Sakuya is much more prudent than Asuka.” He replies, his mood deflating at the sight of the twins conjuring fox-fires in the living room.
“They are just having fun. I'm sure our daughters will not do anything dangerous. After all, they have such a kind, dedicated, and mature father raising them.” Yuuko teases, putting her arms around her husband's neck.
“It's thanks to them that I'm already growing a patch of gray hair...”, Pon takes a moment to look at his watch, “We need to get going. Drake, I trust you can handle watching these two for a week?”
“Yep! You can count on me! I've got all sorts of stories to tell them!” I answer with pride.
“Just don't tell about our history, okay?” Pon requests as he starts heading back to his car.
“Sure, sure. Just go already! You're kind of cutting into my story-time.”
“Okay, chair is set...fancy rug is centered, with snacks laid out on a small table...lighting is fine...now where are those girls...?” I say to myself as I walk around the house.
“...?” I slow to a halt to listen closer.
“Heehee~...” Comes a small voice.
“Asuka...Sakuya...come out and play~...” I echo, looking around the living room.
“Now!” I hear their voices coming from...above!?
“Oof! Jeez, you two...I guess I shouldn't have let my guard down, huh?” I smile at their skilled sneak attack, landing to knock me flat on my back.
“That makes three! You're really slow, Uncle Drake.” Asuka says as she sits on my chest.
“Maybe, but at least I know your weaknesses. Remember that time you passed out in the onsen? You were so adorable when I wrapped you up in those blankets.” I smirk, waiting for her answer.
“T-That was because I w-was getting used to them. I-I-It's not like I wanted you to carry me or anything...” Asuka's tails are swishing wildly back and forth, even though her words say otherwise.
“Fine then. I'll let Sakuya sit on my lap while I tell her a story that I remembered.” I tease her as I start heading towards the armchair that I have set up.
“No! She'll get too nervous! I'm the only one who can sit there!” Asuka argues as she jumps right into my lap after I sit down.
“Sakuya...”, I call out to the hiding twin, “You can sit next to your sister when you're ready, okay?”
“...Mhm. I think I'm ready now.”
With both girls sitting in my lap, I take a moment to bask in the warmth of having such a loving family scene like this. It makes me jealous of everyone who's been having children since I retired from filming. I smile at the twins and begin to recount a tale that happened back in my early days, when I first arrived in this world.
“Have you girls ever heard of the Gandharva?” I ask.
“They're the musician Harpies, right?” Asuka guesses, eager to hear my story.
“Yes. They are a very special kind of Harpy talented in the musical arts. I met one on my travels and...let's just say it wasn't a simple ordeal to resolve.”
I arrive in one of the busier trade cities surrounding Lescatie hoping to find something that can pique my interest and hasten my journey to the fabled Mist Continent. The marketplace in the main streets was certainly bustling, but today seems like a special holiday since I can hardly walk by without bumping into a group of people with each step. It's hard just to even spot some of the shops with all of the Humans and Mamono around. I manage to find a few shops here and there which had some interesting items, but nothing that I really bought. Most of the shop owners were married Mamono who wanted to help support their husbands by earning their own income. I have a lot of respect for these women and let them know it very well. At the very least, I gave each of them a small sum of gold and just left.
“Who knew they would be contacting me years later once my career took off?”, I tell the twins, “However, that's a whole different story for another time.”
Just as the afternoon sets in, things start to slow down. Most patrons have taken to spending time with new friends or lovers in private places, away from curious eyes. Since I literally had nothing (and no one) to do, I simply took a walk through the city to think back on my circumstances for even being on my journey at the time.
I wonder how everyone is doing, especially now that my guidance is absent. They surely can't wage a war against the kingdom, even if they had the numbers and the weapons. They called that man the 'God of War', and they aren't wrong. If it weren't for Vox and the others, I would be much less of a 'full man' these days. Sigh, what I wouldn't give for them to be here with me...
“Um...e-excuse me sir...” A small voice breaks my troubled thoughts.
I stop my steps and look around. Oddly, I seem to have ended up in an empty alleyway of sorts. There doesn't seem to be anyone nearby, so I start to think that maybe I might be-
“Sir, down here.” The voice sounds female...and quite fragile.
“Ah, I'm sorry that I didn't notice you at first.”
It's not that I'm very tall, but the girl is a bit short. She seems to be 5'7 at most, compared to my 5'10, which is why I couldn't see her right away. She is a member of the Harpy race, but something feels off about her. Normally, Harpies have a wide variety of vivid colors for their feathers, but this is the first time I've ever seen one with gold feathers.
“You dropped this book.” She tells me as she holds out my copy of the 'Demon World Guide' signed by a Wandering Scholar.
“Thanks. I was a bit caught up in some thoughts, so I'm sorry if I troubled you.” I grin warmly as I take the little book back and stow it in my pocket.
“Oh, it's fine. I'm just glad to help out.” The Harpy responds, trying her best not to look me in the eyes.
“Those rags...you're a beggar huh?” I observed her clothing immediately, but didn't want to say anything until now.
“...-Nod-...I have nothing to my name.” She admits with a strange feeling in her words.
“You don't sound sad about it. Have you resigned to your fate? Will you forever be a 'helpless nobody' who relies on others' kindness?” My hidden cruelty surfaces for just a moment before I force it back into darkness.
“I am simply living in different times. It may be hard to get through each day as poor as I am, but I take hope in the fact that I am still alive and have only the ability to go forward from here.”
“That's a good answer, a strong one. What's your name?”
I take a seat against the wall of a random building, where the Harpy joins me as well.
“Cecily, Cecily Anansi. And yours, good sir?” She asks me with a kind of predatory look in her scarlet eyes.
“Drake Kanto, at your service, my dear.”
“Fufufufu...you're an odd man. Aren't you a bit young to be traveling alone in such a busy city?” Cecily jokes, clearly trying to get a reaction.
“I'll have you know that I am 18 years old, so it's perfectly acceptable for me to have an adventure or two. Besides, you don't look the age to be talking all high-and-mighty like that...” I retort, finding it enjoyable to play this little game that Cecily set up.
“I'm about to turn 20 in a few weeks, so maybe I am at that age. You are very amusing, Drake, so maybe you wouldn't mind listening to a request of mine?”
“Depends on what it is, my dear. I'm still traveling, you know?”
“I'd...like you buy me...an instrument.” Cecily's voice suddenly becomes timid again.
“Huh? A what now?”
“That's it? You just want me buy you an instrument? You don't want anything else?” I ask again, hoping to get a more interesting answer.
“No. All I want is an instrument.”
“Okay, then. I'll need you to come with me. It's getting a bit busy again, so we'd better get moving if we want to get a good meal soon...and a place to spend the night.”
“...Thank you.” Cecily's smile shines radiantly, as if she is thanking me from the bottom of her heart.
“Eh!? Uncle Drake, you were cheating on Aunt Rhia!?” Asuka shouts with disbelief.
“Uncle Drake is...evil...the worst kind of man.” Sakuya adds, drawing the attention of my wife, who has her claws out and slowly walks towards me.
“Drake...what's this about...?” Rhia asks me with a eerily calm voice.
“Geh! I-I was just being kind at that time. It was during my first days here, so I was looking for interesting things. Besides, you know how I am around people...” I plead my case hoping it's enough to keep me in Rhia's good graces.
“...Sigh. I married you after all, so of course I know. You can never turn away from someone in need. I both love and loathe that kindness of yours.”, Rhia looks at our nieces sitting comfortably in my lap, “Your beloved uncle here is actually very shy around people. He likes to act tough so that he doesn't feel embarrassed. Too bad it doesn't work on me...”
“R-R-Rhia! Now's not the time for that! I still need to finish telling my story!” I fumble through my words with a flustered voice, hoping that the twins don't get any bad ideas.
“Nyan~, you're so cute when you're embarrassed like that. I guess I can let you go just this once. By the way, dinner will be ready in a couple hours, so make sure you finish the story by then.”
“Yay! Aunt Rhia's cooking is the best, especially her sushi!” Asuka cheers.
“Well, it is her favorite food, so her standards are very high. She won't even let me attempt to make sushi.” I quietly whisper.
“Uncle Drake...can you even cook?” Sakuya pierces through my bluff easily.
“Eh...sort of. It's more like a miracle at work whenever I attempt to make something. Usually, I just cook on impulse and hope for the best. Your daddy seemed to like my cooking the last time we were together.”
“Ooh! I wanna hear more about you and Daddy!” Asuka shouts excitedly.
“First, we need to finish one story before moving onto another. Now where was I...?” I start again, trying to bring order back to the original story I was telling.
Cecily and I have a quiet rest of the day after our encounter, despite her monster nature. It's like she respects me enough to keep her instincts in check. After getting lunch and pulling more eyes than we ever thought possible, I decide that it would be best for Cecily to wear some different clothes. Luckily, there is an Arachne-run tailor shop that I got acquainted with yesterday before I ran into Cecily. It's a small little hole-in-the-wall, but the quality of the clothing is second-to-none. I figure that Cecily would be able to start drawing more positive attention if she is wearing flashier clothes. Of course, I will be paying for her. The shop owner somewhat glares at us, mostly because she's single, but somehow I feel like I'm being stalked by a vicious predator.
“Erm, not to rush you or anything, but have you found anything you like?”
“Hmm...there's nothing here that really shows 'the real me'; it's kind of frustrating, actually.” Cecily absently replies.
No! What's frustrating is that I have to take the brunt of the tailor's fury while you're just carelessly saying whatever you want about her work! Do you even have the slightest clue as to how much an Arachne values her weaving skills!?
Eep! And now it looks like she's really pissed! Please, for all that is good in this world, just pick something-
“This is the one I want.” Cecily breaks my fears just in time.
“Really? It's kind of...exposed. The only part that would be covered is your chest, and that's still at a bare minimum. I do think that the gold-metal bangles and choker would great on you, though.”
“Ah, thanks for the compliment. I'll go ask the tailor about the outfit. Are you sure you're fine with paying for it? I don't want to impose on your kindness, but it's all I've been doing so far...”
“It's fine, Cecily. You're...an...interesting person, so I feel no displeasure in lending a hand.”
I shyly look away to a random spot just to avoid facing her. Even though I'm trying to act as casually as possible, the piercing stares that I've been getting since we came in have doubled. If I wasn't used to weird stares, I doubt that I can contain my shivering like I am now.
“Come on, I want to see your opinion when I try it on.”
“...I'm sure you'll look fine.”, I let out a sigh, “But I suppose it's worth taking a look. My view of you might change.”
Cecily goes silent for a few moments, her face flustered and blushing. Without another word, she ducks into the changing room.
I must admit, she's good at pulling me into her pace. That hair of hers is something else too: vermilion red? I've seen a lot of weird hair colors around here, but nothing quite so vivid as that. Speaking of which, is that shop-keep still glar-
I pause my thoughts for a moment and look towards the Arachne tailor. She is (still) quite literally trying to drill a hole into my soul with her eyes. It unnerves me that I am drawing her complete attention, but I let it go as I slink back into my mind.
Yep, never coming back here again. I definitely don't want anything to do with that lady. Sigh, still would be nice if Cecily wants to travel with me. It would be nice to have a 'friend' along to just cuddle up to whenever the nights are lo-
“Drake, what do you think?” Cecily asks me.
“...Wow. I'm surprised at how well those clothes fit you. Your gold wings are even more impressive now.”
“Thanks, I'm glad you approve. If it's not too much trouble, I'd like to wear these out of the store...”
“Fine. Just gather up your old clothes and meet me at the counter.” I absently offer, walking towards the tailor despite my inner nervousness.
“How much are the clothes? She would also like to wear them on the walk out.”
“Normally, it's 300 gold for the whole set. However, an interesting man like you might be able to lower that price...if you wouldn't mind doing me a favor.” The tailor's red eyes shine with mischief as she leans closer to me.
“Just to be clear: sexual favors don't count.” I warn her.
“Tch, damn. Fine, then just take this and pay 150 gold so that you can take the dress.”
She hands me a small business card that reads: 'Elsa Lynn, Arachne Tailor/Artist'. I give her a knowing look as I rustle in my pockets for the dress fee. Though I initially believed that Elsa was after me for my body, she is actually quite clever to take a gamble that I would meet some influential people. Cecily walks up to me fully-dressed and after waving good-bye to Elsa, we make our way to our next destination: the bazaar.
“Once we got there, we spent the rest of the afternoon browsing for a special instrument that only her people knew how to play. We found it after trying 10 different stands. Cecily was so happy that she even gave me a little peck on the cheek. I let her know that I would be leaving her for my journey, but she convinced me to stay with her until morning.” I continue the story for Sakuya, who is listening intently.
“Then...did you...?” The shy twin asks, occasionally poking at her sleeping sister.
“Heh, no. I made her an offer instead. One that would bring her greater happiness. She did play a special song for me, and I'll never forget the love that I felt from her that night...”
“Where is she now?”
“...Let's take a look at the TV then, shall we?” I respond, patting my nieces' heads and grabbing the TV remote.
“...This concert was performed by Ms. Cecily Anansi playing her famed sitar. The audience was so entranced by this Gandharva's magical performance that they even started making love right in their seating areas. When interviewed moments afterwards, Ms. Anansi had this to say:
“Drake, wherever you are right now, know that I am forever grateful for you giving me this chance at success and that I am yours forever.”
Cecily looked like she was staring directly at me even though I knew it was just a camera filming her. She still looks the exact same as always despite all the years that passed since we met. Sakuya is in utter awe at where Cecily ended up just because of my support. The young Youko stares at me with complete respect as I just smile lightly and shut off the TV.
“Hey you three~! It's time for dinner!” Rhia calls us from inside the dining room.
“Make sure you tell Asuka the rest of the story once she wakes up, okay?”
A/N: Well? Awesome, right? The child element that I can now use in the story is just so great! At one point, I was actually considering making this first chapter just an introduction to get the reader into the setting of the Director telling stories to children. That was also one of my original plans for this series: I wanted the Director and his friends to take turns telling fairy-tales to the children, but it got scrapped once I realized that the film crew would most likely be busy with their own lives. Thus, this idea was born. I'm still quite busy with my real-life work, but I use whatever free time I get to make these one-shots. I can assure you all that these chapters are only going to get more surprising from here, especially since it's centered around our insane Director's life. The next one-shot in the list is the all-powerful (and all-beautiful) Lilim. Thanks for reading and check out my Google Plus posts if you'd like to see what's next on the list, along with my personal thoughts on these one-shots. Cheers to this third collection of one-shots that was only possible thanks to amazing readers like yourselves!