[Open] Yunnan Red

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[Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Hong Meiling » 09 Oct 2009 08:03

The sun had barely begun to creep in from the Eastern sky, and the dewy ground had finally begun to accept its nurturing warmth. Mist from the small lake was drowsily floating down towards the surface of the water, and all around, bird and other animals began to stir from their slumber to greet the day.

Judging from the amount of light in the sky, Meiling figured it had to be a good half hour before five. She leaned against the pristine kitchen counters, half-looking out the window towards the faint hints of light. She had woken up a bit late, but still had time for a cup of tea. Before the Mistresses would have their breakfast, she would be able to practice her Tai Chi Chuan, and then bathe the sweat off of her body. Once her daily routine was finished, it would be off to the gate once more, ready to protect the denizens of the home from whatever harm that try to befall them.

It took her a moment to react to the kettle boiling, still groggy from sleep. As her clumsy and awkward hands poured the hot water into the tea pot, she felt herself almost drifting back to a doze.

The Mistress’ western-style tea was far too strong for the Gate Keeper’s sensitive palette. And on the rare occasions that Meiling partook in it, she could not help but feel… Energized afterwards. She knew that it was the tea, but she still did not like it. It felt empty, and fake; something that she did not deserve.

And so the boiling water descended upon Chinese leaves. Even as much of a trouble as it was to get them (Sakuya, of course, kept the Western tea growing upon the mansion roof), Meiling felt it wholly essential to her survival that her tea be supplied; it was a small luxury in her otherwise simplistic life.

A small sigh, and the youkai looked back towards the rising sun. The fairies would be waking up soon.
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Re: [Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Sakuya Izayoi » 09 Oct 2009 15:30

((OOC WARNING: MASSIVE POST AHEAD... I think))

In a small, quiet room located on the eastern wing of the massive Scarlet Devil Mansion, there slept a young maid. But this was no ordinary maid: she was the head maid of the great Victorian-era building, and as such she was effectively the leader of all household affairs, second only to her mistress, the Scarlet Devil, Remilia Scarlet. Remilia, however, had the tendency to just leave the household affairs to the head maid. Nonetheless, the maid was perfectly fine with the arrangement: as long as she was fed and clothed and had a room, there would be no complaints from her.

Unfortunately, this meant that the maid had to wake up very, very early. No worries, though!

By the time the morning sun shone on her face, Izayoi Sakuya was already fully awake. Within three seconds, the maid was sitting up in her bed, looking out her east-facing window to see the dawn...

"My eyeees!"

Bad idea.

Immediately shutting her eyes, pulling the flower-patterned curtains over the window, and getting out of her nice and warm bed (in that order), Sakuya had a quick glance at the reflection in her dressing-mirror. She felt cold - she was dressed in nothing more than a small pair of plain white panties, and so the cooling of the seasons had gotten to her - yet the cold was soothing and calming, and she liked it. Still, she would catch a cold if the stayed undressed like this; she had to get some clothes. But first, Sakuya had a quick look over her features, just to make sure nothing was out of place: silver hair, icy blue eyes, a small and slim frame, petite chest...

"Maybe I should visit Eirin sometime soon. I'm sure she has something for me," sighed the (nearly) flat-chested maid.

After a short period of dressing herself up in her usual getup (maid outfit, knee socks for the cold weather, breast pads!) and placing her silver pocketwatch in her... well, pocket, Sakuya prepared for what appeared to be yet another normal day.

But first, tea!

Tea was one of the Perfect Maid's greatest passions, and she was an expert at brewing the refined beverage - Remilia, in fact, had frequently claimed that Sakuya was the best tea-maker in Gensokyo, bar none. But then Remilia had always favored Western-styled tea; personally, the maid thought that Reimu, the maiden of the Hakurei shrine, was much better when it came to a more eastern style of brewing. Regardless of who was better, though, the shrine maiden's green tea was undeniably very good.

So now Sakuya took a morning stroll in the direction of the mansion's kitchen, hoping to at least get herself a nice warm cup of tea before beginning today's duties. Already the fairy maids were up and about, doing some of the cleaning here and there, but most of them were just flying around aimlessly, chatting to each other... at least, until they saw their head maid walking towards them, at which time they promptly began finding something to busy themselves with. None of the fairy maids wanted to be caught doing nothing by Sakuya; the head maid had ways of making sure they were punished appropriately.

Upon entering the kitchen, Sakuya saw none other than the Scarlet Devil Mansion's gatekeeper, the Chinese youkai Hong Meiling, brewing herself some tea... and semi-falling asleep in the process. Until this day, the maid had never quite figured out how and why the redhead slept so much; Meiling was probably infamous for slacking off on her job by now, much like a certain shinigami... what was her name, again? Oh well. There were similarities between the two, but right now Sakuya couldn't quite put her finger on what the similarities were. More importantly, she should at least greet the gatekeeper. It would only be polite to do so. Giving another glance at the gatekeeper's clumsy tea-making, Sakuya decided that she should probably offer to help, too. So, with the trademarked Perfect Maid small smile on her face....

"Good morning, Meiling. You seem to be having trouble staying awake long enough to brew your tea. Can I be of assistance?"
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Re: [Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Hong Meiling » 10 Oct 2009 06:56

Meiling snapped into alertness as she heard Sakuya, nearly dropping the kettle in the process. This-- she-- Meiling knew that Sakuya woke up nearly as early as she did, and was also aware of the Maid’s habit of getting tea-- So why was she so shocked to find the human girl here? She must have been sleepier than she imagined.

“Sorry, Miss Sakuya, but I‘ll leave it to you.” The Guard was feeling bashful now, setting down the kettle before she hurt someone. At once she felt compelled to explain herself, lest she be scolded. “…I was up late last night.”

Patchouli’s harsh words the night before (combined with her insistence that Meiling be barred from even trying to remedy the problem) stung. It stung deep within her. The Gate Keeper had poured herself into her work for the rest of the night, staying up to secure the perimeter before finally collapsing in her bed. Day or night, there was always a chance of a break-in. As much as Meiling wished for regular hours, she knew that she had to be ready at an instant’s notice.

As she drooped down, arms and head resting on the counter, she could not help but look up pathetically at the head maid. “How do you do it?”

Even with the power-- No-- in spite of the power to stop time, Sakuya never seemed exhausted. Of all people, it seemed that the Perfect and Elegant Maid should be the most overworked of all. And while all Meiling had to do was watch a gate, she was often overwhelmed.

“I’m envious.” The Gate Guard could not help but confess to her director, she just felt so… useless.
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Re: [Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Sakuya Izayoi » 10 Oct 2009 19:18

Sakuya was not in the least surprised to see Meiling jump to attention at the sound of her voice; the guard was supposed to do that in her presence, after all. Still, the redhead seemed to be a bit more surprised than expected, given that she knew that Sakuya always visited the kitchen around this time. The maid stared at Meiling for a few seconds, scanning her features: today, the gatekeeper had dark rings around her eyes. How odd. Oh well.

"Alright, then. Give me a moment," said Sakuya, picking up the kettle and deftly pouring the boiling-hot water into Meiling's teapot until it was just about three-quarters full, before placing the lid of the teapot back where it belonged. Sakuya then began to ask about the Meiling's sleepiness, but was intercepted by the gatekeeper's pre-emptive explanation. "... It was because of yesterday, was it not?" asked the maid, although she already knew the answer in her heart; yesterday's events would have taken their toll on anyone.

Sakuya had already obtained her own tea and teapot from one of the cupboards and was beginning to brew tea with leftover water from Meiling's kettle when the Chinese youkai's question reached her. "Hm? If it is my duties you are asking about," replied the maid, putting down the kettle, "... It's all thanks to the tea." Stifling a small chuckle with her left hand, Sakuya continued: "But if it's the tea, then forgive me; it's a secret technique~"

Sakuya now sat on a nearby stool, genuinely pondering Meiling's question this time. "To be frank... there is no trick to it; I am simply accustomed to performing my duties. Practice makes perfect, I suppose." In truth, Sakuya herself didn't really know how she managed to get all the work done; it all just came so naturally to her. She did like her duties, though - maybe that was the key. "The fairy maids do help out with some of the cleaning, though."

Hearing Meiling's confession, Sakuya closed her eyes for a brief moment. "My position is not one to envy, Meiling. Dealing with the mistresses is not exactly very easy." And it wasn't easy indeed; nonetheless, Sakuya served them without question - as long as she was fed and clothed and had a roof over her head, the Perfect Maid was content. A small smile affixed itself onto Sakuya's features.
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Re: [Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Hong Meiling » 11 Oct 2009 05:22

A small nod from the Gate Keeper confirmed Sakuya’s suspicions. Patchouli’s harsh criticism had taken a toll on more than just Meiling’s morale, after all. Even physically, the words had probed and damaged the woman.

But when Sakuya began to explain, she could not help but listen intently. The tea, huh? Meiling’s eyes now focused quite intently on Sakuya’s pot, even as her own steeped. Was it some kind of herb in the tea? Or did Sakuya get by purely off of the strange energy that western-style tea seemed to possess?

“Uh… You think…” She was embarrassed now, though she tried desperately to hide it, “Maybe… I could try it-- Sometime-- I mean--”

Meiling floundered for some kind of stable ground; it seemed like the more she talked, the worse her situation was getting.

“You just brewed me this tea-- thank you, by the way. So maybe later… I’ll try some of yours…” Her eyes had fluttered down to the countertop, trying to avoid looking Sakuya in the face. “I-If that’s okay, I mean. I don’t want to go stealing all your tea.”

Sakuya continued, offering what help that she could. She had been here when the mansion had appeared, which meant that she had been in employment of the Scarlet Mansion longer than Meiling. However long that was, however, was an utter mystery.

“I could never do your job.” Meiling seemed to be on a roll now, making confessions left and right. “It’s just too hard. Being all fancy and that isn’t my thing. And keeping up ‘protocol’ is nearly impossible.”

Why couldn’t people just be honest about their feelings? They always seemed to mask their thoughts with what was the most proper and least truthful. Meiling just couldn’t strain herself that far. She was who she was; whether or not she was the smartest, or the more perceptive, or anything like that. She lacked all desire to lie for the sake of her image.

“Heck, with the way things are going,” After the break in and Patchouli’s scolding, Meiling was pinned down with guilt, “I’m not even sure that I can do my job.”
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Re: [Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Sakuya Izayoi » 11 Oct 2009 12:31

((OOC DISCLAIMER: I do not actually know how to prepare tea lolol))

Sakuya was briefly lost in thought, thinking about her service to Remilia; and her brain would have wandered off in some other direction had Meiling's voice not snapped the maid out her reverie. She glanced at the gatekeeper, inwardly curious, but maintaining her usual expression. Apparently Meiling wanted to try her tea- wait a minute; was the redhead blushing? "How odd of her," thought the maid.

"You're welcome," said Sakuya in response to Meiling's thanks. "If you want to try my tea, just ask and I'll see what I can do for you," continued the maid, giving the Chinese youkai another smile as she did. It was important for a boss to be stern to their subordinates, true; the subordinates were only as effective as the boss was tough. But it was also important that the boss cared for their subordinate's feelings, too; for otherwise they would crack under pressure. A boss could be neither lenient nor ruthless, neither emotionless or willful; they had to seem larger than life, become a paragon for their subordinates to look up to, yet still be human enough to relate to. It was a difficult balance to maintain, and a difficult image to project; and Sakuya hoped that she was at least partially successful in doing so.

The Perfect Maid remained silent through Meiling's second confession; as the gatekeeper spoke, Sakuya got up and prepared three teacups, for both Meiling and herself, as well as obtaining the milk and sugar that usually went hand-in-hand with Western tea. The tea was not quite ready yet - it would take a bit longer for the boiling water to draw out their flavor - but it would be ready anytime soon, and Sakuya had to be prepared, for leaving the tea too long meant that its natural acrid taste would become too strong (diluting the tea remedies the problem, but it is difficult to gauge how much extra water you need, and the teapot may not hold all the water). The tea had a sitting time of less than two minutes once it was ready, if it were to meet Sakuya's brewing standards.

And then Meiling's last sentence floated into Sakuya's ears.

The maid paused.

"... Never say that, Meiling." The tone in Sakuya's voice turned from soft to stern, as if she were admonishing a young child. "If you are to perform a task, it is imperative that you first believe that you can accomplish it. If you do not believe that you can accomplish a task, then you will never be able to accomplish the task. Lady Patchouli has inhuman standards and expectations, that much is true; and it is also true that you have failed to guard the gate on multiple occasions. But you must first set and achieve a standard for yourself before you can meet the expectations of others, and I am not blind: in most of your failures, you were up against a foe that was far beyond you to begin with. That you tried to hold the gate at all says much about your responsibility, even in the face of certain defeat. If you did not slack off so much, I certainly believe that you would be a guard among guards."

Having said that, Sakuya's voice once again took on a softer tone. "I've prepared three teacups; one for your tea, one for mine, and an extra one if you decide that you would like to try my tea now. Here," she said, pushing one of the teacups over to Meiling, then proceeding to fill the remaining two cups with her now-ready tea.
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Re: [Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Hong Meiling » 11 Oct 2009 13:36

To Meiling, Sakuya was an object of her unending admiration and respect. Sakuya was capable of all the things that Meiling was not; she had a strong sense of responsibility, and a focus to complete her tasks with ease. In fact… She probably respected Sakuya far more than even the Mistress of the house. Sakuya had proven herself. She had shown Meiling that she could excel above and beyond any expectations. And she did all of this without so much as a squeak of complaint. To Meiling, she was the model worker, as well as a goal to strive towards.

While Sakuya busied herself with the tea, the Chinese girl peeked (all the while trying to do so behind her boss’s back) into her own pot. It looked dark enough… And that was good, right? Meiling didn’t know the intricacies of tea, opting to just ‘wing it’.

A theory that often got the Gate Keeper in trouble, but one she found to be quite sound regardless.

When Sakuya’s admonishing words dropped on her (Not unlike a cinderblock), Meiling had to slump back down against the counter-- fitting all too easily into the role of a small child being scolded by their mother. She couldn’t bear to look towards Sakuya, staring off in the opposite direction. It was too shameful-- and beyond that, she did not want to see what kind of expression that Sakuya’s face would hold; to see the disappointment in those eyes would be too much.

“I want to guard the gate.” Her tone was no better than a child’s, pushing her feelings onto Sakuya whether she liked them or not. “And I want to keep them out.”

The Tengu and Marisa were top priority on that list. Meiling was sick of being thwarted day after day. Even without her duties, even without the fear of being scolded, she wanted to keep them out as a measure of her own strength.

“I don’t try to slack off…” It was true! Every morning, she woke up with the goal of ‘Do Better Today!’. And yet somehow, through the long days (And even longer nights), Meiling found it nearly impossible to keep her mind focused on the task in front of her. There were too many hours in the day, and too few interactions. (Of course, those too few interactions seemed far too many if you had something to keep yourself occupied with.)

The change in subject was deeply appreciated. It had coaxed the girl out of her emotional shell and caused her to pull herself into a strait sitting position once more, looking like a child who had just woken up from a particularly confusing nightmare.

“Ah--” She hadn’t expected the offer to pop up so soon! “Yea, I-if… If its okay and all. I’d love to have some.”

It didn’t matter how much there was; she would drink however much that Sakuya gave her. She wasn’t going to let a drop of the Maid’s effort go to waste!
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Re: [Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Sakuya Izayoi » 12 Oct 2009 05:37

Meiling's slumping on the countertop earned her another mental sigh from Sakuya. The maid had hoped to encourage the guard to not slack off with her words, but...

"What do I do now?" If Meiling was to perform her duties as a gate guard at all, she couldn't continue like this. For a moment, Sakuya considered confronting Patchouli about the problem; but the One-Week Wizard considered her to be nothing more than an ordinary servant, no better than any other - it would be a hopeless endeavor. Sakuya thought of talking with Remilia; the Scarlet Devil was one of the few people Patchouli would even consider listening to. But she immediately thought better of it; her mistress would already have her hands full dealing with Flandre, especially after yesterday's events, and a servant was not supposed to trouble her mistress with her own problems anyways. And there was no one else Sakuya could think of that would be able to help her.

Meiling's declaration of her desire to guard the gate didn't help at all. Sakuya was gifted with the extraordinary power to manipulate time for as long as she can remember, and it allowed her to magnify the strength and speed and range of her throwing knives manyfold; Meiling, on the other hand, had nothing. Well, almost nothing - the Chinese youkai was very good at hand-to-hand combat thanks to her martial arts training, and she could manipulate her body's life energy and utilize it as a weapon. But she lacked range with her attacks, needing to get close to be able to threaten an enemy - and in a land where danmaku was the primary dueling method, where long-ranged bullets saturated the sky and sealed off all routes of approach, Meiling stood little chance. And Sakuya could do little to help her subordinate in this regard; she did not know how to use life energy.

The mask of the Perfect Maid was, however, virtually unbreakable; there was no change in Sakuya's features, her face still retaining the soft smile she normally kept at all times, even as Meiling straightened up again and accepted the maid's offering of tea. A welcome reprieve, really; the bump on Sakuya's forehead was beginning to hurt again from the thinking, but the renewed smile on her subordinate's face eased her thoughts. Maybe the tea really did have special properties!

"Very well," answered the maid, pushing one of her filled teacups to Meiling, as well as the milk and sugar (after adding them to her own cup, of course). "Without the additives, Western tea does not actually taste very much different from your Chinese tea. The milk and sugar required varies based on your palate, but to begin with I suggest having one teaspoon of sugar and two teaspoons of milk, and adding more if necessary."
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Re: [Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Hong Meiling » 12 Oct 2009 08:07

Meiling looked intently down at the cup in front of her. The colour of the tea was far darker than she was used to, and it had a much stronger aroma. It seemed deeper, with a bergamot flavor that she was utterly ignorant of. Her eyes then drifted to Sakuya’s cup, which looked light and delicate (Not unlike Sakuya, actually.)

She might as well go all the way; there was no point in stopping short while aspiring to be as good of a person as her boss. Her hands (shaking slightly, and untrained for such delicate work) shifted the ingredients into her cup, before her spoon lazily spiraled around in the lightening liquid.

“I think that they are going to fire me.” She admitted, looking strait at Sakuya now. Every trace of the Guard’s happy-go-lucky nature sapped from her by the idea. “After yesterday-- I mean… It’s not like it’s the first time that’s happened… But--”

Even despite her heavy mood, Meiling smiled down at her tea, before taking a quick sip. Her face contorted shortly, overwhelmed by the blend of flavors-- Only be disappear as quickly as it came. She wouldn’t show her shock in front of Sakuya, who had so kindly prepared her this!

“It’s good!” Enthusiasm was spilling from the woman, who was now grinning from ear to ear. “It’s sweet when you put the sugar in!”

Meiling knew she was rambling like an idiot, but she was desperately groping for some kind of lighthearted ground to take. After dropping such a heavy bomb as she had, she wanted to pull, steer, drag, and force the conversation to whatever other subject that she could manage.

“The after taste is kind weird-- But that just means you gotta drink more of it! It’s kinda like dessert, this way!”

Western tea was so strange! With just a few ingredients, it turned something bitter and harsh into something sweet and enjoyable. Maybe that was Sakuya‘s point-- By introducing the tea into her life, Meiling could turn herself from a crude and useless failure into a model Gate Keeper! Even though she was trying to savor it, the thoughtful Gate Keeper quickly downed her entire cup. Now without tea, she looked a bit stumped for a moment-- only to remember her own pot! It had been brewing longer than regular… But it didn’t matter! Sakuya had made it; Meiling would have willingly drunken the draught, even if it were poison.

With a bit more comfort than before, she poured her familiar, earthy tea into her second cup. Her hands wrapped around the warm cup, elbows resting uncouthly against the countertop. She had long since delved into her training time… But something like this was worth it; rather than training her body, she was training her spirit. Meiling could not help but warmly smile at her boss, who had put forth so much effort for the sake of her underling. Ever the model human, Sakuya never failed to go above and beyond.

“Ha--” A small, flickering flame of confidence was beginning to kindle, “I’m feeling more energized already.”
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Re: [Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Sakuya Izayoi » 13 Oct 2009 09:16

"No one in the Scarlet Devil Mansion, not even Lady Patchouli, has the authority to fire you; except for me and Lady Remilia," stated Sakuya matter-of-factly, as she watched Meiling stir her tea lazily. "It is unlikely that the mistress would do so," continued the maid, beginning to stir her own tea around, "and I do not fire my subordinates without reason. Which reminds me: you have yet to tell me why you abandoned the gate in the first place."

Sakuya watched curiously (although her face kept the same expression as always) as Meiling's expression transformed from sad and melancholic to happy and energetic as she consumed the offered tea. Maybe her tea really did have magical properties! The fact that someone else was enjoying something she made personally felt nice, and in any case it certainly seemed that the tea was actively giving the redhead more energy. Maybe now she won't fall asleep on the job. "I'm glad you like it," said Sakuya. "If it will keep you awake enough to do your job, I can brew some for you every morning," she offered, as she took a sip from her own cup of tea.

It may interest you to know that the Perfect Maid cannot consume excessively hot food and drink. Spicy is fine, but not hot. And the tea, being freshly brewed, was as hot as they come.

"Pffmmph!" Sakuya very nearly spewed all the tea out of her cup, but a few ultra-rapid maneuvers managed to save all but a few drops of the precious beverage. Quickly setting the delicate cup back onto the countertop, the now-not-so-Perfect Maid covered her mouth with her hands in an attempt to stifle the pain. "Ahh, that was embarrassing! How could I have forgotten to cool the tea first?" the maid mentally reprimanded herself. What was she to do now?

Letting go of her mouth and putting on her normal expression again, Sakuya made an attempt to explain her reaction: "I am particularly sensitive to heat; hot food and drink have a tendency to scald me easily. I apologize for the sudden outburst." Wonderful. Meiling would definitely remember this, even if she'd never say it out loud. Just wonderful. Sakuya sighed mentally. Again.
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Re: [Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Hong Meiling » 13 Oct 2009 10:23

As much as Meiling wanted to tell her entire story, she feared it wouldn’t clear her of the blame. Regardless of her motivation and reasoning behind her actions, it didn’t change the fact that she had abandoned her post; a dangerous taboo in the House of Scarlet.

“The young Mistress was screaming in her new room.” Her mood still seemed improved from her earlier depression, though she had calmed down drastically to explain the situation. “She fell, apparently.” Even if Meiling did not know the young vampire very well, even she could tell that something was wrong. “She went to go wash up, and I saw Reimu out. I decided to check on the young mistress again, but she was already missing by that point.”

Meiling’s attention was now fully on the Maid, wondering just how she would react. “And that was when you showed up.” From that point on, Meiling could spare Sakuya the story.

“I’ll take you up on that, you know.” Her word were a taunting warning; Sakuya might not have expected the guard to take her so seriously. “So be prepared to see a lot of me!” She couldn’t help but grin at Sakuya’s offer, her hands still wrapped around the warm tea that the maid had brewed for her. To get Sakuya’s special blend every morning? The idea certainly seemed refreshing. Even without the tea, being able to spend this time with her boss was something worth the time and effort. Times like these, Sakuya lacked the cold façade that she held in front of the Mistress, regardless of what the Maid thought.

Before long, Sakuya had ever-so-elegantly just displayed a weakness, something that tugged at the corners of the Gate Guard’s mouth. While she had no ill-intentions, seeing her boss act so… so human… It was refreshing, to say the least. Even if it was disadvantageous to Sakuya’s perfect image, Meiling was glad. Sakuya was not some perfect entity; she was a living, breathing human.

Sometimes, Meiling wondered if Sakuya forgot that simple fact.

“You okay?” She was already moving from the counter top, willing to go to the ice chest at any notice. “Let me get you some ice.”

Hopefully, Sakuya wasn’t too harmed, because Meiling could not stop the smile that had taken over her face. It was… Downright cute! That kind of sensitivity, and that kind of weakness! Even her reaction and embarrassment! This was not the Sakuya that Meiling knew; it was a whole new side of the Maid. The human side, if Meiling had to name it.

It was the side that she wanted to see more of.

“I’ll get you a napkin, too.”
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Re: [Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Sakuya Izayoi » 14 Oct 2009 12:58

"No no, I'll be fine," said Sakuya, now having fully regained her outer composure. Inwardly, though, she was still scolding herself. She could not show weakness to a subordinate; she still needed to be virtually perfect, an indestructible paragon with some human elements, but no weaknesses- was the gatekeeper smiling!? "Oh, I'll never live this down now," thought the maid... but first, she should probably try to repair whatever image she still projected to Meiling. "A napkin would be nice though, if you don't mind."

At least none of the fairy maids were in the kitchen, by her own order. Now that would have been a lethal stroke of embarrassment.

While waiting for the redhead to get back to the counter, Sakuya took a second sip of her tea, blowing on it this time to cool the beverage down. And it fell within her standards; it was creamy and sweet, yet it did not mask the natural flavor of the tea; instead the milk and sugar worked with the tea, enhancing the good qualities and weakening the bad. And it was just so good. Mmm!

Now feeling much better thanks to the wonderful beverage, Sakuya evaluated Meiling's report. "Lady Flandre was screaming... in her new room? ... when did she get a new room?" Another sip of tea. "Hmm. So she screamed because she fell? Not impossible... but it seems suspicious. From the tone in Meiling's voice, she doesn't believe that excuse either. Something else must have happened." Sip. "..."

"You abandoned your post out of worry for Lady Flandre. The actions you took may have been less than optimal, but your intentions were noble. You are forgiven and may resume your duties at the Scarlet Devil Mansion," Sakuya finally said, with an authoritative tone in her voice. She was giving Meiling an official statement, using her position as the gatekeeper's employer; she had to be authoritative for stuff like this. "Although I suggest you keep a clearer head next time - clouded minds make poor decisions," the maid added, taking one more sip from her now-empty cup of tea.

Hmm. "Here, have some more tea," offered Sakuya, pouring both herself and Meiling some more tea and emptying the pot in the process. "Just in time, I might add," added Sakuya mentally; the tea was about to oversteep, and the maid would never ruin a good pot of the lovely liquid like that. It was good for another round of brewing before losing all its flavor, but... "I guess I should at least wait for the napkin. Mm."
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Re: [Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Hong Meiling » 14 Oct 2009 23:37

Meiling trotted to a different countertop, fumbling between a few drawers before finally finding the napkins that she was looking for. It was clear from the Gate Keeper’s movements that she rarely spent time in the kitchen-- she roughly knew where the things for her own tea were, but beyond that, she might as well have been in a foreign country.

She returned to find the ‘Human Sakuya’ once more replaced by the ‘Perfect Sakuya.’ Her expression did not drop, however, even as she handed the simple, white napkin to her boss. Seating herself once more, she listened patiently to Sakuya’s words. Sakuya was kind, even despite what everyone seemed to say about the Maid. She was strict… But Sakuya would always listen to whatever explanation Meiling would offer before making her judgment.

“Thank you, Miss Sakuya.” Meiling wasn’t necessarily ‘off the hook’, but she would be let off with a verbal reprimand. That was about as good as it got within the Scarlet walls.

When offered another cup, Meiling nearly jumped from her seat in excitement. By whatever small willpower that the Gate Guard had, her bum had remained planted on her stool. “Really?!” It was almost like Christmas! Sakuya was being so generous! “Thanks!”

While the guard put the carefully measured amounts of milk and sugar into her tea, she could not help but lean over the counter in an uncouth manner. Times like these, it was blatantly clear that Meiling was not raised to be a perfect or elegant woman-- she was not in the same sphere as the rest of the mansion. Once her cup was ready, she flopped into her seat once more, grinning like an idiot. This tea energized her! It really was something! If Meiling could drink this magic every day, she just might be able to catch up to the Tengu and Marisa after all!

After several sips, her cup was placed on the table once more.

“Miss Sakuya--” Intent eyes stared at the Maid, dripping in curiosity, “What you said earlier, about a clear head… Have you studied Lao Tzu?”

The preaching of the Tao were not rare in Gensokyo. It seemed as though the humans of the outside world had simply forgotten about the basic teachings of the center. Even so, Meiling had never heard another being in Gensokyo so blatantly mention the teachings of her Master.
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Re: [Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Sakuya Izayoi » 15 Oct 2009 16:43

"Maybe I should double-check the sources of my blend if it's having such a powerful effect on Meiling," thought Sakuya, receiving the offered napkin and patting the sides of her lips with it. The tea itself shouldn't be the problem - she grew the leaves herself, on the roof of the Scarlet Devil Mansion - but maybe some of the herbs she used were accidentally imbued with magic? Hmm. But then, if they had magic, shouldn't she be affected as well? Maybe it was just the gatekeeper being not very used to Western tea. Oh well.

"I'll make a bit more tea; the leaves are still good for one more round of brewing before they are completely exhausted," said Sakuya, getting up and picking up Meiling's abandoned kettle and bringing the remaining water to a boil again; it took less than a minute, for the water was still quite warm from the previous boiling, and thus required less heat. Then, she filled her teapot once again. This time around, however, it would take a bit longer to steep; so Sakuya decided to make breakfast while waiting. "I'll make us some breakfast, too. It's nothing special - bread and butter and biscuits - but it should be enough," stated the maid, walking over to another one of the cupboards.

As she busied herself with the food, Meiling's question floated through Sakuya's head. Hmm...

"I am afraid I have neither heard of or studied him. Is he a scholar from your homeland?"

Lao Tzu. The analysis behind Sakuya's guess was simple enough: the name had the strange Chinese flair shared by Meiling's name, yet it sounded more masculine; he should thus be a man from China. The gatekeeper's question mentioned 'studied'; so he must be someone worthy of study, like a king or a general or a great scholar. And the question referenced Sakuya's statement, meant to teach and educate; so the most likely guess was that this Lao Tzu was a scholar.

But Sakuya had never studied anything by the scholar. Her words were but a simple bit of wisdom, gained through experience. The maid was always an advocate of keeping a clear mind; for everything she did required focus that cannot be attained in a state of panic. Her time manipulation required concentration, her knife-throwing required concentration, her duties generally required concentration; so she was quite used to it. And in any case, it was true: even Keine's ill-considered words in the library, the words that destroyed the hope of reconciliation, could have been avoided with but a clearer mind.
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Re: [Open] Yunnan Red

Postby Hong Meiling » 16 Oct 2009 05:46

Meiling’s attention hovered between her two cups… Sakuya had poured her the special blend of tea especially, but her own pot was going to get cold before too long. Even as delicious as Sakuya’s tea was… Meiling didn’t want to run out before the new pot was ready.

After a bout of intense concentration, the Gate Keeper’s hand slowly moved towards the western tea.

No! She had to save it! After all, this tea was her special desert for the day! Her hand quickly grabbed her own cup, downing it in a gulp before pouring yet another.

“Oh!” Breakfast sounded lovely! Sakuya was entirely too considerate; Meiling would have never thought to make breakfast for the two. “That’d be great!” Sakuya was the Perfect Maid, after all. If only it didn’t feel so awkward to be served by her. Meiling wanted nothing more than to be up and about, working alongside. In fact…

The youkai rose, moving out from her seat before making her way over to Sakuya.
“Let me help you.” This time, she was not asking. She did not want to be catered to like the Mistresses. After all, Sakuya had a much higher status in the Scarlet Devil Mansion.

When Sakuya probed deeper into Meiling’s question, she couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed. Normally she was scolded for bringing her beliefs (Curse you, Taisui Xingun!) into every day conversation. To be able to speak freely of it… It was enough to befuddle the simple Gate Guard.

“Y-yea.” Her face lowered slightly in embarrassment as she stared at her hands. “He’s the Master of the Tao. He, uhm… He wrote the Tao te Ching; the book of Tao.”

Her focus did not stray from her hands, even as she elaborated. Speaking so freely about herself-- it-- It was a little flummoxing!

“The teachings of the Tao, of returning to the center, it’s… uhm… The basis of my Tai Chi Chuan.”

But even as red in the face as it made the Gate Guard to explain a little bit about herself, it was refreshing!
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