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(Continued from Storms and Horses)

A few moments after Hikaru leaves the sitting room, a servant comes up to him. Judging from his position against the wall and his furtive, nervous look, he seems to have been waiting for Hikaru.

"Sir, you are the, ah, scion of the God Hachiman?" the brown-haired young man says. "There is, an, ah, delivery for you at the front desk from Mister Clarkson's shop."

Hikaru nods his head. "I have that honor, yes," he says.

"Oh, and ah, the High Reeve directed me to tell you that an, ah, suite has been reserved for you. On her expense of course," he adds, swallowing thickly.

"Lead the way back to the front desk if you please," he replies. "And inform the High Reeve that I appreciate her hospitality." Must mean she's picking up the tab on the room I've already gotten, Hikaru thinks to himself.

The servant bobs his head. "Please follow me, sir."

The hotel is not a maze, so its only a quantity of walking, rather than a twisty course, that finally leads Hikaru back to the front desk. An old-style garment bag hands on a hook behind the front desk. The clerk at the desk, the same that Hikaru met when he first arrived at the Palio, pulls it down and presents it to Hikaru.

"The package from Mister Clarkson's shop, Mr. Saganami," the clerk says. "I am pleased Clarkson Mercantile has been able to obtain clothes for the ball for you in good order, sir," he adds.

"As am I," Hikaru replies with a slight grin. He takes the garment bag. "Thank you, gentlemen. And now, time to clean up and try on the suit."

"Aye, sir," the clerk says. "If there is anything else you need, please let me know."

"Did you wish me to show you the way to your rooms," the servant-messenger pipes up.

"I believe Mr. Saganami is well aware of the location of his quarters, boy. He has already taken possession of them," the clerk admonishes. "You've other tasks to perform. Like the stables. No need to sneak out of them with lighter duty."

The servant looks crestfallen.

"I believe I can find my way," Hikaru says, stifling a grin. He heads to his quarters.

An investigation of his rooms proves that while the majority of the technology in this town and its appearance are straight out of the 19th century, the bathroom proves to be a happy exception. A large clawfoot bathtub stands beneath both a shower head and a standard faucet. The setup is clearly meant more for luxurious baths than showers, but Hikaru can manage the latter.

After a quick cleaning, Hikaru tries on his suit.

The feel of the clothes, once he completes the ensemble is transformative. There is a preternatural perfection to how well the clothier has gotten the clothes to fit Hikaru. More than just the raw sizes, the clothes fit as if Clarkson had been tailoring clothes for Hikaru since he was a baby.

And looking in the round mirror, he looks like he is a native of this strange 19th-century-looking town.

Hikaru takes a few moments to stand in front of a mirror and marvel at his new suit. "That man is good at his craft," he says aloud.

Hikaru spends some few minutes on hiding the hilt of his sword, Kami-No-Raiu-No-Ken, along with some other sharp pointy things suitable for throwing, in various spots within the suit, testing both concealment and ease of retrieval before settling on where things will be.

The suit itself is not tailored for hiding weapons, but there are a couple of pockets on the inside and the outside of the well-made suit that would suit the storage of sharp and pointy things. Combined with the sword, Hikaru would definitely not be walking into the ballroom unarmed, if it comes to violence or unexpected hostilities.

Hikaru, having settled on a very few hidden surprises, holds out the compact hilt of his sword and regards it for a few moments, picturing in his mind the blade unfolded but with a saya (scabbard) or perhaps the form of a sword-cane (shikomi-zue), in short a form of the sword for public display. Not knowing if this will work or not, he presses the button on the hilt to cause it to unfold.

The concentration seems to do the trick. As the blade unfolds, it transforms, adding an outside layer to the metal, until what was the shiny blade is encased in a cane. Good quality, high strength bamboo, which might draw some attention from those who look at it too closely, but it is a sword cane nevertheless. The button remains on the cane, underneath the ball of the crook. It would take a conscious effort, given a normal grip, to press it again.

Hikaru looks at the sword cane in pleased surprise. "Wasn't sure that would work or not," he says aloud to himself or, possibly, the sword.

With the sword unleashed, however, he can feel the weapon tingle and tremble slightly. Not quite a sense of danger, but, rather, of impending and glorious battle.

Trouble is coming.

Hikaru holds up the sword cane so that it's parallel with the floor and slowly spins in place while concentrating on his sword in an attempt to determine if the sword reacts more strongly when pointed in a particular direction.

The sense Hikaru gets, learning how to respond to and understand his weapon, is that the time frame is soon, that is to say, in a couple of hours. As far as the direction? Down and to the left. Like a divining rod, the sword points to the first floor. Judging from his memory of the layout of the Hotel and where he is now, where the locus of where the battle will be becomes quickly clear.

The Ballroom.

A little more experimentation with the sword shows that the trouble is coming to the Hotel from outside it, as the blade points in the direction of the bridge and the outside world.

A glance at the clock shows Hikaru that it is less than an hour before the Ball is set to begin.

At this point, there is a tapping on the outside door of the suite.

Hikaru walks over to the door, and opens it. "Yes?" he asks.

A servant in the livery of the hotel is at the door, and bobs his head. "Mr. Saganami?" he says, pronouncing Hikaru's name with slow care. He doesn't do a bad job with it at that. "The staff thought that you would want to know that two more of your fellow scions have arrived for the Ball."

"Saganami, correct," Hikaru replies. And, "Interesting. Where are they now? Lead the way please."

Hikaru, being ready for the Ball, exits his room closing and locking his door behind him. Cane in hand, he indicates for the servant to lead the way.

The servant leads Hikaru out of his suite and downstairs to the growing familiar first floor. Not far away from the staircase landing ,he turns and opens a door to reveal a rich room done in hues of burgundy.

(Continued in Scionic Blast)

Page last modified on October 22, 2012, at 11:27 PM