Story: Choukuko's Dog (chapter 3)

Authors: MadPanda

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Chapter 3

Title: 3. Tales of the Crow

[Author's notes: As the school's Principal and Class Rep hatch a scheme, Yukiko gets a taste of the Ainu culture...literally.]

Dislaimer: This is a long chapter, so I keep this part short.  I own this story.  There. Now, go read.  See you in the End Notes!


"Choukuko's Dog" by MadPanda

Chapter 3 - Tales of the Crow

"Ah, Akiyama-san.  Please have a seat."  The principal waved for the class rep to approach her massive desk.  The woman was past middle-age, and looked every second of it.  Her weary eyes set on Hiroko, waiting until the girl was perfectly still before starting her meeting.

"Good morning, Principal Kobiyashi-sama.  How can I help you?"  Hiroko bowed and sat.

"First of all, I want to applaud you on the performance of your class.  The marks for the class as a whole have risen steadily in the last few weeks, and Toho-san has informed me of your leadership in keeping the students at their best."

"Thank you, Kobiyashi-sama," Hiroko beamed.  "We're all doing our--"

"However," the principal cut in.  "There was that concerned her, and myself as well.  I'm sure you know what I'm referring to, and which students we're concered with."

"Um...yes, Kobiyashi-sama.  I'm sure I know which two you mean."  Hiroko's voice went from prideful to spiteful.

"Good, I'm glad we understand each other.  Now, I know you're having issues with these two students.  This is not surprising, especially considering who these two are, correct?"

Hiroko gave an understanding nod, and Kobiyashi continued.

"They were supposed to see me today about this incident, but they never showed.  Why is that, Akiyama-san?"

Hiroko was surprised for a moment.  "I'm not sure, Kobayashi-sama.  I had expected to see them still in the hall at lunch, but they weren't there."

"It is your responsibility to keep your classmates in line, isn't it?"  The older woman said accusingly.

Hiroko hung her head in embarrassment.  "My apologies, Ma'am.  I've done my best with them, but Fukurou-san is a difficult person to deal with, and I think she's becoming a very bad influence on Hitsuji-san."  She did her best to keep the conversation civil, without breaking into a string of obscenities.

The principal turned her chair to the side.  "It it I who should apologize, Akiyama-san.  Certain students--especially those like Fukurou-san--tend to be a bit, shall we say, reluctant to follow the rules of general society.  Normally I would find a reason to transfer these students into another school, but doing so because of today's incident could be taken as a sign of racism.  Also, since they themselves have not actually caused a disruption in the class before today, other than just being there, I have no grounds to remove them."  Kobiyashi looked away for a moment, and Hiroko could almost hear the wheels turning in the principal's head.  "To be honest, I would like nothing more than to have, well, one of those two leave my school.  Unfortunately, doing so without a reason would cause a scandal that we cannot afford."

Hiroko nodded.  "Not only that, but you also have...the other one.  They are a matched set now, Ma'am.  As hard as getting rid of one is, doing both is twice as difficult.  The more problematic student is kept in line by the quieter one, so it's hard to provoke a...negative response from her."

"You see my problem then, Akiyama-san."  The older woman turned back to face Hiroko, folding her hands on the desk.  "I do not wish these two to be representative of the school, no matter how well they perform.  I do have a soluction, but it's going to take some work on your part."

Hiroko was all ears.  "I'll do whatever you want, Ma'am."

"What happens on school grounds is my concern.  While I have still have a responsibility to the reputation of the school, I have no control as to what happens off of school grounds.  Especially if something happens to one of my students.  More so if the cause of the student's...misfortune...did not come at the hands of another student.  Do you understand me, Akiyama-san?"

While it was true that Hiroko had -thought-of goading Pirika without Yukiko around, she never actually went through with it.  "It's not that simple, Ma'am.  She has learned to check her anger to a point"

"It's easier than you think, Akiyama-san.  All you have to do is give her a good enough reason.  I'm sure you can do that."

"Yes, Ma'am."  Hiroko couldn't believe her ears.

"Good.  Now, return to class, and don't say anything to anyone about this..  Pick up their files on your way out."

"Yes, Ma'am. Good afternoon."  Hiroko stood, bowed deeply, and turned to leave.

"Oh, and Akiyama-san?"

Hiroko stopped by the door.  "Yes, Ma'am?"

"Remember...any dog can be trained - you just have to know how.  And if the dog can't be trained, then it's the master who is at fault."

"I...I understand, Ma'am."  Hiroko picked up on the veiled threat, and exited the office feeling like she left her stomach behind.


"Are you okay, Yuki-pe?  You look a little pa--er, you look weak."  Pirika caught herself, but she still showed concern for her friend, who was starting to walk a bit sluggishly.

"I'm...I'm fine," Yukiko sighed.  "I guess all the stress is finally catching up with me.  And my head feels like monkeys are banging on it."

Pirika took the mental image in her head, laughed out loud, and then apologized.  "I'm sorry, Yuki-pe.  The thought of a horde of monkeys banging on someone's head is kinda funny."

"Unless it's your head they're banging on."  Yukiko let out a little giggle of her own.

"Don't worry, I have just the thing for you.  Turn in here."  The side street had a dead end, where a small house stood, and a wooded area beyond that.  As they approached the front door, Yukiko noted the two nameplates that adorned the side of the door.  One read "Fukurou", the other "Karasu".  She smiled at the orinthological significance.  "Owl and Crow, huh?"

Pirika grinned.  "Should I add one that says, 'Sheep'?"

Yukiko blushed at the reference to her own family name, and let Pirika enter the house before her.

"Irankarapte!"  Pirika's loud voice sounded like a jackhammer to Yukiko's head.  "Oh, sorry Yuki-pe.  Bad habit of mine."

The girls heard footsteps thumping up from the basement.  "What are you doing here so early, kumatkarku?  Got tired of that nasty school food?"  The woman's voice was gruff befitting her advanced age, yet caring and light-hearted.  She appeared in the foyer, a large knife in one hand.  "I tell you, there's nothing like a home-cooked--WHHAAAA!!!!"  Her ancient eyes caught sight of Yukiko, and she dropped the knife, missing her foot by inches.

"AHHHHHHHH!"  Yukiko jumped behind Pirika, wondering what the old woman was screaming about, but not wanting to see it herself.

"What am I going to do with you two?"  Pirika shook her head, walking over to the older woman and plucking the knife out of the floor.  "Kunarpe, why aren't you at the onsen?  Is it closed today?"

"Nevermind that!"  the woman shrieked.  "Toankur hunna an?  Who is that, Piri-matkarku?"  She was truly frightened of the pale vision in front of her.

When Yukiko realized it was she that startled the woman, she dropped her head and was about to leave, when Pirika caught her arm.  "I'm sorry, Yuki-pe.  She didn't mean that...she's never seen an albino before." Pirika turned to her aunt.  "Kunarpe, this is my friend, Yukiko Hitsuji.  We're in the same class at school." 

Before Pirika could introduce her aunt, the woman cautiously strode over and hesitantly poked the white-haired girl in the arm.  "Oh my!  She is real!  How unusual!"  Yukiko became flushed with embarrassment, and the woman smiled, stroking Yukiko's long hair.  "And she's very pretty, too!  Yukiko, right?  Well, my name is Sirno.  Sirno Kurasu.  I'm very pleased to meet you."  She bowed slightly, watching the young girl as she did.

"It's...It's an meet you, Kurasu-san."  Yukiko did her best to bow, but she was so weak she fell over and ended up on the floor.

"Yuki-pe!"  Pirika rushed to Yukiko's side, lifting her off the floor and putting her on a nearby futon.  "Please, Kunarpe, get a--"  Before Pirika could finish her sentence, Sirno was already gone.  She came back with a moist towel and a large bundle.

"Here, put this on her head, while I prepare the remedy for her."  She handed Pirika the towel, and took the bundle with her to another corner of the room.

The coolness of the towel roused Yukiko.  Her eyes opened to a colorful blur, which focused to become Pirika's worried face.  "Piri-chan," she cooed.  "I'm so sorry.  My's spinning..."

"Just relax, Yuki-pe.  My aunt is making something up for you.  Don't ask what it is, just drink it, and you'll feel better, okay?"

A question tried to form in Yukiko's mind, but the words wouldn't settle themselves.  She just nodded and took Pirika's hands in hers.  "I...I knew we said we'd take care of each other, Piri-chan...I didn't know it would be so soon!"

"Quiet, you.  You're not going to die."  Pirika kissed Yukiko's hands and held them.  "You're just over-exhausted.  You need some rest...oh, and some of this."  Pirika turned to take the drink from Sirno.  She looked at it questioningly, and Sirno nodded.  She then raised the drink and tried to administer it to Yukiko.

It was a white foaming concoction, hissing and bubbling in the earthen cup Pirika was holding.  Yukiko's caught the fresh but powdery smell of the brew, and was a bit hesitant to let it touch her lips.  A trusting smile from Pirika, and she took it in, letting the fizzing medicine into her mouth.  She tried to swallow it all in one gulp, but nearly choked on it.  Eventually she took it all in, and Pirika laid her head back down.

"Maybe I should have added some sake?" Sirno joked.

"Yeah," Pirika added.  "It would have done her more good than it does you!"

"Don't look at me like that!  It's part of the ritual!"  Sirno looked at Pirika, then at Yukiko.  "Her skin is so soft.  How do you know when she is okay?"

"I'll show you."  Pirika leaned over and gave Yukiko a gentle kiss on her cheek, and Yukiko's face gained color.

Sirno smiled warmly.  "Ah!  That's a good test!  One I'm sure you enjoy taking, huh, Yuki-pe?"

Yukiko laughed weakly, then noticed her head clearing.  "Wow...that stuff is amazing.  What it is?"

"Didn't I tell you not to ask?"  Pirika looked over at Sirno, but her aunt had already gone for the main source of Yukiko's relief.  Pirika groaned inwardly, "Here we go..."

Sirno gathered the bundle from the other side of the room, knelt down and placed it in Yukiko's lap.  She clapped three times over the bundle, mumbled incoherently for a moment, and then looked up to nothing in particular.

"You asked for it, Yuki-pe.  The floor show begins," Pirika said sarcastically.

"Let her be, Piri-chan.  Remember, I said I wanted to learn about you and your people, right?"  Yukiko's smile caught the attention of the praying old woman.

"Why thank you!  It's nice to see some people still have respect for their elders!" Sirno turned and stuck out her tounge at her niece.

"Go on already," Pirika said, returning the gesture.

Sure she now had Yukiko's full attention, Sirno began her tale.

"Many many years ago, a traveler came to have a dream.  In this dream, he came to our village and saw many people.  He saw that we were all happy and healthy, and not one among us were sick.  The traveler wondered, 'How is this possible?'  He then entered the house of one of our people, and saw that the head of an albatross was set in a place of honor, along with inao - carved wooden totems - and sake.  He saw a woman take shavings from the skull and beak of the great bird, and ferment them, and then offered the inao and sake to the spirit of the bird.  He then went into other houses and saw the same thing.  He said to himself, 'Ah!  So it is this that keeps these people so healthy!  Those of my kind must not enter into these houses!'.  The traveler then woke up.  Realizing what he had dreamed, he went into the home of the village chief and told him of the dream.  'If this is so, then we must do this.' the chief said.  And soon all of the houses in the village had done what the man told of, and no one in the village had been sick again.  The traveler had realized that he dreamed he was the Demon of death and disease, and thus knew what would keep him away from our village."  Sirno clapped three times over the bundle and bowed.

Yukiko sat upright and returned Sirno's bow.  "Thank you very much, Kurasu-san.  That was a very interesting tale."  She paused for a moment, then raised an eyebrow.  "Did I really drink albatross skull?"

Sirno began to unwrap her bundle, but Pirika took it.  "Take her word for it, Yuki-pe.  You really don't wanna see that.  The important thing is that it worked, right?"

"Right!"  Yukiko nodded, and rose from the futon.  "I'm sorry to have been so much trouble to you, Kurasu-san."

"We're friends, right?  So enough with the formalities.  Just call me Kunarpe.  It means 'aunt'."

Yukiko had a bit of trouble adjusting from Japanese to Ainu, but she managed, much to the delight of both Sirno and Pirika.  She still added the -chan honorific, and Sirno couldn't be happier.

"Do you still want to go to the place I was telling you about, Piri-chan?"

"Sure, Yuki-pe.  Let me change out of this uniform and I'll be right with you."  Pirika left the room, and Sirno sat with Yukiko on the futon.

"I've never seen her happier than this," the woman began.  "I know why, but it's not my place to say.  I felt the same way about her mother, you know."  Yukiko gave Sirno a questioning look.  "Oh, no child!  We're not sisters.  I'm not Pirika's real aunt.  Her mother and I used to be real close.  I was very much in love with her, but she was afraid to love me.  She met Pirika's father and they moved from Hokkaido to Tokyo, where they had Pirika.  They both had jobs that took them all over the world, so it was hard for them to raise Pirika.  Her mother decided to let me raise her, hoping I wouldn't mind. I was thrilled to get the chance; if I couldn't be her mother's lover, then I could at least be an important part of her life in another way."

Yukiko took in all of the events, and reached out to hug the older woman.  "I'm happy that Pirika ended up with you, Kunarpe-chan.  I'm sure her mother is very grateful to you, and I guess this is her way of showing her love for you."

"I still think it's a matter of convenience," Sirno said through the hug.  "But thank you very much for your kind words, Yuki-pe."

"Hey!  Hands off, Kunarpe!"

Sirno and Yukiko turned to see Pirika dressed in a brown linen version of the traditional attush top, black pants and soft leather shoes.  She still had her headband and wristbands, but a large pendant with the golden head of an owl swung from her neck.

"She cute, isn't she?" Sirno whispered to Yukiko.

"No...she's beautiful!"  Yukiko's blush could be seen across the room, and Pirika did a twirl to show herself off.  Then she came over and took Yukiko by the hand.  "Shall we go?"

"Y-yes!"  Yukiko had to find the volume in her voice after seeing Pirika. 

Sirno smiled and stuck out an arm.  "It was a pleasure to meet you, Yuki-pe.  I'm sure I'll be seeing more of you, right?"  Pirika gently took Sirno's arm and helped her off the futon.

"I'm sure of it!"  Yukiko was smiling so broadly Sirno couldn't help but smile back.  "Take good care of her, Piri-matkarku.  She's a very precious girl."

Pirika let go of her aunt, and took Yukiko's hand.  "I already know, Kunarpe.  Apunno oke yan!"

"Apunno paye yan!"  Sirno waved goodbye to the two girls, then sighed to herself.  "May all the gods smile down upon you both."


Hiroko sat under the tree where Pirika and Yukiko usually gathered.  She reached into her bag and pulled out the two file folders.  The first, marked "Hitsuji Yukiko", was dismissed without so much as a casual glance.  However the folder with the name "Fukurou Pirika" marked on the tab was of great interest to Hiroko.  She opened the folder and leafed through the pages.  She stopped when she reached the document that contained Pirika's family history.

"Tossed aside and left with a geezer, eh?  How sad for you, Inu," Hiroko smiled maliciously.  "How sad indeed!"

End of Chapter 3

[End notes: Hi again!  Thanks for reading!  This was actually the second part of Chapter 2, but I thought it best to break it up and expand the scene at Pirika's aunt's place.  The Ainu language used here is authentic, trust me.  Do a Google search for "Ainu Language" and the first page you'll hit is an excellent site on the language and uses (with sound bites!).

Thanks to those who have stayed on board, and more so to those who have reviewed.  If there are any comments or complaints, please don't be shy--leave a note, this panda won't bite (much!).

As for the "mild violence" warning--yeah, we're getting to that (shudder!).

Until next time..."So long, and thanks for all the fish!" ]

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