Kiyone & the Goats (Kiyone)
The night was an inspirational one, the stars painted across the sky like so many tiny stardrops in the recesses of Kiyone's bank. Kiyone had come, naturally, on a beautiful night like this, seeking inspiration for a poem that could earn the favor of one who held a Big Axe--and thus, in turn, earn her the axe. Of course, her intentions were noble; with a little conversion the axe could become a Calligraph suitable for the Elder of the Muse path, and more great works could be written. At least, that's what Kiyone told herself that night, as she looked to the stars for inspiration.
"Eyes of souls above,
A thousand tiny sparkles
Call out to my... "
She stopped short, as something caught her attention. One of the brightest stars she was focusing on had suddenly dimmed, then grown much brighter, only to continue this pattern, growing brighter and brighter still. "What the hooslefudge is t-" Kiyone thought, and was interrupted once more by a blast of energy that propelled her with much velocity into a nearby rose bush.
After regaining her senses, Kiyone emerged from the rose bush, picking thorns out of her skin and uttering verses not polite to repeat here, only to find a glowing, smoldering, giant peach nestled within a crater at the spot where she had been sitting. As she glanced at the peach, the Ilbon legend of "Momotaro" came to mind, and Kiyone couldn't help but snicker.
"The sound of laughter..." echoed a voice from within the peach. "How long has it been since I've heard that sound?" The voice was haughty, rather nasal, as if the speaker was braying. "I will show myself to the one who laughs!" And with that, the peach exploded, its sticky, pulpy contents covering Kiyone and filling her wounds with citric acid.
A black goat stood there, grinning at Kiyone. She was not amused.
"Hi!" the goat screeched. "I'm hopin' ya laughed because ya got the whole Momotaro-peach thing."
"Yes," Kiyone replied. "Very funny." Peach juice dripped from her nose as she scowled at this... this GOAT. "Except a cute, strong, perfect boy didn't come out of the peach. I got a goat."
"Yeah, you got me!" the goat cackled. "It's been a bit of a journey for me, but it's a pleasure to meet another Muse Elder face to face!"
Kiyone's jaw dropped wide open, and peach juice dribbled down her throat as she made astonished choking noises. After about ten minutes of this, she spoke: "YOU'RE... an ELDER!?"
The goat bowed to her. "Goats' Muse Guild of Nara, Elder Kikyou, at your service."
Kiyone eyed her new acquaintance with a suspicious glare. "Nara. That's in Ilbon, but they're famous for having lots of deer, not goats!"
"We like to keep a low profile," replied Elder Kikyou. "After all, if the locals found out their Muse Guild was run by goats, they'd get rather scared. People don't like things that are smarter than them."
"Right. Like how aspiring Ee Sans hate Muses," grinned Kiyone. The elder goat was growing on her. "Well, seeing as you are a visiting Muse, I am obliged to offer you sanctuary, shelter, and residence in our Circle. I'll show you the way; it's in a small patch of woods north of the Buyian chapel, and I'm sure you'll find it quite--WHAT IN THE NAME OF JU JAK ARE YOU DOING?!"
The goat's eyes had began to wander, and had fixed upon Kiyone's parchment, the evening's poems gracing its surface. As his eyes wandered, so did his stomach, and he made short work of devouring Kiyone's work, emitting satisfied grunts as he ate.
"Delicious, dear Elder," Elder Kikyou said, bowing once more. "I am glad you were liberal with the ink; some goats may find its taste a tad abrasive, but I can never enjoy it too much."
Kiyone stared at him, her face frozen in horror.
"Well, shall we go?" he asked.
"Cer...certainly," replied Kiyone, still in shock. As they walked towards Buya and the Muse Circle, she regained her wits and her hospitable manner, though her mind was still full of sorrow for her lost labors.
"Well, that was something," Kiyone frowned to herself. "I sure hope he doesn't like Stardrops."