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The Pendulum IV: Healing House

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After the Flower Festival, Kalmuli had decided to stay much longer. The atmosphere of the friendly yokai and the eastern aesthetics made her feel comfortable. The idea of planting roots here in the Carmine Dominion was one that she had already decided. Kalmuli had left the capital, choosing to venture into the wilds surrounding for a place she could make a home in. 

She found it in an old dilapidated structure. The old rotten signs covered in foliage had said that once upon a time, it had been a pretty high-end brothel for the wealthy elite. When she approached the structure, it had strong bones but broken glass, torn shoji and a large onsen that had seen better days. The soil was rich and no one was living there.

An empty shell, ripe for some renovation. 

Instead of using magic, she decided to use her own resources to reach out to contractors in the city to help remodel it. There was plenty of room for patients or clients, Kalmuli could have a herbal garden and a private onsen to herself. It was, in all sense, a perfect place. Previously she had always kept her Pendulum franchise in the cities themselves but this one would be different. This would be a true House of Healing. 

She was confident it would do well. Making connections early on would help. She gave them some gifts to thank them to give to their wives or for their own first aid at home. The first official opening day, she sat on the bench outside with a bit of breakfast sitting on a lacquer plate and a slim, silver pipe between her lips, yukata hanging off of her shoulders. 

Soon her first guests arrived. Junko and Mariko who had gifted her several yukata and Kalmuli paid the mother spider woman to make more for clients to use. "Kal-moo-lee-neee-chan!"Mariko shouted, running at full speed toward the elf. Kalmuli set her pipe aside and opened her arms to accept the hug. 

"Hello, Mariko-gumo. Wearing your mom out again?"She laughed.

"Like a hyperactive Neko Yokai,"Junko said as she set down Kalmuli's order in a large wooden basket she had been carrying on her thorax. It was quick change to her more human form, dressed in a plain cotton kimono with a tartan pattern on it with just a few extra arms. Kalmuli would scoot over, shifting over to give Junko some room to sit with her.  "I finished the yukata order. I'm sure they'll be plenty comfortable."She said, eyeing Kalmuli's pipe.

"Thank you, " The elf would reach for it, offering by the pipe stem. "It's a calming remedy. Nothing addictive."

Junko would take it, trying it but coughing, giving it back with a puff of purple smoke. "It tastes terrible."She coughed. 

"Then it must be good for you. That usually how medicine works doesn't it?"Kalmuli laughed, Mariko squirming off of the elf's lap to help herself to her breakfast. She would take this time to slip the pipe back between her lips, leaning against the smooth wood of the exterior. 

Junko would join her, crossing her walking legs while relaxing her main arms on her lap. "How are you feeling?"She asked.

"I'm supposed to ask that question...but...better. I needed something to really give myself time to heal. A place to heal. I thought for a while of going to the mountains, living the life of a hermit until I wanted to see people again. Though that's not healing...it's just numbing myself to what's really happening. So building this place is better. It's healthier in a way..."Kalmuli said as she exhaled, the purple smoke slipping more elegantly through her lips. "Barely anyone knows who I am here. I can break and rebuild in a safe space...surrounded by cherry blossoms and good company."

Junko smiled, Mariko slipping back into Kalmuli's lap to take a long strand of the elf's white hair, practicing her braiding weave. "Well...We're happy to have you here. You can keep up with Mariko better than I can. You know if you want children...there's an orphanage in the city. You  would make a great mother."Junko remarked, Kalmuli smiling and blushing a little. 

"Maybe I should...it wouldn't hurt. Someone to raise to be a future healer in the yokai community..."Kalmuli pondered it. "Where did you say it was?"

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Kalmuli had wandered back into the city to see to the orphanage that Junko had mentioned. She was nervous...being around small children always made her a little anxious and it was all stemming from her own worries of having her own one day.  Kalmuli stood in front of the old building, hearing little scampers of feet and giggles as they played inside. Sliding the door open, she stepped inside and was greeted by an older looking woman who looked more like a harpy than a bird demon. "Aye, what can I help you with?"She said, shuffling to the edge of the flooring right before someone took off their shoes. 

"A friend of mine told me about the orphanage...I'm interested in adopting," Kalmuli said, politely removing her sandals and stepping up to join the matron. "I run a small business you see...and I'm often alone. I want a child for company but also to train as an apprentice when they're old enough."

"I see, I see...so you're well off?"The matron said. It would be a good opportunity to make some money off of another interested patron. The bird demon, Shuri as she introduced herself, lead Kalmuli toward a playroom. Kalmuli could see the children running around, some stopping to look at her before going off again. They were all happy...though the condition of their clothes and toys had her concerned. 

"Who is your youngest?"Kalmuli asked.

"Oh, we keep the babies upstairs in the nursery,"Shuri said as she gestured for the elf to follow her upstairs. The Nursery itself looked boring. Plain wood walls, not very many soft toys and the smell of dirty diapers was rank. There was one child out of all of them though that she noticed was screaming loudly. His shrill little screams cried in pain and when she got closer, she saw the tell-tale signs of a half-breed child. "Oh him...Sozoshi we call him."Shuri said, snubbing her nose. "Hasn't stopped crying since the day he arrived. It's been two weeks now."

"Two weeks...oh poor thing..."Kalmuli said as she eased her hands in to pick him up. He was loudly wailing and didn't stop even when held. Carrying him over to a changing table in the room, she looked him over and examined him closely. "He's got diarrhea and a bit of a fever. He's underweight too for a two week old."

"He refuses to eat. He'll suckle for a moment but then will go back right to crying until he wears himself out."Shuri scoffed. Kalmuli would look to the bird woman with a disappointed frown. They were hardly taking care of him. She would clean him up, putting a little ointment on the sore red bum to cool it before gathering him up again. She told Shuri to get a wet rag and a fresh bottle of milk, sitting in the nursery. The baby cried but it wasn't as loud as it had been before. With rag in hand, Kalmuli gently cooled Sozoshi off and gave him something to eat. He refused at first but Kalmuli tried a little trick she used before on fussy children. Softly she would take one of the protruding, soft dog's ears on his head and stroke along it, rocking back in forth in the chair. Then it was silent, nothing but the sound of cooing and suckling on the bottle. 

Shuri was a little in awe. "We've tried everything..."

"I've raised children before...little half elven children...this always calmed them down and put them right to sleep. I guess it works on little Inu Yokai too..."Kalmuli said softly. "Though Sozoshi won't fit him now...that means 'noisy' right?"

"Ah...yes..."Shuri looked embarrassed. "I'll go get the paperwork ready."

An hour later, Kalmuli had her son in her arms. Ginkibo she decided to name him after his silver-white hair and the hopeful little look in his eyes when he was ready to sleep and be comfortable nestled against her chest. It was the first time probably in his short little life that he felt no pain. Kalmuli kissed the soft crown of his head as she walked through town to order the things that they would need. She found a cute basket-style bassinet, lots of baby toys that were made durable for yokai children and lots of cute little yukatas or regular street clothes to dress him up in. 

Not to mention an army's worth of cloth diapers.  Gin would be a spoiled but happy little boy in Kalmuli's home. The excited flutter in her chest...she had forgotten how much motherhood had meant to her in the past. Back at home, she had arranged a room for him and sat by the bassinet for hours watching him sleep. Against the dark blue sheets with a sleepy cloud print, Gin looked like a soft porcelain doll.  "Beautiful boy...you're going to have a good long life here..."She spoke softly, brushing his rosy cheek with the side of her finger. 

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It had been eons since she had raised a child in infancy. It was lost sleep. It was dirty diapers, bottles after bottles, lots of laundry and little time. Kalmuli sat with Gin, bringing a warm washcloth to clean him up for bath time. He enjoyed always being close, cooing and singing sweetly while she washed him up. The one good thing was that his diarrhea had stopped as well as the fever, making him go from miserable to a total delight. Kalmuli watched him as he cooed, flapping his hands a little as he splashed around the bubbles. "Haha...you're too cute!"Kalmuli said as she picked him up out of the bath, wrapping him in a warm towel to hold and cuddle him in. 

"Ah Gin....It's blessing to have you around..."She said, Kalmuli drying him off and gently rubbing his ears. "At least you're feeling better. Think you'll let me get a few hours sleep tonight?"

A little sleepy coo was her response. 

"Haha...good. I'm exhausted."Kalmuli sighed, kissing the top of his head and grabbing the clean clothes for him for the day. It was going to be fairly warm, so she dressed him a light yukata, slipping him in a papoose to carry him around the shop while she worked. There were potions to make, shelves to organize and she had another load of laundry to do.

A knock on the door had her break from her mental checklist. 

Kalmuli headed to the door, sliding it open. "Welcome...how can I help you?"She said, opening the door to a large chest of fur. She stared in surprise, her eyes following upward to a pig's snout and beady, golden eyes.  "Oh..."

"Dis' the 'ore 'ouse?"The beast grunted.

Kalmuli's nose scrunched. "No...that's been closed for a long time. It's a healing house. Do you need medicine...or a bath?"She said as she eyed him up and down.

A large first came through the door towards her head, her body bending back with her hands covering the baby's head.  The boar demon grunted, pulling his fist back and stepping into the shop. Kalmuli watched it, the monster of a beast towering over her. "Get out before I make you get out!"She shouted.

"If there's no whores here and you're the only one...guess I gotta take what I can get."He spoke, snorting and reaching for her. 

The flash that came from in front of Kalmuli was quick. From her hand, her sword bloomed in her grip and the blood painted the floor of the shop, the door and on several of the shelves. The boar demon squealed in pain and terror, holding the stump where his hand had been. Kalmuli changed her stance, keeping Gin faced away. "You can stick it into that stub of an arm for all the shit I give..."She said, flicking the blade away and cleaning the blood off. 


"You want the pain to go away? I'll make a deal with you..."She said, bringing the end of the blade back over to under the chin of the boar creature. Kalmuli smirked. "I'll fix your arm...but you'll have to work off the debt."

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