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What was it about the humans that made them want to shrink down their worlds so much? To make it all so cookie-cutter, so reminiscent of places far enough away that it could never actually have an impact on this world. The Starbucks in Japan was just like the Starbucks in America was just like the Starbucks in CIA black sites across the world. It seemed, on some level, that the humans reveled in consistency. Blandness. Continuity. Humans wished to believe that, wherever they walked, they could take their homes with them. Their cuisine, their culture, their language...all like one huge safety blanket.
Shio couldn't help but find himself amused by it. Recently, he'd decided to engage on an endeavor that many would have considered not just bold, but recklessly pointless. He had spent the last few months' free days, going to various parts of the world, over and over, sometimes as many as two or three trips in a day. For coffee. He had developed somewhat of a twitch, and he had even started taking coffee beans back to his quarters, to work on brewing when the time was right. And all the same, it seemed so worth it, now.
He was passingly familiar with the standard menu at Starbucks; it was far from anything that complicated, or difficult. But what it was, was incredibly predictable. He'd gone across the world in the past month, ordering the same abominable concoction, something he'd spent a good hour or two whipping up. Something he was entirely sure couldn't possibly be replicated across the globe. And he was right. In a sense. Old machines, old syrup, inexperienced hands...there were so many possible ways to justify the differences in flavor.
Not once had Shio gotten a drink he could call appreciably different. His palate, delicate and precise as it was, could pick out very nearly everything used in the concoction. And yet each time the overall experience was...the same. It was uncanny.
Today, he waited patiently at the line, allowing others to file in, and take their orders. A few had even waved towards him, as if asking whether or not he had ordered. He finally stepped forward, after about twenty minutes of passing the line along, before leaning forward, and placing a hand on the counter.
"My apologies. This order is a little complicated, so I wanted to make sure I wouldn't be interrupting. I would like a 20 ounce mocha latte, but instead of milk I'd like you to use half and half. Add three squirts of dark chocolate syrup, four of raspberry, five of toasted marshmallow, and two of toffee nut."
The hapless barista rose their eyes for a moment, staring into the face of a smiling, pleasant-looking, and very well-groomed man with an eyepatch. It took a second, and two repetitions, before they had gotten it down properly.
"Thank you kindly."
Turning on his heel, the shinigami walked towards a table, with a clear sight of the work area, and began to hum to himself ever so faintly, under his breath. To date, he'd never had a single drink that he couldn't chalk up to small differences between stores. Why was it that humans liked to know that halfway across the globe the coffee tasted the same? Wasn't there something, anything more important?
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Subject Post 2Subject: Re: No Foam (Shio/Cyng) Tue May 16, 2017 9:22 pm
CYNG | THE WHITE RIDER
As soon as the bell atop the entrance rung, the customers enjoying their coffee and pastries paused. It was only for a moment that the restaurant held silence, but the noise resumed, though this time it more dominantly consisted of hushed tones accompanied by wary stares, all eyes drawn towards the new customer.
It was to be expected. Although Cyng hadn't actually done anything directly negative after her declaration of rule, the stigma of "forceful takeover" and winning the rights to their homeland through a game of all things? It was natural that there might be some skeptical glares stabbing into her. It was strange, and though she didn't look it, Cyng was clearly very dangerous to them. Not in the same aspect of most beings out there in the world wielding their powers willy-nilly, striking fear into the hearts of the denizens. It was a different sort of induced fear.
Either way, every step Cyng took forward was accompanied by a series of hushed whispers, some either talking about her, or just trying to continue their previous conversations more quietly. Of course, besides gossip, a great deal of conversations based around their new leader's appearance had less to do with what she had done, and more so concerning wonderance on what she was doing here. And, with the most unexpected answer to these questions, Cyng spoke.
"Hmm... Can I get a 20 ounce mocha latte, half and half, three squirts dark, four raspberry, five toasted marshmallow, and two toffee?"
As if it were a fairly average concoction, Cyng let out without a breath a series of instructions confidently. For a moment, the cashier girl could only respond in a soundless daze.
"Hm? Something wrong, Miss?"
"!! Ah, excuse me, ma'am--er, your majesty?"
The cashier's face went through a series of expressions, before settling on a downcast, embarrassed one. She opened her mouth to offer an explanation for her impudence but stopped in surprise from Cyng making herself comfortable by bending forward and resting her elbow on the counter, chin on fist. With an amused smirk she asserted,
"It's fine to just treat me normally, you know. Regardless of my status, for the time being, I'm just a customer, no?"
"Eh? Ah, no, uhm--yes, of course. Then, from the top--"
"Or was your dazed expression brought about by my sparkling eyes?"
Cyng's amused expression turned mischievous as she scanned the cashier's face before resting her gaze on the woman's blue eyes. Their mutual eye contact brought a sense of incongruity, as if for that slim moment, the reality around them didn't exist. For Cyng, this was the natural state of mind. All things felt a bit, say, lacking in realism and vivacity. It was understandable, however, for the cashier to fall once more into a state of stupor, as if the Queen's stare attracted her own attention.
"Well, teasing aside, did you get the order?"
The pale-haired Cyng broke contact first, correcting her posture to a straight stand. Her eyes were still looking into the cashier's, but that magnetism it exuded wasn't there--her eyes seemed listless, even. In return, the cashier finally regained her composure and shook her head as if to shake off the previous feeling. Replacing it was actually a face of confusion, and maybe even a bit of disappointment, as if she wanted to stare into Cyng's eyes for a bit longer, like maintaining that connection would unravel something hidden behind those pupils--a mix of curiosity and longing.
"Y-yes, ma'am. I believe I got it all."
"Oh? That's a first--it's an odd order, so I honestly didn't anticipate you to get it on the first try. You're quite the intelligent one, hm?"
With reddened cheeks, the cashier replied with some confidence, pointing up at the screen above her which displayed the list of orders queued and being made.
"Though I'm flattered, it's mostly just because someone else ordered the exact same thing moments ago."
"Ah, well I'm sure even then my assessment wasn't wrong."
With a flirtatious smile, Cyng exchanged a few more words with the girl behind the counter before collecting her receipt with a series of numbers scribbled at the bottom. With that, the queen stuffed the paper in her pocket and sent a wink out before turning about.
Mm.. Unfortunately, I don't think she swings my way, so it may have been futile efforts; actually, rather than that, I wonder who ordered the same thing?
The Duulheim's eyes faced the queue screen above her before looking around the store.
Though there's no basis for it... Hmm, it's gotta be him?
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Subject Post 3Subject: Re: No Foam (Shio/Cyng) Fri May 19, 2017 8:57 pm
And just like that, Shio was proven wrong. The world wasn't small; it was horribly, unfathomably big. And it was he who was small. Someone walked into the building, someone who lowered the ambient temperature by what felt like four or five degrees from the sheer intensity of interest, as she approached the counter. Shio could hear the murmured conversations of countless people around the building, those who recognized her, idolized her, despised her who cared? There was only one part that needed to be known to make his point. This woman was important. She was the name on everyone's lips.
And now she was looking in his direction. He had seen it, with the dreadful slowness and the dreamy sense of disconnect that one felt when they realized a moment too late they were about to rear-end someone else. A hand being pointed to the board. His order, no doubt. A mirror of his own, being posted onto the board. The woman scanning and seeking everyone across the room, looking for someone whose order matched her own. And here he sat, mind reeling, heart freezing, sweating even as his body froze over; he was certain by the time she walked over he'd be unable to move entirely.
Already, his brain was trying to kick itself into high gear. The way she walked; was she a rock star? A noble? A soldier? A demon? The way everyone spoke about her; was it fear? Adoration? Doubt? Longing? If he stood up and slapped this woman across the face, would he be a hero? A pariah? If he rose and kissed her hand, would he be a sycophant? A member of the party? If he played dumb, would they believe it? Coincidences like this didn't happen; not in the real world.
And all at once, in a moment that dropped the bottom out of his stomach, Shio got it. She knew him. He had made this order ten, fifteen times up to now, over the world. And she had walked in here, as confident and cool as a lord, and singled him out. With a single conversation. His brain sorted and sifted at speeds he had rarely pushed it to, comparing it to faces and names that would never leave his head, no matter how long he may have lived. And...he came up blank. A disguise? A relative? A friend? It changed nothing.
She knew him. And that meant he knew everything about her he needed to know.
He sat in place, unmoving, watching her approach, his expression cool, professionally polite, and absolutely unyielding. When she was close enough, he rose, giving no reaction whatsoever, and speaking with a voice you'd never imagine belonged to someone who was already looking for an escape route.
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Subject Post 4Subject: Re: No Foam (Shio/Cyng) Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:46 pm
CYNG | THE WHITE RIDER
It wasn't often that Cyng's intuition was wrong, but it was never absolute; that's why she always operated with all the cards in her hand, in particular when approaching someone. She trusted her intuition, but didn't put all her faith in it. Informed actions always trumped leaps of faith. That said, there was with some atonishment in her face when a man suddenly rose and revealed that she had the better of him.
It took a little while, but Cyng connected the dots.
"Oh! So it was you!"
In truth, her eyes were focused on an entirely different person--the man behind the one standing up now. It was a wholesome coincidence that the general direction of her stare prompted the true culprit to rise, but it wasn't anything she could complain about. Rather, in saved her the embarrassment of going up to the wrong person and starting up a conversation on a quirky coffee order completely unrelated to the person.
Now that she really understood who it was, the sovereign approached the standing man, some amusement tinging her smile.
"It really is an odd-order, one I genuinely thought was exclusive to me, and not because I think myself unique or something, but because it honestly is far out there."
Cyng finally reached his table, taking a seat with her elbows on the table propping up her chin and crossing her legs politely to express her genuine interest. Her whole demeanor and manner of approach was nonchalant, as if she were meeting up with an old friend, and to most around them outside the range of hearing her dialogue, surely many would come to the same conclusion.
Some whispers supporting the assumption that their new ruler came to the coffee shop to meet with this man specifically formed, slowly becoming an established fact. Followed by the spreading rumours were surrounding eyes now shifting to the man, all these people analysing and stripping him down to figure out who he was, and what his relationship to Cyng was.
"Tell me, what sort of event or spur-of-the-moment feeling prompted you to wildly explore the limits of coffee? I don't suppose that's something someone else introduced to you first--is it?"