Winter had finally descended upon Youkai Mountain once more, and it already had its first case of snowfall. Hina Kagiyama was outside her shrine, well bundled for the weather. She wore a knitted cap, knitted by herself, but still making sure she wore her bow atop of it. For cold occasions, she also had made a very bundled version of her dress, layered with enough warm furs to keep her snug during her work. She even took the time to embroid her signature green swirl into her mittens. As she worked to shovel snow off of her shrine grounds, she still took her time to pause and admire the nice scenery winter offered. It wasn’t every season that most fairies decided huddling around fires was better than flying around annoying anyone they could find. She especially enjoyed how bundled up she could get herself. By the time she was done shoveling her barely-trodden shrine grounds, she did eyeball the old donation box.
“I do wish humans would be a bit more generous to me…”
She smiled as she heard that all-too familiar high pitched voice. She turned to find Nitori at the entrance of the shrine grounds, waving energetically towards her. She too was prepared for the winter season, all wrapped up in a big, puffy overcoat, a layered skirt, and even snow pants below, just for safe measure.
“Well about generous, there’s actually an easy way to get humans to give you money!”
“O-oh you heard that… Nevermind. What do you have in mind for today?”
From her backpack, she pulled out a ripped piece of paper. On it were all sorts of toys, each with an impressive yen pricetag attached.
“You sell them stuff!”
Hina rubbed the back of her head, still smiling. “I mean, they aren’t really giving you money, are they?”
She put the magazine back in her pack. “I learned this from talking about Kappa about stuff from the outside world. Apparently, you just gotta sell stuff you don’t really care about, and it’s like, free money!”
Hina glanced back at her shrine, and looked back.
“I don’t exactly want to sell any of my belongings. Maybe something like a bake sale? Perhaps if you find more of that cake mix, we can keep half for us, and sell the other half to the humans?”
“Well uh, I’m…” She looked down at the ground. “Kinda short on money as well…”
“I got an idea then. How about we go talk with other kappa? There’s a big market up there, right?”
Nitori’s face brightened up. “That’s a great idea! I know lots of kappa who are masters of mercantilism!”
The day with the kappa was definitely not as enlightening as Hina hoped it to be. From the kappa market, most tried to re-sell various devices they had found in the river by over-emphasizing their features. A camera that could steal the souls of those they took, a tablet that gave instant news, a device that could communicate over long distances. Hearing the other kappa over-enthusiastically promote the strange devices did not impress Hina one bit. However, Nitori constantly kept her eyes glued at how they presented themselves, smiling and taking notes. Hina smiled as she saw Nitori’s enthusiasm for the kappas’ presentation. Leaving the market, Nitori was bouncing with energy.
“Seeing all those things, I think I get what gets people to buy something! I think you need something like, unique and eyecatching!”
Hina’s face brightened, slightly glad Nitori was able to understand something she didn’t for once.
“I guess so! Maybe if I had a bit of spending money, I would purchase that communications device. It’d be nice to talk with you while working!”
Nitori stared up with a big smile on her face. “That sounds awesome! I’m honestly the same. Things get way too boring around here without you.”
“Since we are here, I’m curious Nitori. What do you think will catch the eyes of humans?”
“Well, since you asked!” She enthusiastically grabbed that magazine article, pointing at one of the toys. It was a statuette of a very pretty looking girl.
“Supposedly, according to some of those kappas, outside world humans go crazy for these! If I can make some, that’ll be a surefire way for some sales!”
Hina stared with a look of confusion. “You know how to make these statuettes?”
“Eh, kinda? I know how to carve wood and paint! It shouldn’t be too hard!”
“I can’t wait to see how it goes. Who are you going to make the figure of?”
Hina’s eyes widened, and she raised her hand to her mouth. “O-Oh!”
“You’re the prettiest and best youkai I know! Humans would love a figure of you!”
“Aww, that’s very nice Nitori!” Deep down, Hina was surprised she was wholeheartedly going along with one of her schemes. “Let’s hurry on over to your place, I can’t wait to see your work!”
The two flew together back to Nitori’s small home. Hina pulled up a small stool and posed nicely, as Nitori dug through her large pile of gadgets and tools, pulling out a carving knife and a log. She also brought along a strange blue and red can.
“Is that the paint-”
With a click and a hiss, she popped the can open, and took a quick gulp of the soda. “Just my energy booster! Let’s get started!”
Hina sat still for several hours as Nitori meticulously carved away at the log. Hours passed, and the last thing Hina remembered was the edge of her head before sleep overtook her. Despite her sleep, Nitori still carved away as well as she could, all the way throughout the night. As the sun rose the following morning, Hina slowly woke up to the sight of Nitori with her head on the table, looking forward with a frustrated look. Hina yawned, glancing around, seeing wood shavings everywhere, but no statuette.
“Nitori, where’s the statuette?”
“I ruined it…” She grumbled.
“Hm? Did something happen while carving?”
“I finished it an hour ago but… I hate how it looks. It doesn’t look like you!”
Hina smiled, shaking her head. “Now now, it is your first time doing this. Let me see, I can be a fair judge.”
She slinked over to her backpack and opened it up, and took out the wooden statuette.
It was… Not bad at all, at least in Hina’s opinion. It lacked the details of her super-frilled dress, and looked a bit rough, needing to be sanded. Hina picked it up and observed it closer. Her face looked a bit goofily painted on, and the colors looked more splashed on rather than painted.
“The woodwork on this is pretty great Nitori!”
She raised her head. “Really?”
“Yeah. It’s the painting, isn’t it?”
She lowered her head back onto the table. “Yeah… It ruined it all.”
“Perhaps I could help with the painting next time? I do enjoy it as a hobby.”
“You do? You gotta show me sometimes!”
Hina looked away nervously. “Well, it’s more of a hobby… I’m not too confident of sharing it around.”
“I’m sure I can be a fair judge!” Nitori now had a beaming smile on her face. Hina walked over, pulling the short kappa in for a hug. Nitori went limp as her face smushed into Hina’s stomach, accepting the Hina-hug wholly. Hina released, and reached into one of her jacket pockets.
“Let me help you then.” She pulled out a few 100 yen coins from her pocket, and handed them to Nitori. “Consider me your first customer!”
Nitori pouted. “Hey, friends buying doesn’t count!”
Hina picked up the statuette, smiling smugly. “Well too bad, I like it too much!”
Nitori giggled. “Then once I get enough money, wait till I buy all your paintings!”