Chapter 6 was revised.
Stating just to avoid confusion, since most of the events are still the same as before, just fleshed out or modified.
Originally, I did not post that chapter to deviantArt because there was something I wanted to figure out first. Namely, I wanted to retroactively give Rokuna a cleavage window (and her in particular, to complement my favorite hair color), so the opening conversation would not have worked. Instead, that scene would have focused on Miyuki staring inappropriately at Mondo by accident, but I was told that even with her tendency to space out, a state of sexual arousal she'd have been experiencing since seeing him "pose," and some setup to place her behind him, it would still be out of character for her, and the first of those would be more likely what she makes up for w/ particular politeness compared to other characters.
Later, still not having gotten back to it, it occurred to me that maybe Nyamo, given what he is in an otherwise mostly down-to-earth franchise (and my brother even suggested before that he appear somewhere), should have been one of the first things the party would see in Magicant. And then, my original beta-reader returned from a three-year hiatus, and I decided I might as well task her with the chapter while there's still time before I'd post it to dA.
Chapter 7: A Whole New World
From what they could feel, the party seemed to be back on the beach, but the sun seemed to have long set.
"How long've we been in Magicant?" asked Konata.
"Good question," said Kagami, lighting up the flashlight before hearing Tsukasa dial a number on her cell phone and shining it on her. "Hey!" Tsukasa was startled. "Don't wake people up in the middle of the night! Ms. Takara and Ms. Kuroi should still be at the hotel. Let's try to find our way back there."
Kagami guided the flashlight around, but failed to spot anything familiar at all.
Tsukasa then noticed the time reading 12:37 PM.
"Umm, sis?" she asked. "Why does it say noon on here?"
"That's weird," said Kagami as she and Konata walked over to her. "Did being in Magicant screw the time on our phones up somehow?"
"More importantly, anyone else here wonder why AM and PM change between 11 and 12 instead of 12 and 1?" asked Konata.
"That's not more important!" Kagami retorted.
"If I recall correctly, I believe Rokuna's father did say that we'd be sent to different parts of the world after visiting Magicant," said Miyuki.
"That's right..." said Kagami.
"Anyone got a map or something?" asked Mondo.
"Forget that, where even are we? We'd still be lost if we didn't have the right one."
"Well, only one way to find out," said Rokuna. "Let's go!"
The sun began to rise as they walked down a nearby road elevated from the beach and lined opposite side by trees. The sky was overcast, and the air around them was thick with fog. They also noticed that what was an inland sea that they started off near had by now narrowed into a simple stream through the sand. Kagami turned off her flashlight, and Miyuki drew out her cell phone and dialed a number.
"Yukari speaking," said her mother.
"Miyuki! Where are you!?"
"Actually, that's exactly what we're trying to figure out ourselves. I only called to let you and Ms. Kuroi know that there is no need left to remain for us."
"Oh? Could you tell us about your surroundings?"
Eventually, they slowed to a crawl, still having not found any real clues as to where they were.
"I'm getting tired..." said Konata. "Can we sit down and have a break?"
"Come to think of it, yeah, we could all probably use one," said Kagami, and they each got down on their knees and relished the feeling of compressing their shins between their thighs and the ground.
"Y'know, that was awesome, what you did back there!" said Mondo.
"How you grew so huge just when we thought we were done for."
"Maybe you could do that again," said Konata. "Then we could really see what's up ahead, y'know?"
"Yeah, I think I'd rather not, if at all possible. Just being that huge would be embarrassing enough on its own, let alone with my hair the way it is."
"I would agree," said Rokuna. "A power like that would be pretty dangerous, too. Who knows what could happen if we were to step or fall down on something?"
"You don't suppose you could turn big for just long enough to scan your surroundings?" asked Miyuki.
"Maybe you're right," said Kagami. "Maybe I should give that a try."
She got back down to the beach, and drew a breath…
"P. K. Macro. Alpha."
...and proceeded to grow taller and taller. The others scurried out of her way as her feet wound up occupying the entire space where they had just stood.
"Okay, this is awkward..." said Rokuna as she and the others all sweatdropped. Kagami couldn't help but blush as she figured out what what the matter was.
"Gee, guess we should have thought of that," she sighed.
"Think you could try making me big instead?" asked Mondo.
"Yeah, great idea! Let me just get small again first."
But she couldn't.
"Great. Somehow, I'm stuck like this now..."
She knelt down, and picked the others up from off the road.
As it turned out, the forest wasn't even that thick; narrow enough for Kagami simply to step over at her height. Across was mostly open fields with some houses grouped here and there. Up ahead, though, was a full-blown neighborhood, along with some train tracks they previously had to cross slanting away across an empty part of the town and merging with another curved line of tracks.
"I see plenty of places to go, but, not like I'd want to go anywhere looking like this. Man, talk about defeating the whole point of this."
"Maybe you could just edge closer, and then the rest of us will go while you hide somewhere," said Rokuna. "We'll keep an eye out in case you come close to stepping on anyone, okay?"
"Y'know, we'd have even less of a problem if you were wearing a swimsuit instead," said Konata.
"What are you implying!?" shouted Kagami.
"Well, we were near a big-ass body of water you could've cross."
"Good point, but taking a dip is not what we need right now. What we need most is to find clues as to where to even go. Right now, we don't even have a map, and I can't seem to tell what's what in that town up ahead, so even if I weren't too big to go there, we'd still be limited just to wander around aimlessly in search of a hotel or something."
"Actually, even finding a place to stay would be a bit awkward," said Miyuki. "First, we would need to find a bank at which to exchange money for the local currency here."
"Jun-chan did give me some different types of money for my birthday, but we still need to find out where we are before I can tell if it includes the type used here," said Rokuna.
"Well, Kagami-n, looks like you'll just have to edge up and call for help," said Konata.
Kagami could only cringe before resigning herself to such an option.
"Watch your step, Gami-chan!" called Rokuna.
She glanced down the road to allow any oncoming cars to pass by first, and then laid a foot down sideways, making sure she wouldn't press it in before propping her other foot in front of that one. She then lifted her foot sideways over the woods, and proceeded from there towards town.
"Good job, Gami-chan!" shouted Rokuna.
Slowly, she made her way further, and then stopped at the edge.
She drew a breath, and then…
"Can anyone here help us!?" she called.
Out of all the different houses swarmed the townspeople to behold such a sight that none would expect to see in their lives. Needless to say, a lot of them panicked, but others took pictures of her, and there was no doubt her appearance would end up online for the world to see. She could not help but sigh as she knelt down and let her friends back on the ground to speak to some of the inhabitants.
"Umm… Could you tell us where we are?" Tsukasa asked someone.
"Sorry, I don't speak your language," said the other person, eliciting a sigh from her.
"Are you even from around here?" someone replied to Rokuna, who had asked the same thing.
"Guess there's no surprise there," Rokuna sighed while disengaging. But then, something dawned on her, and she turned to another spectator.
Wordlessly, she conjured a series of images into his mind.
"Are you a psychic or something?" he asked, and she figured out through the actual ideas he meant to communicate.
"This is Dingwall." She picked up that as the name of the town.
"Where are you even from?"
"Nihon." Through the actual idea she conveyed psychically, he figured out that she meant Japan.
"Didn't you bring a map with you before coming here?"
"Well, it's a bit hard to explain, but we didn't even wind up here by choice."
"Who sent you?"
Stuck in her predicament, Kagami observed what her friends were doing, and also noticed Konata and Miyuki communicating just as smoothly with others as Rokuna, while Mondo, like Tsukasa, had no choice but to give up on them and join Konata, the first one he noticed amid the crowd to break the language barrier.
From there, she figured she might as well try speaking herself.
"Hey, can I have everyone's attention please?" she said without telepathy, at least getting just that. "My name is Kagami Hiiragi, and there is a lot to explain here, so let me start from the beginning."
"What is she saying?" asked the person Rokuna spoke to as Kagami went on.
"Gami-chan, it's not enough just to talk," she relayed to the giantess. "You have to connect minds with whoever you're speaking to. Focus on who you're trying to talk to."
But of course, there were so many people surrounding them that it would be all but impossible to focus on each and every person's mind directly. Was there some way just to create some kind of field instead through which to communicate?
Rokuna turned back to her original interlocutor.
"Is it okay if my friend up there connects minds with you?"
"Okay, try just us. Relay what you want to say without talking first, and he'll translate and I'll relay back to you, okay?"
Normally, no one would have believed anything Kagami was saying, but then again, nor would anyone have believed in giants without seeing one like these people all just had, to say nothing of word of other such weirdness that had already been leaking around the world.
"This is Dingwall, a town in Scotland," someone said when she got around to asking where they were. While she picked the voice up on her own, Rokuna was the one who helped her understand the actual sentence by remaining connected with her mind.
"Thanks. And, has anything weird been happening around here lately?"
"No, huh? Well, if it's not too much to ask, I would appreciate it if no one takes any pictures of us. If anyone already has, please delete them, okay? And, does anyone have questions for us?"
Eventually, the questions ended, and at Rokuna's suggestion, Kagami actually managed to shrink back down. As the crowd dissipated, she could only wonder why she wasn't able to shrink down earlier.
The party stayed at a few people's houses for the day. Rokuna made a point of checking out what was to do around here and where, and the next day, they all hitched a bus to the city of Inverness.
The city had its share of sights to see, including bridges, castles, cathedrals, and statues, but was still not as exciting as the party had hoped. The roads, contrary to their expectations, were made of asphalt just like back in Japan, as opposed to cobblestone. While the buildings were all packed together as one would normally expect of a city, the skyline was actually pretty low, although that did feel rather nice.
As they searched about, the party wound up stopping at a gas station for some snacks and a restroom. Mondo even managed to buy a pack of cigarettes, just out of curiosity.
"Are you crazy!?" asked Kagami as they exited. "Those could totally ruin your life!"
"Chill out! You know the difference between enjoyment and addiction, don'cha?"
"Haven't they taught you anything in school?"
"He actually does have a point here," said Miyuki. "From what I understand, education about drugs does tend to exaggerate the dangers thereof."
"Well, yeah, but there's also second-hand smoke to think about."
"Good point," replied Mondo.
"Speaking of which, I always wanted to try drinking sometime," added Rokuna.
"Not you too!" said Kagami. "You're supposed to be in charge of the mission!"
"Well, not to the point of getting hung over."
"Yeah, let's!" added Konata.
"Said the one whose own cousin already does drink?" replied Kagami. "And you weren't exactly enthused either when she suggested we all do once."
"C'mon, Kagami-n, you're an adult now, live a little. Besides, didn't you suggest we all take our clothes off and freak people out just the other day!?"
"THAT'S NOT WHAT I SAID!" She couldn't help but blush.
"Whoa, you actually said that!?" asked Mondo.
"No, I was-"
"Would you be so kind as to-" said Konata, starting to take off her shirt and intending to hand her clothes to her.
"DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!" shouted Kagami, pulling Konata's shirt back down. "You wanna get in trouble, embarrass us, and jeopardize the mission!?"
"Yeah, I'd draw the line there too," added Rokuna. "What would people think of our country if we were to act like that!"
"Count me in!" said Mondo, who had taken all his clothes off while everyone else was focused on Konata, having not made out what they were saying while he was busy undressing. Tsukasa could only shriek upon catching sight of his privates while Rokuna, Miyuki, and Kagami fell speechless. Kagami was glad no one else was here with them, and especially Misao, whom she knew impulsive enough to join such antics as well.
"Yeah, you got it!" shouted Konata.
"Are you the same person from just a few days ago?" asked Kagami as more and more people noticed the sight around them.
There was something different about that other time, but he couldn't figure out how to explain.
From there, the group walked silently in search of somewhere to eat, with Rokuna and Kagami keeping themselves a good few feet away from Mondo and Konata. Mondo himself felt embarrassed; indeed for having acted on impulse, but also for ending up being the only one to actually strip down in public while expecting at least Konata to follow through as well on what was her idea to start with.
They soon found a small diner called Fig & Thistle Bistro, with such small tables that they'd need to put two together to sit as a group.
"I'll speak to them about their behavior," said Miyuki as they headed inside, finding them a separate table while Tsukasa went with her sister and cousin.
"Just what were you two thinking?" she asked them.
"Well, don't you ever get that always-wanted-to-do-that kind of feeling?" replied Konata. "Kinda like if you find a can of soda sitting around still sealed and wanna shake it up and spray it all over?"
"I must not be the type, but I have heard of such urges as that. Could you explain to me what led up to it here, though?"
"Taking risks, basically, I mean, we don't have our parents or teachers to answer to anymore, we're out in the middle of nowhere, and we not sure what to do right now, so I thought, let's just have fun."
"I understand where you're coming from, but would that have extended next to shoplifting or vandalism, for instance?"
"How come I'm the only one you're grilling about this? He's the one who did it."
"You're still the one who suggested it, almost went through with it, and cheered him on when he did, but you actually have a good point there. Ooya-san, have you been following along with us?"
"Yeah," said Mondo. "She actually took the words out of my mouth. This and that about independence and taking risks."
"Very well, then. Contrary to what Izumi-san had said, now is the time to act more responsibly than ever, given our circumstances. We have an important duty to fulfill, and cannot afford to get arrested for such reckless decisions. I can understand if you two got slightly carried away this first time, but let's at least learn from this."
"Okay," Mondo and Konata both said.
"Thank you for understanding. But if I may ask, what did make this any different from before?"
"Errrr…" replied Mondo, and a few seconds went by in silence.
"Perhaps I could read your mind as you remember what happened and what you were feeling?"
Reluctant as he was to relive that whole thing, he did feel some context would alleviate some of his current embarrassment.
He recalled following Rokuna through the hallways of her house, toward her bedroom. Once they were inside, she opened up her closet, and withdrew something before turning around.
"Swimsuits?" he asked. "In the middle of fall?"
"I thought they might be useful for when we go somewhere warm, but…" Rokuna held a loose fist up to her mouth, blushing.
Silence fell between the two of them.
"Well... You like impressing others just like me, right?"
"Well, I thought maybe we could start things off on a bang, but this feels sort of embarrassing to do on my own, so… You think you could do this along with me?"
"I-it's okay if you don't want to."
"No, really, I get you. Gotta start things on a bang, right?"
And so, she left his swimsuit, a yellow speedo, on the bed, and left the room, not only to get changed herself away from him, but also to recompose herself for a bit.
Having always worn trunks instead to swim in, the tightness of this swimsuit up against his butt and genitals made him feel awkward. In this, he could only imagine how his family would wonder why, albeit positively, if he himself decided for no reason in particular to switch to anything different like this. Though athletic, he still wasn't exactly a bodybuilder or on a swimming team or anything.
"Well, ready when you are!" said Rokuna from through the door. She sure sounded confident, and so, he opened the door, and they both gazed up and down at eachother.
"You look great, just as I thought!" said Rokuna.
"So do you."
"Let's go while everyone's still gathered! Ready?"
And so, he followed her back, and the rest was history.
"I see…" said Miyuki. "In any event, you both still owe the others an apology for all of this."
They both nodded, before noticing the others speaking, in Japanese, to a waitress. They quickly figured out what they were doing and why, and themselves got up to do likewise, Mondo accompanying Miyuki since he lacked telepathy.
Upon apologizing for earlier, they were invited to rejoin their friends at their own table.
As they sat down, they immediately realized how hard a time they'd have to figure out what they would've liked. Even though they had managed to communicate with people who didn't speak Japanese, reading stuff was a different story, as there were no actual thoughts to read from something inanimate like the menus here.
"Umm… Sumimasen!" Tsukasa called to a waiter, only confusing him.
"I don't think asking someone to read everything is gonna work anyway," said Kagami. "It would be easy to lose track of what's what, and we'd just come off like we don't know how to read."
"Hmmmm…" replied Rokuna. "I know! Maybe we can look around to see what others are having, and ask the waiter what anything is we might like!"
As they expected, the food here was unlike anything they had ever heard of, including smoked haddock, haggis bon bons, parsnip crisps, brioche French toast, and prawn chowder.
After some looking around and asking the staff what was what, all six of them combined a couple of tables to sit down together at, and placed their orders.
"Itadakimasu!" they all said once it all arrived, before digging in.
"So, Miyuki-san," said Konata. "I've been meaning to ask, but what was it like at Mondo's house?"
"Why are you asking her?" asked Kagami. "Is Mondo not right here?"
"Don't you think someone with a first impression would have a lot more to say than someone who's lived somewhere their whole life? I mean, where would you start if someone were to ask you about your house?"
"That's a very good point, actually, but I can't say I've observed all that much of it," said Miyuki. "I did get to enjoy meeting his three little brothers, though, and especially little Kazuhiko-kun."
"Coming from a place like yours, yeah, I doubt you would think much of mine," said Mondo.
"Three little brothers, huh?" said Kagami. "I wonder what they'd think of their biggest one doing something so shameless like that. Or Yuu-chan, for that matter."
"How old are they, anyway?" asked Tsukasa.
"Ryota's twelve, Atomu's ten, and Kazuhiko's a baby," Mondo answered, leaving the twins and Konata to gasp.
"A baby!?" asked Kagami.
"I totally wanna see him sometime!" added Tsukasa.
"So anyway, how about we all go drinking tonight?" said Rokuna. "Might be a good way to gather information, instead of bothering people here or on the streets."