Fans happened. The temperature dropped a few degrees.
Raidou directed the sanding and staining of the new floorboards like a happy general. There was an unexpected level of skill needed just to darken wood. Ryouma took to it with enthusiasm, wiping generous swathes of dark brown oil stain across the bright new boards. Kakashi followed behind him and neatened the edges where enthusiasm splashed over.
The end result was a walnut streak across Ryouma’s forehead, dark half-moons under Kakashi’s fingernails, and a neat section of sturdy floor that almost blended.
It was… satisfying.
Not like stealing a jutsu or slaughtering an intelligent threat, but still tangible success. The lieutenant had a floor. And a roof. Next step: a home.
Well, the next step was probably bathroom walls, but they needed more materials first.
The storm growled outside, a colossal predator prowling through the sky. There was a brief, barometric tilt as the atmosphere swung out of balance, and then the hammer-strike of lightning restoring order. Kakashi’s blood sang with echoes.
“So much for the storm being mostly over,” Genma said.
“Must be a squall line,” Raidou said. “Good test for the roof.”
The pressure fluctuated. Ryouma sneezed. Across the street, just visible through the rice paper windows, a white flash lanced down and struck something that exploded into sparks. The power blacked out.
Ryouma said, “That wasn’t me.”
Goto swore and thumped downstairs to check the fuse box hadn’t melted.
“I thought your speciality was rotting things, not electrocuting them,” Genma said. He raised a palmful of white light. “We can open the shutters on the north side. Sounds like the wind’s from the south.”
“What about candles?” Raidou suggested. “Or a generator.”
“Or glass windows,” Ryouma said. But he went readily to wrestle the shutters open. The old windows resisted him, sticking in their frames, but he managed to open a few before the wind banged them shut again.
“Glass windows before winter, definitely,” Genma said.
There was a small convenience store around the corner. Kakashi, as the only resident appreciator of a good storm, was volunteered for candle-fetching duty.
(“And snacks!” Ryouma yelled after him.)
He returned with several sturdy beeswax pillars, bottles of cold tea, onigiri for the famished, and the shopkeeper’s dour warning that someone had almost certainly hung themselves from the rafters and the warehouse was not fit to store shoes, let alone live in. Kakashi disliked her.
Goto reported that the fusebox had survived its brush with the storm. Once lit and installed, the candles added a cheery glow between looming shadows. Genma, in his most calm voice, decided the east corner would be the best place to install his shrine.
Pakkun informed the room, “It doesn’t smell haunted. More… moth-y.”
“Do you know what this was used for before silk?” Raidou asked Genma.
“I think they used to do silk production here, actually.” Genma took a long drink of tea, and pressed the cold bottle to his throat. “So maybe you smell the silkworms?”
“They boil silkworms in their cocoons to extract the silk. Maybe it’s the ghost of thousands of angry silkworms?” Ryouma said. He added ghoulishly, “Small and oozy and creeping over you...”
“Happy housewarming,” Kakashi said, and liberated an onigiri before Ryouma could take them all.
“Kuwa-himesama is the goddess of silk. She’s probably protecting this place already,” Genma said. He sounded completely sincere. “I’ll, uh, I’ll get some mulberry leaves for my shrine, or maybe a bonsai.”
Raidou wasn’t the first to blink, but he was the first to smile in the candlelight. “That’s a good plan.”
He sounded sincere, too.