This was a little something I decided to type out up response to a 'What Would You Do' question by Ronchellster in the Shirohebi entry. I decided to flesh out a few more details and re-post it here just in case the moderators think my reply in the Shirohebi entry is too long. I also wanted to acknowledge the part where the widowed Ryu visiting her husband's grave came from Regulus Lion's fic In My Memory
You are a hunter who got lost in the woods without food or drink for three days. After collapsing you wake up in a temple where you were treated by a Shirohebi to recover. One night you hear her talking to another about marriage, more specifically marriage between you. You are not ready to give up his bachelor life then you need to convince you that you can not get married.
What do you do?
"You're awake." I heard a voice call out.
The last thing I remember was traipsing around the woods, trying to cut a path through the forest and foothills that would circumvent the emperor's Customs house for a Gyoubu Danuki client who was interested in smuggling in contraband. She had given me an advance paid in gold the week before, but none of that mattered as I fell down an embankment and slammed my head against a rock on the way down.
I seemed to remember visions of a beautiful, pale angelic figure watching over me at times. But then again, I did fall from a considerable height and hit my head in the process, so that could possibly be explained away as the byproduct of head trauma.
My eyes fluttered open and I felt something brush up against my forehead. As my vision came back into focus, I found myself looking into the face of a beautiful woman with pale features as long, cascading white hair framed her face while she looked down on me with some concern. On the right side of her head, she wore a short side braid. Although perhaps my head was playing tricks on me, but it seemed as though her irises were reddish colored slits with an almost reptilian quality. Whoever she was, I realized that she had just used her forehead to take my temperature- not an entirely unpleasant experience.
"Good morning, Hunter-san." the beautiful woman said as she shyly withdrew from away me. "You've been asleep for quite awhile, but I'm glad to see you're up now."
"Wh-where am I?" I asked as I looked around the room. It was spacious but sparsely furnished. I apparently had been laying on a futon on the floor for some time. As she backed away, I noticed that she was wearing what looked like a silky white off-the-shoulder robe with what looked like serpentine patterns embroidered on it. The violet trimmed upper portion of the robe seemed as though it could barely contain her large breasts.
"You're in the temple along the lake. You were found in the mountains not far from here badly injured..." the woman explained. She moved away from me with an unusual gait- or at least that's what I first thought. Now that she was no longer next to me, I saw that she had the upper body of a beautiful young albino woman while her lower body was that of a pale serpent.
I recoiled involuntarily- I had never seen any of the lamia in person before. However, this albino lamia known as the shinohebi were known as servants of the Ryu dragon. Unlike other Mamono, they had a fairly kind and benevolent reputation and had been known to help travelers and farmers.
"If you're hungry, I could bring you something to eat...." the kindly and apparently shy shinohebi offered.
"Perhaps just a cup of water." I said absently.
She quietly nodded as she made her way out into what I assumed was a hallway. A few seconds later, I heard another female voice teasingly ask "Oooh- Your little pet is awake is he? When's the wedding, Yuki-chan?"
"It's in less than a month....the date's been set for awhile."
"Have you worked up the nerve to ask him yet, Yuki?" another voice asked my erstwhile savior. "Or will you back out?"
"I....I...." I heard her start hesitantly. "I will have him at my side for the wedding next month!" she declared loudly, although not sounding all that confident.
Upon hearing the disjointed mentions of a wedding from my Shirohebi savior, I decide to quietly gather my things and slip out the window of the room I'm staying in. For the first time, I get a good look at the immaculately maintained temple grounds. It appears to be on a small island or peninsula and the only readily visible way off the island is over a small footbridge arching over a narrow inlet, connecting the temple with the road to the nearby town.
As I make my way through a clearing on my way to the bridge, I hear a woman's voice- although it isn't the Shirohebi who had found me in the wilderness.
"It's been fifty years. I just want you to know.....I still love you" the melancholy voice said. After a moment's pause, it spoke up again. "Is somebody there?"
I emerge from the clearing to see a Ryu with shimmering emerald scales. Her upper body has the appearance of a voluptuous older woman with a beautiful, kindly face- one in her 40's or 50's but who is aging quite gracefully. She's wearing an off-the-shoulder pseudo kimono with a plunging neckline that's highlighting her very admirable bust. I take my eyes off her bust long enough to notice the single tear streaming down the side of her cheek. Before her is a simple marker that reads 'Rest in Peace, My Beloved' along with some flowers and gems.
"I'm so sorry...." I stammer. "I didn't mean to intrude..."
Wiping the tear from her face, she begins to look me up and down as though she recognizes me from somewhere. But despite my stumbling across a very private moment, the kindly Ryu doesn't seem particularly upset.
"You're the hunter who's been staying at the temple..." she said.
I nod. Poacher would've been more accurate. Plus an errand boy for the first Gyoubu Danuki to flash a few taels of gold in front of me.
"I hear one of the temple's maidens is quite taken with you. The shy one called Yukihebi." a warm smile played at the corner of her lips.
"Oh...uh....is that a fact?" I ask, attempting to play dumb. The look in her jade eyes clearly indicated that I wasn't fooling her.
"Why is that?" I ask.
"It may have something to do with your blue eyes and flaxen hair." the Ryu suggested coyly. "Such things are quite rare in Zipangu."
"I don't think I'm ready for something like this. I drink, I gamble...ask anyone in town- I'm a lecher and I have a nasty temper, plus I'm not much of a provider....."
"I imagine she's well aware of your flaws, young man, and she's still mad about you."
"What if......?" I sigh. "What if I agree to be with her but I only end up repaying her kindness by hurting her someday?"
The Ryu's eyes were downcast as she looked at the marker on her late husband's resting place. "There are no guarantees in life- it's true for Mamono as much as it is humans. If you're willing to give back even a fraction of the love and devotion Yukihebi expressed for you, then wouldn't you say its worth the risk?". It was becoming clear that the Ryu viewed the shy, busty Shirohebi maiden as a member of her own family.
"I...don't know....I'm just not ready for this..." I stammer as I begin to make a break for the footbridge.
"Young man!" she called out- not quite angry, but also indicating that she had started tapping the limited reserves of patience with me. "You are free to leave- none of us will keep you at the temple against your will. But what will you do when you get to town?"
"Let my friends know that I'm okay- maybe get some drinks at the tavern." I shrug.
"Perhaps flirt with the tavern's serving wenches or try and get one of the Mamono women to take you home?" she said bluntly, her voice tinged with disapproval.
"Most likely." I nod. "The rougher, the better."
"I see- and if something untoward happens to you again do you think that these any of these girls shall look after you, feed you and lovingly nurse you back to health like my servant did?"
There was no flippant, dismissive answer from me. The Ryu had me pinned in her now-stern gaze, well aware that there was no adequate reply forthcoming.
"How long was I out for?" I finally ask after fidgeting for what seems like hours.
"Seven days. Yukihebi hardly left your side the entire time..."
I was speechless. The albino, serpentine beauty had been doting over me for nearly a week, and I wasn't even conscious to appreciate it. Sensing she struck a nerve, the Ryu gracefully moved up to me, gliding a few inches on the ground.
"Before you leave, the absolute least you could do is thank Yukihebi for rescuing you." she said as she held out her elbow. I simply nodded absently as she and I walked back to the temple, arm-in-arm.
"You know her better than I do- what's she like? Yukihebi." I ask the stately Ryu as my savior's name rolls off my tongue.
"Yukihebi's very kind and loving and can see the good in anyone." she beamed as we climbed the steps at the front of the temple "She has a very caring, nurturing heart..."
I nod. She'd have to be if she was willing to tend the wounds of a stranger she found unconscious in the forest.
"She is a little bit shy and awkward, however. Some of the other maidens joke that she keeps accidentally knocking vases and bottles off of shelves and onto the floor with her big boobs." the Ryu chuckled.
"Really? I hadn't noticed......" I said, absently referring to the property damage others attributed to the busty shirohebi's assets.
"Mm-hmm" the Ryu said skeptically. "...and she also has a pretty sizeable collection of illustrated yuri books that she thinks I don't know about. Maybe she'll let you have a look."
My jaw dropped as the Ryu slid open the front doors to the temple. I wasn't sure if she said that to see if I was paying attention or if the demure white serpent girl was in fact a connoisseur of illustrations with an emphasis on girl-girl action.
"Yukihebi!" the Ryu called out. The serpent girl was sweeping the adjacent hallway and emerged from around the corner. "Our guest was getting ready to leave, but he wanted to say something before he went on his way."
"Miss Yukihebi..." I blurted out. Instead of bowing while standing, I got down on one knee and bowed my head as I stood before the pale serpent girl. "Thank you so very much for finding me and nursing me back to health! I appreciate everything you've done for me...."
Despite a warm smile from the beautiful shirohebi, a look of disappointment was etched on her face, knowing that I was getting ready to leave. After looking at her beautiful but crestfallen countenance, I averted my gaze to the floor. My stomach was doing cartwheels and my heart was beating like a set of war drums.
"Miss Yukihebi....I....I must take my leave and tend to some matters in the village." I stammered, still looking at the floor. "But..." I paused, my mouth drying up. "But I would consider it an honor if you were to join me for some tea or an early lunch."
Nobody said anything for a few agonizing moments before I realized the Ryu was standing behind me. I turned to her and said "....If that's OK with you".
The elegant and gentle Ryu stifled a giggle. "Take the rest of the day off, Yukihebi. I insist."
It was the pale, beautiful ophidian girl's turn to bow.
"Thank you, Ryu-sama!" she said deferentially. I looked into Yukihebi's eyes and the forlorn, disappointed expression was gone. The albino beauty averted her gaze and was starting to blush. I held out my hand and she gently clasped it. I'm pretty sure I was grinning ear-to-ear when I took the shirohebi by the hand through the temple's front doorway.
"Young man!" the Ryu called out as we walked past. "I shall require some fresh fruit from the marketplace while you're in town..." she handed me two taels of silver- probably ten times what was necessary for the stated purpose. The Ryu knew enough that I wouldn't have much in the way of money after being laid up for a week in the temple. "This is for any incidental expenditures while you're out, and I would also greatly appreciate it if you could escort Yukihebi home by sunset."
"Y-y-y...yes ma'am." I stammered. The Ryu also handed Yukihebi a white parasol to take with her.
I walked arm-in-arm with Yukihebi across the footbridge into town, although I could've just as easily floated. The busty white serpent-girl was jauntily carrying the parasol in her other hand.
"I must apologize- Lady Ryu said you took such excellent care of me after you brought me back to the temple, but I don't remember anything since I was unconscious most of the time."
"Ryu-sama is being too kind..." Yukihebi said meekly. "The fact is I had help from the other maidens at the temple as well."
"I hope I wasn't too difficult a patient..." I said with a jaunty smile.
This drew an unexpected reaction as the albino serpent-girl sized me up with her earnest red eyes.
"I was afraid you were going to die the first night. When I was treating your injuries, you reached out, touched my face and told me "If I'm to die tonight, please let your face be the last thing I see on this world and kept calling me an angel. I was so worried I'd lose you...." she paused. "Even though you wouldn't respond, I held your hand, sang to you and talked to you throughout the night before your condition stabilized."
I nearly froze in my tracks, astonished not only at how close to death's doorstep I had been, but the lengths my kindly serpentine benefactor said that she had gone through while nursing me. Apparently all it took for me to be eloquent in the presence of a beautiful woman was to be semiconscious and on the brink of death.
"Just my luck to be serenaded by a beautiful Mamono and not being able to remember a thing." I lamented out loud.
"You....you really think I'm beautiful?"
"Only when you blush.....like now, for instance"
The pale, gentle Mamono said nothing, but instead switched the hands with which she was carrying the parasol, tilting it at just enough of an angle where I could no longer see her blushing face. However, I did catch traces of a satisfied grin on her lips as the two of us continued walking into town.
Over lunch, the shy, sweet and beautiful shirohebi brought up the wedding- much to my chagrin.
"I don't know how to say this..." Yukihebi said, fidgeting as the waitress brought her a plate full of fresh sliced cantaloupe. "But there will be a wedding coming up very soon..." I almost spat out the juice I was drinking as soon as I heard wedding and could only listen in stunned silence.
"What...what I'm trying to say is..." she drew her hand closer to her heart, drawing attention towards her outfit and how much like the Ryu, it highlighted her ample bust. "This wedding.....I would like you there with me. No...I NEED you by my side for this ceremony!" she blurted out.
"Y-Yukihebi....I don't know what to say..." I heard myself say. An image of the smirking Ryu flashed in my mind's eye as I fought the urge to pound the table and yell "Damn that buxom con-woman!". I'd been had. All those soothing words about devotion and nurturing from her....no doubt just a ruse to pressure me into marrying her clingiest lamia subordinate.
However, Yukihebi's face grew redder as she continued speaking.
"My sister is getting married next month....and I don't want to go without a date!" she lamented. "But it's my big sister...and I can't just skip her wedding...." she reached across the table and clasped my right hand.
"Will you PLEASE be my date to my sister's wedding?" Yukihebi pleaded.
It dawned on me that she must've been talking to one of the other temple maidens about asking me to accompany her to her sister's wedding. With me drifting in and out of consciousness at the time, I likely only overheard a few fragments and assumed she wanted to marry me after nursing me back to health.
I could barely stifle a laugh, which seemed to confuse and annoy the beautiful, cream-complexioned serpent girl. I shouldn't have doubted the Ryu's sincerity, either.
Not wanting to string along the shy, beautiful shirohebi any further, I lifted my goblet in a toasting gesture.
"Miss Yukihebi.....I would be honored."