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[X] Follow him into the mist. You can't afford to lose him!
Youmu chases as fast as she can, but she only barely keeps up with the bandaged swordsman. The two speed through the misty Netherworld, leaving the ghouls, ghosts, and the rest of the battle behind them. The sounds of combat fade away, leaving an eerie silence around the area. She hears nothing but their light footsteps as they make their way through the mist. The half-ghost shivers slightly when she notices their destination.
They are headed straight for the Saigyou Ayakashi.
Suddenly, Vincent stops running. They are only a short distance from the cursed tree. The half-ghost pauses to catch her breath. He doesn't turn around. Instead, he turns to the side, peering deep into the shadows.
"W-why?" she says. "Why did you lead me here?"
The bandaged swordsman doesn't say anything. Someone else answers in his stead.
"Just as planned. Very useful little human~"
The mist around Youmu starts glowing an eerie blue. She gasps in surprise when she looks down. All around her are intricate etchings on the ground. Light passes along the strange symbols and markings, forming a large circle of seals. The center of the circle seems to be directly underneath her.
A cloaked figure reveals itself from the mist, landing lightly beside Vincent. Without a word, the bandaged swordsman kneels before the newcomer. The girl pats him on the head fondly.
"I see that you didn't damage her," she says to him. "You did well. That's a good human~"
The girl pauses to look at the half-ghost. Even with the hood on, Youmu can clearly see a toothy smile form on the girl's lips.
"Now I can complete my collection~"
The sealing circle glows even brighter, engulfing the surroundings in blue light. The half-ghost closes her eyes and braces herself for the worst. She curses at herself in her last moment. She should have seen that this was a trap.
Then, the light starts to dim. Youmu opens her eyes. Then, she examines herself. After finding no visible injury, she checks her ghost half as well. No damage. Wait.. nothing happened?
"Huh? Why didn't it work?" says the cloaked figure. "I followed all of the instructions! I don't think I missed anything. What did I do wrong?"
The girl rummages through the dress under her cloak. As she searches for something, the half-ghost notices that the stranger has one.. no, two tails. But before she can confirm anything else, the cloaked girl pulls out an odd item. It looks like a small black book.
"Soul sealing... soul sealing... where was it, again?"
After a few moments, the girl sighs to herself and pockets the item again.
"Ah, forget it! Once the ritual is complete, I'll be able to collect everything I ever wanted! This will be an incident that not even those two troublesome humans can stop! I'll have more than enough new toys!"
She raises her hand and points it straight at Youmu.
"I can afford to break this one," she cries. "Destroy the half-ghost!"
The bandaged swordsman stands up and turns around. He pauses only for a moment. Then, he draws his sword. The half-ghost readies herself.
This may be her last attack.
[ ] Strike with Roukanken.
[ ] Strike with Hakurouken.
Vincent slowly opens his eyes. He blinks curiously at his surroundings. Where is this? All around him are dead trees and swampland. Everything is enveloped in gray fog and darkness, and it takes a few moments for his eyes to adjust. The sun shines high above him, but the thick mist turns its brightness into an eerie glow, not unlike a bad moon. Huh? A bad moon?
"Very good, little human~"
Someone ruffles his hair fondly.
"After you finish up here," she says. "Come to the ritual site. There are still a few others who might interrupt the sacrifice."
He turns around quickly, but the owner of the voice is already walking away. A cloaked figure he doesn't recognize steps into the thick fog and vanishes before he can respond. Suddenly, his eyes are drawn to something larger. A silhouette of a gigantic cherry tree towers over him. Its huge branches are leafless and barren, yet it glows an eerie purple as he watches. Hundreds.. no, thousands of wispy things are swirling around it.
"What.. is that?" he manages.
Something metal hits the ground. Vincent turns around. A long, dangerous looking sword lies carelessly. Someone is standing a few yards nearby. A familiar face. He sighs in relief.
"Youmu? Is that you?"
The half-ghost doesn't turn around. Puzzled, he starts walking closer to her.
"Hey! What's going on? Who was that just now?"
Still no answer. Something doesn't feel right. He starts running toward the girl.
"Are you okay?"
Vincent grabs her shoulder gently. She slowly turns her head. Then, the half-ghost grins.
"You're back," she whispers.
"Back? When did I -"
He doesn't finish the sentence. Crimson. His eyes are immediately drawn to the crimson. The bright red contrasts harshly against the green and white. The half-ghost starts to lose her balance, but he catches her in his arms. More crimson starts to stain the ground.
"Youmu!" he cries out.
The half-ghost continues bleeding from a large stab wound in her stomach. The amount of blood that is flowing out is alarming. This is most certainly a fatal blow. Who could have done such a horrible -
"W-what the -"
Then, he notices it. In his other hand is a weapon that is only too familiar to him. His longsword forged from blessed steel looks exactly as he remembers it. Except for one thing.
It was dripping blood.
He drops the weapon as if it burns. Did he just -
"I-I'm going to get you some help!" he cries. "Just hang on! Everything will be -"
The half-ghost raises her hand and covers his mouth.
"Good to see you again, Vincent."
She is smiling at him. Even in this dire situation, she smiles. He says nothing and forces a smile back. Slowly, she puts her other sword in his hand. She wraps her hand around his as she tightens his grip around it.
[ ] Go after the cloaked figure. [ ] Stay with her.
[ ] Custom
With that being the case, losing her human side will basically free her of her position along side with forcing her possibly to "move on' essentially. A bad end (not in the sense of a "gameover") but basically, we fucked up and got perhaps on the path of one of the worst endings possible.
Unfortunately I doubt we'll have a second run to try again to go for the best/true end but it was enjoyable while it lasted.
but hey if by some chance we manage to figure out a good enough answer to change it for the better endings then great; however I'm skeptical of the typical anon figuring it out, myself included in not being able to figure it out. Sorry for the pessimism, been having a bad day.
Loading User Commands:
[X] Stay with her.
Vincent quickly puts the sword down and examines Youmu's wound. He rips off his sleeve to use the cloth as a makeshift bandage. Then, he puts constant pressure on the wound in an attempt to slow down the bleeding. His head throbs painfully as he tries to think. He doesn't have any medicine or tools, and he has no idea where he is.
"I'm sorry!" he whispers. "I'm so sorry! W-what have I done?"
Youmu smiles weakly.
"It's only a flesh wound. Don't worry about me. You have to -"
She chokes for a moment, coughing blood. Vincent gently holds her up until she recovers.
"Don't speak!" he cries. "Once the bleeding stops, I'll take you back! I'll find someone who can help you! Just rest and -"
She slowly looks down, examining her wound. Then, she shakes her head.
"This is a fatal injury. I never thought that a human could do so much damage. You really are amazing, Vincent."
The half-ghost looks up at him. Then, she shoves her sword into his hand once more. She wraps his fingers around it tightly with her own.
"You have to stop that girl," she whispers. "Protect Lady Yuyuko.. save everyone.."
"What are you saying? I need to get you to a hospital! Just give me a few seconds to think and we'll -"
She chokes again, coughing up even more blood.
"No more... time," she whispers weakly. "Please... I have... tell you..."
He stays silent as she speaks.
Her lips quiver weakly.
The half-ghost closes her eyes, as if to sleep. Her body becomes completely motionless. She lets go of him, leaving her precious weapon in his hand.
Slowly, he lowers his head and plants a gentle kiss on her lips. She does not respond.
A single tear rolls down his cheek.
Vincent sheathes his blade. He does not know the way back. He has no reason to go back. There is nothing left for him in this world or the next.
Before him is one last path.
[ ] Take Youmu's sword and go after the girl.
[ ] Say a prayer for the half-ghost.
[ ] Give up and despair.
[ ] Custom
I wouldn't feel good if we just give up on her like that. If we can't use the coin due to plot restrictions, and helping her further or rolling back is not possible, then at least we should spend a moment to pray for her soul.
You can only take so many BUT IT WAS A DREAM OR MAYBE NOT!!!1!1 tweests, youmukillings, SUDDENLY HE'S A BAD GUY NO WAIT HE WAS POSSESSED scenes, and just general not knowing what the fuck is going on or being able to work shit out before you just get sick of the run-around.
I might come read it when it's finished, but I'm sick of this story.
>>19687 Yes, you should. It doesn't even have anything to do with this.
In retrospect a lot of the madness (the warping of Vincent's memories and dreams) could have easily been avoided had he allowed Youmu to use the Hakurouken right at the very beginning. Vincent would have possibly seen Chen working in secret or something else all together.
All would'ves, could'ves, what ifs etcetera, doesn't change the fact that if take into great scrutiny, it makes sense.
Perhaps like Jacob's Ladder for lack of a better thing to compare this cyoa to. A better comparison is welcomed.
That whole thing kinda reminds me of Jayle's recruitment in Valkyrie Profile since her captain whom she fell in love with ends up killing her when he was bewitched, and after he realized what he did, he goes after the mastermind with extreme vengeance
Loading User Commands:
[X] Take Youmu's sword and go after the girl.
Vincent runs through the gray mist without stopping. Not once does he turn back, not once does he hesitate. His eyes are cold and determined. His mind is clear as day. There is only one path.
In his left hand, he holds the blade that the half-ghost left with him. Even if it is still sheathed, he feels a strong spiritual energy coming from it. It feels warm in his hands. He does not fully understand it, but instinctually, he knows that this weapon holds an otherworldly power.
In his right hand, he holds his own sword. It feels different from before. Somehow, he knows that this weapon could now slash through any opponent, mortal and immortal alike. A cold weapon that does not distinguish between friend and foe, the things it cannot cut are next to none.
Vincent stops abruptly. The great barren cherry tree is only a short distance away, thousands of wisps circling it slowly. Even from this distance, he recognizes what they are.
"Souls," he whispers darkly.
An ominous sight, indeed. Nothing else grows in its shadows, not even a single blade of grass. The soil around the tree is black as night, and the mist itself thins toward the center, as if afraid to approach. Slow and cautious, he walks around the perimeter of the unholy cherry tree. He does not discover anything unusual until he reaches the back.
A large circle of cursed seals and candles. Symbols and markings used by dark sorcerors. Strange totems and statues standing silently among the shadows. Stains of blood and ink alike.
There is no doubt that this place is the center of this black magic. There seems to be no one else here. However, at the center of the circle is a small figure. He walks closer. That shape is familiar. Wait, isn't that -
"Chen!?" he says quietly.
Bound in chains and dark seals, the nekomata girl lies unconscious on the ground. But before he can do anything else, he hears footsteps.
Someone else is coming.
[ ] Free her immediately.
[ ] Try to wake her.
[ ] This is a trap.
[ ] Custom
Someone is coming...
[ ] Wait patiently.
[ ] Call out to them.
[ ] Hide in the shadows.
[ ] Custom
[X] N/A (I don't think it's a trap, but in order to hide effectively, I can't wake her up or try to free her because the first would make my presence known and the second would simply take too much time)
[X] Hide in the shadows.
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[X] Free her immediately.
Vincent does not hesitate. Trap or not, he can't just leave her like this. Chen is a precious friend. He must protect her. He must protect everyone. She would have done the same.
"Hang on, Chen," he mutters.
He draws his own blade and skillfully slices the chains and seals apart. They come off easily. In the next moment, he carefully examines the unconscious girl. She doesn't seem to have any injuries, but he can't wake her. No response even when he shakes her or cries out. Was she under some kind of spell?
"Oh! Are you going to do something to that innocent girl? So naughty~"
He turns around in surprise. The cloaked girl is standing only a short distance away. Slowly, she lowers her hood. Then, she takes a moment to fix her hair before smiling at him.
"That was a clever move," she says. "I never thought that you could protect the half-ghost from my influence. It took me a while to understand what had happened. Very clever human indeed~"
Vincent pauses to take a better look. The girl has fiery red hair tied into twin braids with black ribbons. Her eyes are red as well, in contrast to her black and green dress. Around her back is a cloak marked with strange symbols and intricate designs. Upon her head are a pair of black cat ears, and two different tails poke out from under her dress. Another nekomata? Who was this person?
"Even now, I still can't control her spirit. So disappointing... I really wanted that half-ghost's soul! Those are really rare, you know?"
He slowly lowers Chen to the ground. Then, he draws out Youmu's sword with his other hand. He readies himself to attack with both weapons. But before he could do so, the girl starts giggling.
"How did little human break free from the spell, I wonder~"
She lands on the ground and starts walking closer. Several blue balls of flame pop out from the darkness and start circling her.
"Very interesting," she says. "I think I'll play with you, first. Such an amusing little human, thinking he can stand against me~"
Vincent grits his teeth. He can sense an immense power from this girl, unlike anything he has felt before.
"Why so quiet? Cat got your tongue~"
She seems so confident. Does he even stand a chance?
"It won't be much fun if we begin the Festival of Corpses right away. Don't you have anything to say, little human? I'll even answer your questions if you like~"
Select up to three. [ ] "Who are you?"
[ ] "Festival of Corpses?"
[ ] "Protect the half-ghost?"
[ ] "What did you do to me?"
[ ] "What happened to Yuyuko?"
[ ] "What are you going to do with Chen?"
[ ] "You were behind everything?"
[ ] "Why are you doing this?"
[ ] Ask a different question. (Custom)
[ ] Enough talk. Time to end this.
Vincent unknowingly protected Youmu due to the fact that he had already sealed/binded her to the skull that was brought over from the other side. This possibly interfered with Orin's attempts to control Youmu much like what may have happened to Yuyuko.
We can also assume now that Orin had been behind the attacks with the ghouls/undead as well as possibly manipulating Yuyuko as well as Vincent which begs some certain questions but they'll have to wait In preparation for this festival.
We can probably as well assume Yuyuko is still battling Remilia and Earl, possibly Komachi already catching up to them.
Yes I know assumptions are probably the worst one can make in a rather dire situation, but it just seem to make sense for this anon.
And so with my vote.
[X]What is the purpose of this so-called "Festival of Corpse"?
[X]Why Chen, why not some other youkai, why Chen?
[X]What do you stand to gain from all the suffering you've wrought?
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[X] "What are you going to do with Chen?"
[X] "Why are you doing this?"
"What are you going to do with Chen?" says Vincent. "She has nothing to do with any of this!"
"Oh, that girl?" she says. "I just needed a vessel of suitable spiritual power and strength. She does not look it, but Chen has immense potential for a youkai. Not unlike myself.."
Vincent looks around at the ritual site. He has seen this before in the past. An unholy ceremony that calls upon the darkness. He tightens his grip on his weapons.
"You were going... to sacrifice her!?"
"Sacrifice? That's such a strong word. I was just going to borrow her pure youkai spirit for a little bit~"
The girl smiles innocently.
"Once I have broken the seal on the Saigyou Ayakashi, the Netherworld's most powerful evil spirits would be unleashed upon this world. With those under my control, I would undoubtedly become the strongest in Gensokyo!"
He grits his teeth. He has seen this lust of power in the past. This person, without a doubt, was one of them.
"A necromancer," he whispers. "But why? Why are you doing this?"
"That stupid Okuu isn't the only one who can create an incident! I'll show you surface dwellers why our kind is to be feared! A great darkness shall sweep across this land. Every living soul shall be my servant, and every dead one my slave!"
She pauses solemnly.
"Then maybe, Master will finally praise me and acknowledge my -"
She suddenly covers her mouth, as if she has said too much. But this lasts only a moment. Soon, a malevolent smile forms upon her face.
"Why? What a silly question, little human. Because it's fun, of course~"
Vincent readies his weapons. The time for talk is finished. He does not understand everything, but one thing is clear. He has no interest in saving this person. No longer will he hesitate in drawing his blades. No longer will he strike at the enemy with honor and justice. No longer will he hold back and show mercy.
He utters no battle cry. He does not scream in anger or hatred. He sheds no tear in sorrow. There are no tears left. Only one coherent thought remains in his mind. Without another word, he rushes at the demon cat, both blades already drawn.
"So energetic, fufu~"
She stretches her arm and points at him. In an instant, a dozen of the blazing spirits fly off toward him. He does not waver. With the two swords, he slashes away the evil as it approaches. The girl smiles, as if amused. Another volley of cursed fire comes at him. He carefully avoids the attack without slowing his approach. A few of the shots pass dangerously close, grazing his side painfully. But that doesn't matter. He is close enough now. Vincent lunges at the girl with both weapons. In the next moment, he swings his sword with killing intent. Flesh, bone and darkness, there is nothing that this blade cannot cut down.
However, his sword does not cut anything.
"Naughty human~" says a voice from above.
Without warning, several skeletal arms break out from the ground and grasp at his legs. Their undead grip is strong and relentless. No matter how hard he tries to pull away, he cannot free himself. He slashes away at them, but even more take their place.
"Very fast, this one is. But not for long~"
The girl points at him once more. This time, a single blue spark pops out. Only a little bigger than a candle flame, it flies toward him leisurely. Vincent continues struggling, but it is futile. Before he can react, the little blue fire is already floating in front of his face. He cries out in surprise. Then, his eyes widen in horror as the flame flies straight into his mouth and down his throat.
Vincent cries out in pain. It burns! It burns! It burns! He can feel the flame tearing him apart from the inside, slowly and painfully. The pain is too much. He drops his weapons and crumples down on the ground, grasping at his throat and stomach. His screams echo throughout the desolate swampland. After a several excruciating moments, he hears the girl sigh loudly.
"Tch! How disappointing!"
The girl snaps her fingers. The skeletal arms release his legs and retreat back into the ground. The burning pain from within slowly vanishes, leaving him coughing and choking as he tries to recover. She lands on the ground and starts walking toward him. He can barely move, much less escape.
"Pretty weak without my power, aren't you? It's a pity. You had a lot of potential as a medium. In fact, you still do~"
She stands right in front of Vincent. The girl ruffles his hair fondly.
"Why don't you accept me as your master?" she says. "I could make you my familiar, if you choose."
"Now, don't be like that. I'm just trying to give you a second chance. No point in wasting such a talented -"
Before she can finish, Vincent swings at her. Her eyes widen in surprise. His fist unceremoniously connects with her face. Without giving her time to react, he punches her again with his other arm. He screams in anger as he continues pounding the girl's head. Blood splatters on his face, but he pays it no mind. He keeps attacking, smashing his fists upon her head. Sounds of flesh breaking and bones breaking, but he pays them no heed.
"Haa... haa... haaa..."
He doesn't know how long it took. In the end, he only stopped due to sheer exhaustion. She isn't moving anymore. Slowly, he stands himself up and begins walking away from the corpse. It is over. All he needs to do now is get Chen to safety and -
He stops in his tracks and turns around. The corpse stands herself up and wipes the dust and blood off her face. Except that it wasn't a corpse yet. The girl stood before him, her face completely regenerated.
"Humans are so weak. I even let you take a free shot at me, and this is all you can do?"
The girl stands in front of him. She doesn't look amused. Before he can respond, she vanishes. In the next moment, he feels something grab his neck. He blinks. The girl has already lifted him up the ground with one hand, choking him effortlessly.
"I don't even have to use my powers to break you. I can tear you apart with my bare hands, ahaha~"
She tosses him several yards away as if he were a rag doll. He lands painfully on the ground. The girl starts walking closer. He struggles to crawl away. But it's futile. She is already beside him. He cringes in fear. He can't fight back. He can't fight a monster like her. He can feel her running her hands along his left arm. Her sharp nails scratch painfully as she examines him.
"Interesting," she says. "Your joints are just like a doll's. I wonder what happens if I -"
She lets go. He hits the ground hard.
"Oops. I guess I might have broken something. How careless, ahahaha~"
The girl's laughter is almost as painful as his body.
"Well, I'm done playing here. I better finish the ritual now. Die quietly, little human~"
She starts walking back toward the sealing circle. Chen lies helplessly, still unconscious. No. No. No! This isn't right. This isn't right! This can't be right. This can't be the end. It can't just end like this! It won't end like this. He won't let it end like this!
Slowly, Vincent forces himself up. No voices in his head, this time. Only his own. With one single jerking movement, he realigns his dislocated shoulder.
The pain is intense. He bites his lip and stays silent. She doesn't realize that he can still move. This is his chance. If only he had a weapon.
Something lands nearby. He doesn't stop to think. His hands quickly recover the item.
[ ] A warm blade that holds a promise
[ ] A cold blade that holds a grudge
Enough of this passive bullshit.
Continuing to fight our inner demons won't bring Youmu back. To protect what little we have left, we cannot afford mercy. Even if we should lose ourselves, we'll have our vengeance.
Loading User Commands:
[X] A warm blade that holds a promise
Vincent takes the weapon into his hands. He feels its warmth upon the tips of his fingers. Closing his eyes, he can almost remember the half-ghost's gentle smile.
> "Protect Lady Yuyuko... save everyone.."
He grits his teeth as he forces himself up. The pain is excruciating, but he can't die here. Not yet. Not until he has kept his promise. He tightens his grip on the katana. It begins to glow, as if it has a life of its own. This weapon does not feel alien at all in his hands, despite having never trained with this type of blade before. For some reason, he feels that he can use it.
"Ah, creating more corpses is so much more fun!"
The cheerful necromancer sings to herself as she prepares the ritual. This is his chance. Ignoring the pain, he dashes toward the girl. Moving with inhuman speed, Vincent closes in. However, when he gets to the girl, she vanishes once more. In her place, something humanoid bursts out from the ground. He stops in his tracks and readies himself.
"Naughty human can still move? Good job! Good job! Ahahaha~"
He looks up. The girl is hovering high up in the air, out of range of his sword techniques.
"But I'm a little out of your league. Perhaps you should play with this one, instead~"
Vincent stares at the creature she summoned. It seems to be a well-built man dressed in the regal battle uniform of medieval Europe. He has long flowing hair, and an odd headband tied upon his head. His handsome face is calm and expressionless. The color of his face and skin is a startling white, and an ominous white aura is visible around him. Despite his human appearance, Vincent can tell that this person isn't properly alive. Then, he notices something oddly familiar about him. His eyes widen in horror.
In the dead man's hands is a heavy and dangerous whip.
"Oh shit," he mutters aloud.
In the next second, the man rushes forward and leaps high into the air. His whip unfurls at full length and smashes the ground with incredible force, leaving a large crack where it struck. Vincent barely manages to avoid this first attack. He pauses to think. He definitely isn't prepared to battle someone like him.
"D-die, you monster!" he cries out.
Yet, he has to try.
Vincent can't move anymore. That last hit must have broken several ribs.
"Awwww! Is it over already?"
Slowly, he opens his eyes. The necromancer girl has already landed. She mutters a few words in the cursed language. In an instant, the form of the legendary hunter dissolves into dust. Then, she pauses to take something from the pile of dirt. It looks like a single playing card.
"I guess you really are just another weak human," she says with a sigh. "You couldn't even defeat a badly made copy like this one. How pathetic!"
"Too bad. Good bye then, little human~"
She snaps her fingers. A wall of blue flames forms in a circle around him. The searing heat burns painfully, yet the actual damage is slow. Is she planning to cook him alive? The bright flames force his eyes shut. Seeing only the darkness, he becomes even more aware of his surroundings. If this continues, he will definitely die. But what else can he do? She is right. It is foolish for a human to face the powerful creatures of the night. He isn't going to save Chen. He isn't going to save anyone.
The cloaked girl raises a dagger close to Chen's chest. She licks her lips excitedly.
"And now, let's carve the last of it right here~"
Suddenly, the entire field is filled with blinding light. The necromancer drops the dagger to shield her eyes. Then, she feels a burning sensation around her. She yelps in pain as she retreats several yards from the ritual circle. Slowly, the light grows dim. She hisses angrily.
"W-what was that?" she cries out. "That really hurt! You're going to pay dearly for -"
"Not yet. We aren't finished yet."
Her eyes widen in surprise. Stepping out from the wall of blue flames is a familiar face.
"You again? I'm sure that I've killed you at least twice already! Damn, persistent little human!"
Vincent takes a few steps toward her.
"I'll give you one last chance," he whispers darkly. "Give yourself up."
"Huh? Are you stupid or something? What can you possibly do against my power?"
Vincent continues walking closer.
"I don't remember everything. But I remember this last trick."
Then, he drives the katana deep into the ground. He kneels down and clasps his hands in prayer. Slowly, the dead swamp is filled with an unusual azure glow.
"W-what are you doing?" cries the girl.
He continues chanting the sacred words. She takes a step back.
"Human Sign, 「A Mortal's Resolve」"
For a single moment, the whole area is engulfed in blue light. The girl covers her eyes and ducks in fear. Then, a few seconds later, she opens her eyes. She immediately checks herself for injuries. No damage. She stands up and starts laughing at him.
"Was that it? Was that your secret technique? Ahahahaha!"
"Well, I can't say that it wasn't fun. I almost regret that I have to end this game now."
Vincent pulls out the katana and starts walking towards her.
"Good bye, little human~"
She raises her hand like before. Then, something unexpected happened. Or rather, something unexpected did not happen.
She raises both of her hands and chants spell commands loudly as he approaches. Still nothing.
"W-wait a minute! This isn't right!"
Vincent is getting closer. She quickly tries to fly into the air, but only manages to hop on the ground a few times.
"W-what's going on? Why can't I cast spells? Why can't I fly"
He smiles darkly.
[This is the one thing that monsters fear most.]
"Strange, isn't it?" says the ghost hunter. "How does it feel to be a human?"
"H-human? Y-you've gotta be kidding!"
Vincent closes his eyes and focuses on the katana. He can feel its energy flow through him.
"Umm... y-you wouldnt really hurt a girl, would you?"
He smiles cheerfully at her.
"Delusion Terminating Sword, 「Rising from the Shore of Delusion」"
Vincent opens his eyes. Wispy white clouds float lazily along the peaceful azure above. The sun peeks out from between them, shining pleasantly above. The sunshine warmth is gentle and reassuring. He smiles. This isn't so bad. Slowly, he closes his eyes.
[Yep, this isn't so bad at all.]
[This place is quite nice, isn't it?]
[A peaceful solace from the world.]
He opens his eyes. The voice came from behind him. But as he sits up, the first thing he notices is the field. All around him are gentle hills full of wild grasses and flowers. He finds himself lost in the view. This place is beautiful. Too perfect for anything he has seen before. Did this mean that he is already...
Vincent sighs to himself. Yet upon his face is a smile.
"I guess that I screwed up back there. But it really isn't so bad."
[It's a nice place.]
"At least I met a lot of interesting people, and I did a lot of interesting things. I have my regrets, of course. But it could have gone worse. At least I kept my promise."
"Well, I tried, anyway. Couldn't remember what happened after that last technique, but if that hit it would have hurt pretty bad."
[... I suppose that's true.]
"So, are you here to guide me around?"
[Forget it. Too much of a bother.]
"Not much of an angel, are you. Figures."
[I'm not an angel, you idiot.]
Vincent slowly turns to the owner of the voice. Before him stands a well-built man in a regal battle uniform. Upon his clothes are countless royal crests, spell insignia and holy symbols. At his waist is a long scabbard with sheathed European longsword. The man's face is familiar.
It is his own.
[Don't look so surprised.]
"You... knew all this time?"
[There are some things that a person can't forget, even if they want to.]
"But, I can't remember a thing!"
[Of course you can't. I only exist in this place.]
"Will you tell me who I really am?"
The man in uniform looks at Vincent thoughtfully before speaking.
[Nah, too troublesome. There are some memories that you don't need to remember.]
[Besides, aren't you happy as you are right now?]
"What do you mean?"
The man sighs and shakes his head.
[Figure it out yourself. In any case, your time here is almost over.]
"Huh? Wait! What are you talking about?"
[Make sure that you take care of yourself out there. It's my self as well, you know.]
[I'm leaving it to you, 'Vincent'.]
The man slowly starts walking away. Before Vincent can respond, everything fades to black.
Loading User Commands:
[X] Head to the dining room.
Vincent arrives at the dining room without incident. He glances around. There seems to be no one else in the room. Upon the table is a simple breakfast for one person. He makes his way to his seat and examines the food. Looks like it is still warm. He lays down his weapon beside him and takes a seat.
He takes a pair of chopsticks, but he doesn't start eating. Instead, he starts staring idly at the ceiling for a few minutes.
"I know you're there. Show yourself," he says without turning his head.
The newcomer's head pops out from the table. He stares at it blankly.
"Don't do that," says Vincent. "It's really creepy, and I can't get to the food."
"Ara? But it isn't it fine if you have me, instead~"
"Please don't phase through my breakfast."
The pink haired girl pouts as she reluctantly steps in view. She takes a seat beside him. He opens his mouth to object, but then he changes his mind and says nothing. Vincent quietly starts eating. The ghost princess just watches him.
Vincent finishes eating his meal in relative peace. Not a word is spoken. He glances at Yuyuko. She only smiles a little in return. The silence is unnerving. After a few minutes, Vincent clears his throat.
"I'm sorry," he whispers.
"So..have you come to take my soul?"
Yuyuko stands up and steps behind him. Gently, she embraces him from behind. He gasps in surprise. She feels so warm, as if she isn't a ghost at all. He can feel her tighten her grip. For some reason, he feels himself calm down in her arms.
"I can't," she whispers.
She holds him for a few more moments before letting go.
"I can't take something that already belongs to me~"
Vincent sighs heavily. Even without looking, he knows that she is laughing softly behind his back.
Just seems awkward that Yuyuko, of all beings, appear almost nonchalant about the recent events. While moping doesn't do much good for anyone at all, dead or alive, it just seems weird that things are way too peaceful all of a sudden.
Besides if Vincent wants to take it easy, fresh air would be more suitable than being cooped up inside.
>"So..have you come to take my soul?"
>"I can't take something that already belongs to me~"
inb4 Vincent takes responsibility as replacement retainer, though not sure about his gardening abilities. Okay I doubt that's the case but still.
>>19931 I'm more referring to the prospect of having one less person to speak to rather than the actual death of someone. What with Youmu possibly moving on rather than sticking around as a full ghost rather than half ghost.
But with her response it just seems as if it's no big deal.
Either she knows something most likely or is in denial Most unlikely but the possibility is there
>>19945 Unless Yuyuko knows something and Vincent/anon is BAWWWWwwwing for nothing. If that's not it, then I suppose all she can really do is 'take it easy' as there's nothing else to do but that in her case, maybe Vincent's as well; considering her last bit about his soul.
tide pissing games, and if she's willing to hold him, why not? That and that last bit about his soul? well perhaps through his actions while mind controlled might have lead to that. Better in her hands than Orin's.
Vincent slowly pushes the ghost princess' hand away. He gives her a sad smile.
"Sorry," he says. "I can't take it easy like this."
Yuyuko sighs. Then, without warning, she gives him a tight hug. Her warmth is pleasant, though the lack of a heart beat is unnerving. A moment later, he notices something odd. He can feel her shivering in his arms. He can't see her face.
He has no words to say. They just stay like that for a few more seconds. Finally, he pulls away from her. Yuyuko reluctantly lets go, and when he looks at her, she has a strained smile on her face.
"I have to go," he says.
Vincent turns around and steps away from her. He leaves the room without looking back. She doesn't follow.
Suddenly, he hears something crash loudly from the direction of the gardens. The ground rumbles with the impact. With his weapon in hand, Vincent quickly runs off to investigate.
"Finally, we meet again. But watch out this time! I'm a totally new shikigami now!"
"Looks like you're havin' fun, sis! Mind if I join ya?"
Flying high above the gardens are two small figures. On the right is Chen. She has an excited smile on her face, and she looks like she is enjoying herself. On the right is.. that girl!? Vincent grits his teeth. Her fiery twin braids, cat ears, and two tails are unmistakable. He quickly prepares to draw his sword.
"That is quite unnecessary," says another voice.
He turns around. Leaning casually against one of the cherry trees is someone he doesn't recognize. She has yellow eyes and golden hair, with a strangely shaped hat upon her head. Her blue and white outfit reminds him of a priest or monk. She is holding a clipboard and pen as she observes the other two. Nine fluffy tails poke out from her dress.
Vincent gasps in surprise. From her appearance, she defnitely isn't human. But he sensed no energy field or aura from her. In fact, he couldn't even sense this girl's presence at all.
"It's only a friendly danmaku duel," says the woman. "Don't interrupt them. You'll contaminate the field and ruin the session data."
"A friendly duel?"
He takes another glance at the two cat youkai in the air. Both of them have started firing strangely colored energy bolts while dodging the others' attacks.
"It is a test of strength. There won't be any serious injuries here. Don't worry about it."
Vincent watches the battle continue. From below, it is like watching a strange fireworks show during the daytime. Chen looks surprisingly focused and confident against her opponent.
"A danmaku duel," he repeats.
Well, it does look like some kind of game. But who was this fox girl?
[ ] Cheer for Chen.
[ ] Cheer for the other girl.
[ ] Ask for the fox lady's name.
[ ] Ask for an explanation of danmaku.
[ ] Ask something else. (Custom)
[ ] Just watch quietly.
Recall that in Magical Rhapsody, our Wriggle was captured and imprisoned by a doppelganger who seemed to be from some variety of alternate world - a doppelganger who was far stronger than Wriggle, and who seemed to be motivated by a desire to please her "Master." Recall that "Rin" was also driven by a desire to show "Master" her worth.
Loading User Commands:
[X] Ask for the fox lady's name.
Vincent stares at the golden-haired woman. While her clothes are a bit odd, something completely different grabs his attention. He can't keep his eyes off them. Those tails.. they look so soft and fluffy! If only he could -
"Don't even think about it," she says coldly.
He quickly shakes the stupid away.
"Ah! Sorry about that. In any case, who -"
"Yakumo. Ran Yakumo."
"I see, so what's -"
"It's a danmaku duel under standard spell card rules. Originally designed as a non-lethal method of resolving conflicts, these duel rules have expanded to several other uses. Right now, we are collecting data to confirm if the residual fields have resolved to an acceptable state."
The woman named Ran sighs loudly.
"I'm checking if Chen got badly hurt," she says simply. "Same for Rin."
"You mean that red-haired girl? I thought that I -"
She smiles mysteriously. He stays silent.
"I don't deny that she was involved in the latest incident, but things aren't as simple as they seem. Rin was only another pawn in this game. In fact, if you had killed her, the incident might have escalated into a small war. The Komeiji group would definitely retaliate against the surface."
"A pawn," he repeats.
"From the early diagnostics I conducted, she was operating under a different spell contract for at least a week, maybe longer. Her spiritual wavelengths show traces of a class of proto-ethereal energy that has great similarities with shikigami possession."
She sighs again.
"Rin was being manipulated."
Vincent takes a moment to watch the girl named Rin. She looks exactly the same as before, but she seems different. She laughs excitedly as she dodges Chen's attacks. The smile on her face is sincere, without a trace of the malevolence from before.
"Rin doesn't remember anything," says Ran. "I'm not sure if it is a side effect from the delusion terminating effect of Hakurouken, but I couldn't extract any pertinent information. Her core abilities are operational, but all the data from the contract period was lost."
The kitsune notes something on her clipboard before turning back to him.
"I was hoping that you could explain what you did to her."
A small red blur slams hard into Vincent's chest. He barely manages to keep his balance as he catches the thing. It feels soft and warm in his hands. He smiles gently.
"Brother! You're alright!"
Without warning, Chen gives him a tight hug.
"Yeah. It's good to see yo-aaargh!"
Vincent cringes in pain as he becomes aware of her unnatural youkai strength. He doesn't remember this girl being so strong! His eyes widen in horror as he hears something pop. The nekomata girl quickly steps back and apologizes. He takes a moment to check himself for permanent damage. After confirming that the pain was the worst of it, he turns back to Chen.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" she says again.
That cute, teary-eyed face... how could he stay mad? He quickly forces himself to smile as he ruffles her hair reassuringly.
"You're pretty good, aren't you?"
She nods slowly as she wipes her eyes.
"When Master Ran is nearby, I can use my full power. I become really strong!"
"Yep, I saw. Good work on defeating Rin back there."
The other cat girl lands beside them, pouting.
"She just got lucky that time! I wasn't ready for that last spellcard."
He lowers his hand and stares at the red-haired girl for several moments. She notices his gaze and frowns at him.
"Eh? W-what are you looking at? It's rude to stare! Doesn't anyone teach you little humans any manners?"
Ran clears her throat.
"This is Vincent," she says. "The one we talked about earlier."
"Ah! Is he, now~"
Rin's eyes start sparkling as she takes a better look at him. Vincent swallows nervously as he feels her gaze probe every inch of him. Then, she smiles widely.
"My friends call me Orin! Nice to meet ya!"
"Umm... nice to meet you too?"
"Alright! We're friends now, so I'm going to take him home~"
Suddenly, Chen grabs Vincent's arm and clings to him tightly.
"I-I won't let you!" she cries. "I'm going to protect my brother!"
The two cat-eared girls stare angrily at each other. This looks dangerous. Thankfully, Ran speaks up before things get worse.
"We are heading back to the mansion. Take the medication I left in your rooms and get some rest."
"Eh? But I wanna take him home!"
"Master Ran? I won't let this girl do whatever she -"
"We are heading back. Now."
After watching Ran 'escort' the other two back, Vincent starts walking around the grounds. The morning is very peaceful now that their danmaku duel is over. Besides the wispy spirits that float along the path, he finds himself alone. His head and heart still feel heavy as he recalls yesterday's events. There are many things that he doesn't understand, and even more that he regrets.
Before he realizes it, he finds himself standing in front of the dojo behind the mansion. Vincent pauses thoughtfully. He arrives at this place without thinking, and now, he can feel a presence inside.
[ ] Investigate the dojo.
[ ] Head back to the mansion.
Of course, Vincent doesn't expect anyone to actually answer. There are many things in his mind, and the odd presence is quite possibly a figment of his imagination. He looks around the empty dojo. The place looks surprisingly clean for something so lifeless. The floor is freshly scrubbed, and the practice swords and equipment are all aligned neatly to the side. At first glance, he would have thought that this place is still being maintained by the half-ghost. In fact, she seems to be seated on the floor with her back against him. Huh? Wait, what the -
Dressed in her usual green and white, the half-ghost stays perfectly still. Her black hair ribbon is tied neatly upon her short silver hair. Both of her blades lie sheathed beside her. Her ghost half hovers ominously beside her.
"Good morning, Vincent."
Her voice is cold and business-like. It sends a shiver down his spine. He reflexively lowers his hand toward his sword.
"I don't understand," he says slowly. "How did you -"
"That isn't important," she says.
The half-ghost stands up slowly. She turns around and looks at him.
"Better late than never. I'm glad you can make it."
She smiles gently at him.
"Have you already forgotten your promise?"
"A swordsman speaks with his blade and cleaves his own path to the truth."
Youmu draws both of her weapons and starts walking closer. She doesn't look like she is joking.
Is this a duel?
[ ] Don't hold yourself back.
[ ] Fight competently.
[ ] Let her win.
[ ] Refuse to fight.
[ ] Custom
-[x] Fight competently but don't hold yourself back.
You can go all out and still fall apart; rather make sure I vote what's intended
My intentions would be to fight at full strength but accept the matter as a duel of skill rather than life or death. However I could be wrong in this regard; nonetheless it wouldn't do to hold back as she may notice this and feel slightly disrespected.
We did promise to save everyone some how didn't we, or had the promise been something else and I sadly forgot? Damn you work stress related memory issues!!!
Let's hope this leads to something happier this time.
But seriously, there's a limit to how much you could play mind games and get away with it, too much and people'll give up on your story because they can't tell what's real or not. It's like being intentionally Teruyo.
[x] Fight competently but don't hold yourself back.
Give Youmu a proper duel.
>>20018 I thought Teruyo had more of "You don't know what to do" rather than "You don't know what the fuck is going on" which can usually be the case for semi-serious to "holy shit tripping balls" plots. Here we have had quite a few things occur but not entirely impossible to comprehend. Plus we've not been overly punished for any fuckups we've made, nor been given the feeling we ought to be able to think exactly as the author. If he vehemently hated anon, probably a strong but not an unreasonable feeling at times imo, we probably would have gone to the deep end of despair writing. At most it had been a poignant hit to the gut when Youmu "died", but not debilitating.
Besides as the questions rise, we do eventually find answers that could explain a lot of things.
I will admit though there are still some strong lingering questions when, "Scarlet Horizon" I believe, ended such as the odd abilities that are now bestowed to that Grey; without him losing himself entirely when using them among many other things.
Those and probably many others will be answered when the other cyoa gets picked up. From what I've gathered, the author does have some elaborate plot in mind that may combine the three which will either culminate in a new cyoa, once this and the /forest/ one is completed, or be finished in one of the two.
tl:dr - Just wait and see, as all should become clear eventually.
Loading User Commands:
[X] Don't hold yourself back.
"A swordsman speaks with his blade and cleaves his own path to the truth."
Youmu draws both of her weapons and starts walking closer.
"I won't hesitate this time," says the half-ghost. "Master told me to believe in nothing but the sword. Slashing will tell me who the target should be."
"W-wait, what are you -"
"Defend yourself, ghost hunter."
She takes another step toward him. Suddenly, she vanishes from sight. Or at least, she would have, if he hadn't seen this before. After everything that has happened over the past few days, his eyes have grown used to such inhuman speed and movement. He quickly senses her coming from the left. Youmu reappears beside him and swings the longer blade. He easily blocks it with his longsword. Then, she tries to slash at him with the shorter blade. He barely dodges the second strike with a backward leap.
A few strands of hair fall to the ground where he stood. Vincent gasps when he realizes that she sliced a few hairs from his bangs. If that strike connected, his head would have been -
"D-damn it, Youmu!" he cries out.
The half-ghost disappears once more. Vincent curses to himself as he focuses his eyes. She really isn't kidding about this. If he holds back even a little, he might end up dead. He tightens his grip on his weapon. She seems to be coming from the right this time.
"That's really dangerous! Are you trying to -"
She slashes at him with both blades. He barely blocks them with his own weapon. With his other hand, he grabs his scabbard and swings it wildly. The half-ghost retreats to dodge the counterattack.
"Not bad," she says. "Not bad at all."
Vincent pauses to catch his breath. The half-ghost moves with ridiculous speed, and he can barely react to her attacks. Her skills and abilities are definitely several notches above his own. This isn't a fight he can win. But despite that, he can feel his body shivering in excitement.
"A duel, was it?" he says.
Youmu smiles at him and nods. In that instant, he realizes that she is feeling the same way.
"I'm glad that we understand each other this time. I'm not going to hold back. Prepare yourself, half-ghost!"
With his weapon in hand, he rushes at Youmu with everything he has. The half-ghost does the same, with every intention of meeting his charge. Both of them are smiling.
Their swords clash once more, sparking with the impact for a brief moment before they part. Youmu's movements are definitely beyond the speed of humans, yet somehow he is able to keep up. If someone were to watch their duel, he would only see an odd dance of blurs and sparks. This is a sport that is only enjoyable to the players themselves.
"Not a fluke," whispers the half-ghost. "Definitely not a fluke. I've never seen such sword skills since my last duel with my Master. You really are something, Vincent."
Vincent pauses to catch his breath. He can't take much more of this. Up until now, he hasn't found a single opening. Youmu seems to be fighting seriously this time.
"You are... damn good yourself."
The half-ghost smiles at him. Then, she sheathes her swords and closes her eyes to concentrate. He recognizes that form immediately, and he prepares a defensive stance. After a few seconds of silence, she rushes forward and draws both swords, swinging them with inhuman speed and accuracy. He blocks the attacks with his own weapon, but she manages to graze his side with the last swing.
"108 strikes," he says as his shoulder drips blood.
"And I still haven't hit you," says Youmu.
Vincent glances at her sword. It bears no bloodstain. Was he cut by the air pocket around her sword?
"But this time, you won't be so lucky, Vincent. I've prepared something special. Be thankful that you'll witness this original technique."
Youmu sheathes her short blade and wields the longer one with both hands. Vincent tightens his grip on his own weapon.
"I was saving this for Master," she whispers.
In the next instant, she is already in front of him. A single flash of light fills the room as their swords spark with the impact. Then, as the light dims, the two stand beside each other, frozen in time. Something falls to the ground with a clang.
"It's over," says Vincent.
He turns to his right. His sword lies several yards away. He starts to fall unceremoniously.
"255 strikes is just... too much," he whispers.
Youmu gasps in surprise. Before he hits the ground, the half-ghost catches him in her arms. She lowers her sword and checks him carefully for injuries.
"A-are you alright?" she cries. "Oh no! W-was it too much? Hey! Can you hear me?"
He looks up to see the her face. That worried expression really doesn't fit her.
"Just tired. Looks like that was my limit, ha ha.."
"I-I'm sorry! I-I'm sorry! I-I'm sorry!"
Vincent opens his eyes. The half-ghost is watching over him patiently. The soft sensation he feels from behind his head seems to be her lap.
[X] "You're a sight for sore eyes, I'm glad you're back as well."
"Hey you wouldn't mind if we stayed like this for a little while would you? Ironically this may be the most peace I've had all this time being here. So many questions but perhaps... from advice of a good friend, I'll just take it easy for now on; at least till the next duel."
I know some one else can do much better, just trying something
Vincent slowly opens his eyes. A familiar face watches over him patiently. He manages a small smile as he recognizes the half-ghost.
"Welcome back," she whispers.
Seems like she won the match. That last technique is unlike anything he has ever seen. Not even his [other self] could recognize the attack. But despite his defeat, he feels satisfied. He hasn't felt so close to this girl up until now. In fact, her face is pretty close at the moment, and the soft sensation behind his head seems to be her lap.
"Good to see you're still too soft," he says.
Youmu frowns at him.
"Soft? Did you think I was holding back? If you must know, I only hesitated during that last attack. Besides, didn't we agree that this was a friendly duel? What did you expect? A fight to the death or -"
Vincent laughs softly. She frowns harder at him.
"You really are pretty soft, aren't you?"
"S-stop saying that! If you want, we can go at it again! I'll surely slash the stupid out of your head this time!"
He shakes his head.
"Don't misunderstand. I wouldn't want it any other way."
The half-ghost looks at him incredulously. He just stares at her in reply. A moment later, her cheeks start turning pink. She quickly looks away.
"I, I don't really understand what you're saying..."
Vincent slowly holds one of her hands. She gasps in surprise, but she doesn't pull away. He squeezes it slightly. Their eyes meet, and silence fills the room. He can hear her heart beat just a little faster.
"By the way, your lap makes a great pillow."
The half-ghost slaps his hand away and puffs up her cheeks.
"S-shut up! Stupid! Hmph!"
He laughs at her reaction. It really is pretty cute, her angry face. He never really tires of it. Then, a moment later, he realizes something strange. He expected her to drop his head down to the hard wooden floor and start lecturing or kicking him.
Instead, she just stays still, letting him rest upon her lap. He doesn't really understand it, but maybe their worlds are starting to get just a little bit closer. Of course, he isn't lying about what he said. She really is a very soft girl. In fact, she is almost too soft. He can feel his mind melt as he closes his eyes to enjoy this rare sensation just a little bit longer.
The walk back to the mansion was uneventful, and neither of them had much to say. There were several extra guests for lunch, so Vincent offered to help out with the cooking. He wasn't really that good around the kitchen, but the half-ghost said that she didn't mind. An extra hand was always appreciated.
"Oh! Before I forget..."
Youmu stops in her tracks and pulls something out from her ghost half.
"I found this yesterday."
She hands him a sealed letter. It seems to be addressed to him.
"When I woke up, my wounds were completely healed. But there was no one with me. This was the only clue I could find."
The half-ghost shakes her head.
"It is inappropriate to open letters addressed to others."
Youmu sighs to herself.
"I only hope that Lady Yuyuko learns that concept someday. I kept it hidden so she wouldn't get any ideas."
"I see. Thanks.. I think?"
He shrugs as he opens the letter in front of her. After everything that had happened, he feels that she deserves to know this. The fact that she had prudently kept this from Yuyuko made him feel only more guilty.
There are a few things inside the envelope: two odd coins and a small note. The coins seem to be made of silver, but he doesn't recognize the insignia engraved on it. Is this a raven of some sort? The note is even more confusing.
He turns to Youmu and shows her the items, but she just gives him a puzzled look. Vincent shrugs to himself as he pockets the things.
"I don't get it. Did you find anything else?"
The half-ghost pauses to think.
"Well, Ran said that she found a strange black book at the sealing circle site. She said that she would take it to the lab for analysis. Was it anything important?"
"Ah.. well, not really," he mutters.
Vincent reminds himself to talk to Ran about it later. He needs to remove the seal on Youmu's ghost half as soon as he can. Then, he looks up to see the half-ghost staring at him.
"E-eh? What is it?" he says.
"It's important, isn't it?"
He sighs to himself and decides to come clean.
"If that's the same black book I'm thinking of, then I'll need it to remove the binding seal on your ghost half."
"I see," she says. "Well, I do hope you plan on getting that done one of these days. Carrying this skull around isn't as comfortable as it looks."
"Ahaha... sorry about that."
"You better be! Hmph!"
They didn't talk again until they arrived at the mansion. They didn't meet any of the others on the way to the kitchen, but the place was surprisingly noisy. Several wisps flew back and forth, carrying wooden planks, tools, and other odds and ends. Were they assisting with repair work?
"No one's here," he says aloud.
There isn't anyone in the kitchen either.
"Hey Vincent," says the half-ghost. "I just remembered something."
She turns around and smiles at him mischievously. For some reason, a shiver runs down his spine. While that expression is natural for someone like the ghost princess, it just doesn't feel right with this girl.
"W-what is it?" he mumbles.
Youmu winks at him.
"Since I beat you earlier, you have to do whatever I say, right?"
[x] "I didn't know we agreed on terms for a prize, but I guess I'll do what you say, your softness"
>>20069 I'm willing to go with this theory of mine where the real Grim/Yukari team invaded Vincent's "nightmare" and had been trying assist him as they must have discovered something beyond the others. I'm also willing to believe they managed to assist Youmu in having her treated. Again this is just a theoretical explanation. This may also imply that out of the three Greys, the /forest/ grey learned more about what's plaguing Gensokyo; at least as far as I'm observing. Sadly this is just speculation but I doubt this time Vincent's dreaming/having a mindfuck.
She whispers something, but he can't hear it anymore. His vision is starting to dim. Soon, everything returns to darkness.
Vincent slowly opens his eyes. The morning sun is painful, and his head aches. Someone is shaking him violently.
"When's breakfast? I'm huuuuuuuuuungry!"
He stares blankly at the ghost princess, then at the wall clock.
"It's only 4:00 am, Lady Yuyuko."
"B-bu-but... I want to eat now~"
Lady Yuyuko pleads with him with teary eyes.
"Fine then. Just wait in the dining room patiently."
She claps her hands happily.
"Yay! I'm really starting to enjoy your European cooking!"
He can't help but smile at the girl.
"Give me a few minutes to prepare for the day?"
Lady Yuyuko smiles at him mischievously.
"Only if I get to do this, first~"
Without warning, she plants a light kiss upon his lips.
"W-what the -"
"That taste will satisfy me for a while," she whispers. "So hurry up! Don't keep your princess waiting!"
A cool breeze blows along the hallways of Hakugyokurou. He closes his eyes for a moment, enjoying the sensation.
"It probably feels only half as good as it should," he says.
Despite this, he manages a small smile as he looks at the grounds. The sun is unusually bright this morning, and the weather is calm and peaceful. It looks like today will be another pleasant day for tea with the princess.
Vincent stares as a single ghostly wisp comes into view. The sight is still very alien to him. Even if its been months, he still hasn't gotten used to this. It hovers patiently over his right shoulder, as if watching over him.
"Dinner! Dinner! I'm gonna die, uwaaaaaa!"
He sighs loudly before walking toward the kitchen. The wisp follows closely behind him without a word. He checks his weapons absent-mindedly. Yep, all three swords are with him.
Vincent takes a moment to consider what to cook for this morning.
I actually loled on account of how sudden it just occurred.
Good thing it was fake considering it just ends abruptly with many questions unanswered. Not to mention it was inconsistent with the previous update, what with Youmu saying the following --> "When I woke up, my wounds were completely healed."
File 125631171020.jpg- (21.06KB
, have at you.jpg
>>20072 YOU BREAK ANONS' HEARTS AND TURN THEM INTO YOUR SLAVES
Youmu turns around and smiles at him mischievously. A shiver runs down his spine. For some reason, that expression doesn't feel right with this girl.
"W-what is it?" he mumbles.
The half-ghost winks at him.
"Since I beat you earlier, you have to do whatever I say, right?"
He manages a weak smile.
"I didn't know we agreed on terms for a prize."
Her smile slowly starts vanishing, and he can see the disappointment seep in. For some reason, his chest really hurts right now. This isn't fair. If she does that, he can't just..
"But I guess I'll do what you say, your softness."
Youmu blushes a little.
"D-don't call me soft! In any case, I just wondered if -"
Suddenly, the door to the kitchen slides open.
"Oh. You two are already back?"
Komachi steps into the room, unaware of the mood. She greets them both and walks straight toward him.
"Good timing, Vincent."
She smiles and grabs him by the arm. He finds himself half-dragged to one of the stoves.
"I'd like you to help me with my cooking," she says. "I'm trying out a new recipe, and I'd like to see what you think. You see, the ingredients this time are..."
She starts discussing the details of some unusual dish (made of some type of 'ghost fish' apparently). Before he can speak, someone else runs into the room. Youmu seems to have her hands full keeping her in line.
"C-could you wait back in the dining room? I'll get you some sweet buns if you just go back for a while and -"
"Eh? But I smelled something nice in here! Ah! Is that big brother?"
"W-wait! Don't just -"
Suddenly, a familiar nekomata girl glomps him. Her two tails wag energetically. Vincent forces a smile as he returns the gesture. He can't help but feel really lucky. Not everyone has a little sister as cute as Chen. After a bit, he starts prying her off gently.
"Good to see you too. Now why don't you head back to the dining room and stay with big sister Yuyuko?"
"Big sis Yuyu? But there isn't anyone else in the dining room."
The sound of metal echoes loudly along the kitchen. They all turn toward the source, but they don't see anyone there. Instead, there is a single tray full of sweet buns floating in mid-air. Youmu scowls angrily and stomps toward it.
"Lady Yuyuko!" she cries. "Those are for everyone's afternoon snacks!"
The ghost princess turns visible in an instant, giving them an innocent look.
"Ara? I have no idea what you are talking about~"
"P-put those down right now! This behavior is completely inappropriate, especially in front of our guests!"
Several minutes later, the Youmu finally gets everyone out of the kitchen. She seems adamant about preparing lunch by herself. Komachi and Chen head back without too much resistance. Yuyuko follows a little later after being promised an extra sweet bun if she behaves. Vincent sighs and shrugs to himself as he steps out as well, but something soft tugs at his sleeve. He turns around to see the half-ghost glance around nervously, making sure that the others have left.
"Wait," she whispers. "Could I talk for you for a moment?"
He gives her a nod and steps back inside. She carefully closes the door behind them.
"Err.. what's wrong?"
She sighs in relief and composes herself before speaking.
"W-well, it really isn't that important. You agreed to do whatever I say right?"
He laughs weakly.
"That kinda depends on what it is, but..."
"It is decided, then. You will follow my instruction, as is proper for an honorable swordsman."
She stares at him coldly. He can't help but nod in reply.
"R-right. So what do you want me to do?"
Suddenly, Youmu becomes really quiet. She clasps her hands together and starts fidgeting. Her face turns bright red, and she doesn't meet his eyes. When she finally speaks, her voice is almost a whisper.
"W-would you go out on a date with me?"
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"It's quite delicious," she says. "I do enjoy a cup of tea with good company~"
The ghost princess smiles brightly at Grey.
"Such a polite and handsome servant! If the vampire wasn't looking, I'd take you home with me right now~"
He clears his throat.
"I appreciate the offer, but I must respect my contract."
"Ara? How disappointing~"
Grey bows politely before returning to Remilia's side. The vampire says nothing as she stares into her own cup quietly. The guest from Hakugyokurou just maintains her enigmatic smile, as if it were a mask. The atmosphere becomes heavy for this tea for three as silence fills the room.
Yuyuko puts down her cup and looks straight into the vampire's eyes.
"It is quite rare that you would invite me to your home. And rarer still that you insist that I come alone. How curious~"
Remilia puts down her cup and grins.
"I thought that I would be a good neighbor and have you for tea."
"Indeed. And your unscheduled visit the other day?"
"Good neighbors help each other with the trash."
"I see. Well, I can't deny that I appreciate the help. It is good to know that Hakugyokurou has neighbors that it can count on~"
"We are all neighbors in Gensokyo, aren't we?"
An awkward moment of silence passes between the two. Without warning, both of them break out into laughter. A shiver runs down Grey's spine. It takes a couple of minutes for them to recover. Yuyuko takes another sip of tea. Then, she looks up at the vampire. She isn't smiling.
"Why did you call me here?" she says coldly.
Those eyes make Grey swallow uncontrollably. He suddenly becomes aware of how dangerous this girl is. After all, the ghost princess can invoke death at will. However, Remilia seems completely composed. She even manages a business-like grin before speaking.
"Good neighbors do favors for each other, don't they?"
"What do you want?"
The vampire puts down her cup.
"I need to borrow the sword that terminates delusions. Of course, I also need someone who can use it. Apparently, only those of the Konpaku family can wield the blade, or some silly rule like that."
She smiles at the ghost princess.
"Now I wonder... should I bring that half-ghost? Or perhaps, I should bring the ghost hunter? Both seem to have sufficient ability to use the weapon."
For the first time this afternoon, Yuyuko looks visibly shaken. She says nothing, but the smile on her face looks pained. Remilia grins at the ghost princess' hesitation. She pulls out something from her dress.
"Well, I know that you would have difficulty choosing, so I brought this."
The vampire holds out something in front of the ghost princess. It looks like an old coin made of gold. The insignia of the raven is engraved upon it.
Somewhere beyond the Netherworld, in a strange old mansion, a man lies unconscious upon a bed. A door opens, and a girl with blue eyes and wavy blue hair comes inside. Wearing a pink dress with blue/black trim and a hat with a sun insignia on the top, she walks in quietly with something in her hands. It is a tray with a bowl full of hot soup that smells strongly of herbs. Floating behind her as she walks is a trumpet.
The smell of the soup wafts into the man's nostrils. Slowly, he opens his eyes and sits himself up. As he looks at himself, he realizes that he is wrapped in bandages.
"Are you feeling better now?"
He turns toward the voice and blinks at the blue-haired girl.
"You were pretty messed up out there. Why were you wandering the Netherworld alone? And they call me crazy..."
She puts down the tray on a small table beside the bed.
"Here. I suppose that humans need food, don't they."
The blue-haired girl stares at him for a moment. Then suddenly, she starts laughing.
"You're a funny one!"
"Funny," he repeats.
"Anyway, you better eat or you might die or something. I'll come back after my performance. Can't be late for my own events~"
Without another word, the girl waves cheerily at him before closing the door. The man finds himself alone in the room. Alone with soup, at least. He stares at the dish for a moment before shaking his head. It seems unappetizing, for some reason. He forces himself up and heads for the bathroom.
After locking the door behind him, he carefully arranges his long black hair until it looks neat and acceptable. He wears his white long-sleeved shirt over his bandaged chest, leaving it unbuttoned as an afterthought. For some reason, it feels more natural. Then, he slowly stares at his left arm. He raises his right hand, and with his fingernails, he tears open a large wound. Blood slowly drips out from the injury.
"Looks like it worked," he says to himself. "This incarnation survived the transfer without too much damage this time."
He starts to chant words in an ancient, forgotten tongue. The droplets start collecting into his right hand. A knife made of crystallized blood and ice is formed. He takes the weapon and pockets it. Then, he smiles.
Vincent yawns and stretches as he walks along the path. It is nice to travel using his own legs once in a while. He could never get used to all this flying business that is so popular in Gensokyo. Walking on two feet really is best. Besides, he still has a lot of time before they get back. He might as well visit this "Kourindou" that Komachi talked about the other day.
Unfortunately, that visit may have to wait. He suddenly stops in his tracks and stares at the sky for a moment. Then, he turns toward the bushes.
"It isn't polite to stalk from the shadows."
A girl with short green hair steps out. Her eyes are blue-green, and a pair of antennae poke out of her hair. She wears a white short sleeved shirt and a pair of blue pants. Upon her back is a black cape that is red on the inner side. Her clothes are full of strange emblems and insignia.
"Are you the ghost hunter of Hakugyokurou?" says the girl.
He nods slowly. She sighs and relief and steps closer.
"My name is Wriggle Nightbug. And I need your help."