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20584 No. 20584
You groaned. As couches went Ryotsu's seemed to be pretty comfortable, though with the bruises covering most of your body the comfort really didn't do much for you. Every time you so much as twitched new spasms of pain flared up over your skin. Looking around you could tell that Ryotsu was a bachelor - one that Koishi had evidently made a decision to change it seemed, given how the man bumbled around his recently cleaned rooms and his needing Koishi to tell him where everything she had cleared up had gone.

The aqua-haired girl had half-dragged, half-carried both you and Tokiko to a safe hiding spot some distance from the earlier battlefield and had kept an eye on you until Ryotsu had shown up with his car. From there both of you had been brought to his apartment where you had spent the past few hours recovering - after a quick call to your mother to assure her nothing was wrong of course. It seemed the fight had made the national news although it was being labeled as a possible terrorist action of some kind and my wasn't it lucky no-one had been seriously injured.

You'd snorted derisively at that but on several levels you were damn thankful that none of the cameras had gotten close enough to catch sight of any of the combatants involved. You really, really did not relish the idea of having to explain your presence at something like that to you mother.

“Koishi says y' lil' friend is recovering fine.” The police officer - off-duty police officer right now - declared as he wandered into the room carrying a tray with a few rolls of bread and a glass of water on top. “Dunno how but seems like these youkai girls heal real fast when given some time to rest.” He placed the tray down on a small coffee-table near the couch before giving you a quick look over. “Seems we humans do too as long as we got one of those books. Most of yer bruises look like they're a week old already.”

“Good to know,” You mumble as you reach over for a bread roll. “Bad to know too, means if we don't finish someone off they can just come back after us again.”

“And you didn't finish yer opponent off.” Ryotsu shrugged. “Not much use worrying about it now though, Koishi said that wit' the damage you did to Kanako she won't be in a rush to come after you immediately.”

“They know each other?” You ask. Ryotsu nods once.

“'pparently. Says they're almost equals normally but she doesn't know how they'd match up out here.” The heavy-set man sat himself down on a nearby chair and took a roll for himself. “From what she's told me everyone back where they come from uses fighting games to settle stuff - like a paintball fight or something, only with magic and stuff instead.”

“Tokiko mentioned that,” You murmur.

“Yeah, well, it means a lot of 'em can't use their real strengths - see? This Kanako is more of a up close 'n personal type but some of 'em are better at shooting and some have abilities and stuff they can't normally use when playfighting.” The large man shrugs. “Koishi don't know much more than that about the game, but she does know a number of other people who haven't shown up on the beaten list in the book yet.”

“And intelligence is what wins wars, huh?” You mumble, causing the man to grin.

“Nah, I always found the easiest way to win a fight was t' have more people than the other side did.” Ryotsu frowned slightly, “But this game seems like only one person can win, y'know? Kinda makes it harder to do that... Unless y' either don't care about winning, or decide to sort out that crap once everyone else is gone.”

“Ah,” You nod, “I think I can see where this is going - you want us to team up.”

The off-duty officer scratched his chin nervously. “Well, 's not really me... y'know? Koishi's taken a liking to that partner of yours and she kinda demanded it.” The man shakes his head. “Hell if I know how to say no to a girl who can just look at you and make you feel all guilty over tryin' t' refuse.”

You smirk a little at the older man's discomfort. “I don't mind,” you finally agree, “If it wasn't for her showing up we'd probably be toast now.” You frown slightly, “And... It'll be good to know we're not alone.”

“It's never good to be alone.” The man stated, nodding sagely. Then he stood, “Anyway, you rest up here a bit longer. Yer friend'll probably be fit to go soon, and I'll give ya a lift home if y' want.”

You reach out for one of the remaining rolls, then give the police officer a friendly little wave. “Thanks,” you state, “I... We appreciate it.”

* * * * * * * *

Watching the fight had been a reasonably fun little diversion - though perhaps not as a fun as actually taking part would have. Then again if she had taken part would it have been worth it? None of the combatants were any real match for her as they were at the time. Maybe if she'd caught them fresh and one-on-one then the goddess or the oarfish would have put up a good fight, the satori too might have been worth fighting.

The other one... not so much.

Credit where credit was due however, the little bird had impressed her slightly by actually making it out of that encounter in one piece. Admittedly it was only down to the appearance of the satori that she had lived but still - the bird had laid a good blow on the goddess, something that normally should have been impossible for someone that weak. Survived a blow to the stomach from the same too... She could respect someone who could take the fist of an angry goddess and manage to keep their organs on the inside.

Hm. If that weakling could survive such now, what would she be capable of taking once she had a chance to grow? It was a thought worth mulling over. Maybe she was like the bug? Naturally hard to squash? No... No, this bird wasn't the same. Or maybe she was? Both had caught her attention at one point or another for whatever reason.


When the hell did she start thinking like her anyway? Come to think of it, when did that witch start thinking like that herself? After she died wasn't it? Took that brat on as an apprentice not long after didn't she? Huh. Maybe it was age then, she was feeling it pretty strongly right now after all - she'd specifically caused her powers to wane in the name of her plan after all.

Oh, well, she'd known there would be drawbacks to doing this. Getting lost in thought hadn't exactly been one she had expected but at least it would be something to eat up the time in place of the fighting her plan disallowed.

Hm. Speaking of time, her partner would probably be wondering where she was by now. Not that she really cared much for being partnered with a human but sometimes one just had to play by the rules in order to achieve their goals.

She smiled as she wondered how much it would drive people mad working out what her goal actually was - especially those who usually liked playing the whole puppetmaster thing.

* * * * * * * *

Authorities currently believe the devastation was caused by an as of yet unknown terrorist group. Several known organizations have come forward claiming responsibility but so far the authorities have no distinct evidence pointing to any of these claims being true. For now the investigation continues, this has been a live report from shi-

You sighed as you leaned back in your seat and flicked the television off by remote. “Terrorists, huh?” You mutter to yourself. “That's good I guess, means they're not looking for people like us.” Tokiko, who had seemingly not understood most of the news report, just nodded in agreement.

“What's good?” You sister asked as she strode into the room, snatched the remote from you and threw herself down on one of the other chairs. “You two got something you're not telling me?” She added, giving you both a perverted leer. “Like maybe where you were all evening, together, on your own?”

“Oh, that takes me back.” You jump at the sound of your mothers voice - mostly because it came from right behind you and you honestly hadn't heard her approach at all. “I do hope it was a nice hotel.”

“Er, hotel?” A sinking feeling began to form in the pit of your stomach.

“That you went to!” Your mother explained. “Or are you perhaps telling your dear, sweet, much loved mother who worried and worried and worried about the safety of her children because of this nasty terrorist attack that you weren't nice and safe and working on making grandchildren all evening in a love hotel together?”

“Ah... uh...” You flounder. Most parents would be horrified if their children had been out at such places - why couldn't your mom be normal like that?

“We were with a friend.” Tokiko cut in quickly, she probably didn't know what a love hotel was but your mother had been candid enough that it wouldn't have been hard for her to have guessed.

“Oh! A threesome?” Your mother tittered, “How manly.” Then she paused and scowled. “This friend was female, wasn't she?” Both you and Tokiko nodded quickly. Your mother smiled. “Oooh, that could mean even more grandchildren!” She clapped her hands, spun on one foot, and all but skilled out towards the kitchen.

You and your sister both shuddered in a rare moment of sibling solidarity.

* * * * * * * *

She strained. The muscles along her arms bulged, taut, as she fought with the size and weight of the task before her. Her legs and abdomen probably looked the same, but they were all hidden from view by her skirt and shirt. Her head was covered in a scarf, wrapped around a few times to form a crude mask - it was on that man's command that she had done so.

He'd pay for this humiliation eventually. For the past few weeks he'd been racking up a debt of vengence and this creditor was looking to cash that debt in the minute she was out from under his control.

With a crack the massive hunk of metal she was tugging on split away from it's mooring against an equally massive wall of metal. This was, what, the eleventh time she'd done this now? It hurt that she was being used to commit crimes such as these - that man was a criminal, a petty thug originally, but after he'd got a hold over her he had progressed to somewhat more... impressive crimes.

Little worm. As if he and his so-called 'partners' could be doing any of this shit without her to do all the real work such as breaking into these armored vault things.

Feh. If she were doing it on her own then at least she'd be able to enjoy the spoils - but she didn't even get a look in thanks to that bastard. She grunted as the last of the vault door's moorings gave way under her prodigious strength. To make something like this was, she thought, particularly admirable of humans - comparable to the old works of kappa, oni and tengu back when the three races were in their prime. Pity it wasn't really built to keep non-humans out though, a well placed ward or two would have left her unable to touch the thing much less rip it out in one go.

Actually, given what the bastard would do if she couldn't get in... maybe it was for the best that these outside humans had no defenses against the supernatural.

That didn't stop her hoping that someone, anyone would show up to stop her - and stop the bastard.

Oni didn't like committing crime.

* * * * * * * *

You ducked as another beanbag almost smacked into your face.

“Slow!” Koishi yelled out, “Danmaku is all about dodging!”

“I thought this wasn't danmaku!” You yelled back as you hopped over a low flying beanbag.

“It's not!” The aqua-haired girl replied, “But the principles are the same! You can't get hurt if you don't get hit!” You swore and twisted to one side, narrowly missing both the beanbags Koishi threw at you and Tokiko who was dodging her own barrage. “Situational awareness! Know your surroundings! Dodge and weave! Duck and cover!” Koishi threw out several more phrases of a similar theme as she continued lobbing beanbags at both you and your partner.

The first evening the two of you had gone through Koishi's idea of training you had both ended up covered in bruises from the beanbags. Well, no, actually it was mostly you who had ended up bruised all over - Tokiko had for the most part simply shrugged them off as a minor annoyance. It was weird actually, seeing the proof that the tiny girl was physically your superior in pretty much every way. In some ways you were more than a little envious at how she was able to walk home each evening without wincing at almost every step like you did... Then again, given how your mother would react if she had seen an injured Tokiko walking with you... Maybe it was for the best that she was that much tougher than you were.

For the past week the three of you had been coming to this little clearing surrounded by woodland, once Tokiko had finished with her little reading club, in order to train and practice fighting against each other.

Well, okay, you didn't exactly fight so much as do your best not to get caught up in the combat between the two girls. A few nuances of this 'game' you were all in had come to light over the first day - namely that the destruction of the grimoire you held would cause Tokiko's own ejection from the game. Koishi wasn't sure about what would happen if you died while your grimoire wasn't destroyed but you had readily agreed to doing your best not to find out.

“You're improving.” The aqua haired girl smiled as she complimented you and Tokiko both. “Shiori,” You wince at her use of your given name - despite much pleading you still hadn't managed to get her to stop using it. “I really don't know what we can do to improve you any further, you're just a human and even with the boosting from your connection with your partner I think we're hitting the limits of what you can manage.” She closed her eyes for a moment then suddenly opened them and fixed Tokiko with a piercing glare. “From here on it will be up to you to protect him and the best way of doing this is going to be by beating the opponent as decisively as you can.”

“B-but I...” Tokiko began, only to be waved off by Koishi.

“You're not strong, I know.” She frowned, “But what I don't think you know is that, once upon a time, all of us who are strong now were weak too. Even someone as the likes of Kirisame Marisa was, at some point, little more than a mewling child.” The aqua haired girl sighed. “My sisters pets, once, were tiny weak things...” She smiled slightly, “I remember feeding Orin from a milk-soaked rag. She was so tiny she fit easily into my cupped hands as my sister fed her. I recall teaching Utsuho how to fly, her wings flapping like mad to keep her airborne. Now both are strong enough that should I seriously face either I would be unable to predict the outcome with certainty.” For a moment she stood in silence as though remembering a time long past - then she shook her head and looked back at the two of you. “The point is this, all things have the capability to grow, all youkai have the capacity to be anything from a minor annoyance to a great terror of the night. The real question you must ask is not 'can I get stronger' but rather 'how strong do I want to be?'”

* * * * * * * *

She'd be the strongest! The best! The queen of all youkai!

Then everyone would look up to her! Envy her! Be jealous of her!

She'd also have her goddamn cage burned to the ground!

First she had to clear up here though, her second fight had been pretty much won by now, her opponent lay on the floor bleeding and almost dead. Almost, however, was not what the contest required - so she'd have to finish the job if she wanted to continue on.

“Ah,” She grinned madly, “How I don't envy you right now.” Striding over to her fallen opponent she took a moment to kick the girl's bucket away. That thing had always annoyed her, stupid bitch, getting to hide away from the world in it whenever she chose to - how she envied her for being able to do that. Solitude, even the kind that came from confinement, was something she wished she could have for herself.

Hey, if she were really lucky then maybe she'd even get a shot at that cow-chested oni at some point too. Then she'd just need that sickeningly optimistic bug and she'd have the complete set!

Mizuhashi Parsee had a very short list of people she wanted to get petty vengeance on.

Incredibly short in fact, given that it only contained one word.


* * * * * * * *

“Um... Um... Shirosawa?” You yawned, then blinked as you realized the girl was addressing you.

“Hm? What?” You gave the girl a quick once-over, she seemed to be just one of the female students. One of Tokiko's friends from the reading club maybe? You couldn't think of any other reason why a student would be talking to you in the library this long after school hours.

“Ah, um, we're moving up to one of the free clubrooms now.” She said, bowing slightly as if in apology. “Tokiko asked if we could tell you so you didn't worry.”

“Huh.” You shrug. “That's fine. Why the move though?”

“The library is going to be shutting early today, I think the evening librarian came down sick and they couldn't find someone to cover for her. Miss chairman asked if we could use one of the spare clubrooms for the while.” The girl bows again, “You're welcome to join us, since you won't be able to wait in here today.”

“Ah, thanks.” You sit up and pack away the notes you had been working through. “You know, I don't think I even really know what it is your club actually does - besides reading I mean.” you ask as you finish piling everything into your back and stand to follow the girl.

“Oh, we do a little of this and a little of that. It's mostly just reading the same books and then talking about what we did and didn't like about them.” She talks quietly as she leads you out of the library and towards the little club building. The building housed a good ten or so function rooms along with the gym and exercise facilities - which doubled as clubrooms for the larger clubs such as the sports, music and acting clubs. During the day it was the school's sports center, in the afternoon it became the base for the school clubs and in the late evening and non-school days it was usually hired out to various private groups and functions.

“Sort of like lit class?” The girl nods at your question and you shudder slightly. “Not really my best subject to be honest.” You state, causing her to giggle slightly. “Tokiko seems to like it though.”

“Oh, yes, she's always reading.” The girl smiles, as she led you onto the walkway that lead above and alongside the main gym area. During big games spectators often came up here to get a better view of the action down below. “It's really a shame.”

You frown. “A shame?”

The girl turns, “That she won't be a club member any longer.” she states.

“Eh? But why would you...” You pause, then your eyebrows furrow as you glare at the girl. “You're not talking about her leaving or being kicked out, are you?” Now that you thought about it why had this girl been the one to inform you of the club's move? Why hadn't Tokiko come over to do it herself?

With a click the gym lights suddenly went out. Anywhere else this wouldn't have been a problem but the gym had terrible lighting even in the brightest of days. Worse than that someone had taken pains to pull down the window screens - used to cover the windows when plays and the like were performed here, so that natural light wouldn't get in the way of the stage lighting.

In short the gym, and the walkway you were on, was as dark as early evening. You could see in front of you but everything was gloomy and difficult to make out at a dista-

You felt something shove into your side. The girl? Probably. Her charge pushed you against the walkway barrier, the one that stopped you from falling down into the gym below.

The barrier that, rather suspiciously, gave way without a fight.

For a moment you hung suspended in the air, a great feeling of dread welling up. From this height you would hit the ground below hard - not enough to kill instantly perhaps, but more than enough to break your limbs without trouble.

You screamed as you fell, a scream which cut off as the impact on the ground forced the air out of your lungs.

You scrabbled around for a moment, surprised that nothing seemed to be injured, before you realized that you had landed on one of those huge crash mats they put out for things like the high and pole jump events. You scrabbled around some more, trying to get to your feet and finding that these mats were most definitely not the best of footing you could have.

This whole event was made worst by the sound of someone singing some damn song at the top of their lungs and the fact that you could barely... wait... why couldn't you see a damn thing? You were sure this gym hadn't been this dark a few moments ago...

Hear me little human~ Listen to my song~

The singer was female, high pitched... and mid-pitched. Were there two singers? It was hard to tell for if there was they were singing in some seriously unnatural harmony and without any flaw in their timing at all.

No need for you to worry~ For you will soon be gone!

Something hit you in the arm, ripping several small gashes through your uniform as well as your flesh. You felt the wind caused by something larger - a person - passing quickly by you.

No, not a person.

“Youkai?” You hiss out, only to get a gleeful laugh as a response.

Cor~rect!” The voices sing-songed back. “Did you know~ That in this game~ When you die~ Your...” The song cut off. “Risa, Risa!”

“What?” That was the girl who had led you here, from the sound of it she was still above you on the balcony somewhere.

“I can't think of a good way to finish this tune!” The unknown youkai called out, “Any ideas?”

“Does it really matter?” The girl, Risa, responded. “All he has to do is die.” You got the sense that the girls attention had switched to you when she spoke next. “Of course, he could just take out his grimoire and let us destroy it - that would be the smart thing to do.”

[ ] Call out to Tewi to Tokiko
[ ] Make your escape
[ ] Find a place to hide
[ ] Stand your ground

Blinding, Bright, Ambient, Dim
>> No. 20585
There we have it. Gosh i'm slow. Or maybe just distracted.
(hint: It's the last one. God damn you dorfs, dragon age, Kamen Rider Decade and now mabinogi EU)
>> No. 20586
So it's Yuuka, Yuugi, and Parsee (who's quite bitchy in this; too bad she won't realize that being strongest won't cure her envy)

I could be wrong, but not many other people know of Mima.
>> No. 20588
[x] Call out to Tokiko


I think we should try the risky option, but it's mainly due to a lack of good options (not sure if there's even much of a place to hide, and not sure if we could even escape)
>> No. 20593
[x] Call out to Tokiko

>> No. 20594
[X] Call out to Tokiko

>> No. 20595

I hope you people aren't just copy and pasting since this isn't something I'm absolutely sure about.
>> No. 20596
[+] Call out to Tokiko
[+] LIGHTING: Bright
Night-blindness only works in the dark.
>> No. 20597
[x] Push the wardrobe in front of the window

[x] Make your escape
[x] Bright

Shiori's mom is a goddamn nutjob, and yet, one of my favorite characters. She seems like the type of person who would fuck him herself in order to get grandkids, logical flaws in that plan and morals alike be equally damned.
>> No. 20598
>She seems like the type of person who would fuck him herself in order to get grandkids, logical flaws in that plan and morals alike be equally damned.
>> No. 20599
File 126061178123.gif- (3.85KB , 100x100 , 125755564433.gif ) [iqdb]
>She seems like the type of person who would fuck him herself in order to get grandkids
>> No. 20600
>She seems like the type of person who would fuck him herself in order to get grandkids, logical flaws in that plan and morals alike be equally damned.

Fund it.
>> No. 20610
>She seems like the type of person who would fuck him herself in order to get grandkids, logical flaws in that plan and morals alike be equally damned.

And then Shiori's mother was Yukari.
>> No. 20621

I... what... I mean...
I have no words to describe this.

Anyway, Calling out to Tokiko in the dark is the way we're going.
>> No. 20623
Try "awesome."

Scorn should write it.
>> No. 20624

Yeah, right.
>> No. 20649
You look up in the general direction of where Risa's voice had come from. “Screw you.” You state, quite calmly and loud enough for her to hear. “You think a little bit of darkness and some bad singing is going to make me sell out Tokiko?” Your brow creased as you glared daggers at a vaguely darker patch of darkness that might have been the girl.

Her partner screeched in indignation, the noise causing you to wince at the pain in your ears from the high pitch. “Bad singing!?” She shrieked, “Bad singing!?

“Yeah,” you confirm, the spark of annoyance that had grown within you no bursting into an all out flame. “Sounded like nails on a chalkboard, badly sung, out of tune and the lyrics didn't even fit together properly!”

“You can't say that!” The flying girl screamed back, “Risa!” She yelled, her attention directed at her partner. “Tell him he can't say that!”

“Is that really going to stop him from insulting you?” Risa replied, her voice level. “If it bothers you so much then just take it out of his flesh.”

“Oh! Hey!” You could practically hear the grin forming on the flying girl's face. “I can do that!” You heard a rush of air and reflexively pulled your arms up to cover your face, there was the sound of something brushing past you, then a flare of pain as several sharp points raked across your exposed side. It was like, you imagined, being hit by a hand rake or a bunch of nails or... You wince.

Claws. That was just perfect, wasn't it?

You hiss as the girl makes another pass, catching you on the same side as before. You hadn't heard any sort of spell being cast... so the claws must be natural. Her ability to blind you or the fact that she was flying you weren't too sure about - hadn't Kanako possessed that log spell of hers? That had only needed one casting to activate it and she had been free to use it as she wanted once that was done. Perhaps something similar was at work here? That or both flight and blinding were normal abilities for this girl, Koishi had mentioned some girls would have abilities despite the limits of the game's grimoire rules.

Actually, why were you even thinking about this and not, say, running like hell?

You turned that thought over in your mind. The two girls had obviously gone to some lengths to set this up - you doubted that any of the clubs would have left all this crap lying around on the floor, nor would they have set up all the blackout blinds if they hadn't needed to. The darkness and obstacles must then have been set up by your opponents in order to give them an advantage - and so far it was working. The flying girl could, well, fly - as well as see in the dark. That meant all the impediments on the ground meant little to her and also she could see you while you could barely see your own hand in front of your face.

“Yaaa!” You hear the girl scream from in front of you and you felt her fingertips press lightly into your chest. From the arrangement it seemed as if her hands were together and outstretched, like one of those fireball move poses from a fighting game.

Your heart froze, knowing it was moments away from being blasted out through your... uh...

You frown.

“Uhm.” You're really not sure how to put this. “Er... was that meant to do anything?” You ask, your momentary terror having overloaded your capacity to feel fear for time being. Rather you felt unnaturally calm right now.

The fingers pulled away, leaving tiny pains where their nails or claws had pressed hard against and in some spots even pierced your skin. “Risa!” The girl whines, “Why didn't you do anything?”

“Did we not go over this before, Lorelei?” Risa's voice echoed slightly in the large room. She was still on the balcony given how it seemed to come from somewhere above you. “I am not immune to your singing, remember?”

“Oh, hey, yeah.” The flying girl, Lorelei, muttered to herself in realization. So her name was Lorelei? No... from how Risa had spoken in such an impartial tone you suspected that it was more likely that Lorelei was her partner's family name. Funny, you didn't recall Tokiko ever telling you if she had a second name at all. Maybe only some youkai did? Or perhaps this 'Lorelei' was something else such as another goddess? You shuddered at that thought - meeting one goddess had been nasty enough, and you'd only been on the edges of that fight. Being face-to-face with one, alone, would be a nightmare. Actually it probably still would be even if she wasn't one.

“I'm thinking way too much.” You grumble to yourself as you turn tail and half run, half stumble around the gym. You needed to get Tokiko here but with how well these two girls had prepared it was pretty much inevitable that she wouldn't be anywhere near enough to be called by your yelling alone. She didn't have a cell-phone or anything either so it wasn't like you could call her... wait... maybe...

Ah shit.

You never did get around to getting the numbers of anyone else in her reading club did you? That was a mistake which was now firmly biting you in the ass.

“Tokiko!” You yell, knowing already that it wouldn't work. Even so you weren't going to throw away the tiny chance that perhaps, somehow, she could hear you from here simply because you didn't try it. You hear the sound of rustling cloth and, with instinct borne of fear, you drop to the ground just as Risa's partner swoops overhead. She mutters a curse as she passes and her voice grows quiet as she pulls away for an inevitable second pass. Your hand brushes against something and the vague outline of a plan comes to mind.

“She won't hear you.” Risa states. “I wasn't lying when I said that the reading club was moving, I merely lied about where it was moving to. Since I was aware of this in advance I was able to instruct Mystia to set this gym up, then all I needed to do was offer to inform you of the move before Tokiko herself could and then...” You could practically hear her smirk. “... I think you understand.”

“Big words for your first fight.” You respond, pulling yourself to your feet and groping around for something to use as a weapon. “So what if you planned this all out? That doesn't mean you'll win.”

“First fight?” You feel slightly better at the girl's surprise. “How did you know that?” She sounds curious, that's good, it meant that she didn't know much about the 'game' at all.

“Because I'm not stupid.” You respond, hearing a low hiss from the girl and a squawk of indignation from her partner. “Or perhaps you just never bothered to read the back of the book? If you two have been close enough to me and beaten someone else then you'd be listed there.” You shrug, “Since you're not it means either you'd only just met up or have never been in a fight yet.”

“So what if we've never been in a fight before?” The girl yelled back. “Mystia said your partner is the weakest of the weakest of the weak!”

“Yeah!” Chimed in the flying girl, evidently called Mystia, “Tokiko gets beat up by children! Human ones!”

“So you figured you'd pick on the weakest person in the game?” You frown. Although it was a sound strategy to take out the weakest first it left something of a bad taste in your mouth - especially when said weakest was currently your girlfriend. “You really haven't read the back of your book, have you?”

“Gah! Mystia!” Risa called out and, almost instantly, the darkness in your eyes seemed to fade away. It was still dark, yes, but much less dark than it had been a few moments ago - whatever Mystia had been doing to blind both you and her partner she had seemingly stopped doing it. You heard the rustle of paper and grinned. Risa was looking in her grimoire, just as you had planned. By goading her partner into having to refer to her book you had forced Mystia to cease her blinding effect so that Risa could actually read.

Immediately you duck down and scoop up the dumbbell your had found during your earlier dive. While both girls were distracted you would be able to throw the heavy thing - your aim wouldn't be great but you figured you'd be able to perhaps hit either of the girls from here.

Aim for Risa (The human)
Aim for Mystia (The youkai)
Aim Elsewhere (Suggestions please)
Something Else Entirely (Suggestions here too)

Red, Orange, Green, Blue

Yes, this means you can do a write in if you want.
In hindsight 'call out to tokiko' was a silly option to give. But when one considers how calling out to tewi backfired... it could have been worse i suppose.
>> No. 20655
[+] Aim for the book!

What do the color levels mean?
>> No. 20656

The first choice is a course of action (which, er, may occasionally be blatantly ignored if things end up going a different way, but generally are tried at least)

The second choice (colors, temperatures, light levels, uh... pretty sure i've had some other stuff too) sets the 'tone' of the writing, ranging from 'Hotblooded' action to 'Coldblooded' thinking.

Of the two the 'tone' usually has more of an impact on what I write for each post.
>> No. 20658
Aim for Risa (The human)

I think a bit of hot blood towards the throw might work.
>> No. 20659
[X] Those two were messing around in here earlier, right? What are the odds that they left out some equipment racks or the like, or just anything big that could easily fall apart, and would make a ton of noise? If there's anything like that, try to knock as many of them over as possible; they could fall on your opponents to distract them, or just cause enough of a racket to attract a bunch of attention from anyone even remotely nearby.
[X] If there's nothing like that, just grip your weapon and run toward the door. You should be able to get the angle right under the current lighting, and at least see most of the obstacles. If Lorelei swoops in for an attack on your way to the door, just bean her.
[X] Green

These two aren't the brightest of the bunch. I wouldn't count on Mystia having the sense to darken everything again if she saw us getting away and panicked. On the other hand, once we get the door open, light should be streaming in, and surely these two wouldn't be dumb enough to try and attack us in broad daylight?
>> No. 20662
If we aim for Risa, Mystia can still block the shot, as she's mostly unoccupied, isn't she?

If we aim for Mystia, we might hit her, but she'll be pissed as hell next time we meet her, and she will be raping us extra-hard.

Those are my concerns.

So, I guess:

[x] Aim for Risa
[x] Make your way towards a light switch or a door, whichever is nearer.
[x] Quickly grab something suitably weapon-y on your way if you can.
[x] Green
[x] Update Disconsolation of Oneiric Substance, you bastard.

I guess Mystia will still be pissed even if she blocks it, for much the same reason.

Also, colors are sort of a bad idea. It does not help when the scale you are using has no inherent value. Go back to temperatures or something; colors mean nothing.
>> No. 20664
[X] Those two were messing around in here earlier, right? What are the odds that they left out some equipment racks or the like, or just anything big that could easily fall apart, and would make a ton of noise? If there's anything like that, try to knock as many of them over as possible; they could fall on your opponents to distract them, or just cause enough of a racket to attract a bunch of attention from anyone even remotely nearby.
[X] If there's nothing like that, just grip your weapon and run toward the door. You should be able to get the angle right under the current lighting, and at least see most of the obstacles. If Lorelei swoops in for an attack on your way to the door, just bean her.
[X] Green
>> No. 20665
[x] Those two were messing around in here earlier, right? What are the odds that they left out some equipment racks or the like, or just anything big that could easily fall apart, and would make a ton of noise? If there's anything like that, try to knock as many of them over as possible; they could fall on your opponents to distract them, or just cause enough of a racket to attract a bunch of attention from anyone even remotely nearby.
[x] If there's nothing like that, just grip your weapon and run toward the door. You should be able to get the angle right under the current lighting, and at least see most of the obstacles. If Lorelei swoops in for an attack on your way to the door, just bean her.
[x] Green
>> No. 20666
Wasn't Risa not using spells 'cause she couldn't see? So in this case, our disability is our greatest asset. It seems that only mystia can see. So while she can probably eviserate us with her claws, it might buy us some time if we keep it dark.
>> No. 20667
File 126164464813.png- (1.71MB , 881x907 , toki2.png ) [iqdb]
Have some Tokiko.
>> No. 20672
Hope everyone had a good christmas and all that,

now, with three votes, calling this as:
[x] Those two were messing around in here earlier, right? What are the odds that they left out some equipment racks or the like, or just anything big that could easily fall apart, and would make a ton of noise? If there's anything like that, try to knock as many of them over as possible; they could fall on your opponents to distract them, or just cause enough of a racket to attract a bunch of attention from anyone even remotely nearby.
[x] If there's nothing like that, just grip your weapon and run toward the door. You should be able to get the angle right under the current lighting, and at least see most of the obstacles. If Lorelei swoops in for an attack on your way to the door, just bean her.
[x] Green
>> No. 20686
Okay, okay. The girls were both distracted for the moment - though how distracted you weren't entirely sure. Mystia, at least, you expected to be vaguely keeping an eye on you - you weren't so foolish as to believe the two would completely let down their guard while you were around. Though the weight of the dumbbell was comforting and you were sure you could hit one of the two females from here with it... it was your only weapon at the moment, if you missed you would be unarmed for the inevitable counterattack. Given both you and Risa could see, somewhat, again it was certain that such a counterattack would be in the form of a spell of some kind that would be far more dangerous than a straight rush by the flying girl. All that and... well... You'd seen the damage Kanako had fought through, a charred arm and a hole blown in her back, and Tokiko too had survived injuries which you were certain would have killed you... Really, you were forced to ask yourself, would hitting her with a dumbbell even so much as slow Mystia down? The other option was of course to aim for Risa, where a good hit would be fatal...

From what you remembered of the fight with Lily, these youkai got back up once their presence in the game was over - you remembered the regenerating wounds and the fact that when she finally vanished she looked as healthy as could be. Combining that with Tokiko's original and adamant belief that no-one was to die in this game implied that, wherever these people from Gensokyo went after they 'died', Gensokyo presumably, they would be arriving there alive and well. Alight, so maybe you couldn't prove this hypothesis unless somehow you could get yourself to Gensokyo and see with your own eyes the living forms of people who were killed, but that wasn't exactly something you could do. What you were sure about, however, was that people died when they were killed and unlike the youkai the human partners had no mystical grimoire to bring them back to life or send them home.

You weren't exactly thrilled with the idea of killing anyone really, but when it came down to it you felt somewhat better about the idea of killing someone who'd come back to life, rather than someone who would stay dead forever. You chuckled darkly for a moment as a grim, but slightly humorous, thought occurs - you couldn't kill the human anyway, youkai vanished when they died, humans didn't, the clean up would be a nightmare. Yeah, you weren't going to just out and kill Risa - which meant you needed another option. If fighting was out then all that remained was fleeing or attracting help. Tokiko was too far and even if you did attract anyone else would they even be able to help? Then again, would your opponents press on with the attack if there were witnesses?

Well, whatever. You didn't have the option of being picky right now as the girls wouldn't stay distracted forever. In the gloom you could just about make out some of the fixed equipment, various things that could be pulled out from the walls for different activities. Although the larger stuff was bolted to the walls a lot of the smaller things, such as the volleyball nets, were simply latched on. The idea being that one could just pull them out to use them or unlatch them entirely to transport them outside or make room for when the place was used as a theater. They were also pretty heavy, taking two or three people to move them about... If you just unlatched them and gave them a hard push they'd simply topple over and make a lot of...

You grinned slightly. There was your attention grabber, if you gave them a careful push and moved on then you could be somewhere else by the time the landed. Such as, say, by the gym exit? The light seeping in from under the door was visible from here and it looked like a fairly clear run to get there too

“Ah,” You grumble, “Fuck it.” Doing something was better than doing nothing after all. Quickly you edged over to one of the mounted volleyball posts and, with a little fumbling, you successfully pulled out the pin holding it against the wall. A gentle shove made it unstable and by the time it was falling you were already making a mad dash towards the exit. Sadly your dash didn't go unheeded as the moment you began Mystia spun around in the air to face you, letting out an angry squawk as she did so.

“Hey!” She screeched, causing Risa to look up. “He's getting away!”

Riosu!” You cursed as you heard the spell being cast, then swore violently as something red shot past you only to blow a chunk out of the wood flooring of the gym. Grunting at the stress it placed on your leg you stamped one foot down, mid-run, and twisted so that you were facing Mystia. Now stopped you opened your eyes wide and tried as best you could to remember the advice Koishi had given you on dodging danmaku-style attacks such as the kind this one seemed to be.

Open your eyes wide,” She had told you, “In higher level fights your peripheral vision is often the only warning you'll get about an oncoming shot.

Something seemed to move in the corner of your eye and you ducked just as a triangular red projectile almost hit you in the side of the head.

Keep your focus aimed at one point in front of you.” That was hard to do with all the things around distracting you, but Koishi had explained that this was exactly the reason why you had to keep your gaze staring ahead. “Many danmaku patterns intend to trick you, to draw your vision to one place before hitting you in the blind spot created by your looking away.

She had admitted that she hadn't seen any full patterns yet but she had stressed that it was a good habit to get into. You'd pointed out that with people using melee attacks such things might not even be required, but she had countered by stating that her current spells were danmaku-style and Tokiko's current spells were also. Okay, so perhaps almost all the youkai could kill you with their bare hands but it wasn't, according to Koishi, necessarily their choice to do so.

When you read out a spell,” She had explained, “we have little choice but to cast it. Holding it back tingles at first but it rapidly becomes painful as the energy of the spell sort of builds up with no-where to go.” What that meant, in short, was that the youkai were terribly constrained by what their partners chose to do. If their partner was an idiot and simply kept casting a spell over and over, the youkai would have no choice but to comply.

Risa didn't seem to be an idiot - which was both good and bad. Bad in that she would likely let Mystia close in on you, but good in that she wasn't likely to keep casting spells you were uncertain about your ability to avoid.

You didn't think you were doing too badly since you hadn't been hit yet. Admittedly some shots had come worryingly close but it seemed as though Koishi's bean-bag barrage training had paid off for now. You wouldn't be able to keep this up for long though, you knew from the training that Tokiko would be barely winded even when you were completely out of breath - if Mystia was anything like her then you would easily be the first one to tire. Thankfully the spell wound to a halt after a few more near misses but by then you and Mystia had rotated around to the point where Mystia was now between you and your way out.

Well, damn.

Your other hope, that maybe someone would hear the commotion of things falling over, also didn't seem to be panning out. That wasn't exactly a huge surprise as you suspected the two girls had chosen this day to get rid of you mainly because there wouldn't be anyone around to interfere. That or they'd already dealt with the people who likely would... You didn't think it would have been too hard for a youkai like Mystia to go around and simply knock out anyone who had been hanging around before Risa led you here.

Backing away from the flying girl you swear to yourself under your breath. Escape was out, calling for help was out, and now from this position attacking Risa directly was going to be difficult if not impossible as the balcony was pretty much right above you.

Had Koshi given you any useful advice for this sort of situation? Being trapped in a room with a killer, flying, shooting youkai? Nooooo.... You were pretty sure she hadn't told you anything else that would be of use here.

It occurred to you then that Mystia wasn't attacking, in fact she seemed to be hovering up and waiting for another spell from Risa. Odd that. Surely it would be easy for her to swoop down now and simply beat you to death? You were still a bit winded from dodging her first spell after all.

As if on cue you heard Risa chant out a different spell, this one prompting Mystia to fling her arms out and let loose what seemed to be a half-circle of projectiles, each one flying off at a slightly different angle. Up close it would have been unavoidable but the further they flew the further apart each projectile got from it's neighbors. By the time they reached you it was possible to just about slip between two of them, eliciting a squeal of annoyance from the winged girl.

“How are you doing that!?” she squawked, “You're just a stupid human! You shouldn't be dodging like that!” She growled slightly, then looked up. “Risa! Another spell!” The moment she looked away you were scooting along the wall, on hand lightly brushing against it as you searched for...



Your fingertips caught the edge of a sliding door, the sports equipment cupboard, and with a single forceful yank you pulled the door open, ducked inside and pulled it shut again just in time to hear something smack against the other side. Slightly more worrying was that it then came out on your side before continuing on to blow up a basket of tennis balls.

Wincing you backed away from the hole in the door, located as it was inches away from where your back had been pressed against the wood. Evidently a cheap cupboard door was not in any way worthwhile protection against the kinds of spells that a youkai could sling in your direction. You were now trapped in a small room with an easily breakable door - but on the plus side the cupboard had it's own light source. A moments fumbling led your fingers to the switch but you didn't turn the lights on yet as some part of your mind was telling you that you could use the light to blind your opponent if you timed things rightly. As another benefit the room was also well equipped with various bits and pieces that Risa and her partner hadn't scattered into the main gym area... there wasn't much but what was there you could see the use of pretty quickly. Aside from the usual stuff such as balls of various sizes, spare nets and a variety of tennis rackets there were also some more interesting items: wooden training swords for the kendo club, javelins that the athletics club used, and lastly more weights of various sizes.

In short you had nets, spears, and a vast array of blunt objects.

You also had a rapidly decreasing amount of time before Mystia would likely burst in and tear you to pieces.

[ ] Entangling Objects
[ ] Pointy Objects
[ ] Blunt Objects

Hot, Warm, Cool, Cold
>> No. 20687
[x] Entangling Objects
[x] Hot
>> No. 20688
[x] Blunt Objects
[x] Hot
Mystia opens door, turn on lights, bash her face in.
>> No. 20691
[x] Blunt Objects
[x] Hot
>> No. 20702
[x] Blunt Objects
[x] Cold

I'm sort of wanting to go for Entangling, but we need to put Mystia out of commission, not just try delaying her.

Spears can miss or be deflected, or simply not be very damaging.

How big is this "cupboard," anyway? I'm not sure how much maneuvering room there is.

An ambush seems like the best strategy, and we will need to be cold and calm as ice.
>> No. 20704
[x] Blunt Objects
[x] Cold

This sounds like the best option out of a bunch of uncertain ones.
>> No. 20710
[x] Blunt Objects
[x] Cold
>> No. 20711
[x] Blunt Objects
[x] Cold
>> No. 20728
Vote called, you're going to callously hit mystia with a blunt object.
>> No. 20729
Hooray! We're basically every PnP PC ever.
>> No. 20789
Keeping yourself behind solid cover you merely waited. This was not a plan in which you could make the first move - you needed Mystia to at least poke her head into the room if you planned to blind her with the lights... but with the way she was staying out and simply throwing spell after spell it didn't seem like she was too willing to come in after you. Had her partner already realized the danger?

No... You didn't think so. If she had then she wouldn't be passing out spells for Mystia to use and would have started her own waiting game. However unless Mystia decided to try and flush you out personally your waiting game would just continue without end. If things went on any longer then you'd have to think of some way to lure her in. You grit your teeth as another wave of shots peppered the gym doors, which were less door and more hole by this point.

Were you more hotblooded you would probably have done something like yell insults or perhaps even jump into full view as bait. Thankfully you weren't stupid enough to risk such unreliable and potentially dangerous methods as you had already come up with a safer though somewhat painful plan to try. Reaching out you grabbed one of the smaller dumbbells and lifted it up in preparation as you clenched your teeth and waited for the perfect moment.

Finally Mystia shot off another barrage and this time, as one of the shots blew past, you swung your arm down and smashed the dumbbell into your own leg. Not hard enough to seriously injury yourself but more than hard enough to hurt like hell. You made no attempt at all to stop the cry of pain that escaped your mouth, for that was the vital part of your plan. If youkai were hunters of humans, as Tokiko had claimed, then it was highly likely that they'd be able to tell between a real and a fake cry. This way your cry of pain was real enough to fool Mystia and the actual injury was less enough that it wouldn't impede your ambush. Given the timing the youkai and her partner were liable to assume that you had been clipped by one of their shots, which would hopefully draw Mystia in for the kill.

You hear a yell of success and grin nastily to yourself.

Within moments the door is being ripped open and Mystia all but rushes in, only to be hit in the face by a hundred watts of pure electric light. Even behind your closed eyelids you can see spots from the sudden bright light and given Mystia's squeal her eyes had been hurt worse than yours. Opening them a crack you squinted at the youkai covering her eyes with her hands, mutter a quick apology, then smash your dumbbell into the back of her head with a great overarm swing.

You hear a dull crunch and she collapses, falling to the floor like a sack of rice. From above you hear Risa yelling something but it's drowned out by the sound of your own heart beating away like a mad drummer. You realize you're breathing hard and that your opponent seems to be barely breathing herself.

You only had one choice to make now.

[ ] Kill!
[ ] Ki-
>> No. 20792
[x] Kill!

This will end badly. I know it.
>> No. 20793
[X] Kill!

All or nothing
>> No. 20794
[x] Kill!
>> No. 20795
[x] Kill!

feels great man
>> No. 20798
[ ] Ki-
I want to know what happens.
>> No. 20805
[X] Ki-

Do not want to beat Mystia to death with a blunt object.
>> No. 20807
[x] Ki-
>> No. 20812
[X] Ki-

I don't want this. I don't want to kill her. Call me a sentimental idiot if you like, but I...
>> No. 20814
[x] Kill!
>> No. 20815
[x] Kill!
As much as I like Mystia I don't think we will get a second chance
>> No. 20816
{X} Kill!
>> No. 20817
There better be some serious consideration here on both sides of the aisle.

Killing her immediately has the benefit of definitively saving our bacon, which is nice.

On the other hand, we're also definitively killing off a potential source of information on this twisted game. If Mystia dies, her partner forgets everything, so no grilling her afterward. On top of that, we're not likely to get too many chances to drag information out of people - Mystia is a low-tier character, and probably lacks the conviction to stand against us that later characters might have. Lord knows we wouldn't be able to get information from Kanako, for example.

On a somewhat less reasoned note, the phrasing of the second option suggests to me a sudden interruption. It's note a "spare her," or a "what am I doing," it's an abruptly terminated form of the option to kill her. I suspect this is an indication that either we are going to be stopped by Mystia killing us, by a third party intervening, or by someone bursting into the room. The first would mean an immediate bad end, and possibly a rollback right after; the second has a chance of giving us a better idea of what is happening, or revealing more information to us; the last could have any number of ramifications, and more importantly, could happen even if we go through with killing Mystia - someone witnessing us murder a girl in cold blood would be bad news. And heaven help us if it's Tokiko, walking in only to see us brutally murdering someone in a fit of rage.
>> No. 20818
I believe it is canon that Mystia's got a healthy helping of courage.
>> No. 20820
[X] Ki-
>> No. 20821
[X] Ki-

Don't be a monster anon.
>> No. 20822
[X] Ki-
>> No. 20823
[x] Ki-
>> No. 20825
{X} Kill!
>> No. 20826
[X] Ki-
>> No. 20829
I think it may be more arrogance, given she didn't flee and went immediately from the mid-boss fight to the stage boss fight, with no recooperating time inbetween. Like what most bosses do. Midboss, run away to recover, boss fight. So she's overconfidiant in her abilities.
>> No. 20830
[x] Ki-
>> No. 20831
[Q] Ki-

Can't kill the bird.
>> No. 20832
[x] Kill!
>> No. 20833
So it's come to this. We cannot see eye to eye.

Draw your weapon!
>> No. 20835
[x] Kill!

Pussies, all most of you.
>> No. 20836
Here's a question: What do you think killing someone (even if she'd end up back in Gensokyo Okay but minus a special something) would have on a collage age guy in over his head?

And what might occur if she's spared?

[x] Kill

Hopefully in a merciful fashion at least, since while might have been a plot or such, our lead isn't a cold hearted sadist.
>> No. 20837

I doubt Mystia would know that much at all. (being a low ranked boss and not connected to the big movers and shakers in Gensokyo)
>> No. 20839
Average votes per update: 7 - 10
Votes per this update: 20+

Uh, I realize that this is a critical story juncture and all, but that seems a little suspect. I may be totally off base, of course, but...
>> No. 20840
Do it. The votespam check, I mean. Better safe than sorry and all that.

[x] Ki-
>> No. 20844
Uh... wow.
Heated voting much?

Okay, consider this the CUT OFF for voting. I'll call it when i can get a mod to votespam check it.
>> No. 20845

yeah moral dilemmas cause such shit storms.

And as much as I like Mystia, mercy is something of an indulgence.

Sparing her (it seems) is a gamble, one that might pay off more.

I'm curious as to what would be the better choice in the end.
>> No. 20846
Votespam check has taken place, vote has been called, writing it now. Keeping it quiet for the moment for, y'know, the suspense value.
>> No. 20871
>> No. 20872
The barbell slips out of your numb fingers as you step out of the storage room. It hits the floor with a loud clang then another as it bounces slightly on the hard surface, the noise echoing around the silent gym. You pause and look down at the bloodstained metal for a long moment. Had you really just done what you did?

From above you can hear a muffled sobbing from the girl, Risa. You try to think of something to say but it feels as if your mouth is glued together - you just couldn't seem to get any words out. Glancing up at the balcony for a moment you close your eyes and turn away to begin carefully picking a path to the exit doors.

You give the door a little shake and find that it's mercifully unlocked. You guess that the duo had hoped to finish you off before you got a chance to try the doors and hadn't bothered to lock them. Seemed a bit of an oversight to you as they had taken such pains to set the rest of the room up as one great trap, leaving the way out unlocked seemed... stupid.

Good karma paying off early perhaps?

You turn, the door half open.

“She's not dead.” You state, your voice filling the hall and causing the muffled sobbing to pause. “But she came close.” Too close in fact. You'd been ready to give her the final blow, to smash her skull in with your dumbbell when it had hit you what you were about to do. Had your second thought come even a heartbeat later then Mystia would have had her brains splattered across the storage room floor and her partner's book would be burning as she forgot the youkai girl. It would have been so easy... and that scared you more than you wanted to admit.

Looking up at the school clock you stand and stare for several long moments. It had felt like hours inside the gym while you were facing off against Mystia and Risa but the clock was there telling you that barely fifteen minutes had passed since you'd entered the sports building. You frowned and made a few mental calculations. It had taken a few minutes to get from the library to the gym, not more than five at most, then fifteen minutes fighting in the gym... You figured that would leave you maybe another fifteen or so minutes before Tokiko's little group broke up for the evening. Enough time for you to sit down and think things over for a bit at least.

A short walk soon found you standing at a shallow embankment along which a row of evenly spaced trees each stood surrounded by a decorative ring of flowers. Selecting the closest you strolled up the incline and picked your way through the flower patch until you were able to slump down against the base of the tree.

What the hell had you been thinking?

You had come this close, this close, to becoming a murderer. One that killed a downed opponent at that - didn't they have laws against that? Even in self-defense it was considered bad form to kill someone after incapacitating them and Mystia had been pretty incapacitated after the first time you hit her. Actually you were feeling a little guilty for that too, you could have easily tangled her up in a net or something rather than smash her in the skull with a set of weights. Hell, you were probably lucky you didn't accidentally kill her with the first blow!

As you sat there lost in thought, you vaguely kept an eye on one of the school caretakers as he tended to each flowerbed along the embankment in turn. He'd probably yell at you when he realized you were sitting here - students weren't really allowed along this area in case they wrecked the flowerbeds. Meh. Screw it. You'd put up with enough shit already, if the caretaker wanted to cause trouble then he'd just have to come over and do it himself - you weren't moving until it was time to pick up Tokiko and that was it. Goddamn it, this was all her fault you were even around to be attacked anyway. If it hadn't been for that stupid library club of he-

You stamped down hard on that thought. There was no point in blaming Tokiko for any of this, if Risa and Mystia had not been able to attack you now then they would have simply attacked some other time instead. You swore under your breath - was this the kind of thing you were going to have to look forward to? Being attacked by random psychopaths without warning? You didn't recall Tokiko or Koishi mentioning how many participants there were in this survival game nor did you think you ever say any such information recorded in your grimoire.

“Tsk. The young and their language. Shameful.” You jumped slightly at the voice, whipping your head around to lay your eyes on the caretaker you had been watching. When the hell did he get over here without you noticing? The old man looked down at you and shook his head disapprovingly before turning away to attend to the flower patch. “You shouldn't be up here you know.” He stated, “School rules and all that. Goodness knows why, it's not as if these flowers won't grow back and hardly any guests come this way to begin with.”

“I heard the headmaster likes to claim he grew them himself.” You respond, not quite sure how to react to the apparent lack of getting in trouble.

The caretaker shrugs. “Providence of those in power.” He states, “Those below do all the fighting, those above get all the glory. It has ever been thus.” He pauses and turns to peer at you. “Speaking of fighting, you appear to have done your fair share of such recently.”

“Huh?” You glance down at yourself and note the tears in your uniform, the few cuts on your arms and finally realize that the throbbing feeling under your eye is probably a bruise of some kind. “Oh... Yeah, I suppose I have, haven't I?” In all honesty you hadn't even thought about the injuries you had incurred from being flung about, slashed at and grazed by Mystia and her spells.

“Did you win?” The question was simple and was seemingly of interest to the man, given that he had paused his work and was leaning on his how while awaiting your answer.

You shrugged. “I guess.” Watching the man begin to frown you decide to expand upon your answer. “I won, sort of. Walked away on my own feet at least.”

“You don't sound so happy about that.” The caretaker pointed out. “Rather you sound as if you would have preferred to have lost.”

“Awfully familiar for a caretaker aren't you?” You snap back, causing the older man to shrug and smile as if he knew something you didn't. On reflex you glance down but soon sigh in relief when you don't spot anything that looked like a chain around either of his arms.

“Hm?” He looks down, “Do I have something on me?” Seeing nothing he looks back up at you. “I do suppose I was getting a mite over friendly.” He said at last, “But I would imagine you would prefer this over my marching you to the nearest teacher demanding your punishment for traipsing all across the 'headmaster's' flowerbeds.” The man looked down at the ground around his feet and shrugged. “Not that they look particularly traipsed, I see you were careful not to stand on anything that wasn't dead already.”

“I know my flowers.” You reply as you cross your arms and frown. “And yes not being given detention is a good thing. Though I don't exactly see why you'd bother not getting me in trouble. Or even be talking to me for that matter.”

Laughing to himself the man turned away and dug his hoe into the earth. “This old man had his own share of fighting when he was younger.” He stated, dragging the tool around a few shrubs. “Did a few things I wasn't proud of, things I felt more than a little guilty about. You, I think, are not feeling particularly proud right now nor are you entirely guilt-free.” The hoe paused. “I know I could have done with someone to speak with then, even if it was mere smalltalk.”

“Well... I guess I don't feel as bad as I did earlier.” You hazard, causing the caretaker to smile.

* * * * * * * *

She snorted as she sat on her perch, watching the boy and the man talk to one another. How much longer were they going to sit about chatting? The sooner the kid got back together with the bird and headed home, the sooner she could head home herself.

Okay, watching the boy face off against the sparrow had been worth tracking him down for - the fact that he'd actually won had made the trouble even more worthwhile. If she were in his place she would have smashed the sparrow's head in for daring to raise arms against her... But she wasn't and it had been his fight so as much as she wanted to go down and finish the job she really would have to abide by his choice to leave the nightbird alive.

Not that it would stop her obliterating the girl if they ran into each other outside the school grounds. It wouldn't do to have too many people around town who could attract people who would recognize her after all.


Speaking of which.

“What do you want?” She stated, acknowledging the presence nearby. “Come to fight?”

“Mmm... Not really~” From the corner of her vision she watched as a lavender-haired ghost floated up beside her. Almost instantly she was doing a mental rundown of her capabilities and gauging them against her own... She'd never fought the ghost princess before and she could feel herself grinning at the prospect of having it out with the over-stacked wh-


She forced herself to think of something else, of flowers and grass and anything that would let her keep control. She had a plan god damn it! It wasn't a great plan but it was hers and she wanted to carry it out! Even doing her best to keep from lashing out she could feel her knuckles crack as she flexed and curled her fingers - was it possible to rip a ghost's face off? The urge to find out was growing stronger with every passing second.

“Then go away.” She growled out.

“Why~?” The ghost gave a light giggle that only served to make her grind her teeth in annoyance. “You seem to be up to something no?” There it was, right on cue, an attempt to try and get her to spill her plan. Far be it from the second most manipulative bitch in Gensokyo to let anything pass by without...


She grinned, her muscles loosening as a fun thought made her back down from the desire to maim someone. “I don't know what you mean.” She said, noting the flicker of irritation pass across the ghost's face. “Surely you would be able to see what's being planned? Or are you perhaps admitting you're not the intelligence you think you are?” Seeing the response on the ghost princesses' face she simply had to smirk - was this why all those manipulative types did what they did? The feeling of superiority, while not quite as good as the kind that came after crushing someone else's body into the dirt, did feel rather nice.

“Hm~” the purple-haired woman quickly regained her composure however and smiled lightly. “Well, I suppose it is no concern of mine for now.” She stated, “I have my own appointments to be making as it is.” She peered down at the boy sitting at the base of the tree. “He doesn't seem to be particularly special...”

“Oh,” The original observer replied, “He's vital. Have fun guessing why.” She smirked again as the ghost woman frowned and turned to leave in a huff. Stupid Yuyuko, just like that goddamn Yukari, always thinking she's superior in intellect to everyone around her. Feh, at least she wasn't quite as annoying as that blasted evil spirit - but she came close enough that it would most definitely be enjoyable to kill her.

Looking away from the men below, Yuuka Kazami raised one hand up to scratch thoughtfully at her chin. Exactly how did one kill a ghost anyway?

* * * * * * * *

As you walked back towards to library you felt you had to admit that you were feeling somewhat better about things. The chat with the caretaker had improved your mood considerably - despite half of what you had said about events being a pack of lies. It was one thing to let him think you'd just been in a fight and another to let him know how close you came to murder. You did feel a momentary stab of pity for the man as you left him tending the flowerbeds since it was pretty likely that he would be the one cleaning up the mess left behind in the gym... and trying to explain the damage you and Mystia had done there.

Before reaching the library you made a quick detour into one of the restrooms and gave yourself a quick once over to get rid of any particularly visible evidence of your fight. You really, really didn't want to reach home only to be chewed out by your mother over your injuries... and you weren't entirely comfortable with the idea of letting Tokiko know the full extend of them either. She'd probably blame it all on herself and to be perfectly honest you preferred the smiling, happier, Tokiko to the depressive pessimist you had first met some time ago.

You spot her standing outside the library doors with one of her friends, a pigtailed girl who promptly stomped up to you and started lecturing you on your having left Tokiko behind. You held up your hands in defeat and spun some quick story about being called off to help carry some stuff by one of the teachers. This seemed to placate the girl who grudgingly left, leaving you alone with Tokiko.

“Um...” The silver-haired girl looked up at you as you both began your own walk home. “So... what really happened?” She asks, her nose twitching slightly as if she smelled something odd. Your blood maybe? That was a little creepy you thought, but she did have better senses than you did in general and you knew that well.

You shrug.

“Nothing much.” You state. “Just hurt myself a little thanks to some birdbrain in the gym.” You'd tell her the whole story when you got home. For now you were just happy to be capable of walking home with your partner.

[ ] C13H21NO3 - Three Foot Suigintou
[ ] Just A Foot Will Do - Practical Nephology
[ ] Medical Liability - Damp Grass Numbering

+ bonus bit i said i'd do and forgot about the last time i had one of these votes.
>> No. 20873
[x] C13H21NO3 - Three Foot Suigintou
>> No. 20874
[X] Medical Liability - Damp Grass Numbering
>> No. 20875
[ ] C13H21NO3 - Three Foot Suigintou

>> No. 20876
[ℤℯ] C₁₃H₂₁NO₃ - Three Foot Suigintou

>> No. 20877
[x] C13H21NO3 - Three Foot Suigintou

>> No. 20878
Incidentally, C13H21NO3 is a psychedelic drug.

I dunno if that'll affect anyone's voting.
>> No. 20880
>Psychedelic drug

[X] C13H21NO3 - Three Foot Suigintou
>> No. 20881
[x] C13H21NO3 - Three Foot Suigintou
>> No. 20882
Or it could be asthma medication.
>> No. 20883
Feel free to make guesses on what these are for, after the next post i'll explain 'em all.
>> No. 20884
[X] C₁₃H₂₁NO₃ - Three Foot Suigintou

copy paste works just as well
>> No. 20885
[x] Just A Foot Will Do - Practical Nephology
I have a feeling this somehow is Kogasa.
>> No. 20886
[x] Just A Foot Will Do - Practical Nephology
>> No. 20887

Couldn't it be any of these, though?

My own guesses:
>C13H21NO3 - Three Foot Suigintou
? and Medicine (Thinking Suwako, for some strange reason. Psychedelic frogs, and all that. Plus, matched lolis.)

>Just A Foot Will Do - Practical Nephology
Kogasa and Ichirin (Nephology is the study of clouds)

>Medical Liability - Damp Grass Numbering
? and ? (Eirin and Yuuka? Hell if I know.)
>> No. 20888
>Or it could be asthma medication.
Oh, whoops. That just clicked. Patchy, then; not Suwako.
>> No. 20890
I think it's pretty obvious who won...
C13H21NO3 - Three Foot Suigintou

Whoever they are, you'll find out... eh... whenever.
>> No. 20891

My guess is Cirno and Okuu.
>> No. 20906
Judging by the volume of her voice Tokiko hadn't been exactly happy about your solo fight with Mystia, and the content of her rant had reinforced that particular notion. You were lucky that no-one had been home at the time thanks to your sister being off at one of her martial arts classes and your mother visiting one of her friends. By the time your mother had returned Tokiko had pretty much finished her ranting and was instead actively snubbing you and ignoring your presence as best she could.

Almost inevitably your mother had taken this in a disturbingly cheerful way, claiming that 'your first lovers spat' was something to rejoice. Annoyed at Tokiko as you were for her yelling at you there was a moment where you almost, almost, spat out that Tokiko wasn't your lover. Thankfully you caught yourself in time as a mix of logical reasoning and a highly evolved self preservation instinct kicked in to clamp your mouth shut at the last moment. Letting something like that slip would have surely resulted in a one-way trip to hell on earth as envisaged by your mother.

It was not long before you had started to gravitate away from the living room and towards the general direction of your bedroom, planning on just giving up for the night, when your mother spoke up just before you started up the staircase.

“You shouldn't go to bed angry.”

You paused at the statement and turned to see your mother sitting on one of the comfortable seats where she had been watching some drama show on the television. Instead of watching, however, she was looking up at you with an unusually... normal... expression.

“You shouldn't go to bed angry.” she repeated. “Get mad, have fights, you'll argue - couples always do - but you should never go to bed angry with one another.” She looked away then, “you'll regret it.”


She was talking about him.

Your father.

* * * * * * * *

The purple-haired woman yawned as she shuffled down just one of many elaborately decorated hallways. This mansion was large and extravagant, hardly a match to the Scarlet Mansion really but she had been forced to admit that the décor was definitely less oppressive than the kind Remilia favored. Walls of pale creams and blues, plush carpets she could feel her feet sinking into with every step, wide windows opening onto wide open ground and edged with tasteful drapery... This mansion seemed to be everything nice and light that the Scarlet Mansion was not, and yet for some reason it felt so much more lifeless than that dark and oppressive place.

“There's no fairies.” She murmured, surprised at the realization dawning on her. The Scarlet Mansion had always been teeming with fairy maids of all kinds, back there one could barely walk ten steps without ending within arms reach of a new fairy. Here however the hallways were empty and the few maids that worked here were few and far between... Though on the plus side this mansion also had butlers. Now that was something she could perhaps grow used to, moreso given that they all appeared to be of the rather handsome variety - no doubt due to the whims of the mansion's young mistress.

When was the last time she had been around men on a regular basis? More to the point, when had she last been around any normal humans capable of using words with more than two syllables? Admittedly the staff here weren't exactly up to her level of conversation but at least their eyes didn't glaze over the minute she started talking like the fairies and humans did back home.

It was... different.

Not the outside world she remembered.

That one had been filled with superstitious god-fearing fools who tried to crush everything that they either did not understand or that did not fit within their limited world views. How had she heard it put before? They would listen but they would not hear, because they had already made their minds up about that sort of thing.

How sadly true.

This one was... different. Admittedly the few people she had spoken with didn't believe in magic but there had been something there that she hadn't seen back in the past - the willingness to accept that it could exist, even if they didn't believe in it. Given how Marisa and her partner were all to willing to show off every hour of the day it was not all that hard to see why the staff were less resistant to the idea of magic. One had even informed her of a long-standing bet a skeptics group had placed regarding magic or other supernatural phenomenon - Patchouli had to admit that a small part of her wanted to go and win that bet, if for no reason other than to rock the self-blinded world of science to it's foundations.

“You seem pretty cheerful, that's unusual.” The purple-haired magican blinked in surprise at the voice as she realized that she had arrived at the main dining hall already. It was a pretty damning indictment as to how lost in thought she had been that she didn't even recall most of the walk there. Looking down at the speaker, already sat at the large table, the librarian merely raised one eyebrow ad the blue-haired kappa.

“I do not recall having an inability to be cheerful.” She stated, causing the kappa to frown back at her and turn back to the breakfast laid out on the table while. She caught the girl muttering something, probably something insulting, under her breath but Patchouli chose to ignore the kappa for now. Nitori had arrived a day or two ago after Marisa and her partner, the mansion's young mistress, had gone out in search of what Patchouli had assumed was originally going to have been a fight.

If the kappa wasn't bad enough then there was, somewhere around the mansion, also that damned puppeteer Alice. She had apparently been on Marisa's side since some time before the black-white witch had found her own self under that bridge over a week past.

Patchouli wasn't entirely certain of what Marisa and her partner had planned but it was pretty obvious that all three of her subordinates, Nitori, Alice and herself, were expected to fail the game in order to allow Marisa to win in the end.

How pathetic they, and she, all were that they would so readily agree to this simply because it was Marisa who had asked.

* * * * * * * *

“Half kilo tuna! It's a bargain!” You wince slightly as the market seller yells out to the passing crowd even as you stood almost on top of him browsing his selection of fish. You and Tokiko had been sent, quite unceremoniously, out to the weekend market that visited your little town every other week. After a moment's thought you point to a few smaller fish and question one the seller as to their price, frown, then offer a somewhat lower offer. He scowls then suggest something a little higher, but still lower than his original price - it seemed fair enough but you managed to push him a little lower before paying out for the fish.

“What was that about?” Tokiko asked after the two of you had left the stall to move on.

“Hm?” You pause and look at a new stall, this one filled with various meats. “That? You mean the haggling?”

“Um... Is that what you were arguing about?” replies your partner as she also looks over the meats, though it's obvious to you that she doesn't seem to know what she's looking for - why you pick this piece over that piece or one cut instead of another.

“The price of the fish, yes.” You state as you point to a good looking cut of pork and indicate to the stall owner to bag it up, “Haggling is basically coming to an agreement over the price of things, he wants me to pay higher so he has more profit and I want to pay lower so I get the item for less. He, however, won't sell for too low a price - so it's all about being good at estimating costs and knowing what you can get away with.” You smile as the stall owner prices your selections. “Not everything can be haggled over though - the big stores simply don't accept it.” you add for Tokiko's benefit as you hand your money over and take your newly bought meat. As the two of you leave the stall you give her a little smirk, “And not everyone is any good at it either,” you say quietly, “which explains why you can at some market stalls and can't at others.”

“Ah, the ones who are bad at it don't let you try?” She suggested, causing you to laugh a little and nod an affirmative. She seems about to ask something else when something evidently catches her eye as she pauses and turns to look at a fruit stall. “What's this?” She asks after a moment, indicating a yellow fruit.

“Banana,” you state without any hesitation. “It's not that interes...” You trail off, then raise an eyebrow at Tokiko. “You've never seen a banana before?”

“Banana?” She echoes, her brow drawing down into a cute little frown of thought. “But I thought a banana was a white thing with the brown sweet stuff and little multicolor stars on top.” She looks down at the nearest bunch of bananas and reaches out to poke one of the curved fruit. “This is... I don't know what this is.”

For a moment you're not sure what the silver-haired girl is on about but your eyes quickly light up with understanding. “Where,” you ask, “exactly do you see these 'bananas' of yours?”

She shrugs lightly. “At festivals.” She responds, “The shrine festival has a stall which sells them, and the harvest and new years festivals at the village too - but they don't let me and my friends in there unless miss Keine is with us, so we don't always get any then.”

“Chocobanana.” You mumble. “That's what you mean, bananas dipped in chocolate.” you perk up slightly and grin. “I can make those, they're not too hard - and mom won't complain if I make some for everyone, she has a dreadful love of sweet and sugary things.” Reaching out you grab a reasonable looking bunch of the thick-skinned fruit and quickly pay for it. “We'll need some chocolate though, and some sprinkles.”

You step away from the stall and hold the bag with the bananas out to Tokiko. “If I'm going to make them for you,” you say, “then it's only fair that you carry them home.”

* * * * * * * *

She clambered over the junk pile with grace borne from almost two weeks of practice at doing such an act. She still felt the nausea she had experienced that first time she found herself in the junkyard, except now it was just a dull feeling at the base of her stomach rather than the full gut-wrenching sickness it had been the first time she had tried climbing. The children were still better than her by far though, but that was perfectly understandable given that most of them had a few years practice to her two weeks.

She had been living at the junkyard for a bit longer than that however, the first several days having been spent recovering from... whatever it was that she had been doing before. Though she had made numerous attempts at remembering it seemed as though everything beyond around three weeks ago was just one big black blur. All she knew about herself were the things she could see in a mirror and those few details that big sis could tell her about the night she had been found.

Big sis was a nice person, it was she who had spent those first several days helping her recover from her injuries - be it by feeding her with warm soups or by changing her dirty bandages for fresh ones. Big sis wasn't really her big sis, but that was what everyone else at the hut called her and it was what she herself had asked to be called. Big sis was a nice lady, with terribly pretty blue-white hair like fallen snow... but there was something about that which made her a little scared of big sis, though she honestly couldn't explain why.

The kids called her Aki, it was the name that she had told big sis she had. It didn't sound quite right to her ears, but it was all she had so now her name was Aki. She was one of the kids now, they were all children who didn't have anywhere else to go - like her - the ones who had fallen through the cracks and ended up alone. Big sis had taken them in and let them live with her in the hut - a small single-floor house on the edge of a junkyard. Big sis cooked for everyone and fixed everyones clothes and she had heard so many nice things about big sis from the other kids that she had wanted to help the kids help big sis. This this kids did by scavenging around the junkyard for things that could be fixed or recycled - she liked that word for some reason, recycled, it made her feel strange inside. Worthwhile things that were found would eventually be sold by big sis either to people who bought fixed things or to people who would turn broken things into new things. Aki didn't really understand it but over time she had picked up the skill of telling what big sis could sell from and what big sis couldn't sell.

Giggling she met up with some of the other kids on the pile of junk with the pink car on top, it being a favored meeting spot for when the kids were done with their scavenging for the day - or just when they needed a break from looking around. Fats was already there, as well as Braid and Monkey - the others must not have been done with their work yet. Oh well, it wasn't like they wouldn't know where everyone was going to go from here anyway, they could just catch up on their own.

The four kids headed down from the pink-car pile, past the funny boat and to a little spot nestled behind the hero truck. Here the kids had cleared a bit of ground from junk and more impressively had managed to keep it clear - so far big sis didn't know about it since it was meant to be a surprise.

This, after all, was the Garden. Things grew here, grass and flowers and special things.

Like the tomatoes.

Little Teddie had supposedly come up with the idea some time before Aki had joined the kids, she was the only one of them still going to little school and at some point, according to Monkey, the little school had taught them about growing vegetables. Little Teddie had filched herself a bunch of extra seeds from the teacher and brought them back for the kids to plant in the Garden. They hadn't been growing all that well until the kids - and Aki - had learned that Aki was good with plants. The tomatoes already had little green berries, which Little Teddie had told everyone would get bigger and turn red eventually and wow wasn't it amazing that everything in the Garden was growing faster than what they had planted at little school?

Everyone had agreed that Aki must have a green thumb because she liked the Garden so much.

Aki didn't think so, her thumb was the same color as the rest of her.

But she did like the Garden a lot, that was true.

* * * * * * * *

The chocolate bubbled lightly as it sat in a glass bowl carefully suspended in a pot of near-boiling water. The entire thing was sitting on a little gas table-stove around which you had laid a few small pots containing sprinkles, marshmallow pieces and a few other items that could be dipped in the chocolate once the bananas were finished. Both your sister and Tokiko were all but drooling in anticipation as they sat at either end of the table watching the bubbling chocolate with an unnatural interest. Your mother should be returning from her job any minute now, which was why you were staving off the two sugar-hungry girls for the moment - no doubt your mom would be terribly upset if she came home to find out she missed on such a sweet treat.

Not that anyone would be partaking of the chocolate goodies until after they'd eaten their dinner, but expecting everyone's interest to be more on the dessert than the dinner you'd only prepared something quick and simple anyway. The chocolate could bubble away without any trouble until everyone was ready.

“So, what do you think?” you ask your sister, “This is all Tokiko's idea, because from where she comes from they don't have bananas very often at all.” Your sister looks up at your partner, stars practically gleaming in her eyes.

“Please say there are other sweets you don't have very often.” She states, “so you can guilt him into making more for me - I mean us.”

Tokiko giggles slightly at that before returning to her drooling over the sw- wait.

You frown slightly.

“Tokiko?” You ask, seeing her looking away from the sweets and instead at the window. At your calling her name she jumps slightly and turns back, looking a little embarassed.

“Ah! I'm sorry!” She exclaims, “I thought I saw something outside and thought it was maybe m...” She blushes slightly, “uhm, I thought it was mother maybe.” She's still not used to referring to your mom as her own, but then given how your mom squealed like a giddy schoolgirl every time she did within her earshot you can hardly blame your partner. Her head suddenly whipped around, “There it is again!”

You look up sharply, catching what looked like a flash of yellow in the window before it vanished. Your sister too had looked and you could hear her suck in a quick breath, “What was that?” She asked, making you shrug in response. For several moments the three of your stared at the window wondering what was out there - a cat? A person?

Shit. What if it was another player?

For a long while there's nothing, then Tokiko lets out a shriek of surprise and points away from that window, towards the one that could be seen through the kitchen door. You and your sister both spin, catching another flash of yellow - it's hair, the way it trails behind whatever had moved away seems to indicate that much at least.

“Someone's there!” Tokiko hisses, “Looking through the window at us!”

“I'll check it out.” Your sister states firmly, her fists clenching. You do your best not to wince, if whoever was fluttering around the outside of the house was a player then your sister stood no chance...

“I'll go with you.” You add, causing your sister to raise one eyebrow at you - but she says nothing as she gets up from her seat, though she does smirk a little when Tokiko also gets up to join the both of you.

The three of you quickly split up, you and Tokiko heading out the front while your sister headed out the back, hopefully whoever it was would simply run away, though the three of you agreed to yell out if there was trouble of any kind.

Nodding to Tokiko you sped to and quickly exited through the front door, making sure to quickly glance to either side just in case of an ambush. “So?” you ask once the door shuts behind you. “What do you think?”

“Is is a player?” She asked back. “I don't know, I don't feel anything... and the only blond people I know would just break in if they wanted a go at us...” She frowned slightly. “Rumia might hover around but she's a bit too... um... she'd probably just sit right outside a window or would have just run right into it and knocked herself silly.” She shakes her head, “It could be, but I don't know.”

“Nevermind then,” you mutter, “We'll act as if it is - just in case.” you felt a slight tingle in your arm and then the comfortable weight of Tokiko's grimoire in your hand. “Check the bushes, check around the corners, keep your hands out in case we need to shoot without warning and most of all keep your eyes and ears open.” Your partner nods, raising her hands up and keeping them both pointed roughly in front of her - if anything jumped out the first spell would easily catch them, though you'd have to be careful just in case it was your sister rounding a corner.

* * * * * * * *

The woman sighed contentedly as she sank into the plush cushions of the couch. Though she would never admit it to her master she did really, really, like such decadent luxuries as this. Idly she flipped through a glossy magazine in order to at least look like she was doing something. She'd already done what little cleaning was needed, made lunch for the boy she was looking after and done the laundry - that done there was little else for her to really do unless she felt like going hunting for other players which, frankly, she wasn't in any great rush to do. Taking up the job of a live-in maid had bee none of her better plans, especially when the only person she really had to look after was a young boy on account of his parents being constantly out traveling on business.

Peering over the top of the magazine she spotted the boy sitting at a desk set up against the window of the room, studying. Apparently it was one of his mother's commandments, that he study down here where she, the maid, could keep an eye on him to make sure he actually was studying and not simply playing games.

She licked her lips slightly as she turned back to her magazine. The boy didn't seem to be too impressed by his enforced studying and she could see that he was getting antsy given by how often he fidgeted about or played with his scruffy blond hair. He was an energetic child forced into a strictly regimented lifestyle by his parents... hm... perhaps she should offer him a little incentive to complete his studies? He'd deliberately ignored a number of hints she'd dropped already, though she knew that he had registered them by how he occasionally glanced her way when he thought she wasn't looking. Plus there was his insistence on emptying his own room's little trashcan, and how he refused to let her clean up his room unless he 'arranged things' first.

Such a cute little boy.

Well, he'd fall in the end - it had been a long time since Ran had been able to... indulge herself... in some of her less public interests, but it didn't mean she was out of practice at it.

* * * * * * * *

“I don't get it.” You shook your head in disgust at yourself. “Nothing! I don't know who the hell that was but it looks like they got clean away.”

“That would be the best result you know,” pointed out your sister, whom you had met back up with while on your search for the mystery peeper. “For all we know they could have turned violent if we found them, honestly it's good enough that we scared them off.”

“Oh, hey, mom's back.” You state, noting the car sat in the little driveway. “Didn't hear her return.”

There was a pause before you and your sister suddenly looked at each other with twin expressions of horror. “The sweets!” you both yelled, breaking into a run towards the front door, Tokiko seemed confused but she ran after you both, keeping up without any trouble at all. The front door was slammed open as you and your sister skidded to a stop in front of the door to the ...

You stared at the scene at the dinner table, your mother was there already happily scooping up some more melted chocolate with the aid of a marshmallow on a skewer.

“Mom!” you yell, causing her to drop the marshmallow into the chocolate pot. She fumbles about, trying to hide the evidence of her having started snacking, but given that she's doing it right in front of you it doesn't really work too well.

“Shiori!” She squeals ins response, having hid an empty bowl - she'd eaten all the strawberries already - behind her back. “You shouldn't yell at you m-” She pauses mid word, then narrows her eyes.

You frown at her change when a gasp from Tokiko and something pressing against your leg makes you half spin and half step aside.

Your mother squeals loudly once more and points at the small blond girl who had just pushed her was past you, your sister and Tokiko. You stare down at the new arrival, realizing that this must have been the peeper you had been looking for earlier... had she followed you into the house? You glance behind to see the front door open and a trail of muddy footprints leading from there to the girl. Footprints, not shoe prints, the girl was barefoot - odd.

“Shiori,” Your mother whispers, “Tokiko...”

Uh-oh. Your 'crazy mother' senses were putting out a full alert warning now and given that your sister had mysteriously vanished it was obvious that she had been sensed trouble approaching too. Goddamit, leaving you to deal with whatever batshit idea your mom had just come up with regarding this...


Oh no.

No. No no no no.

Please for the love of whatever god is responsible for this sort of thing, no.

“A secret lovechild!” Your mother yelled, crushing every possible hope you had of getting out of this unscathed.

The girl looked up at your moth... no, actually she was looking at the sweets next to your mother. She was drooling slightly, one finger up at her mouth as if she was considering how likely it was that she would get access to the chocolate and fruit treats...

“How could you two possibly treat your secret lovechild like this!” Your mom wailed, rushing forwards to scoop the blond girl up in her arms. Now she was up higher you could see that she looked... well, rather pathetic. Her red and white dress looked like it had once been rather pretty but now it seemed to be matted with grime and covered in tears, her arms seemed to be thin - too thin, and her face was gaunt as if she had been starving for... You glanced at Tokiko and she gave you a barely perceptable nod.

This girl wasn't human, and from the looks of it she had been on her own since the game had begun.

As if to punctuate the point the girls stomache growled loudly causing your mother to scoot over to the table, sit the girl down, grab a banana, peel it, skewer it and dunk it into the chocolate before handing it to the mystery girl. “Here,” she said gently, “You eat this.” She smiled and turned to you, her smile turning terribly sinister. “While I talk to your parents.” The girl perked up at this, gave your mother a funny look, then shrugged and turned back to her choco-banana - reaching out to grab a small handful of sprinkles to put atop it before she tucked in.

You and Tokiko both backed away as your mother approached, her face seeming more and more demonic as she got closer.

“Explain.” She stated. Her voice terrifying with it's cold calmness.

[ ] Write in.
>> No. 20907
Interesting facts: Gensokyo was supposedly sealed off in 1885, while japan did not start importing banana's for public consumption until around 1961. While some bananas must have made their way into japan before then, it's unlikely they'd have gone any further than whichever rich and/or noble types grabbed them first - Gensokyo probably never saw any. Despite numerous doujin showing choco-banana stalls at gensokyo festivals, unless yukari brings them in specifically it's unlikely that any non-outside gensokyo inhabitants have ever seen bananas. At the very least I doubt youkai would have seen them outside of a festival stall - which is the route I went with this post. THE MORE YOU KNOW.

Vote explanations:
C13H21NO3 - Three Foot Suigintou
The first is the chemical formula for sabutamol, which is an asthma medication - thus, Patchouli.
The second: Three Foot makes on yard, and Suigintou is junk. Thus a yard of junk, or a junkyard - where we last saw 'Aki'.

Just A Foot Will Do - Practical Nephology
The only thing we only need a foot of is, of course, a lucky rabbit. Thus this would have been Tewi.
Nephology is the study of clouds and the only practical cloud we have around is Unzan, so Ichirin.

Medical Liability - Damp Grass Numbering
Disease is always a medical liability, so we had Yamame here.
Damp grass is 'dewy', which when combined with something numerical should have given you 'dewy decimal' - a library reference system. Thus, Koakuma since Patchy was already in here.
>> No. 20908
[x] Keep cool... infact downright freezing
[x] "Look at her mom, She's too old to be my kid. I was making the chocobananas you were just eating when we spotted someone outside, and she followed us in. In short, she's a stray kid lured here by the smell of sweets."
[x] "Also, I'm insulted how easily you believed that I'd been treating a child in that manner."

...I'd be offended to hear accusations like that thrown at me so easily.
Besides that, we never saw wings on tokikos back, though they might be covered by her cloak... and blonde kids in red and white clothing aren't common in gensokyo, especially ones that aren't used to taking care of themselves.
...so, flandre?
>> No. 20914
[X] "I'm sorry Mom, I love you, but I have to put my foot down right now. I love Tokiko. If she and I had children together then they would be the world to me, and you can be damn sure I would cherish them. Frankly, I'm downright offended that you would suggest otherwise. More than that, I don't like the implication that you think Tokiko would let me get away with being negligent."
[X] "I don't know who that blond girl is, but it doesn't really matter. She needs to be fed, she needs to be bathed, and she probably needs some rest, too. Those are more important things to be doing than standing here and having you sling accusations at us."
[X] "Have a little more faith in me than that. Have a little more faith in Tokiko than that!"

I half expect Shiori's mother to start swooning over how manly Shiori has become if he stands up to her in any capacity, but especially so if it's for the sake of defending his girlfriend.

Then again, I also agree with the guy who thinks she would probably seduce her son into getting her pregnant if it was the only surefire way to have grandchildren. She would probably enjoy every second of it, too. I really, really hope we get that as some sort of side-story, by the way. Just putting that out there.
>> No. 20915
[X] "I'm sorry Mom, I love you, but I have to put my foot down right now. I love Tokiko. If she and I had children together then they would be the world to me, and you can be damn sure I would cherish them. Frankly, I'm downright offended that you would suggest otherwise. More than that, I don't like the implication that you think Tokiko would let me get away with being negligent."
[X] "I don't know who that blond girl is, but it doesn't really matter. She needs to be fed, she needs to be bathed, and she probably needs some rest, too. Those are more important things to be doing than standing here and having you sling accusations at us."
[X] "Have a little more faith in me than that. Have a little more faith in Tokiko than that!"
>> No. 20916
[X] "I'm sorry Mom, I love you, but I have to put my foot down right now. I love Tokiko. If she and I had children together then they would be the world to me, and you can be damn sure I would cherish them. Frankly, I'm downright offended that you would suggest otherwise. More than that, I don't like the implication that you think Tokiko would let me get away with being negligent."
[X] "I don't know who that blond girl is, but it doesn't really matter. She needs to be fed, she needs to be bathed, and she probably needs some rest, too. Those are more important things to be doing than standing here and having you sling accusations at us."
[X] "Have a little more faith in me than that. Have a little more faith in Tokiko than that!"

Oh dear.
>> No. 20917
[X] "I'm sorry Mom, I love you, but I have to put my foot down right now. I love Tokiko. If she and I had children together then they would be the world to me, and you can be damn sure I would cherish them. Frankly, I'm downright offended that you would suggest otherwise. More than that, I don't like the implication that you think Tokiko would let me get away with being negligent."
[X] "I don't know who that blond girl is, but it doesn't really matter. She needs to be fed, she needs to be bathed, and she probably needs some rest, too. Those are more important things to be doing than standing here and having you sling accusations at us."
[X] "Have a little more faith in me than that. Have a little more faith in Tokiko than that!"

Let's see... Marisa setting up a big team at a mansion, Keine and Minoriko being somewhere perahps, not sure at all. And Shotacon Ran; definitely want to see where that goes.
>> No. 20918
[X] "I'm sorry Mom, I love you, but I have to put my foot down right now. I love Tokiko. If she and I had children together then they would be the world to me, and you can be damn sure I would cherish them. Frankly, I'm downright offended that you would suggest otherwise. More than that, I don't like the implication that you think Tokiko would let me get away with being negligent."
[X] "I don't know who that blond girl is, but it doesn't really matter. She needs to be fed, she needs to be bathed, and she probably needs some rest, too. Those are more important things to be doing than standing here and having you sling accusations at us."
[X] "Have a little more faith in me than that. Have a little more faith in Tokiko than that!"
>> No. 20919
[x] "I'm sorry Mom, I love you, but I have to put my foot down right now. I love Tokiko. If she and I had children together then they would be the world to me, and you can be damn sure I would cherish them. Frankly, I'm downright offended that you would suggest otherwise. More than that, I don't like the implication that you think Tokiko would let me get away with being negligent."
[x] "I don't know who that blond girl is, but it doesn't really matter. She needs to be fed, she needs to be bathed, and she probably needs some rest, too. Those are more important things to be doing than standing here and having you sling accusations at us."
[x] "Have a little more faith in me than that. Have a little more faith in Tokiko than that!"

Gentleman, I like Shiori's mom.
>> No. 20922
>> No. 20923
[X] "I'm sorry Mom, I love you, but I have to put my foot down right now. I love Tokiko. If she and I had children together then they would be the world to me, and you can be damn sure I would cherish them. Frankly, I'm downright offended that you would suggest otherwise. More than that, I don't like the implication that you think Tokiko would let me get away with being negligent."
[X] "I don't know who that blond girl is, but it doesn't really matter. She needs to be fed, she needs to be bathed, and she probably needs some rest, too. Those are more important things to be doing than standing here and having you sling accusations at us."
[X] "Have a little more faith in me than that. Have a little more faith in Tokiko than that!"

works for me~!
>> No. 20924
[X] "I'm sorry Mom, I love you, but I have to put my foot down right now. I love Tokiko. If she and I had children together then they would be the world to me, and you can be damn sure I would cherish them. Frankly, I'm downright offended that you would suggest otherwise. More than that, I don't like the implication that you think Tokiko would let me get away with being negligent."
[X] "I don't know who that blond girl is, but it doesn't really matter. She needs to be fed, she needs to be bathed, and she probably needs some rest, too. Those are more important things to be doing than standing here and having you sling accusations at us."
[X] "Have a little more faith in me than that. Have a little more faith in Tokiko than that!"

>> No. 20926
[x] All wisdom imparted by >>20922 .

>How had she heard it put before? They would listen but they would not hear, because they had already made their minds up about that sort of thing.
I see what you did there.

>the willingness to accept that it could exist, even if they didn't believe in it.
This. This is a very interesting thing you point out, and a very good one, too. It's always been in the back of my mind whenever I read things in a story about people of today not being able to take the revelation that magic or monsters are real, or like in X-men, with them being so persecuted (when I think most people would be totally behind that shit), or other things along that line.
tl;dr, the whole "willingness to believe it could exist" notion has been in my mind since forever ago, and I'm glad to see that someone else acknowledges it, as well.

>And Shotacon Ran; definitely want to see where that goes.
As do I.

I laughed my ass off. I like your phrasing.
>> No. 20928
>pedo Ran
Do not want.
>> No. 20931

She's not really pedo, the boy's clearly fapping to women, if not her (who can blame him, she is a very shapely fox maid). The writer MUST do a H-side story with the Boy and Ran.
>> No. 20932
It's pedo if it's under 18.
>> No. 20936
Except in thouse countries where the age of 16 is legal.

Anyway, called for standing your ground with that bigass 'i'm sorry mom' vote i can't be bothered to copy-paste.
>> No. 20946
it's always pedo

you pedo
>> No. 20951
Or 14 in some countries.
>> No. 20956
Or 4'5", in Mexico.

...No, wait, that's for when you can start drinking.
>> No. 20957
I do not doubt the power of Shiori's mom to get her hands on some roofies if it means ensuring her line.
>> No. 20994
Goddammit Angry, update. I really wanna know how Shiori's mom takes this backsass.
>> No. 21008
“I'm sorry, mother.” You respond in a similarly cold tone of voice. “I love you, but I'm going to have to put my foot down right now.” Tokiko seems to shuffle behind you as the air around your and your mother seems to drop several degrees - some time back you had joked about how everyone always told you that you had inherited your mothers temper, but this was probably the first time Tokiko had seen proof of such.

“I love Tokiko.” You state, causing the silver-haired girl to let out a small squeak of embarrassment, “and if we ever had children -” another squeak “- they would mean the world to me and you could be damn sure I would cherish them.” A tiny part of you noted that your mother suddenly seemed to have shrunk back in front of you and that the blond girl was staring at you with wide frightened eyes. “I'm downright offended that you would suggest otherwise - more than that I don't like your implication that Tokiko would let me be that negligent with her children.” You hear another embarrassed noise from behind you.

You took a step forward, your mother took a step back in response, her earlier cold anger having already evaporated in the face of your own.

“I don't know who that blond girl is, but she needs to be fed, bathed and she probably needs some rest too. There are more important things to be doing here than listening to you slinging accusations at Tokiko and I.” Your mother seems to cave in on herself and you feel a painful stab of guilt just then, followed by a more than unhealthy dose of self loathing as you watch your own mother start to tear up because of you.

“Uu... uu...” you wince as she breaks into a wail of despair. “My son hates me!”

“No I do-” Your half-hearted protest was cut off as your mother pushed past, shoving you roughly to one side as she made a break for the stairs. You, having fallen and landed on your rear thanks to her shove, could only curse under your breath. “Dammit.” you mumble, pulling yourself to your feet with a little help from Tokiko. “Sis is going to kill me for this.” Given that your sister was even now being inflicted with the rather ignoble duty of dealing with your distraught mother - a duty you yourself had performed in the past - this was an entirely reasonable possibility.

“What, um, what was that about?” asked your partner as she glanced over at the stairs your mother had escaped up.”Your mother has always been a bit... um...” she trailed off, a light blush of embarrassment crossing her face.

“Insane?” you finish. You sigh. “She's always been a bit off her rocker but... she wasn't always this bad, not when dad was...” You freeze, cutting off your line of speech. “She wasn't always this bad.” you finish lamely, trying to ignore the curious look Tokiko had developed and doing your best to forget about the image that had popped into your head when you thought about your father.

You'd probably have to tell Tokiko that bit of family history eventually - she had become close enough that she probably had a right to know about it but... well...

Maybe later, once things had calmed down a bit. The story wasn't exactly a happy one after all.

“Once in a while mom gets all, how should I put it, she gets worse than usual.” you explain to the silver-haired girl, “Eventually something will set her off and she'll just be... broken... for a day or two. I'll go buy her some chocolates or something tomorrow to say I'm sorry for setting her off - some for sis too, apologize for making her have to deal with mom when she's like this.” That seemed to cover everything while also explaining nothing, but Tokiko seemed to accept it for now.

Turning to look at the blond girl, who was still staring at you both with wide eyes and a half-eaten choco-banana in her mouth, your frown slightly. “So?” you ask to your partner, “Know who she is?”

Tokiko shakes her head. “Not really,” she replies. “At first it thought she could have been someone I know, Rumia maybe, but she's all wrong. Her hair is too long, her eyes are all wrong and... well... she's too short.”

“Hey!” The girl, banana falling from her mouth, yelled at that. “'m not short!” Her hands whipped up then, one to grab the falling banana and one to clap itself over her mouth.

One of your eyebrows raises slightly as you watch the girl fumble with her treat. “So,” you mutter, not exactly pleased with the cause of your immediate problems, “you can talk after all.”

“'m not s'possed t' talk t' strangers.” She mumbled from behind her hand before moving it slightly to speak clearer. “Big sis said so.”

“You're not supposed to take candy from strangers either,” you respond in the flattest tone you could manage with your current level of anger, “but I'm pretty sure that's exactly what you've just done.”

The girl's eyes seemed to widen just a fraction more as your words hit home. This was by no means an unimpressive feat given that they were already as wide as they could possibly go. You frown slightly as she shudders a little in her seat and you suspect that were she not so pale already she would have gone white with what you think may be fear - but not fear of you even despite your earlier show of anger. Fear of her 'big sis' perhaps? Fear of being found to have taken candy from strangers certainly - you blink, then smile ever so slightly as you see a way to perhaps connect with the girl.

“But you know,” you say as offhandedly as you can, “I'm sure if you told me who you are then we wouldn't be strangers anymore, would we?” The blond girl's face seems to screw up in thought at this.

Standing beside you Tokiko looks up in confusion for a few moments before her own face lights up in understanding. “That's right,” she says, “there's no reason why we couldn't become acquaintances instead. Then we wouldn't be strangers and...” She gives the intruder an almost comically exaggerated wink, “... no-one needs to know we were anything but, right?”

The little girl stays silent for a long time.

“You'll hate me.” She finally says in a tiny voice. “Everyone hates me when they know who I am.”

“Why would they do that?” You ask, looking down at Tokiko only to see her shrug in confusion. “I mean, I'm pretty sure you're not human, but neither is Tokiko - so I can't hate you for that. I know you're in this 'game' and that means you have to kill people, but so is Tokiko - so I can't hate you for that either.”

“Big sis says I'm insane.” The girl cuts in, “An' that's why everyone hates me an' why I hafta be locked up so they don' come an' get me.”

“Insane.” You give the girl a flat stare. “I don't believe you.” Both Tokiko and the girl give you a surprised look at that, though the girl seems perhaps more shocked than surprised. Glancing down at your partner you shrug, “does she honestly seem any crazier than my mom does?”

“Uhm, I don't think so?” Replies the silver-haired girl, “Anyway, all she's done is sneak in and get some food - and that isn't far off how I met you really.”

You frown slightly, then shrug. “That's true too.” You concede, “So she's not crazy, she's not trying to murder us and I'm guessing that she hasn't got a partn...” You trail off as that last thought occurs to you, your gaze sweeping back to take in the details of the blond girl - the dirty hair, the torn clothes, the underfed look... “You've been on your own since the game begun, haven't you?”

Tokiko shoots the girl a horrified look at that, then seems to recoil as the girl nods fearfully.

“That's it then.” You state, “You're staying here.” Your partner glances at you and you simply shrug in response. “She's just a kid,” you point out, “Even if she wasn't part of the game I just wouldn't feel right about just kicking her out if she has nowhere to stay. Besides,” you grin, “I kept you around didn't I?” She frowns at you for that before lashing out to punch you, none too lightly, in the arm before turning away and folding her arms as well as letting out a theatrical huffing noise.

“Um... Um...” The blond girl nervously looks from you to Tokiko then back again, “I can stay here?” She asks, her voice quiet, “Here? With a bed and a window and everything?”

“I can't see my mom saying no,” you mutter, “given she's probably not going to let go of her notion that you're my daughter or something.” Oh dear. That last comment had the girl suddenly sit ram-rod straight, her eyes twinkling with the same sort of crazy you had seen on your mother in the past. Not evil, not vindictive, just... something you had learned to be wary of, given how often your mother would assume a similar expression before making your life hell in some new and unexpected way.

“So...” The girl began, the word being dragged out considerably, “I've never had a papa before.”

“Hell no.” You snap, the words almost out of your mouth before your brain had thought about them. “You're not calling me 'papa', I don't even want to think about how badly that would set my mom off on some new line of insanity.” The girl seems to recoil slightly, making you feel a little guilty at snapping at her.

Tokiko elbows you in the side. “Don't mind him,” She says, her voice soft, “he's just a big meanie sometimes.” You glare at her, causing the blond girl to giggle slightly. “You can call him -” She pauses and gives you an evil little smirk, you shake your head in an effort to dissuade her from what you know she's about to do. Your partner just smirks, “you can call him Shiori, since that's his name.”

“Isn't that a girl's -” The blond girl begins, before you cut her off.

“Yes it is.” You grumble, glaring at a giggling Tokiko “And I would rather you not spread it around.”

“Aha, and you can call me Tokiko.” Your partner continues despite her giggles. “And, er, I'm sorry but I don't think I know who you are?”

“Um! Um!” The girl bounces in her seat. “Flandre!”

You glance at Tokiko to see if she recognizes the name. She just shrugs in response.

“Huh. Well then, uh, Fran... Flando... Flandre?” It takes you a few tries to pronounce her unfamiliar name correctly but the little girl beams widely when you do. “Lets see if we can arrange a place for you to sleep.”

The girl looks up at you with wide eyes. “Are... um...” She seems to draw in on herself, becoming smaller and smaller in front of you, “Are you going to lock me up? Big Sis says I always have to be locked up at night. And in the day. And the rest of the time too.”

You frown hard, even as you assure her that there would be no locking involved at any point during her stay here.

You were beginning to hope that Flandre's sister, whoever she was, would show up to fight you.

There were some... words... you wished to tell her regarding the treatment of family.

[ ] They're Not Contacts, Child's Toy With Teeth
[ ] Non-Paladin Dump Stat, Alert! Beware! Warning!
[ ] Like Four Colored Hippos, 99.9 Degrees Of Dance

>> No. 21009
File 126623605955.png- (150.63KB , 750x485 , FuckYes.png ) [iqdb]
>this update

[x] Non-Paladin Dump Stat, Alert! Beware! Warning!
>> No. 21010
[x] Like Four Colored Hippos, 99.9 Degrees Of Dance

Nothing can possibly go wrong with this option!
>> No. 21011
[Q] They're Not Contacts, Child's Toy With Teeth

>> No. 21012
[Q] They're Not Contacts, Child's Toy With Teeth
>> No. 21013
[x] They're Not Contacts, Child's Toy With Teeth
>> No. 21014
[X] Non-Paladin Dump Stat, Alert! Beware! Warning!

Must have Remilia and Utsuho.
>> No. 21015
[x] They're Not Contacts, Child's Toy With Teeth
>> No. 21016
I almost feel bad for what we did to Shiori's mother... almost. It needed to be said. Still, we should do something nice for her later on to show her that, yes, despite her being completely insane, her son does still love her.

[X] Like Four Colored Hippos, 99.9 Degrees Of Dance

I am a slave to the dance.
>> No. 21017
[X] Like Four Colored Hippos, 99.9 Degrees Of Dance
>> No. 21018
>They're Not Contacts
Something to do with eyes, I think. Probably either Kogasa or Reisen.

>Child's Toy With Teeth
Drawing a blank here.

>Non-Paladin Dump Stat
Charisma. Remilia.

>Alert! Beware! Warning!
CAUTION! Utsuho.

>Like Four Colored Hippos
Hungry, Hungry. Yuyuko

>99.9 Degrees Of Dance
Fever, dancing, Iku.

[+] Like Four Colored Hippos, 99.9 Degrees Of Dance

Because we've interacted with Iku already, and I'd like to get some info on her situation and plans.
>> No. 21020
[x] They're Not Contacts, Child's Toy With Teeth

Wow we get the cutest embodiment of ultimate destruction at our door step. I get the feeling she might end up saving us. Can a person have two partners?
>> No. 21022
>Can a person have two partners?
Isn't polygamy illegal?
>> No. 21030
[x] Non-Paladin Dump Stat, Alert! Beware! Warning!


Is it me or is the dad (and sometimes both parents) never around in AD's stories, having usually caused some kind of Ugly Family Past That We Don't Talk About?
>> No. 21031
Dad in this one, Mom in Skittles, Both in DOS.
I'd write a happy atomic family but i honestly have no idea how such would be interesting as anything more than background noise. Hell, i'd probably end up killing them off part-way through anyway.
>> No. 21034
[x] Non-Paladin Dump Stat, Alert! Beware! Warning!
>> No. 21068
Already partially written next post due to no more voting occuring, but i figured i should list the calling just in case anyone does stuff to change it:
[x] They're Not Contacts, Child's Toy With Teeth
>> No. 21079
Settling the new girl, Flandre, into the house was a task that took quite a lot of effort - mostly on your part since every other member of the household had managed to beg off on helping you move furniture based on the excuse that it 'was a man's job' to do.

Traitors, the lot of them.

It took the best part of the day but by evening you had rearranged Tokiko's room in order to make enough space for a floor futon, perhaps not as comfortable as the western-style bed there but Tokiko had assured you that she'd slept on far worse in the past. So now the two girls slept in the same room, Flandre on the bed and Tokiko on the floor. There had been a few less than subtle comments from the peanut gallery that was your sister over the fact that Tokiko could simply join you in your own bed... but since you already owed her for having to deal with a distraught mother you let the comments slide.

Though thanks to your physical labor you had not had much time to talk to Flandre you had managed to established a few important details about the girl. Firstly it seemed as though she had been intentionally avoiding potential partners through the simple plan of avoiding everyone she could. The blond girl had evaded the few questions you had put to her regarding her reasons for this but Tokiko had informed you that she had been picking up an unease about the subject, perhaps even a fear. Was the girl afraid of the game? It didn't make sense for her to be hanging around with you and Tokiko if she did - surely fear of the game would have been more than a reason to avoid players like the plague.

It bore looking into certainly but it wasn't a particularly vital subject - not like the things you had hear from Flandre about her sister, who she seemed either unable or unwilling to name. Apparently her sister was one of the big powers in Gensokyo, Tokiko had provided a few suggestions as to who it could be but had readily admitted that she only knew the top powers by reputation and not in any significantly detailed way. Remilia Scarlet, Kazami Yuuka, Yasaka Kanako, Hijiri Byakuren, Fujiwara no Mokou, Yagokoro Eirin... she knew names and some vague information but beyond that she couldn't say for certain if any of the had any relations nor could she confirm if these were all the big powers in Gensokyo. The only two she could give any real details on were two of the people behind the organization of this game, Yakumo Yukari and Hakurei Reimu. Supposedly there was a third organizer but Tokiko had admitted not having any idea who that was.

You were starting to get sick of having so little information to work with... Even Koishi wasn't any help as your contact with her was sporadic and it seemed that she didn't know a whole lot more than Tokiko did. Supposedly she'd been living in some kind of exile for a long time until fairly recently so in many ways Tokiko was more up to date on the major parties in Gensokyo than she was.

Risa - the partner of Mystia - who you managed to corner once during lunch at school had admitted that her partner didn't know a whole lot about the workings of the game... before she had slapped you in the face and made her escape. Evidently you weren't forgiven for almost killing her partner.

* * * * * * * *

She didn't know what the hell was going on!

Up until about five minutes ago she had been in control of the situation. She'd located an easy target to pick off in order to advance herself in the game, the girl was to be her second kill after the little black and blond she'd shot in the back. Dishonest, maybe, but she was a soldier at heart and this was the kind of battle where such fancy concepts as honor could be left behind in favor of more elemental desires like one's own survival.

That kill had been easy, her danmaku may have been fairly weak but they had an almost obscene range - such a range that the hungry youkai wouldn't have seen her killer even if she had been facing the direction the shot had come from.

The plan for this victim had been similar - wait until there was a good shot, then take it. The girl would have been dead without even knowing of the threat to her life... but... but...

She had known.

Somehow the girl had known she was there! Known she had fired! Known to step aside and let the shot waste itself against the ground behind where she had been standing! And she had done this without even looking in her direction.

From there things had rapidly gone downhill as things had turned into some kind of hideous game of cat and bunny. Every trick she tried seemed to fail, every turn, every double back, every little alley, nook or cranny she slipped through... the girl just seemed to be able to follow her no matter where she went! As if that wasn't bad enough it had recently begun to rain, making her escape harder as her feet skid and her fingers slipped on wet floors and damp ledges respectively. Hell, in this downpour she could barely see more than a few feet in fro-

Her thoughts cut off as an unimaginable pain flared up in her side, her legs seemed to seize up mid-stride and she fell, tumbling to the ground in a haze of pain and agony. Her vision dimmed thanks to a mix of rainwater and her own tears clouding her eyes... tears that only increased as a new galaxy of pain exploded into existence in her le... her le... her... her...

Her brain shut down in shock, pain forgotten, as her misty vision locked onto what was left of her leg. A tiny part of her mind told her that she was dying, that there was no surviving the injuries she had taken and that she really, really didn't want to look at her abdomen.

She looked anyway.

She would have vomited at the sight, had her stomachs actually been still within her. Given the gaping bloody hole that was her side she guessed that they probably weren't.

“But...” She whispered, her voice a wet gurgle - her lungs had probably been wrecked too she thought - “... you weren't even looking... how...?”

Her attacker, her killer, stood above her and looked down through damp green hair and graced her with what would have been a sweet little smile had it not belonged to someone who had turned a good third of her body into a bloody mess. Her eyesight dimmed as her killed leaned down to whisper something into her ear - but she couldn't hear it, she was too far gone. Her vision grew darker, darker...

Then snapped into a blinding brightness as her death ended. She jerked once as her heart realized that it still had a job to do and, after a few moments she sat up. She could barely see anything in the rain and her killer had already made their escape... not that she would remember who they were in a few minutes anyway. She recalled being told that anyone who lost the game would be returned, unharmed, to Gensokyo. It was pretty obvious that dying counted a losing and so she was being returned - the fact that she could see through her hand was a pretty big indication of that as she recalled this funny not-quite-there feeling from when she had been sent to her starting spot at the beginning of the game.

Come to think of it, hadn't she bet something then?

She tried hard to remember what it was that she had agreed to bet, not wanting to be surprised when someone showed up to collect it back home but every time she thought about it her mind just seemed to slip away from the subject.

Oh, well, no matter, she wouldn't have bet anything too preci-

Inaba Reisen, the moon rabbit, vanished.

Her game was over.

* * * * * * * *

“Well, that's that then.” You mutter as you replace the telephone handset into it's holder. “I've arranged a visit for...” You trail off as your sister nods in understanding. “Next week,” You state, “Wednesday afternoon, they say he's been a little better since getting the new nurse started working with him but they we shouldn't get our hopes up too much.”

“Do you think mom will be willing to go?” your sister murmurs in a quiet voice, but it's a pointless question as she already knows the answer. Of course your mother wouldn't be willing to go and visit, not with how she still blamed herself for everything that had happened. Both you and your sister fall silent for a long while before you eventually take a deep breath and hop out of the chair you were in. “Oh, time to apologize now?” your sister asks.

You nod. “Yeah. Got her some of her favorite chocolate too.” You'd spent a while waiting in line for them too, and handed over more than a fair bit of money... still it would be worth it to get back onto your mothers good side, and hopefully get her out of her guilt-induced crazy for a while and back into her normal somewhat less insane, but still quite crazy, state.

“Well, good luck with that.” You frown at your sister's flippant response, then sigh - she always did try to act as if the whole situation with mother never got to her. You knew she was pretty lonely, several years of being raised as a boy had left her different from all her peers and having a crazy parent had pushed away everyone who could have been her friend... not to mention the nasty rumors that had always plagued your father's accident. You and your sister were truly a couple of pathetic people when one really thought about it. Well, you had each other a least, and now Tokiko too - you knew your sister was terribly happy about having someone she could call a friend, one that... rather depressingly... was even beginning to share her love of all those kid's shows she watched.

You shuddered. Your sister had been trying to hook Flandre on them too and while it didn't seem to be working yet the blond girl had been watching more and more such shows with both her and Tokiko. You weren't entirely sure if you were ready to put up with one confirmed otaku and two proto-otaku...

Shuddering slightly you made quick your exit even as your sister flicked from some news report about a recent crimewave and onto some new show about beating up people in rubber monster suits.

* * * * * * * *

She winced as she flexed her arm once again. The flesh on it was still pink and relatively newly healed from her fight against that oarfish bitch and those two little punks who had jumped in on her. The arm had been healing slowly, too slowly for her liking, because the majority of her energy had been concentrated on healing up the far more worrying hole she had blown in her back by the interlopers. That had been... annoying, though she honestly couldn't say that she particularly hated them for taking advantage of the fight between her and Iku. Okay, yeah, next time they met she was going to show them why she was a goddess of war - but she couldn't fault their actions from an objective standpoint. Attacking while ones enemy was distracted or weakened was an ages old tactic and one that she had stupidly not considered being used against her.

Well it wouldn't work again, she'd picked up a new spell to cover some of her weaknesses in that regard - mostly thanks to her partner. She didn't exactly like this whole partnering up deal but it was hard to not see why things had been set up this way, to force the various players to work together with someone else as equals... though she doubted that there was anything in place to stop one side of the equation from forcing the other to bend to their will. Even their magic, locked out from their own control by the grimoire that each player had been assigned, was meant to work in tandem with their partner. Hell it wasn't exactly difficult to see that her magic and her partner's latent magic were fusing together to create some of her spells - she sure as hell wouldn't have even considered using her onbashira in the way that her third spell had done, though her fourth was closer with how it launched them at her opponent like missiles.

Latent magic... now that was a tricky subject. All viable partners evidently had the potential for magic, had they been born in Gensokyo then they probably would have developed abilities of some kind - but their lives outside had stunted their magic terribly to the point at which it may as well have not existed in the first place. The grimoires seemed to tap directly into this latent magic which she didn't really know how she felt about, once magic was opened to the world it really wasn't something that could be shut back in again. Once the grimoire was gone it would continue to leak out and affect the person it belonged to... it was highly unlikely that anyone would ever learn to control their released magic directly but she expected that it's passive effects would lead many of the partners to develop into incredible, possibly even legendary, people over time both during and after the game's end.

Perhaps that was one of Yukari's myriad goals? The outside world had been relatively stale for a long while now with only minor steps being taken to advance humanity as a whole. With a couple of legendary people thrown into the mix? It would be like having another... no... a whole truckload of new Da Vinci and Einsteins.

She wondered if her partner would perhaps become one of them?

Speaking of whom, he should be returning back soon. He was a nice kid, too old to call 'cute' and still a bit too young to be 'good looking' though. The boy had been pretty invaluable in helping her recover from her wounds - changing her bandages, cleaning her wounds, preparing food for her to eat. Hell he even helped her change clothes, though he was terribly embarrassed by it despite the fact that he never saw a thing. She snickered slightly, to a kid his age she supposed that the fact that she was nearly naked was the same as being entirely naked.

Besides it wasn't as if she had any choice, she couldn't exactly go into a hospital with her injuries and not look incredibly suspicious. The kid had admitted to wanting to become a doctor anyway, so it was likely good that he get over such hangups as early as possible - though she had to admit it was nice to know that she still had some sex appeal. Even if it was from an older kid who'd likely have a similar reaction to any nearly naked woman, well she'd take what she could get.

Though... she probably wouldn't be rubbing this information into Suwako's face anytime in the foreseeable future. It was bad enough being called an old woman or a hag, she definitely didn't want to give the brat an excuse to call her a pervert or a cradle-snatcher or something worse instead.

* * * * * * * *

Homework, truly it was the bane of all student life. Designed and implemented solely to snatch away your free time, to force you to work during the hours in which even the teachers did not want to work. Fortunately you were a long-time pro at this kind of thing and would be done in an ho-

“Cyclone Fire Kiiiiiiick!” Your world spun violently as you were sent flying from your seat at the dining table thanks to a hyperactive blond crashing into you in an ungainly parody of one some costumed hero's special move. You swore under your breath as you picked yourself up off the carpeted flooring and turned to glare at Flandre and your sister, one of which was looking guilty and the other was laughing her proverbial ass off.

No prizes for guessing which was which.

On the far side of the table you spotted Tokiko, who had been doing her own homework from her classes, doing her best to hide a snicker of amusement.

“Traitor.” you mutter, rising to your feet and giving her a pointed look which immediately prompted her to try and look as innocent as possible. You glare at her for a moment longer then sigh, it's hard to stay angry at someone trying to look so innocent that she ends up looking a little ridiculous. Besides, the real culprit here was the one now sitting in your chair and peering over your assignments in an attempt to not look at you - another act of innocence. “You're lucky I'm used to that sort of thing by now.” you grumble before looking up to glare at your sister. “Seven years I had to put up with you doing that to me before you stopped and now I find you're training a replacement?”

You rub your arm, it's somewhat sore from where Flandre had crashed into you though not as sore as you would have expected - not for the first time you thank whoever or whatever was responsible for Tokiko's grimoire providing you with a healthy boost in general survivability. As a youkai you would have thought that Flandre's kick would have hurt more but she did seem younger than Tokiko and she also didn't have a partner so all in all it made sense that she would be weaker. Still...

“She hits harder than you ever did.” You state, smirking at how your sister's face goes from laughing to annoyed in a mere moment. Huffing loudly she turned and stomped out of the room, probably heading to her own in order to plot some horrible vengeance or something, she was a little predictable like that.

Turning back to your work, and pulling up a new chair since Flandre seems unwilling to let go of the one she'd won off you in honorable combat - though how a sneak attack counted as honorable you weren't sure, but it made her happy so you let it pass.

You hear a knocking at the front door but a yell from your sister made you simply shrug and ignore it. If she wanted to answer it first then why not? You weren't expecting anyone or any deliveries for yourself after all. Once more you return to your work only to be forced to stop again when your sister yells that whoever is at the door is for you. Muttering about how you'd never get your assignment done at this rate, an act which elicits another slight giggle from Tokiko, you rise from your seat and head out into the hallway.

A tall red-haired woman stands at the door, though you can't see much else of her given that your sister is standing in the way.

“Eh? Silver ha- oh!” Your sister exclaims, obviously responding to something that the visitor had said. “You mean Tokiko right? You from her home or something? I was told she'd run away but I thought that was just an excuse for her to come live with my brother or something - secret lovers and all you know? Not that they seem to be acting on that from what I've seen.”

Something flashes through your mind.

How the hell does this visitor know who Tokiko is? You were certain you didn't know any tall red-heads, someone like that would have certainly stuck out in your memory if you had noticed such a person before.

“Yes,” The woman replies softly, “You could say I'm from her home.”

The next few moments were something of a blur to you as you shot forwards reacting on some kind of deep gut instinct. Was it something you had been born with? Or something you had learned in your previous moments of life-and-death situations? Wherever this instinct came from it urged you forwards, bodily shoving your sister out of the way and forced you to whip one arm out to slam the door in the stranger's face...

A chunk of the door promptly exploded in a shower of splinters, the stranger's fist having gone clean through the thick wood. Your sister screamed as the two of you were peppered with the debris, though thankfully nothing was large enough to cause any harm. The fist quickly retracted only to be replaced with part of the stranger's face as she peered through the hole.

“Ah,” She stated, “You noticed my intent to kill you, and I thought I had done a very good job of hiding it.” She seemed to shrug, though you weren't sure since you couldn't see her. “Still, for you to even be able to recognize such a thing you must either be highly trained in combat or have experienced such an intent while coming close to the border of life and death.” You sister, sprawled on the floor where you had knocked her out of the way, gave you a horrified look. Then she screamed again as another hole was punched through your front door, though this time the hand didn't retract and instead took hold of the edges of the hole. You glanced up as the woman's other hand did the same with the already existing hole and it looked for all the world as if she were going to...

Oh. She was.

“Run!” You yell, while reaching down to grab one of your sister's arms. Moments later you were half leading, half dragging her into the living room. Within Tokiko was already standing while Flandre cowered behind her. You and your partner shared a look as all four of you heard the front door being ripped off of it's mounting by the invading redhead.

[ ] Everyone run like hell out the back!
[ ] Sis and Flan run, you and Tokiko hold them off!
[ ] Pre-emptive strike! Force the invader out!

Hotly, Warmly, Coolly, Coldly.
>> No. 21080
And to reveal the clues:

They're Not Contacts - Reisen, obviously, with her red eyes.
Child's Toy With Teeth - A rattle is a child's toy, and the only kind with teeth is a rattlesnake. Which leads us to Kanako.
Non-Paladin Dump Stat - Correctly guessed as Remilia due to CHARISMA.
Alert! Beware! Warning! - Aka: Caution! Caution! Caution! or Utsuho.
Like Four Colored Hippos - some of you evidently played the game, and knew they're Hungry like Yuyuko.
99.9 Degrees Of Dance - 99.9 degrees f, the oral temperature considered the minimum of a fever and dance makes it Iku's Disco Fever.
>> No. 21082
Wow this was an eye opener, hints of what happened to their dad, more of their mother's nuttiness.

But I'm starting to get the feeling the sister will be Flan's partner.
>> No. 21084

There can only be one winner. I'm pretty sure that would be horrible.
>> No. 21086
It would be funnier if the mom became flans partner, though the sis seems a more plausible option.

...Actually, let's give them a chance to form that contract

[X] Sis and Flan run, you and Tokiko hold them off!
[X] Warmly
>> No. 21088
[X] Sis and Flan run, you and Tokiko hold them off!
[X] Warmly
>> No. 21090
[X] Sis and Flan run, you and Tokiko hold them off!
[X] Warmly

Oh boy who's this mystery redhead?
>> No. 21091
[X] Sis and Flan run, you and Tokiko hold them off!
[X] Warmly

I think that when Meiling hears Flandre's name, we'll have an opening to strike. Maybe.
>> No. 21095
[x] Sis and Flan run, you and Tokiko hold them off!
[x] Warmly

>> No. 21096
[x] Sis and Flan run, you and Tokiko hold them off!
[x] Warmly
>> No. 21123
[+] Sis and Flan run, you and Tokiko hold them off!
[+] Warmly
>> No. 21125
[x] Stop. Look. Listen.
[x] Cool Blooded.

It's a risk sure, but let's hear her out.
>> No. 21126
You had a few seconds before the invader would be through the hallway and into the living-dining area where she would, pretty inevitably, attempt to kill Flandre and either you or Tokiko... Though if she didn't know who was partnered to who then it was plausible that she could simply slaughter all four of you, your sister included, just in case.

Fuck that for a game of checkers.

You turned to your sister, “Take Flandre and run like hell out the back - Me and Tokiko will hold her off for a bit then come after you.” You weren't going to do much admittedly, you didn't want to get into a full scale fight right in your own - literal - living room! Your sister opened her mouth to protest but cut off with a terrified squeak as you turned your attention back to her. “I'll explain everything later,” you hiss, “Meet up...” You fished through your memory for a place, a safe place, “... meet up at the hanging tree!” That would work, it had been years since you and your sister had played around that funny-shaped tree but you were certain your sister would remember where it was.

She nodded once before grabbing Flandre by one hand. You jam your own hand in one pocket and pull out your cellphone. “Take this,” you state, tossing it to her. “Contact list, Kankichi, tell him what happ-” You spin in place, grimoire appearing in your hand, as Tokiko's right arm swings out to point at the hall doorway. “Baraika!”

Your sister screamed when your partner's shotgun-like spell blew a hole in the far wall of the hall opposite the door into the living area. A few strands of red hair floated in the air, evidence of the invader having pulled back from the door just as Tokiko had fired. Had she got a good look inside? You didn't know, you weren't going to wait around to find out - not if she could potentially punch through walls at least. You looked back over your shoulder to yell at her.

At your yell the elder girl made a mad scramble for the back door, though you're didn't exactly watch since you were more concerned about whatever your opponent was planning. It was best, you thought, to not give her any time to plan anything. You make a quick indication for Tokiko to get into position and aim through into the hallway before you make your move. “Doban! Doban! Doban!” With each casting of the second spell, the bouncing bullets, Tokiko varies the position of her arms slightly. You grin as you realize that thanks to this the bouncing bullets would ricochet off the hall walls at a variety of angles - hopefully making them harder to avoid in that enclosed space.

Odd. You would have expected to hear something in response to that, be it the sound of bullet hitting flesh or the sound of someone actually moving to avoid them. You'd heard neither which would logically mean that your attacker wasn't in the hallway...

“Back away,” You hiss, waving one hand towards the kichen. “She's either above us or outside.”

Tokiko sent you a surprised glance. “Did she go after Flandre and big, um, sis?”

“I... don't think so.” You mutter, “They're an easy target, but if she goes after them then she risks us shooting her in the back.” You nod slightly, confirming your theory in your mind. “Yeah, she would have to take us out first if she wanted to go after them safely.” You eye the ceiling for a moment, your opponent likely had the power to smash through it and a surprise attack from above was what you would do had you the ability.

The faintest of creaks made your mouth split open in a feral grin. God damn but you loved this feeling of being right.

“There!” You pointed upwards and begam to yell out a spell just as Tokiko's arms swung to follow your directions. During the past few weeks of training and practice with Koishi, the two of you had both discovered useful talents and spent time developing ways to use them properly. Where you pointed, your partner would aim, in a fight the two of you didn't have time to be arguing over where to be firing or what to be casting. In effect she was putting herself entirely under your control for as long as the danger was present.

Tokiko's bullets blast apart the ceiling just as it explodes downwards, the red-haired intruder falling through the hole and through the resultant cloud of dust and smoke. You couldn't tell how effective your attack had been, but it was hard to imagine that the woman hadn't been winged by at least a few of the shotgun-pellet like shots. Not that the two of you were hanging around to find out as the two of you were already making a break for the kitchen and back door, Tokiko reaching behind her with one hand to let loose a parting shot of another shotgun to keep the woman distracted. Amongst the many results of your training with Koishi was the discovery that Tokiko's first two spells reacted somewhat differently when fired with either one or both hands. Double-handed the first spell fired two light clouds of bullets in a shotgun spray, single-handedly all the pellets were fired in one single blast - resulting in a thicker, heavier cone of destruction. It was this heavier blast that filled the living area as the two of you ran, behind you the yell of pain and anger served to prove the effectiveness of the one-handed shot that tore everything within to pieces.

Your eyes widened for a moment, before you screwed them up in a moment of total annoyance as you remembered that your assignment, as well as Tokiko's, had still been in there on the table.

God damn it!

You really hoped that the intruder was in pain now as you weren't looking forward to having to re-write the entire damn thing again. You glanced towards your partner as you heard a soft growl coming from her - evidently she wasn't looking forward to re-doing her own homework either. Despite the mix of anger and terror that filled you it was hard not to smile slightly at how well the silver-haired girl had fitted in to modern, human, society.

Your sister had thoughtfully left the back door open from when she and Flandre had escaped - a fact which you were glad for as it meant no time lost in your own escape from the house and into the small back garden.

Had you bought them enough time to run? You hoped so as right now seemed your best bet to make your own es-

“Stop.” Both of you froze at the voice, soft yet commanding, which came from behind.


[ ] Stop? Hell no.
[ ] Stop. Turn. Unleash hell.
[ ] Stop. Look. Listen.

Hotblood, Warmblood, Coolblood, Coldblood.

Edited to fix some stupid mistakes.
>> No. 21127
[X] Stop. Look. Listen.
[X] Coolblood
>> No. 21128
[X] Stop. Look. Listen.
[X] Coldblood
>> No. 21129
File 126764847719.png- (16.34KB , 400x397 , 90s_flowchart.png ) [iqdb]
[] Stop. Collaborate. Listen.

>> No. 21130
[x] Stop. Look. Listen.
[x] Coolblood
>> No. 21131
[x] Stop. Look. Listen.
[x] Coldblood

Cold as ice~
>> No. 21133
[x] Stop. Look. Listen.
[x] Coolblood
>> No. 21137
[x] Stop. Look. Listen.
[x] Coldblood
>> No. 21138
[x] Stop. Turn. Unleash hell.
[x] Hotblood
>> No. 21140
“And why should we do that?” You ask, turning to face the speaker. “I don't recall ever being told I should listen to people who try to kill me,” you glance at Tokiko, “or people close to me.”

“And yet, you are.” The speaker, quite obviously, was the red-headed woman. Now that things had calmed down, ever so slightly, you were able to get a good look at her. Her face had a distinctly chinese cast to it and was framed by two bright red pigtails which matched a third much larger pigtail that hung down her back and ended in what seemed to be a heavy looking ornament of some kind. The Chinese look was continued with a green and silver-embroidered silk shirt that seemed to strain against the task of keeping the woman's assets covered. Beyond that she wore plain white slacks and black slippers of the sort you saw often in the martial arts magazines and films that your sister obsessed over.

“Eh?” Tokiko makes a noise of surprise as she peers intently at the invading woman. “The gatekeeper?” You spare your partner a quick glance as you shuffle around slightly to put a few garden ornaments between you and the chinese woman. They probably wouldn't slow her down but you figured that anything between you and her was better than nothing.

“You know her?” you ask, watching the woman for any sudden movements or other signs that she was about to attack.

“Everyone knows who I am.” The woman calls out having obviously heard your question. She looks towards Tokiko and frowns slightly. “Cirno's friend yes? The Ibis?” The redhead shrugs her shoulders ever so slightly, “I'm afraid your name escapes me...” She frowns, “That said it is only polite to give one's name first when issuing a challenge.” Taking a few steps forward the woman slipped into some kind of martial arts stance, one of her feet stamping itself into the ground and leaving a series of cracks in the patio tiles under where she stood. “I am the Chinese girl Hong Meiling!” She declared loudly as an almost suffocating sense of presence seemed to roll off of her in thick waves. “Today you will be the one I defeat!”

Your partner seems to shrink back at the declaration, the chinese woman's sheer sense of presence causing her to curl in on herself.

Screw that.

“Shirosawa Shiori.” You state, giving your opponent a little elegant bow, “And my partner Tokiko.” you catch the silver haired girl giving a little amused smile at your bow - which was the whole point - if she's finding you amusing then she's not finding Meiling terrifying. Allowing yourself a cocky little smirk you stand straight and flick out your hand, your book snapping open in what you hoped was a cooly dramatic move. “And we,” you declare, “will not be losing today.”

“Oho, a bold statement.” Emerging from by the side of your home was a tall mustached man, Meiling's grimoire-holder no doubt, who was wearing a traditional aikido uniform of white shirt and loose pleated trousers. Thanks to the wrap around garden that went from the front of your house to the back the man had obviously had no trouble in coming around to join his red-haired partner. “However we shall see.” He raised one hand to tug at his mustache for a moment, then looked over at his companion. “Student Meiling!” He barked, “You have ten minutes!”

Meiling nodded once. “Yes! Koetsuji-sensei, sir!”

She shot forwards like a bullet out of a rifle, faster than your sister - who was no slouch at this whole martial arts thing - could have ever hoped to move. You felt someone grab the back of your shirt, Tokiko no doubt, and yank you backwards mere moment's before one of Meiling's feet sliced through the air where, had you not been pulled away, it would have broken your grimoire-holding arm like a dry twig.

Holy shit she was fast!

Her missed attack barely slowed her down as she swung her body and, seemingly in defiance of gravity, swung her other leg up and around to catch your head with her heel. This time it was only luck that saved you as your legs gave way and forced you to drop, Meiling's foot barely skimming your hair. Saved from having your skull crushed like a summer watermelon you were still inflicted with the most terrible ringing in your ears from the mere air-pressure of her kick coming so close - you'd read about that, how in high level fighting even a near-miss could be almost as bad as an actual hit. Though your ears felt like they were being abused by some terrible noise and your eyes were watering as the terrain around you seemed to swim in and out of view you were still able to pull some semblance of control together - enough to grip your book tightly and roar out the name of the shotgun spell.

This time however Meiling knew what was coming and though she was still recovering from her failed second kick it seemed far, far too easy for her to simply slip inbetween many of Tokiko's shots. The few she couldn't avoid she knocked away with her arms, though they did harm her the damage simply wasn't enough to so much as slow her down. Unlike Lily, who had been decimated by this spell, the chinese woman had the raw toughness required to take the hits and stay standing. She also had enough energy to strike back as the moment the barrage ended she was throwing herself, feet first, at you in the kind of flying kick you'd only ever seen in a movie. With you on the ground, your head still feeling as if it were filled with fuzz, there was no hope of you getting out of the way in time before her foot hit.

Your vision darkened as something suddenly seemed to appear before you.

You heard the sound of flesh hitting flesh, a gasp of pain... whatever, whoever, it was that had intercepted the blow staggered backwards, tripping and stumbling to land awkwardly on top of you.

For a moment everything goes gray... and then you were picking yourself off the floor, the sounds of fighting close by - had you passed out for a moment? It definitely seemed that way to you, but you had no idea how long you had been out nor any clue as to what had gone on during your little nap. Shaking your head to tried to get your bearings as quickly as you could - from what you could tell you must have only been out for a minute or two as, aside from a few divots in the earth, the garden was the same as it had been before you blacked out. A female cry of pain prompted you to spin around to - you clutched at your head as the sudden pounding inside it indicated that your body wasn't happy with such sudden movement - to see that a black, blue and gray blob was apparently fighting against a green, white and red blob.

Blinking several times in order to try and clear your vision, you squinted out at the two blobs - which you now recognized as both Tokiko and Meiling. Your partner was looking significantly worse for wear with several large tears in her clothing, numerous small cuts and scrapes and several large ugly bruises all over. One of her arms was hanging at her side, though it seemed more like it had simply been hurt too much rather than actually broken as she was occasionally able to lift it in order to ward off blow after blow from the martial artist. It was obvious that she had been fighting for a while against a clearly superior opponent in order to protect you.

You fumbled around for your book and soon held it tightly as you scanned the pages for something, anything, to help Tokiko. The first spell had barely fazed the chinese woman and the second spell would be far too easy for her to dodge in such a wide space as this, especially one without many places to reflect the bullets off of. A scream of pain made you tear your eyes away from the book and look up at the fight, Meiling had just landed another one of her flying kicks on Tokiko who, without the use of both her arms, hadn't been able to block it at all. The silver haired girl was sent flying, blood erupting from her mouth in a sure sign of significant internal injuries... Your heart seemed to stop dead as you came to the conclusion that ... that....


You didn't want her to die!
She couldn't die!
You wouldn't let her die!
If only... if only...!

[ ] she could protect herself!
[ ] she could stop Meiling!
[ ] she could escape!

Hot, Warm, Cool, Cold
>> No. 21141
[X] she could stop Meiling!
[X] Hot

It's a tossup between the first two, but I picked this. No reason.
>> No. 21142
[Q] she could stop Meiling!
[Q] Hot

I debated, and this one seems best. More likely to win, at least I think.
>> No. 21143
[X] she could stop Meiling!
[X] Hot
>> No. 21144
[ ] Protect Herself.
>> No. 21145
[X] she could stop Meiling!
[X] Hot
>> No. 21146
[X] she could protect herself!
[X] Hot

It isn't about taking down Meiling. That would be for naught if Tokiko sustained fatal damage in the process.

It's about Tokiko being strong enough to survive. Strong enough to ensure that we can remain at her side.
>> No. 21147
[X] she could protect herself!
[X] Hot
>> No. 21148
[X] she could protect herself!
[X] Hot
>> No. 21149
[X] she could protect herself!
[X] Hot
>> No. 21150
[x] she could protect herself!
[x] Hot
>> No. 21151
[x] she could protect herself!
[x] Hot
>> No. 21152
[X] she could protect herself!
[X] Hot
>> No. 21153
[X] she could protect herself!
[X] Hot
>> No. 21154
>[ ] she could protect herself!
Defensive spell

>[ ] she could stop Meiling!
Offensive spell/Holding spell

>[ ] she could escape!
"Get the hell out of dodge" spell.

I'm sure the temperatures effect the spell in some way.

[X] she could protect herself!
[x] Cool
>> No. 21155
[x] she could protect herself!
[x] Hawt
>> No. 21156
[X] she could stop Meiling!
[X] Hot
I feel its time for a hotblooded counter attack
The best defence is a good offence
>> No. 21158
[X] she could protect herself!
[X] Hot
>> No. 21159
[X] she could stop Meiling!
[X] Hot

Playing with fire.
>> No. 21166
[+] she could protect herself!
[+] Hot

>a tall mustached man (...) wearing a traditional aikido uniform
>“Yes! Koetsuji-sensei, sir!”
I see what you did there... and I'm not sure I like it.
>> No. 21167

You saw that one? Yeah, i'll admit, all the partners are references to anime/manga/wherever-the-hell-i-feel-like. No matter who they are referencing, however, they are in SoS just normal human beings with normal lives.

I just wasn't going to come up with a good 60+ original characters, most of whom you may not ever meet.

PS: Vote called:
So she can protect herself, Hot.
>> No. 21169
>No matter who they are referencing, however, they are in SoS just normal human beings with normal lives.
That's probably fine, then. Just try not to make it so obvious; that way, the clever and in-the-know can have that "Aha!" moment, and those who don't get the references won't notice them being made.
>> No. 21199
Where my updates at?
>> No. 21206
If only she could protect herself! If only she had some way to stop Meiling's blows from getting through to her! If only she had...

Your arm burned around the chain link that was sunk into your flesh. Hissing loudly you reached around to clutch at it with your other hand, the one not holding you grimoire, only to find that the chain was as cold as it had always been. Your arm said it burned, your hand said it was cold - it didn't take a genius to realize that this was something strange and that it was likely to do with your grimoire. Flicking the book open with your thumb you skimmed through the pages as fast as you could, despite the fact that you had only ever found perhaps a handful of pages you could read the grimore was a particularly heavy tome. Thankfully the book seemed to know what you wanted almost before you did and the pages turned ever faster before suddenly stopping at the first page you had ever looked at - the one which held a selection of cards, three readable and the rest...


Three readable cards? Up until now you were sure that there had only been the two, one for Tokiko's shotgun and the other for her bouncing bullets. If there was a third then could that mean... A third spell?

You looked up from the grimoire and over at Tokiko, still doing her best to fight off a seemingly inevitable defeat by the red-haired Meiling.

“Please,” You hissed to yourself, “Be something that can save her!” Your grip on the book tightened as you glanced down and yelled the spell as best you could - the card lighting up with an unearthly glow in response. “Geshiru!” The moment the alien word left your mouth you suddenly felt out of breath, tired, as if you had just been running up a few flights of stairs. The first two spells didn't drain you of even a fraction of the energy that this third spell had just sucked out of you! You really, really hoped that this meant the spell was strong.

A scream of pain, from Meiling, made your feelings of exhaustion vanish as you looked up in time to see her body be flung, with some force, away from where your partner stood. The cause was pretty clear as hovering an arms length away from the silver-haired girl was a white disc, perhaps the size of a small plate. From this angle you could make out some kind of flower pattern engraved on the front and apparently inlaid with a glowing blue material that pulsed almost like a heartbeat. Surrounding the disc was... well you weren't exactly sure what it was, but to you it looked as if someone had taken a hosepipe and covered the end so that water would spray out to the sides in a big circle. This, given how it has clearly blasted Meiling away, obviously wasn't water - an energy of some kind maybe?

As your opponent stood up from where she had landed you noted that one of the red-haired woman's arms was bent at an unnatural angle at the shoulder. Reaching around with her other arm the martial artist grabbed hold of her shoulder and gave it a fierce tug, grunting in pain as a wet cracking pop noise came from the limb. You'd heard that sound before, the sound of a dislocated shoulder being put back into place - you'd been around enough of your sister's martial arts buddies to recognize it without trouble. You watched as the woman, muttering to herself, stooped down to grab a stone and rise to hurl it at Tokiko's shield. Rather than bouncing off as one would expect of a rock hitting a shield the stone was instead blasted outwards by the spray of energy where it land a short distance to the side of your partner.

Interesting. You could only assume that Meiling must have punched the shield and when her fist was so violently thrown to one side the motion had simply torn her shoulder joint out of it's socket. Given how much it took to hurt Tokiko, and how much stronger Meiling was physically... that could only mean that your partner's new shield was pretty damn strong.

Pulling yourself, with some difficulty, to your feet you managed to stagger over to where Tokiko stood. Meiling raised one eyebrow as she watched you do this but she made no move to stop or attack you - another thing you found interesting. As you approached your partner you could only wince in sympathy as you were shown the full extent of her injuries, the bruises, the scrapes and cuts, the one limp arm which you were now sure actually was broken... She'd been using that arm too, the pain must have been excruciating for her...

“Do you surrender?” The two of you jumped slightly as Meiling spoke out loudly. “You are in no condition to fight! Though you have a new trick I will get around it eventually!” The redhead frowned at you both. “Assuming, of course, you even have the power to use it a second time.”

Shit. She had a point - the drain from the shield spell had hit you like a fist in the gut, you figured you could maybe pull it off one or two times more... but that was before counting the smaller, though no less significant, drain that Tokiko's aggressive spells would cause.

There was, however, no reason to let her know that, now was there?

“Ha!” You laugh, doing your best to project a false confidence. “Surrender? We won't surrender as long as the-” You cut off as the kick hits you in the side, launching you into the air only to come crashing down in an agonized heap a few moments later. Behind you, where you had been standing, Meiling draws back her leg and smirks. Fear taking command, Tokiko backs away from the redhead before making a mad scramble towards you.

The redhead, however, made no move to follow. Instead she appeared to be looking down at her leg in disgust. “Sensei!” She suddenly yelled, stomping her foot down and whirling to where the tall man was standing out of the way of the fight. Had you been able to do more than just gasp and wheeze you probably would have had Tokiko shoot her in the back, but as it was you could only watch as your opponent turned her attention away from you. “Sensei!” She yelled again, though this time you could tell her voice was laced with anger. “I said I wanted to do this without spells!” The man merely smiled at her, shrugged, then tapped the back of one wrist - evidently indicating a watch, or the time perhaps? Growling to herself Meiling looks back over her shoulder at you and your partner. “You get lucky.” She states, “Your ten minutes are up and you're not dead.” Then she smiles, ever so lightly, at your partner. “You put up a good fight for a no-namer like you - I had expected to win this in the first minute or so.” The chinese girl turns to face you both, then delivers a formal looking bow. “Shiori and Tokiko,” She murmurs, “I would very much like to fight you again - so please grow stronger and make it worth my time.”

“That's it?” you manage to groan out, “You're just going to... leave?”

“I do not believe you to be in a position to object.” She replies, “But yes, sadly my book-holder has an important appointment and, frankly, it is obvious that I could destroy you at any time I choose right now.” She shrugs lightly, “And at this moment I choose that it is not that time.” She pauses, then frowns slightly, “Lady Flandre also seems to be... happy... staying with you. Were it not for that I would just kill you now anyway while you cannot fight back.” The redhead seems to stare off into the distance for a moment. “She deserves some peace,” The woman glances back at you and grimaces. “Her sister, however, will not be pleased should she find her - and the beating I gave you will likely be a series of love taps compared to what that... Lady will do to you.” Meiling's mouth seems to twist into a snarl as she mentions Flandre's sister, though the expression vanishes quickly as she gives you a final curt nod before turning and walking off to join with her partner.

The chinese woman pauses just before leaving your line of sight and turns to glance back at you. “In regards to Lady Flandre's dietary needs... a few drops of blood in a cup of tea, twice a week, should bring her back to a much better condition than she is in at the moment.” With that the woman, the victor, was gone - passing out of your sight and you were sure that she and her partner would be long gone by the time you were able to drag yourself around to that side of the house.

You don't have long to ponder what on earth she was talking about as your body, for the second time in such a short span of time, declares that it isn't going to do anything you want for a good long while.

As blackness claims you once again you vaguely hear Tokiko screaming for your sister and your sisters own wail of a reply.... hah... you knew it had been too much to hope for her to have actually listened to your orders...

Good thing though...

You didn't know if Tokiko knew... how to call... an... ambu... lan...

[ ] Raindrops keep falling from my head, Even black or cold or stone are open too.
[ ] Canada in my left Cossack in my right, Hunting a Z of God or Devil.
[ ] Sacrificed of Human song, Renting out office space Short thankyou.
>> No. 21207
Updates there. Comes as a surprise to me too.

Anyway, the clues got more obscure... oh well.
>> No. 21208
[x] Sacrificed of Human song, Renting out office space Short thankyou.
>> No. 21209
[x] Canada in my left Cossack in my right, Hunting a Z of God or Devil.

>Z of God or Devil.
I think I know what this is.

I wonder if anyone else has a clue to what each choice leads to.
>> No. 21211
>Z of God or Devil.

Why the hell am I getting an image of Mazinger Z arriving out of nowhere?

[X] Sacrificed of Human song, Renting out office space Short thankyou.
>> No. 21212
[x] Canada in my left Cossack in my right, Hunting a Z of God or Devil.
>> No. 21213
What do you think that choice means?
>> No. 21214
[x] Canada in my left Cossack in my right, Hunting a Z of God or Devil.

>Raindrops keep falling from my head
Unzan and/or Ichirin?

>Even black or cold or stone are open too.
No idea

>Canada in my left Cossack in my right,
No idea how Cossacks fit into this, but I'm assuming Momiji or Aya (Maple leaf)

>Hunting a Z of God or Devil.
No clue

>Sacrificed of Human song,

>Renting out office space Short thankyou.
Sounds like a two-parter. No idea.
>> No. 21215
ffffff Typo.
It should be 'Sacrifice of Human song', not sacrificed.
Just in case that changes your thoughts any.
>> No. 21216
[X] Canada in my left Cossack in my right, Hunting a Z of God or Devil.

>No idea how Cossacks fit into this
The Cossacks are famous for their cavalry. Momiji uses a scimitar, a type of cavlary sword, but the Cossacks used sabres.
>> No. 21217
>Z of God or Devil.


[x] Canada in my left Cossack in my right, Hunting a Z of God or Devil.
>> No. 21218
[x] Heaven, Qu'est-ce que c'est?
>> No. 21270
[Q] Sacrifice of Human song, Renting out office space Short thankyou.
>> No. 21275
>Raindrops keep falling from my head

>Even black or cold or stone are open too.
No clue.

>Canada in my left Cossack in my right
Momiji, most likely.

>Hunting a Z of God or Devil.
I get the Mazinger Z reference, but thanks to hearing Sound Holic's rendition of Bokura no Hisou Tensoku recently, I can't think straight about anything relating to super robots and Gensoukyou.

>Sacrificed of Human song
I really do not know.

>Renting out office space Short thankyou.
"Leased (least?) thanks"?

Wow. Okay, quite obscure.

Going with
[+] Canada in my left Cossack in my right, Hunting a Z of God or Devil.
>> No. 21276
>thanks to hearing Sound Holic's rendition of Bokura no Hisou Tensoku recently, I can't think straight about anything relating to super robots and Gensoukyou
It has to be Sanae. She went after Hisoutensoku thinking it was a giant robot.
>> No. 21279
[x] Canada in my left Cossack in my right, Hunting a Z of God or Devil.

>> No. 21325
>Renting out office space Short thankyou.
>"Leased (least?) thanks"?
To let TY
>> No. 21339
Clever; didn't think of that at all.

Wonder what the rest are?
>> No. 21347
[X] Sacrifice of Human song, Renting out office space Short thankyou.

Someone I don't know for the first part, admittedly, but I refuse to pass up potential Letty. Especially since we no longer have Skittles to satisfy my hunger for her. ;_;
>> No. 21354
Have you started reading winter alchemist in /coriander/? That has a very HIGH chance of it being a Letty route.
>> No. 21433
>Sacrifice(d) of Human song

>> No. 21434

That's not the same Letty. I want more of AD's Letty.
>> No. 21435
Why don't you ask HY and Scorn to start writing again at this rate?

Because it ain't going to happen anytime soon. The fact he's focusing on this one is hard enough for him.
>> No. 21436
I'm just.... really... lazy...

On that note, next post is almost finished - probably have it up tomorrow.
>> No. 21437
On a total side note - how the hell did my Letty become so desired anyway? I still don't quite understand how that happened...
>> No. 21438
Well she's a nice, caring, mature sort with big hitboxes. Generally Anon goes for that as opposed to the other ones. That and the whole lack of a real Letty route. The fact you left GtR hanging left people wanting for a Letty route real bad.
>> No. 21504
You had awoken, rather painfully, in a curtained area of a white hospital ward. For the next hour or so after waking you had been subjected to a barrage of questions from nurse, doctor and police officer alike. Thankfully someone had sneaked you a scrap of paper with a few details of a cover story to tell them - that you had been attacked by a couple of drunken home invaders and that no you couldn't recall too well what they looked like because everything had been such a blurry panic. Perhaps not the most impressive cover story but given that your little cheat-sheet had been signed with a K in a heart you were pretty sure it had been Koishi who had got it to you. If she was involved then chances were her partner, Officer Kankichi, was going to be helping keep the less... believable... aspects of your home invasion under wraps. You figured that you should probably offer to buy the guy lunch or something at some point given that he was potentially risking his job to keep things from coming out into the light.

Morally and legally dubious cover ups aside, your hospital stay had been relatively uneventful. Your sister had hinted strongly at wanting to know what the hell was going on but you'd managed to convince her to wait until you weren't in a highly public, and likely monitored, hospital ward first. At least you were slated to be out in only a few days as miraculously nothing had been broken - but you would be wrapped up in more than a few bandages and supports just in case.

Surprisingly she had taken the eventual explanation rather well... Though you suspected that the only reason she hadn't beaten the hell out of you was because you were still recovering - that and not even your sister would be willing to risk messing up an appointment to see your father. She hadn't exactly been happy about the fact that you were in a life-and-death game but neither had she freaked out as badly as you had expected - she was upset sure, but she understood that there was nothing she could do about the situation.

Her view of Tokiko, however, had dropped rather sharply to the point at which she was evidently taking pains to not be in the same room with the silver-haired girl. You could tell that your partner was upset about this but... you just couldn't see any way to fix things.

Worse, there was now the overhanging knowledge of how close to being killed you and Tokiko had come - and that your opponent didn't even consider herself the strongest in the game.

Life, as it was, sucked.

* * * * * * * *

Light spilled around the edges of her shield as she held it up to protect her face from the bright explosion she faced now. As the light dimmed she peeked over the rim and quickly scooted backwards, her sword whipping downwards to catch her opponent, some kind of fairy, in the shoulder. This one had been a pain in the neck to track down as she had some ability to make herself and her partner invisible but, fortunately, not unscentable. The little pain had known about her weaknesses and had taken shameless advantage of whatever she could use in order to shore it up against her.

Even as she watched the fairy, clutching it's shoulder in pain, vanished as the light wrapped around her form. Once again she'd likely escape and need to be tracked down - though this time at least she had been properly wounded and that would make it so much easier to catch her again.

“Ha...” The white haired woman sighed as her prey got away again. “It's been a week already,” She murmured, hopping down from where she had been perched on top of a parked truck. “Still no sign of Miss Aya at all...” She frowned slightly. As much as the Crow Tengu annoyed the hell out of her she was one of the few people she knew well enough to call a friend and, in this situation, any friend was better than no friends. Thankfully she'd run into Nitori up north and it had been suggested that Aya could be here in this city, Kyoto wasn't it? The name sounded vaguely familiar - possibly a place the Tengu had lived before they'd moved to the Youkai mountain and been sealed inside the great barrier. She'd spied a little evidence of this here and there, mostly around the temples and such - though she was loath to get too close to them. Although there shouldn't be anyone capable of harnessing divine powers out here these days she wasn't going to take risks she didn't need to take. Sanae, after all, was a ridiculously powerful shrine maiden and up until recently she'd been living out in this outside world herself - who knew who else could be doing the same?

Well, whatever. Nitori had sent her down here and she had agreed to take care of whoever she found in the area - the less opponents the more chance of Aya being okay after all. Not that the reporter couldn't take care of herself but... it was just a gut feeling, but she was certain Aya was in need of help somehow. Besides, it would be good to have a debt to hold over Aya's head after the game was over.

Oh yes, having the Crow Tengu owe her would be so perfect.

Momizi grinned widely.

So very perfect.

* * * * * * * *

You sister stood on one side of you, Tokiko on the other. It was hard to describe how it felt standing between them but if you had to try one word you'd use would be 'stressful'. For the past day or so their little cold war had escalated into one of passive aggression - with you caught in all the crossfire. About the only time of peace had come during the morning hour of tokusatsu shows during which Tokiko and your sister shared an uneasy ceasefire, though you noticed that they always sat on the couch to watch the television with Flandre sitting between them.

“I thought this was family only.” your sister muttered, just loud enough for you and Tokiko to hear.

“She is family.” you hiss back, “Close enough at least.” You sister grumbled something in response, but you weren't able to catch it as you had reached your destination - St. Maria's Mental Care Unit.

The place your father lived.

You winced slightly as you led the two girls inside, spoke to the receptionist on duty and signed your name into the thick visitors book. You didn't want to be here, you didn't want to have to live up to the reality of your father being little more than a drooling vegetable now - but equally you couldn't turn away from it either as you still held out hope that maybe he might recover and everything would go back to the way things had used to be. It was unlikely, probably even impossible, but if you gave up hope then you would have to accept that the man was simply dead and that his body just hadn't received the message yet.

Waving to one or two of the nurses you recognized from previous visits you allowed yourself and your group to be led down a maze of cream and brown painted hallways which had various doors leading off. Every once in a while one of the doors was open, allowing you a glimpse into the rooms of the mentally incapable and the nurses looking after them. You felt two slim hands seek out your own and you realized that perhaps Tokiko hadn't been exposed to this... failing... of humanity before. Your gave a gentle squeeze to, hopefully, reassure her a little. In front of you the nurse, a petit thing with the most godawful pink dyed hair, turned a sharp left down the hallway you knew your father's room was down. She stepped quickly up to one of the many identical doors and, after rapping sharply on the wood with one hand, she twisted the handle and pushed it open before marching through. You took a deep breath and followed her, stopping dead at the sight of the body covered in blankets and sitting on a wheelchair in one corner of the room.

The nurse, now behind the chair, pushed it forwards slightly into the center of the room then leaned down to speak to the blanket-covered man. “Look, isn't this a nice surprise?” She said, with the false cheer of a speaker who knew the listener couldn't hear them, “Your children have come to visit you.”

* * * * * * * *

“So, let me get this straight, Baron Ashura is the revived body of a Mycenian priest and priestess who both had half their body rotted away and were then sewn together by Doctor Hell's then assistant?” The green-haired young woman considered this for a moment. “That's pretty messed up.” she concluded, gesturing at the television screen with one of her candy-coated breadsticks.

“It does stay truer to the original source though.” Her companion responded, taking a candy-stick for himself. He shrugged, “Could be worse, could be Pygman.”

The girl shuddered slightly. “You have a point.” She admitted, “It's a pity I'll likely be gone before the next series is out.” She looked down for a moment, then brightened up. “So! What's next on the list?”

“A break,” Her partner stated, pulling himself off of the beanbag couch the two had been sitting on and giving himself a good stretch. “Got another flight lesson in a while, so I have to be heading down to the airfield.” The boy glanced over at his companion. “Want to come with?”

The girl nodded. “Might as well, I could use some fresh air.” She giggled slightly as she stood up and brushed herself off. “My moving to Gensokyo really broke me out of the Hikkikomori lifestyle I was working my way into - a year or so ago I honestly wouldn't have believed that I would get to a point where I wanted to be outside just for the sake of being outside.”

The two of them made a token effort to clean up the area they had been lounging around in before they both headed outside. “You know,” the girl stated as she slipped through into the passenger side of a large military-style car. “It's pretty neat that you have a driving license already, I never really got the chance to learn before I left.” The boy nodded as he slid into his own position behind the vehicle's steering wheel.

“I could probably teach you a bit,” He stated, going through the motions of starting the car up, “but it's not like there are any cars back where you're staying - so it would be a little redundant.” There was a pause, then he grinned. “Unless you want it for bragging rights of course.”

“Of course.” She stated, grinning back.

The rest of the car journey, short though it was, went by fairly quietly - the boy having earlier admitted that he preferred not to be too distracted while driving. Eventually the two of them pulled up at a little gatehouse at the entrance of what seemed to be some kind of military base. When questioned by the guard on duty the boy fished out a small plastic ID, “Date Ryuusei.” He stated, then gestured towards his passenger, “And one guest. We're here for my piloting lessons - well, I'm here, she's just going to spectate.” The guard said something, to which the boy blushed.

Looking over him the guard nodded to the girl. “Name?” he asked, holding up a clipboard which she guessed was a visitors list of some kind.

She smiled. “Ah, Kochiya Sanae.”

* * * * * * * *

The cool and clean outside air was a terribly pleasant thing compared to the stuffy and medicine-scented atmosphere that had filled the home your father lived in. You really did hate that place - the smell, the décor, the sights and the sounds... the sight of your dad slumped over and drooling whole you and your sister try to treat his practically dead self as if her were a real person... You hated how the nurse would lean over your father from behind and coo softly into his ear as she wiped the drool off with some tissue, reminding you that your father couldn't even look after himself without a legion of carers...

“Two years ago...” You mumble, just loud enough for the silver-haired girl standing next to you to hear. “... things weren't like this.” Leading Tokiko away from the building you soon found and threw yourself onto a nearby public bench. “Mom was still crazy,” you continued as your partner sat down beside you, “but she wasn't anywhere near as bad as she is now - dad sort of... balanced her out, see? If it wasn't for him she'd probably have tried to raise me wearing dresses and stuff.” You felt a hand rest gently on your shoulder and you glanced over at Tokiko, who seemed to be unsure of what to do except listen. “He was crazy in his own little ways,” you murmured, “convinced himself I was some kind of housebound otaku because I wasn't the sports-freak my sister was. Most of the collectible junk I have he bought for me when he was off on business trips - he used to travel all over the country see? Outside it too sometimes.”

You take a deep breath, “It's... hard.” You say at last. “If he were dead, I think I could get over it - but he's not, he's there and he's not there at the same time. It's like... looking at broken doll.”

“Always hoping that one day he'll look up and everything will be the way it used to be.” You twitch slightly as your sister joins you on the bench. “The nurse says he's happy we visited.” She frowns. “How the hell would she know? She's just making crap up to keep us happy - bet she does it for everyone who had relatives in that hell.”

“Of course she does,” You respond, “It's her job after all.”

“Don't.” You blink as your sister speaks out a non-sequitur, looking up you realize that she's not talking to you but instead to the youkai girl sitting on the other side of you. “Don't say it,” you sister states, “We don't want sympathy from someone who doesn't understand - and I don't want it from someone who's gonna make me loose another part of my family!”

“Akira!” You barked, causing your sister to flinch back at the sound of her name. “Why don't you...” You trailed off, your anger deflating quickly, “... Just... just leave it. I chose to get involved, so just leave off her, okay?”

You sister glares at you for a moment before rising to her feet. “Fine.” She snarls, stalking off. “See if I care.” She glances back, “I'm getting a drink, don't bother waiting for me.”

You sigh. “She didn't mean it,” you murmur - though your words ring hollow as you know that you sister probably did mean exactly what she had said. “She's just... under a lot of stress, that's all.”

“I...” Tokiko practically whimpers, “I'm sorry...”

“Don't worry about it,” you reassure her, leaning over and putting one arm around her shoulders to give her a gentle squeeze. “She's just unhappy and scared and angry and she really doesn't know how to deal with it all. She's always like this when she visits our father, you just happened to be the most convenient outlet for her anger this time is all.”

“But... but she's right.” You frown as your partner shifts out from under your arm. “It is my fault you're in this, if I hadn't been so selfish and lied my way into your house then you would have just gone on as normal... and no-one would be out to kill you.”

“And everyone would be out to kill you.” You respond. “And we wouldn't have gone on a date, and I wouldn't have fallen for you, and we wouldn't have-” You cut off as Tokiko's head suddenly whips around to face you. “Uh...”

“Say...” She begins, staring hard into your eyes. “Say that again?”

“Everyone would be out to kill you?” That's not what she meant and you knew it, but the words she wanted to hear you hadn't intended to say - they had just sort of slipped out without you realizing it. Tokiko frowned at you and though her face was flushed red, like your own you supposed, she made no move to press the issue any further. You stared at her for a moment, then looked away - desperate to change the subject. “It was an accident.” you say finally, ignoring the little noise of confusion that Tokiko makes at the sudden shift. “My dad I mean, him and mom and sis were in an accident.”

“Accident?” Your partner echoes.

“I... I don't know all the details.” You admit in a soft voice, “I was the only one not there.... They were heading to one of my sister's tournaments when they hit a truck - honestly it's a miracle none of them died, but my dad ended up with serious head injuries and... well... you say what he's like now.” Leaning back on the bench, you looked up at the sky and squinted - looked like it would rain soon, how appropriate. “Mom broke down, she was the one driving so she blamed herself for it - sent her into a breakdown, she came out of it the way she is now. Sis.... she just got angry. She blamed herself too, you know? She reckoned that they were only on the road because of her - but she started lashing out at everyone around her..” You looked down, “Got herself kicked out of school for delinquency - cost a lot of family favors to get her back in to another school...”

You sighed.

“Things calmed down eventually,” you continued, “but they tend to fall apart around this time, the anniversary of when our family got broken to bits.” you shrug and look at your partner. “Sis finding out about our fight just came at a really bad time is all - so she's taking things a lot worse than she normally would. Though... Mom is taking things better thanks to both you and Flandre, so it's not as if everything is so negative.”

You reach out, your arm wrapping around Tokiko once again. “And,” you murmur, giving her another tentative squeeze, “I'm taking things better... because you're here.” You feel and arm slip itself around your back and another wrap itself around your front. Your face heats up slightly as Tokiko pulls herself against you in a hug that, honestly, you needed.

“Thanks,” you murmur as she practically buries herself against you. “I... I needed that.”

* * * * * * * *

“I needed that,” The brunette woman stated, glaring at the white-clad man in front of her. “And before you start bitching, yes I am allowed to be here and yes I do outrank you. So bugger off and stay out of my way.” She repressed a slight grin as the man stared at her - sort of fake but not really - ID, babbled an apology, then followed her order by getting the hell out of her way. Pushing him out of her mind the woman stalked over to a kneeling blond woman wearing a jacket with a familiar medical symbol on the back. “Yo, Fran, having fun?”

The woman turned away from what she was examining and grinned at the first woman. Several facial scars moved in... interesting... ways as she did so, but the blond and her scars were so familiar that they barely got a rise out of her. “Oh, very!” she exclaimed in a voice like a giddy schoolgirl. “It's another mystery death!”

Leaning around the medic, the brunette peered at the body laying haphazardly on the ground. “Joy.” She murmured, “So which of our mystery serial killers is it this time?” She paused, then winced, “Please don't tell me it's a new one.”

“Oh, oh no.” The medical woman, Fran, shook her head. “This one seems to be neither of them... but aside from cause of death - of which this is only a speculation - there is one point of real interest.”

“Well?” The brunette frowned.

“Well wh-” The blond paused, “Oh! Right, right. Yes. See here?” She indicated to the left arm of the corpse. “It looks like they were branded, no, perhaps even pierced, with some kind of... well I don't know what.” Using a small metal rod she gently pointed to two holes burned into the arm, “Two circular burns, that is interesting enough but what makes this more interesting is that they go... deep.”

“How deep?” The first woman asked, clearly interested in this little nugget of information.

“I won't be sure until I get them back and cut the arm open,” the blond stated with a fiendish little grin, “but if it's anything like the other case then the burns will go right down to the bone - in two perfect lines.”

The brunette blinked. “Other case? What other case?”

The medic, Fran, looked up at her curiously. “You didn't read my report, did you?” she said as she put on an exaggerated pout. “After I put all that love and care into making a copy just for you.” shoulders slumping she looked away from the first woman, then sighed. “Fine, I found marks like this on some of the serial killer victims.”

“Which killer?” The brunette asked.

Fran shrugged, “That's the odd part, I found them on both - I don't know if it means anything, but these kinds of marks aren't the kind of thing you can make with any weapon or tool that I know of. There could be a link of some kind - a cult maybe? Or a gang. I don't know, I just cut them open and see what they have on the inside.” She looked up, “The weird stuff is your department, eh Re-”

“Uami Renko!” The roar of anger cut across the crime scene, making both the brunette and the blond jump in surprise.

“Aw... shit.” Looking down at the medic the brunette, Renko, winced. “He's really gonna be unhappy about this, isn't he?” Seeing her friend nod she winced again. “Shit... well, uh, I'm gonna run like hell - you keep me informed, yeah?”

Fran shot her a sloppy parody of a salute. “yes sah great detective Renko sah!” Then she frowned, “And make sure you actually read it this time!” Blinking she realized that her friend had already started her escape as a large trenchcoat wearing police officer came into view and started after her. She sighed. “And you'll owe me dinner!” she yelled, though she was pretty sure that Renko would deny ever hearing her yell.

For such a great detective as she claimed to be, Renko sure was one tightwad when it came to keeping her contacts happy.

Oh well.

Fran grinned as she turned back to her corpse, already thinking about how fun it would be to cut this one open!

* * * * * * * *

“School... trip?” you sound the words out slowly, letting their meaning filter through your head little by little. “Wait, what?” You say, before hissing as you jabbed one finger with a needle. Holding the injured hand over a pot you let a few drops of blood splash down into the hot water below. This was the third, no fourth, time you'd prepared blood-laced tea for Flandre. After the first time - your first day back after recovering from Meiling's beating - the blond girl had perked up considerably and the pale cast to her face had quickly been replaced by a more flushed and healthy look. Since then you had prepared a bloody tea every few days and Flandre had kept her new healthy look much to your mother's happiness, though she didn't know about the blood thing you knew she had been worried about how the girl had seemed so out of energy at times.

“Here.” Tokiko shoved a sheet of paper practically into your face. As you scanned it you wrapped a band-aid around your finger, then reached out to take the sheet for a closer examination.

“Huh.” it was all there in black and white, school trip - yadda yadda - kyoto - blah blah - something about cultural enrichment before everyone left on summer vacation - oh, there was the important informa...

You looked up from the paper. “Tomorrow?” you asked, your voice sounding slightly strained.

Tokiko nodded. “Mm hmm.” She hummed, “I have everything they asked for packed, m-mother helped me get it all ready.”

Tomorrow?” You repeated, a good octave higher than before. Your partner just looked at you in confusion.

“Um, they have been telling us about this for the past two weeks...” She trailed off slightly before continuing, “But... uhm... with you in hospital for a while... and then there was... um... I guess, maybe you missed the notices?”

“Tomorrow.” You said one final time, your voice flat. “And... someone was going to tell me this when?”

Your partner shrunk back slightly, “I... I thought you knew.”

Bringing one hand up to pinch the bridge your your nose, you sighed in annoyance. You couldn't really fault her as there was no way this trip would have been sprung on the classes at the last moment so you really should have heard about all this before. But things had been so hectic lately... and you hadn't really been paying attention in your homeroom sessions in the morning...

Shit. You suspected that you had likely slept through half the announcements about the trip. Okay, so tonight you'd have to pack everything asked for, clothes, toiletries, a few notebooks and probably a camera too. Did you have the batteries for it? You'd need your phone charger too and... goddamit! There was so much to do!

* * * * * * * *

“Line up! Line up!” The teacher called out to the unruly mob of students. “In your classes!”

“Teacher!” One of the students yelled back, “The boys aren't listening!”

“Teacher!” Called another, “Some of the girls have gone shopping and aren't back yet!”

“Shut up!” Roared one of the teachers, “Line up! Alternately!” The man stalked towards the stores lining the train station. “They shouldn't be disturbing our disciplined excursion!”

“Disciplined he says,” Mumbled one of the less exuberant tutors before raising his voice to the crowd, “Line up! Boy, girl, boy, girl!”

“Teacher!” Replied one of the four class presidents, “There are a few more boys than there are girls!”

“I... see.” The tutor grumbled, “Then, ah, boy, girl, boy, boy, girl, boy, girl! Understand!?”

Within moments the students were lining up, first a boy, then a girl, a boy, a girl, two boys together and then another girl. You sighed to yourself - why were all school trips such colossal fuckups of organization? Thankfully you and Tokiko had hung back at the very edge of the crowd with the small group of students who hadn't bough their train tickets in advance. As you watched to chaos of the teachers trying to control the bulk of the students you were approached by one of the class presidents - probably so they could escort you to the ticket booths.

This guess proved to be correct as you soon found yourself standing at a ticket booth buying tickets for both yourself and Tokiko - you figured it was easier for your to get both than for you to hope she would get through the confusing procedure on her own. Since you'd been the first in line the two of you were stuck waiting for the other students to get their tickets before you could head back to the crowd. Just great, more waiting - at least soon you'd be on the tra-

Something tapped you on one shoulder. Turning to see who, or what, it was you were presented with an odd looking woman - all white hair, pale skin and red eyes.

“Excuse me,” she said in a polite, though rough, tone. “Would you perhaps be able to give me a hand?” The woman held out a small booklet which she flicked open and consulted for a moment. “My reading is not so good.” She stated, seeming to read from the booklet. “Can you help me buy a ticket?” Turning the book around she pointed at a picture of a shrine. “To Kyoto?”

Oh. A foreigner?

Glancing over at the class president who was escorting you, who had thankfully heard everything, you watched her give you a little nod. Fine, you had the time to help the woman - it wasn't like you had anything else to do while you waited for everyone else to get their tickets. Leading the pale woman, who frankly looked more than a little freaky, to one of the free ticket booths you took a few moments to look over her strange looks. Was she really white haired, white skinned and red eyed? Or was she just some crazy foreigner in some kind of cosplay? Or... you glanced at Tokiko as a more worrying thought occurred. Thankfully your partner, guessing your unspoken question, shook her head in the negative.

Not a youkai then, or at least not one she recognized.

Taking care to speak slowly you led the woman through the process of buying a ticket to Kyoto. Every now and then she would smile at you in a way that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end - though you couldn't pick up anything overtly wrong about her there was a tiny part of you that really didn't think this woman was normal either. Annoyingly the woman was wearing a long sleeved sundress, so you couldn't...

The woman reached up to pay and her sleeve fell back.

You hissed at the sight of the single chain link sticking out of her arm.

A player - or at least the partner of one - in the middle of a crowded station. This was not a situation you liked the sound of in the slightest.

The woman looked over at you, holding her newly purchased ticket. “Is something wrong?” She asked, causing your eyes to narrow ever so slightly - something about her accent sounded a little too... normal. As if she had been speaking the language all her life - though it was still possible that she was telling the truth about not being able to read as well as she could speak. You made a discrete gesture to Tokiko, indicating that she should move close to you due to possibly imminent trouble.

[ ] No need for conflict.
[ ] Pre-emptive strike.
[ ] Requesting parley.
[ ] Tactical Withdrawl.
>> No. 21505
And now explaining clues: You guys did good this time, got some of the ones i didn't expect you to get.

Raindrops keep falling from my head - key words 'from my head', only one youkai is really known for having water fall from their head and that'd be a Kappa. Thus, Nitori.

Even black or cold or stone are open too. - Black hearts, cold hearts, stone hearts... all are as open as any other heart to Satori.

Canada in my left Cossack in my right. - correctly guessed as Momizi due to her maple leaf shield and her cavalry-style sword.

Hunting a Z of God or Devil. - Also correctly guessed as Sanae, who hunts what she thinks is a giant robot. Z of God or Devil being Mazinger Z, a giant robot.

Sacrificed of Human song. - Correctly guessed as a reference to the vocaloid song 'Alice of human sacrifice'. This would have been Alice of course.

Renting out office space Short thankyou. - I really, really didn't expect you to get this. But you did! Renting out office space is letting, TY is a short form of saying thankyou... TO LET TY it was indeed.
>> No. 21506
[Q] No need for conflict.
>> No. 21507
>When questioned by the guard on duty the boy fished out a small plastic ID, “Date Ryuusei.” He stated, then gestured towards his passenger, “And one guest. We're here for my piloting lessons - well, I'm here, she's just going to spectate.” The guard said something, to which the boy blushed.

DO'OH, interesting touch on Sanae being an Otaku. I think Sanae has more to watch out for in this case than other contestants: Latooni and Mai

[x] No need for conflict.

I doubt she'd pick a fight and tipping her off that we know might start a fight.
>> No. 21510
[X] No need for conflict.

Hmm, I only see the obvious Danjo.

>“Date Ryuusei.”
...snnnk. Nice pairing. Excuse me, I need to go die from laughter.
>> No. 21520
File 126981537527.jpg- (90.28KB , 422x730 , SRX Altered Banpreios.jpg ) [iqdb]
[x] No need for conflict

>Date Ryuusei
SoS just gained another ten levels of badass.
>> No. 21526
[x] No need for conflict.
>> No. 21528
[ ] No need for AN heroes.
[ ] Parleley, parlelellyleloooo, par le nee, partner, par... snip, parsley...
[] Parley?
[] That's the one. Parley. Parley.
[] Parley? Damn to the depths whatever man what thought of "Parley".
[] That would be the French.
>> No. 21532

Verbatim quotes from Pirates of the Caribbean do not improve your votes.
>> No. 21533
[x] No need for conflict.

At least for now~
>> No. 21534
It seems whoever this person is (most likely Momiji) doesn't seem to have partner.
>> No. 21535

The chain means they do have a partner though, doesn't it?
>> No. 21537
Mazinger Z,SRW and Danjo in this update? Awesome.

[ ] No need for conflict.

I want Ratsel as Aya's partner and also calling her Trombe. Do it.
>> No. 21542
>White haired, white skinned and red eyed
>Not so good at reading

I'm thinking Mokou.
>> No. 21626
And Franken Fran. I noticed that one.

Couldn't tell who the nurse was.

That's who I thought of, too.

[+] No need for conflict.
>> No. 21688
“Ah, no, no nothing!” You wave your hands in a placating gesture for a moment before lowering them, your gaze constantly flicking back to the chain link affixed to the woman's arm - one very similar to the one stuck in your own arm. Almost unconsciously you reached up to rub at the spot on your own arm, feeling the slight lump under the cloth of your uniform sleeve. “I was just, uh...” you think furiously for something to divert attention away from what you were reallying thinking about. “uh... I was just surprised at how well you speak our language!” you exclaim eventually, “Given you're a foreigner and said you can't read it too well and all.”

The woman smiles warmly, though something about that expression makes you shudder ever so slightly. “Well,” She states, “I did live out here a long time ago.”

“Oh, you left before you learned to read kanji?” You ask, trying to keep from seeming too interested in the woman.

She shrugs. “Something like that,” She murmurs, before giving you another warm - though unnerving - smile. “Thank you kindly for your help.” Her eyes narrow and you watch as her gaze flicks over to where Tokiko is standing. “And do tell your partner that she has nothing to worry about as my own partner is... elsewhere... at the moment.”

“You noticed.” You state, suddenly feeling exposed out here in the middle of these crowds. Glancing around quickly to make sure no-one could listen in you continued in a lower voice. “And when we get to Kyoto?”

“I'm going for a little holiday trip,” The woman replied, “Nothing more and nothing less - you can expect no trouble between us for the duration, I assure you.”

“... Fine.” Though the nature of the game really meant that you should trust the woman's word so easily it was difficult to see an alternative course of action. It wasn't, after all, like you could fight here in the middle of a crowded - and likely monitored - train station. All you could do was accept her word for now and keep an eye out just in case. “Enjoy your holiday then.” You say, turning and nodding at the class president who, by now, had finished with everyone else's ticket purchases.

“Ah...” You pause as the woman reaches out. Glancing behind you spot an embarrassed expression cross her face. “I... don't know which train I need.”

You sigh and glance over at your class president, who just sighs herself and nods. “Fine,” you grumble, “We're on the same train so you can just follow us.” The woman smiles and, as your group of students returns to the larger gathering, she follows behind while carrying both a light parasol and a little suitcase of luggage. With her following your paranoia shot up by a significant amount - though she had claimed her partner wasn't around you weren't going to simply trust her on her word alone. Your eyes flicked form person to person in the crowds, from shadowed alcove to hanging girders. Anywhere a person, a youkai, could be hiding you looked at.

Nothing. Nada. Zip, zero and zilch. If the white woman's partner was anywhere she sure as hell didn't seem to be around here. You allowed yourself to relax slightly as you approached the mass of students waiting near the platforms. “Where's Risa?” you mumble to yourself. The other player in the school, though she didn't like you or Tokiko, was the only possible ally you had around should the white woman decide to attack.

Assuming, of course, that Risa and Mystia didn't join up with the white woman themselves.

* * * * * * * *

“Have I told you how much I hate you?” The black haired girl stated as she stared at you from the seats across from yours. In this particular train seats were grouped up in sets of four, two facing each other over a little plastic table. It was a fairly normal setup for a long distance train but, thanks to some ungodly stroke of luck, you and Tokiko had been placed sitting opposite Risa and Mystia.

“I didn't break her skull in,” You mutter, ignoring the glare from the purple-haired girl sitting beside Risa. “What more do you want from me?”

“You could die for us.” Grumbled Mystia.

“And where would that leave you when China comes?” Points out your own partner as she reaches out to take a biscuit from a small pile on the table. You'd bought them earlier as something to snack on during the journey, but it seemed that Risa and her partner weren't exactly shy about snacking on them themselves. “I've never seen her being so serious before.” Tokiko shudders slightly, “Or so merciless. If it hadn't been for the time limit she had...”

“Stupid China isn't that strong,” Mystia mutters. “Me and Risa could have taken her easily if we'd just blinded her and kept out of her reach.”

“And then what would you do when Remilia comes?” Tokiko asks, causing the birdlike girl to flinch back in horror. “Chi- uh, Meiling isn't the strongest in this game by far, and those were words from her own mouth. What about Lady Kanako? Or Yuuka? Or...” Her voice dropped, “What about Marisa?”

“You can't win alone, hell you couldn't even beat me when I was on my own - what chance have you got against people who can actually fight back?” You state, noting Risa's scowl at your pointing out of these facts. “We can't win alone,” you add, “Meiling would have destroyed us had she not left, Kanako would have obliterated us if she hadn't been distracted by the other woman. We only beat Lily thanks to surprise - we can't expect that to happen again.”

“I don't care.” Risa states, glaring at you. “We're not working together, in the end we'll just have to kill you too anyway.”

“Fine.” you had hoped that the duo would be a little more receptive to the idea of an alliance given the fact that, according to Tokiko, Mystia was down in the lower tiers of power compared to most of the other players. “Can we at least agree not to fight during the trip? I don't want to miss out on everything because we blew up a shrine or something during a visit.”

“Ugh...” The black-haired girl sneers slightly, then shrugs her shoulders. “I suppose I don't have a choice - in fact the less we see of each other the happier i'll be.”

* * * * * * * *

The faux shutter sound, at last, signaled the end of this session. Upon the tiny screen of her handset a picture of an unfamiliar green-haired woman appeared, in the picture the woman appeared to be standing in some kind of field and was looking up at the sky. Supposedly this was the wind priestess Sanae, but she'd never really met the priestess before so she couldn't say for certain. She had seen her photograph, but those had often been in black and white pictures from the Bunbunmaru publication... Not that she would admit reading that stupid rag, but only an idiot wouldn't keep an eye on the competition and, in the Tengu publishing business, the Bunbunmaru was the only competition anyone cared about as it was the paper to beat.

Holding up the handset for her partner to see, she watched as the blond man thumped his fist against the door he was stuck next to. He hated these little sessions as much as she did - but then given that they were both prisoners being made to work under duress it was hard to see how that could be otherwise. A few moments later the door, a heavy metal thing, swung open and she was forced to squint at the brighter light from outside.

Ah. It was the purple head, the weakest of her captors. She wasn't so bad about things, seemed often regretful over the situation, but she was a loyal servant of the black and white bitch and her equally-a-bitch partner. If it wasn't for the fact that she would be mobbed by the bitch and her other servants if she tried anything she would have simply blasted whoever came to the door - but she had learned from experience that they wouldn't kill her if she did... she was too useful. No, they'd just leave her almost dead, then sling her back into her room to recover until next time.

Quietly she handed over the mobile phone with the picture of Sanae. The purple-head smiled slightly, then gestured to the few wrecked handsets lying around the floor. Grumbling she picked those up too - spirit photography wasn't exact and there were many things which could make it fail, usually blowing up the medium one was using in the process. But despite being destroyed her captors weren't taking any chances - hell, they had her do her work in a room which was otherwise blocked from phone signals, just to make sure she couldn't call for help. On top of that she, and her partner, would both be searched as they left before being taken to the room which served as their living quarters and prison.

Sniffling slightly she moved around to behind where her partner sat and took hold of the two handlebars mounted to his chair. Although he could move it himself with his little control stick their captors insisted that she push him too and from their quarters - most likely to ensure she couldn't pull anything funny as her hands would both be in full view and occupied all the time.

As she pushed him out of the room he reached up and behind to gently touch his fingers to her cheek. She smiled slightly at the gesture of affection, her partner was a kind man who had simply been knocked down by tragic circumstances - with nothing else to do she and he had spent many evenings just talking to each other and so they both knew each other.... probably better than anyone else actually. Certainly she knew her own partner better than she knew anyone from back home and from the way he spoke of things she suspected that it was a similar thing with him too.

Her partner's hand dropped back down into his lap and... wait... was that?

She carefully kept her face neutral when she saw the signs he was making, hidden from anyone looking from anywhere but where she stood. Sign language, he had taught her a little so that they could communicate with less chance of being spied upon...

P. L. A. N. E. S. C. A. P. E. N. E. E. D. T. I. M. E. W. E. E. K. ?. 2. ?.

Hope, at last.

* * * * * * * *

“Ah!” You pointed at the white haired woman in a mix of surprise and horror. “You!”

“Me?” She responded, looking so disturbingly innocent that it was obviously not true.

The two of you stood in one of the many wood-lined hallways that filled the semi-traditional style hotel-inn that your school had booked to bed the students at during the trip. Each class had four group-size rooms each, boys in two and girls in the other two. All told this meant that your school had booked what was almost an entire floor of the inn just for it's students. Given that you had caught the white haired woman coming down a staircase you assumed that she must have booked herself into one of the single or double rooms on the floor above that hadn't already been claimed by school staff members.

“What are you doing here?” You ask, not keeping the note of accusation out of your voice. The woman, picking up on this, just smiled and cocked her head to one side.

“Who? Me?” She stated, “I'm just having myself a little holiday.” Gesturing around she gave you a contrite little look. “It's cheap, cosy and within a short walk of all the places to visit. No doubt the reasons why your little trip decided to stay here, correct?”

“And giving you a good chance to murder us in our sleep didn't factor into this?” You raise an eyebrow as you, quite blatantly, accuse the woman of having followed you.

“Well, they say there is safety in numbers no?” She responded, “You, your friend, me - and our 'partners' makes six possible targets for any players who may be in the area looking for trouble.” You glare at her and she shrugs. “Don't look at me like that, I'm well aware of little Mystia and her partner - as well as the fact that she doesn't seem to like you very much. Either way, you can tell her that I won't start trouble if she doesn't.” She frowned, “Unless she sings all night and keeps me awake - but I won't be the only one wanting to kill her if she does that.”

“Right,” you drawl, slipping past the woman, who just smiled benignly, “Moving on.”

Thanks to miracle of high speed rail travel the trip from your home to Kyoto had taken just a little under four hours - leaving you and all the other students with easily over half a day of free time since all the official school visits wouldn't begin until the next day. This time, you had decided, was going to be spent on just having some fun with Tokiko - a real date even. No fighting to the death, no horrible past traumas suddenly popping up, just a nice little date at... uh...

Well shit. You didn't know where you could take her. Maybe you should have planned this in advance? Thankfully inns and hotels had reception staff for just this kind of emergency meaning that a quick conversation with the young lady on duty threw up a number of possibilities. There were a handful of cinemas within reach, a good sized shopping center with a few good places to eat, more museums and shrines than you could hope to remember, a major aquarium, a few zoos and there was also a small amusement park, though that last one was maybe a little out of your way.

You had also been pleasantly surprised to find that there would be a small festival at the end of the week, coinciding with the last night of your stay in the city. You suspected that perhaps the teachers had been keeping that under wraps as a surprise for the students - well, it wasn't really your place to ruin the surprise, but it was something to keep in mind.

“Planning a little excursion with your ladyfriend?” The white woman asked, her face suddenly appearing over your shoulder and prompting you to let out a rather undignified yelp of alarm. “How sweet, if a little tragic.”

“Tragic?” You frown at the strange lady, “Are you plotting something?”

She honestly looked a little surprised at this accusation. “Me? Plotting?” She laughed, “Anyone who knows me could tell you that I'm usually far, far too direct to be plotting things.” Suddenly her face fell flat. “You and your partner have enough tragedy ahead of you without me adding to it. A romance between human and youkai? Partners in a game of elimination? Memories of your time together on the line?” She shrugged. “And what if you win? Do you still get to be together or does she flit off back to where she came from?”

Blood rushed away from your face at that, your skin taking on a pale shade. You had assumed that winning the game would mean staying together but now this woman had just put forth the idea that this might not be so. What if Tokiko did leave when the game was over? What would you do then? Would you just try to forget about her or would you try to find the place she had claimed to live in, this 'Gensokyo' she had spoken of. Where would you even begin with such a task? Hell, people who lost had their memories wiped - would you even be allowed to remember who Tokiko even was?

“If you want my advice,” The woman stated, cutting you out of your downward spiraling thoughts, “I would treat every date as if it were the last one you have.” There was a slight note of bitterness in the woman's voice but before you could comment on it the woman was already walking away and giving you a little wave as she headed out of the inn's entrance, snapping open a delicate parasol to cover herself from the sun as she did so.

It looked like there may have been an unhappy story lingering unsaid there. Well if she didn't want to bring it up you weren't going to pressure her over it - besides, you still had to plan your date.

[ ] Go see a movie, together in a dark room.
[ ] Visit the mall, a sedate shopping trip.
[ ] Eat at a restaurant, fine dining for a fine lady.
[ ] Look at museums, knowledge is love.
[ ] See the shrines, romance and religion.
[ ] Aquarium examination, treasures of the sea.
[ ] Zoo time fun, lions and tigers oh my.
[ ] To the Amusements, step right up to win a prize.

Hot, Warm, Cool, Cold.
>> No. 21689
Well shit, this one got horribly delayed on top of my usual lazy slow updating. Sorry 'bout that.
>> No. 21691
[Q] Go see a movie, together in a dark room.
[Q] Eat at a restaurant, fine dining for a fine lady.
[Q] Look at museums, knowledge is love.
[Q] Warm

Best I could come up with.
>> No. 21692
[x] Look at museums, knowledge is love.
[x] Eat at a restaurant, fine dining for a fine lady.
[x] Go see a movie, together in a dark room.

[x] Warm

I think Hot would be overdoing it.
>> No. 21695
[ ] Visit the mall, a sedate shopping trip.
[ ] Go see a movie, together in a dark room.
[ ] To the Amusements, step right up to win a prize.

Shopping: Books for tokiko.
Movie: Oh hey, look, A movie. Wanna go watch?
Amusements: End the date riding on the ferris wheel. Winning her a prize never hurt either.

Now how's that for romantic?

Let's hope the ferris wheel ends with fireworks. In more ways than one, IYKWIM.
Also: >>21691
We're likely going to be going to the museums tomorrow with the classes. Educational trip and wot not. Why go see it now if we're gonna be seeing it tomorrow? It's unlikely it'll be interesting enough to see twice.
>> No. 21696
Tokiko likes knowledge, and what greater depository than a museum? Not as if anything like that exist in Gensokyo. And this allows us to look at our own pace, and not get hurried along.
>> No. 21697
also, Warm.

Shiori is trying their hardest and are preparing now. Please wait warmly.
>> No. 21698
[x] Visit the mall, a sedate shopping trip.
[x] Look at museums, knowledge is love.
[x] To the Amusements, step right up to win a prize.

[x] Hot

Praying this means we Casanova it up, and DOESN'T mean we become pushy, grabby, and 'come on baby, loosen up'-y. Or awkwardly un-romantic.

It's a futile hope, but I hope all the same.
>> No. 21699
[x] Go see a movie, together in a dark room.
[x] Eat at a restaurant, fine dining for a fine lady.
[x] Look at museums, knowledge is love.
[x] Warm

>> No. 21700
[x] Look at museums, knowledge is love.
[x] Eat at a restaurant, fine dining for a fine lady.
[x] Go see a movie, together in a dark room.

[x] Warm
>> No. 21701
[X] Visit the mall, a sedate shopping trip.
[X] Eat at a restaurant, fine dining for a fine lady.
[X] To the Amusements, step right up to win a prize.

[X] Warm

Well this is going to be hard to count, isn't it. Are you going to tally the votes for each and just do the top three in whichever order makes logical sense, or what?
>> No. 21702
[x] Visit the mall, a sedate shopping trip.
[x] Look at museums, knowledge is love.
[x] To the Amusements, step right up to win a prize.

[x] Warm
>> No. 21711
It's all called now, please wait for... uh... some time i guess.
>> No. 21717
[x] Wait
-[x] Warmly
>> No. 21724
You took a deep breath, then knocked on the door to the girl's room that Tokiko had said she was assigned to. After a moment the door slid open a few inches and the mousy-looking face of one of your classmates appeared to glare at you. She frowned when you asked for Tokiko, looked behind her and then slammed the door shut - a few moments later it opened again, this time wide enough to actually let you into the room. Seeing the various girls lounging about in the room staring at you made you feel more than a little self-conscious, but you weren't here for them, you here here for one person alone.

“Tokiko?” You ask out loud, scanning the room for your partner. You hear a yelp from one corner of the room, followed by the sound of someone tripping up and more than a little laughter from those around her. Your eyes narrowed and the laughter cut off quickly as Tokiko seemed to just appear in front of you, her clothing and hair both ruffled considerably. You frowned - was she being bullied by the other girls? You knew she had friends in the library club but now that you thought about it you really didn't know how she got on with any of the other girls in the year. Alright then, perhaps this would knock the girls down a few pegs...

“Tokiko,” You said again, “Would you allow me to take you out today?” You took a quick breath, thought about what you were about to do - then did it anyway. “As your fiance I mean.”

There was a gasp of apparent horror from the collected girls and Tokiko sent you a shy smile at the sound of it. While you weren't the most desirable guy in the school - hell, you probably weren't even in the top ten or twenty - you knew you weren't considered a bad catch by the girls at large. For Tokiko to have a fiance, and that for it to be you, would probably come as a serious shock to these girls and was something she could likely lord over them for some time.

“Well?” you asked, holding out your hand. Your partner nodded and, with a quick glance around, took hold of it and allowed you to lead her out into the hallway. The moment the two of you left the sight of the girls room the silver-haired youkai allowed herself to smile widely. “That'll show them up.” You mutter quietly, “You never told me you had trouble with the girls.”

“I didn't think it was a problem,” She replied as you both slowed down from your rapid escape. “They say bad things and sometimes take my things - but i'm used to it. I'm a youkai and they're just humans so it's not like there is much they can do that would really hurt me.” She grinned, though this time you noted that her teeth seemed sharper than usual, an effect which made her grin look like that of a shark. “Besides, if they really annoy me I can always eat them.”

“Please don't.” You reply, deadpan, “If someone goes missing they might cancel the rest of the trip.”

Tokiko looks at you curiously for a moment, then giggles. Soon you join her and a number of other students, wandering around the halls, look at you both oddly - which just serves to make you both laugh harder.

* * * * * * * *

“They don't really carry people off you know.” Tokiko murmured as you both looked at the diorama of an oni, a great musclebound brute, carrying a woman off over it's shoulder. “At least I don't think they do, the only oni I've ever met just drinks and parties a lot.” Your partner frowned slightly, “She's a girl though - maybe it works different for them? Or maybe she's too young to be having her wicked ways with people she carries off? She's kind of short and flat after all.”

You laugh quietly. This museum, one dedicated to oni and other mythical monsters of the past, had been less informative and more amusing as Tokiko had been more than happy to explain to you why all the exhibits were wrong. One or two she had declared to be accurate, but most she had derided before regaling you with an often amusing explanation as to why they were wrong. This had also given you some insight into Gensokyo, the home of your partner, and the seemingly both idyllic and terrifying lands within it. In the room dedicated to western myths she had gone into a long lecture about fairies, over in another she had told you all about the difference between sympathetic and myological magics... whatever the heck that meant. Almost all of it had gone completely over your head, but she had seemed so happy to be explaining it that you had just smiled and nodded as she talked.

“You know,” You said at one point in between lectures, “With all the stuff you know you should write a book or something.”

The silver-haired girl seems to freeze at that statement, her mouth half open in surprise. Slowly it closes as she gives you a speculative look. “Write... a book?” She murmurs.

“Well, yeah.” You shrug, “Maybe something like an introduction to all this? Some of your explanations are a little too... um...” You flounder for a moment as you search for a non-insulting way to finish your sentence. “... er... detailed?” You nod, that would do. “Yeah, detailed - something a bit more simplified would be nice for people new to magic and stuff.”

“But,” Tokiko frowned, “I'm not really a magician though - Lady Knowledge is one, and she has every book on magic ever in her library.”

“Wouldn't it be nice to know a book you wrote is in there though?” You ask, causing her to blink slowly as she turned the concept over in her head. “I mean if she's the authority on this sort of thing and she accepts a book you write into her library, wouldn't that mean something?”

Your partner stares at you for a few moments. “It...” she begins, “It would mean a lot...” She looked down at the floor, her lips moving silently as she seemed to loose herself in thought. Finally she looked up, frowning. “How would I even start?” She asked, “What would I talk about in it? There's just so much I could put in a book I don't know what I should put in it.”

“Why don't you just imagine you're teaching me?” You say after a short think, “I'm still new at all this - so if I understand it then anyone else should be able to as well, right? And if you do it that way you can see what sort of things people don't grasp easily or what questions they might ask.” You smile and shrug, “then you can just answer them ahead of time, right?”

“That's pretty smart...” Murmurs the youkai girl, looking at you with some slight awe. “If I write a book even you could learn from, then anyone could learn from it!”

You frown. “'Even I could learn from'?” you ask, “What's that meant to mean?” You scowl slightly as Tokiko laughs, then you just sigh and shake your head.

* * * * * * * *

“This is good,” Tokiko stated, her fork spearing some seared but pink meat that lay wallowing in some kind of sauce. Assuming that she didn't know much about the world you had hit upon the bright idea of taking her to a foreign-themed restaurant. It wasn't too fancy, anything nicer would have required reserving a table days or weeks in advance rather than the few hours you had to place one earlier in the day. That and it was still pretty early as you wanted to hit a movie and still get back to the inn before the curfew time got too close. You took a sip at your drink - not alcohol unfortunately, you were still too young to buy that yourself and you suspected that the staff were unlikely to buy Tokiko's story that she was a lot older than she appeared.

“So,” You ask, “You were saying about, ah,” you flounder for a moment, “what was it? Relatavistic distortion?” It was hard wrapping your head around the short insights into magic that your partner was dishing out to you in conversation. Many of the terms and theories seemed so similar to things you had learned in science classes or heard on the odd television documentary but, in this context, they meant strange, weird and terribly confusing different things.

Swallowing her food, Tokiko nodded. “yes,” she began, dabbing at her mouth with a napkin. “In short it means that the same casting, created by two different people, will have a different appearance and in many cases a slightly different effect.”

“But surely if they're casting the same thing, from the same instructions, the results should be the same?” You frown, “Otherwise how could any magic be considered repeatable?”

Your partner sighed, glanced at her food, then looked back up at you. “Lets say you had a spell which created food. You cast it - what food do you create? The spell only specifies 'food' - you could end up creating grilled fish while I make some rabbit instead.” She shrugs and spears another slice of meat with her fork. “Likewise other spells, if you have one which creates a flame - what kind of flame is it? Like a candle? A flaming torch? And what color could it be? All these things are mutable and limited only by your life experience, your focus and of course your raw power and reagents.” The girl chewed on her food for a moment before continuing, “You're not going to make anything much bigger than a spark without a good few months of practice though, and no spell to make a simple flame is ever going to make a grand fireball - the scales are simply too different.”

She reaches out with one hand, until it's practically under your nose and her face scrunched up in concentration. “But you could make this,” she said, and flicked her fingers.

You almost jumped backwards as five tiny flames appeared, one for each fingertip and thumb. Each was a different color, blue, red, green, purple and orange. They wavered for a few moments before vanishing without so much as a puff of smoke to betray their ever having existed. In fact the only evidence that they had ever been there was the slight warm feeling on your cheeks and nose from where the ghostly candles had heated them due to their proximity.

“Wow...” you breath, your mind reeling like a battered boxer. Sure you had seen Tokiko cast spells before, with the aid of your grimoire, but this was the first time she had done something under her own power without any prompting. You looked up, away from her still outstretched hand, and at a red face covered in a thin sheen of sweat. Instantly your brain snapped to attention, “Are you alright?” you asked, the worry evident in your voice.

Tokiko waved you off as she drew her hand back. “I'm... I'm fine,” she mumbled, “Just a bit strained - that took a lot more effort than it should have.” She frowned, “A lot, lot more. I guess it's part of all us players having been limited to be equal - no magic outside that which the grimoire allows us.” She gave a little laugh, “It must be a lot worse for those who use magic for everything, the Magicians must be going mad with the limitations on them if it hit me, a novice at best, so hard.”

“Magicians huh? Must be hard on them.” You lean back and take another sip of your drink. The two of you, during your conversation, had both been picking at your meals and while Tokiko was still going you had already finished yours.

“More than you know,” You partner responded inbetween bites of food, “You're probably thinking a magician is just someone who uses magic, right?” You nod and Tokiko shrugs slightly. “Well you'd be wrong, in this case at least. Magician is also the name of a group of youkai who live and breath magic in almost everything they do.”

“Oh, so they're a species? Like the Tengu, Kappa and Oni you've told me about before?” You lean forwards in your seat, your interest picking up again now that you actually could understand more of the conversation.

“Mmmm...” Tokiko looked down at her plate, “This really is very nice.” She commented as her plate finally emptied. “Do you think I could find out how to make it?”

“I guess... Maybe not here, but there are probably books you can find the recipe in around somewhere.” You frown slightly, “Or I could look it up on the internet.” You nod to yourself, then shake your head and look at your partner. “Anyway, you were saying?”

“Like Tengu, Kappa or Oni... I suppose you could say that. I don't know a lot about Magicians, but I'm pretty sure they're much closer to humans than any other youkai are.” She takes a sip of her drink, then holds the glass up and looks at it critically. “This soda stuff tingles.” She states before taking another sip. “But it's not bad.”

“You say that a Magician is closer to a human,” you ask, smiling slightly at her reaction to the drinks. “And you once said that you used to be an Ibis, so... does that mean that Magicians used to be humans?”

“Some were.” The silver haired girl shrugs, “Some weren't. Magicians, as far as I know, are the only youkai that can be born as youkai as well as be born human and turn into youkai later.” Taking another sip of her drink the girl replaces her glass and taps thoughtfully at her cheek. “It's not really something I've studied - someone like Lady Knowledge would know though, if we were ever able to ask her.” She frowns slightly. “I did hear rumors that miss Margatroid was human once, but I also heard that she was the daughter of the ruler of Makai... so I don't think it wise to put much trust in any of the rumors really.”

You nod and the conversation ceases as a waiter, having realized you were both finished, approached and offered desserts. At first you were going to refuse but, seeing Tokiko looking at the dessert list with barely disguised longing, you changed your mind on that there and then. Within a short while your partner was digging into a fancy cake that was draped - no, drowning may have been a better description - in layers upon layers of chocolate. You yourself had opted for something a little more restrained, although you liked chocolate as much as the next person you knew your limits... and Tokiko's cake was most definitely beyond them.

Well, it was for her so you really couldn't find it in you to complain.

* * * * * * * *

“Popcorn is too salty.” You blinked in surprise at your partners statement, coming out of the blue as it did. The two of you had already seen a movie, some romantic comedy which you honestly hadn't thought too much of but had been suggested by the ladies at the inn reception earlier. Given this was Tokiko's first movie experience you had splashed out on all the accoutrements - soft drinks, some candies and of course plenty of popcorn. The time during the movie had been quiet and perhaps a little embarrassing as both behind and in front of you a few couples had been somewhat more... active... in their romancing than the two of you were. Part-way though Tokiko had taken your hand in hers and held on fairly tightly, possibly to get her mind off the activities occurring around you both. By the time the lights had come back up her face was red and your hand felt like it had been sat upon by an elephant - not for the first time were you reminded that Tokiko was much more than a human in her strength. Since then the two of you had both been silent on your way back to the inn your school had booked.

“What?” You give your partner an odd look.

She just shrugs. “It was too salty.” She repeats, “but It wasn't too bad I guess - different at least.” Frowning she bites at her lip for a moment, “and that box they made it in... I'm sure I've seen one like it at the curiosity shop in Gensokyo. I never knew that it, how do you say, 'popped corn' though.”

“Oh.” Thinking for a moment you spoke up again, “are there a lot of things like that in Gensokyo? I thought the place was some kind of, uh, feudal-style place.”

“Not really,” came the reply, “The Kappa are constantly making new toys, but most of them are either useless or blow up in their faces. I heard they helped make some kind of really big power thing with the help of the mountain goddesses, but I don't know what that could be or how it might work.” The girl frowns slightly, “Some hot springs appeared around the same time... so they might be connected maybe? Regardless, aside from them the only real source of machines and things is the junk that sometimes comes through the barrier around Gensokyo.”

“Do you get a lot of junk coming through?” It seemed hard to imagine stuff just appearing around the edges of what you were imagining to be something akin a small country.

“Not really.” Tokiko said after a moment, “Most of what does come through is wrecked or stuff we don't know about, but it's pretty good money to search around for something interesting and sell it to the curiosity shop. Or to the Kappa, though they pay less they'll buy just about anything you want to sell them as long as it's from the outside.”

“You scavenged?” looking at her you honestly couldn't imagine the silver-haired girl on the ground rooting around for junk.

“It's not like there are many jobs Youkai can do. With a few exceptions the village humans don't trust us enough to give us serious work.” Tokiko sighed and shook her head, “Most of us do little jobs such as picking up junk for money, it helps that there are really very few things we actually need to buy. The majority of us don't need to eat and we're pretty resistant to the weather - about all we actually need is clothing, and even then that's just for modesty. I could easily live through winter naked if it came to i-...” She frowned as she noticed that your face had flushed red. Then she grins a teasing little grin and moves her face right in front of yours. “Were you just imagining me naked?”

“No!” You denied quickly, a little too quickly perhaps given the way Tokiko's eyes promptly narrowed with amusement. Seeing this you winced and hung your head in shame. “Maybe a little...” you admitted with a mumble.

“Is that so?” your partner frowns at your shameful look, “Well,” she says in a light, shy voice, “I suppose... As my fiance... It's alright to be doing that sort of thing...” You look up in surprise at that admission, only to see her looking away and seeming as embarrassed as you had been when caught.

Eager to change the subject you pointed down the road, towards the recognizable shape of the inn in the distance. “Look!” you exclaim, waving your arm “We-we're almost back!” Turning away from your partner you made to hurry towards the hotel - but a hand grabbing the back of your shirt stopped you. You tugged against the grip but it didn't budge, you were forced to turn and face the silver-haired girl who was holding you back. “Wh-what?” you stammer, worried that she was going to do something else to embarrass the both of you.

Something pressed against your mouth.


Sort of warm.

Tasted a little salty.

But also kind of chocolate-y.

Oh, hey, there was something on the other side of them too.

Hard things. Slightly sharp.

Like... Like teeth.

Wait. Teeth?

That would mean the soft things were...



The lips, for that was what you now knew they were, pulled away, leaving you with the face of your partner filling your vision. Her eyes were wide, her lips - those soft lips - were parted ever so slightly. Truly she was a goddess on earth and all you had to do was speak out to her and she would be forever yours...



Evidently spooked by your incredible lack of eloquence, the girl reddened before vanishing from your vision and leaving you standing, gaping like a fool, in the middle of the street. By the time your brain successfully restarted itself from it's kiss-induced blue screen of death, you were able to turn around to see the back of your partner as she slipped inside the inn. You winced slightly as there was no-way you would be able to catch up to her before she secreted herself into the relative safety of the girl's rooms.

Not that you exactly felt capable of running right now, not with the memory of your first kiss with Tokiko running over and over in your head.

You were glad she gave you permission to think about her in a... lustful... way, because you were pretty damn sure you were going to be needing it tonight.

* * * * * * * *

“Soooo,” You groan at the sound of that oh so annoyingly familiar drawl. “What, I wonder, was it that left you in such a state last night?” An arm threw itself around your shoulders as one of your friends - more like an acquaintance really - decided to put on the act that he was your bro or something. Tanaguchi Kunikida, a guy you had known on-and-off for the past few years. He was a pervert, an ass, and was generally a pain in the neck to all who knew him... and yet somehow the bastard was still considered among the top ten most desirable people in the school. “Could it, perhaps, have been a girl?” He drawled, pulling you down into a conspiratorial huddle. “Perhaps even that delicious-looking girl with that exotic silver hair?”

Your prompt blush was no doubt an obvious giveaway as your sort-of-friend released you and spun where he stood, clutching his arms to his chest as if he were hugging himself. “Ah, my wonderful Tokiko~” he warbled, “Just once I would wish to feel her warm embrace against my chest!”

“You'll feel my warm fist against your face if you try it.” You mutter, causing Tanaguchi to pause and raise an eyebrow at you. Then he sniffed and turned away, seemingly insulted by your threat. Good. The arrogant twerp thought he was gods gift to women and that was fine, but you had simply been unable to suppress the rush of anger that had come from his talk about wanting Tokiko himself.

“Huh, you've changed.” You blink at the accusation before turning to the accuser, your other sort-of-friend, Daisuke Hiroshi. You'd known him all the way through school more or less and, unlike Tanaguchi, he was considered to be far more generic a person... which thankfully meant he wasn't even half as obnoxiously arrogant as Tanaguchi was. “Time was when you'd never threaten someone like that, y'know?”

“Eh?” you think about that for a minute. “Have I really changed? It doesn't feel like I have.”

“I'd say you have,” your friend responds. “You did just threaten to punch Taniguchi in the face after all.” he laughs, “Though if he was actually tries hitting on the girl you've fallen for then he'll probably deserve it y'know? Prob'ly hurt like a bitch too, you've buffed up something terrible in the past few weeks - you join a gym or something?” The bland-looking boy grins, “or maybe the demon finally dragged you into her martial arts classes?”

You grin back at his mention of your sister, it had been a longstanding thing between you and Daisuke that your sister was some kind of demon - a reputation she'd picked up after the one, and only, time Tanaguchi had tried hitting on her. She'd beaten him half dead and ever since no-one you knew had tried hitting on her again. “Something like that I guess.”

The sound of the boy's room door being slammed open made you, and your friends, as well as everyone else jump. Several of the boys looked about to yell at the intruder but they all, like you, backed down when they saw that it was one of the male class representatives. He stood there, scanning the room. “Oy!” He called out at last to get everyone's attention, as if he didn't have it already. “No girls in here, right?” The boys around you shook their heads - of course there were no girls in the room. The class rep frowned and looked away, “Shit.” Looking back he spoke up once more, “One of the girls went out for a morning run and hasn't returned yet - Miss Yadomaru. She's probably just a little late, it's not like everyone has to be here for another half-hour yet, but the teachers are forcing us reps to go looking for her anyway since she's the only person not back.” With that the boy turned and left, slamming the door shut behind him.

You thought about the name he had mentioned. It sounded familiar... But you couldn't place it... though admittedly that was true of most of the girls in your year since you only really knew a handful of them by name. Not that it mattered as aside from a quick jaunt to the inn's showers you hadn't been out of the boys room all morning.


[ ] It's not really your problem, now is it?
[ ] Maybe you should just keep an eye out.
[ ] Who the hell was Yadomaru anyway?
[ ] She's probably just in the showers or something.
[ ] It shouldn't be hard to find someone, right?

Hot, Warm, Cool, Cold.
>> No. 21725
[X] Who the hell was Yadomaru anyway?
[X] Maybe you should just keep an eye out.

[X] Cool
>> No. 21726
>“Besides, if they really annoy me I can always eat them.”

[x] It shouldn't be hard to find someone, right?
[x] Cool
>> No. 21727
Possibly a Ranma reference.

[X] Who the hell was Yadomaru anyway?
[X] It shouldn't be hard to find someone, right?
[X] Cool
>> No. 21728
[Q] Who the hell was Yadomaru anyway?
[Q] It shouldn't be hard to find someone, right?
[Q] Cool
>> No. 21729
[Q] Who the hell was Yadomaru anyway?
[Q] It shouldn't be hard to find someone, right?
[Q] Cool
>> No. 21730
[X] Who the hell was Yadomaru anyway?
[X] It shouldn't be hard to find someone, right?
[X] Cool
>> No. 21731
[X] Who the hell was Yadomaru anyway?
[X] It shouldn't be hard to find someone, right?
[X] Cool

What was the name of Mystia's partner again...?

>>[ ] She's probably just in the showers or something.

Just let me go and check that...
>> No. 21732
You forgot the Kunikida part; Kyon's more generic shotaish buddy.

[X] Who the hell was Yadomaru anyway?
[X] It shouldn't be hard to find someone, right?
[X] Cool
>> No. 21734
"Nooses are bad."

[x] Who the hell was Yadomaru anyway?
[x] It shouldn't be hard to find someone, right?
[x] Cool
>> No. 21741
[x] Who the hell was Yadomaru anyway?
[x] It shouldn't be hard to find someone, right?
[x] Cool

>> No. 21802
“Who the hell is Yadomaru?” you mutter to Daisuke once the class rep had left. The name didn't ring any bells so it was likely the girl was from a different class - or maybe not, it wasn't like you could remember all the names of everyone in your own class.

Your friend frowns for a few long moments, then shrugs his shoulders. “No idea.” he admitted at last. “You could try asking the idiot back there,” he gestured at Tanaguchi, “but unless she's a stunner he won't remember either. Be easier to go ask the girls if you want to know I guess. Why the interest anyway?”

“I'm not sure,” you respond, standing up as you did so. “Could be nothing but the name is sticking in my head.” You shrug, “You know, like an itch or something - it's there and I'm sure it means something but hell if I can think of what it is.”

“So you're going off to the girls rooms to scratch it huh?” The heavier-set boy shrugged. “And I'm sure the fact that your little girlfriend is over there has nothing to do with it?” He chuckled as you turned red and responded with a less than polite gesture.

* * * * * * * *

“What the hell did you do to her!?” yelled Mystia, her sharp teeth inches from your face. “I know you did something!” You tried to choke out a reply but given that the youkai girl was holding you, quite literally, off the floor by your throat you were having a little trouble with speaking. The girl had ambushed you almost the moment you had left the boys rooms - she'd dragged you into one of the side corridors and had promptly slammed you against a wall before she started with the wild accusations.

You gurgled for a moment before the pressure on your throat lessened slightly and you were lowered just enough to reach the floor with your toes. Finally able to speak again you were able to at least try to defend yourself - though you suspected that Mystia wasn't exactly thinking straight. “What did I do to who?” you choke out, only to make her squeeze your throat again.

“Risa! You did something to her! I know you did!” your world blurs a bit as she shakes you back and forth, by the neck. A blinding pain develops in the back of your head as you hit the wall behind you more than once during Mystia's angry shaking. “She said she'd be back! Where is she!?”

“Hell if I know,” you gurgle, “Didn't know she was gone.” The only person missing from the school party was Yado- ... oh. Yadomaru must have been Risa's family name. Huh. Funny how that had never really come up in between the whole 'trying to kill you' and the 'threatening to kill you some more' relationship the two of you had. Speaking of which... “And it's not like I'd pull anything! If I wanted you two gone I could have just killed you when I had the chance!” Oh, now that got a reaction - the birdlike girl's hands instantly retreated from your throat and allowed you to drop to the floor with a thump. You gasped for air for a moment before looking up at the birdlike girl, “Besides, it's not like Tokiko and I are the only players... around...” you trail off, then swear under your breath.

Pulling yourself to your feet you rushed past Mystia, the distraught girl being of less importance than the fact that you had just realized that there could be someone gunning for her partner and who, presumably, would be coming after you next. Could it be the white woman? It seemed likely but also far to obvious - surely she would know that she'd be the first suspect if anything happened and would therefore have to deal with both you and Risa at once. Though she was suspicious you didn't think it was likely to be her this time, but you would check anyway and if she was innocent then you'd at least have warned her of a fourth player in the area. You were not, however, stupid enough to do this without backup.

“Mystia.” You state, causing the girl to look over at you. “Go find Tokiko and tell her to meet me in the lobby. I'm going to have a... chat... with someone who might know something.”

“Why should I help you!?” The girl demands, stomping her foot and glaring. You give her a flat stare and curse at how annoying her anger is - still at least she isn't actively trying to kill you now.

“Because,” you say in a slow, measured tone used primarily to explain things to the stupid, “If you do not, then I will be unable to rescue Risa.” You hold up one hand to cut off the girl's obvious next question. “And I am going to help you and Risa,” you state, “so that you will owe me. I already know that a youkai doesn't go back on a debt without a very good reason, so I figure if you two owe me then perhaps I can sleep easier at night.”

“You want us to give up for you?” The purple-brown haired girl snarls. “Like hell we'd do that!”

'Whatever,” you mutter. “Wasn't going to ask that but I suppose it won't really matter if you get defeated now, will it?” You give her a smug little smirk, “And all I have to do for that to happen is do nothing. Of course I would love to help... if you were willing to reach an agreement later.”

Mystia glares at you for several long moments, her posture rigid and her hands clenched tightly. Finally it seems like enough is enough and she stamps the floor with one foot. “Fine!” She spits out. “Just... Fine!” you smirk slightly as she turns on her hell and runs off in the direction of the girls rooms. It was perhaps somewhat mean to have baited her like that but in the end it was for her own good as well as your own - if you could ensure that she and Risa wouldn't attack you again then you'd have no reason to put an end to them. You'd pulled away from it once but you didn't think you would be able to afford the duo a third chance should they attack you and Tokiko.

Shrugging your shoulders you walked off in the general direction of the inn's lobby area. Though the white woman hadn't been there when you arrived it had not taken long to locate her where she sat on an outside table sipping at a cup of tea, a light parasol keeping her shaded from the mid-morning sun.

* * * * * * * *

She ducked behind a dumpster, panting hard, and did her best to try and catch her breath before she was forced to move again. She didn't know what was happening but she had a fair idea that it was another game player who was stalking her right now - in between gasping for breaths she was mentally kicking herself for having left the inn without Mystia.

Would that have even helped though? She had been running with a group of her classmates and had still managed to be separated from them without any warning. One moment she had been jogging along with girls all around her and the next she had been stumbling to a halt in an alleyway wondering how the hell she had ended there. She had turned back.... only to have something almost take her head off as it shot past at some ungodly speed. As it was her hair was now missing several chunks thanks to a number of near misses and really her uniform wasn't doing much better.

Her opponent, she was sure, was playing with her. Forcing her to feel fear, to run and run and eventually trip up and pull out her grimoire. Since she wasn't dead yet she hoped that her hunter was adverse to taking a life and just wanted the book - but she had no idea how long this state of affairs could last. At any moment the attacker could decide that it would be easier to kill and... and she'd die. She probably wouldn't even see it coming.

She could survive if she gave up Mystia... but... no! She couldn't do that! She just couldn't! She had made a promise and the girl had made one back - if she vanished then she'd never be able to... to...

Her shoulder exploded in pain. With a stunned calmness she turned her head to look at the arrow that was now sticking out of her shoulder, the feathered end still swaying from the energy of the hit.

She had an arrow. In her arm.

An arrow in her arm.

An arrow in her arm!

She whimpered, partially at the pain and partially at the knowledge that her opponent had finished toying with her and had apparently decided to make her death long and painful - no doubt for having not given up her book as expected.


The next arrow, which had been on a direct course for the girl's throat, slammed into a wave of energy and was forced to one side where it completed it's flight by putting a hole through the nearby dumpster. The girl looked up in surprise at the black-and-blue clad back of a familiar silver-haired girl.

* * * * * * * *

You sucked in a deep lungful of air as you saw that, somehow, Tokiko had managed to get into position just in time to deflect a possible killing shot. Using the shield spell still felt like being punched in the gut but compared to the last time you had used it, while already half-dead, the drain in your stamina wasn't too bad. You were winded and you likely wouldn't be able to cast the shield in rapid succession without collapsing but for now the defense was a valuable addition to Tokiko's rather meager arsenal.

Still, it had been close - getting here on time - and if it hadn't been for an offhand comment by the white woman you likely wouldn't have even thought to look here. Actually now that you thought about it you doubted that the comment had been as offhand as you had thought at the time, it was plainly clear that the woman was up to something and that you were involved. Even if she was planning something... she had led you to your goal and not into a trap so that was really one major point in her favor. You'd have to have a serious talk with her later, assuming you survived this battle.

“Mystia!” You hiss, grabbing at the girl before she can rush over to her partner. “Stay hidden!” The two of you, unlike Tokiko, had hung back slightly around a corner that led into the alleyway Risa had been caught in. Hopefully this meant you were both out of sight.

The byzantium-haired girl shot you an evil glare. “Why!?” She demanded, tugging herself out of your grasp. “Risa is right over there!”

“And right in the sights of our opponent.” You reply, gracing the girl with a flat stare. “Who right now doesn't know you're here - given Tokiko is using a spell and Risa doesn't have a book out they should expect me to be around somewhere. With luck though, to them we're just another player group who homed in on the place at a bad time.” You frowned slightly, “At least I hope they think we are, Koishi mentioned that some groups would likely have the ability to track down others.” Shaking your head you look back at Mystia. “The important thing is they might not know you're here - which means you might be able to sneak around and locate them for us. Maybe even take out the grimoire user if you find them.”

“And if they do know I'm here?” The girl stares at you for a moment, then shrugs and sneers. “I'm not stupid, they'll fill me full of arrows if they catch me.” Then she frowns, “But if we don't find the shooter they'll just keep firing until you run out of energy for that shield of yours.”

“Finding them shouldn't be too hard - we can tell the general direction based on where the shots are coming from.” You shake your head and indicate in the general direction, “the real problem is that Tokiko can't really move while she has her shield up and even if she did move forwards our sniper will retreat the moment we got too close.”

“So you want me to come around behind them while they're shooting at the bookworm.” Mystia scowled for a moment, then grunted. “I don't know what I hate more - this stupid plan or the fact that it's the best plan we have.”

“Hate it if you will, but hurry up and do it.” You mutter, glancing out at Tokiko as you try to judge the strength of the shield - it was easy to see it weakening but you weren't sure when it would be weak enough to need a re-casting. “This would be so much easier if we could shoot while that was up - but we never had the time to actually test it out properly and try it before the trip out here.”

You pause, expecting a response, then frown and look back at the silence. Mystia is already gone and, with luck, would find and deal with the shooter before you ran out of the energy needed to keep Tokiko and Risa from ending up as pincushions.

* * * * * * * *

Draw back, take aim, release.


Draw back, take aim, release.


Draw back, take aim... “Her shield is impressive.” ... release.

Her partner, a thin sickly-seeming man, shrugged. “It will fall, nothing lasts forever.”

The woman shrugged. “Some things do,” she murmured, “But certainly not that.” As her partner mumbled the spell they had been repeating for the past several minutes the woman raised her bow and drew back on it's string, an arrow simply appearing - perfectly nocked - the moment she had finished drawing. Taking aim she released it, then snorted as the arrow deflected off the blue-white shield the silver-haired girl was hiding behind.

“Damn.” Her partner swore. “I knew we should have finished her off before her partner showed up.” he frowned, “Though I don't see where she had the time to cast a spell like that, I was sure she didn't have her book out when we were shooting earlier.”

'Perhaps it isn't required?” the woman murmured, “Despite my examination of the grimore you hold, my specialty is medicine and not the obscure and varied magics that have been used to create it. For all we know it could be that practice will allow one to cast without accessing their text.” she glanced at her partner. “Again.”

He sighed and lifted his own, blue-covered, book. “Aviasti.” Glancing out of the window his partner was shooting through he watched as her shot was, once again, deflected. “So what, we're just going to keep shooting until we get lucky?

“Of course. Given that we have seen evidence that the first two spells everyone possesses are of basic shots and patterns I can confidently state that their shield is a higher-tier spell and thus draws upon far more energy to create and maintain than my arrows. As a result we will simply wear them down until they have not the energy to resist their fate.”

“Seems kinda cheap though...” The sickly boy muttered.

She sniffed and held her head high. “Battles are won not thought honor, but through lies, luck and treachery.” She smiled, “You luck in noticing her this morning, our lies in order to separate her and lastly our treachery in defeating her.”

“Yeah, well,” the boy looked out of the window again, “I'd say she has luck on her side too, what with her partner showing up and....” He paused, then squinted up at the clouds. “Huh? What the hell is-”

* * * * * * * *

Mystia smashed through the window and onto the man she had spotted holding a grimoire as if she were the living wrath of the heavens themselves. She had been hanging up in the air as high as she could while still being able to track the flying arrows - as a night sparrow her eyesight was leagues beyond a human and quite a bit better than most youkai too. It had taken a while to pinpoint the source and longer still to get herself into a good position to strike... and then some guy had half-leaned out of a window and she had seen the slightly magical gleam of a grimoire cradled in his arm.

The moment she had spotted it she forced herself down into an approach... then down faster into a dive... then finally she had pushed herself into the best powerdive she could manage. Given the utter surprise by which she had taken her target her best had been more than good enough for the job.

As she and her prey tumbled across the floor, Mystia moved with the skill of a being long used to killing humans - her hands wrenched at one shoulder, one of her knees pressing hard into his abdomen, a little twist and she'd pop the bastard's arm right out of it's socket...

A foot slammed into her side, knocking her off the skinny young man and launching her across the room. One hand reached out, skimming along the floor and providing just enough leverage for her to spin and land feet first in a half-crouch. She looked up - then swore violently as she realized just who the gensokyo native in this partnership was. Even wearing a mordern white shirt and businesslike trousers, Mystia had no trouble recognizing Genskoyo's number one resident mad doctor - Yagokoro Eirin. The silver-haired woman merely raised one eyebrow at Mystia's language, then swept her arms - and her bow - up to target the sparrow-like girl.

Reacting with the kind of speed born only from the total terror of facing a clearly superior opponent, Mystia jumped and as a result the arrow that would have pierced her skull instead turned her abdomen into it's new home. That wasn't so bad since as a youkai that kind of injury she could sleep off... one to the head or chest however...

If Risa had been here she might have had a chance but alone she was terribly outgunned. Still, she had at least stopped Eirin shooting at Tokiko and Risa long enough for them to have made an escape - and if they hadn't there really wasn't anything she could do, Eirin was a person who was leagues above someone like herself. At this point escape was the best option and, since she could fly, the window was the best escape route and it took mere moments for her to make a dash and a leap through the window and out into open air. Even so she still took another arrow to the lower back and one to the back of one thigh before she was home and clear away from Eirin's bow.

* * * * * * * *

Eirin cursed under her breath as the night sparrow flew, rather erratically, out of her immediate range. Normally she would have no trouble at hitting such a target but, thanks to the accursed rules of this game, she was limited by the spells her partner was capable of conjuring up - none of which could really go that far. Still, she'd hit her a few times during the escape attempt and with some luck the combination of hits could turn out to be fatal - though she was versed enough in youkai physiology to know that was something of a longshot. Perhaps that other player group out there would find and finish the wounded girl off, that was the best result she could hope for now that her partner was unconscious and in need of a tactical retreat.

Grabbing her partner by the back of the shirt the silver-haired woman dragged him towards the door to the little hotel room they had been hiding out in. Given all the noise that the sparrow had been made she decided that it would be most prudent to not be around when someone came looking to see what was happening. Muttering curses under her breath the medic pulled open the door with one hand - and promptly staggered back as something, someone's hand, suddenly shot out and clamped onto her face.

“Hi.” her attacker whispered, “I don't take it kindly when people fuck with my things.”

Eirin had the briefest vision of red eyes and incredibly pale green hair... “Kazami...?” She managed to stutter, before her head was crushed like an over-ripe melon.

The woman, now covered in the rapidly fading gore of her victim, glanced around before stepping over to the window and peering out at the now empty alleyway. She smirked, then caught sight of her own pale green hair and scowled in annoyance. “Fuck.” She muttered, pulling a few strands up for closer examination. “This will take days in the dark to fix.” Glancing out of the window again she shrugged then turned to leave - giving the unconscious ex-partner of Eirin's a light kick to the side just for the hell of it. “How do those scheming bitches deal with shit constantly getting their plans all fucked up anyway?” Well whatever, she'd sorted things out for now and that was good enough - though with her need to stay hidden again for a while it meant that whatever happened over the next few days her two, now possibly four, little pawns would have to deal with it entirely on their own.

[/s]* * * * * * * *[/s]

Well wasn't this going to be fun to explain? One student with an arrow in her shoulder and one more with several such arrows in her. You couldn't exactly take either of them back to the inn like this nor could you take them to a hospital without a number of awkward questions being asked. Not that Mystia seemed too bothered by the arrows in herself, rather she was distraught over the one that was sticking out of Risa's shoulder instead.

After a few moments of fussing the brown-haired girl stood up and bit her lip... then smacked her fist into the side of her partner's head. As the girl's eyes rolled up in her head you moved forward to yell at her partner, only to be stopped as Tokiko grabbed you around the waist and hissed at you to wait and stay quiet. Despite your misgivings you trusted Tokiko enough to actually listen to her and stay back - even when Mystia reached up, took hold of the arrow in Risa's shoulder, and rammed it in and through until it burst out of the other side. From there she snapped the head off and withdrew the shaft back through the wound, now with no vicious barbs to catch on the flesh thanks to the missing head. Finally she bound the wound with the torn-off sleeve of her shirt and stood up. “That should hold it,” she murmured. “She'll need to take it easy for a while though...”

“Ah.” You frown as Tokiko finally lets go of you. “It's a good thing book-holders heal fast then.”

Mystia shrugged. “Better that I heal faster.” she muttered as she grabbed the arrow impaling her own abdomen. “This doesn't make us even.” She muttered, then grunted as the arrow burst out of her back. The girl gave a meaningful look to your partner who circled around to snap the head off so that Mystia could pull the shaft out.

“We saved Risa didn't we?” You ask, trying not to look at all the blood the girl was losing.

“She got shot.” came the reply, “I got shot - just because I can sleep it off it doesn't mean this doesn't hurt a lot!” The remaining sleeve of her outfit soon found itself sacrificed to form a rough bandage around her waist. “... You owe me some more sleeves here at least.”

“Uh... right, right.” Dimly you were aware that you should have been freaking out or at least panicking far more than you were, but there was something strangely mesmerizing about how Mystia was simply so calm despite having been repeatedly impaled. “Doesn't that, uh, hurt more?”

The girl merely shrugged. “You get used to it, sort of, it's less painful than just pulling them out - those barbs on the head catch on everything.”

You open your mouth, pause, then close it again. “I'm not entirely sure I want to know how you know that.” you mutter, causing the girl to give you a shrug in response. “Being a youkai must be pretty convenient if you can live through injuries like that.”

“Not really.” Mystia finishes with the arrow in her leg and looks up at you expectantly. Grimacing you remove your shirt, prompting a blush from Tokiko, and allow the injured Mystia to rip off both of the sleeves - one of which immediately got put to use as a bandage around her leg. “Explaining what it's like being a youkai would be like you explaining to an eel what it's like to be human. It's really nothing special to me and anyway it's not all fun and games.” Looking up at your partner she frowns slightly, “I'm sure you would have told him that, right?”

Tokiko seems to shrink back and shakes her head. “I, um, didn't... I mean, he doesn't really have to...”

“Youkai eat humans.” Mystia states, looking away from the stammering girl. “Or at least we did, very few of us still do it now but you wouldn't know that if you heard how the humans in Gensokyo go on about it.” She shrugs and resumes her first aid activities as she continues on, “Unless you're one of the big names it's only a matter of time before some of them decide to 'exterminate' you for being the 'big bad evil youkai'. Usually they're drunk out of their minds when they come up with this.” The girl grimaces as she tightens your remaining sleeve around her last wound. “They can't really hurt us, not in any way we can't recover from - but that's really not the point, the point is that they go out in gangs to hunt youkai and smash our stuff and we have to let them get away with it or else they go crying to the shrine maiden or the witch about how we 'brutally attacked them'. 'course they don't mention that we were defending ourselves and I don't really think witch and miko care either.”

“So... they come along and try to exterminate you?” You ask, your voice quiet, Tokiko hadn't mentioned anything like this to you before.

The sparrow-girl shrugs once again and stands up, wincing slightly as she did so. “Sort of,” she says, “I mean the witch and miko aren't that bad, plus I think they know they'd be angering the whole youkai community if they actually killed one of us - but that doesn't really stop them from coming along and beating us up to keep the humans happy. 'course as I said this doesn't happen if you're a big name youkai - too much trouble for them to bother see? So Scarlet and Yukari and those more or less get to do what they want, while us little girls end up getting all the fallout for whatever shit they pull and piss the humans off with.”

“Marisa isn't as bad,” Tokiko murmurs, “She's a witch, which means a lot of humans will avoid her if they can and that means she has a lot more youkai friends than human ones. Though she hits harder she's a bit more likely to believe us when we say we didn't do anything - it's not like she hasn't had a few drunks mess up her place after all.” With an unspoken word from Mystia your partner moves over to help the girl lift Risa up between them. “The miko is worse, I think, because she needs the humans on her side if she's to do her job. She has to keep on their side for all the little stuff in order to keep them happy so that she has their faith and the power she needs when a big incident happens.”

“Says the miko's number one shakedown target.” Mystia chipped in, “How many times has she mugged you now? I lost count around a hundred.”

Your partner's head ducked in a mix of shame and embarrassment, “It got better after the shopkeeper stopped accepting books - I think he was sick of Lady Knowledge sending the maid out to threaten him every time Marisa unloaded the stuff she stole from the library that she didn't want anymore.”

“The more I hear about this miko,” you grumble, “The less I like her.” Moving around to the far side of Mystia you duck down and offer and arm of support - which she gladly takes. This leaves you supporting Mystia who is carrying Risa between herself and Tokiko.

“She's not too terrible,” Mystia points out, “And she does throw some pretty good parties now and then.”
>> No. 21804
* * * * * * * *

Getting back to the inn had been... tricky. In the end you had hung around outside until Risa had woken up again, then used the same method to get in that you had used in your original escape from the teachers watchful eyes - Mystia had bodily carried you, one by one, up to one of the higher floor hall windows. Risa, on the other hand, had come in through the front door and spun some tale about tripping and injuring her shoulder alongside a second tale of being helped by a first-aid using policeman. Needless to say she had downplayed the severity of the wound from 'arrowshot' to 'painful spraining'.

With Risa now accounted for and the teachers happy that no-one had gone and got themselves killed or kidnapped, the scheduled events for the day had finally started to move ahead. A tour around the local shrines being the main plan the teachers had put forward.

Mystia had hovered around Risa like a worried mother and it could be said that you had behaved in a similar manner, not once letting the angry girl out of your sight 'just in case'. Speaking of Risa, the girl herself had been... cordial to you. Not exactly friendly but hardly the outright dislike she had possessed of you before.

You sighed and tuned out the droning voice of the priest who was currently talking about the 'rich and vibrant history' of the shrine you were wandering around. Tokiko had seemed amused at that and when you had questioned her she had explained more about Gensokyo's two shrines - one run by a lazy criminal and the other by a woman without common sense.

“They definitely sound more interesting than this one, that's for sure.” Your partner smirks at your comment.”Kochiya huh...” You frown slightly, something about the name seemed to ring a bell in your mind but you were damned if you could think of why it would as you didn't recall having ever known of anyone by that name. You strain your mind to try and see if you can connect the name to anything without any success. “There's something familiar about that, but I can't think what.”

“It's possible? I guess?” Tokiko shrugs, “I heard she came from the outside, here, and it really wasn't all that long ago.” The silver-haired girl smirks slightly, “I don't think she'll be too inclined to answer questions if you meet her though.”

You give your partner an odd look. “Oh? Why's that?”

“Remember Lady Kanako? The purple haired woman in the red shirt?” You did actually, the one who had caught you in the middle of town that one time. You vaguely recalled putting a hole in her back. “She's the goddess Sanae works for.”

You wince. That was indeed a very good reason as to why she would likely be unwilling to talk. “I see.”

As the talk, and the tour, began to draw to an end you and the other students were gently ushered towards the room in which you had left your bags, shoes and other belongings in. About to recover your own bag, containing your packed lunch, you paused - the top flap was open and you were sure that you had left it closed when you had deposited the bag. Worried that you'd been the victim of theft you moved to open the bag then it did two rather specifically unusual things - it moved and it screamed. With a horrified yell you dropped the bag and scrabbled backwards, much to the amusement of the students around you who no doubt assumed everything was some kind of prank against you. Bastards, all of them. Hell, even Tokiko was hiding an amused smirk at your reaction.

Giving her a quick scowl you turn back to your bag and tug it open, this time prepared for... a scream that never came. Instead you were left looking at a hairy mass of straw-colored, er, hair. This, in turn, was attached to a curled up girl who was only a little larger than a big soda bottle and barely fitted inside your bag. Even as you watched she seemed to whimper and try to squirm deeper into your bag without much success. Not exactly something that was high on the list of things you expected to find in your bag.

[ ] Examine the figure.
[ ] Attempt to speak with figure.
[ ] Make tactical withdrawl.
[ ] Act calm, nothing to see here.

Hot, Warm, Cool, Cold.
>> No. 21805
You may blame all the delay on this post entirely on me getting a copy of Valkyria Chronicles.
As a warning - i haven't completed it yet.
>> No. 21806
[Q] Make tactical withdrawal.
>> No. 21807
[x] Attempt to speak with figure.
[x] Warmly.

I think it's Suika and I don't think she'd be that difficult to talk with. We should try to avoid picking any fights if possible if not getting allies, dealing with Marisa's team is going to be a pain otherwise.
>> No. 21808
[X] Act calm, nothing to see here.
[X] Cool

I'm kind of worried that being too nice is going to turn out badly.
>> No. 21809
[x] Attempt to speak with figure.
[x] Warmly.
>> No. 21814
[x] Act calm, nothing to see here.
[x] Cool

It can wait until we have a moment alone with it/her/whatever.

I'd have thought it was Kisume if not for the hair.

>[ ] Make tactical withdrawl.
Shiori withdr... yeah, you see where I'm going with this.

>[ ] Act calm, nothing to see here.
How would this work, out of curiosity? Loudly declaring that everything was fine, a lot of overblown nervous laughing, back-of-the-head-scratching, and bad acting?
>> No. 21815
[X] Attempt to speak with figure.
[X] Warmly.

I'm not so sure. There would have been a mention of horns, and straw is pale yellow, not the reddish-brown of Suika's hair.
>> No. 21819
Suika is working with the fat thief or something, so is probably just some random fairy.

[X] Make tactical withdrawl.
[X] Cool
>> No. 21820

I thought that was Yuugi.
>> No. 21822
That was Yuugi.

Fairies aren't THAT small and it doesn't seem to be one of Alice's dolls. inb4 I trigger a "OH SHIT!" moment

But I noticed how Shiori only has an inkling of remembering Sanae.
>> No. 21845
this is called and such - writing is happening sort of.
>> No. 21990
sagey sage
>> No. 21991
sage some more
>> No. 21992
final one woo.
>> No. 29573
ambien sleep maintenance - ambien side effects fatigue

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