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File 133816077126.png - (1.18MB, 800x1000, 5f057cea7390788f395b02adc666ae67.png) [iqdb]
26964No. 26964
The dead-eyed, bruise-coloured girl reaches toward you with that same, painfully slow, precise motion. Her fingers stretch toward you face, her eyes focus on nothing. She looks exactly like a puppet, being controlled by a lazy, distracted puppeteer.

'Hey, woah there.' You move your head back slightly as she reaches for you, without actually stepping away. She's so slow that you could run circles around her, even as exhausted as you are. 'Let's just take it a little slower, yeah?' You ask, but she doesn't stop reaching, fingers curling around like claws, hovering for your throat. 'Aheh, yeeeah, let's just ... ahem.' You side-step, keeping her just beyond arm's length. She grasps at the air.
'You. May.' She speaks again in that same broken voice, and you step sideways again as she turns, trying to work out what to do. She's reaching for your throat, hands hovering in the air at just the right height to strangle you, but she hasn't got the speed or the motivation - or maybe either - to actually grab you. Or maybe she's trying not to.

'You don't want to do this, do you?' You mutter to the slow-moving woman.
'Come here. Stand.' She speaks again, her expression slackening even further. She moves slower, and slower, and slower, until she's barely turning at all.

You step around behind her, examining her from every angle. She's not even carrying anything; her pockets are flush against her thighs. No phone, no wallet or purse, no keys, no anything. Just the clothes on her back.

And the outline of something underneath her shirt.

At first you thought it was the edge of a brastrap, but it's too thin, and too low down. And it's what's making the rustling noise as she moves, or tries to move.
'Excuse me.' You say softly, and then take the back of her tshirt carefully with thumb and finger, and lift it up.
You're silent for a few moments, shuffling sideways as she moves slowly in a circle, trying to turn to face you.
'Wow.' You breathe out eventually, blinking several times.

She's covered with tattoos underneath her shirt, incredibly beautiful, infinitely precise tattoos, in endless looping spiral patterns that wind up and down her flesh, inked with dark green that compliments the strange colour of her skin; the pattern vanishes under the waistband of her jeans, creeps up her shoulders, but stops abruptly before her arms, leaving her free to show her skin there without the design being seen. You peer closer, and to your amazement you find each spiral is formed of hundreds - maybe even thousands - of individual letters.
At least you think they're letters. You don't recognise the script; you've never seen anything like it before. Each symbol is a series of loops and curls.

Smack in the middle of her back, over her spine, there is a piece of paper. It interrupts the tattoo pattern like an exploded ink cartridge, ugly and blunt in comparison. It's been affixed to her back with a couple of strips of electrical tape, and you recognise the script. It's Chinese, and very poor handwriting indeed.

It just doesn't fit the rest of her.

'Aha.' You grin.

[ ] Carefully peel it away.
[ ] Yank it off quickly.
[ ] Get a pen out of your bag, scribble over the Chinese writing.

==

New thread, but last update for today. More tomorrow evening.
Expand all images
>>No. 26965
[x] Yank it off quickly.
>>No. 26966
>[ ] Get a pen out of your bag, scribble over the Chinese writing.

It's never this easy. FUCK IT, let's try anyway! Zombie get!

[x] Get a pen out of your bag, scribble over the Chinese writing.
>>No. 26967
[x] Carefully peel it away.
-[x] If she reacts agressively to this, yank it off quickly.

Would like to be careful to not rip it off, but if she starts attacking...
>>No. 26968
Well, I have no idea what to vote. Uh.

[X] Carefully peel it away, if she attacks, yank it off, if she starts to collapse, put it back on but scribble over it.
>>No. 26969
[x] Carefully peel it away.
-[x] If she reacts agressively to this, yank it off quickly.

As amusing as possible reactions would be to scribbling all over it, I'd rather get the girl in better shape. I'm curious as to what could happen though.
>>No. 26971
[x] Carefully peel it away.
-[x] If she reacts agressively to this, yank it off quickly.

Sure, why not.
>>No. 26973
[x] Carefully peel it away.
-[x] If she reacts agressively to this, yank it off quickly.

Jiangshi~
>>No. 26974
[X] Carefully peel it away

I'm not too sure here...
>>No. 26977
[x] Get a pen out of your bag, scribble over the Chinese writing.

Replace with crude, simplified illustrations of things. An animal, tree, or sun maybe.
>>No. 26978
Calling votes so I can think about the update at work.
>>No. 26982
Back from work. Writing now.
>>No. 26984
The tattoos on the girl's back are beautiful, stunningly beautiful. If you were in any other situation you'd be begging her to shed that tshirt and show them off. You can't help but wonder how far down they go; are there spirals on her thighs, on her buttocks, her ankles? Does the pattern extend across her breasts?

And what does it all mean?

But there's no time to think about that now. She might be moving slowly, but the bruise-coloured girl is still trying to get around in a tight circle, fingers outstretched and grasping for your throat.
You're not exactly in any danger, not really. It's about as difficult as outrunning a snail. Though as you circle slowly with her - keeping to her rear with the hem of her shirt lifted in one hand - you notice her back muscles straining and relaxing in sudden, hard waves of muscular motion. Exactly as if she was using her whole body to push against some immovable object. Or to fight an irresistible force.

'You. May. Duuu ... duuuuuuuuUUUUU-' She starts trying to say something again, another word she can't force out, like her own throat muscles are trying to hold her voice inside.
'Alright, alright, okay ... ' You try to sound soothing, but you're not as good at this as Mary. No, you're more of a practical girl.

There's only one thing you can do right now that makes any sense; that piece of paper held on with electrical tape looks so out of place.

You touch the girl's back with one hand, picking carefully at the tape. For some reason you expected her skin to be cold - like a corpse or a zombie - but she's as warm as you are. Warmer, perhaps. Her bruise-coloured skin is just as powdery-smooth as it looks, and your fingers slip across the surface as if across velvet. You get a good hold on the edge of the piece of electrical tape, and then slowly start to peel it away, revealing more tattoo underneath.

Your heart is in your mouth, your back is slick with sweat now; you're actually touching - and interfering with! - a paranormal ... creature? Thing. Person! You can't help the slight shaking of your hands, but nothing happens as you peel the tape away, the girl's behaviour doesn't change. The tape leaves behind sticky residue on her skin. Finally you get the entire top free, folding the paper down and away from her skin so you can remove the bottom half as well.

As soon as the paper leaves surface contact with her skin, the girl suddenly takes a deep breath. A long, long breath. The noise seems to echo down the corridor and up the stairwell, like the breath of something much larger; an animal being born fully-grown. She straightens as she inhales, muscles flexing, arms dropping to her sides.
'Ahhhhhh.' She sighs. The sound of release. You gulp, paper still held in one hand, and then rip the rest of it off quickly, hopping back and side-stepping close to the open door, just in case.

Her face is completely different now, as if the muscles just weren't working before. The slack expression is gone, replaced with sharp, precise features, slender, narrowed eyes and heavy lips twisted in an expression of shrewd satisfaction. Her eyelashes are dark and long, batting down over alert, mobile eyes that flick over her own arms and hands. Her eyes, they've changed colour! From red to a striking azure.
She runs her hands through her hair and arches her back, like somebody waking from a long sleep.

Then she looks at you.

'Hello.' You nod. 'Feeling ... better?' You gulp as she looks at you; her eyes are narrowed with predatory intensity.
'Mmmmmmm.' She answers with a long noise low in her throat, which makes you think of big cats, a lion stretching, or a tiger laying in the sun. In the dark, gloomy interior, surrounded by the rain, the effect is enough to make your heart leap into your mouth.
'I-' You start, not even sure what you're going to say.
'To be alive and awake.' The bruise-girl says, her voice a lilting sing-song. 'Is the greatest gift of all. What a strange age to be in. Thank you.'

Then she bows to you, with a flourish of one arm. Her forehead almost touches the floor.

When she rights herself again, she's grinning.

All her teeth are very sharp; a snake-like tongue flicks out of her mouth and runs along her lips.

[ ] 'You're welcome ... uh, madam.'
[ ] 'My pleasure to help.' Return the bow. When in Rome, etc.
[ ] 'Are you really alive, or is that a figure of speech?'
>>No. 26985
[X] 'My pleasure to help.' Return the bow. When in Rome, etc.
>>No. 26986
[x] 'You're welcome ... uh, madam.'
>>No. 26987
[x] 'You're welcome ... uh, madam.'

Introductions?
>>No. 26988
[X] 'My pleasure to help.' Return the bow. When in Rome, etc.
>>No. 26989
File 133822761552.jpg - (108.01KB, 1280x720, stilleru.jpg) [iqdb]
26989
[x] 'Are you really alive, or is that a figure of speech?'
>>No. 26990
[x] 'You're welcome ... uh, madam.'

Wary.
>>No. 26991
[X] 'My pleasure to help.' Return the bow. When in Rome, etc.

Manners.
>>No. 26992
i break tie
[x] 'You're welcome ... uh, madam.'
>>No. 26993
[X] 'You're welcome ... uh, madam.'
>>No. 26994
TIE DOUBLE BROKEN WRITING NOW WOO
>>No. 26995
[x] 'You're welcome ... uh, madam.'

Seems more in-character.

>All her teeth are very sharp; a snake-like tongue flicks out of her mouth and runs along her lips.
That's a bit ominous. I'm wondering if Yoshika's, uh, 'tastes' remain when she's in control of her mind. Guess we'll find out.
>>No. 26996
File 13382316715.jpg - (173.80KB, 769x899, 3df985e6dfa0193f8574144d0ab9c5d4.jpg) [iqdb]
26996
'You're welcome.' You say automatically, at a loss for words, staring at the girl- woman- thing with wide-eyed awe. ' ... uh, madam.' You nod once, hoping you're doing this right. First encounter! Face to face with something paranormal!

You always thought you'd face this moment with a camera in one hand a big, shit-eating grin on your face. Instead you just feel dazed and a little bit scared.

'Madam in the evening, ah, can you tell?' The bruised-woman continues in that same sing-song voice. She cranes her head, looking up the stairwell, over your shoulders, at every inch of the corridor.
'Tell what?' You ask, feeling like you're missing something.
'Perhaps you can't. A minor mercy in a world of pain. Isn't it?' She locks her gaze back on yours again; her eyes are so intense, staring with enough force to make you gulp. 'Minor mercy. Mercy in the minor key ... hmmm hmm hmm~ hmmm~' She trails off, humming a pitch-perfect tune, her eyelids fluttering half-shut with obvious pleasure. 'Ahhhhh.' She sighs, a smile playing on her lips. The effect is hauntingly beautiful.
'Ahem.' You clear your throat. 'May I ask your-'
'Name. Yes.' She interrupts you smoothly, and then her eyes narrow further, locking on to the crumpled paper and electrical tape still in your hand.
'Ah, yeah, I pulled this off you?' You raise the paper and tape.
'Mm.' She grunts. 'May I?' She says, and reaches-

Her arm twists and lashes like a striking snake, a lighting-fast strike that curls through the air at impossible angles for human bones. The sight of it makes you sick, makes your eyes hurt from just trying to follow it. You flinch back in surprise.

You feel only a faint brush of wind; she's plucked the paper out of your hand faster than you could even see. Another split-second and she's holding it by thumb and forefinger, her arm back to normal, not hint of what she just did.

Your heartbeat pounds in your throat.

'A gutter tool for gutter designs. Guttering and sputtering and fizzling out.' She laughs gently at the end of her sentence, and then balls the paper up in her fist. You think she's going to throw it away, but then she tips her head back and tosses it in the air.

She opens her mouth.

And opens.

And keeps opening.

You grip the door frame, fighting the urge to run away. She's like a snake unhinging its jaw. The little ball of paper and tape vanishes into her gullet. She shuts her mouth, gulps, and then looks at you as if nothing had just happened.
'Unpleasantries done and past, for a pleasant present.' She says, and then frowns. 'That was sub-par. I am rusty in mind.'

[ ] Just stare. Wait to see what she does, or if she actually tries to talk to you.
[ ] 'Who - and what - are you?' Introductions are in order.
[ ] 'It was pretty rusty.' Nod.
>>No. 26997
Interesting.

[x] 'Who - and what - are you?' Introductions are in order.
>>No. 26998
[X] 'Who - and what - are you?' Introductions are in order.
>>No. 26999
[x] 'Who - and what - are you?' Introductions are in order.

She have us permission to ask her name so...

That her ability to eat anything includes her own seal is interesting.
>>No. 27000
[X] 'Hi, I'm Renko. Who - and what - are you?' Introductions are in order.
>>No. 27001
>>27000
Voted already, but including our name seems like a find idea!
>>No. 27002
[x] 'Who - and what - are you?' Introductions are in order.
>>No. 27003
No contest. Writing now.
>>No. 27004
'Pleasantries?' You blurt out. 'Yeah. Hi. I'm Renko.' You nod a little too nervously for your liking.
'Renko. Ren. Renko.' The woman rolls your name in her mouth a couple of times, giving it a low, musical quality you've never heard in those syllables before. The woman pauses, and then resumes saying your name again. This time it resonates with the sound of the drumming rain. 'A pleasure to meet you, a pleasurable face.' She finishes with another heart-stopping, toothy smile.
'Same here. Um ... who - and what - are you?' You say, disappointed at how lame your words sound in comparison to the ideals in your head. But the bruise-coloured woman doesn't seem to care.

'What? A definition, a restriction, a name.' She muses slowly, her eyelids flickering again. 'Ah!' And then she suddenly snaps them wide open. 'Not a little seedling, are you, Renko? No lost shoots here.' She runs her tongue over her teeth slowly.
' ... uh huh.' You stare at her.
'My manners are lost in the weave of time and memory.' She cocks her head to one side and regards you with those narrow eyes once more. 'But you can call me Yoshika.' She nods slowly.
'Yoshika.' You finally breath again. 'Nice to meet you, Yoshika.'
'As for what.' She continues, and then trails off. A smile breaks wider across her lips again. 'A free agent. Free as wind and ... and rain!' She laughs: a low, haunting sound like too many bells overlapping together. 'I am whatever I want to be.'

'Good for you.' You nod and smile, deciding against pushing that particular question any further.
'What.' She intones, losing the grin suddenly. 'Is a difficult question to ask of a poet. I am. That is all.' She regards you with a cool expression.
'You're a poet?' You venture gently.
'Perhaps.' She doesn't grin. 'Perhaps not.' She shrugs.

She stares at the corridor for a long moment, looking at the tiny, far-up windows, watching the rain. She seems utterly content to stand there. As you watch, you realise she's not blinking. Or breathing.

'So ... I gather you were looking for something.' You risk asking. 'Before.'
She doesn't reply for another long moment, and then tears her eyes away and looks at you.
'Sent to hunt for seedlings and stamp them or kindle them.' She waves the concept away with one hand. 'Not important now.' She pats her belly.
'Seedlings?' You push harder, getting over your fear. Now you're getting hungry. Hungry to know.

Yoshika's eyes flick to you, harder than before.

'Best not go there, Renko. Renko. Better left well alone. Happy is the township whose sorcerers lie still in their graves.'

[ ] 'What do you mean by seedlings? And who sent you?' Push the question. You don't care how "dangerous" it is to know.
[ ] 'Speaking of going, would you like to come with me? I've got some friends waiting.' Is she just going to stand here?
[ ] Mention Yumemi's name. See what happens.
>>No. 27006
[X] 'What do you mean by seedlings? And who sent you?' Push the question. You don't care how "dangerous" it is to know.
[x] Mention Yumemi also.

Assuming Renko's still alive afterwards,

[X] 'Speaking of going, would you like to come with me? I've got some friends waiting.' Is she just going to stand here?
>>No. 27007
[x] 'Speaking of going, would you like to come with me? I've got some friends waiting.' Is she just going to stand here?

Clueless Renko, fun. As far as I'm concerned, Yoshika is still harmless.
>>No. 27008
[X] 'What do you mean by seedlings? And who sent you?' Push the question. You don't care how "dangerous" it is to know.
- [X] Don't mention Yumemi. Risking your own life for knowledge is all in a day's work for an intrepid paranormal investigator; risking others' lives is just rude.

I'd rather not commit to telling her everything about everything while we still know basically nothing about her.
>>No. 27009
[x] 'What do you mean by seedlings? And who sent you?' Push the question. You don't care how "dangerous" it is to know.

Yeah, it's a bit stupid, but...
>>No. 27010
[x] 'Speaking of going, would you like to come with me? I've got some friends waiting.' Is she just going to stand here?

Hey, atleast we have the hunger in common. We to know and she for, er, everything?
>>No. 27011
[x] 'Speaking of going, would you like to come with me? I've got some friends waiting.' Is she just going to stand here?
-[x] I still want to know what you meant, but now isn't the time for questions. But I will be asking again later.

We've got Mary and Yumemi waiting on us, so I don't see how taking the time to ask questions, and potentially worrying them to the point that they come looking for us, would be that beneficial. So, let's not push it out.

Besides, Yoshika should understand that we should know. After all, whoever managed to control her could send someone else that would be harder to combat. All the better to prepare ourself, aye?
>>No. 27013
>>27011
I like to think off her as a potential ally, just because nobody had the guts to write her yet.

Except for that one story that died I guess.
>>No. 27015
[X] Mention Yumemi's name. See what happens.
>>No. 27016
[x] 'Speaking of going, would you like to come with me? I've got some friends waiting.' Is she just going to stand here?

>A gutter tool for gutter designs
She probably won't attack Yumemi. Probably.
>>No. 27017
>>27016
She was sent by someone to do so. But now that the charm is gone i'm going to assume she doesn't care anymore, she's free now. I hope
>>No. 27018
[x] 'Speaking of going, would you like to come with me? I've got some friends waiting.' Is she just going to stand here?
>>No. 27019
Votes tipped. Writing now.
>>No. 27024
You need to know. You must know what she's talking about.

But equally you want to ... to ... You even form the thought! You want to take this girl home, photograph her, document her, find out what she is and where she came from, how she came to be here. You want to show her to Mary, you want to sit her down and question her. You want to know everything.

But you're looking into the eyes of a snake.

' ... fair enough.' You mutter. 'Speaking of going, though, would you like to come with me? I've got some friends waiting, just outside here.' You thumb over your shoulder, down the corridor, mouth dry as you play out your first ploy. You helped Yoshika, somehow, maybe she'll come with you?
'Hospitality much valued, but the hearth often lies empty, or the cup is filled with poison.' She says in that same, lilting, sing-song voice. She doesn't smile.
'That's a bit cynical, isn't it?' You raise an eyebrow, getting her meaning even through her off-poetic speech.
'I am a good Buddhist in the evening.' She cracks a smile again, showing her sharp teeth. 'But it is the morning. We shall observe the path and tread it lightly.'
'Does that mean you'll come with me?' You ask, raising an eyebrow.

'The world is a pond.' Yoshika says, raising her voice, almost signing. She steps toward you, past you, and wanders slowly down the corridor, touching the walls with her fingertips. She takes deep lungfulls of the air - but doesn't breath between them - and closes her eyes in pleasure. 'A very old pond. And in we jump, us little frogs.' She laughs low, and you hurry to follow her.
'You're needlessly cryptic, you know that?' You can't keep the snark out of your voice.
'Splash. Splash! Splash!' Yoshika shouts, her voice rushing down the corridor and filling the building suddenly, like a rush of blood pumping from a heart. Then she starts laughing, almost rising to a skip as she heads along the corridor.

You struggle to keep up as you approach the back doors; her energy seems boundless. She doesn't need to breathe, so she's not using oxygen, so her muscles can ... what, exactly? This is too much to think about. You need to get her home, and Yumemi home, and ask some questions, and- and-

And Yoshika bursts through the double-doors of the back entrance, out into the shadowed space below the concrete overhang, sheltered against the elements. The dark buildings of the university campus tower on every side, silent grey sentinels watching as you follow her outside quickly. The static of the rain intensifies, and your nostrils fill with the smell of water-on-tarmac.

'Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!' The first thing you know of Mary and Yumemi is the latter's high-pitched scream of terror, followed by wheezing hyperventilation and the thump of her bag on the ground. You whip round, catching sight of them by one of the nearby concrete pillars.
'Renko!' Mary waves, not sure if she should look at you or Yoshika. The bruise-coloured girl is too busy skipping out into the rain to care about the whimpering Yumemi.

'Hey Mary. I ... I found ... a thing.' You gesture helplessly at Yoshika as she bounces out into the rain, and then stands there with her face turned up to the sky. She opens her mouth to drink the raindrops, runs her hands through her hair, raking at her scalp, and gets properly drenched, until her tshirt clings to her subtle curves and sticks to her waist. You sure are glad it's raining right now; there's barely anybody out here to see this little display. A few students on the other side of the square, hurrying past with their heads down and umbrellas up. If anybody sees Yoshika right now, they could probably just write her off as a hippie into body-art.

' ... Renko, who is that?' Mary asks.
'Oh god, uh ... ' Yumemi is as pale as a sheet, and looks about ready to bolt. She stares at Yoshika with blind terror.
'Her name is Yoshika.' You explain, but then trail off as you realise you can't really explain. 'She's a ... '
'Monster.' Yumemi whispers under her breath.

[ ] 'Does that look like a monster to you? Enjoying the rain?' First things first, calm Yumemi down.
[ ] 'Hey, Yoshika, you'll catch a cold!' Well actually she probably won't, but you'd rather she doesn't run off alone.
[ ] 'Mary. Help.' Lovely assistant, please deal.

==

Last one for today, writer needs bed badly.

More tomorrow.
>>No. 27025
[x] 'Hey, Yoshika, you'll catch a cold!' Well actually she probably won't, but you'd rather she doesn't run off alone.

Making sure Yoshika doesn't wander off is important right now. And despite the fact that Yumemi is terrified I doubt it that she will just run for it.
>>No. 27026
[X] Dance in the rain with Yoshika. Get Mary and Yumemi to dance with you if possible.

We win. We win everything! Do you believe NOW, Mary?! I am MAD DETECTIVE, so cool! Sunnavabitch!!
>>No. 27027
[x] 'Does that look like a monster to you? Enjoying the rain?' First things first, calm Yumemi down.

Let's make sure Yumemi isn't going to bolt away forever from us. It's not like Yoshika is walking away right now.
>>No. 27028
[x] 'Does that look like a monster to you? Enjoying the rain?' First things first, calm Yumemi down.

Adorable monsters
>>No. 27029
[x] 'Does that look like a monster to you? Enjoying the rain?' First things first, calm Yumemi down.

Hopefully we'll be able to find out just why she's so scared of Yoshika.
>>No. 27030
[x] 'Mary. Help.' Lovely assistant, please deal.
>>No. 27031
[X] Dance in the rain with Yoshika. Get Mary and Yumemi to dance with you if possible.
>>No. 27033
[x] 'Does that look like a monster to you? Enjoying the rain?' First things first, calm Yumemi down.
>>No. 27034
[x] 'Does that look like a monster to you? Enjoying the rain?' First things first, calm Yumemi down.
>>No. 27036
Calling votes. Think, update, work, etc.
>>No. 27038
>>27026
>>27031
By the way, this is a great write in.
>>No. 27039
Back from work. Writing now.
>>No. 27040
File 133831232490.jpg - (73.85KB, 360x360, Renko again.jpg) [iqdb]
27040
'Oh come on, Yumemi!' You open your arms wide and blast a huge, triumphant grin at the poor girl, gesturing wildly at where Yoshika slowly turns on the spot. 'Look at her! Does that look like a monster to you!? ... well.' You falter, remembering the way Yoshika's mouth opened so wide, how her arm whipped through the air like a snake.
'Yes!' Yumemi whispers between clenched teeth, white as a sheet and unable to tear her eyes away from the bruise-coloured girl.
'Okay, but! But!' You lower the intensity of your grin, from a beam to a low smolder, showing Yumemi some charm. You reach up and flick the brim of your hat up with one finger as you speak. 'I think this monster is on our side, doll.'
' ... doll?' Yumemi blinks, the confusion short-circuiting her fear.
'We're on a side now, Renko?' Mary asks, raising her eyebrows with a sarcastic look. 'You certainly work fast, don't you?'

'Always!' You ignore Mary's tone of voice. She'll come round quicker than you can say head-over-heels.

'T-there are no s-sides, only ... j-just me.' Yumemi grimaces, gripping Mary's arm like a vice. Her stammering is back in full force. But you don't see what there is to be afraid of.
'Nonsense, we're on your side!' You clap a hand to Yumemi's shoulder. Her knees almost buckle.
'I ... ' She finally looks away from Yoshika, staring up and you and Mary in turn. 'I ... oh, oh no, you're-' She gulps, letting go of Mary's arm with a jerk. 'Uh.' She makes a tiny, mouse-like noise, clutching her heavy bag to her chest.

'Hey, Hey, Yoshika!' But you're already waving and calling to your new ... friend? Thing-person. There's a word hovering in the back of your mind, but you're reluctant to use it; such a cliche, and one you'd rather not think about.
Yoshika glances over at you, a shark-toothed smile playing on her lips. She sighs a big, deep sigh.
'Come over here a sec!' You call. 'Come meet some people!'

It's alright, you tell yourself. You're in public, sort of, and outside, during the daylight. And hey, she's been nothing but friendly since you tore that paper off her back!

'Sweetie, it's okay, Renko really does know what she's doing. I'm just playing with her.' Mary purrs at Yumemi, trying to put a hand on her back. But Yumemi shakes her head violently and takes a step back.
'N-no, no!' Yumemi blurts out, her voice strangled with terror as Yoshika turns and walks back towards you. The bruise-coloured girl is drenched with rainwater, streaming off her shoulders and down her legs, her feet squelching in her filthy sneakers as she walks. She runs her hands through her wet hair, sighing in obvious pleasure and grinning that knife-thin grin.

Yumemi evades Mary's hand, and then bolts like a spooked horse.

[ ] Grab her, quick!
[ ] Pick your feet up! She doesn't look athletic in the slightest; you can out-pace her until she runs out of steam, and then calm her down.
>>No. 27041
[X] Grab her, quick!
>>No. 27043
[X] Grab her, quick!

We've got two pieces of the puzzle, here, can't afford to lose one.
>>No. 27044
[X] Grab her, quick!

It's entirely possible Yumemi has physically-enhancing magitek, so I'm hoping this option is a potential success.
>>No. 27045
[✓] Grab her, quick!

OH NO, YOU DON'T
>>No. 27046
[X] Grab her, quick!
>>No. 27047
Writing now.
>>No. 27048
[X] Grab her, quick!

Nope

>calling to your new ... friend?
I love you for doing this HY, I really do.
>>No. 27049
File 133832061689.jpg - (570.61KB, 800x965, Yumemi got all wet.jpg) [iqdb]
27049
You react before you have time to think, already turning as Yumemi's shoes leave the ground. She slips on the wet concrete, her heavy bag over-balancing her as she tries to run.
'Hey, wait, wait! Don't run away!' You say as you get one hand around her wrist, stopping her from falling, and stopping her from fleeing.
'No!' She almost shrieks, pulling herself half-free and almost falling over. You yank her wrist closer, and wrap your other arm around her waist quickly, holding her back to your chest.
'Yumemi, calm down! Relax, relax, it's okay! It's okay!' You try to sound as soothing as you can, even while you forcibly hold a much smaller girl than you in place. You didn't think about this when you began; it would look terrible if somebody spotted you right now.

Then Yumemi kicks you in the shin.

You wince with the sudden pain, buckling as she starts to fight like a cornered fox. She struggles and spits and tries to throw you off. She's much weaker and smaller than you, but still surprisingly strong for her size; the fear makes her fight harder than she'd normally be capable of.
'Yumemi, Yumemi, sweetie, it's okay!' Mary rushes to your side as well, trying to stroke Yumemi's hair. But the girl is thrashing so hard that she barely notices. She opens her mouth in a half-wail noise, and for one terrible moment you think she's going to bite down on your hand.

'Three blackbirds in a pie of their own making.' Yoshika pipes up behind you, squelching across the concrete. 'Do you need a spoon to crack the crust, Renko?'

Yumemi just collapses into big, heavy, dry-heave sobs of abandoned terror. She goes limp in your arms, heaving with each shuddering breath, completely broken down. She was weeping in the office but now she's having some kind of nervous breakdown. She doesn't even attempt to cling to you to keep herself upright. She just goes weak and the knees and sags, hyperventilating and wailing through her tears.
'Oh, you poor thing, come here, come here.' Mary purrs at her with infinite softness, and you try to half-pass her off to Mary, but it's difficult when she's not even standing on her own.

'Little seedling, pray you never find fertile ground.' Yoshika says as she claps eyes on Yumemi, her expression both sharp and pitying at once. She ignores the water dripping from her clothes and hair, and just considers the weeping girl with slow, narrowed eyes.
'That's twice you've said that word.' You grunt at Yoshika with the difficulty of holding Yumemi upright.
'Twice and twice and twice again!' Yoshika lets out a low laugh, a sad chuckle.

Yumemi blinks at her through the tears.

'Renko, would you introduce us, please?' Mary looks awkwardly between you and Yoshika.
'Ah, yeah!' You grin, trying to put on the best attitude you can, despite the situation. 'Mary, this is Yoshika. She's a ... thing.' You clear your throat, writing off that little screw-up. 'Yoshika, this is my best friend-'
'Soul mate and lover and other half.' Yoshika sings, cutting off abruptly.
' ... Mary!' You finish, blushing faintly. Mary stares at Yoshika with her mouth open, but there's no time to think about that right now. Thank the Gods there's no time to think about that right now.

'Mary. Marry. Merie. Marie. Merry.' Yoshika rolls the name on her tongue several times, making exceptionally beautiful sounds, totally ignoring Yumemi's sobbing. But as she half-sings your best friend's name, Yoshika's voice seems to have a calming effect on Yumemi. By the time she's finished, the weeping girl is merely sobbing gently in between hiccups. 'Mary mary, a ... ahhh, vine in bloom, how unexpected. Such flowers open only under moonlight.'
'Ah, thank you!' Mary beams at her, blinking in surprise. 'Pleased to meet you, Yoshika! See, Yumemi, she's fine, it's okay!'

'Yumemi.' Yoshika frowns gently. 'You may ... aha. Yumemi, Yume. Yumemi.' She starts the same process with Yumemi's name, sing-song voice turning it into one-word poetry that fills the space between the concrete buildings with aural beauty.

Yumemi just stares, eyes still wet, but completely exhausted now.

First priority is to get this girl somewhere warm, dry, and preferably where she can collapse in peace. Nervous breakdowns are no fun.

[ ] Tell Yoshika to keep singing as you walk; it seems to have a soothing effect on Yumemi.
[ ] Talk to Yumemi, get her back on her own two feet.
[ ] Okay, it's carrying time. You can do this. You think.
>>No. 27050
[X] Tell Yoshika to keep singing as you walk; it seems to have a soothing effect on Yumemi.
[X] Talk to Yumemi, get her back on her own two feet.
[X] Okay, it's carrying time. You can do this. You think.
>>No. 27051
[X] Tell Yoshika to keep singing as you walk; it seems to have a soothing effect on Yumemi.
[X] Talk to Yumemi, get her back on her own two feet.
[X] Okay, it's carrying time. You can do this. You think.

Let's get her to Mary's, we can decide where to put up Yoshika after that.
>>No. 27052
[x] Talk to Yumemi, get her back on her own two feet.
If that fails:
[x] Okay, it's carrying time. You can do this. You think.

I wonder where Yoshika's getting all her insights from.
>>No. 27053
[X] Tell Yoshika to keep singing as you walk; it seems to have a soothing effect on Yumemi.
[X] Talk to Yumemi, get her back on her own two feet.
[X] Okay, it's carrying time. You can do this. You think.
>>No. 27054
[X] Tell Yoshika to keep singing as you walk; it seems to have a soothing effect on Yumemi.
[X] Okay, it's carrying time. You can do this. You think.

Eloquent poet Yoshika is about five kinds of amazing.
>>No. 27055
File 133832411975.png - (327.66KB, 1353x976, DenshaDeD_ch01p16-17.png) [iqdb]
27055
ALL THE OPTIONS
>>No. 27056
'Yume ... mi. Yumemi.' Yoshika finishes her singing once more, trailing off with a slow smile on her lips. 'A unique flavour, only found once a year, growing unseen on the furthest peaks.' She swivels her gaze to meet Yumemi's dazed look. 'Pray you find only rocky ground, seedling.'
'Ahem.' You clear your throat, holding Yumemi up as she starts to quiver again. 'Yoshika, you don't think you could keep singing for us, could you? Just while we-'

Yoshika smiles at you: first thin and tight and sharp. But then the grin widens, her lips peel back to show those shark-teeth again, and the smile reaches her eyes. She grins with terrifying rictus-joy.
And then she breaks into song.

She half-closes her eyes as she begins, hopping forward several steps, in time with her voice. The sound is hauntingly beautiful, like the voice of a fallen angel. But you can't place the language; it's almost like Chinese, but not quite. None of the tonal leaping like with Chinese, just an endless smooth flow of words. You can't even pick out one sound from the next. Yoshika's voice is like a silk waterfall, crashing and rising again with velvet-soft caresses.

She turns on the spot, bowing her head to you without breaking the rhythm and spreading her arms wide in a show of pride.

You stand there for a moment, just staring. Mary takes even longer to snap out of it than you do.
'See, Yumemi, it's okay!' You grin at the stricken girl, and she nods in a daze, lulled into a sense of hazy security by Yoshika's otherworldly voice, and coddled from either side by you and Mary. Yumemi wobbles on the spot, her eyelids heavy now with exhaustion, all her energy expended in that one manic burst of panic.
'Renko we should really get her-' Mary starts, unable to tear her eyes away from Yoshika's little performance.
'On it already, Merry!' You say, enjoying the way Mary blinks in confusion at the little twist of her name. You like the way she reacts to that.

You let go of Yumemi's side, and then catch her as she falls, taking her weight in both arms, one under her knees, the other across her shoulders. Mary jumps forward, thinking you're going to drop the poor girl, but all that drops is her heavy bag, landing on the floor with a thump as you lift Yumemi up.
'There we go. Much better.' You heave - but she's so light. There's barely anything of her. Mary scoops up her bag, and then you nod forward before anything else can happen to delay you.

'Come on!'

==

Mary's umbrella works extra hard to keep the rain mostly off the three of you as you make your way out of the university campus gates and into the water-sodden streets of the city. Yoshika doesn't seem to care, splashing through the puddles ahead of you, singing her lilting, ghostly song in a dead language. She slows at side streets without a word, waiting to see where you're leading.

You're glad it's raining so hard. If there were people out you'd have a hell of a time keeping Yoshika under wraps.

Yumemi rests her head on your shoulder. After a few minutes of walking, she closes her eyes. Mary meets your gaze and gives you a knowing look.

[ ] 'What?' Come on Mary, say it.
[ ] 'Come on, Mary. I can't help the effect I have on dames in distress.'
[ ] 'I think Yoshika is a zombie.' Say the word. Go on. While she's out of earshot.
>>No. 27057
[X] 'What?' Come on Mary, say it.

Renko Usami, Sleepless For 2 Days, doesn't do subtle.
>>No. 27059
[x] 'I think Yoshika is a zombie.' Say the word. Go on. While she's out of earshot.
>>No. 27060
[x] 'What?' Come on Mary, say it.

Concurred. Be coy later, after nice nap.
>>No. 27061
[x] 'What?' Come on Mary, say it.

I have absolutely no idea what this could lead to. None.
>>No. 27062
File 133832814179.jpg - (497.39KB, 1115x1207, remerry.jpg) [iqdb]
27062
[x] 'Come on, Mary. I can't help the effect I have on dames in distress.'

Commencing swag
>>No. 27063
I think that was the last one for today. More tomorrow.
>>No. 27064
[x] 'Come on, Mary. I can't help the effect I have on dames in distress.'

Maximum Swag.
>>No. 27065
[x] 'Come on, Mary. I can't help the effect I have on dames in distress.'

The only answer.
>>No. 27067
[X] 'Come on, Mary. I can't help the effect I have on dames in distress.'
>>No. 27068
[x] 'What?' Come on Mary, say it.
>>No. 27069
Calling votes before they equalize again. Updates in 8-9 hours.
>>No. 27073
You stare back at Mary over the top of Yumemi's hair, her dozing eyelids fluttering softly.
'What?' You grunt.
Mary eyes Yumemi slowly, and then meets your gaze again.
'Nothing, Renko. Nothing at all.' She says in barely a whisper, wiggling her eyebrows as her lips twitch with poorly concealed amusement.
'I don't see what's funny about a nervous breakdown.' You humph, feeling protective towards the girl you're carrying. Isn't this meant to be Mary's job? Must be instinct.
'Oh, I know, poor thing.' Mary sighs with genuine concern. 'But erm, mmhmm, quite the way of dealing with it, Renko.' Mary drops to an almost-soundless whisper again, pointedly looking at Yoshika, now almost dancing down the pavement a dozen paces ahead of you. Her haunting song fades in and out over the sound of the rain.

'Well what am I supposed to do?' You roll your eyes. 'Drag her along the ground behind us? Sling her in a skip, maybe?' You flash Mary a cheesy grin, but she remains oddly po-faced. 'Guess we could have taken her to the campus front desk, but I did say we'd help.' You nod confidently; you're definitely doing the right thing.
'Mmhmm.' She makes a non-committal noise.
' ... you're not jealous, are you, Mary?' You ask. After all, motherly comfort is her department.

Mary stares straight ahead and goes bright red.

' ... what? What did I say?' You ask in a stunned voice. Then you realise, clear your throat, and proceed to mimic Mary's blush, unable to even correct her misunderstanding.
Yoshika glances back as you and Mary stop speaking, pausing in her endless splashing and spinning through the puddles. Her singing suddenly slips back into recognisable words for a short burst.

'Tomato flower bursting in the springti~ime. Side-by-side and intertwined-' You catch, and then she transitions flawlessly back into that haunting, exotic melody.

You and Mary share a mutually embarrassed glance; a split-second flick of the eyes.

[ ] 'You know, it's usually your sort of thing, looking after people!' Bluff bluff bluff
[ ] 'Not that I'd want you to be jealous, Mary.' As smooth as you can.
[ ] Wait for her to speak first. After all, maybe she'll let something slip.
>>No. 27076
[X] 'You know, it's usually your sort of thing, looking after people!' Bluff bluff bluff in a completely unconvincing fashion while you fail to repress your own inner feelings

Renko and Mary, sitting in a tree..
>>No. 27077
[X] 'You know, it's usually your sort of thing, looking after people!' Bluff bluff bluff
>>No. 27078
[X] 'You know, it's usually your sort of thing, looking after people!' Bluff bluff bluff

Yoshika catches on quicker to Mary's feelings faster than Renko does.
>>No. 27080
File 133839893618.png - (1.17MB, 1800x2850, 696270f93a6f06d745531f55331d923b.png) [iqdb]
27080
[X] 'Not that I'd want you to be jealous, Mary.' As smooth as you can.

Swagger to maximum.
>>No. 27081
[x] Wait for her to speak first. After all, maybe she'll let something slip.
>>No. 27083
Apologies for the long wait since the last update.

Writing now.
>>No. 27084
'I-I-I mean, you know!' You bluster, trying to cover for the misunderstanding. 'It's usually your sort of thing, looking after people! Didn't want to- ... steal your talents!' You grin, totally unconvincing.
'O-oh! Y-yeah!' Mary smiles and nods, echoing your own hesitant stammer. 'Of course, Renko! Ahaha! Ha ... ahaha, mm ... ' She trails off.
'Heh.' You try to laugh as well, but it doesn't work. You're just both left still blushing furiously over the head of a sleeping girl.
'Ahem.' You clear your throat, opening your mouth to say something completely different: hey, look at Yoshika! What shall we do with Yumemi? Mary, that skirt really suits you.

'Only a little.' Mary says in a quick, hushed voice, without meeting your eyes.
' ... wait what.' You blurt out.
'Nothing, Renko! Nothing at all!' She quickly transforms her tone, back into her beaming, bright self, pretending the last few moments didn't happen. She reaches out to stroke Yumemi's hair gently.
'Uh ... ' You raise your eyebrows. Mary's done it now, you can't just ignore that.
'Something the matter, Renko? She too heavy for you?' Mary does that maddening eyebrow-wiggle thing at you again, her voice chirpy and amused. She knows you heard, and you know she knows you know that she-

'We should really get her home so she can have a proper nap!' Mary interrupts your thought process before you slide into an exhaustion-addled recursive loop.
'Yeah! Right you are, Mary, right you are.' You shoot right back, giving Mary a look. She meets your gaze with her unflinching, clever eyes, and then sticks her tongue out at you in a quick flash before turning away again.

If you didn't have both arms full right now-

Okay, no point thinking about that when you have more immediate things to concentrate on. Like the way Yoshika has paused in the middle of a road, staring up and down the street like a madwoman in a daze. Even her song has died off as she cranes her neck and peers in a wide circle.

You and Mary draw level with her, boots splashing on the wet asphalt.

[ ] 'Come on, Yoshika, we're almost there.' Don't let her get too distracted.
[ ] 'What is it?' What's got her distracted?
[ ] 'Never seen a main road before?' She does look ... engrossed.
>>No. 27085
[X] 'What is it?' What's got her distracted?

THE ENEMY
>>No. 27086
[x] 'What is it?' What's got her distracted?

inb4 Seiga.
>>No. 27087
[X] 'What is it?' What's got her distracted?
>>No. 27088
[x] 'What is it?' What's got her distracted?
>>No. 27089
Curious Yoshika.

Writing now.
>>No. 27091
File 133841045186.jpg - (566.06KB, 1658x1200, 8cd1fe2741e7148765212afd980542d5.jpg) [iqdb]
27091
'Yoshika?' You say her name, but she doesn't pay any attention to you. 'What is it? Something wrong?'

As she turns, you catch her expression; the playfulness is gone. She's not even wearing that shrewd, narrowed-eyed amused look she gave you earlier. She just stares off into the rain with intense concentration, her eyes thinned to hard, sharp slits.
'Yoshika, sweetie?' Mary tries as well, putting on her best soothing voice. The bruise-coloured girl still doesn't respond. You stand there for a minute, unsure what to do, and you feel the rain and the cold tugging at your shared corona of warmth now that you've stopped moving.=
'Gonna let us in on the secret here, Yoshi-' You start, but then Yoshika finally reacts.

'Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.' She hushes you sharply, trailing off in a long sound, like a huge snake slithering up her throat. 'Some sounds,' she whispers. 'Can only be heard on the other side of silence.'
You share a perplexed glance with Mary, and the shrug gently, not wanting to wake Yumemi.

Yoshika cocks her head toward the ground, and then goes down on all fours, crouching like a spider, her fingers gripping the wet road, her ear flush against the asphalt. The position doesn't look comfortable, or even possible to hold for more than a second. A small rip appears in the side of Yoshika's jeans; they were never made to accommodate that angle of motion. But she holds the pose, and goes on holding it while Mary looks away with her hand over her mouth.
You glance around the empty, rain-filled street in a sudden panic. If somebody sees this bizarre display-

'Ahhhh.' Yoshika sighs, and then hops back up onto her feet with the grace of a expert ballerina. The side of her face and hair are covered in muddy run-off and grit.
' ... it would be really cool if you'd let us know what that was all about.' You say.
'Pencil markings on clean paper, rubber shavings brushed onto the floor.' Yoshika says in a quiet, serious voice. Her tongue flickers out and runs in a quick arc over her lips. She regards the end of the street - looking toward the heart of the city - with an unreadable, closed expression. 'The scholar long departed now, but traces left behind. The coat on the back of the chair, the chalk fingerprints on the wall.' She gestures at the sides of the street, at anonymous, unimportant houses.
'Yeah, yeah ... ' You trail off, catching Mary's eye and shrugging again.
' ... Rika?' Mary mouths silently.

'Rika.' Yoshika repeats the word, even though she can't have seen Mary speaking. 'Rika. Just another name among billions of unnumbered souls. Something larger has passed this way. An oak tree took root, got up, walked. ... Rika?' She frowns, her poetic pacing breaking down, her expression turning sour.
'Have you heard of her? Do you know where she is?' Mary asks, more eager than you expect her to be.
' ... no.' Yoshika grunts.

And then she walks on without another word. She doesn't sing her song again, or dance through the puddles.

[ ] 'Hey, hey, woah, what was that about?' Catch up, question her on the way back to Mary's place.
[ ] She doesn't want to talk about this, whatever it is. Let her be.
[ ] 'Mary, can you ... you know?' Lovely assistant! After all this is what Mary is good at. And you have your hands full right now, literally.
>>No. 27092
[x] She doesn't want to talk about this, whatever it is. Let her be.

Maybe later, now is not the time.
>>No. 27093
[x] She doesn't want to talk about this, whatever it is. Let her be.
-[x]Wipe the grime off her face, if possible.
>>No. 27094
[x] She doesn't want to talk about this, whatever it is. Let her be.

Man, Renko's been working in fumes for a while now. She's gonna collapse at this rate.
>>No. 27095
[X] She doesn't want to talk about this, whatever it is. Let her be.

Okay, kids, this is another sort of trivial choice so it's time for...

THE HUNGRY YOUKAI CYOA DRINKING GAME

(best played with a fine fairywine from Sakuya, or Minoriko juice for you underage girls)

- Take a shot whenever a character's lips are mentioned. If someone bites their lip, finish the glass instead.
- Take a shot whenever a character is described as being manic.
- Take a shot whenever a character has important information, but refuses to divulge it to the protagonist. If they say "I can't tell you now," or a variation thereof, finish your glass.
- Take a shot whenever a character is described in words laden with unintended innuendo.

If you survive all this, you're an oni, and there's more to come!
>>No. 27096
Calling votes. Writing now

>>27095
You're awesome, you know that?
>>No. 27097
You leave Yoshika be for the moment. Whatever she's talking about, there doesn't seem to be any danger right now, or even anyone else around. When you check down the road she stopped on, there's only the rain, water swirling through gratings and sputtering from drainpipes.

You're almost home - well, home away from home, for you. Mary's place is on the next street, further toward the edge of the city than the university, out where the space begins to open up and the buildings take up more room. Yoshika turns with you after waiting to see if you're heading this way. Luckily, Yumemi is still fast asleep - or passed out from exhaustion - when Mary opens the gate. It's always interesting trying to explain Mary's place to other people, let alone a highly nervous, easily shaken, deeply paranoid girl who you're trying to help. If you get her inside and in bed then you can explain later.

'Walnut shells and polished oak.' Yoshika stares up at the place with an appreciative eye as you maneuverer through the front gate with Yumemi in your arms.
'Yeah, yeah it is kinda like that.' You agree, casting a glance over the ancient, crumbling house. It seems to leer forward at you through the veil of rain. It's a leftover, a family relic tucked away between redevelopments and hundred-year-old crumbled town houses, with surfaces stained by the elements and roof tiles sliding sideways, as if all about to fall at once like a lopsided wig. The tiny, dark windows don't creep you out anymore; you no longer imagine that you can see eyes peering out at you from them. And whatever the old house looks like, it's Mary's.

Mary gets the creaky front door open - solid oak, weathered and battered - and her umbrella down, and ushers you and Yumemi inside before following in herself. The cavernous space of the front hall echoes with the rain all around, like being inside a cocoon of peeling paint and age-worn wood. But it's good to have a roof over your head; and one that smells of Mary. You ease your shoes off and kick them away, trying not to jostle Yumemi too much.

'Come in, Yoshika, come on!' Mary stands with the door open, trying to entice the bruise-coloured girl inside. Yoshika peers through the doorway, dripping water from her hair and tshirt. She gives the room a once-over, and then steps over the threshold. She pauses on the doormat, as if listening for something, and then nods once.
'Just-! Just stay there one second!' Mary gets the door shut, finally closing off the rain. 'Don't move, Yoshika! I'll get you a towel!' Mary bustles and fusses, clicking across the old oak floorboards before stumbling over her own shoes in an effort to get them off. She flicks on the lights, a trio of bare bulbs fizzing to life in their open sockets along the ceiling. They light up the uncarpeted stairs to the right, and the doors leading out of the hall to the left and the back.

Yoshika just reaches out and places one wet hand on the wall, closing her eyes. She's dripping like a miniature storm, but being wet doesn't seem to bother her in the slightest.

'Oh, you're going to need a bath, and ... ah, Renko, she's more my size than yours, get some clothes for her!' Mary goes into orders-mode, rummaging in the cupboard under the stairs, but you clear your throat and indicate that you are still carrying one very tired, very sensitive girl.
'Yes, yes, put her ... uh ... ' Mary straightens up, a raincoat in one hand, gas lamp in the other. You sigh inwardly. She's entered Mary Memory Loop.

She'll snap out of it in a second. There's no rush; it's not like Yoshika is complaining.

[ ] Take Yumemi upstairs, get her settled somewhere first.
[ ] Take Yumemi to the kitchen, try to bring her round and wake her up.
[ ] Put Yumemi down, help Mary.
>>No. 27098
More tomorrow!
>>No. 27099
[x] Take Yumemi to the kitchen, try to bring her round and wake her up.

Oh. I did not expect Mary to live in something like that!
>>No. 27100
[x] Put Yumemi down, help Mary.

Put her on the couch, she can wake up to Yoshika staring her in the face. That should go well.
>>No. 27101
[x] Take Yumemi upstairs, get her settled somewhere first.

>>27095
>- Take a shot whenever a character has important information, but refuses to divulge it to the protagonist. If they say "I can't tell you now," or a variation thereof, finish your glass.

This ensures a 100% fatality rate.
>>No. 27102
[x] Take Yumemi upstairs, get her settled somewhere first.
>>No. 27103
[x] Take Yumemi to the kitchen, try to bring her round and wake her up.

Best to wake her up first, with a familiar face. Imagine if you got scared to death like that, then were soothed into sleep, only to wake up in a strange house with nobody around?

Best to make sure she's safe, even though she needs to sleep. Not to mention we do too.

>The tiny, dark windows don't creep you out anymore; you no longer imagine that you can see eyes peering out at you from them.

Howdy there, Yukari.
>>No. 27104
[x] Put Yumemi down, help Mary.
>>No. 27105
[X] Take Yumemi upstairs, get her settled somewhere first.
>>No. 27106
Yumemi has been taken home.

Calling votes. Updates when I get back from workland.
>>No. 27108
Writing now and all that jazz.
>>No. 27109
'I'm going to go put Yumemi down.' You say in a calm, measured tone, trusting that Mary will pull together the scattered fragments of her mind without extra help. She nods, dithers, and then half-dives back into the cupboard again. You pass her bent-double form as you carry Yumemi to the stairs, and then take the creaking wooden steps upward.

The sounds of Mary rummaging and muttering to herself die off quickly as you reach the top of the stairs; for such an old house it sure does a good job of funneling sound. You're left alone with the sound of the rain drumming on the roof, only a few feet above your head, and Yumemi's gentle breathing, audible now that you're alone with her. The floorboards of the upstairs corridor creak softly under your socks as you pad along quietly.
When you reach the light switch you try to turn it on with the side of your head, unable to spare a hand, but the motion is almost impossible while carrying Yumemi. You give up after two goes, and resign yourself to walking down the shadow-filled corridor, the only light coming from the tiny, thick-glassed window behind you.

You try to remember which of the half-dozen doorways up here is the spare room; you've never used it yourself. In fact, you're not even sure if Mary keeps it clean. You know that door - the closed one - is the bathroom. And that one there with the door ajar and light spilling out from around the frame, that's Mary's room. A third door is wide open, showing nothing but shadowy shapes of abandoned, ancient furniture, shutters on the windows pulled tight. At the end of the corridor there's another half-open door, the room beyond almost pitch-dark.
'Uh ... ' You resist the urge to start whistling. 'Well.' You mutter and shrug, and then push open the door to Mary's room. She won't mind.

Mary's room could not be more different to the rest of the crumbling house. She's truly made the space her own; everything is purple and pink and fluffy. Peeling paint on the walls has been covered up with soft, pastel-pink paper. The curtains are drawn wide, allowing as much of the weak-grey light in as possible. Her desk is covered in books, the piles of academic texts and dog-eared novels guarded by plush toys; you almost nod an automatic greeting to the familiar soft animals and fuzzy dragons. There's yet another pile of books by her bed, but the bed itself is piled with only pillows, the covers neatly tugged back and tucked in as if by a diligent maid. Nothing like your bed, which if you remember correctly is a tangle of sweaty sheets half-fallen onto the floor right now.

The room even smells of Mary. It makes you smile.

'Okay, Yumemi, let's ... yeah.' You walk over to the bed, and then try to place her on the surface.
'Mmm ... uh,' She makes sleepy grunting noises when you let go of her. Her hands twitch in a child-like gesture.
' ... you awake there?' You raise your voice to normal.
' ... mmm ... ' She just murmurs; completely out. You sigh and get her half-onto the bed, remove her shoes - noting her socks covered in little strawberries - and then lay her down properly. After a moment's thought you tug the side of the blanket over her, ruining Mary's perfectly laid-out bed. Yumemi automatically moves her arms, holding onto the offered fabric like a little girl in need of comfort.
' ... right then.' You exhale slowly. 'Right ... '

You really don't want to leave her here alone.

[ ] Stay here, see if you can wake her.
[ ] Come on, stop trying to be her mother; head back downstairs. You can check back later.
>>No. 27110
[X] Stay here, see if you can wake her.
>>No. 27111
File 133848660629.jpg - (95.12KB, 600x888, dd314e438a58988aeb50783279d35bf5.jpg) [iqdb]
27111
[X] Stay here, see if you can wake her.
>>No. 27112
[x] Come on, stop trying to be her mother; head back downstairs. You can check back later.

Remember Mary guys?
>>No. 27113
[x] Stay here, see if you can wake her.

C'mon, we shouldn't let a girl wake up by herself in a strange place.
>>No. 27114
[X] Stay here, see if you can wake her.
>>No. 27115
Calling votes. Writing very shortly.
>>No. 27116
File 133849015718.png - (1.22MB, 1430x2000, huehue.png) [iqdb]
27116
>>No. 27118
You decide to trust your instincts. She's had an incredible shock - whatever it was that made her break down - and though she does need rest, she also needs to not wake up alone in an unfamiliar place. Right. Yes. That's what you tell yourself.

Deep down inside, you just want to know what on earth is going on with her.

'Yumemi?' You try her name, sitting down on the bed next to her curled-up body. 'You can wake up now, you're in a ... well, a very safe place indeed.' You admit to the silent room. 'Actually probably my favourite place in the world, you know, this room.' You sniff at your own words. What are you saying? You'd never say that with Mary here, or if Yumemi was actually awake. ' ... anyway, er ... wakey wakey?' You place a hand on Yumemi's head, intending to wake her softly. She just tugs harder on Mary's sheets, knocking her glasses to the side. You pick them up carefully and place them on the bedside table, so she doesn't damage them.

'I can't just leave you sleeping here, you know?' You say, and then lean back against the headboard, reluctant to shake her or pinch her or whatever it is you're supposed to do to wake a person. 'Mm ... '

The grey light that fills the room is rather comfortable, in fact.

==

The next thing you know is the sensation of having fallen asleep for a short burst: your eyes ache, your mouth is dry, and the palms of your hands feel weird. The back of your head is sore from leaning against the wall, and Yumemi has half-curled up against one of your legs. Can't have been more than a few moments, but the room is darker. Did Mary come in and draw the curtains? No, she would have woken you and made you get into bed properly, and-

There's a shape by the window, blocking out the light.

Obscured by the visual haze of sleep-filled eyes, it's nothing more than a figure-shaped black blob, the edges fuzzy and melting into the rain outside. Whatever facial features it might have are nothing but a mess of static, a confused jumble of blurry shadows and interference. It's the wrong size and shape to be either Mary or Yumemi: too small and too slim, a collection of coal-smoke limbs supported on two shafts of bare pale flesh.

[ ] Sit up, clear your vision, react.
[ ] Stay still, pretend to still be asleep, observe.
[ ] 'Mary!' Shout, throw something at the figure.
>>No. 27120
[x] Stay still, pretend to still be asleep, observe.
-[x] React appropriately. If they're a threat, throw something, if they seem harmless, just observe.
>>No. 27122
[x] Stay still, pretend to still be asleep, observe.
-[x] React appropriately. If they're a threat, throw something, if they seem harmless, just observe.

Don't want to disturb Yumemi's sleep.
>>No. 27123
... isn't this the second floor? There is no good or mundane reason for someone to be outside that window.

[X] Spring at it, face suddenly against the glass, horror movie style. Then call for Mary. And Yoshika.
>>No. 27124
[x] Stay still, pretend to still be asleep, observe.
-[x] React appropriately. If they're a threat, throw something, if they seem harmless, just observe.

Be prepared, for we must protect our the seedling!
>>No. 27125
[x] Stay still, pretend to still be asleep, observe.
>>No. 27126
SPOOKY SHADOW

Writing now.
>>No. 27127
A combination of exhaustion, sleep-haze, and caution keep you sitting exactly where you are, regarding the shadowy figure through the blur of your sleep-filled eyes. What is somebody even doing outside the window, how would they-

The shadow moves, and then you're wide awake, heart hammering against your ribs like a caged bird. The shadow-figure is on this side of the window, inside the room.

Your mouth goes dry with tension, and you struggle not to start blinking. If you try to clear your eyes, whoever that is will know you're awake, and you'll still be groggy as they- as they- as they what!? The shadow twists, or steps, or slides; you can't tell, the figure is obscured by a veil of static haze, almost as if they've brought the rain inside. Your vision is taking forever to clear like this, filled with the echoes of sleep.

A moon-pale oval peering closer to the bed; a rictus grin showing white-on-white at the sight of Yumemi curled up like a child.

You recognise what you're looking at, and your heart leaps into your throat. It's the girl you saw outside. The hazy barefoot girl in the rain. You struggle not to react, not to spring out of bed and try to wrestle her to the ground. Maybe if you wait for her to turn around and leave the room again you can get her from behind! You can't see her eyes through, just the shadow of her hood.

Then she does the worst thing she could do - she reaches out toward Yumemi. One hand emerges from inside a black sleeve, the fingers indistinct, bony and so very, very long. She moves as if to cup Yumemi's face, or touch her eyes.

You lash out as quick as you can, trying to catch the girl's wrist before she touches Yumemi. Your fingers close on nothing but ash and smoke. The shadow girl twists away in a motion like woodsmoke blowing in the wind, and you struggle to clear your vision, to see her clearly.
'Hey, hey!' You almost shout, leaping off the bed and almost falling to the floor as you slip on your own socks.

But she's already gone. When you can finally see clearly, the only thing left is a few scraps of black - no more than minor tricks of the light - vanishing on the other side of the window, absorbed by the rain and consigned to nothingness.
You stare after the apparition, open-mouthed. Stunned, you sit down on the side of the bed. All you can do is stare out of the window, after a ghost of silent dust.

Yumemi slept through the whole thing.

[ ] Wake her. And don't fall asleep this time. You need some answers.
[ ] 'Mary!' In case she didn't hear you shouting, better call her already. You can do this together.
[ ] Hurl the window open. Search for that damn ghost before it gets away. Vanishes Completely. Whatever, find it.
>>No. 27128
[x] 'Mary!' In case she didn't hear you shouting, better call her already. You can do this together.

We'll want our lovely assistant here to help qith the questions anyway.
>>No. 27129
[x] 'Mary!' In case she didn't hear you shouting, better call her already. You can do this together.

Hopefully Yoshika hasn't eaten her.
>>No. 27130
[x] 'Mary!' In case she didn't hear you shouting, better call her already. You can do this together.

Nah, Yoshika hasn't eaten her. She's just sung Mary into a trance where she'll voluntary give her body parts to eat.
>>No. 27131
[x] 'Mary!' In case she didn't hear you shouting, better call her already. You can do this together.

NOW she's eating her.
>>No. 27132
[x] 'Mary!' In case she didn't hear you shouting, better call her already. You can do this together.

I feel as if we missed a Yoshika bath scene...
>>No. 27133
>>27132
Yes, but we also might have saved Yumemi's life. There will be plenty of time for us and Mary to see Yoshika naked later.
>>No. 27134
Writing now.
>>No. 27135
You get up, walk to the door, open it, and stick your head into the corridor.

'Mary!' You yell into the creaking spaces of the old house, your voice drowning out the rain for one second. 'Get up here!'
Yumemi stirs behind you, sniffing loudly.
'Renko?' Mary's answer comes from downstairs, filtered through the ancient oak beams of the house, rebounding and bouncing from the walls to make it sound like she's speaking from miles away. 'Is everything okay?'
'Just come up!' You shout, leaving the door open as you return to Yumemi's side. Her eyes flicker open as you sit back down on the bed again, probably woken by your shouting. She stares straight ahead at the blanket in her hands for a long moment, and then chews on the corner in a sleep-daze. Her eyes flicker open and shut several times, and then she shifts on the bed, half-turning over.
Then her eyes flick fully open and she blinks rapidly, trying to sit up too fast, looking around her in a dizzy panic.

'Hey, Yumemi, relax.' You try as hard as you can to mimic Mary's soothing tones, putting one hand on Yumemi's back as you speak. Her hair is in disarray, almost falling out of the braid, and her clothes are sweaty and crumpled from the fear and sleeping.
'Uh ... where am I?' She sniffs and asks you in a slow voice, putting her hands to her face. You reach behind you before answering, producing her glasses with a flourish. 'Thank ... thank you.' She mumbles, fumbling them slightly as she puts them back on and blinks at you, her large amber eyes staring at the room in wonder, as if she's woken in a sultan's pleasure-palace.

'This is Mary's bedroom.' You explain. 'We're still within walking distance of the university campus.'
Yumemi swallows and nods, blinking slowly with obvious exhaustion; she's far more tired than you are. You're only physically tired, a good night's sleep will fix you right up. But now Yumemi isn't in the middle of a panic, or bursting with nerves, she looks utterly broken. Sitting so up close you can see the lines in her face, far too deep and dark for somebody her age.

Mary's footsteps hurry up the staircase, a soft but clear creaking sound on the edge of your hearing. Yumemi's head whips around at the noise, and she gasps.
'Woah, woah, relax, it's just Mary coming up. I just called her now.' You put both hands out, palms-up, as if trying to placate a terrified animal. Yumemi's eyes fix on the door with nervous tension. 'Yumemi, look at me.' You say the first thing that comes into your head. You've got to stop her train of thought, whatever it is. She can't keep going like this, it's killing her. 'Look at me.' You repeat, a little sharper.
She does, nodding slowly.
'Good. Yumemi, you are in a very, very safe place right now.' You say, not sure how much you're lying, but you have to say it anyway. 'This is Mary's own house, I know it well. The front door is locked. There are neighbours either side.' You gesture to the walls. 'I'm right here, I'm ... armed.' You almost cough over the last word. 'I'm not going to go anywhere if you don't feel safe, okay?'

You end the spiel, feeling like you've just said all the right things. Yumemi gulps, but nods again, a tiny fraction more confident. She tugs the blankets around herself, and tucks her knees up to her chin.
'Renko, what's the- oh, Yumemi, hello!' Mary glances in through the door, and then swings it wide in a gesture of welcome. 'Glad to see you're awake again, sweetie!' She beams, and Yumemi nods weakly.
'Nothing's the matter, Mary.' You lie, feeling bad about this already. But right now you need Yumemi to stay calm. You can't do anything if you don't know what on earth is going on, and you can't find out if Yumemi decides to be a catatonic puddle. 'She was just waking up.'

Mary starts to frown, but then catches your look and stops.
'Well, I'm glad you're feeling better.' She gives Yumemi a little bow of her head. 'You're welcome to snuggle down there if you're feeling cold!' She gestures at the bed, and Yumemi grunts weakly in thank you, shifting with self-conscious motions on the bedsheets.
'Where's Yoshika?' You ask Mary in a quiet voice.
' ... ' Mary opens her mouth, but seems lost for words. 'Doing a thing. In the kitchen.' She shrugs.
' ... a thing?' You raise one eyebrow.
'She's making art, I think. On my plates. It'll wash off, I just left her to it when you called.' Mary explains.
'Right.' You nod. 'Art.'
'Mmhmm.' Mary clears her throat gently. 'Can I get you anything, Yumemi?'
'N-no. Thanks.' Yumemi mutters, staring at nothing, a withered expression on her face.

[ ] 'So ... Yumemi. I'm getting the feeling there's something you didn't explain before.' Gently, gently.
[ ] 'Why were you scared of Yoshika?' Do it fast, do it firm.
[ ] 'Yumemi, we need you to tell us how we can help. Really.' Put the emphasis on her.
>>No. 27136
And, yes, more tomorrow!
>>No. 27137
[x] 'Yumemi, we need you to tell us how we can help. Really.' Put the emphasis on her.

The other two options sounds like we're accusing the poor girl of something. This way sounds best if we want to keep her calm, and remind her that we are here to help her.
>>No. 27138
[X] 'Why were you scared of Yoshika?' Do it fast, do it firm.
>>No. 27139
[X] 'Why were you scared of Yoshika?' Do it fast, do it firm.

Out with it girl.
>>No. 27140
>>27137
Well, yes, we are accusing her.
- Hooded Stalker was scoping out our office even before Yumemi showed up.
- When Yoshika appeared, Yumemi tried to bolt, but didn't do jack for us or Mary.

She's putting our lives, and who knows how many others, in danger, and clearly knows a lot more about what's going on than she pretends. I don't buy the homeless moe crying waif deal for a second, nor am I at all sure that we want to be helping Yumemi's side in whatever's happening.

Also, Mary's room was invaded. That's serious business. The plushes were in danger.
>>No. 27141
[x] 'So ... Yumemi. I'm getting the feeling there's something you didn't explain before.' Gently, gently.

I wonder who she pissed off to have someone trying to get her.
>>No. 27142
[x] 'So ... Yumemi. I'm getting the feeling there's something you didn't explain before.' Gently, gently.
>>No. 27143
[X] 'Why were you scared of Yoshika?' Do it fast, do it firm.

Tact is for the adequately rested.
>>No. 27144
[x] 'So ... Yumemi. I'm getting the feeling there's something you didn't explain before.' Gently, gently.

She's being stalked by monsters while trying to find Rika, and she just wants her help getting a Ph.D.? Shit don't add up. Can't be too accusatory five seconds after trying to reassure her, though, that's just going to confuse her.

>>27140
We need to get her on our side, not the other way around.
>>No. 27145
Eh, changing >>27143 to
[x] 'So ... Yumemi. I'm getting the feeling there's something you didn't explain before.' Gently, gently.
>>No. 27146
Calling this vote, writing when I get home.
>>No. 27147
Sorry for the delayed start today. Writing now.
>>No. 27148
You and Mary both just stare at Yumemi for a moment, until you clear your throat.
'So ... Yumemi.' You open, trying not to sound too hard or too soft; you've got to play this right, no matter how tired you are. 'I'm getting the feeling there's something you didn't explain to us before.'
You let the suggestion hang in the air. Yumemi just takes a deep breath, but says nothing.

You make a covert hand signal to Mary, and then stand up from the bed. You've got the roles here all wrong.
'Hm?' Mary just frowns in confusion, but catches on when you gesture at the bed, next to Yumemi. Mary sits next to her, taking your seat and placing a gentle hand on Yumemi's shoulder. 'It's okay, Yumemi.' She purrs meaningless words at the girl

Meanwhile, you stride to the window, staring out across the rain-soaked roofs of the houses across the street; there's no sign of the shadow-and-ash girl, not a trace.
'Am I right, perhaps?' You ask in a low voice, hooking your thumbs into the waistband of your skirt. The effect would be stronger with jeans, but it'll do for now. You keep your back to Yumemi.
' ... mm.' She makes a small noise, and when you turn back you find that she's buried her face in her knees.
'Awww, come now, come on. Nobody's hurt, nothing happened!' Mary tries to soothe her. You keep your thoughts on that subject to yourself.
'So.' You continue, leaning back against the windowsill and tipping your hat down a fraction, covering your eyes. 'Somebody after you?'
Yumemi doesn't answer.
'Pissed off the wrong person maybe?' You try, spinning castles in the sky. 'A drug deal gone wrong, and now there's ganger vampires hunting you down? You robbed a bank with dream-fairies, and stole a ton of magic dust?'
Yumemi lets out a single laugh. The kind that comes through tears. At least you're getting to her though.
'You can tell us, sweetie.' Mary joins in as well, playing her part perfectly, patting Yumemi's back. You didn't even have to explain to Mary! Although if she's the good cop you guess that makes you the exhausted wacko cop.

Yumemi looks up from her knees, sniffing and unable to meet your eyes.
'What happened to you?' You ask, pushing the point home.
' ... I tried some of The Professor's ... uh, formulas.' Yumemi finally speaks, clearing her throat softly. 'I did things. I ... I didn't say earlier, I thought you might think I was crazy.' She speaks at the floor. 'It ... it wasn't what I expected it to be like ... ' She trails off into a whisper, getting a far-off look in her eyes for a moment before she screws them shut abruptly.

You share a puzzled glance with Mary.
'Formulas?' You ask. 'You mean this metaphysics thing?'
'Magic, yes.' Yumemi nods, gulping and opening her eyes again.
'And what happened?' You push harder.
' ... I lied earlier. I wasn't l-looking for a PhD supervisor.' Yumemi blushes with intense embarrassment. 'I'm sorry, I ... I couldn't just say it at the time, there was no other way to ... ' She sniffs, and Mary pats her softly on the back.

You don't feel quite so forgiving. Yoshika was (and still is, you hope) harmless and friendly, but the thing that invaded Mary's bedroom only minutes earlier could have done anything, could be anything for all you know.

'So why were you there, was that all bullshit about looking for Rika?' You frown, some of your irritation leaking into your voice. Yumemi shakes her head.
'N-no, she's real- or- or I think she is!' She protests, meeting your eyes at last. 'It was all work, what I was reading, what I did, I- I didn't know what to do! I had to find her, it was the only way to ... fix whatever it was I did wrong!' Her face crumples into a pained, semi-panicked expression. But at least she's not stammering with fear anymore. The words start to pour from her, and you realise she's probably not had anybody to speak to about this, at all.

'Shhh, it's okay, it's okay!' Mary soothes her gently as she speaks.

'I was following her work, to the letter where I could, making up parts I couldn't find.' Yumemi explains. 'She- she was at another university before this one. She was an actual physics professor there. But she'd left all this stuff behind, notes, theoretical papers, old books. It all looked like fantasy nonsense when I first saw it, but ... ' She trails off. 'A-anyway I tried some of it out, her ... r- ... rituals. Things. It all ... I got things wrong.' She says, her voice turning hollow.

'I was wrong about all of it. I never should have started.' She shivers under the covers.

[ ] 'But?' You heard a but there, and she didn't finish. What made her take this 'magic' seriously?
[ ] Say nothing, let her continue at her own pace.
[ ] 'Went wrong how? Explain. Come on, I'm third-year physics, I know my stuff.'
[ ] 'This doesn't explain why you were afraid of Yoshika.'
>>No. 27149
[x] 'But?' You heard a but there, and she didn't finish. What made her take this 'magic' seriously?
>>No. 27150
[x] 'Went wrong how? Explain. Come on, I'm third-year physics, I know my stuff.'

We don't really need to know what made her take it seriously. That will come later anyway. Now, we need to know what's wrong and why she got someone after her.
>>No. 27151
[X] 'This doesn't explain why you were afraid of Yoshika.'
>>No. 27152
[x] 'Went wrong how? Explain. Come on, I'm third-year physics, I know my stuff.'
>>No. 27153
>>27150
>>27152
Guess I'm calling on these two then. Writing now.
>>No. 27154
'What went wrong?' You ask, frowning at this. Yumemi just shakes her head weakly.
'You wouldn't understand.' She says in a strained voice.
'Come on, explain. I'm third-year physics, I know my stuff.' You shrug.
'That's meaningless.' Yumemi says in a small voice. 'You know nothing.'

'Yumemi.' Mary interrupts before you have a chance to feel offended. 'Sweetie, maybe you can tell us anyway. I study relative psychology. If there's anyone who's going to understand what's going in here, for you,' Mary places a cool finger against the side of Yumemi's head. 'Then, well, it's me!' She beams at the girl, and Yumemi slowly nods.
'I ... she, The Professor, she seemed to have a kind of project laid out, after initial experiments to determine various factors, controls. A- a lot of it didn't make a lot of sense, but her notes and papers suggested it was working.' Yumemi continues haltingly.
'Working toward what though?' You ask, a cautious edge in your voice. You're ready to believe her; hell, you want to believe her, but this is all starting to sound a little fishy.
'That's it.' Yumemi says with a pained shudder. 'I don't know, and I- I don't want to know anymore, I just want to have never done it in the first place.' She has to take several deep breaths before she can continue. 'I don't know exactly what I did wrong, or where, or how, but- ... but things must have been incomplete, or she didn't write everything down, but ... it wasn't what I expected it to be.'

She stays with her mouth open, unable to speak as she stares off into space.

'Yume-' Mary starts.
'I,' She continues, shuddering. 'I called up something, something I couldn't ... couldn't put down again.' She says with obvious effort. 'I started being followed home, and around in the library. Not just one person, t-two ... three,' she shrugs, starting to clench up her body again. 'I lost track. My friends didn't believe me, thought I was crazy. I-I- trashed my apartment one night when something ... got in.' She gulps. 'I think I just ... it's like ... I don't know, I just don't know.' She lowers her head to her knees, taking deep breaths as Mary strokes her back.

'Like lighting a torch, deep in a dark forest.' A familiar voice comes from the corridor, and the door creaks open, showing Yoshika's shadowed face. She's not grinning, and her eyes are narrowed thin, almost to sharp points.
Yumemi sits up with a jerk and scrambles backward across the bed, staring at the bruise-coloured girl. Yoshika steps into the room slowly. Her hair is wild from a rough drying with a towel, and she's stripped to the waist, revealing a bandage-like wrapping covering her heavy breasts and keeping them in place. Her tattoos almost seem to move under the grey rain-light from outside.
'N-no!' Yumemi squeaks.
'Sight springs forth, the ancient trunks ring round, but,' she points a long, elegant finger at Yumemi. 'Who sees can be seen. Predators lurk just outside your corona of light. And you cannot face every compass point at once.'
Yumemi just stares at her, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, breathing hard.
'Mm. Lost on whelps.' Yoshika grunts, and then sits down in Mary's desk chair with a thump.

' ... you.' Yumemi mutters. But Yoshika is already engrossed by Mary's fluffy pink plushes and stuffed animals.
'Does this stout beast have a name, fair Mary?' Yoshika asks, picking up Mary's number-one top-favourite plush, a fat pink fuzzy dragon.

Mary doesn't even know where to look.

[ ] 'She does. They all have names, actually.' Yoshika has great taste.
[ ] 'You know, those tattoos are amazing.' Gush over Yoshika, you can't help it.
[ ] 'Why is everybody either cryptic or comatose? So what, she's attracted the attention of ... what? How?' You're feeling impatient.
>>No. 27155
[X] 'She does. They all have names, actually.' Yoshika has great taste.
[X] 'You know, those tattoos are amazing.' Gush over Yoshika, you can't help it.
[X] 'Why is everybody either cryptic or comatose? So what, she's attracted the attention of ... what? How?' You're feeling impatient.
>>No. 27156
[X] 'She does. They all have names, actually.' Yoshika has great taste.
>>No. 27157
[X] 'She does. They all have names, actually.' Yoshika has great taste.
[X] 'You know, those tattoos are amazing.' Gush over Yoshika, you can't help it.
[X] 'Why is everybody either cryptic or comatose? So what, she's attracted the attention of ... what? How?' You're feeling impatient.

Voting for all the options? Voting for all the options.
>>No. 27158
[X] 'She does. They all have names, actually.' Yoshika has great taste.
[X] 'You know, those tattoos are amazing.' Gush over Yoshika, you can't help it.
[X] 'Why is everybody either cryptic or comatose? So what, she's attracted the attention of ... what? How?' You're feeling impatient.

C-can we touch her tattoos?
>>No. 27159
[X] 'She does. They all have names, actually.' Yoshika has great taste.
[X] 'Why is everybody either cryptic or comatose? So what, she's attracted the attention of ... what? Zombies? How?' You're feeling impatient.
>>No. 27160
[X] 'She does. They all have names, actually.' Yoshika has great taste.
[X] 'You know, those tattoos are amazing.' Gush over Yoshika, you can't help it.
>>No. 27162
Multi-choice mashup bonanza okay.

Writing now.
>>No. 27163
[X] 'She does. They all have names, actually.' Yoshika has great taste.
[X] 'You know, those tattoos are amazing.' Gush over Yoshika, you can't help it.

With the way HY writes, Tattoo'd curvy Yoshika sounds pretty hot.
>>No. 27164
File 13385876146.jpg - (18.94KB, 477x360, Will_It_Blend.jpg) [iqdb]
27164
For once, the answer is no.

Flipping a coin instead, I guess.
>>No. 27165
Changing >>27158 to
[X] 'She does. They all have names, actually.' Yoshika has great taste.
[X] 'You know, those tattoos are amazing.' Gush over Yoshika, you can't help it.

if it's not too late
>>No. 27167
'She does.' You answer automatically, oddly delighted at Yoshika breaking the atmosphere. 'They all have names, actually.' You gesture to the rest of Mary's various plush animals and monsters, rattling off as many of the silly-sounding names as you can remember. 'And the one you're holding is called Sugargaze.'
'A garden of miniature beasts.' Yoshika looks quietly satisfied, and then gently tosses the fuzzy pink dragon to Yumemi. The girl flinches, fumbles the catch, and drops the plush toy in her own lap, still agape at Yoshika. 'So shaken she cannot even join their revelry.'
'What happened to her, Yoshika?' You ask, interest roused once more by Yoshika bringing it up first; maybe she'll finally talk now.

The bruise coloured girl just stares at Yumemi, and you can't help staring at her tattoos. Neither can Mary, it seems. In the stairwell earlier - feels like yesterday now, your head is turned around by the 5-minute nap you had - you only saw a small patch of the whole, just the section across her back. Now with almost all of her torso exposed, Yoshika is a living, moving work of art. The whorls and spirals of the pattern on her body seem to ripple and twist as she shifts her position in the chair, the unknowable words flowing across her bruised-fruit skin. The tattoos clearly extend underneath her chest-wrappings, and down further beyond the waistband of her jeans.
She holds herself without an once of self-consciousness, neither hiding nor showing off her half-naked body. She is perfectly self-assured, without bravado or bluff or a hint of acting. You've never seen somebody act like this before.

Yumemi could not be more different. She picks up the plush dragon slowly, and holds it on her knees, staring back at Yoshika.
'She stalked me ... it was you, right?' Yumemi frowns a little, finally communicating with Yoshika. 'Round the library, and standing outside my door all night.'
'A puppet of meat and mince, without an eye.' Yoshika shakes her head. 'No I.'
'I remember your face.' Yumemi frowns harder, holding the fuzzy dragon protectively to her chest now.

'Ahahahahaha.' You burst out laughing, you can't help it, the laugher just pours from your mouth, interrupting the sparks beginning to fly from Yumemi's eyes. All three of the other girls in the room turn to look at you. Mary frowns in concern, and Yumemi blinks in surprise. But Yoshika seems to understand, regarding you with casual amusement, mirroring your own mental state. 'It's just ... ahahaha.' You keep laughing. 'Sugargaze!' You say the name of Mary's plush dragon again, gesturing wildly at Yumemi. 'This is just all so ... ' You trail off, taking a deep breath, aware that you've passed the boundary of sleep-madness and it's making you act funny. But you don't care by now.
'Stalking isn't funny, Renko.' Mary admonishes you gently, confused by your outburst.
'It's all just so ... Yoshika! Yoshika.' You step closer to the woman. 'Those tattoos are just beautiful, you know? I mean - Mary, don't you agree? You too, Yumemi, come on, look at this, she's a masterpiece.' You gesture at Yoshika with both hands.
'She certainly is.' Mary agrees, swept along by your burst of energy.
'I guess so.' Yumemi mutters.

'Thank you, Renko.' Yoshika cracks one of those sharp-edged grins again. 'It is always nice to have one's work complimented.'
'You did it yours-' A massive sneeze interrupts your sentence, but you manage to cover it with your hand. Oh boy, here comes the delayed immune system reaction. What's next, the hunger shakes? All aboard the exhaustion train, tickets to the end of the line, one to ride please!
'She stalked me. I remember her face.' Yumemi says in the gap you leave after the sneeze.
'Yeah now now she's on our side.' You grin and ruffle Yoshika's hair without thinking. It feels like spun silk, as smooth as her skin. She makes a low rumbling noise almost exactly like a big cat.

'Er ... yeah! Anyway, Yoshika, come on,' you keep going, fueled by your own steam and fumes. Whatever crap you're riding right now, it doesn't have brakes. 'What exactly did our little crying jag attract the attention of? Your zombie master?' You say the word. You said the word. It sails by out of your mouth without so much as a by-your-leave, but Yoshika doesn't react to it. 'And how'd she do it?'

Yoshika blinks slowly, relaxing back into the seat like a reclining tiger as you bounce on the balls of your feet, energy peaking. You feel like you could run a marathon, punch through a brick wall, or bed Mary without even blushing. You also know that in another hour this feeling is going to cut out and you're going to collapse.

'She took two steps down a pathway that leads to godhood and madness.' Yoshika says in a low voice that seems to match the sound of the rain drumming on the roof. 'Others further along can see her over their shoulders.' Yoshika shrugs. 'That is all.'
' ... I did what?' Yumemi asks with a blank look. Mary raises her chin, giving Yoshika a cautious look that you rarely see on her face. In fact, you haven't seen that look since she last believed you about something you saw, months ago hiking outside the city together.

'Flesh tools are rare.' Yoshika taps her own chest with one forefinger. 'My former ... ' She trails off and grits her teeth suddenly, sharp edges grinding together.
'You don't have to say it.' Mary interrupts with a little shake of her head.
'Beautiful moonlight, thank you.' Yoshika says to Mary in a hushed voice. 'The former owner of the shell I was, she is one. She is ... very much to be avoided.' Yoshika purrs low, narrowing her eyes and staring out at the rain.

Oh.

You were joking when you said 'zombie master'.

That doesn't sound good.

[ ] 'Godhood sounds like fun. Where do we sign up?'
[ ] 'Okay Yumemi, there's your answer, zombie master and other magical types are just trying to invite you to a pan-dimensional tea party.'
[ ] 'Yoshika, give me names, numbers, locations and maybe dietary habits and sleeping schedules. Who and what wants my little vulnerable client- uh ... friend? Yumemi. Whatever.'

==

Hooray for stubbornness. More updates tomorrow.
>>No. 27168
[X] "So that's number one. Number two is a shadow girl in a hoodie, she was scoping out the office before Yumemi showed up, and came into the room while we were sleeping up there. You know anything about her? What do they want, and what do we gotta do to enforce some personal space boundaries?"
>>No. 27169
[X] "So that's number one. Number two is a shadow girl in a hoodie, she was scoping out the office before Yumemi showed up, and came into the room while we were sleeping up there. You know anything about her? What do they want, and what do we gotta do to enforce some personal space boundaries?"

I like this, this will do.
>>No. 27170
[X] "So that's number one. Number two is a shadow girl in a hoodie, she was scoping out the office before Yumemi showed up, and came into the room while we were sleeping up there. You know anything about her? What do they want, and what do we gotta do to enforce some personal space boundaries?"

Excellent.
>>No. 27171
[X] "So that's number one. Number two is a shadow girl in a hoodie, she was scoping out the office before Yumemi showed up, and came into the room while we were sleeping up there. You know anything about her? What do they want, and what do we gotta do to enforce some personal space boundaries?"
>>No. 27172
[x] "So that's number one. Number two is a shadow girl in a hoodie, she was scoping out the office before Yumemi showed up, and came into the room while we were sleeping up there. You know anything about her? What do they want, and what do we gotta do to enforce some personal space boundaries?"

I like this write in.
>>No. 27173
Awesome story, awesome Renko, awesome Yoshika.
And well, there's a hungry youkai, let's try feeding him votes.

[x] "So that's number one. Number two is a shadow girl in a hoodie, she was scoping out the office before Yumemi showed up, and came into the room while we were sleeping up there. You know anything about her? What do they want, and what do we gotta do to enforce some personal space boundaries?"
>>No. 27175
'A garden of miniature breasts. So small, she cannot even join their revelry.'

[x] "So that's number one. Number two is a shadow girl in a hoodie, she was scoping out the office before Yumemi showed up, and came into the room while we were sleeping up there. You know anything about her? What do they want, and what do we gotta do to enforce some personal space boundaries?"
>>No. 27177
>>27175
I don't think Yumemi or Renko are that small.
>>No. 27180
I don't even really need to call this one, do I?

Updates will begin in 3-4 hours time, ish, and then run all day. First I have to go out and purchase a suit of armour.
>>No. 27181
Okay, finally here, writing shortly.
>>No. 27182
a suit of armour?
>>No. 27183
File 133864433420.png - (1.75MB, 1092x1500, the only picture i could find.png) [iqdb]
27183
>>27182
>>No. 27184
'So.' You break the silence again, before Yoshika goes into some kind of dark brooding mode. 'So! So.' You clap your hands together once, grinning uncontrollably. Perhaps it's just a reaction to how shit-serious Yoshika just made this sound. 'That's part one, sticking your head into things you shouldn't have done.' You gesture to Yumemi. 'Part two is a shadow girl in a hoodie, ring a bell at all?'
Yumemi's eyes widen, and she nods slowly. Mary cocks an eyebrow at you.
'Great! Because she was scoping out the office just before you turned up.' You put your hands on your hips and turn your grin at Mary. 'Told you I did see something! Figured it was too much of a coincidence to have two crazy paranormal happenings in a single day. Anyway! She was up here, when we fell asleep for a second-'
'You fell asleep?' Mary asks, shocked. You sigh and roll your eyes.

'Yes, but that's not important.'
'But you were sleeping.' Mary whines softly with concern. 'Renko you're exhausted!'
'She was here?' Yumemi sits bolt upright, staring around the room.
'Only for a second or two. I woke up and she ... fled, through the window.' You gesture at the rain outside. 'So, Yumemi, what does the shadow girl want, and what do we need to do in order to enforce a little more personal space boundaries? She seemed mighty keen to touch you before I disturbed her.'
'Ugh. That's ... the thing I summoned, by a-accident. I don't know what it wants.' Yumemi grunts with disgust, shivering and then suddenly looking around, leaning forward to see under the front of the bed. 'Where's my bag? What did you do with my bag, I need my bag, there's something I can do.' She reaches out from under the covers, flexing her fingers as if itching to use them.
'Uh ... ' You glance around, but mary is already on the case, leaning past her bedside table to find where she placed Yumemi's bag. She must have brought it up with her.

'Here, sweetie.' Mary tries to pat Yumemi's shoulder again, but the smaller girl almost shrugs it off in her eagerness to reach her bag. Mary's plush dragon is left to fall to the bed as Yumemi clutches the heavy bag and settles it in her lap, unclasping the top and revealing a huge wedge of papers, notebooks, a couple of items of clothing, and a few knick-knacks tucked into the sides. You spot a bottle of what looks like mouldy soda, gone greenish with age, but Yumemi quickly starts emptying the bag onto Mary's bed, sent into a frenzy by mention of the shadowy girl.

Yoshika watches quietly, saying nothing about the thing you saw earlier.

'No, no, where did I- ah!' Yumemi finally reveals a small notebook, bound with cracking black leather, and a much larger, older looking book that she's half-wrapped with paper. She doesn't touch the latter, but quickly pulls out the former and flips it open, leafing through the well-thumbed pages. Every single page is covered with scrawled, spider-like hand-writing, punctuated with diagrams and mathematical notes.
Yumemi finds several bookmarks, but passes by them, and then finally stops. She turns the notebook toward you, expectant light in her eyes.

The page has a Polaroid photograph paper-clipped to it, showing the inside of a laboratory that could be anywhere in the world - the same blacktop, heat-resistant tables, the same long-legged stools, the fume cabinets and gas taps along the far wall - with two figures in the middle of the picture. One of them is a small blond woman, turned away from the camera with one arm raised, her other hand shielding her face. The picture must have been taken at the exact moment she was leaping away from the other figure.

The other figure is the same ash-and-shadow impression you've seen twice now; indistinct, as if the camera couldn't focus properly, her features reduced to static fuzz and blurring.

Except in this picture her angles are sharper, she's clearly in motion, arms outstretched and legs kicking off from the floor like some kind of nightmare preying-mantis, leaping after the blond woman.
'This, is this what you saw?' Yumemi asks, pointing at the second figure.
'Yes, exactly.' You answer, and Mary peers around to get a good look as well. 'Where did you find this?'
'It was in Rika's notes, this was her's' Yumemi waves the black-leather notebook. 'I think she took it, but I don't know who the other person is.'

'So ... she summoned this thing as well. And now she's not here anyone.' You let the suggestion hang in the air. 'Yoshika?' But when you turn to the bruise-coloured girl, she shrugs.
'Please, Yoshika?' Mary asks with a little sigh. Yoshika raises her chin, seems to think for a moment, and then relents.
'Some things are older and wiser than they look. And they get exactly what they want.' She points at the photograph.
'That doesn't mean anything.' You complain.
' ... for all your diligence, Renko, you did not surprise this creature. It arrived precisely when it meant to, and did precisely what it wanted to.' Yoshika says quietly.
'It wanted me to see it?' You press.
'Who can tell. Better to ask the house, or the ground.' She gestures expansively; a poetic way of saying she has no idea.

[ ] 'Then we need to talk to it. I need to read Rika's notes, and Yumemi has to summon it, again, or whatever.' Hands on hips. You have a plan.
[ ] 'Is that literal? Can you talk to the rain for me?' Sarcasm mode: on. You're going to need Yoshika's help, not her cryptic misdirection.
[ ] 'Yumemi, is this the same thing that invaded your apartment? How do we keep it out, at least for now?' Practical matters first, you should probably lock the metaphorical doors.
>>No. 27185
[X] 'We need you to stop spinning us moonbeams, Yoshika, and try to put it to us in terms that we can comprehend.' You're going to need Yoshika's help, not her cryptic misdirection.
[X] 'Yumemi, is this the same thing that invaded your apartment? How do we keep it out, at least for now?' Practical matters first, you should probably lock the metaphorical doors.

Summoning the thing directly kind of seems like a bad idea.
>>No. 27186
[X] 'Yumemi, is this the same thing that invaded your apartment? How do we keep it out, at least for now?' Practical matters first, you should probably lock the metaphorical doors.

Don't try anything crazy while exhausted.
>>No. 27187
>>27185
She's never going to stop talking like that, trying to force her will just drive her away. Renko's already making her explain when she gets too abstract.

[x] 'Yumemi, is this the same thing that invaded your apartment? How do we keep it out, at least for now?' Practical matters first, you should probably lock the metaphorical doors.

Batten down the hatches and get some sleep before we crash.
>>No. 27188
Writing now!
>>No. 27189
You stare at Yoshika for a moment, and then mentally dismiss her obtuse speech; you've got more than enough leads to follow right now, you can pump her for more later.
'Yumemi.' You turn back to the girl with purpose in your eyes. 'This thing ... ah?' You trail off as Yumemi offers you Rika's ancient notebook.
'I've been through it, over and over. If you're going to help me ... ' She nods at the book, and then looks away, faintly embarrassed. She's not stuttering anymore though. 'You should know.'
'Okay, yeah, I was about to say that!' You grin, and take the notebook. The cracked, black leather feels like weather-beaten stone underneath your fingers, and some impulse makes you put it down right away, leaving it on Mary's bedside table for you.

'You too, M-' Yumemi starts.
'You too, Mary.' Yoshika says at the same time. Yumemi blinks in confusion at Yoshika, but the tattooed girl just offers a thin smile.
'I- ... I mean if you're going to help,' Yumemi tries to continue, staring at Yoshika with a wary look. 'You should read it. The basics, anyway.' Yumemi mutters. Yoshika lets out a low chuckle.
'She will get more out of it than you can.' Yoshika purrs. Mary blusters and nods at Yumemi.
'Right, but, first.' You hold up a finger, taking charge of the situation. 'This shadow-girl, was she the thing that invaded your apartment? Is there-'

Yumemi shakes her head, almost violently.

'No. She ... followed me. Came to me in dreams, she's not quite here, you see? There's a theory here about trans-dimensional projection, somewhere,' she starts to rummage among the spilled papers, leafing through them with expert fingers. She's so much more comfortable now she's surrounded by pages of incomprehensible gibberish; you try to read some of what is on the notes and papers, but the equations and diagrams don't make even the slightest bit of sense to you. 'Here!' Yumemi holds up a clutch of stapled papers that look as if they've been produced on a typewriter. What is this, 1950?
'Ah, uh, thanks, yeah.' You mutter, trying to sound interested as accept the papers. Yumemi stares at you with all the expectant hope of a first-year grad student gazing at an attractive professor. 'I'll look at this later, but, Yumemi,' you clear your throat, trying to ignore her sudden puppy-dog eyes as you put the papers down. 'What invaded your apartment then?'

' ... I don't know.' Her eyes fall to the scattered pages spread out on her knees. 'It wasn't the Trans-dimensional entity though. It was physical. Very physical. And it was ... it smelled like a wet dog.' She shrugs. 'Wrecked my fridge, my kitchen, tore my bed up. I didn't get a good look at it. I actually just ran away and stayed at a friend's place overnight. When I came back the next morning, it had left.' She puffs out a long breath. 'Didn't take anything ... shat in my bathtub though.'
'Pffft.' You struggle not to laugh at that. Mary has to turn away to hide her giggle.
'It's not funny!' Yumemi complains, frowning and drawing herself up. The way she crosses her arms over her chest - while surrounded by a pile of papers - just makes her look cute rather than imposing. You wave her down and mutter an apology.
'Okay, okay, well ... that gives us two things to worry about.' You clear your throat and stop laughing.
'Scatological inversions.' Yoshika mutters.

'Anything more clear to add?' You glance at the bruise-coloured girl.
'A midnight visitor, in the flesh.' She nods. 'Like myself but less covert, a blunt object to be smashed down by a lazy hand. Your chance absence was your saving, Yumemi.' She leans forward in the chair, a thought on her lips as they flash into a sharp-pointed smile. 'Leave the next one to me.'
' ... you're sticking with us, then?' You ask, sleepless energy giving you the power to ask.
'Where else do I fly?' Yoshika shrugs, and gives you a closed look. You get the feeling there's something she's not saying; or maybe you're just imagining things.

'I'll go shut the inside door.' Mary says, looking tense as she stands up from the bed. 'And lock the back windows.'
'Wait a sec, Mary.' You hold a hand out to stop her, and without thinking you rest it on her hip. You pause for a second, but if you remove it now, that would seem strange. ' ... anyway! Yumemi, is there anything we can do to keep the shadow-girl-'
'Trans-dimensional entity.' Yumemi corrects you quickly.
'Yeah. Can we keep it out?' You ask, glancing at Mary's face. She's giving no sign of embarrassment at your accidental hand on her hip.

'Yes.' Yumemi nods, the most confident motion you've seen from her. 'I can do that.'

[ ] 'Can you get on it right now?' Put her to task. Look how much she's changed; she needs to feel competent and useful.
[ ] 'Show me how that works.' You need to know, you need to keep an eye on her too, just in case.
>>No. 27190
[X] 'Good, keep it out for now. But first, hows about Mary and Yoshika tell us what they're hiding, so maybe I can get some fracking sleep without worrying.'
>>No. 27191
[x] 'Can you get on it right now?' Put her to task. Look how much she's changed; she needs to feel competent and useful.
>>No. 27192
[x] 'Can you get on it right now?' Put her to task. Look how much she's changed; she needs to feel competent and useful.
-[x] Lovely assistant? Please do watch over her.

You know what we need now? Sleep. Nice sleep. Let Mary keep an eye on her while we visit Morpheus.
>>No. 27193
Okay, writing now!
>>No. 27194
'Can you get on that for us? Right now?' You ask, gesturing at Yumemi's papers and notes. She nods again.
'Yes, I can. I'll need some blank paper, and a pen, if you have one. A real ink pen would be best, a fountain pen, or maybe just a knife if you don't have one around here.' She explains, shifting the covers off her knees and swinging her legs over the side of the bed. She wiggles her toes to get the blood flowing again. 'It's not difficult but it does take a while, and uh ... I might need some blood. My own will do at first but ... ' She shrugs, apparently unconcerned by her need for blood. You effect an unconcerned expression, just nodding in response.

'Blood?' Mary frowns gently. 'You're not taking too much from yourself, are you?'
'No, only a little.' Yumemi shakes her head.
'In for a penny, in for a pound. Of wealth or flesh. Either way.' Yoshika interrupts, a dark look in her eyes. 'Give her nothing.'
'Hey! I'm trying to help!' Yumemi complains, puffing out one cheek in a show of childish exasperation.
'I'd rather ... ' Mary gulps, and gives you a sidelong look. 'I'd much rather I give any you need. After all I eat a lot more than Renko! She hasn't got much to give!' Mary beams and flutters her eyelashes, and you have to agree; Mary does eat more than you, it's how she keeps that figure. And you are extremely tired, you don't feel up to donating blood right now.
'Sure, as long as you're, you know.' You say to Mary, but she hushes down your concerns, patting you on the shoulder.
'It's fine, Renko! It's fine! You too, Yoshika! Less worrying, now!' She chirps. Yoshika says nothing, but gets up and walks over to the window. The grey light makes her flesh glow, almost blue. Her exposed back muscles ripple and flex as she leans against the window frame and stares out at the rain.

'Something wrong, Yoshika?' You check, using the moment as an excuse to spread your arms, finally removing your hand from Mary's hip. She stays there right next to you though.
'Slipshod and roughwork.' Yoshika speaks low and slow. 'You have a talent for it, Renko. But we are playing the long game now, and coming in two moves behind. You are only just castling your king.'
'Less nonsense more explaining.' You blurt out, and see the reflection of Yoshika's blossoming grin, sharp and cruel. She clacks her teeth together twice, like scissors closing with a smart snick of motion.
'The long game, Renko. Renko. Renko.' Yoshika repeats your name several times, and then holds out one hand, cupping her palm upward. She doesn't turn to face you. 'I am weighing your chances.'

'My chances of what?' You put your hands on your hips; Yoshika's obscuring attitude is starting to get on your nerves now. You're too tired to unravel her obtuse meanings, although you can guess at their general direction. 'You've got tension in your shoulders, I can see it from here, even if you're not human.' You say, pointing at her back. 'Something is wrong, I can see it. Come on, zombie-girl,' you blurt out that word again, but keep going, bull-headed with energy and decisive leadership. 'Spill the beans.'

' ... mm.' Yoshika grunts. 'Alone?'
'Alone?' You echo her question.
'You and I, Renko. We are to talk.' Yoshika says. 'Not even your soulmate.'

Mary turns away, covering a blush on her cheeks.

'If all this is true,' your spread your arms in a wide shrug. 'Then it's some pretty serious stuff. Why can't we all know?'
'It is not information I wish to discuss. It is me.' Yoshika's voice is harsh and low, without any music left in her tone.

[ ] 'Alright then.' No harm in a little private chat.
[ ] 'No, you're still an unknown. I think we all need to hear whatever this is. Hell, I don't even know what it is you're doubting here, or what's on the line for you.'
[ ] 'Alright then.' Pretend, and then call Mary back. Anything said to you can be said to her anyway. Anything.
>>No. 27195
[X] 'Alright then.' No harm in a little private chat.
>>No. 27196
[X] 'Alright then.' No harm in a little private chat.

If Yoshika's being serious, better listen.
>>No. 27197
[x] 'Alright then.' No harm in a little private chat.

She hasn't done us any harm. And she's been awesome the entire time too. So, let's trust her.
>>No. 27198
[x] 'Alright then.' No harm in a little private chat.

Girls are trusting...
>>No. 27199
>>27197
Kind of sad, but I'm actually trusting Yoshika and ~mysterious shadow vampire~ more than Yumemi and even Mary at this juncture. Mary isn't exactly deflecting Yoshika's accusations, and Yumemi, well, she's told us a big fat story but we have no proof that any of it is really true, or that she is who she says she is.
>>No. 27200
[x] 'Alright then.' No harm in a little private chat.

She's not going to start decomposing on us without the seal is she?
>>No. 27201
Okay, writing now!
>>No. 27202
'Alright then.' You shrug. If it's something personal she wants to discuss, you guess privacy is a fair request. She might not be human, exactly, but she seems to share some of the same emotional needs. 'Uh, Mary, where-'
'No no, it's fine! I'm going to go close the inner door and put the locks on, and then get some food going, actually!' Mary nods sagely. 'Yumemi, do you want to come with me for a bit?'
But Yumemi is already cramming her notes back into her bag and rising from the bed. She runs a self-conscious hand down her braid, feeling the escaped hairs and general disarray.
'Yeah I need a flat surface to work on anyway.' She says, eyes darting around as if trying to take in too much information. 'Have you got a kitchen table, or ... the floor?'
'Kitchen table!' Mary nods, and then casually links her arm with Yumemi, to lead her out of the room. 'We'll be just downstairs, both of you!' She shoots over her shoulder, and then shuts the bedroom door. Her and Yumemi's twin footsteps creak away down the stairs, and then vanish into the ancient house.

Yoshika doesn't move; she stares at the rain.
'Well,' you sit down in Mary's desk chair, and realise how much your legs ache. 'Just us now. Go ahead, Yoshika, I'm listening.'
'I must make a decision.' She says in the same flat voice she used before. She doesn't blink as she stares. 'Decisions. Choices. The edge of the coin. We never know. Chance was never my favourite theme. I hope it is one of yours.'
'A decision about what?' You say gently. Yoshika's musings are so soft this time that they don't seem directed at you. They're just for her now.
'Do I stay here in this ancient house,' she gestures at the walls. 'With three players and no playing pieces, waiting for the trailing edge of the storm, and put my shoulder to the door?' Yoshika finally turns to you. Her expression is cool and blank, and you sense a great deal of thought going on behind her sharp blue eyes. 'Or,' she gestures out at the window. 'Do I go?'

' ... where would you go, anyway?' You ask without thinking, expressing genuine curiosity. Yoshika bursts out laughing: a ghashing, deep noise that makes her throw her head back.
'Renko!' She points a finger at you. 'Have you ever been a slave?'
'No? No.' You shake your head.
'To another, to work, to art, to addiction?' She rattles off things, and you do her the courtesy of at least thinking about it, and then shake your head again.
'I don't think so.' You answer.
'Then you cannot understand.' She shrugs without malice. 'Every place is better than imprisonment. Yet ... ' She trails off, staring back at you.

'You want me to convince you to stay with us, don't you?' You go out on a limb, trusting your instincts. Yoshika doesn't react, she says nothing, so you plough onward. 'Look, Yoshika, you're a slave that I've freed, I get that, you don't have to get all metaphorical about it. That thing I pulled off you back at the campus, that was your control-codes or whatever.' You wave vaguely in the air. 'I don't really understand what you are, but you're welcome to stick around if you want. If you've got ... er ... friends ... family?' You try, and a twitch of a smile sharpens the corners of Yoshika's mouth. 'If you have other places to be, I'm not going to be offended.'

'You would be dead.' Yoshika says.

' ... what?' You frown.
'You have no playing pieces, Renko. No knights. No rooks. A half-grown queen sliding around behind mirrors and inside her own head. A pair of blind pawns.' Yoshika sighs.
'Who says we even have to play?' You pick up Yoshika's metaphor. 'Keep Yumemi's head down for a few weeks, get her a place here, she'll be fine, we can-'
'You are already playing, Renko.' Yoshika interrupts with smooth confidence, stepping closer to you, close enough that you can see the detail of the tattoos on her stomach. 'You invited Yumemi to your home, you ... liberated me, and now you have her weaving spells in this place. You are in. There is no exit.'
' ... I'm not harmless.' You say, feeling quite serious now. 'I-'
'- am a player, not a piece.' Yoshika interrupts again. 'Sorcerers fight their wars at arms-length, Renko. With proxies, familiars, servants, flesh-puppets created or co-opted, secrecy, assassination, lies and tricks. You can win a battle with three feet of steel, but you will not win a war.'
'I'm not a sorcerer.' You shrug.
'Exactly.' Yoshika finally grins again. 'You don't think like one, your soul is free of ritual clutter. But you have no playing pieces to move. Except me.' She ends with a click of her teeth. 'And I am weighing your chances of winning.'

Something doesn't add up here.

[ ] 'Why me? Why not Yumemi? She's the one doing magic.'
[ ] 'Winning what? "Godhood", as you put it? What's the prize at the end of this road Yumemi is on?'
[ ] 'War? Game? Which one is it, Yoshika? What is actually going on here?

==

Last one for today. More tomorrow, starting early.
>>No. 27203
[x] 'Why me? Why not Yumemi? She's the one doing magic.'
[x] 'War? Game? Which one is it, Yoshika? What is actually going on here?
>>No. 27204
>>27199
>Mary isn't exactly deflecting Yoshika's accusations
Accusations of what? Did I miss something?
>>No. 27206
[x] 'Why me? Why not Yumemi? She's the one doing magic.'
[x] 'War? Game? Which one is it, Yoshika? What is actually going on here?

This is getting more interesting. And ominous.
>>No. 27207
[ ] 'Winning what? "Godhood", as you put it? What's the prize at the end of this road Yumemi is on?'

Thought: Whoever sent Yoshika wanted her to be picked up, either by Yumemi, Renko or Mary. After all, who would send a single super slow zombie to hurt anyone?

Maybe Yoshika has a very strong will and stopped herself from attacking us, but anyway she probably was released to chase us in the very same building we were in, since it's doubtful that she could catch anyone by walking slowly.

Thing is, we're totally being manipulated and we don't even know why.
>>No. 27208
>>27207
The fact that Yoshika's capable of eating anything, and thus would be able to dispose of evidence and/or strawberry girl corpses, makes me think that she was sent to take care of Yumemi. Something about Renko might have calmed her down, though, we have some as-yet-ambiguous importance.
>>No. 27209
[x] 'Why me? Why not Yumemi? She's the one doing magic.'
[x] 'War? Game? Which one is it, Yoshika? What is actually going on here?
>>No. 27210
[X] 'Why me? Why not you? You're the only one who seems to know what's going on.'

>>27204

I don't know if I should spell it out for everyone, but just this once...

> 'You too, M-' Yumemi starts.
> 'You too, Mary.' Yoshika says at the same time. Yumemi blinks in confusion at Yoshika, but the tattooed girl just offers a thin smile.
> 'I- ... I mean if you're going to help,' Yumemi tries to continue, staring at Yoshika with a wary look. 'You should read it. The basics, anyway.' Yumemi mutters. Yoshika lets out a low chuckle.
> 'She will get more out of it than you can.' Yoshika purrs. Mary blusters and nods at Yumemi.

> 'Mary mary, a ... ahhh, vine in bloom, how unexpected. Such flowers open only under moonlight.'

> 'Yeah, yeah ... ' You trail off, catching Mary's eye and shrugging again.
> ' ... Rika?' Mary mouths silently.
> 'Rika.' Yoshika repeats the word, even though she can't have seen Mary speaking. 'Rika. Just another name among billions of unnumbered souls. Something larger has passed this way. An oak tree took root, got up, walked. ... Rika?' She frowns, her poetic pacing breaking down, her expression turning sour
> 'Have you heard of her? Do you know where she is?' Mary asks, more eager than you expect her to be.

Yoshika has all but come out and said that Mary is some flavor of sorceress, or occultist at the very least. She's off right this moment getting her blood into Yumemi's spell, having brushed aside Yoshika's objection.
>>No. 27211
>>27210
...You DO know who Maribel is, her power and who it links her to?

It's not out of the question that Yoshika is sensing something from Maribel and make assumptions on those feelings.
>>No. 27212
[x] 'Why me? Why not Yumemi? She's the one doing magic.'
[x] 'War? Game? Which one is it, Yoshika? What is actually going on here?

>>27210

As >>27211 said, it, in all likelihood, is a reflection of Mary's functioning powers to perceive boundaries, or whatever the exact phrasing was, and the other factors that brings in. Mary's already quite magic, after all.
>>No. 27213
>>27210
Good, we need a magic user on our side. How does this make her less trustworthy than Yoshika?
>>No. 27215
>>27213
A stupid assumption that Mary is intentionally hiding something from everyone as opposed to having a latent power that not even she fully knows about.
>>No. 27216
Okay, here we go. Writing now.
>>No. 27217
You frown at Yoshika; even assuming everything she and Yumemi have said is true - no small leap in itself - why's she still hanging around talking to you in a crumbling house. Why's she not off fighting wizards or whatever? This doesn't really add up.
'Why involve me at all?' You shrug, leaning back in the chair and sticking your legs out, affecting a hyper-relaxed posture. 'Why not team up with Yumemi to do ... whatever this is?' You spread your hands and let out a laugh. 'I mean ... I mean this is fascinating,' you try very hard to keep the excitement out of your voice. 'But I'm just me, I don't know anything about magic or sorcerers or whatever. I want to! I've wanted to believe in all this for a long time, but ... Yumemi already knows some magic, right? Why not her?'

'Because she is on the path.' Yumemi answers without pausing to think. 'She is no different to others further along. She has made her pacts, summoned her creatures, committed her soul, regardless of her own understanding of the matter. She is a chick falling out of the nest and learning to fly, frantically beating her little wings,' a faint smile creeps onto Yoshika's face, and then abruptly vanishes again as she continues. 'But given time she will grow the beak and claws of a bird of prey. I would sooner kill her than make myself her willing tool. The only reason I will not is that is what my former master wanted.'
'What, Yumemi, dangerous?' You almost laugh. 'She's just had a nervous breakdown, she can barely keep herself together. She's not exactly threatening. Actually she's sort of useless, though I suppose she is getting this spell up for us.' You puff out a long breath, admitting what you've been feeling for a while.

'But you are different.' Yoshika points a finger at you, ignoring your aside about Yumemi. 'You are no sorcerer, you have no talent, your mind is rooted in the physical,' Yoshika seems to draw herself up as she speaks, pushing her shoulders back and her chest out, head held higher. 'You could be a wolf, lurking in the darkness to the side of the path, picking off lonely travellers.'
' ... that doesn't sound much like me.' You don't really like where this metaphor is going.
'You are unclouded by lust for power. You are clean of insanity or trepidation. You are a natural born leader. The qualities are the same in any age and place.' Yoshika steps forward again, so close that her knees could brush against yours.
'You want me to what ... start killing sorcerers?' You frown. 'That doesn't sound like my kind of deal.'

Yoshika stares at you, and then breaks into a grin, showing off her sharp teeth.
'Good.' She rumbles, like a purring lion, and then leans down, placing her hands on either arm of the chair and bringing her face to within inches of your own. Her eyes are like electricity, shocking you into full wakefulness. She smells faintly of the same chemical-mix scent you remember from the stairwell. 'That is my job.'
'Why not you, then?' You refuse to look away, or shift your position at Yoshika's aggressive stance. 'You seem to understand much more than I do.'
'Because I would expend myself in an effort to slaughter my tormentor.' She answers without pause. 'A purposeless life leads to self-destruction. I am not a leader; you are.'

You shift a little in the seat, feeling uncomfortable.

' ... I don't know.' You mutter.
Yoshika leans in even closer. For one bizarre moment you think she's going to kiss you. Her lips part, and she purrs at you in a honey-rich song-voice once more.
'Take no orders, and follow Rika's trail. I suspect she has done the legwork for you.'
'Rika? You said you didn't know who she was!' You frown at Yoshika. 'Make up your mind already.'
Yoshika finally draws back, straightening up and laughing. 'I don't! But her route is ... suspect. She may have already done what I am telling to do. Follow her trail, and we will see what we will see.'
'Follow her trail, eh?' You feel a welling of excitement in your chest; an investigation! Not that you weren't going to already, but this does add an extra edge to the prospect. Yumemi is doing "magic" and Yoshika is certainly weird and non-human, but to uncover a mystery, this excites you.

But you'd still like some more clarity.

Yoshika wanders back over to the window, and places one hand against the glass.
'So ... what is actually going on, Yoshika?' You ask. 'You said game, and then war, but which is it? And what is it over, then?'
'Power.' Yoshika says. 'Transformation. Ascension. Godhood. When humanity becomes a dead end, the only solution is to stop being human.'
'Uh huh.' You grunt. 'But-'
'But predators are in competition, red in tooth and claw all their days.' Yoshika continues. 'Hiding behind seven layers of misdirection, directing their playing pieces,' she trails off, staring at the rain.

[ ] 'They can't all be bad. Hell, I haven't even met any. This all sounds a little too grandiose.'
[ ] 'I still don't see why I should get involved ... but I'll check out Rika's stuff.'
>>No. 27218
[x] 'I still don't see why I should get involved ... but I'll check out Rika's stuff.'

Doubts, doubts, doubts... We do this anyway!
>>No. 27219
[x] 'If this is a game as you say, then what we've been doing up until now has been reactionary at best, like we're being toyed around with by our opponent. However, if we're able to learn enough from what the Professor has left behind, we can be proactive, and see the game board as it lies two, or even three moves ahead.'
>>No. 27221
[x] 'If this is a game as you say, then what we've been doing up until now has been reactionary at best, like we're being toyed around with by our opponent. However, if we're able to learn enough from what the Professor has left behind, we can be proactive, and see the game board as it lies two, or even three moves ahead.'
>>No. 27222
[X] 'I still don't see why I should get involved ... but I'll check out Rika's stuff.'

you know what, Yoshika? fuck it, lets do this shit
>>No. 27223
>>27219
>>27221
Is there any point in stating the obvious? Besides, there's already a vote proposed to learn more from Rika(ko)'S notes.

[X] 'I still don't see why I should get involved ... but I'll check out Rika's stuff.'
>>No. 27224
Writing now!
>>No. 27225
'I still don't see why I should get involved ... ' You say, leaving out your precise concerns; giving shelter to a distraught girl is one thing, as is freeing a slave, even if the latter is a little more extreme, but throwing yourself into a magical war - which you're not even sure is real - is another kettle of fish entirely. You put such thoughts from your mind; you're nothing if not capable of handling yourself. Your bag is just downstairs right now, where you left it when you entered the house, but you'll have to keep it with you at all times if this stuff is real; you don't want your tools to be out of reach.
You cross your ankles and tip your hat down over your eyes; the effect of the pose probably means nothing to Yoshika, but you assume it anyway, slipping easily into the role. 'You can be sure I'll check out Rika's stuff though. Who knows what we might find?' You feel a grin creeping onto your lips.

Yoshika gives you a sidelong look from the window.
'Then I stay.' She says, raising her eyebrows. 'The decision is made, the coin is flipped. Let us hope it lands on its edge.'
'Sounds a little far-fetched.' You comment on her metaphor.
'For all others there are only two outcomes.' Yoshika continues, not rising to your bait. 'Inhumanity, or madness and death.'
'If you say so.' You shrug, tiring of her metaphors now. You're achingly tired underneath the surface, the blast of energy is starting to wear off. 'For now I think we should just wait until tomorrow morning, then head back to campus.'

Yoshika nods.

' ... you look like there's something else you want to say.' You almost sigh at the tension in her shoulders. It's still there.
'No.' Yoshika grunts, then falls silent.

She doesn't move, staring out of the window with a darkening expression.

You've seen that look before; here's somebody who wants to be convinced to speak.

[ ] 'Yes there is. I can see it. You said yourself, natural leadership, whatever you want to call it. Want me to lead? Tell me what's up.'
[ ] 'You can just talk, if you want to, you know that?'
[ ] 'What is it, Lassie? Did Timmy fall down the well?'
>>No. 27226
[X] 'Yes there is. I can see it. You said yourself, natural leadership, whatever you want to call it. Want me to lead? Tell me what's up.'
>>No. 27227
[x] 'You can just talk, if you want to, you know that?'
>>No. 27228
[x] 'Yes there is. I can see it. You said yourself, natural leadership, whatever you want to call it. Want me to lead? Tell me what's up.'

Convincing gaems.
>>No. 27229
To convince, you need to push a bit.

[x] 'Yes there is. I can see it. You said yourself, natural leadership, whatever you want to call it. Want me to lead? Tell me what's up.'
>>No. 27230
Okay, writing now.
>>No. 27231
You take the bull by the horns.

'Yes there is.' You stand up and cross your arms, lifting your chin. 'I can see it. You said yourself, natural leadership, whatever you want to call it.' You wave the idea away, you might be a natural leader, or you might not. Whatever, you can sure as hell fake it though. 'Want me to lead? Tell me what's up.'

A beat passes, but you wait without saying anything.

' ... mmm.' Yoshika lets a smile curl onto her lips, a narrow-edged, knowing look cast sideways at you. 'Trust is a dangerous thing, Renko. You are a leader because you trust, and others trust you.'
'I don't like to be paranoid.' You agree. 'Well ... not about people, anyway.'
'My former master will try your trust.' Yoshika says, and you listen closely, intrigued suddenly. 'Her gift is one of moral confusion, of the silver tongue and the ethical loophole. Do not let her convince you of anything, no matter how small. Her lies are not simple lies. They are woven into the world itself.' Yoshika's voice drops in volume as she says this, down to a near-whisper.
'How will I know who she is?' You ask. 'That's kind of important if I'm going to know who not to trust.'
Yoshika cracks a smile, one with a hint of sorrow.
'You will not know her; it will not matter.'
'Oh come on-' You sigh, rolling your eyes at the obfuscation.

'What do you want?' Yoshika turns to you, loud and blunt all of a sudden. 'A physical description? Mere matter? She is short and plump and pale, with hair like mine and a voice like dusk. Her name is Seiga. What else? What can I give.' Yoshika snaps her teeth together and turns away.
'Hey! Calm down, it's not much to ask.' You fold your arms, firm in the face of Yoshika's sudden aggression.
'It will make no difference. She will appear when you are at your weakest, and offer you the solution to all your problems.' Yoshika hisses.

'I don't need anyone else's solutions. I make my own.' You grin at Yoshika's back, and after a long pause, she nods.
'Good.' She says.
'But thanks for the warning.'
'I hope you will not need it.' Yoshika purrs again, and then returns to staring out of the window.

[ ] Is there anything you can do for Yoshika? Does she need to sleep, or eat?
[ ] Go check on Mary and Yumemi, see how things are going with this spell, and get some food.
[ ] Take a goddamn nap already.
>>No. 27232
[x] Is there anything you can do for Yoshika? Does she need to sleep, or eat?
[x] Go check on Mary and Yumemi, see how things are going with this spell, and get some food.
[x] Then finally take a goddamn nap already.

We are a leader. We must see that our subordinates are well in hand before retiring, if we ever get the chance.
>>No. 27233
[x] Is there anything you can do for Yoshika? Does she need to sleep, or eat?
[x] Take a goddamn nap afterwards.

Make her feel welcome and get some sleep. Sounds like a good way to end the day.
>>No. 27234
[x] Is there anything you can do for Yoshika? Does she need to sleep, or eat?
[x] Go check on Mary and Yumemi, see how things are going with this spell, and get some food.
[x] Then finally take a goddamn nap already.
>>No. 27235
[x] Is there anything you can do for Yoshika? Does she need to sleep, or eat?

We need to get some leverage on Yoshika. After all we can't trust Seiga and thus we can't trust her subordinate. I still find suspicious that it was so easy to get Yoshika on our team.
>>No. 27236
Writing now.
>>No. 27237
File 133875055449.jpg - (30.93KB, 640x480, snapshot20080212022427.jpg) [iqdb]
27237
So we're now playing the game of magic thrones godhood against a master manipulator who can weave lies into the world itself. We're in for a twisty ride, folks. Watch out for those hairpin turns.
>>No. 27238
'Yeah, I hope so too.' You agree, and then rub your eyes, clearing away the thoughts of the last hour. 'What about you, Yoshika?' You ask casually, taking your hat off and tossing it on the bed for now.
'What about me?' She echoes you softly, raising her eyebrows and regarding you with cool, slow calm.
'Is there anything you need?' You ask. 'If you're going to be my knight I should take good care of you.' You can't help the cheesy grin that creeps onto your face.
'What do you imagine I might need, Renko?' She asks, expression blank.
'Uh ... ' You weren't expecting that. ' ... food, sl-'
'Ha!' Yoshika barks with one short sharp crack of laughter. 'I might eat Yumemi.' She clicks her teeth together.
'Seriously?' You sigh, putting your hands on your hips.
'I don't eat in the way you do. Different orders of being have different needs. Don't worry about feeding me, I'll feed myself.'
'If you're sure.' You nod, wondering what she means by that. 'What about sleeping, do you-'

Yoshika interrupts you by taking a long, deep breath, holding it for several seconds before exhaling again. Her facial muscles relax, almost as if slipping off a mask. Her eyelids droop suddenly.
'I would very much like to sleep, yes.' She says, slurring her words.
'Oh, er,' you blink at her in surprise. 'Right now?'
She straightens up again, resuming her posture, face returning to sharp clarity.
'Sleep, sleep, the little death that is main course in life's great feast.' Yoshika's voice turns musical again, and you think you recognise what she's quoting. Mary would know for sure. 'Isn't sleep a paradox, don't you think? But it is a little death, and leaves me vulnerable to tampering. I do not need it.'
'Are you sure? House is locked up tight, I'll be right here.' You spread your arms, feeling a keen empathy for how tired Yoshika was just then - or pretended to be.

She shakes her head.
'Not yet. Perhaps later.'
'Alright, alright.' You relent. 'What about a bath, or new clothes?' You gesture at her half-naked body, allowing yourself several long moments of ogling her tattoos.
Yoshika looks down at herself.
'Mmmmm. I am still wearing ... ' She trails off, and then suddenly seems to snap to. 'Yes!' She exclaims.

And then starts stripping.

'Uh ... Yo- ... okay.' Your eyes go wide as plates as Yoshika starts undoing her jeans, snapping the button open and hooking her thumbs into the waistband. No sense of shame - or mischief - shows on her expression, just a sudden determination.

[ ] 'Do you want me to give you some privacy here?'
[ ] Hey! Tattoos! You did want to see this. Entirely for academic purposes, of course. Right. Yeah.
>>No. 27239
[x] Hey! Tattoos! You did want to see this. Entirely for academic purposes, of course. Right. Yeah.

I'm with Renko here, I get the feeling Yoshika's a piece of art.
>>No. 27240
[x] Hey! Tattoos! You did want to see this. Entirely for academic purposes, of course. Right. Yeah.
Hey, Renko might actualy get a straight answer to what Yoshika is by observing the tattoos.
>>No. 27241
Writing now!
>>No. 27242
File 133875332151.gif - (103.77KB, 437x430, tHlGn.gif) [iqdb]
27242
>>No. 27244
You take a step back as Yoshika strips, giving her a bit of space, but you don't turn away. She's entirely unselfconscious about her own body, or at least appears to be; you can't resist the urge to see her tattoos in their full glory. Hell, maybe this will even answer some questions. She's some kind of magical construct, and she's apparently on your "side", so you figure it's entirely reasonable to make sure you know as much about her as possible. Right? Right!

At least that's what you tell yourself as you watch Yoshika wriggle those jeans down around her hips, revealing yet more smooth, bruised-fruit skin and thick, chunky thighs, every inch of her covered with the same intricate spiralling tattoos.
She's not wearing any underwear, and the lips of the dark slit between her legs haven't been spared the tattoo either; the design reaches right to the edge, and you wonder if it even vanishes up inside her. When she drops the jeans and kicks them away, you find the spiral tattoos extend all the way down her legs as well, terminating at her ankles in a series of looping strokes which wind their way back up her skin.
'Better.' Yoshika rumbles to herself, and then starts to unwind the bindings around her chest as well. Her heavy breasts are freed moments later, faint blue veins underneath the light-purple skin visible even through the tattoos. The spirals do cover her nipples as well - big and heavy and dark - and you wonder how much that must have stung to have a tattoo inked there.

'Ugh.' Yoshika throws the chest-wrappings down with the jeans, and then stretches like a tiger in the sun, her skeleton making soft popping noises as she arches her back.
' ... right.' You click your tongue, impressed, struggling to find the right words to compliment those tattoos. She really is a work of art; she's also a strongly-built, attractive woman, but the sheer intricacy of the tattoos is distracting most of your attention.
'There is something you can do for me, Renko.' Yoshika says as she relaxes again, apparently uncaring that she's completely naked now. 'Burn those.' She pokes at the clothes with her foot. 'And the shirt I left downstairs.'
'Burn them?' You manage to meet her eyes rather than stare at her body. 'Why?'
'They did not belong to me. They are an unwelcome reminder. And ugly.' She shrugs, and then walks over to Mary's bed and sits down. She legs out a long sigh, and the flops backward. It's quite a sight.

Yoshika stares at the ceiling for a few moments, and then glances over at you.

[ ] 'What are you?'
[ ] 'Your tattoos are absolutely beautiful, Yoshika. What do they mean?'
[ ] Walk over to her, take a closer look. She doesn't seem to mind.
>>No. 27245
[X] 'Your tattoos are absolutely beautiful, Yoshika. What do they mean?'
[X] Walk over to her, take a closer look. She doesn't seem to mind.
>>No. 27246
[x] 'Your tattoos are absolutely beautiful, Yoshika. What do they mean?

Refraining from getting closer. This would just call for Mary to enter now.
>>No. 27247
[x] Walk over to her, take a closer look. She doesn't seem to mind.
Rife with wacky misunderstanding potential.
>>No. 27248
[X] 'Your tattoos are absolutely beautiful, Yoshika. What do they mean?'
[X] Walk over to her, take a closer look. She doesn't seem to mind.
>>No. 27249
[x] Walk over to her, take a closer look. She doesn't seem to mind.

Investigate the naked zombie.
>>No. 27251
[X] Walk over to her, take a closer look. She doesn't seem to mind.
>>No. 27252
WOO

Writing now.
>>No. 27253
File 133876396510.png - (1.42MB, 1074x1517, 933c4104aa30f93c1361863e468eec42.png) [iqdb]
27253
You just can't look away from her; Yoshika is a work of art. She watches you staring at her body without the slightest hint of discomfort.
'Your tattoos are absolutely beautiful, Yoshika.' You say, sounding a lot smoother than you actually feel.
'Mm.' She grunts, sounding relaxed.

There's no tension here. It's not as if you're going to try seducing her, and her utter lack of shame or embarrassment somehow makes the situation feel more normal, far more normal than approaching a nude woman lying on a bed should be. Which is exactly what you do; when you reach the side of the bed you lean over with obvious interest, peering at the intricate letter-work which makes up each curl and spiral of Yoshika's tattoos. You draw the line at actually touching her though, keeping a respectful few feet away.

You thought maybe the meaning or purpose of the pattern would become clear once you could see it all at once. But if anything the green-ink spiral design is even more dizzying when fully displayed. You try to follow a line with your eyes, tracing it in and out of other parts of the pattern, looping in on itself, crossing one side of Yoshika's left breast. The bizarre looping letters form a chain that could hold entire books, and this is only one line of the tattoo.
' ... what does it all mean? I don't even recognise the language.' You shake your head, looking up to meet Yoshika's gaze.

She looks exactly like a lion falling asleep in the sun, stretching her back as she answers.
'I was singing it earlier.' She purrs. 'The Parsuwash left it behind like an insane relative, raging on the steppe, abandoning it for old Persian and the vulgarities of Arabic.' Yoshika looks like she wants to spit, but then calms again, running one hand down her own body, in a curiously un-sensual gesture, trailing along the letters. 'The Chinese found it like a trap-loaded treasure box, beyond their precious Tarim basin, carried in by nomads on screaming, dead horses. And now it is here.' She spreads her fingers out on her belly. 'It is one of the most complex pieces of magic a human is capable of, written in a language of pure music. It is me, and it is mine, in much the same way you are, and you own, your body.' She finishes and falls silent.
' ... and what does it do?' You ask.
'Ha!' Yoshika barks with laughter again. 'What does your body do, Renko? A million tasks times a million.' She waves a dismissive hand at you.

'It keeps me alive.' You answer straight.
'And it is alive, in turn. Which is you, Renko? Where is the me?' Yoshika gives you a lazy smile.
'My mind. My mind is me.' You fold your arms.
'Mmmm.' Yoshika closes her eyes slowly, taking a deep breath.
'I thought you said you weren't going to sleep?' You ask, allowing yourself another long stare at Yoshika's body, running your eyes along the tattoos again.
'I'm not sleeping. I'm just resting my eyes.' She answers.
'Yeeeeeeeeeah, where have I heard that one before.' You roll your eyes, holding in a chuckle.
'I'm speaking truth.' Yoshika says.
'Uh huh. Need me to watch over you?' You ask anyway.

'No. I will roam the house.' She answers. 'Go play with your soulmate, and keep an eye on the struggling chick.'

[ ] Take her advice, go sleep Mary- you mean, see Mary! Dang you are tired, you'll get to napping soon.
[ ] 'How do you know me and Mary have a thing for each other? Is it that obvious?'
>>No. 27254
So I just discovered I have tomorrow off work. That means there will be a new thread first thing in the morning.

Hope everyone is enjoying the story so far.
>>No. 27255
[x] 'How do you know me and Mary have a thing for each other? Is it that obvious?'

k
>>No. 27256
[x] 'How do you know me and Mary have a thing for each other? Is it that obvious?'

The sooner Renko drops the denseness the better. These things do have a way of biting the person in the ass at the worse times.
>>No. 27257
[x] Take her advice, go sleep Mary- you mean, see Mary! Dang you are tired, you'll get to napping soon.

Seems like sound advice to me.
>>No. 27258
[x] 'How do you know me and Mary have a thing for each other? Is it that obvious?'

Mostly because I'm curious if she's been using the word 'soulmate' in a romantic sense or in some weird supernatural sense. Damned cryptic zombie poet.
>>No. 27259
[ ] Take her advice, go sleep Mary- you mean, see Mary! Dang you are tired, you'll get to napping soon.
>>No. 27260
[x] 'How do you know me and Mary have a thing for each other? Is it that obvious?'
>>No. 27261
[x] 'How do you know me and Mary have a thing for each other? Is it that obvious?'

Admit it!
>>No. 27262
[x] Take her advice, go sleep Mary- you mean, see Mary! Dang you are tired, you'll get to napping soon.

'tis sleepytime
>>No. 27263
[x] 'How do you know me and Mary have a thing for each other? Is it that obvious?'
>>No. 27264
New thread will be up shortly.
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