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File 138293169481.png - (1.31MB, 1280x720, Except No Crowds.png) [iqdb]
29225No. 29225
Being a second son really isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be.

Ichiro, he has First Son Things he has to do. He has to learn to smelt. He has to learn to forge. He has to learn to track requests, and inventory, and accounts. Poor guy has to inherit.

You, on the other hand, are simply expected to avoid bringing shame on the family. If you wanted, you could study alongside your brother, or train to join the village guard, or work at old Murata’s noodle cart. Hell, if you didn’t have a dream to chase, you would be working at old Murata’s cart for sure; the old man doesn’t have any heirs, and it would be a shame to let his accumulated expertise with bowl and broth simply go to waste when age finally catches up with him.

A damn shame. That old fogey is a culinary miracle worker. His kitsune udon is so unbelievably delicious that you’ve actually had conversations with youkai over it. Terrifyingly powerful youkai, at that.

Maybe if he’s still around when you’ve secured eternity for yourself, you can learn his recipes.

But that’s the important part, isn’t it? It’s the reason you didn’t learn the ways of the noodleman (shame it’s not the time for one more bowl), the reason you aren’t studying steel (making it or breaking it, they still come down to the same thing), the reason you left home (hopefully there will be time to write to mother and father) and made your way here. To these gates that are nowhere and everywhere, appearing and disappearing with a pattern and schedule that few understand. The way the said it, figuring out where to find the damn things was the first test for prospective apprentices.

It’s a good thing the residents of the gate’s other side announced themselves to Gensokyo. You doubt your family would have reacted well had you sought assistance from the scattered magicians of the land, or those strange Buddhist monsters.

“You’re seriously taking them up on it?”

“Yes, actually.”

Your response is aimed, of course, at the one person who would reliably be at this place. In winter and summer, in autumn and spring, on ordinary days and festivals alike, the Shrine Maiden of Paradise sweeps her steps… except, of course, when she’s busy with something else. In this case – “Bunch of damn lunatics,” she mutters – she’s busy glaring dourly at the great gate erupting out of the flagstones that lead to her shrine.

“Frankly, miss Hakurei, if I’m crazy for not wanting to waste away and die, then sanity is for fools.”

“Not you, kid. Them. Back from the dead after who even counted how many years, and what do they do? They hole up in some miserable empty alternate universe, and when they’re deciding where to put the entrance – ”

She pauses, and you can almost taste her frustration. You swear the air between Reimu’s eyes and the great stone façade is crackling slightly.

YOU TEAR UP MY WALKWAY AND DON’T EVEN COVER REPAIRS, YOU DAMNED CHEAPSKATES! I HAVE TO CALL IN FAVORS FROM SUIKA TO GET IT FIXED! EVERY! OTHER! WEEK!” The miko exhales loudly at the end of her rant, her body sagging slightly as if something more than mere air was leaving her with that breath. A glint of madness, or perhaps the light of distant lands, slowly fades from her eyes.

“Are you feeling any better now that you let that all out?”

“No,” she admits, “I’m not. This was just… not what I wanted to see on my way to buy rice.”

She turns, and takes a step. Two. Three. Four, and you walk past each other – you on your way to that dreadful gate without doors, Reimu on her way anywhere but there. The perfect empty square cut from the pale stone looms before you.

No, that’s the wrong word entirely, you realize. Looming is for ominous things. Negative things. This is immortality we’re talking about here.

So instead of worrying about silly things like what would be the right words, you simply step through.

Well, they certainly have a flair for the dramatic. Within the gate, two rows of bronze standing torches form a pathway further into… whatever this place really is, crackling brightly. Judging by the dust on the hafts, though, they probably brought the torches out of storage recently. Shame they couldn’t have done a better job of cleaning up their props-

”Greetings, aspirant.”

Yes,, you realize as the voice booms from everywhere at once, [/i]they have a definite flair for the dramatic. Now to find whoever it is I need to talk to, and-[/i]

”You have, of course, arrived to seek our knowledge and power. But answer me this – why is it you desire life eternal?

Huh. Good question, oh mysterious echoing voice who is almost certainly that charismatic lady with the absurd cat-ear hair.

[]”One lifetime isn’t long enough to change the world, I think.”
[]”I want to be the best I can be, and that could take an exceptionally long time.”
[]”Letting people die and lose all of their experience is such a waste, don’t you think?”
Expand all images
>>No. 29226
[X]”One lifetime isn’t long enough to change the world, I think.”

Some people just want to matter.
>>No. 29227
[X]”Letting people die and lose all of their experience is such a waste, don’t you think?”

I feel like this one meshes most easily with the introduction. Even if tenuously.
>>No. 29228
[X]”Letting people die and lose all of their experience is such a waste, don’t you think?”

Even in the cycle of reincarnation, this is really shitty. Especially in the cycle of reincarnation.
>>No. 29229
[X]”Letting people die and lose all of their experience is such a waste, don’t you think?”

Looks like a good start, I'll be watching and waiting.
>>No. 29231
[x] "Letting people die and lose all of their experience is such a waste, don't you think?"

Not our experience, really. We don't have much of it yet. The experience of people like Murata, though...
>>No. 29232
[X]”Letting people die and lose all of their experience is such a waste, don’t you think?”

C'mon, we don't need no change the world shit nor some shounen style I want to be the very best. At least I think we don't? The third one seems much less obvious.
>>No. 29233
[x]”Letting people die and lose all of their experience is such a waste, don’t you think?”

I can't tell you how relieved I am we finally have a backup weasel. What would we have done if our primary weasel failed?
>>No. 29234
[x]”Letting people die and lose all of their experience is such a waste, don’t you think?” 
>>No. 29238
Well, that was quick.

Voting is called in a landslide. PREPARE FOR CAPE.
>>No. 29250
File 13833635666.png - (701.68KB, 1146x1003, Her Majesty.png) [iqdb]
29250
“Experience,” you announce to nobody you can see, “is a precious currency. Precious, and rare. One person can accumulate plenty in their lifetime, and put it to exceptional use, but when life comes to an end…” You raise a hand, open and flat with the palm facing up, and poof a gust of breath across. “It’s gone. All those moments, like tears in a drunk’s sake.”

“Go on…”

“And I say –” and here, you cast your arms wide for dramatic emphasis – “Why let it be that way? Why just shrug my shoulders and let it all go to waste? No, I’m going to keep my knowledge and skills alive. Mine, and everyone else’s, or at least as many people’s as I can get. It’s such a shame to let all that precious experience go to waste, don’t you think?”

“Well said.” In a flourish of purple cloth and booming laughter, the lady with the cat-ear hair appears from nowhere. “Welcome to Senkai. You’ll be-”

”Taishi,” a voice hisses from somewhere, ”thy volume!”

”Oh. Sorry.” She thumps at her chest briefly, like she’s trying to knock loose a chest cold or something. “As I was saying, welcome to Senkai. Since you proved yourself to be so much more interesting than I expected, you will be training directly under myself -” and there’s a great sweeping motion of her arm, flinging wide her astounding cape, the inner lining a deep red that you can swear is starting to glow – “the august personage of Prince Shotoku.”

“Um…”

Her finger swiftly moves to block your mouth. “You’re about to say ‘Prince’ with a note of incredulity, aren’t you.”

You nod. “That, and one other thing.”

“To your question of ‘Prince?’ I respond that the process of resurrection can have odd effects. Poor Futo’s height, for instance. Now, then, your other statement?”

You clear your throat, square your shoulders, and look your new master in the eye. You swear she’s holding back laughter.

“I want that cape.”

You’re quite certain she was holding back laughter, because the dam breaks as soon as you say it. “Really! Really, the cape! Oh, you have a sense for gravitas, you do. I’m going to enjoy training you.”

You almost start responding, but the Prince (?) steps forward with eyes narrowed, her gaze boring into you like a frustrated drunk’s chopstick into a slippery bit of food.

”But you are a thousand years too young to be this stylish.”

**********

Training was… surprisingly mind-numbing.

Endless scrolls and books. Diagrams, obscure formulae, nonsensical side tasks. The little classes on public speaking were useful, yes, but… well, you can’t help but feel like it was more the Prince’s pet issue than anything related to reaching your core goal.

And then, there was a break in the monotony. The august personage of Toyosatomimi no Miko came to you, and…

[]...Asked your advice on a matter of communicating through some kind of mechanical shikigami.
[]…Invited you to a… performance of a play? That’s what it sounded like.
[]…Requested your assistance in a matter of craftsmanship.
[]…Called on you as an attendant for a session of negotiations.
>>No. 29251
...Huh, looks like TIME ZONE MAGIC made me lose 1 NOV as a Day I Updated. Well, who cares? It was still the first here in my time zone when I posted.

Anyways, welcome to the proper launching of the first thing I've really done in a year or so, contests aside. I have multiple events planned out, and am looking forward to seeing you anons resequence them in strange ways and possibly derail them entirely.
>>No. 29252
>>29250
>You almost start responding, but the Prince (?) steps forward with eyes narrowed, her gaze boring into you like a frustrated drunk’s chopstick into a slippery bit of food.
>”But you are a thousand years too young to be this stylish.”
Best. Miko. Ever.

[x]...Asked your advice on a matter of communicating through some kind of mechanical shikigami.
>>No. 29253
[x]…Called on you as an attendant for a session of negotiations.
>>No. 29254
[X]...Asked your advice on a matter of communicating through some kind of mechanical shikigami.

So is our guy a computer whiz?
>>No. 29255
[]...Asked your advice on a matter of communicating through some kind of mechanical shikigami.
Welcome tot he internet. I shall be your guide.
>>No. 29257
>>29252
Well that isn't exactly saying much, considering she isn't in many stories, let alone a major role.

But "neglected new character" cynicism aside, she is promising.

[x]…Called on you as an attendant for a session of negotiations.
>>No. 29258
[X]...Asked your advice on a matter of communicating through some kind of mechanical shikigami.
>>No. 29259
[X]...Asked your advice on a matter of communicating through some kind of mechanical shikigami.

Miko in charge of technology.
>>No. 29261
[X]...Asked your advice on a matter of communicating through some kind of mechanical shikigami.

This reminds me of Greg from Conker's Bad Fur Day when his electric megaphone breaks down and the "mysterious booming voice" becomes more like "dude on helium".

"Can't be arsed with this bloody ridiculous contraption.. All right! Whose idea was this anyway?"
>>No. 29262
[X]...Asked your advice on a matter of communicating through some kind of mechanical shikigami.

Huh. This is off to a promising start.
>>No. 29265
“I require your advice.”

“You what?”

This is exceedingly unusual. The Prince never asks for your advice. Not even when your family came around looking to deliver some of mother’s baked oddities. You wanted those, dammit.

“I require your assistance with this… computer-device which I obtained recently from that odds-and-ends store where our gate appears every third Tuesday. I am informed that the youth of today are generally adept in the basics of their use.”

“About that.” You scratch at a sudden itching on the back of your neck. “Odds are that that’s true… outside the Great Barrier. You have to remember that mister Morichika deals in Outsider artifacts. I’ve only ever heard of those things because of that machine nut four houses down.” That guy and his kappa girlfriend, man. You never want to hear them talking technology again. It’s even more incomprehensible than hearing that blue loophaired harlot speaking in Chinese.

Taishi simply nods her acknowledgement and gives you a beckoning wave with her arm. It doesn’t look like you’re getting out of this one.

The room she leads you to is surprisingly Outside-modern, filled with too-high tables and unornamented chairs. A glowing box sits on one, next to a smaller box with an assortment of small buttons on the front and cables running from the back. One such cable leads to a rectangular plastic panel with an array of raised bits, each marked with one of an assortment of symbols.

“User name, password… Here we go. This is the part I wanted to ask you about, apprentice.” The glowing box’s surface shifts into a bewildering array of little square images, each marked with a title.

“…What are you asking me about, master?”

She shrugs dramatically, affecting a look of feigned exasperation. “Young people these days. Haven’t you learned to just tell these things yet?”

“No, actually, master, I haven’t. You said you wouldn’t be teaching me how to listen to things unsaid until you had faith in my ability as a speaker, remember?”

“Yes, yes. I thought you would be more fun than this. But anyways –” and she points a finger at the screen – “Which of these can I use to speak to people at a long distance?”

Well, shit. You’re going to have to take a guess.

[]What’s this “Internet racing conversation” thing?
[]…Okay, you’re pretty sure that one isn’t even a word.
[]”Chirp”, huh?
[]What the hell is “Yon-san”?
>>No. 29267
[x]What the hell is “Yon-san”?

That's what I'd like to know.

How long until they discover internet porn?
>>No. 29268
>>29265
[x]What’s this “Internet racing conversation” thing?
>>No. 29270
[x]What’s this “Internet racing conversation” thing?
>>No. 29271
[x]…Okay, you’re pretty sure that one isn’t even a word.
>>No. 29272
[x]What’s this “Internet racing conversation” thing?

Has conversation
Seems logical
>>No. 29273
[X] ”Chirp”, huh?

inb4 it's the other meaning of "chin-chin"
>>No. 29274
[X]What’s this “Internet racing conversation” thing?

All I know is that it has conversation. That's all you need to know.
>>No. 29275
[X] What’s this “Internet racing conversation” thing?

Internet and conversation, 2 out of 3 are good odds.
>>No. 29276
[X] “Chirp”, huh?
>>No. 29277
[X]What’s this “Internet racing conversation” thing?
>>No. 29278
>>29273
That's just Twitter. (The fourth is 4chan; there really isn't any way to tell what the second one is.)

[x] What's this "Illusionary Rapid Cacophony" thing?
>>No. 29279
You stare into the sea of little pictures, silently reading off the titles. Chirp? Yon-san? And… that one’s not even a WORD. Come on.

Oh, there’s a likely candidate. Calling upon a whole five minutes of experience watching your tech-obsessed, nigh-housebound neighbor work with one of these worthless metal boxes (the coward! the fool!), you drag the… pointer-steering thingy… around the pad it rests on until the pointer is lined up with an icon marked “Internet racing communication”. Seems a bit of an odd topic, but it’s a start.

A sequence of inexplicable English pops onto the screen as you click, followed by the Japanese you are more familiar with… though you’re not entirely certain what’s going on.

<PrincessOnAStick>Hosting an exhibition next week, can’t wait
<Grill2>Seriously? Our last fight got REALLY out of hand.
<Grill2>I seem to remember it being bad enough, in fact, that you drafted me to help repair that silly mansion of yours.
<Grill2>Tonight, in fact.
<PrincessOnAStick>And whose fault was that, hmm?
<Grill2>Probably the chick who decide to try and use fire on someone who’s basically made of the stuff.
<%ElectricEye>Yes, we get it, you two will blame each other for everything
<%ElectricEye>So calm down and let’s welcome this new resident

You look at your master. Your master looks at you.

<Spook>You should have a handle, new girl!
<Spook>And try not to be *TOO* obvious
<Spook>An element of mystery is every lady’s perogative~
<%ElectricEye>You’re being pretty obvious right now, I think
<Spook>You are such a killjoy.

With a look of confusion on her face, the great Toyosatomimi no Miko… hunts and pecks at the hiragana on the keys-box.

<Guest417>I’m sorry, but what exactly is this?

The text stops scrolling for a moment.

<%Gearhead>You must be REALLY new, so I’ll explain
<%Gearhead>This is a program you use to pass text back and forth, so you can talk to people without actually being in the same room
<%Gearhead>Sort of like a conference call on a cell phone
<Guest417I have no clue what those are.
<%Gearhead>Ah, heck with that, then
<%Gearhead>Just type /nick
<%Gearhead>And then a name for us to call you
<%Gearhead>Then send that

Miko looks up at you again, then suddenly flips her cape upwards, vanishing from her chair in front of the computer-box to reappear behind you and gently, but very firmly, press you down into the vacated seat.

Oh, for the love of all the local gods.

[]/nick
>>No. 29280
>>29279
>one of these worthless metal boxes (the coward! the fool!)
Heh.

[x] Miko
Not too obvious. And I suck at coming up with stuff like this anyway.

Seems almost like Mokou & Kaguya are on there too. Spook would be one of the more dead-oriented gals and ElectricEye maybe...Rika? She had that Evil Eye robot, yeah?
>>No. 29281
>>29280
Gearhead=Nitori
Princess=Kaguya
Grill2=Mokou
Spook=Yuyuko?
>>No. 29283
[x] PaddlePrince

I know it's not good but it's something.
>>No. 29284
[x] GoldExperience
>>No. 29285
[x] Royal
Simple is best.
>>No. 29287
[X] Phones
>>No. 29288
>>29287
I like it.

[X] Phones
>>No. 29289
[X] Phones
>>No. 29290
[x] BuddhismSuX
or
[x] Phonestyle
>>No. 29291
File 138356442261.jpg - (255.34KB, 849x1198, miko sakuraba.jpg) [iqdb]
29291
[X] Phones
>>No. 29292
[X] Phones

It's perfect. Because we have no idea how phones work either.
>>No. 29293
Seriously? Does she just think you’re magically in the know about these things?

Of course she does. Old people these days, man. All thinking every young person is exactly the same.

You stare at the words on the monitor, looking for something that might be useful as a nom de plume. Unfortunately, the text is all useless in that regard.

Unless…

/nick Phones

…Unless I mock her a little for her lack of knowledge. A small jab, an acceptable jab, but a jab all the same.

<%Gearhead>Oh, a sense of humor! That’ll help.
<Phones>Thanks
<IFeelADraft>Pfft
<IFeelADraft>That’s pretty obvious
<Phones>Uh, what?
<IFeelADraft>Oh, actually
<IFeelADraft>If you were who I thought you wouldn’t know that reference
<Phones>…Okay?
<IFeelADraft>So never mind that
<IFeelADraft>Anyways, welcome to IRC
<IFeelADraft>People all over Gensokyo can use it for semi-anonymous blathering
<Phones>Right
<PrincessOnAStick>Oh, hey, new girl
<PrincessOnAStick>Remind me to send you an invite for this game tomorrow
<PrincessOnAStick>Can’t do more today
<Phones>Not sure what you’re on about, but okay
<PrincessOnAStick>A lot of us play
<IFeelADraft>Don’t play with Princess unless you can avoid it, she’s a baddie
<PrincessOnAStick>Excuse me?
<IFeelADraft>Seriously, you NEVER SWITCH WEAPONS
<IFeelADraft>Not even for the fights that hard counter you
<PrincessOnAStick>And yet I’m never the one getting KO’d by
<PrincessOnAStick>Well, I’d list them all, but there are so many you get KO’d by
<Grill2>You best not steal my frenemy, drafty
<Grill2>I *like* having fights with her

You turn your head to look back over your shoulder, and the expression of sheer dismay on Taishi’s face almost makes you copy it out of reflex. “This… this is the public discourse now?”

“As much as I hate to say so,” you reply, “I think it is. As far as this ‘internet’ thing goes, anyways.”

She stares at the monitor, shakes her head sadly, and walks away.

<Spook>So, joke I heard last night
<Spook>Guy walks into a bar, puts this tiny piano on the counter…

You get the feeling this is going to eat up an abnormal amount of your time.

********

“Our illustrious leader calls, apprentice!”

Well, this study session has gone straight down the tubes. You were just starting to understand the theory behind this tincture, and…

Oh, well.

You stand to face… well, no, you stand to look down on Mononobe no Futo. Just like the Prince had said, the process of becoming shikaisen had left her… lacking in height. Unfortunately for you, this seems to have simply turned her into a pint-sized glob of compressed energy. She’s beaming, her teeth white as polished rice.

“Heed swiftly, with haste! Thy future brightens!”

You simply nod and follow. You’ve learned that speaking with her is… a trial, to say the least.

The walk isn’t terribly far – even without Futo leading the way, you have a fairly good understanding of Senkai’s spatial oddities by now. After merely a few minutes of her excited chattering, you step through the door to Miko’s seat of office.

“The Hakurei is pressing us to attend a banquet,” your master announces. “We will attend, of course; it doesn’t present a good image if we simply refuse her hospitality. However…”

“ ‘However’, Prince?”

“We will be seated across from the residents of Myouren Temple.”

Oh, them. Those youkai are an exceedingly odd lot.

“Here.” She pushes a small placard across her desk. Looking at it, it seems to be a seating diagram.

With your name on it.

And across the great table from you… yes, you recognize that name. She’s-

[]-The most pure of heart of the lot, if certain stories can be believed.
[]-That incredibly rude little mouse.
[]-An avatar of Bishamonten, supposedly.
[]-In a band with that cute bird from the eel cart.
>>No. 29294
[x]-The most pure of heart of the lot, if certain stories can be believed.
>>No. 29295
[]-The most pure of heart of the lot, if certain stories can be believed.

WE SHALL CORRUPT THE PURE BHUDDIST NUN.
THAT'LL SHOW THEM
>>No. 29296
[]-In a band with that cute bird from the eel cart.
Because Kyouko.
Also, <IFeelADraft>=Aya?
>>No. 29297
>>29293
[x]-The most pure of heart of the lot, if certain stories can be believed.
>>No. 29298
[x]-The most pure of heart of the lot, if certain stories can be believed.
>>29296
Too friendly and helpful. Can only be Sanae.
>>No. 29299
File 138364486990.jpg - (289.50KB, 450x600, Nue~.jpg) [iqdb]
29299
[X] The mysterious “Sealed Beast”.
>>No. 29300
[x]-The most pure of heart of the lot, if certain stories can be believed.
>>No. 29301
[X]-The most pure of heart of the lot, if certain stories can be believed.

Not sure if Byakuren or Nue.
>>No. 29302
>Not sure if Byakuren or Nue.

Doesn't make sense for it to be Byakuren to me - she'd have to be across from Miko. Which leaves Ichirin - Nue's more of a hanger-on, then actually affiliated.


[x]-In a band with that cute bird from the eel cart.

Because Kyoko needs time in the spotlight. Besides, apprentice opposite apprentice makes the most sense.
>>No. 29303
[x]-In a band with that cute bird from the eel cart.
>>No. 29304
>>29302
Eh, fair enough.

[x] In a band with that cute bird from the eel cart.
>>No. 29305
[X]-The most pure of heart of the lot, if certain stories can be believed.
>>No. 29306
[x]-That incredibly rude little mouse.
>>No. 29307
Due to VGCW Eng Game 5 reading other stuff plain old time shortages, Imperial Apprenticeship Notes will be updated tomorrow, not tonight.

Votes will close at 10 PM GMT tomorrow (5 PM Eastern US, 2 PM Western US) so that I can use my gym time as a final planning session before writing begins.
>>No. 29309
[x] In a band with that cute bird from the eel cart.

The comment about apprentices makes sense to me, so that tipped my indecision.
>>No. 29312
“Oh, I remember that name.”

The Prince’s eyebrows raise as you continue. “She’s one of the less troublesome residents of that temple, by far. Never attacks anyone, very polite, doesn’t make a nuisance of herself with loud ‘punk rock’ or whatever you call that atrocious noise that yamabiko of their likes making with the eel cart girl. Probably pretty pure of heart, the way she rides around on clouds.”

“You don’t say.”

“Well, yeah, didn’t you ever rea- no, never mind, I doubt there was a terribly large amount of classical Chinese literature floating around in the courts of Japan back then.”

Taishi steeples her hands together. “While we’re on the subject of the banquet’s seating arrangements, show me if you’ve been learning much about statesmanship. What do you make of this seating arrangement?”

After a moment of thinking, you have answers. “You being placed across from their head nun was obvious; leadership is placed against leadership. Captain Drown-‘em’-all is across from your wife because someone wasn’t paying attention to personalities and thought it would be a good idea to just match up the two ghosts. Likewise for Futo and the little sweeper, except replace ‘the ghosts’ with ‘the small loud ones’. Another bit of bad logic - about masters and servants, this time - leads to the zombie and the mouse, as well as the deity and the necromancer.”

Or, to put it more simply,, you add to yourself, the tiger and the harlot.

“And your own placement…?”

“Either someone drawing a tenuous connection over being disciples of the leaders, or simple laziness and putting the leftovers together.”

She stares at you for a long, drawn-out moment – and starts laughing.

Wait, what?

“I can’t believe I overthought it so badly!” Miko wipes a tear from the corner of her eye. “All that time I spent trying to understand the politics of it – the kind of reasoning that sets up half of the seating to sow discontent, and the other half to stifle it – but it never occurred to me that it would all just be so… stupid.”

You’re really starting to get used to things just not occurring to her. Those fourteen hundred years of not being alive seem to have represented quite a lot of change. This one, though, is still new and mildly disturbing to hear. If she assumes malice and politicking where incompetence is a good enough explanation, what the hell does she think of it when you have difficulties with a lesson…?

She sighs and waves you off, plainly irritated with herself. You’re fine with this; you wanted time to go prepare for this oversized dinner party anyways.

Kumoi Ichirin, huh? She should probably be reasonably easy to deal with, given that she’s quite reasonable. That, and you once met her over bowls of old man Murata’s noodles.

Come to think of it, you’ve met a lot of youkai over those noodles.

Taishi is going to want you to make the best of the banquet, though. You think when the event rolls around, you’ll…

[]…Demonstrate the restraint of a Taoist, being polite and calm, but not interfering with events.
[]…Display the cunning of the royal clan, subtly needling the Buddhist opposition into being the first ones to anger.
[]…Show the wisdom of a ruler, working to keep conflicts from boiling over.
[]…Catch up with a fellow fan of good food. A delicious meal is a work of art, don’t you agree?
>>No. 29313
[]…Show the wisdom of a ruler, working to keep conflicts from boiling over.
[]…Catch up with a fellow fan of good food. A delicious meal is a work of art, don’t you agree?

Why not both?
>>No. 29314
[x]…Show the wisdom of a ruler, working to keep conflicts from boiling over.
>>No. 29315
[x]…Catch up with a fellow fan of good food. A delicious meal is a work of art, don’t you agree?
Man I should have changed my vote. Of course it makes sense we're not going to be seated opposite Byakuren, but it just didn't occur to me.
>>No. 29316
[x]…Show the wisdom of a ruler, working to keep conflicts from boiling over.
[x]…Catch up with a fellow fan of good food. A delicious meal is a work of art, don’t you agree?

I think Miko would agree with this as her general manner in SoPM was very peaceable and easy going, basically going with the flow of things.
>>No. 29317
>>29312
[]…Show the wisdom of a ruler, working to keep conflicts from boiling over.
[]…Catch up with a fellow fan of good food. A delicious meal is a work of art, don’t you agree?
>>No. 29318
[X]…Show the wisdom of a ruler, working to keep conflicts from boiling over. 
[X]…Catch up with a fellow fan of good food. A delicious meal is a work of art, don’t you agree?
>>No. 29319
[X]…Show the wisdom of a ruler, working to keep conflicts from boiling over.
[X]…Catch up with a fellow fan of good food. A delicious meal is a work of art, don’t you agree?

This sounds like a good idea to me.
>>No. 29320
[x]…Show the wisdom of a ruler, working to keep conflicts from boiling over.
[x]…Catch up with a fellow fan of good food. A delicious meal is a work of art, don’t you agree?
>>No. 29321
[x]…Catch up with a fellow fan of good food. A delicious meal is a work of art, don’t you agree?

Yesss! A story based with the Taoists!
>>No. 29322
[x]…Show the wisdom of a ruler, working to keep conflicts from boiling over.
[x]…Catch up with a fellow fan of good food. A delicious meal is a work of art, don’t you agree?

... This is still going to end in blood and tears, I'm sure.
>>No. 29323
>>29322
maybe but the goal is to at least make it so that the Buddhists are the agressors if not generally come off as more composed than then.

That being said, there's nothing ruling out being friendly with Ichirin.
>>No. 29324
[x]…Show the wisdom of a ruler, working to keep conflicts from boiling over.
[x]…Catch up with a fellow fan of good food. A delicious meal is a work of art, don’t you agree?
>>No. 29325
So, since my last update (on Wednesday)...

-Thursday, I god distracted like an ass and didn't get as much written as I wanted.
-Friday, I got dragged out to a rather disappointing comedy club by my folks during what was supposed to be my writing time.
-Saturday, I had to go to bed extremely early so I could wake up extremely early today (Sunday) for the stepdad's business road trip.
-Sunday (today) is the road trip itself, which will involve six hours of road time IN EACH DIRECTION plus however long it takes to get that old car he's buying extracted from being sunk partway into the mud in its owner's lot.

So... yeah. The fact you haven't seen an update since then is my fault, but the fact you haven't seen more than one is not.
>>No. 29328
“-For our Prince, of course, in his wisdom-”

The travel is always the worst part of going anywhere, when the group is all together. If it’s not Tojiko being grouchy, it’s Seiga needling at people, and if it’s not Seiga trying to get a rise out of you (and it’s always you), it’s her zombie nibbling on something too strange to ignore, and if it isn’t Yoshika having a snack, it’s-

“-And thusly, the matter was laid to rest. Cease ignoring my recounting, varlet!”

-the feng shui specialist ranting on and on about things that happened well over a millennium before you were even a twinkle in your parents’ eyes.

“That ‘recounting’ of yours is the same as the one you brought up last night at the gates.” You pause, adjusting the collar of the odd shirt you were provided for the event – a foreign design of some sort, one side white and the other side a gold-brown shade decorated by trigrams, with rounded buttons fixing it together in a straight line down the center – before adding, “Except that you seem to have given the man with the second grievance a different name this time.”

Futo responds with a brief look of self-disappointment.

It would be nice if that were the end of it, but of course the trip wasn’t going to be that easy; before you reach the banquet, you actually managed to go almost all the way down the laundry list of annoying things. Fortunately, Seiga was being less of a gigantic pain than usual, and Yoshika’s choice of nibbles was actually somewhat normal. There are some mushrooms around that people can eat safely, at least.

********

So much noise.

The other tables are practically riots. Outbursts of shouting repeatedly fill the air. Gensokyo’s one known oni managed to coax up another oni from the underground, and the two of them are literally pouring sake down the throats of several kappa. Behind you, a small blonde youkai is engaged in a tug-of-war with the notorious Kirisame Marisa, both trying to wrest control of a haunch of meat far too large for either of them to complete alone. Two tengu have stood from their places at the feast tables and begun a rather disappointing manzai routine.

At your table, however, no such chaos exists.

Tojiko crackles gently, but doesn’t seem to be directing any of it at Captain Murasa. Seiga is diagonally trading jovial barbs with that rude mouse. Yoshika and the tiger are contentedly chewing through their food, Futo seems to be getting along swimmingly with the little green-headed puppy, and as for the Prince…

“Such a chaotic place, isn’t it?”

“Indeed. Perhaps we should have our discussions in a less crowded venue, next time.”

…Well, it seems that religious leaders are exceptionally talented at avoiding the appearance of aggression.

You feel ripped off, almost. You were expecting a chance to show off your improved skills at mediation, quiet disagreements, stop brawls from erupting. Instead, you’re stuck in the calm eye of a storm of lunacy.

“These noodles,” you declare, “Are notably overcooked. The texture really suffers.”

Across the table from you, one Kumoi Ichirin nods in response. “A shame. The rest of the dish was so artfully done.”

You can’t disagree with that in the slightest. In this instance, at least, your opinion is fully in line with that of your fellow lonely gourmet.

The great dinner continues, and new dishes arrive. You disinterestedly point your chopsticks at a great dish of tofu and peppers, then across the table – an obvious signal of you first.

Ichirin moves a few bites of the dish onto her plate, moves one to her mouth… and damn near spits it out. Her face reddens horribly, and she exhales with that specific harsh sound that you only ever hear when someone has consumed something altogether too spicy for their health. In an instant, every drop of water in her cup vanishes down her throat.

It looks like she still needs a lot to drink… but most of what’s left in the hall is liquor, and you know full well that she’s under an oath of temperance.

[]Offer her your water. You’ll just have to be careful how much you drink from here on out.
[]Try to finagle your way into getting some of the remaining fresh water. Most of the other partygoers are getting smashed anyways; they won’t miss it.
[]Hoard your precious water to yourself. Water is life. LIFE!
[]Ignore her problems and hope they go away.
>>No. 29329
[X]Offer her your water. You’ll just have to be careful how much you drink from here on out.

Hm. This is hard. On one hand, it's the nice thing to do, but on the other, water isn't really all that good at actually cooling a mouth down. Might as well
>>No. 29330
[]Offer her your water. You’ll just have to be careful how much you drink from here on out.
-[ ]Obtain something sweet for your self
--[ ]Or alcohol. That works too.
>>No. 29331
>>29328
[X]Offer her your water. You’ll just have to be careful how much you drink from here on out.
>>No. 29332
[x] Try to finagle your way into getting some of the remaining fresh water. Most of the other partygoers are getting smashed anyways; they won’t miss it.

A nice thing to do and likely to lead to wacky hijinx.
>>No. 29333
[x] Try to finagle your way into getting some of the remaining fresh water. Most of the other partygoers are getting smashed anyways; they won’t miss it.

Honestly some milk would do some good for the spiciness. That or some bread.
>>No. 29334
[x] Plain water doesn't actually help with spicy foods, it just spreads it around and makes everything worse. Offer her some buttered bread, or mix a teaspoon or two of sugar into the water before handing it to her.
>>No. 29335
>>29334
[x] This.

There's probably neither bread nor milk to be had, but the overcooked noodles will probably do nicely. Or some bean sprouts. Or the tofu it came with, in a pinch.
>>No. 29336
[x] >>29334
>>No. 29337
[x] Plain water doesn't actually help with spicy foods, it just spreads it around and makes everything worse. Offer her some buttered bread, or mix a teaspoon or two of sugar into the water before handing it to her
>>No. 29338
[x] Plain water doesn't actually help with spicy foods, it just spreads it around and makes everything worse. Offer her some buttered bread, or mix a teaspoon or two of sugar into the water before handing it to her.


Because nothing sucks more than drinking water in a panic because the food is too spicy, only to realize that it only gets worse.
>>No. 29339
>>29278
A bit late, but Tumblr would be my guess

[X]Offer her your water because the spirit of the vote was to choose between making a sacrifice that will complicate the following updates but improve your reputation or taking the prudent way out of this issue, with varying amounts of disdain.
>>No. 29340
[x] Plain water doesn't actually help with spicy foods, it just spreads it around and makes everything worse. Offer her some buttered bread, or mix a teaspoon or two of sugar into the water before handing it to her.
>>No. 29341
>>29339
Actually, that one was Reddit. Thank you all for not choosing it, and thus not forcing me to dive into that cesspool long enough to remember what it looks like.
>>No. 29342
[X]Offer her your water. You’ll just have to be careful how much you drink from here on out.
>>No. 29343
[x] Plain water doesn't actually help with spicy foods, it just spreads it around and makes everything worse. Offer her some buttered bread, or mix a teaspoon or two of sugar into the water before handing it to her.
>>No. 29345
[x] Plain water doesn't actually help with spicy foods, it just spreads it around and makes everything worse. Offer her some buttered bread, or mix a teaspoon or two of sugar into the water before handing it to her.

A better way of counteracting spicy food.
>>No. 29347
Ichirin exhales loudly into a cupped hand, casting her eyes about in a panic. That stuff must really burn.

“Hold on a second,” you tell her. “I think I have an answer for this.”

A quick search of your pockets reveals that, no damn it all, you entirely forgot to bring that little frame with the permanent entryway to Senkai’s spice rack. This could be trouble.

You clear your throat loudly, twisting yourself backwards to address the table behind you. “Excuse me,” you announce. “If anyone here happens to have any sugar on them, I need to borrow a pinch.”

”EEEEEEEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYYYYY.”

And look at that, it’s the used-to-be-only oni in Gensokyo, suddenly standing right there in my face she didn’t even move what the fuck. “So I hear you want me to give you some sugar? Eh? Eh?”

“Gah! Don’t nudge me like that!” It feels like her elbow is hitting your side with the force of a waterfall. “And I meant literal sugar! Like vampires put in their tea!”

“Killjoy. Fine, hold on a sec.” The miniature oni opens one hand, palm up, and cackles gleefully as small white particles stream into a small revolving cloud above the surface. A few tables over, you hear a perfectly elegant hiss of anger.

“Thank you kindly.” You don’t have time to worry about angered maids right now; the sugar goes into your cup, and the spare set of chopsticks you hadn’t used yet goes in there as a stirrer, and your arm goes across the table. “Here, try this.”

You have never seen anyone down a glass of water so swiftly.

Ichirin lets out one last grand wheezing exhalation, her eyes watering, before nodding her thanks to you. Still not wanting to speak, she points her chopsticks to a small, oddly-colored pepper sitting atop the offending dish, then fiercely shakes her head while drawing the sticks through the air in front of her neck.

“I’ll take your word for it. That color does look a bit suspicious.”

With the crisis resolved, you begin loading your plate, taking special care to avoid those odd little peppers your dinner companion pointed out to you. It would be a shame to miss out on the dish just because of one bit that you need to avoid biting into-

”Excuse me.” You feel a chill creep up the back of your neck, and – yes, this could be trouble. The chief maid of the Scarlet Devil Mansion is hovering behind you, tapping the flat of a knife on Suika’s head. “Lady Remilia Scarlet wishes a word with you.”

“Ahh, heck with that brat of a bat!” Suika cheerfully ignores the rather blatant threat of violence against her person, grinning ear to ear. “I did you a favor, so now you have to come over an’ drink!”


[]“I’m curious now. What does the lady by the lake want with a humble blacksmith’s son?”
[]”Guess I should return a favor owed.”
[]”Unfortunately, you caught me just as I was getting ready for the next course.”
>>No. 29348
[x]”Guess I should return a favor owed.”
HA HA TIME FOR ONI SHENANIGANS
>>No. 29349
[x] To Sakuya: "Please inform the Lady Scarlet that the settling of a debt to Miss Ibuki currently takes precedence, and that I would be happy to meet with her in ... oh, twenty minutes or so? And also that by then I will probably be drunk as fuck. Perhaps drunker."
- [x] To Suika, gesturing at your plate: "This looks delicious. Either you come here, or I bring my plate with. Your call."
>>No. 29350
[x]”Guess I should return a favor owed.”
>>No. 29351
[x] "I’m curious now. What does the lady by the lake want with a humble blacksmith’s son?”

Given that we aim to become immortal, it's not wise to snub the immortal vampiric head of a faction. Suika's no pushover, but she's not the type to take it seriously for long, if at all. Plus the shrine maiden keeps her in line, at least for the foreseeable future. Plus we could get drunk with her while meeting with Remilia anyway, but trying to be clever got us into the whole mess to begin with.
>>No. 29352
[x] "I’m curious now. What does the lady by the lake want with a humble blacksmith’s son?”
>>No. 29353
[x] "I’m curious now. What does the lady by the lake want with a humble blacksmith’s son?”

Might as well see what she wants.
>>No. 29355
[X]>>29349
THIS.
>>No. 29356
[X] To Sakuya: “Please inform the Lady Scarlet that the settling of a debt to Miss Ibuki currently takes precedence, and that I would be happy to meet with her in ... oh, twenty minutes or so? And also that by then I will probably be drunk as fuck. Perhaps drunker.”
-[X] To Suika, gesturing at your plate: “This looks delicious. Either you come here, or I bring my plate with. Your call.”
>>No. 29357
[x] "I’m curious now. What does the lady by the lake want with a humble blacksmith’s son?”
-[x] "To Suika: I'm afraid that I'm here under orders so I'm not in liberty to leave as I please. But I'll take up for it another day: I don't forget favors"

I like this MC.
>>No. 29358
[x] "I’m curious now. What does the lady by the lake want with a humble blacksmith’s son?”


Well, considering we just said "like vampires put in their tea" and Suika manipulated density so that the density of sugar somewhere else was lowered while increasing it over here I imagine someone's cup of tea might have gotten affected.
>>No. 29359
[X] To Sakuya: “Please inform the Lady Scarlet that the settling of a debt to Miss Ibuki currently takes precedence, and that I would be happy to meet with her in ... oh, twenty minutes or so? And also that by then I will probably be drunk as fuck. Perhaps drunker.”
-[X] To Suika, gesturing at your plate: “This looks delicious. Either you come here, or I bring my plate with. Your call.”

We're probably doomed no matter what option we pick. Might as well go all out.
>>No. 29360
[X] To Sakuya: “Please inform the Lady Scarlet that the settling of a debt to Miss Ibuki currently takes precedence, and that I would be happy to meet with her in ... oh, twenty minutes or so? And also that by then I will probably be drunk as fuck. Perhaps drunker.”
-[X] To Suika, gesturing at your plate: “This looks delicious. Either you come here, or I bring my plate with. Your call.”
>>No. 29361
[x] "I’m curious now. What does the lady by the lake want with a humble blacksmith’s son?”
-[x] "To Suika: I'm afraid that I'm here under orders so I'm not in liberty to leave as I please. But I'll take up for it another day: I don't forget favors"
>>No. 29362
[x] "I’m curious now. What does the lady by the lake want with a humble blacksmith’s son?”
-[x] "To Suika: I'm afraid that I'm here under orders so I'm not in liberty to leave as I please. But I'll take up for it another day: I don't forget favors"

Partying with Suika is more of an 'all day' thing anyway. That and she might actually appreciate it if he gave her an excuse to throw another party.
>>No. 29363
[x] "I’m curious now. What does the lady by the lake want with a humble blacksmith’s son?”
-[x] "To Suika: I'm afraid that I'm here under orders so I'm not in liberty to leave as I please. But I'll take up for it another day: I don't forget favors"
>>No. 29364
Poor Ichirin getting overshadowed again.
>>No. 29365
[X] To Sakuya: “Please inform the Lady Scarlet that the settling of a debt to Miss Ibuki currently takes precedence, and that I would be happy to meet with her in ... oh, twenty minutes or so? And also that by then I will probably be drunk as fuck. Perhaps drunker.”
-[X] To Suika, gesturing at your plate: “This looks delicious. Either you come here, or I bring my plate with. Your call.”
>>No. 29367
x] "I’m curious now. What does the lady by the lake want with a humble blacksmith’s son?”
-[x] "To Suika: I'm afraid that I'm here under orders so I'm not in liberty to leave as I please. But I'll take up for it another day: I don't forget favors"
>>No. 29368
I have a question: did you mean to outright overshadow Ichirin with Suika and Sakuya? I ask as they sort of came out of nowhere. They weren't exactly well hinted at (as it seems it'd be just the taoists and the buddhists)
>>No. 29370
[x] "I’m curious now. What does the lady by the lake want with a humble blacksmith’s son?”
-[x] "To Suika: I'm afraid that I'm here under orders so I'm not in liberty to leave as I please. But I'll take up for it another day: I don't forget favors"
>>No. 29378
Is this story dead?
>>No. 29379
>>29378
It seems that way.
I blame >>29368's whining.
>>No. 29380
>>29379
>whining
That's actually a legit question, man, and one I happen to agree with. We voted for a good plan to help Ichirin, and suddenly we get 'ONI OR VAMPIRE CHOOSE WISELY or you can be rude to both I guess'.
>>No. 29394
Man it's a shame that this is how this story ends. Premise was interesting too.
>>No. 29420
So, I feel like I should do some 'splainin' here.

This is NOT dropped like CFTG was. However, I am currently taking a mandatory writing class in college, and as such, I don't have mental juices to spare.

I fully intend on picking this up again once I don't need to reserve my words for college any more. Unless another depression wave hits, because that kind of shit is only good for getting unjustifiably high numbers of votes in the annual short contest.
>>No. 29422
>>29420
ETA?
>>No. 29423
>>29422
Semester ends in mid-May, so probably around then.
>>No. 29434
It's finals week. Expect update by Wednesday.
>>No. 29445
"I can have this done quickly," I said. "One week will do the trick," I said.

Not when I vastly underestimated how long I would be in Chicago with relatives, I can't.
>>No. 29446
>>29445
understandable with the summer and all.
>>No. 29556
So we dead or what?
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