I stuff my phone away again after checking the clock one last time. The breach is predicted to happen shortly after midnight, so I still have a few minutes. I’m already done preparing for a change, so there’s not much else for me to do other than relax and wait.
I’m ready for whatever it decides to throw at me today.
It’s New Year’s Eve with only a few minutes remaining in the year. Off in the distance I can hear the cheer of people as they enjoy their festival. Their laughter as they play at the booths with their friends and/or companion. A few cries of frustration can be heard as they lose at a game only to try again until they either get it, run out of money, or decide it isn’t worth it.
I’m a little ways off the beaten path between the shrine and the festival. From here I can see each and every person passing through the tunnel of tori. Of course they might see me as well, but it’d be a little harder as I’m concealed by the shadows of the trees and the illumination from the path blocks their view this far into the darkness.
I’ve placed myself in a small patch of trees away from the path to the shrine. It’s part of a small groove of willows which surrounds the shrine grounds. The area where I’m working tonight isn’t too dense; in fact I’m in a pretty open area.
So I can just sit here and browse people. Watch them as they walk past with a smile that says they don’t have a single care in the world. Truly, this is my favorite way to pass time. To see their joy filled expressions is the best kind of pay for my work, because that means I’m doing it right.
By now there’s a steady stream of people going from the festival to the shrine to get a good view of the fireworks. Families, friends, lovers, you name it. All of them happily ignorant of the danger I’m about to face. Exactly the way I want it.
I’m dragged out of my thoughts by the collective shout from the shrine. It appears they’ve begun the countdown already.
I ready my stance and conjure up the formula I’m going to use, and maintain a perfect image of it frozen in my mind.
With a loud cheer a rocket is sent flying high in the sky before disappearing. Less than a second later it explodes with a myriad of colors.
However, that’s not what I’m looking at. No, I’m more interested in the cracks that just appeared in the air. I know how it sounds, but there’s no better way to describe it. It’s like a cracked window, but without the frame, just floating in the air.
And that’s my cue.
I raise my hand to activate the spell I’ve prepared. A barrier immediately surrounds the area and seals it off from the outside, confining me with whatever's going to cross the breach this time.
And just like that, the air shatters. A familiar sensation rushes over me as I’m pulled from the world I know, a hollow and lonely feeling aching throughout my body. A feeling of abandonment, as if the world itself is denying my existence.
But I’m not alone. With me is a youkai with a strong desire to leave the sacred land; an ice-based youkai in the shape of a big porcupine. How fitting of an opponent. Here I am at Inari’s shrine in the middle of winter fighting a blue hiwatari.
Without wasting any time it lowers its body, connecting each of its tails by the tip. The air itself starts to freeze, turning into a sharp crystal made of clear ice. The moment it finishes shaping it, the tails burst apart violently, launching the ice at me with deadly precision.
I turn slightly, letting it pass by. The cold air that trails after it brushes against me, sending shivers down my spine. As it crashes into one of the trees it leaves a fine mist of ice crystals floating in the air. The area where the ice hit has been left with a hole, covered by a thick layer of ice.
That’s bad news. There’s no telling what it’ll do if it hit me. I just have to avoid getting hit then, but that’s easier said than done.
The temperature drops a few degrees as a faint mist starts to surround the beast. The mist collects itself on the spikes, turning each of them into ice similar to the one fired at me. It bristles momentarily before launching a flurry of ice spikes at me through the air
I bring my hand up in front of me forming a basic seal. As I whisper a prayer, I focus my spiritual power to the tip of my fingers. I draw a line through the air with them, leaves behind a glowing trail which immediately spreads, creating a radiant wall of light.
A fine dust of crystals form as the shards of ice crash against my shield. But strong as it may be, it’s not impenetrable, as proven by the shards that manage to make their way through. If I could use my left hand I would be able to stop those as well, but alas, I can’t.
Cold air brushes my neck as a shard flies by. A moment later, I realize what just happened as a biting cold sensation spreads through my body. Distracted, I let another shard slip by, cutting into my shoulder. I flinch in pain as I lose concentration and drop the barrier entirely. A few more shards tear past my thigh, forcing me to the ground. Seeing my weakened stage, it stops the barrage and begins to cautiously make its way towards me. The wounds made by the crystals have frozen over with a thin layer of ice. It’s going to slow my movement a nudge, but it won’t keep me from fighting. Compared to what I’m used to, this bare registers as a flesh wound.
I quickly bring up my hand and bite into it until the taste of metal fill my mouth. I clench my hand before slamming it on the ground. A dim green circle lights up from underneath the snow before a trail shoots along the ground towards the youkai.
As the trail approaches the icy beast, it splits into two, encircling and trapping it. The faint jolt passing through my arm signifies the completion of the preparations, and I initiate the spell. I start pouring in spiritual power while mentally reciting the formula.
As quick as it came, the light disappears. In its place a wall of jade-colored fire appears, surrounding the beast.
I can’t help but smirk as I stagger to my feet. It was a rough start, but I have more than a few cards up my sleeve. Just because I have next to no mana doesn’t mean I can’t use spells of my own.
The beast looks afraid of the fire surrounding it, furiously swinging its body in hopes of finding a small opening.
A familiar noise drags both our attention towards a rift in the larger barrier I created, one that quickly grows and spreads throughout its entirety. Quickly looking back at the beast, I see that it’s covered in cracks similar to those of the rifts. The repair is done. We’re being sent back. I won.
In a last stand, the icy youkai ignores the flames and charges head first. By reflex I assume a defensive stance. It leaps, and just as it’s about to hit me, it shatters. Along with it, the barrier collapses and everything fades to black.
After a moment, the surroundings fade back in. The pressure of rejection lightens, allowing me to relax again.
I let out a sigh and collect my thoughts again. Checking my phone reveals that nearly half an hour has past. To me it felt like nothing more than two minutes at most. Well, the barrier behaves weirdly, so it’s not really surprising. This just means that I spent yet another New Year’s battling it out.
The good news is that this was the last breach for now, so I can return home again. Bad news is that Doc is going to tear me a new one for getting injured by a small fry.
“I think it came from over here.”
“Are you sure you didn’t just imagine it? I didn’t hear anything.”
“I’m sure I heard something from over here somewhere.”
Shit. Don’t tell me they heard the barrier. No, that’d be impossible. Calm down. It probably wasn’t me they heard. If I just stay here they’ll pass by. You can’t see this place from the main road after all.
But of course fate is out to prove me wrong. Two girls catch sight of me. Both freeze for a moment, trying to understand the sight before them. Given my state, I guess it really isn’t that strange.
“Holy shit, are you alright? What happened?” The red haired girl runs up to me.
The blonde girl with twin tails follows right behind. She doesn’t say anything though, just keeps her distance as she eyes me carefully.
“It doesn’t concern you.” I turn away from her, scouting for my bag. It’s still near the rock I rested on before the fight; seems like it didn’t get dragged in this time.
“Professor, I don’t think we should get involved with him. I have a bad feeling,” her blonde friend speaks her mind.
“What are you talking about, Chiyuri? You should always help someone when you see them in trouble,” the ‘professor’ says. Though, to me she doesn’t look like much of a professor. Maybe it’s because of her young appearance, or maybe the fact her yukata doesn’t exactly scream ‘esteemed person’.
“You should listen to your friend.” I cut her off before she gets to correct this ‘professor’. “You shouldn’t get involved, so just leave and forget you saw anything.” Just as I start making my way over to my bag, my legs decide to remind me of the wounds I earned by giving in and forcing me down.
“See, you can’t even walk by yourself.” She places her hands on her hips, taking a pose of confidence. “You should just accept the help of two pretty girls when they offer it.”
What kind of reason is that? Just accept the help of someone because they’re pretty? That just sounds like an excuse a back-alley brothel would use to reel in foreigners. Could it be she’s trying to rob me? The only valuables I carry would be a debit card and phone, both easily replaceable.
This girl is not about to give up, despite her friend’s clear protests. The way I see it I have two options: waste energy trying to convince her to leave me be, or go along with her and disappear when she’s not looking.
I let out a sigh as I once again stagger to my feet, hearing the obvious protest my by legs. “Sure, I’ll play along for now. Just tell me one thing. Why?”
“Why?” She shoots a quick glance over her right shoulder before she turns to face me. “Let’s call it the kindness of my heart. It is New Year’s after all. We should spread joy wherever we can.”
Yep, going along would be the right choice. With an answer like that I know she wouldn’t have given up easily.
===== "Professor’s" apartment – 00:40 =====
“There, as good as new.” She says as she packs up her first aid kit and leaves, leaving me alone with her blonde friend.
I let my hand run over the band aid. It’s been a long time since I last had one of these stuck on me. It’s never been deemed necessary. Well it still isn’t, she’s just over reacting a bit.
“Is she always like that?” The girl nearly flinches at my sudden question.
“What’s it to you,” she snaps back.
“Alright, alright, sorry I asked.” I raise my hand to calm her, which seems to work as she just sinks into the chair she’s using.
Now that I actually take a look, this room is decorated more like a house than an apartment. I’d expect it to be more compact, but it’s quite spacious here. It makes me think of a western style, although I’ve never seen one in person.
“How long are you going to stay?” She doesn’t bother to look at me as she asks.
Returning the favor from before I answer with a “What’s it to you?”
She locks her eyes on me. “The fact you’re staying at my friend’s home. The fact I don’t trust you. The fact I want you gone as soon as possible.” If I didn’t plan on leaving as soon as possible anyway, I might have felt slightly insulted by that.
“Fair enough, I guess.” I shrug. “I’ll leave as soon as I can feel every inch of my legs again.”
“You seem to be able to walk fine as is, why delay any longer?”
“If I tried to leave now, your friend would likely come through the door and ‘convince’ me to stay.” I rest my head on my healthy hand. “Even if I’d already made it out of the door, she’d come and get me.”
The blue eyed girl sits up straight, giving me her full attention. “And how can you be so sure of that?”
“I’m quite good at reading people, you see.” I let a smirk crawl onto my face “Like for instance, I sense quite the hatred coming from you, and aimed at me."
“Oh really?” She smirks back at me. “What makes you say that?”
The red haired girl walks back into the room and stands behind her friend. “Now, now, Chiyuri, don’t be so harsh on him.” She’s changed her clothes to something more relaxed; grey baggy pants and a black t-shirt with some English nonsense written on it. It gives off a kind of makeshift pajamas feeling, if I’m to be honest.
‘Chiyuri’ stands up in protest. “But Yumemi, he-“
“-has done nothing wrong.” She cuts off her friend.
For a few moments she just stands there staring at the red haired girl. “Well, fine. I’m going to sleep then,” she says before marching off to another room.
“I hope she wasn’t too harsh on you.” She takes the seat that’s now been freed up.
“I’ve been treated worse before.” I tell her. “But to change the topic, I still haven’t heard your name.”
“Ah, sorry, it seems I got too caught up in the moment. My name is Okazaki Yumemi but feel free to call me Yumemi, I don’t really care for the formalities.” She gives me a friendly smile. “She’s Kitashirakawa Chiyuri.”
“That’s Kitashirakawa for you, you got that?” The small girl yells from her room. “Kita-shira-kawa.”
“I thought you were sleeping.” I reply.
“I am,” her yell is followed by a solid ‘thud’ sound before falling silent.
Yumemi just lets out a sigh, to which I follow suit. “Anyway, the two of you may call me Konoha.”
“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” She gives me another smile. “Anyway, you should probably get some rest. I hope you’re okay with using the couch.”
“You’re probably right.” I lean back into said couch. “Traveling home will take most of the day tomorrow.”
“Traveling? Oh no, I’m going to take you to the hospital tomorrow.” She picks up on my confused gaze and continues. “It’s, um, well, your arm.” She scratches her cheek as she tries to avoid looking directly at it. Quite obviously so, in fact.
“Oh, that. Don’t worry about it.” I drag my left arm out from the shirt. “It’s been like this for a few months already. It’s nothing new.”
“I- I see. That’s, um, good?” She hurriedly waves her hands in front of her. “No, I mean that’s fine. If you say it is fine, then I’ll trust you.”
Without anything left to say, I just sit there waiting for her to continue. Although it appears she’s run out of things to say as well. After a few seconds she opts to go get a blanket for me before heading to the same room as Kitashirakawa.
I close my eyes and rest.
===== Okazaki’s apartment, Kyoto – Jan 1, 04:45 =====
While I didn’t get to rest for more than a couple of hours, my legs have healed enough for me to walk without a problem. The lesser wounds like the one on my cheek are almost completely gone already.
The two girls are sound asleep in the next room. I didn’t even need to bother with checking as their snoring told me more than I needed to know.
Right, so I would hate to just leave them like this, considering the kindness they showed me. Or what the red-haired girl, Yumemi I think it was, showed me. If I leave a note telling them I’ll be back to repay them, I’ll at least feel a little better.
With a quick scan of the room I find some paper laying the table. Some of them are filled with text; others are filled with scribbles and calculations. Though, the way it’s arranged strikes me as odd. Perhaps it’s just because they’re personal notes of some kind, but even so they should be organized in some form. I mean a bit of text written in a circle with a little doodle in between every so often doesn’t seem like the best way to make notes. The doodles are neat, though, I’ll give them that; simple yet elegant. They kind of remind me of runes; runes which are used in spell circles.
I look over the notes again.
It’s a stupid idea, but there’s no harm in trying. If I look at this as if it was a spell, then I’d connect these points here, they look awfully alike. The lines match up with a smaller circle in the middle of the ring of text. That’s a coincidence, surely. A thinner line seems to run on a skewed axis through the inner circle; it stops shortly before it reaches the text. If I draw a circle there, I should draw one on the other side of the text with the same distance.
A generic fire ignition spell; a rather simple one at that. Although the construction was weird. Normally you’d start with a circle to use as a base then add on from that, that’s common sense even if you don’t know anything about magic. And these marks were placed too accurate. I refuse to accept that as a coincidence. So why? Are they picking it apart? That’d make sense. If they started with the entire structure, and then dismantled it piece by piece it’s likely they’d end up with something that’d resemble what I see here on paper.
And I guess they used that as the blue print for this other spell circle; although I somehow doubt it is one. It’s different. The runes have been replaced by another language, foreign with roman letters. The overall shape looks more edgy as well. There’s something written in the corner of the paper, it’s been boxed in so it looks like a note or a memo.
During our escalated visit to Gensokyo in search of valid subjects for experiment ##### we were forced to field test the spell. It proved a success, although the cost of the spell increased during the fight, compared to the resources used in the lab. It’d be easier if we could tap into this ‘mana’ that’s always mentioned, but alas. We’ll need to look into a cheaper fuel for the magic in the near future, my salary won’t cut it at this rate.
Fuck. These girls aren’t normal.
They don’t just know of magic; they have developed a new type of magic. Although it's amazing, and perhaps even a little scary, it would have been something I'd have ignored, if not for what they said about Gensokyo. By the looks of it, they’ve been there. I’m not sure if they attacked, or was attacked, but I do know that they fought.
I’m coming back here, that’s for sure. These girls are now my business. But for now I should return home. I have other things to take care of.
===== Hakurei Shrine – Jan 1, 20:35 =====
It took most of the day, but I made it back to the shrine in one piece. Quite a feat considering the entire mountain has been covered in snow since I left. I’ll need to get sweeping again soon; doesn’t seem like anyone else bothered to do it when I was gone. But not now; right now I should go see Doc and get my wounds looked at.
I slide open the door to the shrine’s main room and am immediately greeted by a new face; a female youkai fox with a golden coat and matching eyes. By the number of tails, it’s safe to assume she’s old.
I greet her with a polite bow. “I apologize for my appearance, I just came back. I’ll be able to attend to you shortly, so please make yourself at home while you wait.”
“No, no, there’s no need. The head priest is just looking into some things right now.” She pats the kotatsu a few times. “Won’t you join me for some conversation? I think it could take a while before he returns.”
I really should go see Doc. But it’s not like my wounds will get any worse because of a few minutes of conversation.
I place my bag beside the door before taking a seat. “Of course, Miss…”
“Yakumo,” she tells me, “Yakumo Ran. It’s written as Eight Clouds, and Ran is written with the same character as the color indigo. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance young Hakurei.” She gives me a small bow over the table.
“The pleasure is all mine.” I lean back into my chair. “It appears you already know my name, so let me introduce myself on by first name. I’m called Ryuko, spelled with characters for Dragon and Child.”
“Such a fierce name,” she comments with a slight smile in the eye. “Anyway, can I assume you’re the only one working here; besides the head priest of course?”
“Technically speaking yes; I’m the only other priest of this shrine. However we also have two others living here to help us do our job properly.”
“I see.” She nods. “I can imagine how much work there must be for you folks. So what about the head priest? He doesn’t look the kind for this type of work; how’s he holding up?”
“Jun? Well, he has different work than I do.” I rest my head in my hand. “I’m not really sure of exactly what it is he’s doing, but whatever it is, it’s keeping him busy,” I lie. I know plenty about his work; I’m just not sure how much I’m allowed to talk about.
“I see, I see.” She nods again. “Then perhaps you can tell me what it is you’re-” her ears twitch. “Looks like that won’t be necessary. The head priest is on his way back it seems.” She gives me another bow. “Thank you for talking with me, although it was only for a brief time.”
“You’re very welcome, Miss Yakumo.” I return her bow. “I hope that whatever matter you came here for will be resolved easily.” I wish her luck as I close the door to the room.
The clinic is right next to the shrine so it’s just a short walk away. On the way I notice one of the local villagers exit the building. She notices me approaching and waves with a huge smile on.
“It doesn’t look like you’re quite done yet, Akame. Someone else is on their way,” she yells through the door. “It’s good to see you back in one piece, kid, but I gotta go.” She pats my shoulder as she moves past me.
With a sigh another person steps out of the door. He gives my body a quick look over before just turning around and walks back in. I follow suit and just take a seat at my usual spot.
“Do I want to know why you’re all tattered?” he simply asks as he prepares a syringe.
“A three tailed nekomata managed to out speed my predictions; it took the seal by the way, so we’ll have to replace it.”
“If it took the seal, the healing effect should have lasted the rest of the fight,” he comments, “you must have faced some more.”
“I encountered a frost hiwatari. It overwhelmed my defense with quantity.” I pull up my sleeve so he can clean the area where the needle is going.
“Hiwatari are generally considered weak. You shouldn’t have much trouble with them.” He injects the medicine and I lie down.
It takes a moment before it takes effect. I feel my muscles tense up as it spreads up through my arm and out through the rest of my body. After a few seconds all energy leaves me and a feeling of exhaustion flows over me.
“I still can’t use my left arm.” I tell him as the immediate effect wears off. “I have trained to use each arm equally efficient, but it just feels unnatural to not be able to use my left at all.”
He holds his hands over my torso and a dim blue light begins to shine from my flesh. “Still can’t use it? It’s been three months already; Jun said it wouldn’t be more than a month.” As the wounds start to close he moves his hands over other areas. “And at that point it would be counterproductive to cancel the ritual.” He lifts his hands as the last wound is closed. “There, that should do the trick.”
He doesn’t give me a chance to get up as he pins me down by my shoulders. “Don’t thank me,” he says as he crashes his hard skull into mine. His strong grip prevents me from recoiling even slightly. “Now, let me repeat myself once again. Do not rely on my magic to heal you.” He releases me before he continues.
“I’ve told you countless times already; if you rely on my healing, you’ll eventually reach a point where I can’t do anything for you anymore. I know how it must be to be the only human around for miles, but you still have to remember that you are only human. You have limitations, even if you have pushed them quite far, they’re still there. I can only heal you as long as your body can regenerate. Once it says stop, that’s it, that’s my limit.”
I remain silent.
“I’ll go talk to Jun about your arm.” He gets up and walks over to the door where he stops. “Kohane and I are both against you leaving with that arm. You’re just not fit to fight without it,” he says without turning around, “The only reason we let you go is because you’re the only one who can wander Japan freely; Not like us youkai.” He stands there for a few more seconds before adding, “Rest here until you feel like you can move again, then go straight to bed. Tomorrow will resume as normal.” Then he leaves.
I just lay back and rest.
===== January 12th =====
The day that followed proceeded as normally, just as Doc said it would. I woke up and went through my morning workout. Afterwards I took care for the chores that’d been negated while I was gone such as general cleaning as well as going to the village to get fresh supplies again. The rest of the day went by with me practicing the art of fighting.
The only noteworthy thing was my talk with Jun regarding my arm. He said it was simply going to take some time. While he said that he knew it was about time, he wouldn’t tell me when it was. And as his disciple I chose to accept that; he knows best, after all.
It took only took about a week and a half before we detected new activity which requiring our attention. I was sent out to take care of it once again.
 There’s been some unusual activity regarding the border’s anchor on Tokyo.  An abandoned shrine between Osaka and Kyoto is showing signs of opening a breach soon.  There’s been a recurring breach at Tohno cemetery, and it’s acting up again.
>>29723 Not quite I'm afraid. "Tohno" is how I first read the title of PCB's 2nd stage theme. So no Nanaya, I'm afraid. Just a city with an old legend.
>>29721 I'm assuming that by "task" you refer to the role as a Hakurei priest? I don't really find it that odd if you think about the roles that's in play. Getting familiar with Yukari would fall to the role of the Head Priest. Ryuko on the other hand, while the only other, is 'just' a priest. He does know of her, though. He just doesn't know her. Ran and Chen on the other hand, he has no reason to know of. But granted, as the writer I know things about this story you don't which will change the way I look at it. Your argument may be just as valid as mine.
Welp. Well it was only a delusion. I didn't think I'd make it, it'd just have been neat if I could get two updates out in their same RL dates. That's not gonna be a thing, by the way. It'd mess up the story if I attempted that.
Priest of Hakurei 2Jura!OxyIF4cURI2015/02/09 (Mon) 00:27No. 29733▼
========== Cemetery around Tohno – Jan 12th, 22:05 ==========
A thin layer of snow has formed on the ground.
I take a deep breath and blow warm air into my hand.
Weather like this makes me reconsider whether the extra functionality of these fingerless gloves are worth it. Keeping them free allows me to utilize my techniques and spells with ease. The question is, is it worth freezing my fingers for?
I stare into the night sky, watching the snow slowly descend from the sky. There’s no wind tonight, so the downfall appears to be slower than usual.
I breathe into my hand again, feeling the faint warmth of the mist before it disappears.
I should probably finish up my business here now. At this rate the snow will cover up my charms.
The main anchor of the Iwata prefecture, a tall stone with shimenawa rope tied around it, stands as magnificent as always. Even just being near it, I can feel the raw spiritual energy flowing out of it.
I place my hand on the stone and start to focus. I pour some of my spiritual power onto the cold surface of the rock and it takes the shape of a magic circle. At its core, it is made of a hexagon with each corner connected to every other.
My senses shut down and the world goes dark as I activate the spell. Soon after it lights back up, now entirely perceived through my sixth sense.
The range at which I can now see exceeds that of my normal range, allowing me to perceive more than I ever could on my own. I can see the texture of each snow flake as they fall from the sky, each tassel as they rustle in the weak wind. And of course, I can see the spiritual energy left behind by the beings that have been in the area, including that of the small animals still present.
I trace my hand along the edge of the magic circle. The spiritual energy of the area begins to light up, revealing the trail left behind. I notice the animals moving first; retracing their steps as my perception of time begins to move backwards.
I see people coming to pay their respects. I see a family of squirrels ferrying nuts across the rough pathway.
As I continue to trail back, I eventually reach the previous night. Without finding anything of interest, I continue trailing back even further.
I freeze the spell at three nights back.
A youkai suddenly appears out of thin air. Going this far back distorts the spiritual pattern as most of the energy has left or merged with the surrounding area. However, I can easy recognize youkai from human.
I can’t detect any traces of mana in the air, meaning it couldn’t have appeared because of a spell. Any spell powered by spiritual energy would have made it impossible to identify the youkai due to its explosive nature, so I can safely rule out the possibility.
Any other method for instant transportation I know of would draw the attention of the Watcher in charge of this area.
I can safely assume this is the youkai that caused the border to act up. However I can’t identify it as anything more than a youkai. I’ll need to keep watch over the area and hope to catch it red-handed.
I release the spell and my senses return to normal again.
That’s about as much info as I’m going to get from this.
For now I should retreat and prepare for tomorrow night.
========== Tohno inn – Jan 13th, 12:00 ==========
“What?” I don’t even need to look to know who the intruder is.
“I just needed to confirm something.” I glance back at him. “The fact that you are here tells me all I wanted to know.”
“Yet you’re still in my room.” I put down my pen and turn around to face my blond companion.
“Well now that I’ve confirmed it, I want to propose a trade.” He takes a seat on the floor where he stands; both of his youkai servants do the same.
“I don’t think you have anything I’d want, but I can at least hear you out.”
He puts a confident smile on his face. “It’s about that youkai you’re looking for.”
I raise an eyebrow. “You’ve caught my attention.”
“Each time it appeared I decided to keep track of it just to be on the safe side.” He crosses his arms. “I know what it looks like and how it behaves. I believe this is valuable information to you, am I right?”
I rest my head in my hand. “And what’s your price?”
“I want you to tell me all you know about it.” He makes an offering gesture as he says it.
This proposal puts him at a disadvantage. Surely he realizes my knowledge is limited on the subject; which is likely why he offered to tell me about it in the first place. The only plausible reason for him to even suggest it would be to make me do the work for him. The fact this matter is related to Gensokyo means it’s my responsibility, or rather, my shrine’s. Neither he nor any of the others would meddle with it.
I don’t like him. I might even go as far as to say I hate him. I do, however, respect him for what he does even though I disagree in how he does it.
“Alright, I can agree to that.”
“Great.” He leans forward. “The first thing to know about ‘it’ is that it’s actually ‘them’. So far I’ve seen eight different youkai, all bakeneko. I believe there to be more however.
“Secondly,” He sends a quick look to one of his youkai, who then lays out a map in front of us, “one of them appear at the graveyard, here.” He taps on the map. “It then moves here through the main roads,” he traces the road with his finger, “despite being able to almost get there by going in a straight line through these back alleys.”
He continues. “From there it moved to the hill outside the city,” he points to an X marked outside the city, “before returning to the graveyard where it’d then disappear again. Then a few days later another one would show up and repeat the same route exactly.”
“How long would you say they take on this route on average?” I ask.
“Somewhere between two and three hours, I’d wager, depending on the pace at which they walk.” He answers.
Three hours. They’re able to cross the border twice within such a small timeframe. In theory you’d need to wait over a hundred hours at least before you’d be able to cross back over. The fact they’ve found a way to bypass that is worrying.
Crossing during a breach is easy, which is why I’m here to prevent harmful youkai from crossing over. But passing through without our notice isn’t easy.
“I’ve told my part, now it’s your turn.” He packs the map together and hands it to his servant.
“To be honest, I didn’t know anything when you proposed the deal,” I tell him. “However based on what you’ve told me, I believe it’s an organized group which somehow has found a way to enter and leave Gensokyo at will. It’ll take too long to explain the details, but that’s a near impossible feat.”
“So I take it this is an unusual case?” he asks. “But the question remains, why are they doing this and what are they up to?”
“I can’t say for certain.” I shake my head. “If they just wanted to get out, then they have had plenty of chances already. But according to what you said, they always return back to Gensokyo. My bet would be that they’re scouting, but for what purpose, I can’t fathom. You should leave them alone, though if they turn hostile I’ll accept the responsibility.”
“Then I leave this matter in your hand.” With that he gets up and heads for the window where he came from. “Let’s just hope I won’t need to interfere,” he says before jumping out
For all intents and purposes he is doing what he’s supposed to. Yet, I can’t help but hate his guts. Looking down on humans and treating youkai like pawns.
I know the feeling is mutual as well. The way he speaks, it tells me that he has no intention of being anything but a professional with me.
But that’s a given, I guess. I was raised by youkai, the very beings that caused him despair. We’d never get along even if we wanted to.
Well never mind that. I have other things to think about, namely to prepare charms for tonight. Now that I know I'm dealing with a bakeneko, I can prepare specific countermeasures.
========== Cemetery around Tohno – Jan 13th, 22:20 ==========
The snow crunches under my feet as I make my way towards the anchor point, the enshrined shimenawa stone.
It appears no one has been here today. There are no footprints to be found in the snow. Those from yesterday have been covered by a fresh layer from this morning.
I arrive at the anchor point and drop my bag next to it.
I take a look over the graveyard. The sight of the stalwart headstones covered in snow is actually quite beautiful, as creepy as that might sound. The solemn air of this area mixes well with this sort of weather.
I open my bag and pull out the charms and talismans I made earlier. I also prepared some bottles of water, just to be safe. But that said there’s no saying if one of them will come tonight, or tomorrow night or maybe the one after that. And if I’m lucky I may not even have to fight. Still, better prepare for the worst case.
I should be able to use the surrounding guides for the spell. I’d prefer some more easily defined landmarks, but beggars can’t be choosers.
I place my hand in the snow and concentrate on mentally shaping the magic circle. As I let spiritual power flow through my arm, a faint glow begins to emit from beneath the snow. Within seconds the circle has taken form on the ground.
I shake the cold snow off my hand as I go over the specifics for the spell. It’s a far too complex spell to form solely in the mind, even for someone of my skill.
I start inscribing the actual spell into the framework.
“That’s why I told you, Mary. They just are better.”
I freeze in my tracks.
Voices. Someone is coming.
Staying low I quickly move to the shimenawa stone to hide. It’s both tall and wide enough to hide me no problem; especially so in this darkness.
“Hey, did you see that?”
“I thought I saw something move over there.”
“Don’t say things like that, Renko. It’s not funny.”
“Oh, are you scared?”
Judging by their voices they’re girls, and only two of them. It’s too dark to make out which of them is saying what. It’s difficult to even see them from here. I can easily track them by their spiritual energy, so I know where they are.
The pair continues moving closer to my position.
“Are you sure it’s around here?” the first girl asks.
“Yes. There should be a tall stone around here. It has been used as a landmark by other people looking into this legend. It’s a long shot but it’s worth it.” the second girl answers.
The second girl seems to have a slightly rougher voice, while the first one speaks with a bit of an accent.
“Don’t tell me we went all the way out here just for that old legend.” The first girl complains.
“Of course we did. It could be an important clue. I mean think about it. If anyone can find the way to Mayohiga it’s you with your special eyes.” The other girl replies.
They’re getting close. I can almost make out their appearance.
A sudden jolt of pain jumps through my left arm and I instinctively grab it.
What? What the hell is going on? My arm, it’s been unusable for months, so why would it suddenly?
No, this doesn’t hurt. It’s a different kind of pain. It’s not one I feel often, but I’m sure of it. It’s the part of my spirit that’s in my arm that hurt. Not the arm itself.
“That’s not how they work, and you know it.”
“But we should at least try. I know we’ll get something out of it,” they continue.
I shift my attention back to the two girls. They’re close enough to see by now. One of them has long golden hair and a purple dress. The other has brown hair with black and white clothes.
Another jolt of pain surges through my arm.
Seriously, what’s causing this?
As if to answer my unspoken question, a familiar sounds rings through the air.
A breach?! Now? But we didn’t predict one to appear now. This means it’s one of the youkai. It has to be.
I didn’t have time to finish the spell before these two came along. It’s definitely too late to finish now.
First of all, I should get these girls away. It’s probably going to cost me my chance to confront the youkai, but I can’t afford to get civilians caught up in this again.
I drop my jacket, ignoring the cold as I untie my hair and pull it over my face.
I take a second to adjust my posture to be more sluggish before I walk around the stone. I make a point of going slowly.
“If we end up not finding anything, then I’ll have you treat me the next-” the blonde haired girl stops midsentence.
“What’s the matter, Mary? Cat got your-” she too freezes as she sees me.
I turn to look at them. With the hair covering my eyes, I can’t see anything. I can however make out their moves by reading their spiritual power.
“Smells nice.” I wheeze before I take a step towards them.
I hate doing this. It’s so damn embarrassing.
The blonde girl quickly pulls out a small device which sheds some sparks. A stun-gun? What does she think this is?
I take another step forward.
Both of them take a step backwards.
She waves the stun-gun at me again. I ignore her silent warning and take another step closer. I’ve gone head to head with nightmare fuel. A simple discharger is scaring me.
Their breathing is getting unstable and their spiritual power is starting to radiate faster. They are scared.
I fill my own presence with killing intent. Even normal humans should be able to recognize it.
Just as I’m about to take another step forward, I feel the faint pressure from the breach hit my back. I manage to pick up on the youkai’s spiritual energy before it makes its getaway.
“Get- Get away from us! I’m warning you!” The girl with the stun-gun yells at me.
“Mary,” the brunette takes hole of her friend’s arm, “forget defending, just get ready to run.”
The blonde girl quickly shifts her eyes to her friend before looking back at me.
I let out a single chuckle before I ready myself for a dash.
They’re tensing up. One last push should do it.
I stomp with my front foot and leap towards them.
The girls flinch before they start running into the dark.
In a matter of seconds they’ve left the range at which I can see them.
I have to hand it to them, they run fast.
I walk back to my stuff. I find my ribbon and tie back my hair again. This may be one of the few uses long hair actually has. I whip my jacket to get the snow off it before putting it back on.
It might still not be too late with the youkai. I don’t need a spell to see the trail of something that was here less than five minutes ago. But I don’t know if I can catch up with a cat. Still it’s worth a try.
I pick up the rest of my stuff and walk to where the breach happened. It appears to have been a short one. It’s already closed up again. Maybe it’d be worth it to just follow it for the chance of finding out how it returns over the border. That is, if I can catch up to it.
I close my eyes and focus on my spiritual sense.
Yes, I can still sense it.
I start going after it with quick steps.
I find it sitting on top of the hill staring towards the moon.
I put my hand into my pocket, slipping on the bracelet I prepared as a charm earlier today before I make my way towards the twin tailed cat. Of course it quickly picks up on my presence.
It stands as it gets ready to run. Before it can even get a chance, I draw a line by letting my fingers cut through the air. A barrier rises behind it. I draw another two lines, cutting off its escapes completely.
“Are you willing to talk or should we just skip straight ahead to ripping out each other’s throats?” I stand before it. With my eyes it appears in the form of a young boy, no older than thirteen years. But to the normal human, it looks like nothing more than the average cat.
“You haven’t given me much of a choice have you?” his ears twitch.
I pull out one of the water bottles and place it besides me. “Well I’d rather avoid a fight if possible. But on the other hand I can’t just let you walk away like nothing happened.” I place another bottle on my other side. “That’s why I’m asking you to calmly answer my questions. Neither of us would get a scratch and you’d be able to carry on without a problem.”
“And if I refuse?” He looks around, trying to find a way to escape.
“In that case you’d leave me little choice.” I place the final bottle right in front of me.
“Well, I’m afraid to tell you that big sis wouldn’t like it if I said something I shouldn’t have.” He keeps his eyes locked on something behind me.
“I see.” I raise my hand and assume a speed based defensive stance. If my previous encounters with bakeneko are any indication, they rely on speed for their attacks.
Without warning he makes a beeline to get past me.
I kick one of the bottles into his path causing him to stop abruptly. He doesn’t stay still for long though.
I dash into his path to stop him. He ignores my attempt to hinder him and continues charging straight ahead.
I throw a wide swing in an attempt to stop him. He jumps up and grabs my arm. His claws rip through my skin as he uses my arm to swing past me.
Ignoring the pain I make a dash for the two remaining bottles. I kick the closest one as hard as I can, sending it flying towards the escaping cat.
The bottle hits the frozen earth with the water within exploding everywhere.
It didn’t fly far enough.
Well that was a failure.
If those two girls hadn’t interrupted me back at the graveyard, then I could have finished it without incident.
No, that’s just an excuse. I should be able to adapt to changes like this. The circumstances don’t matter. The fact is I let it get away.
At least I wasn’t left empty handed. I learned quite a bit from this trip. I came out alive so I can always return another day. They’ll probably be more cautious now, though.
For now I should return.
I grab my left arm.
I’d also like to know what caused that. It’s never happened before.
========== Jan 20th ==========
 There’s been some unusual activity regarding the border’s anchor in Tokyo.  An abandoned shrine between Osaka and Kyoto is showing signs of opening a breach soon.  I told Miss Yumemi that I’d be back. With nothing on my schedule, now would be a good time.
Thanks for the wait, and sorry for the delay. The original draft didn't turn out the way I wanted it to, at least not in a way I was satisfied with, so I had to rewrite it a few times.
Gah, it appears I have to delay this for longer than I care to.
So I actually managed to get it ready for 1st of Match (but who's gonna believe that). However, I was unable to line my schedule up with my proofreader's, so we didn't manage to get much done at all. This week he didn't log on at all because of what I assume to be work.
I cannot say when it'll be ready for release, only that it's going to interfere with my intended upload schedule. I apologize for the wait.
Priest of Hakurei 3Jura!OxyIF4cURI2015/04/05 (Sun) 08:03No. 29775▼
========== Abandoned Shrine, Osaka – Jan 20th, 11:20 ==========
During my training as a priest, I’ve come to learn a lot of things. A lot of it has become common knowledge to me, to the point where I don’t even have to think about it anymore, I just know it. One of those things is the knowledge surrounding shrines.
I know that most shrines are build based upon a general blueprint. This means that as a minimum they all share a few traits, like the kind of buildings they have, and where they are in relation to one another.
Thanks to this piece of knowledge, I can navigate just about any shrine I come across. Even when factoring in the differences between the shrines, by using a bit of ‘common knowledge’ I’ve gained as a priest, figuring my way around different shrines is easy. Even if I haven’t been there before, I’ll be able to figure things out with little effort.
Granted, that doesn't mean I know everything about shrines.
I realize that shrines are built on places with high concentration of spiritual energy. But what I don’t get is why those places all seem to be at the top of hills or mountains. If it was just for prestige that they were built on high ground, I’d be able to understand it. So when the concentrated energy is at the foot of the mountain, why would they build the shrine up the mountain, away from said energy?
It’s not like I’m complaining or anything. Walking up a few hundred steps is nothing to me. My daily workout alone exhausts me more than a few steps. I just don’t get why.
By building a shrine, you give a god the ability to influence the world more than they would on their own. But it comes at the cost of mobility. The god loses the ability to travel within the area where the shrine has any influence. The exception of course is the shrine itself.
What I’m getting at is that the god who resided in this shrine couldn’t reach the spiritual energy at the foot of the mountain. Contrary to what some people believe, faith alone is not enough to sustain a god. It’s like nutrition, but it lacks substance. That’s why they also need spiritual energy to feed upon otherwise they’d starve to death.
Placing a shrine right outside of reach of a source of spiritual power is pure torture.
It’s no wonder this shrine became abandoned. But who abandoned it first? The god who was starved by his people or the people who gave up on their god?
I believe I already have an answer, but I’d rather not jump to conclusions. Besides, that’s not why I’m here.
After it was abandoned it was decided that it would be made into a new anchor. Given how few people ever come here, as well as it being a known magical landmark, it was ideal for the purpose.
Since it was decided only a few years back, I was present for the ritual as well. In fact, I was the one who performed it.
: Or at least that's what I was told at the time. It was later revealed to me that I was only doing the preparation work. Looking back, it was quite obvious that I wouldn’t be able to pull off making a new anchor. That’s something which is simply beyond my power. But I’m satisfied with what I did. Even if all I did was making it easier for the Youkai Sage Yakumo to do her work.
I stop climbing the stairs.
That fox lady. Her name was Yakumo.
I plant my hand square on my face, and I just keep it there for a few seconds, letting the pain sink in.
How the hell did I not draw that connection? I mean it’s not like I don’t know it. I may not know much about her, but what I do know should have triggered some alarm at the back of my head. I mean she’s the Great Sage of Gensokyo for crying out loud.
Now that’s embarrassing, that’s really embarrassing.
What’s done is done. I can’t dwell on it. I’ll just have to apologize if I get the chance. But for now I should focus on the task at hand. Up these stairs there is an anchor which will soon breach. I’m here to minimize the damage as much as possible.
I continue up the stairs.
As I approach the top of this needlessly long flight of steps, I begin to hear voices.
I'll have to deal with civilians again? This is the third time in a row now. Well at least they are not dropping in right in the middle of things this time, so I’ll have time to convince them to leave.
Judging by the sound, I can tell it is two girls, probably around the late high school years. It’s typical to find that age group playing around here a lot. I’d have expected it to be boys out here instead of girls, though.
Actually, I think I recognize those voices. I heard them recently too.
As I reach the top I’m greeted with the sight of two girls bent over some machinery. And sure enough, one of them has that long characteristic flame colored braid. Now that I think about it, she had that same hairstyle back at New Years as well. I didn’t really pay it much mind back then, but looking at it, it's actually a rather unique hairstyle.
Then I think it should be safe to assume that the blonde girl next to her is the same girl from New Years as well. She looks entirely different than I remember her though. Not sure if it’s the pig tails or the sailors uniform.
This saves me the trouble of going to Kyoto afterwards.
The girls are too busy doing their thing to notice me approaching.
“I think we’re about ready to start testing it,” the professor says.
“I hope so. It’s hard to set up this kind of equipment,” the little sailor says.
“What are you two doing?” I ask.
"They both flinch at my question.
“What- Who- You! Don’t sneak up on us like that,” she places a hand on her heart, as she tries to calm down again.
“I wasn’t sneaking. I walked quite boldly actually,” I tell her.
“Like hell you were. We’d have heard you,” the short sailor almost yells at me.
“I did, you two were just too busy with whatever it is you’re doing,” I extend my hand, offering to help Yumemi up from the ground. “Anyway, I’m surprised you remembered me. You saw me for like, what, a few hours. Not to mention I just left.”
“It’d be hard to forget such a handsome face, even if I wanted to,” she puffs out her chest as if she just said something to be proud of. “But, well,” she averts her eyes, “your name, it has kinda of escaped me.”
My name? Which one did I use again? It was the one that sounds like Coach’s name, Konoha I believe. Yeah, that sounds right.
“Konoha, and don’t worry I haven’t forgotten yours.” Someone who’s still unknown in the world of magic, yet is able to develop new spells isn’t someone you’d easily forget.
“Ah,” she snaps her finger, “that was it. I was sure it had something to do with leaves.” She puts her hands on her hip. “Now, if you don’t mind me asking, why did you just leave like that?”
“I had stuff to do and places to be,” I tell her, “that’s all I can say, I’m afraid.” She grunts, apparently unsatisfied with my answer. “I said I’d be back, however. You helped me out, so I owe you a favor.”
“Oh, that. Don’t mention it, it was nothing,” she dismisses the notion.
“I just can’t leave it at that. I just wouldn’t feel right.” I pull out my phone. With a few button pushes I pull out a number from my contacts and show it to her. “Use this number to call me if there’s ever anything you think I can help you with. However, this phone is used for work so don’t just call for the sake of small talk.”
“Huh, seriously? W-Well then don’t mind if I do.” She hesitantly takes me phone as she’s typing on her own.
“If you two are done flirting over there,” Chiyuri, I think her name was, speaks up, “it’s ready to be powered on.”
“Ah, great.” She throws my phone back at me before running over to whatever it is they’ve setup.
“By the way, what are you two even doing all the way out here?” I put away my phone. As I look back up, I’m met with a stare from both of them. They both have a strange expression plastered on their faces, one I’d only be able to describe as somewhere between dumbfounded, panicked and surprised. A truly fascinating display of what the facial muscles are actually capable of.
They look at each other for a couple of seconds before looking back at me.
“That’s, um,” the professor starts, “you see-” her gaze fervently jumps around.
“Research,” her short friend spits out.
“Yeah, research, that’s it. Sorry, the word just escaped me for a moment.” She grins as she scratches her nose.
Girls, I know I don’t talk much with humans, but I was raised by a fox. I can spot a tanuki from more than a mile away. Catching a lie is nothing. But sure, I’ll play along. I'm not telling the truth either after all.
“I see. Then I shall stay out of the way.” I pocket my hand. “I’ll just do what I came here to do and be on my way.”
She hesitates for a moment before replying with a “yeah.” Taking a deep breath she faces her friend. “When you’re ready, fire up the generator and pray to the gods we sat this thing up right,” she commands in a slightly raised voice.
The sailor salutes. “Yes, ma'am” she replies in an equally enthusiastic voice.
I leave the two of them to their thing and make my way to the shrine building.
Since we managed to predict this breach a fair amount ahead of time, I can prepare a big spell. I need these two to leave before I can do much of anything, though.
I slide open the front door to the shrine. The neglect of care is starting to show. The paper on the doors has holes here and there, and there are moldy spots every now and then. A rather thick layer of dust has gathered across the floor along with a few dry leaves from this autumn.
It almost hurts to see. While shrines are on the decline, only getting by because of government funding, our shrine is self-sufficient. Despite that we’re better than this shrine appears to ever have been.
“Fuck, it crashed,” I hear one of them yell from outside.
“Chiyuri, watch your language,” the other reply. “Shit, the generator went out.”
“Yumemi, watch your language,” she retorts.
After a second the two of them starts laughing.
What an odd pair.
I slide open the door to the inner shrine.
The first thing you see when entering the room is the large statue at the very back. It resembles a, um, ‘powerfully built’ man sitting on top of a mountain of balls of some kind. He wears a strange flat hat and has an unnaturally wide face with a rather distinctive smile.
Smaller statues are lined up against the walls of the room as well. From what I can tell, each of them represents a mouse.
There’s no doubt about it. This shrine was dedicated to the third god of fortune, Daikokuten, the god of wealth. It is as apparent now as it was last time; which means that nothing has been removed since I last came here a few years back.
But that’s not what’s interesting here. The reason I came here is the altar with Daikoku's mallet on. That is what we made the anchor with. That was what we tied as the anchor.
I run my hand over it, brushing off some of the dust.
I don’t sense any changes in the spiritual energy of the area. Nor do I detect the presence of anything in the near vicinity, besides the two girls of course.
It should be safe to take shelter here at the shrine. Doing so will allow me to get to work early tomorrow and hopefully continue uninterrupted the entire day. That would be enough time to set up the seal I want.
So I’ll just have to wait out these girls for now. They’ll leave again soon, I’m sure.
========== Road to the Abandoned Shrine, Osaka – Jan 20th, 16:50 ==========
Seriously, that girl is too damn trusting. Out of nowhere she just asks me to run errands for her.
And I’m too damn kind for actually doing it.
The store wasn’t just around the corner either. There’s quite a way to the nearest town from here. The cold doesn’t help much either.
Oh well. It’s not like I could be doing something more productive right now. And if this helps them leave sooner, then that much the better.
Although I probably shouldn’t complain too much. If she hadn’t asked, I’d likely just have sat back at the shrine and done nothing while I waited.
From here I get a better much view of the sunset than I’d get at the shrine. It’s actually quite rare for me to just stand back and watch like this, now that I think about it. I’m usually busy doing one thing or another. Either it’s training, studying or resting, and in a lot of cases rehabbing after yet another major injury.
For what it’s worth, it’s quite nice to just relax.
 Stay and enjoy the view for a while longer.  Bring the professor her instant food before she ‘starves’, as she claimed.
========== Road to the Abandoned Shrine, Osaka – Jan 20th, 16:55 ==========
From here I’m able to see Osaka in its entirety. I can see every river going through it, out to the ocean, every building as they begin to light up, changing the look of the city. It’s beautiful. Not in the same sense as nature would be beautiful, but rather as a giant piece of art; truly a sight worth stopping for.
I push myself up from the railing. I probably shouldn’t just stand around. After all, they kinda rushed me off to get food. Granted they probably would be hungry after working on that machine all day.
I pick up the bag of groceries and continue my lazy walk up the mountain.
I stop in front of the stairs.
I have a bad feeling. There’s something about the air that doesn’t feel right. It feels empty and silent, yet full of unheard screams.
I start walking up the stairs only to immediately get the air knocked out of me.
I stagger backwards, gasping for air.
What the hell was that, some kind of magic? But I don’t sense anything resembling a spell in the area. Nor do I sense any youkai in the vicinity at all. This just spells trouble- Shit. The girls!
I dash forward, ignoring whatever got to me before and force my way up the stairs.
“These numbers are amazing, Chiyuri.”
“I knew picking a shrine would be a good idea.”
What the hell? The air is disordered. What’s going on?
I quickly scan the temple court for the girls. I find them bending over their machine.
Can’t they see it? Or have they just not noticed it? But I’m seeing this, not sensing it. Anyone should be able to see it.
No, that machine. The distortion is happening right above it.
“Alright, that’s enough. Turn it off, Chiyuri.”
“You got it-” Just as she turns around, her gaze meets mine. “I think we have a small problem.”
“Hm? What is- oh.” Yumemi freezes as she sees me. “Konoha, I didn’t expect you to be back so fast.” She chuckles nervously as she says it.
The machine is turned off, and immediately it feels like a burden has been lifted from my body.
The bag drops from my -hand. “Okazaki, what was that?”
“I told you, just call me Yumemi.” She makes her way to me, skipping a few steps.
“I don’t care about that!” I yell. “What the hell just happened?” I can feel the anger filling my words.
“That’s- Well you see- I-” She falls silent, just looking at the ground for a few seconds. “I can’t tell you. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize, Yumemi. We have the right to keep secrets.” Her little assitant joins the conversation, wiping her hands clean in a rag.
“But Chiyuri-” she tries to argue but is cut short.
Why am I angry?
“No ‘but’s. He’s the one who should appologize for yelling at you. We have just as much right to keep secrects as he does.” She glares at me through every word.
I barely know them, why would I get angry over something this trivial?
“No listen you-” I bite my own tongue to stop myself.
The last thing I want is to say something I might regret. They have yet to pass the point-of-no-return. They can still turn away from the world of magic.
I take a deep breath. “You’re right. I’m sorry.” I walk past them, towards the shrine. “Don’t bother saying goodbye when you leave. I need to be alone.”
I have yelled at people before because they wouldn’t listen, despite their life being in danger. Yet, I’ve never gotten angry at them before. I barely even get upset over my opponents.
Yet why did I feel so uneasy about these two?
I don’t get it.
========== Hakurei Shrine, Outside World – Jan 21th, 18:38 ==========
“How the hell could you think that walking home was a good idea, with a broken leg?!” He hammers his hands on the table.
“It was either a broken leg or a broken arm, and I need one more than the other.” I tell him.
“Can it. I’m not in the mood for your half-assed sass. Just,” he pinches the bridge of his nose “Just get on the table and let me see what I can do.”
“There’s no need to be so upset about it.” I limp my way to the operating table.
“You walk in with a swollen purple leg, tell me it’s broken and that you walked back here from the opposite edge of Kyoto Prefecture.” He walks up to me. “It’s impossible to put into words just how stupid that is. Listen Ryuko,” he grab a hold of my face, making sure we have eye-contact, “I’ll tell you this again.
“You are only a human. You are physically inferior to youkai. And that’s just how it is.” he lets go. “Which is why we gave you a weapon that beats brawns. Now try and use it once in a while and think before you do anything stupid.” He prepares a syringe with the usual elixir in it. “Now lie still and let me work.”
I was banned from moving around at all for a few days.
Apparently the bone shards had spread further than I imagined during the initial impact. They had to be removed manually before the healing could start.
Afterwards I had to be put in rehabilitation. The nature of healing magic causes the muscles in the given area to weaken slightly. Healing is one of the schools of magic which I sadly don’t know much about, so I wouldn’t be able to tell you why this reaction is caused.
I quickly got back in shape and started a new training schedule meant to help me get better at one armed combat. My ambidextrous style allows me much flexibility, but in return I depend on both hands.
We didn’t address this issue sooner because if we didn’t I’d be stuck with this useless arm for so long, and that I should be able to wing it. But alas, we were proven wrong. It may be too late to start getting used to only one arm now, as for all I know, tomorrow may be the day I get the other one back.
I consider myself quite lucky actually. We didn’t pick up on any activity since I got back, so I had plenty of time to recover.
It wasn’t long after that I got a call from the Watcher in Kyoto prefecture. He wished to buy some information regarding spirits, and that means I’d be the best to ask.
Everything was going along smoothly. Until I got a call back from the shrine again. A breach was opening here again.
==================== I had originally planned on making this update longer. However, I just got a new computer last month, so I had to deal with setting that up the way I wanted before I could get back to writing.
I cut out the last part of the update so I could make it for the deadline I try to keep (and I still missed it), so there won't be a vote this time. Well I could make one, but it'd be pointless, and I'd like to avoid calling for pointless votes.
Upside is I can start working on the next update already (and I've been itching to write this one for some time).
========== Near Kiyotaki Tunnel, Kyoto - February 13th, 23:55 ==========
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!
It just had to be now.
I lean down deep and place my hand on the asphalt as I make a sharp turn.
I got the call around twenty minutes ago. The breach could open at any time now.
I bring my hand up in front of me, forming the base sign. The image of the first spell circle takes shape within my mind. As soon as it’s done, I begin forming the next, without losing focus of the first.
I grind to a halt as I reach the last turn.
There’s a rift in the air, right in the middle of the tunnel entrance. The breach is starting.
“Kai!” I yell from the top of my lungs. The barrier raises up along with my hand, surrounding me, the street, the tunnel and the breach.
The air shatters.
And nothing happens.
The barrier is up, and the breach is happening inside it. Everything is contained.
I let out a sign of relief.
It doesn’t appear that a youkai tried to crossed over.
I’m not in perfect shape yet. I wouldn’t be able to guess how well I’d fare against even a feral youkai.
Since there doesn’t appear to be anything to do, I should probably reinforce the barrier, just to be safe. It wasn’t exactly forged with stability this time around.
I walk over to the wall and almost sit down as something shoots out from inside the tunnel.
I instinctively kick the wall to jump back, avoiding the thing.
It flies back into the tunnel before I can see what it is.
So the inside was also included in the barrier? And here I thought had enough mercy left to give me a break.
It flies back out from the tunnel, coming straight for my head.
I lean back, letting it fly right over me.
A tentacle? With a handsome guy reflected by it’s silver skin? That’s new.
I let myself fall to the side, rolling out of it’s immediate reach. I manage to get back up just in time to see it disappear into the tunnel again.
What the hell kind of youkai is that? I’ve never even heard of anything like this. Tentacles, sure, but silver skin?
“What the hell is going on?”
Oh fucking hell.
I turn around to face the voice.
A brunette in a button-up shirt, and a blonde in a long purple dress.
Just what I needed, civilians. And here I was getting worried that facing an unknown type of youkai while still recovering was going to be too easy.
A sudden surge pulses through my body, warning me.
“Get down!” I jump at them.
From the corner of my eye, I see the tentacle shoot towards the newcomers.
I grab the brunette by the shirt and throw her at the ground, just before I collide with the blonde, tackling her down too.
A burning sensation runs across my back, like a burning whip just hit it.
I roll over and get back on my feet. Suppressing the urge to scream in pain, I grab ahold of the ladies and drag them behind the edge of the wall, to cover.
“Wha- what is happening? What’s going on?” The blonde girl almost screams in panic.
I can’t blame her. I want to scream too.
“Name?” I ask her.
“What?” A look of what I can best describe as disbelief quickly finds it way to her face.
“Names! Give me your names now!” I yell.
“M-Maribel Hearn.” She tells me.
“Usami Renko.” The brunette follows.
“All right, girls,” I steady my voice again, “I don’t know how you got here, but you’re are not supposed to be here. I only have time to tell you this once, so listen carefully. Do not forget your names. Whatever happens, make sure that you always keep it in mind. Now just stay here and don’t move.”
Without waiting for a response I get up and run back out to the youkai. If I’m not careful, it’ll try to break the barrier at the other end of the tunnel.
It responds immediately, by shooting out a tentacle at me.
I raise my hand as I turn my side towards it. Preparing myself, I quickly cast an enchantment.
Awareness- Speed - Reflex
The world is engulfed by a blue tint. Every little move is highlighted, clear as day to me.
Just as it gets within range I turn every muscle in my body, driving the back of my hand into it’s soft body. Its skin stinging against my own for a second before the tentacle is sent flying against the brick wall.
That hit just now, it felt off. The body, something is up with that silver body. Not to mention it hasn’t shown itself yet. It’s keeping hidden inside the tunnel.
Well that’s fine by me, I just have to hold out until the breach is over. If it wants to go easy on me, so be it.
A smaller tentacle shoots out from the one burrowed in the wall, swinging at me like a whip.
I deflect it’s attack by knocking it away like before.
Just as I hit it, another one comes swinging at me.
It catches me off guard, forcing me to parry it upwards with my elbow.
And yet another one comes at me along with the first one, which have recovered.
What the hell is up with this youkai.
I’m about to step back just as one of the girls comes storming out, screaming with a stick clenched tightly in both hands.
That fucking moron!
All three tentacles retract back into the large one before shooting out a single large one towards the brunette.
Not hesitating for a second, I leap towards her.
With an unclear mind, she reacts by swinging the stick down, hitting my nape right before I knock her out of the way.
She falls over against the wall, but doesn’t stay down for long. She quickly tries to get back on her feet, but freezes as she lays her eyes on me.
Without a single shred of doubt, I know exactly what cased that terrorized expression to rise.
Perhaps it’s the shock numbing me from the pain, which allows me to remain reasonable, or perhaps it’s a sign that it’s happened a few too many times.
I look down.
Silver going in from one side and out through the other.
My stomach has been pierced completely.
It’s a problem for later.
I plant my feet solid on the ground and once again twisting every muscle in my legs I can still feel, forcing myself to turn around completely. Using the swing, I throw a wide hook at the tentacle, breaking it off cleanly.
Breaking it off all too easily.
It’s- It’s liquid.
A conscious blob of liquid silver.
That’s- It can’t possibly be a youkai.
The tentacle starts wriggling around, releasing a high-pitched ringing which I can only assume to be a scream.
Tough luck buddy, but if you don’t want to get hurt, then don’t hurt others. I’d have been happy to leave you alone if you’d just stayed-
The piece stuck inside me starts to tremble.
Before I get to react, it retracts itself into my gaping stomach.
A feeling like a thousand burning needles stinging me inside out spreads from my core.
Oh no you fucking don’t.
It immediately expands, forcing it’s way out of the holes again.
As it leaves my body again, it falls to the ground, forming a lifeless pool a silver.
I use my limited knowledge of healing magic to quickly patch up my wounds, to prevent a bleed-out.
“I thought I told you to stay back.” I look over at the brunette. “This is a fight between two monsters. Humans like yourself should stay away.” I stand up, wiping off a bloodstain from my lip. “Unless of course you think you have the guts to take my place, because I think I just lost them.”
That damn thing destroyed my stomach completely. My organs are damaged, but still functional for the time being. I’d say I have eight hours left without treatment.
“Oi, blonde! Come pick up your friend before she gets hurt.” I yell back at the girl still hiding.
I learned something valuable about that thing just now. It’s clear that it’s not a youkai. The way the tentacle died revealed that it was made of a physical material. But it clearly has a conscience as well.
It’s a golem, a living spell.
Who made it and why, I don’t care about. It invaded my turf and attacked bystanders with the intend of drawing blood. It’s a threat too large to let go.
I’ll have to exterminate it.
Luckily for me, a living spell is still a spell. And I handle mages quite well.
The worst thing that could happen would be my death, but then I’d be sure to take it down with me.
But unlike that, I have a fail-safe.
I look back. The blonde girl is trying to wake up her companion. Apparently she fainted. Who’d blame her. She just had the front scene to what’d amount to murder under normal circumstances.
The golem has been silent for a while now. Has it realised I can repel it’s attacks? Maybe it’s waiting for a chance to counter. Or perhaps it’s just scared.
Either way, it’s crossed the line.
I channel all of my mana into the palm of my hand in preparation for my final spell.
I charge ahead.
It responds by sending it’s tentacles straight at me.
I sway my body, grazing it.
Killing it is the easy option.
I jump out of the way of another incoming attack. Using my momentum, I kick off the wall, jumping over it’s attack entirely.
But I hate taking lives. I don’t have the right to kill. Yet I need to.
Sidestepping the last of its attacks, I’m within range.
I stand face to face with the golem.
A wolf-like appearance with the tentacles stretching from its tail.
It takes but one glance to realize what state it’s in. Tattered fur, cuts and missing lumps here and there.
I do not know it’s story, nor will I be able to learn it.
May the gods forgive me.
“Spell Break!” I bring my hand up in front of its face as I announce my spell.
Information immediately floods my mind; every calculation used to make it up, each circle made to drive it, each instruction that allows it to think independently.
I break the circle that makes up it’s core.
With it’s fragile source disrupted, the golem stops moving, freezing mid-motion.
I hate it. I hate taking a life. I hate how easy it is to take lives.
A sudden sharp pain in my throat forces me on my knees, coughing.
I manage to stop at the sight of the crimson splatter I created.
I stare at it for a few seconds before the realisation hits me.
How the fuck could I forget?
How long did I have again? Seven, eight hours? Not enough time to make it back to the shrine.
Not to mention I also have to deal with the girls.
Not only did they witness this encounter, but they also got caught in my barrier. There’s no telling how long their psyche can resist the effect of this space.
Help. I need help.
Doc! He’s the best magus I know.
My phone, were did I put it?
I quickly tap every pocket I have to check. But it’s not there.
The bag. I left it in my bag.
I try to stand up, but my legs refuse to move. Completely drained of adrenalin, they are unable to cope with the damage they’ve build up.
Oh yeah, I hadn’t fully recovered yet.
“Hey, girl!” I yell out across the now dead silent street. She flinches at my call. “Bring me my bag, would you?”
“What?” She yells back.
“The bag. At the other side of the intersection. Could you bring it here?” I instinctively tried to point, but my body still refuses to listen.
“Oh, right.” She checks on her friend before running off to my bag.
Strangely enough, it’s not the pain of getting beaten I hate the most from these fights. No, it’s the exhaustion from pushing my body despite it screaming at me to stop.
“Here.” She drops the bag right in front of me. “Just what the hell are you?”
“Just another monster, I’m afraid.” I tell her. “But unlike that thing there,” I nod back at the tunnel, “I don’t want you humans involved.” No time, I need to call Doc. I need to get them checked fast. “Now, if you would please find my phone for me. It’s in the pocket on your left.”
“Why should I help you then?” She takes a step backwards. “If you’re one of them, then how can I trust you?”
“Oh, yeah, right. I mean it’s not like you asked me to save your friend by taking a mortal wound in her place. I see where you’re coming from.” I let the sarcasm go, and lock eyes with her. “The barrier will dispel in a few minutes. Take your friend and leave. Speak to no one about what you saw. That is your safest option.”
She stands there, staring at me for a few seconds before running back to the intersection where the two of them took cover.
I really can’t blame her for choosing to flee. Had I been in her position, I probably would have done the same. But I can fight, I can survive. That’s why I won’t turn my back on those who can’t.
Now, how long will it take before I can move? I can’t fancy much time just sitting here. I need to get ahold of Doc as soon as possible.
I close my eyes to rest. Anything to speed up my recovery. That’s my best move right now.
“Here.” I look up and see the blonde girl stand there with my phone in hand.
“I thought you’d run away.” I tell her.
“I’m here now. Want my help or not?” She looks away, breaking eye contact.
I let out a single chuckle. That’s the first time a normal human has had the guts to talk back after witnessing this hell. “Quick dial number 2 and turn on speakers.”
She fiddles with the pone, mumbling something like ‘who even uses quick dial any more’ before the phone starts rin
The other end answers the phone, but says nothing.
“Doc, I have a little problem. I had to take extreme measures to ensure a couple of civilians safety. Took a beating in the process.” I’d like to go into more detail, but the less this human knows, the better. That’s another thing we have to take care of.
A sigh can be heard from the other end. “How bad?”
“One of the fainted, the other appears fine considering the circumstances. I can’t move my body at all. Think I have ‘bout seven hours or so.” I tell him.
“Right, I’ll be there in a second. Don’t hang up.” The other end is being shuffled around a bit before it goes silent.
Static fills the line and sparks starts flying from the phone.
A bright flash appears for a second.
Before me stands a golden furred nine-tailed fox, dressed lousily in a dougi.
He takes a quick looks around, taking in the scene. The brunette lying unconscious at the end of the street. The blonde who fell over due to surprise. The silver golem frozen solid in the tunnel. And lastly he looks at me, giving me that look.
“What a mess you made this time. And then you just expect me to come and clean it up for you.” He shrugs. “I thought we had raised you better than that.”
“What’s going on? Seriously, what the hell-” The blonde girl is cut of by Doc.
He snaps his finger at her and she collapse on the spot.
“Sorry, missy, but I’m not in the mood.” He then turns to face me. “I’ll take care of them, so just worry about yourself for the time being.” He then holds out his hand and snaps his fingers-
Where am I?
The fight. I killed it. Couldn’t move. Called Doc. The girls.
I try to sit up, but a quick reminder jolts through my body.
“Oh, you’re awake.” A voice breaks through the darkness.
“Seven hours my ass.” He plants his fist in my stomach. Hard. “Transmuted silver. It was combined with another substance sharing too many elements to identify. Certainly highly poisonous, though, that’s for certain.” I hear his footsteps walk away from me. “I cannot tell you how close I was to forcefully activating the rune on your chest. Without treatment you’d have had ‘bout an hour at best.”
“The girls?” I manage to ask.
“Girls? C’mon kid. I’ve had to shut down a lot of your body’s functions just to operate on you. You’re not even patched up completely yet, and you’re still worrying about some strangers?” The sound of a drawer being slammed shut sounds through the room. “Dammit I need a smoke. Worry about yourself once in a while. You’re not invincible just because you have me.” And with that a door closes.
Didn’t he say I wasn’t patched up yet?
 Delivery for Are (Hakurei Shrine, Feb 25)  Yumemi’s favour (Kyoto, Feb 27)  Contract for hire (Tokyo , May 1)
>>29826 No. Not this time around at least. You'll get another chance later, though, when it becomes relevant again. I assume you guys have figured out who 'Are' is (not like it was that hard). Getting to them and back is a little more than a two day trip to the next town over. Votes won't close until Sunday night, so feel free to change yours if you feel the need with this new information.
========== Hakurei Shrine - Feb 25, 08:46 ==========
“Ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred.” I push myself up one last time.
“And done.” He says as he takes a whiff of his pipe. “Now that you’ve had a feel for it, how’s the arm coming along?”
“I’m only just starting to feel the exhaustion. My knuckles feel a bit rusty, but otherwise I feel back up to speed.” I tell him. “But that said, can you get off soon?”
“Oh, right, of course.” I feel the strokes of wind blow down on me as Coach takes to the air. “Stretch out. We’re done with the physical training for today." He lands on the veranda, folding his wings back in. "Doc would kill me if he knew I had you exercise before he’s given the green light.” He takes another whiff before chuckling. “Actually, he’d probably kill me regardless.”
“Mhm.” I answer absentmindedly.
“Oi, kid, there you are.” Speak of the sun and it shall shine. “I’ve been looking for you.”
“Just remembered I need to be somewhere.” Coach says as he makes his way into the shrine.
Doc just looks at him with a raised eyebrow as he makes his way to me. “Here, these should prove helpful to you.” He pulls a knife out of the bag he’s holding and hands it to me.
‘Knife’ might be the wrong term. The blade is thin, too fragile to really cut through anything without breaking. Just holding it, I can feel the balance is off, not by much but enough to make it impossible to be thrown accurately.
However, this fragrance, “Silver?” I ask.
“The very same I removed from you,” he states almost proudly. “I went to the village to get it purified. They should prove useful to you.”
Pure metals possess special magical attributes. It’s almost impossible to find a magus without any pure metal what-so-ever.
Gold, for example, is like a sponge. It drains the mana from its surroundings slowly, then stores it until someone or something taps into it.
Silver on the other hand is a bit more brutal. It continually drains and negates mana. It has a short range at which it can take from, but in return it has a lot of force to it. It’s most regular use is to rip magic apart, dispelling it through force. I personally prefer my own spell for that, but it has limited uses.
“Thank you, but why now?” He puts the knife back in the bag and hands it to me. “I’m not ready to get back in the field, am I?”
He raises an eyebrow. “You weren’t told?”
I shake my head. “I was only doing some light exercise with Coach. We didn’t talk much at all.”
He clicks his tongue. “Kohane, you fucking drunk, get out here!” He yells from the top of his lungs before he storms the shrine.
It doesn’t take long before the sound of wood breaking and paper ripping can be heard from inside the shrine. Sounds like a door just broke. Glad I’m not the one who’s fixing that.
Coach comes crashing out through another door, with a goofy-ass smile plastered on his face. One way or another he managed to lose his shirt, leaving his collection of scars in full view, as he takes to the air.
Doc comes out the same hole a second later, breathing heavily. He barely manages to catch a glimps of the crow before he disappered behind the tree-line.
He pinches the bridge of his nose. "For the love of Inari,” he mutters.
“So, wanna tell me what this is about?” I ask. I haven’t moved an inch since he dashed off. I’ve come to learn the hard way, that when those two go at it, the safest space is where you stand.
“We talked about it last night. I can’t believe he forgot to tell you.” I sighs. “Jun had to leave on some urgent matters,” which is kinda typical for mentor, he’s a busy man. “However, he had planned on leaving to deliver something for the Child of Are. Now, since he can’t go, you’re the obvious next choice.”
That makes sense. I am the only other priest at this shrine, so if the head-priest can’t go, it falls to me. So I’m supposed to run a delivery to this Child of Are. I think I’ve heard that name before. No, not heard, read. That’s the name of the one wrote the-
I feel the bag of knives slip from my hand. “Do you think you could repeat that? I don’t think I quite got it.”
“You’re going to Gensokyo, essentially.” He picks up the bag for me.
I’m going to Gensokyo.
That’s like a dream come true.
This is my chance to finally meet her.
I pump my fist in excitement.
========== Hakurei Shrine - Feb 25, 09:32 ==========
“I have to say, this may be the thing I hate the most about having lost an arm.” I complain. “I can’t wait to be able to get dressed on my own again.”
“Not like I love looking at your half naked body either, you know.” Doc responds. “Stomach in.”
I take a deep breath and pull my stomach as far in as I can. He pulls hard on the hakama’s straps, tightening it completely.
“Too tight.” I complain.
“As long as I can fit a finger in between, it’s too loose,” he tighten it even further.
He finishes up and moves on to my arms.
“And you’re sure you want to use these?” He asks, referring to some spell tags I prepared in advance. “The side effect will backfire.”
“Only if I activate them. Simply having them does no harm.” I shrug off his concern. I designed those, I’m fully aware of their consequences. “They’re meant to be used in emergencies only. It’s a safety net I’d rather use over your rune.”
He makes a deep sigh and starts wrapping them around my arm. “As long as you know what you’re doing. But if I find out you did something stupid, I assure you, I’m going to do something stupid,” he says poking at my chest.
I don’t respond. I just stand there, letting him take care of the final details.
It’s not often I get to wear my uniform as a priest. It’d stand out too much when I’m doing field work. Here at the shrine, a simple dougi is more than suitable for anything not related to rituals.
Going to Gensokyo, representing my shrine is more than enough reason for me to wear the uniform. But the reason I think Doc wants me to wear it, is because Gensokyo is filled with youkai.
You see, my uniform is made with the hair of a youkai living in the village. Woven like this, it has the strength of a full set of armor, but weights next to nothing. We made it like that to serve as a layer of defense in battle. That of course means we had to stray off the traditional design, but the essence is still there.
I had a set of casual clothes like this too, since going around dressed as a priest would stand out too much. Sadly, it got torn apart a while back.
“That should do it.” He gives the ribbon in my hair one final thug. “So, are you feeling ready yet?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be.” I reply.
“Alright.” He hands me a necklace with several old kanji engraved on it. “You remember what to do, right?”
“I believe so. It’s not a terribly complicated spell.” Besides, this necklace will do most of the work.
“Right.” He lights cigarette as we walk outside. “I’ll see you in a week’s time then. And I better not find a scratch on you by then, you hear?” He points the cigarette at me as he says it.
“I’ll try my best.” I pick up my bag at the torii.
This is it.
I take a deep breath and start channeling spiritual energy into the necklace. I create a clear image of the spell in my mind, and things start to change.
The scenery in front of me warps to beyond recognition. A sense of rejection flows over me, similar to the one I feel during breaches except weaker.
Everything starts to fade away. The cold feeling of snow, the feint sound of wind, the bright colors of the landscape, they all fade into darkness. The only thing left is me, and the torii.
========== Hakurei Shrine - 25th of More Clothes Month, 09:56 Gensokyo day 1 ==========
The world soon starts fading in again, presenting me with a new scenery. A grand image of nature rarely seen anymore.
I turn around.
And there it stands, the Hakurei Shrine of Gensokyo. It appears slightly different than our own, but it still looks like a Hakurei shrine.
“Anybody home?” I call out as I approach the shrine.
“Hello?” I try again.
Still no answer.
She’s not around? Then I shouldn’t linger. I have a little over eight days before I can return back outside, so there’s plenty of time to meet her later.
I walk back to the stairs.
This shrine isn’t on a mountain like ours, but it’s placed high on a hill so it still gives me a good view of the land.
I spot a large settlement in the distance; the Human Village most likely. That’s where my destination is.
I start descending the stairs.
========== Human Village, East District - 25th of More Clothes Month, 12:32 Gensokyo day 1 ==========
It’s a lot more busy than I expected, to be honest. Quite larger as well.
More people than I can count are walking up and down the street. Merchants fill the sides of the street with their stands, calling out and advertising their ‘special deals’ and such.
There are very few buildings in this area which look anything like residential housing. Storage and shops, really, that’s what it looks like.
I’m in the wrong part of the village, aren't I?
I stop at a random stall and the owner immediately speaks up. “Hello good sir, and what could I interest you with?” His voice is raised to overpower the noise of the people walking by.
“Information, if it’s on the menu.” I lean on the counter.
“Depends on what kind, really.” He makes a big gesture with his arms. “All from the latest gossip to the best hunting spots. So, what’s your interest?”
“Directions, really.” I tell him flatly. No need to beat around the bush. “I need to get to the Hieda household, but I’m a little lost.”
“The Hiedas? Interesting.” He rubs the few stubbles that makes up his beard. “You’ll need to head to the village square then. That’s where all the aristocrats live. For a bit of coin, I might also be able to tell you a few more details.” There’s a sparkle in his eye as he adds the last part.
“No thank you. “I get back up. “You already told me what I needed to know.” I turn around and start walking, without acknowledging his frown.
The village square he said. That’s likely the center of the village. If I follow this main street, I’ll probably end up there anyway. From there it’s just asking someone again.
I eventually make it to a large intersection, which is presumably the square. It took a while because of the crowd. Honestly, this is how I’d imagine Edo to have been back in the day.
“Excuse me.” I call out to a young girl in a bright flower patterned kimono. She looks like a rich kid, so she’d probably know something about the aristocrats. At least it’s worth a shot.
“Yes?” She stops up.
“You wouldn’t happen to know where the Hieda household is?” I ask her.
“The Hieda? Why would you be looking for them?” She asks back.
“I have some business with the Child of Are, you see.”
“Really? In that case, follow that road until you see a house with a stone wall. You can’t miss it.” She points down one of the main streets.
“A stone wall? Got it. Thank you, miss.” I give her a polite bow, which she returns before continuing in her way.
I follow the road down a ways until I find a house surrounded by a stone wall.
Well, calling it a house might be a bit modest. It’s more like a small mansion, even compared to the surrounding buildings which all look like they’re be owned by the wealthy. This is the only one with a stone wall, though. The rest varies from plain wood to bamboo.
I knock on the gate and a voice from the other side tells me to wait a moment.
A short blue haired girl in plain white clothes opens the gate. “Yes, how can I help you?”
“This is the Hieda household, right?” I ask. She simply nods in response. “Good. I’ve come to deliver a package to the child of Are, I believe she’s expecting me.”
“I’m afraid she’s not home right now. Is it a package I can take for her?” She asks.
“It’s not,” I tell her, “I was told to deliver it to her personally. Do you know when she’ll be back? Or would it be better to just return tomorrow?”
“Um,” she fidgets around with her sleeve, “If, if she’s expecting you, then it shouldn’t be a problem to let you in, right?”
Why are you asking me?
“Turning him away would inconvenience him,” she starts muttering to herself, “and if lady Akyuu was expecting him, she wouldn’t want that, that’s why,” she suddenly radiates with confidence, “it’s okay to invite you in.”
“Uh, sure, why not,” I say, somewhat taken aback by her sudden change in attitude.
She leads me to a room and tells me to wait for lady Akyuu to come. She was so kind to even bring me a tray of tea.
From the looks of things, this seems to be a study. The wall at the far end is taken up entirely by a shelf, filled with scrolls and books. In the middle of the room is a low table with a brush and an ink stone, ready to be used.
========== Hieda Household - 25th of More Clothes Month, 13:54 Gensokyo day 1 ==========
“Welcome back, lady Akyuu.” Thanks to my sharp senses and the silence filling the mansion, I’m able to pick up on what’s going on at the front door. “A guest showed up a bit earlier. He said you were expecting him. He’s waiting in your study.”
“Alright, thank you. I’ll go see him right away.” The new voice answers.
The sound of footsteps rapidly approach. Guess this would be my cue to look awesome. But that would take too much effort.
The door slides open and a girl in a bright flower patterned kimono walks in.
“It seems you found your way here after all,” she says.
“You gave me quite clear directions, so of course.” I can recognize her voice, so I don’t need to look up to see.
“Indeed I did,” she sits at table in the middle of the room, “but if you don’t mind me cutting the chase.”
I put the book I was reading back on the shelf and stand up. “I’m Hakurei Ryuko, priest and apprentice of the Hakurei Shrine located in the outside world. I’ve come today in place of my mentor as he had other urgent business to attend to.”
I fish out the package from my bag and hand it to her. She takes it without hesitation and opens it. It appears to only contain papers. Letters and reports from what I can see by the headlines.
She skims through some of them before putting them down.
“People would usually say something like ‘I expected you to be taller’, but you’re are actually taller than I expected.” She says as she puts the papers down.
“Excuse me? It sounds like you already knew of me.”
“Of course I did. The shrine on the outside of the barrier is just as important as the shrine on the inside. Ergo, you’re just as important to the chronicles as our priestess.” She rests her head in her hand. “Not to mention your ‘mentor’ always seems to hold you in high regards. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you in person.”
“The pleasure is all mine, lady Akyuu,” she cuts me off.
“Just ‘Akyuu’ is fine. I regard your mentor as a friend, and thus you, as a friend.” She tells me.
“Well then, as I said, the pleasure is all mine. I’m quite fond of reading the Chronicles.” I tell her. “It has been my only window to Gensokyo, and as such, I’ve read it quite a few times. I may not remember it as clearly as you, but I’ve memorized almost every entry by now.”
“It’s certainly nice to know your work is being appreciated.” She chuckles slightly. “So, what do you think of our version? As I understand it, the one released in the outside world is altered?”
“I wouldn’t say altered, really,” I sit down across from her at the table, “censored is more the word I’d used. I obviously didn’t get to read all of it, but from what I could see, your Chronicles simply hold more information, both in accuracy and amount.”
“Really? Interesting, I have to ask in to that next time I talk with Jun.” She rubs her chin as she seems lost in thought. “Anyway, you did what you came to do, right?” I nod. “So what are you planning now? If you aren't busy, I’d love to get an article of you in the Chronicles.”
 Sure, why not.  Actually, I had planned on going back to the shrine.  It’s still early, but I should find a place to stay the night.
========== Hieda Household - 25th of More Clothes Month, 14:06 Gensokyo day 1 ==========
I had actually planned on going back to the shrine. I'd love to have a chat with the Hakurei shrine maiden.
But I’ll be here all week. I have plenty of time, there’s no rush.
“Sure,” I shrug, “why not.”
“Splendid. Can we do it now, or would later suit you better?” She asks.
“Now is just fine,” I tell her, “I have a lot of time to kill anyway.”
“Airi.” She calls out.
The sound of footsteps hurriedly approaching can be heard out from the hallway. We hear a squeal and a thump, followed by a moment of silence.
I glance over at Akyuu. Without taking her eyes off the door, she holds up a finger, silently telling me to wait.
The door slides open and reveals the young girl who greeted me at the gate.
“It seems like our guest will be staying for a while longer.” Akyuu notes. “If you wouldn’t mind, could you prepare some tea and snacks?”
Even though I was just drinking some before you came home. Should I start fearing for my bladder?
“Oh, of course, my lady.” She doesn’t even wait for another word before darting off. “Perhaps I should prepare green tea? But he’s a friend of lady Akyuu’s, so maybe that’s too plain for him.” She continues to talk to herself as she leaves.
“Such a sweet girl” Akyuu comments
“Interesting at the very least,” I agree.
“Right,” she corrects her posture and picks up her brush, “shall we begin?”
I gesture her to go ahead. “Ask away.”
She starts by writing down a few things before looking up at me. “Then let’s start from the top. Tell me, do you have any kind of ability or skill or anything else you’d say characterizes you?”
“That seems simultaneously very specific and very vague,” I jest. “I wouldn’t really call it an ability as much as I’d call it a skill, since everyone can learn with enough dedicated training.”
I tell her about my ability to manipulate spiritual energy, about why I worked to get this skill rather than an alternative. I explain the various usage it has, such as enhancing my senses even further while giving me a new one entirely.
I go into detail, describing various skills taking root in this ability, how I craft barriers and seals or how I weave enchantments using spiritual energy.
Akyuu listens attentively as I speak. Every so often she ask about something, other times she comments on it, relating it to an example from Gensokyo. She writes down everything I say, every question she asks and the answers I give.
The conversation trails off to the training I do at the shrine. I tell her how the barrier acts on the outside and how I go about fixing it.
========== Hieda Household - 19:58 ==========
“How about life at the shrine?” She asks. “Surely you don’t train all day every day.”
“No, I get injured too much to train nearly as often as I would like.” I tell her. “Though it does give me the time to take care of my actual duties as a priest, like cleaning and praying to our god.”
“You actually work? Geez, Reimu could learn a thing or two from you.” She chuckles at her own joke.
“Really? That bad?” I can’t help but play along. “Most of what I know about her is from your book, but if all that’s true it’d be safe to say I’m her opposite.”
“I’d say. Raised by youkai, specializing in hand to hand combat, actually working. Sounds about as far away from Reimu as you can get.” She scribbles down the last bit. “There, now I just need to rewrite it to format it a bit better.”
I look over her shoulder skimming through her notes.
========== Title: Youkai Priest of Hakurei
Name: Ryuko Hakurei
Ability: Manipulating Spiritual Energy
Residence: Hakurei Shrine (Outside World)
A priest at the Hakurei Shrine located in the outside world. The shrine on the outside exists to prevent youkai as well as humans from forcing their way in, as such would harm the barrier. (*1) He has keen senses and awareness of his surroundings. As his role as a Hakurei priest requires it, he has repelled several youkai who attempted to force their way through the barrier.
Personality: He’s calm and carries himself with confidence. He keeps other people at an arms length for reasons unknown. However, that doesn’t mean he doesn't care. He was raised by youkai so he treats them as his kin, whereas humans are the different ones.
Ability: He is able to manipulate spiritual energy. By layering it over his normal senses, he becomes able to see a world other humans can’t. It also grants him a ‘sixth sense’ which allows him to sense spiritual energy aside from his own.
Martial arts: He specializes in hand to hand combat by practicing martial arts. Rather than relying on tools or weapons he would rather take care of things with his own hands. That is why he primarily only uses martial arts when dealing with youkai. However, he still uses spells and tools when deemed necessary. His style of martial arts combines various other styles.
Everyday Life: Whenever he has time off from his training, he takes care of his other duties as a priest. However, he spends as much time as he can get away with either studying or practicing. He also tends to get injured a lot, so a lot of time is spent resting and recovering as well.
Job: He might be the human with the most knowledge on youkai. A youkai specialist. Since he’s used to dealing with youkai, he can approach them in a calm and calculated manner, even during dangerous situations. While he’s the only one on the outside who deals with the barrier, there any many others who deal with youkai and magic in general.(*2)
*1 Instead they should seek out the shrine which can then guide them over. *2 It seems magic isn’t entirely forgotten in the outside world yet. ==========
“Youkai priest of Hakurei?” I ask.
“Yeah, you don’t like it? I thought it was appropriate since, well you know.” She notes.
“Honestly, I don’t have an opinion on it in that regard,” I tell her, “it’s more that it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.”
“Then what about ‘Godless Priest’?” She motions her hands like she’s presenting a headline for a tabloid or something.
I shake my head. “I do have a god you know.”
“It’s the theatric of it.” She tries to convince me. “Oh fine, then how about ‘The Wandering Divine Warrior’?”
“Youkai priest is sounding better by the minute.” I sigh and shrug. “What are the titles even used for? If you just decided it like that, it really doesn’t seem important. Unlike back home, a title is like a nickname you earn.”
“We mostly use them when competing in danmaku or dueling.” She says. “It’s really just for show.”
“So it really doesn’t matter? Then just use ‘Youkai Priest’.” I brush it off with a wave. I can’t fire danmaku, nor am I interested in Gensokyo’s dueling rules. I won’t be using the title anyway in that case.
She strikes the brush through ‘Hakurei’ in the title. “There. You’ll have to wait until next release to see it though. Just adding one article isn’t enough to warrant an update.”
“Out of curiosity, which section will it be placed under?” I ask.
“Well,” she puts a finger on her lip as she thinks, “the category ‘humans’ refer to the humans inside Gensokyo, and ‘Outsider’ refer to normal people from the outside. No offense of course,” she quickly adds.
“None taken,” I assure her.
“And you don’t really qualify for the ‘Heroic Legends’ section either.” She ponders for a bit. “Maybe I have to create a new section detailing ‘ability users’ as you call them from the outside.”
“If you need any information on them, just ask.” I tell her.
“Will do,” she replies with a smile. “But first I need to finish up your article. Thank you very much for your time.”
“It was a pleasure to spend an evening with a lovely young lady such as you.” I tell her. “The only thing that could have made it better was if we talked about you instead.”
She just smirks in response. “Flattery will get you nowhere.”
I shrug and shake my head. “It was worth a try at least. Anyway, I have to get going if I want to find a place to stay the night.”
“Why don’t you just stay here?” She asks as she rolls the scroll up.
“I really don’t want to impose any further.” I decline.
“Nonsense,” she dismisses it with a wave of her hand. “Stay the night here, I insist. I can’t very well send a guest out on the street after nightfall.”
“Seems like my charm worked after all.” I note amused.
She covers up a smirk with her sleeve. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
“Anything to see that smile of yours.” I tell her.
========== Hieda Household - 26th of More Clothes Month, 07:05 Gensokyo day 2 ==========
Seven days left until I can return, and I’m done with my errand. That’s seven days off to do what I want. It’ll be a nice change of pace for once.
 Explore the village on my own. I might find something interesting.  Go talk some more with Akyuu.  It’s time to visit Reimu. Go to the shrine.
---------- This update is gonna fuck with my upload schedule.
>>29880 >Because it might actually bring our time in Gensokyo to an end
>>29847 Right before traveling to Gensokyo. >I’ll see you in a week’s time then.
>>29862 Towards the very beginning. >But I’ll be here all week. I have plenty of time, there’s no rush. Right above the votes. >Seven days left until I can return
I haven't explained 'why' yet in the story, so I'll refrain from that here for the time being. I will however say that there's a 200 hour cooldown when traversing the border. That roughly translates to eight and a half day, meaning the evening of the eighth day is the earliest point you can go home.
And we're tied between exploring the village and Reimu time. I'll go with what reached the tie first if it's not broken before Monday morning when I close the votes.
I thought the Reimu vote was gonna make a comeback, but look like it stopped short. [X] Explore the village on my own. I might find something interesting. reached the tie first, so it won. I'll start writing now.
Priest of Hakurei 8Jura!OxyIF4cURI2015/08/02 (Sun) 17:43No. 29897▼
========== Hieda Household - 26th of More Clothes Month, 07:05 Gensokyo day 2 ==========
Getting to see Gensokyo with my own eyes has always been a dream, one that’s now come true. Some points of interests include the two religions that appeared in the recent years. Mostly out of interest to see how different it is from the outside. Their practices are centuries old, I believe it was.
It should go without saying that the Hakurei Shrine is a Shinto shrine meaning that I’m a Shinto priest. Since everyone at my shrine are more than a few centuries old as well, I’ve been taught the way they know, not the modern way.
There’s also the famous dragon statue at the center of the village. Rumor has it that it may just be technology, but since we can’t accurately predict the weather in the outside world using technology, I find it a bit hard that Gensokyo can, even with the kappa. Besides, there is the fact it can predict incidents. That’s a level of technology the outside has yet to achieve.
Then there’s the Shinto shrine in the village. According to the Gensokyo Chronicles here at Akyuu’s place, that shrine is managed by a black furred fox. I can’t help but feel that, that should be the first place I visit. Maybe it’s my love for foxes, or maybe because it’s a Shinto shrine. Regardless, I want to go there.
I ask Akyuu for directions before bidding her farewell.
Akyuu’s house is in the innermost circle of the village. It’s basically where the rich reside. Aristocrats, land owners, scholars, administrators, those kind of people. Since the intersection between the two main streets of the village is here at the center, it means that the most people pass through here making it perfect for merchants but pricey as well.
The shrine is located in the farmers residential area, which is the outer circle in the west district. The Buddhist temple is on the border between the outer and middle circle of the residential area. And the Taoist’s temple is in the commercial area around the inner and middle circle border, east district. Apparently I passed right by it on my way here.
========== Human Village, West District - 26th of More Clothes Month, 08:02 Gensokyo day 2 ==========
She said to turn left at the smiths workshop, but she didn’t say which one.
This was supposed to be the farmers residential area, right? So why are there three metal workshops this close to each other? One, maybe two spread out in the area would make sense to craft and repair tools. But if it’s back this densely, then how many are there in the area? Or maybe they’re sticking to the main street for commercial reasons, or just staying away from the houses because of the noise they make when they work. I could imagine that being annoying.
“Excuse me?” I pick the nearest smith to ask for directions.
He dips the horseshoe he’s working on into a bucket of water. “What can I do for you, sir?” He dries off some sweat from his forehead, smearing sooth on it in the process. He looks like he's in his early twenties, an apprentice maybe? “I’m sorry but we don’t make weapons here, if that’s what you’re asking.”
Weapons? “No, no,” I dismiss it with a wave, “I’m just a bit lost, you see. I was hoping to get some directions.”
“You’re not from around here, are you?” He wipes his hands off in a wet rag.
“It’s that obvious?” I decline his invitation to take a seat.
“The people from here know these streets like their own pocket.” He shakes his head, dismissing our conversation. “So, where are you going?”
“I heard there was a shrine around here, so I kind of grew curious.” I tell him.
“That it? See that house at the corner?” He points down the street. “Just go down there and you’ll be able to spot the shrine, no problem.”
It looks like another shop, but it doesn’t have any sign hanging.
“Just past the smith, huh? She could at least have told me which one.” I sigh and shrug. “Anyway, thank you for your help.”
“One moment.” He stops me. “What you said just now, ‘just past the smith’. Was that the extend of the directions you got?”
He starts chuckling. “I see, I see. Now it makes sense. That guy at the corner store, he’s an alchemist, you see, however the way he handles metal is amazing.” He crosses his arms and nods proudly. “And just between you and me, I kinda envy him for it. He’s been at it since before I was born, however so of course he’d be better.”
“Interesting. I’ll have to remember that.” An alchemist, huh?
“Ugh, I mean of course my own metal is also quite good, not to mention I’m cheaper as well.” He hurriedly adds.
“I’ll remember that as well,” I tell him, “though I’m mostly interested because alchemists have become a rare breed.”
“That so? Well,” he grabs my hand and gives it a firm shake, “good luck with whatever it is you’re doing, and remember: I may not be the best around here, but I will definitely give you the most bang for your buck.”
I can’t help but let a smile through. “Don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know when I need anything crafted.”
He gives me a huge satisfied smile before fishing the horseshoe out of the water to continue his work.
Either this guy is a fantastic salesman, or the people of Gensokyo are just more friendly in general.
I make my way to the corner, and the first thing I see is a crowd, gathered around a single building. Not a big crowd, but big enough to stand out. Right across from it is a tori, which means the shrine is there.
The sign on the building reads “Kuroko Dojo” written with the characters for Black Fox. Would make sense, if it’s placed right in front of this shrine, I guess.
“Out of the way! We’re coming through!” A couple of guys runs out from the building.
“Wonder what the hurry is,” i ponder out loud. Almost bumped into me as well, and I’m not exactly easy to miss.
“I think someone got injured again.” A fellow spectator answers my question. “Though I don’t think they’ll find a doctor in this area who’s open at this hour.”
It’s a dojo, so I can understand people getting injured, but this early? The village should just be waking up. “What exactly are they doing in there?”
“One of the students there is attempting the Hundred Dan challenge, it seems.” He sounds rather excited about it.
“Isn’t that something they only do in karate?” I ask him. I know the concept of the Dan challenge in martial arts, but I don’t know which ones it apply to. The ones that count as competitive sports, would be the most obvious.
“I don’t know, and I can’t say I care to be honest.” He shrugs. “She beat me good, that’s what I care about.”
I give him a quick glance over. He looks like he’d build for endurance and defense. Quite strong as well. I can’t see him losing to just anyone, not unless there were conditions for the victory, like ‘land a clean hit’, or ‘get your opponent on on their back’.
But then again, it’s not just anyone who’ll take the Dan Challenge. Fighting one person who’s equal in strength is hard enough, but one hundred, one right after the other, is a feat to behold.
“Say, wanna give it a try?” He asks out of the blue.
“We have nowhere near enough people for this challenge, so we’ve been gathering in people who can throw a worthy punch.” He explains. “You seem the type. Granted I’m not the best judge of character, so yeah. What’s your build, by the way? Strength?”
“Speed, actually.” I correct him. “And anyone bold enough for a Dan challenge should be fun to fight. Any rules I should be aware of?”
“Don’t hit below the belt, don’t attack if they’re on the ground, and stop if you’re told to.” He states the last one more firmly than the two others. “This is just a spar after all.”
“So, with honor, basically?”
“Basically. So are you in?” He confirms.
“Then follow me, please.” He makes his way through the crowd. At times like this, I like being tall. I generally stand out in crowds, which I don’t like, but when I need to move through crowded areas, people tend to step aside. Well, not a single person in this crowd even reaches my shoulders, so that might have something to do with it.
Just as we enter, a loud familiar sound echoes through the hall. One guy in the middle is lying in the floor, coughing and gasping for air. Above him stands a woman, few years younger by the looks of it.
Wait, is that Yumemi?
No, no it isn’t. She has similar crimson eyes, and long flaming hair as well. Though, this girl’s hair isn’t braided, just tied up back with a single yellow ribbon. I’d still have mistaken her if not that her spiritual pattern is entirely different. She’s wearing a pretty standard gi, but with a wooden training sword attached to the belt.
What kind of martial arts are they practicing here?
“I told you, Ken. It doesn’t matter how big they are. You won’t scare me into forfeiting.” She taunts.
“I gave that up about a dozen men ago. This guy said he wanted to fight you, so I gave him the chance.” Actually, you asked me and I agreed. I never said it, but whatever.
She quickly sizes me up. “I haven’t seen you around before.”
“Just call me Ryuko.” Akyuu’s gonna publish my name, so there’s no need to hide it.
“Pfft, that’s a girl’s name, isn’t it?” She restrains her laughter. “But if you wanna be personal; Kotohime.”
“And what if it is?” I make my way into the ring, or what I assume to be the ring, after they dragged the previous guy out. I think he lost consciousness.
“Then it is. Nothing more to it.” I state frankly. “Though I’d expect a guy like you to have a cooler name, you know?”
“What if I told you it’s written as Dragon’s Child?” ‘Dragon Child’ to be precise, but it’s virtually the same thing.
“Then I’d give you a few points back.” She adds with a smile.
“So, are we going to banter all day, or are you finished wheezing?” I take a glance through the hall. Seems like quite a few people have fought her already. A few dozen at least from what I can see here. There’s likely more like ‘Ken’ who walked out.
“I’d like an extra second, if you don’t mind.” She starts breathing in deep to steady her breath.
“I do have another question before we begin. Why so early?” I ask.
“Because mornings are when I have the most energy.” She takes her battle stance. “It’s that simple. Now, I’m ready.”
I assume a stationary stance, feet planted solid and arm outstretched towards her.
She pulls her arms in close and charges at me.
I quickly move my hand to stop her by grabbing her head.
She swayd her body, trying to get past me, though that quickly stops since her momentum has dissipated.
“Listen,” she lets her arms dangle, “Could you please take this a bit more serious-” I step in turning my hand, forcing her down on the ground. Her petite build makes her light and easy to handle.
She rolls, quickly getting back on her feet.
“I think you’re the one not taking me seriously,” I tell her as I take my stance once more, “after all there’s nothing wrong with using my size as an advantage.”
She doesn’t talk back, rather she just keeps her eyes locked on me. Her look is sharp, focused and unwavering and I can swear that I see a light deep in her eyes.
She grabs her sword and with a single fluid motion draws it and swings it low at my feet.
I jump backwards, getting out of her range.
But she doesn’t stop. She continues the motions, letting the sword swirl around her, back towards me with full force.
What the hell kind of style are they practicing here?
Without thinking I jump and kick the sword out of her hands. I grab it as it flies past me and swing down.
It feels as if time itself slows down the closer I get to her. Every spec of fear, every bit of surprise, every ounce of confusion races across her face as her eyes widen in shock.
I manage to stop the sword barely an inch from her.
We stand like that for what feels like an eternity. She stands frozen in the middle of a dodge, her upper torse swayed back in an arch to dodge the sword. A futile attempt as it's barely hanging a hair's length over her smiling face.
“S-Stop!” One of the guys yell out.
With a sigh of relief Kotohime falls back, gasping for air.
A few guys hurry in to help her get back up. I hand the sword to one of them and walk out.
That was a disappointment.
She was attempting to defeat a hundred opponents in a row, so surely she should have been more of a challenge, right? Maybe it’s just because I’m used to fighting monsters surpassing me in every aspect, but she felt weak.
No, I saw it if even just for a moment. She has potential, she has skill, yet something was holding her back. Could it have been exhaustion?
“Wait up.” Kotohime calls out. “Where’re you going?” She comes out after me, half limping.
“There’s nothing a victor can say to a loser, so I’m leaving.” Complimenting could be see as pitying, lecturing could be see as arrogance or even insulting.
“But a loser can say something to the victor, no?” Eh, what? “You won,” she shrugs, “just means I haven’t trained hard enough. There’s no reason to get mad over that. And even if there were I should get mad at myself.”
“That’s a rather positive way of looking at it.” Most people would focus on the defeat itself, not what comes afterwards.
“I get that a lot.” She circles around me. “Let me treat you to a prize. You’ve earned it.”
“Actually I had planned to-”
“So you’re free? Great.” She grabs my arm and starts dragging me along before I get a chance to react.
========== Human Village, North District - 08:38 ==========
She dragged me halfway through the village before she found a food stall that was open. She orders something I’ve never heard of, before finding a place to sit down.
“Mind if I ask you something?” She asks as I take the seat next to her.
“I can’t stop you, can I?”
“Pfft, probably not.” She just chuckles to herself. “I’d like to know where you learned to fight.”
“Why, exactly?” I ask.
“Well you see,” she scratches her cheek, “I kinda got an interest for it since I helped a friend with sparring some time back.”
“I see.” The waitress comes out with a plate of what looks like dango. Kotohime pays her and she goes back inside. “My style of fighting wouldn’t fit you, though. To you martial arts is a hobby, right? To me it’s a lifeline.” I pick up one of the snacks and examine it. “Besides, to train where I do, you’d have to give up your life as is, and travel out of the village.” Each of them have a strong an unique fruity scent to them.
“I see.” She leans back against the wall. “And you can’t train me personally?”
“I’ll be leaving again in a few days, and I can’t promise I’ll come back either.” I take a bite of the snack, and- god dammit it’s sour.
She just laughs at my reaction. “Endure it for a little longer. Trust me.”
As she said, it’s starting to get sweet. They’re not bad, actually.
“They are kinda famous, or infamous depending on how you look at it, around here. People use them for a game of dare all the time, because of their strong flavor.” I can see why, but they’re infinitely better than the instant food I have to endure back outside.
“Say,” I finish off the first of the snacks, “back there, did you really fight at full strength?”
“Why? You won. That’s the end, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, well,” I think I’d better be frank with her, “you weren’t a challenge.”
“Well excuse me.” She huffs out her cheeks in a pout.
“Don’t get me wrong. I felt something more from you, some talent or some skill.” I tell her. “But it was like you weren’t able to fight me at full strength.”
She rubs her neck. “Busted.” She claps her hands together and bows. “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
“I’m not one to hold grudges over something so petty.” I tell her. “Just tell me why.”
“How should I explain it? It’s like, when I concentrate on my opponents, it feels like I can read their thoughts. I know exactly what they’re going to do and how they’ll respond to what i do. Last time I did though, I ended up breaking my opponents arm. I have to be careful, you understand, right?”
“I do, actually,” I really do, it’s not easy handling strength, “but you know, my school of martial arts turn both your body and mind into a weapon capable of fighting youkai barehanded. You couldn’t bruise me even if you tried.”
She perks up. “Do I sense a challenge?”
“As soon as you’ve recovered, I want to fight you again, at full strength.” The pride and honor of a martial artist is to fight against others. To test all their training, all their ideals and all their beliefs against someone else’s. And right now, I want to clash with Kotohime. This girl is capable of more than she letting on, but so am I.
“I’ll hold you to that.” There it is, that glow I saw in the fight. “But alas, you’re right. I should recover first. My body is aching all over. It’ll probably be unbearable tomorrow.”
“Take a hot bath, then wrap cold towels around the aching areas.” I tell her. “That’s how we deal with it back where I’m from.”
“And what, sit around doing nothing?” She places her hands on her hips and look at me like I just said something obviously stupid. “I’d rather deal with sore muscles tomorrow than boredom today.”
 “I could keep you entertained, if you’ll take it easy.”  “Just sharing some advise because I know how much it’s going to hurt.”
---------- Dunno if I'm most surprised about the fact I managed to finish this update on time, or the length of it. Anyway this was the last update I could squeeze out in my vacation. Updates will go back to have a month between them.
========== Human Village, North District- 26th of More Clothes Month, 08:55 Gensokyo day 2 ==========
“If you want to walk around with sore muscles, then so be it.” I shrug. “Not like I can tell you anything else. However,” I seem to catch her off guard, “I want you to be in top condition for our next match. Be sure to rest before then.”
A second passes where she does nothing but stare at me, before she plasters this big smirk on her face. “Of course, of course. On the condition that,” she gives my disabled arm a tab, “you get that working again, if possible.”
“I never said anything was wrong with it.” I note to her.
“But you don’t appear to be the type to give that kind of advantage,” she explains. “I know you were holding back as well, but it wasn't because of your arm.”
Perceptive, isn’t she?
“It’ll recover in time,” I assure her, “Nothing I can do to speed it up.”
A young man lazily approaches Kotohime from behind. “So this is why you took the day off.” He notes. “I can understand wanting to go on a date, but this early?”
“C-Captain?” She exclaims, stumbling backwards in surprise.
I turn to take a look myself and I’m met with a young man around my age, I’d wager. His most notable features would be the somewhat long golden brown hair tied back in a ponytail, and his bluish emerald eyes, which seem kinda distant if I gotta be honest. Tired, perhaps?
“We aren’t on a date, right Ryuko?” Kotohime continues, though with his eyes locked on me, I doubt he’s paying much attention to her.
“‘Ryuko’? Why couldn’t I have chosen a name like that?” He shakes his head and extends his hand to greet me, but quickly retracts it. “Wait, that’s not how you do it in this country,” he says, bowing instead. “Marty Schwartz, I’m Kotohime’s direct superior.”
I return the formality and bow. “A foreigner?” I ask.
“Northwest Europe” he answers. “But that doesn’t matter. I’d like to borrow your girlfriend for a while, if you don’t mind.”
“I’m telling you, we’re not dating.” She continues to insist.
“Sure,” I reply.
“Why aren’t you objecting?” She starts to yell at me instead.
“I should probably get going soon anyway,” I tell him. I never planned on even going with Kotohime, it just sorta happened.
I thank Kotohime for the treat and take my leave, even if she’s too defeated to pay me much mind.
If not for his accent, I might have mistaken him for a native. The denizens of Gensokyo don't appear to have a shortage of unnatural traits, so seeing people with unusual hair colors doesn’t really seem all that strange.
But I can ponder the traits of nationality for Gensokyo later; I seem to be lost.
I didn’t pay much attention when Kotohime was dragging me around, so I have no idea which way to go to return to the shrine I was at.
I know I’m at the northern end of the village. We never crossed the main street either, so I’m still on the west side. If I head straight east or south, I’ll reach one of the two main streets for sure. From there I should be able to find my way back.
========== Human Village, North District - 09:19 ==========
The name ‘Human Village’ is actually quite misleading.
It’s closer to being a town, or maybe even a small city. It takes a lot of time just walking around. Even after twenty minutes of walking in the same general direction, I still haven’t reach either of the main streets.
“Found you!” A voice yells at me from behind-
Without thinking I draw back my foot, turning sideways just in time to watch some projectiles fly past me.
Behind me stands a young brunette in a shrine maiden-
She’s wearing a scarf, yet her shoulders are exposed. Why?
“Oi, Reimu, what’s the rush?” A blond witch darts our from around the corner.
‘Reimu’, long brown hair, detached sleeves; could she be Hakurei?
Her friend would be Kirisame Marisa then. Blonde hair and dressed a western witch in black and white.
“He’s the one.” The shrine maiden exclaims, pulling out a card from, who knows where.
A measly “What?” is all I manage to say before she raises the card, yelling “Divine Spirit ‘Fantasy Seal -Blink-’” from the top of her lungs.
I sling my bag at her, partly to throw her off, but largely to free myself of the extra luggage.
The shrine maiden dives beneath it, letting it collide with the unaware witch, knocking her over.
From her hunched position, the brunette launches sideways, leaving behind heaps of talismans frozen in the air.
She comes to an abrupt halt, only to launch herself in a new direction immediately afterwards. Only this time, the talismans she left behind last time start flying towards me with alarming speed.
Just what the hell is going on?
---------- I know this update is on the short side.
I wasn't satisfied with how the second half of this update turned out, so I can't in good faith post it.
But at the same time, I wouldn't let you wait much longer for a new update. I'm already slow as it is.
========== Human Village, North District - 26th of More Clothes Month 09:20 Gensokyo day 2 ==========
Reimu stands frozen in shock at the sight.
Each and every talisman thrown bursts into flames as the spell border collapses around us.
With the afterglow of Spell Break still emitting from my hand, I pull off my jacket. The new hole in the back makes it kind of useless.
And just because she suddenly manipulates space. When the hell was she able to do that? Having those ofuda appear from behind is a really dirty trick.
Having recovered, the young miss flicks her hand and a few long needles appear in between her fingers.
I hold up my hand in front of me, forming the most basic gesture used in spell crafting. My spiritual energy starts circulating, fueling every part of my body with fresh energy.
“Damn creepy eyes.” She mutters before darting at me.
“Kabe!” I yell as I swing my hand sideways, drawing a line through the air.
A wall of pure energy rises in front of me, blocking her path.
She jumps, easily clearing the barrier. Still in the air, she throws her needles.
“Shit.” I raise my arm, letting all six projectiles pierce it.
Right about now I miss my left arm. Getting these needles out would really be nice.
I take a step forward and bring my leg upwards into a high kick. It scores a deep stomach blow as she descends, sending her back into the air.
She stays in the air, clutching her stomach.
I take the opportunity to bite into a needle and pull it out.
A few projectiles hitting the ground around me quickly direct my attention back to the floating girl.
She throws another set which stops in midair. Aligned with the previous set, it creates a barrier, blocking me in.
With the barrier active she boxes herself in, in another smaller barrier and- Oh fuck no. The same trick isn’t going to work on me twice.
I ignite my spiritual energy, creating an aura around me. At the same time, Reimu starts shooting out talismans in all directions.
As they reach the walls of her barrier, they disappear only to reappear inside my barrier.
When they hit me earlier, I learned what they target and how much power they have. So if I simply turn up the volume of my power output, these should be destroyed no problem.
And just as predicted, the ofuda bursts aflame as they enter my range.
The barrage quickly ceases when she realizes how futile it is.
“And apparently this is now happening.” She says, brushing some hair out of the way. “Could this day get any worse?”
“Having a bad day?” I ask. “Then let me tell you something useful. You can only use your attacks on me once, before they become useless.”
“That’s supposed to cheer me up?” She asks.
“That’s a vital piece of information if you plan on defeating me.” I answer.
She responds with a grunt. She looks around for a moment before dashing off behind a building. Less than a moment later her spiritual energy vanishes.
What’s she up- Behind!
I spin, directing her incoming foot past me.
She quickly regains footing and escape out of my field of view. Her spiritual energy disappears immediatly afterwards.
This time she comes at me from the side. I throw my arm at her.
She ducks and circles around, out of my view once more.
Her energy disappeared again along with her.
I spin around just as she reappears midair, coming at me hands clenched tightly.
I quickly cover my face, bracing my entire body for her punch.
Her energy disappears before she hits me. No, wait, she’s below.
With a distinct glow surrounding her hand, she executes a near perfect punch. Her hand moves from her shoulder towards my guts in a straight line. Her feet, knees, hips, spine, shoulder, wrist, everything rotating ever so slightly allowing her to put all her weight into this attack.
A muffled crunch echoes throughout me as her fist connects.
But she didn’t hit any bones.
I move my arm, allowing for a better view of her. She stands frozen. Her outstretched arm trembles slightly. Her eyes are locked on the point where she connected despite the water building up in them.
“Reimu,” I ask for her attention, “You okay?”
“I’m fine.” She states.
“Does it hurt?” I ask.
“Doesn’t hurt.” She mumbles.
“Need a break?” I ask.
She wait a second before responding, but she ends up nodding.
Slowly pulling her hand back, she gently caress her knuckles.
“If you’re too hurt to go on, just say so.” I tell her. “It’s no fun if you- Guhh!” Without warning, she sends me flying.
I find myself looking up at a very confused young man.
I quickly pick myself back up from the remains of what used to be a stall.
A quick look around reveals that I’ve end up at the main street. So it was this close?
I crack my neck. “You should probably get out of here.” I tell the guy. “Reimu is not happy, and she’s coming this way.”
As if to prove my point, the shrine maiden walks out from the alley she knocked me out from, adjusting her sleeve with one hand and carrying new charms in the other.
It doesn’t look like my new friend needs more convincing as he and his fellows start running leaving me alone with the brunette once more. Only this time we have a bigger playground.
“Damn you’re sturdy,” She sighs “and it’s really starting to annoy me.”
“Really?” I ask. “Because you get more and more interesting with each trick you pull out.” I rotate my shoulder into a crack. “I mean I’m a heavy fucking giant. Throwing me several meters isn’t an easy feat.”
“I know.” She states.
“What, no explaining on how you did it?” I ask. She answers with complete silence. “Very well, guess I render your attacks useless.” I bluff.
Her brow twitches at my word. She pulls out another card and declares her spell.
Oh fucking hell!
Did I push her too far?
She darts straight at me.
I instinctively draw a line, creating a barrier between her and I.
She phases right through it.
As she closes the remaining distance she closes her eyes.
A handful of orbs appear from underneath her clothes, each shining in a color of its own.
The orbs start spinning at a speed where even my eyes can’t keep up, leaving only a blurred circle to be seen.
In no time flat, I find myself surrounded by bullets.
No where to move.
No where to escape.
All I can do is play the turtle, and with my shell that shouldn't be a problem.
I curl myself up the best I can and take each hit as they come.
I feel my body slowly going numb as each bullet pierces my defense. Each sting growing worse than the previous.
But I keep persisting through. Vitality is my single greatest attribute, rivaled only by my endurance. I can’t lose to something on this level.
It’s only a matter of time before the bullets starts thinning out. The orbs slow down, and Reimu slowly exits her translucent state.
Without hesitation, I jab her square in the face, breaking her concentration and the spell.
Not letting up, I continue by jabbing her right below the ribs, forcing her to bend over slightly before following up with and uppercut.
Finally having knocked her down, I jump back to take a breather and measure the damage she did-
I can feel the limit of my spiritual energy.
I can actually feel the limit of my spiritual energy. That’s- Not since the time it expanded have I felt the limit.
Her spell, it attacks the spirit rather than the body?
I see. In that case I just have to use a different form of defense.
I’ve dealt with that kind of enemy before, but I gotta say, this is different.
“I have to say, Reimu, you are everything I expected and more.” Strong opponents, that’s what keeps fighting so fun and interesting.
“God dammit.” She pound the ground before picking herself back up. “God dammit.” She curses again as she lays eyes one me. “And would you stop smirking already? It’s pissing me off.”
“Heh, sorry.” I wave off her comment. “It’s just that fighting you is so much fun.”
She grits her teeth.
Her gaze quickly shifts to the side for a second before returning to me.
I’m about to look myself, but the shrine maidens sudden movement keeps my attention on her.
With a single leap she closes the distance between us.
“Divine Arts,” she pulls out yet another spell card, “Omnidirectional Demon Binding Circle.”
The card flashes for a second before disappearing.
A glowing circle appears beneath our feet before walls shoot out from the ground, trapping us.
As I look back, Reimu has disappeared back outside the barrier, waving towards the sky.
I follow her gaze to the witch hanging over the hole at the top of the barrier.
“Love Sign,” She declares.
“Master,” She moves her hands back.
“No no no.”
“Spark!” She yells out as she fires her attack.
“No no no no no.” Is all I can muster as the beam of imminent pain approaches.
A deafening sound and blinding light engulf me as my mind goes numb from the pain.
The rapidly rising temperature of my skin indicates that my sense of touch is returning to me.
And my fucking god does it sting. It feels like I got a sunburn all over my body, just like that time I fainted during midsummer training.
I just shake my head, forcing the pain back.
My mind goes blank as the beam strikes me once more.
“Would you stop that?” I scream out as soon as the attack subsides.
Before I even finish the question, the next beam is on it’s way down already.
The barrier surrounding me shatters, meeting it’s limit as the latest attack dies down.
“Stop it!” I swing my arm- and oh fuck it hurts to move. “You’ve already given me first degree burns. Are you trying to give me second degree as well?”
“Just who the hell are you?” The shrine maiden has grown visibly confused at this point.
“Wait, you didn’t already know that?” I ask her. The question only seems to add to her confusion. “Reimu, I’m your counterpart. I’m a priest at the Hakurei Shrine in the outside world.”
“No way. No way.” She raises her voice at the last one. “That’s impossible. There’s no way you’re a human. There’s no way you’re a Hakurei.”
“As little as I want to admit it, I’m human.” I tell her. “Or at the very least I can’t surpass the human limit.” I want to shrug it off, but my skin is killing me. It hurts to even speak. “But trust me, Reimu, when I say I’m only a human.”
“I’m sorry but I don’t have any reason to trust -”
“Junya Ota.” Just as I mention his name, Reimu reach for my collar and pulls me down to her level with surprising strength.
“How?” Is all she asks.
“He’s my mentor.” I state matter-of-factly. “He’s the one who taught me about Gensokyo, about the Hakurei Barrier, and about my role in relation to those.”
She lets go of me, allowing me to stand back up. “That’s- But-”
“If you still don’t believe me, then lady Akyuu would be able to confirm it.” I tell her. Mentor went to Gensokyo a lot, and judging from Akyuu, the two of them have spoken quite a bit. At least that’s the impression I got from her when we talked yesterday.
With one hand covering her mouth and eyes dart all over the place, Reimu thoroughly thinks this through. “Then, if that’s true,” she starts, looking back up at me, “are you then saying I’m not the last Hakurei? That there still are some on the other side of the barrier?”
Her expression, it’s, I don’t know, soft? When she fought, her expression was sharp, keen, stern even. Now, it’s soft. Not friendly or sad nod welcoming. It’s just soft. Combined with the lack of her fierce aura, it feels like she’s a different person.
“I’m afraid not.” I tell her. “There’s only me, and even I am not a Hakurei, despite how much I might wish otherwise.”
“Reimu. What the hell is going on.” A voice from behind calls out.
Seriously? That’s the second time it’s happened today. I’d be tempted to believe it’s a custom here in Gensokyo, if we hadn’t just stirred up quite the trouble.
This time it’s a woman. If her matching blue dress and hair wasn’t a dead giveaway about who she is, then that object she chooses to use as a hat most definitely will. Kamishirasawa Keine, a were hakutaku working as both the guardian and a teacher of the Human Village. She’d be a little more threatening if ‘hakutaku’ didn’t sound so cute, but that comes from a guy with a girl’s name, so I’m not one to judge.
“I’m sorry, Reimu,” the witch runs up behind her, “But I couldn’t hold her back any longer.”
“I’m sorry, Miss,” I answer instead her, “But there was a misunderstanding between us which escalated quite a bit.” I glance over at Reimu. As she notices my stare, she switches to look at the teacher instead.
“You can say that again.” She places her hands on her hip. “So, do you know how much damage you’ve caused?”
“A wooden stand and about three cubic meters worth of snow.” I tell her. Most of that snow was from the witch’s laser.
“We may be trigger happy, but we are not irresponsible, you know.” Reimu joins in.
“Are you saying that before or after taking the fact you just had a fight without a spell border in the middle of the village, into account?” She asks. Before either of us gets the chance to reply, she sighs and continues. “Look, if you’re sure that’s all you damaged, then compensate it and try not to let it happen again.”
“Yeah, compensate her, big guy.” The shrine maiden urges me on.
“You were the one who threw me into the stand.” I point out. “Besides, I kinda lost my bag back there, if you didn’t notice.”
“You mean that strange container you threw?” The witch butts in. “I brought it in case we needed to check it for suspicious content, but looks like that won’t be necessary.” Strange container? It’s just a duffel bag. There’s nothing strange about those.
I fish out a small pouch and hand the teacher five yen.
She looks at the money, then back at me.
“Not enough?” I ask.
“No, it’s too much, actually.”
“Then keep the rest as an apology for the trouble caused.” I tell her with a well practiced smile.
“Well, if we’re done here,” the witch speaks up, “then I think I’ll get back to my experiment. I’ll catch you later Reimu.” She takes a running start before getting on her broom.
“And you,” Reimu then directs the attention to me, “We have a lot to talk about.” She takes me by the wrist and starts dragging with haste.
“Eh? But-” the teacher tries to protest, but Reimu drags me away too quickly for her to to react to what happened.
========== Path to the Hakurei Shrine - 10:04 ==========
Reimu stops before the entrance to a small forested area. She turns around facing me with the same sharp look she had back in the village.
“We shouldn’t get interrupted here.” She informs me. “I still don’t trust you, just so we’re clear on that. But say I believe your claim to be working for the Hakurei clan. That still leaves a few questions, like how the hell are you able to take that much damage and still stand? And if you’re from the outside then what are you doing in here? But most importantly, where did you get all that money?”
“Really, that’s your first question? Money?” I had hoped for something a little more exciting. “I don’t know the exact numbers, however, the value of a single yen in the outside is worth around point two percentage of what it’s worth here in Gensokyo. For example, what’s the price for a a cabbage head?” I ask her.
“You can get one for 3 sen I think, might be a bit more expensive.” She answers, visibly curious about where I’m going with this.
“And 30 sen is point zero three yen, right?” She nods. “One cabbage head in the outside world costs around 130 yen.”
She opens her mouth, about to say something but stops, thinking it over once more. “Why is it worth so little?” Is what she finally asks.
“Couldn’t tell you.” I tell her flatly. “The history of economics isn’t something I expect to ever put to use, so I never bothered learning about it.”
“Right,” she breaks eye contact, “just wanted to make sure you didn’t steal that from anywhere.” She clears her throat and recomposes herself. “So, what exactly are you doing here?” She asks.
“My mentor had some urgent business, so I was sent here in his stead to deliver a package to the Child of Are.” I tell her. It’s really that simple. “It appeared to be a letter, but what was written in it, I don’t know.” I answer her question before she gets to ask it.
“I see.” She cross her arms. “And now for the big question. How can you take three of Marisa’s Master Sparks, still stand and then call your self human? I mean taking my Fantasy Nature or her Master Spark once isn’t that bad, but still.”
“Is it really that hard to believe?” I ask her.
“You have more spiritual energy than the vast majority of youkai. In fact, I can count the number of youkai that can match your amount, on one hand. For a human, that’s not normal.” She reasons. “Don’t get me started on your endurance again. And finally there’s your eyes.” She lists, adding a finger with each statement.
“Okay, my eyes, they’re easy to explain. You see, back outside, yellow isn’t a natural eye color. Given my easily recognizable appearance, having unnatural eyes would just draw too much unwanted attention. So we enchanted them to be blue. The enchantment, however, is broken whenever I use magic. After a few minutes it kicks back in again, however.”
“Uhuh?” She raise an eyebrow. “I was going to refer to the slit pupil thing, but thanks for the story.”
Slit pupil? Last I checked they were perfectly normal, with and without enchantment. Not that I specifically look for it, but I think it’d be hard to miss, even with just a casual look in the mirror.
“What are you talking about?” I ask.
“Your right eye.” She says, pointing to her left, mirroring it for me. “During the fight it was slit. We have a myriad of eye colors here, even amongst humans, so I’m not concerned about that.”
“Wait, it was?” I hold my fingers against the eye. “I honestly don’t know anything about that. I’ll have to have Doc check it out for me. But I swear Reimu,” I quickly go back to topic, “that has never happened before.”
She eyes me with suspicion but urges me to continue on regardless.
“Regarding my spiritual energy, well,” I pause for a moment, thinking through how I want to go about it. “I had this ‘incident’ a few years back, rather not talk about it.” I explain. “During this incident I was almost killed by having my life drained. As a form for improvised self defense mechanism, my body started to produce energy in an abundance to protect my life. If not for that I’d have died. Afterwards, however, it didn’t stop. Even after the danger was over, I kept producing more and more energy, which forced my capacity to expand.” I explain. There’s more to it, but that just about sums it all up.
“And I’m supposed to feel sorry?” She asks, crossing her arms.
“No.” I answer. “You asked, I answered. Besides, I came out on top, stronger than ever. I don’t see what you can feel sorry about.”
“Right. And the last question.”
“I’m resistant to magic.” I state matter of factually. “Don’t bother asking, because your guess is a good as mine. I have no idea why, but I am.” Though I believe Doc knows why. At the very least he knows how to bypass it when healing me. “Other than that, it’s just a matter of endurance, an aspect which I pride myself on.” I add the last part with a smirk.
After a few moments of silence she speaks up. “Okay, I got it.”
“So you believe me?” I ask.
“No.” As deadpan as it gets. “I don’t trust you, but I feel like I can’t brush off what you’re saying. That’s why,” She points up at me, “you’re going to stay at the shrine where I can keep an eye on you.”
“Not giving me a choice?”
“Not giving you a choice.”
I sigh. If that’s what it takes to convince her, then fine. I’ve done what I came here to do. I just have to wait out the remaining time.
========== Hakurei Shrine - 10:47 ==========
”- And that’s where you’ll sleep.” She spins around. “That’s the essentials of the shrine. Any questions?”
“No,” I shake my head, “the layout is pretty much the same as my shrine. I should be able to get around on my own.”
She nods off to take care of her own business.
I withdraw to my new room to rest and recover. I may have won the battle, but I also suffered the most wounds. But that’s the price for using a defensive style.
The room is simple, if not barren. Towards the back there’s a small table with a pillow as a seat. The corner is occupied by a thin full body mirror. The closet has a single futon.
All of it is covered by a fine layer of dust, revealing it's lack of usage.
I throw my bag over in the corner next to the mirror and take a seat in the middle of the room.
Without Doc around, I have to rely on my own body to heal. Preserving as much energy as I can is a priority for the time being. I also need to replace the vast amount of spirit Reimu destroyed.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath.
I feel my surroundings disappear as I slowly draw into myself, shutting the outside world off entirely.
========== Unknown - ??:?? ==========
 A bright yet chilling light calling out to me without a sound  A cordial feeling darkness trembling with an unheard noise
And to avoid a pointlessly small update, what will you be doing tomorrow?  First thing on the day is morning workout. This body don’t maintain itself  Reimu doesn’t seem to do much excess cleaning. I should probably help her out  The walkway out in front of the shrine was entirely covered in snow. Let’s fix it  Breakfast. In terms of taste, I suck, but I balance the nutritions excellent  The roof probably has seen worse days, but fixing it up before the snow starts melting could never hurt.  It's going to take most, if not all of the day, but I could probably fix up the whole shrine.
>>29933 Hopefully it fulfills your criteria for 'good'. I could nitpick at this update, but I'm quite happy with it myself.
Calling it for: [X] A cordial feeling darkness trembling with an unheard noise And both: [X] Breakfast. In terms of taste, I suck, but I balance the nutritions excellent [X] It's going to take most, if not all of the day, but I could probably fix up the whole shrine
In terms of schedule, these two align quite nicely. With that said, the first vote was rather one-sided. Did I let my own bias influence the phrasing too much?
Anyway, some good news is that I have this week off, so I'll be writing as much as I can.
There’s nothing as far as the eye can see, nothing but pure darkness. The only sound present is the beating of my heart, echoing within me. I feel no ground beneath my feet, yet I can stand on a surface.
This is a space with nothing in it. Yet it feels warm, as if it was filled to the brim with life itself.
It’s lonely, yet comforting.
At least, that’s how I remember this place being from the last time I came here, wherever ‘here’ is. This time, it’s different.
I’m not alone.
Or perhaps it’s just that I wasn’t aware of it until now, though I want to doubt that, as it’s hard to miss a dragon.
Yeah, you heard right; a dragon.
A being regarded as one of the highest even amongst the divine. A being so powerful even youkai worship it. I want to doubt that I could ever in my wildest dreams ignore such a being.
A rough estimate says it’s about as thick as my forearm is long. From tail to snout it spans about three times my height, probably a bit more. It’s hard to tell when it’s curled up like that. The scales covering it’s body look like newly fallen snow, and it’s mane is of a pale jade color. The horns are small but noticeable. Since it’s sleeping, I can’t get a look at it’s eyes, but I’d say that’s for the better. I have a feeling that locking eyes with it would do nothing if not send fear down my spine.
Taking all that into consideration, this dragon seems to be rather small; young might be a better word.
The dragons from legends are big enough to wrap around the entire Chinese wall and more. So big that even when they appear in our realm, they can’t descend beneath the sky.
I believe that to be an exaggeration, to put it mildly. But legends are spun from the truth. Even if they weren’t that big, I’m willing to bet that a being of such stature would be, I don’t know, four times the size of this one.
But that still begs the question, why didn’t I notice it?
The first time I came here was back when the shrine was attacked by an insanely strong youkai. The second time was during the ritual a few months back was I were officially welcomed into the Hakurei clan.
But why am I here again? Where is this place, and what’s its purpose?
Neither Doc, Coach nor Mentor could answer me, and there’s nothing here to even point me in a direction.
It’s frustrating. I want answers but have no way of getting them.
========== Hakurei Shrine - 27th of More Clothes Month 04:09 Gensokyo day 3 ==========
Really? Getting worked up over a dream? I swear I haven’t been myself these last few months.
With a bit of effort I manage to slip on a fresh tank top, free of holes and sweat.
I won’t be able to dress up like yesterday, not on my own anyway. Such is the inconvenience of a limp arm.
Oh well, this’ll just have to do. I better start on my morning routine now. There’s lots to be done today.
========== Hakurei Shrine - 27th of More Clothes Month 07:43 ==========
“I don’t know whether this is amazing or not.” She puts down the bowl. “I never thought it was possible to kill the natural flavor of rice.”
I give her a thumbs up. “There’s nothing I can’t kill, Reimu.”
“That wasn’t a compliment.”
She raises an eyebrow as she scans my face. It looks like she’s about to say something, but drops it in favor of finishing the bowl.
I close the door behind me and join Reimu under the kotatsu. These things are amazingly pleasant, actually. We don’t have one back outside, though I kind of wish we had. It’d be so much more pleasant than having to workout just to stay warm. Although if that was the case, I think I’d get out of shape easily during the winter.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” the shrine maiden rests her chin on top of the table, “what happened to your arm?”
“Well,” how should I even put it? “A piece of the Hakurei goddess has been embedded into my soul to allow me to more easily draw on her power, essentially.” I scratch my chin. That should summarize it nicely. “Once she’s settled in, I’ll be able to use my arm again.”
“I see.” She tries to blow her bangs out of her eyes, but they just fall back down in her face. After another failed attempt she gives up and instead just close her eyes. “That’s kind of a relief, actually. I was afraid you were just holding back yesterday.”
But I was holding back. The core principle of defensive fighting is to only attack when you’re absolutely certain that you can safely land a hit. The rest of the time you take hits, dodge or parry. The turtle strategy takes it a step further and abandons all offense for the sake of defense.
“You’re by no means weak, Reimu, if that’s what you’re worried about. You’re just inexperienced.” I tell her. “Had you stuck to your strong points instead of fighting on my terms, you’d probably have won.”
“Strong points? I’m pretty well-rounded, I think.” She seems to drift into thought as she finishes her comment.
“Alright then, let’s analyze the fight and reveal what your strengths are.”
“Pass.” She raises her hand in protest before letting in fall on the table. “Sounds like a bother, so can we skip it?”
“Well, that’s the fun part, but sure.” I shrug it off. “You excel at ranged combat, Reimu. And think about it, the only times I attacked you was when you were close, right? If you’d kept your distance you’d have held the advantage.”
“Ranged, huh?” She casually brushes my remark aside.
A few minutes pass with neither of us saying anything. I opt to just relax and enjoy the warmth of the table. And try as I might, I have zero clue as to what goes on behind Reimu’s stoic expression as she continue to stare out through the slightly ajar door.
“I think it’s about time I head out.” She suddenly breaks the silence.
“And you’re just gonna leave me here alone?” I ask her. “Even though you said you didn’t trust me?”
“But you won’t be alone.” Using her thumb, she points to the area behind her. Which is filled by a shelf. “She’ll be keeping an eye on you.”
“Mind coming out for a moment?” She asks, not bothering to lift her head from the table.
I’m about to answer when someone beats me to it. “No.” They reply sternly.
“That’s not what we agreed to yesterday.” Reimu complaints.
The doll house on top of the shelf, which I assumed to be little more than decoration, suddenly have the doors flung open. A little girl stands in the opening, clad in nothing but a white shirt. And when I say ‘small girl’ I don’t mean to refer to her petite curves or her young appearance, but her size. She’s no taller than the distance between the tip of my thumb and pinkie.
“But it’s too cold today.” She yells out. “Days like this should be spent under the-” She trails off as she makes eye contact with me. Then, just as suddenly as they had opened, the doors are slammed shut again. “If you’re having a guy visiting, tell me before I walk around without wearing anything, Reimu!”
“Doesn’t actually make a difference to me.” I note. Ogling women will only distract me from my work.
“But it does to me!” She yells out from her little chamber.
The shrine maiden gives the small doors a knock. “I’ll leave him in your care for the time being.” With that said, she exits the room, going deeper into the shrine. Presumable to her own room, but who knows.
With her gone, the room falls silent.
It only takes a few minutes before the mini-girl opens the doors to her little house. Wrapped tightly in a small blanket, she floats down and lands on the table.
She keeps staring at me for a while before suddenly stating, “You’re even taller than that old lady that keeps coming to harass Ms. Reimu.”
“And you truly live up to the name ‘Inchling’” I note. Now that we got the obvious out of the way, “I take it you’re Sukuna Shinyoumaru?”
“It’s Shin-myou-maru,” she corrects me, “but yes, I am. And I’m afraid I don’t know who you are, so if it’s not too much to ask, may I have your name?”
“I’m Hakurei Ryuko.” I tell her. “It’s no wonder you haven’t heard of me, this is the first time I’ve come to Gensokyo.”
“You mean you’re from the outside?” Right after asking, she catch herself and recomposes her posture. “I mean, this is the first time I have met someone from the other side of the border.”
“I’m honored to be your first,” I tell her, having chosen the words deliberately. “And likewise, this is my first time meeting a kobito.”
“It’s my pleasure.” She says, not reacting to my words at all.
“You know, you don’t have to be so formal around me.” I tell her.
“But it would be unbecoming of me to speak carelessly, as the princess of the kobito.” She argues.
I’m tempted to point out that moments earlier, she appeared before me clad in nothing but a small shirt; and I do mean nothing. But that wouldn’t be fair since she didn’t realize I was even there, so I’ll let it slide this time.
With nothing else to say, we fall silent again.
As nice as it is to be able to do nothing but relax, I have to admit that just lying around is boring. Maybe it’s a result of pushing my body every day for years on end, but there’s something telling me to go do something, anything. It makes my days off pure hell, because I’m not allowed to do anything but rest. But right now nothing is stopping me. These injuries are nothing compared to what I’m used to. Which is kinda sad, when I think about it.
I roll over on my stomach and crawl out from underneath the table.
“Where’re you going?” The little princess asks.
“To work.” I answer. “Care to join me?”
“I think I’ll pass.” She answers. “With this size, I won’t be able to help much.”
“Suit yourself.” I tell her as I head out the front door.
First order of business, to clear away this snow.
It’s almost spring, but there’s still this much snow falling, so I’ll have to make sure the shrine is prepared for a long winter afterwards.
========== Hakurei Shrine - 27th of More Clothes Month 17:24 ==========
“And that should do it.” I move back a little to admire my handy work. “Thanks again for helping me.”
“Not a problem at all, Mr. Ryuko.” My little friend wipes some sweat off. “It’s much easier to keep an eye on you like this anyway.”
A needle flies past me, grazing my cheek with deadly precision before shattering the roof tile I just finished mounting.
“And what do you think you’re doing to my shrine?” Reimu’s voice comes from directly behind me.
“Come on, I just replaced that one.” I complain.
“I’ll ask again.” She states.
I sigh and carefully stand up, as to not fall off the roof, and face her. “I’m maintaining the shrine where you’ve neglected it.” I tell her.
“I see.” she takes a deep breath. “But the roof was fine. Why replace anything on it?”
“Nothing was damaged, but water could leak through.” I tell her. “Come spring, all this snow will melt into the building.”
“Mr. Ryuko, you’re bleeding.” The inchling points out.
“Nothing new about that.” I wipe my cheek, feeling the clean cut with my thumb. “Mind helping me with that tile again, Sukuna?”
“When you’re done, come to the living room.” The priestess demands before descending to the ground.
“So, what is it Reimu?” I slide the door shut behind me.
I see the little princess has already found the warmth of her blanket again.
“Here.” She pats on a piece of cloth next to her.
With no further instructions I opt to move closer to her. “Wait, this is,” I pick up the cloth and it unfolds into a familiar red haori. “It is, but I thought I abandoned it in the village.”
“You had decided to abandon it? Then this was just a waste of time.” The shrine maiden rests her head in her palm.
“No, I mean yes, but no.” I stumble over my own words. “You blew a hole in it, making it kind of useless, so I took it off. Then you dragged me away before I had a chance to retrieve it. I had just accepted that it was gone.” I explain.
“Yeah, and I went back to get it fixed for you. Since it was my fault and all.” She picks up a cookie from the bowl on the table and starts nibbling away at it.
The material used to repair the hole is different. It feels rougher to the touch, and the pattern is slightly off. I dunno if it’s as durable as the rest, but it’ll definitely help keep me warm.
I didn’t expect this.
I honestly didn’t expect this of Reimu.
She says she doesn’t trust me, then leaves me relatively alone in her home while she gets my clothes fixed.
I don’t know what to say, except, “Thank you.”
========== Hakurei Shrine - 28th of More Clothes Month 08:48 Gensokyo day 4 ==========  Sukuna asked if I could spare some time to indulge her.  A certain hermit decided to drop by.  Ask Reimu for permission to leave the shrine for a while - Go find Kotohime. - Maybe Akyuu is up for some chatting.
>>29983 Actually, that was, well, not a rhetorical question, but more like a loud thought. I didn’t expect an answer. But that’s interesting nonetheless. > And, in a world where vampires are moe and the grue walks into trees, ‘darkness’ isn't a bad word Uhuh? Well, I’m not gonna ruin the surprise.
That said, >>30024 >>30025 Technically, Kasen isn't the only hermit. She's the one most likely to visit Reimu, but she's not the only one. Just thought I should point that out.
>>30027 Yeah, just bothers me the way she turned out. Had to cut out most of her appearance to make the deadline. I'd have delayed the update, if I hadn't just done that two updates earlier. Don't wanna make it a habit.
>>30104 The deadline wasn't so much the problem. I just sorta 'forgot' to write anything down until the Thursday before. It's not an excuse or anything. I just fucked up. This time, however, I'm already halfway done with the second part of the update. I should be able to finish it for this weekend, which will give me plenty of time to polish it.
========== Hakurei Shrine - 28th of More Clothes Month 08:48 Gensokyo day 4 ==========
**“Reimu,” I slide the door to the living room open, “I think I might have,” my eyes are drawn to the brightly colored newcomer, “broken a tree. Greetings.” I give her a slight nod.
“You ‘think’ you ‘might’ have?” She asks.
“Well you see, the top half isn’t really connected to the roots anymore.” I try to explain carefully.
She raise an eyebrow at my explanation before sighing. “You know what? I really don’t want to deal with that right now. Just,” she waves her hand dismissively, “just get rid of it or something.”
I quickly shift my attention back to the newcomer. ‘Pink’ and ‘Chinese’ are the first two words to come to mind when I look at her.
I slide the door shut again to leave, but the new girl immediately calls out to me.
I slide the door back open. “What?”
“Don’t you have something else to say?” The look in her eyes is enough to send a chill down my spine; and I regularly stare death in the eyes without problems.
“Uhh.” I quickly glance around the room. Nothing out of the ordinary. Am I missing something? “Such as?”
“Well, what’s your excuse for being dressed so indecently?” She puts her hands on her hips. Now that I look at it, her left arm is bandaged. “And to appear as such in front of two young ladies. Have you no shame?”
Young? But youkai don’t look that old until at least three centuries. Well, it’s relatively young, but that’s another topic entirely.
“Exactly what is so indecent about it? The fact I’m topless?”
“Yes.” She states. “Have some decency. Reimu,” she calls the docile shrine maiden, “help me out some, would you?”
“Hey, I’m not about to complain about some free eye candy,” she says wearing a slight smirk of amusement, “just as long as it doesn’t go any further than that.” She finishes her statement by taking a bite off a cookie she was holding.
“What? How can you be so calm about it?” The pink girl asks.
“Why shouldn’t I be?” She retorts. “It’s just a naked chest. It’s not much different from any other man. Just like how yours and mine aren’t that different from other girl.” She finishes off her snack and picks up another one before continuing. “It’s natural. I never understood why people make such a fuss about it.”
Pinkie just stares at the priestess in disbelief for a moment. “Reimu, do you know why it’s called ‘Shrine Maiden’?”
I don’t think this is my conversation any longer, so I just slide the door shut and make my way back outside.
The logs still lies where I left it, to no one’s big surprise. Reimu said to just get rid of it, but how should I go about it? Chopping it up to firewood might be a good way to make use of it; although handling an ax with only one arm doesn’t strike me as a brilliant idea. I could just push in past the tree line. Lifting it is out of the question, but it’s not too tall so I should be able to drag it, even with just one arm.
“Geez she never learns.” The pink woman steps outside, rubbing her head as she complains. “Now where did he- He actually destroyed a tree.”
“The equipment back home has been treated, so it can take more punishment.” I note, directing her attention towards me. “What can I do for you?”
“You ran off before answering my question.” She states.
Her question? Oh right, topless. “The conversation shifted away, so I thought I’d get back training before I started to cool down.”
“Don’t try to change the topic again.”
But I didn’t change the topic last time.
I sigh and hold up my arm. “Look.” In this chilling weather, the heat escaping my body is easily visible, even in the dim light of a still rising sun. “If I were wearing any more clothes, I’d overheat.”
“Overheat from exercising, in winter no less?” She crosses her arms and looks at me with a raised eyebrow. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything like that.”
“Perhaps because our methods differ.” I get up and stretch my legs before greeting her properly. “I’m Ryuko of the Hakurei clan in the outside world.”
“Ah, uh, Ibaraki Kasen, Hermit.” She introduces herself as well.
“The one armed hermit?” I ask.
She nods slightly. “Yeah. You know of me?”
“Well you see,” I scratch my chin, “my mentor speaks quite fondly of you. Well, you and your two other friends of course.”
“Two others?” She brings her bandaged hand to her mouth. “And outside.” Her index finger gently rubbing her cheek as she ponders for a moment. “This ‘mentor’ of yours, he wouldn’t happen to be a mister Ota, would he?”
“Ota Junya.” I confirm. “Although Reimu told me not to use his name lightly.”
She chuckles. “I see, so that’s what that old drunkard has been up to.”
“Drunkard?” I ask. “No, I mean sure, he likes alcohol, a lot. And he’s drinking it, a lot. But I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen him drunk.”
“You just haven’t seen him sober, then.”
That- explains a lot actually. I never really thought about it that way. I just thought he really could hold his liquor.
“But that aside,” she continues, “I never thought little Jun would take on a disciple.”
“So, ‘old drunkard’ and ‘little Jun’, which is it?” I ask.
“Ah, well you see, the tavern we used to go to, he was known as an old drunkard because he was one of their most regular patrons. It was of course just a friendly joke, but the nickname stuck with him.” She explains. “Little Jun was more what we called him. We, as in our little group of four. It came around because he’s the youngest of us.”
"Perhaps now would be a good time to mention that I now Mentor isn't human."
The hermit falls silent. A few seconds pass where she tries to figure the meaning of my comment. Then, as the realization hits her, she turns towards one of the porch’s support beams. With no hesitation she throws her head at it, almost cracking it all the way through.
“I really messed up this time.” With her head still pressed against the beam, she glances over at me. “You won’t be telling anyone about this, right?”
“I would have no reason to.” I reassure her. “Any friend of Mentor is a friend of mine.”
“You really respect him, don’t you?” She brush some splinters out of her hair.
“There’s only one whom I respect more.” That being the Hakurei Goddess herself.
“I see.” She crosses her arms. “In that case, would you be interested in coming to my place to receive training under my guidance?”
“I wish to help.” She explains. “But there’s not a lot of things I can do from this side of the border.”
 I don’t think Reimu wants me to leave the shrine  I’d love to
========== Seems like I’ve made a mistake earlier. In post >>29881 I said you have around 8 days before you can go back outside again. That was wrong.
I redid the calculation and realized I forgot to count in the first day as well. 200 hours correspond to 8 days and 8 hours. Which means you can go home on Day 9 at 15:56 (or roughly just 6 pm)
Now, I redid the calculation because I wanted to tell you how much time you have left, since going to Kasen’s place is going to take more than just one day off the counter, which I wanted to make clear as well.
Oh, and sorry for the slight delay. My proofer was out of town. Voting will still be open for a week after the release.
>**“Reimu,” I slide the door to the living room open, “I think I might have,” my eyes are drawn to the brightly colored newcomer, “broken a tree. Greetings.” I give her a slight nod. >** FUCK! That's why I shouldn't post at 2am Tuesday morning.
 I don’t think Reimu wants me to leave the shrine won by 1 vote. I'll get working right away
========== Hakurei Shrine - 28th of More Clothes Month 10:06 Gensokyo day 4 ==========
“It would be an honor to train under you.” I tell her. She’s about to respond but I cut her off, “But I’m afraid I can’t. Reimu told me to stay here at the shrine, so I think it’s best to do as she says.”
“I see.” She rests her chin on her hand. “What if I came back in a few days, think Reimu would let you go then?”
“Well, in a few days I’m going back outside, and I don’t know when I’ll come back to Gensokyo,” I tell her, “or even if I’ll come back at all.”
“Hmm, that’s too bad then.” The hermit says.
“There’s nothing you can teach me here at the shrine?” I ask
“Only fundamentals I think you already know.” She answers. “Besides, I wouldn’t have the time to hang around for too long. I’d like to make sure my pets haven’t destroyed my house, again.”
“In that case I won’t keep you.”
“Right. Make sure to tell him I said ‘hi’ when you go back.”
“I will.” I assure her.
“And,” she places a hand on my shoulder, “good luck with this.”
With that, she walks out in the snow. Bringing a hand to her mouth, she whistles a loud and clear tone.
After a few seconds, the cry of an eagle echoes through the sky.
Ibaraki seems to follow the birds movement closely. She glances at me and give me a quick smile, before launching herself skyward.
The eagle cry out one more time, then everything just seems to quiet down.
I’m starting to feel the cold. Maybe it’d be best to just go inside again.
I walk past the living room, where I can hear Reimu’s voice. Presumably talking to Sukuna. I continue on; it’s not my business to know what they’re talking about.
My bag is placed up against the wall next to the closet, right beside the mirror. The clothes are in the main pocket of the bag, right beneath my supplies.
I quickly go through my rather monochrome wardrobe to get my black wool tank top. Warm and doesn’t restraint my movement.
A sudden surge forces me to grab my arm in pain. I can feel it throb in my hand, burning against my shoulder and stinging up throughout the arm.
My heart starts beating harder and faster.
My breath goes ragged as I force my voice down.
The muscles tighten to the point where it feels like they’re going to burst.
Just as suddenly as it started, it stops, leaving only a ringing in my ears and my heartbeat echoing through me behind.
I can feel my arm still twitching under my grip.
I felt it.
However short it may have been, I felt my arm again.
It still doesn’t respond when I try to move it, but I felt it.
Soon; I’ll get my arm back soon-
From the corner of my eye I catch glimpse of something in the mirror. Something that’s not supposed to be there.
 A woman. Long jet black hair. Transparent.  White spots. Along my healthy shoulder are clear white marks.
I wish I could do a Christmas special, but we haven't really gotten close enough to any one girl to where I can pull it off. At least not without spoilers.
And since I probably won't be able to update again within this year Marry Christmas
But that’s- I know I saw it. If even just for a second, I know I saw someone.
I send out a pulse of energy.
There’s someone right above the ceiling.
I quickly raise my hand, creating a spectral barrier right above the roof. “Show yourself!” I yell as I throw my hand down, dragging the barrier, and whatever it may catch along with it.
And now there’s a human shaped hole in the ceiling.
But, what I saw was see-through, it shouldn’t have been physical. At least not enough to break wood.
Trapped underneath my translucent barrier lies a woman. Although the cedar shade alters the color slightly, there’s no doubting this woman’s hair is as black as it gets.
It’s short, barely reaching past her neck, in fact.
It’s not her.
The door to the hallway is almost ripped from it’s frame as the local shrine maiden throws it open.
“What’s going on?” The young maiden is wrapped in a red glow, emitting a clear aura of hostility. “Aya?” Her eyes fall to the barrier in the middle of the room. “What are you doing here?”
In a few quick leaps I’m at the door, opposite Reimu. I fling it open and step outside, quickly looking around.
“Oh, you know. Just dropping by.” The crow answers awkwardly.
Not here either.
Assuming she’s a ghost, she wouldn’t leave any tracks in the snow. Not that I’d be able to track her like that after I’ve trampled almost all of it earlier.
“Guess that explains the hole in my roof.” The shrine maiden cracks her knuckles.
I let my spiritual power fully take over my sight, allowing me to see the trails left by other sources of energy.
No trail leading into the forest, nor back around the shrine, nor up above it.
“Wait, no no no. That wasn’t me.” The black haired woman hurriedly says. “That was him, not me.”
I look back at my room.
I see a small sphere of solid energy, emitting a constant crimson glow. Seems like Reimu’s energy. The yellowish mist-like energy must belong to that other woman then.
But that’s all I see. Only those two.
The woman I saw had long hair, this one has short hair, well, shorter. Could it be I saw wrong?
“He’s too bulky to make such a curvy shape.” Reimu reasons.
No, I refuse to believe that. I may not have true photographic memory, but I’m confident in the precision of my short term memory. Even though I only saw it for a split second, I know what I saw. It’s not this woman. I’m sure of it.
Then why can’t I see her energy?
“Hehe, well not many have this great figure.” The curvy crow rubs the back of her head before snapping back into the conversation. “No wait, that’s beside the point. I mean, yes, I was sneaking around up under the roof, but that hole isn’t my fault. He pulled me down through the ceiling.”
I saw her in the mirror, standing right behind me-
“Ryuko.” The shrine maiden calls out. “Is that true?”
I quickly make my way past Reimu back to the mirror, ignoring the complaints of the youkai girl as I cross over her.
“Ryuko, are you listening?”
Glass has proven to enhance spiritual sight. We’ve even been able to produce glass which can give normal people the ability to see our world. Then, a mirror which has been placed in a shrine for who knows how long; just how much energy has it absorbed? Is it possible it allowed me to see something I wouldn’t be able to on my own? But I can see ghosts already. In that case, what was she?
“Ryuko.” I glance down at the priestess. She’s standing on her toes, clearly trying to get as in my face as she can, something proven hard by the difference in our stature. “Finally got through to you.” She exclaims. “Is what Aya said true?”
Aya? I glance back at the youkai. She’s broken free of my barrier. Granted it wasn’t all that strong, so that’s not really surprising. And now that I take a batter look at her, she’s Shameimaru Aya. Some of her articles were included in the Gensokyo Chronicles along with her profile.
What’s she doing here? No, how long has she been here?
“Shameimaru.” The sudden use of her name seems to catch her attention. “You saw what happened in here, right?”
“Uh, that depends. I only just arrived.” She says.
“Around the time where I was cramping.” Thinking about it again, I note that my hand has stopped moving entirely. It’s curled back into a gentle fist.
“Something happened?” She bites her thumbnail a bit as she think it over. “All I saw was you sitting there, cramping when you suddenly started shouting.”
“And you didn’t see anyone else?” I ask.
“Should I?” She looks at me with a raised eyebrow.
“Ryuko.” The shrine maiden sternly calls my name. I don’t even need to look at her to know she’s glaring daggers.
“I saw someone, Reimu.” I turn back towards the mirror, this time focusing on my own eyes. Seeing their true color is odd after I’ve gotten used to seeing them blue.
“Look at me when you’re talking to me.” She crosses her arms. “That’s it?”
“That’s all.” I tell her. “I caught a glimpse of a woman with long black hair in the mirror, but when I turned around she wasn’t there. There’s no trace of her either.”
The shrine maiden raises an eyebrow at me before looking to the crow.
“I didn’t see anything.” The tengu states again.
“I’m having a hard time believing you, Ryuko.” She turns back to me.
“I can barely believe it myself.” I tell her.
The things that have spiritual power can be summed up in three categories: Everything that’s alive, Everything that has a soul, and everything of nature.
That means humans, ghosts and youkai all have that energy. But this woman didn’t. Why?
Maybe, just maybe, it was a delusion. Even just the air in Gensokyo is different than the outside world. Not just because it’s a lot cleaner, but it also contains a lot more magic. Maybe the sudden change in environment is affecting me?
The other day, Reimu said something about my eye, about it changing. Could this be related?
“Would you stop daydreaming about your imaginary girlfriend and listen for two minutes?” Reimu snaps at me.
“What?” I ask.
“If you stopped ignoring me, you might know what.” She states coldly. “Now, get dressed unless you want me to drag you down there shirtless.” She slams the door shut behind her.
“So, what about my article?” The crow asks. She still hasn’t gotten up from the ground.
“What about it?” I ask. I pick up my tank-top again. I dropped it around the time my arm started to hurt.
“The two strongest humans in Gensokyo double teamed you, and yet you came out victorious.” She pulls a notebook out of her breast pocket. “That’s front page material, right there. Do you have any comment on it?”
I somewhat doubt that was their strongest. They might have pulled out the big moves, but there was no killing intent behind any of their actions.
“Nothing worth mentioning.” I tell her. “Now, would you kindly leave so I can get dressed?”
“The words I hear say no, but the look in your eyes tell me there’s more to it.” She notes, jotting down a few words. “I’ll write that off as ‘no comment’. I’m going to be keeping an eye on you, so make sure to bring me lots of great stories, okay?”
“No.” I tell her flatly. “Now, would you kindly leave?”
“You’re fine with letting the innocent shrine maiden see you undressed, but not me?” She looks up at me, putting a finger to her mouth. “That kind of hurts, you know.”
I really don’t feel like humoring her. I grab her by the arm and start dragging her towards the door. For a curvy woman almost my height, she’s surprisingly light. But that just makes throwing her out easier.
========== Human Village, North district - 28th of More Clothes Month 12:43 Gensokyo day 4 ==========
“And you still won’t explain where we’re going, because?” I ask.
“I’m not interested in talking to people who don’t listen.” Pouts the shrine maiden.
Reimu, you’re too easy to read.
“And the fact I’m asking doesn’t imply I’ll listen?” I continue pressing on.
“Now it’s just out of principle that I won’t tell you.” She insists.
I sigh. Well, it’s not worth fighting over. I’ll come to know soon enough.
Though, with that said, for someone who spends all their time at a shrine miles away from civilization, she does seem to know these streets pretty well.
I have a rough idea of the layout of the village based of the two main streets. But there’s all these small in-between alleys I have no idea how to navigate.
To make it worse, all the buildings are made in the same style, making it hard to tell them apart. They’re not identical to one another but definitely very much alike.
And I probably should focus more on Reimu than the buildings as it’s easy to get lost in areas you’re unfamiliar with.
Like now, for example.
The road seemed straight, so I was paying more attention to the buildings, because despite what I said, I do like this style of architecture. But I seem to have lost Reimu at some point. She might have made a turn down one of the natural paths. It’d be impossible to tell which one.
Well, guess I’m lost, again.
Walking back to the last intersection I know we were together seems like the obvious thing to do. That is, if she’s even coming back to look for me.
I’m about to start walking when I see someone come running towards me.
Wait, Akyuu? She can run?
Her face lights up as we make eye contact.
Exhausted, she grabs my shirt to support herself. “Ryuko,” she manages to say in between her desperate gasps for air, “help me.”
As if on cue, I hear hurried footsteps coming from the same direction as Akyuu came from.
 Hide her  Run - Grab her hand and drag her - Pick her up and carry her
========== >>30147 Why? Next time you come across the hermit, why not just ask her if the offer still stands? Not like this is the one and only chance.
>>30143 I expected like 3,4 maybe 5 people to read this story, let alone vote. I never expected to have this many people enjoy it. It makes me want to give 110% to the story.
========== Human Village, North district - 28th of More Clothes Month 12:47 Gensokyo day 4 ==========
Mere moments later her pursuers come into view.
I don’t waste a second as I throw Akyuu over my shoulder and launch into a sprint.
There are no turns for a while, so I guess I have no choice but to out-speed them.
I throw my body to the side, narrowly avoiding a knife flying by.
I didn’t feel that coming at all.
“Nice call.” I compliment Akyuu. Had she not warned me, that would have hit us.
But it seems they aren’t afraid to hurt us. I need to get to a more populated street and fast. I doubt they’ll hurt innocent people.
I do a small jump and kick off the wall to make a sharp turn.
There’s not a lot of people here, but it’s better than the deserted area we were just in.
I pick a random direction and run.
Our pursuers come around quickly after us. A man looking like he’s past his prime, followed by a woman and a familiar looking blue haired child.
They quickly spot us and start the pursuit again.
The few people on the street are smart enough to get out of our way.
Though the guy clinging to his cart of green goods seems to be wanting us to steer around him. Might not have been the best idea to park in the middle of the street then.
Weight - Feather
I throw Akyuu up over the cart.
Water - Cold - Ice
As I slide underneath it, I drag my hand across the ground, leaving behind a quick spell.
Once I’m clear on the other side, I whip my hand up, knocking the cart of vegetables over against my pursuers.
With a quick jump I catch the squealing girl before moving onward.
As I leave, I hear the guy by the cart yell out something, though I can’t make it out.
“Don’t. Do. That.” Akyuu’s nails are digging into the cloth of my shirt.
“But it worked.” I argue.
It wiped out two of our pursuers. Now it’s just the old man running after me. Taking care of him should be easy.
I spin around, kicking through the air. As I stomp my foot down, a barrier rises where I traced my foot. Continuing the spin, I plant the sole of my other foot solid on the wall, sending it flying towards the old man.
He pulls out a knife and cuts clean through the barrier, not slowing down his pursuit.
I start running again as fast as I can. It wasn’t a good idea to stop.
“That’s not going to work.” The librarian notes.
“I can see that.”
“No, I mean, he’s an anti-magic specialist.” She points out.
Anti-magic. I’ve dealt with people like that before. I even count myself as one. Well, I’m anti-magus, which is slightly different.
But that should mean we’re alike. And he’s past his prime, which would give me the physical advantage.
“This is gonna be rough, so hold on tight.” I strengthen my hold on the girl.
“What are you,” she looks ahead, “Oh no you don’t.”
Without a word, I leap off the edge of the canal.
For just a moment I feel weightless. With no ground beneath me, I fly forward towards the other side of the waterway.
I twist my body, forcing it to spin around.
The old man follows suit, jumping off the edge without hesitation.
With a swift kick through the air, I create a wall of spiritual energy, floating halfway across waterway.
As I come back around, I find myself right above the edge of the other side. I quickly spread my legs, letting my body get as close to the ground as I can without harming Akyuu as I slide to a halt.
A surge runs through me as the barrier shatters.
I look back, but see no one.
Didn’t he make it? No, he’s up to something. He’s better than that.
I start running again.
Wait, I just felt him. Below me? Is that even possible?
As if responding to my thought, he blasts out of a drainage.
How the actual fuck? Was there a sewer outlet back there? I didn’t see any, though I wasn’t looking. More over, how did he move so fast?
I feel my body throw itself away from him, continuing to run regardless.
He’s close. Close enough to where I can hear his ragged breathing. I could always try to outlast him. I have plenty of stamina to run for hours. But he seems to be nearing his limit.
But it’d be safer to lose him. Harder but safer.
As we pass some scaffolding, I kick it, causing it to collapse.
This doesn’t appear to stop the old man, though. With a surprisingly swift jump, he runs across the wall, past the collapsing scaffold.
Just what the hell does it take to stop this man?
I need to lose him.
I take the first turn I come across.
A dead end.
The man comes stumbling right behind me, using the wall to stop himself.
I quickly look around. I'm not certain I'd be able to make it past him, not carrying Akyuu anyway. I can't climb the walls either.
With an enchantment, maybe I could jump it?
I look up, and to my surprise I lock eyes with a glaring priestess.
“Would you,” the pursuer gasps, “please listen?”
Weight - Light - Feather
I crouch, channeling as much of my energy into my legs as I can.
I lift my passenger up on my shoulder. "Get ready."
"For what? What are you plan-"
Her sentence is cut short by her own scream as I launch into the sky.
The floating shrine maiden immediately moves in towards us.
"Catch!" I yell as I throw Akyuu up.
“Wait!” She protests too late.
“What the hell?” Caught off guard, Reimu speeds up, catching Akyuu before she starts to fall again.
And I’m screwed. There’s a canal on the other side of the wall, one which I’m headed straight for.
I curl up, bracing for impact. If I’m lucky I’ll get away without getting sick.
“God dammit, you’re heavy.”
Or I could be caught by Reimu. She managed to catch me on her back, while still carrying Akyuu.
“And it’s all muscle.” I reply with a mix of sarcasm and pride.
“Whatever,” she grunts, “you’re still heavy.”
“Um, could we get down soon?” The little chronicler asks. “I’m not good with heights, I’m afraid.”
“Right, just a second, Akyuu.” The shrine maiden raises her head to speak to me. “Can you see if that guys is still following us?”
“Not by the looks of it.” I answer. My ability allows me to keep track of the guy, though he’s too far away to where I can see anything more than his general location. “He doesn’t seem to have moved at all, actually.”
She clicks her tongue in response. “Hold on.” She starts flying, following the canal. We catch quite the attention whenever we cross over a bridge. I can only imagine what this would look like.
Finally, Reimu stops, landing on a bridge with few people around.
“I’m looking forward to hearing this story, Mr. All-Muscle.” She takes a few steps back, looking me straight in the eyes.
“Actually,” I direct her gaze to Akyuu, “I’d like to know as well.”
The little woman starts fidgeting with her hands. “This might not be what you think it is.” She looks at Reimu, then at me. “They’re my servants, trying to get me to attend a meeting; for the festival tomorrow.”
“That’s right.” Reimu suddenly lights up. “The spring festival is tomorrow. You’re planning for that?”
“Technically, no, but yes.” She replies. “The Hieda family is part of the counsel that plans out the village’s festivals. But since we record history, there’s not much we can do at the meetings.” She explains. “In fact, I believe that the only reason we’re invited to those meetings is because of our nobility.”
“So you decided to run away?” Reimu guesses.
“Mm. That’s when I ran into Ryuko.” She looks at me. Reimu’s gaze follows suit.
“And I came across Akyuu being pursued and asking for help. So I did the only sensible thing; grabbed her and legged it.” I explain. “You know the rest from there.”
“I see.” The shrine maiden crosses her arms. “Well, I’m just glad it wasn’t anything serious.”
“It got a little out of hand.” Akyuu turns to me. “How about I make up for it?” Before I even get a chance to answer, she follows up with, “If you would like to, you can come by my house tomorrow after sunset. I’ll be sure the reward is worth it.”
“I’ll try to remember it.” I answer, managing to hide my surprise.
“Muscle boy.” Reimu calls out to me. “Go home.”
“Okay, Reimu, you drag me down to the village, and now you tell me to go home without having done anything at all. Why exactly did we come here?” I ask.
“Just shut up and go home.” She says. “I’m not gonna risk having you lose your way once more. You do know which way is east, right?”
Nope, I’m not gonna debate with her. It’s just not worth the effort. I just sigh and start walking.
“I hope to see you again later.” Akyuu says.
I just raise my hand in response
When Reimu finally came back to the shrine, she was carrying several planks of wood. She had apparently planned for me to carry them. Seeing as I broke the ceiling and all.
These materials were of course to repair said ceiling, while Reimu opted to supervise me. And by that I mean, leaning against the wall half asleep.
It takes me the whole day, but I manage to fix it up to be as good as new, or as close as I can get it. After all, I’m a priest, not a carpenter.
========== Hakurei Shrine - 1st of Sprouting Month 06:16 Gensokyo day 5 ==========
 Make breakfast. Even if it doesn’t taste of much, maybe Reimu won’t be mad at me  Take care of the daily tasks. Pray to Hakurei, sweep the snow, clean the interior  Go bother Sukuna. We didn’t get to talk a lot, and I’m kinda curious about her
>>/gensokyo/14104 You and me both, pal. The update faster part, of course. I’d love to recommend this story, but I’m slightly biased as you might imagine, so I’d prefer not to.
And on that note, I think now would be a good time to reveal a new card.
Updates are hopefully gonna come out faster now.
Why now? Cause last year my ‘me time’ was limited to 3 hours a day. I wanted this update to be out about halfway through last month, but I got stuck, not on a writers block, more like a nagging voice telling me not to do anything fun until I’d been a responsible adult. Once I’d bound and gagged that voice, I fell sick.
I still tried to write, but let me be honest, it was shit.
So I rewrote it, and it became shit with glitter. It was a pretty shit, but still shit.
So I rewrote it again. Now it was a shit shaped lump of words. With glitter.
So I threw some more glitter on it, and now you can’t see it’s shit. As long as you don’t touch it, or stare at it for too long, that is.
But who am I kidding, no one gives a shit but me.
So, faster updates? With that in mind, you guys still okay with the 1 week voting time? If you have any ideas on how to alter it to fit a faster style, then I’m all ears. Otherwise I’m just gonna keep it at one week.
========== Hakurei Shrine - 1st of Sprouting Month 06:16 Gensokyo day 5 ==========
Balancing her weight perfectly on her core, she leans out, stabbing the air with a quick clean move before stepping back into her pose.
She repeats the motions with mechanical precision, yet maintaining a fluid flow between the movements.
I don’t know how long I’ve spent just watching the little princess practice using her needle as a French sword.
After a while she stops to wipe her forehead. She turns around only to fall back with a squeal.
“Don’t sneak up on me like that.” She yells, rubbing her bum. “You surprised me!”
“Sorry, I just didn’t want to disrupt you.” I close the door behind me and sit down at the wall opposite to her shelf. “I know I hate getting disrupted when I train.”
“So,” she puts her needle away, “what can I do for you this early in the morning?”
“I was actually hoping to get to know a little more about the kobito and you.” I tell her.
“Me?” She sits down on her knees. “I can understand my people, but why me?”
“Because of the tsukumogami incident.” I tell her. She shifts around a little at the mention of it, but does her best to maintain eye contact. “For better or worse, it spread your name around. Enough so to where your name has reached even me, from the outside.”
The princess fidgets around a bit. “I guess that’s nice.” She takes a lock of hair and pulls it through her fingers. “So, what do you want to know, exactly?”
“Well, for starters, the incident is over, so why haven’t you returned home yet?” I ask.
“I can’t show up home looking like this.” She motions towards herself. “Once I’ve returned to my full size again, I’ll be able to go home.”
“I’m sorry if this sounds a bit rude, but are you sure they would accept you back?” I ask. “I mean, you did flip the castle around and caused quite the racket.”
“Don’t worry about it.” She waves off my concern. “I’ve already contacted my father. He said the kobito are willing to forget this all happened, if I can flip the castle around again.” She looks back at her makeshift house with the mallet tied onto it. “With the power of the mallet, that’ll be an easy thing.”
“Speaking of which, wasn’t the mallet lost some time ago?” I ask. “How did you find it?”
“It was Seija.” Her gaze drops. “She's not a kobito, so she came to me.”
Seija? As in Kijin Seija? I think it might be a good idea to avoid this subject for now.
“The mallet did originally belong to the oni, right?” I change the topic. “But at the same time, only kobito can use it?”
She places her hand over her chin. “The legend of Issun Boshi.” Her hand gently strokes her chin. “None of us where alive back then, so we don’t know where it came from originally.”
“Really?” That’s actually quite interesting. “Might be worth looking into.”
“Is there a reason you’re interested in the mallet?” She asks.
“A reason?” I repeat. “Well, how can I best explain this. In the outside world, all magic users of all kinds have pulled back into a hidden society.” I explain. “In there, information is the most valuable thing you can trade with. This makes getting information quite hard and expensive. So if I have to give you a reason, then it’s because it’s free. I like learning.” I shrug.
The kobito cocks her head. “You have to pay for information?” She asks.
“Only when it comes to things related to magic.” I answer. “Like for example, someone discovers a new type of magic, or creates a new kind of spell. I would be able to find out that it exists, but if I want to learn how it works, I’ll have to pay for it.” I explain. “But it also goes the other way around. If I know something someone else wants to know, they’ll have to buy it from me.”
“It sounds really complicated.” She comments.
“It really isn’t.” I tell her. “But then again, I grew up with this kind of system.”
We’re interrupted by the door sliding open.
Reimu, holding her sleeves in one hand and ribbon in the other, walks past us to the kotatsu. She drops to her knees and crawl under the blanket entirely.
“She does that often?” I ask the princess.
“She’s not a morning person.”
“But I can still hear you, you know.” The priestess call out from under the table.
“That reminds me.” The little woman claps her hands together. “What's the shrine on the outside like?”
“The shrine?” I ask. “It’s like this shrine, except older.”
“Ah, well I don’t know what I expected.” She scratches her head.
“From what I was taught, the shrines are made to look alike, so that opening a gate between the two would be smooth.” I explain.
“Hey.” Reimu peeks out from under the cover. “Since you’re so awake already, go clean the pathway. It snowed again last night.”
“Again? It’s spring for crying out loud.” With a sigh, I get up.
I walk out in the hallway.
I’m gonna need more than a tank-top if I’m going to go outside. I don’t know if I’ll bother putting on the hakama as well. It doesn’t make it that much warmer, and it’s impossible to tie with only one hand. Actually, on second thought, I’ll skip the hakama.
I slide open the door to my room.
Immediately my eyes fall to the tengu in the room. She’s looking back, frozen in place, holding my spare shirt.
She doesn’t move.
 “I didn’t see anything.”  “Just don’t get anything dirty.”  “Just pretend I’m not here.”
One week earlier than last update. Didn't break my promise immediately after I made it. Although there were some minor problems along the way. But in the end, I just end up proving yet again that I can write these updates in a weekend if I really put my mind to it.
========== Hakurei Shrine - 1st of Sprouting Month 06:58 Gensokyo Day 5 ==========
As if frozen solid, she continues to stare. Her wide eyes dart around, desperately looking for something to focus on.
“Oh no, don’t mind me.” I raise my hand. “I’m just here to get my shirt. Pretend I’m not here.”
“Uhh.” She picks her jaw up from the floor. “This isn’t what it looks like.” She hurriedly adds right before realizing she’s holding my shirt. “Okay, it is what it look like.” The crow corrects herself. “But I can explain.”
“No no, feel free to continue. I’m not here.” Having picked up my shirt I quickly back out of the room again.
“No, wait.” She quickly places a hand on the door, preventing me from closing it. “Let me explain!” She exclaims.
“Sure.” I let go of the door. The sudden lack of resistance almost makes her trip. “Once you’ve cleaned up the mess you’ve made. That’s only fair, right?”
“Huh?” She scowls. “But you didn’t clean up after yourself back at the village.” She starts smirking. “Are you really in a position to ask that?”
“I compensated them.” Though I have been thinking about doing something more to make up for the trouble. I just don’t have any idea how.
Her expression loosens up. “I didn’t hear about that part. Ah,” she hits the palm of her hand, “I can just compensate you, then.”
“Afraid not.” I walk past her. “You don’t have anything I want.”
“You don’t even know what I have to offer.” She tries to argue.
“But if I don’t want anything, then you can’t give me anything I want.” I retort.
I abruptly leave without giving her a chance to respond, quickly closing the door behind me.
“The shovel is in the shed.” Reimu notes as I pass through the living room again.
I just respond with a nod, despite knowing she’s not looking.
Though it’s not like I’ll need a shovel to begin with.
I extend my hand forward.
A string of light escapes from underneath the snow, outlining the pathway.
I clench my hand and pull it sideways.
A barrier solidifies underneath the snow before tilting over, catapulting the snow off to the side.
I need to be more careful around the torii, but from there it's simple repetition.
With a simple gesture, I raise a low barrier and use it to push the remaining snow down the stairs. I raise a new one at the back of the step and push the snow there down again.
========== Stairs to the Hakurei Shrine - 1st of Sprouting Month 08:04 ==========
“That’s a convenient ability.” The tengu lands as soon as I finish clearing the snow away.
“Quite. But anyway,” I take a seat on the stairs, “I’m listening.”
“Ah, thank you.” She presses the tips of her fingers against each other. “You may not be aware of it yet, but you’re quite the popular subject of Gensokyo as of late.”
“Figures.” I let out a sigh. “It’s a small population, I stand out like a sore thumb and I haven’t exactly been quiet either. And your point being?” I ask.
“I haven’t formally introduced myself yet. I’m Shameimaru Aya, reporter.” She extends her hand.
A handshake? “I know.” I give her hand a firm shake. “Hakurei Ryuko, priest. But you already knew that as well.”
“Indeed.” She nods. “But back to the question. You’re the hot topic of Gensokyo lately, so of course I want to publish an article featuring you. So,” she pulls out a small book from her breast pocket, “about that fight a few days back.”
“You’re still going on about that?” I ask.
“Of course.” She chippers. “Only two other humans have been able to walk away from one of Kirisame’s famous Master Sparks, yet you took three and was barely fazed.”
“You know, I’m getting tired of explaining that over and over again.” I tell her. “I’m strong against magicians and I’m an experienced fighter in close quarter combat. There’s nothing more to it.”
It’s not the truth, but it’s far from a lie. My resistance to and knowledge about magic grants me a good defense against magus. Plus the fact magus tends to be weak in close combat, which is one of my specialties, is just a coincidence.
“Hmm.” She scratches her head with the back of her pen. “It does sound a lot less interesting when you put it like that.” She hums to herself a bit before lighting up with a new idea. “You said you’re a more experienced fighter. Can you elaborate on that?”
“I’m not sure how to.” I tell her. “We don’t have a system like the spell cards back outside, so when you battle, you fight with your life on the line.” I explain. “While their attacks were amazing, they lacked any form of killing intent.” I explain.
Killing intent, despite the name, isn't all about the intent to kill. Something as simple as the desire to not lose can give birth to killing intent. Though in the end, it doesn't matter how it's created, but rather how it's used and that's the real trick.
“Interesting.” She scribbles down some notes. “How do you think you’d fare against them, if they went all out?”
“Hard to say.” I scratch my ear. “If Reimu used her advantage, it’d be pretty close.” Since I can’t fly like her, I would need to rely on barriers to move around in the air. “Kirisame on the other hand. She’s stronger than your average magician, but from from a competent martial artist. It's just a question of getting past her magic.” Although that theory is based on what information I could pick up from the Gensokyo Chronicle. How it works in practice could differ entirely.
“I’m not sure she’d be happy to hear that.” The crow snickers. “I’ll take this as you’re comment for the article, if you don’t have any complaints.” I wave off her concern. I don’t really care. “Great. As thanks, let me tell you something.”
“Reimu’s not angry with you.” She stuffs her notebook back in her pocket. “She’s not the type to hold a grudge. She gets irritated quite easily, though.” The crow folds her arms as she tries to recall something. “I think I’ve only seen her get mad, like really angry, once. But to be honest, that celestial kinda had it coming if you ask me.”
“I see.” To be honest, that’s a bit of a relief. While it may be one-sided, I do consider her family since I’ve become a part of the Hakurei clan.
“Well then, I’m done here for now.” She salutes. “Aya off.” With that said, she launches a few meters into the air. I barely register which way she flies as she takes off in literally an instant, disappearing off over the village.
In the end she didn’t actually tell me why exactly she was going through my stuff. Oh well, as long as she didn’t steal anything, I don’t really care.
========== Hakurei Shrine - 1st of Sprouting Month 08:20 ==========
Nothing has changed by the time I make it back to the shrine. Except for the empty snack bowl now sitting on the floor in front of Reimu.
“I started heating some water for you.” She greets me, not bothering to open her eyes.
“Oh and,” she shuffles around underneath the table before popping her head out from this side, “You know there’s a festival at the village tonight, right?” I nod. “I was just wondering if you’ll be going.”
“Why?” I ask. “Are you going?”
“Yeah, if only because of the cheap alcohol.” She admits. “It’ll probably be the same as always. Lots of stalls with food, some with rigged games you can’t win, maybe a performance or event somewhere. Then they’ll finish off with a bonfire just outside the village and that will be it.” She rolls around on her back. “Of course I’ll keep the youkai in check, but it’s not like they’ve attacked on this night before.”
“I’m not quite sure myself.” I tell her.
“I see. Oh, and lastly,” she rolls back around, “I’m leaving soon. Keep an eye on the shrine while I’m away.”
I give her a quick nod before leaving the room.
Whether or not I should go tonight. That doesn’t seem like such a hard choice, right?
Except, I can’t tell for sure how serious Akyuu is. Since I’m going to leave again in a few days, possibly never returning, I’d rather avoid getting too close to her.
But if she’s just fooling around like me, then there shouldn’t be any harm in it. Besides, she knows I’m going to leave again.
 Meet up with Akyuu  Better keep my distance
At no point writing this update did I feel motivated. I think it can be felt when reading it. But I'd rather release this than sit around waiting to get motivated. With that said, the next update is gonna forward the plot quite a bit.
>>30381 Don't worry. Part of what blocked me this time was that I kept thinking about how to write future scenes, which will be more exciting to write. My fire for this story burns as strongly as ever.
And about next update, since I'm planning to include a lot in it, it'll likely be delayed for a while longer. (even though I said I'd speed up)
Priest of Hakurei 18Jura!OxyIF4cURI2016/05/01 (Sun) 10:23No. 30442▼
========== Hakurei Shrine - 1st of Sprouting Month 17:22 Gensokyo Day 5 ==========
The setting sun casts an entirely different light on the village.
The mobs of people walking around the streets here during the day are nowhere to be seen. As the last warm rays of the sun peek over the buildings, only a handful of people can be seen every so often, whether it’s a young couple, a group of friends or a small family. It doesn’t feel desolate or deserted though; instead it feels rather quaint, charming even.
The people in this area have begun setting small lanterns outside their houses. Small wooden boxes with walls made from colorful paper. They bring a certain warm feeling to the streets, especially when mixed with the colors of the near twilight sky.
Turning the corner, the Hieda mansion come into view. Or rather, the walls surrounding the property comes into view. The white wall is tall enough to hide the mansion, even from me.
The wall itself has seen better days. The paint has been worn by time and weather, though still managing to hold on, it’s revealing the underlying structure in several places; common cobblestone glued together by mortar. The wooden framework built around the wall must have been built to keep everything in place and left as extra reinforcement, though I question how effective it’d be. But then again, what do I know.
I arrive at the front gate and knock. A woman, middle-aged judging by her gray hair, opens the door right next to the gate. Her gaze quickly finds me, giving me a skeptical look.
“Greetings.” I give her a quick, but polite bow. “I believe lady Akyuu is expecting me.”
The old woman eyes me for a bit before reluctantly opening the gate. “Right. Please follow me.”
I don’t think I’d get used to seeing this mansion, no matter how many times I come. The grand wooden structure towers over me, flaunting it’s age in more than a few areas, yet, belying its perfect state of repair. The entrance too holds up to the appearance of the building. An image has been burned into the archway above the main entrance, depicting what looks like a sun surrounded by lots of circles. The image feels familiar, although I can’t say from where.
The curved pathway leading up to the mansion helps to lead your gaze over the various plants decorating the garden. At this time of the year, there’s little more than the grass and the branches of bushes and trees. Here and there you can see hints of bulbs starting to grow out, giving the plants a hint of spring.
The woman wipes the dirt off her hands with her white shirt, before sliding open a door. “Right, if you’ll please wait in here, I’ll go inform the lady of your arrival.” She gives me a quick bow before leaving me.
The room she left me in is almost barren. The only decoration in the room is a scroll on the wall with just two kanji written on it; ‘Yasushi Shizuka’ I believe, though that doesn’t make any sense.
Although, if it’s Chinese hanzi, it’d be read as ‘Níngjìng’ meaning peaceful. That would make more sense, though why not just write it in Japanese?
“The lady is ready to see you.” The door slides open behind me again, revealing the same servant as before.
That was quick.
“If you turn left down the hallway, you’ll find her, second door on the right.” She points me in the direction as I leave the room again.
“You’re just going to leave me unattended?” It’s not that I need it, it’s just a bit strange.
“The young lady said not to worry.” She bows quickly saying, “Now if you’ll excuse me,” before leaving.
She didn’t change her expression even once. Curious. But I’m used to that kind of discontent as my stature can be intimidating, for better or worse.
I make my way down the hall. Right as I turn the corner, a little blue blur runs into me.
The girl falls on her back with a yelp. She lies there for a second, trying to figure out why she’s now staring at the ceiling.
Oh wait, I know her. She’s Akyuu’s little assistant. What was her name again?
She looks at me. “Ah, Mr. Giant- I mean Mr. Priest.”
“You shouldn’t run indoors.” I offer her a hand to get up. “You’ll end up getting hurt.”
She looks back at a door slightly ajar, second on the right. She then looks back at me. “You can’t go in. Not yet.”
Having said that, she darts ahead again, ignoring what I just told her.
I just sigh and move up to the door before knocking. “You heard her, right?” I ask. “No entry.”
She gives me a light chuckle in response. “Too bad. And I’m only missing the obi as well.”
It doesn’t take long before the little lady comes running back, holding some folded cloth in her arms.
She looks up at me as she passes, causing her to trip. I quickly catch her by the collar. She hangs for a second standing on her own again. “Thank you.” She gives me a quick nod before disappearing into the room.
I patiently wait outside the room for a few more minutes before the door slides open.
Akyuu steps out of the room. “What do you think?” she asks, showing off her attire.
Her rose shade kimono is embedded with images of flowers, weaving around her. Her bangs are held up by a hairclip, bearing a rich pink flower with a small ribbon attached. The outfit as a whole highlights her curves, but in a subtle way that doesn't stand out.
"Hm?" She looks up at me, regaining eye contact.
"Sorry. I just needed a moment to take in the sight." I tell her.
A mischievous glint appears in her eyes. “What about you?” She asks, looking at my clothes. “Didn’t expect it to be a date?”
“I’ll have you know, this is the finest set of clothes I have.” I let the sass flow. “Besides, with my arm like this, it’s hard to change clothes on my own.”
“I can imagine.” She moves up to my side. “So, are you ready to go?”
“I have been for a while now.” I tell her.
“Let’s go then. Oh, one second more.” She turns back to the room. “Airi. I might end up being late, so don’t stay up waiting.”
“Ah, yes!” The young girl chippers back.
With that taken care of, the little librarian leads us out into the streets where the festivity is beginning to kick in.
“It looks like it’ll be another good year.” She notes, as we walk through the growing crowd. “Anything you want to start off with?” She asks.
The fire will be lit at 20:00. It’s currently 17:45  Find a stall with a game - Shooting Gallery - Goldfish Scooping - Ring Tossing - High Striker game - Kappa Crane Game  Mask Booth  Shrine booth  Watch a performance  Dinner - Yakitori - Lamprey - Restaurant  Write-in
Okay, I know what I said last time, but my proofer suggested I tried writing the date like this instead, and I thought it seemed like a better idea to what I had planned.
The idea is, that I'll be making small update on Friday, then call the votes the following Monday. Small quick updates. But since this came out of nowhere, I'll give a week's voting time on this first one so you all have a chance to see it.
Oh, and I just want to clarify, this isn't all I wrote in those four weeks. Most of what I worked on was post-date because it includes a scene I've been itching to write. I've saved it on the side for the time being.
>>30444 You don't have to show up when the fire's being lit. Or at all, actually. If there are things you'd rather do instead, then don't hold back.
And there's still some variables around the events, so I can't say for certain how long everything will take, but as a rule of thumb, every event takes up 20 minutes (including walking there), with the exception of dinner and the performance, which takes 40 minutes.
Your plan would make you 20 minutes late for the fire, but as I said, that's not a problem.
First of is the mask booth. If everything goes as planned, it should be ready by friday.
Priest of Hakurei 19Jura!OxyIF4cURI2016/05/14 (Sat) 00:58No. 30486▼
File 146318749348.jpg - (101.23KB, 880x623, I don't have an image for this one so here.jpg)
========== Hakurei Shrine - 1st of Sprouting Month 17:45 Gensokyo Day 5 ==========
“I don’t know, actually.” I give her my response. “I’ve never taken part in festivities like this before.”
“Oh really? Too much work?” She asks.
“Somewhat.” I admit. ” Though rather, it’s that I don’t leave the shrine for reasons beyond work.”
The little lady dances out in front of me. “In that case, I’m glad to be your first.” She says, giving me a knowing smile.
“Well then, what would you suggest we start out with?” Sorry, Akyuu, but I’m too used to that joke.
“Getting a mask would be a great way to start.” She says. “It helps set the mood.”
“Mask booth it is then.”
With Akyuu enthusiastically leading the way, it doesn’t take long before we come across a rather cheerful looking mask salesman. He doesn’t say anything as we approach, instead just stepping aside giving us a full view of his stock.
The masks on display range from various youkai to depictions of the divines. Further back in the little makeshift store are some more, lets say ‘vivid’ masks. Particularly there’s this eerie spiked mask that I’d swear is glaring at me.
Disregarding it, I keep browsing the ones out front.
“Found one you like?” Akyuu breaks my line of thought.
“I’m not sure.” I tell her as I pull a fox mask off the rack. “I kinda like this one. Reminds me of my first job away from the shrine.”
“Oh, really? Mind sharing?” She asks, moving on to the next rack of masks.
“It’s nothing special, actually.” I tell her. “You see, the people back outside who know of magic tend to use fake names as a form of protection. The first name I used was ‘Byakko’, written as ‘White Fox’.” I explain.
“I assume there’s a reason?” She examines a white wolf mask with orange markings on.
“You remember what I told you during the interview, right?” I ask. “Well, Doc is one of those who raised me.”
There’s a second of silence as she puts two and two together.
“I’m happy to admit that all three of them mean a lot to me,” I continue before she has a chance to say anything, “but Doc and I, to be honest, I regard him as my father. Not that I’d ever be able to tell him that.”
”I think I get what you mean.” She brings the mask up to the counter. “My relationship with my parents is strange; with my memories and all.”
Her memories? I hadn’t thought about that. “Now that you mention it, how does it feel, exactly?”
We pay for the masks and go back out to the street.
“I’m not sure, to be honest.” She says. “My previous memories tend to return around the age of 5 or 6. After that things just start to get weird. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, it’s just that there’s a lot of people I would call my parents. It just feels strange.” She finishes tying her mask so it sits on the side of her head, opposite her flower accessory.
Tying my mask with only one hand is damn near impossible, and asking Akyuu for help is, well, I do have my pride, so I just kinda tie it to the side of my belt.
“I’m sorry, but that’s beyond me to imagine. I’ve never met my real parents, nor do I care to at this point.” I tell her. “I do know, though, that it doesn’t matter. If you care about them and they care about you, then it shouldn’t matter. At least that’s what I think.” Of course I could just be insensitive about it.
“Mm, that’s what I figured too.” She puts on a smile, letting go of the serious atmosphere completely. “But let’s not ruin the mood. Tonight is a festive event and we should enjoy it.”
Where should we go next?
 Find a stall with a game - Shooting Gallery - Goldfish Scooping - Ring Tossing - High Striker game - Kappa Crane Game [X] Mask Booth  Shrine booth  Watch a performance  Dinner - Yakitori - Lamprey - Restaurant  Write-in
========== Hakurei Shrine - 1st of Sprouting Month 17:59 Gensokyo Day 5 ==========
“How about getting something to eat?” I ask my companion.
“I am getting a bit hungry.” She looks up at me inquisitively. “Do you have a place in mind?”
“Afraid not. About all I’ve eaten here is Reimu’s rice.” I shrug. “I haven’t had a proper chance to explore the village.”
“Then I know of a great place.” She claps her hands together. “I’m sure she’ll open tonight as well.”
“Well then, lead the way.”
The little lady grabs my hand and starts dragging me through the growing crowd.
Her small hand is soft, smooth even. It feels delicate, compared to my own, as if even a slight squeeze would break it.
As we go on, the crowd begins to thin out and our destination comes into view; a wagon outfitted as a food stand.
At the moment there’s only two people at the stand, the attendant and a woman with long blue hair.
“I’m telling you, Mokou, it’s not like that.” The blue haired woman argues.
I’ve heard that voice before, I think.
The pale attendant, ‘Mokou’ apparently, just snickers in response. She notices our approach and greets us with a silent nod, to which Akyuu responds with a wave.
The customer turns around to see who the newcomers are.
Oh hey, it’s the hakutaku. I knew I’d heard her voice somewhere before.
“Ah, it’s you.” And it seems she remembers me as well.
“Evening.” I greet her.
“I had a feeling you’d be here.” Akyuu changes the topic.
“What, no don’t you start too, Akyuu. Mokou is giving me enough trouble for tonight.” She moves over a seat, making room for the two of us. “So, what are you doing with, uh,” She trails off.
“Ryuko. Hakurei priest of the outside world.” I introduce myself.
“Kamishirasawa Keine.” She follows suit. “So what are you two doing?”
“I’m showing him one of our festivals.” Akyuu responds.
“I see.” The teacher takes a sip of her drink.
“Can I just get the usual?” Akyuu places her order.
“Mhm.” The attendant spins around to the grill. With the flick of a finger, the flames flare up.
Fire bending? Wait, that Mokou? She looks so different from her profile in the chronicle. While she does have the same albino-like traits of pale skin, white hair and blood red eyes, her style in clothing is nothing like depicted. She’s tied her hair back with the help of the handkerchief she’s wearing. Her clothes could easily be mistaken for a plain gi, with a sky blue apron.
I break out of my thought as she looks back at me.
Oh. “Anything not spicy will do.” I place my order as well.
Though vague as it is, she acknowledges it with a nod and return to her grill.
“Don’t like spicy food?” The little historian asks.
“I love it, actually. But I have a cat’s tongue.” I explain. “It hurts too much to eat.”
The immortal turns back around with two plates of skewered meat. Akyuu’s have been seasoned and covered in a reddish-brown sauce that just radiates spiciness. Mine on the other hand have gotten more attention on the grill, to give it a near perfect golden texture.
“A cat’s tongue?” She ask. “Isn’t that for hot food?”
After a quick blow, I sample my dinner. It’s soft and juicy with a lovely robust flavor of chicken.
This might be one of the best yakitori I’ve had in a long while. And I think my satisfaction shows as the cook gives me this confident smile before turning back around.
“It’s just the easiest way of saying I have a sensitive tongue.” I explain. “Oh, and just water, please.” I stop our immortal cook as she’s fishing out some drinks.
She gives me a strange look, but nonetheless complies.
Akyuu gives me an equally, if not even stranger look. “Too sensitive to alcohol as well?” She asks. “I’d have thought that his disciple out of all people would like alcohol.”
“I just don’t like it, to be honest.” I tell her. “The only time I drink is when I perform a ceremonial summoning of a god. It makes it easier.”
“Oh, speaking of gods.” She lights up all of a sudden and turns to the teacher. “Have you found out anything yet?”
“I’m afraid not.” She takes another sip. “From what I can tell it has transcended into the realms of legends, which my power can’t reach into.”
“Too bad.” She starts chomping down the next stick of meat. Upon noticing my lack of questions, she asks. “Aren’t you going to ask?”
“I don’t like to pry.” I tell her straight.
“You’d strike me as the type who would, but oh well.” She returns to her kabob.
“If you want to tell about it, then I’ll be happy to listen.” I tell her. “I’m just not going to ask about what I’m told.”
“Mm,” she quickly swallows, “well I was looking into my lineage from before Gensokyo on a whim. Turns out I was able to draw a line between the Hieda clan and Ame no Uzume. A lose one, but a line nonetheless.”
“The goddess of the Dawn?” I ask. When Amaterasu got mad and hid in a cave, taking the sun with her, Ame no Uzume was the one who was able to draw her back out, earning her the title of Goddess of the Dawn. She also held one of the three sacred treasures, if I remember right.
“It's a bit of a leap of faith, to be honest.” She quickly goes on. “But you know how she was one of the five gods who was sent to the chief clans back forever ago?” I swear, I can almost see the raw energy behind her violet eyes as she talks. “Well it’s said that she became the ancestor for the Sarume clan, and it’s possible the Hieda clan originated from the Sarume.”
“But as I said, it’s moved into the realm of legends, so I can’t confirm it with my ability.” Keine adds her two cents to the conversation.
“That’s actually interesting.” I admit. “I might have to look into it when I get back outside. Although I don’t know what I can find that a hakutaku can’t.” I could summon a god to ask, but the chance of them paying enough attention to minor things isn’t big.
“I never get tired of your cooking, Mokou.” Akyuu notes as she puts the last stick down.
“Mm,” I agree, “if I ever come back to Gensokyo, I’ll have to get another set.”
Where to next?  Find a stall with a game - Shooting Gallery - Goldfish Scooping - Ring Tossing - High Striker game - Kappa Crane Game [X] Mask Booth  Shrine booth  Watch a performance [X] Dinner - Yakitori  Write-in
I new this was going to happen at some point during this batch of short updates, though I hoped it wouldn't.
Long story short. Proofer is out of town from Friday to Monday. Last day he can proof is Thursday. I had my second out of three exams today, meaning I haven't worked on the update at all yet. I can't whip out an update in two days. Well, I can, but I'm already pushing my "quality" standard as it is, and I refuse to go lower.
So I'm delaying this update for a week. Sorry, but hopefully you understand.
Priest of Hakurei 21Jura!OxyIF4cURI2016/06/04 (Sat) 01:50No. 30604▼
========== Hakurei Shrine - 1st of Sprouting Month 18:42 Gensokyo Day 5 ==========
“Now then, should we get going?” I ask.
“Yeah.” Akyuu stands up. “There’s still lots to see tonight.”
We pay for the food and take our leave. Before continuing through the village, until Akyuu suddenly stops up. “What’s going on over there?”
I follow her gaze to a crowd, gathering a raised wooden platform. “A stage?” I guess.
“A play, I think.” She corrects me. “Looks like it hasn’t started yet. Want to see it?”
“Sure, let’s go for it.” I haven’t actually seen a play before. This could be interesting.
She scouts around for a bit before pointing ahead. “I think I see some free seats down front.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
I hold my hand up over my head, showing her once again just how tall I am.
Sitting up front, I’d just get in the way of the people behind me.
“Oh. Yeah, I guess would be slightly problematic.” She looks around. “What about over there then?” She points to a small grassy field right next to the seats.
“You’re fine with sitting on the ground?” I ask.
“Mm.” She nods.
We make our way over there, going around past the spectators.
“Wait a second.” I stop her before she sits down.
I take off my jacket and lay it on the ground.
“How courteous. Thank you.” She notes.
“Now I just don’t have anything to give you if it gets cold.” I tell her.
“I’ll be fine.” She takes seat on my jacket, and I sit right next to her.
A small girl dressed in a red kimono steps onto the scene. Her long pink hair is tied back into a ponytail.
She definitely emits the spiritual energy of a youkai, though from here I can’t tell what type. I can’t feel any blood lust, or even just plain hostility from her, so it should be safe.
“My next performance will be The Red Oni Who Cried,” she spreads out her arms as she announces her play, “a tale of true friendship.”
With little windup, the little youkai starts spinning in place.
The backdrop of the scene changes from it’s pale gray into a painting of green mountains. All over the scene, props of trees and bushes spring up from the ground.
She snaps to a halt, revealing a smiling red oni mask.
With graceful movements, she moves to the edge of the scene. Posing as if she’s looking around.
After having looked around for a while, she spins around, quickly moving across the stage. As she stops again, she’s changed her mask to that of a child.
She moves around in circles jumping every so often. Playing, perhaps?
The ‘child’ then freezes in place, before throwing her arms in the arm and flees behind a bush.
She quickly spins back out on the stage, wearing the red oni mask again. With open arms, she runs back the same way as the ‘child’. As she passes the bush, she looks around again. Having found nothing, she brings her sleeves to her eyes and trudges back.
With a swift spin, she moves to the other edge of the stage, having changed into a normal oni mask, though of a blue shade.
She walks to the center of the stage, with open arms and a spring in her step.
Upon seeing the red oni, I think, she crouches down, tilting her head.
Quickly swapping masks and position, she, the red oni, sits on the floor, shaking her head.
Going back to the blue oni, she stands up and walks in circles a few times, with a hand to her chin.
She suddenly raises her index finger. She uses wide movements to illustrate talking, explaining perhaps, which she finishes off by punching her palm.
Going back to the red oni, she looks up. She then nods.
The props disappear and the backdrop changes, displaying a village now.
Having changed her mask back to the child, she gets up and starts running around the stage with her hands out in front of her.
Quickly swapping the mask to the blue oni, she continues in her track around the village, but now stomping with her hands raised threateningly high above her head.
Spinning she jumps to the middle of the stage, swapping her mask for the red oni.
She then starts running in circles again, but this time in the opposite direction.
Switching back to the blue oni, she stops as she ‘sees’ the red oni, and changes direction and flees to behind a prop.
Having switched to the child mask, she springs out, cheering and dancing towards the middle.
Changing back to the red oni mask, she continues to cheer and dance, until the backdrop fades to black and the props disappear.
Only the backdrop reappears with the image of mountains on it again.
Having swiftly moved to one edge of the scene, she wears the blue oni mask as she walks slowly to the other edge.
There she changes to the red oni mask, and start going in circles, both hands around her mouth, she appears to call out to someone, while she also poses to look far ahead every so often.
In the end, she drops to her knees with both sleeves against her eyes.
The backdrop fades back into its original gray color.
The actress stands up, taking off her mask and bows deeply.
The spectators send her off with a big round of applause, including Akyuu.
“What do you think?” She asks excited.
“I’m not sure what to think, to be honest.” I answer. “It could maybe have used some more actors. And isn't there supposed to be a choir?”
“Yeah. Normally that’s the case. But Miss Kokoro likes to perform solo.” She explains. “That means it’d be hard to do a geki style performance, since she’s lacking a narrator.”
“Geki?” I ask.
“A geki style noh play is a plot driven story, told by a narrator and shown through the actors.” She explains. “A furyu style noh play, like the one we just saw, is a story told entirely though movements. You could just call it dancing, but I think that undermines it.”
“Wouldn’t there be other stories which would fit better in this style?” I ask. “I mean, it did feel a bit lacking.”
“Lots, actually. Many kirino and kazura type stories are being performed like this.” She explains.
“Akyuu,” I stop her, “I know absolutely nothing about noh plays at all. Think you could explain either of those?”
“Oh?” She looks genuinely surprised. “Yeah, sure, though it’s not that difficult to keep track of.”
“Says the woman with a perfect memory.”
She chuckles in response. “No, I mean, there’s the two types I mentioned earlier, which are ways to perform. Then there’s five types of stories, categorized based on their protagonist.” She goes into detail. “Kirino is when the protagonist is a youkai, and kazura is when the protagonist is a woman. Besides that there’s one where the protagonist is a god, and one when it’s a hero. And lastly we have a category where we put everything else.” She seems to think for a second before continuing. “I believe there’s around 200 plays, currently, sorted throughout those five categorizes.”
“I see.” I think I get it.
“Anyway, I think we should get going.”
Where does your adventure bring you next?  Find a stall with a game - Shooting Gallery - Goldfish Scooping - Ring Tossing - High Striker game - Kappa Crane Game [X] Mask Booth  Shrine booth [X] Watch a performance [X] Dinner -[X] Yakitori  Write-in
It was originally planned to be a Noh play, but I decided to late a LOT of liberties with it, and changed a lot of things to fit the image I wanted. Such as Kokoro being the only actor, or the fact she changes mask during the play, and the backdrop and props.
>>30559 >I new this was going to happen at some point during this batch of short updates, though I hoped it wouldn't. >I new This is why I don't trust myself to update without a proofer
========== Human Village - 1st of Sprouting Month 19:17 Gensokyo Day 5 ==========
“Do you two plan on going to see the fire tonight?” After having walked around for a bit, we’re stopped by a girl.
The long green hair and white color scheme makes her easy to recognize. Though her clothes differ from the illustrations I’ve seen of her shrine. Perhaps it’s the festive mood of the night that’s inspired the various accessories fitted on her clothes.
“At the moment, we do.” My companion answers.
She turns around to a stand that, from the looks of it, has been built with more care than most of the others I’ve seen tonight. “In that case, please take these.” She hands us a small green silk bag with the kanji ‘Wind’ embroidered into it.
“We’re giving these out for free to help prevent youkai attacks tonight.” The priestess continues. “While our shrine is out of the way from the village, we’re still doing our best to help the villagers.”
I tune out her sales pitch for a moment as I focus my spell breaker into the little charm.
Strings upon strings of magic flood my mind as I poke into the enchantment. For the lack of a better example, saying it’s like a braid, though undermining it, still explains it nicely. Hundreds, if not thousands of small lines of magic, carefully intertwine with each other, forming stronger spells, which then again combine with another string. Eventually it reaches the end, a genuine charm capable of repelling youkai.
Though the method is less than humane. It bombards the youkai’s mind with attacks, attempting to lock it down by stunning it. There’s no restriction on it, meaning it could kill if exposed long enough.
“Interesting.” I comment.
“You think so too?” The green girl appears to be very excited.
“No, what? I wasn’t paying attention.” I quickly add. “I was looking at the charm.”
“Do you like it?” She asks. “I made it myself.”
“It’s brutal, but effective.” I tell her. “While I don’t think I’d use it, I’m actually envious of not being able to make one like this myself.”
“Aren’t priests supposed to be able to make charms?” Akyuu asks. Not having a pocket for it, she wraps the strap of the small bag around her wrist.
“You’re a priest?” The green girl asks, as her golden eyes lighting up with curiosity.
“It’s not that I can’t, it’s that I can’t do it as well.” I explain. “Regular enchantments on the other hand, I’ve become quite skilled in.”
“Which shrine are you associated with?” The priestess asks. “Is it here in the village?”
“The Hakurei shrine, so no.” I answer.
“Hakurei? I didn’t know Reimu had gotten married.” She remarks.
“It’s, uhh, not quite like that. At least not that I’m aware of.” I reply.
“Oh.” She looks down as she scratches her neck. “Well that’s awkward. Anyway,” she quickly lightens up again, “don’t let me keep you. The night it still young.” She motions us to move along.
“You’re not married?” Akyuu asks, trying to hide her smirk.
“I know I’m attractive, but five days to marriage is a bit short, don’t you think?”
She lets out a single chuckle. “Yeah, I suppose. But these things,” she holds up her charm, “what exactly do they do?”
“It prevents youkai from moving, as long as they’re in range.” I explain to her. “Though I’d rather avoid the details.”
“I’ve seen a lot of repulsive things, if that’s what you’re concerned about.” As she says it, emotions seem to fade from her face, taking on a neutral look.
“Imagine being punched in the stomach. Then as you lie on the ground, you’ll get kicked over and over without end. Now imagine that sort of pain, but being applied directly to your mind. That’s what this charm does to youkai.” I explain. Although the actual feeling would be more like taking one of Reimu’s fantasy seals right after the other.
 Find a stall with a game - Shooting Gallery - Goldfish Scooping - Ring Tossing - High Striker game - Kappa Crane Game [X] Mask Booth [X] Shrine booth [X] Watch a performance [X] Dinner -[X] Yakitori  Write-in
========== Human Village - 1st of Sprouting Month 19:25 Gensokyo Day 5 ==========
Having exhausted our other options, we begin to wander towards the edge of the village where most of the game stalls are at.
The first thing I spot when we get close is the long flaming hair of a certain small woman. Unlike our little dance back at the dojo, her hair isn’t set up in a ponytail, but rather just collected in the back by a bright yellow ribbon. Her purple kimono is sparsely decorated in a white flower pattern.
Her back is turned towards us, so I don’t think she’s seen us yet. Which gives me an idea.
I raise my hand in front of Akyuu, signaling her to stop. She looks at me confused. I ignore it for the time being and quickly, but silently make my way up behind the little fighter.
With a sudden move, I grab her shoulder tightly. I can feel how her whole body freezes up in an instant.
“A martial artist never lets down their guard.” I tell her as I loosen my grip.
She instantly pulls herself away and turns around to face me.
“Ryuko?” The wide-eyes are quickly replaced by furrowed brows as she scans my face, which then disappear with a sigh. “Don’t scare me like that. I almost had a heart attack.”
“Someone you know?” Akyuu walks up to us.
“Lady Hieda? It’s a pleasure to meet you in person.” Kotohime greets her with a polite bow.
“Thank you.” She returns the gesture.
“This is Kotohime.” I introduce her. “We met while I was exploring the village the other day.”
“First captain of Sector 12, at your service.” She finishes off herself.
“12? Has something happened?” A look of unease spreads on Akyuu’s face.
“Oh?” Kotohime just waves it up with a smile. “It’s not like that. It’s just that the guys were a little undermanned. She explains. “My team was asked to help out, since we have some experience with youkai.”
“Sector 12 is part of the village’s guard force.” Akyuu explains, having picked up on my apparent confusion.
“Right, you’re from the outside. You wouldn’t know.” The guardswoman shifts her weight. “To keep it short, the guard force is divided up into groups, each specializing in a certain area or task. The guys usually responsible for regulating youkai activity inside the village were a bit shorthanded, so my team was asked to step in and help. We deal with homicide involving youkai activity, by the way.”
“I see.” I did know the village had a guard force, though I didn’t think Kotohime would be part of it.
“I’ve been stuck here watching these kappa all night.” Using her thumb, she points back at a small group of girls. “Thankfully it’s almost over.”
The girls in question all wear the same iconic green hat, making them easy to identify as kappa. Although their clothing differs from what was illustrated in the Chronicle. They all wear a turtleneck sweater matching their hair color, that is to say one black and two blue. I don’t see the kappa from the Moriya Shrine incident. She’s the only one I have any concrete information about, the rest is just racial stuff.
“They don’t seem to be doing much of any evil.” I note out loud.
“Exactly.” The guardswoman agrees. “The humans and the kappa have a pact. Though I don’t know the details of it, I know they wouldn’t attack unprovoked. But rules are rules, and no youkai may roam the village without supervision.”
“What exactly are they doing here?” The historian asks.
“See that machine?” She nods back at the group. “Apparently it’s a game they wanted to bring in for show. Although there’s not a lot of people who’ve tried it.”
“Wanna try it out, Akyuu?” I ask.
“I’ll admit I’m curious.” She responds.
“Well then.” I turn to Kotohime. “It was a surprise meeting you here. Next time we meet, I hope it’s after this arm has healed.”
“Just make sure my next case isn’t about you.” She replies purposefully arrogant.
“Ah, people.” I hear one of the kappa exclaim.
It seems Akyuu approached them while I wasn’t looking. “What’s this game?”
“This is the Kappa Claw.” The dark haired girl replies, puffing her chest out in pride.
“The purpose of the game is to move the claw over the prize you want. If done right, the machine will give it to you.” The short one follows up.
Oh wait, I know what this is. They have these things at the arcades. The control scheme on this one is a mere three buttons; a right arrow, an up arrow and then a big green button. There are western letters written on the side of it, too faded to be read, though I think it’s the English instructions.
“How much for one try?” Akyuu asks.
“First go is free. After that it’s one sen for one go.” The dark haired one replies.
The last of the three girls, the one with glasses and a sideways ponytail, has moved back, hiding from view as opposed to her two friends. Guess she doesn’t want to talk.
“How do you play?”
“Simple.” The short one takes over explaining. “First you press and hold this button, so the claw will move to the right. You release it when you’ve moved to the place you want. Then you press this other button, and it’ll move towards the back. Once you let go of a button, you can’t move in that direction again.”
Spatial awareness and timing. Those seem to be the key elements to the game.
The box starts buzzing as the crane begins to move.
Akyuu keeps her wide eyes on the crane as it slides along the rail. As it stops, she looks down on the controls, carefully pressing the other button and the crane moves backwards.
The historian, entranced by the machine, makes a small jump as the claw suddenly drops to the bottom. It grabs a hold of a small sphere and begins to lift it up.
Taking a closer look at the pile, it appears that the prizes have been wrapped up into various shapes with various bright colors. Spheres would be easy to get a hold on, but pyramids might be a challenge with a three-finger claw.
With a ‘clank’ the prize is dropped into the deposit area.
She actually got it on the first try.
“Congratulations!” The short one exclaims. “Now just pop it open.”
Doing as told, she pulls the sphere apart, revealing a small set of jewelry. Earrings shaped like small water droplets, a necklace in the shape of a simple key and a hair clip resembling the symbol on the kappa’s caps.
“What about you, mister?” The dark haired one asks me. “Want to give it a try as well?”
“Sure, why not.”
Akyuu absentmindedly moves to the side while examining her prize.
I quickly scan the pool for a target, before settling for an orange rectangle.
Lining the claw up with the box proves easy, though probably because I’m somewhat cheating. My spiritual energy gives me an uncanny understanding of the immediate surroundings, far better than my other senses can give me. Combined with my combat honed reflexes, moving the claw like I want becomes child play.
The claw lets go of the box and it lands with another hollow ‘clank’.
Only this time it doesn’t lie in the deposit. Instead it’s found a comfortable spot on the edge of the hole.
“So close.” The black haired kappa comments. “Want to try again?”
“Nah, I’m fine.”
I look over at Akyuu. With a satisfied look plastered on her face she nods, agreeing to my non verbal suggestion to move on.
We barely get out of earshot from them before the little lady fires up.
“Did you see how it moved?” She looks up at me. Her violet eyes glowing with a strange enthusiasm. “The kappa refuse to use magic for their inventions. It’s amazing how they got it to move like that. And it was so simple as well.”
I could almost forget that she’s lived several times longer than I, by the sudden change in behavior.
“You know,” I begin, “I almost want to bring you with me back outside, just to see how you’ll react to that world.”
She blushes a bit, before quickly calming down. “I wouldn’t be entirely opposed to that.” She responds. “Although I don’t think I would have the time for that any time soon, I’m afraid.”
 Go to the fire  Find a stall with a game - Shooting Gallery - Goldfish Scooping - Ring Tossing - High Striker game -[X] Kappa Crane Game [X] Mask Booth [X] Shrine booth [X] Watch a performance [X] Dinner -[X] Yakitori  Write-in
And that's that. This vote will determine how you end the date, which in turn means the weekly updates are over.
Next update will have what I originally planned to include in >>30442 before my proofer suggested this method of doing the date (which all in all turned out far better than it otherwise would have). And I've been itching to write it for a while.
It is however, going to take a while to write. Because one, I need the time to cool down and avoid a burnout, and two, I want to polish it for reasons not to be mentioned yet.
Oh, and sorry about the delay. Again. The proofing carried on until early morning (my time) and a rewrite was needed. So we had to delay it.
Short version: The update is on the way. I just want to polish it up nicely.
Slightly longer version: I had planned for it to be out, not yesterday but the Sunday before that. I got distracted by games. Then I had it planned for yesterday, and it got done. But I wasn't satisfied with it.
So I'm not gonna promise anything, but I'll do what I can to get it out this Sunday.
Priest of Hakurei 24Jura!OxyIF4cURI2016/08/12 (Fri) 13:05No. 30790▼
========== Human Village - 1st of Sprouting Month 19:39 Gensokyo Day 5 ==========
While we were distracted by the game, people seem to have begun flowing towards the outskirts. Taking it as a sign for the fire to start soon, we join the crowd.
The crew preparing the fire are still working, so it seems we arrived with time to spare.
“What about over there?” Akyuu points to a small hill resting against the village wall. “I don’t think anyone will disrupt us there.”
Taking a closer look at the hill as we get closer, it looks to be artificially made. Though that’s based on the fact it’s well rounded and that there’s no other hills around. Granted it is farmland, and I could just be over thinking things again.
“I think it’ll get cold this far from the fire.” I note. “Sure you want to sit here?”
“Yeah. It’s worth it to just get a bit away from the crowd.” She brushes away the snow, clearing a patch to sit on.
I take off my jacket and throw it around Akyuu’s shoulders.
“Won’t you get cold?” She asks, tugging it in close to her.
“I’m used to the cold.” I reply. “If it’s just this much, I’ll be fine.”
“Because of your job?” She asks. To which I respond with a nod. “It must be tough.”
“It is. I wouldn’t wish for anyone else to do it.” I say. “And as long as I continue, no one else will have to.”
“Is it really that bad?” She asks.
“To put it into perspective, I can say with certainty that every part of my body has at one point or another been completely destroyed.”
“That doesn’t sound pleasant.” She comments.
“Yeah, it’s not.” I answer. “But on the bright side, it has also given me the chance to see Gensokyo, and to meet you as well.”
She responds to my words with a smile. A faint and simple one, but genuine.
It seems a lot of people have the same idea we had, as the crowd has spread out quite a bit. Small groups at that, mostly consisting of two to five people, ranging from what looks like couples to friends to families.
“What exactly is this festival about?” I ask.
“You don’t know?”
“No one has told me anything, I’m afraid.” I reply.
“In that case, allow me to enlighten you. Tonight we’re basically celebrating that the sun will begin to stay in the sky for longer again.” She explains. “Likewise, we have a festival in the beginning of fall where we show our thanks to the sun, in hopes that it’ll come again next year.”
“I see. I don’t believe I’ve seen this before.” I note.
“I’m not surprised, actually. We began this tradition shortly after the creation of the Great Hakurei Barrier.” She continues to explain. “The first winter was unusually long. It was impossible to grow any crops and we had to kill a lot of our prepared livestock just to make it through.” She gets a rather doleful expression. “At first we blamed the Hakurei clan, since it started when the Great Barrier was erected. We began praying out of desperation, and to our surprise, it worked. We’ve been doing it annually since.”
“Interesting. Very interesting indeed.” I ponder for a bit as I process her words. “It sounds kind of similar to something I’ve heard they do in the west. Although that’s more related to the two solstices.”
“Solstice?” She brings a hand to her mouth as she thinks. Her thumb slowly tracing her lower lip. “I guess that makes sense.”
Our conversation comes to a halt as the crew working on the fire has just signaled for the ignition of the wood.
It barely takes a minute for the branches within the structure to spread the fire wide enough to engulf the dry wood.
Within a few more minutes, the fire has caught on, lighting up the fields just in time for the sun to set behind the mountains.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Akyuu tug the jacket a bit. Is it getting too cold for her?
To her surprise, I place a hand on her back.
“Just a second.” I say.
I’ve placed a few enchantments in my clothes as dormant, to make them easy to use when needed. The one I’m activating causes the jacket to emit heat, a few degrees below the body’s temperature.
“There. That should do it. How does it feel?”
She takes a moment to examine the jacket, while the effect is kicking in.
“Warm, actually.” She chuckles a bit. “You sure are handy to have around, you know.”
“I do my best.” I answer.
She leans up against me, sharing the warmth she feels with me. It’s oddly comforting actually. I can’t remember the last time I got cozy with someone else.
But it just brings a question to mind.
“I’ve been wondering.” I begin. “Why exactly did you decide to take me for a date?”
“Why? Could it be you’re not satisfied?” She asks. “You’re on a date with the smartest and most beautiful girl in the village, and you're not satisfied?” She dramatizes some fake crying.
“Far from it, actually.” I play along. “I’d almost forgotten what it feels like to have fun.” She readjusts herself so she can get a better view of me. “The problem is that I’m going to leave in a few days, and for all we know I might never come back again. We both know this, so why waste a festival like this on me?”
“From that point of view, I can imagine it would be hard to understand.” She sits up. “Would you be satisfied if I told you, that it’s just because I find you interesting?”
“If that’s all you’ll say, then I won’t pry.”
She goes back to leaning against me. “You probably don’t know this, but I don’t have a lot of time left.”
“As part of the reincarnation process, the child of Are has a shortened life span.” I tell her. “I’m aware. But judging from the lifespan of your previous lives, you have a lot of time left.”
“Mm. But this is something different.” She says. “In order to maintain the status of nobility, the Hieda household marries off the eldest daughter. In this case, me. But since I’m the child of Are, rather than being married into another family, they’ll marry into the Hieda clan.”
“And you’re okay with that?” I ask.
“As the child of Are and the coming head of the Hieda clan, I have duties. With my short life, I have to continue the lineage so I can continue to observe and record the history of Gensokyo throughout time. And a duty to maintain the noble status of the household to ensure I can carry out my job effectively.”
“I didn’t ask about your duty.” I tell her.
“Yeah. I’m okay with it.” She answers. “I convinced my dad to let me do what I want until it’s time to take over as the head. So I’m just enjoying my freedom while it lasts.”
“I see.” I guess arranged marriage is still a thing here in Gensokyo.
“But that doesn’t answer your question, now does it.” She looks up at me. “I told you, I’ve gotten a lot of reports about you. And in all honesty, it’s really just that I’m interested in you. I’ve come to know what you are, but I want to know who you are.”
“I’m afraid I’m just a boring guy.” I tell her with a smile. “All I do is fight.”
“Boring or exciting, it’s just a matter of perspective.” She retorts.
Indeed it is.
I let myself fall back into the snow. Akyuu, not ready for the sudden drop follows along helplessly.
Despite her short moment of surprise, she doesn’t seem to mind the change all that much.
“The sky feels so different so different here in Gensokyo.” I think aloud.
“Does it?” She asks. “But it’s the same sky right?”
“Yeah. But this just feels,” I pause looking for the right word, “complete.”
========== Hakurei Shrine, Outside - 5th of March 20:17 ==========
The world assembles itself in front of me once more as I exit Gensokyo.
I stretch my back, popping a few joint. Crossing the border takes a surprisingly toll on the body. Maybe I didn’t feel it last time because it was still early?
Well there’s an unusual sight.
Coach lies in front of the shrine, snoring. The numerous empty bottles, reeking of alcohol tell me all I need to know.
“Seriously, old man?” I drop my jacket on him, giving him a makeshift blanket. “Despite what you think, you’re not invincible. Even you can get sick.”
Now I should go see Doc. Whenever I return from outside the shrine, or after training, I’m to get a check up from Doc. This is to make sure I remain in peak health.
I knock on the door. Almost immediately after, a loud crash sounds from the other side of the door.
“Fucking hell.” I hear Doc swear.
After a few seconds the door swings open, revealing a fox with clear bags under his eyes. “Shit.” He runs his hand through his hair. “I completely forgot you were coming home today.”
“Been a long week?” I ask, stepping inside the less than clean office.
“Yukiko has been on my tails since the day you went away.” He lifts up his chair from the floor before walking over to the sink. “She can’t take no for an answer. Go on in, I’ll be there in a minute.” He sticks his head under the sink and turns on the water.
Yukiko is a snow woman who lives in the village with us. Since she’s a snow woman, she’s rather fond of physical contact. She’s a kind woman, don’t get me wrong, but she has a bit of a problem when it comes to personal boundaries. That’s one of the great things about being human; she sees me as a child, so she often leaves me alone.
Stepping into the back room, I follow the routine and strip down to my underwear.
This room, compared to the previous, is like stepping into another building entirely. Everything in here is neatly organized and clean. The room has even been coated with a layer of magic that kills off germs and removes dirt.
Doc follows me into the room soon after. He pulls out an office chair from under the desk and sits down in front of me.
“Alright then. Let's start off with your explanation, if you’d be so inclined.”
“I failed to make contact with Reimu when I came to Gensokyo.” I explain. “She assaulted me later, assuming I had broken through the border.” I hold up my arm. “These wounds are from her needles. I defended the best I could against them.”
He holds out his hand, to which I place my arm in. “Enchanted iron.” He concludes after examining the wounds. “Anything else?”
“I also took three heave fire spell to the back.” I say, turning around.
“I hope for your sake that looks worse than it is.” He carefully runs his hand across my back. “Burns and lesser nerve damage. Already healing amazingly well. Anything else?”
“Yeah.” I turn back around again. “Lastly, for a brief moment while in Gensokyo, I got the feeling back in my left arm.”
His tired expression perks up for a moment. “Have you felt anything since?”
“No, nothing.” Answer.
“Hopefully that means you’ll get your arm back soon.” He pulls out a small rolling chair from underneath the bed. “Sit.”
I take the seat and Doc immediately gets to work.
“That should be it.” He says, pulling away from my back.
“Actually, there’s one more thing.” I tell him. “While in Gensokyo, someone noted that while I was fighting, one of my eyes had changed. Not just the color, but the shape of the pupil as well.”
He spins me around so I’m facing him. “Am I human?” He asks, keeping his golden eyes locked on me. “That’s what you’re thinking right?”
“I can’t help but doubt it.”
“You want to doubt it.” He states. “You are the only human here, so of course you’d want to be a youkai like the rest of us. That’s how we work as animals.” He moves his hands onto my shoulders. “But trust me when I say that you are not a youkai.”
Satisfied with the answer, I get dressed and take my leave. He seems tired so I’d rather not take much more of his time.
As I enter my room, I throw my clothes off to the side.
I’ll deal with that tomorrow. For now I just want to get some sleep in my own bed.
Before that, though, I pull out my phone, plug it in the charger and turn it on.
The life time of these things is a joke. Last like two days max.
A message? From one of the guys on Tokyo, it seems.
========== Mt. Takao, Hachioji - 6th of March 18:49 ==========
This mountain has a great view that can only be appreciated in the winter. As soon as spring comes around, the leaves start blocking the view, but while they’re still naked you really get to see a beautiful side of Japan.
I take my eyes off the scenery to address the approaching kid. “So, why did you call me out here?”
“I have a job for you.” He answers. “Or rather, a favor to ask.”
There are a few areas that have more than one Watcher. Tokyo is one of those few, although it only has two people, making it the one with the least of those few.
“Even though you already owe me?” I ask.
“I know. I’m still looking for a proper payment.” He reassures me. “But this is something more than I can handle on my own.” He explains.
“Let’s hear it then.”
“Well, I got this idea to summon phantoms to help keep watch over the area. To make things easier, you know. The problem though, was that the first phantom I summoned was too strong and broke free.” He avoids eye contact as he explains it to me, opting to fiddle his thumbs instead.
“A necromancer who can’t even control a single soul.”
“Yeah, it’s a bit embarrassing. So I was hoping to hire you to get rid of it for me.”
“Come over here for a moment.” I wave him over.
He reluctantly closes the distance. Once he stands directly in front of me, I knock on his forehead, just hard enough to make it hurt.
He winces, covering his head to dull the pain.
“I wasn’t joking when I told you to get in shape, you know.” I scold him. “A strong spirit needs a strong body to thrive.”
“I know. I know.” He looks up at from from underneath his hands. “I just haven’t had the time.”
I sigh in response. The same old excuse.
“I wonder if teaching you was the right thing to do.” I tell him. “Anyway, you just want the phantom gone, right? Or is there something specific you want me to do?” I ask.
He rubs the spot where I hit him for a bit before standing up straight again.
“Just gone. It’s too strong for me to handle so there would be no need to capture it.” He admits.
“Last question.” I push myself up from the fence. “Where’s miss sunshine?”
“She’s out of the country.” He answers, scratching his ear. “Had some business to take care of in South Korea.”
Good. I’d rather not deal with her preaching again.
“I see. I should be able to get it done tonight, depending on where it is.” I tell him. “Though I’ll be expecting a big favor in return.”
“Of course. I always keep my promises.” He boats with confidence. “Even if it takes a long time to do so.”
“So? Where is it?” I ask.
“At Doryodo Ruins.” He answers.
“Of course it’d be a place like that.”
========== Doryodo Ruins, Otukayama Park - 6th of March 19:07 ==========
This place certainly lives up to its reputation.
All that remains of the old temple is the spiritual energy it gathered, which is quite a bit. There’s not enough left for youkai to maintain a physical form, but enough to where they can affect the world to some degree.
Considering this is a non-maintained area, it sounds pretty incredible. But given the site’s history it’s not all that surprising.
After the temple had been abandoned for who knows how long, two murders took place on the same spot, with a ten year difference. Neither of which was solved, so no one knows why they were killed. After they demolished the ruins, all that remains is the foundation.
Rumor has it that you can hear the cries of the victims at night, and that you can feel an overwhelming sadness coming from eyes that continue to watch you.
While I do not hear anything, nor do I feel particularly sad, I do however feel an otherworldly gaze glued to my back.
I run my hand through the dirt.
No doubt about it. This is where they died. The spiritual energy here has a signature, though no longer anything resembling human.
I write the word ‘Peace’ on the ground.
“May your soul find rest.” I offer a quick prayer before standing up.
Now then, it’s probably better I address my guests before seeking out the phantom.
“Taking a walk in a haunted park at night makes you look rather suspicious; wouldn’t you say?” I raise my voice to make sure they hear it. “Of course, hiding only makes it worse.” I spin around and face the tree they’re hiding behind.
There’s no wind here tonight, making the naked trees motionless and looking dead.
After a moment of silence, one of them decides to peek out from behind the tree. The moment our eyes meet she retreats back behind the tree.
It takes another few seconds before she realizes it’s too late, at which point he boldly steps out from her hiding.
She appears to be a woman close to my own age. She wears a long brown coat and a black hat with a ribbon on it. Going for a detective look?
With surprising determination, she marches straight at me.
Her friend quickly leaps out from behind the tree and grab her hand. “Renko. Wait.”
“What did you do to us?” She yells at me.
That’s a rather intense energy she’s releasing.
“Now that’s a little rude, don’t you think?” I shrug it off. “Accusing people just like that.”
“Don’t play dumb.” She bites back. “I know you were there that night.”
We’ve met before? I know her spiritual energy feels familiar, but I’ve seen so many it really isn’t that strange.
“There are three hundred and sixty-five nights a year.” I point out. “If you’re going to accuse me of something, the least you could do is be a bit more specific.”
“I don’t know.” She holds a hand against her head. “I can’t remember. But whenever I try, your face shows up.”
“Renko. Stop, please.” Her blond friends asks. “It hurts to remember.”
“But I feel like I’m so close to figuring it out.” ‘Renko’ argues.
I think I remember them. They were the civilians that got in the way during the fight with the golem. Which means Doc altered their memories to forget about the incident. I doubt he messed up, he’s too diligent. So why?
Before I realize it, instinct takes over and I plunge backwards, narrowly escaping the phantom as it flies over me.
Without wasting a second, I flip back around as soon as I land and drive my fingers into the ground.
Forcing as much energy into the ground as I can I quickly create an improvised barrier, sealing the four of us inside.
Ignoring my arm screaming in pain, I send out a pulse of energy to locate the phantom.
“Are you two alright?” I quickly glance back at the girls. Both of them have fallen on their asses from the shock.
“What was that?” The brunette exclaims.
“A ghost.” The foreigner follows up.
Nothing? I didn’t find it?
“We need to get you two out.”
“I knew it!” The brunette exclaims again. “You were the one!”
“Now isn’t the time-”
I’m cut short by the phantom as it drives through my chest.
I instinctively reach for my heart as a pulse of pain surges through my chest.
It’s soft. Unnaturally soft.
I pull out in my shirt to check, and the stench of rot escaping tells me all I need to know.
The fucker is intelligent.
Another surge of pain pulse through my chest.
This is bad. I don’t know how much longer my rotting heart can keep up. I need to get them out, now.
“Are you-” the blond woman is about to say something, but I cut her off.
“Run!” I stomp with a foot, initiating a spell circle. Raising my hand, I create a tunnel using my barrier.
Just as I’ve finished, it strikes through me once more. I feel my heart collapse, unable to endure the pressure anymore.
Why can’t I sense it?
Why haven’t they run yet?
It’s getting hard to think. My body screams at me. It hurts. It fucking hurts.
“Fucking run!” I scream with all the power I can muster.
Exhausted without fresh blood, my legs finally give in to exhaustion.
Anyway, today should be when I call the votes as it's been a week. But I'm going to postpone that until Monday, because I like to stay in habit. Not that I'm expecting more votes.
Oh, and since I forgot to mention it when I posted the story, because everything got messed up (and I prefer to keep my non-story posts to a minimum.) Just know that I'm giving you the option, because it is an option.
Priest of Hakurei 25Jura!OxyIF4cURI2016/10/01 (Sat) 19:54No. 30859▼
========== Outside Hospital, Hachioji - 6th of March 19:58 ==========
“And what exactly would you be willing to pay for those powers?” I ask.
She turns to face me. “Why the sudden change in heart?”
“If I walk away, you’ll disregard everything I’ve said and walk to your death.” I tell her. “But with my guidance, you’ll have a fighting chance to at least save your friend.”
“So you’ll make me stronger?” She asks.
“Depends.” I answer. “If you can make it worth my time.”
“What do you want?”
“Beginner’s mistake.” I state. “I’ll overlook it this time. Never let someone else decide your price for you. That will only end badly in our world.”
“But I have no idea what you want.” She complains. “How am I supposed to bargain when I have nothing to offer?”
“How about this then?” I pocket my hand. “Once your training has started, I can demand one thing from you. Regardless of what it may be, you’ll have to comply.”
“Anything.” I cut her off. “Whether it’s handing over an item, taking a life or offering your own, you will comply. That’s my price.”
She clenches her fists even harder for a moment before relaxing her body completely.
“If that’s what it takes, then I’ll accept.” She exclaims.
“I see.” I respond. “Then come to the ruins again at noon two weeks from now. We’ll spend all day outside, so come prepared for that. Wear loose clothes, preferably pants instead of that skirt.” I tell her. “Oh, and we’ll ride the train, so bring your own money for that as well.”
“Got it.” She nods.
Understanding that there’s no more to be said for now, the girl turns around and runs back inside.
It’s about time for me to head back as well. I’d prefer making it before the last train runs.
I don’t make it past the first corner before I’m stopped by my previous student.
“I now appreciate how easy it was to convince you to teach me.” He notes. “At least I didn’t have as hard a time as she did.”
“With a rather well founded understanding of basic elemental magic and a unique ability to eat souls,” I recall his skills, “I’d say you were already established in our world. It’d be impossible to shove you out again.”
“True.” He replies. “So, should I view her as a rival, or can I trust to still get your affection, ‘Teacher’?”
He gives me this smug-ass smile.
Not too long after he came to Japan, we ran into each other. He’d already caught wind of my skills and asked to become my apprentice, to teach him what I knew about spiritual powers. Since, as I said earlier, he was already part of our hidden world of magic, I had little reason to refuse. While he had problems wrapping his head around the theories, he was great at putting them into practice. In barely a years time, he decided that he’s learned what he needed and called off our relationship to avoid making his debt to me bigger than it already was.
“Yeah, you’re going to have to try harder from now on.” I play along. “But it’d help if you keep these two a secret for now. I may have agreed, but I’d still rather keep her out of this.”
“Strike a favor off the list and I’ll go out of my way to hide them.” He offers.
“Deal.” I agree without haggling.
Keeping those two a secret will raise the value of their info, should they make it into our world. Limiting the knowledge from spreading beforehand is an investment for him. He’d have done so whether I asked him to or not, but with this I have his hands tied as to when he can release the information.
Having finished his business here, he nods me off as he takes his leave.
========== Behind the Hakurei Shrine - 7th of March 09:55 ==========
Coach slowly paces around me, making sure I keep my posture. “So she’s basically another student?” He asks, glancing at the stopwatch.
“Basically.” I answer somewhat absentmindedly.
Normally we’d start off the month by stress testing my body to find out which areas could use some attention. However, the phantom yesterday managed to kill me. While Doc’s spell saved me once again, the side effect still lingers, meaning stressing the body will cause direct harm.
The spell in question is designed to activate whenever my body reaches a critical state where death is imminent. Once activated, it’ll restore my body back to the stage it’s supposed to be at. In other words, it resets my body according to how it was when the spell was placed. The main side effect results in my muscles being too soft and will break under increased pressure.
Another side effect is that my hair grows out to it’s maximum length. It’s more of an annoyance than anything else. After god knows how many times, we eventually just stopped cutting it. And surprisingly, it turned out to be useful as hair conducts mana better than blood vessels, which in turns allows to some creative use of hair.
“Focus.” He reminds me.
I quickly restore my posture and regain balance.
Because we can we can’t stress my body, we’re focusing on sharpening balance. Something we’ve kept to a minimum to make it easy to go back to having two functional arms again.
This particular exercise has me do a split while I sit atop a couple of poles, as I try to balance a cup of steaming water on each of my joints.
“So, what’s your plan with her?” He asks again.
“To begin with, getting her into shape will be the top priority.” I answer. “Maybe drilling some basic techniques into muscle memory.”
“So you are serious about training her? You could just not show up.” He clicks a button on the stopwatch. “Done.”
In response to his word, I flip myself around, letting the cups fall to the ground while still hanging myself. I reorient myself and drop down as well.
“A deal is a deal.” I answer.
I’m not above lying for convenience. Lying is like a second nature to me, to be honest. It’s necessary whenever a civilian accidentally stumbles into our world, or to restrict the flow of information within our world. One of the many reasons I’m glad for having been raised by Doc.
“As long as it won’t get in the way of your own training, then I won’t have any complaints.” He picks up the cups while I stretch my legs . “I can’t do much for her, but feel free to ask for advice on her behalf.”
“If she manages to reach a point where I’m not sure what to do, then I think it’d be worth bringing her here.” I note.
“That’s true. Anyway, any more than this, and Akame will have my head.” he he says, referring to Doc. “So we’ll have to call it quits for today.”
Doc isn’t a fighter like me or Coach, but he can be damn scary when he wants to.
Like usual, I bow deeply. “Thank you for your guidance.”
He returns my bow, acknowledging my appreciation.
That means the rest of the day is off schedule. Now would be the perfect time to take care of some preparations.
I make my way to my room and change out of my sweaty gi and into a clean set. They’re easy to put on and comfortable, so I have a few sets lying around. I grab a sheet of paper off my desk before going out again.
Heading down the shrine’s stairs I reach the village.
Gensokyo was originally created because faith in the supernatural was waining, so creating a space that could produce enough faith to sustain itself was a genius idea, and a lot of youkai moved to Gensokyo soon after it was created.
Back here on the outside though, faith continued to disappear. As a result, the youkai that remained out here banded together into small areas, securing small locations where faith would continue to flow. This village is one such place because it’s located so close to the main gate to Gensokyo.
While this does give youkai a few places to call home, it sadly imposes a limit on them as well. They can’t leave these areas for any extended period of time, or they’ll risk death. As the sole human in this village, my strongest point is the ability to come and go at will.
The youkai living in these places tend to be more friendly than what you’d imagine from youkai. Here they no longer need to instill fear into the hearts of humans to survive, so they’ve opened up a bit more. At least that’s how it is in this village. Even though I’m the only human who ever comes here, but that’s beside the point.
I stop in front of the house of our resident smith. The front door is open but I decide to knock anyway.
It doesn’t take more than a few seconds before the owner of the house peeks out from another room.
“Little Ryu.” He almost sings.
This guy is, well, imagine a dwarf from western fantasy, then scale him up all around until he’s the same height as a human. That’s basically what he looks like, complete with the old school pilot goggles. He’s covered in flux from head to toe, with the exception of his bright beard.
He wipes his hands clean in a rag he carries in the front pocket of his overalls, before inviting me into a hug which I gladly accept.
“It’s good to see you back safe and sound.” He notes. “You ought to drop by more often, you know.”
“And it’s good to see you too, Satou.” I tell him. “But sadly I’ve been quite busy these last few months.”
The smith lets out a jolly laugh. “That you have. So young yet so diligent.” He invites me inside. “So to what do I owe the pleasure? I don’t take it you just came to say hi. Did you finally decide to accept my masterpiece of mass destruction? Can’t blame you, she’s a beauty.”
“Not this time either. Maybe when you make a weapon of mass destruction, but with less destruction.” I joke. “No, I’m actually here because I’d like you to make something for me, if you don’t mind.”
“Sure. Not like orders come in much this time of the year.” He says. “So what can I get you?”
“Nails, actually.” I pull out the piece of paper I brought with me. “With this design engraved on the sides. I’ll need about two dozen of them.”
The over-sized dwarf examines the paper for a moment. “These runes are used for exorcism, right?” He asks.
“Mm.” I confirm. “There’s a haunted spot I want to take care of. This should let it go smoothly.”
“So that’s it.” He rolls up the paper. “I can have them ready by the day after tomorrow.”
“It’s nothing.” He brushes me off. “But anyway, now that you’re here, why not stay for a talk? I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to.”
========== Doryodo Ruins, Otukayama Park - 21st of March 12:13 ==========
I plant the final nail in the ground and take a few steps back.
With the nails set up, the spell activates. Each nail draws a line to the one next to it, forming a complete circle. Immediately afterwards, they draw a line to the opposite side, running parallel with the lines besides them. And at the last step, the points where the lines cross each other join together by creating a few smaller circles, until every square has been turned into a triangle.
The circle blinks sharply once, turning all the hard edges into curves before fading away.
I have to admit it still feels magical. It’s not often I get to use these self activating rituals. Watching them form and perform from outside really is different.
“Is that the kind of stuff I’ll learn?”
My newly appointed pupil makes her appearance.
“As if.” I reply. “This is leagues above your level.”
“But you didn’t do anything.” She argues.
“And it’s because of that I know it’s out of your league.” I stand up and face her. “Looks like you’re ready, so let’s get moving.”
Seems like she followed my advice. She’s wearing a dark gray set of sweatpants with a set of white stripes running down the outside of the leg. Her shirt follows the same color pattern, but presents the white through a shallow V going from her shoulder to the top of her chest. The red running shoes, though adding color, does nothing to change the completely generic look of her outfit.
She even arranged her hair to be more fit, by moving her single long bang back with a set of plain hairpins. I don’t understand why she left one bang that long. Some fashion fad? Regardless, the rest of her hair is being tied back by a low hanging ponytail.
“So, where are we going?” She asks as she starts walking by my side.
“Mount Takao.” I answer. “We’ll need a place devoid of people.”
“But that’s a popular tourist spot.” She argues. “And why do we need to get away from people?”
“I struck a deal with Naigubu to borrow some of his space for a while.” I answer. “As for why we keep it a secret, take a look at gun powder, rockets and nuclear energy for just a few examples.”
“Oh.” She realizes my point. “Didn’t think of that. Makes sense.”
She makes no further attempt at conversation for the rest of the walk. I don’t have anything to say to her yet, so I keep shut as well.
========== Mt. Takao, Hachioji - 21st of March 12:41 ==========
“Alright. We’re here.” I drop my bag at the edge of the clearing.
“Here?” She drops down, resting against a tree. “But there’s nothing here.” She’s visibly breathing harder than normal, though she tries to suppress it.
Seems like she doesn’t have much stamina.
“That’s exactly why we’re here.” I tell her.
Naigubu prepared this area for us. He burrowed some specially crafted crystal in the area which will help us.
“So, what’s first?” She asks. “You say magic is out of my league, so where do I start?”
“First? First I’m going to have to commend your parents on raising you.” I tell her. “Following a clearly suspicious man into the middle of nowhere on the promise of magic. Truly the smart thing to do.”
Her expression changes as she realizes my point.
She immediately tries to get on her feet, but before she even has the chance to, I’ve closed the distance between us.
I grab her by the collar and throw her into the center of the clearing.
“Always suspect everyone.” I tell her. “Though that’s more of a personal rule than a lesson.”
“What are you going to do?” She glares at me with fire as she gets on her feet again.
“Train you.” I tell her. “I’m a man of my word. It’s just important for you to realize our relationship. You can’t trust me.”
She relaxes a bit, though still not dropping her guard. Not that it matters, it’s full of holes anyway.
“For now, I want you to attack me.” I tell her. “Don’t worry, I won’t fight back.”
She raises an eyebrow. “Alright then. Here I come.” She charges ahead with her fist raised high.
And she hits me.
With no force to speak of, she punches me in the chest. Not an ounce of malice, anger or even determination can be felt from her. Nothing even closely resembling a killing intent, or even just a fighting spirit for that matter.
This is going to be a long road.
“I was going to hold off on my criticism until we were done, but this needs mentioning.” I grab her wrist and present her own fist to her. “See this? This fist is the only thing you got right.”
“Well excuse me for not being a hulk.” She complains.
“I was going to try and gauge your physical abilities with a little spar, but I can already tell how weak you are.” I pinch the bridge of my nose as I think this through. “Are you sure you want this?”
“Absolutely.” She answers without hesitation.
Just had to make sure.
I stomp on the ground, sending what little mana I have out to the crystals. They respond by enveloping the two of us in a thick mist.
As the mist clears again, our surroundings have been changed. The trees are gone and the mountain leveled, leaving a flat grassland behind for as far as the eye can see.
“Welcome to my world.” I say as I spread my arms. “Thanks to Naigubu, we can train here uninterrupted.”
She looks around, scanning the place curiously.
“Who exactly is Naigubu?” She asks. “This is amazing.”
“You don’t know?” I scratch my head. “I thought it was common knowledge that there lived a daitengu on this mountain. That’s why there’s a temple and all.”
“That rings a bell, but I can’t say I knew it.” She admits.
“Either way, without any physical abilities, we’ll have to focus on technique.” I get the conversation back on topic. “Which means we’ll start from the bottom. Today we’ll focus on drilling the art of falling into your body.”
“Falling? I thought you were going to at least teach me how to fight.” She complains.
“Attack me.” I command again.
She raises an eyebrow but doesn’t question it, instead charging at me again. This time with her hands held out in front of her.
All it takes is a swift move and she’s been thrown on the ground.
She lies there for a second desperately trying to gasp for air between her coughs.
“If you knew how to fall, that wouldn’t have hurt.” I tell her as she gets up again. “In combat, getting your opponent on the floor gives you a huge advantage, so avoiding getting on the floor yourself is the most basic form of defense. Aside from running away, that is.”
“I get it.” She wipes her mouth. “Stupid question.”
“Try getting down on one knee.” I direct the conversation back to the topic, ignoring her comment.
I’ve been drilling these simple techniques into her four hours now. Once she began to understand how to roll forward from a kneeling position, we began working on direction. After that we introduced various positions. Teaching her how to reduce the force of impact and how to focus the force into one spot came soon after.
In short, she’s been doing nothing but rolling around in the dirt for hours.
Yet she’s already too exhausted to even stand up now.
This really is going to be a long road. Though in the plus side, continuing to drill techniques like this into her will force her muscles to adapt, slowly raising her physical abilities until I can work with them.
“I think it’s better to call it quits for today.” I tell her.
“You, you think?” She manage to ask in between her ragged breathing. “What’s the time?”
Since this world is artificially created, the sky stays lit regardless of what time it is. A way to compensate the lack of a sun.
“About seven, I believe.” I answer.
“Seven?” She pulls her own phone out to check. “But we’ve been here for like half a day.”
“Six hours.” I correct her. “One of the features of this space is to slow your perception of time. Helps you get in more practice in less time.”
She runs her hand through her hair. “That’d be really useful back at uni. Make it a hell of a lot easier to meet the deadlines.”
“Magic isn’t meant for something so trivial.” I’m about to give her a small lecture, but she’s saved as my phone rings.
I don’t recognize this number. Someone new joined our ranks and got a hold of my number? Poor soul.
I answer the phone. “I’m here. Speak.”
“Um, is this Konoha?” A familiar voice asks from the other end.
Konoha? Konoha. That sounds familiar. I think that was the name I was using around new year. Wait a second.
“Yumemi?” I ask.
“So it is you.” She lets out a sigh of relief. “I wasn’t sure since this is the first time I tried calling the number you gave me.”
“What can I do for you?” I ask.
“Well, I was actually hoping I could get your help with-”
“Wait, you’re not calling that guy, right?” I hear another voice cut her off from the background. Sounds like the little sailor, somewhat honored she remembers me.
“No, I was just thinking-” She tries to argue, but is cut off early once again.
“I told you to just ignore him.”
“But-” She tries to argue back.
“Give me the phone.”
“Wait, Chiyuri-” I hear something heavy fall in the background.
“Give me the phone.” She demands again.
“No. Chiyuri. Get off me. I’m trying to-”
I take a look at the phone. They hung up.
Yeah, she didn’t really like me. Sensible little girl, though, I’ll give her that.
I’m about to enter the number into my contacts list as I get a text from her.
>Sorry about that >I’ll call again when she’s not around
‘I’ll wait.’ I respond. I’m done with my pupil for today anyway. All that’s left to do is go back home and take care of the evening chores.
“How are you feeling?” I ask the little miss sitting behind me.
“It hurts all over.” She complains. “But at least I can still move.”
“Good. Means you’ve been active.” I tell her as I pull my own number up on my phone. “Write this down. After you’ve gone through a whole day without your muscles hurting, I want you to send me a text on this number.”
She pulls out her own phone again and starts typing in the number. “I take it we’re not going to meet regularly then.”
“Not yet. First we’ll need to build your body for a bit.” I tell her. “But we’ll need to be careful not to over train you, since you’re just getting started. Which is why I’m serious when I tell you to wait until it doesn’t hurt anymore.”
“I get it.” She states. “You know best, so I’ll follow your directions.”
“Good.” I pocket my phone now that she’s done. “In that case, eat something heavy on protein for dinner tonight and wash it down with milk.”
“Yeah.” She nods, showing she understand the instructions.
Using the mana I’ve recovered over the last few hours, I send out a new signal, telling the crystals to stop.
Unlike before, the surroundings silently fade away, revealing the scenery we left behind.
“Then I’ll be seeing you, Miss.” I tell her as I go pick up my bag.
“Usami.” She corrects me. “Usami Renko.”
“Hakurei Ryuko.” I respond. “And just as a final lesson for today. Don’t give away your name so willingly. Names are needed in order to use some dangerous spells, so keeping your real name hidden will help keep you safe.” I warn her.
She rubs her forehead as she mulls something over. “I’ll be sure to remember that.” She responds.
“Right, then I’ll be seeing you, Renko.” I tell her as I leave.
========== At a university, Kyoto - 23rd of march 10:15 ==========
So this is where Yumemi studies? I’ll have to admit she looks a bit younger than most of the people walking around on campus.
The campus itself doesn’t seem like anything special. It’s just as annoyingly big as every other school. The gate at the entrance, for example, is tall and wide enough to be able to fit at least six trucks parked side by side. Hanging above the entrance is the university’s logo, and above that a digitally rendered analog clock.
Immediately beyond the wall is a big open area that ends with the main entrance for the building. Halfway on the path to it from here, they’ve placed a fountain. On each side of the path, they alternate between a tree and a bench.
And of course, as I make the walk from one end to the other, everyone’s attention is focused on the giant. If my height didn’t give me such an advantage in battle, I’d be cursing it a lot more.
The receptionist, or whatever you call the people working at information spots like this, is a slender woman. Judging by the unnaturally bright color, it seems her hair is dyed. Further backed by the darker streaks appearing closer to the roots.
“Excuse me.” I call for her attention.
She looks up from her screen and almost jump in her chair as she lays eye on me.
“What- What can I do- do for you?” She stutters.
“I’m looking for a Okazaki Yumemi..” I tell her as I skim over the texts she sent me. “She should be at room 422.”
“That’s, uh, the fourth floor.” She answers, pointing to the stairs. “You should see a map once you reach it.”
I politely thank her and move on.
The halls on the top floor, which turns out to be the fourth, are empty. I pick up the occasional murmur from within some rooms, but nothing near the level of life on the floors below.
Following the map’s directions I quickly find the room I’m looking for. Judging by the schedule hanging beside the door it should be empty right now and I don’t hear much talking from the other side at all.
I push open the door slightly and take a peek inside. No one is there, so I open the door completely.
“Yumemi?” I ask out loud.
Immediately I hear a thump from behind one of the desks followed by a handful of soft curse words.
The little redhead pops up behind the counter, rubbing the top of her head. As soon as she sees me, her entire face lights up in a bright big smile.
“Konoha!” She exclaims. “You’re early.”
“It just happened the trains I was taking lined up.” I tell her. “So, what is it you need me to do?”
“Actually, I need help moving this thing.” She says as she taps a machine next to her. “Though it looks like your arm still hasn’t healed.”
“It’s actually starting to show signs of recovering.” I tell her. “But either way, taking care of something that size should be easy enough.”
“Ah. Wait here, I’ll go get a trolly.” She says before darting out of the room.
A trolly? Isn’t that one of those railed trains in the west? Maybe this university is more loaded than I thought. It’s probably a tool that’d help me lift this thing. Though I’d be able to do it without, whatever a trolly is.
A take a seat at a table.
This room looks a lot like what I’d imagine a robotics workshop to look like, but with less robots. Scattered around across all the tables are everything between small motors and gears to those green computer boards and wires.
My imagination is a bit lacking when it comes to concepts I’m unfamiliar with, it seems.
About the only thing in here I know anything about is the algebra scribbled on the notes on the table. They look pretty familiar to a spell, actually- Wait.
I quickly spread the notes out so they’re all in full view.
This is a spell. Well, it’s a framework for a simple fire based spell to be specific. The same I saw back at her apartment, the one that doesn’t require any of the known energy sources.
Last time we got close to the topic of magic, she got defensive and we began to raise our voices. Though it looks like she’s forgiven me for that, I doubt she’d let me study these if I asked.
And while I’m proud of my sharp memory, there’s no way I can memorize all of this in just a few minutes.
This place is a mess. Maybe, just maybe I’d be able to get away with just taking them. No, it wouldn’t work. Something about her is too sharp. She’d notice, and she’d figure out who in a heartbeat.
 Leave the notes be. I’ll get a better chance later  ‘Borrow’ the notes -  Take just a few notes  Try to memorize as much as possible for now
Shit, its' already this late? I swear I'm gradually losing my sense of time.
========== At a university, Kyoto - 23rd of March 10:15 ==========
I should probably leave the notes be. While this place looks like a mess with everything scattered around like this, I can’t help but feel like it’s an organized mess. Either way, I’ll get another chance as long as I stay in contact with the little professor.
Instead I decided to get up and take a closer look at the machine. Though to be honest, there’s not much to really be told. It’s a rectangular cube with beveled edges. There are several panels on the sides of it, though I wouldn’t have the faintest clue about what they’d be for even if I took a look underneath. The most noteworthy feature, though, is the fact it’s suspended slightly above the ground. Each corner has a spring attached to it, which connects it to a simple wire frame. My best guess is for shock resistance, though the reason escapes me.
Though, it does look an awful lot like the machine she used last time to extract spiritual energy from the surrounding area. In fact, the only difference is that this one doesn’t have any cables attached to it.
The door to the lab swings open again, revealing the backside of the little redhead.
How does she have time for a braid like that?
“Alright, I got it.” She exclaims cheerfully as she drags in her ‘trolly.’ “Now we just need to load her up.”
“Oh,” I snap my finger, “you meant a saggy wagon. I almost expected one of those street trains they have in the west.” I tell her.
“A saggy wagon?” She asks.
“A wagon for sacks.” I tell her. “At least that’s what we call it back home.” Or used to anyway. I’m the physically weakest member of the shrine, and even I don’t need to use it.
She looks down at the wagon for a second, then back to me. “You know, I don’t actually know what this thing is called.” She admits. “I’ve just always called it a trolly.”
“The name isn’t important. Anyway, if that’s all you need moved,” I ask, pointing back at the machine, “then I don’t need the wagon. I can easily lift it on my own.”
“Are you sure?” She asks. “Even with the train, it’s a bit of a walk.”
“I’ll be fine.” I tell her.
She looks at me with a hint of doubt written on her face, but she just shrugs it off. “Alright, but then I don’t want to hear any complaints.” She rolls the wagon off to the side.
“Of course.” I grab the machine by the frame and swing it up on my shoulder.
It’s actually lighter than I expected it to be, though the size does make handling it slightly awkward.
“Let’s get going then.” She says, holding the door for me.
She locks up the lab and starts leading me downstairs.
“By the way. Can I ask what this is for, or is it part of your secret research?” I ask.
“Sorry, I’m afraid that’s secret.” She answers.
“I thought as much.” I tell her. That pretty much confirms it for me. This is the same machine as last time, or at least the same type of machine. “So I take it you can’t tell me why it smells like strawberry either?”
“It does?” She asks.
“So it isn’t intentional?” I ask back.
“No, though I think I know why.” She says, brushing a lock of hair behind her ear. “I’ve been all over that thing for days now, so it wouldn’t be too far fetched to think my perfume has rubbed off on it.”
“Strawberry perfume?” Now that she mentions it, she does smell like strawberries, though it’s a rather faint scent, like it’s a day or two old. “I guess there are people like that too.”
She jumps down a few steps to the platform where the stairs make a turn.
“And what exactly is that supposed to mean?” She pouts, placing her hands on her hips.
“Nothing in particular.” I answer.
“I’ll have you know, nothing beats the sweet scent of strawberries.” She almost brags. “Not to mention the sweet juiciness you can savor from just a single bite.”
“There really are people like that.” I repeat.
“Like what?” She asks. “What do you mean?”
“Like I said, nothing in particular.” I answer.
“That’s not ‘nothing in particular’ at all.” She persists.
I just walk past her without answering. She responds by ‘punching’ me in the back, though I’d barely call it a love tab. She drops the subject though and resumes walking by my side.
========== Takusan, Kyoto - 23rd of March 11:29 ==========
“Just a little more.” The little redhead calls to me from the corner up ahead.
Ever since we left the city, she hasn’t been standing still for even a second. Her level of spunk could honestly be compared to that of a child. Though last I heard, scientists are supposed to have that level of curiosity and excitement about their work.
Maybe it’s because I’ve already been all over Japan several times over, but I stopped being excited about traveling the country a long time ago. Now, the most exciting part about my job are the chances to fight. And I’m not talking about those defensive fights either, but rather the ones where I get a chance to go all out, though sadly they rarely come along anymore.
That said, most of the places I go to are occult hot-spots and places which are designated anchors to the Gensokyo Barrier. So the place she has dragged me is one I haven’t seen before.
It’s a quiet little place, just outside the small village of Takusan, just a few miles away from Kyoto.
“What are you thinking about?” She interrupts my thoughts. “You’ve been quiet this whole time.”
“I was just thinking of how full of energy and excitement you are.” I answer “Reminds me of a child, actually.”
“I’m not a child.” She pouts. “I’ll have you know I turn twenty later this year.”
“So you’ll finally be allowed to drink.” I poke fun at her. “Congrats on that, then.”
“Do you want me to punch you?” She asks, playfully mad.
“That’s probably a bad idea. Can’t have you breaking your hand, now can we?” I make sure to give her a smirk.
She’s not so stupid as to actually try punching me. From even just a glance, it’s clear that I’m packed. Now I wouldn’t hit her, of course, not without a good reason at least. But as any fighter can tell you, punching a tense muscle is like punching a brick.
“Anyway,” she changes the topic, “here is a good place to put it down.”
“Alright then.” I say as I place it. “Then I take it I won’t be needed until it’s time to go home?”
“Mhm.” She cracks her knuckles and boots up the machine. “It can take up to half an hour, though, so just take the time to rest, if you want.”
I take her up on that offer and set myself down, resting against one of the trees where I can get a good view of this whole scene.
Right in front of us stands a cliff, a good few meters tall, spanning far off on either end. At its base lies what I can best describe as a pond, though I’m sure that’s not what it’s called, as there’s a river going through it.
Surrounding us is mostly tall trees, still naked from the winter though a few of them are starting to bud new leaves already. I imagine that during the summer, this place would look almost magical when all the threes have turned green again and the sun shines just right.
And magical is the keyword there. There’s a serious amount of mana floating around the air here. More so than I’ve found naturally other places.
I’m sure the Watcher of this area is aware of this place, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if he purposefully helped create this place as a natural resort for youkai.
At least that’s what I hope it is. Otherwise this stare I’ve felt might be coming from a less friendly source. I don’t sense any hostility coming from it, though the stare remains sharp.
Just to be sure, I focus to expand my range to sense spiritual energy. It’s not much bigger, but it’s better than doing nothing.
And I find something. A youkai, creeping slowly towards our location, from the top of the cliff.
I make sure to keep my focus on it, tracking its position carefully.
Before long, the presence has made its way to the edge of the cliff, looking down on us. It's a fox. I can’t see it, not with my naked eye anyway, as it’s masking it’s appearance with magic. But I can recognize the spiritual signature of a kitsune any day.
This one is weak, still only has two tails. Or maybe it’d be more correct to say it already has two tails. The magic emitting from its body is wild and barely controllable, yet somehow it’s managing to use it.
It is also aware that I know it’s there. The fact it maintains eye contact with me is more than enough proof. Perhaps it’s intelligent? In most cases, a fox which just grew its second tail tends to be feral for quite some time afterwards, but there are exceptions.
Maintaining eye contact, I start mimicking words to it, to tell it that we’ll leave it alone if it leaves us alone. But before I even get the chance I find the air knocked out of me, by an all too familiar feeling of emptiness washing over me as my spiritual energy starts being forcefully drained.
The machine. It’s begin.
Forced to drop it’s camouflage, the fox yelps in pain from the sudden drain.
“What the?” The professor turns around.
Ignoring me, the fox heads straight towards the source of this wave, leaping over the small pond on it’s way.
Not wasting any time, I make a dash for it and tackle it out of the air.
Ignoring the violent flailing, I spin around on my heel, throwing it back, into the water.
But before it even reaches the water, it’s knocked into the cliff side by a fiery explosion.
It silently falls into the water, disappearing beneath the water. After a few seconds without anything happening, I feel it’s presence disappear.
But more importantly. That was a fireball, no doubt about it.
“Yumemi.” I call out.
The small professor is clutching her phone in her hand, to the point where I’m half afraid it’s going to break. Her other hand hangs loosely in front of her, like she just pitched the ball of her life.
She looks at her hand, which is still smoking slightly from the magic. She then looks up at me. “Oops.” She utters as she takes in the situation.
I never imagined she’d actually use her magic in front of me. Not this early, anyway.
You can clearly see the thoughts race across her face as she desperately tries to think of an explanation. “Um, this is, uh.” She flinches as she puts her hand to her chin, presumably because it’s still hot.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath. “I didn’t see anything.” I tell her as I turn around. “All I know is that there was a fox.”
Another few seconds of silence before she says, “Thank you.”
I really hope you’re not going to misuse that power, Yumemi. But if it comes down to it, I’ll personally see to it to take away your magic.
========== Hakurei Shrine –23rd of March 20:20 ==========
I’ve barely entered the village before I feel a new spiritual energy at the edge of my senses. Though something is strange about this one.
After years of near constant training, my mastery of my own spiritual energy has granted me several abilities. The most noteworthy of which is my ability to observe the world by sensing the energy around me. However this ability has its limits, such as the range. Anything beyond ten meters will lose it’s identity. Another fifteen meters and I’d be able to tell that ‘something’ is there at best. Another fifteen meters and it’s completely beyond my range.
Which is why this spiritual energy I’m picking up is strange. It should be beyond the range at which I can identify it, yet I can see it clearly. It looks like a thick dark mist crawling along the ground, radiating power, lots of power. I would almost say someone is purposefully releasing this much energy for the sake of appearing impressive, but it feels too natural for that, as if it’s the excess energy overflowing.
And as much of a chill as it gives me, I sense no malice coming from it at all. Rather, the youkai who owns this spiritual energy can sense my presence and it’s beckoning me to come.
Assuming the worst case scenario, Doc, Coach and Mentor are all down, in which case I won’t stand a chance. I have several talismans scattered around the shrine which would help with a quick escape.
Assuming the best, this youkai simply has enough power to overshadow the presence of my teachers. And I really hope that’s the case.
I’ve made my way to the front yard of the shrine grounds. A quick glance around reveals that all the talismans I placed are all still there and in working order. They’re hidden, though easy to spot if you know what to look for.
Taking a second to brace myself for whatever may be on the other side of the door, I slide it open.
What awaits me, however, isn’t what I expected in the slightest. A woman with long, slightly curved, blond hair who looks to be around her late twenties to early thirties sits at the opposite side of the table.
“Ryuko.” She greets me by my given name. Placing her cup on the table she gestures towards the cushion in front of me. “Please, take a seat if you’d be so kind.”
Using my power I attempt a quick scan of the shrine, however her energy is masking the entire building, making it impossible to sense anyone but her.
Her violet eyes don’t break away from me, but instead seem to analyze me the same way I attempt to read her.
I throw my bag into the corner and take the seat.
“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Ryuko.” She says, folding her hands across the table. “I’m the Great Sage of Gensokyo, Yakumo Yukari.” She introduces herself. “But please, just call me Yukari.”
“I thought the Yakumo fox was the sage.” I admit. “But seeing you in person, I can’t really doubt your words.”
“Flattery will get you nowhere, my child.” She jokes. “Ran is my shikigami. She takes care of all my small business. And judging by her report from when she last visited here, I believe it’s about time.”
“Time for what?” I ask. “Mentor doesn’t tell me much of the big picture.”
“Because you refuse to ask or because he refuses to answer?” She asks. “Though knowing him, I think I already know the answer.” She takes another sip from her cup before continuing. “I came here today to take you with me, Ryuko.”
“Why?” I feel my hand clench against my will.
“To complete your training, of course.” A smirk crawls onto her face. “Who could teach you to be a Hakurei better than the one who taught the first generations after the border was created?”
I can’t exactly argue with that. I’ve used my spell break to study the barrier on my own, and I’ve gotten to the point where I can create weaker replicas on a smaller scale, but there are still too many factors that elude me.
“I see. And I don’t suppose I have a choice, do I?” I ask.
“Of course you have a choice.” She responds. “It wouldn’t be very fun if I just forced you to come with me. Not to mention it’d be hard to teach you if you’re unwilling to learn.” She rests her head on her hands. “But of course I trust you to make the right decision.”
I take a few seconds to mull it over. On one hand it’s my duty to complete my training, so I can perform at my best. But on the other hand, by going I’d be neglecting my duties here. Not to mention my teachers who practically raised me.
“It’s a big decision.” Is the conclusion I’ve come to. “I’ll need more time to properly think it over.”
“I suppose so.” The sage lets out a sigh. “People tend to grow fond of places they’ve spent even just twenty years.” She looks me in the eyes with a smile. “That is one of the things I envy about humans.”
“Which is why we continue to wish for longer life; to continue to cling to waning memories.” I build on her sentence. “But regardless of the reason, I still need more time to think it over.”
“Of course, of course.” She nods, happily. “I’ll be back again soon, and I’m looking forward to your answer.” The sage says as she stands up.
The doors behind her fling open, and instead of the hallway that’s supposed to be there, only a void remains. A feeling of emptiness slowly seeps into the room as the void itself becomes more visible, revealing the thousands upon thousands of eyes all staring towards the opening.
Yukari boldly steps through it, disregarding the feeling completely.
As suddenly as the doors have flung open, the slide shut again, and the feeling of the void disappears and her overwhelming spiritual energy slowly follows.
I take my limp arm and look at it’s wrist.
Underneath these bandages lies my proof of being a Hakurei; a taijitu. Honestly, to this day I question if I’m even worthy of having received it, maybe that’s why I still haven’t gotten my arm back? Yet, not only has Mentor kept teaching me for all these years, the Gensokyo Sage herself came and acknowledged my position. Maybe I’m just worrying over nothing?
 A shadow, sitting in front of a small one room shrine  A shadow, roaming the clouds surround the peak
So, this one got delayed more than I care to admit. Again. No excuse though, I got distracted and kept delaying it until I forgot how much time had passed.
I think he's worried ov r nothing but long held doubts won't go away that easily. I think that he'll believe in his worthiness only when he surpasses a challenge that he himself can't deny the difficulty of.
[x] A shadow, sitting in front of a small one room shrine
Calling it for: [x] A shadow, sitting in front of a small one room shrine
>>30928 The reason I'm worried about the deadline, is that without it I'd spend months on an update this size, trying to get everything perfect. Then I'd realize one week after it's been posted that I could have done it differently in a better way. Fun fact, the opening post was in development for a year, rewritten from scratch over 10 times.
Priest of Hakurei 27Jura!OxyIF4cURI2016/12/18 (Sun) 00:41No. 30943▼
I find myself standing on a flat mountain top, staring into the empty horizon.
Taking a look around reveals nothing but the barren ground beneath my feet. It only goes so far before cutting off. Not even the horizon holds anything worthwhile, nothing but the empty sky for as far as the eye can see.
As I scan my surroundings, a strange feeling starts to well up from within. A feeling like I ought to know this place, that I’ve been here before and often at that. Yet I don’t recognize this place. Not that there’s much here at all to even remember, but the lack of anything to remember is a feature in itself which stands out enough to be remembered, one would think.
A sudden gust of wind from behind breaks my line of thought, as it forces my hair into my field of view.
I turn around to let the wind help brush my hair back, but as I do I’m met by the sight of a structure that previously wasn't there; a small shrine only big enough to fit the main room of worship.
The most surprising feature, though, is the person sitting at the top of the stairs. At least I think it’s a person.
Something is clearly not right though. I can see the person sitting in front of me as clear as day, I know I can. Yet at the same time, my mind refuses to accept that someone is sitting there. It’s as if it’s trying to filter out the person, blurring them out until all I can make out for sure are the colors red and black.
The person starts speaking to me, but that too is filtered out by my stubborn mind completely, leaving only a low ambient ringing behind to hear.
It doesn’t take long for the person to notice and they stop talking, instead they get up and go back to the shrine’s entrance. They utter a single word before shutting the door behind them, one which manages to stick with me.
========== Mt. Takao, Hachioji - 29th of March 10:46 ==========
“I was starting to think you’d ditched me.” The little brunette pockets her old pocket watch.
“Yeah, that’s my bad.” I tell her. “I dislocated my shoulder during training, so I had to get it fixed before going out.”
Renko, my new pupil, finally contacted me again. We scheduled to meet up on the mountain where we last trained, to continue. The recovery of her muscles seems to have gone slower than I expected. She didn't get any injuries last time, so she most likely didn't follow my order to rest.
Without making her wait any longer, I activate the crystals burrowed here, erecting the barrier which isolates us from the outside world.
“Now then.” I get her attention. “Are you ready to roll around in the dirt for another few hours, or would you rather move along?”
She grimaces at the thought before responding. “I’ve been thinking, and I can certainly see the importance of learning how to fall properly.” She clenches her hands for a second but relaxes them quickly again. “But at this rate, I won’t be able to do anything, should Mary and I get attacked again.”
“I’ll only go as fast as you can, Renko.” I tell her. “For example, if I told you to do the same training I do, your body would break before you’d see any benefit from the training.” I explain. “However, if you insist on hurrying, I’ll be glad to teach you some spells. I will not, however, take any responsibility for when you blow yourself up.”
She lets her eyes fall on the ground. “So should I just get started practicing?” She asks.
“Not quite.” I tell her. “It’ll be ineffective if we only focus on one thing at a time. So today we’ll be drilling some techniques into you.”
She nods, but remains silent.
“Our first priority is to build some muscle on you, otherwise it’ll be impossible to even hope of standing against a monster.” I explain to her. “But since it’s a process which takes some time, you’ll be training aikido for the time being.”
Aikido, the art of pacifying your opponent without causing them any harm. The style mainly focuses on redirecting your opponent’s force away from you, and sometimes to take it over and use it against them. It was one of the first forms of combat I learned as well, and remained the core of my defensive style for years until I found another style which fit my strong build better.
“Is there anything I can do to speed up the process?” She asks. “Like training on my own, or dieting?”
“Well, for starters, you can drop the instant noodles and soda.” I tell her. “Start eating balanced meals instead.”
“The food chart?” She asks.“Just that?”
“For now, yeah, just that.” I confirm. “I recommend starting the day with fruit and milk. Make sure you have a sizeable lunch, and try to keep your dinner light. If you need some quick energy throughout the day, eat some bananas. They're easy to digest so they'll give you a quick boost.” I lecture her. “As for training, start by simply doing some daily radio cardio as warmup, then go for a run around your area. As soon as you're done with that, eat. Maybe that will be a good time for dinner. Either way, you'll need it to help rebuild your muscles.”
I draw a circle around me, as I explain all this to her.
“And of course, try not to hurt yourself. Doing so will only slow you down in the long run.”
She closes her eyes and silently recite the list I just gave her. “Got it.”
“Alright.” I finish up my simple little spell circle. “Since I’m missing an arm, and am too big for you to reasonably throw around, I’m going to have you partner up with this toy instead.”
The circle starts glowing, and the earth within it begins to collect itself in one spot where it starts to build itself up into a humanoid shape.
“I’ll be remote controlling this doll.” I tell her, as I pat the golem on its shoulder. “It should be a lot easier for you, especially since we’re just going for technique right now.”
It’ll be especially easy, since it has next to no weight. I would love to be able to create golems like this, but I simply don’t have the mana for it. So instead, I used the properties of this space to create an illusion.
“To start with, we’ll take it slow.” I tell her as I tap the chest of the earth doll. “Reach out to it, like you’re trying to grab it by the collar, slowly.”
“By the collar?” She asks.
“Imagine it has one.” I tell her. “Or would it help if I gave it my jacket?”
“No it’s fine.” She raises her hands and lowers her body slightly, taking a typical stance for grappling.
In turn, I have the golem take its stance; left foot out front with its hands raised just slightly.
She carefully reaches out for its neck. The golem in turn grabs her wrist, and swiftly spin around, placing itself beneath her, in a perfect position to throw her over its shoulder.
“And, freeze.” I tell the brunette. “Where is your center of balance right now?”
“My center of balance?” She makes a small frown as she tries to feel around for it.
“I’d be willing to guess, it’s the same place where our little friend’s center is.” I tell her. “If you want to throw someone, you have to lay claim to their center first, otherwise you’ll have to exert force of your own.” I explain. “The easiest way to do this, is to force your own center into your opponent’s. From there, the forward momentum they have when charging you, will do most of the work. All you have to do is guide it. Try again, like you really mean it, but be prepared to fall.”
“Alright, I think I got it.” She says as she pulls away and prepare to go again.
This time it happens in a flash. Less than a second after she started to charge, she’s been flung through the air and lies flat on the ground, gasping for air.
“You gotta fall right. Remember to use your hand.” I tell her. “Now, get up, and do it again. Try to feel what’s happening.”
“Yes.” She gasps.
========== Mt. Takao, Hachioji - 29th of March 15:15 ==========
“Get up.” I order.
“I can’t.” She manages to say in between her gasps for air.
“That’s because you’re doing it wrong.” I tell her.
“I know.” She says.
“Don’t use your own energy. Use your opponents.” I say.
“I know.” She raises her voice.
“You’ll get nowhere if you keep hurrying like that.” I say.
“I know already!” She yells out. “I know, alright.”
“Then why do you continue to hurry?” I ask.
“Because I want power as fast as possible.” She admits. “I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help but try to hurry.” She hammers her fist into the ground next to her.
Can’t you just give up already? You’re not cut out to be in this world, so stop trying to force your way into it. All you’ll accomplish is signing your own death sentence.
I let out a sigh and disperse the small barrier.
“That’s enough for today.” I declare. “Go home and rest.”
“But,” She sits up to argue.
“No buts.” I tell her.
She sits there for a second before dropping back on the ground in a mixture of exhaustion and defeat.
As I walk over to get my bag and leave, I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket.
A text from Doc, it seems. From about fifteen minutes ago. There’s no reception on the inside of barrier like this, so it’s no wonder I only receive the message now.
I quickly skim through the text.
A breach here in Kyoto? How lucky, I’m already here. That should give me plenty of time to prepare, now that I don’t have to factor in travel time.
Actually, this could prove to be a good lesson for Renko. To teach her the vast difference between humans and monsters. Though, I can’t guarantee her safety completely.
[ ] Take her with me. It’ll be a good lesson for her [ ] Don’t take her with me. She’s already at her limit for today
Small update to finish off the thread. Only took me two years to reach this point. God, I'm slow.
[X] Don’t take her with me. She’s already at her limit for today
Better safe than sorry.
I can't understand the significance of the shadow sitting in front of the small shrine scene. Maybe if I wait a bit and think about it it'll become clear. Anyone have any ideas what it could mean? As for the person the only one I can think of is Reimu's mom since she's a shrine maiden commonly depicted wearing red and black, but she also has white sleeves like Reimu so that's a bit of a stretch.
[X] Take her with me. It’ll be a good lesson for her
Saging because I know it won't make a differenceJura!OxyIF4cURI2016/12/22 (Thu) 19:29No. 30949▼
>>30945 >I can't understand the significance of the shadow sitting in front of the small shrine scene.
I've spent the last 4 days trying to think of a way to respond to that in a way where I won't spoil anything. However, I've come to believe that's impossible, I'm afraid.
What I can tell you, however, is that it's part of a best-of-five vote. I can't tell you what for though. >>30019 >>30202 These are the two previous updates with a small segment dedicated to this best-of-five.
A part of me thinks that saying even just this much is spoiling, even though all I'm doing is saving you the trouble of looking for those two posts yourself.