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File 148322887410.png - (801.34KB, 1500x1500, __usami_renko_touhou_drawn_by_nanahi_toshi__9a77af.png) [iqdb]
30951 No. 30951
Mt. Takao, Hachioji - 29th of March 15:19

“Scrap that, Renko.” I tell her, pocketing my phone. “You’re gonna come with me to a job.”

She raises her head from the ground. “A job?” She asks, perplexed.

“Yes. I do work.” I tell her. “I can’t spend all day everyday working this majestic body.”

She rolls her eyes in response, apparently not finding my sarcasm fun. “I mean, what do you do for work?”

“I fix holes in a giant invisible wall, essentially.” I tell her. “Then I also take care of the monsters that made that hole by forcing them back through it.” Which is oversimplifying it grossly.

She sits up. “And how am I supposed to help?”

“Who said anything about helping?” I ask. “You’ll be there to observe.”

“Oh thank god.” She lets out a relieved sigh. “I was afraid you’d ask me to fight it.”

“The whole point of this training, is to increase your chance for survival.” I tell her. “Sending you out like that would be sending you to die.”

“Yeah.” She scratches her neck. “I wouldn’t be too eager to throw my life away just yet.”

And yet you insist on training with me.

Odake Spring, Hinohara - 16:41
Renko Breach scene. Small puddle under a waterfall.

Odake spring used to be a popular tourist spot back when people still cared about nature, or at the very least, the small waterfall just before the actual spring. The mouth itself is located in a small area half encircled by a decently sized cliff. With the spring in the middle, filling out a puddle before flowing down the stream, this place creates a rather tranquil atmosphere.

“And done.” I stand back up and brush my hand off in my shirt.

Renko looks over my shoulder. “Done? That’s it?” She asks.

“For the preparation, at least.” I tell her. “All that’s left to do is wait.”

She takes a look around at the talismans I’ve placed. Some under the water, others up high on the cliffs and then a few more on the ground surrounding the puddle.

“So what do all these do?” She asks. “Unless, of course, I’m going to blow myself up just by knowing that.”

“Spiritual energy doesn’t blow up.” I correct her. “I mean sure, if I were to release everything I have at once, I might be able to make a small crater in some dirt, but I’m an anomaly in that regard.”

“But didn’t you say I’d blow myself up if I tried using magic?” She asks.

“I was talking about mana, then. Mana and spiritual energy are two completely different sources of magic.” I explain. “Once we start working on your magic, I’ll explain it in more detail.”

“So what do they do?” She asks again, nodding at the talisman in front of us.

“Well, the knives I’ve placed around create the outline for the barrier, while securing it and making it more stable. The spell for the barrier was placed alongside it, so all I have to do is activate it.” I explain to her. “And just so you’re prepared, once the barrier is erected, don’t forget your name. Remember who you are. If you don’t, your memory will be erased and you’ll be dragged backed into their world.”

“That,” She places her hand on her temple before running it through her hair, “that sounds strangely familiar.”

“It should.” I tell her. “I told you the same thing when we first met. Which reminds me, I ought to get Doc to give you back your memories.”

“Wait, you stole my memories?” She exclaims.

“No, we sealed them away to prevent you from finding your way back to the world of magic.” I tell her. “That’s why it hurts to remember. Although now that you’ve found your way back regardless, that seal is useless.”

“Who gave you the right-”

Her complaint is cut short by a loud crack behind us.

I immediately shove Renko away and raise the barrier.

“Remember your name, Renko!” I yell as I quickly spin around and prepare to activate my talismans.

The air itself shatters and out falls a youkai who lands in the middle of the spring.

Wasting no time, I quickly activate the first set of talismans. The water’s surface begins to quickly freeze over, covering the entire spring in ice and trapping the youkai from the waist down.

It’s not likely to stop it, but it’ll hinder it enough to buy some extra time.

Wait. Is that a tengu? To think one would let himself get carried over by the border.

Not happy about being encased in ice, he displays his overwhelming strength by breaking free using only raw power.

Well, considering I’m dealing with a tengu, I can’t say that was entirely unexpected.

Though to my surprise, he doesn’t charge at me like I’d expect. Instead he staggers for a bit, gripping his head like it’d blow off if he didn’t.

“Make it stop!” He screams.

I quickly make eye contact with Renko. With a simple gesture I tell her to run to the opposite end of the barrier from me.

Keeping her out of his view for now would be the best course of action. I have a fairly good idea of his mental state.

Being dragged across the barrier like that exerts a great amount of strain on the mind. In most cases, the mind switches completely to instinct to rest a bit, which is what causes the violent behavior. Other times the mind simply shuts down and they go unconscious. It’s rare, however, that they can remain on the border between sanity and instinct.

I think this is a case of the last one. If so, I could either be lucky enough to not have to fight, or unlucky enough that he fades into instinct. And considering the fact he can resist it so much, I’m not too keen on fighting him.

Preferably I’ll be able to knock him unconscious and wait the time out.

I activate the second set of talismans located up high on the rocks. The air inside the barrier begins to heat up drastically, causing the ice to melt almost as fast as it froze.

A layer of mist forms and grows thicker as the heat meets the cold.

Seizing the opportunity, I dash into the center of the mist, towards the crow.

A sharp fist breaks through the wall of mist, heading straight for my face.

I throw myself out of the way, dodging it as it grazes my cheek.

Shit. He’s a trained combatant? No way he’d be able to throw a punch so accurately otherwise.

I swiftly create some distance between us.

Think. I need to knock him out. Sneak attack? One hit? Painless?

Scooping up a couple of pebbles, I dash back into the wall of mist.

With all my might, I throw both of them at once and immediately grab a fist-sized rock.

As I hear the pebbles hitting him, I leap at him.

With all the force behind me, I crash into his chest, knees first and hammer the rock into his temple on our way down.

And just like that, everything goes silent. Only my own heavy breathing can still be heard, though the beating in my ears overshadows it.

I throw the rock away to examine the now unconscious tengu. I don’t favor attacking, much less with something so crude as a rock, but it was the most effective method I could think of.

It’s going to leave a bruise, and most likely a serious headache, though his skull seems to be intact.

“It’s done, Renko. You can come out.” I yell out to her.

I get off his chest and stand up.

This mist really did get a lot thicker than I anticipated. Maybe it’s because I activated the second set of charms too early? At least I can still salvage the last set of talismans. I’d have used them to freeze over the mist and make the air even colder than before.

“We’re in the middle, Renko.” I yell out again.

Still no response?

Wait. Don’t tell me-

Just as the thought crosses my mind, the breach begins to close.

It starts pulling at me with an unnatural force, forcing me on the ground to stay in place.

The unconscious tengu flies past me and disappears back to the other side of the breach. Only a few seconds later have the breach also claimed all the mist, clearing up the area before closing.

“Renko!” I yell out.

She’s not here.
135posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 31339
Short answer: it's going to go catastrophically wrong and you want to be able to say "THIS IS WHAT YOU VOTED FOR ANON!"

Long answer: it's going to have consequences that will affect the story from now on. Like, more Renko, Ryuko's attention being split, Yukari not approving, not being able to take on someone else later... the list goes on. You put it to a vote because you wanted to make sure that's what we want to read.

And since you're asking this question: because you want to know if we've figured out something important to the plot yet. I suspect we haven't, since the vote so far has been unanimous.

On that note, I need to go re-read the story to refresh my memory of the stuff that happened last ice age thread.
>> No. 31340
>>31333 here


Honestly, my answer to this is "No."

If you're saying we won't be able to pick a different apprentice later, or we might find someone more appropriate... ok?

But at the moment it literally looks like you're saying, "Either keep an eye on them after having pretty much exposed them to a direct danger, or leave them alone and have them be exposed to a direct danger either way".

Because honestly I'd rather she get training in the outside world from someone else that can keep her grounded, unless we're planning on taking her into Gensokyo (which seems like a bad idea).

Was there supposed to be a phantom third choice write-in option?

Like, I don't terribly see the need to apprentice Renko here ourselves as long as she's getting proper training from someone and not being left alone. But the only underlying thing I can see here shouted at me is basically seems like it's either "keep an eye on them versus leave them to die once we turn our backs".
>> No. 31341
>Short answer
You're technically correct. Which is the best kind of correct.

>And since you're asking this question
Off the mark. Though that assumption is why I try to limit my replies, since that simple act in itself draws attention to theories, which I'd rather be hands-off about until I'm asked a question.
This question has nothing to do with plot, or trying to sway the vote. I expected it to be this one-sided, though maybe one tide pisser for a good laugh. After all, Renko becoming your apprentice was part of the plan all along. Rather, I'm curious whether you've thought about this vote from Renko's perspective. That and trying to gauge how engaged you readers are
>> No. 31342
Honestly the best thing Renko could do in my eyes is having the independence to say "No" to his offer. I just don't know if she would have the... willpower(?) self-preservation instincts(?) foresight(?) to do so.
>> No. 31343
>I'm curious whether you've thought about this vote from Renko's perspective

I have not, but I find little motive to do so. She wanted this, she insisted. She doesn't want to feel weak and she knows that she won't be able to wrestle Maribel out of this world and she won't leave her alone so there's really only one option. That's why I think she'll pursue power, one way or another.

She isn't wise enough to pursue power in the 'right' way, much less not pursue power at all and accept being helpless sometimes.
>> No. 31345
> After all, Renko becoming your apprentice was part of the plan all along.

Choo choo motherfuckers.

> Rather, I'm curious whether you've thought about this vote from Renko's perspective.

Well why didn't you say so before? No, I haven't, aside from considering how it may affect her, as I explained in my vote. I don't know enough about her personality to make that kind of call, beyond what Ryuko already commented on in the narration ("I’m almost certain she’ll say yes.").

That's also exactly what I meant when I said "something important to the plot". I should have written "stuff you haven't told us directly". I am bad at word.
>> No. 31346
>I am bad at word

You and me both. I've never been good at "public" conversations, even if they are online. Which is why I had to step away from THP for a day to collect myself as to not destroy what little I've tried to build up over the last few years. This was a good reminder to just keep my trap shut and write.

What I've said the other day is neither strictly true nor false, and explaining it would require me to spoil even more. What I can say however, is Renko will be fine, even if you don't teach her to control her magic, and when I said it taking Renko as an apprentice was part of the plan, I meant it as that was the basis I started from when developing your relationship to her. Though the last 5 years, that has evolved to allow for much more, though never letting up on the apprentice idea.
If you genuinely think it's better for Renko to not get involved any further in the world of magic, then don't offer her the chance.

I'll extend the voting period slightly in case some of you want to change your decision.
>> No. 31348
File 153885584233.jpg - (588.24KB, 819x558, Fluff squared.jpg) [iqdb]
Hakurei Shrine - 10:04

“Didn’t tell me you’d be back.” The old crow comments as he sits down next to me.

“It was an in-the-moment decision.” I admit. “I just needed some distance from Yukari to calm down.”

“Your training not going well?” He opens a canned beer he brought with him. “Or is it related to that eye of yours?”

“No. This eye is my own fuckup.” I lean back against a support beam. “I just hate Yukari’s way of doing things. She never tells me anything, yet expects me to just know.”

“But you’re a smart kid. Maybe she just has high expectations of you?” He takes a sip of his beer.

“Doesn’t change the fact I hate how she does things.”

“So what exactly didn’t she tell you?” He asks.

“Well, apparently I’m half dragon. I’m not so mad she didn’t tell me about that, to be honest. But as I was starting the transformation on my own, unknowingly, she decided to not tell me and instead stop it by force.” I take a deep breath, calming myself down again. “If she’d just explained it, I’d have stopped and gone along with her.”

“So you finally learned about that.” He puts the can down next to him. “And I assume you have some questions you want answered?”

I look him in the eyes for a second.

“No. I can trust you guys enough to know you had a reason for not telling me. Yukari hasn’t earned that trust yet.”

“Oh. Then don’t mind if I do.” He pulls out another can of beer.

“You old drunk.”

He looks me straight in the eyes and pulls out yet another one from who knows where. “As if this watered up stuff could ever make me drunk.” He chuckles at his own joke before taking a swig. “That’s the one thing I miss about living with the Tengu. We even used to be able to get some alcohol from the Oni.”

“If I ever go to Youkai Mountain, I’ll see if I can bring some with me.” I tell him, though I’m not sure I’ll ever have a reason to go there.

“How kind.” He comments. “If you should ever get into trouble with them, for any reason, just invoke my name. It should still hold some power.”

“I’ve been meaning to ask for a long time now, but how come you left the other Tengu?” I ask.

He waves his hand dismissingly. “Long boring story. Short version; I fucked up and had to leave.”

“So even the great Kohane can fuck up?” I feign surprise.

He chuckles. “Yeah, that was my wakeup call. I’m not invincible.” He puts down his second empty can. “My turn. What happened with your eye?”

“I’d just gotten my left arm back. Feeling confident, I decided to test it against a celestial. Turns out they can endure quite the heavy hits, by the way. By the end, a rock they threw hit me right under the eye, cutting up this area.” I measure out the scar with my fingers.

“Hmm.” He closes his eyes and thinks for a few seconds. “Let me guess, you weren’t taking them seriously? Thinking they couldn’t land a hit, you got complacent and bored?”

“More or less.” I admit.

“After all the years I’ve helped you grow as a fighter, you still haven’t managed to overcome that little flaw of yours.” He says. “Since I might not get many more chances to help you grow, want me to just be direct about it?”

“I obviously haven’t been able to figure it out on my own yet, so let’s hear it.”

“You love fighting.” He states. “For a warrior, that’s both a blessing and a curse. When you get fired up, you can draw out your full potential. You can fight with a smile on your face, ignoring any and all damage you might have sustained as you continue to push for victory, because it’s fun.” He says smiling. “But that requires us to get fired up. And not a lot of opponents can do that. They’re either too weak to be worth our effort, or so strong we know we can’t beat them to begin with. The trick is to learn to enjoy every fight. Every battle is an experience you’ll only ever get once, after all.”

It’s true I love fighting. But it’s been so long since I last had a good match that I can’t seem to recall it.

“Kid!” I hear Doc call out. “Your turn.”

“Time to go.” I stand up.

“Before that.” He remains sitting. “Just know that regardless of what happens, this place will always be your home. Come visit once in a while.”

“I’ll try my best, Coach.”

I walk back to the front of the shrine where Doc’s office is situated and catch the girls just as they leave the building. Each of them seem to be carrying a filled glass of some transparent liquid. They both make eye contact with me as we pass each other, but none of us says a word.

Doc doesn’t say anything either, though we’ve gone through this process so many times words really aren’t necessary more. Which I should probably take as a sign to get my ass in gear.

Walking into the back room, I go through the usual procedure as I wait for him; stripping down and taking seat in the chair.

“Just get on the bed, and put your left arm on the support.” He instructs me from the other room. “I’m not gonna bother with the little details today.”

“How were the girls?” I ask, moving as I’m told.

“Brown one has a very slight case of malnutrition, far within the safe parameters. I suspect it’s from her diet. The blonde one swings a little to the opposite side. Her muscle mass is lower than average, though her total weight is perfectly average. They were both exhausted, having been awake all night, so I gave them some watered down energy drinks, which should keep them awake until they get home. Beyond that, I found nothing.”

So that ancient fucker really didn’t do anything to them. That’s a relief. I’d honestly expected him to go after my associates if they were weaker than me. That’s what I would have done if our roles were reversed. I killed his daughter, so it’d make sense for him to go after people close to me to make me feel the same sense of loss. Then again, I never really got to know him. I only met him once while Kaya was alive after all.

Doc walks into the room, carrying a small glass with him. Which holds an eye in it? He places it on the table next to the bed.

Without saying anything, he starts examining my arm, probing into it with his mana.

“Interesting.” He breaks the silence. “After months, you’d expect the muscles to have grown weaker. But from the looks of it, the stimulation has been copied over from your right arm.”

“So that’s why it felt so great from the start.” I comment. “Right when I got it back, it felt as it’d never been paralyzed.”

“I see. Well, there’s nothing wrong with it, so the rest is on you.” He states. “Now then, could you open your eye?”

I do as I’m told, though I dislike the feeling.

Doc grabs around my head and stares into the empty socket. His golden irises start shining as he’s examining me, pulling on my head to turn it from time to time.

“Gensokyo is a couple hundred years behind us, in terms of technology, right?” He asks. “I have to commend whoever removed your eye. It’s a fine job they’ve done. Though it seems they didn’t know about your weakness to metal, going by the fact the internal scar hasn’t healed yet.”

“I may be confident to the point of arrogance, but I won’t go around broadcasting my weakness to the world.” I tell him.

“While your advanced regeneration can push back the limit of what’s considered lethal to you, it can only repair, not rebuild.” He starts. “Left alone, your eye won’t regrow. And since the removal was done using metallic tools, I’ll have to burn more of your life force to fix it.”

“And I’m guessing you’re not going to?” I ask.

“Depends. Do you actually need it?” He asks back. “Against my better judgment, I will fix it if you actually need it, but I would rather wait if I’m to be honest.”

“Considering I use my spiritual power as my primary means of observation, I can easily make do with one eye.” I tell him.

“As I thought.” He picks up the eye glass. “Until we’re ready to properly restore your eye, you’ll have to use this prosthetic.” He gives the fake eye a squeeze. “It’ll prevent your body from filling the socket and help your eyelids function properly. Plus it’ll look a little less intense than the eye-patch.”

“The scar will still stand out, though.” I comment.

“It’s been healing nicely. It’ll be gone in no time.” He assures me. “Now, try to resist the urge to blink while I insert this.”

I nod as much as I can while lying down.

Using magic, he shrinks the eye enough to get it through my socket. As it’s being inserted, I lose track of it. I can’t see inside my own body with spiritual power, after all. The dry, slightly cold feeling assures me it’s been grown to its proper size, filling in nicely.

“This might be uncomfortable.” He says before he starts rotating the fake eye around. “Good. Now try blinking.”

It really feels strange. The dry feeling is mostly gone, and the eye has started to match my body temperature. It’s still going to take some time getting used to this feeling, though.

“Blinking seems fine. Size is good.” He places his thumb at the top of my nose bridge, with two fingers on the side of my head, next to my eye.

I feel a jolt running through my face, as he casts a spell.

“Focus on my finger.” He says raising an index finger above me.

It’s a typical focus test. Moving the finger around, I track it with my eyes, or eye in this case.

“Alright, seems to work fine.” He says. “I connected the glass eye to the muscles with a mana link. It’ll move around like the real one would. Last thing is the color. Can’t have you walk around with a grey eye after all.”

All he does for that is just touching the eye directly. I feel nothing as he does this.

“Good. Now take a look in the mirror, if you would.” He gestures me to go ahead.

Maintaining eye contact with my handsome reflection, I move my head around to get a look at the eye, and it tracks my reflection perfectly. The color he chose is the same deep blue used to mask my natural golden eyes. The only problem is that currently the illusion is gone and I look heterochromatic, like some sort of fanfiction child. It should only be a couple minutes before the illusion restores itself and it looks normal again. The only other thing being the scar, which doesn’t look too bad, though that too will be gone in a couple more days.

“You never cease to amaze me, Doc.” I comment.

“Either that’s a compliment, or a remark on how little you think of my skills.” He takes a sip of his coffee, hiding his smirk.

I sit down on the bed again. “While we’re still on that topic. How much life do I have left?” I ask.

“I can’t say for certain.” He puts the cup down. “I would have to do an in-depth analysis to figure out the exact numbers. I’d wager on ten years at best, though.”

“Ten more years?” I ask. “Think that’ll change if I complete my transformation into a dragon?”

“Yeah, I figured you’d learned about that, with your back and all.” He gestures towards me. “Considering your life force amounted to the average human’s, and the fact most dragons outlive even youkai sages, I’d say there’s a good chance you’d be able to extend your own life.”

“And in your opinion, how likely is it I can complete a transformation into a dragon?” I ask.

“Honestly, I have no clue. You’re the first dragon hybrid I’ve met, after all.” He admits. “You’re in your prime, though, so unless there are other criteria, I’d say you have the best chance for success now.”

“I see.” Something to bring up with Yukari.

“Obviously, I’ll do what I can to help you in that regard.” He comments. “You humans have such short lifespans, it’s over before it even begins. Yours being even shorter.”

With that comment, he leaves the room.

After getting dressed again, I leave the office and make my way to the shrine’s front steps where the girls have situated themselves.

“Renko. We gotta talk.” I state.

She lifts her head to look at me, but lies back down. “Too tired for a lecture.” She complains.

“You have a talent for magic, Renko.” I crouch. “If you become my successor, I’ll pass on everything I know and help you drag out your full potential.”

She doesn’t answer. Instead she just stares into the sky.

“If I become your successor, I’ll have to commit to your world?” She asks.

“Wait. Renko. You can’t!” Her blonde friend voices her opinion. “You shouldn’t trust him.”

“That’s right, Renko.” I ignore her friend. “If you choose to accept, you’ll formally enter the world of magic. There’ll be no turning back, no way to return to being a normal human.”

“And what exactly would you expect me to do, as I study under you?” She asks.

“You can’t be serious, Renko.” Blondie stands up.

“Once you’ve completed the initial training, so we can expect you to handle a youkai in combat, you’ll be tasked with locating and repairing holes in a large barrier.” I tell her.

“A barrier?” She sits up. “For what reason?”

“I can’t tell you.” I answer.

“I decline.” She states, lying back down. “We have our own goal, and I would be forced to give it up, if I joined you.”

“A shame.” I stand up. “But that’s that. Any other questions you have before I kick you out of my home?”

“Is he, that haughty pale guy, going to come after us again?” Renko asks.

“I don’t know.” I answer. “If he thinks I’ll come save you again, he might.”

“I see. Let’s head home, Mary.” The tomboy gets up. “I’m getting tired again already.”

I think the outburst earlier drained Blondie for energy. She hasn’t spoken since, and her movement has gotten sluggish.

“Yeah, let’s.” Blondie lazily pushes herself off the wall. “Just don’t listen to him, alright?”

“Don’t worry, I won’t.” She looks back at me just before the two of them start descending the stairs. As she does, she pulls out her phone, just enough to make sure I can see it, while still keeping it hidden from her friend.

She’s telling me to expect a call? Should probably have told her I’m going back to Gensokyo later today, if I’ve read Yukari right. Or maybe she’s telling me to call her soon. Assuming she’s sticking to the small muscle training plan I’ve given her, she should soon be ready to begin for real. I’ll call her then, no sooner.

And my phone rings.

To my surprise, it’s not Renko who got very impatient, but a rather ballsy professor.

I answer the call. “Speak.”

Yumemi doesn’t say anything for a few seconds. “I wanna talk. In person.” She states.

Mokuyama, Kyoto - 13:16

As I ascend along the mountain path, I emit a constant stream of spiritual energy, meticulously keeping an eye on everything in my surroundings.

So far I haven’t sensed any other people. I haven’t found any traps, nor do I sense any processed mana.

Seems like she’s kept her word.

She stands up from the tree stump and walks down the path to greet me as I approach.

I stop once there’s approximately ten meters between us. Even uphill, that’s a small distance I can cover in an instant, in case things takes a turn for the worse.

“Ryuko,” she starts.

“Stop.” I cut her off. “First I’d like to say, the only reason I’m here is because I appreciate the balls it’d take to contact me after our last encounter. The situation hasn’t change, so keep that in mind.”

“I know.” She states.” And I’ve come to make a deal. I know that’s something you people do.”

I sigh. “You know, internally we refer to these deals as the Devil’s Contract.” I explain. “We’ll give you what you ask, if you can provide something equal in return. Not negotiable.”

“I had a feeling that was the case.”

“Oh really? In that case, what is it you want?” I hold my arms.

“Knowledge.” She states firmly. “I want to know everything there is to know about magic.”

And this is the point where I demand she become my successor in return, or what? It honestly seems too convenient for Renko to reject me only for another opportunity to jump up immediately afterwards. Too bad I don’t trust her enough to impart my responsibilities with her.

“I’m afraid that’s impossible.” I tell her. “I’m only a human after all, not some genie.”

She clenches her fists.

“Magic is not like you think it is.” I continue. “Magic and science are two sides of the same coin. While science is a process of discovery through observation, magic is the process of discovery through action. The goal of discovering the truth about everything is the same for both, though their methods differ.” I explain to her. “That little bit was a freebie.”

“Then, what do you know about? What knowledge can you teach me?” She asks.

“So, you’re asking me to teach you everything I know? To pass on two decades of accumulated experience?” I ask her. “What do you imagine the price for that is?”

“The fact you’re asking, means it’s more than I can pay.” She clicks her tongue. “And I finally thought we’d gotten a lead.”

“To clarify the price. It’d take roughly ten to fifteen years to properly pass on all my knowledge. After that, you’d have to give me twenty years of your life.” I tell her. “You’d be sixty years old by the time you’ve fulfilled your end.”

“Is that a form of marriage proposal?” She raises an eyebrow.

“Slavery.” I correct her. “Enforced by a magical contract no less, meaning if either of us broke our side of the deal, we’d die.”

“Yeah, there’s no way I could agree to that.” With her head hanging, she walks back to her tree stump.

“So tell me, why do you want magic so bad?” I ask her.

“Because science has failed me.” She says. “With the current level of technology, there’s no way I can go back. And I don’t have the equipment to prove the theories necessary to advance science. My only other option is to kickstart the discovery of magic or accept my fate.”

“Yeah, I followed none of that.” Though I have an idea, but it’s too farfetched.

“I need magic if I want to return home.” She states. “But I can’t cast spells. It’s the same for Chiyuri, since she came with me here.”

Yeah, now there’s no way I can make her my successor. She doesn’t just want to make magic public knowledge, she wants to leave. Entrusting her with the Great Hakurei Barrier is out of the question. Which is too bad, because she has potential. She technically already qualifies for the title of Mage.

“My stance hasn’t changed.” I tell her. “I refuse to knowingly disclose magic to the public, even by proxy.”

“I know. And I doubt that will change any time soon.” She says. “That’s why, I had hoped you’d help me. So I wouldn’t need to make magic public, because it’s still too soon.”

“To be honest, I don’t want you to become part of the world of magic. It’s far from pleasant.” I tell her.

“That’s the impression I’ve gotten.” She leans over, resting herself on her knees. “Which means I’m stuck, unless we have a breakthrough.”

My guts are telling me she’s purposefully trying to guilt trip me. But at the same time, there’s nothing about her body language that suggests she’s lying.

Helping her might be hypocritical of me, since I’ve denied Renko time and time again. But at the same time, Yumemi is already firmly aware of magic, considering she’s made her own spells.

“Assuming I were to agree to teach you about magic, what would you be able to offer me in return?” I ask.

She looks up at me. “If it’s about slavery, then I’d rather not.”

“No, that’s the price for buying everything I know about magic as a whole.” I correct her. “If I were to teach you the basics of magic, enough so that you would be able to start learning on your own. What would you give me in return for that?” I kneel in front of her, so we’re on eye level.

“I,” she trails off, “I don’t know what you want.”

“Part of I what want, is an unbreakable promise that you won’t pass on my teachings to the public, either directly or indirectly. Of course, you may share it with your friend, but you’ll be responsible for how she handles the knowledge.” I stand back up. “Second, I want a full copy of all your current research into magic.”

“Is that all?” She asks. “That should be easy enough.”

“No.” I cut her joy short. Out of all the things I know you have, that’s all I want. But it’s not a fair trade. Therefor, what more can you offer me to make this worth my time and effort?”

“Uhh.” She raises her eyebrows, which then turns to a frown. She covers her mouth as she closes her eyes, humming to herself. There’s a sigh and she moves her hand to her forehead. Then she crosses her arms and leans back, before finally sitting back upright. “I have nothing. All my money goes to my research, so I have nothing to spare. I doubt I have a skill you could put to use. If I have anything to offer, it’d have to be my body.”

“I’d rather not take that deal.” I state. “Either way, this was a hypothetical question. I will think about it, though. So until I’ve made up my mind, try to think of something worthwhile for compensation.”

“Wait. What do you mean not worthwhile?” She jumps up. “I’ll have you know I’m a prize.”

“Seems you got your energy back.” I ignore her comment, which warrants a faint blush from her. “Then I’ll take my leave for today. I’ll be unavailable in the days to come, so I’ll contact you whenever I have the time.”

16th of Planting Month, 12:20
Yakumo House, Gensokyo’s Border

She strikes my chin from below, forcing me to stagger backwards.

Taking advantage of the situation, Ran strikes me in the chest, knocking me to the ground, yet again.

“That makes twelve.” The fox clone relaxes her stance.” Are you sure you don’t need a break? I could bring something to drink.”

“I felt like I was on the verge of figuring something out, but I think I lost it.” I kick my legs into the air, jumping back up on my feet. “I felt like I could match your moves a bit. I even managed to land a solid blow.”

“Only once, though.” She stuffs her hands into her sleeves. “But it’s going to take more than that to destroy this shikigami.”

“But of course. You’re in a different league than me entirely.” I admit. “So I appreciate you sparring with me, even though you have other things to attend to.”

It’s amazing, really. Ran apparently has seventeen shikigami running around constantly, each of them doing their own thing. Since she’s directly controlling them, it means she’s barley giving this one five percent, and she still has to hold back to fight me fairly.

Another one of Ran’s shikigami walk out of the door with a tray in hand, closing the door behind her with her tails.

“This should do the trick.” Ran number two holds out the tray.

Going by the scent, it’s citrus flavored water. Going by the taste, it’s lemon. It’s a bland taste, everything considered, but refreshing nonetheless.

“It’s rather amazing I never noticed there was more than one of you.” I put the glass back on the tray. “Given my ability to track spiritual energy and all.”

Both of them emit a sizable about of spiritual energy, completely identical to each other. Nothing like the level Yukari is emitting, but enough to stand out from the sage’s fog of energy.

“Aside from my main body, there’s normally only one shikigami in this house.” Ran number one looks towards the house. “And since my room is physically disconnected from the house, it makes sense you can’t sense it from here.”

I follow her gaze, sending a wave of energy through the house giving it another look. Which turns up empty.

So I haven’t sensed the real Ran yet? Not that that would surprise me, after all. Foxes are the masters of deception and trickery. Something so simple as hiding her main body so people like me can’t find it should be child’s play to her.

“Let me change the topic.” Ran number one motions me back towards the house. “Isn’t it about time you get back to Yukari’s training?”

“That’s right.” Ran number two steps aside, making room for me. “It’s been a few days since you’ve come back, and you haven’t even spoken to her yet.”

“It feels like an uphill battle to study under her.” Taking her up on the offer, I take a seat on the walkway. “It’s like we keep talking past each other.”

“You’ve only ever had one teacher, right?” The first Ran asks. “It might just take a bit of time before you two adjust to each other.”

“Though I admit Yukari can be a handful at times.” Ran the Second adds. “I’ve known her for centuries, and she still keeps me in the dark about a lot of things.”

“So I just have to trust her.” I finish off her point. “I get that much, but she hasn’t exactly proven trustworthy in my opinion.”

Number One cocks her head slightly. “Well, that’s fair. She can definitely be a handful.” Ran number one agrees. “And it’s not like I can ask you to trust her, or me for that matter.”

“She is trying, though.” Number Two raises her index finger. “She has been spending a lot of late nights, going over her old progress. Not that she wants you to know, though.”

“Anyway.”” Number one quickly adds. “All I’ll ask of you, is that you give her a chance.”

“That’s essentially the same as asking me to trust her, though.” I argue. “Of course, if I were to back out now, it’d just prove how weak my resolve to become stronger actually is. It’ll only get rougher from here on anyway.”

Her ears flick, visibly through her hat. “Great. So with that settled, what’s your plan now? Wanting to spar all day again?”

[ ] It’s about time I get started with Yukari again
[ ] I’m long overdo on letting Akyuu know I’m alright
[ ] Sparing doesn’t seem like a bad idea. I might be able to figure that something out.
- [ ] It felt like I knew what she was going to do ahead of time
- [ ] It felt like my movement could keep up with my reaction for a while
[ ] Ran still owes me some lessons on Shikigami
>> No. 31349
[x] It’s about time I get started with Yukari again

All options are really good, but let's prioritize.
>> No. 31350
[x] It’s about time I get started with Yukari again
>> No. 31351
[X] It’s about time I get started with Yukari again
>> No. 31358
> prioritize

Sure thing.

[x] I’m long overdue on letting Akyuu know I’m alright.
>> No. 31360
[x] I’m long overdo on letting Akyuu know I’m alright

It's mean to keep her in the dark and this isn't some RPG.
>> No. 31361
Huh? My proofer is usually pretty anal about small mistakes like that. Yet it got past both of us.

Regardless, it's time to get back to playing with the elderly
>> No. 31362
Alright, so everything has been taken care of, regarding the update, except actually writing it. I'll try to get it out before this month is over, then take the next month off from this story to try my hands on the November Challenge.

I mean, I only need to work 30 times faster, so it should be easy.
That said, I'm likely going to take half of December off from writing to recover, but I'll be sure to get the usual New Year update out on time
>> No. 31388
File 154127034872.jpg - (54.17KB, 666x1021, Apron.jpg) [iqdb]
16th of Planting Month, 12:25
Yakumo House, Gensokyo’s Border

“As fun as it sounds to spar for another whole day, I think it’s about time I got back to Yukari.” I tell her. “After all, I came here to train under her.”

The fox closes her eyes and hums to herself a bit. “Lady Yukari should be in her study right about now.”

“Thank you.” I give her a small polite bow. “I’ll be sure to get back to you once I have some more free time. Learning to use shikigami would be incredibly useful.”

“Paper shikigami are tools.” The other Ran adds in. “Use them right and they’ll be helpful. But use them wrong and they’ll only get in the way.”

“For example,” The first Ran holds up a finger. “By deploying multiple shikigami, I have the ability to be in several places at the same time. And while each shikigami is weaker than my main body, they’re more than capable of doing the tasks I need them to do.”

“Figured.” I shrug. “Even a weak copy of yours need to hold back to come down to my level.”

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of, Ryuko.” She smiles widely. “I’m old enough to soon lose my ninth tail again. No normal human would be able to spar with me, even with my power fragmented like this.”

“Most people aren’t dragons either.” I comment as I walk over to the faucet.

I turn it on and take seat right underneath the water stream, just to get the worst sweat off me.

I can almost hear the heat leaving my body, as I let the cold water soak me completely.

Typically, I have talismans attached to my back which help me regulate my body’s heat. I’ve had to take them off seeing as they were getting unstable after a lot of use. And I don’t make these in bulk like most other talismans.

Having cooled off again, I turn off the faucet and stand back up.

Water - Repel

I focus the enchantment into the palms of my hands, and as it’s completed, I yank my hands down to my sides. For a lack of a better description, the water explodes off me and my clothes, flying out in every direction, leaving me completely dry again.

When Yumemi talks about the benefits of magic, I think it’s small things like this she imagines. Because it’s moments like this I’m glad I’ve learned enchantments.

When people think of enchantments, they typically think of granting a sword an elemental attribute or a piece of clothing some amplifying properties. Both of those do fall under enchanting, since they alter the properties of something, but they lack the imagination to truly use this school of magic.

Of course, the use of enchanting, like any magic, the way you use it depends on the catalyst chosen. In my case, I use words as a catalyst for enchanting. This means there are things I can do which other catalysts can’t, such as masking my enchantments with different languages or even inventing my own language to use. But it also restricts me in several ways, like being unable to create advanced enchantments. I’m restricted to three words, where single words create powerful but often unpredictable effects, while chained words have a more controlled though weaker effect.

The effects of the words depends on the caster’s understanding of the word. Like the word, “Weight” on its own would increase the weight of the targeted object, but with additional words the enchantment can be modified to lighten the weight, both relatively and absolutely.

Of course it’s not that simple, or anyone could master it. Most enchantments depend on the target as well, and how the caster relates the word to the target. This can be a strength of using words as a catalyst, since it allows for some complexity despite the initial lack thereof, but if this aspect is not understood, it can be quite problematic to use single words.

Take “Purge” for example. “To get rid of the undesirable. To clean impurities.” If I were to use that on a glass of water, it would become everyday tap water, by removing anything that would change that, though it can’t add anything to the water. Using Purge on a rock would effectively just clean it, remove moss dirt and bird shit.

Using Purge on living beings is remarkably safe despite how powerful the word is. It removes all foreign substances and objects from inside the body. Which include poisons like alcohol, parasites and implanted objects like screws and stitches, in case you’d had a surgery.

Now, the enchantment I used, “Water, Repel.” Being only two words, it’s a powerful enchantment which temporarily repels water from the surface of my skin. The base word “Repel” is placed as the second word in the chain. This is only allowed because the first word isn’t a property or action of some sort, and this has the effect of weakening the enchantment below the two word chain to a three word chain, while turning the first word into a target modifier. It would have been possible to add a third word, weakening the spell to a four word chain, which has virtually no effect.

And while I’ve been monologuing about things I clearly know and have no real reason to go over again, I’ve made my way to Yukari’s study.

I knock on the door.

“Come in, Ryuko.” She replies almost immediately.

As I slide open the door, she folds in a scroll she’d been reading, from the looks of it.

“I’ve confirmed it with Ran.” I state. “My body has recovered fully, with the exception of my eye.”

Storing the scroll in the cabinet behind her, she stands up. “Then let us get started.” She says, mildly enthusiastically. “Follow me outside.”

“So, where are we going to pick up?” I ask her.

“Little old Junya told me you learn best when you learn on your own.” She answers. “So I tried to just push you in the right direction, but otherwise leave you to yourself.”

“Which really only works if I have more of an idea where I’m going.” I reply. “Without knowing where to even start, I ended up going nowhere.”

The sage looks back up at me. “Wrong.” She states, looking back ahead to where she’s going. “You actually ended up going backwards, from where I wanted you to go. Which is entirely my fault.”

She slides open the door outside, revealing a scenery entirely different than the grounds the house is built on.In fact, stepping outside and looking back at the house reveals nothing but a door by its lonesome self.

The location itself is a flat mountain top. I can see the human village off in the distance, but it’s far, far away.

“This here,” she draws a line in the dirt with her parasol, “is one of Gensokyo’s entrances to heaven. I’m sure you can feel it, right?”

“Yeah, this place is charged with spiritual energy, beyond what even Inari’s shrine can manage.” And she’s one of the more visited shrines too, because of the unique entrance. “You’re not asking me to go to heaven, right?”

“No.” She shakes her head. “Without the Yama’s pass, you’d walk endlessly towards heaven without getting any closer, yet still get further away from earth.” She steps over to my side of the line she drew. “I’m going to have you rediscover the nature of spiritual energy, of this higher dimensional power we can tap into.”

Without warning she grabs my collar and with inhuman force, drags me towards her before letting go.

“What the hell?” I protest. “Warn me before you do stuff like that.”

“Take a look behind you, if you would.” Yukari instructs calmly.

Behind me? There’s nothing behind- is that me? Or my body, rather.

I look at my hands.

Transparent. Jade. Liquid. Embers.

My hands, no my entire current body is made from this, these burning watery embers.

“What’s going on, Yukari?” I turn back around to face her.

“I’ve extracted a large portion of your spiritual energy and linked it directly to your consciousness.” She states, as she walks through me to my physical body. My god, that’s a strange feeling. “The energy you’re attached to right now will slowly disperse, naturally. Once it’s all gone, you’ll wake up back in your own body.”

I take another look at my hands.

So this is what my spiritual power looks like? Burning green water? Normally, you can’t see your own spiritual power, since it’d cause an effect similar to light pollution, making you unable to detect anything but yourself.

“Until you can create a barrier, no matter how small, or until your spiritual power runs out, you’ll be staying on this mountain.” My body disappears into Yukari’s gap. “With your power, that could take a few days. Until then, we’ll be keeping your body safe.”

“Wait. You’re doing it again.” I stop her just before she steps into her gap herself. “Where am I even supposed to start this training?”

“Start by trying to create a barrier.” She states. “Then ponder the results. Consider why I took you here of all places. Then try to get a feel for spiritual energy again.”

With that said, she disappears, closing the gap behind her.

I swear, if this is how we’re going to keep training, then I’ll be better off going back to the shrine. At least she gave me a hint this time.

Anyway. Since she implied creating a barrier would be tougher in this state, I should do it properly instead to taking all the shortcuts I’ve learned.

I straighten out my stance, standing tall as I start spooling up my spiritual energy.

And to my surprise, I can actually see it moving inside of my immaterial body, bubbling up as it moves around.

I clap my hands together, pressing each finger against its opposite as I spread them out as far as I can before I fold them into each other. With my hands intertwined, I press my thumbs against each other and channel my spiritual energy into the space between my palms.

“Curabitur, bibendum, eu.” I chant.

It’s a foreign chant, obviously. This one is the easiest barrier in my entire arsenal, creating a simple flat surface exactly one meter ahead of me, centered and angled relative to my hips. The simplicity comes at the cost of strength, though. It’ll be enough to stop the average human, but anyone worth their salt can break it.

Yet nothing happens.

I felt the spiritual energy leave me like usual, yet nothing happened.

Just as I pull my hands apart again, a sphere falls out from in between them, dispersing before it hits the ground.


I repeat the spell and the same thing happens again.

This has never happened before.

I do it again, this time pushing the ball up before it has a chance to fall, though it disperses regardless as soon as I’ve completed the spell.

Mountain top, Gensokyo - 16:18

Are you fucking serious?

I march to the other end of the small plateau, running both hands through my hair.

How can it be so fucking simple?

“Fuck!” I yell out and start stomping back to the other end again.

I’m missing something. I gotta be. I need to be.

I hold out both my hands, imagining a perfect square filling the space between them. As I start to pour spiritual energy into it, the cube appears.

It worked. Fuck.

I throw the cube on the ground, shattering it.

Thirteen years. It’s taken me thirteen years to master barrier crafting, to understand the underlying formulae, why they’re used and how to mix and match to get the desired result.

And all of that can be ignored just by imagining it.

I kick a rock with all the anger in my nonexistent body, only to pass through the small stone.

Just thinking about all the possibilities I’ll have with this fills me with as much excitement as frustration. And I have no idea how to describe this feeling which only makes it worse.

But why the hell does it work? It’s never been this easy when I had a body. Is it because I’m a spiritual being right now, or a pseudo spiritual being at least. I’m still attached to my body.

Does it have anything to do with this place? Yukari did say it was special. One of the entries to heaven, a place brimming with spiritual energy.

The relation to heaven doesn’t matter, since Yukari can do this too wherever. Is it the spiritual power? If so, why could she do it back at her place even though I couldn’t?


I’m exhausted. Yet I’m not tired.

This body doesn’t feel exhaustion the same way my physical body does. Rather, I can feel I just need a break, a good few hours to just relax. The problem is, there’s nothing else to do up here, so I get bored out of my mind as soon as I try to stop thinking about anything.

Normally, when I need a break from thinking, I just work out, lets me go on auto-pilot. If I could at least start a fire, I’d have something to distract me visually. All I have is the clear night sky. And as beautiful as it is, it never changes so there’s nothing new to spot.


So I’m starting to notice patterns with what I can and can’t do with spiritual power by just imagining it.

Pattern one. There’s literally no shape I can’t create, as long as I have enough spiritual energy to form it. I can even determine the density of objects, which will obviously impact how solid they are.

Pattern two. Animating these objects requires focus. If I focus on an existing object, presumably one I’ve created, I can alter its shape. The problem arises from the fact it takes the shape that dominates my mind. So to animate it, I have to imagine every step of the animation from shape A to shape B. Skipping back and forth in my thoughts causes the shape to skip back and forth too, making it unstable and breaks.

Pattern three. All these objects have a relative anchor point, which seem to default to my primary hand, though it can be changed easily. The shapes aren’t bound to this point by default either, but is another things that can be changed relatively easily. Using this point, I don’t need to actually touch the shape to create or manipulate it.


I might have gotten little carried away when experimenting, but I can create and maintain about twenty of these shapes at once, if I keep them all simple. I need them all within my field of view, otherwise I’ll lose track of it, because each of them require their own image, meaning I have to multitask to do this.


Enchantments works too. Though this requires the dual casting skill I picked up a few years back.

Since I usually have to use a formula to create barriers, weaving enchantments into them usually meant adding a few variables into the mix. But if I do it like this, I have to cast the enchantment on the energy itself, which was a challenge by itself, but oddly interesting.

I haven’t been able to casts enchantments like this either. Those require a catalyst regardless.


Something’s off about the barriers created like this. I tried recreating a tried and true barrier type using this spiritual shaping skill, and something seems very off about it.

Actually, it looks like a brute-forced version of the barrier, which is unlike the weaving required to shape it using the spell.


So that’s it. I still have to weave the barrier to make it work. I just have to do it manually while keeping the barrier as a whole in mind.

Seems unreasonably hard. It’d require an inhuman level on concentration and memory to keep track of this level of detail.

To try and visualize it, imagine a rope. In order to make a rope, you have to wrap a bunch of thin threads together. Then wrap those threads together. And then those, and so on until you have a nice and thick rope. A lengthy piece of work that produces a solid result.

But then we have machines that can do the same exact thing, but quicker, of better, since they can weave the threads in a more entwined manner, allowing them to use each other for more strength while being thinner.

It’s the same difference there’s between using this shaping skill and using standardized spells.

Sure, an inherent flaw of the spells is the need for an underlying structure, dictating it’s pattern and giving it a sense of uniform and reusability. I mean, that’s not a bad thing, but it means you need to generalize a way to calculate all of that on the fly before you can create it as a spell.

Shaping is far less restrictive, since you can shape it anyway you want. The problem arises from the fact that you need certain aspects for the barrier to be stable. Creating that manually takes more time, though it’s something that will get easier with practice, as you can generalize that part of it. Of course, doing that means you restrict yourself on the type of barrier based on the foundation, but more so is that you start moving back to the spell based creation instead of the shaping.

Combining the two is an obvious choice too, which doesn’t seem unreasonable after a bit of practice.

Though that line of thinking has gotten me curious.


Took some trial and error, but I somehow managed to anchor the shape to the earth, making it stationary in the air. I mean, that in itself was easy, since I can just anchor it to something obvious.

No, the hard part came afterwards as I started to play with the restrictions of this.

Anchoring the shape to something means that whatever force is exerted on the shape is transferred to the anchor. Meaning, if I anchor a barrier to myself, I’ll be able to walk around with it, but all force the barrier will experience, such as incoming attacks or thrown objects, will be transferred to me. In theory, of course; I don’t have a body to test it on currently.

But that will mean I can have my body remain unharmed through my barrier, though I won’t be able to stop anything with more force or mass than my own body. The same thing applies to all anchors. If I use a tree, then the barrier’s location will only be locked as firmly as that tree’s resistance to outside force.

The shape itself also has a limited resistance, meaning if the force is too great for the shape but not the anchor, then the shape will break. Factoring this in when creating the shape should allow for a great shield, maybe even a great weapon despite the fact spiritualism is generally reserved for support in terms of combat. That will just make it a surprise attack the first time I use it. After that, the word will have spread and people will be on guard for it.

Can I layer shapes anchored to the same object? If that’s the case, then I might be able to use Newton’s second and third law to my advantage by progressively chipping of velocity with a bunch of weak shapes.

That might not work as well as I hoped, on second thought. Maybe if it’s possible to anchor a shape to multiple objects at once?


Short answer; yes and yes.

It is in fact possible to layer shapes onto the same anchor. How that impacts the overall force resistance is still undetermined.

It is also possible to anchor a single shape to multiple objects. How that impacts the force resistance has yet to be theorized.

I mean, obviously, with multiple anchors, the overall force will be distributed across all anchors, meaning the resistance of each anchor will come into play. But how the distribution happens, as in how much force each anchor has to cancel out and what happens should one break, is still unknown.

It’s going to be a pain to remember all these questions for Yukari, and I’m frankly having too much fun experimenting and playing around with this skill to really remember them since I just move on to the next question I have right at that moment.


The next thing I know, I’m staring into the ceiling of the room Yukari lets me use.

I sit up, only to realize how stiff my body’s become and how much it hurts to move before I ultimately just fall back onto my bed.

It’s a western style bed too. Yukari has a surprising taste in decoration, mixing both new and old designs from both the east and the west. My room has been designed to look like a modern single room apartment, without the toilet and the stove, of course. The door, strangely enough, is an eastern sliding door, as opposed to a western style swing door like modern apartments. And then there’s the back wall, which leads directly outside. It mixes the western style of the adjacent walls into the open Japanese style via finely carved wood patterns that progressively get more open the further back they go.

The furniture is all western, though. A wide makeshift table, which is really just a wooden tabletop placed on two small dressers. It’s all made from the same type of dark wood, so it blends nicely.

The door slides open, drawing me out of my thoughts.

It’s Ran. She’s carrying a big bowl of water. Her sleeves rolled up to her shoulders.

“You’re awake already?” She asks, walking in and placing the bowl on the table. “We first expected you to wake up tomorrow.”

“I might have gone a little overboard.” I admit, trying to sit up again. “What did you do to my body to make it this stiff?”

“You’ve lied there for two days straight.” Ran explains. “Anyone would get stiff after that long of doing nothing.”

Right. I’m not used to being motionless. Especially not under these circumstances. I mean it’s not like I spent the last couple of days doing nothing. I just did it without my body.

“So, did you learn anything?” She wrings up a piece of cloth she took from the water.

“I might have discovered something amazing.” I tell her. “Once I get my body started again, I’ll see try to see if I can replicate it.”

She presses the cloth against my forehead- and my god it’s freezing cold.

I flinch back out of reflex, but Ran follows the motion, keeping the cloth pressed against my face.

“Careful.” She instructs me as she pulls me back up sitting. “You’re burning hot. You’ve been so since yesterday.”

I grab my own nape, and sure enough, it’s hot. More so than it normally should be.

“Ran, in my bag, wherever it is right now, there should be a bundle of spell tags like the ones taped to my back.” I tell her. “If you could bring it here and help me swap out the ones I have with new ones from the bundle, I believe it should fix it.”

“If that’s all, then it should barely take a minute.” She says, removing the cloth to dip it in the water again. “Might I ask what they’re for, these tags?”

“They help regulate my internal body heat.” I explain. “This is likely a sign that the cold ones have expired.”

Though it’s odd I didn’t notice it myself. Maybe because it happened while I had my out-of-body experience? In that case it should have hit me like a brick when I woke up. It’s hard to say how the body actually works sometimes, since it seems to have a life on it’s own.

Another Ran walks into the room, carrying a plate. “I’m afraid I couldn’t prepare anything warm to eat on such a short notice.” She says, putting the plate down next to the bowl. “I imagine you would be hungry, since you haven’t had anything to eat since the other day.” She wipes her hands in her apron. “I’ll prepare a little more for you for tonight. Meanwhile, be sure to drink.”

A third Ran enters the room, twirling the book of spell tags from my back around her finger. “I took the liberty of glancing over the spells you have prepared.” She notes, flipping through the many tags before stopping on one. “These are the ones you mentioned, right? They appear to have something to do with temperature from what I could glance.”

“I will go fetch something to drink.” Apron Ran declares as she leaves the room.

“Yeah, those are the ones, Ran.” I answer her. “You’ll find the other set ten pages ahead. I need you to pull off the ones I have on me currently and replace them with one of the same type, alternating between them.”

“Alright.” The Ran holding the book rips out the tags from the collection. “Turn around, if you would.”

I shuffle around the on the bed, turning my back against the two of them.

Without warning, she just rips one of them off.

“This definitely looks worn out.” One of them comments. They have the exact same voice, so I can’t tell the difference. “How often do you change these?”

“Four to six times a year.” I reply. “Given how much spiritual energy I can pour into them, they last quite long.”

She tapes one to my back, rubbing it to make sure it sticks properly.

“From what I can read, they consume quite a lot of power.” She comments. “A normal human would suffer spiritual depletion within minutes.”

“The amount of energy I produce easily surpasses that of most youkai.” I state. “Yukari is one of the first youkai I’ve met to actually surpass me.”

“Too bad spiritual energy isn’t as viable as mana.” She chuckles to herself. “If you had half as much mana, I’m not even sure I would be able to match you.”

“Yeah. Sadly, I had an unfortunate encounter that meant I either had to expand my spiritual energy pool at an alarming rate, or die.” I tell her. “This sadly prevented any further growth in both my mana pool and ki pool.”

She rips another one off, and plasters a new one right back on. “I’m sad to hear that.”

“Nothing you could have done about it.” I assure her. “Just a dumb little kid being dumb. I’m just glad I survived.”

“Is it okay to ask about this, or?” She trails off, leaving the rest of the question remain implied.

“I’d rather not talk about the event itself, to be honest. Too unpleasant to remember.” I tell her. “I can say it wasn’t the event itself that caused my spirit pool to expand. The event forced my production to go through the roof. Afterwards, it just wouldn’t stop, which then forced my pool to expand. I was bedridden for days as my body tried to adapt and compensate.”

“I sometimes forget how fragile you humans can be.” She replaces another tag. “Most I meet are like you. In the sense that they stand above the rest of humanity as combatants. You know, people who can take a punch or two before going down.”

“So far I’m at two punches.” I brag. “I can take two serious hits from most youkai before I go down. If it were someone like you, on the other hand, I probably wouldn’t die after one punch, but I certainly wouldn’t be able to fight.”

“Then it’s simple. Don’t get hit at all.” She declares in an equally playful tone as mine. “Problem solved.”

“I’d be the world’s best fighter if I could avoid taking a single hit from anyone.” I argue. “And while I’m certainly great, I’m not quite that good.”

She chuckles as she rips another one off. This one with a little more force than the previous ones, almost causing me to flinch. She applies a cold talisman, causing any pain there might have been to fade away quickly.

“I think that was the broken one.” I note. “The new one seems a lot colder than the previous one. In a few minutes I should have cooled off to my normal body temperature again.”

“Sounds fantastic.” She says as she rips off another. “After this there are just three more to go.”

“There’s only eight?” I ask.

“Should there be more?” She stops her motion to ask.

“No. The current amount is the right number.” I assure her. “It’s just that I keep remembering the number I miscounted instead of the number I corrected it to, so I keep confusing myself.”

She replaces another tag. “I see. That’s not something I’m familiar with myself, but I can understand the concept.”

“Considering how many shikigami you work at once, that’s rather impressive.” I tell her.

“Maybe.” She replaces another tag. “Though I’ve worked like this for centuries, so it’s not exactly something new to me.”

With nothing left to say, I let her replace the last one without interruption.

“I brought the water.” Apron Ran comes back. “It took a little time to freeze the ice properly.”

I shuffle back around on my bed, so I face them.

“Where’s the last one of you?” I ask, glancing over the room. There were three Rans just a minute ago, but now there’s only two.

“We merged.” The Ran that’s been here the whole time says. “I took the remaining energy from her to extend the remaining time of this shikigami.”

I take the sizeable cup from Apron Ran and down it. Didn’t realize how thirsty I was. Guess it’s going to take another moment for my body to wake up completely again. Sitting around here is not going to help in that matter.

[ ] Find Yukari
- [ ] I need to get back to that training to test some more things
- [ ] Have her confirm the fruits of my training
[ ] I want to try this skill while in my physical body
[ ] Request a spar with Ran, to get my body moving again

Next update is likely first coming at new years. In case you care, my challenge entry is >>/shrine/41087
>> No. 31391
[x] I want to try this skill while in my physical body
[X] Confirm with Yukari the results

Uh, I guess she was right: he is the type to learn better by herself
>> No. 31392
[x] Request a spar with Ran, to get my body moving again

Better wake up fully before we go doing anything silly.
>> No. 31406
[x] Request a spar with Ran, to get my body moving again.
>> No. 31479
With Nanowrimo over, I can finally call this vote.

Having spent the month working on a different story, and as a result not being able to think about this one at all, has allowed me to come back after a fresh breath of air. Reading back the last couple of updates, I notice several small things that, if improved should help improve the feeling of the updates.
Though, Ran's seeming blandness is by design. My proofer has pointed that out several times, so I'm aware. Once I get the next sub-quest going, hat should change.

You've never had a moment like that? You just learned how to do something new within one of your favorite hobbies, followed by you playing around with the limits of that new thing, trying to see exactly what you can and can't do?
Because that's all it was, or was meant to be anyway. He learned the new skill and then just played around with the limits.
>> No. 31491
File 154630083112.jpg - (919.73KB, 800x903, Working girl.jpg) [iqdb]
Before the update. Short version is that I'm going to have to do some course correction, which in turn means I'll have to overturn the last vote. Long version is just gonna explain how this related to Nanowrimo and my nebulous desire to write better and faster by trying to shift the focus.

“Let’s fight.” I propose, having finished the cup.

“I’m sorry?” The fox stops what she’s doing to look at me.

“I’ve been lying in bed for the past few days.” I’d explain. “I’ll like to make sure I’ve adjusted to my body again.”

“I believe there are better ways of determining that.” She raises the jug of water, silently asking if I need a refill. I shake my head.

“I know. But in case you haven’t noticed, I rather like fighting.” I admit as I stand up from the bed.

“I’m afraid I’ll have to decline your challenge.” The shikigami states. “Lady Yukari gave me strict orders to inform her when you woke up. She’s on her way as we speak.”

Being able to use shikigami like that seems very handy. Being able to be in two places at once, that is.

Oh, and speaking of the devil, look who’s entered the room.

“Welcome back to the physical world.” The sage greets me, closing the door behind her. “So, were you able to create a barrier?” She gets straight to the point, taking a seat on one of her gaps.

“I did. In a couple of hours, actually.” I run a hand through my hair, suppressing the simultaneous wave of anger and excitement I felt when I figured it out. “And I frankly can’t believe how easy it was.”

“A matter of hours?” She raises an eyebrow. “What exactly did you do?”

“For a lack of a better term, I was able to create shapes simply by imagining them.” I explain, looking down at my hands as I let a surge of energy run through them, recalling the sensation of creating the shapes. “Although, I’m not sure if what I made are actual barriers.”

The sage looks over at the fox, who in return shakes her head.

“I don’t think you realize how far ahead you skipped.” She corrects her posture, recovering from the mild surprise. “I had expected you to only learn how to channel your energy like that.”

“Can this skill be used in the physical world?” I ask. One of the many questions I have. Though, if I can use this skill without needing to astral project like that, then I should be able to learn the answers for the rest on my own.

“Is it possible?” She repeats, gesturing to the door behind me leading directly outside. “Why not try to find out for yourself.”

“I take it there are no drawbacks, if you’ll just let me do it?” I walk past Ran who’s holding the door open for me.

“None you aren’t already aware of.” The sage answers, riding her gap with me outside. “Spiritual depletion might be the only thing, but I can’t imagine that’s something you will have to worry about.”

She’s right about that. Reimu’s Fantasy Heaven was the first time in a long while where I even felt my spiritual pool drained.

Recalling the feeling I had while I was out of body, I try to let my energy flow out. I feel it leaving me, though nothing is happening.

“It doesn’t come out, right?” The sage walks up next to me, laying a hand on my shoulder. “This is why spells were invented.” She holds out her hand in the same fashion I do, letting her hand get covered in her own misty lime spiritual energy. “Spells are like training wheels. They’re supposed to teach you how to draw out your energy while in your body.”

Training wheels? I guess that’s one way to look at them. Wait a second.

I clench my hand, recycling the energy I had focused out there before directing a fresh batch of energy to my hand.

The difference is the processing. In order to create a barrier, I usually process spiritual energy in my core first, charging up, if you will.

I point two fingers out and swipe them through the air, drawing a straight line. Like expected, a wall rises from the ground, matching the line I traced.

Isn’t this the same I’ve been doing the last few days? But I’ve been able to create these for years. Though they’re closer to being divine walls than barriers, since these were originally taught to humans by the kami, or to be precise, the kami’s shikigami. But maybe.

Instead of focusing on a wall, I channel the same energy into my palm, imagining a sphere.

And it appears. A ball of deep jade grows from my palm.

“See? It’s easy.” The sage comment, giving my shoulder a pat. “However, I will have to admit you’re learning this a little too fast.”

“I don’t know if I’m learning too fast.” I admit, crushing the sphere and letting the energy scatter. “I just try to keep an open mind when I’m told something new.”

“No, you’re making excellent progress.” She sits back down on her gap. “What I meant was that, I wasn’t prepared for you to learn it this quickly.” She shrugs, giving me a self-assured smug smile. Presumably proud she managed to hit the nail on the head with this teaching method. “I’m afraid I’ll have to spend some more time thinking about how to progress your training. In the meantime, I forbid you from casting any spells unless you absolutely must. Try to get used to just using your raw spiritual energy.”

It’ll take some time to knock off the habit of casting spells, but that’s the best way to master something you’ve been taught. Repeat it at nauseum until even your unconscious body can go through the motions on its own.

“Is that all?” I ask, looking back down at her.

“For the time being, yes.” She nods. “Feel free to take this off, though I can’t put you outside the barrier this time.”

“Yeah, I had a feeling.” I admit. I need to rely on a pendant to correctly travel across the barrier on my own, then wait a week before I can go back. Yukari can do that by herself, bypassing the time limit. I can’t imagine that’s an easy task.

“Then I’ll be off.” She declares, floating backwards on her gap, back into the house without breaking eye contact before Ran closes the door.

What an unnecessary bit of drama.

“If you want to go down into Gensokyo,” Ran speaks up, now that her master has left, “then you can follow the road out in front of the house. However, just be aware that it’s a one-way road. You will have to ask one of us for help to come back.” She bows as she informs me, going back to be all formal. A shame, because I do like her better when she shows even a little personality.

“Thank you.” I return the favor my assuming a monotone voice. “But before I leave, could you fetch my bag for me? Since you know where it is.”

“Certainly.” She bows again. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

True to her word, exactly one minute later, another copy shows up with my bag in hand. Fishing through the contents, I pick out my weighted clothes. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve gotten too used to wearing them, but I’m feeling uncomfortably light right now. I don’t feel like taking a proper bath right now either, so some deodorant will have to do for now.

After that, I go through the usual set of preparations, slapping my set of trump-card talismans around my arms, before wrapping them up in bandages serving as bracers and a thicker layer of skin. I make sure the silver knifes are tucked away under my clothes. With that done, I make for the village, leaving the Yakumo household behind for the time being. Ran, being the proud servant that she is, stands by the entrance seeing me off until the house in no longer in view.


“Hey! Ryuko!” I hear someone call out to me as I’m making my way to the human village. Facing the voice, I notice a dirty little redhead waving at me. And I mean that literally, the little woman is covered in dirt.

“Kotohime?” I ask. She’s too far away for me to identify her spiritual energy, and I’ve never actually been good with faces. Her ridiculously long hair does make her easier to identify, though I’m not one to talk about strange hair, since mine is quite long as well.

The little guardswoman waves me over, encouraging me to just walk through the farms. The other workers pause to look as I walk by. Either to see who she’s yelling to, or to gawk at the man with the eyepatch. I just ignore them like I always do and make my way past them over to the redhead.

“Let me guess.” I start off, before she has a chance to say anything. “You got demoted.”

“No.” She states completely monotone, feigning being insulted before dropping the façade and letting her carefree smile appear again. “No, I was just wondering how you were doing. You just sort of disappeared.”

That’s right, Kotohime came to my rescue after I lost to that rock. It was her, her boss and Akyuu if I remember correctly. Then there was another girl with a voice I didn’t recognize.

“Back in peak condition.” I brag. “I mean, aside from the loss of my eye.”

“Was the damage really that bad?” Her smile disappears. “Sorry. If only we had been a little quicker.”

“No. It was gone before I ran into the forest.” I assure her. I mean, if I’d been killed, I would just have revived good as new. And even if I survived, my eye would have recovered within a few days.

“Is this that boyfriend you’ve talked about, Hime?” An elderly, though not old man joins out conversation.

“No, gramps, this is a friend I met while training in the dojo.” The little guard brushes off the question. “You’re thinking about my boss. You know, blonde and stoic. And he’s not my boyfriend, yet.” She leans against her spade. “Ah, that’s right. Ryuko, these are my grandparents.” She gestures at the woman who continues to work in the background.

“Hakurei Ryuko. Priest.” I introduce myself with a polite bow.

“I see, I see.” The old man nods. “Despite how she might act, little Hime is a kind girl. Even though she’s always busy, she comes to help us in her spare time.”

“Gramps.” The redhead protests in vein.

“I know she’s a handful, but please continue to support her.” The old man continues. “She doesn’t have a lot of friends.”

“Gramps.” She protests louder.

“Of course.” I agree.

I don’t really know Kotohime, since we have barely gotten the chance to talk, let alone develop a friendship. I did, however, get a good feel for her personality when we spared back then, and I think we’d be able to get along, since we share similar risks in our line of work. Mainly the fact we can die at a moment’s notice.

The little guard shoots me a glance before realizing I’m just being polite in my answer.

“Oh yeah. If you’ve recovered as much as you say you have, do you think you could do me a favor?” The guard asks. “Only if you have the time, of course.”

“I don’t have any pressing plans for today.” Though I planned on seeing Akyuu, since I still owe her to let her know I’m alright.”

She tabs the spade’s handle with her finger, thinking over her options. “Sorry, gramps, but I have to take care of this.” She lifts her spade up and stabs it back into the ground, making sure it can stand on its own.

“It’s alright.” The old man nods. “Sounds like you haven’t seen your boyfriend here in a while.”

“Again, gramps, wrong person.” She runs past me, back towards the road. I start following her at my own pace.

“Seems like a nice man. He should think about getting a real job.” I hear the old man talk faintly talk to himself as he goes back to work.

“So, what was it you wanted?” I ask as I catch up to the little guard.

“Hmm.” She hums, thinking about how best to explain it. “Let’s just say it’s a favor that’ll have to go under the table.”

The little goodie-two-shoe deals with shady business as well. That’s a surprise.

“There’s a place just inside the walls where we can get something to eat in private.” She points out. “It’ll be my treat, this time.”

I assume she eats at this place regularly, since she walks us to the café, or whatever you want to call it, without any hesitation in her step. Well, that and the fact the staff seem to know her as they simply gesture us onward without even asking any questions.

The little guard takes us to a back room, secluded from the rest of the store. We sit there for a minute before a waitress brings two plates of takoyaki. As soon as she’s left, Kotohime starts speaking again.

“Sorry about that wait.” She says, picking up one of her skewers. “It’s just that this is best kept off record.”

“And you trust I’ll keep it like that?” I ask her, picking up a stick of my own to give it a taste. It’s spicy. Not burning hot, but like more like a mild curry, just without the curry taste.

“You don’t exactly look like the type who’d be against bending the rules once in a while.” She takes a bite out of her skewer. “No offense.” She adds.

“None taken.”

“Anyway, let me get to the point.” She puts down the stick and leans in over the table. “The short version is that there’s an underground group that tricks people into debt they can’t pay, then force them to fight each other for entertainment.” She takes a bite from another skewer.

“Don’t you have an entire guard force to deal with that?” I ask. “I may be able to kick your ass, but that doesn’t mean I can take on an entire crime syndicate.” Not quite true. I mean, if there are skilled martial artists, then it’s going to be a bad time. But fighting aside, taking on a structured organization to effectively take out its ability to function is beyond me.

“That’s exactly the thing.” She points her half-eaten skewer at me. “The guard force is divided into departments, you can recognize us by the color of our uniform by the way. We wear crimson.” She adds. “But anyway, the department that’s responsible for taking care of these guys hasn’t moved. And they’ve known about this for long enough to allow enough information to slip out that even we can pick up their trail.”

“While there’s a part of me that won’t mind becoming an enemy of the human village, that would greatly hinder my work.” I explain. “So, I’ll have to pass on taking down corrupt bureaucrats as well.”

“Then it’s a good thing I’m not going to ask you to either.” The redhead picks up her final skewer. “We have already planned the whole thing. We would like you to distract the big guys while we work our magic.”

“Distract? How?” I start eating one of my skewers.

“Dunno, don’t care.” She reaches over and takes my last piece of food. “As long as you don’t kill anyone, my boss will be able to cover for you. The small guys are just debt slaves, after all. They’re the people we’re trying to save.”

Sounds doable, at the very least. I can think of a few ways to cause distractions, though it’s not my forte, so it’s going to be rough, but not impossible. But I had planned to go see Akyuu. I mean, I do owe her to at least know I’m alright.

[] “I’ll have to pass.”
[] “You can count on me.”

4 years into this mess, as of today. Happy New Year to whomever it may concern.
>> No. 31492
[x] "You can count on me."
>> No. 31493
[x] “You can count on me.”

fuck it, what's the worst that can happen?
>> No. 31495
[x] “You can count on me.”

An excellent way to practice spells. Not being able to kill them is a good handicap to keep it interesting too.

Happy new year btw
>> No. 31496
“Sure, why not.” I lean back into the chair. “This could be fun, for a change of pace.”

“Sweet. I knew I could count on you.” She takes my last skewer, having now claimed five of the six given to us. “We will launch our strike in roughly 90 minutes, if everything goes according to schedule.” She places the now empty stick across the four others, making it look like a western tally mark. “As long as you get in there before then and work your magic, then everything should run smoothly.”

“Other than cause a distraction and not allow anyone to leave, is there anything else I’ll need to know?” I inquire.

“The location.” She states, pulling out a small notepad from her chest pocket. “The village isn’t small, so there are too many places to look.” She jots down the address, rips off the page and hands it to me. “We’ve placed a barrel with a red lid next to the entrance.” She explains. “Color coding barrels is standard practice for business, so we make use of it too.”

“Red barrel. Got it.” I scan over the note, memorizing the address before tucking it away behind my belt. I pull out my phone to check the time; 16:45. One and a half hour until they start. “I expect you’ll be paying for the meal.” I state.

“Obviously.” The redhead grins. “Even if I didn’t eat all the food, I would have. That’s the least I can do when asking you for a favor like this.”

“If I had actually gotten a chance to taste it, I wouldn’t have minded paying my share.” I tell her.

“Gotta be faster, then.” She just argues back. “But then I guess we’ll meet again in a few hours.”


The place seems to be located on the other end of the village, out in the peasants’ ring. The walk did take a while, but I still have plenty of time before they launch their surprise attack.

As I approach the address written on the note, I spot the barrel with the red lid. It’s placed at the wrong address, however, sitting next to the neighbor of the address I was given.

I take a seat outside one of the food stalls nearby and place a small order. My guts are telling me something is wrong. I doubt Kotohime would have given me the wrong address, and I doubt she’d have misplaced that barrel. I may be paranoid, but this is exactly the kind of small mistakes that can cost lives.

And this is exactly why I’m glad for my annoying huge pool of spiritual energy, as it allows me to poke around inside the buildings without leaving this spot. Being I’m the size of an Oni, compared to everyone around me, the only form of “stealth” I have is to just appear as if I belong where I am, since I can’t exactly hide.

I don’t sense anything from inside the house. Nothing in the one where the barrel is, either. Maybe they’re underground? Checking that is outside my reach, so I’ll have to get closer.

I look at time on my phone; 17:50. Less than half an hour until they begin.

If they’re in there, it should be easy to contain them until the two of them show up. But I’m starting to suspect they aren’t in there. In theory, it’s possible they’re concealing their spiritual energy, though that would require a natural element which can’t be moved. So I doubt that’s the case.

Luckily, there aren’t many people on this street. Most of them are working in the fields, with only a few remaining. Once I’m sure no one is looking, I drop the money for my meal and quickly make my way across the street. I don’t sense anything underneath, aside from the fact that there is a big empty space.

I try the door, which turns out to be unlocked, allowing me to enter the building seemingly unnoticed. The interior is devoid of any indication of life. No furniture, tools or utilities of any kind. There is, however, an obvious trapdoor in the floor.

I make my way over to the panel and open it. I can sense the floor not too far down, though there is no ladder. More interestingly, however, is the note hammered onto the bottom of the panel. “Too late” it reads, in crude letters.

They’re gone. The gang has packed up and left, being cocky enough to leave behind a note, showing they were aware they had been found. If Kotohime has given me the correct address, then that’s the only explanation I can think of.

I examine the wooden note. Depending on how recent they moved out, I might be able to use this to track them down. But I need to tell Kotohime that the bandits left, as soon as possible. But I don’t know where she is. If I’m lucky, they might still be at their headquarters, preparing to strike, but if they aren’t then they’ll be completely off my radar. But sitting here and waiting could buy the gang too much time.

[] Wait here for the two of them to show up
[] Go to their HQ to inform them
[] Start tracking the gang down on my own
>> No. 31497
[X] Start tracking the gang down on my own

This is pretty weird... Well, let's just move on and see if we can just catch 'em
>> No. 31498
[X] Start tracking the gang down on my own

Onward! To P L O T!
>> No. 31499
[x] Go to their HQ to inform them
>> No. 31505
[x] Go to their HQ to inform them
>> No. 31506
[x] Start tracking the gang down on my own
>> No. 31507
Shit. This has turned into a difficult situation before it even started. My best option is to disregard Kotohime and pursue them on my own.

I flip the wooden note over in my hand.

Yeah. Tracking them is my only option, less they’d get away. I didn’t bring my bag, so I’ll have to make do with what I have. Luckily, there’s a thick layer of dirt coating the floor.

I find an undisturbed area and sketch out a small circle with my finger, adding as much detail as I can, given the lack of finesse available to me. I place the wooden slate in the circle and pour my energy into it, triggering the spell.

On cue, the slight bit of spiritual energy stored inside it is ejected straight up, allowing me a clear chance to examine it before it dissipates. The titian energy carries a faint smell of citrus.

That’s a rather unusual spiritual energy. Should be easy to isolate, even in public.

I bite into my pinky, just enough to draw blood, and press it against the blank side of the wooden slate. I add another layer to the circle, changing the spell it uses. As I activate it, the blood mark disappears and in its stead, a small compass appears, which immediately snaps towards me.

That should be able to lead those two towards me.

I wipe away the circle and place the wood chip in front of the trapdoor.

This is most likely going to come and bite me in the ass later. I mean, I’m leaving behind something that literally points towards me.

As stealthily as a giant can be, I walk out the front door of the hideout. To my surprise, I spot a youkai sitting on the roof of the house just opposite to this one. Even though it’s outside my range, I can recognize a fox when I see one. This one however, has an unusual dusky fur, with only the tips of its ears, paws and tails being white.

The little trickster keeps eyeing me, even though I stare right back into its grassy eyes. At least it does for a second before casually standing up and walks away.

Curious. What’s a black fox doing in Gensokyo? I know they’re rare, but they shouldn’t be rare enough to go to Gensokyo. Maybe the myth of them bringing good fortune has qualified them?

Anyway, I’ll think about that later, if I remember. For now, I’ve got some scum to track down.


“Hey.” I greet the bunch as I poke my head through the now destroyed door. “I think your guys’ lookout could use some help.” I hold the unconscious men up for the rest to see. “I might have accidentally knocked them out cold.”

The whole room just stares in silence. Though it might be disbelief. I mean what sane person would attack two people, then kick down the door to a cabin and announce they’ve just attacked two people. Surely, you’d have to be a special kind of crazy to think that’s a good idea.

“Attack, you fuckers!” A guy in the back yells out over the crowd. “Don’t just stand there.”

I throw one of the bodies at the group before they get a chance to move, then I throw the other through the group towards the voice in the back.

Giving my new skill a test drive, I create a wall across the door frame, blocking anyone from entering or leaving.

Now, you might call this excessive, showing off and completely unnecessary. And I’d respond with yes, yes and no. Psychology is half the battle. I’m excessive and showing off because it instills an image into them. The bigger, scarier and stronger I appear to them, the less likely they are to want to fight me.

One of them breaks free from their trance and charges at me, screaming from the top of his lungs as he swings a makeshift club at my body.

I steel myself and prepare for the impact.

As the wooden stick hits my stomach, it snaps in half, sending one end flying against the wall behind me, while the man desperately clings to the remaining handle.

I fight to endure the pain, refusing to let it show at all.

The young man looks up at me, realizing his attack didn’t have the desired effect, and smiles nervously.

I place my hand on his shoulder, holding him in place. “My turn.” I drive my fist into his guts, forcing his stomach to go in reverse.

To be honest, I’m rather annoyed he vomited on my clothes, since I only have one weighted set, but then again, what did I expect. These guys are supposed to just be your average Joe.

Regardless, the intimidation has worked. No one else moves.

“Take care of him, would you?” I shove the guy back towards the crowd. “Now then.” I hold out both my hands in front of me and motion them to stand aside and make a path.

And to my honest surprise, they comply. A path down the middle opens, revealing the brains of this whole thing.

Visually, there’s nothing noteworthy about her, other than the fact it’s a woman with streaked hair. As soon as the crow stops blocking her spiritual energy, however, is when she gets interesting.

Her power carries a faint hint of divinity, the same kind a kami would have. Typically, you only see this with the direct descendants of the gods, going down only few generations. Hers, on the other hand, is corrupted beyond recognition. It’s impossible to track her heavenly origin. She reeks of youkai, however, Oni to be specifically. Which now that I notice, would explain her small horns neatly hidden by her hair.

I have never encountered a mix like this before. How do I even categorize it? As a fallen Oni god? I may be too eager to fight sometimes, but if that’s what she is, then she’d be the last thing I’d ever want to fight.

“Finished gawking?” She asks, exposing her carnivorous teeth in an uncanny grin. “We’re a little busy here, you see. So, if you’re done, would you kindly go fuck yourself?”

[] Fuck it. Strike first.
[] Strike up a conversation.
- [] Usual interrogation stuff. Who? Why? What? Etc.
- [] Keep her busy by bullshitting like my life depends on it.
>> No. 31508
[X] Strike up a conversation.
- [X] Keep her busy by bullshitting like my life depends on it
>> No. 31509
[x] Strike up a conversation.
- [x] Usual interrogation stuff. Who? Why? What? Etc.

Did we bite off more than we can chew? Anyway, let's keep her talking for now.
>> No. 31510
Seija, is that you?

[X] Strike up a conversation.
- [] Keep her busy by bullshitting like my life depends on it.
>> No. 31514
Calling it on bullshitting.

Just another day

ʇou ǝsɹnoɔ ɟO
>> No. 31515
File 155034427257.jpg - (599.48KB, 1200x1800, Downsie.jpg) [iqdb]
I make a scene of looking around over the crowd of broken village men.

“To be honest, I’m disappointed.” I ignore her indirect order to get out. “I heard this was supposed to be an underground fighting ring. I came hoping to fight someone challenging, for once.”

“That’s why you decided to launch an assault against us? ‘Cause of a little boredom?” The youkai girl asks, resting her head in her palm.

“No. That was self-defense. Excessive force? Sure. But self-defense.” I sit down, right in the middle of the room. “Now, how about you bring out someone with an actual spine, so I can have some fun.”

“Like I said, kid. Fuck off.” She states bluntly. “There are plenty of martial sports in the village for you to play around with.”

“You think weaklings like that can excite me?” I ask. “Have you ever fought an opponent that was just a little stronger than you, in a fight to the death, yet manage to come out the victor?”

The she-devil raises her brow. I’ve caught her attention.

I continue. “The level of excitement you get from fighting someone like that, at the very edge of life itself is unparalleled by anything else. And the high you get on after winning is something beyond this world.” I clench both my fists. “Do you really think you can experience something like that inside the village, with all the rules on sparring and safety practices? Underground fighting rings are the only places where I can hope for a chance to fight like that again.”

That’s largely true, though. Finding someone you can go all out against is an amazing feeling. Being able to actually win will send you on a dopamine rush you can’t even dream of.

She starts to snicker, barely keeping it below actual laughter. “That so? Well, I got bad news for you, kid. This isn’t some underground fighting ring, so you won’t find that precious opponent here.” She readjusts herself so both her naked feet are on the ground. “But if you stick around, I might just be able to give you the fight of your life.”

The collective mood for the room drops as she talks. Seems like the people here really don’t want to be here. Guess Kotohime was right about that.

“Now we’re talking.” I cross my arms. “What’s that plan? Who do I get to fight?”

“The whole human village.” She grins. “These chumps are the downtrodden, the oppressed. They’re unable to express their desires, much like you, because the strong have decided they shouldn’t be allowed.” She jumps to her feet. “Obviously I can’t go mouth off the entire plan to a newcomer, so you’ll just have to trust me. Just sit tight and wait, and soon you’ll be able to fight whoever and however.”

This is bigger than I thought, much bigger.

Could it be this is why the guards never made their move? They knew it was more than just illegal fighting. Are they ignoring it, or waiting for the right moment to strike? Are we perhaps interfering in their plan?

Maybe the guards are in on the plan too, which is why they’re turning a blind eye to it. Although that wouldn’t make much sense, since this is a problem of power, it seems. Those who have power typically don’t want to lose it.

[] Shut it down, now.
[] Integrate and investigate.

Once a month is the minimum standard I aim for. Median is 3 per month, for the time being. Didn't announce it, cause then the universe would make it impossible for me to keep.
>> No. 31516
[x] Shut it down, now.

It's gonna be a hard fight, but the other plan doesn't really seem plausible.
I mean, why would someone go with a nebulous plan made up by some stranger when they could simply fight that stranger for that thrill they're looking for? Seija isn't dumb, so she'll probably realize that.
>> No. 31517
Given the way she's talking, I can only assume Seija plans to reverse the relationship between humans and Youkai. This would also explain why most of the guards are willing to turn a blind eye to what's been going on.

[X] Play along, but start by asking why you shouldn't just fight the mastermind right then and there. Seems a lot easier than some big scheme, doesn't it?
>> No. 31518

Here. Change my vote for


It seems like a good compromise.
>> No. 31519
Alright, calling it.
This incident is going to be fun to write, by the looks of things.

And a little clarification to the "median is 3 per month" from last post. That'd be my total story updates, since I'm writing on Tales of Half a Ghost again
>> No. 31525
File 155257175246.jpg - (562.76KB, 1536x2048, __kijin_seija_touhou_drawn_by_efukei__3b206e1c51eb.jpg) [iqdb]
18th of Planting Month, 19:36
Shack outside the Village

“Alright.” I tap my finger against my arm. “Just one question, then.” I continue to push. “Who am I going to fight?”

“Like I said. The whole village.” She reiterates. “Once the chaos starts, pick whoever you think will put up a good fight and do your thing.” The youkai walks past me, towards the sealed door. “I might ask you to take care of some small fries in the meantime. Like now.” She places a hand on my barrier just as she says it, making it spin upside down which gives her a moment to step outside before the room is resealed.

“Get down! Now!”

Instinctively responding to my gut feeling, my knees give out beneath me and let me fall straight down.

A thundering clash sounds just before everything goes silent.

Even with the adrenaline kicking in, I barely see the tiny object flying past where my head was. In fact, that’s all the info I manage to pick up before it’s gone.

I look to the door and my barrier has been blown apart, with the remaining fragments dissolving.

As soon as I hit the floor, I roll over and get on my feet, out of sight from the door frame.

I can hear someone speak from outside, though the sound is muffled by the loud ringing in my ears. Judging by their spiritual energy, it’s Kotohime and her boss. The former being right next to the door, while the latter stands in open view a few meters away.

Time to move fast.

I dash up to the wall next to the door frame, then as fast as I can, I reach out through the opening and grab the little martial artist with an iron grip. In one motion, I drag her through the door and pin her against the wall.

“Sorry, but there’s no time to explain. Trust me and take these guys away.” I tell her, trying my best not to yell, despite the fact I can’t even hear my own voice.

[“Sorry, I can’t hear you. Could you speak a little louder?”] Her voice is still drowned out by the ringing, though now that I can see her, I can read her lips.

To be honest, I never thought this skill would be useful outside of fighting spellcasters. The only reason I even learned it was to get the upper hand on people that’d mastered silent chanting, by being able to know what spell is coming without hearing it.

But shit, that means I can’t talk to her. There’s not enough time to write up a letter either. Wait. My grimoire. It records everything I know and only displays the information I want it to show. Will it work over distance, though?

Letting go of her, I reach inside my shirt and fish out the small book. Flipping open the first page, I see the letters appear, spelling out quick instructions.
“Pretend like you beat me.”
“Take away these people.”
“Continue reading once I’m gone.”

Satisfied with that, I hand her my grimoire and wait a whole second for her to read it over before running at the rear wall, throwing myself against it with enough force to break through.

Rolling to a stop, I let out a long-range pulse of spiritual energy, searching for the little she-devil, but it seems like she’s long gone. I still have to act my part, though, for all I know she could be watching.

I raise a barrier behind me, unintentionally blocking another one of those small things. That is, I don’t see the little thing, but the sound combined with the fact the barrier is down again immediately tells me all I need to know.

I swing my other hand up, raising another barrier, which stays up this time. Using that as cover, I bolt away.


“Quick feet you got there.” The streaked devil makes her appearance. “Didn’t think someone your size could be that agile.”

“One of the many tricks up my sleeve.” I respond, having caught my breath again.

“You seem more and more promising.” She walks up to me, placing her hand on my shoulder, only to immediately pull back like I just shocked her.

“Oh yeah, I should probably tell you. This arm,” I hold out my left arm, “houses a kami. Youkai like yourself probably shouldn’t touch it carelessly.” I bluff. No one has reacted like that until now.

Her grin grows as I explain it. “Say, kid, you wouldn’t happen to be the Giant of the Human Village, by any chance?”

“That’s the first time I’ve heard that name, so I’ll assume not.” I stand up and dust myself off. “Not really sure if it matters anyway.”

“No. Those chumps just talked about some big guy that showed up one day.” She points over her shoulder with her thumb, back towards the village. “But you’re right, that doesn’t matter.” She spins around so she can look out over the village in the distance. “We just lost our numbers.” She states. “And this plan requires some canon-fodder, so you might have to wait a little longer still.”

“Yeah, I’m gonna need to know a little more about the plan, if I’m gonna stick around.” I state, matter-of-factly.

“And I told you to wait.” She snaps back.

I grab her neck with my left hand, and judging by the shock, it seems it still hurts her. “What’s to stop me from fighting you instead?” I turn her around. “You won’t be the first youkai I take down.”

The slight hint of annoyance she wore disappears with a snicker. “You really got balls kid. You know I’m a youkai and still dare challenge me.” She grabs my hand, and the next I know, I’m lying on my back looking up at her.

She lets go of my collar, which I didn’t even notice her grabbing. “The thing about schemes is that they rely on more than brute strength. In order to pull this off, we need to hit the village in several locations at once. Moreover, I need more power. I can only unleash the chaos we both want once all the pieces are in place.” She leans down to me. “So can it, and just do as I say.”

That’s as far as I can push her on information, it seems. Any more and it’ll turn into an actual fight, which I’m not confident I can win. Seems like I’ll have to act like the bad guy for some time, to keep getting information. I’ll just have to hope that Kotohime understood what I tried to tell her.

“Yeah, I got it.” I push myself off the ground. “I don’t take orders, however. Just suggestions.”

“Then I suggest you do as I say, if you want to fight.” She doesn’t look back and instead just starts walking. “Now, for starters. Follow up, we gotta regroup.”

Sorry for the delay. My proofer and I kinda misaligned our schedules. I'll get working on the next update right away
>> No. 31526
File 155586881835.jpg - (149.34KB, 850x1193, wannabe angel.jpg) [iqdb]
22nd of Planting Month, 13:16

The tiny she-devil sees fit to kick me in the back to demand my attention. She’s not using much force, but she’s still a youkai.

“Wake up, human.” She demands, taking the chance to stand tall over me with her arms crossed.

“I told you, I’m not sleeping.” I tell her without moving. “I’m meditating.”

“I know, and that holy aura is pissing me off.” She walks in front of me, seeing as I’m not turning to face her. “But now I have a reason for you to stop annoying me.” She bends down and firmly grabs my chin, forcing me to look her in the eyes. “I need you to go wreak havoc. Get as much attention as possible, for as long as possible. I’m still gonna need you for the second half of my plan, so don’t fuck it up.”

“In the village, I assume?” I stand up, once again towering over her, though she still refuses to let go of my face.

“No, on the bloody moon, you fucking fairy.” She scoffs.

“Yeah I get it.” I shove my hands into my pockets. “Are you going to be hanging off my chin all day, however? Cause, I’m gonna have to change my strategy if that’s the case.”

“Of course not. That would defeat the whole purpose of making you the distraction.” She finally let’s go. “I need to be able to move freely. Whenever something happens inside the village, everyone but the guards stay inside. That will be perfect to move around unnoticed.”

“Right. Do you have any preference, or can I just go nuts?” I ask her, rubbing my chin. Again, it wasn’t a strong hold, but it still hurts.

I already have some plans on how to kick up a fight. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep it isolated.

“As many as possible for as long as possible.” She repeats. “That’s all I care about.” She walks past me towards the small cave’s exit. “If some of them happen to die, then so be it. Just try not to rocket past my notoriety. I have a reputation to keep up, after all.”


Attracting attention isn’t going to be hard. I doubt I need to go over why I stand out like a sore thumb here in the village, even without an eye-patch, though that does make a few more heads turn. To look away, that is, because what in the gods great name could happen if they locked eyes with a one-eyed Oni.

Now, I just have to hope I run into Keine, since I think she’d be the easiest to explain the situation to. Convincing her to duke it out with me in the middle of the village is gonna be harder, however. I doubt she’ll like the idea of raising hell inside the walls, but I need the guards’ attention as well.

“Thank you for your time.” I hear a familiar voice cut through the ambient chatter of the village. It’s familiar, though I can’t seem to put a face on it. It’s of a mature woman, judging by the tone.

“Why are we wasting our time like this?” Another voice asks, coming from the same direction. This one I most certainly recognize. “It’s obvious no one has seen it. And what are the chances it’ll just come to us?” My scar aches, just hearing her speak again.

Change of plans. I’ll have an easy excuse to engage with her.

“Its last known location was here in the human village a few days back.” The older voice explains. “Until we find another clue, we will have to be thorough. It’s one of our duties as celestials of Gensokyo.”

“You’ve already said that. But do you really think it’ll make any difference?”

I spot them. The small blue celestial and her guardian. She’s wearing different clothes, a long blue skirt with a tight floral print and a plain white shirt with puffy sleeves. She’s wearing a bow as a choker, which seems mildly unsafe.

The older woman with her would be Nagae Iku, if I’m correct. She lacks both the celestial ribbon and her trademark frilly dress. Instead she’s wearing a thick shirt with the same style of frills and a scarf. Unlike the little brat, she seems far more dressed for the weather.

“Hey.” I place my hand on the bratty angel’s shoulder.

“Yes?” She snaps at me, before even turning around.

Before she gets to face me, however, I hammer my forehead against hers, knocking her on the ground.

All the chatter in the area stops and complete silence falls on the scene.

Like I expected, she quickly picks herself back up, and oh boy if looks could kill. “What the actual fuck is your problem?”

“That’s payback for my eye.” I declare.

She stares me in the eye for a second before it dawns on her. “One eye wasn’t enough?” She smirks as she reaches for her sword hilt, hanging by her belt.

“Tenshi, we don’t have time for this.” Iku grabs the angel by her wrist. “And you. Whatever you’re trying to pull, knock it off before you get hurt.” She warns me.

I take a step back, grazing the flaming sword.

The little wannabe angel had grabbed it with her other hand and proceeded to draw the blade in a more traditional way, despite the fact it extends entirely from the hilt.

“Tenshi!” The electric angel snaps, barely missing her chance to keep a firm grasp of the young troublemaker.

“It’s a waste of time to look through the city, so you real celestials can do it if you want.” Having pulled herself free, she jumps forward a few steps to properly engage with me as I pull back further. “Meanwhile, I can teach this asshole to not mess with me again.”

“Are you going to start with that again?” Iku asks, only to find herself completely ignored.

“Non-Perception [Sword of Neither Perception nor Non-Perception].” The blue celestial declares her spell card.

“Misdirection [Shadow Step].” I declare my counter.

Bending forward and placing all my weight onto my front foot, I prepare to launch myself backwards, away from her blade. I make sure to lean slightly to the side, to hint my direction. Moments before she starts her swing, I break eye contact, looking the complete opposite way I’ve been leaning.

Rather than jumping or dodging, I let myself fall underneath her blade and roll behind her as she cuts down an afterimage.

“Shadow Step” is one of the skills that sits at the pinnacle of my abilities as a fighter. The essence of the move is to feed your opponent as much contradictorily information as possible; to overload their ability to predict your movements. This creates a bunch of blind spots as they attempt to predict everything you feed them, which in turn makes it easy to simply vanish from their sight.

By now the people that’s been watching realize this isn’t going to end peacefully, and they make the sensible choice to run for their lives, calling for the guards.

Since neither of us declared a duel, the spell barrier won’t protect them or the surroundings. So, I’d say they’re being reasonable, despite the culture of watching these fights on a regular basis.

I place my foot on her backside and give her a firm shove forward. “Where the hell were you aiming?”

She staggers but doesn’t fall. She immediately turns and glares daggers.

I start shuffling my feet, getting some footwork done and increase my short-range movement speed.

With that, I start to circle her. The distance between us means I won’t have any chance to enter her blind spot, but I’m just trying to get into a good position to drag this out.

She doesn’t seem to want to give me the chance, however, as she charges at me, thrusting her sword at me.

She telegraphed the move from a mile away, so I can’t really say I dodge it as much as I stepped aside.

While pulling her sword back, she makes a dash in, reaching for my collar with her free hand.

I take another couple of steps back, going outside her range again.

She clicks her tongue and quickly gets back into her stance.

Yeah, I can make this work.

I give her a condescending smirk and relax my stance. And by relax, I mean letting it go completely.

“Why you!” The angel lunges at me.

Clearly showing what she intends to do, dodging her is as easy as it gets.

I reach in past her attack before she has a chance to pull back and grab her by the collar of her dress. I pull her in close. “The old woman is coming. Keep moving if you want to keep fighting.”

With that said, I throw myself backwards, still holding her tightly, and as I land on the ground, I kick her upwards, sending her flying further down the road.

Oh look, there come the guards. One of which the angel collides with, ass first. That wasn’t my intention, though I have a feeling that guy won’t mind.

I immediately get on my legs and charge after her.

“Stop!” The front-most guard commands me, holding up his hand. Practicing the equivalent of trigger discipline for polearms, he’s pointing the head of his gaudy trident towards the ground.


I don’t slow down as I approach the line of guards. Instead, I proceed to stomp on the trident, just below the head, breaking it off. Continuing my motion without letting up, I grab the pole and yank it from the stunned commander before pushing him aside.

I’ve been taught how to wield the simple weapon archetypes, though I’ve never been taught how to actually use them. Nevertheless, I’m now armed with more range than just my arms.

A long sharp whistle sounds from behind me, which is quickly followed by several more.

I turn around only to see the entire line of guards blowing into a blooming rose colored bamboo flute. Within seconds, the exact same sound rings out from across the village, coming from several directions at once.

Guess that means I’ve earned their attention. I’m going to be in so much trouble once this is over.

“Get off me.” The blue angel shoves a couple guards aside, who appear to have tried restraining her. Without hesitation, she continues her assault towards me.

Giving my new skill a try, I surround the pole with a thin barrier, and move to block her strike.

The pole is cleanly separated into two smaller poles.

Guess that didn’t work.

The swordswoman grabs her blade with both hands and strikes down.

Moving purely on instinct, I move my arm in between us, and with all the power I can muster, knock her hands off to the side; parrying her attack.

If nothing else, the shock of the move stuns her as she loses her posture, leaving her wide open for a hard counter.

She clenches her teeth and braces for impact, but I take the opportunity to draw back a couple of steps.

The angel staggers backwards, barely catching herself as she apparently didn’t expect me to pass such an opportunity.

Was it a trap? Too bad, lil’ missy, but I’m here to cause a scene, not to enact revenge.

I give her a shrug before sliding further backwards, creating more distance. I can almost hear a vein pop as she tenses her whole body in pursuit.

She engages in a full-on dash, dragging her sword along with her.

Before I have a chance to react, she plants her boot square in my stomach, sending me flying with the force from her dash.

There’s enough force in her kick to make me thankful I haven’t eaten yet, because it would all come back up now anyway.

Through some miracle, I manage to stay upright and land on my feet again. A little less lucky is that I crashed with another bunch of guards.

“Fight me already, you coward!” The celestial yells out, pointing her sword at me. “Quit running away and grow some balls!”

“Make me!” I yell back.

I hold out my hands and create a barrier between us. More for show than anything, though. I then kick off the barrier to leap over the guards, who seem too stunned to grasp what’s going on, and continue drawing away from the angry angel.

“Out of my way!” With her one-track mind, she barrels through both the barrier and the line of guards, continuing her pursuit.

Yeah, this is working. I’ve riled her up enough to where she won’t give up easily. We’ve alerted the guards, to the point where there’s an active pursuit. This should give Seija plenty of time to set up her plan.

Wait, shit, she’s already closed in. Celestials are fast.

I throw myself to the side, dodging her strike. She seems to have predicted this, however, as she follows up with a spin and a kick, launching me through a wall.

The crash happened too fast for me to pick up any reliable information. The first thing I notice again, is that I’m buried under a pile of books, and that my back hurts like shit. No real damage, though.

I think I sense Akyuu on the other side of this pile. Along with two others, both human females.

“How’s that?” The celestial declares. “Still think you can ignore me?”

“What do you think you’re doing?” One of the women snaps at the angel.

My arms are too spread to be able to muster enough strength to move this pile quickly. So instead, to escape this pile, I build up energy in my core to blow away the books.

“Butt out, cow. This is between me and him.” She points her blade at me.

I release the energy, blowing the pile away, and as soon as I can move, I jump to my feet.

Without a second of hesitation, I charge past the blue woman and make my way to Tenshi.

I grab her thin waist and just barely lift her off the ground, before throwing her back down with the full force of my charge.

Wait, wasn’t that Keine? I was a little too preoccupied with getting out of there before Akyuu spotted me, so I didn’t notice. I was looking for her in the beginning, but now it could turn this whole thing sour. I might be able to turn this around, if I can get luck on my side.

I once again draw back and create some distance between me and the angel.

“What’s going on?” The teacher steps out of the building’s new doorless entrance. “You.” She looks over at me, though I ignore her. “That’s the second time you’re causing trouble already.”

“I said, butt out of this.” The little celestial jumps on her feet. “He’s mine.”

There’s a lot about that little brat I dislike, but her tenacity is admirable.

She charges at me again. This time, she drags her sword through the stone path. As she swings it up, several large rocks come flying out of the ground with it.

I quickly cast a spell to create a barrier between them and me.

Keine joins our fight by storming over and restraining the celestial’s hand, preventing her from using her sword.

On cue, another wave of the guard force shows up. This time, they seem to have brought someone important, probably their boss.

“Keine?” One of the girls from inside the shop asks. Going by her voice, I’m convinced it’s Akyuu.

“Stay back!” She shouts without turning around.

“Surround them!” The guardsman waves his hand at our group.

I’m gonna nope right out of this.

I start backing off again, which Tenshi apparently catches from the corner of her vision, as she immediately snaps to look me in the eyes.

“You’re not getting away!” She yells out.

The swordswoman tries to pursue me, but she is held back by the wereyoukai. “Not so fast.”

“Don’t try to stop me.” The swordswoman demands, pulling her arm away with the superior strength of a celestial.

With that, the angel reengages her pursuit, with the teacher following right behind.

I dig my soles into the stone path and grind to a halt. I drag my hands down into my sides where I clench them hard and prepare to counterattack.

At least that’s what I imagine my tiny pursuer sees as she once more braces for impact, being unable to react any other way.

As she gets within my range, I crash my skull into hers with enough force to knock her on the ground, which wasn’t too hard since she was way off balance. But she continues her forward motion, now sliding on her back, passing through my legs. Meanwhile I attempt to recover as quickly as possible, since that headbutt caused my consciousness to flicker.

Don’t do headbutts. It hurts like hell, and I think I might have a minor concussion.

I create a wall between me and the rapidly approaching teacher. It’s not gonna stop her, in fact I doubt she’ll notice it. Instead, I jump up and kick off the wall to jump even higher into the air.

Throwing my hand up, I use my new skill to create a box in the air and hope to Hakurei it can hold my weight, as I pull myself up.

Since I’m not crashing into the ground, it seems to work. I didn’t think this would work, to be honest. I might be able to exploit this little trick even more. Infinite wall-jumping where I just create the surfaces I need. It’s gonna kill my legs, though it could be useful in a pinch or for fun.

Quick overview. Keine is directly below me. Tenshi is down, though she’s gonna get back up any second now. The guards are here and attempting to surround us. More are approaching, judging by the flags I see moving across the other streets.

My goal was to cause chaos and draw attention towards myself. I’d say I’ve succeeded. Though I guess I was never told for how long I’d have to hold their attention.

“What’s going on?” The village guardian yells up at me.

“I got bored.” I declare, casually dismissing her urgency. “Or at least that’s what I want to say, but sadly I’m compelled to speak the truth.” I create another wider barrier to my side which I step onto, so I no longer stand directly above her. “Even here in Gensokyo, you humans are starting to forget the terror of youkai, so I saw fit to remind you.”

“Ryuko? What are you doing?” Akyuu peeks out from inside the ruined bookstore.

I ignore her and keep my eyes locked on the teacher.

“You saw fit? But you’re a human too!” She argues.

“You’re talking about this body, right?” I hit my own chest. “Yeah, I’ve borrowed his form since it seemed useful. But now there’s no use in masking my power anymore.”

I start masking my spiritual energy to match what you’d normally see on a youkai, while also releasing my valves, allowing all my excess spiritual energy to flow out freely.

Most people can, on an instinctive level, read spiritual energy. The change in both my signature and amount would effectively light me up like a Christmas tree.

From the information I have about the people gathered here, none of them should be able to read deep enough into spiritual energy to tell for sure that I’m masking my signature. So, to them, it should feel like I really am a youkai. Then again, there are unknown factors here that might be able to call my bluff.

“Convinced now?” I ask the guardian.

“What have you done with him?” She takes up a combat wide stance. Her eyes start to shine faintly like sapphires in the sun.

“Trying to read my history?” I ask her. “Sorry, but every youkai knows about you, traitor.” Folding my arms, I look down on her. “Why do you think I didn’t run away? This isn’t just some foxlike shapeshifting. Right now, my “history” is his history.”

The blue guardian just clicks her tongue as her eyes lose their shine.

I notice a small ripple at the edge of my mind and look in the direction it came from.

There it is again, that small black fox. It’s sitting on the roof of a house a couple streets over, doing nothing but looking at me. Last time it ran away when I noticed it, but now it just sits there.

It’s out of my range, but I can tell it’s not Ran. Their signatures are like night and day.

“What. Have you done. With him.” She asks again, firmly punctuating herself.

“I have claimed his body for myself, taking everything of his for myself.” I overact the clenching of my fist, adding excess drama to the statement. “At least that’s what I’d like to say, but that would be a lie. And I can’t lie while borrowing a form.” I relax and go back to a casual posture. “Last I saw him; he was bleeding out somewhere in the forest. But that was a few days ago. He’s not dead, though, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to continue using his form.”

“Then why did you attack me?” The celestial sits up. She’s apparently taken the time to cool off.

“I saw you two fight earlier. Based on how that ended, I figured I could use you to create a scene.” I extend my arms wide. “And look at this. Half the guards have shown up. The filthy traitor is here. And all the civilians are staying inside in fear.”

In one swell motion, the celestial gets off the ground and lunges at me, swinging her sword before she would reach me with it.

Instinctively, I jump backwards, reaching even higher than I should be able to.

Reaching the top of my unexpected arch, I create a new barrier underneath me, so I can stand once more.

The celestial clicks her tongue. “I’ve lost all my steam.” She points her sword at me. “I thought something was off about how you fought. If all you can do is run away, then you won’t hold a candle to him.” She sheathes her sword and turns around. “I’m leaving. Beating some copycat won’t be fun at all.” Having said that, she takes off, flying out of the village.

[] Guess I’ll take that as my cue to leave.
[] A fight with Keine should keep the guards distracted.
- [Lie] Inform her that if this body dies, then so does the “real” Ryuko.
[] Kidnapping a human would cause a lot of chaos.
- [] Akyuu.
- [] That other girl from the bookstore.

One too many distractions while writing this update. With my exams coming up, I might have to slow down a lot, at least for the next 3 to 4 weeks.
>> No. 31527
[x] Kidnapping a human would cause a lot of chaos.
-[x] Akyuu.

She deserves to know the truth, although she probably knows part of it already. Besides, a scene AND a date at the same time is just efficiency.
>> No. 31538
[x] Kidnapping a human would cause a lot of chaos.
-[x] Akyuu.
>> No. 31539
Didn't expect everything to come to a full stop, but now that my exams are over, I can resume writing.
Calling it for Akyuu
>> No. 31540
File 156259100035.jpg - (105.49KB, 800x684, a0136d08f76128b9622441e82cfc604a.jpg) [iqdb]
22nd of Planting Month, 13:50
Human Village

“Eldest daughter, wait up.” The celestial's handmaid finally catches up. She glances up at me, not saying anything before taking off, following the celestial in her retreat.

The village guardian ascends into my view, arms held out as if she’s trying to block my path. “We have you surrounded. Just surrender.”

I glance around and sure enough, even more guards have shown up. Pretty sure I see Kotohime down there too. She’s easy to spot with her long flaming hair, after all.

“So it would seem.” I comment. “Though this is closer to being a game of ‘the floor is lava’ than being surrounded. After all, I’m in the air, and I don’t see anyone but you up here with me.”

“Just come along nicely.” She repeats.

I reach into my pocket, which seem to put the guardian on edge as she summons a small shield to hide behind. No, a mirror?

I pull out a bundle of talismans. I rarely use these, but I always keep them at hand, just in case. Flipping through them, I pull one out at random, or at least that’s how I make it seem. The edges each have a unique texture, based on their purpose.

I hold it out, so she can see the talisman before I throw it straight up. A second later, it explodes, just out of reach from the two of us.

“Do I really need to say anything?” I ask her. I’m bluffing my ass off. It’s not that I’m unwilling to throw explosives into a crowd of people, it’s just that the circumstances must make that the best option. Needless to say, this isn’t the best option, but it’s a worthy bluff.

“You wouldn’t.” She states.

“For the sake of chaos, yes, I would.” I reassure her.

I send out a pulse of energy, searching through the crowd for the little chronicler. Found her. She’s outside, too.

“Better think fast!” I yell out, swinging the bundle of paper so hard the talismans fly out and scatter. For good measure, I swing it the other way too, scattering even more. None of them are activated, however, so they’re just pieces of paper.

“You!” She shouts at me before directing her attention to the crowd. “Get away! Now!”

I quickly find the fiery little woman in the crowd who stares back at me. I shake my head, hoping she’ll get the message. After all, she’s the only one here that knows the truth.

“Oh yeah, before I leave.” I point towards Akyuu, who hasn’t moved yet, and create a barrier beneath her. With a swipe of my finger, I send her flying upwards. Judging by her continued yelp, that wasn’t something she expected.

With my other hand, I create a path over to her and quickly make my way over to her, catching her as she comes back down.

Using the chaos, I make my getaway, carrying the little chronicler close to my chest to keep her secure.

I feel Keine’s sharp gaze lock onto my back for a second before she goes back to the crowd.

“Let go of me.” The little chronicler hits my arm in protest.

I ignore her and keep running, changing up my form so I skip rather than run.

“I said let go of me.” She hits me again. “Do you even know what will happen if I get spirited away?”

“Look down.” I tell her. “Think you can walk away from a fall like that unharmed? Especially with a frail body like yours.”

“Do you know the crime you’re committing?” She threatens.

“The Child of Are is protected by the 5 youkai sages. Violation is met with permanent extermination.” I recite. “I’m aware.”

“And you still dare to take me?”

“As long as you don’t thrash around, I can guarantee your safety.” I assure her.

She stops moving. Admittedly, a stupid move considering your chance of survival when kidnapped drops by fifty percent when you arrive at the destination. Nevertheless, I’m glad she trusts me enough for now, since for all she knows, I’m not Ryuko.

I feel a wet drip on my face, quickly followed by another. Rain? But the sky is clear. The weather is not right for a sun shower either.

Slowing down a bit, I look back, only to see nothing. An empty field stretching as far as the eye can see. I know I’m fast, but this is ridiculous. I should have barely cleared the outer wall for the village

An illusion. The density of mana in the air is higher than it should be. It’s probably that fox.

I come to a halt and lower myself so Akyuu can get down.

“Are you not afraid I’m going to run away?” She asks, taking a few steps away to create some space.

“Where would you run?” I spread out my arms, gesturing to the empty landscape surrounding us. “Besides, I’m fairly certain I can run faster than you.”

“So? You’ve kidnapped me. What’s next?” The little chronicler folds her arms.

“Now?” I create a pair of small barriers as makeshift seats. “Now I’m gonna swallow my pride and apologize.” I sit down, gesturing for her to take a seat as well. “Right after I got injured,” I tap my eyepatch, “I ran away. I don’t understand why, myself, so I can’t explain it.”

Her expression loosens and the slight frown she’d put on disappears.

“Short version.” I continue. “Yukari, who’s opted to teach me, decided that it was a good time to start training. I was actually on my way in to see you yesterday, when this whole incident started.”

“Ryuko.” She states.


“Come down here for a second.” She beckons me.

I lean forward so we’re closer to the same height.

Without a shred of hesitation, she slaps me across the face.

It doesn’t hurt, I’ve had much worse, but the message got through.

“Do you know why you deserved that?” She starts rubbing the palm that hit me.


“I know we’ve barely had any time to get to know each other, but just being left like that hurts.” She finally takes her seat. “Despite how I look, I’m quite old. I’ve long since learned to recognize personality types. I don’t know you, but I know your type. I trust you, Ryuko. And I would like it if you could trust me.”

“What’s with the sudden heart-to-heart?” I ask her. “For all you know, I’m just some terrifying youkai pretending to be this guy.”

“No. You show too many small signs to be a copy.” She says. “Remember, I can’t forget anything, even if I wanted to.”

I let out a chuckle. “And here I was gonna say how flattered I am for you remembering so much, apparently.” I sigh. “If you want some trust, then let me tell you that I’m helping a branch of the guards with a youkai. I’m currently undercover to gain her trust. That stunt back there,” I point back to where the village should be, “that was solely to gain her trust. No one, except maybe Hinanawi got hurt.”

“Then why kidnap me?” She asks. “Like I said, I’m protected by the youkai sages. Kidnapping me would jeopardize you and by extension them.”

“If nothing else, I owed you an explanation after I just disappeared like that.” I explain. “If you hadn’t seen me today, I’d probably just have gone back.”

“This is actually a big relief.” She leans back, supporting herself with her arms. “I actually feared Miss Hinanawi had come back to get revenge.”

“I’m pretty sure that’d have been the end of me, if she had.” I remark.

Someone’s here. A youkai, kitsune, a powerful one at that, though I don’t sense any hostility.

“Kuro.” Akyuu stands up.

I look at the newcomer and it turns out to be that same fox from earlier. Black fur with white paws and a white tipped tail. It only has two tails though, which is strange seeing as the power it emits rivals that of a nine-tailed fox.

“Is this your first time meeting her?” Akyuu asks. “That’s Kuro, the other guardian of the village. Though unlike Keine, people treat her nicely, thanks to her black fur.”

Black furred foxes are rumored to bring good luck. They’re generally treated like lesser gods, rather than the youkai they are.

“So that’s why she’s been keeping an eye on me.” I stand up. “I’m guessing you created this sun shower as well?” It doesn’t answer. Instead it just keeps looking up at me. “Well, since you’re here, could you take Akyuu back to the village? That should be enough to cover my tracks.”

The little fox flicks its tail, looking at Akyuu who walks over to the furry little creature.

“Oh, and Akyuu.” I stop them before they leave this little sun shower. “I most likely won’t be able to go back into the village.”

“Wait. Why?” She turns back to face me.

“Back there, I proclaimed myself as a shapeshifting youkai in an attempt to cover my own ass.” I explain. “In retrospect, I probably just banished myself since they have no way of knowing if I am who I claim to be anymore.”

She furrows her brow for second, losing herself in thought before answering. “Yeah. Yeah, I guess that would be true.” Her eyes dart over the ground, looking for something to focus on as she thinks. Finally, she looks me in the eyes. “You’re still going to be in Gensokyo, right?”

“I may have to leave once in a while to do my job.” I explain. “But yeah, I think Gensokyo is where I’ll be living while I train.”

“Right.” She puts on a confident smile. “Then we’ll see each other again, I promise.” She turns to the furry little guardian. “Let’s go, I’m ready.”

I stay and watch as they leave, taking the rain with them. Once outside the illusion spell I see them disappear in front of me as the village appears in the background.

22nd of Planting Month, 17:05

“I don’t know what you did, but it worked.” The demoness declares as soon as she walks into the cave. “Things went flawlessly.”

“What did you do?” I ask.

“You’re gonna hear any minute now.” She says with the biggest grin I’ve ever seen.

She looks towards the village, prompting me to watch with her. So I get up and walk over to the entrance and follow her gaze to the village.

10 seconds pass.

20 seconds pass.

40 seconds pass.

80 seconds pass.

And that’s when it happens. I see it before I hear it. A big cloud of fire erupts from the village, quickly dying down into pure black smoke. Then the sound hits.

And explosion. She planted explosives in the village.

[] That’s it. She crossed the line. Attack her.
[] Calm myself. Now is not the time to attack.

Been delayed for too long, and any explanation would just come off as an excuse.
>> No. 31541
[x] That’s it. She crossed the line. Attack her.
I'm impulsive.
>> No. 31542
[x] Calm myself. Now is not the time to attack.
-[x] Now's the time to see what happened, who's hurt and how you can help under the guise of 'enjoying the show'
>> No. 31543
[x] Calm myself. Now is not the time to attack.
>> No. 31549
Calling it for wait and see
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