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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.
Expand all images
>> No. 30952
Okay, so maybe "Exorcist" is not one of the jobs where we should implement the "Bring your kid to work" day
>> No. 30979
File 14865804071.png - (2.46MB, 1600x1200, 411cbe726c901ca883cd9991e47ed0f2.png) [iqdb]
30979
==========
Odake Spring, Hinohara - 16:59
==========

“Renko!” I storm through the water.

She’s gone. She’s really gone.

“Fucking idiot!” I scream out as I strike the stone wall.

Think fast. What should I do? She’s been sucked into Gensokyo. Should I attempt to pull her back by force? No, the barrier would resist, and she could get seriously hurt. Should I pursue? But I’d have to get back to the shrine first. Once inside I’d have to track her. She could be anywhere.

“Fuck!” I punch the wall again.

Wait a second. What’s this?

I pick up a white ribbon from the ground.

This is the one Renko wore her ponytail in.

That’s it.

Wasting no time, I dash straight through the spring, towards my bag. Unzipping one of the side pockets, I pull out my grimoire.

It immediately responds to my thoughts and flies open, flicking page through page until it reaches two blanks.

I place the ribbon in the book, and the pages start filling themselves out, forming the spell on its own.

Since she’s been wearing this ribbon, it should be imbued with enough of her spiritual energy to serve as a medium to track her. And if luck is on my side, it’ll also be imbued with enough mana to open a one-way gate to follow her tracks.

The grimoire shuts itself tight, signaling the completion of the spell.

Without any other warning, the ground beneath me disappears along with the surroundings.


==========
???
==========

God dammit, that hurt.

I peel myself off the ground and sit up.

My body aches, clearly telling me it’s hurt, though it doesn’t appear to anything more than some bruises. Now, where am I?

I take a quick look around, and the first thing that springs to my attention is a short trail in the ground, leading up to my crash site. Next would be the fact I ran through a couple of flowerbeds, which is unfortunate.

Looking past my crash, I notice a rather big western looking mansion, colored in a dark shade of crimson.

The Scarlet Devil Mansion?

I take another look around.

No. This is a hill, not an island. That mansion is in the middle of a lake, this one clearly isn’t. Was there another western mansion in Gensokyo? There should be one at the sunflower hill, but I don’t see any sunflowers around here, and I really hope I’m right on this, 'cause Kazami is not someone I want to fight.

But all that aside, I don’t see any trails that could lead to Renko. I could try asking whoever is in the mansion, but considering it’s already twilight, I doubt they’ll answer the door but it’s still worth a try.

And just as I’m considering knocking, the front door swings open. A long haired blonde woman steps out. She quickly spots me, and without closing the door behind her, she approaches.

“Seems like quite the mess you’ve made here.” She says with a snarky tone as soon as she’s within reasonable earshot. There’s some clear annoyance behind her golden eyes, even if her expression manages to hide that fact almost perfectly.

“Sorry about that.” I tell her as I stand up. “Didn’t have much control on my way down.”

She looks up at me, studying my face for a second before changing topic. “You’re not from around here, are you?”

“What gave it away?” I ask rhetorically.

“Well for one thing, your eyes.” She answers. “Amber eyes are unique to a select few of Lady Shinki’s creations and a handful of outsiders.” She folds her arms and put on a confident smile. “And since you can’t be the former, as I’ve never seen you before, you have to be the latter.”

Amber eyes? Well I did just use magic, so naturally the enchantment on my eyes would vanish.

“That aside,” I change the topic this time, “I’m looking for a brown haired girl, about this high.” I hold up my hand. “Have you seen her?”

“As a matter of fact, yes. She arrived just a few minutes ago.” The woman takes off the rag covering her hair, and stores it in her apron’s pocket. “Follow me, if you’d be so inclined.”

The inside of the manor looks almost exactly like I expected. Checkered marble floor, a paler red than the outside walls as wallpaper. The only thing missing is, the unnecessarily large chandelier hanging in front of the staircase. How useful are those anyway? How much light does a chandelier even give off? Or are they just there to flaunt your ego in the face of every visitor?

Anyway, she leads me up the stairs to the second floor, which looks the same as the first, except it has a wooden floor covered entirely by a largely orangey or coral colored carpet. The pattern on the carpet is abstract, to put it lightly. It manages to give off the illusion that it doesn’t repeat as well. Either that or someone went all out making it.

“Through this door.” My guide opens a set of double doors. “This will be a bit of a shortcut. I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to get back to gardening soon.”

“That’s fine by me.” I assure her.

She closes the door behind us and leads the way through the room.

The room we’re skipping through appears to be a miniature gallery. There’s a few that catches my attention on our way through.

One of them depicts a small village in what seems like an everyday scenario. The view of the village is from up high looking down, allowing the viewer to see the village in its entirety. The people of the village are, from the distance in the image, nothing more than small unidentifiable shadows, yet the artist managed to make them feel alive and moving.

Another shows a small child skating across an icy lake. There’s nothing remarkable about the child as they have their backs turned to the viewer. The painting feels more like it’s trying to catch the scene as a whole. It’s color scheme is what makes it stand out, as it’s almost entirely white a blue.

The last one is a family portrait, or what looks like one anyway. A woman with long silvery hair and a scarlet dress sits in a chair, with a young blonde girl in her lap, in a blue dress. Next to them on the opposite side of the image, stands a blonde maid clad in red. The painting stands out in the sense that it’s the only one where that maid appears.

After exiting the room, my guide takes me just a short distance down another hall before stopping in front of a large set of doors. She knocks loudly on the wooden door, making it echo in the otherwise tranquil hallway.

“Lady Shinki. It appears another outsider has showed up.” She calls out, without waiting for an answer.

“Another one?” A female voice from the other side responds. “Let them inside.”

Following the instruction, the maid pulls open the door.

Immediately I sense a familiar presence flooding out of the door, stronger than I’ve ever felt before. A sense of divinity that would make kami pale in comparison.

Fighting my innate instinct to escape this overwhelming presence, I step through the door.

The room itself gives off a relaxed office like feeling. There’s a desk in the back with the window, and a small table in the middle of the room with two couches at either end of it.

In one of which sits the source of this staggering power. A woman clad in a red robe and long pearly hair, some of which is tied in a ponytail on her side.

In the other couch sits the brunette I came for, safe and sound, though with an understandable look of confusion plastered all over her face.

There’s a part of me that really wants to slug her one while yelling ‘what did I tell you,’ but if she doesn’t remember how she got here, then that would just be useless violence and not teach her anything.

“I’ve come to get you, Renko.” I tell her instead.

“Do I know you?” She predictably responds.

“Yes, in a way.” I tell her. Saying we’re strangers would be a lie, but saying we know each other is equally false at this point.

“And who do I have the pleasure of meeting?” The other woman in the room asks.

“Pardon me, I just panicked slightly when I found out she was gone.” I explain. “My name is Ryuko. I’m a priest of the Hakurei Shrine.”

“Hakurei?” She mulls. “It’s been ages since I last heard that name.” She stands up and gives me a slight bow. “My name is Shinki. I’m the goddess and creator of this world, Makai.”

A goddess? That would explain this pressure. But ‘Makai’ and ‘Shinki’ both ring a bell. Not quite sure why, though.

“It’s an honor to meet you.” I tell her.

“No need to be formal.” She waves off my gesture. “More importantly, you're here to rescue your girlfriend, right?”

“She’s not my girlfriend.” I correct her.

“You aren’t?” She looks to a small crystal ball seated on the table. “Oh, I get it.”

“Then if you don’t mind, I’ll be taking her.” I ignore her little comment and get back on track. I glance over at Renko as I say it.

The girl is so much, how do I put it, smaller than usual. Not in her actual size, of course, but more like she’s become extremely timid. She’s even only said one thing since I entered. I’ve only seen her a handful of times, but every one of those times, she had a fire burning in her eyes as she carried herself with respect.

“Before you go.” The goddess stops me. “Would you be interested in getting her memories back?”

“I’m listening.” I tell her.

“Hm? Oh, no no, I’m not trying to strike a deal.” She dismisses the idea flustered, after reading my face. “I just wanted to know what I should do with them.”

“Well, ideally I’d like to get them back, but I had already resigned the idea that it would be possible.” I tell her.

“In that case.” The tiny goddess hands me the crystal ball. “I happened to pick them up just before she arrived. Since I didn’t know what to do with them, I stored them in there.”

I take a look at the ball, but all I see is clouds. My, a stunning imagination Renko has.

“Can’t you just give them back to her?” I ask.

“Sadly, that’s beyond my power.” She admits. “Gods aren’t omnipotent like most would like to believe.”

“I’m aware.” I tell her. “What if I knew someone who could implant them again?” I ask her. “How would we extract them from this ball them?”

“You know someone like that?” Her eyes widen a bit.

“I don’t know if he actually can implant them,” I admit, “but he would have the best chance out of everyone I know.”

“In that case I can just go with you and take them out when needed.” She suggests.

“Can you do that?” I ask. “I mean, as in just leave on a whim?”

“Of course I can. It’s not like the world will end just because I take a short break.” She waves off my concern like it’s nothing. “Besides, I can’t just abandon a cute little girl like this if I know I can help. I may be a demon goddess, but I’m not heartless.”

“If you’re sure, then I’ll be indebted to you for helping us.” I bow to her.

“It’s nothing to be so thankful over.” She once again dismisses my gesture. “I’ll just need to know where it is, and I can take us there instantly.”

“I can tell you where it is, but-”

“There’s no need.” She interrupts me. “If you’ll allow me to look through your memories, then I can take us directly there.”

“I’m okay with that as long as you don’t go digging through random memories.” I tell her.

“What? Got a naughty secret?” She covers her mouth in a childish gesture to hide her smirking laugh. Needless to say, it fails.

“Not a naughty one, no. Just a little private one.” I tell her, playing along.

“Oh my. Then I’ll make sure to stay out of that one.” She stands up and walks over to me. “This is going to sting slightly.” She says as she holds my head in her hands.

As she said, I feel a sting pierce up through my skull. The pain, however, quickly subsides as my mind becomes occupied with searching for memories.

A strange feeling of nostalgia washes over me as images of the shrine surfaces. Countless images of the time I’ve spent in the backyard honing my skills. Countless more images on the time I’ve spent in Doc’s office recovering after breaking my limit too hard. Memories about how we always had to fix the roof during rainy seasons because we forgot to do it earlier. Memories of helping with the construction of new buildings as new youkai moved in with us.

Even though it’s only been a few hours, I find myself missing the shrine more than I have been before.

“Alright I have it.” The goddess confirms. “It’ll just take a second to open a gate there.”

“Thanks.” I rub my jaw. The pain is gone, but it’s left a tingling sensation echoing through my head.

“Are you ready to get back home?” I extend my hand to my apprentice.

“I don’t know.” She answers. “I’m not really sure about anything right now.”

“It’ll be alright. Trust me.”

“Alright you two, the gate is ready.” Shinki informs us.

After a moment of hesitation, Renko finally takes my hand and I pull her up.

The gate Shinki created is a misty cloud with a handful of colors towards the middle. Far from impressive to look at, but going through it feels entirely different than traversing any other portal I’ve tried. Mainly in the fact I don’t feel anything at all; it’s completely seamless.

“This seems like a cozy little place.” The goddess comments.

“It is, though it gets cold in winter.” I respond. “We get snow here almost every winter.”

I knock on the door to Doc’s building as I call out to him.

“Kid?” It barely takes a second before he responds, and only just a few more after that before the door flies open. “Where the hell have you been?”

“I told you I was going out to train that girl, this morning.” I tell him.

“That was weeks ago!” He runs both hands through his hair. “At least answer your phone, would you?”

“But I left this morning.” I insist. “Just a few hours ago.”

“What are you talking about?” He asks back, looking equally as confused as I feel right now.

“Time flows differently in Makai.” The goddess joins our conversation. “A few minutes there could be hours here. Sometimes more, sometimes less.”

Doc looks past me. “Sorry, didn’t see you. Anyway,” he looks back at me, “Go to Tokyo this instant. We found an unusually large breach that’s about to open.”

“Tokyo? It’ll take five hours to reach Tokyo from here.”

“Then get moving. You can’t waste any time.”

Fuck. Today just isn’t my day.

I pull out the crystal sphere and drop it in Doc’s hand. “I’ll have to ask you to implant the memories from inside this into the young girl.” I tell him.

The fox glances at Renko before answering. “That’s one hell of a request you just made.”

“I know.” I tell him. “And I also know you’re the only one who might have a chance to actually do it.”

“I would have tried, even without the flatter.” He gives me his usual confident smirk. “Now get moving, kid. Time is of the essence.”

“Right. Shinki will explain the situation in greater detail.” I tell him before bolting off.


==========
In the heart of Tokyo, Tokyo Prefecture - 19th of April 18:30
==========

It’s at times like this where I’m really glad I’m as massive as I am. The crowd, as they scream and flee as fast as their legs will carry them, they naturally avoids me as I run against the flow.

Though I don’t get to enjoy that privilege for long, as the youkai they’re all running from storms around the corner, barely slowing down enough to make the turn before making a beeline straight for me, ignoring the citizens between us completely.

For once, even my unique spiritual energy becomes useful.

As I charge it, I channel a spell down through my leg, and in the split second it’s on the ground I activate it.

An azure pillar rises from the ground, hitting the giant wolf-like beast in jaw with enough force to knock it into its hind legs.

- Weight - Feather -

I enchant my body, allowing myself to leap through the air, closing the distance to the beast in the blink of an eye.

- Weight - Iron -

- Strength -

I quickly cast two new enchantments, overwriting the previous one.

With the added weight, I crash into the beast’s throat knocking it on it’s back.

Not wasting a second, I pull out a talisman and with the added power of the enchantments, I ram my hand through its throat.

“With the power bestowed to me, I purge you.” I pull out my hand, leaving the talisman behind. “Begone.”

The beast starts shining beneath my feet, right before it turns to mist and vanishes.

I'd like to leave it a prayer before I charge ahead, to let it's soul rest, but I don't have time to stop.

As I arrive at the scene, I notice a small group of 7 standing next to the big hole in reality. Seems like they’re the Watchers of the surrounding areas. This is more serious than I imagined, if they’re all here.

As I get close, the redheaded mage from Kanagawa notices me. She interrupts their conversation to inform them of my presence.

“If he’s here, then I’d say we can confirm what this is.” The only middle aged woman of the group speaks up. Oh great, little Miss Sunshine is back.

“Yeah. That thing is from the Barrier.” I confirm. “What’s the status so far?” I ask.

“A couple dozen youkai passed about twenty minutes ago. We’ve disposed of the strongest already, to prevent mass slaughter.” The swordsman from Tochigi informs me.

“We’ve confirmed twelve deaths already.” The monk from Ibaraki follows up.

Shit. So many already? No, twelve deaths with over a dozen youkai is a small number, but it’s still too many.

“This is your field.” The redhead reminds me. “What are we supposed to do?”

What do we do?

What do I do?

I need to seal up this breach. I need to take care of the youkai who made it here. And I need to prevent further civilian casualties.


What’s our top priority?
-[] The safety of the civilians. Casualties are inevitable but we should minimize them.
-[] The youkai. The sooner we get rid of them, the better.
-[] The breach. Who knows what’ll happen if that doesn’t get fixed fast.


In retrospect, opening this thread with a no-vote update might not have been the best idea, but oh well.
Also, slight delay because of scheduling problems with my proofer. Votes still open for a week like usual.
>> No. 30980
[x] The breach. Who knows what’ll happen if that doesn’t get fixed fast.

That is our strong point after all.
>> No. 30981
-[X] The safety of the civilians. Casualties are inevitable but we should minimize them.
>> No. 30982
File 148664399798.png - (803.45KB, 909x1056, suddenly.png) [iqdb]
30982
[x] The breach. Who knows what’ll happen if that doesn’t get fixed fast.

Now that was unexpected. Will we be seeing more of pic related?
>> No. 30983
[X] The breach. Who knows what’ll happen if that doesn’t get fixed fast.
>> No. 30984
-[X] The safety of the civilians. Casualties are inevitable but we should minimize them.

cool dudes save everyone

besides, we need a cool story to seduce reimu when we get back across the border
>> No. 30985
[X] The breach. Who knows what’ll happen if that doesn’t get fixed fast.

Fixing it before it becomes unfixable seems like the best priority.
>> No. 30986
Fixing the breach, it is.

>>30982
Depends on how well you behave. Shinki doesn't like bad boys.
Though she already has a lover, so don't get your hopes up.

>>30984
It's gonna be a little harder to seduce the miko with this story, but that doesn't mean you still can't try.
>> No. 30987
>>30986

That's not why I asked, so good. The less waifu shit the better.
>> No. 30988
>>30986
the real secret is that I don't care about successfully seducing the miko, I just want to see her reaction
>> No. 30999
File 148908558740.png - (601.05KB, 700x600, ba6c835c4c95c41b3b016bd5e1c6c829.png) [iqdb]
30999
I had worked to get the update out this weekend, forgetting that my proofer was going to PAX, so I'm going to have to delay the update.
Thank you for your patience.
>> No. 31004
File 149005236766.jpg - (1.24MB, 1003x1416, Shafting.jpg) [iqdb]
31004
==========
In the heart of Tokyo, Tokyo Prefecture - 19th of April 18:43
==========

“Take out the youkai. I don’t care how, but don’t let another civilian die.” I order them. “I’ll stay behind and fix this breach. We’ll rendezvous at the usual meeting spot.”

“So you’re going to shove the dirty work onto us?” Little Miss Sunshine decides to complain.

“If you can create a barrier strong enough to contain an inter-dimensional rift of this size, then by all means, be my guest.” I hold out my arm, showing off the massive breach that’s growing by the second. “No? In that case stop complaining and start moving your ass, granny.”

The Korean woman glares daggers at me, but ultimately doesn’t say anything and instead follow the rest who has already sat out.

I hate that woman, I really do. Paladin my ass. She’s just a virtue-signaling hypocrite. If it wasn’t because of her actual skills, I wouldn’t tolerate her for even a second.

Anyway, better get started on this barrier. I only have one type of barrier that can contain this.

I let my jacket drop from my shoulders and onto the ground before I unwrap the bandages on my arm with my teeth.

God, I really hate doing this.

Refusing to hesitate, I bite into my arm with as much force as I can muster, until the all too familiar taste of iron fill my mouth. I then drag my teeth up along the arm, ripping open the wound even more and letting the blood gush out.

It only takes a moment for it to cover my hand completely, but I wait a couple of seconds more to let it pool up at my feet.

I hold up my hand flat in front of me as I start my chant.

I envision the base form of the barrier surrounding the breach. The eight corners shooting up from the ground, enclosing the breach in a crystal-like shape, forming the skeleton, with hundreds upon hundreds of small threads weaving in between each other as they climb up the pillars, forming a honeycomb pattern, which each gets filled with a glassy surface.

Beneath me, the pool of blood I made, has formed a magic circle, too complex to be described in a single sentence. I pour as much of my spiritual energy into the circle as it’ll take at once.

As I finish my chant, the bloody circle beneath my feet disappears and only moments later do crimson pillars shoot out of the ground surrounding the breach as the barrier takes shape.

In mere seconds the crimson has barrier been erected completely.

If you consider the fact that not even five humans from around the world can even make this type of barrier, you’d think I’d be more proud of creating it, but honestly, this one isn’t one of my better works. The structure is simply but study, and I gave it enough power to last enough time for the breach to get fixed, so it’ll work. But it was brute forced.

It lacks any and all of the delicate traits that make up a proper barrier, such as structural reuse, to increase the energy efficiency, or a bi-weave pattern feeding into itself, increasing the power without additional energy costs.

This time, I’ll swallow my pride and accept it as it is. It’ll work after all, and that’s the most important thing right now.

I take a look at my arm. The bleeding has stopped, and the wound is already healing. It’s at times like this where I have to question my own humanity. After all, a wound like this would have killed any other human if not treated quickly. But I’m just left with a serious, though not lethal case of anemia.

I send out a large pulse of energy to try and get a rough idea of how far away the youkai are. I can’t move quickly with only this much blood, so I wouldn’t be able to catch up if they’re too far away.

And while the image I get of the city is very fuzzy, I can say for certain that they are indeed too far away. I’ll be better off if I move to the rendezvous point.

==========

“Don’t you dare blame this on me.”

I grab the paladin by her collar and pin her to the wall behind her. The other guys immediately grab ahold of me to restrain me.

“Who else could it be?” She glares down at me. “You’re the only one here who has even the smallest amount of control over that thing.”

“I swear to god, I’m getting fed up with your constant shit.” I force myself forward despite the guys trying to hold me back. I switch my grip from her collar to her throat.

“Konoha. No!” Haruhi, the half-kappa, yells out, though with his head buried in my stomachs as he tries to force me back, it comes out mostly muffled.

“Let her go.” Akane commands. Her words are accompanied by the distinct click of her mana pistol. Uncomfortably close to the back of my head, no less. “We can’t afford to lose both of you right now, so don’t force me to pull the trigger.”

“Tsk.” I release my grip on her and she falls to the ground.

Why the hell would she even suggest I opened the breach? For what? More power? Certainly, there’s a lot of things I want, but nothing that even comes close to warrant killing someone, especially not children. She’s fucking insane.

“Forget about it.” The monk from Ibaraki speaks up. “That’s in the past. Instead let’s focus on what’s ahead. For starters, what are we supposed to do now? Thanks to this incident, way too many people became aware of the existence of magic.”

“It’d be for the best if we just prepare for the worst possible outcome.” The redheaded girl suggests. “We can only hope from there.”

“Perhaps I can help with that.” A voice echoes over the roof, a voice I recognize immediately. And sure enough, only moments later do an enormous amount of energy start flooding the area.

All of the guys immediately tense up as the sage makes her appearance.

“Yukari? What are you doing here?” I ask.

“That one should be obvious.” She comments.

And she’s right. Obviously she’s here because of the breach. This one was simply too big for her to ignore.

This blood loss is really getting to me. It’s hard to think straight.

The sage gets out of her gap and walk down an invisible flight of stairs so she’s on the same level as the rest of us.

“It’ll be a problem for Gensokyo if the supernatural became the normal out here. For that reason, I offer to take care of the problem.” She taps the tip of her parasol on the ground. “However, I’m going to need compensation for the youkai that were killed. I’ll settle for a handful of humans.”

None of the other Watchers move. They’re either seemingly stunned by her presence, to which I can’t blame them, or considering her offer.

For people who have never considered youkai to be real, even in a stray throwaway thought, suddenly being thrown into a world of magic would, in theory, generate a large amount of fear and faith at the same time, as their fundamental worldview is shattered. Assuming that to be true, a number of youkai would be born within weeks, easily replacing the ones we were forced to dispose of. It would indeed be the most effective way.

“No way in hell I can accept that!” The swordsman from Tochigi prefecture yells out.

Imbuing his hand with magic, he attempts a quick-draw as he steps in past the other guys.

Almost without thinking, I raise a barrier between him and the sage, causing his sword to stop as it cuts part way through.

“Attacking her means declaring war on the Hakurei Shrine.” I inform him. “We’ll ignore it this time, but if you, or anyone else, feel like trying, then I have some pent up aggression to vent.”

“Are you just going to let her take away innocent people?” He asks.

“Yes, I am.” I confirm. “It’s the most effective way to recover the youkai that were killed. There are of course more effective solutions, but they tend to involve a lot of bloodshed.”

“Indeed. I can even promise them the same safety all the humans in Gensokyo have.” Yukari chips in.

“And why aren’t any of you saying anything? Are you all just going to stand by and let it happen?” He asks the rest the of group.

“I hate to agree with the burly girl,” the paladin points her thumb at me, “but I’m with him on this one. If magic becomes common knowledge, it’ll be turned into a weapon, which will most likely spark a new war. This way saves the most people.”

“I agree. It might not be Japan that starts it, but there are plenty of war mongers in power that would abuse magic for their own benefit.” The monk adds his opinion.

“Seems we’re in agreement, then.” Yukari speaks up again. “Only people who already knew of magic will remember this incident. Everyone else will think of it as nothing more than a ‘what if’ scenario. Furthermore, I’ll erase all the evidence.” She informs us.

The spellsword just clicks his tongue and accepts the outcome.

I’d like to have avoided this whole incident all together, but sadly this is par for the course.

“Now then, ‘Konoha,’” she looks back at me, “if you would like to come with me so we can finish our business.” She opens a gap behind her and invites me inside.


==========
Hakurei Shrine - 19:03
==========

I pull my head back out of the chilled water.

The best course of action right now would be to eat a lot of meat and go to bed. Even with my natural healing, it wouldn’t get me back to hundred percent, but it’d take me far enough to not make my low blood an issue. But I can’t do that since The Great Sage of Gensokyo is here, and I still have to check up on Renko. So, some cold water is the next best thing to keep me going for at least a few more minutes.

I shake my head to get the worst of the water off and run a hand through my hair to get it out of my face. “Sorry you had to see that.” I apologize to the sage.

She shakes her head. “Don’t worry about it. Even hemokinesis users would feel lightheaded after creating a barrier like that.” She assuages me. “Though I doubt even a few of them could even succeed in creating one.”

“To be honest, that’s the third time I’ve ever tried it.” I lean against the chozubachi. “I rarely need that much power. Not to mention the side effects; strong urges to vomit, every part of my body feels weak and I get tired. I can barely see straight ahead, and when I somehow manages to, all these dark spots cloud my vision. I absolutely hate it.”

“Understandable.” The sage takes a seat on the edge of the big stone bowl. “Still, that doesn’t undermine the feat itself.”

“I appreciate the praise.” I look her in the eyes. For a second I forget what I was going to say, as I notice the unusual effect in her eyes. The very edges of her iris have a gold lining, while the center of it has a slightly swirly lavender shade. “But as I said, I’m feeling like shit right now, pardon my french, so if we could get to the point.”

“Of course. I don’t want to overstay my welcome.” She agrees. “I’ve come to offer you a place under my wing, once again.”

“I don’t know, actually.” I tell her. “I still have work to do out here. You saw what happened when I went away for just a few weeks.”

“Mm.” The blonde sage hums in agreement. “We already planned for you to be let back out here whenever you felt it was needed, in regards to your physical training. Seems like we’ll just have to go out here a little more often.”

“And how often can I return?” I ask her.

“Depends.” She gives me the short answer before elaborating on it. “Of course you’ll be let out once there’s a job to be done, after which you can determine when you’ll come back again, within reasonable time of course. Beyond that, you just have to ask. I can’t let you out too often, though, as that would strain my power.”

“I see.” I rest my head on my hand as I do some quick estimate regarding Renko’s training. I’m sure Yukari already knows, but I’d like to avoid the topic just to be sure. “Once every other week should be good for me. That’s including the times I need to go do my job.” I tell her.

She folds her arms loosely at her stomach, leaving her parasol somehow standing on it’s own. “That much is easy enough. Anything else you would consider a hindrance or inconvenience?”

“Not that I can think of, at least.” I answer. “Though, I have to wonder why you’re willing to train me.”

“Oh there are lots of reasons.” She perks up slightly. “Mainly because your the closest thing to a Hakurei on this side of the barrier, so as the Gensokyo Sage of course I’d be interested in helping you reach your potential.” The youkai explains. “But that said, I’m also curious as to just how far your potential goes. Your underlying principles have some flaws that hinder you, yet despite that you’ve reached your current level.”

I thought I’d already reached my full potential. I can’t change any of my physical aspects without compensating with another. And the only type of magic I can use is spiritual based techniques, by which no other human can rival me in.

How much further can I go? How much further do I want to go? My end goal is simply to be useful to the shrine any way I can. But the people around my level are few and far between. If I improve, there will only be less who can fight me at my best. Yet, as a warrior, that should be my ideal, to be undefeatable.

Maybe I’m thinking about this too much? I want to be useful to the shrine. That’s the end all be all. I made my mind up on that long ago, and I don’t intend to falter now.

But still, this offer sounds too good. I honestly don’t know a lot of things about not. Not concrete anyway. Mentor always held her in high regard, but she’s also been on the receiving end of some quite disturbing rumors.

[] Accept her offer
[] Reject her offer


And just in case you’re concerned, no, you will not immediately get whisked away if you accept. There’s still the matter of Renko to take care of first.
>> No. 31005
Wait, what? This is his ceiling?

Don't take me wrong: he's strong for a MC. But almost all of his missions went off course and some, like this one, were solved exclusively due to luck. It is obvious he needs to exceed his limits to be, ah, useful to the shrine.

[x] Accept

As for Renko: teaching her a few basic steps and then have her practice them for two weeks sounds good; specially if she invests some of that time on physical training.
>> No. 31006
[X] Reject her offer
>> No. 31007
[X] Reject her offer
- [X] For now. Right now your mind is deluded with blood loss, give it a better once over when you aren't getting ready to vomit or seeing stars.
>> No. 31008
>>31005
>This is his ceiling?

Short answer: No.

I can't explain it without spoiling stuff, or info dumping outside the story. Neither of which I'd want to do.

But essentially, she's talking about his magic. On a physical level, Ryuko hasn't shown his ceiling yet. But on a magic level, Ryuko has limited himself barriers and enchantments. And while it means he's on a very high level with those two schools, means he's ignored a lot of other spells, which he already fulfill the 'stats' for (for lack of a better word) and just need some training to get used to.
>> No. 31009
[X] Accept her offer

While she is not exactly trustworthy, he could certainly improve with her help.
>> No. 31010
[X] Accept her offer

I don't see a good enough reason to say no
>> No. 31011
Calling it for accepting the offer.
Welcome to the Yakumo family.
>> No. 31021
File 149483275839.jpg - (484.00KB, 600x839, Something something metaphor for my stuggles or so.jpg) [iqdb]
31021
I've decided to delay this update until the next month (aiming for first Sunday of every month.)
In short, my proofer has been getting busy since early this year, and this time he won't be available until this weekend.
The update itself has been ready since 5th, so instead of waiting any longer, we figured it was best to delay it until next month where he hopefully should have time, while I can continue to work on the story instead of keeping it in limbo while I wait.

Thank you for your patience.
>> No. 31033
File 149718975595.jpg - (325.96KB, 904x1200, cabf447b515be2a359c4d32cc91c4d28.jpg) [iqdb]
31033
==========
Hakurei Shrine - 19th of April, 19:15
==========

One of the many skills that I have acquired throughout all these years of brutal training, is to let my instincts do the thinking whenever my mind can’t keep up. And right now, when my mind has all but succumb to the enticing grasp of sleep, my guts have started to voice their opinion, and it’s telling me to accept her offer. I can’t tell if it’s my instinct as a warrior telling me to stand at the top, or my simple instinct to be as useful as I can to the shrine.

Not that that’s such a bad idea. I mean, if I stand as unbeatable, the shrine is bound to prosper. Or become a target by those seeking to take my spot at the top, if they can even find this place. It’s rather well hidden, everything considered.

“Then let’s see just how far I can go.” I tell her. “Show me the way to the top.”

The sage closes her eyes and smiles.

Doc, too, has taught me a lot of things throughout the years. Aside from introducing me to magic in the first place, he also passed on the knowledge every fox needs to know. Now, I don’t have the natural charisma a fox does, but I am equally able to read people.

Why is this relevant? Because right now the sage has one of the most genuine smiles I’ve ever seen. So far she’s just been wearing that formal smile you can expect of nobles. But this one is different, even if she still carries herself with that mighty attitude.

“I knew you’d make the right choice.” She says. “First we’ll have to correct the flaws in your current methods. But before that, you have something you still need to do, don’t you?” She asks giving me a knowing smirk. “I’ll come back the day after tomorrow and pick you up. Be ready around midday.”

“Of course.” I respond.

She gives me a final smiling nod before one of her signature gaps swallows her up.

Right then, Renko.

With a quick stride I reach Doc’s office and let the door swing open.

And that’s when I see something I could never even imagine.

Doc lies with his arms and legs tugged underneath him, as he gets a lap pillow from Renko. His eyes are locked on me as I enter, and it only takes a second before his face turns red.

Renko on the other hand is calmly stroking his hair, or was until I came, at which point she lifts her head.

“Ryuko? You’re back?” She asks.

“No, I’m on a plane on my way to Greece.” A stupid question considering I just walked through the door. “But since you know me, I assume your memories are back.”

“Yeah, although the two people you left me with are gone.” She says.

Right. With her memory back, she’s bound by logic again. She won’t be able to see the supernatural anymore without aid. And even if I keep forgetting it, Doc will look like a normal fox to anyone not able to see spiritual power.

I’m actually debating telling her that that’s Doc, though I don’t imagine she’d react well to knowing she’s been stroking an old man’s hair for who knows how long.

“So no one has told you.” I note. “Renko, what date is it today?”

She quickly glance up before looking back down, muttering “Oh, right.” and fishing out her phone from her breast pocket.

All color quickly vanishes from her face as her eyes widen. “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.” She exclaims, each harder than the previous. “My attendance record is going to crash.”

“That’s what you’re worried about?” I ask her. “What about your family? Or that foreign friend of yours?”

“I’m living alone in Tokyo, so family is no problem. And Mary will understand if I just explain it to her.” She explains to me. “But do you have any idea how expensive an education is today? How can I face my family if I fail because of bad attendance? Fuck, this is going to take a lot of extra classes to fix.”

She’s about to storm past me but I grab her shoulder to stop her.

“Before you leave, let me tell you this. This shrine’s location is a secret. You’re not allowed to tell anyone of it’s location, or even it’s existence. I will hunt you down if you do.” I tighten my grip on her shoulder to make sure the message gets through. “You’re not free to come here as you please. In fact, unless you’re invited, you’ll not be welcome here, so don’t bother returning. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yeah.” She nods firmly. “I understand.”

“Good. Now second off,” I let go of her, “if you go down those stairs you’ll see a small empty village. Follow the main road until you see asphalt. Turn right and follow the road and you’ll reach the closest station.”

She looks out the open door, then back at me. “Thanks.” She says before running out of the door. “Hey, Mary.” I hear her on the phone just before she gets too far away.

“And so she’s gone.” The old fox walks up next to me.

“Did Shinki leave already?” I ask him.

“Didn’t think you were into older women.” He says, letting a smug smile onto his face.

“Didn’t think you were into such young women.” I retort with the same level of smugness.

“Touché.” He lets out a chuckle. “But yeah, she left soon after we completed the memory transfer. We did have a quick chat, though, and that goddess is an interesting character, from what I gathered.”

“Yeah.” I agree. “Actually wanted to continue talking to her. But considering how much time passed here in the short while we were there, I can understand why she wouldn’t want to stay for too long.”

“Mm. Now, get inside the back room.” He commands. “We’re going to treat that wound. It stinks.”


==========
Yakumo Residence - 21st of April, 13:06
==========

I barely manage to dodge her attack, getting away with her claws grazing my cheek.

The fox quickly takes advantage of my stagger and sweeps my knee, forcing me on my back.

Predicting her next move, I slam my hand in the ground, placing my spell before kicking my feet in the air and getting out of the way.

The spell activates and a cylindrical barrier shoots out of the ground, knocking her back and creates some breathing room for me.

“Seems like I was right.” The sage comments from the sideline.

I told her I wanted to get started immediately, to avoid any kind of rust settling, and she threw me straight into a spar with Ran. And to be honest, I’m not sure I can beat her, even without restrictions imposed on me. The sage herself has just been meticulously observing our fight from the sideline.

The fox charges at me and with deadly precision strikes out for my chest.

I spin on my heel, dodging the attack but she quickly follows through with another attack, plunging her claws in just under my ribs, avoiding anything vital.

Given her size, she can easily sneak past my defense, by using my own body to escape my sight.

Not being allowed to lay a finger on her really makes attacking difficult. All I have is barriers, but they’re not suited for offense.

I draw a quick wall between us, forcing her to pull out to avoid getting cut by the barrier. But to my surprise, she instead rides it up, bypassing the wall entirely.

She jumps off it, charging down at me.

That type of attack being easy to handle, I dodge backwards and immediately create a small barrier trapping her.

The fox flicks her wrist and a spell tagged dagger flies out into her hand, with which she proceeds to stab the barrier, breaking it apart before sheathing the dagger back into her sleeve.

Now, I have a few things up my sleeves as well, but I’ve never been able to do that. What’s even holding it in place in there?

“Have you figured it out yet?” The sage asks.

“I have a hunch.” I yell back, spinning around on my heels dodging Ran’s calculated strikes. “But I don’t think it’s what you’re talking about.”

Seizing the moment of distraction, the vixen moves in faster than I can react and deliver a palm-strike to my chin, with the force only a youkai could do, lifting me off the ground.

Immediately following up on that move, she strikes me down with her elbow, forcing me on the ground once more.

And she stops.

“That’s it for today.” The sage stops our spar.

“That’s it?” I sit. “I can easily go on. I’m not that frail.”

“Our goal here isn’t to test your upper level, but to raise your bottom level.” She asserts. “And our first step in doing so is to get you to understand your own shortcomings.”

“Right. Sorry.” I apologize to her. I got carried away. It’s been awhile since I’ve spared with a youkai I can actually hit. Because lord knows Coach is an impenetrable wall of dodge.

“For now, meditate on that hunch of yours and see where it leads you.” She turns around so her back faces us. “I’ll trust you to take care of him, Ran.”

“Of course.” she responds vigorously, completely unfazed by our spar. “Are you alright?” She offers me a hand to get up.

“I’ve had worse.” I take her hand and let her pull me up.

“Let me see.” She asks.

Without waiting for a reply, she lifts up my shirt, exposing the wound. I can feel her trace a finger across it as she examines it.

“We should sanitize this, just to be safe.” She says, pulling my shirt back down. “Come with me inside, if you would.”

“But the scar tissue has already formed. Isn’t it too late to sanitize it?” I ask, following her inside the living room.

“I’d just like to be on the safe side. Now, please take off your shirt and sit down.” She says before leaving the room.

I comply and take my seat, letting my arm rest on the table.

As I wait for Ran to come back, I let my eyes wander across the room.

I easily memorized the rooms and the layout of the building when I first came here, which is actually a surprisingly simply design. The center of the grounds is the garden, which the building is forming a, what would you call it, a square half circle. Like all but one side of the garden is covered by the house.

The house itself is pretty linear from there, with the bedrooms in one end and the living area in the other end, with basic facilities such as the toilet and the bath in between.

The living room where I’m currently situated shares the room with the kitchen, separated only by half a wall. It’s a somewhat strange sight as all the furniture is modern and western looking, while the architecture itself is traditional, down all the way to the floor mats. And while they’re pleasant to walk on, they don’t blend well with the table and chairs, which I can only really describe as standard, as there’s nothing really outstanding about them.

The door into the hallway swings open, breaking my line of thought, and Ran enters with what looks like a first aid kit.

Then without saying anything, she prepares a rag with a liquid that smells strongly like alcohol.

“Are you ready?” She asks.

“Yeah.” It’s obvious what she intends to do.

I brace myself and she applied the rag to my wound. I inhale hard, trying to choke any expression of pain, as the alcohol burns and stings at what I thought was already a scar.

“See? I told you it was a good idea.” She removes the rag again.

I hold my hand over the scar, instinctively trying to subdue the pain. “Strange. It ought to have healed already.”

“Would disinfection extend the time it takes?” The fox asks, putting the remaining articles back into the box, seeing as we wouldn’t need them anymore.

“I imagine it would, thought I can’t say I’ve ever tested it.” I answer.

“In that case, this might be why.” She shows me the hand she stabbed me with.

And it’s only now I notice she’s coated her nails with a polish. It’s of a similar golden color like her eyes, but the tone is more in line with her fair skin, so it doesn’t stand out too much. Despite that, it’s easy to see the polish having been roughed up a bit across her nails. Most likely left some traces inside me.

“Maybe. That might be it.” I’m not certain. Frankly, I’ve never tried to measure the time it takes to heal, I just tend to go by how bad my body claims it to be. Something like this, which was practically painless, wouldn’t stay more than a few minutes, an hour at worst. “By the way, would you mind helping me get my shirt back on?”

She raise an eyebrow and look at me for a second before answering. “I won’t really mind, but if you don’t mind me asking, why?”

Instead of answering, I just lift up my numb limb and let it drop on the table with a flat ‘duck.’

“Oh.” She says, eyes darting around me, looking for anything besides my arm to look at. “I didn’t realize that was why you carried it like that.”

“You weren’t told?” I ask her.

“No, I haven’t heard anything about your,” she trails off for a second, “about your disability.” she says reluctantly.

“It’s temporary. Soon it’ll be back to normal.” I assure her. “But if you weren’t told this, then what were you told?”

“Not much, actually.” She admits. “When I visited your shrine earlier this year, it was the first time I learned anything of you, beyond just your name.” She closes the first aid box. “That, and then lady Yukari ensured me this was how you would best learn. And speaking of that; sorry I let myself get a little carried away back there.”

“Don’t worry about it.” I assure her. “I told you, I’ve had worse.”

“That’s not very assuring you know.” The vixen gives me what can roughly be summarized as a sad smile. “Come, let’s get your shirt on.”

After getting my shirt back on, I thank her for our spar and excuse myself to my room. Well, the room I’ve been assigned as I stay here.

The bedroom is entirely of traditional design, the same way it is back at the shrine, so at least it’ll feel somewhat familiar to sleep here. With the partly western design, I almost expected her to have those raised beds used in houses nowadays.

Doing as I was told, I pull out a block of paper and recreate the spar on paper, using my own little set of symbols and lines. Once drawn I fill in the thoughts I had at the time as well as my thoughts on the fight now that I’ve had time to look back on it.

It’s been awhile since I last used this method of self reflection. Coach was usually able to direct me towards the answer without making it obvious. I actually think the last time I used it, was when I was developing Spell Break. Since it’s an original of mine, none of the guys back home could teach me how to do it.

After having filled out about a dozen pages I deem it finished and start reading it back from the start. And then I read it once more. And once more after that, until I can see the fight play back in front of me in vivid details.

Now I can start analyzing the fight properly.


==========
Yakumo Residence - 22nd of April, 08:16
==========

“Young Hakurei. Are you awake?”

A loud knocking breaks me out of sleep. It takes a second for my senses to adjust to the sudden awakening.

Oh, Ran. “Yeah, more or less.” Probably less, actually.

“Breakfast will be ready soon.” I see her silhouette through the door, bending over to pick something up from in front of the door. “You shouldn’t skip meals. It’s bad for your health.”

Before I can even get a chance to process what she said, she’s walked away.

Although now that she mentions it, I did forget to eat dinner yesterday. I became too engrossed in working.

I run my hand through my hair, brushing back the strands of hair that came loose from the ribbon.

The floor is covered in papers, all filled out with notes, theories and ideas. I’d like to give it all another read over just to refresh everything, but I should probably go clean myself up first.

==========
Yakumo Residence - 10:21
==========

“Did you manage to figure out what your flaw is?” The sage asks. “Or was that night of work wasted?”

“I figured out a few things.” I tell her. “That I’m too reliant on a select few type of barriers. And that as a result ,my efficiency with other types are down, lower performance with a higher cost and casting time.”

“Those are the symptoms, not the problem itself.” She closes her eyes and goes silent for about a minute. “Ryuko. What exactly is spiritual energy?”

Where did that question come from? “Well, normally I’d answer that question as, the waste energy produced by the soul.” I answer her. “But since you’re the one asking, I doubt that’s the answer you’re looking for.”

“The waste energy of a soul.” She repeats me. “That’s an interesting way to put it.”

“Well, spiritual energy is produced by the soul. And the energy we can normally access is energy not needed by the soul to function. So it’s a waste production.” I explain my reasoning. “But to actually answer your question.”

“Spiritual energy is a force created by the soul, staying on a different plane of existence.” I continue. “Using catalysts such as spell circles we’re able to control it. Whether it’s making it manifest on the physical plane, or temporarily alter the properties of living matter.”

“Correct. Spiritual power is essentially your will altering the physical world.” She summaries. “And once you’ve come to understand what exactly that means, being able to manipulate it at your leisure will become child’s play.”

To demonstrate her point, she holds out her hand.

It barely takes a second before her spiritual energy gathers in her palm, condensing to the point where it becomes visible to the naked eye, and eventually takes the shape of a parasol, similar to the one she’s leaning against.

From there it folds open on its own, and she starts using it like she would her own. Although it doesn’t provide any shade due to its transparent nature.

Being able to create objects using pure spiritual energy is no easy task. It’s one of the highest level techniques I know of, though not one I can use. Yet she’s able to do it without invoking magic of any sort. No circle, no incantation, nothing. The more I learn about Yukari, the bigger the gap between us appears to be.

“So, do you think you understand?” As she puts her hand back on her parasol, the pole vanishes like hot air.

“Evidently, I don’t, otherwise we wouldn’t be here right now.” I answer her.

“I see.” She lets out a sigh. “The only option left is to spell it out for you, which I know you’d rather avoid me doing. But you’re a smart young man, so I’m sure you’ll be able to figure it out, if you just put your mind to it.”

“I probably can.” I answer, a bit reluctantly. I can’t answer with much confidence. “I just don’t have much of a clue on where to start.” I explain. “You told me to analyze my fight, and I did, coming up with what amounted to nothing. If you ask me to go study again, I can already tell you I’ll come out empty handed.”

“I see.” She closes her eyes and falls silent for another minute. “Practice using spiritual techniques without the use of spell circles. No,” she quickly corrects herself, “do it without using any spell casting system at all.”

“But,” I cut myself off. I was about to call it impossible, even though I just saw her do it herself. When she conjured that parasol, she didn’t invoke any form of magic, nothing that I could trace anyway. “Where do I start?”

“Where you’re most comfortable; with barriers.” She answers. “Think about all the ones you have at your disposal. Are there any you can use without invoking a casting system? If not, then find the easiest one to cast and find a way to do it without a system.”

A barrier without invoking a casting system?

“Feel free to use Ran for practicing, if you feel the need.” She adds. “And should you need to get in touch with me, just tell her and she’ll let me know at the earliest opportunity.”

“I got it.” I tell her.

She nods and starts walking back into the house, leaving me to my own business.

Now then. The simplest barrier I can do is activated by drawing a line through the air, at which point the same line will appear on the ground emitting a light straight up, preventing anything from passing through it.

It doesn’t require a catalyst like majority of spells. Or maybe the hand gesture serves as the catalyst? It would for certain if this was mana, but it’s generally uncharacteristic of spiritual power to function like that.

The gesture is simply making a finger gun with both the index and middle finger while holding the thumb on the ring finger. From there you just focus your energy into the tip of your fingers and draw the line.

It’s very simple, but very draining too. Not that that really poses as a negative in my case, because of my practically unlimited spiritual energy. That really was the only good thing I got out of that one incident.

But anyway, teaching myself how to use this barrier again from the beginning might be the best way to start understanding what Yukari said.


==========
Yakumo Residence - 29th of April, 18:20
==========

“I take it you still haven’t figured it out.” The sage has approached me from behind.

“I don’t think so.” I answer her. “I’ve managed to optimize some of the most basic spells, reducing the casting time and cost by approximately ten percent, though.”

“Hmm.” She mulls over my words for a second. “I’m going to have to think of a different way to try and show you, then.” She straightens her posture again. “And while I do that, it’s time for work.”

“A new breach?” I stand up and face her.

“It’s in the Kochi prefecture.” She informs me. “Do you want me to just take you straight there?”

Right, that’s an option now. “I would actually prefer to go there myself.” I tell her. “To take the time to clear my head. So if you could just drop me off at the bottom of the stairs to the shrine, that would be great.”

“Oh? Are you sure?” She asks.

“Yeah.” I nod.


==========
Kochi Prefecture, Higashiyama Forest - 30th of April, 02:03
==========

As reality reassembles itself around me, it marks another job successfully completed.

Thanks to Yukari’s early warning, I was able to arrive with plenty of time to spare, time which I used to fortify the barrier and set up preparations to optimize my defense. I even had time to counteract that annoying identity interference effect, so I didn’t have to divide my attention like usual.

I only got some scratches on my arm, but I’ll blame that on the unusual way he used the wind element. It’s rare you see anyone actually use it to cut, despite how theoretically easy it is to make it sharp. Regardless, they’re magic induced wounds, so they didn’t manage to cut deep thanks to my resistance. They’ll heal in no time.

“Ryuko?” A familiar voice rings out from behind.

“Oh look, it’s the tiny professor.” I remark after seeing the redheaded girl, followed by her assistant.

“Hey, I’m not that tiny.” She overacts a pout.

“Everyone is tiny to me.” I pick up my bag and walk up to meet her. “Anyway, what are you doing all the way out here? And this late, at that.”

“I could ask you the same question.” She tries to change the subject.

Her blonde friend walks past us without saying a word, bringing their equipment with her. They don’t carry that big box this time.

“Just disposing of a body.” I jest. “Gotta get rid of the evidence after all.”

She lets out a choked laugh. “It would be pretty hard to find it out here. No, but seriously.”

“Just an odd-job I picked up because I was in the area.” I tell her. “I'm supposed to patrol the forest for a few hours.” I lie. “So, what are you doing out here? Don't you have a class or something to teach tomorrow?”

“How did you know I'm a teacher?” She asks, sounding genuinely confused.

“Well, your friend keeps calling you professor, and can use rooms at a university.” I tell her. “So what does a professor do at a university, besides teaching?”

“Oh, good point, actually.” She admits. “But no, I don’t have any classes on Saturdays.”

“I see.” Since she keeps dancing around the question, I think it’d be safe to say it’s their research. I mean, it was pretty obvious from the start, considering the time and location, and their equipment.

“Hey, prof. You might want to take a look at this.” The blonde assistant calls out. “I’m getting an increased reading over here.”

“Oooh.” The redhead immediately perks up, betraying the faint bags under her eyes. “I’ll be right-”

A bright flash with a loud crack cuts her sentence short and blinds us.

I instinctively focus all my attention on my spiritual energy to survey the source.

That’s- The youkai I just drove back still managed to force his way through?

[] Fight. No time to lose, I have to keep the girls safe.
-[] Use magic.
-[] Rely on physical attacks only.
[] Take the girls and flee.
-[Optional] Call the local Watcher for help.

5 weeks later than intended, it's finally here. Enjoy.
>> No. 31034
[X] Fight. No time to lose, I have to keep the girls safe.
-[X] Rely on physical attacks only.

Time to lay the smack down.
>> No. 31035
[X] Fight. No time to lose, I have to keep the girls safe.
-[X] Use magic.

Murphy's Law is a bitch, ain't it?
I don't see much point in restricting ourself when there are civilians in immediate danger.
Just have to hope the memory wipe will stick this time, but I doubt it.
>> No. 31036
[x] Fight. No time to lose, I have to keep the girls safe.
-[x] Rely on physical attacks only.
>> No. 31037
File 149729673668.jpg - (133.83KB, 890x1277, Could you really bring yourself to erase her.jpg) [iqdb]
31037
>>31035
Yeah, I should probably have explained how the memory wipe actually works, but it either must have slipped my mind, or it must have been impossible to include without breaking the flow of the scene.

Calling it a memory wipe is actually wrong, as it seals off memories instead of erasing them.
Doing so avoids the typical empty feeling of "Something is missing." that erased memories leave, which in turn allows for a more seamless integration back into society and away from magic.
However, as seen with Renko and Mary, it's not flawless. In fact, the biggest flaw of this method, is that all related memories must either be faded or sealed as well, to avoid them of reminding the subject of the event that's been wiped.
In their case, neither you nor Doc knew of, or remembered every encounter they'd had with you, leaving a memory where you had a strong presence, which is what kept trying to get them the remember the event you sealed off, which lead to the pain they were experiencing.

If you were to use it on Yumemi, you'd effectively have to erase all memories of you and magic to make sure she doesn't remember this one incident. Considering how much of her life she's spent on magic, you'd practically be erasing her entire memory.

TL;DR: You're not going to wipe their memories, so don't rely on it.

And while I'm at it. Is there anything else you'd like me to explain?
>> No. 31040
Keeping our magic a secret for now
>> No. 31074
File 150278550364.jpg - (353.66KB, 660x850, __okazaki_yumemi_touhou_and_touhou_pc_98_drawn_by_.jpg) [iqdb]
31074
Quickly before the story.
>>31033
>“Ryuko?” A familiar voice rings out from behind.
As of yet, Yumemi hasn’t been told your real name, but know you under your alias Konoha. Somehow this mistake managed to slip past both me and my proofer. I apologize for that.


==========
Kochi Prefecture, Higashiyama Forest - 30th of April, 02:07
==========

Moving entirely on instinct, I close the distance between the youkai and myself.

When the blonde girl is within reach, I yank her back, away from the youkai.

In the time it takes me to make that move, the youkai has managed to stagger on his legs, looking up at us.

“You!” He yells out as he locks eyes with me.

Not in the mood for talk, he takes an off-balance swing at me. Easy to read an avoid, but inhumanly fast.

This is exactly why I hate lesser vampires.

I duck in under his straight, striking his chest, sending him staggering back.

They lack refined intellect of higher vampires, so they act almost entirely on instinct. There’s almost never any reasoning with them.

I take a step back, avoiding his claws.

Honestly, the only good thing that’s ever come out of dealing with siphon type youkai in general, is my heightened sensitivity to them. Just being near them kicks my body into overdrive, sharpening my senses to rival theirs.

He tries to strike at me again, but this time I seize my opportunity.

I tackle him, pushing him back as far as I can before he regains his foothold.

He grabs a firm hold of my shoulders. “Why do you insist on getting in my way?”

“Because you’ll die out here. If not from faith depletion, then from being hunted down.” I reply, keeping my voice down to avoid the girls overhearing any of this. “Plus, breaking through the barrier like that damages it, and guess who has to fix it after you.”

I finish off my answer by sinking a knee into his stomach.

He sinks down, gripping to me for support, though only for a moment before he recovers enough to retaliate.

Locking his grip around my waist, he proves his strength by forcing me back, attempting to lift me off the ground as he does.

“Yumi, wait a second.” The tiny blonde calls out.

“No time. Konoha, get away from there!” The professor warns.

She’s pointing her hand at us, with her phone clutched close to her chest.

I wrap my arm around his waist and let my knees give out.

The sudden change of center causes him to push himself above me, to which I aid by throwing him upwards with all the strength I can muster from this awkward position.

While he doesn’t go airborne, still clinging to me he hangs, for just a second, straight above me.

If not for my heightened senses, I wouldn’t have noticed the small line of fire, darting straight from the professor’s finger to the vampire, before he bursts into flames.

With a new focus, he lets go of me, allowing me to get away and get on my feet.

I know I’d have killed him regardless, as I wouldn’t have been able to take him to a place where I could force him back without breaking a hole in the barrier myself. But burning to death is just inhumane.

And judging by how she’s trembling, Yumemi doesn’t like it either, she’s just worse at hiding it than me. At least I hope that’s it, and not that I’ve become impassive to death.

“Yumi!” Her assistant suddenly yells out. “What the hell are you thinking? Pulling that out in front of him.”

“He already knows.” The professor argues back. “I was forced to show him last month.”

“Last month? When did you have time to show him?” She asks, sounding more upset.

“I took him with me to the forest.” She states. “I had him carry the collector since it’d be faster.”

Chiyuri clenches her fists, but quickly calm herself down again. “So what else haven’t you told me? Have you already explained the subject of our research? Maybe you’ve even gone as far as started to date?”

Talk about salt. But they do seem close, so I can see where she’s coming from.

“No!” The redhead quickly denies. “No, we’re not. But,” she immediately tries to change the subject, “we both know that he knows, so why bother hiding it?”

“We don’t know, which is why I’m against making a move.” The small one argues.

Seems like I’ve become invisible. I could probably make my escape right now and they wouldn’t notice.

“Then let’s ask him directly.” The professor turns to me. “Konoha, do you know about magic?”


[] Yes
[] Who doesn’t know what magic is? (play dumb)
[] No


And now for some after update shit. First, I apologize for the long delay. All of last month was because I’d fucked up. This month my proofer has just been too busy to show up or even say that he can’t show up, so I wouldn’t announce a delay only for him to show up 3 minutes later. Which is why I posted this update, even if it’s not “finished” by our usual standard, since I can't make it worth the wait any longer.

Second off, I’ve been accepted into the academy I’ve applied for, so I’m going to get more busy than usual the next few years. For you, that means that if I have to maintain this level of pseudo quality, the time between updates will only get longer.
To fight that, I can always stop trying to put as much effort into the “quality” and instead focus on quantity, making shorter, shallower updates but updating faster (hopefully) but also more sporadically. It’ll also mean getting the updates proofed will be a luxury and not the standard (since I can’t imagine finding a proofer that would do half of the things my current ones does)

I’m fine with either, so I figured it’d be the best option to ask your guys’ opinions.
>> No. 31075
[X] Yes

Congratulations on getting accepted.
>> No. 31076
[x] Yes

Time to stop their experiments for good.

[x] Even longer waits for the same quality

It's not like I exactly expect these updates. They just happen.

Also congrats!
>> No. 31079
[x] Yes

Serious time.

[x] Quality over quantity.

Honestly the attention to detail is the main highlight of this story for me, and I don't mind waiting for it. But dear god, find a less busy proofer. Or just a second proofer. I'd offer to help myself if I wasn't even more unreliable.
>> No. 31080
[Yes] X

Because why not.
>> No. 31094
Time to confront them, it seems.

>>31079
>But dear god, find a less busy proofer. Or just a second proofer.
I've thought about it, but ultimately I think my current proofer has spoiled me too much, in terms of what he does for me and the story, and I doubt I can find another proofer willing do do even half of it.
>> No. 31101
File 150579724587.jpg - (277.20KB, 1213x936, I don't have a relevent picture so have this .jpg) [iqdb]
31101
==========
Kochi Prefecture, Higashiyama Forest - 30th of April, 02:20
==========

“Yeah, I know.” I answer honestly.

“See, what did I tell-” Chiyuri stops herself once she registers what I said.

“I knew it!” Yumemi exclaims as she throws her arms in the air. “I just knew you would be aware of magic. Just think how much faster we can proceed with one more person.” She reaches out for my free hand, but I retract it.

“I’m afraid not.” I tell her. “The world of magic isn’t a place where people like you two belong. In all honesty, it’d be optimal if you withdrew from this world immediately.” I let out an exaggerated sigh. “But we all know that’s not going to happen.”

“‘We?’ So, there’s more than just you?” The professor asks with newfound interest. “Then why don’t any of you just come out and prove magic exists?”

“Because history has shown time and time again what happens when humans find something with even the slightest ability to hurt other humans.” I tell her. “Or do I need to remind you of nuclear power? Gun powder? Metal?”

“That was then. This is now.” The professor argues. “Today we’re closer to world peace than ever before in recorded human history.”

“So, we should give every single human the equivalent of a nuclear bomb, because of world peace?” I ask. “Sure, with the threat of that being used on you, you’d be less likely to use it on anyone else. But how long do you think the tension that’d create would last? How long until terrorists start using it?”

“But that’s only because we don’t know anything about it.” She continues to argue. “Surely if we knew anything about magic, we’d learn how to counter it.”

“Yumemi. I’m incapable of casting magic like you’d think. But that’s given me the freedom to study it entirely from the point of theory. I’m what you could call an anti-mage. I have a wide knowledge on magics in general, a clear understand of how they work, and the tools to dispel almost any spell.” I tell her truthfully. “Trust me, when I say it’s no easy task to get to where I am, and that when you do, you realize how unfit humanity really is to handle this arcane science.”

“But-” She stomps her foot down.

“No ‘but’s.” I cut her off. “Look at how far you’ve made it with magic so far. Now look at how far I’ve made it. Now try to imagine what a worldwide society of mages could accomplish over the span of several millennia. Do you really think you know something that none of us ever considered?”

“But I-” She’s clenched her hands.

“Let me ask you,” I cut her off again, “won’t you trust me when I ask you to abandon magic entirely? From someone who grew up with it, it’s nothing like the fairy tale we’d all want it to be.”

“I can’t!” The professor exclaims fast, forcing her voice in before I can cut her off again. “We can’t.” I can almost see her trembling. If not for my sixth sense, I wouldn’t have noticed.

She glances over at Chiyuri, who’s been watching me with quite a stern look.

“Then let me put it this way.” I shift my weight. “If you continue to research magic, then I’ll become your enemy.”

She flinches. “But why?” She cries out.

“Because, you don’t belong in the world of magic.” I answer her. “If you continue to force your way in here with the intent to publish your findings, someone will take notice. And unlike me, I doubt they’d try to talk you out of it, and I doubt they’d care enough to at the very least make your permanent expulsion painless.” I walk past her and pick up my bag. “Now I’ve tried to talk to you, and if it didn’t work this time, I’ll have to use force. So, treat this as my one and only warning.”

She looks at me, almost pleadingly but before long she resigns herself and just looks down, not saying another word.

Seeing as she’s done arguing with me, I take my leave.


==========
Hakurei Shrine, Gensokyo - 10th of May, 10:22
==========

A cold shiver runs down my spine as Yukari’s gap closes behind me. It’s still a strangely unnatural feeling to pass through them. Strangely similar to what it felt like to get a sense of the fourth dimension imposed on me with magic, or fifth maybe, if you count the fourth dimension as time.

“I don’t have time, Yukari, so just go home right now.” Reimu yells out from inside the shrine.

“Well then, guess I’ll just head home then.” I respond mimicking Yukari’s passively playful tone.

I hear her starting to move around inside, as the footsteps approach the main entrance. She pops out from behind the open door and stares for half a second before she manages to remember me.

“Ryuko?” the shrine maiden starts floating to approach me, not being bothered to put on shoes and not willing to dirty her socks. “What are you doing here? Got another love letter for your girlfriend?”

I stifle a laugh. “I wish. But I’m not here on vacation.” I tell her. “Yukari told me I’d be useful here soon and gave me this old twenty yen coin.”

“Twenty yen!” She poor shrine maiden exclaims, though her excitement quickly dies down once she sees the coin. “I don’t think that’s worth twenty yen, to be honest.”

“Maybe not in Gensokyo’s economy, but on the outside that’s exactly what it’s worth.” I pocket the coin again.

“How broken is the economy in the outside world?” She asks.

“Not really broken. Since things cost a lot of money, people earn a lot of money too.” I explain. “Over time that amount just kept growing until the government finally managed to get it under control.”

“Strange.” she comments.

“To boil it down, it’s about how rare money is. The more coins there are, the less valuable they are. Since we have a lot in the outside world, twenty yen is pocket change.” I explain, though truth to be told, I’m not that big on economics myself. Never needed to be.

“Yet here it’s a small fortune most beginning merchants aim for. Twenty yen, that is.” She adds. “Anyway, I was planning on going out soon. It’s a hassle, but I can’t leave all the investigation to Kasen.”

“Investigation? About that strange aura?” I ask.

“Yeah.” She lifts off the ground again. “Got nothing to go on but my guts, though.”

“Nothing new there?”

“You get used to it.” She chuckles. “Feel free to make yourself at home, just leave the food alone.”

“Not gonna take me with you?” I ask, half-jokingly.

“To be honest, you’d just slow me down.” She states. “I can’t lift you and flying is so much faster.”

“Then don’t let me hold you back.” I raise my hand in a still wave, to which she just nods and flies off.

Now then.


[] Go see my ‘girlfriend’
[] Try to find Kasen
[] Get comfortable at the shrine.


Somewhat good news. Thanks to shitty bus schedules, I get extra time after school where I can do nothing but wait. Plan to use that for writing whenever I don't have any fun homework. And my proofer's schedule cleared up again. So I should be able to get back to a monthly schedule. Maybe more, but don't count on it.
>> No. 31102
> update
> more imminent (maybe)

Hooray!

But, uh, I could use a little refresher here... who was the 'girlfriend'? Akyuu? And what's this about a 'strange aura'? ULiL? I don't remember it being mentioned and CTRL-F isn't helping...
>> No. 31103
>>31102
Yeah Akyuu. His "love letters" are probably him sending her notes about his shrine and the people in it, like he promised.

[X] Go see my ‘girlfriend’

Also, hooray for terrible bus schedules
>> No. 31104
>>31102
Yes it's Akyuu. That's Reimu poking at you for spending the last festival in Gensokyo with Akyuu, which was essentially a date, let's be honest.
And the wiki translates it as "occult aura" instead of strange aura. Though it's meant to be the earliest point of the incident, so her knowledge about things is limited. [spoiler]Also, Kudos for figuring out it was ULiL. What was the tell?[/spoiler]
>> No. 31105
> Also, Kudos for figuring out it was ULiL. What was the tell?

It's the only game Kasen is in.

Little more context next time please; we shouldn't have to guess or use meta-knowledge to figure out what our own character is talking about.

[x] Go see my ‘girlfriend’.

Much as I'd like to see more undercover oni, it sounds like she's going to be busy.
>> No. 31106
>>31105
Actually, you weren't supposed to have figured it out yet. Well, "supposed," might not be right since I did lay out a hint, namely the time and date.
ULiL was released May 10th 2015.
This story started Jan 1st 2015, and this update takes place on May 10th.
Though I figured no one was paying attention to the dates since they haven't been of much relevance yet.
>> No. 31107
[X] Go see my ‘girlfriend’
>> No. 31109
Calling the votes (one day late) for Akyuu.

>>31105
Now that I'm less busy and have had more time to formulate a response, I'd like to reply to you again.

If there's something I want you to know, that without I'd feel you didn't have enough information to make an informed decision, obviously excluding votes where that's the whole point, then I tend to go that extra mile to make sure you have that information, whether it's delaying that exact vote or finding a way to shoehorn in that information while trying to make it feel natural.

Then there's the information that you don't need to make an informed decision. Small things that might be nice to know. Things like the fact this is the start of ULiL. You don't need to know yet as it'll become apparent soon. That's why the biggest hint I gave was the date, though I'd long since figured people stopped paying attention to it. Another hint I gave, though a fair bit more abstract, is the coin. Saying any more than that is spoilers.

Perhaps the best example I can use from this story is Yukari. She has a single sentence in the stuff that's already posted, in which she reveals her biggest plot point. Do you need to know that plot point yet? No. But it's there, and when it's time to reveal it, I'll make sure to throw plenty of hints.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go write some of my shitty Slice of Life scenes that are as flat as my characters.
>> No. 31110
>>31109

Just to be clear, I don't have a problem with you not saying it's ULiL. I got caught off-guard that you had the protagonist talk about a recent event that hadn't been mentioned in the text before.

If you'd made Reimu bring up the subject instead, for example, it wouldn't have been so jarring, because I would have (correctly) assumed it was just something we didn't know about yet, instead of something that - because you update slightly faster than the average glacier and I have a memory slightly shorter than the average goldfish - I'd simply forgotten about, and wouldn't have wasted the next twenty minutes CTRL-Fing for something that didn't exist.

Sage for autism.

> shitty Slice of Life scenes that are as flat as my characters

You are so far away from "shitty" and "flat" that I can't see you from here.

>> No. 31119
File 150756129731.jpg - (660.11KB, 1000x1000, Fancy Akyuu.jpg) [iqdb]
31119
==========
Hakurei Shrine, Gensokyo - 10th of May, 10:29
==========

Well, seeing as Reimu doesn’t want me involved at the moment, it’d be rude to get in the way of her investigation. Maybe I should pay Akyuu another visit. It’s been a while since we had the chance to talk.

I quickly wonder if I should just leave the shrine like this. Knowing my shitty luck, it’ll probably get destroyed and I’ll be blamed for it. Though I ultimately dismiss the thought and start making my way towards the village. Even though you can see it in its entirety from up here, it’s still quite a walk down there. It's much worse getting back up here.


==========
Human Village, Market district, 12:02
==========

I only briefly got to wander the village last time I was here, but if my internal map is right, this should be a more direct way to Akyuu’s mansion.

Judging by the stalls here, it’s safe to assume this is the farmers market. It's stocked with fresh milk, eggs and harvested goods, though most of those are leftovers from last fall since they’re still growing this year’s crop. At least that’s what it looks like to me, but agriculture has never been of much interest to me.

What is of interest to me, however, is a familiar little face. A young, blue haired girl in plain white clothes. She keeps glancing around, looking for something, it seems.

With her back turned to me, I make my way up next to her and crouch to get on her level.

“Looking for something?” I ask.

She immediately tenses up and I can almost swear her hair stands up on end as well.

“I- uh- that’s-” She struggles to find words but is forced to stop trying as she bites her tongue. “Ow.” is all she mutters for a while before she remembers that I asked her a question. “I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”

“You don’t remember me?” I ask. I could have easily forgotten her face, but I’m certain it’s her spiritual energy. Unlike normal kids, hers seems to be in stasis, if only moving ever so slightly.

She keeps staring at my face for what feels like an eternity where neither of us is says anything, before her face lights up.

“You’re Akyuu’s big friend!” She exclaims. She immediately corrects her posture and gives me an overenthusiastic bow. “Sorry. I forgot.”

“Don’t worry about it.” I tell her. “So, what are you doing out here?”

“That’s- um- Shopping.” she holds up her small basket which only has a small bottle of honey in it. “Akyuu, I mean Lady Akyuu has sent me shopping.”

“Really? And how is that going?” I ask.

“Not so good.” She makes a cute little frown. “I can’t find the rest of the list.”

“May I see the list?” I ask her, holding out my hand.

She nods and hands it to me.

Rice and jam.

That’s it. Looks like Akyuu’s handwriting as well, which I’ve learned by heart given how many times I’ve read the Gensokyo Chronicles. Rice has been written using kanji, so that might be what trips her up.

“You know what it says, right?” I ask her.

She points to the kanji. “I know that means food, but I don’t know what kind of food.”

“It means rice.” I hand her the note back. “You can buy it pretty much anywhere here. Just walk up to one of merchants and ask nicely.”

“Mm.” She nods enthusiastically and runs off.

She’s a lot more expressive than I thought.

And she’s returned, with a small bag of rice in hand.

“I got it.” She declares, showing it off to me before putting it in her small basket.

“Great, anything else you need?” I ask, standing back up.

She shakes her head. “No.”

“Then let’s get you home, shall we?” I ask.

“Mm.” She nods firmly before running ahead.

With her bursting with energy, it takes no time to make the walk back to the mansion.

“Auri.” I call for her attention. “Can I get you to tell Akyuu that I’m here?” I ask her. “She’s not expecting me today, but I’d like to talk to her if she has the time.”

“Um, if she’s not expecting you, I can’t let you in.” She informs me. “But I’ll ask. Will you please wait here?”

As I agree to wait, she runs through the gate.

A good couple of minutes pass before the little blue head peeks out from inside the gate again.

“Lady Akyuu says she has time for your visit.” She informs me.

Going through her practiced routine, she leads me to the same room where I first met Akyuu, where she leaves me alone.

As another few minutes pass the young chronicler makes her entry.

“I wasn’t expecting you.” She says, taking a seat at the low table.

“Because we never announced I would be coming.” Following her example, I take a seat opposite her. “And I doubt you, of all people, would forget an appointment.”

A small smile breaks her serious expression, though it disappears as she starts talking again. “As much as I appreciate your visit, I’m afraid your timing is quite bad.” She rests her head on her hand.

“Is it because of all the strange new youkai appearing?” I ask.

I catch her off guard, judging by how she perks up. “How did you know? Have you met them?” she immediately asks.

“A voice from the bottom of the aether told me. I think.” I make a gesture, underlying my own lack of knowledge. “Either that or I’m finally starting to develop that famous Hakurei intuition, though that’s not very likely.”

“Are you serious?” The chronicler sits completely upright now. “Do you know anything about any of them? We’ve gathered that they’re all new arrivals from the outside world, but that’s all we have for now.”

“Urban legends.” I state. “Of the youkai that remain of the outside world, urban legends are the only ones not recorded already in Gensokyo Chronicles. And if a new type of youkai made a sudden move to migrate to Gensokyo, we would have taken notice.”

“Urban legends.” She repeats. “What’s this Urban place like?” She asks, leaning in over the table.

“It isn't a place, not in the way you’re thinking about it, anyway.” I inform her. “Urban is a single word that describes ‘in a city.’ Cities being settlements of equal or greater size than the human village.”

“So urban legends are legends passed on inside cities?” The young lady asks intrigued.

“That’s how they got their name, anyway. However, recently the term urban legend came to refer to modern myths.” I explain. “The legends of yukionna, for example, would be old myths, while something like ‘the school’s seven mysteries’ would be an urban legend. A school's seven mysteries, by the way, is exactly as it sounds. Seven mysterious occurrences, typically linked to each other. What those mysteries are exactly, typically varies from school to school.”

“Modern youkai?” She asks.

“More or less.” I lean back, supporting myself on my arm.

The chronicler settles down in her seat again. She folds her hands and lets her head rest on them by her forehead.

“Interesting.” She mumbles. “Very interesting, but also very concerning.”

“Indeed.” I agree. “However, almost all urban legends have a weakness: some way to escape them. Typically because including that, it seems like someone managed to live through the experience and tell the tale, rather than just some made-up tale.”

“And you believe these are the kinds of youkai that are appearing?” She looks up from her hands and into my eyes.

“If I had to make a guess, then yes, that’s what I’d say.” I answer her. “However, I’m lacking enough information to be certain. Could be anything from foxes and tanuki taking on shapes from the outside, to foreign monsters. It’s a low chance, but still too big to be rolled out.”

I notice her hand tense up just briefly. “And now that you know this, what do you plan to do?” She asks.

“I’ll have to get to work.” I answer. “Gensokyo may be Reimu’s territory, but managing the passage across the barrier is mine. Even though I’d rather not make a move here in Gensokyo without Reimu’s permission first.”

“Makes sense, but what are you going to do?” She asks again.

“Track down these urban legends, identify them and assess them, then possibly force them back out with force.” I explain to her. “Why do you ask?”

“I can’t really justify it, since I’m supposed to just record the history,” she fidgets slightly, “but I would like to come along. This might be the only chance I get to see what the youkai from the outside world really look like.”

“In all honesty, I’m against it.” I tell her. “But if you know what you’re getting yourself into, I won’t try to stop you.”

“I know. And I still want to go.” She says firmly.

Without another word, I slide across the floor to my bag, fishing out a small red sack, a thin wooden slab and my basic writing equipment.

Continuing without saying a word, I start jotting down words on the wood, marking out the foundation for a higher level enchantment.

The chronicler has been peeking over the table, trying to get a good look at what I’m writing, though the nature of this kind of enchantment makes it hard to decipher if you don’t know how they’re written.

Single sentences are written in reverse order, however no two characters are allowed to be directly adjacent, meaning you have to jump to seemingly random spots to write. There’s no greater purpose for this. It’s just the method I use when I need to write enchanted charms in front of people, since it maintains a mystique aura, which is needed for the charm to work. Normally, only the people writing these gets to see what’s actually written, so it has that aura from the start. Of course, that means if you open it up afterwards to look, the enchantment is broken and lost.

As I’ve finished writing on both sides of this slab of wood, I put it into the bag, and tie it closed the best I can with these big fingers.

Lastly, to activate the enchanted charm, I let my spiritual energy flow into it. Once I feel it emit a small wave I stop.

“Carry this close to your heart.” I tell Akyuu, handing over the charm to her. “In case I can’t keep you safe, this will be able to save your life. Though it’ll only work a few times before breaking, so if the need be, use it to run away.”

She holds it in her hand, examining it carefully. “I didn’t think you could make these, to be completely honest.” She says. “I took you for more of a, how can I put it, specialist?”

“Because I am.” I answer. “I specialize in combat through and through. But I’m still a priest first and foremost.”

She tightens her grip around the charm as a warm smile makes itself known. “Mm.” Is all she says as she nods.


Now then. Better get to work. My only real lead so far is that both Reimu and Kasen are investigating something. Though if it’s even related to these urban legends, I don’t know. Which effectively gives me zero leads.

Where should I start looking?
[] Write in
[] Look for Kasen on Youkai Mountain
- [] Elsewhere
[] Look for Reimu
- [] Where

Because it was recommended to me, I'd like to discourage metagaming this. Not that I can nor will stop you if you do. Just imagine yourself in his position. What would be the first thing you'd do?

>>31110
Makes sense. I'll try to keep that in mind for later. Also, I realize my last post might have come off as a tad arrogant. That wasn't my intention, I just wanted to get my thoughts through as clear and coherent as possible
>> No. 31120
[X] Look for Kasen on Youkai Mountain

If we're not meta gaming I think finding Kasen would be his best option.
>> No. 31121
[] Warn Eientei about the incoming Lunarian invasion.

I'm of the firm belief that a writer should roll with the punches in what regards to write ins. Even illogical ones.

But that only applied to the old times: when updates were fast, short and the 'plot' was loose at best.
I'm just an old lion, looking for a place to die.

[x] Look for information about recent incidents.
-[x] Closest authority figure should be Kamishirasawa
>> No. 31122
Well if I were looking for urban legends, I'd start at the source:

[x] Find out what relevant rumours are going around the Human Village.
>> No. 31129
File 150991268123.png - (865.05KB, 900x1200, teacher.png) [iqdb]
31129
==========
Human Village, Hieda residence - 13:02
==========

I need information. No two ways about it. I barely know enough to comfortably pick a fight with them. That’s if I can even find them in the first place. Unlike Reimu, I don’t have divine intuition to guide me.

“Where are we going first?” My companion breaks the silence, seeing as I’ve been quiet for a while.

“To Kamishirasawa.” I reply. “With as little information I have, I’m basically powerless. She’s not just an authority, she’s in a position where she would be able to pick up on rumors.”

I pack my writing equipment back in my bag and get up.

“I believe she’s working at this time of the day.” She replies. “I’m not sure if she’ll be able to see us.”

She follows suit, taking the lead as we walk towards the front of her mansion.

“And I doubt she’d turn down an official request from the local chronicler.” I reply.

“I don’t like throwing around my own authority without purpose.” She states.

“She’s our best option at getting anything like a lead to begin with.” I explain. “If she can’t help us, we’ll have to walk around and ask as many random people as possible and hope we get something useful. Besides, you don’t have to use your authority. It’s not like I can force you to.”

“And I just hope I won’t have to.” She adds, with slightly more weight to her words than before. “Especially not against Keine.”

She holds the door open for me as I duck through the entrance.

“The school is right this way.” She says, running slightly ahead, though it doesn’t take more than a few steps to catch up. “It’ll be faster if we make it to the center first, so we can use the main roads.”

“Why is the village structured like this, by the way?” I ask.

“The main roads?” She asks back. “That’s because they allow for more travel across the village.”

“Not the streets.” I clarify. “I mean the districts. It makes sense to have the ‘important’ people in close to the heart of the village. But having a main road run right through it doesn’t seem like the best idea.”

“That’s actually because they’d rather be as far away from the plebeians as possible.” She explains “No offense, of course.”

I stifle another laugh. “I’m more offended that you’d think I’d be offended by that.”

She smiles in response before continuing. “I’m sure you’ve noticed that the farmers tend to stay at the edge of the village, close to the fields they tend. Most other cheap labor stays out there with them, providing them with the tools and resources they need, matching price with quality.”

“That much makes sense. I doubt many of them would have the time to travel to the center just to place an order for a new scythe. It’d be far better if they could get one near their homes, especially if cheaper.” I comment. “But still, to have the busiest road run straight through the living quarters of the rich people. It’d make for great locations for expensive shops, but living there would just get tiring from all the noise.”

“Open shops in the center?” She asks.

“Yeah. Right at the crossroad where the most people would walk through.” I explain. “With more people seeing your store, there’d be more sales. Not guaranteed, of course.”

“Is that how they do it in the outside world?” She asks.

“That, and advertising.” I confirm. “But then again, with over one hundred million people across the entire country, they’d need as much exposure as possible to reach even a fraction of those.”

“What’s a million?” She asks.

“What’s the highest number you know?” I ask back.

“That would be a thousand, I’d say.” The chronicler answers. “Excluding all the repeating numbers in the thousands.”

“Right, then try to imagine one thousand, one thousand times. That’s a million.” I explain.

She continues walking for a second before coming to a sudden halt. “Wait. How many did you say?”

“Over one hundred million people. About one hundred and twenty-five last I checked, if you want a slightly more accurate number.”

She doesn’t move, but just stands there, eyes wide with disbelief and what looks like fear. Her face betraying any kind of secrecy she might have had.

“That’s amazing.” She utters. “And scary.”

“Bonus fact. The human population of the entire earth passed seven billion years ago.” I tell her as I walk past her. “A billion is one thousand millions, by the way.”

“Wait. Stop.” She runs up in front of me. “How can you feed so many people out there when we have trouble supporting less than a thousand?”

“The short answer is science.” I prompt her to start walking again. “But it’s also thanks to science that youkai have trouble living on the outside anymore. Urban legends are fleeting, and the traditional youkai can only live in hot-spots created and maintained by humans like me. Or if they’re to find an uninhabited natural hot-spot, such as the Hakurei Shrine. Although it’s only able to support as many youkai as it can because it’s the strongest connection to Gensokyo.”

“So we can’t use outside world science to help us?” She asks.

“You can, if you’re willing to slowly kill off every youkai in Gensokyo, ridding this world of its purpose and once again unite it with the outside world.” Though that’s just the hypothesis of what’s going to happen. “You’d be far better off if you went about using magic as a means to help you expand.”

“And we’ve hit the human limit in that regard.” She admits a bit defeated. “The only way to expand our magical potential is to become youkai. But that would violate the basic law of Gensokyo.”

Indeed. Mages rarely remain human for long without purpose.

Humans have a limit to the magic they can use. Typically, it’s because of our low capacity relatively to youkai, though it can also be because of limitations in our mind, preventing us from grasping basic ideas that advanced magic relies upon.

To overcome this limit, humans who have achieved the title of mage attempt to alter their bodies to become more magically adept. About one fifth survive the attempt and formally become mages as we know them.

Although technically, all magicians are different species. Each mage alters their own body using their own methods and with their own result in mind. As a result, it’s impossible for two magicians to procreate, statistically speaking. Even lower chances when it comes to humans. As such, mages are effectively considered sterile, and this is also the main reason most humans wait on making that leap. Which is ironic because the younger they are, the more likely it is they’ll survive the transformation.

The surprising sight of the open plaza quickly drags me back into reality.

We’ve reached the center. A big open plaza with people and wagons moving about at their own pace in seemingly chaotic patterns, yet somehow no one is getting hurt.

“Impressive for our little corner of the world?” My companion asks.

“A lot bigger than I expected.” I admit.

While they don’t have any stores open here, along the walls of every noble’s house is a thick line of merchants sitting on their own blankets selling a myriad of things, though a closer look, it’s mostly consumables it seems.

A large promiment stone sculpture stands at the center of the busy streets.

Its shape resembles that of a dragon, posed into a twisted form of the number eight. Both the head and the tail are at the bottom of the loop, just above eye-height of an adult male. It doesn’t show any signs of erosion if the details of the scales are anything to go by. Subtle lineworks that would disappear in just a few years of rain.

Honestly, if I didn’t know it was just an oversized barometer made by the kappa, I could almost be convinced that it was a real dragon turned stone. That’s how alive it looks, even from all the way over here.

“Are you done looking, or do you need a minute more?” She breaks my thoughts once more.

“I’m good.” I start following her again, as she took a few steps in the direction we need to go before asking me.

“It is an impressive statue, right?” She almost brags about it. “You already know the feature was made by the kappa, right? But did you know it was actually sculpted by a human?”

“I imagine that would have taken a lot of time and care.” I admit. “One mistake and the illusion of life would be gone.”

“Mm. It’s one of our proudest achievements since Gensokyo was established.” She states. “Though most people don’t know the kappa helped with it, so they pray to the dragon for good weather. And for the most part, I’d say it works.”

“That’s because gods are created by the human heart.” I explain. “If you start worshiping something as a god, you will in fact create a new god. Dragons are different though, in that they’re above even the gods we know of, far beyond our reach. In essence, you could say they’re true gods, while our kami are just glorified spirits.”

“Interesting perspective, coming from a priest.” She gives me a smug smile.

“I’d share more, but the more you know the less amazing gods are.” I tell her. “For example, once you know how they work, you can completely prevent them from interacting with you in any way.”

“Then stop talking. You’re only making me more curious.”

I let out a snicker in response.

It really doesn’t take long for the school to be in view. Located around the border between the noble’s district and the commoner’s. Not that there’s an actual border, but rather a gradual distinction in the housing and shops.

“How many half youkai work at this school?” I ask.

“Only Keine.” She answers without much thought. “Why?”

“Then it seems like class is in session.”

Like I’ve said, I can use my spiritual energy as another sense, allowing me to observe a limited space with it. And given how few things naturally block spiritual energy, it allows me to ‘see’ through things like walls.

I’m still too far away to be able to see anything in there clearly, but what I can tell already is that there’s a lot of individual spiritual energies gathered there. And although it’s faint, one end emits an inhuman energy, which is likely our teacher.

“How long do you think it’ll take?” She asks. “For you to get a lead out of her, I mean.”

“Ten minutes tops.” I reply. “Assuming she even knows anything worthwhile. If she doesn’t then it’ll just be a second.”

We’ve reached the front door. It’s a small school, really. Two, maybe three rooms total and only one of them seem in use at the moment.

“Wait here then.” She says before knocking on the door.

“Yes? Come in.” The teacher commands from inside.

My companion opens the door and peeks inside. “I’m sorry to bother you when you’re busy, but I have someone who’d like to meet you.” She explains. “It’s not exactly urgent, but the sooner the better.”

Through the wall, I sense the teacher putting down her book and turn towards the wall, presumably a blackboard. Depicting texture on a flat surface is beyond what I can see using spiritual energy, but she’s writing, that much I can see.

“While I’m gone, try to solve as many of these as you can.” She says, pointing to the blackboard. With that said, she makes her way out of the room to us and close the door behind her. “So, what can I do for you today, Akyuu?”

“My friend here has some questions he’d like to have answered.” She says gesturing at me.

She first looks at me with a glance, but the rest of her quickly follows suit as she turns to face me.

“You’re the one who wrecked the village a couple months ago?” She asks more than states that, though it clearly isn’t a question. “I believe this is our first formal introduction.”

“I’m Hakurei Ryuko. And yes, that was me.” I introduce myself. “And no, this is our second time meeting since then. At the festival just a few days after, we met again.”

“We did? You’ll have to excuse me then. I had a few too many drinks so the whole night is a bit blurry. Regardless, I’m Kamishirasawa Keine.” She introduces herself. “But please, call me Keine. It’s a little easier on the tongue.”

“Of course.” I nod. “And I know you’re busy, so I’ll just get straight to the point. New youkai have been appearing, and I’m looking for information. Anything will do, even just small rumors.”

“Is this an incident?” She asks, staring me straight in the eyes.

“I believe so. Reimu is already doing some investigation, from what I’ve seen.” I answer. “However, I’m, not trying to solve the incident, but rather deal with these new youkai which may be a side effect of the incident.”

“Strange new youkai, you say?” She ponders a bit. “I can’t say I’ve heard of anything, I’m afraid.”

So even she hasn’t heard anything. Seems like I’ll have to rely on chance and just ask around.

“Though,” she continues, “can you read?”

“Of course.” I answer.

“Then would you mind waiting for a moment?” She asks. And without waiting for an answer, she goes back inside the classroom. “I’d like all of you to stop what you’re doing and get out a piece of blank paper. On that, you’ll write as many rumors as you can think of, but only recent ones. When you’re done, pass them up front.”

Well that’s a method I wouldn’t have thought of.

“Just so you know, she can’t use her ability to help us.” Akyuu says. “Her power revolves around history. And by the time this incident becomes history, it’ll be long done.”

“I figured as much.” I reply. “Although you’re really vague when you described her power in the Chronicles.”

“That was at her request.” She explains. “The less people know about how her power works, the fewer there are who would want to confront her.”

“Alright. Thanks. Now please go back to these problems.” Keine speaks loudly from inside her class. And in just a few seconds she’s joined us outside the school again. “This is the best I can do right now. I hope it helps.” She says, handing me the papers.

“So do I. Thanks for your time.” I thank her and signal to Akyuu I have what we came for.

Back outside, we find a place nearby to take a seat and examine our new lead.

Or we try to anyway. This handwriting is nothing more the scribbles. With a little guessing and what little context we have, we do manage to decipher a few.

“You know, I’m curious.” I start. “Isn’t it normal for people in Gensokyo to be able to read and write?”

This one talks about that bullhead legend. The story that’s so scary, hearing it will kill you. Even though the fact that people know about the story proves it can’t be real. If it was so scary that anyone who heard it would die, then no one would even know of it.

“Well, of course we have a lot of people who can read and write.” Akyuu states. “But we also have a lot of people who can’t afford the schooling, or even need to learn it. Why?”

“Back outside, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a job that doesn’t require you to know how to read and write to some extent.” I explain. “So we teach everyone how to read and write at an early age.”

“How can kids learn to read?” She stops her examination of the papers I’ve passed over and looks up at me. “It takes all I have to even teach Airi.”

Celestials came looking for a dragon in the village? Now that’s one I have to see to believe. They should look at Kasen’s place if they’re looking for them. Though why are they even in the first place?

“It’s a bit of science, so take it with a grain of salt, but kids learn much faster than adults if you portray the information as important.” I explain. “But humans aren’t fully developed when they are born, obviously. But that also means we lack a lot of basic instincts. Because of that, we instead learn by watching the people around us and gauge what skills are important. Skills like speech and walking. Just show her how useful writing can be while putting her in situations where she’ll need it, and she’ll pick up on it more easily.”

“Huh.” She goes silent for a minute, staring into nothing. “I’d really love to be able to see the outside world sometime.” She mutters almost absentmindedly.

“If I ever get the time, I might take you with me back out.” I reply. “Wait, found one.”

Woman. Wearing a strange mask. Asks about her appearance. Attacks the person regardless of the answer.

Kuchisake-onna. The slit-mouthed woman. Technically a traditional youkai, though she disappeared before Gensokyo was established so she’s not here. Now that her rumor has resurfaced, she’s become an urban legend.

Her known traits are her mask, a surgical one in modern times and a simple cloth on traditionally, a pair of scissors and a slit mouth.

Masks aren’t that common in Gensokyo. Her modern legend mentions a surgical mask, likely because they’re a common way to prevent spreading diseases today. In her traditional legend, though, she’s depicted as wearing either a piece of cloth as a mask, a scarf or hiding her face with a fan. All of which are common enough in Gensokyo.

In the modern legend, her weapon of choice is a scissor. Again, not something common to Gensokyo. Though her original legend doesn’t mention what kind of weapon, only that she slashes her victims, which suggests a bladed weapon. Again, not exactly hard to come by in Gensokyo.

The slit mouth, though. That’s the one thing about her appearance that’s stayed consistent. Should be easy to spot with my spiritual sight, even if she’s hiding it.

Weaknesses would be answering with a vague or confusing answer, excusing yourself because you’re busy, and throwing candy at her as a distraction to run away without her following you.

Neither legends say anything about the time of her attacks. In the original she follows her victim home and kills them the same night. And if students are rich kids, then I doubt they’d leave the village if they don’t have to.

So covering her face, wielding a bladed weapon, slit mouth, inside the village and active all hours of the day. Still not narrow enough to actively hunt her down, but it’s a start.

That said, the village is reasonably big, so where should I even start looking for her?


[ ] Write in
[ ] Look on the less populated streets
[ ] Look in the outskirts of the village

[Optional] Buy candy, just to be safe


=====
Another mistake seems to have passed me and my proofer. I got Airi’s name wrong last update. I wrote it as Auri. Think it was a simple typo that I didn’t double check.

>>31121
So I'm a bit late to replying to this, I know. Got caught up in my fun homework, and by the time I returned it'd already been too long, so it'd be better to wait until the update to reply.

Basically, a friend recommended that I put that in to prevent you from meta-gaming so you'd be at location X, Y or Z just to let your waufi get some screen time. It honestly didn't cross my mind until then, so I threw that in haphazardly, which in retrospect was even worse than leaving it out. It was meant to keep you on track and focus on the incident.

Meta-gaming like warning Eientei I don't care about; is what I'd like to say, but that actually sounds like an awesome idea. Granted, I'll have to pull a bullshit excuse out of my ass as to why you'd even know that in the first place. But if enough people vote on that, then enough people won't mind a bullshit excuse.

Hope that cleared it up a little more.
>> No. 31130
[x] Look in the outskirts of the village

Less populated means less possible witnesses for us and less possible victims for the youkai. Outskirts means poor folk that are less likely to be missed, sad as it is to say.

Or, well, that's how I read it anyway.
>> No. 31132
>>31129
That's a good attitude. I doubt you'll have to wrroy about that though, not many people are willing to vote seemingly illogical choices since many writers forbid them outright.

[x] Look on the less populated streets
-[x] Buy candy, just to be safe
>> No. 31133
[x] Look on the less populated streets
-[x] Buy candy, just to be safe
>> No. 31134
[x] Look on the less populated streets
-[x] Buy candy, just to be safe

I get the feeling that she's one of those kind of youkai who only appears to people who are going somewhere alone, so the less populated streets make more sense to me.
I mean, stories like that usually starts with "[someone] walking home, alone, late at night when..."
>> No. 31135
Going to the desolate areas with some candy it is.

I've also been thinking about the Eientei idea. With everything I've sat up so far, I can provide a decent reason to go to Eientei with the knowledge that they at least have something to do with it.

It's really just going to depend on two things.
1. You're willingness to abandon your promise to Akyuu
2. You figuring out what the old 20 yen coin is for

The first I'm going to treat as a vote. which will be open until the next time I call the votes (so about a century give or take)
[] Go to Eientei
[] Don't go to Eientei

The second, as long as one of you figures it out I'll accept it. I'll try to make it a little more clear what it's for in the next update, since everything about it might be too vague to make a guess on.
>> No. 31144
[X] Don't go to Eientei

Keep going as we were.

As for the 20 yen coin... No idea. To make a wish? That coin died along with the Meiji era.
>> No. 31148
Been waiting as long as possible to say this, but the next update will be slightly delayed.

Short version, since no one cares about the long version.
Have a school project. My current team is very enthusiastic. Been working on the project every waking moment for the last week.

The only promise I can make is that it'll be out before Christmas, though I'd like to get two more out before new year
>> No. 31149
File 151297170034.jpg - (2.26MB, 1821x2580, __hata_no_kokoro_touhou_drawn_by_himajin_no_izu__a.jpg) [iqdb]
31149
==========
Human Village, Hieda residence - 14:23
==========

“Don’t keep me waiting.” My little chronicler speaks up. “What did you find?”

“Kuchisake-onna.” I reply, folding up the papers and storing them in my bag. “A woman who cheated on her husband, and as a result got her face mutilated. She’s now become a youkai that aims to do the same to other people’s faces.”

“Cheat?” She asks.

“Sorry, modern expression for it. To be an unfaithful lover and see other people behind their back.”

She puts on a tiny frown. “Geeze. She deserved it then.” Seeing as I’ve started walking, she runs up next to me again.

“I disagree with that.” I tell her. “Unless you yourself enact or threaten with violence, directly and indirectly, you don’t deserve to experience any yourself.” I explain. “Granted, she did kind of have it coming.”

“You just say that because you haven’t been ‘cheated’ on yet.” She argues, raising her index finger like she’s making an actual point. “It’s happened to me at least three times, and I can promise you it’s not a nice feeling.”

“Three times?” I almost have to stop to make sure, but continue walking.

“Yeah. Though in my previous lives, of course.” She hurriedly adds one. “This body is still virgin.”

“That was a little more information than I needed, Akyuu.” I admit.

“What? Don’t guys usually like maidens?” She asks.

“I don’t actually care.” I admit. “Between training, working and fighting to the death, I don’t really have much extra time to think about girls.”

Much less because the main condition I have to a relationship, would be that they’d have to accept the fact I can die at any moment without warning. That’s the world I live in, after all. Even if they won’t live in the same world as me, they’d have to accept the consequences I’ll face.

“Really?” She asks, though doesn’t sound too surprised. “Then I guess that means you-”

“Yeah, I’m gonna have to cut you off there.” I stop her. “While I’m glad you trust me enough already to talk about this, I’d personally rather not.” I try to change the topic. “Besides, no matter what, revenge just isn’t worth it.”

She falls silent for a second before asking. “Is that from experience?”

“Yeah.” I answer. “And while I still believe she deserved it, there was no satisfaction afterwards. Just a big hole left by all the anger that had piled up.”

“You don’t strike me as the type to get revenge?” She comments.

“Because I’m not.” I reply. “That was a one thing thing. Never tried to get revenge since. It’s just not worth it.”

“Mind if I ask what happened?” She cautiously asks.

“I do, yeah.” I turn down her request. “It’s not something I like to think about, so you’ll have to excuse me.”

With that said, I start walking again, and after a second the chronicler catches up. She doesn’t pursue that topic any further though.

“We’re heading to the outskirts.” I start another topic instead. “Urban legends like this tend to start with people walking around outside alone. The fewer people around, the better.”

“But you’re not alone.” She points out. “How will you find her?”

“I’ll let her come to me.” I shrug off her question. “Since your spiritual power is at the average for humans, you might not be able to feel it, but I have enough spiritual power to compare to even a youkai sage. Not quite enough to rival one, though.”

“Wouldn’t she just hide, in that case?” She asks. “If she can feel how much power you have, wouldn’t she just avoid you?”

“Probably.” I answer. “But once she’s on the move, she’ll be easy to track down. And if she stays put, it’ll just be a question about time. There’s also the chance that she’s prideful and comes out to challenge me, which a handful of youkai would. “

==========

“Say, am I pretty?” She points to her cheeks, covered by a modern surgical mask.

“See. I told you we would find her.” I gesture towards the small menreiki.

“But she’s a normal youkai.” Akyuu argues. “She was involved in a recent incident.”

“Hey. Am I pretty?” The little youkai leans in, making sure she’s being seen.

“Sure, that girl is a traditional youkai.” I agree. “But she’s most definitely cloaked in an urban legend.”

The difference in their signature is just too great to mistake. And even though the menreiki’s own energy is still clear as day, kuchisake’s is like a dense see-through curtain wrapped around. Clearly visible, but hiding nothing.

The little youkai stomps on the ground. “If you’re going to ignore me, then I’m just going to attack.” She declares, striking an overly angry pose.

“You might want to take a few steps back, Akyuu.” I warn her.

This girl, Kokoro, was only recently added to the notable figures in Gensokyo, so I’m still missing a lot of data about her. Honestly, a little too much for me to feel comfortable facing off against her.

Said youkai swings out her hand in front of her and a glowing blue spear materializes in it.

With weapon in hand, she charges at me, feet not touching the ground.

Readying the weapon with one hand, she prepares a strike with the full force of her charge behind her.

Pivoting on my front, I easily avoid the attack and watch her fly by.

She slams on the brakes and blindly swing her weapon back at me.

With three quick steps, I’ve moved out of her range.

Judging by her moves, she’s obviously not a fighter. Anyone with experience can easily predict her next moves.

She pulls back her spear, sliding her grip up the shaft so she can wield it two handed again.

Just as she grips it with both hands, she starts thrusting, aiming the blade towards my stomach. Each stab is executed quickly, with multiple thrusts per second.

Yet they still remain too easy to predict and avoid. The slight bit of wavering it takes to dodge as she continues to push ahead is remarkably dull.

As she prepares for a big strike, I interrupt her by placing my foot on her chest and shoving her back.

I’m not fond of kicking kids. And even though I know she’s not one, and would in fact be able to endure one of my kicks, it’d still feel wrong.

“Why aren’t you attacking?” She stands firm and points the spear at me, holding it in an outstretched arm.

I make a show out of shrugging and shaking my head. “I’m just not motivated to fight weaklings.” I taunt her. “I’m more interested in fighting your partner, so why don’t you bring her out? I’ll even take on both of you.”

“My partner?” She cocks her head.

So she doesn’t realize it herself? “Then I guess I really have to drag her out by force.”

Not giving her a chance to respond, I charge ahead.

She tries to counter my charge by aiming her spear at my head, though a quick sidestep easily dodges that.

I quickly focus my spiritual energy before delivering a backhanded liver blow.

The strike itself isn’t all that powerful, I mean it’s a backhanded hit after all. But rather, forcing my own spiritual power into her like this will hurt, both her and her partner.

She winces and recoils from the hit, giving me plenty room to withdraw to a safe distance beyond her range.

For but a moment, a shadowy figure forms behind her.

So it does work. I was doubting if I’d actually be able to attack Kuchisake directly like this.

She doesn’t take the hit kindly and comes at me, now swinging her spear in a wide arc.

Seems like that really hurt her. Youkai are primarily spiritual in nature, so of course that’d hurt her more than a normal punch. Though I didn’t think it’d be that bad. I was holding back after all.

Seeing an opportunity, I dive in between her swings and get up really close and personal.

“Martial Sign [One Inch Punch].” I declare, giving her a fair warning before delivering another spiritual strike, this time to her chest.

She manages to not fall back over, but instead goes down on her knees, clutching her chest with one hand.

Once again, I retreat back to a safe distance.

This is actually a rather disappointing fight. She has no experience in actual combat despite wielding her spear quite nicely. She’s even more frail than me, compared to the youkai I usually fight.

She stands back up, taking a single deep breath.

With the speed only a youkai could achieve, she flies straight at me.

“[Dance of the Empty-Hearted Masks: Noh of Darkness]!”

She takes one of the masks floating around her, and before I can react, forces it on my face.

The world goes dark. Completely. None of my senses work.

Then a sharp image flashes through my mind, a motionless state of my surroundings.

I’ve been cut, deeply. Though everything remains motionless, the trail of blood following the blade of the spear speaks volumes.

Another sharp image flash my mind, depicting a similar state.

Yet I can’t feel anything. Can’t do anything. Nothing but helplessly watch as she strikes.

Until finally my senses return. The pain of every cut makes itself known instantly, forcing me on my knees.


A faint yet clear ‘clink’ sound from behind drags me out of my thoughts. Like a small piece of metal falling on stone.

The hell just happened?


[ ] Dodge!
[ ] Charge
>> No. 31150
[x] Dodge!

I haven't played HM or ULiL, but not charging at something we can't see seems prudent.
>> No. 31151
[x] Charge

We're focused on endurance, so let's use that to make an attack she can't possibly predict.
>> No. 31162
It's a tie. Dodge reached the tie first, meaning it wins.
>> No. 31170
File 151476481580.jpg - (233.25KB, 931x1076, Cute little fighter.jpg) [iqdb]
31170
==========
Human Village, The Outskirts - 10th of Planting Month 15:11
==========

Before I realize what just happened, I’ve already dashed past my opponent, confusing her for long enough to create a lot of distance between us.

As I feel relatively safe, my first instinct is to grab my guts to feel out the wound.

There’s nothing.

I start tapping every other area of my chest where she cut me.

Nothing.

The hell just happened?

“You may run, but none can hide from Kuchisake.” She points her glaive at me, holding it out with one hand.

My body doesn’t report any damage. Nothing physical, nor anything magical. Seriously, what the hell just happened.

“I didn’t plan on running.” I put on my usual bravado. “Though I guess it’s about time I stop playing around.”

The mask she held in her other hand vanishes in a blue flash, and she instead grabs her polearm with both hands again.

No, but seriously, it’s time I stop playing around. I think I’ve gauged her abilities enough, and if she comes at me with attacks like that again, then I don’t know how long I’d last.

I assume a wider stance, shifting my defense away from my front.

She doesn’t take the bait, and instead takes up a stance of her own.

She’s been goaded into staying in place. This is why newbie fighters are boring. They’re too easy once you get serious.

Taking this opportunity, I start casting spells through my feet, setting up frameworks for barriers across the battlefield.

Once done, I assume a forward focused stance again.

“Thanks for waiting for me, Menreiki.” I yell. “Now, let us draw this to a close.”

Without giving her a chance to retort, I ignite the first spell.

A line of light shoots out from underneath my foot and shoots across the ground towards my opponent.

As it approaches her, it splits up into six, forking out over a wide area.

“You won’t get me that easily.” She jumps back, letting the lights pass beneath her.

The menreiki comes to a sudden halt, though, as her back hits a new wall, blocking her off from the rest of the road.

Likewise, I’ve raised the same kind of barrier behind me, trapping us in here.

“I wasn’t aiming at you.” I taunt.

Without further delay, I charge at her.

She takes a quick look behind her before assuming her stance again; low, with a firm grip on the rear of her glaive, with the front hand only holding it in place.

She flips her polearm around, and with a firm step in, swings it from the right.

She slides her front foot a little further ahead, securing her stance a little better.

I prepare another spell.

As I get close, she flips around her glaive so the blade is behind her.

I activate my spell, creating a column right next to her spear, preventing her from swinging it.

“What the-” She looks back at her weapon.

With nothing to stop me, I let the full force of my weight collide with her tiny frame, knocking her back into the wall.

She kicks off the wall, aiming straight for me. With her arms crossed, she swings them open, cutting away with her fans.

As she falls to the ground, her spear vanishes.

I take a few quick steps back.

The menreiki quickly picks herself up from the ground again. She flicks both her wrists, causing two fans, to appear.

“Didn't your mother ever teach you how to treat a lady?” She asks.

“Ladies? Of course. But sadly, there aren’t any ladies here, only a little child.”

The mask next to her head swaps out with one of those that fly around her. The red oni mask, to be precise.

I hold back a smirk as I wave her over, inviting her to attack me.

She takes me up on the offer by first jumping back to the wall, where she kicks off, flying straight at me.

“I don’t think so.” I raise another wall between us.

With no time to stop, she manages to flip herself around to avoid a headfirst collision.

Seizing the chance, I dissolve the barrier between us.

Using swift footwork, I shove my leg in underneath her center, wrap my arm around her chest, and in a single push, throw her over my leg down onto the ground.

Following up, I charge my fist with spiritual energy again and strike down at her stomach.

She lets out a most unladylike sound, which I can best describe as “ge-hurg” before she lies flat on the ground.

Targeting the guts means targeting her stamina directly. With that gone, regardless how much she wants to stand, she’ll be unable to.

And it seems like it worked. She’s not moving, aside from her chest showing she’s still breathing.

I crouch down and grab her chin, allowing me to move around her head and examine her a little closer.

Her eyes, blank though not empty, stay focused on me regardless of the angle I turn her face.

“That was playing dirty.” she comments.

With a finger on each cheek, I push in, giving her a fishmouth. Just because, really.

“That was a standard take down technique.” I tell her. “I’m simply a better fighter. That’s all.”

I let go of her and stand back up.

As I’m about to dispel the barriers when the menreiki starts glowing with a cold purple light.

The light concentrates itself directly above her, where it starts taking the form of a sphere.

Then, without warning it flies at me, burrowing into my chest.

“The hell?” I ask aloud.

It doesn’t hurt. On the contrary, it’s as if an exhilarating feeling of newfound power starts welling up inside me.

What a dangerously addicting feeling.

Kuchisake’s aura has vanished from the menreiki. Seems like I failed.

I snap my finger and the walls I’ve erected all shatter and disappear.

“Akyuu.” I call out to my little partner.

“Yie- Yeah.” Her voice cracks. “I’m still here.”

“I’m afraid I failed on this one.” I walk over to her. “It’s the first time I’m even trying something like this, so that’s to be expected. We’ll just have to find another one and try again.”

“What do you mean?” Her brow frowns. “I saw it. The urban legend that is. A crazy looking woman with long wild hair. She was fighting a fox too.”

A fox? That she’d be able to see Kuchisake in my barrier’s reflection is one thing, but where did this fox come from?

I reach for the old coin in my pocket, but to my surprise, it’s not there.

Looking back over our battleground, I can’t immediately see where it’d be.

And once again, I hear a faint ’clink’ behind me. Which, upon looking, turns out to be the old coin.

Exactly what is this coin, Yukari?

“I don’t know if you saw what happened after the fight,” I stuff the coin back in my pocket, “but it’s something I’ll need to talk with Reimu about.” Or Kasen, for that matter, since she’s also investigating this incident. “So that’s gonna change our plans slightly.”

“I don’t particularly mind.” She shakes her head. “But is she going be alright? That youkai.”

“The menreiki?” I ask. “Yeah, she’ll just need a minute to recover.”

“So she can get away before the guards show up.” She lets out a sigh. “Unlike most humans here, I have nothing against youkai as long as they behave. And even in cases like hers, she doesn’t deserve a punishment.”

“Agreed. Once they start killing humans, though, that’s where I draw the line.” I tell her.

But with that behind us, I should probably go find either Reimu or Kasen. Problem is, I have no idea where they might be.

Alternatively, I could loosen all restraints on my spiritual power, letting all the excess flow out. It’d make me a beacon to everything capable of sensing energy, which includes both girls. But it also includes who knows what else, which could also decide to show up and pick a fight.


[ ] Search for Reimu
[ ] Search for Kasen
[ ] Become a beacon
[Write in]


Since last update was shit, and did nothing to actually hint at what the coin was used to, I'm including this next week until I call the votes, in the meta vote on whether to go confront the lunarians or follow the ULiL story. It should of course be noted that this isn't gonna be a sharp turn if you go for the lunarians. I'll simply change the flow of upcoming events to lead you in that direction, if you so choose.

And a happy new year, while we're at it.
>> No. 31171
[x] Search for Kasen

Never enough pink hermit.
>> No. 31172
[x] Kasen

With how good these fight scenes are, cutting them short feels like a crime. No shortcuts.

Also, you update on the weirdest days, you know that?
Per example, the first update of this thread was exactly a year ago.
>> No. 31173
>>31172
That's intentional. For the last four years, I've always posted on new years, as close to 00:00 as possible site time.

>>29716
>>30202 only time I've been off, and only by an hour
>>OP
>>Last Update

Started because the story itself starts on new years, I decided to post the first update there as well. Been keeping it up just because.

That said, 37 updates in 4 years is a little sad.
>> No. 31174
[x] Search for Reimu

Better idea of what's going on.
>> No. 31176
Gonna look for Kasen, and we'll ignore the moonies.
>> No. 31177
File 15177740522.jpg - (432.77KB, 600x800, 55562190_p0.jpg) [iqdb]
31177
==========
Human Village, The Outskirts - 10th of Planting Month 15:17
==========

“Kasen.” I say after a brief moment of consideration.

“Kasen?” Akyuu asks. “The One-Armed Hermit? What does she have to do with this?”

“When I arrived in Gensokyo, I talked with Reimu who was still at the shrine.” I explain, looking in the direction of the shrine. “According to her, Kasen had been working on this incident for a while already, while Reimu was just getting started.”

“So we’re going to ask the hermit for help?” She continues to ask.

“No. She’s working on the incident. I’m not.” I tell her. “We’ll trade information and hope it helps both of us.”

“I see.” She starts stroking her chin. “How are we gonna find her? She lives on Youkai Mountain, but we can’t reach her house without her guidance.”

“I doubt she’s home right now.” I tell her. “She’s likely somewhere in the city, following a lead we know nothing about.” I turn my gaze north, towards Youkai Mountain. “Our best option for finding her would without a doubt be to just wait for her, but who knows how long that’ll take.”

“I’d not be entirely opposed to that.” She remarks. “If you hadn’t already figured that out.”

“I’m not dense, Akyuu. I just prioritize work.” I explain. “But alternatively, instead of going outside the village to wait for her, we could look around for her.”

“We would be unlikely to find her like that.” Akyuu comments. “We’d have more luck getting Grey out looking.”

“Grey?” I ask.

She looks confused for a second. “Oh right, I never told you his name. Grey is the name of that old man that chased us a while back. He’s sort of a bodyguard for me, even though my life is already being protected by all five Youkai Sages.”

Grey. Obviously an alias, but not like I can judge him on that front.

“He’s going to refuse, though.” She continues. “He’s very reluctant about leaving me alone whenever I leave home.”

“I’ll scrap that as an option, then.” I take another brief moment to consider our options. “Waiting really is the best option.”

“So where should we wait? Out north?” She asks.

“That’ll be where we’re most likely to catch her.” I reply. “And we may not even see her, if she doesn’t go back today.”

She ignores my later remark and starts leading us up to the northern exit.

Since she doesn’t start any conversation, I figure now might be a good time to read up on urban legends. Kuchisake was a special case since she was an old youkai that’d been revived recently. Since I rarely deal with urban legends, I generally don’t bother memorizing them.

I pull out my grimoire from inside my shirt. A motion which seems to catch the chronicler’s attention.

“What do you have there?” She asks, trying to take a peek inside.

“An encyclopedia of sorts.” I flip the book around to let her see. “It’s been imbued with magic though. Which, among other things, prevents anyone but me from reading it.”

“So it’s a grimoire?” She asks.

“Yeah, although a weak one.” I answer. “Any experienced magician would be able to break it easily.”

“Really, then what’s the point?”

“To prevent people like you from reading it.” I tell her bluntly. “This book automatically records everything I learn. Which includes information that’s better kept under wraps.”

“Such as?” She inquires. “If I’m even allowed to know that much.”

“An example would be information regarding the Special Containment procedures. SCP for short.” I tell her. “Gensokyo is a land where youkai, the fears of the heart, live. Even if SCP is fiction, should anyone from Gensokyo learn about it, they’ll undoubtedly become real.”

“Oh. Do I even dare ask what that is, then?” She asks anyway.

“It’s like the scroll of the Night Parade of a Hundred Demons.” I tell her. “But instead of youkai, it’s western monsters. And instead of a hundred, it four thousand. Last I checked, anyway. And that’s all the detail I can go into without getting risky.”

“That, what are we gonna do if they show up here?” She clenches her hands slightly.

“They aren’t. The SCPs are fictitious through and through.” I declare. “But here in Gensokyo, if people learned about them and started to fear them, then they would appear, and at that point even I would be powerless.”

“So if they aren’t real, why are they so dangerous?” She comes to a halt, only continuing when she sees I’m not stopping for her.

“Do you know what the essence of a youkai?” I ask her. She just shakes her head in response. “That’s surprising, actually. I’d thought that you of all people would know that.”

“It’s a little more complex than this, but a youkai’s essence can be summed up as belief, fear and desire.” I state. “Let’s say you have a bad knee. Not because you hurt yourself, but it just started hurting one day. If I can then convince you that it’s the act of a youkai living inside your knee, then that’ll become truth. If I then extract the youkai, the pain will go away too. Now here’s the thing; that youkai only existed because you believed in it, because you were afraid of the pain it’d cause you, and because you’d desire to shove the blame on something easy and get rid of it.”

She goes silent, opting to look ahead as she processes the information I just gave her. It takes a while before she speaks up again.

“Isn’t that how kami works?” She asks.

“This might sound ludicrous coming from a priest, but kami are youkai too.” I explain. “The term youkai refers to much more than just monsters. Like for example, the Scarlet Mist incident. The mist itself would be categorized as a youkai, since it’s an unexplained phenomenon. Or it was, until we learned it was caused by a youkai, though that doesn’t change its status as a supernatural event, meaning it’s still considered a youkai, despite not being ‘alive’ if you will.”

“That makes kami, a supernatural being, a youkai too.” I continue. “Granted, that’s the top level of the definition, which generalize things so much it’s basically useless. Yet despite that, the difference between them is virtually nonexistent.

“You may believe youkai are born from the fear of the human heart, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But it’s the same for kami. Why would you pray to the god of harvest if you weren’t afraid of starving? Why pray to the god of riches if you weren’t afraid of becoming poor? The difference is simply what kind of fear you have. Youkai feed on your immediate fear for survival; the fear that you might be killed on your way home. While kami feed on the long term fear that ‘something bad might happen’.

“Of course I need to mention that this is my interpretation of the facts as I know them.” I add. “Gods aren’t likely to admit they live off your fear, because they also need your loyalty, while youkai aren’t likely to admit they need your desire because that would lessen your fear.”

“That’s crazy.” Is all she says in response.

Granted, I had a few years to figure that out on my own, slowly, and it still came as an eye opening realization. I can’t imagine what it’d be like after, what, three hundred years or how many she’s actually been alive for.

I don’t say anything after that. Instead I just allow her to process it as we walk in silence. It’s not until we reach the north gate that I decide to break the silence.

“You’re still holding up?” I ask her.

“Yeah. I got over the shock a while ago.” She responds. “Now I’m not going through all my data to reevaluate it.”

“Just remember to consider what information you can release to the public. Youkai feed on fear, and the unknown is the biggest source of fear.” I explain. “If too much about youkai are known and understood, people will stop being afraid, which would starve the youkai here.”

“That much I know.” She reassures me, picking up her posture again. “You’ve read the full version of The Gensokyo Chronicles, so you know just how much information I keep under wraps. That’s the reason no one but me can access the Hieda archive, by the way.” She adds on proudly.

“What an interesting story.” A woman clad in all pink descends from the sky in front of us. “I’d like to hear more about that.”

“Ah. Kasen.” Akyuu greets her. “We were just looking for you.”

God, that stench. The only thing I know that stinks this much would be those thieving tanuki. Despite being so vastly inferior to foxes, they’re still known for their transformations. And yet they try to fool us with this sloppy mess of a transformation.

“I heard you two were looking for me, so I rushed out here.” The fake hermit informs us.

“Really?” I play along. “If you knew, then we could have avoided this long trek, since I’m sure you had to go out of your way.”

“It’s nothing to worry about.” She dismisses my fake concern with a wave of her hand. “I had just finished up on my end too.”

Oh? What’s this? She’s sending a decent killing intent my way. I can almost feel a shiver on my spine.

I just shrug it off. “While I have, Kasen. I’ve been thinking about your offer.” I change the topic. “Circumstances have changed slightly, and I might be able to take you up on it.”

“Sadly, that offer has expired.” She dismisses my comment again.

“But didn’t you say that you’d love to do your part?” I return the favor by releasing my own killing intent, without breaking face.

Might have overdone it slightly, though, as Akyuu seems to have noticed it too.

The fake hermit lets out a deep sigh. “I knew you’d be trouble, fox boy.”

“I’d have been a little friendlier if you didn’t try to trick us, raccoon.” I reply.

“What?” Akyuu injects.

“Ah, right.” The tanuki remembers that Akyuu is here. She dispels her transformation, blowing up a cloud of dust, like all tanuki do. A sure tell sign of bad transformations.

Her new form is that of an older woman, with hazel hair hidden underneath an oversized leaf. The small round glasses gives her an air closer to that of a middle aged woman. Her clothes are of a similar color theme to her hair, though brighter. Futatsuiwa. She match the description. Interestingly enough, her spiritual power resembles a four dimensional sphere, though not perfectly spherical. It’s rare to see people who’ve developed a high dimensional spirit like that.

“Now. You’ve already done a number on my patience.” I inform her. “So be straight.”

The tanuki snickers in response. “Gotcha. Truth to be told, I’d like to be quick too.” She leans back, resting against her tail. “Those orbs of yours. Give me. Like that pink friend of yours, I’m looking into this incident myself.”

“You’re talking about that ball that came out of the Menreiki?” I ask.

“Yeah, that one. And you’re own.” She rocks slightly on her tail.

Mine? I know I have Kokoro’s, because it came to me against my will. Do I have one of my own?

Should I even trust her? Kasen I trust, I’d be happy to help her, but a tanuki, that’s a different story.

[ ] Let the old lady have my balls
[ ] Keep my balls for myself
>> No. 31178
[X] Keep my balls for myself

...Ha.
>> No. 31179
[x] Keep my balls for myself
They're fine where they are.
>> No. 31180
[x] Keep my balls for myself

She's under the effect of the occult balls already?
>> No. 31181
Man, he sure hates Tanuki. It's almost as if he was raised by foxes or something.
>> No. 31182
[x] Keep my balls for myself

Sorry, we're rather attached to them.

...that was awful and I feel awful for posting it.
>> No. 31190
Tanukis loving balls. Talk about a cliche.
>> No. 31191
[X] Keep my balls for myself

Yeah, she's not getting our balls that easily.
>> No. 31193
File 151841850981.jpg - (239.25KB, 626x1652, Mokou's balls.jpg) [iqdb]
31193
Saving our balls for Akyuu's sake, got it.

>>31190
That actually didn't occur to me, to be honest. It really was just for a cheap laugh, because I found this image again
>> No. 31194
File 152040324263.jpg - (130.58KB, 500x483, Dealing with this shit.jpg) [iqdb]
31194
==========
Outside the Human Village, North District - 15:31
==========

I shrug her off with a smile. “I’m rather attached to my balls, you see.”

Her brow furrows. “That’s something we can quickly fix.” She folds her arms. “Though I’d rather avoid wasting effort on small fry.”

“So we’re in agreement. If you walk away, I get to keep these orbs, and you don’t waste any effort.” I state. “It’s a win-win situation, so just start waddling or whatever you tanuki do.”

She sighs. “Listen, kid.” she crosses her legs, sitting entirely on her tail. “These urban legends are clearly from the outside world. And we can both agree that I have more experience with the outside world than you do. So I’m more qualified to look into it.”

“I agree. Though there’s one problem, there.” I tell her. “And that’s the fact I’m not looking into why these urban legends are here. I’m just dealing with them on an individual basis.”

“So, what do you need the occult orbs for?” The tanuki asks. “If you’re not going to use them, why not just hand them over?”

“Two reasons.” I hold up my fingers. “First is that these orbs may help me do my job better.” Though the surge of power they give me might have side effects. “And second. I would like to say it’s because I can’t trust a tanuki, for reasons obvious to everyone but a tanuki. But really, it’s just because I don’t like you.”

“You won’t trust honorable and harmless tanuki, but are willing to put your faith into the lying, thieving foxes?” She asks. “Such a peculiar young man.”

“Inari.” I rest my working arm on my disabled one. “That’s one god favoring foxes. Now name a god that favors tanuki.”

Instead of responding she just lets out another deep sigh. “Alright, fox boy, let’s try a different method. Name your price.”

“My price?”

“Yeah. Lets trade.” She reaffirms. “You obviously aren’t going to hand them over, so let’s trade. What do you want?”

[Write in] Name your price
[ ] Still not handing over my balls


A tad short, but [insert excuse 1] and [insert excuse 2] kinda kept me from writing.
Jokes aside, while I have been busy, I also tried something in this update that was beyond my current skills.
>> No. 31195
[X] Still not handing over my balls

Oh no you don't. We're not getting jewed into giving up our balls!
>> No. 31196
[ ] Still not handing over my balls

You ain't getting nothin' from us!
>> No. 31197
The coin Yukari gives us 'clics' on every urban legend found or on every urban legend captured?

If the objetive is to analyze them, we could trade. If we could trust her that is. But we don't

[x] An orb for another orb, that's the only price. And no tricks.

He doesn't know that gathering them all is important, so I guess this could be a reasonable mistake on his part?
>> No. 31198
>>31197
While you have information about a lot of urban legends, all the information you know about this incident is what's happened so far. So no, you haven't heard he rumor that something will happen if you gather "all" seven orbs

And the coin is your link to an urban legend of your own. The effect of which you saw in Kokoro's fight
>> No. 31199
> And we can both agree that I have more experience with the outside world than you do.

Someone hasn't done her research.

[x] Still not handing over my balls.
>> No. 31200
[x] Still not handing over my balls.
>> No. 31212
Yeah, who'd trust a dirty tanuki anyway. She can keep her balls, and we'll keep ours.
>> No. 31217
>>31212
Honestly even the fact that we have an option to give her all feels kind of OC. Guess he likes to keep his options open... Not bad
>> No. 31228
File 152135566053.png - (391.32KB, 640x720, Pretending to have any talent.png) [iqdb]
31228
>>31217
Compliment taken.

And yes. Though my lack of skill makes it hard to properly show, Ryuko is a person who likes to consider all his options before making decisions. The fact you got a vote on this, was because Ryuko did consider it. Though with the outcome, it'd be more accurate to say you entertained the thought rather than considered it.
>> No. 31236
File 152265555373.jpg - (149.63KB, 1280x1024, __futatsuiwa_mamizou_touhou_drawn_by_watchi__f6869.jpg) [iqdb]
31236
==========
Outside the Human Village, North District - 15:34
==========

“Not interested.” I shake my head.

“That’s too bad really.” She flips her smoking pipe over to drop the sod. “I’d have liked to avoid force.”

“Step back a bit, Akyuu.” I instruct her without taking my eyes off the tanuki. “We’ll need some room to dance.”

“I’ll head back to the village gates, then” She says, turning around. “Just to be on the safe side.”

I doubt any youkai would attack Akyuu, seeing as that would piss off some quite powerful individuals, but better safe than sorry. Especially since I’m not sure if I can even beat this old lady.

Maybe it’d be for the best if I go full turtle mode, though that wouldn’t get my engine going. Plus, I doubt I can pull it off with only one arm.

Having allowed the time for Akyuu to get out of range, the old racoon takes her stance and prepares to fight.

In a swift motion assisted by pivoting, I pull off my shirt and throw it to the side. It lands on the ground with a heavy ‘thunk.’

“Weighted clothes?” She inquires, glancing at the discarded article. “That’s quite a cliché.”

“Because of modern fiction, people have forgotten how to use tools like that.” I reply.

Using weighted clothes wrong could damage the body, but when used right, it can become a temporary passive stimulus to help maintain muscle.

In my case, I use weighted clothes to artificially increase my mass. This allows me to trade agility for power, seeing as most of my attacks utilize my weight as a force multiplier.

Discarding my weighted shirt means my upper body can move at top speed. While keeping my weighted pants will help my feet stay grounded. Exactly as I need.

I lower my center and take on a wide stance, with my soles dug firmly into the ground. I then extend my arm out far in front of me while keeping it bent.

Ultimate Defense [Absolute Territory]” I declare.

The pinnacle of my defensive martial arts. By focusing all my attention to my domain, that is everything within my immediate reach, I gain complete awareness of everything close to me while lowering my reaction time even further.

“That’s a fancy name. Let’s see if it lives up to it.” She flies straight at me, hovering less than an inch over the ground.

As she gets within range, she swings backhanded at me, using the same hand she holds the pipe with.

As it enters my domain, I twist my hand around to the outside of her wrist where I can direct her attack up and out of my domain.

She follows through the motion and comes back around with high kick, which I again repel out of my domain.

“That’s not a bad little trick you got there, fox boy.” She quickly pulls back a bit. “It would indeed be quite hard to penetrate.”

“I’d like to take the compliment. “I reply, reaffirming my stance. “But unless it comes from another warrior, it’s just a fact.”

She has power, that much I’ll acknowledge. Even just redirecting her attacks hurt, and they don’t even graze me. But she lacks the refined movements of a fighter. Wasting energy, making big moves, shaky precision.

I should be able to deal with her if it stays like this. And though she may be a tanuki, she’s not stupid. She’ll mix up her attacks for sure.

In just a few quick strides, she builds up speed and launch herself at me. At the peak of her jump, she transforms into a stone statue, headed straight for me.

Shit.

I break my stance and throw myself on my back.

As she comes flying at me, I meet her stony body with my feet, directing her over me before giving her a good kick, sending her flying further past me.

With her now gone, I jump back up from the ground to resume my stance.

“Not so fast!” She exclaims from behind me.

She lands on one foot and without a break, she jumps straight up, leaving behind her oversized shoe.

The shoe then transforms into a Shinto gate, with the center having a weird distortion.

A horde of youkai emerge from the distortion. The group includes several types of youkai, such as the eternally starving Gaki, the eel princess Ounagi, small Yamajijii carrying wooden spears, the tsukumogami lantern Chouchin, the net cutting lobster Amikiri, burning WaNyudo wheels, a giant man-eating monkey Hihi and a vengeful Koukotsu skeleton. All of which have the iconic tanuki tail. And all of which are charging right at me.

Well fuck me sideways.

I bite deep into my thumb to draw a lot of blood.

Blood Sign [Duboundary]

I jab my finger into the ground, activating my spell.

As the empty feeling of blood being forcefully drained wash over me, the spell encircles me, carving out the barrier parameters and boundaries before a set of flaming red walls cage me in.

Even as the horde of transformed racoons crash into my barrier with all their might, it neither budges nor cracks.

The tanuki not knocked down by the impact continue past me without even looking or caring for their fallen kin.

With the barrier erected, I pull my fingers out of the ground and take a seat inside my safe space.

“Well then.” I call out to my old opponent. “Seems like you’ve lost this one.”

“We’ll see.” The shinto gate disappears, and she floats down to her shoe. “Hemomancy can’t be sustained for long.”

“It’s a modified variant of my own creation.” I brag. “Makes use of my enormous pool of spiritual energy. And something of this size consumes less energy than I recover.”

Technically true. Maintaining them like this is easy. But all damage they sustain must be repaired using my power, so a continuous assault would break it eventually.

“So unless I break it, I’ve lost.” She states. “Leave it to you foxes to be so cowardly.”

“My goal with this fight is simply to not hand over these orbs.” I state. “I don’t care about yours, so I have nothing to win, but something to lose.” I stick my thumb in my mouth, to clean the wounds before they’re closed up by scar tissue.

“You’re really not keen on handing them over?” She leans against her tail again.

“Told you so already. I’m not handing them over to a tanuki. Much less one that tried to trick them from me.” I state again. “If you want them that badly, get Kasen or Reimu to come and get them. I trust both of them a fair bit more than you.”

“Do you even know what they are?” She asks.

“No clue.” I do my one-armed shrug. “Like I also told you. My overall goal is to deal with the urban legends. Whatever else is going on is none of my business.”

“So you don’t even know the rumor?” She asks, though I just gave her an answer to that question. “Since you got an urban legend of your own, I assumed you would be hunting down these orbs as well.” she folds her arms.

My urban legend? As in like the Menreiki or am I just big and scary enough to get my own urban legend. I wouldn’t doubt either.

“Good news is that I’m not looking into the rumor.” I tell her. “Bad news is that I might consider it now. If only to just spite you.”

“Honesty is a virtue, I see.” She taps her finger against her arm. “My last resort would have been to answer some questions, an orb for an answer.” She shrugs. “But it’s pretty clear you wouldn’t agree.”

“Seems like I finally got through.” I lean back against the wall of my barrier. “So how about you just quit attacking already.”

“Yeah.” She gives the barrier a slight tab, causing the surface to ripple. “I wouldn’t be able to break this without breaking the spell card rules.” She takes a whiff of her pipe as she walks past me. “I’d be better off getting some other orbs in the meantime. Should probably be able to take them from the hermit, since she’s not a cowardly fox.”

I let out a sigh and release my barrier.

I’d hoped to wait here for Kasen to pass by, since we’re between the village and her house. But seems like I’ll have to change my plans yet again. I now have a few questions that need answers.

Behind me!

I quickly shift my weight to my front foot and pivot around.

The only thing I manage to see is the tanuki’s wooden pipe coming straight at me.

=====

As I open my eyes again, I find myself looking at a familiar wall.

Lowering my arms back down, I take a look around. No tanuki around. In fact, I’m not even outside. I appear to be standing in the middle of a single room shrine, if the wall decorations are anything to go by.

Though the strangest thing here is my arm. Mainly the fact I can move it, despite the fact it’s supposed to be paralyzed.

Maybe it’s because of my aching head, but it also looks like there’s a slight trailing effect on it, whenever I move my arm around. There’s nothing on my right arm, though.

“Seems like we’ll be parting ways now.” A sudden voice from outside speaks up. Feminine, adult woman, if I had to guess.

I slide open the only door to the room.

The landscape unfolding before me is that of a familiar scenery. Flat rocky ground that stretches for roughly a hundred meters before the edge. The horizon, if it can even be called that, is a clear blue sky you’d see on a summer midday.

And sure enough, the black and red blurred figure is still here. Though this time there’s a figure next to it, also blurred. Primary color is white, with added strokes of golden brown.

The new white blur speaks up. Though all I hear is noiseless static.

“He can’t hear us yet.” The red one explains. “Should be able to next time you two meet.”

There’s some more static noise from the yellowish blur before it disappears.

“Now then. Let’s get you out of here.” The blurred woman walks up the stairs to me. “You still have some work to do before you fall asleep, right?” She grabs a hold of my left arm. “I’ve finished with this one too, so you should be able to use it again.”

=====

The first thing that comes to me, is the fact I’m lying on my back, on what feels like dirt. The second thing is the feeling of a nail drilled to far into my temple that it comes out the other side.

Though my body doesn’t report any serious damage to my skull, so I doubt that’s what’s happening.

I swing my legs up and kick into the air, jumping back on my feet. My balance is slightly off, but it’s within expectations.

“Already on your feet again?” The tanuki asks. “Then let me just make sure we’re clear. That attack was within the rules, in the subsection about duels.” She states, not taking her eyes of the two orbs in her hands.

“Calling me cowardly, then attacking me from behind.” I fold my arms. “And I even gave you the benefit of the doubt, but of course a simple racoon like yourself would resort to such underhanded methods.”

“I’d apologize, but there’d be no point in lying.” She states. “Besides, my guts tell me this incident is bigger than we think, so I’m not letting an emotional kid handle it.”

“Now you can call me a lot of things, and most would probably be true, but emotional is not one of them.” I argue.

“Yeah, if you say so.” She brushes off the comment entirely. “Though now that I’ve taken these, the least I can do is give you a hint.” She spins around on her tail. “The hermit isn’t likely to return to her house for the rest of the day. She’s busy collecting these things too.”

“Ryuko!” Akyuu calls out from behind.

“Seems like the lovebird is here.” The tanuki lets out a single snicker. “‘Bout time I leave too. Stay healthy, kid.” She closes her hand, causing the orbs to disappear, and takes to the sky.

“Are you alright?” The little chronicler comes running.

“Yeah, though I’m feeling slightly off balance.” I tell her.

Taking a hit to the temple, aside from losing consciousness, tends to affect the legs more than balance.

“Ryuko.” She calls for my attention. “Your arm.”

“My arm?” I hold out my hands to see what’s wrong.

My arms. Both of them. They both move.

I can feel a big grin crawling on my face. Normally, I’d suppress it, but right now I don’t care. I have my arm back. I can finally work at one hundred percent again.

Taking a quick test run, I point it towards the trees, and a small wall extends out from me, reaching more than two dozen meters out.

Now spells will be a breeze again.

But even more. This means Hakurei is done settling in. I can now officially call myself a Hakurei.

Enough celebration. Back to work.

“So I’ve lost that strange orb, as well as my own.” I restore my posture. “We should still inform Kasen and Reimu if we run into them, but now that I don’t have anything to give them, there’s no reason to actively look for them.”

“No?” She grabs her chin. “So after a duel, these orbs go to the winner? You got Hata’s after she lost, and Futatsuiwa got yours after you lost.”

“Seems like a rule for a game.” I comment. “But that at least makes it predictable.”

“So what do we do now?” She asks.

Good question.

The only lead we have is still just the rumors. Though now that I’m outside the village, I’m picking up more traces of urban youkai.

There’s one in the mountains, inside tengu territory. One deep in the bamboos off to the side. Then there’s one in the sky too, but unless I learn to sprout wings, I doubt I’ll be able to reach that one.

Furthermore, there’s a presence inside the woods just next to us. And though I’m certain it’s not an urban legend, I can’t pinpoint any more information without getting closer.

[] Go to Youkai Mountain
[] Go to the Bamboo Forest of the Lost
[] Investigate the presence in the forest
>> No. 31237
Not many writers can make me hate a character for a well-defined, in-universe reason, rather than just making them obnoxious. Well done.

Anyway, heck with the urban youkai, everyone else has them covered already. Let's go see what the suspicious one is.

[x] Investigate the presence in the forest.
>> No. 31239
[] Investigate the presence in the forest

With our defeat to the Tanuki we are so far behind as to be effectively out of the occult balls incident. At least we can investigate something else.
>> No. 31240
[x] Investigate the presence in the forest

Sorry but isn’t Ryuko’s spellcard being impenetrable unless Mamizou breaks the rule is.. breaking the rule too? Him being unable to be attacked and all that? Unless Mamizou’s just bullshitting and it can really be broken by continuous assault with attacks allowed by the rule, which now that I think about it is the most likely.
>> No. 31241
>>31240
>Sorry but isn’t Ryuko’s spellcard being impenetrable unless Mamizou breaks the rule is.. breaking the rule too?

After going over the spell card rules again just to be sure, no, I don't think so, but I'm willing to change my mind fi you can argue for it.

That said, I've modified the rules slightly to suit my version of Gensokyo a little better. Which include separating them into two sections, melee duels (the fighting games) and magical duels (danmaku.)

The essence of the melee rules 4, which are relevant to this fight, can be summed up in two points:
1. Every attack must by avoidable
2. No attack may inflict serious injury*
*Does not apply after combat, if safety or survival was waged on the duel

Using a shield like that doesn't break the rules, on the grounds that it doesn't ensure Mamizou's lose the same way an unavoidable attack would. It does however, ensure that she can't win and would force the duel into a draw.

>Unless Mamizou’s just bullshitting and it can really be broken by continuous assault
Just know that Mamizou isn't stupid. She's far older than you'd think.
>> No. 31242
>>31241
I forgot to mention, I’m just comparing it to Reimu’s Last Word with her also being undamageable but through different means, her being intangible, was given a time limit by Marisa to make it fair, although Reimu’s spellcard is more extreme compared to Ryuko’s considering she can still attack even while intangible, it’s justified in her case I guess.

>Draw
Now that you mentioned the possibility of a draw, I’m curious what would’ve happened.

Sorry if I’m being annoying.
>> No. 31243
>>31242
Draws act entirely like you'd expect. Neither party wins nor loses, thus no one wins or loses anything waged on the duel. In this sense, it favors humans who duel to save their lives, since they would win as long as they don't lose. ( I know that's a "People die when they're killed" level of obvious without context) Which is another difference between the canon rules and mine; youkai are allowed to kill humans if they win in a fair game. The reverse is also true, though not a lot of humans realize this.

>Reimu's Last Word
As you mentioned, she's able to attack. If she didn't have a time limit, she'd be able to go intangible at the start of a duel and continue to attack, making it completely impossible to defeat her. If she only went intangible and didn't attack, it wouldn't go against the rules. Though that would go against the spirit of the rules, which is fairness.

>Sorry if I’m being annoying.
I think about this story all day everyday, despite my attempts not to. Having anyone show any interest in it can easily become the highlight of my day.
I also try to answer all the questions I get, though I have information I refuse to share. The rule of thumb being "If Ryuko knows it, I'll answer freely." Other than that, it comes down to the situation, like if I wasn't able to display some information clearly enough. Information I won't share would be things like Yukari's big secret. Although I've already hidden the biggest hint I can give for that one.
>> No. 31244
[X] Go to Youkai Mountain
We might have more look fighting in the land of fragile speedsters.
>> No. 31245
Forest it is
>> No. 31258
File 152563541859.png - (1.52MB, 1000x956, Cocky bastard.png) [iqdb]
31258
==========
Outside the Human Village, North District - 15:55
==========

I turn to Akyuu. “I know we’re supposed to hunt urban legends, but there’s something I’d like to look into really quick, if you don’t mind.”

“You’re the expert.” She gestures. “I’m just along to observe some modern youkai.”

“This isn’t really a youkai, per se.” I start walking towards the woods, motioning her to stay behind me. “It’s just something that feels off.”

She shrugs it off and doesn’t say anything else.

The woods are barely a stone's-throw away, with my pace, and it doesn’t take long before whatever it is, comes into earshot.

“-nature like you would be able to put up a more entertaining fight.”

Female voice. Young, more so than Akyuu, though she sounds mature for her age.

A young-looking girl. She wears what looks like an azure hakama, though the legs are a fair bit thinner. Her plain white sleeveless shirt is thick enough to not turn see through despite the sweat that’s built up. Her long blue hair is tied neatly in a ponytail. Despite how she’s obviously moved around, her hair appears to remain silky, suggesting she takes extra care of it.

The thing that catches my attention, or rather what seemed to catch it in the first place, the flaming red blade at her waist. It emits a strange sense of allure, that makes me want to try and hold it, just to see how it feels to wield.

“We’re sorry.”
“We won’t do it again.”
“We promise.”

Right next to her, three small fairies are trembling with their backs against a tree.

A prank gone wrong?

“You think an apology is enough?” Blue girl folds her arms. “Insulting me like this would net you a severe punishment. But since I’m in a good mood, if you grovel, I might just forgive you.”

That goes a little past scolding.

I motion Akyuu to stop and continue making my way up to the apparent celestial.

She seems to catch me from the corner of her eye as she turns to face me. “Whatever it is, I’m busy, so wait a bit-”

I slug her square in the face, sending her flying back.

It takes a second for her to register what just happened, but once she does, she sits right up. “What in the actual hell are you doing?”

“Sorry,” I wrap my other hand around my fist, “you just looked so eager to pick a fight, I thought I’d give you a more challenging opponent.”

“Now you’ve done it.” She stands up. “Do you even know who I am?”

“Hinanawi Tenshi.” I state. “A little celestial brat born with a silver spoon up her ass.”

She clenches her teeth. “How daft would you have to be to attack me, knowing who I am.”

A quick glance back reveals the fairies have disappeared, though their spiritual signature hasn’t moved an inch.

“How spoiled would you have to be to throw around your unearned prestige to try and intimidate someone you know nothing about?” Not a snappy comeback, but I don’t care enough to try harder. “Hakurei Ryuko, faithful servant of Hakurei.”

“Hakurei? So you’re just a simple priest for a weak little god?” She laughs once. “Though it would be more fun to bully you.”

“Go ahead and try.” I fold my arms.

Though I do hate people who abuse their power to pick on those weaker than themselves, it’s rarely any of my business to get mixed up with them. But when it involves children, I draw the line and retaliate. Even if fairies are immortal forces of nature, everything about them are like human children, so I can’t overlook it with a good conscience.

Plus this will prove a nice exercise to get back into the habit of using my other arm again, though that’s just a bonus.

The brat makes a dash for me, circling around slightly from the right.

As she gets close, she grounds her inner foot and lets her outer foot continue into an upward roundhouse kick.

I quickly move my elbow down to meet her angle and direct her kick up above me. And I add an extra little push at the top to throw her off balance.

For a brief moment, her eyes widen as she expects a follow up attack. However, I don’t and let her fall backwards before regaining her footing.

She doesn’t rest, though, and immediately strikes back at me.

Swatting away her fist, I counter by planting my own fist in her stomach.

The sudden shock forces her onto her knees.

I plant my foot in her stomach and shove her back, using only enough force to move her small frame.

She’s stronger than the Menreiki, but this girl hasn’t had any combat training by the looks of it. Rather it seems like she’s instinctively brawling, and she’s not even that good at it. Real brawlers can take martial artists on equal footing.

“Come on. This isn’t fair. At this rate I’ll have to stop using my hands, just to give you a chance.” I taunt her. “With how you were bullying those fairies, I thought you at least could make me sweat.”

“Take that ego and shove it up your ass, would you?” The celestial climbs back on her feet without issue.

“How unladylike.” I put on a snobby accent. “But oh well, that’s only to be expected from lowly humans made celestial because of their connections.”

“You fuck!” She yells out as she launches herself at me, forfeiting all defense.

I respond with a swift spin kick to her liver, knocking her off my path.

“This is ego backed by confidence and skill, by the way.” I inform her, to further rub it in.

She once again pulls herself off the ground and gets on her feet, without much trouble.

And I have to admit, that’s impressive.

The liver is like a water balloon; if you squeeze one place, it will expand somewhere else to compensate. And that tiny flap peeking out from under the cover of the ribs, if that’s hit then the other end will expand, triggering a reaction from the core nerve system.

It won’t just hurt like all hell, but it’ll force your veins to expand, lowering your blood pressure. The heart being unable to adjust to such a sudden change, the body will collapse, to make sure the brain has enough blood, which will effectively ground you until your body has stabilized itself again.

And that’s not factoring in how easy it is to damage the liver. All it takes is a punch of five meters per second to fracture the liver, which is fragile considering the average human can punch at six meters per second.

Celestials, of course, should be more durable than that, but even if the liver isn’t damaged, she should still stay grounded for at least a minute, with the amount of force I put into that kick.

“It’ll take more than that to hurt me.” She brags. “But I guess that’s all there is to be expected from a simple human.”

“So I can get even rougher?” I spread out my arms. “Wonderful. There’s something I’ve always wished to try, but never found anyone who’d survive it.”

“Are you looking down on me?” She quickly closes the distance between us.

This time she tries a front kick to my abdomen.

I shoot my foot forward, so her kick goes behind me.

Before she has a chance to plant her foot, though, I slide my leg back, getting in her way and forcing her off center.

With a soft push, I send her back to the ground.

“What would give you that idea?” I shrug, though do nothing to hide my smirk. “Now get up so I can play a little more.”

She gets back up into a crouching position, to catch her breath before going straight into a run towards me.

I feint a jab, masking another liver-blow.

Taking the hit without defense, she bends over, clutching her stomach.

I follow up with a jumping knee to her head. Twisting around in midair, I swing my other foot around for a sideways dropkick.

Even though the last kick is softened by the fact I have no ground to stand firm on, it’s still a kick to the head, so most people can’t take it. But with how much vitality this girl has, she shouldn’t have too much trouble taking it.

“You know,” I pop my knuckles, “I really should punish you for insulting me like this. But I’m in a good mood right now, so if you just grovel and beg for forgiveness, I might just let you go with a warning.”

The celestial looks up at me. Her glare alone is enough to tell me I pushed the right button.

She spits out some blood. “Fuck off, freak.”

“Well then, since you want it rough.” I shift my stance to face her square, preparing my arms by my sides. “Martial Sign: Tower.”

“Like that’s going to work.” She once again stubbornly runs toward me.

Just before she gets within striking distance, she halts and jumps backwards.

She glances down at her legs before looking back at me.

Trying once more, this time she circles around to approach me from my side.

I drag my foot, making a quick turn so she’s once again right in front of me.

And once again, she leaps away.

“What did you do to me?” She yells out. “What does that spell card do?”

“Tower is just the name of the stance.” I inform her. “Your inability to attack is your own shortcoming.”

Not entirely true. The purpose of this stance is to increase intimidation by appearing tall and immovable. After having beaten her so one-sidedly, her body now refuses to let her close to me.

Psychology can be such a great weapon.

Despite my words, she makes for another dash towards me.

This time however, when she gets close enough, she leaps forward, forcing herself to get close.

She grabs the sword by her waist and pulls it up above her head, preparing for a power strike.

Seeing it come, I step in through her attack zone, getting too close for her to strike.

I’m not able to prepare a proper attack in time, so I instead continue moving, tackling her mid jump, knocking her sword out of her hand and letting it continue its path past me.

Wait. Past me? Akyuu.

I throw the celestial and dash backwards before I’ve even started turning towards Akyuu.

The heavenly blade has already covered more distance than I could hope to.

In a last-ditch effort to dodge the incoming sword, Akyuu falls back, though she’s too late.

The blade doesn’t hit her, though.

A spherical barrier surrounding Akyuu has blocked it, though it managed to pierce the surface.

My protective charm. Oh thank Hakurei, I’d forgotten all about it.

The blade falls to the ground, as the shield disappears. The only sound coming from Akyuu is the choked remains of a scream.

Tenshi, not wanting to pass on this opportunity, jumps me from behind.

Sensing this, I counter with a swift kick, up into her stomach, stopping her midair and dropping her to her knees.

Not playing around with her anymore, I follow up with another kick to her temple, finally knocking her down for the count.

“Akyuu.” I run over to her. “Akyuu, how are you feeling? You aren’t hurt?”

“I, I don’t know.” She stutters. “I need a moment to collect myself again.”

“You even dare turn your back to me.” The celestial speaks up again. “I’ve had it up to hear with you.”

I turn around, just in time to see something fly at my face. I throw myself back to dodge-

It hits my cheek, bouncing up while cutting open all the flesh in its path.

Fucking hell this shit hurt.

Unable to suppress the scream of pain, I embrace it and turn it into a roar, letting out a sound I don’t think I’ll ever be able to replicate.

“Akyuu!” I lower my stance significantly. “Run for the village! Don’t look back!”

“What?”

“Now!” I snap at her.

Without another moment of delay, I run the other way into the woods.

My eye is bust. Even the pain is gone. My spiritual power is unmanaged. That rock hit too hard, and I can’t control my power. My consciousness keeps flickering. No telling how long I’ll be able to hold on.

Fuck. With just one lucky rock, she’s managed to effectively blind me, and seal my spiritual powers.

And she stood up after that beating like it was nothing. There’s no way I can defeat her with martial arts alone.

Escape.

That’s my only option.

I need to make sure this wound is closed, and try to stabilize my spiritual energy. But with her hot on my tail, that’s borderline impossible.

Below me. Shadow. Not mine. Hers?

Without thinking, I kick off the ground, throwing out a blind kick.

In the brief moment I get to look up, I manage to see her clearly. In this single instance, my mind clears up completely. I can see a hint of satisfaction. Finally getting me on the defensive.

The next moment, my kick lands, blocking her jump strike by sending her back into the air.

At this point, I realize I’m upside down with no aerial control, so the kick probably wasn’t such a good idea.

Thankfully this helpful tree makes me stop by being in my way, taking the full force of my weight as I hit it back first.

The collision sends a jolt up my spine, stunning me, though nothing seems to break.

“Done running?” She asks. “Then it’s time to pay the price for insulting me.”

“I wouldn’t move, if I were you.” An unknown voice steps in.

If my spiritual power wasn’t broken, I’d be able to identify this new woman.

“First he stands in my way, now you too?” The celestial complains, the smug playfulness all gone from her voice.

“I came out to investigate that roar, since I don’t like dangerous youkai around my house.” She says calmly. “But I guess I’ll take care of you first.”

“Take care of me?” She sounds insulted. “You don’t even know what’s going on.”

“I feel more inclined to believe a half-dead human than a problem child known to cause incidents, so do excuse me.” She replies. Her mood being difficult to gauge as her voice remains stoic. “Now, will you get out of my forest willingly, or do I have to use force?”

The feeling in my legs is starting to return.

“Celestial!” A male voice yells out. “Cease your unauthorized assault this instant, or I will open fire!”

“Ryuko!” Another new girl yells out.

That voice. Kotohime?

It’d be so much easier if my mind wasn’t so clouded.

“Another one?” Tenshi yells out.

“Let me see your wound.” The police woman states. She’s apparently made her way over here without me noticing. “This is a nasty one. We need to get you to a doctor before this becomes necrotic.”

“I repeat! Stand down, Celestial!” The man, presumably Kotohime’s boss, yells out again.

“Stop ordering me around, you lowly human!” Tenshi yells back.

Kotohime starts wrapping a bandage over my wound. The bleeding as long since stopped, so it must be to keep it from getting infected, or just to hide it.

“Tenshi!” Another new woman joins us, this one sounding older than the two others.

“Iku? What are you doing here?” Tenshi asks.

“Coming to get you, of course.” She snaps. “Have you forgotten why we came down to earth in the first place. We don’t have time for you to run off and start another incident. Not this time.”

“Not you too, Iku.” She complains.

“Tenshi!” She snaps once again. “We’re going home. Now.”

The celestial just clicks her tongue but says nothing more.

With the atmosphere growing lighter, I assume the two celestials have left.

“Kotohime, start moving.” Her boss instructs her. “We need to get him to the village.”

“Got it.” She affirms. “Can you walk?”

“Yeah, I think so.” I answer, getting on my feet. My legs are shaky, but nothing I’m not used to dealing with. Nevertheless, the tiny guards woman opts to act as my support.

“Thank you for stalling her, Miss.” Kotohime’s boss talks to the unknown woman.

“You’re welcome.” She says. “Though I had the situation under control, it’s human nature to protect your own, right?”

“More or less.” He agrees. “It’s about familiarity.”

“I see. Though I have to insist on escorting you out of the forest.” She says. “There appears to be a feral youkai running amok.”

“We’d appreciate that, Miss.” The boss thanks her.

“Witch.” She woman corrects him. “Just call me Witch. That’s what the rest in the human village does.”

“In that case, we’ll depend on you, Witch.” the boss says once more.

“Witch.” I speak up. I think I have an idea who it is, but I can’t say for certain. “My mind’s a mess, so I’m not sure how this will come out, but, thank you.”

There’s a brief moment of silence before she replies. “You’re welcome.”

I feel my legs give in under me, as my mind shuts down.
>> No. 31259
Rock 1
Hakurei 0
>> No. 31270
==========
Outside the Human Village - 11th of Planting Month 01:12
==========

By god, I can be a genius sometimes.

I’m low on blood. My eye has been removed. And my spiritual power is disrupted to the point of complete obsolescence.

Yet I get the absolute genius idea of leaving the village. In the middle of the night no less.

It’s so genius in fact, that I don’t even know why I did it.

Alternatively, I might just be the biggest fucking idiot, which is the much more likely option.

I mean for fucks sake, I didn’t just get defeated by a rock, now I’m also acting like a dying animal. It’s pitiful.

And I have too much pride to turn around now.

Honestly, the only defense I have for walking out of the village, is the fact my guts tell me to move. I have no idea where they’re taking me, but I have yet to be killed because of a gut feeling, which is more than I can say for my genius ideas.

The good thing about this situation, is that it reminds me of how over reliant I’ve become of my spiritual power as a way of observing the world. The whole reason we trained up all my senses was to be able to navigate in case I lost any critical senses, like sight. But instead of sight, I became reliant on spiritual power instead. Just another stroke of my pure genius, I guess.

My train of thought is broken, as I sense someone, or something staring at me.

Out of pure instinct, I spin around, facing the direction I felt the stare. I scan the horizon for a second until I find it.

Atop a hill against the clear night sky, I see a silhouette. The best description I can find, would be a ten petal flower head. The sole thing bringing it to life, though, are the two golden eyes staring at me.

I don’t sense any hostility from it, whatever it is, so I chose to ignore it and continue on, to whatever destination awaits me.

It’s surprisingly hard to tell distance with just one eye. Typically, when you try to see how much difference it makes, you do it in an environment you’re familiar with, like your home, so you naturally know the distance, more so since you just found it before you closed one eye.

But walking around out here with only one eye, it really highlights the lack of depth perception. Luckily this is just temporarily. I still have Doc’s seal, so I can make a full recovery, even from death, just once. And once the seven days have passed, I can go back outside to get it fixed.

Which makes me feel somewhat bad, since Akyuu actually got me an eyepatch. I’m sure she knows it’s a little harder than this to kill me, and even harder to inflict permanent damage on me.

Through the cover of the darkness, my apparent destination comes into view; a forest, brimming with mana to the point where I can feel it tickling my skin. It’s the same forest where I got rocked.

Logically, this is suicide. In my current condition, going into a youkai infested forest without any real reason is just moronic. Especially because this is where I got injured. I doubt I’ll get even a light case PTSD, but I can’t say I’m entirely unaffected either.

Still, my guts tell me to keep going, so against my better judgment, I trudge on.

I glance back before crossing the tree line, to see if that thing is still watching me, but I don’t see anything behind me.

Not too long after, I reach the place where I was defeated. I don’t remember what this exact spot looks like, nor can I see it all that well in this darkness. But I’m sure this is the place.

Yet I still have the urge to move on. This isn’t my destination.

Frankly, I’m not sure how much I’ve walked. It’s hard to see, and everything I can see looks exactly alike. I can only really follow my gut feeling at this point.

One thing that stands out to me, though, is that no youkai has made itself known to me. I’ve caught glimpses of a few from the edge of my vision, but none of them have dared getting close, nor have I sensed any malice from them. If the night sparrows were singing, I could understand, but I don’t hear any.

Still, I’m taking care to keep my footing, just to stay safe. If the loss of my eye has taught me anything, it’s to not lower my guard. Which is a lesson I’m soon going to forget, again, so I might as well use it now.

Regardless of if I’m being stalked or not, I reach a small clearing, no bigger than ten meters in diameter. My guts are telling me this is the place, this is what I’ve been walking to get to.

I turn back around to the road I’ve been walking and give it a formal deep bow. “Thank you for seeing me off.” I doubt I’m really being stalked, but better be safe.

With that done, it’s probably best I get to figuring out why I’m here.

The first thing that stands out is the incredible amount of mana, not to mention the purity of it.

If I had some gold, I’m sure I could charge it in a matter of minutes here. I’d probably even be able to cast some spells, if I could channel this mana properly. Though with the size of my mana pool, I’ve never really had the chance to practice much.

I’d have to convert my magic circuit back to mana too, to make use of it, which isn’t worth it, since I use spiritual energy.

Wait, that’s it. I can use this mana to repair my circuit. I can regain my spiritual powers in just a few hours with this, instead of waiting the weeks it’d take for it to naturally recover.

My body probably picked up on the high mana concentration yesterday, without me noticing. That’s why my guts told me to go back here.

I take seat at the center of the clearing and prepare myself for meditation.

Deep steady breath. Release my grip on my energy and let it run free. Open myself up. And then just relax and let the mana flow through me.

==========
“Now lookie here. He’s back yet again.” The blurred woman greets me.

To my surprise, I can actually understand her.

“What’s this? Have I finally gone through?” She stands up and steps down from the shrine’s porch. “Respond if you can hear me.”

I try to respond, but I find that I make no sound.

“Fantastic.” She throws her arms in the air as she walks back to the sit at the shrine. “It’s taken several months, but I finally adjusted it properly.”

She could hear me? But I didn’t say anything.

“With you here, time moves too fast to allow me to explain everything. Let me start with the two important things.” She spreads out her arms. “This world exists inside your soul. And this,” she points to herself, “is a fragment of the Hakurei goddess, which has taken residence here, in accordance with the initiation ritual.”

She’s Hakurei?

“Wasn’t that clear? I live in a shrine inside your soul. That should have been the giveaway any of the previous times you came here.”

I didn’t know this was my soul. Thought it was just dreams.

“Doesn’t really matter. Now you know.” She shrugs it off. “Anyway, before we run out of time, I’d like to apologize for doing such a poor job with the ritual. I took far too long before I could give you your arm back, and I failed to even give you any of the trademark Hakurei abilities. Admittedly, there were some factors with unexpected consequences.”

Factors?

“Well, for one thing, I had to try and match your spiritual power, and do you have any idea how hard that is. Secondly of is,” she trails off. “Actually, forget that second point. I just remembered I promised your mom to not tell you.”

What?

“Oh look, we’re conveniently out of time.” She fakes looking at a watch. “Remember to tell your mom I said hi next time you meet her.”
==========

What the hell was all that about? I mean, I’m glad I finally got the chance to meet Hakurei, but then she drops bombs like that and just kicks me out before I can even get a chance to ask her about any of it.

I mean, of course I know I have a mom. I didn’t just blink into existence. The fact I’ve never seen her, just made me accept the shrine village as my family instead. They’re all youkai, but at least they have my back.

And this other reason. Like hell I can just forget.

I’m about to stand up, as I feel something in my lap.

A cat. Ashy fur with black tiger stripes. The tail is split just off the base. A nekomata.

Why is a youkai sleeping in my lap?

I run a finger down the spine of it, to which it responds by waking up. The first thing it does is look up at me. Then it stretches and walks off.

I have questions. About Hakurei, myself and that youkai. None of which I’m likely to get answered.

Anyway. It’s the twilight of dawn, so I’ve slept longer than usual.

I give my body a flex to get a feel for the state of my muscles. A little sore from yesterday, but no damage. I should probably skip on my workout today then.

Instead, I follow my ears to a stream of water running nearby.

Afterwards I should probably look for something to eat, if I plan on staying here any longer.

Looking at my reflection, it seems the mana channeling has disrupted the spell masking my eye color, since it’s taken its natural color of bright golden, instead of it’s usual masked azure.

And it’s slit.

What the actual fuck is going on.

I lift the eyepatch to examine the other eye. It’s still missing. Thankfully that’s not more fucked up than I expected.

Don’t tell me that second reason is me turning into a youkai. I mean, few humans even know I exist, and I’m sure I appear like a monster to those that do. I was raised by and live with youkai, so remaining entirely unaffected would be a miracle.

My train of thought is broken by the sound of a small piece of metal bouncing off rock.

I look back to see a small coin. The same one Yukari gave me.

But wasn’t that bound to my urban legend? Why is it still acting up? The incident is still ongoing?

As a priest of Hakurei, it’s part of my job to patrol the border. These urban legends have crossed without permission and should be kicked out.

But something is happening to me. And I think I have the best chance of figuring out what if I stay here.

[] Go back to the village
[] Stay here


Short, but I felt there had to be a break after the last update's end. Also wrote this in between exams and new vidya
>> No. 31271
[X] Stay here

Reimu is a big girl and can handle things without us for a day or so.
>> No. 31272
[x] Stay here

Cheeeeeeen! She was here for a reason. Besides the obvious one.
>> No. 31273
[X] Stay here

Let's get this sorted out now.
>> No. 31274
[x] Stay here.

Heck with work, we're in no condition to be doing it anyway. Our glorious victory against Tenshi proved that.
>> No. 31275
We didn't lose again Tenshi, we lost against a common rock.


What, you think you could have done better against The Rock, not even Yukari at full power could stand a chance!
>> No. 31276
File 152891508238.jpg - (169.10KB, 800x2140, Cheneko.jpg) [iqdb]
31276
A little late, but exams were about.

>>31272
Cat-Chen is typically depicted with brownish fur instead of white with black stripes. Sometimes she's even seen as a black cat, despite having brown hair.
So no, that's not Chen. But it is there for a reason.

And a general question for you guys.
Being frank, does it feel like I'm railroading more than I should when it comes to the votes?
The reasoning behind that question, is that I predicted the vote to stay would win, right from the planning phase. And while I did try to look for other good stopping points with a more balanced vote (in the sense that all options feel equally viable and different) I couldn't find one that didn't have me making this decision for you. And since this is a choice that alters the flow of the story, I try to avoid those myself.
I didn't predict staying would win unanimously though, which is why I'm worrying I might be railroading it too much.
>> No. 31277
>>31276

There wasn't a compelling enough reason to go elsewhere compared to staying, honestly. And you're dangling a strong carrot of lore, so that makes it a bigger reason to stick around.

At that point you go, "What would be happening in other areas that would make this decision not be the only real one?" There's no immediate reason to counter the waiting game here, so it won't happen.
>> No. 31278
>>31277
I hadn't thought about that. I see the story from a different perspective, after all, as the author. Makes sense, though, and I'll try to keep it in mind moving forward.
>> No. 31279
File 153055919762.jpg - (492.56KB, 1446x2045, Versatile Fox.jpg) [iqdb]
31279
==========
Heart of the Forest, Forest of Magic - 06:12
==========

No. Figuring out what the hell is wrong with me takes top priority. These eyes, or eye, it happened last time I came to Gensokyo too. Reimu remarked on it, though it went away again just as quickly.

Well, test one.

Without restraint, I bite down into my arm, making sure to draw blood. I let my teeth sit there for a second until I’ve gathered enough blood to get a good taste of it.

Ignoring the taste of copper, a second, very faint trace of citrus sticks out. Mandarin, if I’m not mistaken.

Definitely mana. My level is usually too low to be detected like this, so the fact I can taste my own mana means I have a surplus supply. With my low capacity, it can only travel through my bloodstream as a temporary storage.

While channeling the mana here, I must have refined some and stored it.

That’s the first thing different about me.

Second is my missing eye, but that seemingly has nothing to do with it. Unless I’m doomed to always have one major malfunction in my body. All year it’s been my arm, now my eye. Coincidence, I’m sure. It’s not too rare to get something vital in this line of business.

Third is that goddess in my head, Hakurei. She was finally able to reconnect my arm yesterday. She’s been there a while, though. And nothing like this was mentioned back at the ritual. Can’t rule her out as a possibility, though.

Fourth is the fact I’m in Gensokyo. Not really a change on my end, but this change to my eyes has only happened in Gensokyo. Normally they just turn yellow for a few minutes before the magic kicks back in.

If I assume Gensokyo has something to do with it, then I have to pinpoint the difference between this pocket dimension and the real world. The obvious thing is the fact this place is filled with Faith, to the point where even I can pick some up for Hakurei. Another difference is the general concentration of mana, which is much higher than in the outside world.

Mana.

Speaking of mana, I’m resistant to mana based spells. Wounds induced by metal heal at a normal human rate. Considering metal has a general mana negating property, it also hooks up to this net.

That’s why my gut dragged me back here. The Forest of Magic has more mana than anywhere else in Gensokyo, and I’m standing at the heart of it; Gensokyo’s epicenter of mana.

But what am I supposed to do? I can’t cast spells because of my low capacity. Should I just infuse and disperse as much mana as I can?

The body can generally run on raw mana for whatever it needs it for at the moment. Infusing it and storing it can up the efficiency, but requires constant attention. But that’s the only real thing I can think of.

I take seat in the grass patch.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done dedicated meditation. Let’s see if I remember which gestures would be appropriate here.

Rin - Pyo - Kai

I fold my hands accordingly.

Visually, I imagine a great gate opening, allowing a wild gust of wind to pass through.

At the same time, I feel my body heating up, as it starts processing mana.

I start focusing only on those two feelings; the sense of my body, and the image of the wind.

==========
12th of Planting Month 05:40
==========

I drop one of the hares on the ground, freeing up a hand to take out the one I’ve had to carry by mouth. I place the two I’m still carrying a little more careful, so as to not get dirt on their wounds.

I did consider just eating these raw, since there’s never been a problem doing that, but I think I’d be better off roasting them, so it’s easier for my body to digest the meat, wasting less energy. Had to move to the river, though, since the green is too thick to safely start a bonfire.

It doesn’t take long to light the fire. I just have to wait for it to really get going, then wait for the embers.

Somewhat surprised that survival training actually paid off. I mean, the village is within walking distance, so it’s not really survival. Aside from being a fun break from the usual training, I never thought I’d actually use it, given how close society always seem to be.

I take off the eye-patch, take a deep breath, then dip my face into the stream and just start drinking.

Lifting my head back out, I take another second for the water to drip out of the empty socket.

I’m not sure if it’s even a good idea to expose the open eye socket to water like this. Though I’m keeping the wound in the back where they cut the connection clear of the water. Actually.

Though the light is dim, I manage to see inside the empty socket in the water’s reflection. And it appears that they surgically cut out the eye. Since it was cut with metal, it’s not going to close up any time soon. For better or worse; I’m not sure which is easier for Doc to heal. Not like my natural healing can regrow limbs or organs, so for the time being, it doesn’t really make a difference.

The other eye is still a slit. No, rather it’s quite open for a slit. Maybe that’s why I can see so well in the dark.

And something else stands out. Over my shoulder, the skin looks different. I can clearly see there’s a difference in shade, but it’s too dark to see the color.

So I reach over with my hand to feel it out, and almost immediately withdraw my hand from pure surprise.

That wasn’t skin.

The surprise over, I once again place my hand over my shoulder, running my fingers across this strange texture.

Hard, somewhat smooth, like treated leather. No, harder. Scales? Too small for that?

I twist my body, so my back becomes more visible in the reflection.

No, that’s most definitely scales. The tips of my hair have also changed shade. Normally, it’s obsidian black, but the tips have changed to some brighter color. Not white, though a pale color.

Something is definitely happening. If I continue like this, I’m going to have a breakthrough in no time.

I cut my own smile short. Even my teeth have changed. These are carnivore teeth. The front ones are still relatively normal, though their tips have reduced enough to notice.

If not for the scales, I might have been convinced I was possessed by a byakko. But as if my luck would allow me to gain such powers. I’m sure I’d be able to keep it under control, especially with Hakurei’s help.

But alas, it’s something else fucking me up right now. And whether it was infusing mana or just waiting, it seems to have worked.

“I wasn’t expecting guests.” I say out loud. “So you’ll have to excuse me for not preparing more food.”

I dust off and stand to face the newcomer.

“Don’t mind me.” The sage just dismisses my offer. “Ran is preparing plenty of breakfast. Isn’t that right, Ran?”

“It should be ready in about ten minutes, Lady Yukari.” The kitsune walks out from behind the sage. She gives me a polite bow as a greeting.

“Instead, I’m here for you, Ryuko.” She creates a gap right behind her on which she sits on. “I have a pretty good idea of what you’re doing, and I have to cut it short.”

“What?” I exclaim. “But I’m so close to a breakthrough. Just a little more and I’ll finally know what’s up with my body.”

“And that’s exactly why I need you to stop.” She shifts her legs. “It’s still too early for you to know.”

“You know you’re only making me want to know even more badly, right?” I ask rhetorically.

Her lack of response tells me all I need to know. So I just put my eye-patch back on.

“Ran, if you please.” The old sage flies back a bit, creating some distance between us.

Our last match ended in my defeat, and that was just sparring.

I hunch over, taking on the peekaboo stance.

“You really want to go through with it?” Ran asks, still standing casually. “It would be so much easier if you didn’t.”

“Sorry, but I need to know this.” I shift my weight from my heels to my toes. “If there’s even a chance of me winning, it’s worth taking right now.”

“I see.” She pulls her hands out of her sleeves, revealing her exposed claws. “Then please don’t hold a grudge.”

With little warning, she throws her hand out at me, trying to claw at me.

I throw out a quick jab, countering and stopping her move.

My reach is longer than hers, I should use that to keep her at a distance. If she gets past my range though, I’ll be at a disadvantage.

“Aggressive, aren’t you?” She comments.

“Yeah, I can’t start slow against you.” After all, I lost my eye because I start slow.

“Meanwhile I have to hold back. It wouldn’t be good if I accidentally got you killed.” She says with a trained stoic expression.

Yeah, I have to try and better my odds more before I attempt to take her on for real. And I might just have an idea.

I tense up my body, masking a feint behind another feint.

I need to get into the water stream. But Ran is likely to see that coming, so I feign a dash towards her, which I then mask by feigned to go to the water.

She’s clearly noticed something is up, as her eyes dart over me, scanning every muscle she can perceive.

The moment I make my move, however, she jumps me.

I barely manage to roll out of the way.

Not taking any chances, the moment my feet get back on the ground, I leap with what little momentum I have.

Surprisingly, I land in the river stream like planned. And I’m waist deep, hindering my movement, but it should work.

Shikigami and water don’t mix. If the binding mark gets wet, it’ll have to be reapplied before the power bonus takes effect again. Paper shikigami don’t like water, either, for obvious reasons. So I should be safe from Ran, until she figures out how to approach me.

And she flies.

I keep forgetting that’s a thing. Barely anyone in the outside world can fly without augmented wings of some kind, and even fewer actually use it.

I’m in trouble.

Though to my surprise, she doesn’t attack. Instead she takes a firm grasp of my wrist and just throw me back on shore.

“Ran.” Yukari calls out to her familiar.

They exchange looks for a second while I get back on my feet.

“As you wish.” Ran responds by retracting her claws.

The fox locks eyes with me, and in the blink of an eye she’s closed the gap between us, striking my solar plexus with an open palm.

Gritting through the pain, I hammer my hands together, hoping she’s between them.

Sadly, she saw it coming and ducked, following up her attack with and upwards palm strike.

I manage to twist myself enough to avoid getting hit by her follow-up.

Taking advantage of the twist, I throw a short punch and manage to land it in her stomach.

She doesn’t even react.

Instead, she just grab a firm hold of me and headbutts my chest, knocking the wind out of me.

There’s a strange feeling brewing inside of me. It’s slightly distracting.

Again, ignoring the pain of my depleted lungs, I grab her back and knee her with as much power as I can muster.

She still ignores my attack but and just throws me at the ground with her overwhelming strength.

That feeling again. It’s stronger, but I can’t quite tell what it is yet.

I jump back up, managing to put a little distance between us.

“I know you’re a youkai, but seriously.” I complain. “Can’t you at least react when I hit you? Just budging a little would be appreciated.”

She looks surprised by remark, before doing a quick examination of her own body. “Seems like I forgot to add a sense of pain on this one. Oh well.” She strikes her stance again.

“Why would you shut down your sense of pain? It’s essential!” I complain.

Most people think pain is bad. Those few that don’t are either masochists or have actually bothered to think about what pain is. You need pain. It’s the only way for your body to tell you when something is wrong. Shutting it down is ignoring the plight of your body, and if you do that, what’s to stop it from simply ignoring you and just give up?

She doesn’t reply. Instead, she just clenches her hands into fists.

With a quick step, she’s moved into range and hammers home a one-two combo, followed by a straight to my chin.

I manage to stand my ground, but I’m entirely off balance.

It’s that feeling again. I think I know what it is.

[ ] A sense of being grounded, stubbornly standing unmoving
[ ] A sense of formlessness, like a stream twisting through the land
[ ] A sense of force, growing stronger as my emotions burn
[ ] A sense of freedom, untethered from the world I walk
[ ] A sense of a growing void in my mind, complete tranquility


And that's the last hint you'll get as to what you are.

Also, am I the only active author on this board again? My story hasn't been pushed down since I called the votes. I hope that's not the case, since there are still many waifus to woo on this board.
>> No. 31280
>Last hint

Fuck

>Last author

It seems so. Sad.
>> No. 31281
>eyes turn to slits when in combat, now they keep being that way
>scales out of nowhere
>name written as Dragon Child
>has unexplained connections to Youkai in the outside world, of all things
>not a Hakurei by birth

Relation to serpents or dragons. Could be a Half-Dragon, for all we know.

[x] A sense of a growing void in my mind, complete tranquility
>> No. 31282
Everything about Ryuko stinks dragon, even his name, but I'm not sure what the vote is actually for. So I'll just go

[x] A sense of formlessness, like a stream twisting through the land

for the dragon = river thing, unless someone has a better explanation.

> Also, am I the only active author on this board again?

Rifle's still around, I think... he's just slower than you are right now. Which is kind of depressing.

Uh, no offence intended.
>> No. 31283
>>31282
He's at the same pace, doing updates once a month. Looking forward to one from this month.
>> No. 31284
>>31282

Chiming in with a, "Really don't understand the vote" comment here as well. Is this supposed to be deciding a path of progression?

It feels like we were supposed to come to possible conclusions about what our underlying nature is, which dragon makes sense and is fine, but the split path of five choices here doesn't really hit me with what their significance is supposed to be.

Gonna go with

[x] A sense of freedom, untethered from the world I walk

for the heck of it.
>> No. 31285
File 153081861822.gif - (548.53KB, 1200x800, All of my rage.gif) [iqdb]
31285
>>31284
>>31282

To be honest, this was one of those things I decided on 5 years ago when the story was still being drawn up, and it became such a fundamental part that I never thought to question it again later.

This is a genuine use of the spoiler tags. You have been warned.
In case you saw the spoiler text and just moused over it, I'll warn you again. This is a genuine use of the spoiler tags.


First off, yes, you have draconic traits. The extend of which I don't wish to disclose yet.
Back then, I strung together the idea that Asian dragons (not to be confused with the Dragon God in touhou lore) could control the five elements (godai) Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Void. (The Chinese variant of the elements is the more well known. Fire, Water, Earth, Wood and Metal, which I connected to the Kirin instead. Currently still hold that connection; research in progress)
Trying to trace my research from back then, to and establish that connection again has proven fruitless.

The purpose of this vote is to establish your natural element, the one you'd have the highest affinity for. You'll also learn the others in time, but with less affinity.

The fact I even have to post this means I've failed as a writer. Even if dragons aren't know to be able to use the elements, I could have drawn the connection myself and made it canon for the story. And all I had to do was question something fundamental about the story. Yet I failed at doing so.


And here's the also-spoiler-but-less-so version: You're gonna become a [insert element] bender and stop the Fire Nation once and for all.

And again. I consider this my failure. It took me this long to respond because I had to make sure of my research.
>> No. 31286
>>31284

Same anon here, testing my willpower save to stay spoilerless.

I don't like the word failure here since I certainly don't consider the story as one, since writing a quest is always a non-stop learning experience.

I do hope that the way decisions were reacted to up to this point in the story may pre-weight this specific decision path in ways we may not necessarily know or understand, since if it's been integral from the beginning in some manner then our "nature" so to speak should've manifested itself already on lower levels.

Looking forward to see where things go regardless.
>> No. 31287
>>31286
I call it a failure because I constantly try to improve everything about my writing style, to bring it just a little closer to my ideal. Mistakes like this is like falling several steps back because it highlights things I've been neglecting.

The only thing I can do it learn from it and start moving again.
>> No. 31288
[X] A sense of being grounded, stubbornly standing unmoving

>[ ] A sense of freedom, untethered from the world I walk
Sounds like what Reimu does, so I think going for the opposite would be thematically appropriate, plus it seems to fit our fighting style.
>> No. 31289
[x] A sense of freedom, untethered from the world I walk
He's already a defensive juggernaut, so a Earth Dragon makes sense, but I'd love to see him fly around the world he loves so much.

Also, versatility yo.
>> No. 31290
[II] A sense of freedom, untethered from the world I walk
[I] A sense of being grounded, stubbornly standing unmoving
[I] A sense of formlessness, like a stream twisting through the land
[I] A sense of a growing void in my mind, complete tranquility
[0] A sense of force, growing stronger as my emotions burn

Not what I expected, being biased and all, but this should be fun.
>> No. 31291
>>31290
You expected an earth dragon, didn't you?
>> No. 31292
>>31285
> I consider this my failure

>>31282 here. Haven't looked at the spoilers (took all of my willpower not to) but I now feel dense for not realizing it was an elemental choice.

Doubly so since I know the five elements you're referring to. I was just reading Fallout Gensoukyou and everything!

Triply so since I was away so long I missed the chance to change my vote.

I will now perform the ritual of shame of my people.
>> No. 31312
It might be a little early to call this, but I think the next update will be slightly delayed. Some problems arose with the new apartment
I had to rent and I've had to deal with that as a priority, otherwise I'd have no internet to shitpost with.
It's been sorted now, and I'm writing, but just in case it's delayed.
>> No. 31313
File 153346802521.jpg - (73.87KB, 500x375, Don't view until Chen.jpg) [iqdb]
31313
==========
12th of Planting Month 05:58
==========

I dismiss the feeling. I can’t afford to lose focus. Ran beat me without effort in a spar. In a real fight, I wouldn’t even be able to notice that she’d attacked me before it was too late.

With some swift footwork, I quickly back off, creating distance between us.

Obviously not willing to allow me to set the terms of the engagement, the fox follows in pursuit, maintaining a constant distance just outside my range.

With a tree coming up behind me, I dance around it, keeping my back against. As I’ve reached the other side, I kick off and start dashing.

If I can’t create any distance backing off, then I’ll just have to run.

It’s strange. My body feels lighter. Not in the same way as when I drop my weighted clothes and just lose the extra weight. Rather, it feels like there’s no resistance on my body. I’m still grounded by gravity, but I feel nothing dragging me down. I’m moving forward fast, yet I don’t feel the air brush off my body.

I feel like any restraints on my movements have been lifted. Like I can move however I want.

Weaving through the forest is a breeze. And now that I think about it, the fact I must weave even though the trees aren’t that dense probably means I’m moving fast, although it doesn’t feel like it.

“Yukari!” The fox calls out from behind me.

“I can see.” The sage responds. “Pin him down and I’ll take care of it.”

Pin me down? Why can’t they just let me figure this out? I’m so close to a revelation I can practically taste it.

“Chen! Now!” My pursuer calls out.

“Huzzah!” A young girl jumps out in front of me, arms stretched out ahead. A couple of cats follow her movement, including a familiar ashen one.

Without much effort, I manage to dive underneath her and her catpanions, bringing myself so close to the ground I can smell the dirt, yet I somehow don’t lose any speed before getting back up.

“What?” Is all I hear her say behind me.

“Caught you.”
“Caught you.”

I hear Ran yell right before she jumps on my back, crashing me into the ground.

With the force of a youkai, she flips me around and pins me down.

There’s two of her.

I’m sure I didn’t hit my head that hard, but there’s two of her, each holding down one side, making it impossible to move at all.

“I know it can be hard to trust me,” the sage walks into view again, “but that’s all I can really ask of you. I do what I believe is best in the long term.”

One of her gaps open just above my chest, a small one barely the width of my fist.

Yukari then proceeds to jab her parasol into the gap.

Oh god. This feels weird. She’s reached into my mana pool. I’ve had my energy forcefully drained, but this strangely painful intrusion can’t compare to anything I’ve felt before.

As she starts to drag her parasol out, it’s as if she draws my breath out along with it. I start to lose feeling in my feet, then my hands, slowly creeping further up as she continues to drag it out.

Then as the tip comes into sight, it becomes apparent something is attached to it. A small ball of light, with threads reaching back into the gap.

She continues to pull until the threads snap, and the next thing I know I’ve lost all feeling, unable to make my body respond in any capacity.

“Despite the small amount, it’s surprisingly pure.” She comments. “You’d have made a great mage.” She lifts the ball of mana up and lets it disperse into the forest.

“Lady Yukari.” One of the Rans speak up.

“The traits haven’t disappeared.” The other one continues, pulling down my collar to show.

“We were a little too late, then.” Yukari sighs. “At least we managed to reset the advancement.” She opens a large gap behind her. “If you’d be so kind as to take him to his room. It’ll take a while for him to recover the mana.”

One of the Rans lifts me up and sling me over her shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

Not a single muscle in my body responds. I’m completely paralyzed.


==========
13th of Planting Month 08:09
==========

“Are you sure you should be moving about already?” After having observed me for a minute, Ran finally speaks up.

“I’m good.” I respond without stopping my exercise. Though calling it exercise might be a slight exaggeration, since it’s just a series of movements designed to stretch my body continuously. My mana has passed the safe threshold again, so I’m in the clear, but I’d like to make sure everything’s okay before I go wild again.

“I see. That’s good.”

She doesn’t say anything beyond that. She just remains sitting on the porch, watching me, shifting around every so often.

Nothing seems wrong with my muscles. Now to check my spiritual power.

I take a wide stance, feet planted firmly in the ground. I stretch one hand up and the other down, moving them in wide circles going opposite direction until they meet in front of my core.

Releasing every valve on my energy, I allow it to flow freely.

Even though I can’t sense my own spiritual power, I can feel all excess power ooze out of me.

I then start to eject some, increasing the rate at which it flows out of my body. While increasing the rate, I keep track of as much power as I can, both of my giant reserve and the expelled energy.

“You aren’t mad, are you?” The fox asks. “About yesterday, I mean.”

Without letting up, I glance over my shoulder before answering. “Last time I got mad, I almost threw a woman off a building.”

“That’s,” She trails off. “I’m not sure how to respond to that.”

“What I'm trying to say is that I don’t really get mad easily, Ran. But when I’m finally pushed to that limit, I get angry.” I explain. “You might also like to know that I don’t get passive aggressive. That kinda shit accomplishes nothing. Instead, I prefer to confront whoever I have a problem with. Get it sorted out as early as possible.”

“I see.” She replies, once again stopping the conversation.

And stop.

I shut all my valves at once, measuring the rate at which my reserve fills back up.

Nothing abnormal here. Aside from my inhuman level of spiritual energy, that is.

“This would be a good example, Ran.” I continue the conversation. “You clearly have something on your mind, yet you refuse to bring it up.”

“It’s just,” She trails off again.

“Be frank. Be direct.” I tell her.

“It just doesn’t feel proper.” She blurts out. “I know it was the best thing to do, but we, I, still assaulted you.”

“And you wanna make it up to me?” I finish her sentence. I’ve seen this pattern before. Not exactly hard to predict.

“Please allow me.” Keeping her hands on her thighs, she bows her head.

“That’s it?” I ask. “That trick you used back in the forest, where you split in two. Teach me.”

“Split in two?” She looks back up. “You mean the paper shikigami.”

Shikigami? That’s right. Ran is a master of shikigami. Somehow that slipped my mind.

“Paper shikigami are easy to create.” The fox continues. “Controlling them will take some time getting used to, though. Next time you’re free, come find me and I’ll get you started.”

“Will do.” I confirm.

“I see you’re up and about.” A gap opens up behind Ran and out steps Gensokyo’s sage.

“No thanks to you.” I reply.

The sage lets out a sigh. “So we’re going to start the day like this?” She leans against her parasol. “I can’t tell you why I had to do it, all I can ask you is to trust me.”

“What? Is it because I’m a dragon? Or partly anyway.” I ask.

Yukari’s eyes widen. She glances down at Ran who looks up at her, equally confused. The fox just shakes her head.

“Ran didn’t tell me.” I explain. “In retrospect, the signs were obvious. The eyes, the scales, my magic resistance. Heck, youkai are notorious for their uncreative names, so that should have been a dead giveaway.”

The sage taps her index finger on her parasol a few times. “So you’ve figured that much out already.” She states. “Yes, you are half dragon. If I hadn’t stopped you yesterday, you would most likely have transformed into one. And we’re not sure if your body can handle it at this point.”

Half dragon. That raises a lot of other questions. Questions for later, that is.

“So if you stopped my transformation, why are my scales still here?” I ask.

“Because your body has started its first transformation.” She explains. “This first one is unique since you have to fully transform before you can resume your human form.”

That sounds like an arbitrary rule. Then again, I have no info on the early life of youkai with innate shape shifting, such as the Royal Werewolves.

“So my progression is fueled by mana?” I ask.

Since she drained my mana to stop it, it would make the most sense. Gensokyo also has a lot more ambient mana compared to the outside, which could explain why my “transformation” never triggered in the outside world.

“Correct.” The sage nods. “To be specific, it’s your mana overflow that fuels it.”

“That would have been my next question.” I inform her. “Since my mana pool is so shallow, what would have happened if it was bigger.”

“Well considering the overflow lies entirely in the magic circuit, the size of your pool wouldn’t make a difference.” She grabs her chin, pondering a bit. “If anything, I would have to say your actual size would speed up the process, since your circuit can hold more, allowing for a bigger overflow.”

The magic circuit. A network of thread-like veins wrapped around the blood vessels. The purpose of which is to transfer magical energy more efficiently than the blood vessels can do on their own. With some effort, these circuits can be converted from the standard mana transfer to working with spiritual energy or qi.

Normally, when a pool fills up, all excess energy is expelled. Occasionally, however, some of that energy is stored in the circuit temporarily. Taking in external energy also requires it to be stored in the circuit before it can be processed. So essentially, storing energy in the circuit is what we refer to as overflow. It’s an entirely natural and well understood phenomenon in the magic community.

Since I initiated a mana overflow back in the forest, I had mana flowing throughout my entire body. That just brings up another question.

“Why does mana trigger the transformation?” I ask. “As far as I know, dragons are immune to magic, but susceptible to metal.”

Yukari holds out her hand and a gap appears above it. A couple of small metallic balls drop into her hands from the gap. One of them is gold, another silver, and the last might be copper.

“Most weapons used to slay dragons contains at least one of these metals.” She says. “Some of them have the metal mixed into the blade itself, while other have been adorned with them.”

“The mana dispersion property of noble metals.” I note.

That would imply that dragons are mana-based beings. It also explains the magic immunity.

“Isn’t my shallow mana pool going to become a hindrance then?” I ask. “With regard to my apparent dragon heritance, I mean.”

She drops the ball into a new gap. “From what I’ve gathered, no.” She states. “And even if that should be the case, we have plenty of gold to compensate.”

Noble metals all have a different dispersion rate. Gold has a dispersion rate at half of its absorption rate, making it a sort of mana storage. Mages use it as an emergency backup, while people like me can use it to cast spells despite our lacking mana.

I look up, mentally running through my list of questions. “So you took me here to monitor my transformation, more so than to help me train?” I ask.

She gives Ran a dismissive wave, to which the fox responds by disappearing into a white dust cloud, leaving behind a small slip of paper.

So that was a shikigami?

“No.” She softly answers. “I brought you here for another reason. I don’t believe the time is right to tell you, however, so do bear with me for a while longer, my child.” With that said, she puts on a prideful smile. “But that does not mean I don’t intend to train you. My promise to take you to the top still stands.”

It’s stupid. I know it shouldn’t, but that managed to tickle my fancy.

“I’d like another day to make sure my mana is back before I can resume our training.” I tell her.

“That works out perfectly then.” Her expression is back to the usual charismatic smirk. “Reimu has been having more trouble with this incident than usual. Ibaraki, the mountain hermit, and Futatsuiwa, the tanuki, have come up with a plan to take matters into their own hands.”

“And you would like me to help out?” I assume.

“I would like this incident solved as quickly and peacefully as possible.” She states. “And since they are waiting for a rift in the barrier to open, your help could ease the whole thing.”

Indeed. Managing those rifts is my primary job, after all. But with Reimu there, there’s no pressing reason for me to go.

That also reminds me. I should probably go see Akyuu soon. After all, I just disappeared on her for two days after an injury like that. I would like that to take higher priority than it probably should be. Though, I don’t think she’ll go anywhere, so she should be easy to find when I have the time.

I could also take leave for the outside world again and get Doc to fix my eye. Maybe he can do something about my transformation too. Whether that’s helping it along or reverting it. I mean, he’s skilled enough to revive me without using necromancy, so he should be able to do something.

[ ] Go foil some raccoon plans Go help Reimu
[ ] I owe it to Akyuu to let her know I’m okay
[ ] Getting Doc to double check my health is a priority
[ ] Actually, forget it. My body is ready to resume training


Somehow managed to get it done on time, and without cutting anything.

>>31291
Expected water, actually. Hoping for void. Wind is gonna be fun, though.

Also, I'd like to announce a small retcon, regarding the magic system. Back early on, I made it known that magic flows better without fabric, or the likes, in the way. While I did try to make it fit into these new systems, it just won't work with how I've designed things. None of you probably remember that line, but I'd rather be open about it.
>> No. 31314
[x] Getting Doc to double check my health is a priority
>> No. 31315
So no naked dragon? I'm somewhat relieved.

[x] Go foil some raccoon plans and, incidentally, help Reimu

I like that he's direct about the things he dislikes.

>You'd have made a great mage

Can't he be both a mage and a dragon?
>> No. 31316
>>31315
"Mage" refers to mana users. You have a mana pool the size of the average human, making it virtually impossible to cast spells. Spell Break is the one exception because it was designed by you to get around that issue.

You're more of a Spiritualist, using spiritual energy for your spells. Which allow you to use spells Mages can't, and vise versa.

Of the three (qi being the third) mana is the most versatile, while spiritual energy and qi are more specialized.

>No naked dragon
Yet. Maybe. Who knows.
>> No. 31317
[x] Getting Doc to double check my health is a priority.

Still annoyed at Yukari's "punish first, answer questions later" attitude, so I'd like a second opinion. Even if it turns out to be "don't fuck with rocks".

Also, whoa, that's quite the magibabble dump. You've put a lot of thought into this. Getting a decidedly Nasuverse vibe here...
>> No. 31318
[X] I owe it to Akyuu to let her know I’m okay
>> No. 31328
Going for a pro's opinion on the checkup.

>>31317
>magibabble
You haven't seen the tip of the iceberg yet. That's just a summery of how magic flows. Soon I've sat up all the pieces to actually start explaining it properly over time, something which have been delayed for too long
>> No. 31329
File 153469577069.jpg - (299.41KB, 1400x1012, __maribel_hearn_and_usami_renko_touhou_drawn_by_e_.jpg) [iqdb]
31329
Bet you weren't expecting an update. Because I sure as hell wasn't expect to finish it this early.


==========
13th of Planting Month 08:59
==========

“I’m not really in a state to help out, though.” I tell the sage. “It’s not every day I get a critical amount of mana drained from my body, so I can’t say for sure I’m back in top shape.”

“I made sure to leave you with enough mana, so as to not be a problem.” She replies proudly. “If there was any danger, it would already have happened.”

“Yeah, no.” I dismiss her. “I trust my mentor enough to believe in his trust of you, although draining my mana does put a strain on that.” I tell her honestly. “But you're not the authority when it comes to making the call on my overall health, especially not when you’re the cause of the concern.”

She closes her eyes and looks down. “I see. That’s disappointing but I won’t force anything.” She looks back up at me, all hints of emotion completely washed off her expression. “What do you intend to do instead then? Rest for another day?”

“Actually, I want to return to the outside shrine for a quick visit.” I tell her. “I’d like for Doc to double check my condition.”

“Do you still have the necklace?” She asks me.

I pull the small wooden tablet out from under my shirt. “Still wearing it.”

She walks up in front of me, pressing her hand against the necklace.

I can feel the magic flow from her palm, though only a little goes past the charm.

Without warning, she gives me a slight shove, forcing me to take a couple steps back.

As I look back up at her, I see she’s gone. And so is her house. Instead, I see the familiar scene of the old shrine.

I don’t get the chance to take in the view, though, as my phone starts to vibrate like crazy.

Pulling it out, the screen lights up with notifications that just keep scrolling. All of them are missed calls, from Renko no less.

According to the call history, she first tried yesterday around 23:15. Then again a minute later. And another minute. And another. They started to slow down around 2, taking breaks of up to fifteen minutes.

I don’t get to the top before I get another incoming call.

“I’m here.” I answer.

“Help!” I barely get to finish before she yells out from the other side. “West of Dokura falls.”

Dokura falls? That’s our territory according to the Watchers. It’s a stone’s throw away.

“I’ll be there immediately.” I reply. And hang up.

Without wasting another second, I turn around and dash, jumping down the first flight of stairs into the village.

On my way through the village, I spot Doc sitting under a tree, with a can in hand, trying to ignore Yukiko, the village’s yukionna. For the brief moment he’s within view, we manage to lock eyes.

No time to stop, though. Renko sounded too distressed to wait.


==========
13th of May 09:20
Dokura Falls, Mie Prefecture
==========

This most certainly wasn’t here the last time I checked.

In the short span I’ve been in Gensokyo, someone saw fit to erect an old crumbling western mansion inside a minor illusion barrier.

Questions. Why would someone build a mansion in such a way as to make it appear old and crumbling? Why a western design? Was it moved here? If so, why not build a new one instead?

Questions for later.

The surrounding barrier had no security on it, allowing anyone to pass through, making its only purpose to hide this crumbling mansion from a distance. That said, the wall surrounding the mansion's grounds has another type of barrier. From the quick examination I’ve done, it seems like a one-way trap, allowing things in but not out.

What’s more concerning is the fact something is walking around in there. And whatever it is, it’s not alive. It’s not emitting any spiritual energy.

Renko, from the second floor of the mansion, seems to have spotted me, by the frantic wave.

How should I go about telling her?

Keeping eye contact, I gesture in the direction of whatever that dead thing is, then cross my arms in a big X.

She looks in the same direction, then back at me. Without making any gesture back, she dives out of view from the window.

Well then, time to gather some intel before I spring this trap.

I pick up a sizable stone from the ground and chuck it inside the barrier, hitting the wall on the other side where that thing is.

No reaction. It stays still.

I pick up another stone and infuse it with my spiritual power, before throwing it the same way as the last stone.

It reacted. No big movements, though.

Picking up a third, I throw it across the garden away from both of us.

No reaction.

I then throw another stone, this one also charged with spiritual power.

And again, it reacts. Instead of just looking, though, now it walks to where I threw the stone.

So it reacts to spiritual energy rather than sound.

I try flaring up my own power, but it doesn’t react.

And it doesn’t seem to care about things outside the inner barrier, either. Both of the girls have a small spiritual footprint, so they should be safe given the distance between them and it.

Aside from the barrier, that’s as much information as I can get from out here.

I walk through the barrier, ignoring the uncomfortable feeling of stepping through a one-way barrier.

Immediately that thing perks up and looks at me.

It’s a hooded figure, carrying around what’s either a broken shovel or an axe. The robe doesn’t cover its feet. Revealing that it’s both barefoot, and has seams running all around one of its ankles.

The figure grasps the shovel with both hands and runs at me, readying the makeshift weapon over it’s head.

I throw myself to the side, dodging its strike.

The sudden motion caused the hood to fall back, revealing its face. Or to be precise, the lack thereof. This thing has no face. The entire perimeter of where the face should be is outlined by a deep scar.

Nopperabou? No. They have a solid spiritual signature as a youkai. And more importantly, they never kill. They’ll scare the living shit out of you for fun, but they’ll never actually kill you.

This thing doesn’t have any spiritual power at all. Neither mana nor qi.

What in the actual fuck is this? Why does it look so human?

It pulls the spade up from the earth and turns toward me again. It starts rattling its head, causing an unusual grunt.

Even necromantic beings give off some form of energy.

Faceless takes a wide swing at me, forcing me to take another step back to exit its range.

I immediately step back in and hammer my fist into its liver.

The force causes him to move to the side, but no other reactions, no sign of pain.

I skip back a few steps, hurrying out of its range again.

Its humanoid appearance makes me think it has a skeletal structure similar to humans. The way it moves supports this idea. The problem, however, is that my spiritual power can’t penetrate its skin, so I can’t confirm it. That said, having a black void against the spiritually saturated background makes it far easier to track.

It jams the tip of its shovel into the ground.

The earth under my feet starts to crack. A cold blue light shines from the openings.

I jump back another good couple of steps to get out of the range of those cracks.

Then the light itself blows up into the air and disperses.

I didn’t detect any magic. No mana, no spiritual energy. I ask again; what in the actual fuck is this thing?

While its shovel is still in the ground, I charge in jumping, delivering a roundhouse kick to its neck with all the force I can muster.

It staggers backwards, its head at an angle, clearly showing I broke something.

And it cracks its neck back in place like nothing happened.

This thing isn’t going to go down from physical attacks, at least not blunt strikes like mine.

I reach for my talismans.

Which are in my bag. At Yukari’s place. Because I didn’t get the chance to fetch it. The only thing I still have are the silver knives, sheathed in my sarashi. They aren’t suited for cutting, but I should be able to use them for a ritual. The problem is, after I’ve filled them, I have to get them ready before they’ve dispersed too much of the energy. Normally, you’d do that last, but I don’t have that luxury right now.

I have eight knives tugged away. To banish him, I’d need at least three in the ground. Oh wait, shit, that’s right. I still have the Sumimaru’s trademark barrier. This is the exact moment I bought those lessons for. I can’t cast it barehanded like them, so I’ll need five reference points, or knives in this case.

It’s slow and easy to move around, so setting the boundary will be easy. Planting the final knife in its chest on the other hand, will be difficult. I don’t even know if I can pierce the skin with a knife. Though, it did feel fleshy enough to make it worth the gamble.

Seemingly tired of waiting, Faceless swings its shovel back around over its head, hammering it into the ground.

Cracks similar to the last ones appear again, this time shining with a black-green light.

Once again, I jump back.

This time, the magic is different. Rather than just exploding, a cylinder like object breaks through the cracks, immediately twisting towards me.

Before I can land, the thing hits my chest, pushing me to the ground and solidifies, taking on a bony texture like that of an exoskeleton.

This is bad. This is very bad.

I still have Doc’s seal. I could activate my limit breaker, then forcefully activate the seal to negate the side effects. Will it be enough, though? Will it be worth it? Do I have other options?

“Leave him alone, you freak!” Renko comes running out from the building, carrying a piece of rubble.

She chugs it at the beast, hitting it square in the face.

It lets out a hollow “Ungh” sound despite its lack of a mouth.

The bone holding me down softens up.

“Renko! What the hell are you doing?” I hear her foreign friend yell from inside the building.

“He came to help us!” The brunette yells back. “I can’t just watch as he gets killed because of us!”

The monster doesn’t take kindly to getting hit in the face with a rock, which is understandable, and starts chasing the girl, leaving its spade behind.

The bone softens some more.

I start pushing back against the bone with all my strength.

The blonde girl tackles her friend to the ground, saving her from the monster’s first strike.

They quickly get on their feet again and run.

The brunette runs towards the gates, picking up and tossing another rock.

The blonde, on the other hand, runs towards me and quickly gets her hands underneath the bone, trying to help me lift it.

I’m not complaining about the help, but she’s not helping. In which case, I just need to push harder.

And as if on cue, the bone shatters, freeing me.

I immediately start running towards Renko.

The monster has already made it to her.

It grabs her by the throat, lifting her up against the wall.

Kicking wildly and clawing at its wrist, Renko struggles, too preoccupied to see me coming.

As her kicking gets weaker, she reaches out for the monster instead.

Mana?

Before I realize it, there’s a hole going through the head of the monster. There’s also an intense pain spreading from my chest that makes it borderline impossible to breathe.

I fall to my knees, trying to regain my breath.

Was that magic? Did Renko just use magic?

“Renko. Are you okay?” Her friend runs past me.

“Somehow.” She takes a moment to cough. “Didn’t think we’d get through the night.”

“That’s why I told you we shouldn't come here.” Her friend argues.

“Ah. Ryuko.” She staggers on her legs and walks over, while I’m still regaining my breath. “Thank you. Really. I’m even more in your debt.”

She extends her hand to me.

Instead of taking it, I force myself to stand before grabbing her hand.

Like I thought, the magic circuit was clearly just used.

I inject a small bit of my own mana to probe at her reserves.

She stifles a moan.

I glance up at her.

A huge blush has spread from ear to ear. Probably embarrassed she let the moan escape. Not that I actually care.

“Sorry, should probably have warned you.” I say to her. “Injected mana feels warm. It shouldn’t last too long.”

“No, I was just surprised.” She admits. “It just felt strange. A bit pleasant, maybe.”

I redo the probe uninterrupted.

The capacity is clearly above average, but with that one spell alone, she’s dangerously low.

Must have been Magic Missile. A concentration of raw mana launched using even more mana. Whatever it can accomplish, other spells can do better at a lesser cost. It’s just the most instinctive spell to cast since it doesn’t require any special formula. That said, she managed to cast a spell.

“Renko. Whatever you just did, never do it again.” I tell her.

“I did that?” She asks, looking back at the re-dead corpse. “I thought you did it.”

I don’t reply to that, and instead start to inject more of my mana into her circuit. I can spare some of mine, and it should be enough to get her out of the danger zone. She’ll have to process it first, though, but it should still be quicker than recovering it on her own.

Or I was going to, but there’s an all too familiar ripple from the very edge of my senses.

My spiritual power starts to flare up against my will as my body begins producing and refining energy to the limit of its abilities.

Neither of them can see spiritual power like me, but it’s clear they’ve both noticed the pressure it gives off.

“Renko.” I do my best to remain calm. “I want you two to hide.”

There’s only one type of youkai that can trigger this response from me. And of the few that are in Japan right now, only one fits this exact subtype I’m detecting.

“What do you, ah ow ow.”

I tighten my grip to silence her.

“I’m serious, Renko.” I scan the area where I feel this presence coming from. “I’m not going to repeat myself again. Hide. And don’t come out until I give the clear. No. Matter. What.”

As I let go, she and her friend run back towards the building without a word.

“So it seems you’re done with them.” A dark mist hastily collects itself over a rose-bed, taking on a humanoid shape. “I despise needing to use innocent people like that, but you’re surprisingly hard to find despite being a beacon.”

“Maybe it’s because I don’t want to be found, by the likes of you.” I reply.

The shadow vanishes, revealing the figure underneath. A man, around his forties, above average build, pale white skin and the iconic fangs exposed by his professional smile.

A strigoi, a Romanian monster. Major type, undead, minor type, vampire. Normally strigoi are easy to deal with because of their similarity to zombies, but occasionally a guy like this pops up. Mages that died under the conditions to become a strigoi. Casually referred to as High Vampires, they most closely resemble the modern depiction of vampires.

“And after all the effort I put into luring you out.” He lets out an obnoxiously fake sigh. “I can guess you don’t want to reminisce about old times, then.”

“Do you mean like the last time you assaulted the shrine, trying to kill me?” I ask. “Or are you talking about the few times we met while Kaya deceived me?”

“Sarcasm doesn't suit you, kid.” He walks forward. “Submit to me peacefully, and I’ll make sure you die quick and painless. A deal far better than what you deserve, considering what you did to my daughter.”

“Kaya spent two weeks trying to kill me.” I keep faking my bravado. “Only those who are ready to die are allowed to kill. Therefore, I stand by my statement that I was justified in killing her.”

“So you want to do this the hard way.” He readies his cane. From experience, I know there’s a blade hidden in there.

The head of the cane explodes, to the surprise of both of us.

Mana.

“That’s far enough, rot-brain.”

The strigoi clenches both his teeth and the grip on his cane. “You filthy animal.”

To my surprise, Doc stands by the gate, pointing two fingers at the walking corpse.

“You know the pain of losing your child, and that’s driven you to hunt down her killer.” He states. “Now imagine what I would do, should you so much as touch my son.”

“Damn animal.” He turns around. “This isn’t over, kid. The moment your guard dog lets his guard down, I’ll strike again.”

With that said, he vanishes into a shadow mist and disperses, taking the entire building with it.

A few moments pass by before my spiritual power calms down, signaling that he is indeed gone.

“Can’t that old fuck just leave you alone already?” The fox asks as he walks up. “It’s been five years already.”

“You really saved me there, Doc.” I let out a sigh of relief.

“Forget it.” He pulls out a smoke, ignites his thumb and uses it to light it. “Odd place for a booty call, though. Not that I’m judging.”

“Even though you came to peep?” I retort. “Saw you with Yukiko earlier.”

“Don’t remind me.” He grunts.

“Renko! Blondie!” I call out.

They both stand up. They tried to hide in the grass, since it is tall, but it doesn’t really work without the house there.

“We’re going to the shrine.” Docs states. “Gotta make sure those gals are alright.”

I motion for them to follow us. Neither says anything on the way back.


==========
Hakurei Shrine - 10:02
==========

Renko has an aptitude for magic.

That’s not exactly rare, since the magic world is filled with humans like that. Though it’s rare for humans to just suddenly develop an ability like that. It’d be safer to assume she comes from a magus family. But then why hasn’t she studied? It’s unheard of for a magus family to not train their kids.

In either case, she’s a blank slate as a mage.

I’m an anti-mage. The opponents I specialize in fighting are mages. This came about because I lack the ability to cast spells myself, so I could study a wider array of theories, leading me to understand more spells as a way to be prepared against them.

I’ve agreed to train Renko to defend her friend against youkai. But if I took her as my apprentice, the possibilities of where I could take her would be endless. With my knowledge, I could lead her down the path of any mage she might want to become. I could specialize her in magic that would benefit the shrine like my barrier crafting.

The problem, however, is that I would have to drag her deep into my world to do it. To drag a common citizen into the world of magic, to expose them to a world where everyone is capable of launching the equivalent of a localized nuke at any time.

I still don’t believe neither she, nor her friend, belongs in the world of magic, and it would be cruel to drag them so deep into it without a gradual progression. I would rather just keep shoving them out of this world.

But still. With the amount of time I have left, she might be the only successor I’ll get to train myself. If I keep waiting for the perfect candidate to show up, I’ll die without leaving anything behind, and the shrine will have to find another successor on their own.

I’m almost certain she’ll say yes. Renko hungers for the power to protect her friend, for the knowledge to walk forward and grasp her goal, whatever that may be. Both are things I can give her.

But is it the right thing? If she accepts, there will be no going back. Not for her, nor for me.

[ ] Extend my apprenticeship to Renko
[ ] Withhold my apprenticeship from Renko


And just to be clear, this is not a route lock
>> No. 31330
[x] Extend my apprenticeship to Renko
>> No. 31331
[x] Extend my apprenticeship to Renko
>> No. 31332
[x] Extend my apprenticeship to Renko

This smells like a bad idea. But we're already training her, she's already up to her eyeballs in this shit and she's already proven she's not going to butt out. Either she'll blow herself up or someone less scrupulous will take an interest in her.

As for Merry, she's screwed in every scenario I can think of, but at least this way she has someone trying to protect her.
>> No. 31333
[x] Extend my apprenticeship to Renko

She's already too far in, the only hope here is that we can get Doc to get some input and keep an eye on her as well if needed.

Also, since our resident annoyance also saw that the girls were used as bait, leaving them out to be abducted and used again is probably just a bad idea outright.
>> No. 31334
[x] Extend my apprenticeship to Renko

Like they said, she used magic on her own and her lineage has powerful magic on it (See: Sumireko) Leaving her alone will be for the worst.
>> No. 31335
File 153504728131.png - (119.87KB, 800x608, Unrelated.png) [iqdb]
31335
Quick little question. Have you thought about why I made you make this choice, instead of just picking the obvious answer and continuing?
>> No. 31336
>>31335
Because genki grill + world of magic where people stand on the edge of life and death don't usually mix and it was still possible to get them to get out of this, not to mention that we will have way less time outside. This path, however, leads to more character development and potential suffering, so it's for the best.
>> No. 31337
>>31335

Well, she doesn't know that magic is real despite whom her ancestor was so maybe Sumireko decided that her family should not follow her footsteps?
>> No. 31338
>>31336
>This path, however, leads to more [...] potential suffering, so it's for the best.

>>31337
I can't answer questions Ryuko wouldn't already know the answer to outside of the story.

But that said, interesting insight, although it seems I didn't manage to get my question across properly.
What I'm asking is if you have considered why I'm having you make this decision at all? Instead of making it myself and continuing writing until the usual deadline.
It's not important, I'm just curious.
>> No. 31339
>>31338
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

>>31338

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
>>31339
>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
>>31341
>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
>>31341
> 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
>>31345
>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.


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