Ah, answer time will come later. It's a little late for me to be writing too much now.
"Two things. One, I'd like to have you give me another danmaku lesson since I still need training in that regard, and two, I've thought up something regarding magic-based emergency generators and want someone to run the ideas by." Since she's not going to direct the conversation back towards something I'm not comfortable with, I may as well take advantage of it to do something productive.
"Danmaku?" Keine raises an eyebrow as she considers it. "It's too cold out there to do anything, so it'll have to be theory or smaller scale practical demonstrations. I know you can't do too much danmaku-wise, but it doesn't take much to damage something."
"Theory would just lead to testing, so I think it would be better to cut out the middleman and work on small, practical demonstrations." I stand up straight after setting the cup down, and wait on the teacher. No sense leaving her behind when she's the one who's supposed to be teaching me the fine art of firing non-lethal magic.
Keine nods in turn, setting her cup down and walking past me. "Well then, I'll teach you in the guest bedroom. There isn't much there to damage should you lose control." I follow her since that's a fairly clear indicator that she wants me to come with her. "I am glad you're taking your danmaku training seriously. I know you're more comfortable with alchemy, but knowing how to diffuse a situation without resorting to lethal combat is something you need to learn before you get stuck fighting something you can't deal with."
"I had to acknowledge it sooner or later, didn't I? I rather enjoy living and don't like the concept of dying before my time. Then there's the fact that certain parties might go so far as to beat me back into existence." I may have rolled my eyes there, but Keine can be... Rather interesting in her threats at times. Not to mention that she could probably rewrite history to where I don't die, then clobber me anyway for making her do that and putting her through that grief.
Keine merely smiles at me as she walks up the stairs. I hit the nail on the head with greater precision than I ever really wanted to.
The guest bedroom in question is as scarcely decorated as Keine suggested it would be, though it does have a painting of a crane on one side and a potted plant off in one corner. Perhaps 'scarcely' isn't the right word. Minimalist might work better for describing this space. The teacher in turn pulled out a pair of cusions and set them down so that we would have roughly two feet of space between each other. Clearly she plans to work on a more physical level like she did last time. "Alright. Last time you learned how to do one shot, but just one shot. I'd prefer to teach you how to create another type of bullet, or to at least convert one of your other spells into a bullet type before teaching you patterns."
"You know, I think I know of an appropriate answer to this one." After several moments of thought that felt far longer than they should have, I've come to a conclusion.
"Oh? Let's hear it then." Keine simply keeps her eyes on me for the time being as she doesn't know quite what I plan on saying.
I can't help but smile. "Please teach me, Keine-sensei."
She blinks in surprise.
"Keine... Sensei?" Keine sounds like she simply can't believe what she's hearing. "You haven't called me that in... Well, ever since we started living together! You don't exactly use honorifics either, so either you must really want me to teach you, or you're just teasing me." Thankfully she's smiling her own cute little smile instead of making any of the less desireable facial expressions that would have displayed annoyance or something else entirely.
"A little of both I think. It's been too long since the last time I've gotten to talk to you like this without any interruption. It makes sense to make with the friendly banter while you can, right?" ...When did I start feeling the need to tease girls like this? A few days ago and I'd poke fun at those few who are close to me, but not in a flirty manner. This... If I let that comment go without adding 'about danmaku' to the end, odds are good she might take it the wrong way and wonder what I did to myself.
"True enough. Though in all honesty I really thought your curiosity about women was finally getting the better of you. You looked like you were going to leave that request open-ended of your own accord, and let me come up with my own conclusions." With that, Keine held one hand up in front of her and produced a simple arrowhead bullet. I'd ask what it's for, but something else has come to mind, something that Keine catches on to, and something she smiles even wider in response to. "I see... You have been getting more curious, haven't you?"
Damn it Keine, I wasn't thinking about it until you brought it up. "Now that you've brought it up, that has crossed my mind every now and again. I've just been good at shoving such things off to the side in favor of more productive things." ...What I said to Aya, Marisa, and Eirin earlier is true. I've never even seen a woman's undergarments, let alone what those articles of clothing cover up. Such things simply didn't concern me, nor did they draw my curiosity in far enough before now.
Keine's smile doesn't grow wider, it simply takes on an appearance that makes the teacher look more like the cat who ate the bird. "Really now? Learning more efficient ways to kill yourself is worth depriving yourself a chance to grow? A chance to learn about feelings you might have continued to miss, or the fact that despite you living by yourself, you can't really stand living alone?"
She's painted me into a corner. My alchemy isn't quite that dangerous, but I have, and still do, unashamedly place it quite high in my life. More so than women, luxury, or even myself at times. However, to answer her question with that now would make me seem... Shallow? Arrogant? To know of another's feelings but not respond to them or even bother to learn about them because I don't think they're worth my time? In truth I do not know how we got to this point from female anatomy, but I missed a critical juncture in the conversation and allowed her to shift the tracks onto something she wanted to talk about. Something she feels I should have adressed long ago.
Her smile fades a bit as I take my time in answering. "Ivan?" She calls out, perhaps out of worry that I may very well be preparing to tell her yes in response to her question, and in turn state that I really do hold my trade above all else.
I can't do that.
"You've certainly done it Keine. You've managed to make me feel like a complete, retroactive moron." The danmaku lesson has more or less fallen through for now. Even if I did happen to remember it, I may not be in the mood to continue it. I square up my sitting postion and look her square in the eye. "If you really think that teaching me about women is the most important thing you could do right now, then do so."
Keine could not have turned red any faster. Her danmaku bullet, already having been forgotten, spontaneously explodes, scattering small blue glowing particles all over the place as she completely and utterly loses all focus. "Ivan..." She barely stammers out my name after a few moments of silence. "...Do you know what you're asking?"
"I can't think of anyone better, and I'd trust you with my life." However, the implications are lost on me. While Keine looks like she's at a loss for what to do, or truly indecisive about what she should do, I'm entirely neutral about this. I have no knowledge, no working reference, and only trust in Keine to work with.
"That's not the point." She's forcing her state of calm now. "It's not whether you trust me or not, it's about the fact that you don't even know what the phrase 'teach me about women' means!"
"Then start with the meaning of that phrase." It's clear the issue is bothering Keine, and she's both enthusiastic about the idea and extremely cautious about it.
"It means... If I were to teach you in the manner you suggested, I would do so with my own body." Keine continues to force her neutral expression, and merely looking at it is starting to hurt. "It's not whether you trust me, it's whether I can trust myself not to take advantage of you. If you didn't have a girlfriend already, I'd worry about this less, but as it stands..." She shakes her head, then continues with a much more pained expression. "I'd love to. I wouldn't have a problem with it because I love you, but I don't want to do something that would hurt you, Letty, and myself." She then closes her eyes... "I think it would be best if you asked Letty to teach you. I'm sure she'd be more than happy."
I feel like such a dick at times. This is one of those times.
>>2609 You mean fail miserably, due to lack of power?
[X] Sorry, but I think I'll wait for Letty. Our reputations would be ruined if anyone heard about you teaching me like that. -[X] ...Moving on, maybe you could tell me about womens' more subtle actions? I think we can both agree that I'm pretty bad at picking those kind of things up.
To be honest, I don't quite see the harm as Letty and Ivan aren't officially an item yet... and Rumia ruined the whole "saving the first time" thing. Still, I'll think on what to vote for... as I'd rather have Letty do it.
>>2612 I was referring to the "kidnap Ivan" part, which is definitely impossible for the now stage 1 boss.
>>2614 Honestly, I have no idea what Ivan and Letty's relationship status is at the moment. At the very least, Ivan already seems to consider her his girlfriend, because he doesn't object in the slightest when she gets called that, so to him it might be considered cheating.
He also seems to equate intercourse with romantic interest, if his line of thought after getting raped by Rumia is anything to go by. >I have next to no knowledge about sex since it would have been nothing but a hindrance, but it sounds like it's the most intimate way for two people to express their feelings for one another
When this story is over, I'm voting that you make an alternate universe story set a few years back from this one (like around just after Ivan moved out), with a Keine (and Mokou by extension I guess) focus.
Man where is everybody? I know this story has more readers than this.
>>2632 Oh come on you're not even going to fix the obvious typo?
>>2633 >"Try Letty first, then Keine if that fails" I'd hate Ivan if he did that, no matter what his justification was. "Hey, so my girlfriend doesn't want to have sex with me, so I'm gonna do it with you instead, okay?" That's just an asshole move no matter how you look at it, and Ivan's not dense enough to not realize that. Maybe he would've been a few months back, but not now.
I don't see any reason for Letty to object to intercourse anyway, unless she has something more important on her mind, which would probably intrigue "all-but-asexual" Ivan more.
>>2636 I'd think for sex with Letty to work there'd be preparations made for the heat generated and for Letty to deal with it.
And that's what I meant by the remark, as even I sensed "That'd be a dick move" about such a notion.
Personally I'd rather Keine in this get her own route in that AU someone mentioned earlier than a one time thing. I'd really like to see those two living together and things progressing. That and it'd be interesting Ivan's interest in girls/women awakening earlier due to say seeing his former teacher's body in the bathroom or such.
[X] I didn't think I'd bring that up. -[X] You know what, forget it, let's just drop the subject... Sorry for letting this conversation go in this direction. -[X] Could you please instead teach me about how they behave? --[X] (If she's uncomfortable with the previous choice) Or if you're uncomfortable with that, we could go back to danmaku. Or I can just leave. Whichever you'd want most right now.
Because this sounds better than mine. More specifically, it sounds less insensitive.
It might hurt her now, but we don't want to mislead her or give her the wrong idea here by stringing her on or indulging in her feelings, because Ivan's pretty much accepted that he's heads over heels for Letty, even if he's disturbed at the breakneck speed the relationship is going at right now.
>Thinking on it, A story centered on another character wouldn't have to take place in the winter.
Of course not. If anything, it should take place during the Summer, partly to serve as a contrast to this story (Summertime Alchemist?), and partly because of Summer Vacation.
...And then we can have a story in Fall focused on one or both of the Aki sisters, and a story in Spring focusing on... Er... Mokou? Rumia? Reimu?... Lily White?
[X] I didn't think I'd bring that up. -[X] You know what, forget it, let's just drop the subject... Sorry for letting this conversation go in this direction. -[X] Could you please instead teach me about how they behave? --[X] (If she's uncomfortable with the previous choice) Or if you're uncomfortable with that, we could go back to danmaku. Or I can just leave. Whichever you'd want most right now.
Hm, a proper Lettertime Alchemist will be put up later. (Yes, I finally gave that segment a name.)
I'm starting to regret letting this topic drift the way it has. Keine might know she's lost, but it's downright stupid to think she'd take it with her usual grace. No matter what she says, it's obvious she's hurt over it and may very well be sore about it right now. Which means I need to apologize and back away from the subject as carefully as possible. "Keine, if this subject is painful for you, I apologize. I didn't really think things through at all..."
"It's not your fault. I kept pushing the issue even though I knew that it was a bad idea, and just made it worse for myself." Keine's composure is critically close to failure at this point, as tears have formed on her tear ducts and threaten to fall unchecked.
...I'm not even sure what to say anymore. Part of me wants to comfort her, another wishes to draw attention away from this concept, while another can't bring itself to break the awkward silence. Still, I can't simply allow this to go on. I shift my cusion two feet forward and pull her into a tight hug while she allows her anguish to spill out in tears. We stay like that for longer than I would have thought, but time ceased to matter as I embrace her. I'll give her all that she needs to sort herself out. Until then...
"Ivan..." She finally speaks out after crying into my chest for a while. She does not relinquish her hold of me, instead gripping me harder for a moment to ensure that she has my attention, no matter how unnecessary the gesture. "I'm sorry, I've kept you too long." Her composure returns little by litte, but it will be hours yet before she actually goes back to her usual self. No matter what she says.
"It's fine. I set aside my day for this, so there's no need to apologize. If anything, I should apologize to you for being so thoughtless before." I realize that there was no way for me to have known, but it's still my fault for not knowing. I had all the opportunities in the world to learn, but ignored them all, even when it was clear that I had someone who was- No, is willing to teach me. ...Hah, how in the world can I get this internally dramatic over something like this? "Though it's getting rather late, perhaps I should make something to eat?" It was a little past noon when I got here I think, perhaps two o' clock or so, and I wasn't paying attention to the passage of time in the slightest afterwards. Going back to the discussion of women seems to be a poor choice, and leaving might make it look like I'm running away or don't care enough to stay. Rest assured I doubt I can stay overnight, but at the very least I can stick around until she feels that she won't be quite so upset by this.
She looks up at me, perhaps a bit surprised by my words. "Ah?" Her body then agrees to my suggestion before she herself does, causing her to blush as her stomach growls. "Yes, dinner would be wonderful." She pulls away from me in order to stand up, at which point I do the same. "Though I think I'll help you with it. You are my guest, and I can't allow you to do everything for me in good conscience." I simply nod in assent. Making something for dinner may very well help get her mind off this.
Now that there's a respectable number of responses again, I feel the need to answer some of them.
...Alright, replace 'need' with 'if I want to avoid being tied up and subjected to strange things' and you'll get the general idea. Aya's sitting on my lap now (I did get another chair, but the tengu promptly wrecked it. I am quite certain she did it on purpose) and is making a point of ensuring that I actually go through with this instead of doing something that would be more interesting. Of course, I can hardly argue with the shapely tengu when she's being affectionate, so onward. "That's a remarkably silly thing to do, and not something she'd do anyway. Her normal tactics are more along the lines of 'slip in, steal what she wants, then get back out'. No, bashing the wall in to get something is more what Marisa might do. I have no idea if this would apply to anyone else, but I haven't been in a scenario to find out." I happen to be in a pretty good mood too, perhaps because it's been really peaceful lately.
Aya snuggles up against me a bit more while she reads the letter, and can't seem to help laughing a bit when I finish my statement. "You seem to be forgetting about Mokou, Ivan. Keine would probably be just as direct as well, and I'm sure a fair few others might do something so silly if they felt they needed to or wanted to." Her offhand comment is slightly unsettling when you think about it.
I then toss the first letter aside in order to pick up the next, and it's a continuation of the first in a manner of speaking. "That actually ties in a bit with >>2611. I can't say precisely why it does so I'll go ahead and leave it to your imaginations." I'd spoil things if I went ahead and said anything about this.
Aya grabs another letter with a small smirk on her face. "Riiiiiight, and that's not because you can't be bothered to point out something the readers might have missed. Anyway, you're right random reader! Lots of people would be more than happy to bust into private moments. Of course, the odds of that happening in-story without any form of warning is generally pretty low. The writer is generally too nice to pull such overused cliches in his writing, and if he does he'll probably let you know about it beforehand in some manner."
"Uh, Aya, isn't breaking the fourth wall a bit much? I mean, we usually do, but doesn't acknowledging the fact that we're fictional characters stretch things a bit thin? People will get complacent if you go off and tell them just how easy-going this is." I'm a bit concerned about this, in case that wasn't obvious before. Regardless, I read over the letter despite having the tengu's chest more or less in my face. It's hardly a bad feeling, just a little distracting from the point of this whole section.
"Meh. It's the out of character section, we don't have to take this seriously if we don't want to." Without any concern for the current situation, she tosses away the letter she has in her hand before snatching up the next one. "Well, this one is certainly up for interpretation. While Ivan's chosen Letty in this particular scenario, we haven't exactly heard her reaction in words yet. It's pretty obvious she's comfortable with doing intimate things with him, such as kissing, so we'll just have to see if she's willing to go all the way at some point." She then looks up while placing her index finger to her lips. "I guess Rumia did ruin the whole first time thing with her little nighttime visit."
"Does that even count? I was pretty much one step away from being a corpse there. No chance of it actually happening without outside interference, but you get the idea."
She looks down at me while wrapping one arm around me. Her expression happens to be pretty thoughtful right at the moment, so perhaps she's putting some genuine thought into this instead of thinking up a witty comeback. "That one counts I think. As disgusting, depraved, and one-sided as it was, it still involved a connection between bodies, so she did swipe your first time. Honestly though, if she were a bit more subtle we may never have known about it, and it wouldn't have mattered."
"Something tells me she might think it's a good idea to lord that fact over whoever I wind up with near the end, just to test her luck one last time. It doesn't matter to me though, as rape isn't consensual and I wasn't awake for it." I just shrug in response to the query. Rumia's bit just didn't have the impact it might have otherwise since she chose such an inopportune time to go about having her way with me. "If she caught me more or less alone and awake, I might be a bit more worked up over this, but as it stands I can easily ignore the issue."
"That's probably more how you'd act in the main story anyway. If you weren't aware of it when it happened, it may as well not have." She sets this letter back down to pick up the next one, though personally I think she wouldn't be quite so calm if she were the one I pursued and Rumia told her she raped me long before anyone else was thinking of doing such things. ...Maybe. Maybe Aya would just see it as a reason to make up for it. "Next letter then." She flips the letter open and leaves it out where I can see it. "Well, the first part's more or less been answered, and the first part of the latter half is..." She promptly pauses.
"What?" Since the main story's me and I share the same view on a lot of things, I don't get why this would cause a hang-up.
She doesn't look at me directly, instead crumpling the paper up and tossing it in the waste-bin. She turns her head toward me slightly so I only see a mishceivous grin and one eye, which manages to scare me a little. "You know, I haven't expressed my love for you properly~♥" Erk.
"Aheheh, moving on..." I pick up the next letter to read it, only to feel that she's not going to let that bit drop. Ever. "In terms of girls, any one of them could have an interesting route. Eirin and I already have a bit of history to work with, Aya has some unresolved issues in the main story, and Mokou... She might be a tough nut to crack. She's been alive for a very long time so she may intentionally distance herself if you try to pursue her."
"Of course, if you did go after Mokou it would be absolutely unforgivable if you only went halfway. Pursuing the phoenix will require Ivan's bull-headed tendencies at times while figuring out her feminine side." Aya's expression takes on a much more cat-like look to it as she adjusts how she's sitting on me. "Assuming you can dig far enough into her personality to find it."
I just roll my eyes at that one. "I'm sure it wouldn't take that much effort." Then the next letter is dropped into Aya's lap with a gust of wind, at which point I reach around her with both arms to open and hold it. "...Yeah, I'm not sure I'd be that stupid even if I were still that dense. There are some things you just don't do, and this is one of them."
"Though I doubt Letty would really object to getting into your pants if you left her the proper openings. Trick is getting her in the mood, which probably isn't all that difficult considering what she is." Of course, we're getting into a subject Aya enjoys talking about soley so she can tease me mercilessly.
That comment is one I just flat out ignore. "Honestly, I doubt she'd have much of an issue with the heat generated regardless of the scenario. She may prepare by cooling herself off outside first, but something tells me she won't have any particular issue with it."
Aya snatches the letter away since one bit in particular caught her attention. "Aahaha~ Man, they're never going to let you go now that you've been opened up to their directing! It looks like you've got too much going for you."
Continuation of main story will occur later.
Serial ATA!umMKyLfC5.2010/11/07 (Sun) 12:34No. 2652▼
>"You know, I haven't expressed my love for you properly~♥" I so want to see this happening.
"Wh-wh-whaaaaat?!" Aya exclaims as she holds the latest letter. "I'm no guest, I'm the heroine of this segment, and as such-"
Right then and there, Momiji bursts through the wall, pipe and all to tie up Aya and haul her away. She's pretty pissed to boot. "I ain't covering for your ass anymore! You're getting back up the mountain and getting back to work!" She's pretty quick with those ropes, and Aya's complaints barely reach me with the speed Momiji is moving at.
She's equally quick to storm out without apologizing to me or compensating me for the fact that she just destroyed part of my house. Grabbing the phone, I decide to call up the kappa while telling them that it's a case of someone battering through my wall and that the responsible party should foot the bill, then contemplate where I should stay for the time being. ...Staying with Keine might mirror the story a bit too much, allowing bits and pieces of each to intermix until things irrevocably change. (Because if it goes they way I think it will, Keine won't lift a finger to fix the history.)
The more I think about it, the more I'm starting to run into a brick wall...
"Alright, since Momiji has both forcibly removed Aya from this bit until things settle down on their end, and said wolf has wrecked my wall to do so, where should I reside?"
Dinner was a mostly quiet affair since Keine wasn't really up for talking. It's fine by me since I can't really think of anything to say to her. It's kind of odd though, since usually we wind up chatting about various unimportant subjects for hours on end, all through the process of making, serving, then eating. Now it's just eerily silent. The atmosphere is a bit odd as a result, as aside from it being well lit it just doesn't feel quite right. Then again, what can I expect? Instead of just letting this sit I should probably talk about something.
...Only nothing ever comes. Christ, why is it so hard to talk now?
"Ivan, just to ask... Where do you plan on staying tonight? There's not much sunlight left." Keine finally speaks up with a bit of common sense. I really haven't been paying much attention to the time in all this...
[X]...Stay here for the night. [X]I think it'd be wiser if I left. -[X]Head home, this has been enough for one day. -[X]See about staying at Eientei. -[X]Somewhere else?
Ugh, short bit is short, but I need to keep moving here.
Since it's not a good idea to stay in a compromised home untilt he kappa come along to fix it, I decide to just go ahead and apply a special type of compound to the hole that will keep winter out as well as hopefully repel Youkai. Nothing attracts the feral ones more than a home that's not properly maintained. Once I'm done I head upstairs after collecting the letters to pack all the essentials for relatively short visit with a few people who'd probably be more than happy to help me after hearing my circumstances. Just to be absolutely sure, I take along enough cash for a sizable donation just in case the miko isn't in the best mood. I doubt she would be since I've been drawing at least a couple of the youkai who'd normally annoy her away, but you can never be too careful.
"Well, that wasn't necessarily your fault in terms of the comment, but rather the vote. You all should have noticed that Keine was not dropping the subject and had every opportunity in the world to jump tracks before getting that far, especially since she basically handed you the chance on a silver platter." Even while packing a backpack full of essentials, I find the time to respond to a letter. "I know where you were trying to come from with that though, it just wasn't the right choice at the time." The letter's open right next to the bag that I'm putting some folded pants into so I can keep reading it while acting.
The bag doesn't take too long to fill since I'm not about to bring any of my alchemy equipment with me just in case I would wreck the shrine. I'd rather not be on the receiving end of one of the miko's feared beatdowns if I can avoid it. With that in mind, I make the slow treck to the shrine, thanking my brain for having the foresight to have me do this early in the day.
"I think I should head home for tonight. I'm sure I've once again forgotten to lock my doors and need to check to make sure that a certain witch didn't make off with what she should have." I get up from my seat since there's no real point in staying much longer. It's regrettable though since I'd love to stay here to give Keine the company, but I get the feeling it wouldn't be the smart thing to do.
"Well then, I'll see you tomorrow." She doesn't look too happy about my having to leave, yet she knows full well that I probably should. "Do make sure to come by again, I would like to actually teach you something instead of getting side-tracked in such a manner." She gets up right alongside me and walks over, then hugs me.
"I will." I simply respond in kind for a few moments before pulling away and making my way out.
The snow has gotten deeper, somehow colder, and the wind even more bitter than before. If I'm going to get home, I have to get there pretty soon or else I'll have to hope someone guides me back home before my entire lower half gets turned into a popsicle. ...I still worry about the teacher though. She's just unloaded some of her own dissapointment on me and has to spend the night alone. Of course, I've already made up my mind in the matter: Staying with her would be a bad idea. Keine has proven that she either can't or won't let the issue go, and the longer I stay with her the more likely I would be to reciprocate those feelings. If I do that, then I'd... It'd feel like I'm cheating on Letty, tossing her aside in favor of a rekindled love. I can't do that to her, not when my feelings for her are genuine.
The snow crunches underfoot as I contemplate things, the sound ultimately muffled by the wind that seems determined to freeze me solid. I re-adjust my jacket and make a mental note to ask Mokou for a couple more strands so I can make a matching pair of pants and perhaps a scarf. The jacket's warmth will keep my torso safe, but even its warmth has limits when it comes to warming up parts not covered by its fabric. ...Heh, even Mokou's keeping me safe now, even if in an indirect manner.
Perhaps I should ask Keine to teach me how to utelize electric-element bullets the next time we meet. I need to learn how to create something to fill in a niche that the kappa have yet to fill, and gain a new way to attack that no one would really expect. Someone who's relatively slow, thick-headed to the point that my skull may as well be able to deflect blades, and determined beyond all reason might be more attuned to the earth element than lightning. Speaking of which, it might do me some good to start researching spells myself between visits. If I can get the basic framework worked out I could probably grasp the concept far better and get more out of it than just diving in the deep end without the basic knowledge of how to swim.
Not to mention that I really ought to focus on replenishing my stock of bottled elements. Rumia hasn't put that big a strain on them, but since I have no idea if she was crafty enough to avoid being sealed through some manner of broken logic that still manages to work I figure I may as well treat this as the end of round 1 instead of calling it a victory. For all I know, she just set up her hair so that it's really short and the rest is connected by a small amount of darkness. Maybe like a wig so she can just toss the ribbon aside once she's sure that Yukari won't keep as close an eye on her.
...That's a distinct and unwelcome possibility.
I manage to make it home, but it's gotten quite dark. The thick cloud layer, the setting sun, and the fact that winter days are always shorter due to the Earth's tilting axis means that it's bordering on pitch black when I finally make it to my door. Since I'm here, I'm not too worried about that. I can just walk in, turn on a light, bask in the light and warmth of my large Sealed Fire for a bit then crawl in bed to sleep. After I check my books of course.
My boots are left on the shoe rack to allow the snow to melt onto the pad I left under the rack, my jacket is on the coat-hanger, and proceed to head up to my room to get a fresh change of relatively warm pants since the ones I have on now are going to get soaked by the snow that's clinging to them. Coincidentaly, I'm pretty sure that's where I left my books.
A short while, and a change of clothes later and I've confirmed that nothing's been stolen (though someone has been through my house) and am heading into the main living room. I'm a bit surprised to see Letty there, but in some ways I'm actually glad she's here. ...A bit worried about what the heat's been doing to her, so maybe it's in my best interest to check up on her first.
I walk over to the couch, then peer over at the yuki-onna who's decided to lay there in the warm glow of... Wait, a couch with just two spots to sit is a love seat isn't it? Why do I keep getting those two mixed up every time I think about it? Ugh, side-tracked thought process aside I get a good look at her and place one of my cold hands on her forehead. She's pretty warm to the touch, but anything would be when your hands feel like someone's come close to dipping them in liquid nitrogen. Her eyes snap open and trail up my arm until she sees my face, at which point she relaxes a bit. "Ivan, what in the world were you doing out there? I would have thought you'd come straight back home after getting done with whatever you were doing." Her smiling face could warm me all the way through all on its own, but it seems like she's not about to settle for that.
"I got caught up in something that I had to see through to the end, then almost didn't make it back here before it got pitch-black out." She lets go of my hand and sits upright before patting the spot next to her. It's a clear invitation and one I plan on taking her up on. I sit down next to her and find myself on the receiving end of a hug almost immediately.
"It's a good thing you did~ I would have gone out to find you if you took any longer if you took any longer." Suddenly I'm glad I left when I did. If I stuck around with Keine that may have wound up being quite awkward, and perhaps not end well at all. Of course, I didn't notice that she decided to sniff me while I was monologuing. "Ah, you smell a bit like Keine. I assume you were over at her house?"
"I was. I've been going over to learn danmaku but she wound up discussing something painful instead, so I kept her company until she settled down. I ate dinner with her then left shortly afterward." I get the feeling I know part of what this means. She's suspicious about what I've been doing, or at least I'm pretty sure that's what this means. "Anyway, I'd like to get some sleep soon now that I've got everything in order."
[X]"Care to join me?" [X]Offer her a place to stay for the night. [X]Let her decide. [X]Write-in
"Care to join me?" The words slip out almost of their own accord, but the fact that I'm contemplating sharing the same bed as Letty does nothing to make me reconsider what I'm saying.
Letty raises her eyebrows for a moment before allowing herself to smile. "I would not refuse such an offer coming from you. I am a bit surprised that you would ask me to sleep with you like this. From what I've seen you're usually a bit too... dense... to actually consider it." She chooses her words carefully, but it still stings a bit.
"What can I say? I enjoyed waking up next to you." I get up off the love seat and offer her a hand up, which she takes. "Not to mention that it's something I could get used to rather easily."
"Then we shouldn't delay any longer." It's a bit odd being led to my bedroom by the very same woman I had meant to lead myself. ...Though given how she was looking at me she may be taking the idea further than I intended it to. Her pace happens to be fairly normal considering the scenario, though she seems to be picking up warmth as her hand has grown from moderately warm to roughly the same temperature as a normal human. "You don't have to worry about clothes either. I usually sleep in my undergarments and that bed of yours is already set up to keep as much warmth in as possible."
"I was wondering about that. It's a little late for you to go back to your home to grab something appropriate so I was thinking about what you could use in the meantime." I do step ahead of her to open the door, then to close it again once we're both inside. To my complete lack of surprise the room is colder than the living room, but the ventilation system I have set up keeps it warmer than most bedrooms could ever hope to be. I could go into a paragraph or two about how it works, but you're probably entirely uninterested in such things and would much rather know what Letty looks like while stripping down to the bare essentials. Perverts, the lot of you.
I try my best to avert my eyes while taking most of my clothes off, but she's decided to take her clothes right in front of me! It's a bit hard to concentrate as a result, so she winds up stripping down to an oddly fitting snowflake-print bra and panties that do nothing but compliment her body. I walk to the closet to look for a decent set of pajamas, but Letty grabs hold of my arm and holds it between her breasts. "Is that really necessary? I think we can do a good enough job at keeping each other warm that you won't need that."
My face goes flush in an instant. "I... You're right. It's unnecessary." I almost protest, but figure the odds are pretty good that she'd find some way to counter my arguement, be it through physical means or talking me into doing as she wishes. As a result, I get under the covers in nothing but my boxers while she wears nothing but her own undergarments. She's more than happy to snuggle up to me, wrapping her arms around my body to hug me tight, as well as draping one of her smooth legs over mine.
...Suddenly my conversation with Keine comes to mind, as well as my own musings. ...That's far too convenient for the given scenario, but I hope it's understandable.
Rather than leave the opportunity up to chance, I decide to kiss her goodnight. It's not a deep kiss, nor is it one meant to transfer... heat. She may be in need of that later.
>I could go into a paragraph or two about how it works, but you're probably entirely uninterested in such things and would much rather know what Letty looks like while stripping down to the bare essentials. Actually I am interested in how it works.
>>2689 Agreed. Does it involve a series of pipes and some vents directing the flow of sealed fire/ice? Is it something as crude as a bunch of sealed fire and ice, proportioned depending on the temperature desired? The people have a right to know!
"Huh, I guess the other me spoke too soon. I'd be more than happy to tell you all how it works, if you'll bear with me for a bit." The trek through the forest of magic wasn't all that hazardous since I stuck to the path and it's winter. Aside from the odd roving non-youkai wolf, there really isn't much in the way of threats in the winter. How ironic that the most hostile season is actually the safest to move around. ...It's still a bit odd to get letters via gaps, but it is convenient since Yukari doesn't make me do odd things to receive them or stick around to annoy me. "The system I employ is fairly simple. It simply takes advantage of the fact that hot air is less dense than cooler air via a series of vents. I can get away with this arrangement since I have a number of entry vents located near the top of the sealed fire that allow hot air to escape upward into the rooms that need it."
Ah, there we go. The shrine steps are just up ahead. ...Now all I have to do is climb these stupid stairs. I'd normally propel myself up them, but I don't want to cause a ruckus or get my clothes all torn up. I may have brought spares but they're likely to be colder than what I have on right now. "The vents all exit into the second floor rooms to increase the temperature. The vents can be shut on either end in warmer weather so they won't be quite so warm, but I admit that I don't have a working air conditioning system. The issue with this is that I would have to install a large sealed ice on the roof, then create another series of vents that would allow the cold air to flow into the same rooms that would normally be too warm. Nowhere near as advanced as Outsider air conditioning systems, but I'm getting there." The trek up the stairs is probably as painful as the trip getting to this point. The Hakurei Shrine is located on top of a hill in the middle of the Forest of Magic, and said hill is just obnoxiously large. Large enough that the stairs go up a very long way before you actually get there. "I have dabbled in using wind-siphoning equipment to help distribute the air more evenly, as well as faster, but the last time I tried it it managed to dislodge the vent covers and embed them into the roof." I can't help but roll my eyes when I recall that particular failure, as it was quite annoying to disable the faulty runic I had engraved into the inside of the vents.
With no other pressing questions to answer, I continue up the stairs, hoping that I'll get to the top before my legs freeze.
Funnily enough, Letty decided to take my good-night kiss a bit further with a little heat transfer when I was contemplating the exact same thing. Once she was done she regarded me with a warm smile before shifting her position again to nuzzle my neck. I pull the covers over us just a bit more so the rapidly warming bed would keep us nice and comfy the whole night through. With that out of the way, I realize that I'm actually starting to breathe in time with her as I drift off to sleep. The other odd thing is that her presence caused me to fall asleep faster...
Ugh. I hate this stupid ribbon. All it ever does is get in my way. Rumia has decided to reside in a patch of darkness that happens to be warmer than most while the night blows over. While you'd think that this would be the ideal time to run around and claim victims, there was the small problem that the grue enjoyed the freezing cold about as much as we humans do. Good thing I actually thought things through this time, or else I'd be stuck trying to plan how to remove it again with a child's mind. It was a big enough pain in the ass the last time around. She grips her long hair and pulls it off, revealing that she had kept the ribbon from connecting properly via replacing a tiny fraction of each and every strand of hair with an equally tiny bit of darkness. She scowled as she looked at the ribbon, then contemplated how best to show her contempt. Even now it's pissing me off. It took so long to build up that much hair, and I have to go around with thick peach fuzz for however long it takes for my hair to grow back.
She couldn't simply remove her hair from the ribbon and stick it back on her head. That would simply allow the seal to supress her properly, and she wasn't about to stick it back on her head on purpose. I'd take a nice long piss on it, but that'd mean soaking my hair.
She contemplated what to do with it, then decided on hacking off as much of the attached hair as possible before yanking her panties down and doing exactly what she wanted to do the whole time. Somehow she managed to keep at it for the better part of twenty seconds, so she must have been holding it in for a while.
My dream wasn't particularly good or bad, more a neutral walk through the forest that ended when I ascended the stairs to the Hakurei Shrine. In its place was a massive stone building that felt like it was designed by religious folk who were attempting to build a building large enough to fit their ego in, but that wasn't the interesting part. No, that part came when I got close to the door and saw two women standing in front of the giant doorway, both clad in white wedding dresses. One was Keine in her were-hakutaku form, and the other was Letty. Each was holding a rather pleasant boquet and looking over the people who were gathering here. However, the pleasant nature of their dress was brutally tossed aside by the implication that they were waiting for me, and that they didn't want to share.
Thankfully, I woke up just as they realized that the other was there because things looked like they were going to get both violent and interesting at the same time. Either way, I'm glad I woke up before my imagination tried to fill in the gaps about what a woman's more private places look like. That's never fun when my brain tries to rationalize things it knows nothing about.
Instead I focus on the fact that I've woken up to a floral scent that carries the nature of winter itself on it, the warm, soft weight of a woman's body, and a pair of soft lips meeting mine in a morning ritual that I wouldn't mind having continue.
"Good morning~" Letty seems quite happy this morning, and oddly enough she's not utterly helpless. She's got a very human skin tone, right along with a blatant blush, but she still seems to have trouble moving. Despite that, she has a positively brilliant smile on her face as she snuggles with me. "That was nice~ Maybe I should sleep with you more often."
"I admit that I could get used to waking up that way rather easily. ...Though I have to ask: Are you really okay? You feel a bit warm and you look a little off in comparison to how you usually are." I remember how she usually is when she's too warm, which worries me. If she gets too hot she may collapse...
Though that doesn't solve the immediate issue of what to do about breakfast.
[X]See about helping Letty out of bed... -[X]Then take a shower. Just because Letty smells nice doesn't mean I do. -[X]Focus on getting breakfast started, preferably something that isn't too complicated. (Feel free to post suggestions) -[X]Keep an eye on her while she gets dressed as I'm worried that she may not be able to dress properly on her own. -[X]Write-in
First of all, Ivan's already lampshading the speed at which his relationship with Letty is going and is not comfortable with it. The fact that you made this vote anyway means you probably either didn't pay attention to that or are just looking for fap material.
Second, I'm not turning this into eroge this soon in the story even if it winds up being the popular vote. Ivan may be comfortable with sleeping with Letty, but don't you think that suddenly showering together might be a bit out of character for the reserved, if not dense alchemist?
Third... It's my personal opinion but the wording is just stupid. 'Just because she smells nice doesn't mean I don't want to remember the scent for the rest of the day'? Maybe it wasn't your intention, but that just makes it more convoluted and possibly insulting than it needs to be. That's what, two instances of double negatives? Something like: "Take a shower with Letty to better remember her pleasant scent" would sound better.
Please refrain from mis-quoting me in the future as it is quite annoying. I said 'with', not 'after'. Also, I thought the idea was to get me to write, not make me fap to Letty tits.
The point I was trying to make is this: If you're going to vote for something stupid/OOC/detrimental, at least take the time to word it to where you don't sound like a retard.
Breakfast can wait for a while. If I recall my mythology correctly, a yuki-onna feeds on the body warmth of others. The fact that Letty has a very human tone to her skin instead of her usual pale as snow skin tone and is moving rather sluggishly at best means she's probably consumed the equilivant to a five course meal during the night and is probably full. I'm sure she could use the time to 'digest' what she has, assuming spirits work on a metabolism like humans do. ...That's actually a good question. I assume that a spirit that takes in something to help maintain its existence it might not be consuming it in its most useful form, hence it would take time to convert it into something their spiritual body could use. Perhaps that explains why she is unable to move when she consumes too much heat from a non-living source. It's the equilivant of eating too much junk food and getting sick.
This raises some unfortunate implications about Letty transfering excess heat to me via kissing.
...Best not dwell on that too much, or I'll ruin my appetite for at least half the day by coming up with a full-blown theory as to how a snow woman feeds off heat, what kind of heat she can feed on without negative effects, and the fact that transfering their heat when they have too much is the equilivant of them- Gah, did I not just say that I'd stop thinking about that? Really me, where do you get the idea that contemplating the fact that Letty kissing me is the equilivant of her kiss-feeding me partially consumed body hea- God damn it. My mind's stuck on this stupid subject now.
"Ivan?" Letty's sweet voice draws me of my mental monologue and back into the real world. Namely, the one where she's lying on me and has been watching my expression for the last several minutes while she contemplates what to do about my not paying attention.
My eyes meet hers, at which point they stop moving. Her face really isn't that far away from mine, and that voluptuous body of hers is pressing on mine fairly hard. Is this a deliberate attempt at 'seduction'? Is she aware that she's making my face go flush, that she's causing me to feel strange? And why in the nine circles of hell has my voice failed me?!
Letty does little more than wrap her arms around me while she waits for a response that probably won't come so long as she's pressing herself against me like this. "Are you okay? You seem awfully warm..." Her expression while placing her forehead against mine betrays nothing, but I get the sneaking suspicion that she's doing this on purpose and is enjoying the result. "Maybe..." She lifts her head up a little to where I can practically smell her breath... which is actually not that bad really. I assume spirits can simply choose what their breath smells like since it's highly unlikely that the bacteria that causes bad breath in humans can survive in a spirit's mouth, let alone one who embodies winter. "...You're lovesick?"
Her bright smile and muffled laughter serve to annoy me to the point that I can once again set aside the fact that she's a lovely yuki-onna and I'm a guy who's only just realizing why women are valued life partners/pains in the rear you can't live without. "Alright, that was bad." She only renews her giggling as I respond to her horrible pun. "Anyway, how are you holding up? Last time you got this warm you had to kiss-feed me some of the excess warmth just to be able to move again." Of course, if I really understood the weight of the term I probably wouldn't have been able to say it with a straight face.
That manages to catch her off-guard a bit, if only for my unorthidox idea at the end. She shifts upward a bit more to where it looks like she's merely mounting me instead of lying on me in order to give it more thought. "Kiss feeding? I never really thought of it that way, especially since..." She pauses as she goes through each instance of her kissing me to find one where the term was actually applicable. "No, I don't recall ever preforming a kiss deep enouh to..." Her voice trails off as she forms her own conclusion about the scenario. "Oooo! And you're getting on my case over a little pun like lovesick!"
"I really was concerned about your well-being you know." And all I can do is try to figure out why in the world she'd be blushing at the concept, let alone getting excited over it.
Letty sighs as she begins thinking properly again. "You're right, I should know better than to think you understand why things like kiss-feeding would be something you shouldn't joke about when you don't even know what the term usually applies to." She looks me in the eye, delivers a quick kiss, then begins to slide off me so she can actually get up. "Instead of getting flustered, I may just give you some context to work with the next time you say something like that without thinking." She's smiling in a mischievous manner that pretty much confirms that she's dead serious about that comment and the intent behind it. "Aside from all that, I'm fine. Being warmed up by an actual person doesn't bother me nearly as much as being heated up through other means. I wouldn't mind breakfast though."
"Do you mind if I get washed up first? You smell nice, but I doubt very seriously that I can say the same thing." I get out of bed as well in order to collect the necessary articles of clothing before heading off to bathe.
"You didn't smell that bad to me, but go ahead. Maybe living humans have different perceptions about what constitutes an offensive body odor." Letty states this in a casual manner, leaving me with more questions than I started out with.
Since I'm fairly confident that Letty isn't going to collapse onto the floor due to excessive and incompatible heat, I feel that I can take a shower without feeling guilty about leaving her alone. I feel a bit guilty about not working on breakfast first, but as I said, I'd rather not have everyone point out that I smell less than appealing when I head out later today. Even if the colder temperatures dampen such things, I'd be spending most of my day indoors. I gather the necessary garments before walking out of my bedroom and into the bathroom, making sure to check for any odd surprises before I start stripping.
I know, the inside portion of a second story room shouldn't have things like hidden cameras, tengu ninjas, or other such silly things but with someone like Aya taking an interest in me, or my not being one-hundred percent sure about Rumia being properly sealed, I'd have to be a fool of truly titanic proportions not to at least check the room for any possible peeping toms. ...Or would that be peeping cats? It's a rather odd question when you think about it. A tom is a male cat, yet unless I'm mistaken it's applied to women as well as men. Hardly a fair thing to do since in a way you're essentially saying that it's impossible for women to be peepers, or that it's rude to refer to them as such.
Setting the clothes aside, I begin to take off... Wait, I was only in my boxers last night. I don't have anything but boxers to take off. Taking those off, I turn the water on for a moment to make sure that I'm not about to get a brief blast of icy water as the precious stuff makes its way through the pipes. Of course, I have every right to be concerned since even though I'm hopefully out of one deadly force after my skin, I'm far from being out of the woods since I have the anthropomorphic representation of winter on my case, and he's made it quite clear that he wants to kill me for 'stealing' Letty from him. Truly a detestable man, claiming all those who happen to be Yuki-onna as his own. Even more so when you consider the possibility that he's the one who kills women who are lost in snowstorms for the sole purpose of having a harem.
I toss my boxers into the dirty clothes hamper before stepping into the tub to draw the water. Really, someone like that has been allowed to screw around with Eientei for that long, murder women who could have been saved, act as though he were the greatest thing since Sealed Fire, and be completely... Irredeemable. I could have said something far worse, but I don't feel like letting myself do that. Instead, I should formulate some manner of attack to at least convince him that I'm not worth dealing with, if not to punish him onto the straight and narrow. After all, while I doubt he can die without winter itself dissapearing, I imagine that he can be put through hell on earth without much trouble.
That's still dangerous thinking, not to mention that I'd be placing myself on a smiliar level of bastardry as Frost himself if I went through with it, but at the same time I need to ensure that I won't wind up dead one day because someone more powerful than I decided to be a bitchy individual and decide that I should be dead and buried, or worse. I imagine that I could easily wind up as an ice statue for all time, or have my memories wiped and simply be added to his collection that way.
The thought sends shivers down my spine.
Is it really too much to ask that I be left alone to pursue what I want, and who I want?
>...Or would that be peeping cats? It's a rather odd question when you think about it. A tom is a male cat, yet unless I'm mistaken it's applied to women as well as men. Actually, the phrase "peeping tom" has nothing to do with cats, but a later addition to the legend of Lady Godiva. When everyone in Coventry was ordered to stay inside and shutter their windows so nobody could see her ride through the city in the nude, a tailor named Tom made some holes in his shutters to peep on her. His was struck blind for this and was henceforth known as Peeping Tom.
Thankfully the miko was in a half-decent mood when I finally got to the top of this idiotically tall, not to mention steep, hill so it was a simple matter to explain my circumstances and ask permission to stay in the shrine until the kappa once again repair my house. The respectable ten-thousand yen donation I gave her after having her agree to let me stay caused her to faint though. Perhaps I should make a point of making smaller, more frequent offerings rather than offering less frequent yet large lump sums that would support her few days.
I'm sure there's other possible explanations for why the Hakurei miko would faint over ten thousand yen, but none of them really make sense to me. It's not like I offered some truly obscene amount, like one-hundred thousand.
My donation did cause her to be in a positively bubbly mood once she woke up and confirmed that she was in fact awake and not dreaming about a very sudden, large donation given to her by one of the few people that actually make the trek up here to pray at the shrine. Or in my case, seek the occasional bit of divine protection when I go into some particularly dangerous projects. Rambling aside, Reimu has graciously offered to let me stay as long as necessary, and I doubt anyone will convince her otherwise so long as I don't give her any reason to kick me out. Hence my reading yet another gap-delivered letter while sitting at a kotatsu that happens to have one of my portable sealed fires on it. The room is quite toasty, especially when you consider that the shrine wasn't built to withstand winter all that well.
I wonder if Reimu would object to my rennovating the place to support a similar heating/cooling system to what I have planned for my house? This shrine could use something like that, not to mention a total overhaul to give it some proper protection against winter while giving it a more effective means to cool the building in summer. I think the shrine should be more impressive too. It's already set in the deity department since the evil spirit Mima has set herself up as the goddess of the Hakurei Shrine and the angel of death herself resides here as a fairy for some peculiar reason. The building should be bigger, for starters, and actually look like it's being taken care of rather than being given the barest minimum of maintenance to keep the place from collapsing in on itself.
"Are you just going to sit there staring off into space like an idiot or are you actually going to open that letter?" A small blue-haired child with unthinkably fair and unblemished skin, six small, white angel wings, and a blue dress sits across from me. The odd thing is that she wasn't there when I sat down.
"Alright Sariel, I'll get on with it. I was just giving the readers some description to work with." I open the letter in order to scan the contents, and find that it's actually a correction to my previous assumption of the phrase 'Peeping Tom.' "Ah, so that's why that is. Thank you for taking the time to tell me what that really meant, since the odds are good I would not have looked it up on my own."
Sariel just looks at me like I'm retarded. "Who are you talking to? I thought you were crazy-stupid, not crazy to the point that you should be locked away in an asylum." She's leaning on the small heated table to where her chin is resting on the wood and her sapphire colored eyes are fixated on me. It's rather cute, not to mention that it detracts from the effectiveness of her sarcasm.
"I'm still only the former of the two, thankfully enough. The reason I sound like I'm talking to no one in particular is because I'm responding to the letters sent to me." I'm also fairly sure that the angel of death does not know about my letter answering segment, so taking the time and effort to explain it to her might cut down on the wisecracks some. Maybe.
"And you're saying you're only crazy-stupid." Her half-lidded eyes and deadpan tone tells me she didn't buy a word of what I just said, and probably won't until there's a good reason to change her views. Or maybe it's another wisecrack, who knows? "So these letter senders can hear what I'm saying right now?"
"Pretty much. They only ever focus on me mind you, so while they can hear what you're saying now, that will stop when this segment hits a pre-determined point or when you are removed from my position, be it you walking off or my going to another part of the shrine." Another letter falls onto my head as I continue explaining the fourth-wall breaking nature of this segment, which I then open since I'm sure it's actually worth responding to by now. "Huh. I suppose you could refer to a female cat or cat youkai as Queen Molly and still be correct."
"What kind of pointless letters do you get, human? The last one detailed the history behind the phrase 'Peeping Tom', and this one states a female cat's gender-specific name. The only way you could get more pointless is if this were also an advice corner for when people get the other you killed." Sariel hasn't moved at all, yet she's used a dove to snatch the letter away from me and have a second one join the first so they could hold it up for her to read. "It's almost like this whole section only exists to drop hints about what might happen in the future while providing some answers laced with humorless banter."
The only thing I can really do is roll my eyes since that's exactly what LA is for.
While it's true that I have essentially caused most of the problems that no plague me, some existed without my knowing and would likely have come to a head with or without my interference. Jack Frost would most likely have caught my attention one of these years and drew me into helping Eientei get him under control, as I consider Eirin to be a good, if not somewhat scary friend of mine, and Kaguya has been nothing but hospitable toward me. Tewi's tolerable, but undeserving of what Frost would likely do to her. Reisen...
It'd be far easier to say that I'd get involved to help all of them, as all of Eientei's inhabitants mean a great deal to me. Not to mention Mokou would get involved, and someone has to help keep an eye on her when Keine isn't around to knock sense into her.
Then there's Rumia. That was pretty much my error and mine alone as I refused to take the time out of my alchemy to learn danmaku that might have caused the grue to ignore me rather than pursue me with a single-minded determination. ...Which is rather scary when you think about it, as that means she may be just as hard-headed as I am, meaning that we may not be so different. At least on that level anyway. I don't pursue her at all, and most certainly not to satisfy some twisted hunger that wasn't there when she first tried to kill me. A plus side to this is the fact that I'm now confident that I can defeat or at least get away from a feral youkai on my own without help from an outside source. Continued attacks might leave me with a better idea of what I need to do to repel an attack without danmaku, and to make any potential attackers see me as too crazy to go up against.
Danmaku is something I'm not really sure I need to learn, whether it's because I see no practical use for it or because it's just too late to resolve things without using the full extent of my power. Even though my 'full power' wouldn't even make a typical youkai flinch. Perhaps the reason I think danmaku is something not worth going into is because I view it as a way to limit power rather than leveling the playing field. Or perhaps the fact that I almost lost my life the last time I tried to use it offensively, or that getting good enough at it to not exhaust myself within a matter of moments would take more time than I seem to have.
I sigh as I finish scrubbing myself off, having accomplished what I set in here to do. The water drains out of the tub once I've pulled the plug out, and toweling myself off takes only a few minutes. It might be a good idea to get a haircut eventually since a quick inspection of myself in the mirror indicates that my hair's getting a little long for my tastes. It'll help keep my head warm while winter is still going, but I have to balance function with form. If I didn't do that, I'd look utterly ridiculous and no one would take me seriously. My clothes will most likely never have that problem though, other than eventually looking too bland or one of my lady friends deciding that I need a forced change in wardrobe. Alice would be the most likely of any of them to actually do the forced change since she's the one who has the skill to make a full wardrobe in a day or so. Those dolls of hers can aid her own nimble hands to create several outfits in a mere fraction of the time a normal human, or to create one truly outstanding piece that would take several days by a normal human's time.
Now why in the world would I be thinking about something like that at a time like this? I really should get dressed to go make breakfast since I'd like to get started on my day. Things need to get done, mysteries need to be uncovered... So many things I could do with my day.
However, first of all is breakfast, which I should get on as soon as possible. The only question is what to make.
Sorry about neglecting this one for so long. Trying to juggle three stories at once is harder than I thought it would be.
You're also a bunch of unimaginative twits.
For some reason the forces that try to decide my actions for me have decided to remain silent for whatever reason. A bit of a shame since this sort of opportunity only came at a time when breakfast was involved, which while it is important to eat it's also one of the more pointless things to have complete control over. ...I really should stop with this line of thought before they figure it out.
Having gotten properly dressed I make my way downstairs to start on breakfast. The only immediate issue is to ask what Letty might prefer, but beyond that it should be fairly simple to get everything I need together to make something that'll easily last us until lunch. I do in fact have more than a few eggs handy, along with some bacon strips, potatoes, maple syrup that was actually moderately expensive to get, which is a shame because it goes great with bacon, bread... You know, the plain old staples that any sane person should stock.
Kind of laughable coming from me, seeing as I used to skip a meal a day on average. Though in that case I guess having someone to take care of or to remind me that I am in fact human and cannot starve myself just because I feel that I have too much to do and not enough time to do it must have changed my behavior somewhat. I now eat at intervals that are more like that of a normal person.
Still, I'm sure the audience has long since grown bored with me randomly rambling about my eating habits, though I don't apologize for it.
"Are you done already?" Letty is there to greet me when I walk into the kitchen, and I notice that she has an apron on. The fact that she also seems to be making something for breakfast seems to have blown my plans for making us both something to eat out of the water.
"I am, though I thought that making breakfast would fall to me since you are a guest here. It's hardly appropriate for me to have you do the work when I'm the one who is supposed to be taking care of you." I notice that she's basically gotten everything she needs to create a breakfast with a decent spread, as well as the fact that she's pretty far along. She also seems to understand how the appliances work, though in that case I made what each button, knob, and emergency lever quite clear through easily readable, concise text and colors. Anyone could figure out how to use them with just a glance.
She merely smiles in response as she continues to stir the batter. "I'm not a delicate flower that needs to be set on a soft foam cusion and catered to. Besides, it doesn't sit right with me if I just sit here while you do all the work. You should let me repay you in some manner." She doesn't skip a beat in the conversation or the cooking. How she's juggling bacon, scrambled eggs (which are notoroious for burning to the bottom of the pan while cooking), and what appears to be cake batter I have no idea. "I do have to warn you against talking like a housewife though. Some people are more than happy to walk right over the top of you if you let them." There's something more in her eyes as she says that, but it's something that would have been missed quite easily had I blinked. I hope that she doesn't mean that she would live here just to flip the gender roles and mooch off me.
"Then at least let me help with some of this. It takes a monstrous amount of concentration to juggle that many things at once and I'm sure we both would like our breakfast to hit the 'well done' mark without flying headfirst into 'burnt'." I don't give her the opportunity to answer as I've already gotten a couple plates out for her to set our food on. "And in case you haven't noticed, I act like that because I've had to do all the chores that come with living all on my own for several years now. Doing them has become something of a routine for me."
The yuki-onna spares me a wide-eyed glance as she divides the eggs and bacon between us. "You're quite the self-sufficient individual then. I have to admit that I didn't expect you to actively take care of cooking, cleaning, laundry, and matinence all on your own and still have time to tinker with your alchemy all day." She spends a moment greasing the cake pans in silence before continuing. "You must not have gotten out much."
"I did handle all that myself, though I had a bit more time to do other things since I wasn't exactly concerned with my general health so long as it didn't impede what I consider important." Simple eggs and bacon aren't quite what I had in mind, but Letty appears to have decided that a cake would make up for the rest of it. A more nitpicky individual might claim that a cake is in fact a perfectly acceptable breakfast food as it incorporates eggs, wheat, and milk. Other parties would like to lodge their steel-toed boots in that party's collective rears for making such an obvious excuse to eat cake for breakfast. Personally, I think eggnog would make for an idea breakfast drink, so long as you make a point of not cooking it prior to consumption.
"In short, you did take care of yourself, but with no one around to keep that easily derailed mind of yours on track you had a tendency to not take care of yourself particularly well." She's eaten a strip of bacon while at the same time placing the now-filled cake pans into the oven. It's actually kind of cute watching her do things with a bit of bacon in her mouth. She doesn't say anything more right at the moment, instead opting to smile at me, which is enough to convince me that she's up to something.
>while it is important to eat it's also one of the more pointless things to have complete control over One could argue that this is exactly why these forces are feeling so complacent. No one can be arsed to exert effort into something so seemingly pointless.
A seemingly random thought popped into my head almost entirely by chance: What if the reason those outside forces chose to leave me alone just now was because it was such a pointless option. Perhaps the more boring I am, the more likely they are to become complacent in their seemingly ever-vigilant observation. If this is indeed the case, then I must plan ahead to make myself seem as boring as possible.
Letty simply stares at me as she continues to eat her quick breakfast. She's probably not aware of what my internal monologue consists of, and perhaps she merely thinks I'm deep in thought about something that's crossed my mind rather than plotting how to actively remove the controls from those so far away from myself. "Are you alright? You've been staring into space for the better part of ten minutes now. You haven't even blinked..." I in turn notice that the yuki-onna is quite the clean eater. She doesn't have a single bit of egg on her cheek or anything along those lines.
"I'm fine, just thinking about something while I have the spare bit of time to do so." I did eat my share of breakfast in the meantime so there are no concerns about letting it get cold or wasting it. It's quite reasonable, though a little plain in comparison to the way I do up my eggs. ...Then again, I'm typically using them in omlettes, so of course a simpler dish wouldn't stack up perfectly. "Though to be honest, I would have thought you had no need to cook food in the same way a living person does, given that you gain sustenence from a much more direct, not to mention highly efficient method that blows a human's out of the water." There's also the small question of what happens to the organic matter that enters her body. By all means it should not digest in the same manner of a human, if it gets digested at all.
The snow woman stays silent for a moment as she goes through the possible reasons for my saying something like that. On the one hand, it could be interpreted as a jab at her cooking. On the other, it could be (and is) a simple matter of not understanding why she would intentionally choose to utelize a system that would most likely not benefit her in the slightest. "I'm not sure if I answered that already, but the reason I eat food instead of simply feeding off body heat is because I enjoy doing so. I am able to derive some warmth from hot food, so it's not quite a simple indulgence." She decides to run with the latter of the two options I thought of since she's never seen or heard me do or say something hurtful in jest. It's quite nice not having people take things the wrong way, simply because they choose to believe in nothing but the worst a person has to offer.
"It's both indulgence and a form of temperature control. I assume that you consume cold food and drink when you become too warm?" The plate and utensils have been set next to the sink so I can wash them later. Another long standing yet difficult to actually implement idea is a working dishwasher. The idea of using blasts of hot water pre-mixed with soap to essentially soak and blast food off simultaneously is a tantalizing idea, but the water requirements are supposed to be immense enough that I couldn't have one on if I wished to have water for anything else. Especially vexing since I myself require water, even if my personal requirement is relatively low.
"When I don't have a more desireable method of cooling down, yes. As it stands I have a way of resolving my overheating issues that you don't seem to object to, so I don't see the need." There's also the other obvious solution of going back outside to cool down, but as she said her alternative is not objected to. ...I really do wonder if she enjoys doing such things. She's certainly placing herself in a position to require a kiss.
"That there is. Pardon me if this seems a bit rude, but could it be that transfering excess heat via kissing is your personal preference?" I'm hoping that she is unable to determine exactly what I'm thinking, since that would ruin the spontaneous idea that's formed in my head.
She winds up blushing slightly in response, and her eyes are scanning my face for any and all traces of emotion. "...It is. I enjoy doing such things with you, though that's a rather spontaneous question, even if it is related to the conversation."
"Then forgive my boldness." I say that mere moments before I press my lips against hers as a way of answering one of her earlier questions. Namely, the one where she's unsure as to whether or not I see her actions as little more than taking advantage of me, or if I enjoy it. My answer is the latter, and I hope she understands my feelings.
That long, blissful moment is broken when the timer Letty set out earlier creates an annoying ringing sound that signifies the cake being done.
> Perhaps the more boring I am, the more likely they are to become complacent in their seemingly ever-vigilant observation.
If you value your life, I would suggest not doing so. Anon starts getting restless and reckless if things are too boring. Also Anon starts thinking about possible H-scenes and how to get them, and since your basically with someone now...
I find myself at the kotatsu once more answering letters that have piled up to a small degree. Not that there are too terribly many, but there are those who would see to it that I answer them.
One of those people being Aya, but she's not here right now. No, the 'guest' for this session is none other than Reimu Hakurei. She'd get an introduction but I seriously doubt that anyone reading this wouldn't know who she is, and if there's anyone who doesn't then they should leave this story immediately.
"What, another reader's clamoring for porn? You think they'd get the picture that they can tell you what they want and vote for things that might not make much sense, but the writer has the final veto power." Reimu crumples up the letter and pretty much incinerates it on the spot. Her head's propped up on one hand while said arm is resting on the kotatsu on the elbow.
"I'm sure there are those who'd love to see this story get turned into something where everyone thinks with their sex organs instead of their brains. It doesn't surprise me that someone would threaten to bring that about." Even I'm not overly energetic right now since it seems like the voter's first response to potential protagonist 'disobedience' is to threaten a change in vote patterns even though the me in story still feels that his relationship with Letty has not progressed far enough for such lewd things to be appropriate.
"Meh." Was all the miko said in response to my statement. "On another note, I'm glad this one isn't serious since the idea would never fly." Reimu's voice carries all the amusement of a bored and easily irritated shopkeep as she reads the letter. "Really glad. I don't need you to turn into some cake-destroying moron because someone thought it would be funny."
"I don't think it would ever happen even if it were voted for. The other me is at least moderately aware of his nature, as he can tell when someone tries to vote him into doing something exceedingly stupid so there shouldn't be any sort of issue with that." Reimu handed me the letter in an attempt to be helpful, though it seems she's not quite as cheery as before... "Speaking of which, why the long face? You were positively estatic earlier."
"I was, but I think I have the right to switch gears when having to help answer letters from people whose IQs bounce from 'retarded fairy' to 'Utsuho' like a superball fired from a gun." Once again she's got the letter, and once again she's reading the contents first. "Huh, guess that cake timer is garnering some hate. I'd hate to be that thing." The attached picture winds up in her pocket, however.
"It is interrupting a pleasant moment between myself and Letty. It's only natural that some people would chose to impale it on an icicle rather than let it live to ring another day." Another point of interest: In the voter's home dimension it's coming up on Christmas, a rather joyus time of year where people exchange presents with one another, spend time with loved ones, and appreciate the elated feelings as well as the peace that follows. Oh yes, and to some people it has something to do with some guy who got himself nailed to a cross. "I suppose you're actually into those pictures then?"
"None of your business." Her answer is short and to the point. It also means that she probably does have a thing for that and merely denies it in the presence of others. "Talk about stating the obvious."
> something to do with some guy who got himself nailed to a cross
Be thankful that Christianity, one of the greatest religious powers out here on the other side of the border, has no power in Gensokyo, as there are (unfortunately) people who would take that as a translation of "I don't give a damn about your god and religion, it can go fuck itself"
For an example of what they would probably do, imagine a pissed off Reimu who wants to tear you apart, and donations won't help you unless you donate a LOT.
>it seems like the voter's first response to potential protagonist 'disobedience' is to threaten a change in vote patterns Huh. I interpreted that post as less of a threat and more of a warning/observation on Anon's unreliable nature.
>>2745 Not many Christians are zealous enough to take that as an insult. Hell, I once told one of my pretty devout Christian friends the joke about Christ being bad at Hide-and-Seek and he laughed his ass off.
Considering the likelihood that Gensokyo was isolated before Christianity was introduced to the rest of the region, it's perfectly understandable that the residents wouldn't know all the particulars... and I think it unlikely many missionaries have had the opportunity to venture in.
>>2748 Christianity, Catholicism specifically was first introduced to Japan in the mid 1500's when the Portuguese first made landfall. Now while Christians in Japan did have to practice in secret for many years under the pain of execution, after the Meiji Restoration those laws were repealed allowing Christians to practice freely. Now considering that Gensokyo was sealed of nearly a decade and a half after the Restoration it is extremely likely that they would have had a missionary or two pass through.
Of course, the insolent timer didn't live much beyond its interruption as it soon found itself impaled by an icicle spear that Letty so generously provided. It meant I had to make a new timer, but that would be one thing I don't necessarily need to work on right at the moment. She then pretends the distraction never existed to begin with and continues exploring the interior of my mouth with her tongue for the better part of ten minutes before finally pulling away with a heavy blush on her face. She contemplates diving back in when it finally occurs to her that she should probably get the cake out of there before it burns. Once she's done she looks at me again. "That... That was a wonderful answer..."
I can't do too much beyond staring back at her as the pleasant feeling of her lips on mine, then her tongue against mine, is fresh in my mind. My hormones are starting to stir as well, and they're waking up to feel Letty's influence. "If you weren't sure about what that meant, it means I do in fact enjoy doing that sort of thing with you and do not take it as you taking advantage of me. If you wish to do that sort of thing more in the future, I would most likely not object to it." And now I'm starting to feel a mite awkward. The vast majority of me wants to get on with the day before I spend it all here, but a tiny part now wants to snuggle up to the yuki-onna and never let her go.
She merely nods as she divides the cake up to where there are ten slices total, then serves each of us one slice. From the looks of things we both got so caught up in this that we failed to realize that we could have made frosting to go with that.
Don't think about it Ivan. Just don't.
Time to plan the day then! [X]See about experimenting with some of my more recent ideas. Diversity means everything. [X]In all honesty, I should bone up on my transmutation. Even if it is exhausting for me to preform, it's invaluable none the less. [X]See about danmaku lessons. It's high time I get my ass in gear over it. (Pick a teacher for this task. Not in the literal sense if you don't want to.) [X]Continue work on the orbital cannons. Help is optional. [X]Write-in
Stupidly short update is short, but this is what happens when I have to split up the contents of the update due to time. Also, lovely pic don't you think?
Now that breakfast is done and over with, as well as the rest of the cake having a preservation seal placed on in to prevent it from going stale or anything like that, my mind drifts off to what I should use the rest of my day on. All of the options are good ones this time around, and all need to be worked on at some point. Transmutation is something I need to expand on as it's an extremely useful non-combat skill to work with, securing more material from Mokou to make a full outfit is another high priority objective since Winter is nowhere near over and I happen to think the worst is yet to come, figuring out enough danmaku patterns to ensure that I can take on an opponent in non-lethal terms, or even working on those orbital cannons of mine to refine then and make them into the supporting force they're supposed to be.
As I said, all of them are solid options that I should take plenty of time to work on. For now, however, I should focus on improving the most basic of my skills: The sealed elements. That'll involve some transmutation, but not so much that I won't be able to do anything else for the rest of the day. At the very least I want to give myself more elemental variety in the event that I run into someone who's seen my tricks before won't be able to counter them perfectly. ...It's almost sad that I can synth material about as well as I can preform danmaku, but then again I often take the most exhausing route possible when it comes to things like that. Transmuting sand into glass is one thing. Transmuting that same sand into say, a chunk of metal is far more challenging and probably half the reason I don't treat it as my primary attack or synth method for more complex tasks.
Letty opted to stick around for the day since she was curious about how I went about my work. This would serve as both an opportunity to jog her memory of her past as an alchemist as well as perhaps getting some help in the event that I get stuck. I get the distinct feeling that I'm going to need some help with this from here on out...
The first thing I've considered is the concept of Sealed Lightning, primarily to use as a grenade like object to deal damage to foes. It's a remarkably simple as well as a stupidly risky move that I really shouldn't have put so much emphasis on to begin with. Then again, I didn't even consider the possibility of having orbital cannons either, so once again that's just my being narrow-minded on the subject. I do have plans for those devices in the future, but for now I should just work out the groundwork rather than dive too far in at once, no matter how much I may wish to rush the process.
After all, rushing things is what brought about the concept of my being willing to harm myself to such a disturbing degree, such as when I broke a Bottled Fire in my hand to empower a fireball spell and turn my arm into a flamethrower. I think the only reason I wasn't willing to abandon that concept is because I have such reliable friends who can fix me up after I use it, as well as the fact that I feel no pain from it. The reason for that being my nerve endings die before I can really feel much more than a light surge of intense pain, at which point the charcoaled flesh begins to block out the rest of the heat...
I really have to look myself square in the eye and ask myself: 'Can I willingly bring myself such pain anymore?'
The answer would be no. Not because I fear for my own body, but because I feel that I can't stand the idea of bringing others grief when I harm myself with such clockwork regularity. This means I'm going ot have to revise my entire strategy if I want to keep working on my craft. That in turn means I'm going to have to start coming up with some manner of plan to sort out what amount of time I can devote to what, but in turn this will also lessen my load if I'm willing to rework the way I experiment with my craft. Combine elements that should have been together to begin with, toss away old styles that have no place here, and perhaps even take Eirin up on her offer if she's still willing to take me on.
That in itself will be a bit painful. I know she likes me and would enjoy having a student to actually teach, but she's more than a little unnerving and I don't think it takes much of an imagination to understand why I'm a little uncomfortable with her. Still, it's something I'll have to shelve if I wish to improve, much like my pride. I can only hope that she hasn't given up on me by this point, though I can understand why she would if she did refuse me. Asking her will be another priority in my revision, right along with convincing Mokou to part with another hair so I can make a matching pair of pants.
However, now is not the time for me to speculate on the possibility of failure or to mope about. I need to get started on a few things, the first of which is getting some material to work with to practice simple transmutation.
"Are you sure you don't need help carrying that Ivan?" Letty seems rather concerned with my carrying a lump of metal up the stairs, especially since I'm making a point of carrying enough for multiple transmutation attempts. This does meant that I'm carrying enough to thrown my back out if I'm not careful so I guess I can understand where she's coming from with her concern.
"I should be fine so long as I don't try to move too fast too soon." On the other hand, it seems I haven't quite learned my lesson about accepting help since I'm still struggling with that lump of steel. That might bring up the question of where I got it to begin with, but I'll refute that by saying I keep a item store's worth of items on hand for any kind of transmutation I might need.
Letty promptly ignores me and helps me carry the weight. This does make it a fair bit easier and I make a point of not saying a thing other than "Thanks" in the event that I tried to make that burden entirely my own. If I want to get farther, then I need to actually accept help. Even if it's for something small like this, I need to start accepting help. Thankfully Letty doesn't say much of anything in the matter and instead smiles at me when I allow her to do this much.
"I do appreciate you staying here to help me, it means quite a bit." I eventually reach the table I want to use and motion for her to set it down along with me. It's actually a minor shock that she'd be so strong as to make this almost effortless for me, but then again, she is a youkai while I'm a mere human. "Not to mention that I enjoy the company."
She says nothing in response, merely sitting at my side when I finally sit down myself. I'm pretty sure that she wants to watch me do whatever it is I plan on doing, and I'm content to leave her be as I split the metal into more manageable chunks. One might imagine that it takes a lot of effort to do something like this, but in fact it's pretty simple when you consider that all I'm doing is changing the shape of the chunk in question. It takes so little to do, but the reason I never considered it for combat purposes is because simply changing the shape of an object does not necessarily make it an effective tool in combat. Dirt is no more durable than it is in the ground no matter what you shape it into, and using wood is begging for tragedy. Steel... It's impractical since it's not exactly found lying on the ground wherever. However, preparing blades ahead of time? Perfectly viable.
Letty simply watches in facination as the metal goes from one solid lump to multiple smaller ones, then into smaler chunks still before changing into small throwing blades one by one. Small enough and almost perfectly weighted to throw, but at the same time large enough to actually weild in the event that I need something a bit more precise than a bunch of deadly grenades. Eventually I should read up on what it would take to change the molecular structure of dirt or stone into metal so I can make more of these on the fly. That in turn means that I need to come up with a way to keep myself from running out of mana during a fight without using the cannons.
Now that I think about it, I could probably transmute them into something like a pair of large cannons rather than the seven I currently have. The runic would probably make things difficult since I've already messed it up once, but at the same time I might be able to make something of it. After all, nothing says 'You're screwed' like a massive beam cannon pointed at your face. Hell, it might make fights more tolerable if I can simply transform them into a single weapon, though it'd probably be unweildy as hell... I'm sticking with throwing blades for now.
"That's not a bad idea, but won't metal conduct cold far too easily? If someone figures that out they may try to make them too cold to for you to hold, and getting frostbite in the middle of a fight is a bad idea." The snow woman states something rather obvious, but I think she's not being particularly general in her statment. If anything she's referring to the almost inevitable fight against Jack Frost, who not only has the capacity but would be perfectly happy to freeze a metal weapon to my body just to incapacitate me. ...Of course, if he'd do that, then it'd probably be because he's trying to freeze my whole body. I really need to invest some time to talk Mokou into giving me a few more strands of hair.
Letty winds up looking at me while I'm busy thinking to myself, which might give her the wrong idea if I don't answer fairly soon. "I may not use metal weapons against Frost. Anything that conducts cold easily is practically begging for disaster against that Frost Miser knockoff." Regardless, I should apply some manner of hilt cover to them so I don't have to touch the metal directly in the event that I have to use them in the bitter cold. Since winter's not ending anytime soon, that means I should grab something to apply to the hilts. "Though you are right. Some manner of cloth or leather would serve me well in the event that I need to use these in a fight. Could you accompany me while I procure some?"
"Of course." She smiles as she answers, rising up from her seat at the same time I do. "I'm rather surprised you didn't think of that before." I'm pretty sure she doesn't mean anything bad by that comment.
"I was hoping to progress at a slow rate to get myself built up to where I can create such items without undo strain on myself in the midst of battle, but it would be better if I could continue practicing without rendering those blades useless." My expression is rather neutral right at the moment since there's not a whole lot going on that would change how I feel. There's Letty, of course, but I feel that allowing myself to be affected by her in the middle of transmutation practice might be a bit detrimental. I do happen to have cloth at least, though I really should wait until I get my hands on some leather that I can part with since that should be quite superior to cloth when it comes to keeping out the cold, or at least keeping my hands from freezing to the metal.
"Progressing at too slow a rate won't do you any good either." The snow woman points this out as I rummage through my material bins in a matter-of-fact tone. She then decides to help me out by squatting down next to me in order to shift things around in a bin I hadn't yet started with. "You have said that you don't know how much time you have before you're confronted, didn't you?"
"That's a perfectly acceptable line of thought, save for the fact that I want to make sure that I don't exhaust myself in the same manner as when I tried to power up those cannons. Going comatose from mana exhaustion once in my life was bad enough, not to mention too risky for my blood. Twice would be a bigger gamble than I want to take." There are a few bolts of cloth handy, and even better is that it's the sort of cloth you could make a durable jacket out of. Insulated enough to hold in heat, but strong enough to withstand substantial abuse. Some density tampering and it'll work for what I need it to do.
"Well, true. But in that event I'd be more than happy to help you recover." That comment gave me pause for a moment as I whip my head around to look at the snow woman. She doesn't look at me, but the blush is unmistakeable. Oddly enough, it's not that pronounced. Perhaps she's not embarrassed at the idea, but waiting for the opportunity to make an advance toward it?
I'm only able to respond once I've taken some time to cool down and think about it some, which in turn gives Letty some time to cool down as well. Her blush has faded by the time I get around to speaking, but I think that subject is still very much on her mind.
Once again I find myself in an increasingly awkward situation as the yuki-onna waits for an answer. She's basically saying she's open to the idea of intercourse if I find myself wanting it, and given my somewhat forcibly sparked interest in the subject there's little doubt that I will take her up on that offer at some point. There's little reason for me to worry about the consequences, be it because I can simply ignore them or because my viewpoint's subtly shifting to where I am able to see things from a more favorable angle. Or perhaps I'm simply wrong about the possibility of an intimate relationship interfering with my work and am now able to see that for myself.
I take a moment to gather up the bolts of cloth in one arm before answering. "I don't think something like that needs to wait for me to be in such a pitiful position. Perhaps if I feel up to it later, having avoided all the possible pitfalls the day has to offer, we could retire to the bed if you so desire." My own face goes flush for a few moments as I more or less state that I'm open to the idea as well, then... Then my own capacity for words falls flat on its face. It seems that for now, considering Letty as a woman and loving companion will be nothing but a detriment. However, this could be little more than shock value. If that is indeed the case, then there's nothing to do but sweep aside such awkwardness as quickly as possible.
"That would be wonderful." She does little more than nod, so perhaps the awkward feeling is mutual. Call it selfish of me, but I like that much more than if she were completely confident in herself as it would do nothing but drive me up the wall. "I do agree on waiting though, since you seem to get visitors at the most unusual times. It just wouldn't do if we were walked in on." She is finding it easier to look me in the eye now that I've accepted her advance, though that slight blush is still there. I find it rather cute myself.
With that more or less settled we make our way back up to the room I was practicing in earlier, at which point we both deposit the bolts of cloth on the table so that I may experiment on them to make proper handle covers. One of the things you must remember about cloth is the fact that it's essentially made of woven fibers, and doesn't come out right if you simply lump it all together like you might with metal. In order to get a proper 'cloth' texture you have to either keep the cloth as it is and essentially bond it to the metal on the molecular level, re-weave it into the desired shape, or both. It's still not that energy intensive since you're not even changing the overall shape of each thread, but in exchange it's time-intensive since you have to manage a large number of threads at once if you want to finish reshaping the cloth during your lifetime.
The odds are good that I'm exaggerating to a degree, but you get the picture. There's a lot to manage and I only have so much gray matter to devote to the process. I've more or less transmuted that jacket, true, but in that instance I didn't have to change its shape, I just had to apply the properties of a phoenix to it and I don't think I need to tell you just how much easier that is. That's actually why transmuting cloth isn't all that bright an idea to begin with unless you've developed some manner of trick that enables you to get a lot of it right all at once. Well, it's not a bright idea for me to do it since I haven't developed any tricks to make this go any faster.
My sluggish pace doesn't go unnoticed by Letty, who's basically been sitting close to me watching the whole time. She's been lost in thought for the last ten minutes or so as the cloth slowly makes its way around each hilt, with the first layer practically fusing to the metal in order to give the rest a solid anchor to work with. I'm not really in a good position to tell what she's doing in a precise manner, which is probably why it comes as a minor surprise to me when she suddenly places her hands over mine.
There aren't any discernable changes at first, but I can tell she's definitely doing something to the flow of the fabric since it's not progressing like I would have done it. It seems to progress more like if it were literally reweaving itself around the metal handle like I had thought about before, but it's progressing faster than I would have thought possible. ...Of course, not everyone is like me, and most people wouldn't have been doing it wrong soley because they're too dense to learn how to do it the right way. Not to mention that even though she's having to slowly remember her past as an alchemist, she was probably much farther along than I am at this point and would know far more than I do. The odds are good that she knows some kind of cloth manipulation trick that I don't.
The next issue is getting her to explain how she did it. Depending on how this memory recovery thing works, she may not know how to explain what she did in a way that I could replicate it on my own. That is something I need to talk to her about at some point though. If she can teach me some of what she knows, it would work in my favor since that would mean I don't have to trek to Eientei to learn my trade. ...Even though it would be better if I did my best to utelize both sources of information since Letty might not regain everything she once had and I'm still in need of a proper teacher on the subject.
Eh, screw it, going to Eirin is on my 'To Do' list anyway. No sense in cutting corners when it's clear I shouldn't, even if I'm not entirely comfortable around the doctor.
It still takes a couple of worldless hours with our hands practically joined to get done with the ten throwing knives. I actually went back through and altered them to where they could be used as plain combat knives as well, though that means it's going to be a tad more difficult to throw them. Perhaps it's just my own indeciciveness in the matter, but I figure having a set of melee weapons that I can throw would make more sense than just having something that would only be good for ranged combat. After all, I tend to get stuck dealing with hand-to-hand combat when it gets to that point.
Of course, the knives are more or less done, so the next question is what should I do next?
[X]Go see Eirin. [X]Track down Mokou for materials. [X]See about editing the cannons. [X]Write-in
Ugh, sorry this took so long. Lettertime Alchemist will follow later.
The other issue with making so many knives is the fact that I'm not really set up to hold them all. That means I'm going to have to only keep one or two on hand for the time being and pray that I don't run into a scenario where I need to throw more than that. At that point, if I need to throw more than that I have bigger problems. A simple cloth 'scabbard' will do for the time being, so I craft a quick pair that I can affix to a belt before placing one metal knife in each one. Given the fact that I allowed the interior to become a solid lump instead of the ususal cloth, making it far harder to cut. The funny thing about cloth fibers is that you can actually make them quite durable even without any sort of reinforcing material if you're crafty enough. While I doubt the inside of the scabbard would survive rough treatment, it'll work for the time being.
After that, I feel it's time to set out to deal with one of the more pressing issues: Namely one that will allow me to survive extended periods of time out in the cold. Normally this wouldn't be such an issue, but I'm facing the prospect of having every battle held outside in the bitter cold for... Wait for it... Extended periods! While my jacket is sufficient to protect me in non-combat situations, or situations where I don't have to spend hours outside, it's not enough to keep my limbs or my head from freezing off. Obviously it's something I want to fix as soon as possible since I like having functional limbs and an unfrozen brain. For that, I need Mokou.
...There's the small problem as to what she'll be like around Letty without Keine there to make her mind her manners, but there's no way to tell beforehand and I don't have time to wait and ask Keine if it's alright to bring Letty along. I also don't want to leave the snow woman behind again when I also need to get used to her presence. ...Which means I'm intentionally taking the most idiotic and bullheaded route possible for the sake of advancing things faster. Something that's never worked all that well before.
On the flip side, the odds are good that Kaguya will be more than happy to keep the phoenix in line, which is good. The bad news is that I'm not sure I want to know how the lunar princess would go about it. While I'm sure that the princess would come up with some manner of amusing cosplay as punishment that I would love to later aid her in not letting the phoenix live it down, I'm a little worried about what that will do to my chances of getting Mokou to cooperate with me.
Still, there's no sense in worrying about it now. The longer I dilly-dally the more likely it is that something will go wrong in the meantime. ...An example of this is already present when I examine my belt, as it now has enough scabbards for all ten or so of my throwing knives. I then fit the rest into their respective scabbards before doing everything else that goes with going out into the cold for a moderately long trip to Eientei. This also includes explaining what I plan to do to Letty, who is pretty much oblivious to my thought process. Yes, I do feel bad since I'm more or less still set on 'living alone'.
"Are you sure that going to see the phoenix is such a good idea?" It does seem that Letty shares some of my own worries over the matter, though perhaps for seperate reasons. "It's starting to snow harder. While I'm not worried about how it will affect me, I am worried that you'll wind up freezing to death." ...Oh great, now her worried expression is tugging at my heartstrings. However, she is right: What was once a relatively clear day is now a snowy one, and it's picking up the pace. Shame it weren't a season other than winter. If it were something like spring, the miko would surely come out here and kick Jack's ass personally.
"I'm hardly concerned with such things. I know the way to Eientei quite well by now, and I have numerous means to ensure that I don't freeze to death. Plus, I have you. I don't feel that I'm in any sort of danger while you're by my side." Well now, it seems that this also became an exercise in trust. I have no doubt that the snow woman would lead me to safety in the event that I become lost, plus it will show her that I'm willing to trust her quite a bit. If I plan to have her stay with me, I'll need to be able to place unwavering faith in her.
Then there's the added benefit of seeing that luminescent blush of hers on a genuinely surprised face. I get the feeling she's not used to being counted on like that. A small smile graces her face as she finally composes herself. "I see. You're willing to go out into dangerous scenarios when you have someone reliable at your side? I can tell that's a massive improvement over the way you acted before."
"Heh, before I had you knock some sense into me I'd leap headfirst off cliffs for fun. Not in the literal sense mind you, but you get the idea. That's not exactly important now though since things have changed. While I'd still be more than happy to run out into dangerous scenarios, I'd much rather do such things when I have someone by my side." I manage to keep up the brisk pace even though the snow is still fairly deep. Letty, on the other hand, is walking atop the snow since she has no need to trudge through it like I have to. There are some advantages to having a strong affinity to the snow I suppose, though in truth I think I would much rather find a way to change her back to human so she wouldn't have to dissapear when spring rolls around. "Partially to make sure that there's someone there to pull my ass out of the fire when things get out of hand, but your company makes things a fair bit more enjoyable as well." I can't help but act a little sheepish when I say that, especially since it's a blow to my pride.
Personally, I'm not sure if I said the wrong thing there. I think Letty agrees that I need someone to help keep me out of serious danger since I have this nasty habit of running into it so often, but I think I could have worded it better. I'm sure she knows what I mean though. She gives it some thought, then eventually settles on a response. "In your case, you really do need the help." I think she's torn between being offended and sighing in exasperation.
Either way, I should either change the subject or shut up before I say something even dumber than I already have. I should note that Letty's worries were not baseless as the path, or what evidence there was of there being a path, is rapidly disappearing. The snowfall hasn't gotten that heavy though, and it's hard to hide a gigantic bamboo forest, even if a good chunk of the bamboo on the edge of the forest is encased in ice. It's a rather surreal sight if you stop and thing about it, since while the bamboo might accumulate some ice, I seriously doubt that it accumulates enough to the point that each stalk looks more like an ice sculpture made by a particularly bored person than something produced by nature.
Thankfully only the bamboo stalks have been frozen, and not the entire edge of the forest so it's still entirely possible to get through. It's just a little odd that someone would go through all the trouble to cause something that's clearly not normal, even for someplace that throws conventional logic out the window as often as Gensokyo does. "...Why in the world would this happen? I don't think any of the snow women would actively freeze a chunk of the Bamboo Forest of the Lost, there's just no point." And if Letty finds it off, then it's most certainly the result of someone screwing around.
"I'm take a wild stab in the dark and guess that this is Frost's doing." I'm not amused in the slightest, by the way. My guess is also based on the fact that the only one that's been freezing parts of Eientei or the surrounding forest, and seems to have a grudge against the inhabitants is Frost. That means the odds are good he's around and up to something unpleasant again, which means I'm probably going to have to do something about him. Good thing I keep the inert cannons in my pack. I'd hate to respond to his actions with anything less than full power.
Letty merely sighs in an exasperated way in response.
The walk to Eientei was uneventful, if not a little annoying thanks to the fact that the snow essentially went from normal snow to something more akin to walking through styrofoam. I do note that it's much easier to walk atop the snow once Letty pulls me out of the torso-deep snow, though this will make things somewhat frustrating once we actually get to the house of eternity. After all, the entryways were not made for these spontaneous attacks made by annoying and perverted snow spirits that claim to be the embodiment of winter itself.
However, things aren't quite as they seem. Once we actually get to Eientei we find that the snow's pretty much all melted in the immediate vicinity around the entire building, which is no small feat. Obviously, Mokou had something to do with this.
[X]Since the front door has been cleared in an unexpected manner, go on through and ask around. [X]I'm not sure Mokou would be inside. She tends to lack common sense sometimes... Check in the courtyard. [X]You know, if I didn't know any better I'd say there's the distinct sound of ice breaking. Check it out. [X]Write-in
While the melting snow warrants investigation, there's a familiar sound in the distance, one that I can barely make out. It sounds like someone's taken a sheet of ice and hit it with a mallet over and over.
"Ivan?" Letty seems to be interested in why I've suddenly hesitated to just walk in the front door.
"I think I can hear breaking ice. Shall we investigate?" While I have my suspicions that Mokou is not actually outside right at the moment, this has the potential to be interesting depending on whether or not this is the sound of a certain snowman being broken into itty bitty pieces. Crude of me? Yes. Potentially satisfying after all the crap he's already done and put me through? Also yes.
"I suppose..." The snow woman isn't entirely convinced about this since breaking ice doesn't typically mean high heat. It usually means someone's doing the breaking. ...Man, my logic is just... Simple today. The hell is wrong with me? "Wouldn't it be better to just go inside?"
"Maybe, but if we don't check this out now, we may miss out on something interesting. Besides, the odds are good we'll run into someone who does know where Mokou is." With that, I fly into the air while Letty stays on the ground for a moment in slightly stunned surprise. She follows in short order though.
My suspicions were not unfounded it seems. Upon getting closer to the source of the noise I see that Jack is indeed tied up in an upside-down T. Not only does it look uncomfortable, but the rabbits are lined up with mallets. Unsurprisingly, Tewi is at the head of the line with a mallet in hand and a small box next to her on a stool that looks like it's used for a payment of some kind. My unasked question is answered in short order when a smaller earth rabbit walks up, pays in some kind of small coin, and takes the mallet. If you really need me to tell you what happens next, there's no hope for you.
There's no sign of Mokou though, but Tewi should know where everything is.
"Ah, Tewi!" I didn't even need to announce my presence as the earth rabbit seemed to be aware of my presence before I said anything. "Pardon me if I'm interrupting, but might I ask you where Mokou is?"
"She's around. The princess is probably hauling her from spot to spot to clear up the ice since she made a point of offering to do so." The earth bunny thinks about something for a moment, then speaks again. "Either that, or she's done already and the princess is dressing her up again. Seems to be a favored hobby of hers. Anyway, sure you don't want a whack?" She pats the mallet she just got back from the smaller earth rabbit.
"Quite. While I'm sure it'd be theraputic, I'd rather not give him any more reason to hate me than he already does." In fact, I'd feel sorry for him if it weren't for the fact that I'm certain that this is karma coming back around to bite him in the ass for all he's done.
"He hates you?" Tewi raises an eyebrow at me until her gaze settles on Letty. "Ah, that'd probably do it. The guy's a pain in the ass about letting his 'trophies' go. If it gets to be too much, just let us know alright?" Her offer certainly sounds sincere, though that smile worries me.
"I will. On the subject of a certain phoenix and the princess that loves to play with her..." Since I didn't get an answer out of her before in that regard, it'd be wise for me to remind her that she didn't actually answer me before I walk off and forget.
"Yeah, yeah, she's off on the west side. You'll probably be able to tell when you're getting close since the temperature will start shooting up the closer you get and the ground'll look more like it does in Summer rather than Winter." Tewi turns away from me and gestures off to the side with one hand, obviously finding the sight of Frost in considerable pain to be highly entertaining. "Just make sure you can keep your girlfriend cool without setting Mokou off. I'm not sure how enthusiastic she'd be about you making out with a personification of winter, even if it is just to cool her off."
Letty had decided to just keep quiet rather than give the bunny any further fuel for teasing, while I took a leaf out of her book.
The earth rabbit was more or less correct in terms of where Mokou is, since we did spot her on the west side of Eientei, though she understated how things looked over there. There's no snow of course, but there's also the small fact that the snow clouds themselves have burned away in this area, leaving a sunny patch that's so warm that it feels like Spring came early. The phoenix herself looks like she's run herself a bit ragged though, as she's sitting on a bench with Kaguya while drinking something that I can't quite identify. Perhaps something that replenishes energy?
Kaguya's simply sitting with Mokou while she's observing the phoenix's handiwork, and she seems rather impressed with it. Not that I can blame her, as it's definitely out of the ordinary. She winds up spotting Letty and I first, and waves us over.
"Hello Kaguya, nice day isn't it?" I notice that Mokou shoots me a sideways glance, and that she seems to be half-annoyed/half-amused. Other than that I maintain a pleasant demeanor since there's no reason to act otherwise. "I have to say that I didn't expect the low cloud cover to get burned off completely like this."
"Yeah well, it's not going to last. This isn't natural for Winter, so it's going to do what it can to make this place go back to being the way it should be this time of year. It'll probably start getting back down to freezing temperatures in the next five minutes or so, so we should go back in." Mokou answers first despite not being adressed, which is pretty much the norm in terms of how she acts during a conversation. "So what are you here for?" Blunt today. Also normal behavior.
Kaguya simply sighs in response. It's possible she expected this behavior, but she probably doesn't appreciate it. "Really now. I know he didn't adress you, but the least you could do wait for me to point it out, or wait to see if he changes his mind about it." She then turns to me for a moment. "My apologies though, Mokou is a bit tired out right at the moment, and she's never been quite as civil as she normally is when she's too tired for her own good."
"Has she been using her powers that much?" While I can't imagine Letty being that worried about Mokou, I think she understands that excessive use of power can cause some rather painful problems.
"She has. She took it on herself to de-ice Eientei in its entirety and defeat Jack Frost. The latter of the two tasks was probaby what took the most out of her, as while it was easy, she also wound up preforming a great deal of overkill." She pauses for a moment as she thinks, walking into the building as she does so. "Mokou really has no common sense when she's angry..."
From the fact that he has no idea where he's going and runs into random people until he finds who he's looking for?
Ugh, sorry this took so long...
I happen to agree with Kaguya on that point: Mokou tends to not think things through when someone's pissed her off to such a ludicrous degree, I can hardly agree with her basically unleashing hellfire to get the job done, but on the other hand I'm glad she's taken care of Frost for the time being. It's one less thing I have to worry about. "Indeed she doesn't. It's a good thing she has several people around that can act as her voice of reason." There's an unspoken invitation to follow the princess inside, one that I would be foolish to decline as I do not enjoy looking like an inconsiderate dolt.
"I heard that." Mokou states that in a dry tone, and doesn't bother looking at me. I imagine that she's probably rolling her eyes too, and hope that she isn't terribly serious in her tone.
"And the fact that I said that within your earshot means that the odds are good that I don't care. You're easily as reckless as I am." In truth, she's even more reckless than I am since I know that she's not terribly responsible with her immortal life. However, not stating my own recklessness would give her room to counter, which is what I don't want. It's not going to impede my progress, I don't think, I just don't want to deal with any sort of teasing.
"Meh." Is all the response I get out of her. It seems I'm going to have to wait a while if I want to hold a proper conversation with Mokou.
"Mokou, must you act like this? He's your friend isn't he?" Kaguya seems fairly annoyed with the phoenix's attitude so far, not that I can blame her. "Honestly, you might be tired, but you shouldn't treat your friends like that!" Of course, while her words are well meant, they'll probably only serve to annoy Mokou even further.
"Ugh... Fine." The phoenix puts a hand to her face, rubbing the bridge of her nose with her index finger and thumb. "It's nice to see you Ivan."
"That's a little better, but I'm willing to settle for that." The princess doesn't look like she's terribly happy about the lack of enthusiasm, but she is trying to force it. It's to be expected that she not get terribly impressive results.
"Stop making me feel like the bad guy here." Mokou finally turns to look at us, and she does look a little pained. "It's not that I don't want you here or that I'm angry at you, it's just that I just roasted that pervert's ass and de-iced all of Eientei. All I want is to take a nap for a while, or just sit somewhere for a while." Her eyes meet mine for a few moments. "Give me about an hour or so, then I'll talk with you about whatever it is you want to talk about."
[x] Go talk with Eirin. -[x] Talk about money. More accurately, about the possibility that you might create enough product to destroy kappa's monopoly. -[x] Ask about Jack Frost. Why is he still attacking the place, even though he's getting buttraped everytime? --[x] Don't say "buttraped".
Well, it has been a while since I've had a chance to talk with Kaguya about anything... Perhaps I should take the opportunity to talk to her while Mokou's resting. The opportunity more or less comes around unbidden when the phoenix walks off to get some distance from the princess, because the odds are good that Kaguya wouldn't leave her alone. "I suppose. Have a nice rest Mokou." Kaguya bids the phoenix good night with a polite bow, but the reluctance to leave her be is fairly easy to spot.
"In that case, shall we talk while Mokou's unconscious? There's a fair bit I wish to ask about, specifically, what's been going on since the last time I've been here. It seems things took a dive before getting better." I need to keep Letty in mind too. It's not fair to make her feel awkward and out of place simply because I can't think of any way to include her.
"And I wish to ask you a few things as well." The princess probably would be curious as to why the snow woman has shown up around me so much lately since I either never got the chance to explain, or simply failed to do so. "Shall we retire to the sitting room?" She suggests in a manner that somehow remains a question while coming off as a polite 'you have some explaining to do' statement.
I nod before leading Letty along to the place in question. Like the rest of the house of eternity, it's simplistic in desgin but retains a fair amount of elegance in the decorations, both in placement and quality. The hand-knit rug doesn't hurt things either. Kaguya sits at one end of the table with her legs folded under her, while Letty and I take up the other side. The snow woman is sitting cross-legged, while I opt to be a bit less refined by sitting with my legs straight out. The odds are good all three of us are going to have to shift position eventually.
"So, which of us should start?" I open up the conversation with a question of my own since I'm not familiar with what would be considered appropriate conduct in this situation.
"There's no need to act so nervous. I'm not going to bite your head off." The princess has her eyes closed with her head pointed straight ahead. Her tone is neutral, leaning toward 'good mood', so there's a chance that she's not too annoyed by this. "Please, ask your question first."
"I think you already know this one: What happened since I left the last time? Things looked like they went downhill for a while." My hand does inadvertantly find Letty's, at which point I clasp hers in my own.
"That's fairly simple." Kaguya opens her eyes again, taking on a half-amused tone as she does so. "Jack Frost had been repelled again by the time you left, but not before he managed to freeze more of Eientei in the process. After that he left things alone for a few days. During that lull I decided that I've had enough of Mokou not taking care of herself and... 'invited' her to stay at Eientei." The pause in her speech is enough to tell me that Mokou was very, very against the idea of living with Kaguya, and she wound up losing the resulting arguement. Somehow, I have no trouble imagining that the princess either brought Eirin along to knock her out with some kind of sleep drug, or else tied the phoenix up. "Naturally, my superior logic won out in the end, and she has been given a room to stay in here."
"At which point Frost decided to crash the party." The pause in Kaguya's story was left there on purpose unless I'm mistaken, perhaps to check to see that the parties involved are actually interested rather than ignoring her in some fashion. I find it a little strange that she feels that such a thing would be needed when I've proven that when I focus on something that I tend to tune almost everything else out to concentrate on it. Aside from that, the princess nods.
"Not right away mind you, it took a few days for him to work up the nerve to actually launch an attack on us, even moreso when Mokou decided to stay indoors rather than freeze herself to death every day." I struggle not to yell 'What?!' in response to her ludicrous statement. Mokou lacks common sense yes, and even disregards her own life, but to the extent that she's willing to die over and over? The princess seems to notice the blatant outrage in my eyes as the next thing she says is in regards with her previous statement. "Not in the literal sense, but she was pretty close when I found her. Though now that I think about it I should probably politely ask her just how poorly she's been taking care of herself. I refuse to allow her to fall into a state of poverty just so she can develop another grudge."
Letty has remained silent for the majority of the conversation, and I get the feeling it's because she simply has nothing to say in regards to any of this. It's not surprising when you consider that this has little at all to do with her.
"Aside from that, yes, Jack did attack some time later. What you saw around you was the aftermath of that attack. ...Though now that I think of it, did you see what Tewi did with him? While I would normally consider it improper, I do wish to work out some of my frustration on him." And from the sounds of it, she needs it, and Jack deserves it.
"Tewi has him strung up upside-down in the courtyard, and is allowing the various rabbits to take a whack at his manhood for one-hundred yen each I think." My statement causes the princess to once again close her eyes and consider her options, though it's a little early for that. "I do not mean to sound rude, but you are slowly drifting off-topic."
The princess nods at my statement, then proceeds to get back on track. "Well, as you can imagine Jack was only successful in annoying us as per usual, and despite managing to freeze all but a very small part of Eientei he was soundly dispatched before he managed to do any real harm. As you've seen, Mokou was the one who finished him off." That winds up answering enough of what I wanted to know to avoid my pursuing the topic any further, though that is startlingly lacking on details. "I know that's lacking in detail, but I feel that it would simply be too boring to go over all the details." So she's content with that level of detail. Truly amazing... "Now... I do not mean to sound like I am prying, but I would like to know why you have a snow woman following you around."
"And is speaking of another as though they were beneath you not a breach of your conduct?" My tone chills a bit as I speak, and for good reason. The princess is generally welcoming of just about everyone due partially to her boredom, but mostly because she's grown to the point that she enjoys meeting other people, so for her to be so cold to someone she hasn't really met...
She stared at me in minor surprise for a few moments, then her face fell a bit. "...My apologies miss snow woman, there was no excuse for my behavior." At the very least, I got her to recognize what she just said.
"You don't trust me because of what I am, do you?" Letty cuts to the heart of the matter almost immediately.
"...No." Kaguya's being honest about this at least. "I do not trust you. While you have not harmed anyone, there is the small factor that Frost has employed snow women before to attempt to bring harm to us. You seem different, so perhaps this could work out..."
I decide to intervene before anything else can be said. Kaguya's willing to give Letty a chance, so there is no reason to mess this up simply because the snow woman took offense. "Then perhaps we should begin with introductions? After that I will explain my end of things."
The princess nods, and the snow woman voices no complaint.
"I am Letty Whiterock, Localized Cold Wave." The yuki-onna sees fit to start off the introduction on her own, though I'm not sure why she added that last bit. I do remember Keine telling me that danmaku duelists will typically choose a title to go along with their names since the name of the game is to be as fancy and elegant as possible, but that seems impractical for anything else.
"Well met Letty. I am Kaguya Houraisan, The Sinner of the Eternal and Instantaneous." ...Of course Kaguya would have such a fancy/lengthy title to go along with her name. I may not have seen much of her, but she seems like the type who would go to great lengths to make something extravagant rather than simple. That's probably why the rare few things she makes to buy always wind up going to the wealthy. Aside from the durability provided by superior materials, the princess takes quite a while on each piece, not calling anything 'done' until she can look at it and feel satisfaction from it.
"Now that that's done, shall I begin my half of the story?" My interruption comes a little after the two stop talking. I don't quite feel like letting the silence go on much longer. It's awkward. "Basically, I first met Letty when I arrived home after my last excursion to get a strand or two of Mokou's hair to use in the jacket I've made since then. I had once again failed to lock my doors so I actually had multiple visitors that day. The first had been Keine, who was waiting for me. The next was Letty, who was unconscious after hitting some manner of physical limit. Third was Marisa, who was simply causing issues for me as per usual." I hesitated a bit after that as I considered whether or not to mention that she kissed me almost immediately after our meeting. It was out of necessity more than anything else, but is it really appropriate?
Kaguya raises her eyebrows, and once I steal a glance at Letty I see why: The snow woman is blushing. That must have been an embarrassing moment for her, kissing a total stranger. "Go on." ...She's not going to let it slide though.
"After Marisa was seen out, Keine and I stuck around to make sure that Letty was alright and not in any serious trouble. As it turns out she had merely absorbed too much heat from non-living sources and needed to pass some of it off to someone else." How I'm maintaining a poker face at the moment is beyond me. "That someone became me since I was so close, but she didn't press the opportunity beyond that. She was far more interested in my sole handwritten copy of my alchemical notes."
"I see." There's more she wants to ask of me, but wants to reserve judgement for after I'm done.
"I allowed her to come by in order to read it more since her comment about wanting that book. It really was nothing at that point since I was more interested in her as a fellow alchemist than a love interest." Kaguya seems genuinely surprised at that. Perhaps she didn't think I would be the sort to contain myself around such a beautiful creature, especially not one that targets young men. "I was sexually dead at the time. Don't look at me with such wide eyes."
The princess merely shifts uncomfortably as I say that. It must be quite the outlandish concept for a mortal.
Letty's hand tightens its hold on mine a bit after I tell Kaguya about the part where we kiss, but it's not too tight nor is it distracting from my recalling various events. "Anyway, for a while I considered her a possible partner for alchemy. Little more than that. It wasn't until later that I felt myself grow attached to her, and it took a life and death situation where she stuck her neck out for me to make it happen." There's quite a bit left out, such as my... Oh hell, I need to check with Aya sometime before she thinks I left her out to dry! "It was rather sudden, but I feel that this is all genuine and nothing to worry about."
Kaguya pauses to think for a moment, then sighs as she comes to a conclusion. "I suppose I could shelve my distrust for now. You're willing to vouch for her to such a degree, and I have not seen her act out against anyone or bring any sort of harm." She's probably going to have at least a small amount of trouble accepting Letty's position in my life just like that, though she does have a good reason for not trusting them. She does manage to smile for the snow woman though. "You will be welcome here as a guest of Eientei."
"Thank you. I will not misplace your trust." With that, it seems Letty has gained some confidence. It'll take time for Kaguya to get used to her coming around more often, but it's necessary as the snow woman will accompany me when she feels like it or has the time.
[X]Check on Mokou, see if she's gotten enough rest. [X]What's Eirin doing right now? [X]The serious stuff has been dealt with. I think a change of subject is in order. (Write-in possible subjects) [X]Write-in
The overall atmosphere has managed to become more relaxed now that things have settled down to a degree. However, I'm concerned that there will be nothing but more silence if I don't get their attention drawn somewhere else fairly soon. "Pardon me if this sounds like changing the subject Kaguya, but are there any projects you're currently working on?" It's a long shot, but perhaps I could break the ice (pun not intended) between them through the princess' hobbies.
"Ah..." Kaguya's face becomes crestfallen once she hears that suggestion. "I was working on something before the attack, but it wound up getting torn to shreds. There's nothing but scraps left."
"I see. Is there any way to repair it?" One might argue that this might not have panned out, but there might be a way around this since Letty was able to manipulate cloth before.
"I wouldn't be able to retain the initial quality of the original piece no matter what technique I used. I will continue it, but it will not be used as sale fodder." Her tone is one of finality, a tone of one who has viewed all the available options and has given up. However...
"Impossible through normal stitching, yes. Have you considered asking Eirin to repair it for you with alchemy?" I opened my mouth to speak, but Letty is the one who actually vocalizes her words.
The princess thinks for a moment before answering. "I have considered it, but I can hardly waste her time with something so trivial. She's also supporting our home with her work so I will not ask her."
"Might I make an attempt at repairing it?" This time I get a word in edgewise.
The lunar princess raises an eyebrow at my suggestion, though that expression remains for only a moment. "I wouldn't say no to such an offer, though I would have thought that you would not be comfortable with manipulating non-elemental substances." In short, she's not confident in my abilities.
>I would have thought that you would not be comfortable with manipulating non-elemental substances. Silly Kaguya. There's nothing like non-elemental substance. Everything is made from elements, even if they are all tiny. Oh, wait... It's meta-knowledge, isn't it?
It's been quite a while, but the repairs have been going smoothly enough to where I do not require alternative housing. However, there's the small fact that about two days in I got fed up with the shrine's minimalistic nature and began working on a combined heating and cooling system that operates on the ideas I have explained in an earlier session. There will be no asking permission nor begging for forgiveness later. This needs to get done.
Sometime later, I'm sitting on a pad at a normal low-sitting table answering a couple more letters. "That is true. Not many people would suddenly trust the story's me to not injure himself badly in the process of using his alchemy. Expect the smaller earth rabbits, if any are present, to take cover when he finally attempts it." I'm more or less alone at this stage with my bag of stuff packed and ready to go at the earliest convenience, though one should expect spontaneous intrusions while staying at another's home. Especially when you've managed to install a fully functional temperature control system almost entirely behind their back.
Said someone being Reimu, who looks peeved, estatic, and dominating all at once. ...However, I will admit the large length of rope in her hands worries me somewhat. "You know, there's something that's been bothering me." Here we go...
I place the first letter off to the side before reading the next. One eye scans the page while the other allows me to ensure that the miko can't sneak up on me. "What would that be?" And now I'm going to hold a conversation, answer a letter, and get tied up in a manner that I thought only Aya would have the guts to pull off. "In response to the letter: You are correct, but the lunar princess is referring to elemental magic when she says that, not the periodic table of elements. It's a bit annoying not having any easy way to distinguish the two, but I have to make do with what I've got." She's approaching...
"I was honestly surpirised that anyone could modify the shrine that much, let alone modify it without my knowledge. Installing a system to heat the shrine in winter and cool it in summer? That's really something." The expression becomes increasingly unsettling as she plays with the rope absent mindedly. "You also earn a fair bit and I kinda like you, so..."
She tenses like a predator ready to pounce.
I tense like a prey animal, ready to bounce away at a moments notice.
"I think you should stay." By the time those words leave her lips, I've grabbed my bag and bolted. The problem is that she tied her rope into a lasso....
I merely shrug in response to the Princess' lack of confidence. "While I am most experienced in dealing with things like fire, water, and air, that was also when I was doing things wrong. I've taken a step back to see what went wrong and where, and with some help I think I've managed to pin down exactly what I've been doing wrong." As if to prove my point, I take out two of the throwing knives and fuse them together by the hilt. Kaguya's eyebrows shoot up in surprise, and unlike last time they actually stay there as I pull them back apart, reverting them to their previous state in the process. "I suppose you could say that was still a demonstration of elemental manipulation, but as you can see my alchemy follows a less destructive route."
"I see... Forgive my previous assumption then." She relaxes her features and allows herself a small smile as she gets up from her sitting position. "If you would follow me then..."
Kaguya waits for Letty and I to rise up to follow her, then starts walking. One of those odd little things I've noticed is how she never actually seems to produce any sort of footstep sounds when 'walking'. Presumably she's just flying, but knowing how capricious she is, or at least hearing rumors second-hand, she probably made herself a pair of shoes that are just that quiet. "I assume the one who drew you away from that self-destructive path was none other than Miss Whiterock?" She turns around in one motion to look the the yuki-onna with a much wider smile.
"That would be correct. Ivan has been quite receptive to correction." Letty seems to have decided that the Princess won't bit and has allowed herself to relax more. "He really is hopeless, isn't he?" Hey!
"That he is~" The princess laughs into her sleeve after responding, obviously finding Letty's comment rather amusing. "I'm rather amazed Eirin didn't force his hand before now. From what she tells me, he has all sorts of talent that he applies toward doing things the incorrect way." She shoots me a knowing smile, though it's less 'something we both know' and more 'you think I didn't know?' "You have to admit, you could have gone about the creation of that jacket in a much less self-destructive manner had you simply accepted help instead of getting yourself set on fire every day. If I didn't know you were so thick headed, I'd have said you're suicidal."
I do my best impression of an annoyed smile in response. "It's so nice to know that respectable people like you have such abysmally low opinions of people like me." That managed to reign itself back into a more neutral expression within a minute or so. "I did deserve it though. It appears I was thick-headed in more ways than one, since I live alone rather than with someone who cares." ... "Alright, how in the world are you walking around like that? You're either floating or are very well versed in the art of not tripping over yourself with that long dress of yours."
"Curiosity finally got the better of you, hm?" Kaguya lifts the hem of her dress just enough to where I can see her feet. ...She really is walking. "I am simply that good. I've been wearing this style of dress since before my exile, and you do not wear this ridiculous thing for very long without learning the proper walking method. Though I do admit I cheat when I want to go faster than a walk, flying is simply more practical with this on." She drops her hem now that everyone present has gotten a good look, then stops in front of a door that has clearly only been recently repaired. "My project has been stored in here for the time being, pardon the mess."
When Kaguya said 'mess', I wasn't expecting a scene that looks like someone half-heartedly tried to clean up the remains of an icicle storm that rained sideways at high speed. Puncture marks score the walls, floor, and ceiling, and various objects have been run through or broken in half. Any water has been cleaned up, and everything is organized, but sheesh... Among them is the cloth tapestry Kaguya spoke of. It's just as bad as she stated, if not more so. It has been arranged into something that looks roughly like what the original product must have looked like, so at the very least I have some idea of what it should look like.
"As I said, completely ruined. I wish I had a photograph of some sort, but I didn't have time to borrow a camera before Frost decided to attack." She's practically hovering beside it, then kneels onto the ground to tweak the pieces a bit.
>>2839 that's when it was made with forcibly taken hairs, willingly given hairs produced a jacket that works as intended. Now a stay cool jacket would require something like Cirno's hair as she's always chilly.
>>2848 It's said to be be influenced by CIrno's head, still doesn't explain Marisa thinking Fairies aren't so much of a joke anymore and despite coming out ahead in clothing intactness, she's worn out Also Marisa's canonically impressed by Cirno's perfect freeze spell card.
Well, there's a small problem with you folks thinking along the lines of Monster Hunter. Namely with the way you guys work at time. Namely, if you keep thinking like that you'd probably have Ivan try to pin EX-Rumia down on a bed to get a Youkaigem out of her for some odd experement.
The princess spends a fair amount of time fussing with the pieces of fabric to try and make it look something like the cohesive whole it once was, though it's more or less a lost cause if she plans to have us try to repair it sometime this century. She's doing an admirable job considering the lack of time, as it's possible to tell what most of it is supposed to depict. ...It's still terrifyingly intricate though. "I suppose that will have to do. Please do your best." She doesn't bother getting up from her position, instead opting to hover slightly above the ground to shift away from it and to give us some room.
Taking that as an invitation to start our work, Letty and I walk over to the side Kaguya's not sitting near and sit cross-legged on the floor. I'm not entirely sure whether she's going to lead or if I have to trigger some sort of convenient memory to help her along, so I decide to not worry about it and take the lead.
To say that I felt like I dove into the deep end of the lake feels like an understatement. the tapestry has to be 8' by 6', and the damage is immense. As little effort as it takes to rejoin broken strands, there's still probably tens of thousands that need repair work done to them, and they'd have to be done with an impeccable level of care to ensure that the quality is something close to what it's supposed to be. Of course, nothing ever got done by worrying about the consequences, so I begin.
"So... BORED..." A certain blond youkai sits in a sea of infinite black as she waits for her hair to grow back. While it seems like a truly trivial matter to you or I, there's the fact that she had grown her hair out that much on purpose and had happened to like the way she had it. For her to lose it is not unlike someone losing their favorite hat. "Yes, I know that jumping out now would cause problems, and that I'm not in a good position to even spy on him. That doesn't stop me from wanting to complain about it."
"I mean, it's only natural that a hunter like myself grow antsy and agitated when she's having to hide away from the prey she used to hunt without a care in the world beyond how entertaining they were, and how much meat was on their bones." Rumia waved her hand around in a vain attempt to do something to alleviate her boredom, but quickly gives up and flops face-first on the non-existent ground. "Stupid danmaku rules..."
She looked around her immediate area, seeing nothing but the same emptiness that she herself commanded. "You know it's bad when you start talking to yourself. Maybe I should just stick to my smaller form, maybe make a fake ribbon to keep people fooled so I can at least talk to my friends. ...And they might start suspecting something, since I can't imitate that air-headed personality worth crap."
She sighed again as she weighed her options. Either she adopts her sealed form to stop hiding, or stays inside her hiding place until things cool down.
"Yeah, fuck you people. I hate that small form..." She seems to have been slightly unhinged by her time alone, as she starts talking to no one in particular when she shifts her mature form down into a smaller, younger form. She crafts a fake sealing ribbon out of the black and affixes it to her short hair to make herself look as though the sealing had in fact taken effect. "...But it's better than being stuck here for however long it takes for those meddlesome idiots to stop looking in my direction."
The grue starts looking for a good, natural shadow to pop out of, and happens to be in luck when she spots an overhang that still has a bit of shadowed, clear ground beneath it. ...I was really hoping for a spot away from humans, but it's not like they know I'm still unsealed. I don't smell anything out there either, so whoever this place belongs to must still be inside. Not that I can blame that person. She pokes her head just far enough out of the shadow to check her surroundings, and finds that there is in fact no one around. She slides out of the shadow without a sound and creates a sphere of perfect black around her to help with the 'air-headed child' image. This is gonna suck no matter how I look at it. I hate being stupid.
With that, a small sphere of incredibly conspicuou darkness floats off toward the cover of the forest, leaving Kourindou behind without a second glance. It took her all of two seconds to run into her first tree. Really, really, really fucking sucks. I don't even remember how the hell I managed to avoid hitting every tree in this stupid forest with this thing out.
Letty hadn't moved much at all since I started, mostly making minor corrections to what I was doing or making sure that I wasn't exhausting myself. She's more or less taken up the role of the silent teacher while watching me work. Kaguya is sitting on the floor right next to her tapestry, watching in mild amazement as the cloth neither combusts, turns to gold, or something equally silly. ...I may want to check the gold threads just to make sure that I didn't do something absurd like turn them into threads made of actual gold. I did require a bit of correction in those areas and I'm still getting the hang of using my Alchemy properly...
Once again, something to think about after I get this done. Though I get this rather annoying sense of foreboding. It's making it harder to concentrate.
Not dead, just having a really hard time trying to write thanks to the fact that I'm having to compromise on my internet time even more than I already am.
It takes about another hour before we make any appreciable progress with the tapestry, but there's very steady progress in the matter. Kaguya has decided to employ her own power in an attempt to help speed things along, both by holding time in place, holding our mana reserves in place, and by bringing the threads far enough along that the snow woman and I can re-attach them without any appreciable effort. This does leave me with the feeling that our effort wan't entirely necessary, but she has made a point of saying that this would still be too damaged to sell even if it were somehow repaired.
That being said, our progress seems to be roughly 50% of the way done. Odds are good we would have just kept going until it was done save for the fact that someone had decided to wake up and bother us. Said someone being the person I was going to bother to begin with, so I don't really have much of a right to complain about her showing up right in the middle of what I'm doing. "Kaguya, can't you just fix that yourself with your power of eternity? You know Ivan doesn't have all that much stamina for crap like this." Mokou stands in the doorway, which makes for an absolutely odd effect. Kaguya seems to have only shifted the flow of time in this room, so it seems like the phoenix is half frozen and half normal.
"Mokou, I'm not that irresponsible. My power of eternity can be used to freeze his current stamina level for the time being." Kaguya seems to have this under control for the time being, though I don't quite get why the phoenix would still have a problem with that.
"Doesn't that cause some kind of weird crash when you try to use it that way? The guy was comatose from overexertion once already, I'd rather not have a repeat of that anytime soon if it can be helped." Mokou walks in all the way to come see the tapestry, among other things. "So, she roped you into helping her put some of her stuff back together? It's a nice thought, but given the way you do work... Well, you haven't blown yourself up yet." I'm not sure if that was a jab at me or if she really doesn't know. "Anywho, this has got to be messing Letty and Ivan up but good, so give 'em a break, willya?"
"Not one to allow people time to respond to questions today I see." The princess looks downright exasperated at the phoenix's commentary and actions, though she does lift the use of her power. "Still, this has come quite a ways from before and I think it may be wise to simply end the repair work here for now. You do have to talk to Mokou after all." Her expression turns to a smile as she regards the two of us.
"That is correct, my original purpose for coming out here was to talk to Mokou. If I may have your pardon, Kaguya?" I'm still not feeling particularly weary, but I shouldn't just up and disregard the phoenix's words.
"Of course! I've taken more of your time than I could have asked for and then some. By all means, go." I think the fact that her tapestry is being repaired to such a degree is improving her mood past what it was before. Given the amount of effort she must lavish into each piece, it only makes sense that she'd be enthusiastic about the possibility of it being fully repaired to its original status.
>>2812 So, who came to help Ivan? Aya? Rumia? He'll get raped anyway.
(shameless and lamely disguised bump)
Beware, I update!S.L.D.T.!u/LtL4dS.62011/03/23 (Wed) 20:47No. 2877▼
"So, what did you want? If you were willing to put up with that lesbo princess and her zany schemes for an hour and a half you must want something." Mokou leads the two of us out of the partially destroyed room and into one of the untouched sitting rooms. Unfortunately this also meant that there was a bit of walking. Said walking also involved going through half-frozen areas that made me wonder how much of this was a result of Jack's attack and how much of it was him being a sneaky coward. "Come on, you're not spacing out already are you?" Despite her earlier mood, she seems to be fairly happy now. Or maybe just amused.
I tore my eyes away from the intricate and carefully planned (Or accidental and haphazard) destruction of Eientei to meet the phoenix's firey gaze. "I was simply wondering how Jack did all this. Eirin is extremely powerful and Kaguya is no slouch either. The rabbits are strong in their own right, not to mention that Reisen has a fair amount of skill as well." I do make a point of watching where I'm going since the ice isn't exactly even. Some of it is partially melted as well, so hitting it wrong would result in my tripping. "But as far as why I came to see you, I actually wanted to get a couple more strands of hair from you. While this jacket does work wonders for keeping me warm, I still find that the rest of my body is far less protected."
Mokou's expression drifts to a neutral expression, then a smirk. "If you're going to keep asking for that kind of thing, you may as well take me home with you." Regardless, she winds up a few strands and yanks them out. She winces when she does so, yet she simply hands them off to me. "If I didn't know what you were using these for, I'd say you're some kind of creepy stalker. Good thing you explained yourself first, but you would have saved yourself some hospital visits if you stopped stalking me sooner."
Letty sees fit to speak up by this point, and given that she's gone from merely walking side by side with me to holding my hand, then hugging my arm to her chest... She can't be jealous, can she? "Frost is moderately powerful normally, but he is not strong enough to challenge these people directly. I think he had to level the playing field a fair bit before he could launch any sort of attack." She's also frowning ever so slightly, which makes her look strangely cute. "As for your comment, I doubt Ivan would wish to incorporate you into his projects on such a grand level."
Mokou looks up and back at the yuki-onna that's clamped down on my arm and preforms a slide whistle, starting high and ending low. "Scored yourself a girlfriend, huh? Given that you managed to live with Keine for a few years without asking her out once, I would have thought you were a eunich or something. And I'm not interested in getting made into anything unless the process can garuntee me at least two weeks of non-existence. Given my luck I'd just go back to being me within a day, except butt naked." ...Actually, the phoenix is oddly chatty today. I wonder what is up with her? "There's a lot of innuendo in that direction, and I don't think it'd be smart to go down that path. Mostly because you look like you've laid claim to that dense guy, but also because-" She starts walking backwards while talking, but suddenly pauses. Letty's about to say something in response, but Mokou lifts her finger to her mouth in a silent 'shush' gesture. It's clear she's listening for something, and with a little effort I think I can hear it too.
"Is that a pen on bamboo paper?" I turn my head slightly to get a better listen, but Mokou's rapidly blanching face proves more interesting. Her eyes have gone wide, her face pale... Well, paler than usual, which is an accomplishment in itself since she's pretty much albino to begin with. Anyway, she looks like someone who spoke of another in a negative or embarrassing light, only to be caught out seconds later. She all but leaps through the nearest hole in the wall and charges after what I think is either Tewi or Kaguya in a bunny suit. Either way the phoenix is swearing at her.
Letty relaxes her hold just a bit, but my increasingly hormone-driven brain kind of wishes she had kept her steel grip on my arm. Her breasts felt nice and sof- No, I am not allowing my mind to fall that far! ...At least not in someone else's half-destroyed house. "I may have seen her before, but she usually never speaks, and she's typically a bit more stoic than that. Is she always like this?" The yuki-onna turns to me with a puzzled expression on her face.
"Not always, no. In fact, I don't recall her teasing me about topics of a sexual nature." With that, I'm left at a bit of a crossroad...
[X]Visit Eirin and see if she's still up for having you as a student. [X]See about finishing up Kaguya's repairs. [X]Stumble onto Mokou. [X]Lunch is in order, methinks. [X]Find the princess, but to say your farewells. [X]Write-in
I agree with >>2883, having Rumia's Seal of Approval isn't easy. So just for this one: [X]Visit Eirin and see if she's still up for having you as a student. I just want to see Eirin's face when she'll hear that.
Well, there's this thing where I've been losing my motivation to write even more than usual, coupled with THP being an ass about my accessing it via the Wii.
On an unrelated note, my brain trolled me this morning with a dream where I was a naked EX Keine running around collecting things. I turn around and see Kaguya with a nosebleed and Mokou looking rather shocked. Smirking, I walk right on up to them. The princess turns to flee while the phoenix's eyes are glued to my chest, and I haul them both off to a more secluded spot.
Then I woke up.
I'm not sure if Letty has anything to say at this point. She looks like she's thinking about how to comment about this, but can't quite come to a solid conclusion. She settles for a simple "I see." ..."Then she must like you on some level, or is comfortable enough with you to make such jokes." She muses, shifting her 'keep her lover's attention on her and not that other girl' hold to a simple hand-holding stance.
Embarrassingly, I find myself wishing that she would continue to cling to my arm, if only to keep feeling her soft bosom against my body. A silly desire to be sure, but her physical closeness and scent is oddly intoxicating. "On an unrelated note, I think it's either close to noon or a bit past it. Shall we get something to eat?" And an equally silly attempt to change the subject before I suggest we just go home and dedicate the rest of the day to filling in the gaps regarding anatomy. ...Not that it won't happen anyway.
The snow woman cocks an eyebrow at me for my suggestion, though I think that has more to do with the fact that I'm gauging time indoors on a snowy day without the use of a clock than my changing subjects abruptly. "Pardon my asking, but how can you tell? It has been a couple hours since we've arrived, but neither of us wear a watch and we're nowhere near a clock. How can you tell?" Her question is answered by her own stomach growling, which... No, I've decided already that I cannot comprehend a spirit's metabolism and that I should spend no effort in attempting to understand it. It's just not worth the headache.
"I base my assumptions less on time and more on what I'm feeling at the time. If I'm hungry I eat, if I'm tired I sleep." Which is more or less true, as I either follow my body's requirements or the movement of the sun. Aside from my getting sidetracked, it worked rather well. "...And yes, I know how hypocritical that sounds coming from me." I roll my eyes when I get to that part, if only because she'd point it out otherwise.
She smiles at that, perhaps because there's a grain of truth to it and I'm finally admitting that I have some rather major concentration flaws that I need help to overcome, or at the very least to keep me from starving myself. "It doesn't sound quite as hypocritical now that you're moving away from your bad habits. You're becoming steadily more responsible as time goes on, though I think that has more to do with your desire to make sure I'm treated well than a desire to truly better yourself." I didn't even notice that she was leading me toward one of the kitchens until about this time. I was more focused on the snow woman and how right she was. I still don't really give much of a damn about myself, but I'm more than willing to ensure others are treated well. Who knows if this tiger can truly change his stripes though.
"The end result is that I manage to keep myself healthy at the same time, so even if my taking care of myself is a by-product of ensuring that others are well, it's still a step in the right direction." Translation: I don't care about myself enough to worry about it, and consider this arrangement to be good enough.
Letty gives me a rather unamused glance, stopping momentarily to deliver a choice response. "If you only take care of yourself by proxy of caring for me, then you're still not taking care of yourself willingly. Since I care about you, I won't accept 'this is good enough' for an answer as that means you're still being a hypocrite." ...She starts moving again, but leaves me some time to think about what she said and how best to translate it.
"In short, you're saying that my current stance toward my own self is creating a paradox regarding my taking care of you. Something along the lines of 'If you're not taking care of yourself willingly, then you're not taking care of me properly because you aren't considering my feelings', correct?" If that is right, I suppose it makes sense in a way. She's concerned over my well-being, and wants peace of mind about that.
"More or less. In case you haven't noticed, I do love you and don't want you to be so self-destructive. While you are improving, you have a ways to go before I can leave your side and not have to worry about coming home to a corpse." Her expression is rather stern. Not unlike Keine's really, in the fact that she would have said the exact same thing. ...Then again, I think any woman I got romantically involved in would say that in some form or another. Even Eirin, despite her own bad habits that appear to be as bad or significantly worse than mine. "Changing the subject, I think I smell food."
The cold air is dampening the smell, but she's right. Someone's cooking something, and it's nearby to boot.
We manage to find the sitting room not frozen over, and there's... Well, it's kind of silly right now. Kaguya's in a bunny suit and is attempting to feed Mokou a carrot by mouth, which the latter is objecting to quite strongly. The table has a solid spread of grilled vegetables, and a serving platter with a cover on it, Eirin is loading bananas into an odd gun and using Jack Frost as target practice... Come to think of it, I wonder if she overdosed on caffine again. The fact that Jack's been impaled on a wall by what appear to be sharpened bananas is evidence enough that she might not be all there. Tewi's munching on a grilled carrot, and Reisen's bringing out what appears to be colored rice balls.
Eirin stops her ridiculous use of fruit long enough to regard us, then grabs Reisen before literally waltzing over to the table. "Gentlemen, behold!" She yanks the cover off in one swift motion, revealing... "Corn!"
...There's no sound aside from the distinct munching of a carrot. I guess Mokou gave up.
The doctor sees her lack of response and smiles. She dip-kisses Reisen once before letting the flustered bunny go, and sips something out of a thermos. "It's not going to be quite as good as what's grown naturally, but I used organic plant compounds to create fresh corn in the middle of winter. I could have just grabbed something out of our storage, but I remembered that corn goes off rather quickly and that we ate it all during autumn. Don't know why I had an urge to eat corn though." She sits down next to the princess and the phoenix, treating their antics as somehow normal. "Don't worry, it's not going to leap up and eat you. Grilling them kills them." She's watching my expression and is doing a very, very bad job at hiding her mirth. "Seriously, it's fine. I wouldn't make something so dangerous for people I like." She takes an ear of grilled corn and eats it, proving that it is in fact regular corn.
Letty looks to me, and I look to Reisen.
"Master's just being silly. She grew that corn in a hydroponic garden that was almost completely iced over by Frost. She's been spending part of her normal sleep schedule making the destroyed crops usable again, but as you can see, she's kind of loopy right at the moment." Since the lunar rabbit seems to be the only one who's consistantly sane/not joking, I decide to take her word for it and sit down at the table to eat. My lady friend follows suit in short order and decides to go for a carrot first. I go for some corn only to find out that it is in fact normal corn.
[X]Since Eirin's here, ask if she's still interested in having a student. [X]This is no doubt going to hurt my mind, but ask about how she impaled Jack to the wall with fruit. [X]Try to talk to Reisen about something more normal. [X]...Just leave the conversation topics be. Nothing good could possibly come of this conversation. [X]Write-in
[X] Try to talk to Reisen about something more normal.
>She's been spending part of her normal sleep schedule making the destroyed crops usable again, but as you can see, she's kind of loopy right at the moment. ...yeah, I'd hold off on talking to Eirin until she's had a nice, long nap. Maybe an enforced one with sedatives.
Lunch goes on in relative silence, but considering that I'm thinking this all of five seconds after the last time somebody said something, it makes sense that there would be a momentary lull in the conversation. I manage to get a few more bites of corn in while I contemplate what to do next. While I could ask Eirin about becoming her apprentice, she's half-insane and in dire need of some enforced sleep. Just leaving the conversation be isn't much of an option either, since my curiosity is demanding to know how the hell doctor managed to pin a spirit of winter to the wall with nothing but fruit. I then decide to try to talk to Reisen about something more normal as a fallback option in the event that the truth about the former option takes longer to process than I would hope.
The part where Letty said she loves me didn't miss my notice either, so don't worry about that. I plan to confirm this later when the two of us are alone, as confessions of love are hardly good table conversation. ...Well, they could be, but I'd have to be incredibly insensitive and a gossiper to do something like that. Beside, the mood when we get back home should be perfect for something like a love confession.
I focus my gaze on the lunar doctor as she continues munching on corn, and eventually she locks eyes with me. "Hm?" And sadly, she decides to start talking to me before I can pose my question properly. "What is it?" On the other hand, she hasn't decided to derail the topic of conversation, so that's something I guess.
I put the half-eaten ear of corn down in preperation of asking my question, since if I keep holding it I'm bound to start gesturing with it. That doesn't sound like much of an issue, save for the fact that it's buttered and I don't really feel like making a mess. "It's not much, but I was wondering just how you managed to pin Jack to the wall with fruit. Bananas aren't exactly the first thing that comes to mind when I think about impaling someone."
She sets hers down as well before answering. "That's actually an interesting question. I came up with the idea when I was on coffee and some manner of drug I was testing in order to negate the need for sleep, so I don't recall exactly how I went about making the machine. What I do know is that it changes the shape and density of the object you put in before firing it outward. It also fires said object out at high speed, so I guess you could say it's some kind of nailgun that shoots fruit."
"Normally I would ask you why you felt the need to build a nailgun that shoots fruit, but knowing how you are when you're loaded up on caffine, I know better than to ask something so silly." While the idea in itself was probably not all that bad, there's the small fact that it probably involves all sorts of mechanics that would make my brain hurt. Not that the mechanics themselves would hurt, it's more like having those mechanics explained would make my brain hurt. They did come about as a result of her drugged mind after all.
"Actually, I wanted to build something that would help keep Jack out of commission. I didn't intend to go about it in such a crude manner, but that's simply how it came out." She picked up the weapon in question and started fiddling with it in an attempt to... "...Though I can't figure out what I did for the life of me." If there were ever a time to fall on your face, this would be it. I know she was in a state of half-insanity at the time, but this is bordering on ridiculous. "Well, give me some time and I could certainly figure out what I did, so give me some time to figure it out. That way I can start arming the rabbits."
"Arming the rabbits?" Kaguya stops feeding Mokou for a moment to look at her friend strangely before picking up another food item and attempting to feed the phoenix again. "You're not serious, are you?"
The lunar doctor simply beams at the princess. "Maybe, maybe not. We do need a way to keep Frost under control from now on~" ...This may not become an issue, but man is that smile creepy.
>The part where Letty said she loves me didn't miss my notice either, so don't worry about that. I plan to confirm this later when the two of us are alone, as confessions of love are hardly good table conversation. ...Well, they could be, but I'd have to be incredibly insensitive and a gossiper to do something like that. Beside, the mood when we get back home should be perfect for something like a love confession.
Good point, at least he acknowledges it as opposed to being dense like many leads of japanese fiction.
There's a handful of ways for a human in Gensokyo to live far longer than 50 years. I'm certain both Ivan and Letty would think of the lifespan issue long before it comes into play.
It would be easy enough for Letty to acquire or attain extended life, immortality, or something similar if she desired it. That's not counting the possibility of becoming some type of youkai other than what she is now.