Time spent in solitude was like a curse. It made me very much aware of how sore my body was still. It rotted my mind. I felt dumb whenever I was not talking to Eirin. A type of occurrence that, because of circumstances beyond of my control, became grittingly rare. I was left to my own devices for the most part, left to wallow by myself in the long and arduous process that was recovery from near death. Time lost much of its meaning during this period, with the days being defined by the meals and the occasional bedside visits.
I busied myself, whenever I could muster the courage, with childish games of cards and base sketches of whatever might have happened to catch my eye. My main intellectual escape was a book given to me by the physician, of matters regarding the body and its condition. It was dense, not entirely to my interest, but it was something I could distract myself with. And beyond that it was something that lessened the dullness that came from realizing that I could not hold fascinating discussions as I had only a few days prior.
In a very real sense, my recovery stalled. There was nothing physically impeding me from healing but I somehow knew that my body was not performing as well as it could be. My mood soured and my outlook darkened. Time ebbed away too slowly. I annoyed me. I cursed my inability to mellow out. And my dreams became increasingly disturbed.
Darkness, being lost or being confused – all standard scenarios in my dreams. The wet feeling of rain, drenching me wherever I went, no matter I did. It was only when I woke up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night that I realized that I was, in fact, having a nightmare. I didn't know why I was having those dreams and I attributed to the general malaise that was affecting me.
“Want some company?” The eternally smiling assistant asked after dropping off breakfast. The rest of the night had been sleepless, with my tossing and turning only limited by the soreness felt by my joints.
“...” I couldn't be bothered to answer her, my mind was miles away. It wasn't like me to be so on edge and it worried me. Was I really doing as well as I thought I was?
“You know, if you want, I can take you around for a bit. Master said that you weren't allowed to go about on your own, but if it's me I think it's ok.”
“...eh?” I stared at her blankly.
“I asked if you wanted to go out for a stroll. Do you?”
I stared into her red eyes. I felt very ill at ease, as if my stomach's contents were about to force their way up my throat and out of my mouth.
“Really? Aww...” She tilted her head, “I only want to help you, you know...”
“Call Eirin,” I said.
“Is something the matter?” She lost the smile and looked me over with concern, no doubt trying to be a good nurse.
“Please... just do it.”
She looked into my eyes for a moment before deciding to comply with my request. In less than five minutes Eirin came into the room, looking me over with a professional's eye.
“What seems to be the matter? Did a suture rupture?” She asked.
“I feel terrible,” In the last five minutes things had gone from bad to worse. I felt myself shaking and my vision was blurry.
She reached out and touched my throat. I recoiled, hitting my head against the edge of my pillow. Eirin seemed momentarily taken aback but insisted on feeling my pulse. I felt that my heart was beating quickly and my breathing was fast and shallow.
I felt terrible all day. After Eirin had sedated me with a quick injection of something, I couldn't tune out completely. The physician now was constantly by my side, monitoring me and writing notes on a clipboard. The assistant came in several times, but Eirin quickly sent her away to do chores every time.
“I don't know what's wrong with you...” She admitted to me later at evening. “It doesn't seem to be an adverse effect from medication or treatment.”
I was calmer then, feeling like my gut was twisting and turning. It felt horrible, the nausea made even sitting up a terrible chore. I could speak, but my croaks were not very impressive or pleasant, “I'm sorry for being such a troublesome patient.”
“It's no trouble at all, I'm glad to help you,” She looked calm but her eyes betrayed the guilt she must have been feeling. I didn't want her to feel guilty and so I tried to feebly reach out and grab her hand, “Just rest for a while... don't exert yourself.” She saw what I was doing and held my hand. Her touch was so soft, so endearing that it made tears well up in my eyes.
“I don't know what's wrong with me,” I felt embarrassed at what was happening, a line of wetness formed from my eyes down to my chin. If Eirin really did know what was up, she wouldn't say – something I had to assume was out of respect. I trusted her to tell me the truth if it was something I could do... and if it was something terrible I believed she would also break it to me as it was.
She put down her clipboard, using her newly-freed hand to wipe the tears from my cheek. I hadn't seen myself in a mirror lately, but the gruff brushing feeling from her touch could only have meant that I hadn't shaved in quite some time. It was a sign of sloppiness I was not accustomed to. Save for the usual bit of chin hair, that is. With her act of kindness, I felt myself blush profusely. I couldn't help but think that she was angelic, kind and intelligent – someone far better than I deserved. It was an odd feeling that I hoped would not be written all over my face.
“If you don't mind...” She whispered softly, “I'll stay with you as long as you want...”
“Of course I don't mind...” I croaked weakly. Just feeling my hand in her soft counterpart was enough to make my stomach untie itself a little. I didn't put much stock in the metaphysical so it was deeply uncharacteristic of me to even think it; Eirin was not only attending to my body and mind, but she also was healing my soul.
She sat next to my bed, holding a long vigil that stilled my terrible episode. It almost felt like I would be able to sleep untroubled and happily that night, if only she stayed by me. The rational part of me detested the thought, thinking it unreasonable to ask the woman to do any more for me than she already had. It didn't seem like she had any intention of going away, despite of what I could ask or say. So she stayed, watching over me for the whole night.
I awoke at some ungodly hour and she was still there, sitting besides me. Her eyes were closed now but her hand still gently clasped mine. I felt guilty. And ashamed. I didn't know how to thank her. How did one thank someone who was that selfless? Nothing I could give her would be as meaningful to her as her actions were to me. I eventually thought myself into a deep sleep, one that really truly was relaxing.
“How are you feeling?” She asked as soon as I woke up.
“Better. I don't know what came over me...”
“Don't try to think about it too much,” She smiled, “you're alright now so that's all that matters.”
“Please, I've taken too much of your time... you surely have things you want to do.”
“I said I'd stay here as long as you wanted. Right now there's nothing more important to me than your wishes.”
My heart slowed down for several beats upon hearing her words. I eventually got her to go away, channeling my guilt into an outwards display of strength and vitality. The truth was that soon after she was gone, I started feeling ill again. It was an undefined feeling, one that started in the pit of my stomach but snaked through my entrails, up my spine and to my mind. It was disgusting. It was like a deadly contagion spread through my body, causing trouble wherever it spread. I did what I could to distract myself, drawing as much as I could.
It was good that Eirin came back only an hour later, it immediately contained the foul feeling.
“I've been thinking...” She began, sounding not like the authoritative physician that she could be but like a concerned friend, “Your being alone here is likely not doing you any favors. That's why it might do you wonders if you spent time with other people, and spoke to them at length about whatever. I know you're a man of letters and therefore my assistant would be of no interest to you,” She stated it like the fact it was. Her assistant was not at our level. She continued, “You have varied interests, but all seem to be tied to knowledge. All very admirable. So I believe I know someone who can speak at length of history, times bygone and perhaps a little on youkai and the stories surrounding them. If you so wish to meet her, I'll arrange it so that she comes in to see you.”
“You didn't have to go that far for me...”
“Nonsense. Besides, that's not all, I think I could also steal away your companion from her job long enough for you to spend a day together. Again, if you so wished. I believe she would be delighted to see you.”
“You mean Keine, don't you?”
“Indeed I do.”
“I'm not sure I want to burden her, “ I sad. I also didn't want to burden Eirin too much. Neither by stealing too much of her time nor by making her jump through hoops to get someone who was busy to come.
“It's no burden,” She lied. I assumed she was lying anyway. It hurt me for her to be that kind.
There was no glory in this. I hadn't asked for this crap. Trouble had come to me, in big dark swarms. The good and the just, they were like gold dust in this land. I had no illusions. I was not one of them. I was no magical girl. Just me and the sketch, and the subject. My options had decreased to a singular course.
Keine will definitely come around again eventually, so I'm interested in the mystery box.
[X] Her acquaintance
Maybe this is some novel kind of zoonotic illness carried by one of Wriggle's insects? Gensokyo is a haven for species that don't exist in the outside, so it's entirely possible the good Doctor hasn't encountered it before.
Much consideration for my condition seemed to play into everything Eirin arranged. Barely ambulatory, I had been assisted from the clinic into what lay beyond. I sat in a quiet room by a sun-drenched courtyard, propped on a cushion and against the wall in a very informal manner. A playful breeze danced in and out of the room through a door open on the courtyard side, giving me a taste of the outside world. I had confessed a desire to leave my room and my wish was being granted just then for the first time.
The assistant came into the room from the door opposite the courtyard, carrying a tray. She smiled politely at me and I returned the courtesy, feeling my innards quiver with latent disgust. She set the tray down near me. She opened a closet door and fetched another cushion and placed it with some ceremony opposite me. I nodded quietly, hoping somehow that the gesture would encourage her to move along as quickly as possible. A moment further of tarrying made the girl ask yet again if I needed something. I once again stated that all was well and forced another smile.
As she left, smiling placidly in that most gut-wrenching fashion, she informed, “The princess will be along shortly, I'm certain.”
The brief intrusion was followed up by a interlude of peace. I stared out at the simple courtyard, appreciating the delicate arrangement of stone and sand. Seeing the outside reignited my desire to go out and catalog. Regardless of however serious my wounds still may have been. I hadn't brought my journal with me, something which I partially regretted. Sketching the small garden in the courtyard would have taken my mind off things for a while.
“Good morning,” A dulcet voice hailed. My eyes fell upon the new arrival. With careful and delicate measure, the girl bowed in greeting. She introduced herself with polished manners, “I am the mistress of this manor, Lady Kaguya Houraisan. Forgive me if I am too forward, but I would prefer if you could forget some formality and address me as you please.”
I offered my own introduction, straining to meet her bow with an equally polite one of my own.
“Do not strain yourself with the rigid observance of manners,” The mistress smiled, adding, “I am aware of your debilitated state and I owe it to Eirin not to undue her efforts.”
“Thank you,” I said. She sat across from me, on the cushion previously placed by the rabbit-eared assistant. Eirin had briefed me about the subjects of mutual interest I might hold with her acquaintance. At that moment I could not recall any of the many things she had said. It was as if my mind was numb. I was being exposed to something remarkable from any objective point of view, something spoken of in storybooks and tales but never expected to be real.
Her beauty was unearthly. She seemed to radiate waves of refinement and enchantment from her fair skin and delicate features. Her head and shoulders were framed by a rich tapestry of dark and shiny silk, While her proper and natural posture gave her the airs of a porcelain doll, of artistic perfection. It was difficult to assess and compare her splendor to depictions drawn or otherwise found in my memory, as nothing I had quite seen could compare to her whole and unyielding allure.
The heady feeling of her hand on my knee brought some focus back. “Are you alright? You look a bit overwhelmed, perhaps I should call for Eirin.”
“No need,” I shook my head. Hers was an expression of unfettered concern. I spoke so as to reassure her, “I just felt a little lightheaded,” I lied, “It was a brief spell and I think I shall be quite alright.”
“There's no need to push yourself,” She intoned, most definitely oblivious to the nature of the shock she had incurred, “I understand if you're not at all up to the task of talking now.”
“I'm rather looking forward to this,” I said, smiling, “I suspect if I drink some of this tea here, it'll still any internal disquiet.”
She withdrew her hand, apparently satisfied with my sketchy explanation. She politely did not press the matter further, instead pouring tea from the teapot to our respective cups. I thanked her and took a small sip, enjoying the rich taste of lightly oxidized tea leaves. The mellow breeze flirted about the room and brushed my cheeks with cool reassurance. With another sip, I found my composure and words once again.
“I have heard that you know a lot about lore and antiquity. I'm fascinated by any potential background that's relevant to my studies and doubly so when this background has direct ties to what I observe.”
“If you wouldn't mind, would you tell me of your studies? It's the first time I've heard about something of that sort.”
I described to her what I had been doing and what I intended to do. The careful observation, the meticulous journaling and cataloging sketches. She listened intently at length, occasionally indicating politely that I had her complete attention by asking for clarification for some of the more convoluted things I said and nodding politely as we both drank tea. With her active charm, she got me to say more about myself and my objectives than anyone else had managed in a single sitting. It was a pleasure to go in the most minute level of detail, feeling that every word that came out of my mouth was being eagerly processed by her.
I once again regretted not having my journal at hand, something which she did not seem to mind much. “You've painted such a vivid image for me with your words,” She said quietly, “Your cherished book and its contents must truly be something special.”
“It's nothing as grandiose as that,” I contested humbly. “I apologize for taking so much of your time by unilaterally speaking about my obsessions.”
“I find what you have to say interesting. No one I know has an ambitious ongoing project like you do,” She smiles, as if remembering something pleasant in her past, “I am very much a prisoner of routine.”
I finished my second cup of tea and declined offer of a third. It felt good to talk to the captivating prim and proper lady. It was different than the discussions I had had with Eirin in both tone and substance but no less satisfying. I realized with some embarrassment that my elation was due to an almost complete one-sidedness in speech and not from a mutual exchange of ideas as with the physician. If there was any dissatisfaction borne from this fact, it did not show on her meek and attentive visage.
When I steered the conversation towards her, thrusting upon her the duty of talking, I wasn't quite sure what I expected. I tried to listen intently as she had, encouraging her as best I could. She had no issue with doing virtually all of the talking.
The tale she spun with grace and presence was one relating to times long gone. “Of times when man and fae cohabited the world as equals,” As she quaintly put. I listened carefully as she described with much detail the ongoings of daily life. The supernatural and creatures beyond man were both help and hindrance to the same. Just as one youkai (the introduction of the term was belayed and its use sporadic) might have been a friend to humans, or at least no threat, others dedicated themselves to hunting and tormenting hapless people.
“It did not take long for man to band together and cast all of the supernatural into the same lot,” She explained. Even as the 'time of cities and stone' came to being, dedicated groups of individuals sought to subdue and eliminate youkai everywhere. I didn't need to ask what happened next in her chronicle. The decline of the supernatural in the face of the ingenuity of man was almost a forgone conclusion.
She seemed to read my mind at times, transforming my attentive and curious glances into further pieces of narrative. “Those creatures were molded and cast from the very form from which man came. Without human understanding, emotion and logic, there is no defining youkai. An abandoned object of itself has no will or value, it is the accumulation of human experience and emotion as we know it which would cause such a thing to manifest supernaturally.”
“In the case of one young boy, many many thousands of moons ago...” She delved into a rich narrative. With the practiced pacing of an orator's tongue she used a story to enrich the background information she shared.
I listened, transfixed, all senses focused on her. Listening was just as satisfying as talking with her. Her dark eyes shone like polished wood and transmitted the excited light coming from within her. I did my best to make sure she could tell I was wholly dedicated to hearing her out. I went through a whole range of emotional output as I smiled, worried and even felt sorrow as her story progressed. By the end of it all, it felt like my very soul had been washed and purified through the storytelling ritual.
“I thank thee humbly for listening to my ramblings and bless thee for thine patience.”
She bowed, supplicatively as if she had committed some transgression against me.
“I could not have asked for a better use of my time. Your tales and your delivery are without peer,” I thanked her instead, making a real effort to bow properly.
“Thou need'st not pay such tribute for such poorly spun yarn. It is humbling to see overmany accolades. I beseech thee, praise not so much. There is not much to ado about betwixt anecdotes regarding tsukumogami and shape-shifting kin.”
“No, the praise is justly deserved,” I said, “Hearing you speak about such a saga brings untold joy to me. I have learned much.”
“Ah,” She reddened, changing in a breath from a patient camellia to a blossoming azalea. She made to cover her face with her delicate hand, something impossible given its petite and feminine shape.
“Is something the matter?” I asked.
“I must apologize,” She stated with modesty. She removed her hand, likely having realized it did not have the same effect as a fan and spoke plainly but with some strain, “I forget myself sometimes. I spoke with old and difficult words, inappropriate for modern speak. It sometimes happens when I get too excited and swept up in the moment. I do hope I haven't insulted you.”
“Far from it,” I laughed. Anyone in my place would have done the same. The pained expression of shame on her face was too much to bear. “I understood you fully and am flattered that you would dedicate yourself so earnestly to a conversation with me.”
“You're too kind,” She said, looking uncertain about if she could allow herself to relax a little.
“This has been a very pleasant encounter,” I said, noting by the changing illumination outside how it was already afternoon. “I promised Eirin that I would not dawdle in return for being allowed to walk by myself. I would love to hear more of your stories some other time, perhaps sketch some of the creatures you've talked about too.”
“And I would like to see your drawings and understand more of how you view the world.”
“It sounds like we've got ourselves plenty of excuse to meet again,” I nodded.
We parted ways, each seemingly satisfied with the way things went. The peerless lady left towards the interior of the manor while I stood for a while against the door leading towards to courtyard. The once-sunny day had turned into a drearily grey affair and the playful breeze bit with a little more chill than before. My chest throbbed dully but I didn't feel any pain.
I walked slowly down the corridor, leaning against walls for support. I stopped to rest more than once, careful not to exert myself too much at once. I was right next to the clinic, a left turn down a hallway from the door that lead to Eirin's office. There was a a chance for me to take a brief detour and look around, as unsupervised as I was. Visiting another room or two and getting a better feel for the layout would be easy.
 Brief inquisitiveness  The call of a familiar bed
I opened my eyes, immediately feeling embarrassed for letting my weariness get the best of me. I looked around and, with a weak smile said, “Sorry, I dozed off without noticing.”
“It's quite alright, you've had quite the exciting day from what I've gathered,” Eirin smiled as pleasantly as she usually did when with me. She had been reading something during my nap and seemed satisfied to leave things where they were for the day, “I'll leave you for now, you ought to rest up if you feel like it.”
“That might be for the best,” I mumbled apologetically. The physician got up from her seat and smiled at me before retreating beyond the white veil.
It had been but a moment before she returned. She spoke softly, adding a small afterthought of sorts to the conversation, “There'll be plenty of time for you to speak with her again if you want. I'm under the impression that she would very much enjoy it as well.”
Not bothering to wait for a reply, she left. I soon found myself teetering on the brink of sleep. There wasn't anything further I could think about to do. So naturally I just allowed myself to fall into a peaceful slumber.
The evening would not have been worth further mention if not for the disturbance some time during the small of night. The sound of creaking metal and movement had me awake and aware of my surroundings. I looked around, half-expecting to see someone standing next to me. There was no one in the room. The moonlight came in through my window, illuminating half of the chamber with faint light.
I stopped to listen.
After a moment more, the noise had died down. I got up and made my way to the winow. There wasn't anything visible through the small opening except for the gibbous moon peering in between clouds. I turned towards the door and walked as stealthily as I could. For some reason I felt like I shouldn't make much noise. My heart was loud in spite of my efforts.
I looked into the hallway outside my room and saw nothing out of the usual. The curtains were drawn on the window at the far end of the corridor, but the window itself was closed. I stayed at my doorway for a moment, straining my ears to listen for any other disturbances. None happened.
There was light coming from under the door leading to Eirin's office. I doubted she would be still working at the late hour, so it was likely her assistant who was doing a nocturnal shift of her duties.
The dull echo of my footsteps filled the empty corridor despite my best efforts to move quietly. Each step was like a powerful clap of thunder in the dead of night. Already I was thinking of a stale excuse to give to Eirin. I was concerned with what she might think of my nosing about when all was at peace. I could not fib and claim I was feeling ill – her expert eyes and sharp mind would instantly size up the truth of the situation. Somehow that was unacceptable to my ego; Being pitied by that woman was simply unacceptable.
I paused before the door. In the end, I decided that simply telling her that I was curious to see who was up at that late would suffice. It was the truth and hopefully I wouldn't be too much of a bother.
As I raised my hand to knock, I felt the wind being knocked out of me. All of a sudden I couldn't breathe and I found myself falling to me knees. A supporting arm preventing my collapse as a stifling hand covered my mouth and prevented me from even gasping. As I struggled to breathe I was dragged away, a mere puppet in trained hands.
I began to struggle once the initial shock passed. I kicked and flailed as best I could and would have bitten the hand covering my mouth had I had the opportunity to. The grip around my midsection tightened with authority and kept me from breaking free. I was taken back to my room. It was there that the grip finally relaxed, as I noticed for the first time how fair my assailant's small hands were under the moonlight. I was propped up and something sounding like an apology began to come from behind me.
There was further movement in the night. Likely stirred by the sounds of struggle, someone began to move hastily. A door opened and footsteps rang noisily down the corridor.
In an instant I was flung onto my bed.
“Quiet! Or there'll be trouble,” A voice hissed. A shadow hid itself on the far side of my bed, partially under it. There were no further instructions in between the split second in between the figure's withdrawal and the entrance of another
The assistant stood at the door, gaze falling immediately and squarely on me. Her eyes glowed in an unnerving vermilion hue, disturbing me to the core of my being. I wasn't even thinking about my usual revulsion, instead too busy dealing with the way my skin seemed to crawl around at her sight. Her hand was held in a menacing fashion, in an indicative and almost accusative way with her index finger threatening whatever it was pointed at.
She let her hand fall to her side. Her eyes seemed normal, making me believe that perhaps I had just imagined their luminescence in my agitated state. Even my mind could play tricks on me and I once again remembered the antipathy I usually felt towards the girl. That was enough of an explanation to account for the way I had perceived her.
After scanning the room quietly she spoke, with impeccable bedside manner, “Is anything the matter? I thought I heard a noises just now.”
I felt something cold and hard press up to my back from the side of the bed. It was a reminder to play it cool.
“I got up. I was a bit restless,” I said. “I've returned to bed now, and I don't think I'll be getting up again.”
“Is that so?” It looked like she didn't believe me. All the same she spoke calmly and evenly, “If there's anything you need I'm here to help you. If you're in pain I can maybe do something about that as well. You shouldn't hesitate to ask.”
“I won't,” I replied. She lingered, like she wasn't satisfied with the exchange. I was anxious and unsure of what she would do. I wasn't accustomed to finding myself in the type of situation where either doing something or doing nothing – or both – could result in harm coming to me. I was certain that my pained thoughts were clearly written on my face but I still tried my best to put up a facade.
This may just bit be my own rampant paranoia but why haven't we seen either Mokou or Keine during or extended stay at the clinic? The narrative appears to imply that we have been here for more than a couple of days. Surely Keine would have come to visit us after all she seemed to feel some sort comradery toward us.
>Eventually, a few days after walking for the first time to Eirin's office, I got a visit. Vexingly enough, it was during my afternoon nap and I awoke to find a basket of bread and preserves next to my bed – a gift endearingly given by Keine. I shared the bread with Eirin later on, since my appetite hadn't recovered completely. Besides, the jam proved to be a little too sweet for my palate. Most irritatingly, I had no way of sending my thanks for her kindness.
>I hoped that I would get another visitor soon. There were things I wanted to say to the two of them. >during my afternoon nap and I awoke to find a basket of bread and preserves next to my bed This part seems to imply to imply that we didn't actually see our visitor.
“I'm going to sleep,” I said with a huff. I drew the sheet over me and closed my eyes. Everything was still save for my loud and agitated heartbeat. It felt like the sound was echoing in the room, alerting everyone about the truth of my transparent lie.
Nothing seemed to happen. My eyes were kept shut and my ears desperately tried to hear anything above the noisy thumping. An eternity transpired. Nothing seemed to change but before I knew it everything did. There was a sigh that preceded a heavy first footstep and then more that echoed away into the hallway. I was about to let out my own sigh of relief when a hand covered my mouth. I tried to mumble something but felt that thrashing around would only complicate the situation further.
“Tsk, forget this,” An impatient voice whispered. In what was surely the dead of night, the utterance was surely vociferous. A command for me followed, “Stay in bed, close your eyes and count to thirty.”
Feeling a painful prod in my back, I did as I was asked to. Once again the loudest noise was my heartbeat and once again I spent another tense eternity.
I focused wholly on counting to thirty. I had forgotten even to breathe.
My eyes peeled open, against better judgment. I just could not bring myself to trust a stranger completely. Emboldened by the lack of imminent threat, I reasoned that it would be to my advantage to be at least a little aware of my situation. I turned around. There was no one behind me. Nor under the bed. I craned my neck around, scanning the room thoroughly. The door was still open.
I got up.
The window at the end of the corridor was fully open. I walked towards it carefully, wary of any and all shadows. There was nothing remarkable, save for the interesting way the moonlight reflected off the leafy wall ahead. A chilly breeze blew in. I closed the window, sure that I would gain nothing from exploring the night by myself.
When I approached the other end, I heard a pair of familiar voices. It wasn't a usual habit of mine to eavesdrop, but in between reaching and opening the door, there was room for a few awkward lines. I had forgotten all about the earlier excuse and the supposed commitment to sleep.
“You best not spend too much time thinking about it. His needs are different than yours, and you won't benefit from understanding his physiology better.”
“I just wanted to give it the same level of dedication as you have...”
“Goodness, if I didn't know any better, I'd think you were trying to say that I had some sort of special interest here, Udongein.”
I opened the door with a sheepish smile. Eirin stood next to Reisen, arms crossed and looking aloof. Her assistant seemed to find it awkward to look me in the eye.
I spoke, “I apologize if I wasn't meant to hear that, voices carry quite a bit in the dead of night.”
“Oh, don't worry about it,” Eirin replied without so much as skipping a beat, “It is terribly rude of us to speak of you behind your back. It may be presumptuous for me to say, but I believe she was just concerned with your wellbeing.”
“An apology isn't necessary,” I smiled at them.
Eirin changed the subject, and by the look in her eyes I understood that there was something off about my appearance. She asked, “Can't get any sleep?”
“That would seem to be the case, yes.”
“Is anything bothering you?”
My back hurt and my leg felt cramped, but I shook my head.
“It's not that.”
“I didn't just mean physical discomfort,” She showed a pleasant smile, full of concern.
It looked like her assistant was uncomfortable with something, as she fidgeted and otherwise seemed about to bolt at a moment's notice. Her look shifted occasionally back and forth between Eirin and I. It was something that did not escape notice. She was dismissed with the suggestion that she might want to take a little break.
I noticed something that made me feel imprudent. It took some mental effort to not come off as flippant, “Please tell me that I'm not keeping you up.”
There were the beginning of a dark coloration under her eyes, on the otherwise smooth and youthful flesh. The price for her near around the clock vigil was beginning to show. If she were another type of woman, I suspected, she might have stealthily allowed a yawn or two to surface. I was certain that she showed no weakness as much for her benefit as for mine.
“And what if I told you that you were keeping me up, that I am concerned about you?”
“I'd curse myself for troubling a woman who has already gone great lengths to help me. Most likely I would march off to bed with no protest.”
“Somehow I doubt either one of us would be satisfied with that outcome.”
“Oh, and what makes you say that?” I leaned against the wall, trying to alleviate the cramp in my leg without drawing more attention to it. I imagined that it was futile and that she knew better than I did how tender and sore I was.
“It is evident that there is something on your mind. Your whole body seems to be curious about something, otherwise you'd likely already be sleeping peacefully in bed.” She uncrossed her arms, “We may be alike in that regard.”
 “The truth is that I thought of you and could not then rest.”  “Would you hold it against me if I told you I was too introverted to tell you now?”  “Something of an incident occurred just now and I thought it appropriate to tell you more.”
Eirin seemed displeased. It was a side of her I had not seen until then and it made me feel uneasy. Partially because I was sure that some of her displeasure was due to me and my actions. She bit her lower lip, and seemed to silently think of what she would do. Her eyes were focused on something far away, beyond the scope of the room and, indeed, the entire building. Those grey eyes were as unfeeling as they were sharp and to stand in her line of sight would be to invite more than mere discomfort.
She left the room without excusing herself, leaving me stupefied. I did naught but stand and fidget, like a child scolded by a schoolteacher and made to stand by the door to atone for his misdeeds. My legs tired but I bore the unspoken punishment by standing resolute. No cramp would make me forget the icy stare nor the expression of disgust that had been so clearly written on her usually fair and serene face.
After some length of time, Eirin returned.
She walked in confidently and looking as cold as before. I stood small by a door, as lifeless as the anatomical model in the far corner of the room. Her gaze fell at once upon me and my body reacted by dropping its core temperature by what seemed to be several dozen degrees. Her eyes were not too cold for too long, their sharpness softening and their intensity scaling back to something far more normal.
“You should go back to bed,” She suggested. I was not sure if she had genuinely gotten over her previous mood or if her slowly expanding smile was a clever mask for her true feelings.
“I seem to have misplaced my somnolence,” I said quietly.
“Do you always use large words when you're anxious?” She asked casually.
“Erstwhile I... Indubitably that is...” I coughed and lowered my gaze, “I probably do, yes.”
I was a little stunned at how easily she had seen through me. She may have been the first to do so since my father. Usually people like the Schoolmarm would just see it as part of my character while others like her friend would simply dismiss my language as yet another display of pomposity.
“No one should bother you again,” She assured me. Her eyes slipped back to her previous expression momentarily. It sent a shiver down my spine. She softened up again, “That sort of thing isn't tolerated here, let me assure you.”
I was relieved then. She had seen through me, no doubt, but had likely misinterpreted why I was anxious. I could continue dealing with her as if I had not noticed anything.
“I believe you,” I ventured a weak smile. I hoped it looked at least somewhat wry-ish.
“I imagine that was something of an upsetting experience for you,” She said sympathetically. It took me no time at all to understand what she was getting at. The question unasked was 'Did it remind you at all of the previous incident?'
I replied, “It's not everyday that I'm roughed up like that but I would have to equate the experience to a walk in the park. Relatively speaking, of course.”
She nodded, understanding what I meant to say.
I followed up, once again doing the utmost to satisfy my unyielding curiosity, “Do you know who it was?”
“No,” She shook her head. Her eyes turned to silver steel again. She may have been telling the truth, but I suspected that she had someone in mind anyways.
“No one from here, I presume?” I laughed, as if it was all a big joke.
“Definitely not. As callous as they may be at times, the people here would not fool around with a convalescent man.”
“Of course I imagine that's the case...”
Eirin sighed, looking tired. She leveled her eyes at me again, and I felt like she was being brutally honest with me,”We'll get the one responsible and see that nothing like this happens again.”
“...Thank you,” I couldn't find any other words to reply with.
The world spun in an instant and I felt that something had fallen from quite a distance far away.
A dull thud and suddenly everything tasted of cold.
I was once again in bed before I knew it. Eirin hovered by my side, eyes sharp and showing none of her previous kindness. When she noticed I was awake she once again smiled and her features softened to a more welcoming degree of familiarity.
“Don't do that,” She warned. It was a friendly but serious message.
“You mean thinking that you're an angel or collapsing like that?”
“Great, now I have to check for head trauma,” She shook her head slightly, seemingly relieved that I was well enough to say something as outrageous as that.
“You really are an angel to me, you know. I'd be dead several times over if it weren't for you.”
“Hero worship isn't something I'm very comfortable with, and a man of your experiences should not casually declare something of that sort.”
“Hero worship is not something I'm comfortable with either... but you're really something else Miss Yagokoro...” I nodded off with what was surely a happy little smile.
In the end, nothing else bothered me that evening. My collapse was attributed to my mental state and my physical weakness and all was well. I began to see the physician's assistant more often, carefully (but not subtly) checking in with me from time to time. I drew, spending a day or two sketching what I thought was the most remarkable creature I had encountered as of then.
The day came, however, that I was encouraged to leave and walk around. For physical rehabilitation's sake, of course. I was escorted by the assistant, unfortunately, shadowed and ultimately not free to do as I pleased. Exploring my surroundings was enough activity for a morning, but the whole of the afternoon was left open.
 Find a clear spot outside the manor to sketch  Let the dreadful assistant choose an activity  Pay a visit to the Lady of the estate
This is the closest we can get to everyday activity. Playing catch with Reisen would probably be a miserable experience for the protagonist, and it'd be proper to thank the Princess once we're fully healed and ready to check out.
As much as I'd like to spend a bit of time chatting with 2nd most pleasant company, it'd be better not to worry her with any sudden passing out. That and I'd think it'd rub Reisen's tail the wrong way more than it has been.
[X] Let the dreadful assistant choose an activity.
Not to piss against the tide, but I'm genuinely curious about his reactions to Reisen and her disposition/goals after what MC heard that night. I'm not sure if it'd be in-character for MC to want to seek her out, but I kinda feel like he might be curious, at least enough to tolerate her presence short-term.
Also, just read former topic and this one. A+++ to writefag. I've never really liked most of the Eientei crew, but you've been doing a bang-up job of characterizing everyone so far exceptionally well. It's a pleasure to see each set of reactions and read into their characters, as well as an interesting MC. I'm a shameless whore for characterization and interaction over action scenes or anything sexual, and this story has definitely hit the spot on all counts.
>>23200 I appreciate your input. And the fact that even though no one else is apparently going to change their minds, you took the time to rationalize your vote. To be honest, late votes with little (if anything) else besides the choice mostly just serve to tick me off and further turn me off from writing. I can't reward you with an update now, as I'm still getting over how things keep on going in stories despite everything, but will just say again that it means a bunch that you enjoy the least-popular story I have.
>>23203 Popularity is irrelevant. Whether you enjoy writing it, and whether there are people who enjoy reading it, are the important measures. I get turned off of a lot of the stories here very quickly, arguably for petty reasons - Touhous undergoing rapid and blatant characterization changes for no apparent reason, sub-great writing, a thousand and one tiny pet peeves. My only dislike in this story was that there weren't more entries in it, heh.
I worry that I'm coming across as brown-nosing - being positive borders on an alien concept to me, given my tendency to focus on the negative - so I'll finish up here by saying that I'm just being bluntly honest when I say that I immensely enjoy the story and am waiting warmly for more. Doesn't hurt that Eirin in particular is exceptionally well written, much like the MC. I particularly enjoy their interactions.
>>23204 The popularity line referred to how it is relatively ignored, regardless of any professed enjoyment across stories. Likewise, it is also the story I pay the least amount of attention to.
Don't worry about being unbalanced with the praise. I wish, and rather hope, that if there is something negative or lacking my readers will point it out. Criticism of any kind, positive or negative, as long as it's constructive is always welcome.
>Don't worry about being unbalanced with the praise. I wish, and rather hope, that if there is something negative or lacking my readers will point it out. Criticism of any kind, positive or negative, as long as it's constructive is always welcome.
If Anon doesn't include a postscript with his vote, it's because you've left him with no complaints.
>>23210 I kind of wish I was naive enough to buy that sort of reasoning. I've been reading and writing long enough on this site to see underlying trends. While I couldn't possibly expect constant criticism and an eagle eye when it comes to detail, I think that anything is still better than nothing. Just observe the average story, there are often choices made with little consistency or no foresight. My own stories are not exempt. Allegedly some people do notice details and do have an idea where things are going before they happen, they just often fail to say anything until it is too late. As a writer it makes me wonder if I'm doing a good job at storyteller and as a reader it aggravates me.
An example of this phenomenon can be found in the /forest/ story I run. People were genuinely surprised at Alice's duplicity and flight. Not to mention how all the subsequent overwhelming majorities/bandwagonning have done little to reassure me that the reader's priorities are justifiable. I cannot read minds nor can I judge reader intent to better incorporate details into updates with just a vote. That is why I'm hung up on people taking not even two minutes to make a relevant comment, noting details or justifying their votes. That is why things like bandwagonning or >>23150 and >>23151 annoy me. If there is no sign of independent thought, of understanding or reasoning there is very little reason to assume it's implicit. History has shown me that there really are people that vote 'just because' or for the lure of instant gratification.
This is not accusing you of failure, mind you. The fact that you even bother to say something at all puts you a cut above the nameless masses. This is once again my reasoning and once again hoping that maybe someone else will understand. Perhaps this time it won't be dismissed as 'this guy has a fetish for comments'. I think I've been pretty consistent in preferring quality of votes over quantity. I will keep my thoughts to myself again for the foreseeable future. Until whenever it is I don't feel too much like a failure of a storyteller to update something.
>>23211 >An example of this phenomenon can be found in the /forest/ story I run. People were genuinely surprised at Alice's duplicity and flight. Not to mention how all the subsequent overwhelming majorities/bandwagonning have done little to reassure me that the reader's priorities are justifiable. I cannot read minds nor can I judge reader intent to better incorporate details into updates with just a vote. That is why I'm hung up on people taking not even two minutes to make a relevant comment, noting details or justifying their votes. That is why things like bandwagonning or >>23150 and >>23151 annoy me. If there is no sign of independent thought, of understanding or reasoning there is very little reason to assume it's implicit. History has shown me that there really are people that vote 'just because' or for the lure of instant gratification.
I agree that the voting in the Alice story has been schizophrenic lately and likely hard for you to write, but it hasn't been here. This choice for example that seems genuinely simple without permanent consequences and doesn't need to be agonized over.
In general, why not just decide the winning vote based on justification given, like blank did for RaAN?
>This is once again my reasoning and once again hoping that maybe someone else will understand. Perhaps this time it won't be dismissed as 'this guy has a fetish for comments'. I think I've been pretty consistent in preferring quality of votes over quantity.
The consistency of which is hard to measure given that you're writing multiple stories but posting them anonymously. Not saying you should get a trip, but please you might want to alter your expectations of personalizing our voting style to your needs.
Maybe you should cross-post this in Glass Half Empty (which I assume is your /forest/ story) and any other stories you write, just so everybody is clear?
>>23216 >This choice for example that seems genuinely simple without permanent consequences and doesn't need to be agonized over.
You're right and it doesn't. I can't compartmentalize my feelings for extended periods of time however, which is why what goes on in one thread affects the other. Besides, nary a few choices ago I'd say the situation was the same here. I do ignore and try to move on but eventually it gets to me.
>In general, why not just decide the winning vote based on justification given, like blank did for RaAN?
That would work if I only intended to write once a week or so. Or have very long updates each time. I can and would update 3-4 times a day if allowed to, as I enjoy writing and that's simply not possible given voter turnout.
>The consistency of which is hard to measure given that you're writing multiple stories but posting them anonymously.
The only stories I've claimed to write are this and DEFT (by extension Glass Half Empty) and that statement was more or less a direct reference to >>>/th/133349 and how previous attempts to explain myself have been misinterpreted or outright dismissed - as well as imply how discouraging that is as well.
Well, not being a THP writefag myself - I write elsewhere, just not here - I can't really weigh in from any sort of authorial position, but it certainly is a hell of a lot more interesting to get comments that stretch beyond "I love your story" or bare-minimum votes. Next time an update drops in I'll do my part to contribute to the discussion, a la my Reisen vote. Who knows, maybe next time I'll even end up picking a choice that isn't already pretty much wrong by dint of being outnumbered!
This story is awesome, and I want more. You’ve done so many things right I’m not sure where to start. For starters, you’ve given your main character a personality, and most crucially, motivation. So many stories rely on Anon to provide that most essential element of a character, which is why so many MCs end up being schizophrenic – too many people tugging at the wheel.
Then there’s the way you treated Wriggle. You turned the cutest little harmless youkai in the canon into a vicious, unfathomable monster who fucking tortured the MC for her sick pleasure while his useless pleas fell on deaf ears. Fanon, both at large and on this site, all too often forgets that youkai are fucking dangerous man-eaters, and if they do remember; it’s a token nod to “feral youkai” which are assumed to exist but never shown. Presenting a touhou with a well-thought-out interpretation as an elemental, fey terror rather then “uguuu~” has put the grimdark back in Gensyoko, and that really, really needed to happen.
You’ve characterized other characters well, too, in sharp contrast with fanon and popular interpretations... like Kaguya. Usually displayed as a lazy-ass NEET or spoiled brat (or both,) you made a convincing showing of an immortal moon princess, which, you know, she is. Complete with the courtly charm and hospitality one would expect from ancient royalty. The way she slipped into a much older dialect when she got casual is what you’d expect from somebody who’s lived over a thousand years, and her noticeable embarrassment at the slip-up reveals something of how she feels about her immortality, in a very natural way.
You’re also using complex character relationships solidly – the way Keine was quizzing the MC on what he thought about Mouku, for instance (Keine cares about how MC and Mouku feel about each other.) Mouku’s compete refusal to show, and Keine taking over as the MC’s guide to keep her promise (and perhaps for other reasons) is not only characterization, but the plot obeying natural consequences of the choices those characters would likely make as dictated by their personalities. That’s definitely a step above what you usually find on the internet.
In short, this is obviously one of the better stories on the site, and I’m definitely going to be reading more of it. I'm a THP writefag myself (for whatever that's worth) and I'm impressed by your work.
In a quiet clearing in the otherwise infinite bamboo sprawl, a farce was acted out. There was no wind in the clearing and the sun shone shyly, partially obfuscated by a moderate cloud presence. The tall and thick exterior walls of the manor flanked the clearing on one end and a small footpath ran parallel towards a far-off entrance. It was quiet. The only sounds to be heard were the scratchings of pencil on paper and the call of the occasional far-off bird.
The boring landscape sprawled on. I stared at it. My eyes mechanically took in every detail and my hands translated those into lines and forms on paper. I wasn't entertained. My body was keenly aware of that fact and made the repetitive motions seem especially onerous. When bored, my mind would engage itself in pointless debate or I would fall into deep thought. Usually. But something inhibited old customs and kept me on edge. I was unable to concentrate myself on losing myself.
I stole a glance at her from the corner of my eye. She sat, patiently, quietly, still wearing what would likely pass for an amiable smile if it weren't for the discomfort it evoked in me. She was only about an arm's length away, sitting in the clearing much in the same way I was, with her legs crossed. Her eyes wandered up to the sky, the bamboo stalks and occasionally to me. When her red eyes fell on me, tiny shivers ran up my spine.
I briefly wondered if she truly was content to simply sit and watch me sketch. My request that I wished to be left alone to draw was ignored, instead replaced by compromise. Compromise which had her be silent under the pretext of allowing myself to concentrate but she still kept too close for my tastes. I understood that I was still not in perfect health but faced with her unbearable company I preferred the prospect of being confined to bed.
There was nothing more I could draw. I had sketched, cleaned up and even shadowed the damned drawing.
“Oh, what are you doing there?” For a moment my heart slowed down, thinking that she was talking to me. I soon saw that I was mistaken. A small woodland creature, a common enough sight in the area had appeared dead ahead. Its eyes looked our way and probably sought kinship in the assistant's equally crimson eyes. A rabbit of that size wasn't even worth sketching, so completely plain that they are. None of that deterred her from being friendly, “It's okay to come closer, we're just drawing a little out here.”
I took offense at the notion that she considered herself an active participant in my drawing process. I did not care for the small rabbit and was sure my body language was what kept it from hopping over. Animals tended to be very sensitive to subtle cues.
A rabbit did not interest me at all. If a tiger had appeared or a rare bird, then I would have taken much more interest in the exchange.
“Come on~” She continued. The small creature hopped to her lap.
I spotted something else, something that was watching us from the thicket. Red eyes, black hair and a grin that seemed radically out of place, the girl staring at me with seemingly strange intent disgusted me. She made eye contact and revealed herself fully, Save for the black mess of hair and bizarre white rabbit ears on top, she was pink. Her dress was crudely made and probably would suit a doll better than it did her. Her feet were bare and stained with dirt.
“Oh, you were there as well Tewi,” The assistant said casually. While there was warmth to her words, I couldn't but help notice some apprehension in her voice, “Have you been playing around in the woods?”
Tewi ignored the question. She spoke with the same dulcet a mischievous child would use, “He really doesn't like you, you know.”
“What are you talking about?” With those words, I could imagine the assistant frowning.
“I've been watching for a while. He truly, really doesn't like you. What's more, he feels ill at ease around you,” The grin didn't fade even for a second, “Can't you tell?”
“I don't know what's gotten into you, but what you're saying is awfully rude. He's a patient here and you have no right to assume-”
“It's simple,” The girl cut her off. I stared at her long at hard, likely not masking my feelings. Though she had the body of a child, I saw her as anything but one. Beyond the unease and disdain, there was a feeling of strange understanding. I knew that there was far more to her than appearances would let on. Her words confirmed my suspicion, “After all, he hates me as well. It's only natural he would hate you.”
The girl besides me stood up. Once again I imagined the look on her face, likely outrage I imagined. The way the smaller girl stood her ground made me suspect that some confrontation was usual in their relationship. I was sure that all of the darker undertones I detected were just my own feelings projected unto them. I was, after all, rational in recognizing my irrationality.
“You should apologize, you're being very rude.” She spoke with all the righteousness of an older sister, or the town gossip. Something which I was sure endeared her as much to me as it did to the other unpleasant girl.
“I will not,” Tewi stood defiant. She shifted her gaze and her grin towards me. She probably knew how uncomfortable I was with that. She did not falter, asking directly, “Do you hate me?”
I've searched the rest of the story looking for the source of discomfort around Reisen. I had originally assumed that it was caused by her eyes' effects but there hasn't been mention of the audio or visual symptoms that the lunatic eyes cause. I guess, then, that it's because Reisen is a youkai and the discomfort is a side effect of the incident. This fits in with the instant hatred of Tewi, the vote opinions clearly show that it's true he hated Tewi once he saw her. It wouldn't be surprising if this mental strain was playing a major part in the continued illness of our protagonist. While he is aware of his hatred he hasn't explored the origin of it. A admittance would dishearten Reisen but she really hasn't gotten much kindness and Tewi wouldn't be fooled by a lie. This event would call Eirin's attention to this problem and it's worth examination.
Well, let's keep in mind that his Eientei visit was caused by a youkai, circumstances in which he learned how viciously inhuman they can be - and upon waking up OH HEY bunny ears? Youkai? Kaguya and Eirin certainly aren't human by any stretch of the imagination, but they at least look look it - Reisen and Tewi are blatantly inhuman, and after the encounter with Wriggle, I'd guess that MC is pretty much unconsciously reacting to that. Whether or not he actually realizes it and the relative unreasonableness of it (feral youkai vs a perfectly well-meaning useless little bunny like Reisen) is something that I don't think has quite hit him yet, though at this rate it's going to soon.
To put it a little more succinctly, I'd guess that he's reacting violently and subconsciously stereotyping youkai in general now, sort of an opposite but equal reaction to his earlier fascination; interest shifted to hatred. Arguably not entirely unreasonable, at least from his perspective - he realized how inhuman they could be, and hasn't really seen as much of how they can be perfectly alright.
Spending time with Reisen might be the best medicine for that - but only if he realizes that. Otherwise, it'll just continue to grate on him. Tewi is obviously acting anachronistic, so she's doing very little to satiate the "OH GOD YOUKAI NOT HUMAN FUCK FUCK FUCK SHIT ABORT!" mission. She's described as looking dressed up like a doll, as well as all he notices about how weird she's acting, all serve to cement her as very much inhuman.
I wouldn't be surprised if Reisen's lunatic eyes aren't helping, though. I haven't seen anything blatantlystating they WERE doing shit, other than iirc when she rushed into the room and was drawing on her powers and he felt even worse (I think? it's been a bit since I read that snippet), but it does seem reasonable to suspect that there might be some constant low-grade effect, ambient radiation or whatnot. They don't have to be glowing with a bright red LOOK AT ME sign to act silently and negatively.
...Or I could be completely off base on all accounts! I do think that at least part of his reaction to Reisen/Tewi are due to Wrigglerape, and the sooner MC realizes that the sooner he can begin to go through the arduous process of coming to terms with it. Just realizing it sure as fuck isn't going to magically "fix" it; trauma doesn't work that way.
I'm not sure how MC would react until he realizes that, though. He does make an effort to stay polite, and in the past he's been shown to do whatever is necessary to get rid of Reisen; it'd be very much in character for him to lie and come up with some other excuse to get away from them. At the same time, he's also got a tendency to be blunt, so I could see him just being like "yeah pretty much" and fuck what they think. There's no love lost there, it's not like he wants to get into Reisen's pants - figuratively speaking - and Eirin/Kaguya are the only real figures of his interest, not these two.
I'd be curious if this chain of events would cause MC to start making an attempt to try to understand /why/ he hates them so automatically and unreservedly, whether in agreeing but asking questions, or making up any excuse to get away,and then talking to Eirin about it later.
Honestly, I'm not sure that I could pick between the options; MC would reasonably consider them both. More important is what he does in addition; does this scene cement his desire to find Eirin and confide in her about it, or does he attempt to learn something about it from these two, or does he just try to bottle it up and act like nothing's wrong? Is this the final straw that makes him realize that he needs to find out /why/ he hates them, or does it take him longer to reach the conclusion that he needs to figure it out?
I feel like writefag could make a better judgement call on exactly how MC would react, though from what I've seen so far, MC might try to limit the fallout - it seems like he's a little weak when it comes to confrontations unless bulwarked by more curiosity/focus/borderline obsession than is healthy. I can't see him outright starting one just out of annoyance, though I suspect that his expression and actions might belie his attempts to minimize the fallout.
okay that was supposed to be like two paragraphs originally. LOL WOOPS.
>>23236 It's awesome that you've given this that much thought but just to make myself clear: I don't expect huge walls of analysis all the time or for every update. That would just be unreasonable on my part. I mean, kudos, really. But I don't expect that sort of effort all the time, especially given that sometimes the updates will be short and focus on snap decisions (sort of like this).
You (and the other guy before you) have said some important things I think. It would pay for others to at least consider your points.
>I feel like writefag could make a better judgement call on exactly how MC would react, though from what I've seen so far Well, yeah. As you've pointed out there is justification for either course of action here. Let me worry about the details. If there is doubt in the vote, show your intent and I'll try to integrate that as best I can. That's another reason comments are valuable, knowing what the audience wants helps me execute things appropriately.
>>23238 Oh yeah, I just write until I say whatever I wanted to say. Sometimes it's a paragraph of two, sometimes it turns into a wall o' text. This update just really set my mental gears awhirl as I made the connections, kinda wanted to get that out there, see where it went. I like writing that makes me think - trying to figure out /why/ MC reacts the way he does is incredibly valuable in understanding him, and by extension what he'd be more likely to do. That's one of the things I like about having at least a partially worked out protagonist; as a writer myself, I need to understand motivations to write reasonable cause->effect and actions, and being able to see a real effort to do that in other writing serves to both awaken my interest and serve as potential inspiration, y'know? So many archetypes to work with, so much life that can be breathed into them. I love seeing what different writers do with characters that are, boiled down to their base archetype, similar. Just because MC is quiet/sorta asocial/has some sci-geek traits doesn't mean that he is entirely defined by them, or that he is just a collection of traits taken from there. They shape him to a degree, but he is much more than the sum of his parts.
goddammit I keep waxing philosophical this morning. ANYWAYS waiting warmly to see how the votes go and whenever nextsnippet comes out, even if it'll likely be a while.
Honesty is the best policy; Reisen has been nothing but helpful; so MCs chances of explaining the irrationality of his unease are high (i.e. Reisen won't take it personally.) If Reisen then lets Eirin know of it, this issue might be resolved. Besides, Reisen must have noted our discomfort to some degree, esp. now that Tewi's comment will make her look for it. Lying is pointless.
Don't worry about commentary; anon never, ever feels very compelled to do anything, especially play patty-cake with the feelings of an un-named writefag. Anon DOES tend to hold back/get lazy sometimes, so one person putting up a wall-o-text can open the floodgates of thoughts/discussion that were out there for a while. Discussion is an organic process with a natural ebb and flo; you needn't be overly concerned with it as a direct feedback indicator. It's a very general measure of sentiments and interest.
>If there is doubt in the vote, show your intent and I'll try to integrate that as best I can.
Exactly how I handle many write-ins in my story. The one time I had a write-in that I just couldn't accept, I still integrated the spirit of the vote in the MC's behavior and demeanor.
>>23236 That'd be me, continuing my thoughts now that I'm a little more awake. Just for the record, while I freakin' love Reisen personally, that doesn't really have any effect on how I vote in circumstances regarding her haha. I do think MC would try to minimize the fallout, but also that he won't be able to hide it very well. If I had to boil that down to a vote, it'd be something like:
[X] Deny it but unconsciously admit via body language.
I'm not sure if MC would make the youkai connection yet, but I think it might be in character to ask the girls what they are exactly. Not sure how innocently he could word it, besides probably "not very," but something like
[X] Ask Reisen/Tewi what they are
might be in-character. "What" is kinda important there - I doubt he sees them as actual people worthy of a "who." Honestly I'm not going to outright vote though, those're just my thoughts and how I think would be closest to in-character for him to respond, as well as -potentially- a doorway for him to slowly start recovering, or at least beginning to confront the issue.
...okay so maybe me liking Reisen is leaking in a LITTLE bit at the end there but I digress.
We need to get help. Admitting to the problem is the first step.
And I definitely agree with everyone saying this anger came from our time with Wriggle. If I recall correctly, we didn't have any problems with her before that night, and now we get super defensive at the sight of anything inhuman. Rather mad that we didn't talk about this before with Eirin, but I wasn't reading this back when it was an option.
There isn't a reason to lie here. We don't want Reisen near us anyway.
Yeah, it's a big problem not being able to stand being around youkai while living in Gensokyo, but the proper way to rehabilitate someone isn't to immediately thrust them into situations they are uncomfortable in.
These past two weeks have been very chaotic and stressful for me, and I'll apologize for not updating.
As uncouth as it seemed to admit it, I did not hide the truth. I stared down the girl in pink, certain that a look of disgust was written on my face. I nodded, and added, “You repulse me.”
I heard a gasp, or wanted so much to hear one that I imagined it. The sort of emotion gripping my heart with icy tendrils was the sort that most people found incomprehensible and outright alien. A sharp pain shot through my left temple, increasing in intensity reciprocal to my heartbeat. As the blood in my veins cooled and my heart slowed, my mind was all the more muddled.
Words left my mouth, surely directed at her. Words that are unrecoverable, forgotten like the girl's facial expression and reply.
I closed my journal and its clasps. I walked away from the scene and towards the manor. Behind me, at least one voice spoke excitedly, but any words that were said reached my brain as just mere noise. No one barred my way. I did not bother to turn back.
I walked for a while, finding some comfort in the repetitively long corridors. The creaks of the wood with my every footstep were soothing. Even after I realized that the rhythm was not steady, I did not worry. I was limping, but did not feel hindered. Gradually, the stabbing pain in my head went away. The blood flowing through me once again felt warm and my heart was quiet as usual. The paper doors seemed to change in color from a sad and sorry sepia to a more lighthearted tan. It was an illusion, I rationalized; An unnoticed change in lighting possibly.
After some time I came to a stop. My leg hurt. The limping had begun to slow me down until the discomfort made further movement too difficult. I had come to a halt by a small courtyard, too unremarkable for my visitor's eyes to know my exact location. The sun shone less brightly than before, partially hidden away by cloud overhead.
I sat down on the wooden porch. Unsatisfied, I soon reclined. My leg throbbed, vengefully reminding me that I should not have ignored its earlier warnings. I was lost, unable to gather thoughts into complex ideas.
It was in that state of stupefaction that I was chanced upon.
“Are you unwell? Do you require any assistance?” A somewhat meek voice inquired.
“I am well, just resting,” I answered without looking. Or without thinking.
“You look flush, I think I ought to fetch Eirin.”
“There really is no need for that,” I was apprehensive of the prospect of facing Eirin as I was. There was a chance that she would see just how disorganized of a state I was in. I did not wish for her to see that again if possible. I sat up, becoming dizzy with the sudden motion. Once I saw who was speaking to me, I added, “I did not mean to burden the lady of the household.”
“It is no burden for me,” The dark-haired mistress replied. She hid her concern poorly behind an eloquent (and what surely meant to be reassuring) smile. “Please wait a little.”
I fumbled to stop her, spitting out increasingly desperate excuses. Only by standing up and nearly keeling over in the process did she give pause.
“Do not strain yourself further,” She seemed unsure of what to do, of either to carry on or to help my vacillating frame stand.
“Please, I truly am fine. If I rest a little bit more, I'll be in top form.”
“I am uneasy about doing nothing, Eirin surely would want me to tell her if one of her patients was having an episode.”
“I just want to stay here for a while, nothing more. I'll be along to the clinic in due course.”
I thankfully somehow managed to convince her to not get Eirin. She furrowed her brow and said, as if trying to convince herself she had chosen correctly, “You must have your reasons.”
She did not seem to want to leave me alone, but her expression betrayed doubt as to what she could say to justify her staying. Capriciously, I incited further dialog, “I must be distracting you from your normal routine, please do not let me get in the way.”
“I was just on my way to the room adjacent to this courtyard,” She looked relieved. She correctly identified the conversation hook for what it was. Her composure returned fully shortly thereafter. With a polite smile she asked, “Would you like to rest there? It is cooler and I would not mind the company, if you do not think me too forward.”
I had expected her ask something along those lines, given her apparent worry, but even if I hadn't I did not think I could have refused. I agreed to keep her company and hobbled along with her. The room was indeed cooler and fresher. I sat down and took a look around. She continued to the far end and gently slid open a door. Warm natural light came in through the courtyard.
The room was sparsely decorated. A pair of characters rendered with sublime calligraphy was written onto a scroll hanging on one side of the room. It read 'essence'. The strokes were bold and confident without appearing to be disharmonious. By the scroll's side, on the matted floor, a leafless bonsai sat. It was contrasted by another scroll on the opposite wall reading 'body'. A small base sat on the floor, devoid of any contents.
I said nothing, waiting to see how things would proceed.
Seeing that I was sitting quietly, the polished lady paid me no further mind. She stepped out into the courtyard momentarily, returning briefly with a lilac-colored chrysanthemum. The vivid color caught my eye first. I followed her movements around, coming to eventually realize what her intentions were. An arrangement was made on the empty base, the chrysanthemum placed carefully on one side of the recipient. I had not noticed until then, but she also held a few stones. She placed a few, and a little splash ensued. The seemingly-empty base actually held some water. It was a flower vase, I concluded embarrassingly late.
It took a good while before she did everything she had to do to the vase. The end result was something with a clean look, with the lilac flower dominating the vertical space. The top spread out with all the gaiety expected of that sort of flower. A few smaller, straighter, sticks or leaves added a very conservative backdrop. I suspected that the pebbles were arranged in some sort of pattern, but could not tell from where I sat.
Only once I was sure that she was done, I spoke, “Flower arrangement takes a lot of skill. I am impressed by how quickly you managed that.”
I remembered in passing the title someone had used to describe her. I found myself agreeing with the characterization that went along with it. Her choice of activity was indeed something that would befit a princess. A finished arrangement may look easy to replicate, but I suspected that that was anything but the case. It took quite a bit of planning as well as finesse, as well as a good measure of creativity. The choice of materials was as important as the choice the location of the arrange. I did not know why, but the chrysanthemum looked at home by that hanging scroll.
“I would not consider my efforts to be especially noteworthy,” She said humbly, “I merely arranged things hastily and without much effort.”
“I would find myself hard pressed to do the same if asked to.”
“Your own talents surpass my scant few,” The princess remarked. With a smile, she added, “Those surely are more praiseworthy.”
“Except for my obsessions, I'm afraid that I have nothing much that could be classified as a talent.”
“When we last spoke, you imparted the impression that your own interests were quite engaging. What you write and what you draw must surely be works of art.”
“I'm afraid that I must dispel such thoughts,” I found myself smiling. I undid the clasp on my journal and offered it to her, “Please take a look and see that I am not at all as talented as you insinuate.”
The journal was gladly taken into her hands. She paused for a moment before opening it, studying the leather exterior with attention. She showed a look of understanding and satisfaction at the spots where wear from age and use had scrapped through some of the cover. She ran a finger down the spine. “I think that, already, you have lost this argument,” The princess placidly remarked.
She spent a good deal of time pouring every single page. I feared that maybe she was reading everything. She surely realized that that would be too time consuming, as some pages were favored more than others. Any page with a sketch warranted extra time. Things like notes in the margin and rough drafts also elicited additional dedication. It felt like an eternity passed before she was satisfied with what she saw.
She handed the journal back.
“I do not believe I have to say it at this stage, but that is a magnificent book. What you do is a great thing, with talents very alien to my own.”
The sincerity in her words left me speechless. I had thought to dismiss whatever she had to say with humility but I could not do so when prompted. I could only barely muster a mumbled “thank you”.
“After seeing that, I have no doubt that your destiny lies in it. It is fortunate that I was able to see such passion, it truly warms my heart.”
I blushed. It felt like my cheeks were going to glow red because of her compliments. There was a candidness to her words that both utterly confounded me and made me happy.
“If I may ask, how are you going to proceed after you are fully healed?”
“I don't understand,” I said.
“Forgive me for being too presumptuous, but after seeing that journal of yours I am convinced that you will keep on seeking ways to fill it with new information. I suspect that you already have something in mind. Whether it's back to the bush for exploration or something else. My curiosity really is a bother, so I'll apologize again.”
“There's no need,” I watched as she bowed apologetically nonetheless. I had an answer for her, an answer which was all quite obvious for me. I could understand how, after seeing my journal, she could begin to understand my obsession. It made me want to grin foolishly.
 Focus on new locales and peoples  Further exploration of the wilds
Unfortunately at this point Linnaeus's objectivity in his research will be tainted by personal trauma, new found hatred, and quite possibly develop a form of bigotry from that if left to fester. All of those issues will eventually be reflected and contrasted in his sketches as well as notations.
Till he's able to deal with his issues properly, maybe now it's a good time for him to look at what he had seemingly been ignoring for most of his life; the people he would usually interact with on a daily basis and perhaps learn from their experiences and perspectives.
Tempting. Linnaeus's time in Eientei has shown him something entirely new: there's a lot more to Gensyoko then just the wilds. The young man tends towards being a naturalist, but he can hardly ignore the fascinating potential of other secluded locales filled with fascinating and powerful people - and surely their knowledge of Gensokyo is vast compared to his own. This would be a much greater factor in his decision then the assault he suffered.
Linnaeus is a stout and courageous spirit, driven by a hunger for understanding to explore the natural world. Severe injury alone wouldn't deter him for long, be it from a youkai or from a simple fall down a steep, rocky hill. Natural hazards are natural hazards; a naturalist understands this perfectly.
The incident will have a permanent effect on him, but I suspect it will be one of hardening, not breaking. Linnaeus's innocent wonder at all creation is perhaps forever damaged; he has seen the dark side of nature, and forevermore will be wary of the natural world as something that takes as often as it gives, that often seeks to kill him. In the form of youkai, it takes on an active malevolence. An animal might hunt you in order to eat; but only a youkai will take pleasure in torturing you.
Linnaeus has seen something few villagers learn, or care to contemplate - the world surrounding them is adversarial and dangerous. He now realizes just how thin the village's existence is; how precarious the human-youkai balance. And most of all, he now realizes that knowledge of the world, knowledge of youkai, is essential if the village's existence is ever to be made less tenuous. Knowledge is no longer something to be joyfully pursued purely for it's own sake; it is also a weapon, one he might need.
In short, Linnaeus sounds a lot like the oft-rumored "Secret Society" described in Keine's Bohemian Archive interview - a person who goes places youkai are known to frequent in order to observe and study them. The Societies stated motivation is racist arrogance; Linnaeus's would be mere survival.
This is just my interpretation of events; but I see it being entirely possible for Linnaeus to return to wildlife field studies, but as a changed man. But there's a fine justification for the other option that doesn't run afoul of this, either. So just to be contrary and make things interesting:
[x] Further exploration of the wilds]
It's the right thing to say. Eventually, he will go back to this, in my view.
Going with what was said in the posts above, I believe that while currently exploring the wilds would prove unsatisfying but being fulling recovered involves the healing of any mental trauma that might exist. His true passion was exploration and without a conscious idea of what currently hinders him why would he answer with anything else? As it states in the update he already has an answer and I think a change of focus would of taken some thought.
[X] Further exploration of the wilds
Changing his focus could be good for him in the meanwhile, or as a transitory activity but I feel this is what he'd answer with at the moment.
>>23274 He might end up taking a racist view and he's obvously affected badly by it as he hates someone who's done nothing but help. If he resumes studying nature now, the aim would be far more hostile and corrupted of his original intent, which folks like Eirin admire.
Because I see his fear & antipathy becoming his own personal monster in time. For a conflict-avoidant personality, it's almost always more therapeutic to go into the mouth of the beast.
>>23277 >If he resumes studying nature now, the aim would be far more hostile and corrupted of his original intent, which folks like Eirin admire.
His work might be colored by his experiences, but that would be for good reason. His initial impressions were far too naive and unassuming, leading him to the situation he's in. I see nothing wrong with allowing him to regard a dangerous predator as a dangerous predator, so long as he's drawing on first-hand experience.
Anyway, Linnaeus is far too meticulous to let that emotion and bias slip into his writing. Even in a casual environment he was able to maintain a veneer of politeness and placidity over his emotional repulsion; it required Tewi's browbeating to get any negativity out of him, and even then it was grudging.
“I would have hazarded as much,” She smiled, looking satisfied. She thanked me once again for obliging her.
I wondered if perhaps I was easier to read than I thought I was. Looking reserved and acting detached were important assets for me. It made people in the village think of myself as a serious person, given to the pursuit of his passions. That afforded me discretion and certain leeway when it came to societal obligations. The interruptions to my studies were few and far in between, usually just minor disputes or the casual reminder of upcoming events. I basically could do whatever and move about whenever with few questions asked. So it was important to keep up the persona.
“Is there something troubling you?” She asked, showing perceptiveness.
“It is nothing. I take it you would want to see how I come along after filling the journal more?”
“If I was able to see what you encountered, and have updates to your observations, it would gladden my heart.”
I smiled, saying, “You will have to forgive my impudence now. There must be some reason why you are so interested in what most people consider dull.”
“There is no great reason,” She turned her head slightly, looking at the wall to the left. From an angle, her neck looked slender and elegant. Normally the small bow on the topmost button did a good job of stealing focus from it.
“But there's at least a small reason, surely?” I asked.
“If you must know...” She closed her eyes and turned her head towards me, “I simply enjoy stories. Seeing one develop before me, in real time, is something I would have never imagined possible. I can't wait to see what comes next.”
“Very well,” I nodded. Her answer was good. It satisfied my own curiosity pretty well. I didn't know if there was maybe something bigger at play, but chose to be satisfied with the simple reason for the moment.”
“Would you like some tea? I don't know where everyone else is, but I can perhaps fetch us hot water from somewhere.” She got ready to stand up. I stopped her.
“I must decline,” I politely answered, explaining, “I should return to the clinic, lest they worry about me. I am gone without having been given proper leave. I did enjoy our talk very much.”
She did not seem perturbed or even insulted by my abrupt declaration, “The pleasure was all mine. Not only did I get to see that treasure-filled work of yours but I also selfishly took your time without realizing it.”
“I am in your debt for allowing me to stay as I was, I spent my time here willingly.” I stood up. There were still a few dull palpations in my leg but, compared to the earlier agony, it was like the difference between day and night. I at least managed to stand up straight and mask any physical ailment.
I left, walking as naturally as I could muster with my journal slung underarm. The urge to make a good impression on the mistress of the manor was a strangely persistent one. I was on my best behavior even without consciously realizing it; It was as if her temperament evoked the better qualities of my own. A chuckle escaped my mouth. The notion that perhaps I had always wanted to be on the good side of a 'princess' felt like a particularly good joke. I decided to chalk it up to the higher than expected influence of childhood fairy tales.
Abe would have found it humorous as well.
Not for the first time that day, my lack of sense cost me time. I was completely lost and had not had the good sense to ask for directions to the clinic. While I was lost in thought, I had taken twists and turns that distanced me from the courtyard and muddled the route back. I had passed several rooms and even another, rather smaller, courtyard while wandering. The wooden halls and tan doors were all too confusing and provided no points of reference. The corridors seemed to edge on forever – except when they abruptly reached erstwhile hidden junctions.
Sheer dumb luck saved the day.
After a good measure of time, I found a familiar entrance. I had used the entrance earlier in the day to exit and go sketch. It allowed me to trace a route back to the clinic.
Eirin was not in her office. I went straight to my room. It was the same as I had left it and I lay down in bed.
There was nothing else to do but to collect my thoughts. And fiddle with my journal. I attempted to sketch the long-haired princess from memory, but my efforts yielded a blank piece of paper. With her fair skin, delicate features and hair so black it shimmered like fine silk with light, she may have been too great a beauty to commit to paper. No justice could be done to her with just a crude sketch, at least not with my limited talent. Neither did I trust my senses to convey just how she redefined an ideal.
I had no luck in sketching Eirin either, for a whole different set of reasons. Unease and guilt washed over me.
As if acting on cue, Eirin's assistant came into the room. Her look and attitude made it seem like one of the many routine checkups I had had since arriving. She said nothing, nor did I dare to say anything either and I avoided any and all eye contact.
It did, strangely enough, make me quickly sketch the girl in pink. I sketched her as I saw her, standing amidst bamboo and with a grin plastered on her face. As an extra detail, I added a group of rabbits lounging by her feet, looking ready for anything. It was a crude quick sketch, but even then exuded character. I felt the same things I felt towards the real girl when I looked at it. A bit diluted, but by and large they were the same feelings.
Later in the afternoon, the assistant came back yet again. With my medication. I took it as I was indicated to.
Perhaps because of the earlier conversation, my curiosity got the better of me; I dared to make eye contact. Besides a bit of discomfort, I did not feel any worse. It, in fact, emboldened me to direct words towards her, to ask something that had to be asked. It would be the first time I said anything to her and there was a good chance of it also being the last.
 “Do you hate me as well?”  “When will you just leave me be?”  “Why take care of me when I don't want you here?”
It's been awhile since Abe was mentioned! The princess was very divine so it's no surprise that one would want to be on their best behavior.
>I had no luck in sketching Eirin either, for a whole different set of reasons. Unease and guilt washed over me.
Now this is something that has been developing and I'm not sure where to pin it. He has mentioned that he feels bad that she treats him so well but Linnaeus really freaked out when he told her that he was assaulted. Does he believe that he should be held responsible or shouldn't have bothered her about that? It wouldn't be optimal if Linnaeus was unable to interact with her anymore.
Now onto the current crisis. The last two options don't seem like they'd reveal much, as Reisen would most likely say that it's because of her job or that she wouldn't leave a sick person. The second option is too spiteful for me to want to pick. The first or third are the two I struggled between. [X] “Do you hate me as well?” It's a bit more direct the the third but doesn't allow occupation to be used as a excuse. We'll see how she feels.
I wonder if that guilt and unease are a reference to any 'impure' feelings that came about. But I also sense he might so highly of her that he thinks her direct care and attention is too much. But I'd like for him to be in contact with Eirin more.
>>23283 hard to say, his irrationality might have been incidentally caused by them. But I see the "Do you hate me?" choice to possibly get to the root of his irrational hatred. The sooner we deal with that, the better.
>>23291 If one choice is so obvious, so universal, why have choices at all? Any group ever has dissenters when it comes to opinions and if a group of people on the internet can all agree consistently with overwhelming majorities - let alone unanimity - clearly it is my failing for not making other options appealing, or stopping at the wrong moment to make them. The actual 'winning' option is irrelevant. The self-loathing and disillusionment is further made worse with the fact that there are still those who consistently vote silently. That, too, is my fault.
>>23294 >>23293 Missing the point. The choice could have been between drinking full cream or skim milk. That doesn't matter so as long as the choices make sense and are compelling in their own way.
In any case, I was just stating how things were. A status report. There's no point in justifying things on everyone's behalf. I will probably do what I always do after being reminded yet again that I/you suck: try to distract myself, find myself checking the site nonetheless, eventually say fuck it and update the story with the oldest and most forgotten incident that upset me, repeat ad infinitum. Chalk it up to aforementioned psychosis.
>>23295 Y'know, it seems like we can't go three snippets without you bitching about the people who vote. That probably isn't helping. Sure as hell isn't refreshing my interest in the story. I like the story, and I've been trying to be pretty involved/talkative since I found it, but it does get pretty old to see self-flagellation - which comes across as a need for ego stroking - and regular insults for readers. Seriously. Lay off it. Some things aren't meant to be made public.
>>23296 I am not bitching about the people who vote here. I stated I would not write, due to my own shortcomings. Someone assumed it was because of the choice that won, I corrected the notion. I do not seek validation, a reaction or anything else of the sort. I am merely stating things for information's sake.
As a snarky aside: your interest in the story was not taken into consideration when posting the above. I believe that is the first insult I've leveled against a reader here. That is a joke, before you get too hot under the collar. I'm trying to say that you're reading too much into the situation. I am honest and straightforward whenever I post in the stories and will not shy away from explaining myself or correcting erroneous assumptions.
Just please accept the original statement of 'no updates for now' and move on. I just said it because it's unfair to keep you in the dark for days/weeks like I sometimes have done. Bad news is better than no news when you check often for updates, right? Saves you time.
http://bash.org/?16409 ><Never> Okay, I'm not really going to be a novelist, it just sounds a lot better than "autistic retard constantly lost in own fantasy world"
Writers make up imaginary fantasy worlds in their head and populate them with imaginary people they put a tremendous amount of effort into making as realistic as possible. As a writer myself, let me make it perfectly clear: WE ARE CRAZY.
So go ahead and have a good writefag cry. Hide in the basement and drink scotch. Cut yourself and post whiny poetry on LiveJournal. Do whatever the fuck you want. Because this story has pretty much blown my fucking mind with quality, and when you come back, I'll be waiting.
>but but infrequent updates
Wow! Welcome to every fucking board that isn't /th/. It's fine. Lots of stories update infrequently or sporadically or when the planets are in alignment and the Chocobo With A Thousand Chicks is ready to awaken. That's perfectly ordinary.
tl;dr I am unfazed by these events and will read the next update whenever it's ready.
Things continued to be awkward between us. Being emboldened did not mean I was reckless. Nor that I wanted to hear the truth. My apprehension got the better of my curiosity. I read into her face whatever I wanted to read into her face. It was horrible and I felt disgusted with myself. It was a self-directed disgust, one independent of the equally disgusting, but pure, feelings I felt towards the loathsome assistant. A man of reason, a man of wide perspective should not let himself be governed by feelings of doubt.
It was as if she knew what I wished to ask. Her movements were careful and deliberate, granting me much opportunity to pose my question. Dressed in her assistant's gown (and what I assumed was a uniform, since I had seen her in other outfits when not on duty), she looked like the personification of temperance, mixing in my anxiety with an eerie calm into something more neutral. I sat up, mouthing something. Surely words were meant to come out, I was sure. But none did.
“If you need anything, I'll be in the office,” She said with no trace of emotion in her voice. I could not think an appropriate retort and instead watched as she silently left.
Why was I finding it so difficult to be as forward as I always was? I had found no hesitation earlier with the other girl. I found no hesitation with anyone besides my savior. But that was different, I rationalized. Those were... feelings of a stimulating nature and most appealing to boot. The reason I wasn't forward there is that it would be inappropriate for me to be so forward. At least so soon. Abe would like her. Though I also thought the same of the schoolmarm.
I realized that I was getting ahead of myself in more ways than one.
Starting from the most basic idea would be the way to go. I needed to define my position.
Why did I care what she thought?
Answer – because she had helped take care of me, her disgusting nature notwithstanding.
Does this mean that I needed to be on good terms with her?
Isn't that contradictory of the previous then?
No, I don't need her to like me. I just need her to see that I am not an ingrate.
Will asking her about her feelings towards me make that possible?
Hard to say. The way she carries on while on duty is perhaps professional conduct, in no way reflective of her true nature. More information is needed.
Proposition: acquire further knowledge through others.
Corollary: I will be better equipped to deal with the situation.
Dissenting opinion: This is not a matter of strict logic. The alternative does include a more emotional approach. Deficiencies in that department can be made stronger as a result of direct confrontation. Again, the result of which is uncertain.
I sighed. Absentmindedly, I flipped through my journal. The sketches and notes told me nothing of value. I had failed to do any field work on the assistant and, to be honest, did not want to. Though I had prided myself in my decision-making process, I was simply too affected by the situation to be as composed and logical as I would have liked to be. I was effete and there was nothing immediate that I could do about it.
At some point I simply must have passed out.
When I woke up, I saw that it was still dark. My internal clock told me that it must be close to daybreak.
A figure looming to my left startled me. I reacted suddenly, accidentally smashing a tender spot where the stitches still felt very raw. I winced and cursed.
“My apologies, I didn't mean to do that. I was going to tap you on the shoulder but you woke up suddenly.”
The pain I felt before faded away as my heart began to pump hard. I recognized the small girl standing beside my bed. It was the other repulsive girl from before. Her face was as dark as her hair due to the lack of real light but I recognized her voice and saw that she still wore her (what I assumed was) pink dress.
“What do you want? Didn't you hear me yesterday? I'm not comfortable around you,” I blurted out, my wound still smarting.
“I'm aware. That doesn't matter to me though, I think it's interesting that you hate someone as cute as me.”
“Cute? Ha!” I scoffed.
“Well, well. With those pleasantries out of the way, let me get down to business,” She didn't seem at all discouraged by my display of contempt. She calmly spoke, “I've got two things I want to give you. You can have only one though.”
“You, give me anything? No thank you, I'll pass. Now leave me be.”
The girl was lively. A voice in the back of my mind explained that rabbits were crepuscular. That would explain her damnable cheer at so ungodly an hour. If, that is, she had any traits beyond her ears in common with a common rabbit.
“Don't say no right away. This will interest you. One is a device I have that lets you see living things, even if there's an obstacle in between you. It works even at night. You slip them over your eyes and your set, they're great for tracking” She held an arm out towards me, showing off a pair of spectacles encased in a protective plastic box. I could not inspect them properly before she yanked her hand away. She continued to speak, “The other thing is something a bit different.”
“Wait, where did you even get something like that?” I interjected, curiosity getting the better of me.
“I took it from storage. No one will miss them. They have all these neat things tucked away in big boxes deep in the mansion. They don't care for them anymore, so I helped myself,” She didn't pause for a moment, “anyways, there's something else. It's a little protective charm. I don't know how it works but it's supposed to keep harm from coming to you. At least according to the picture next to it. Just hang it around your neck and when something tries to hurt you, this stops it... to a certain extent. It's not perfect I think.”
“Why are you even offering these things to me?”
“Oh, no real reason. I just heard from Reisen that you spent a lot of time out in the wilderness looking at stuff. It's dangerous out there, I would know. So I thought I'd make you a gesture of good faith. I respect honest people with no pretensions.”
I didn't know what to make of her offers. I was distrustful. I hated her after all. That was childish but it was the truth.
“I don't know, I don't trust you.”
“Nor should you,” She laughed.
“What would you have me do?”
“Reject my offer. Then harbor doubt that maybe I wasn't lying after all. That it could have helped you out immensely. I'll be happy then.”
“...what a cheap ploy.”
“Hmm... what's a ploy? I'm too stupid and disgusting to be crafty. Just pick already, I have to get back before they make first rounds.”
The glasses are obviously relevant to furthering his academic interests, while choosing the charm would show less focus and more evidence of fear relating to his trauma. They'd help greatly in stalking targets from a safer distance, as well as serving to improve his awareness of potentially predatory youkai.
I think if they're discovered to be missing and in our possession, the reaction will be more relief than alarm, since it implies that Linnaeus is getting along with Tewi.
The scene ended as abruptly as it had begun. No sooner that I held a pair of heavy, tinted and thick spectacles in my hand, the small interloper was gone. I didn't notice her leaving. Heightened suspicion would be the natural response to such an encounter, perhaps even justifiable paranoia. I was far too used to the bizarre to let myself question it too much. Like an old story I was read as a child, I was probably close to meeting other fantastical creatures, anthropomorphic or otherwise and perhaps I would have a tea party with the strangest of the lot.
I smiled, lamenting how far gone I was.
Throwing caution to the wind, I tried the spectacles on immediately. My world became dark. The already precarious lighting became mere shadow. I felt around the side, looking if there was maybe some sort of toggle or mechanism for activating the device's functionality. Finding no such thing, I tapped it instead and tried to get any response. Nothing happened.
I took them off, a little disappointed but not entirely surprised. I examined it closer, noting a small silver etching on the bridge; There was a miniature crescent moon. The rest was nondescript. I stowed them away unceremoniously for safekeeping.
First person I saw that morning was not the assistant. Eirin came in at first light, looking as collected as she always seemed to be. When she saw that I was awake she adopted a pleasant smile and asked me how I was feeling. Even if I were in extreme pain I probably could not have said anything but 'well' to her. The incongruity of lying to a physician about my condition would not and did not register and, at any rate, would have still been conveniently ignored.
“You'll soon be fit to leave,” She announced happily, “your recovery is going remarkably well and there's little reason to keep you relatively bed-bound much longer.”
“There is no further chance for complications?” I asked with a bit of disappointment making it into my tone. A part of me did not want to leave.
“They are minimal at best, your constitution is remarkably robust. It's a little impressive rather, all things considered.”
“All things considered?”
“I apologize,” She acted like it was a slip of the tongue. I suspected otherwise. I felt like she had wanted to compliment me but instead chose to hide the fact with a little playful ribbing first, “Those who spend most of their time dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge tend to be a little frailer than average. Besides, your physique and attributes are hidden by your choice of clothes and your facial hair.”
“It's far easier to document insects and other creatures after a good hard rainfall. That is the reason for the long impermeable overcoat,” I explained, “It allows me to camp out in the rain with only minor discomfort so I can be there the moment an opportunity presents itself.”
“I understand. I wasn't saying it was a bad look for you either,” She laughed, “When I first saw you I remember thinking that yours was an oddly practical choice of attire.”
“Say,” I asked something I should have asked long before, “did any of my clothes survive? I imagine they were really tattered when you got to me.”
“Unfortunately most of your clothes were beyond salvaging,” Her expression darkness. But it's only for a moment and she continues on with her same bedside smile, “I'm sure you'll be glad to hear that your overcoat survived mostly unscathed, although it required a thorough cleaning. As you know, the belongings you were carrying in your knapsack survived intact.”
“That's good to know,” I felt relief. The coat was not made in Gensokyo and getting a replacement would have be nigh-impossible. It had come into my possession by chance, once the possession of an outsider. I had heard a rumor that it was part of a winter uniform for an army but I had to wonder what sort of army would need to give its soldiers something that hardy. Traveling around while on campaign must take its toll.
“There's some more good news. You'll soon be able to take a bath. It looks like my assistant will soon have one less duty to perform, “ She chuckled. She of course was referring to the moist cleaning sessions that the assistant did every so often. I was glad that my privacy would not be invaded any more. There was a caution added, “You'll need to wash yourself carefully first and I'm afraid that you can't take a bath in too warm a batch of water. At least not for a while.”
Of course she wasn't content to leave things so ambiguous. She detailed my exact limitations and set out a road map of recovery for the next couple of weeks. It was a cautious, justifiably so, schedule. I was going to be discharged two days later and free to go back home. I had to check in twice a week, she would send her assistant to guide me back.
Before she left, she asked me whether or not I would like a shave. Not having had a mirror nearby, I completely forgot about my grooming. I ran a hand on my neck, noting that there was more hair than I usually allowed after a few days of dedicated studying. My mustache did not feel any different than usual, it was bushy, and my side hair was not overly long. Could still do with a trim. I told Eirin that I would like to shave.
“I'll have Udonge bring what you need. You're free to spend the day as you wish, if you wish I can have her escort you around again.”
I did not hesitate in turning down the offer, “I'll be fine by myself I suspect. No doubt that girl has a lot of work to do and I wouldn't want to be a needless burden. I'm feeling fit and if anything happens I know my way back to the clinic.”
“She has been doing a lax job cleaning lately, this will free her up for work,” She nodded with satisfaction.
Soon after I was brought a pair of bowls, one with water and one without, a sharp shaving blade and lather. Furthermore, she placed a small mirror on the bedside stand. The assistant stood by, as if curious to see what I would do. I gave her a look she understood immediately – it caused her ears to droop and she shied away and left. I proceeded to shave undisturbed. I cut myself once accidentally but it wasn't too bad. The blade was good, sharper than the one in my field kit in any case, and it took little effort to take care of the hair growth.
I washed up and tried to get a feel for my body. I felt no real pain, just discomfort. I could probably be a little more proactive, I wagered.
 Track down the smaller rabbit girl  Ask Eirin if it would be possible to see the mistress of the manor again  Spend time in and around the clinic
Please see >>/forest/23748 for guidelines for voting and what I expect and what I will try to deliver. Ignore the 'every couple of hours' part since that does not apply to this story, but to the other story specifically. This is a secondary project.
>>23786 Cut that shit out, seriously. Use common sense.
I find Tewi to be quite interesting and as much as I want hang around with the good doctor, I think finding Tewi and interacting with her a bit more would be a strong step on the road to rehabilitation for Linnaeus.
I left the clinic with some confidence. I did not have to stop as much to rest against the wall as I had to in the past. And while things were tender, I didn't really feel any pain unless I stupidly put too much weight on my leg and such. It was more discomfort than anything.
Eirin was hard at work, her assistant intently listening to an explanation she was giving. She smiled as I passed and I smiled back but neither of us went out of our ways to do anything more. I didn't doubt that she would have time for me if I wanted something but I wasn't comfortable with needlessly bothering her. So I left the clinic and decided to go off the beaten path, so to speak. I decided to look around places where I hadn't been to before in hopes of locating the girl from that morning.
I figured she would be somewhere secluded and away from the clinic and lady of the house.
Somewhere deep along the long and sometimes desolate-looking corridors I encountered her. Tewi leaned with her back to the wall at an angle; Her bare feet were projected out into the hallway with only the back actually touching the ground. Her arms were folded neatly over her pink dress, as if she was completely unconcerned with how precarious her posture could quickly become.
“I take it this is no coincidence,” I spoke softly, feeling wary of her. I was sure she could not be trusted. She had been waiting for me.
“And your desire to see me again was no sudden whim either,” She affirmed, eyes still shut. “Come, follow,” She said, “I hear it's not proper to speak in the corridor.”
She righted herself and led me to an empty room nearby. It looked like no one used it as it was completely barren of decorations or furniture. I felt uncomfortable with being in such a private place with her.
“If you want to add me to your sketch collection, I wouldn't mind,” She chimed with detachment. Her eyes looked casual up towards me, like she was trying to get a handle on what she was dealing with. Undaunted by my lack of reply, she continued, “I am comfortable with posing nude as well if that is your preference. I imagine that you would be real interested in seeing how my anatomy differs from human anatomy. Maybe you'll be shocked by the truth.”
I stared back at her. If it were the other rabbit, I was certain that my gaze would have made her recoil. The small one, however, seemed unaffected by whatever strong message I transmitted. I tried to organize my thoughts to no avail.
“Hm...” My silence amused her apparently. A sly smile formed on the corners of her mouth as she spoke, “Is your dislike of me so great that you would forsake your own interests? Isn't some little voice in your head telling you that you shouldn't pass up this opportunity?”
“I'm not a beast, I don't always listen to a single overriding voice in my head,” I retorted venomously.
“Ah, but I am?” She tilted her head, as if considering the real meaning of my reply . The words that came out of what objectively looked like just a little girl were jarring, “Perhaps this beast should force herself upon you. Even if you are bigger I'm sure you couldn't resist for long, and I could just have my way with you for as long as I liked. No one passes by this part of Eientei and no one would find out until I discarded you. Or perhaps just ate you.” She finished with an impish smile, “Because that sounds like something that beasts do, doesn't it?”
She struck a nerve. As much as I tried to forget about it I couldn't. It was burned into my mind. What had happened with the last youkai made my head spin and my wounds ache, as if they were open and fresh. I knew she was just trying to unsettle me but even knowing that I... I could not do anything about it. I hated her. I really did. She was a wretched creature, doubly so for toying with me.
“Perhaps that was a little too much, you look deathly pale,” She observed. Her pity was worse than her malice, “This beast when she mates does so with a consenting partner. He ends up drained and satisfied, just like I do. A lot of fun. You shouldn't get so worked up over it. It's just a joke.”
“Shut up... I didn't come here to take this crap from you,” I snarled, rallying. I reached around and looked for the item I had smuggled out of the clinic. Shoving it right in front of her face, I snapped, “This thing you gave me does not work, I'm returning it.”
“Mm?” She stared blankly at the spectacles. Recognition slowly crept into her face.
“They work, guaranteed,” She said and made a gesture for me to put them on.
I did as she wanted and exclaimed with irritation, “Nothing!”
Silently she reached a hand out towards my face. She pressed down on the bridge of the spectacles, where the crescent would be. To my consternation she brushed her hand against my cheek as she pulled her hand away. No doubt on purpose.
I was about to say something about that when I noticed that everything was not just black. The room was dark, blueish in hue, and out of focus for the most part but one thing shone with apparent incandescence. Reds and oranges and at the center with yellows with some green and smatterings of blue at the extremities. The silhouette had a purple border and was beyond a shadow of a doubt the rabbit-eared girl.
“I take it that it works,” She remarked, waves of color moving where her mouth would be.
“So it does,” I stated simply. I looked around the room, trying to get accustomed to the strange and otherworldly sensation. Some walls were not so dark, hinting at things that may have been lying beyond. To be honest, it was a little dizzying and I soon found myself taking the spectacles off.
“Satisfied?” She asked.
“That's right,” Tewi observed confidently, “there's something else that made you look for me.”
I was about to deny it.
She would have none of my excuses, “No need to be so reserved now. You told me that you hated me quite directly and without hesitation. Your eyes tell me that you haven't changed your mind about that, so what is keeping you from speaking your mind?”
“I really do hate you,” I grumbled because she was right and I knew it. She giggled annoyingly as I scowled.
 “Against my better judgment I do wish to sketch you.”  “I want to know why you're interested in me.”
[x] “Against my better judgment I do wish to sketch you.”
He can't resist such an opportunity, not when it's really all he wanted to do in the first place. This should prove to be rather therapeutic for him. These rabbits are rather civilized compared to the other youkai's more feral tendencies. Once in the right frame of mind, he'll easily draw the distinction. Hopefully.
[X] “Against my better judgment I do wish to sketch you.”
While I am personally curious as to why Tewi has this interest in Linnaeus, I feel that this choice will be more beneficial for working out his issues. Working towards his intended goal is much better than possibly feeding a paranoia that Tewi, or youkai in general, are out to get him.
While "we" may have some idea of Tewi's interests, it's not as if Linnaeus would. Hell he hardly knows her aside from the brief couple meetings. It's not too far fetched for him to want to understand Tewi's interests; besides personal bias, fears and paranoia abounding.
“It seems like you're more stubborn than I thought,” Tewi smirked. Her smug expression aggravated me to no end. Someone in my position with lesser willpower would probably have done something rash, I told myself.
“I don't care about your opinion of me,” I asked coolly, “will you or won't you cooperate?”
“Ah, but you do care more than you'll admit,” She shrugged. Her answer was plain enough, “I'll let you draw me.”
“Very well,” I stated dryly. I would have been fine with a rejection. In fact, I would have probably preferred that. I said, “take me somewhere where you spend a lot of time, your habitat is also important.”
She nodded her head, offering no resistance to my request. Silently she led me from the empty room to what must have been the opposite end of the building. There the silent wooden beams and walls gave way to an open yard. The bamboo forest crept into the property, like an oddly-shaped green wall. It was a mixture of wild nature and human construction. She sat down on a large rock, casually telling me with her eyes that this was the place.
“I'm fast at this, so it won't take long,” I said as I opened up my journal and found a blank page. I hadn't brought the whole range of charcoal and writing implements I normally kept in my field pack and only had a single worn and stubby pencil to work with.
“Take your time, unlike your other subjects I consent and won't move,” She said, looking bored.
I looked around for a good spot to sit. It had to be a good angle too, where the lighting was optimal on the subject and where I could capture her essence. Another nearby rock proved to be that spot. I sat down and began to visualize the components that made up the scene before me. A few rough lines soon appeared on the page, setting the groundwork for the more refined lines that would follow. I worked quietly and quickly, never engaging her in conversation. For her part, she didn't seem particularly keen on saying anything either, looking over at me with a difficult to understand look. It was something besides ennui. The girl was unreadable to me. The abrasive and active attitude she had taken on earlier was nowhere to be seen. It was almost... sad.
“I've finished,” I murmured. The image of a petite girl with two rabbit-like ears looked listlessly at me from the page. The leafy background was entirely secondary and unimportant. I wasn't satisfied with the results but I didn't know why. I addressed her, “You can get up if you wish now.”
“I see,” She simply said as she got up.
“Do you wish to see my sketch?”
“No, it's alright,” She refused. I was about to ask why when she changed the subject, “Do you plan on drawing the others like me?”
“I don't think so,” I said, “I do not think I'll learn something new by drawing others.”
“A lot of them would be flattered.”
“But not you.”
“Hard to feel flattered when someone who completely hates you makes you do things for his own benefit,” She quipped.
“Is that all there is to it?” I didn't buy it.
“Is that all there is to you?” She asked in return. I didn't answer. Before long she chose to move on, “I'll take you back to familiar territory before leaving you.”
We parted ways right outside the clinic. She calmly walked away after nodding her head, leaving me alone with my thoughts. It was not the time to question her actions, I decided. She clearly had an ulterior motive for even speaking to me. She wasn't normal.
I was tired. All that walking had worn me out. At least I told myself it was just the walking. I went back to my room, barely registering that everyone else was absent from the clinic. I lay down on my bed and stared at the ceiling. Restless, I took to flipping upon familiar notes and sketches in my journal. I avoided my most recent addition. My thoughts turned to Mokou. I wondered what she was doing. As rugged as she was, I could not entirely convince myself that she preferred her rough and spartan lifestyle. She still was an object of much interest.
The afternoon turned to evening and evening eventually to morning again. I tried to rest as much as I could before Eirin came in to check up on me. I hadn't seen her since the previous morning, her assistant brought me meals. There was nothing new she said. I was still to be discharged the following day. It was good news. I had been idle too long.
“Is there something bothering you?” Eirin asked. My troubled thoughts had evidentially shown on my face.
“I just think a lot, it's nothing,” I panicked and gave a weak reply.
“Are you sure?” She sat down at the edge of my bed, showing concern. She added, “I'll gladly listen to anything you need to talk to about. You are my patient after all and your wellbeing is important to me.”
 “I was just a little sad that soon I won't be seeing you every day.”  “Just organizing my thoughts regarding my work.”  “It wouldn't be appropriate for me to talk about someone else if they're not present.”
[x] “I was just a little sad that soon I won't be seeing you every day.” I think Eirin can help him, in many ways. I'm not sure about Lanneus' ultimate ambition (writefag, could you clear that?), but having Eirin by his side might help him. For real.
[X] “It wouldn't be appropriate for me to talk about someone else if they're not present.”
That whole scene with Tewi now haunts Linnaeus and rather fair manner. Even from the beginning, while he may have had neutral feelings regarding Youkai, he did essentially lump them on the side of lesser, very simple-minded beings that purely thrived on instinct alone; of course Tewi defied that view Linnaeus had created which in turn branched out into hatred as well.
It may be put aside with renewed focus on Mokou and understanding her way of living but those moments tend to be fleeting. Tewi though at the very least, to Linnaeus chagrin, is willing to stick around and "cooperate".
[x] “It wouldn't be appropriate for me to talk about someone else if they're not present.”
Tough call, these all seem viable. If he had elected to visit Eirin instead of Tewi, then the first option would logically follow. However, I suspect that this option would fit the general flow of Linnaeus's thoughts better.
If that were the case then all that would matter would be whether he does or not meet the person in question. If he doesn't then all that means is that he has a new focus; understanding not just a particular youkai, but youkai behavior in general.
If he does meet up with the person in question then hey some new possibilities may occur, or ought to at least.
As far as I could tell the other two either dodge what made him restless earlier or just delay an inevitable moment; whatever that may be.
Either way I don't see how choosing it wouldn't answer any questions or at the very least give a sort of lead/base that Linnaeus could work with.
I see tewi as more of a "shock therapy" for the youkai fear compared to Eirin's and Reisen's quietness about the subject in general. As much as Linnaeus hates to admit it seems that Tewi is quite interesting to him, displaying conflicting traits to the savage youkai so intently. Reisen doesn't display them either, but she doesn't seem to go out of her way to do it either.
As for Tewi, Linnaeus seems to be very interesting, he openly admits he hates youkai, yet doesn't try to harm them either except for a few snappy comments. Also, he seems to be that type who might make an assumption against common sense due to heavy trauma, but can be persuaded to believe otherwise due to his intelligent/methodical? way of thinking and this is what Tewi finds interesting and fun to do. In contrast to all the small trickery(if that happens in this fic's background, can't remember if something pointed to it) this is more of a bigger scale mindfuckery thus more fun? I dunno...
as for the vote [x] “It wouldn't be appropriate for me to talk about someone else if they're not present.” Like others mentioned, this kinda flows. Also I believe this would lead to meeting Tewi, since it's referring to her, and she seems to be spying (for the lack of a better word) him, since she knew about him searching for her earlier. I like reading about them two interacting so...
Tewi is puzzling. I understand her getting easily bored. What I don't understand is her accommodating someone she is bored with. Maybe her actions toward Linnaeus are characterized by a sense of responsibility toward someone who was injured in 'her' forest, rather than amusement?
[x] “It wouldn't be appropriate for me to talk about someone else if they're not present.”
“Is that a fact?” Eirin smiled with a curious glimmer in her eye, she commented, “I imagine it must be about love then. Your restlessness can be explained by your troubled thoughts about your lover. I presume she's waiting for you at the village, worried sick. She must have heard by now from the others what happened.”
“Ah...” I smiled at the thought. It was sweet and innocent, something which I felt was completely at odds with my actual mental state. I shook my head, denying it flatly, “It's hardly anything like that. There's no one waiting for me back home for starters.”
“Well, well, at least the thought made you smile,” She winked at me. It dawned upon me that she had just successfully cheered me up a little.
“Impeccable bedside manner,” I remarked without any hint of sarcasm. It wasn't just anyone who could force my thoughts into another direction so easily. I was impressed.
She added nonchalantly, “As an additional observation, I have to say I'm surprised that there's no one waiting for you. Surely you're considered more eligible than the average farm hand.”
“Now that flattery is a bit too transparent.”
“Dear me, and here I thought I was being tactful and sly,” She shrugged her shoulders as if to say 'it can't be helped'. Acting as if embarrassed by her remark she took a look at my chart again. It was then that she was able to move things along, “Enjoy your last day as a full-time patient. If you need anything you know where to find me.”
I lay in bed for a while longer, not in any hurry to get up and go about. Eirin may have directed my thoughts somewhere else but it was only a temporary deviation. I didn't want to dwell on things but I couldn't help it. It was just who I was. That was probably the reason I still kept Abe around even though a more well-adjusted person might have gotten rid of the stuffed creature. It wasn't a call for me to get depressed, far from it, thoughts by themselves were not enough to get me down. It was a call for me to seek progress, if not outright resolution.
However that resolution would not come easily. That much I knew from the start. It was just so poorly defined, so hard to grasp. What I had to do was not clear. I took my usual companions, journal and writing material, and hoped that they would help me find the answer I needed.
Though I retraced my route from the day before as best as my memory allowed, the result was different. I encountered no one. The hallways were desolate and it felt like I was the only living thing in the world. No birds were to be found in the occasional courtyard garden and most of the rooms looked like they hadn't been used in a very long time.
There is no such thing as a coincidence
The thought was normally ludicrous. It was no axiom. Not how I saw it, anyways. Despite believing that I knew that my chances of finding that resolution there and then was close to zero. I would find if I was allowed to find. I simply lacked enough knowledge about anything that could be even close to a pattern of behavior to make any other assumption. I had to work with the information I had at hand. The empty space where I had sketched the day before was entirely silent. The bamboo was as still as a wall, no breeze swayed stalk nor leaf. It was enough confirmation for my conjecture.
I found myself loitering somewhere close to the clinic. It was opposite the area I had explored earlier and was, as I recalled vaguely, where the residents spent most of their time. It should have, therefore, come as no surprise to find the mistress of the household enjoying herself by one of the courtyards. She was reading a book in the shade, casually flipping over a page every so often. She had none of that usual dizzying composure that made me want to bow my head in reverence every other word she said. I felt guilty for witnessing that sight, like I was intruding on her privacy. I thought it best that I leave.
My instincts compelled me to reach for my journal. I had opened a blank page and a pencil stood at the ready to draw the scene. A reclining beauty reading with no care in the world, a fugacious sight at best given her normal overwhelming presence. From the way she gingerly clutched the book to the lack of tension in her ankles indicated a state of total lack of strain. Her dark and beautiful hair sprawled like a fine brush of silk on the wooden surface engulfed her relaxed upper body. Light itself seemed to frame her in a purposefully suitable light, with shadow accentuating form and lines. It was an artistically breathtaking sight full of contrast and meaning. It radiated aethetic perfection.
I found it difficult to commit it to paper. It felt wrong. A heinous and unforgivable violation. My misgivings were more instinctual than rational but I could not simply dismiss them.
Her consent, while important, would disrupt this perfect picture. I'd also include a subvote to give her the drawing if she becomes angry with Linnaeus for drawing her without her consent, but conditional subvotes don't always turn out well.
There's nothing terribly wrong with wanting to draw some one who is not posing but is in fact relaxing and having a good time. It's far from scientific research but it shows what Linnaeus can appreciate beyond his "hobby".