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File 142001705673.jpg - (78.25KB, 1023x723, stroll with bamboo.jpg) [iqdb]
26054 No. 26054
“Have your fortune told, miss?” an impossibly quiet voice asks. You look around, not sure who is talking to you. At the best of times the market is a noisy place full of produce vendors, tradesmen and other villagers moving along stalls and streets all day. Cries extolling the virtue of the fresh something or the other are intermixed with the well-practiced theater that is haggling and barter. Acquaintances and friends meet both here and in the adjacent square, often forming into small groups to then gossip or grab a drink together. Simply put, it's hard to make any sense of words when you're in the middle of the crowd. And yet, you can clearly hear the voice repeating itself, adding, “it won't cost you much, dear.”

You look around, gripping the edges of your cloak tightly, hoping that the voice isn't directed at you. It's best to walk away and disappear into the crowd. Any curiosity that you might feel is firmly suppressed by the general unease of being in such a crowded place with only three nights remaining. If only supplies hadn't run out so quickly! It would have been preferable to wait until next week when everything would be back to normal.

“Come on love,” the voice is unmistakably directed at you, “don't try to ignore me. I see all. Your pretty dark hair and lovely smile ought to be shown to the whole world, not hidden away by shadow and cloth like that.”

Feeling panicked, you ignore the voice again, check that no one is following and slip into a small alley hidden between two of the larger stalls. The empty space gives you a chance to calm yourself down. Here, the noise of the crowd is less of a roar and more of a steady background noise. By contrast, the thumping of your heart is almost deafening; it feels like it's liable to burst at any moment. A curse escapes your lips. A sense of shame is very present. Slinking around has certainly been undignified.

The problem is that it was foolish to go shopping in the village in the first place. The whole trip has had you on edge for a while now. The possibility of getting outed due a tiny mistake has driven you to paranoia. It has caused numerous discrete checks of cloak and clothes to see if anything has come undone or become too loose. Every stranger's gaze has to be avoided, in case they stare too hard or for too long. Even the large amulet worn around your neck has been hidden away lest someone accidentally identify it and you. Being inconspicuous is exhausting. All the same, erring on the side of caution is preferable to the alternative.

“Welcome,” the voice states with a smug little chuckle. It's louder now. You look at the end of the alley and find that a figure with a dark cowl sits by a small wooden table. You can't see her face in the shadows and you bring your own hood further forward in hopes that she can't see yours either. “Oh don't be so vain, my dear, I already know what you are. The sudden appearance of whiskers or fang on your pretty little face isn't going to surprise me.”

Instinctively, you run your hand over your chin and lips. It's still smooth skin, thankfully. You lash out at the woman before you realize it,”you have a lot of nerve, playing around with people! I don't have to take this from some crone!”

“A good fortune teller sees all,” the woman replies, calmly. “This posturing grows tiresome, so please come closer and let us get on with the business at hand. I assure you that what I have to say shall interest you greatly.”

“I think I'll just leave,” you say with a huff, upset that this so-called fortune teller has gotten you all worked up. It's all just so stupid.

“Even if you could be close to solving the issue you care the most about?” Though her face continues to be hidden, you get a distinct impression that she's grinning. “It is the reason you hide away from the ever-waxing gibbous moon. You know what I'm talking about, I can tell that those soft ears of yours pricked right up.”

Without waiting for any sort of reply, the fortune teller produces a pair of candles from her cloak. She places each stick on either end of the table and they spark to life magically as they are set down. A distinct smell of incense, a very ashen kind, permeates the air with no clear source. A deck of cards then emerges from one of her long sleeves; the fortune teller deftly shuffles and places the deck in front of her, as if biding you to come closer.

“Ask your question and you shall know,” she says, adding sardonically, “don't worry, I won't bite.”

[] Walk away.
[] Take it seriously.
[] Ask about a comrade in the grass roots network instead.
[] Mock her by asking questions worthy of the town gossip.

*****

Hello, I've wanted to do a short story for a while now and I've planned out what will hopefully be a fun and slightly different kind of story than I usually see on the site. I'm aiming for regular updates starting next year after giving this first one some extra time since I think it'll take people a while to notice the story. I'm not setting any sort of vote count or time count for updates and I'll mostly be writing whenever it feels right to do so. Even breaking ties if I have to. I have to emphasize again that it's a short story so I'll try to keep momentum so it never feels like it's dragging on and on so please don't feel too disappointed if you miss a vote because I called it for something already. All of this is big talk on my part but I'll try my best not to disappoint.
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>> No. 26055
[X] Take it seriously.

Tricky crones ain't to be messed with, especially when they're seeing directly through your disguise.

An entertaining start, OP. Looking forward to where this goes, and also Kagerou.
>> No. 26056
[X] Take it seriously.
>> No. 26057
[X] Take it seriously.

She called out to us, might as well see what she wants.
>> No. 26058
[X] Take it seriously.
\KAGEROU/
>> No. 26059
[]Take it seriously

Awoooooooo~
>> No. 26060
[x] Take it seriously.
Finally a Kagerou story.
>> No. 26061
“Tell me my fortune. What does the future hold in store for me?” you ask.

“Let us see,” she replies, drawing a trio of cards from the deck. There's some sort of text at the bottom of each card but you don't know whatever language it might be in. The images, however, are pretty clear; for all their color and decorations the cards have clear central images. From left to right the cards feature a man hanging upside down in an odd pose, an oddly-decorated temple with a full moon in the center, and a horned goat with billowy black wings. The fortune teller pauses as if interpreting what is being revealed to her. “Yes, I believe that it'll be an improvement.”

“So what is it that you see?”

“There are places you must go to and things you must do,” she explains, cryptically enough. “Looking into my crystal ball, I feel that it is only proper that I assist you with what will come ahead.”

“Erm, what crystal ball?” you ask. Unless it's a metaphor for her wisdom or something, it might be a sign that she's gone completely mad.

Not deigning to provide an answer, the fortune teller reaches into her cloak again and produces a small scroll. “Take this,” she says, extending her hand,”it'll tell you all that you need to know.”

You take the scroll from her hand and begin to examine it. You undo the seal on its edge and open it up. What you see makes you frown. There's barely any text and it's mostly crude drawings of people and places. It looks like a child made it.

“How is this going to help?”

“You'll be able to solve your little problem with the full moon if you find all three pieces of the amulet,” she tells you.

“Uh, what do you mean?” You say, trying not to get too excited. You know exactly what she means. And chances are, if she's really a magical being she already knows how much you suffer because of the transformation. A deep breath in and a sharp exhalation out and you manage to retain your composure.

“You know full well what I mean,” the woman says, “and don't worry about paying me now. You've already paid me more than you could ever know, cackle cackle.”

“Wait, did you just say 'cackle cackle' instead of just laughing?” You look up from the scroll at the hooded figure. She's gone, however. There's no trace of her. The smell of incense is gone, replaced by the usual pleasant alley smells. If it wasn't for the scroll still in your hands, you might have started thinking that you had gone insane.

For the time being, you decide to go somewhere else. After finishing up with the rest of your supply run and leaving things in a safe spot, you find yourself at the edge of the village. It's mid afternoon and it's as good a time as any to take a break. And another chance to make sense of the scroll.

Despite the figures being crude and looking like they were colored in by someone who didn't care about staying within the lines, you can more or less make out what they represent. The figure with a red skirt, animal ears and long nails is you. She stands at a spot on a map at the edge of a few houses by a dirt road... in other words, right where you are currently. Off to some distance there's a huge cluster of green poles – the bamboo forest. Within the sea of green there's several figures and landmarks. At a few of them there's a broken piece of disc, a piece of the amulet you assume. Simple enough. Go to those places, find what you need.

Finally, there's a helpful image at the very edge of the scroll. It shows the amulet whole again and you putting it on under the full moon. There's an arrow and it shows the same scene except that now you are smiling and all of your animal characteristics are gone. No dealing with that stuff unless you wanted to is the conclusion. That's a pretty exciting prospect and you find yourself smiling. There is, however, a small warning at the bottom of the scroll. Through the magic of drawing a sequence of moons and pieces of amulets, you seem to understand that if all three pieces aren't collected by the time the full moon disappears, they'll be gone as well.

No time to waste then. That's all the motivation you need. It's just a matter of deciding where to go to first. Figuring out how to get there exactly and what to do can wait.

[] The spot by the road where there's a lot of stick figures together under what appear to be stars.
[] The solitary shack far away from everything else.
[] The large mansion deep in the forest.
>> No. 26062
[x] The solitary shack far away from everything else.
>> No. 26063
[x] The spot by the road where there's a lot of stick figures together under what appear to be stars.

Wonder what this is.
>> No. 26064
>>26063
Either Mystia's joint, or a bunch of stupid fairies.
>> No. 26065
[x] The spot by the road where there's a lot of stick figures together under what appear to be stars.

Chances are, whatever we don't pick up first is probably going to be found by another person. I figure if we ignore this one first, someone might move it.
>> No. 26066
[x] The spot by the road where there's a lot of stick figures together under what appear to be stars.
>> No. 26067
This is off to a slower reception than I had initially anticipated. I'll give it until tomorrow but I do plan to update at least once a day in the future. As I've said, I don't really want the story to drag on. Tell your friends maybe? The boards are kinda slow these days.
>> No. 26068
>>26067
Board's slow and it's Christmas/New Years break. Plus, straight-up telling people this will be a 'short' story might put them off participating because it implies things are more on-rails than most stories around here.
>> No. 26069
>>26068
I don't see how a story aiming to be short at all implies it is any more or less on rails than anything else. Some of the earliest stories on this site were rapid affairs. The only thing I mean to imply by it is that it doesn't aim to drag on for months or years like a lot of the stories here and it'll get a timely conclusion. I would have thought that weekends and holidays was better for activity as well, since otherwise people are at school/work and whatnot. Looking around, there's been plenty of posts in the past few days even if it isn't as much as previous peak times.

I'll try keep to the intended update schedule regardless, including posting the next part in a little while, but I would appreciate it if those here told others to check this out. I'm not sure posting in the new stories thread did anything for this story's exposure and I'm not sure what else I can do to make people aware of this.
>> No. 26070
While the sun is still up, it's not uncommon to see the odd villager or two harvesting bamboo from the forest's edge. In town they then process the versatile plant into all sorts of useful goods, even using shoots as an ingredient in food. You pass a few such harvesters while following a dirt trail leading deeper into the woods. It's unlikely they'll ever dare to go any deeper. Or to come back at night. With good reason, naturally.

The green leafy bamboo stretches out in every direction, seemingly infinitely, soon enough. It's easy to get lost if you're not familiar with the very many trails sand paths that just barely break through the tall green shafts. Clearings are few and far in between as well, usually forming around a large boulder or pond or the occasional small stream. Even from the air, it's very difficult to make sense of where things are relative to each other. Luckily, you're familiar enough with the environment to avoid stumbling around too much.

It's all very quiet. The forest's inhabitants are mostly away and asleep at this time of day. Twice you just barely catch a glimpse of a rabbit in the distance before it darts away deeper into the bamboo maze. In order to make it to where the map roughly indicated, it takes you around a half hour of vigorous walking. You passe and wipe the sweat off your brow, approaching carefully a clearing by the side of the trail. The silence is broken by the sound of lively conversation somewhere in the area.

Scanning the area from the edge of the bamboo, you see a few figures off to the far end of the clearing standing by what looks like a big wooden platform. That's where the voices are coming from. There's also some sort of half-hidden object tucked away by some bamboo off by the side. There's a cloth draped over it so you can't really tell what it's supposed to be but it's definitely larger than a person. Nothing else draws your attention in the unusually-large clearing save for the many tracks and footprints that seem to have stripped away the area's grass. Clearly you're at a gathering spot of some sort.

You make your way around the clearing through the bamboo, cautious about being seen right away. It's never too obvious if anyone this far away from the village will be friendly. More than once you've been minding your own business and been accosted by someone keen to do you harm.

“Come on, just this once!” you can make out what someone is saying when you get closer. There's a small group of five people; two females and three male. By the looks of their clothes it doesn't seem like they're villagers – their clothes look more like the type of loose, light-colored garb the youkai near the lake favor. All five have their back to you and are facing the platform. As you crouch behind a particularly leafy plant you make out a bird-like wing, confirming that at least one of them is not human.

“Leave me alone, you're not welcome here until later,” a voice replies and you infer there's someone in the middle of the semi-circle. It's a firm female voice. Whoever it is doesn't seem to have much patience, adding, “don't make me kick you out.”

“There's five of us and just one of you, I don't think you could do it even if you tried,” the first person states. “What's so hard about giving us what we want? We promise not to bother you again.”

“She's so stuck up,” one of the females comments to the other, “I thought we were supposed to be all comrades.”

“I'm not interested in wasting my time with you. I have better things to do,” the firm voice says, “now go away before I get really angry.”

There's definite tension in the air. You can tell that it won't end well. Both sides have lost their patience.

[] It's no business of yours to get involved.
[] Jump in and tell everyone to calm down.
[] Observe a bit more before making a decision.
>> No. 26071
[X] Jump in and tell everyone to calm down.
- [X] But mostly take the side of the one person, not the five.

>>26069
"Board's slow and it's Christmas/New Years break" is enough reason on its own; I'm surprised there've been even this many votes.
>> No. 26072
>>26069
They were quick because there wasn't any real plot/planning, just on the fly hijinks.

/eientei/ hasn't been the liveliest of boards ever since Teruyo abandoned it Nice to see you trying. Hopefully you'll see this through to the end. (the short remark brings hope that it'll be finished for once).

But good luck keeping your schedule as it's not as easy as you'd think.

[X] Jump in and tell everyone to calm down.
- [X] But mostly take the side of the one person, not the five.
>> No. 26073
[x] Observe a bit more before making a decision.
We can loot whoever loses the fight.
>> No. 26074
[X] Jump in and tell everyone to calm down.
>> No. 26075
Just an FYI: I'm fine with subvotes and write-ins to an existing choice, as above, so long as it's reasonable and to the point. The massive walls of text you sometimes see in other stories (or the ones with a million subvotes) are a bit much to deal with and I don't think appropriate for this kind of story. That said, you don't *have* to add a subvote if you don't want to - saying stuff in your post how you feel or what you are thinking is enough. If I think that enough of you feel the same way, I'll justs work it in with no actual vote needed.

Oh and update in an hour or two. Wait warmly.

>>26072
Don't worry, I have been around the block enough times to know my own limits. Doing something light and fun like this is no effort at all. I'm not aiming for walls of text and I'm not being particularly 'clever' with metaphors or motifs or anything, so I just have to focus on good scene execution and interesting characters. For the amount of time I'm putting in and overall have available in the coming weeks, the only real limiter in updates is having enough voters. I don't think it would be too unimaginable to do two updates of the previous post's length in a day if there are enough votes. Hence my appeals for others to help get this story notice.

>>26071
Unfortunately I've been around this community enough to simply not buy the 'but it's x now!' excuse. I've seen people bringing it up (in other stories and on /blue/) claiming that things are slow because it's exam season, summer, some other holiday and what have you. It adds up to the whole year having some sort of excuse before too long. The boards are slow, yes, but I don't think that people are as indisposed as some would have you believe. I think it's just a matter of turning people on again to the idea of checking the site regularly, voting and writing. To that end I think the best way is via friends telling friends. But I'm going to stop going on about this for a while lest I sound like a broken record.
>> No. 26076
With five, possibly six, people against you the odds aren't really good in a stand up fight. Even assuming that their abilities aren't very special, it's easy to get hit from a blind angle in the chaos of a confrontation. So the best course of action is to avoid a fight. And if you're jumping in instead of hiding, the best way to do that is to be intimidating.

“What seems to be the problem here?” you ask loudly, stepping out from the bamboo thicket. With your face still partially obscured by the hood, you like to imagine that you project a somewhat ominous figure.

At once, all five of them look back at you. On closer look, there's no doubt: they're youkai. Eye colors rare in humans coupled with sharp nails and hints of the magical makes them stand out. Beyond them you can see that there's a figure leaning back against the platform, with arms crossed. The first youkai, the one who had been doing most of the talking, scoffed, “who are you supposed to be?”

“I am supposed to be,” you answer with a slight smile curling up on your lips, “a simple resident of this bamboo wonderland. I take it that you lot are not.”

“Leave us alone, we're having a private discussion,” the youkai replied. He was young. Seemed like a teenager. The rebellious sort. In fact, all of them looked pretty young. And while appearances could be deceptive, your instincts tell you that they weren't very powerful. Their body language told the tale; even though there was bluster in his voice, you could tell that young youkai was nervous by the way he kept looking around. Evidently he was wary that I wasn't alone.

“All I see here are a bunch of rude kids from the lake harassing a fellow inhabitant of these woods,” you say, crossing your own arms. “Naughty kids like you should calm down and reevaluate their priorities, lest a big scary youkai eat you all up as a snack.”

As it didn't look like they weren't going to be convinced just by words, you casually raise your hand to remove your hood, in the process showing off your very sharp nails. Immediately, you observe slight panic in their faces as they understand that you are more than capable of acting upon threats. It's a matter of instinct for them too. A sweet little face like yours belies the amount of damage you can do if you try.

One of the girls looks at the first male, the one who is no doubt the leader of their small group. “Let's just go,” she says, trying to play off her anxiety with feigned indifference.

“Yeah,” one of the other boys agrees, “we can just come back later. Everyone else will be here tonight, anyhow.”

“Tsk fine,” the leader agrees with a shrug. “Let's go, guys. She isn't worth it.”

With a smug little smile, you watch them leave, chatting loudly among each other in a futile show of defiance. Too much dignity for a lot that was just put harshly in their place, you think.

“I suppose you want me to thank you?” the remaining person asked. Clearly she didn't think much of your intervention, the same impatience you heard before still in her voice.

“Let's just start with introductions, why don't we?” you say with a smile, sizing her up. She was a short youkai with pointed ears and lilac wings that matched her hair color. Her arms were still crossed projecting a somewhat confrontational confidence. She definitely would have gotten into a fight with the others if you hadn't stepped in. “I'm Kagerou, I don't think we've met before but I usually spend a lot of time in this forest.”

“Mystia,” she says with a shrug and no further explanation.

“Sorry, did I do something wrong?” you ask.

“No, you're just not interesting. I suppose that expecting a human this far into the woods was asking for too much. You only just look mostly human.”

“I'll take that as a compliment,” you say, trying to figure her out. Sure, you're proud of the effort you put in into looking well-groomed, but as the full moon draws near you tend to look less and less human. Your nails are an example. It's harder to conceal them. Your long, auburn and lustrous hair starts getting shaggy and more voluminous much to your eternal despair. Not to mention all the unwanted things that pop up... elsewhere. “So, do you know what this platform is for?” you ask, trying to make conversation.

“Yes,” she states simply, uninterested in elaborating.

“Do you know anything about a piece of an amulet being around here?” you try something else.

“...” she looks away, ignoring you completely.

“Waiting for someone? Or for something to happen?”

“..............” more of nothing. Though she's trying her best to look disinterested and aloof, you can just tell that she's irritated at your presence.

It might be time to reevaluate strategies.

[] Take a look around the area without engaging her further.
[] Wait silently with her without saying a word.
[] Be more confrontational in getting her to talk.1
>> No. 26077
[x] Take a look around the area without engaging her further.

I wonder if she was trying to get pay out of them or not.
>> No. 26078
[x] Take a look around the area without engaging her further.

All of these seem just a bit rude to me. I'd prefer to at least apologize for intruding before potentially snooping through her stuff.
>> No. 26079
[X] Take a look around the area without engaging her further.

Might as well.
>> No. 26080
[x] Take a look around the area without engaging her further.
>> No. 26081
Ignoring the girl, you decide to take a look around the area.

The most prominent thing around is the platform. It's a rectangular wooden structure, with both the top deck and the sides made up of planks. There's no stairs but, then again, it's not that high up. You could pull yourself up in conjunction with a hop if you wanted. Mystia isn't quite as tall as the edge, you note as she continues to lean up against a side, arms crossed. You rap lightly on the side and find that the structure is hollow. There's no hatch or entryway to be found, however. In fact, the only thing besides the sullen youkai that's next to the platform is a series of large chests lined up on another side.

The chests are locked. Not that you would guess that there might be anything of value in them. They're remarkably plain, matching the light brown color of the platform. The only thing of note on them is a keyhole at the front of each one. They seem to be full of something, alright, as they prove to be rather heavy when you try moving one. The thought of smashing one open flits through your mind, in case the piece of amulet is in one of them, but you decide to leave that as a last resort if you can't find any other clues.

Exploring the area around the platform you see that there's more than just foot marks on the dried-up ground. There's clear signs that heavy objects were placed or dragged around near the platform. What they might have been is beyond you but it looks like maybe it was a temporary structure of some sort.

You find yourself irritated as you get to the last thing of interest in the area. You're not too keen to waste time investigating anything and everything. At least not on what's still possibly just a bogus quest to begin with. Just because a strange lady gave you a map and was cryptic, doesn't mean you're actually going to get anything out of it. It's Gensokyo. Half of the people you've met are quick to mess around with others just for a laugh. The other half are quick to violence. S

Letting out a sigh, you take a closer look at the half-hidden object that had caught your eye earlier. It's partially hidden away by bamboo and covered by a large tarp. You lift up the tarp and take a look; it's a large food stall by the looks of it, complete with stools built into the sides and four wheels that enable it to be moved around. The front is closed so you can't see inside but you imagine that there's a door somewhere that allows for access.

“What the hell do you think you're doing?” an angry voice startles you, causing you to turn around and stop investigating. Mystia is standing in front of you, arms akimbo and eyes full of hostility. “Get away from there!”

“I was just having a look around the area,” you try to explain, feeling that really there's little chance that she'll listen to you. Everything about her body language tells you that she's not going to back down quietly. Your own shoulders tense up as a result. “If this belongs to you, I'm sorry, I didn't know.”

“I don't like nosy people. Especially those who waltz right in and think that they deserve to be the center of attention.”

“...” you say nothing, holding back the urge to tell her that it's her fault for not talking to you in the first place. It's not like you're psychic.

“Staying quiet isn't going to help you,” she says, a wicked smile on her lips. “I was disappointed that I didn't get to teach those kids a lesson but I suppose that you'll do nicely instead. I'll mess up that pretty little hair of yours real good.”

“I don't really want to fight you,” you say with a sigh, knowing that you're just wasting your breath.

“Yeah, but I want to fight you.”

[] It's time to put her in her place.
[] Maybe retreat is the better option.
>> No. 26082
[x] It's time to put her in her place.

Maybe we'll get some answers.
>> No. 26083
[x] It's time to put her in her place.
>> No. 26084
File 142067502080.jpg - (562.39KB, 876x1024, blinded bullets.jpg) [iqdb]
26084
There's barely a moment to react before Mystia sends a barrage in your direction. It manages to graze just past your head. You catch yourself smiling, despite the near hit. You'd rather not have to fight but, now that you're forced to, you feel a swell of energy. It's easy to dodge her next barrage by using your heightened reflexes. With the moon still not out, and not full, you can't depend on the full extent of your powers. Your normal youkai abilities will have to do.

“You should really learn to be nice to others,” you quip, launching your first counter barrage. It misses narrowly, impacting with force against the bamboo behind her. Like her, you don't wait, and launch a second attack even as the plant struggles to snap back upright. This foreplay is simply an acknowledgment that both parties wish to duel. In other ways, just another average encounter in Gensokyo.

“Shut up and fight~!” Mystia exclaims, letting her voice warble as she shoots a string of bullets that split up into three different directions. When in doubt, saturate the area. Still, it's easy to slip in through the cracks between the large projectiles; you lift yourself up with a jump and take to the skies after the last bullet passes near you. “Idiot~” she lets out a laugh, jumping up herself, “birds are better at flying~!”

She should focus more on tactics than trash talk, you think to yourself, as you score your first hit. In her haste to match your actions, she completely falls into your trap. A flurry of projectiles, some overlapping and launched as soon as you are airborne, converge on the spot where she is. It's not much – it's just low-level stuff, but it's enough to make your smile turn into a smug little smirk. There's no time to celebrate because as soon as the shock of getting hit passes, Mystia launches a volley of fast bullets in your direction.

Your cloak unfortunately gets nicked by a projectile. Stitching damage after a battle is such a pain. It causes you to intensify your efforts as you dodge and weave through an innumerable amount of colorful curtain fire. The air around you quickly becomes warm from all the activity and you feel the first drop of sweat form on the side of your temple. Mystia scores a slight hit, hitting your leg with a stray bullet. It annoys you that she wasn't even trying to aim for there and just spammed her way to it.

Keeping your composure proves increasingly difficult.

Sweet satisfaction at scoring a few more minor hits turns into controlled caution as Mystia ramps it up again. You can't hear what she says over the sound of your heart pounding in your ears but you're certain she just declared a spellcard. The edges of your field of view darken. Between dodging existing bullets and retaliating, it takes a moment to realize that it's part of her skill. A mess of projectiles, arrow-like and lazily launched in successive strings, wander towards you. The space between them is minimal and, with your vision affected, it takes all your concentration not to get swamped.

Another nick on your cloak. And your leg begins to throb a bit – a delayed reaction to the previous hit. You're certain that Mystia is happily crooning to herself as she keeps up the attack, swaying left and right, lazily dodging your counter fire without a care in the world. There's no choice but to wait her out. Your experience dueling tells you to wait her out instead of being too ambitious given your current limitations.

Sure enough, she runs out of steam. Not that she lets up that easily. Needle-like bullets start forming around her, expanding concentrically towards you. Naturally, she shoots other projectiles to keep the pattern from being too boring. Deciding that a little more sweat is inevitable, you dash closer and dance around her latest emissions with ease while peppering her with small but bothersome attacks. The self-pleased look she has on her face vanishes as she retaliates with a swarm of fast bullets.

That was the opportunity you were going for. You noticed that her fast attacks tended to bunch up in a small cones of area. Once dodged, they leave her open to counterattack. You give it your best to move aside and then focus on delivering your most powerful attack yet. Your heart skips a beat in the short moment between launch and impact, as you dread that maybe you've overplayed your hand. After all, you're open to a similar counterattack by her now.

A direct hit! Mystia takes the full brunt of the attack to her chest. You almost feel bad for her as she loses concentration and falls to the ground, landing with what you imagine is quite a loud thud. The two of you weren't very high up from the ground but the force of your attack no doubt added a lot of speed to her sudden landing. You think the duel over. Even if she still wants to fight that sort of knockout hit usually is good enough to settle disputes in your experience.

Mystia springs back up on her feet, at first with wobbly legs but with clear determination in her eyes. She mouths something. It's not over yet. In a matter of seconds you're sure she's going to attack again. You're tired as it is and you don't think you can last another round with the same level of intensity. Not without it being a full moon and not without committing to going all out.

You take a deep breath as you make a decision.

[] Overwhelm her with another point blank attack before she can retaliate.
[] Take aim at the food stall to catch her off guard before striking
>> No. 26085
[] Overwhelm her with another point blank attack before she can retaliate.
>> No. 26086
[] Overwhelm her with another point blank attack before she can retaliate.
>> No. 26087
[x] Overwhelm her with another point blank attack before she can retaliate.

Attacking the food stall is not only cheating, but a dick move. Let's not be a dick.
>> No. 26088
[X] Overwhelm her with another point blank attack before she can retaliate.

>aim for the food stall

Whoa man, that's a fuckin low blow. Puts a bad taste in my mouth just thinkin about it.
>> No. 26089
[X] Overwhelm her with another point blank attack before she can retaliate.

The other is a dick move.
>> No. 26090
[X] Overwhelm her with another point blank attack before she can retaliate.
>> No. 26091
[x] Take aim at the food stall to catch her off guard before striking
>> No. 26092
Sorry for the radio silence. A personal matter that involved travel and lack of time came up suddenly. Save for a few loose ends, that's mostly taken care of, so resuming a more normal schedule starting tomorrow hopefully.

BTW, Kagerou isn't really a blank slate compared to a lot of OC protagonists in other stories and so with the choices I try to put everything that's reasonable given her mindset and current situation. Her way of looking at the world and how she feels about certain types of things isn't liable to change dramatically in this story given its narrow scope (matter of in-story days) so you guys can't really force her to act in a way that's alien to her. I'll try to do a better job in presenting the characterization in the future in case that's unclear. The choices mostly affect how other characters react and how situations play out than internal character change. I don't want to be accused of influencing votes but, just for perspective, Mystia's initial impression, whether or not there was a fight and its outcome are all dependent on the choices made. So maybe don't be so quick to bandwagon without thinking a bit more about the choices presented and why they're there. It's not that I'm expecting lively discussion or constant self-doubt at all but it makes me wonder if I'm doing something wrong if every choice so far has been virtually unanimous/lopsided.
>> No. 27930
>>26092
You still alive?
>> No. 27931
>>27930
Oh fuck you.
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