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File 14636276153.jpg - (55.25KB, 1100x1100, I have never eaten one.jpg) [iqdb]
26674 No. 26674
Previous Thread: >>26336

[X] Chiyo
[X] Ringo

It takes longer than it probably should to find the medical supplies. Apparently Yuzuki decided at some point in her reorganization that the best place for the supplies to be was wrapped up inside one of the extra tents we have stored in the equipment tent. I didn't know we have the same number of first aid kits as we have extra tents, but I guess that's not the kind of thing that Yuzuki would miss. I could have just asked where to look and found out immediately I guess, but I decided to try figuring it out for myself instead.

Minor injuries like mine aren't really much of a problem for Lunarian medicine. All I really need to do is apply some of the salve stuff that we have. It works pretty much immediately, though it always leaves me with this weird feeling that I'm slightly sticky for a while afterwards. I already feel a little sticky after the whole web thing, but this isn't going to help any.

I decide to just stay in the equipment tent as I patch myself up. It's still raining outside, so I would obviously prefer to be inside somewhere instead of getting wet. This tent works just as well as any other one, plus it lets me put things away more quickly when I'm done.

As I start working on my arms, I hear somebody enter the tent flap. "Hey." It's Chiyo.

I'm actually a little surprised to see Chiyo here. She would typically stay in her tent by herself most nights after we've finished working for the day. I guess the most likely case is that she's here for equipment, given the tent that we're in. "Hey Chi. Did you need something? Yuzuki reorganized a couple days ago, so you might have trouble finding it." I warn her. I know where some of the stuff is at least, so I might be able to help her.

"Nah, just waiting to see if anybody's making dinner." Chiyo says plainly, walking up behind me. Chiyo has a tendency to screw up cooking things a lot, so she usually needs someone to help her or do it for her. I catch the hint that she wants me to do it, but I'm not sure if I'm feeling up for to cook tonight.

"And waiting for the meeting." I suggest. I would think that's kind of the more important thing here.

"Yeah sure," Chiyo responds dismissively. "You think Ringo will be back soon or...?"

"Well I hope so anyway," I answer her. "I know Ringo doesn't like flying around in the rain either, but I doubt that she'll be out for that much longer anyway."

"Alright. That's what I thought, just checking," Chiyo nods to herself and sits on one of the smaller stacks of crates. "I was pretty sure nothing had thrown off my sense of time."

"You've actually been doing really well lately." I try to encourage her. It's true as well, there have only been a couple of times lately when I noticed her reactions being slower or faster than normal.

"I was pretty off when I was at that hermit's house, but yeah I guess so." Chiyo flops onto her back and stares at the ceiling while she talks. "It's just because we've kept so busy. I don't think it will last. I'll probably have an off day pretty soon."

"We were busy before all this started happening though, weren't we?" Gathering information was different than trying to find each other, but it still kept us out all day most of the time.

Chiyo makes a non-committal grunt. I kind of understand what she's getting at though. Even though we were working every day, it was a lot easier before when we were stealthed. Then we knew that youkai weren't going to find us, so there was one less reason to worry. We're a bit more on edge now, though I will say I think things have gone pretty well so far. Nothing's tried to eat us yet at least.

I feel like it's on me to continue the conversation, which I guess is fine. I haven't gotten a lot of chances to talk to just Chiyo lately. "So how do you feel about the whole situation with us being stuck here?" I ask. I haven't really heard her opinion on things.

There's a brief pause, but I think it's more Chiyo thinking about how to respond than her power messing with her. "I think command isn't gonna come get us." She says plainly.

"Chiyo!" I try to cut her off quickly. I admit it's probably more because I'm uncomfortable than because I think she's wrong. I've had that thought before, but it was more just me worrying. It was DEFINITELY not correct.

"No, think about it," Chiyo continues. "You said Reisen was in and out of the portal in a couple of hours right? That's not enough time for one rabbit with no gear to do much damage to the capital. It wouldn't have taken them days to get comms working again, even in an emergency situation."

I don't actually know exactly how the comms work exactly, but I have to admit that Chiyo has a point. "So you think they're just not letting us use them? Why?" I ask. I can't really think of a good reason for that.

"Dunno. Maybe they're planning a big surprise party for us because of how good a job we've been doing." Anybody could guess that Chiyo was being sarcastic despite how completely deadpan she says it, but that's probably not necessary given how absurd the idea is. "They've obviously got some plan anyway, and my money is on them just leaving us here."

"That seems like a pretty big waste of resources," I say, glancing at the crates full of equipment we had moved here. It is pretty old I admit, but I still don't think that command would just throw it away. "And it's not like we've done anything wrong to get exiled over." I add.

There's another pause. "Well we are the weird ones. If they don't need us, why keep us? Rabbits are disposable as far as they're concerned." She says quietly. Wow. I had known that Chiyo had some issues with how she had been treated back on the moon, I think most of us do, but I didn't expect her to have so little faith in command.

I'm not really sure what to say to that, so I let the silence hang while I finish up applying salve to my legs. I idly watch the cuts and scrapes disappear while I think about things. Before I can think of anything to respond with though, I'm interrupted by Ringo bursting into the tent. I'm glad there's only a tent flap there because I'm pretty sure she would have broken down a door.

"Good evening ladies!" Ringo seems to be in a good mood. "Hope you guys got a lot done today!"

"Did you get a lot done today?" Chiyo asks bluntly. Pretty sure she doesn't think Ringo did. I don't know if I think she did either, but I guess that's what the meeting is for.

"A bit." Ringo says happily before waves her arms in the air a bit and then pointing at the ground. That's the kind of thing that Yuzuki will definitely notice and take as a signal to come here, so I guess we're having the meeting in the equipment tent.

"Where did you go today?" I ask. Considering that Sumi isn't here, it's pretty obvious that Ringo didn't find her either, but that wasn't really Ringo's objective today. She had only vaguely said that she wanted to do something productive. That could really mean anything.

"Ah ah ah," Ringo wags her finger at me playfully. "Wait until the meeting starts. Just for that, I'm making you go first." I sigh at that, but I guess it's not really a big deal. She probably would have made me go first anyway.

-

Once Yuzuki joins us, Ringo pulls a crate down from the top of a large stack and sits on it just so she doesn't have to stand for the whole meeting. I can see Yuzuki twitch slightly at the disturbance to her organization system, but she doesn't actually say anything. She may have wanted to, but Ringo starts things off before she can.

"So! This shouldn't be too long of a meeting, unless you guys broke off and did separate things that I don't know about I guess," Ringo begins casually. "What did you guys do today then?"

She did say that it was my turn first, so I begin explaining our day today. "Well, like we said this morning, we were going to try the Moriya shrine to see if they knew anything useful."

"It turned out the answer to that was no." Yuzuki adds. I feel like that's a little bit too blunt, but maybe Yuzuki is still a little annoyed about how things went with the Hina issue.

"Well, kind of yeah," I continue. "It was still worth the trip though. We got a chance to speak with the goddess of that shrine, and she agreed to help search for Sumi on our behalf."

That catches Ringo's interest I guess. "Huh, just like that?"

"Apparently they feel somewhat responsible for not destroying the drone quickly, so we had some bargaining power," I still feel a little bit awkward about the lie, but I have to get used to it. "She did also ask for some information about the drone itself though, so I gave her a little bit but not enough to give anything away."

"What do you think she's going to do with that info?" Ringo asks cautiously.

"I don't know. Apparently she thinks it's a kappa project and wanted to know about it so she can find out who's responsible," I explain, then add a bit more. "She's also just interested in technology I guess."

Ringo folds her arms over her chest and thinks for a second. "Hm... That might actually be an issue," She says thoughtfully. "The kappa have the drone now. If that goddess goes and talks to them, then it'll definitely look like it's theirs. They can deny it, but then they'll just look like liars."

"So what?" Chiyo asks, finally sitting up on her crate. "Let the goddess and the kappa work it out, we can pretend to not be involved. It's not our problem."

Ringo thinks about it a bit more before speaking again. "Hmm... How long did she say it would take her to get information?"

"She wants to meet us again in two days." I say. I hadn't actually thought about this issue, so I guess it's good that Ringo brought it up.

"Well, we'll have to decide what we want to do soon then," Ringo finishes, unfolding her arms and going back to being casual. "We can let the kappa take the fall, or we can try to take the drone back and throw everybody off the trail. If we're going to do anything though, it'll probably have to be tomorrow. As early as possible."

The rest of us look at each other. Chiyo already said how she feels about it, but I'm not exactly sure myself. If we don't take the drone back it could get confiscated by Kanako, but would that even be worse than the kappa? My gut tells me yes, just because she's probably more important, but that doesn't necessarily mean that she'd be able to link it back to us either. I'll have to think about it.

"So, anything else?" Ringo asks. I think she knows that couldn't have possibly taken the whole day.

"Chiyo had the idea to check the caves on the base of the mountain's other side, so we went down there for the rest of the day." I explain.

"Guessing Sumi wasn't down there then." Ringo says jokingly. It's pretty obvious considering the whole 'Sumi not being here' thing.

I still shake my head before replying. "Turns out there's a whole city of youkai who don't get along well with humans and other youkai down there though." I say.

"And Seiran cuddled with one of them for a while." Chiyo adds suddenly.

Okay hold on now, Ringo why are you looking so interested suddenly? Chiyo is lying! "She caught me when I fell down." I say clearly. That's the truth after all. I don't have to mention the flirting. Flirting is not at all the same thing as cuddling!

"And held you close until you had to part, staring romantically out over the city as you snuggled into her arms." Chiyo sighs dreamily before shooting me a smirk.

"That is not what happened." I say tersely. This isn't fair. Ringo and Chiyo are both smiling smugly at me, while Yuzuki appears to be pretending to ignore the conversation. I guess I can't count on any help from her when I also joined in on teasing her about Hina. The best thing I can think to do is keep the conversation focused on business. "Anyway! I was told it would be fine for us to come back any time, so I guess we could consider it a safe area. The chances of anyone underground knowing what moon rabbits are is probably pretty slim. Actually some of them probably don't even know what the moon is."

Ringo laughs slightly. "Okay, might be useful to know I guess. Anything else?" I guess she's not going to continue the teasing, which I appreciate.

"No. I got injured in the cave, so we had to come back here," I answer, happy to move on away from the Yamame thing. "We decided to wait for you to come back after that."

"Alright then," Ringo claps her hands as she gets started on her own day. "Since you were talking about a city you went to, I'll talk about the city I went to. Well, it was actually a village, and it was full of humans."

Wait, really? "THE human village?" I ask, I think I sound a bit more incredulous than I should sound, but I'm just surprised that she would go there on her own without telling anybody. It's the largest human population center in Gensokyo after all.

"Yeah," Ringo says casually. "It was pretty interesting."

"Aren't we supposed to be avoiding contact with Earthlings as much as possible?" Yuzuki asks.

"I don't think we have much chance of doing that when you consider how many youkai and humans and goddesses and whatever else we've already talked to. We're definitely here now, we can't just pretending to be stealthed when we're not is probably going to just be more suspicious," Ringo justifies herself, but continues before anyone can argue against her. "Anyway, I hid my ears and tail and tried to act as human as possible. Nobody called me on it so maybe they didn't figure out I was a youkai. I saw a few people that were hiding it a lot worse than me at least, so I guess the humans there are somewhat used to having some youkai around."

There are multiple things there that I want to comment on, but I'm not sure what to say. Before I can decide Chiyo speaks up. "What did you think you were gonna do there?"

"Information. Gathering." Ringo says confidently, punctuating both words clearly.

Chiyo doesn't seem impressed. "And what information did you gather then?" She asks.

"Well, it's... A work in progress," Ringo hesitantly explains. So that means nothing then? "I picked up bits and pieces of info, but nothing worth talking about yet. I was mostly trying to figure out who the important people I should pay attention to are. Part of the information gathering process is learning who has the information after all, and I also did get a better idea of human youkai relations in the largest human population center."

She's not exactly wrong I guess, but I just don't really see that helping that much. "Would command even care about that?" I ask her. I already know the answer.

Ringo ignores the question though. "We need to care about it. There's lots of humans. There's lots of youkai. The more we know about how those two groups interact, the better we can act like normal youkai and blend in. It's a long term thing."

I can at least see the logic she's following, but for the second day in a row, it just kind of feels like this was something that Ringo wanted to do, did, and then made up the justification for later. Maybe I should put more pressure on her in the future. I look at Yuzuki and Chiyo, who both give me some kind of meaningful look back. I'm pretty sure they both agree.

Still, what's done is done, and Ringo seems to be in a good mood about it, so I don't make an argument out of it. At the very least, what we accomplished today got us help in finding Sumi, so even if Ringo isn't being that productive, we're still better off than yesterday. Ringo adjourns the meeting soon quickly after nobody argues with her more.

-

Yuzuki and Chiyo both leave the equipment tent to head back to their own tents. When they leave I notice the weather outside. It seems that the rain has slowed down to a point where it's pretty much negligible, and is probably going to end entirely in a couple of minutes. I walk over to the tent flap, holding it open as I watch the sky. I kind of hope that the clouds will break up enough to see the moon tonight.

I hear some slight shuffling as Ringo stands up and walks up to my side. "Here. Got this for you. Well, really I got it hoping you would share it with me. I already ate mine. Try one though." She pulls out a paper bag from her pocket and hands it to me.

I look inside the bag and find it filled with little colored circles. Dango. "How did you get these?" I haven't made more yet, and I don't bother to color the ones that I make.

Ringo doesn't really answer me. "Just try one." She prompts again. I shrug and eat a dango. "Good, right?"

It's good. I would like to say that mine are better, but I'm both biased and probably lying. Well I guess it wouldn't be a lie exactly. Opinions aren't lies really. I nod anyway, trying not to look to reluctant about it.

Ringo smiles. "That's what I thought too. It's not filled with love like yours, but it's good." She exaggerates the cooking with love thing again, but I ignore it.

"How did you get these?" I ask again.

"Bought 'em."

Ringo that's not enough of an explanation. "Where did you get human money?" I continue.

"Remember this morning when I was arm wrestling Cirno? That made me think about it and I realized I could probably beat anybody in an arm wrestling contest when I have some dango." Oh no... "So I went and found the loudest, proudest, most obnoxious looking guy I could find and challenged him to a contest for some money. You know the type, one that wouldn't be able to refuse."

"And you won." I finish for her. It's pretty obvious anyway.

"Well, I did yeah, but that's not really the whooooole story." Ringo says slyly. She seems to be having fun at least. "Turns out the loudest, proudest, most obnoxious guy I could find was probably not the best target. When he lost he didn't take it well. I had to rough him up a bit, but it was all in self defence anyway."

"Ringo!" That is not okay.

"Well what else was I gonna do?" Ringo doesn't sound the least bit bothered by my outburst. "The guy was angry. He would've beat me up if I didn't get him first."

"Ugh..." I just sigh.

"Yeah I wasn't happy about it either. I think next time I go there I'm gonna wear a disguise or something. You know where I can get a big bushy moustache? Maybe a top hat?" Ringo laughs to herself.

"Don't you think you're having a bit too much fun?" I feel like I have to ask. This is another thing that's been done, so I can't change it. I'll just have to be careful about letting Ringo do whatever she wants later.

"No such thing."

"Ringo..."

"It's not like I'm not working too. Okay, I will admit that I got a little carried away today, but I couldn't help it. Everything was so noisy and interesting and full of people. It just felt so much more... Alive than home." Ringo explains, somewhat losing steam near the end when she can't figure out how to phrase what she wants to say.

I don't really know how to respond to that, and I don't try very hard. I let the silence hang for a minute before I have an idea. The rain outside has stopped, so there's no reason to stay in the equipment tent now. "I think I will share these." I say happily, holding up the paper bag that's still full of dango.

"Yes!" Ringo says excitedly.

"With Chiyo. She said she was hungry." I walk off quickly towards Chiyo's tent, letting Ringo chase after me. Hey, she said they were for me, I should be able to do what I want!

[ ] Can't sleep
[ ] BANG
[ ] Practice
205posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 26950
[x] Leave camp while Yuzuki and Chiyo stay behind
- [x] Head to the Moriya Shrine
>> No. 26951
[x] Leave camp while Yuzuki and Chiyo stay behind
- [x] Head to the Moriya Shrine

Phew! Finally caught up from the beginning. Congrats on being one of the few stories worth following still active at the moment.

Anyway, I hate jumping on the bandwagon here, especially since getting more of a handle on Hina's situation might be a good thing, but we do need Ringo, and settling Yuzuki's little personal issues would be hypocritical after calling Ringo out.
>> No. 26952
File 147061987428.png - (403.23KB, 700x466, Officially Unofficial.png) [iqdb]
26952
[X] Leave camp while Yuzuki and Chiyo stay behind
- [X] Head to the Moriya Shrine

I've been thinking about each one individually, and honestly, I really would like everyone to come along. If I'm deciding things rationally though, there isn't really that much of a need to bring them all. If I'm going to screw everything up by saying something stupid (which is entirely possible) then it's probably going to happen regardless of how many other rabbits are around. I'm not really expecting anything dangerous to happen, so the marginal benefit of bringing more rabbits along is probably much lower than the benefit of having some of them stay behind at camp.

"Well, I have some idea on what I'd suggest," I think about it a moment before actually listing off my idea though. "Maybe we should get Ringo up first."

"She's gonna go along with whatever you say." Chiyo reminds me.

"That's not necessarily true," I counter. Ringo has disagreed with me in the past. Mostly that only happens when she has to be a tie breaker though. "And even if she does, getting her up now means I don't have to explain my reasoning twice." That's probably the main reason to wait.

"Fine. Not it though." Chiyo says bluntly, going back to her oatmeal.

Getting up Ringo isn't difficult. In fact, it's surprising how fast she's up and about considering how lazy she normally is. I don't think she's actually all that bad with mornings, she just acts like she is so we don't have any expectation of her waking up on her own. Once I've woken her up, Ringo joins us at the table with her oversized bowl of oatmeal. Okay, let's get the discussion started again then.

"There isn't much to say about the plan for today is there?" Ringo asks once she hears what we're talking about. "We just pop up the the shrine, hear what the goddess there found, and go from there."

"In general, yes. We were speaking more specifically." Yuzuki clarifies.

Ringo nods. "Keep speaking then." She says before she starts eating.

"Fine," I wasn't expecting much more from her initially anyway. "I was thinking that you and I could go there after you've finished eating."

"Just you two?" Yuzuki asks.

"Well it's not like we're doing anything dangerous. If she found Sumi, then we're just picking her up and coming back. If she didn't find Sumi, then she'll tell us that and we'll come back," I explain. In most cases, we shouldn't actually be there for very long, so why not get the others started on something else while they wait? "It seems like there could be a more productive use of everyone's time."

"Then why should both of you go?" Yuzuki continues her questions. "Wouldn't one person suffice?"

"Well..." She has a point. I mostly just wanted to have Ringo with me in the case of more discussion happening. Last time, Kanako's demeanor made it kind of difficult to talk to her. Ringo would probably be better equipped to deal with that than anyone else. Thinking about it though, I hope that Ringo doesn't think I'm just trying to babysit her after our discussion last night. I didn't really mean it like that.

"I'd like to meet the goddess there actually," Oh nice, rather than thinking I was trying to keep an eye on her, Ringo gives an explanation for me. "If she's the big bad authority figure or whatever for this mountain, it might be a good idea to stop by and say hey. Seiran should still come though, since it'd be weird if nobody was there from the last time you guys went."

"Well, I suppose so..." I guess that satisfies Yuzuki's questions, now to move on to the other idea I had.

"What's the more productive thing we're supposed to do then?" Chiyo helpfully provides me with a nice lead in.

I have a feeling they might not be too thrilled about the idea, but I had decided that the equipment we have should probably be moved more out of sight. "Well, I had this idea last night about moving the equipment into the bunker."

"Oh, you too? Nice, we got that brainwave thing going," Ringo laughs. "I was originally gonna have this be the punishment for you guys all running away when Reisen showed up, but I couldn't think of a good way to make it actually that punishing. Probably better to do it now than wait until somebody pokes their nose in the wrong place."

"Ugh... Do we have to?" Chiyo groans. She's not exactly the best equipped for a lot of heavy lifting and moving stuff, so I can at least understand that.

"We need to hide our tech," I explain. "It's just sitting out in the open right now. Any random fairy could sneak in and steal things while we're gone." That's exactly what happened before, and we're kind of lucky that it hasn't happened again by now.

"Hey, at least you have Yuzuki here to make sure everything'll be all organized and convenient to get to." Ringo laughs. I'm pretty sure she's being sarcastic. Moving all the equipment underground is definitely going to make it harder to grab things on short notice, but I think it's still a worthwhile thing to do.

"Into the bunker..." Yuzuki mumbles to herself. "The space is sufficient to fit everything, but if I just stuff it in there's no way it would work out correctly. I'll definitely need to reorganize what's in each crate first before I decide how to store them... Actually, with the size of the bunker... I may need to get one of the shovels."

Chiyo groans again, but doesn't argue more. I feel a bit bad for her, but it's all for the sake of efficiency.

-

"I just don't want you to think that I don't trust you." While we're flying over to the Moriya shrine, I'm trying to explain to Ringo my motivation for asking her to come today. Maybe I'm not using the best words for it though. I'm not always the best at this sort of thing.

"Nah, it's fine Seiran," Ringo assures me casually, glancing over her shoulder to talk as she flies in front of me. "I told you you could call me out on it, so I don't mind you not giving me a chance for it to come up either."

-"I didn't mean it like that!"

Ringo just laughs. "I know, I know. I'm just messing with you."

That's good. I mean, I really should have known that Ringo wouldn't be mad. Ringo and I have known each other for a long, long time now. Having an argument like the one from last night isn't really anything that either of us would hold against the other for very long. I'm just being too sensitive to things again. I really shouldn't be, it's not like Ringo ever really gets mad. That would compromise her constant state of being chilled out.

-

We land in about the same place as last time we came here, on the main path between the entrance and large shrine building thing. Just like last time, it looks like Sanae is out sweeping up. Does she have to do that every day? It's outdoors, so it's not like she's going to be able to keep things clean for very long. Especially when you consider all the leaves that are falling in the area now. This just makes shrine maidening look like pretty tedious work.

"Good morning!" I call out to the girl, breaking what little focus she had toward her sweeping.

"Ah, welcome back!" Sanae responds happily, closing the distance between us. "Seiran, right? And this is?" Sanae glances between us.

"Yo." Ringo introduces herself happily. "Just another rabbit here with her. I'm Ringo. Seiran wanted me to come along when we met with your boss again. Is she in?"

"Okay, welcome to the Moriya shrine Ringo," Sanae enthusiastically greets us. "Yes, Lady Kanako should be available now. We expected you to come by sometime today, so she told me to just come get her when you showed up."

"Don't suppose she had another rabbit back with her then?" Ringo asks hopefully.

"Well no, not exactly," I guess it can't be that easy, can it? I suppress a sigh. "She said she had news for you, and that she wanted to sit down and talk for a bit though. If you would follow me, I can set that up now if you'd like."

"Sure, let's go." Ringo decides immediately.

"Thank you Sanae." I add for her.

Sanae leads us up the stairs and into the building at the end of the path. I guess this would be a worship hall or something? We didn't go inside last time, but looking at it now, this is really just a big empty building. Sure, there's all kinds of elaborate decorations hanging from the walls, but any religious significance is definitely going to be lost on me. I can at least recognize the rope stuff hanging up as being the same kind as the big rope circle thing that Kanako had on her. Anyway if you ignore how big some of these wooden pillar things are, I guess this kind of building would be really useful if you wanted to address a bunch of followers or something. It just seems a bit too large for a shrine that currently has no visitors.

As if she's reading my mind (or maybe she just saw some look on my face) Sanae starts speaking. "It's lucky for you that you came by early like this. We don't get a lot of visitors first thing in the morning. Lady Kanako isn't busy right now." Oh yeah, I guess it would be hard for most people to get up the mountain this early if they couldn't fly. Being a human must be tough.

We continue following Sanae up a small set of stairs onto a raised platform on the far side of the room. It's kind of like a stage, but I'd guess it's not really used for shows or anything like that. Maybe ceremonies and announcements to the followers or whatever else it's needed for. Ringo and I are instructed to wait here while Sanae drags out a low table and some cushions. I guess we're going to sit down and have a chat here, though I would think that would look pretty awkward if a worshipper came in and saw us. Not my decision either way.

"Guess this isn't as easy as just saying 'hey you can just go over there and scoop your rabbit back up' then?" Ringo guesses as she plops down at the table.

"Unfortunately not," Sanae answers with a slightly uncomfortable smile. "If the two of you could wait here, I'll let Lady Kanako know that you're here."

"Okay, thank you very much." I say, sitting down next to Ringo as Sanae walks away.

There's a wait of a couple of minutes where Ringo looks around the room curiously. Once some time passes though, we're eventually joined by Sanae again, along with Kanako. It looks like she's still got that big rope thing. I wonder how heavy that is. It's probably fine considering that she's a goddess, but it seems a bit excessive. I guess it probably helps more to make her already imposing figure seem more intimidating or something.

Greetings and names between Ringo and Kanako are exchanged normally. I notice that unlike me, Ringo doesn't seem at all put off by having to give a plain introduction after Kanako's lofty title. I guess she really is used to this kind of thing from dealing with Lunarians more than I do. I have to hope that she can stay in a good position between casual and formal though, because it seems like we actually are sitting down for a discussion. Well, all of us but Sanae are at least. Kanako sends her away with a request for tea.

"I will start off by saying that yes, your friend has been located," Once we're seated, Kanako starts off the talk with good news. "There are some complications, but she is alive and unharmed."

Even though Sumi is obviously not here, I still feel some amount of relief. "That's good."

"So where is she?" Ringo asks.

Kanako doesn't look thrilled with what she's about to say, but does so calmly. "She is currently being held by the tengu. Within one of their prisons."

Oh no. "What did she do?"

"The tengu are very sensitive about maintaining their very rigid territorial borders. Borders that your companion decided to ignore. She was originally removed from the area with a warning, but apparently chose not to acknowledge it," Kanako explains. Damn it Sumi! "Once she was caught trespassing for the third time, they decided that she would be detained."

"Yup, that sounds like Sumi." Ringo says amusedly. She looks like she wants to laugh about it, but I just want to groan. I appreciate Sumi having been so set on coming to help me, but it doesn't make any difference if she gets herself jailed doing it.

"If that weren't enough," Kanako continues without acknowledging our reactions. "It also seems that your companion has outright refused to answer any questions about her actions or intent. Even after I explained the situation to them, it seems that the tengu are still highly suspicious of her motivations."

"So they wouldn't just give her up for free then?" Ringo more states than asks.

Kanako nods, folding her arms in front of her chest and looking slightly irritated. I don't think it's at us though. "They may believe that they can extract some kind of information of value from her, or perhaps they are simply holding her out of spite for the time and energy that went into her questioning. Regardless of the reasoning, it seems that they're reluctant to just give her up without getting some benefit from her capture. Simply because I inquired about her, she's become something of a bargaining chip."

"Why do you need to bargain? Don't you have the authority to just tell them to let her go?" She's in charge right? Wouldn't you normally want to listen to a goddess that you worship?

"The relationship between our shrine and the tengu leadership could barely be called a working relationship," Sanae says, coming back into the room with a tray of teacups. "I think they dislike that they're not the highest authority on the mountain anymore."

"Sanae." Kanako says sternly as she grabs and positions her teacup in front of her. I guess Sanae was speaking out of turn there. As Sanae sits down at the unoccupied side of the table looking admonished, Kanako turns back to Ringo and I. "What she says is true though. I could potentially maneuver to have your friend released as early as today, but there would be a certain amount of political give and take involved."

Okay? Is she saying she can do it or not? Why even ask us? "What does that have to do with us?"

"She wants to use us to cut her losses." Ringo answers me quickly before turning back to Kanako. "You want us to do something for you so that we get what we want, and you come out even on the whole situation."

"As you say." Kanako replies, taking a sip of her tea before she continues. "During my search, I came to understand that you rabbits are something of an unknown factor. You were unheard of to all of the groups that I spoke to. This lack of affiliation gives you a strong value for performing services while maintaining low political visibility."

"Ah, so you want us to do something you don't want associated with your shrine?" It sounds a bit sleazy when you say it like that Ringo.

"Somewhat, but not exactly," Kanako clarifies as I drink some tea. Woah, I actually like this stuff a lot! I'll have to ask Sanae about it later. "It is simply a task that would be easier to accomplish for unaffiliated youkai such as yourself. It's nothing untoward, of course. As an important authority figure in Gensokyo, I have a need to keep myself abreast of all significant goings on here. What I would require from you would be that you gather some information on a certain faction and report it back to me."

That was a lot of words that were probably more complicated than they needed to be. She could have just said that we're unknown, so she wants us to do spy work while that's still the case. This actually sounds right up our alley. We were already trained for this sort of thing. "Who would we be checking into then?" I ask. Don't say Eientei. Don't say Eientei. Don't say Eientei. Don't-

"I unfortunately, would need your agreement to the task before I could go too deeply into the specifics." Kanako gives an answer that isn't really an answer.

"What? Why?" It's better than her saying Eientei, but still...

"Because if she tells us right now and we refuse to do it, then we can go tattle on her and make her look bad," Ringo turns to me again to explain. "She wants us to either agree right now and know that we'll do it, or refuse the offer before we know enough to be dangerous, am I right?"

"In so many words, you are correct, yes. If you agree to fulfill my request, I can get your companion released by the end of the day." Kanako confirms. I guess it makes sense, but I don't know if I like agreeing to a job before I know what it is. She's already said that it's something well suited to youkai like us, so it shouldn't be incredibly dangerous or anything, but it's hard to commit to something we don't know anything about.

"It's interesting that you're even giving us a choice though." Ringo continues on.

"Pardon?"

"Well I'm sure that you have to realize that leaving Sumi in jail isn't an acceptable outcome for us here," Ringo idly traces her finger around the rim of her teacup as she talks. You could at least drink some of that, you know? "You could have just sat us down and said 'alright, this is what you're going to do for me so I can bust your friend out'. You didn't do that though, which makes it seem like there's another option here."

"Hm." Kanako pauses to drink her tea again. "Well, the option still exists to end my involvement here. I finished my obligation to you already. You requested that I find your friend, and I have done so. The matter of freeing her from the tengu could simply be your own dilemma."

"Leaving it up to us huh?" Ringo says plainly. "Anything you could tell us that would help with that?"

Kanako thinks for a moment before responding. "Well, you could make your own attempt at getting her lawfully released. She did little other than repeated trespassing as far as I know, and could likely be freed with proper negotiation and penance to the tengu themselves. They can be a bit difficult to work with, but officially, I believe that would be the best option for you should you wish to resolve this issue by yourselves." She reasons calmly.

"Right, officially," Ringo finally grabs her teacup and takes a huge gulp of tea before she continues. "Is there anything you want to say unofficially then?"

Kanako smirks at Ringo as she responds. "Regardless of what we decide here, I was planning to return to the tengu's village later today in order to give my answer to their proposed terms. In some misguided attempt at a display of power, a larger than normal number of tengu guards may be kept busy and away from their patrols by such a meeting. It is not my responsibility to police the actions of all youkai, nor is it my concern that their prisons remain secure at all times; however, I will note that some sort of accident during that time may teach the tengu an important lesson in humility." Ringo laughs out loud at that.

It sounds like Kanako is proposing that we could bust Sumi out of jail ourselves, and would even keep some of the guards there busy while we did it. That's more of an infiltration mission, but it's also something that we've had training in how to do. We also have a pretty decent amount of information about the tengu's village from our own information gathering activities. I think it could be possible for us to pull something like this off, but is obviously pretty risky if we get caught.

"Hmmm..." Ringo pauses to finish the rest of her tea. Did you really just drink all of that in two mouthfuls? You could at least try to enjoy it a bit. "What do you think Seiran?"

Well, I'm not really sure. Just going along with whatever information gathering Kanako requests from us would at least guarantee that we'd have Sumi back as soon as possible. There's the big unknown of what exactly we'd be doing for her request though. I don't think it's going to be something impossible for us though. Kanako seems to think that we can do it, and that's without her knowing about our decades of training in information gathering. Working with her directly also probably has some effect on future negotiations towards the Hina situation as well, though I don't know if it would help or hurt us on that front.

Handling the situation by ourselves is also risky, but in a different way. Trying to do the official method that Kanako mentioned would mean that we're not antagonizing anyone, but there's no guarantee that we'll get Sumi back if we mess up. We'd have to fall back on another method if negotiations don't pan out, and we would definitely lose some opportunities in the meantime. Either of the other two options would probably become more costly or difficult to pull off. I don't have a lot of confidence in us being able to talk Sumi out of jail, especially given our lack of bargaining power, but it's an option to consider still.

We could also try the unofficial method that Kanako hinted at but would definitely prefer we didn't claim that she suggested. It does mean counting on Kanako to be discreet, and the risk of getting caught is also there. This one might be the highest risk option. I'm still surprisingly confident in our ability to pull it off though. We do have a significant head start on an infiltration into the tengu's village due to previously gathered information. The reward of having Sumi back without officially being tied to the Moriya shrine is also probably the best reward we can get out of this.

Let's...

[ ] Agree to gather information for Kanako
[ ] Try to resolve this ourselves
- [ ] Officially
- [ ] Unofficially
[ ] Something else (Write in)
>> No. 26953
[x] Agree to gather information for Kanako

There is a slight flaw in Kanako's plan. Just because we agree to spy on people for Kanako doesn't necessarily mean we actually have to go through with it. Kanako will have to tell us who she wants us to spy on eventually. When she does, there is nothing stopping us from deciding not to do it if it is completely suicidal. Also, once she does tell us, we could just go tell whoever we are supposed to be spying on and tattle on Kanako then. Sure, not doing it is a bit dishonorable, but we still have the option of breaking Sumi out ourselves if helping Kanako would be suicide.
>> No. 26954
>>26953
This is true, and I probably should have included it in Seiran's thought process. There is no obligation here other than a promise. Breaking the agreement does imply that you're okay with making an enemy of the Moriya shrine though, which could be a big disadvantage RE: the Hina situation.

Worth discussion if the option wins.
>> No. 26955
[X] Agree to gather information for Kanako

Going to have to take the safe-ish option here. I think it'd be too suspicious if an unknown rabbit got broken out of a tengu prison, even if the guard was lowered.
>> No. 26956
[x] Agree to gather information for Kanako
- [x] Find some way to make it blow up in her face if things go egg-shaped

Not even beginning to assume good faith here.
>> No. 26957
[x] Agree to gather information for Kanako

Sure fine whatever.
>> No. 26958
[X] Agree to gather information for Kanako
>> No. 26959
[x] Try to resolve this ourselves officially

How much weight do their accusation have? How much of a bargaining chip she becomes if It turns out Kanako wasn't the interested party? The answer to both is not much. We have a chance.
>> No. 26960
[X] Agree to gather information for Kanako
>> No. 26961
[x] Agree to gather information for Kanako

It feels like we'd have better success at going for the Unofficial route at a jailbreak, in which case Kanako would be doing us a favour with no compensation.

Though making deals with her from the start was a little iffy, at least the other route means she hasn't got the advantage on us.
>> No. 26962
[x] Agree to gather information for Kanako
-[x] If it's about Hina, make up some information
-[x] If it's about Eientei, camp in the village instead
>> No. 26963
File 147088398575.jpg - (660.73KB, 1500x2132, I came here to talk at you.jpg) [iqdb]
26963
[X] Agree to gather information for Kanako

I only have to think about it a bit more before I forcibly shake my head, clearing out all the considerations I had. "No. We shouldn't be taking risks or messing around when it's Sumi's safety on the line," I decide out loud. "If there's a guaranteed way to get her back, then we should go with that, even if we don't exactly know what it entails."

Ringo stops staring at the ceiling long enough to respond to me. "Yeeeeeah. I guess that's a fair call. Personally I think we could pull any of them off, but you're probably right that this is safest. I'm sure Sumi'll appreciate it too," She says, sitting back up and facing me. "Shame, no dramatic jail break sequence. Maybe next time then?"

I'm not really sure when there would be a next time. In fact I really hope there isn't. I still find myself nodding awkwardly to her without really thinking about it though. Whatever. Ringo seems satisfied with my response.

"Welp, you heard the girl." Ringo turns back to Kanako and smiles. "Looks like we're in business." She holds a hand out, which Kanako quickly takes to seal the deal.

"Very good then," Kanko says, offering me a handshake as well. Does Sanae want in on this? Doesn't seem like it. "I will still need to go back to the tengu village and bargain for your friend's release today. I can't give an exact time frame, but I believe I should have her back here by the mid-afternoon to early evening. I imagine you won't want to wait around here all day."

"Nah, we got other stuff we can get done. Maybe even get started on whatever you've got for us or something." Ringo says. Yeah, it's probably better that we don't hang out here and waste time.

Kanako nods in understanding. "Of course, will someone be coming to pick your companion up or...?"

"You can just let her go when you get her." Ringo quickly dismisses the hanging question.

"That seems... Ill-advised."

Ringo shrugs nonchalantly. "It's fine. Assuming that the tengu aren't just going to scoop her back up, which I'm pretty sure you'll make sure doesn't happen, she'll be able to find us on her own."

Kanako looks skeptical about how flippant Ringo is being, but surprisingly doesn't continue the line of conversation. Ringo is correct that Sumi should have no problem getting back to us, but Kanako doesn't know that. As far as she knows, we're still moving around looking for somewhere to settle. I don't know if Ringo knows what Kanako doesn't know though, you know? Uh, nevermind.

"Anyway," I think there's another important part to the deal here. I kinda want to know what we've just talked our way into doing. I just hope it isn't anything secretly suicidal. I don't know if the anxiety is warranted, but it's definitely here now. "That's fine on our end. What did you need us to investigate for you?"

Kanako appears like she's about to answer me, but gets sidetracked for a moment. "You don't have to look like that, I'm not asking you to do anything dangerous. If anything, you might even enjoy the assignment."

"She worries about stuff a lot," Ringo explains for me. I don't like it, but I do have to admit that she's right. "And she sometimes doesn't notice what she's doing with her face." Wait, am I really that bad about it?

Seeming satisfied with Ringo's explanation, Kanako actually answers me this time. "Have you heard of the Grassroots Youkai Network?" Well, okay, it's more like she answers me with a question but close enough. She's obviously going somewhere with this.

Ringo and I both don't answer, which is easy enough for Kanako to interpret as a negative.

"I assumed as much," Kanako said, taking a moment to clear her throat before beginning a story. "Two years ago, a small group of weak youkai somehow came to know each other and formed something of a small alliance. Around that same time, be it before or after, these founding youkai also got a bit too much magical power in their systems. This lead them to the strange conclusion that they could and should overthrow human society of all things. Obviously this idea failed during the course of that incident being resolved. The youkai involved were swiftly quelled, and the group went inactive soon after. At least, that's how it seemed."

Ringo and I don't interrupt, so Kanako sees this as a good enough reason to continue talking.

"It turns out that while their original purpose has been lost, they have continued on and have now grown into an entirely different type of organization. This is all hearsay of course, but it seems to have become a group of relatively civilized youkai meeting together periodically for some reason or another. There have been small mentions of them here and there recently, as it seems that their numbers have grown substantially in the two years since their original founding."

This is something entirely new to me, and I'm not sure whether that makes them more or less dangerous. "Where did you hear about them then?" Ringo asks.

"Reimu mentioned it to me once," Sanae offers from the side. "Apparently she found out about it somehow and went to check them out. She didn't mention having to use force to break them up or anything, so I suppose she didn't think they were out of line."

Kanako doesn't reprimand Sanae for suddenly joining back into the conversation this time, instead adding on to what she said immediately. "However, something being out of line to the Hakurei is largely based off of how many complaints she's getting about the subject. She likes to put up a pretense of always acting for the good of Gensokyo as a whole, but is more often than not motivated by maintaining public relations for herself and her shrine. All that her not acting on it means is that they are not currently causing problems for the human populace. The group's actual aim is still questionable."

I don't know enough about the Hakurei shrine maiden to know if she's lying or not here. I guess we can believe that for now, since it doesn't make a huge difference right now anyway. "So what do you want from them?" Ringo continues her questioning while I think to myself.

"The Grassroots Youkai Network represents a potentially dangerous unknown in the already delicate political situation of Gensokyo, much like yourselves but on a larger scale," I don't think we're that dangerous. Wait no, we were actually trying to purify the Earth and everything. Nevermind. If anything, we're probably even more dangerous. Or at least we would be if we could contact Command. "Alliances between youkai are usually either small enough to not become an issue, large enough to be broken up by the Hakurei, become largely insular like the tengu and kappa, or dissolve on their own due to the nature of the youkai involved. It's been two years now and none of those things have happened to this particular group. While two years is hardly impressive compared to most groups in Gensokyo, it at least shows an unprecedented amount of staying power for a group of youkai."

"Riiight. So what do you want from them?" Ringo repeats herself. For all that Kanako said there, I feel like most of it wasn't answering the question.

Kanako doesn't seem bothered by Ringo pressing her and continues on evenly. "Like I had previously said, I want information," She explains. You know you could have just answered with that! "The identities of all the new members, their objectives, and if any long term planning is going on amongst those members would be a useful start. I'm also interested in what's going on behind all of that as well."

"Ah," Ringo seems to understand something that I don't catch immediately. "You think they're being backed by someone."

Kanako nods solemnly as she continues. "Consider the possibilities allowed when you can leverage a loosely organized group of intelligent youkai. While each one individually may be weak, they are still more than capable of causing problems for any other political entity within Gensokyo, especially if fed the right information. This problem becomes even more difficult to solve if the membership of this group isn't well known or simple to suppress. Someone backing such a group could profoundly influence human youkai relationships with little effort on their part." She explains.

Wait, I think you're jumping forward a bit here. "But there's been nothing like an organized movement towards anything, right?" I ask quickly. "You even said that you've barely heard anything about them. Is it really a stretch that they could just be acting on their own?" I mean sure, our unit of rabbits is organized under the Lunar Defense Corps command, but I think we could organize just fine with out them. Well, probably.

"No, not at all, however confirming that would in itself be useful to me as well." Kanako quickly answers.

"You want to leverage them for yourself in that case, right?" Ringo follows up. That sounds a bit accusatory, but I was kind of thinking the same thing.

"Well, I won't deny that it is a possibility," Oh, she just admits to scheming. That's surprisingly honest of her. "I doubt that I have the means to do so at the moment though. In any case, regardless of whether the Moriya shrine gets involved or not, it is still important to be informed of issues such as these."

"Hm..." Ringo ponders for a moment. At this point I'm really glad I asked her to come along. She's usually very good at getting to the heart of things like this. "So any ideas on who could be backing them then?" She decides on asking.

Kanako also slows to consider things, as if she didn't already have a list of suspects. "Assuming that they're not acting on their own, I would place my bets on two possibilities," She starts off. "The most likely backer would be the Buddhists. They're already quite youkai focused, so it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Byakuren was trying to further group youkai that she couldn't convert to her temple proper. She could easily use them to improve human youkai relations."

"And the other possibility?" Ringo prompts her. I'm pretty sure she would have gone on either way, but I guess Ringo's trying to show that she's interested.

"Though this in itself is a bit vague, I would also not be surprised if it turned out that the youkai within this group were being manipulated by some other much more powerful youkai with their own agenda." Kanako explains. "Yukari Yakumo springs to mind quickly, though her plans are often so opaque that even guessing at them is pointless. There could be numerous other individuals that could bring something like this together for their own purposes as well."

"Well, we can look into it, but it sounds like you're talking about some pretty big players here. Isn't that kind of potentially dangerous for us?" I don't know if Ringo was just briefed better than I was or she's randomly guessing, but I hadn't recognized any of the names that Kanako just dropped. She seems to be correct though, going by Kanako's nods of understanding.

"It shouldn't matter," She reassures us. "I doubt that those individuals themselves would get involved just because you were investigating a bit. If a confrontation were to arise, it would only be by a much less powerful proxy."

"So I guess we're going to be your proxies for this situation right now then?" Ringo guesses.

"Indeed." Kanako answers. Well, we're kind of used to acting as pawns anyway. Whether it's for Command or Kanako I guess we're basically just cannon fodder sent in before anything big happens. Joy.

A random thought pops into my head as I'm moving my head to avoid rolling my eyes. I know Sanae mentioned them rarely getting visitors in the morning before, but we've been talking here for a while now. Apparently Kanako is okay with having this secret backroom deal going on in the largest building in her shrine. She doesn't seem at all concerned that somebody's going to stumble in and catch us scheming or whatever we're doing. Is this really a time of day thing, or is this shrine just not as popular as its size would lead you to believe.

I'm interrupted from my idle thoughts when Ringo asks another question. "Any suggestions on how to get started?"

"I know that the group meets frequently, though the exact location doesn't appear to be static. I also know the identities of the founding members. If you get in contact with them and present yourself properly, you'll likely be able to work your way in to their group." Kanako pulls out a small piece of folded paper and slides it over to Ringo. I guess she was prepared for us accepting her terms. Something about that assumption annoys me for some reason.

Ringo grabs the paper without reading it, instead slipping it into her pocket immediately. "And once we're in?" She continues. Hey, I would have read that if you're going to stay busy.

"Just gather as much data as you can and bring it back to me," Kanako answers. I feel like that's a little vague. "My personal suggestion for where to start? Try to find out where the money is coming from. Any large meeting of youkai is almost inevitably going to devolve into drunken revelry, which isn't exactly cheap to maintain over several of such meetings. Low power youkai like the ones that involved are not known for their wealth or their charity. Large amounts of theft would have gotten them investigated by the Hakurei, so there has to be some other means by which they are securing their supplies." Okay, that's much less vague, yeah.

There is something else that I've been kind of thinking about since we agreed to the deal. "How much information is enough?" I mostly just don't want to go to the effort of doing this only to wind up not meeting Kanako's expectations.

"That is the complication on my side. I'll be fulfilling my end of the agreement first, which puts me in a position where I simply have to trust you to act in good faith," Oh yeah, that's the other thing I had been thinking about. "I understand that you have limits in what you are able to do; however, I'm wise enough to know a half-hearted effort when I see one. There isn't exactly a definite way for me to measure the information that you bring back, so I'm merely asking that you do your best."

The thought of 'what if we don't do anything and just don't come back' also comes to mind, but I decide not to say it. I don't think asking would help at all here. If we decide to double cross Kanako at some point, it's probably better if it comes as a surprise.

Putting aside Kanako's possible ulterior motives, this doesn't actually sound that dangerous or difficult. The group isn't getting pounded down by angry incident solvers, so they must not be causing too much noise. Maybe Kanako only needed us because we were youkai and conveniently here to recruit. The fact that she's investigated enough to have a starting point for our investigation shows that she was thinking about this ahead of time.

"Any other questions?" Kanako asks after Ringo and I sink into silence for a bit. "I know that was a lot of information to take in."

"Sheesh, you're telling me." Ringo chuckles. "I didn't even think it was possible for someone to talk my ears off. That's kind of an achievement, all things considered." Well, Sanae laughs at the joke at least. "I think we should be good though. We'll try to get back to you with any updates ASAP."

"Excellent," Kanako concludes, standing up from the table. "If our business is concluded for now then, I'll be going to prepare for my negotiations with the tengu. I don't expect it will be pleasant, but at least now I have something to look forward to in the future."

-

Once we've left the shrine and are out of earshot of our friendly green shrine maiden guide, Ringo visibly relaxes. She lets out a long sigh as her shoulders slump. "Phew. I get enough of that from command!" She says, sounding exasperated as she fishes in her pocket.

"Get enough of what?" I kind of have a feeling I know what she's talking about, but it'd probably be therapeutic for her to vent it now. Not that I'm one to talk about proper stress release.

"Overly self-important bigwigs who love the sound of their own voice." Ringo explains casually as she pulls out the paper Kanako had given her. "Ones who use way more words than they need to to say 'this other self-important bigwig irritated me so I want my people to mess with their people just to spite them'. You know you could just punch the other person in the face and save everybody some trouble!"

I giggle a bit. "You kinda sounded like Sumi there."

Ringo laughs in response. "Well I don't quite have her way with words." She admits as she unfolds the paper and reads what's on it. "Hm... Your thoughts?"

Ringo hands me the paper. It looks like there's three names on it along with a type of youkai and a location that I assume is where we're likely to find the corresponding person.

Wakasagihime. Mermaid. Misty lake. Well, that's really close by at least. If it's a mermaid then she's probably not able to move around to other locations very much either.

Sekibanki. Rokurokubi. Human village. Okay, I don't know what a rokurokubi is, but it's surprising there's a youkai just living in the human village. I guess Ringo did mention that she saw some not so well disguised youkai there before though.

Kagerou Imaizumi. Werewolf. Bamboo forest of the lost. Wait, don't we know her? Werewolf? Huh... Well, the bamboo forest is quite a long way from here, but we should at least be able to find her house again.

These all seem like viable enough leads to go on, but we don't necessarily have to rush this either. We could head back to camp as well. I doubt that Yuzuki and Chiyo have finished moving things by now, but there's still the possibility that Tewi or Reisen may have come by.

[ ] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper.
- [ ] We should look for Wakasagihime
- [ ] If she's in the village, we probably shouldn't look for Sekibanki... Wait Ringo where are you going!?
- [ ] We should look for Kagerou Imaizumi
[ ] Let's go back to camp instead.
[ ] Something else (I don't even know what you would do here, surprise me)

(info duuuuuuump)
>> No. 26964
[x] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper.
- [x] We should look for Wakasagihime
>> No. 26966
[x] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper.
- [x] We should look for Kagerou Imaizumi

Might as well go with the most ideal option. We know where Kagerou is, and we've met her before, so it'll seem less suspicious to approach her now. Also, Human Village + Ringo is bad news, as has been established.
>> No. 26967
[x] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper.
- [x] If she's in the village, we probably shouldn't look for Sekibanki... Wait, Ringo, where are you going?

Never not 'banki time.

Also, I don't recall anybody mentioning this, so I guess I'll have to be that guy and bring it up:

☓"[...]useful to me as well." Kanako quickly answers.
◯"[...]useful to me as well," Kanako quickly answers.

I've seen instances where you had it right only to do it the other way in the next bit of dialogue, so I legitimately can't tell if it's rushed editing or what. Anyway, yeah, it's a thing to consider not doing.

>> No. 26968
[x] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper.
- [x] We should look for Wakasagihime

I actually think Wakasagi would be the easiest to approach. Banki has the obvious human village issue, but it might be a bit weird to ask Kagerou about this, considering we already asked her to lead us (at least a bit indirectly) to Eientei. I dunno, just my thinking.
>> No. 26969
No time like the present!

[X] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper.
- [X] We should look for Wakasagihime
>> No. 26970
[x] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper.
- [x] We should look for Wakasagihime

I think she's the least likely to get us into incidental trouble, at least if you don't count ice fairies.
>> No. 26971
[x] Wakaswaghime

I don't see why we couldn't actually join this group. They could have useful contacts and information.
>> No. 26972
[X] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper.
- [X] We should look for Kagerou Imaizumi
>> No. 26973
>>26967
If you're curious about the writing, this is most likely due to my workflow. Especially on updates like this, I tend to write the dialogue I want to cover before anything else, then add the describy bits after that. If I end up changing how I want words to go together, that also changes how the punctuation should be. That may or may not have been how it happened with the specific case you pointed out. I don't know.

Of course, none of that makes it not just sloppy proof reading on my part. Noted.
>> No. 26974
[X] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper.
- [X] We should look for Kagerou Imaizumi

As has been said, we already know Kagerou so this seems like the least suspicious option which is probably good if we're going to be doing spywork.
>> No. 26976
[o] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper.
- [o] We should look for Kagerou Imaizumi
>> No. 26977
[x] Waggyswaggy

Sounds like the least likely to get us into trouble, given recent events at Eientei and the Village. Plus who doesn't want more Wakasagihime?
>> No. 26978
File 147122884525.jpg - (334.07KB, 600x686, Princess and Knight.jpg) [iqdb]
26978
[X] Let's get started looking for someone on this paper.
- [X] We should look for Wakasagihime

Well, we can cross this Sekibanki off the list immediately. I don't think going to the village is the best idea. There's probably some way for us to work through the Ringo and angry villager issue at some point, but I don't know offhand what it would be. I'm okay with keeping it low priority for now though. If we're lucky, we'll be able to stay out of the village until the problem blows over. At least we have some other options available for this specific thing.

Kagerou being listed here is a bit of a surprise to me. There hadn't really been any indication that she was a youkai when we had met her. I don't think that's really my fault though. Werewolves are just normal humans when it's not a full moon right? How would I have known? I guess if I had really thought about it, a lone human living out in a forest is a little odd. Is Mokou a youkai too then? Dunno, and I guess it doesn't matter.

Either way, Kagerou is an option that I'm kind of considering, but in this case I'm not sure if having met her before is really going to help. When we talked to her yesterday we were seeking out one thing, to show up the next day trying to get involved with something entirely different might be considered a little odd. I know that the question is still going to come up if we actually meet with this group, but I can at least give myself some more time to think about an excuse.

That just leaves Wakasagihime as the only option I can't think of anything wrong with. Kind of a mouthful of a name there, but that seems to be kinda normal for Earthlings. Well, it's not any worse than some of the Lunarians. A lot of them have names that wouldn't even be pronounceable by Earth languages if you tried to speak them properly. I like our short and simple rabbit names a lot more. We don't need to try to show off every time we introduce ourselves.

"Let's try to find the mermaid," I answer Ringo, folding the paper up again and handing it back to her. "That's the closest option, and is probably the easiest."

"Hm?" Ringo makes a small questioning noise as she stuffs the list back in her pocket. "How do you figure?"

"Well the village has it's own problems," I start vaguely. Ringo seems to be pretending to not understand what I'm talking about, but I continue on anyway. "And even if we flew to the other side of Gensokyo to find Kagerou again, I don't really remember where her house is actually located in that forest."

"Well yeah sure, but with a mermaid we're going to a lake," Ringo looks out in the general direction of the lake. If we flew up a bit we would probably be able to see it from here, but right now the trees around this area are blocking the view somewhat.

I'm not sure what Ringo's getting at. It was written right there on the paper, so obviously I know we're going to a lake. "So?"

"Being a mermaid means she lives under the water right?" I nod along to Ringo, yeah that's should be true from what I know about mermaids. "I don't know how we're gonna be able to navigate a lake other than just flying over it. We either need a plan to get her up to the surface, or we'll need to stop by camp so I can grab my snorkel."

I'd answer her question, but I kind of want to clarify something she said there. "Wait, you brought a snorkel on our military operation?"

Ringo shrugs. "Hey, if we need it now, then it wasn't a waste," She laughs. Ugh, I could say that this isn't a vacation again, but I'm not actually sure if Ringo's joking or not.

Whatever, it's not important. At least not more important than the point Ringo was actually trying to make. If we're talking about an actual plan, I don't have one really. I haven't gotten that far. I just picked the mermaid because of problems with the other options really. "We'll... Just have to figure something out when we get there," I say vaguely.

Ringo smiles. "That's what I like to hear," I guess she's fine with that, even if it makes me a bit nervous.

We lift off from the shrine. All we really have to do is go back the way we came. We retrace (refly?) our steps (flight?) down the mountain, but keep going past our camp. I briefly consider stopping by to see how the others are doing, but with just the amount of time that we've been gone, I doubt there would be much progress. I feel like I might end up feeling bad and wanting to help them if we stop, so Ringo and I decide to just keep going to the lake instead. Of course, this also means that Ringo doesn't get her snorkel. Or any of the other things that would be better for going underwater than a glorified plastic tube.

Once we're past the bulk of the forest, we drop down on the shore closest to the mountain. The misty lake itself isn't really anything special as far as bodies of water go. We have much nicer seas back on the Moon. That's actually what the mares are, you just can't tell by looking at them from the Earth. That's hidden from view along with the rest of the secret lunar capital stuff.

"So do you think we should split up or stay together?" I ask Ringo before she can ask me.

Ringo kneels down and drops her hand into the water. "Eeesh. Probably don't wanna swim in there," She mumbles to herself while standing back up. I guess it's cold. It is autumn after all. "Together I think. Our timing isn't the best, so visibility is poor and likely to get worse," She answers. Right, one of the things that we picked up pretty quickly while gathering info is that this lake gets enveloped in a huge amount of mist every day, usually peaking at around noon. We're not quite to that point yet, but all that means is that it's going to get worse before it gets better.

"Okay sure. I didn't bring my radio anyway," I probably should have thought of that. Whoops. "I think we might also want to stay away from that mansion on the other side."

The mist has already set in enough that Ringo can't see the mansion, but I'm sure she knows what I'm talking about. "She could be over there, but it's all the same to me. It'll probably take a while to check everywhere else anyway."

-

It definitely is taking a while. I wouldn't exactly say that the search is going well at this point. With the mist setting in more and more as time goes on, I'm not even exactly sure how much more there is to go either. I can see decently in the area immediately around us, but once you get further out things start getting shadowy and indistinct. I definitely can't see the far shore at this point, so heading too far out is going to be pretty difficult. We may lose track of where we have and haven't looked.

"I guess we could have stopped and gotten Yuzuki for this," I say, feeling a little bored with our slow float over the water.

Ringo laughs. "And deny her the joy of organizing everything for the sixth time?"

"Honestly I'm surprised we're only on number six," I laugh as well. I'm joking, but Yuzuki used to be a lot worse about this kind of thing. "Anyway, I'm just saying that she would probably have made this trivial. The lake isn't that deep in the areas we're looking in right now, but once we get further out we could easily miss the mermaid."

"Yeah I guess," Ringo leans back up and cracks her neck, probably feeling stiff from having been staring down into the water for the last half-hour. She glances around before reaching up to point at something. "She could also probably tell us what that is."

I look up to see what Ringo's pointing out when something suddenly wizzes by my head. Okay, that was close. I can't really focus on what it was though, now that I've looked up I can see more things flying at me!

I twist my body weirdly to dodge what I assume is some kind of danmaku. I barely graze past some of it, but I don't get hit at all by the time that everything has gone by. It's only a short barrage, so I manage it. I'm expecting more shots, but instead it seems like the large thing that Ringo was pointing at through the mist wants to close the distance before firing again.

I ready my hammer, just in case it seems like a good idea to shoot back with something a bit more lethal. I also notice Ringo popping a dango into her mouth out of the corner of my eye. I don't know why we're suddenly being attacked, but we're not exactly helpless here. As the figure in the distance gets closer, I can at least feel comfort in knowing that we're not defenseless here. It's two against one, so even if we can't see all that well, we can at least...

Oh it's Cirno.

Cirno seems to realize who we are at about the same time that I recognize her, and does her best to skid to a stop despite being airborne. Ringo, who had apparently decided to charge forward as well, doesn't do the same. Instead of stopping, she continues forward and more or less aerial tackles Cirno, grabbing her around the waist and tumbling forward, doing three or four flips through the air and quickly being obscured by the mist ahead.

By the time I fly forward enough to catch up with them, I can already see Cirno struggling to get out of Ringo's grip. They've at least come to a stop though. "Lemme go! We're supposed to be allies!" Cirno yells.

Ringo snickers to herself, but doesn't let Cirno out of her grip. "Hey, you attacked us first. Not my fault."

"I didn't know who it was!" Cirno protests.

"That doesn't really make it better Cirno," I try to scold her, but other than surprising me a bit with ice flying by my head, there wasn't really any harm done. "You can't just attack people randomly without knowing who they are."

Cirno doesn't seem chastised in the slightest. "I can too! And I totally should. It's the best chance to catch enemies by surprise. It's a uh," She trails off, trying to think of the right word for a moment. "Preemptive! Preemptive attack!"

"Oh really? Sounds tactical," Ringo says, acting like Cirno just said something really wise. "Maybe I'll give it a try sometime."

"Wait, wha-" Cirno doesn't get to finish her question before Ringo winds back and uses both arms to fling Cirno away, further into the mist.

Cirno's shadow flails and tumbles about wildly for a second before regaining control. I think she plays it off pretty decently, using the momentum from Ringo throwing her to swoop back around in a wide arc. When she comes back around close to us, she doesn't look at all bothered by her sudden involuntary flight. If anything she seems to be giggling about it like she had had a good time.

"Yeah! Sorta like that!" She declares proudly before taking a more serious tone. "You shouldn't have said anything before you did it though. I saw it coming way too easily. There's no way it would have worked out if we were being serious."

I decide not to mention that Cirno's attack on me hadn't worked either. "Noted, thanks for the tip," It looks like Ringo has decided that just humoring her is the best choice too.

"You're welcome! Anyway, did you come here because you needed help from the strongest fairy in Gensokyo, or did you just want to play?" Cirno asks, taking her normal self-assured stance with her chest puffed out and her hands on her hips.

I notice she didn't even consider the possibility that we aren't here for her. "Uh, neither. We were just in the area because-"

"Actually, we could use your help," Ringo cuts me off. "We were looking for someone around here. You'd probably know where she could be more than we would. Do you know a Wakasagihime?" She asks. Actually, why didn't I think to ask Cirno?

Cirno considers the question for a moment before realization shows on her face. "Oh! You mean the princess!" She decides.

Uh, no, we're looking for a mermaid. "Princess?"

"It's in her name, right?" Well, her name does end in 'hime'. I guess that's a title? Is her actual name just Wakasagi then? It might also be a nickname or something. "She's a princess, and I get to be a knight that protects her and the lake from the evil guys and other jerks!" Cirno continues on proudly.

Putting aside the specifics of what Cirno's talking about, it at least seems clear that she knows who we're asking her about. "Do you think we could talk to her? We might have some business with her."

"Well, I dunno. Princess usually doesn't want to talk to people, except when..." Cirno pauses again, suddenly falling into thought. After a moment, she appears to remember something. "Ah! R-right! I should let you guys talk to her! It's this way," She immediately starts flying away.

"Yeah, that'd be great," Ringo tells her as we follow along. "We were just wandering around looking for her, but it wasn't going well."

"I blame the mist," I try to make an excuse for what is really just us lacking a good plan.

"Today's way clearer than normal though!" Cirno declares happily. Wait, really? "But yeah, you wouldn't have found her without running into me. The princess is one of the people in my turf that I've decided to protect, so I would know if she gets into trouble. Her house is hidden under the water too!"

"We aren't looking for her to fight her Cirno," I clarify calmly. Cirno's mind seems to always gravitate that way for some reason.

"Oh," She actually sounds somewhat disappointed. Didn't she just get done saying it was her job to protect Wakasagihime? "Well that's good then. Princess doesn't like doing danmaku that much. That's why she has me here!" Make up your mind you silly fairy!

"I'm sure she's glad she has you on her side," Ringo says, apparently more than happy to let the contradiction go unspoken.

Cirno leads us... Southeastish (I think) across the lake. We go in that direction for a couple of minutes before Cirno suddenly stops us. What, are we here? There don't seem to be any landmarks or anything, we're just over the water. Does Cirno really know this whole lake that well?

"She's always under here in the mornings, so I'll just call her," Cirno declares, staring down at the water. I'm not sure what she intends to do. It seems to be pretty deep in this area, and it's not clear enough to see the bottom. Is she going to dive down in there?

Instead of what I expect, Cirno quietly grunts with effort and creates a large ball of ice, about the size of her head. Once it's complete, she unceremoniously drops it into the water with a loud 'ploomp'.

"Princess said this works kinda like a doorbell for her," I'm surprised Cirno was considerate enough to explain anything. I was kind of under the impression that she only really thought about herself. "Something or other about vibrations. I dunno," Well, she tried at least.

I guess I don't really have any reason to doubt that this fairy knows what she's doing. Aside from the normal issue of fairies being kind of stupid that is. After a moment, there's definitely movement from under the water. A blue head of hair breaks the surface, followed by the shoulders of a girl in a green kimono. Despite coming directly out of the water, her hair and clothes seem relatively dry. Must be some kind of mermaid magic or something.

"Good morning Cirno," The mermaid says. Her voice has a strange airy quality to it that makes her sound quite delicate. She glances up at me and uh, wow. I'm a little struck by how pretty she is. Even though Cirno was calling her a princess, I didn't really expect her to look like one.

"Good morning princess!" Cirno answers back. "I brought these people to see you."

"Yes, it seems like you did. Thank you very much Cirno, you did a great job," Wakasagihime says, sounding very calm and polite despite Cirno constantly brimming with enthusiasm. She turns to Ringo and I. "Good morning. What did you think of my letter?"

"Your what now?" Ringo asks. I don't know what she's talking about either.

"Anyway!" Cirno quickly interrupts. "Since things seem okay now, I'll let you guys talk and head out for some patrolling!"

"Please hold on a moment Cirno," Wakasagihime calls out quickly. I'm kind of surprised that Cirno actually stops, she seemed ready to leave immediately. "They seem confused. Did you lose my letter?"

"No of course not!" Cirno answers, perhaps a bit too quickly. "They're here, so obviously everything worked out!"

"Cirno, please don't lie," Wakasagihime chides gently. "And please don't just barely tell the truth. You want to be a strong and virtuous knight don't you?" She asks, she doesn't seem to be joking about the idea. She might just be humoring Cirno though, that seems to always be the easy way to deal with her.

"Yes... Well, I didn't lose it, but I still have it," Cirno reluctantly admits.

Wakasagihime nods and looks understanding. "Did you get distracted this morning?" She asks calmly.

"Sunny was around trying to mess with me again!" Cirno gives a loud excuse. "I couldn't just not chase her off! It's her fault!"

"It's alright Cirno. I understand," Wakasagihime says calmingly. "Like you said, everything worked out. Thank you very much for your help."

"Of course!" Cirno zips away after giving a quick salute.

"So uh, you sent us a letter?" Ringo asks after Cirno is out of sight.

The mermaid turns her head back to us, still just barely rising out of the water. She doesn't seem bothered by having to crane her neck back to look up at us. "That's right. Although it seems that you weren't given the opportunity to read it. That's a shame, I felt that I expressed myself well," She takes a deep breath before introducing herself, taking on a more formal tone. "I am Wakasagihime, a mermaid living here in the Misty Lake. I was told about you by Cirno, and wanted to speak with you in order to learn more about your situation. Cirno told me that you seem to be unrelated to the other rabbit youkai that live in the bamboo forest, which was something interesting to both myself and maybe even my organization."

"The Grassroots Youkai Network, right?" Ringo interrupts her to ask.

"Ah, you've heard of us?" Wakasagihime smiles brightly and sounds pleased with herself, dropping the official voice that she had been using. "That makes things much simpler. I actually wanted to ask you a couple of questions to get a better impression of who you are. Then if the answers are acceptable, I would like it if you would join us on something of a trial basis for one of our meetings. You would be okay with answering a couple of questions, yes?"

Oh wow, I'm surprised at just how well this is working out. "Uh, sure," I answer her quickly.

Wakasagihime claps her hands happily, splashing a bit of water into her face. She seems entirely unbothered by it though. "Wonderful, thank you. I would like to write this down so that the others could look at it, but it's a bit hard for me to keep writing utensils around here. You understand I'm sure," Yeah, I can't imagine paper keeps well when you live underwater. "First off then, how do you feel about humans? More specifically, how do you feel about the current relationship between humans and youkai?"

Uhhhh. Oh. I suppose that I can't just say 'I'm from the Moon, so I haven't really put any thought into that' here. I'm not actually sure what she's looking for in an answer either. What would she want to hear for this? Kanako's explanations for what this group actually does were kind of vague.

[ ] Humans are great! I love humans! It sure is cool how they... Uh... Evolved from apes or whatever...
[ ] I haven't had a chance to talk to any humans really. I don't think there's anything that special about them compared to anyone else though.
[ ] I think it's unfair that humans get to live in nice big villages when youkai are forced to live out in the wilderness like animals.
[ ] Humans are stupid and weak. If it weren't for that dumb shrine maiden, we youkai would be in charge, and we'd all be better off.
[ ] Uhh, Ringo, you wanna take this?
[ ] Write-In

(No bonus points for guessing what the [ ] Invite choice from a few updates ago was)
>> No. 26979
[x] Uhh, Ringo, you wanna take this?

At the very least, Ringo is good at negotiations.

And she's actually spent some time around humans by now.
>> No. 26980
[X] I haven't had a chance to talk to any humans really. I don't think there's anything that special about them compared to anyone else though.
>> No. 26981
[x] I haven't had a chance to talk to any humans really. Ringo, you wanna take this?
>> No. 26982
Of all the species Seiran has interacted with so far, I think humans have given her the least reason for Seiran to hate them. Seiran has interacted with 4 (half) humans: Sanae, Kagerou, Mokou, and Sumiriko. Sanae apologized for not helping us sooner when we told her our cover story, and got Kanako to help us find Sumi. Kagerou was kind enough to help us find Mokou even after we forced her to wake up. Mokou led us to Eientei without asking anything in return. And Sumiriko didn't do anything to us even after we spied on her intimate moment with Mokou. The only grievance Seiran has with humans is when they mobbed Ringo in the village, which Ringo arguably brought upon herself by scamming them first. Even then, the village humans were content to leave us alone while we were in the village as long as we didn't cause any trouble.

The other species have given Seiran far more reasons to hate them. The Fairies stole our stuff and Cirno just attacked us with no provocation not but 5 minutes ago. Eirin the Lunarian tried to test her memory wiping drugs on us, and then tried to murder us when we refused. Reisen the Moon rabbit beat us up and ruined our mission. Tewi the Earth Rabbit forced us to fall into a pit trap and hurt ourselves. The youkai of the Underground bashed us over the head and trapped us in a spider web. Kasen the Hermit sicked her Eagle on us. The Tengu imprisoned Sumi and the Kappa stole the drone.

Honestly, next to the Goddesses, humans have arguably been the most helpful species to us.

[x] I haven't had a chance to talk to many humans really. But they seem like decent enough folk from what I've seen.
>> No. 26983
[x] I haven't had a chance to talk to any humans really. Ringo, you wanna take this?
>> No. 26984
[x] I haven't had a chance to talk to many humans really. But they seem like decent enough folk from what I've seen.
>> No. 26985
[X] I think it's unfair that humans get to live in nice big villages when youkai are forced to live out in the wilderness like animals.

They probably noticed this, at least. They're moon rabbits: basically all of them live in the lunar capital and that's a megalopolis if there ever was one.
>> No. 26986
>>26985
Don't most youkai live pretty well as it is? The vampires have their own mansion, the rabbits live in the palace of Eientei, the tengu and kappa have their own villages, most of the Goddessses have their own shrines, the three fairies we met earlier had a pretty nice tree house, the oni have a city all to themselves underground, Satori lives in a nice mansion with her many pet beast youkai, Yuuka has her own flower garden and mansion in the dream world, the ghosts live in a nice mansion in Hakugyokurou, several youkai live in the Buddhist temple, Seikibanki is apparently living in relative peace within the human village, Alice lives in a nice cottage in the forest, even a random bird youkai has her own food stall. It seems to me that most youkai that live in the wilderness do it because they want to, not because humans force them to.
>> No. 26987
[X] I haven't had a chance to talk to many humans really. But they seem like decent enough folk from what I've seen.
>> No. 26988
[x] I haven't had a chance to talk to many humans really. But they seem like decent enough folk from what I've seen.
>> No. 26989
[x] Humans are stupid and weak. If it weren't for that dumb shrine maiden, we youkai would be in charge, and we'd all be better off.

Looking at it from a small-fry's perspective. Not that Seiran would know that particularly, but she could make an educated guess from intel regarding Reimu.
>> No. 26990
I think in DDC Kagerou mentions that Wakasagihime wouldn't hurt a fly. She might like a peaceful answer.
>> No. 26991
File 147149010410.jpg - (176.07KB, 850x1010, I think she's adorable.jpg) [iqdb]
26991
[X] I haven't had a chance to talk to many humans really. But they seem like decent enough folk from what I've seen.
[X] Uhh, Ringo, you wanna take this?

Well, let's ignore the question about the relationship between humans and youkai for now. That's a bit too deep into Gensokyo based sociology for me to even pretend to talk intelligently about. I could probably take a guess at it and sound dumb, but I think it might be better to just go for an easier question. How do I feel about humans?

I've seen plenty of humans around, especially now that we've been flying around Gensokyo these past few days. How many of them have I even talked to though? Not many. Sanae comes to mind, since we just left her place, but I can't really say that I've talked to her about anything other than finding Sumi. There's also Kagerou, but she's apparently actually a youkai. There's also Mokou who's still a bit of a question mark to me. Then there was that girl that was with Mokou who was probably human. Uh...

Actually, going through a list like this, it occurs to me that I haven't really done anything with humans other than ignore them or immediately ask for their help. Not only have I managed to not get called out for being rude, all of the humans that I asked actually did help as much as they could without really asking for anything in return. That's a bit more than I can say for most of the youkai that I've dealt with so far.

"Humans seem okay to me," I say lamely, could probably have phrased my answer better. I'll try to elaborate. "I don't know how much Cirno told you about our situation," and I won't repeat it here because I still don't really like lying to people's faces, especially unexpectedly beautiful ones that are staring curiously up at me. "but we've been pretty on our own for the most part. I haven't actually interacted with humans all that much."

"Ah, I see. That is quite alright," Wakasagihime says to me, smiling warmly as she bobs up and down in the water slightly. I'm still kind of amazed at how she keeps her hair looking dry even while it goes in and out of the water. "Cirno did give me some information about you such as names, Seiran and Ringo, but sometimes it is difficult to get more specific details from her. It is a bit unfortunate, Cirno is very energetic and passionate, but she sometimes becomes a bit too enthusiastic and loses focus on things," That's a really tactful way to excuse someone being a bit dumb.

She didn't say what she thought about my answer or ask another question, so I guess she wants me to go on. It is true that I didn't really say anything about humans and youkai interacting after all. I don't really have anything to say on that, but Ringo probably does. She spent the better part of a day in the village, and the better part of the day before that doing work on a human farm. I don't know exactly who she would have talked to in that time, but she probably had a lot of time to people watch at least. "Uh, Ringo?" I ask, turning to her. I feel a bit pitiful but I did at least try to answer. "Maybe you could talk a bit more about this. You were around humans more than me."

"Yeah sure, lemme think a bit about how to say it though," Ringo reaches up to scratch under her ears while she stares off into the mist for a moment. "I think that things between humans and youkai are decent where they are now, but both sides seem too scared of each other to get the most out of it."

"Ohhh?" Wakasagihime looks suddenly interested. "What do you mean?" She seems bad at hiding her enthusiasm. Is her tail wagging under the water? There's definitely some kind of movement under the surface. Her head is staying surprisingly still if that's the case though.

"Well it seems complicated. There's a pretty big difference between the situation for your everyday human and youkai versus the ones that are all important and powerful. The everyday people on both sides are too afraid of the other sides powerful people to get together and make their situation better together, if that makes sense," Wakasagihime nods quickly along with Ringo's explanation, but I'm not really seeing what she's getting at.

I guess my lack of understanding is showing on my face. When Ringo glances over at me, she takes it as a prompt to continue. "Normal, powerless humans obviously don't like youkai, but they still tolerate having them in the village. What's the reasoning behind that? I think they probably fear what attempting to completely shut them out would entail. It's better for them to avoid confrontation and try to get what they can from youkai than to go through a bunch of effort to directly antagonize them.

At the same time, weaker youkai would probably benefit more from participating in human society than they would from trying to prey on it. They'd be better off trying to make something of an honest living than they would be causing problems to get their jollies and getting a shrine maiden called down on them. The problem with that is that if they get the wrong person upset, they could still have that happen anyway, so they're kind of nervous around humans too," Uh, that's a bit more than I think the two sentence question actually needed, but well done I guess Ringo.

I have a question about that bit at the end though. "Wouldn't a shrine maiden that investigated see that the youkai isn't doing anything wrong?"

Ringo smirks at me. "Well you're assuming that said shrine maiden is more interested in doing the right thing than she is in getting rid of reasons for complaints."

And you're assuming that everything Kanako said was true. I don't have any way to prove otherwise though. "You've thought about this," I decide to compliment her on her sudden monologue instead of arguing. I guess I did kind of ask her for it.

"I was mostly making it up on the spot actually," I don't know if Ringo is humbly bragging or I'm just being overly sensitive about my own social problems. "If I had some way to write it down, it'd probably come out better."

"I thought it was wonderful!" Wakasagihime interjects. Yeah, her tail is definitely swishing back and forth down there. "You have an opinion of the situation that is similar to my own."

Well just by her saying that, it reveals a lot. I think I should still get some point blank clarification here though. "So I guess your group isn't about overthrowing human society anymore then?"

"Oh no, not at all!" Wakasagihime shakes her hands in front of her face defensively. "That may have been the case initially, but we have long since moved on from that. This group was originally formed in somewhat darker times. Well, perhaps not darker, but the situation had extenuating circumstances involved," Her smile looks a bit rueful now, but she's at least still smiling. Her tail has stopped wagging around now though. "I don't regret it happening given the outcome, but I would definitely not wish the stress and anxiety that comes from being involved in an incident on anyone."

Heh, no kidding. I probably shouldn't say that out loud though. "So what do you do now?" Ringo asks for me.

"We are a social group," The mermaid answers vaguely before elaborating. "Our purpose is to allow low powered and generally civilized youkai assistance in participating in human society. This usually takes the form of sharing job opportunities, event information, sympathetic human contact information, and other miscellaneous information with each other."

That sounds pretty benign to me. I'm not sure how much Kanako stands to gain from learning about a bunch of weak youkai trying to play nice with humans, but it's not really my job to care. She can do the scheming or planning or whatever she wants to call it on that if she really wants to. We're doing our job and getting this information for her, it's not our fault if it doesn't turn out that useful for her.

"Sounds like you're happy with our first answer. You have more questions though, right?" Ringo asks. Oh right, she did say she was going to ask questions. Plural.

"Yes I do," Wakasagihime settles down slightly in the water, getting back to business I suppose. "Some interviews do unfortunately end on that first question. Not all youkai have the right mindset for this kind of thing."

Oh we're being interviewed? I don't even have my resume with me. I could write one out quickly though. All it says is 'Way too many decades in the Lunar Defense Corps considering how badly I get paid' and that would be it. At least the medical benefits are pretty good. Well, most of the time. I wouldn't recommend an extended hospital stay or anything.

Wakasagihime doesn't notice me trying not to giggle at my own dumb jokes, instead continuing on talking. "Which brings up the next question. Do you have any particular vices that would need to be accommodated for you to participate in our activities?"

Vices? "Like what?"

"For example, absolutely not being able to attend meetings that happen during the night of a full moon, or needing to purposely startle a human in place of actual food," Those sound a bit specific. I'm pretty sure I know who the first one is referring to as well. "I'm mostly asking as a formality. You're obviously rabbit youkai, so you shouldn't have any needs like that. Perhaps carrots?" Wakasagihime smirks to herself after asking.

Ugh, this again. I'm glad all the people that think this don't actually take care of rabbits. "I don't really like carrots much actually," I answer coolly. Or at least that's how I was trying to make it come out.

"I'm okay with them. Definitely not addicted or anything though," Ringo also offers.

"Ah," Wakasagihime seems a bit embarrassed by our lukewarm replies. "I'm sorry, I was joking. Was that rude of me?" She droops down a bit more in the water, her mouth barely above the surface.

"Nah, you're fine. We don't have anything like that though," Ringo assures her. I'm technically on a sleep medication and Ringo's kinda sorta addicted enough to dango to do stupid things in order to buy them, but I guess those aren't quite the same kind of thing that she's talking about.

"Wonderful. Some issues like that are easy to work through, but others can cause problems. Like our most recent trial member..." Wakasagihime looks a bit worried as she considers some situation I know nothing about. She comes out of it quickly though. "Ah, but I shouldn't gossip about others. You'll most likely have a chance to meet her."

Well, it sounds like we're invited to the next meeting then. "What, is that it? No other questions?" I check to make sure.

"The only other question is if you are available tomorrow evening to come to a meeting," Wakasagihime answers cheerfully. "I don't need a full psychological report on you or anything of that sort. You seem like a pair who will fit right in."

"As far as I know, we don't have anything else planned at that time," What are you looking at me for Ringo? Well, I do try to keep track of our priorities, but I can't think of much else we would be doing tomorrow night. We'll have Sumi back by then, but other than that...

"There's actually three more rabbits in our group," I should probably mention this just in case. I don't want to be a rude guest and show up with a bunch of unexpected people. "They're pretty similar to us, so is it okay to bring them along as well?"

"If they're also interested in coming, that should be alright," Wakasagihime answers me easily before launching into some details of the meeting. "We'll be located about 10 minutes south by southwest of the lake. Go across the road and field, then enter the trees on the far side. We should be noticeable if you're looking to find us, and if you get lost or aren't confident in finding it on your own, I will be on the southwestern shore of the lake until just before the meeting starts just after sundown."

"We should be alright," I say. "We're pretty good at finding our way around," Mostly because we'll have Yuzuki with us so it'll be pretty much impossible to get lost. It is also pretty hard to get lost when you can fly up into the sky to get your bearings whenever you want though.

"Should we bring anything?" It's a meeting, not a party Ringo.

"You're welcome to bring along anything that you would like, but food and drinks will be provided as well," Okay, the way she answered that makes me feel like my last statement might actually be wrong.

"Nice! Hey Seiran, you should make some dango," You don't need to get buffed up during a meeting Ringo. Well, I might make something anyway. If I have time that is.

"Wonderful! I'm very much looking forward to it. I love to meet new people," Wakasagihime's tail is wagging again as she clasps her hands together happily. "I'd invite you to stay and chat with me now, but you appear to be a bit uncomfortable with our current positions, and there will be plenty of time for that tomorrow."

Staring down at her like this for the whole conversation has made my neck a little sore, now that I think of it. I guess I could have oriented myself so I was lying down in the air but that just seems a little awkward when she's more or less standing up in the water. I don't know, it's not a situation I've ever been before. She's at least correct that this isn't exactly the easiest way to chat with someone.

Ringo simply laughs it off. "You got a point there. It was nice meeting you. We'll see you tomorrow night then."

"Yes, see you then," Wakasagihime smiles and waves at us as Ringo and I fly into the mist in some random direction. It'll bring us to a shore eventually.

Well, that's some nice progress. We've already been invited to a Grassroots Youkai Network meeting and it's only been a couple of hours since we first heard of them. I feel a bit bad approaching a nice girl like Wakasagihime for the purpose of spying on her and her friends, but I don't really have much else of a choice. Hopefully everything at the meeting is harmless enough that Kanako doesn't take any real action, or at least no action that would cause Wakasagihime problems. She seemed like a really nice girl.

"So back to camp then?" Ringo asks me once we've made it to shore. I can't think of anything else that we really need to do right at this moment. I'd also kind of like to be around when Sumi comes back.

"Sure, I guess so."

-

As Ringo and I land just outside of camp, I instantly see Yuzuki running over to meet us. I'm about to greet her and ask how things are going when she interrupts frantically.

"We have a problem!" What a great way to start a conversation. "I-I was too busy and focused on taking care of things a-and I didn't notice it fast enough and and..."

"Hold on, hold on, calm down," Ringo patiently tries to stop Yuzuki from panicking. Is that what I look like when I panic? I usually don't notice other people when it happens, so I've never seen people freaking out along with me. Although, if something is making Yuzuki worry like this then uh... Well this could be bad. While Ringo deals with Yuzuki, I decide to take a peek at camp to see if I can see the source of the problem.

Ooooh. Oh no. No no no.

I can already see two problems. One is a crate of equipment, cracked open with its contents (unloaded rifles) spread out in an exceedingly orderly fashion on the ground. It looks like Yuzuki had been taking the opportunity to clean all of the firearms we had. That by itself isn't really that much of an issue. It's probably not necessary given that we haven't actually used any of them since they were packed, but even that wouldn't be a big deal. When combined with problem number two however, I can definitely see why everyTHING IS TERRIBLE NOW.

There's a girl leaning back in my chair at the center table. She's scribbling something on a small pad of paper at first, but quickly glances up and notices me staring. She gives a friendly wave and a smug smile to me. I'm not together enough to do anything other than weakly wave back. Seeming pleased at my response, the tengu reporter holds up a camera and snaps a quick picture of me.

Hello Aya, I see you've found something that might be a bit newsworthy.

[ ] Attack
- [ ] Silence her
- [ ] Capture her
- [ ] Break camera
[ ] Bargain
- [ ] Give gossip
- [ ] Give sensitive info
- [ ] Give mission critical info
- [ ] Give favors
[ ] PANIC

The flow of the conversation made it make sense for Seiran to ask Ringo for her input, so I combined options. I doubt anyone is that upset by it.
>> No. 26992
[x] Lie through your teeth
-[x] This is our gun collection. We collect guns. Its a hobby.

I figure, you know, maybe she'll buy it.
>> No. 26993
[x] Lie through your teeth
-[x] This is our gun collection. We collect guns. Its a hobby.

Then, when she isn't convinced,
[x] PANIC
>> No. 26994
[x] Bargain
-[x] Gossip

Didn't we just voted for putting everything in a bunker? Those bunnies...
>> No. 26995
[X] Lie through your teeth
-[X] This is our gun collection. We collect guns. Its a hobby.

Aya is actually pretty tough, when you consider how much she goes through in the side games and that she was playable in the fighting games.
>> No. 26996
[x] Lie through your teeth
-[x] This is our gun collection. We collect guns. Its a hobby.
>> No. 26997
[x] Bargain
- [x] Give favors

May as well add one more link in the chain.
>> No. 26998
[x] Lie through your teeth
-[x] This is our gun collection. We collect guns. Its a hobby.

It's not like we can really catch Aya, and attacking her would just be an admittance of guilt to her wildest conclusions. Hopefully she doesn't know what Lunarian tech looks like, and we can get away with some good old-fashioned bullshitting.
>> No. 26999
>We're in autosage
Whoops, should've posted the last update in a new thread. Oh well. It's not like I'll fall off of /eientei/ anytime soon. Next update will be in a new thread, feel free to vote or whatever in here in the meantime.

>That write-in
I'm okay with it if you want to vote for it. It miiiiiight be helpful to have a second choice, but I'm okay with it either way.

>>26994
Well, doing that involves moving all of the things out of the equipment tent, hauling them away from camp, and stuffing them through the hatch into the bunker. When are you ever going to have a better chance to clean things than when you're already getting them out in the open? Yuzuki's just being a helpful and productive bunny!
>> No. 27000
File 147156071028.jpg - (571.98KB, 723x1024, 1387539972910.jpg) [iqdb]
27000
>>26999
She disobeyed her boss. She should be punished!

Bully bunnies 2016
>> No. 27002
Next Thread: >>27001
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