Air blows past my face. Rapidly. Harshly. I’ve made it below what others called the sea of clouds.
I open my eyes to see the rapidly growing green of the world below. That is Earth. A place I’ve not been before. Others I know have, but they could care less about discussing it. 'Not impressive,' they would often say.
I didn’t understand what they meant, but now I sort of get it. All of this green below is just that same color for a continuous stretch of every direction. All plant life inconsequential to most inhabitants of interest.
Alright, less distractions. Time to get to work.
I peel off the divine veil on my shoulders, the only thing braking me from a complete free fall to the surface. I plummet like a rock, of course. Since I’m nowhere close to terminal velocity, it takes a couple minutes before I even need to think about my landing.
When the ground comes into sight past the approaching treeline, I bring my feet up to challenge it.
The ensuing crash is satisfying, the trees shaken for meters around me, a small dent in the dirt underfoot left in my wake. I stand back up to full height, my knees hardly phased by the violent abuse. I look around the area to see it properly for the first time.
Gensokyo. Well, a random forest somewhere in the middle of Gensokyo, with nothing of note in the surrounding area, but still Gensokyo.
A perfect place to start the mission. If I am to assimilate into the population, it would be best if I come into contact with as few people as possible. Best case scenario is that I can find a quiet corner of Gensokyo where no one would bother to look for me. Would stick it to command as well, since I’m still technically assimilating but it couldn’t be less helpful.
Before any of that, though, I need to do something about my clothes. I only brought the essentials with me, and that really includes my gun, a psychic inhibitor, the veil I need to burn, and the fatigues on my back. This would be perfect for me if not for the color of this old cargo. The light tan was camo for just about everywhere on the moon, but here on Earth it might as well be labor visibility clothing.
Oh well, now that I’m allowed to I can just find something to dirty it up with.
While I crouch down to check the texture of the dirt, a rustle in a nearby tree alerts me of something that approached me. It was either quick or quiet to get this close already.
“Oh, wow!” the voice unashamedly announces itself. “She made a crater!”
I look for the source, and find a girl’s head poking around some leaves, her hair letting her blend in. She hops from the branches to the ground, not a sound made from the landing. I look her over some more. A boyish face with shorts and a white button up. She wears a cape with a split down the middle, and has… antennae coming from the fore side of her skull.
“What are you?” I question the insect.
“A bug Youkai!” she cheerfully answers. “What about you? The forest bugs told me you were a rabbit that fell, but I don’t know any rabbits that could do that.”
She points at the disturbed dirt that my impatient arrival caused.
“Just another rabbit,” I answer. I start to walk away, deciding to leave before this pest can even begin to pester.
“But you’re so big, too! You could make an oni look small!” the girl floats ahead of my face, gliding along to my pace.
I grab said face and shift it back to my side, hoping that she’ll trail off if I ignore her.
She doesn’t. Instead, she sits atop my shoulders and plays with my hair.
“Your hair’s so fluffy! It’s like a kedama is sitting on your head!” she giggles.
I grab the child by her collar and drag her in front of me. “Do you not got brains? I am well over twice your size and you’re not even a bit scared of that?”
She puts a finger to her mouth in thought, and responds, “No, not really. Size doesn’t matter, does it?”
“Alright, listen here,” I grunt. “Do you know of other lunar rabbits like myself? I’m looking for a taller one with purple hair. If you don’t, then go the hell away.”
I toss the bug onto her rear a few paces ahead of me.
“Ow! Mean!” she cries. Getting back up and dusting off her rear she answers my question, “Lunar..? You mean moon rabbits? I know of a few around, and the one with purple hair is named Reisen. Are you looking for Reisen? Why would you ever want to find that chicken?”
You gotta be kidding me…
“No reason,” I lie, stifling an insidious grin. I didn’t think she’d even be alive, let alone the literal first person I met know her by name. “Do you know where she is?”
“Sure, she’s in the bamboo forest,” the child happily states, feeling some pride in making use of herself.
[x] Trust the bug, she seems to know her stuff.
[x] Strike out on my own. It’s a damn bug, as if she could really remember something so important correctly.
[x] What else are we doing? (Write-in)
Hi! Short notes for short posts! This was an idea I’ve only had for a short time, so this may develop into something or complete trash, let’s go for a ride!
>>29051 jumping back in to edit a line because I didn't realise I forgot a part.
>What entails "dumping" here depends on how bloodthirsty anon is feeling and in what directions Poingnant wants to take the story, I suppose.
Small distinction for some, perhaps, but I just find it important to acknowledge the writer's side of things too.
>>29054 Well, kill or not aside, I still think having the bug flitting about us is a liability. Better to be solo and less conspicuous. >If I am to assimilate into the population, it would be best if I come into contact with as few people as possible. Also this.
[x] Trust the bug, she seems to know her stuff. - [X] Who is this bug, anyways?
My brain fries for a second as I toss between the urge to take the information and leave her in the dirt or letting her escort me to my (not actual) primary objective. The compassionate side wins out. Not a common trait for me.
“What’cha looking at? You’ve got the face a cat does when hunting,” the bug points out.
“Nothing!” I clap my hands to bring myself to attention, “Could you lead me to Reisen? I would ‘love’ to see her.”
“Can do! I always wanted to be a guide. My friends all already know everything, so I can only pretend,” she chats.
“Yes, yes, of course. After you,” I keep her attention on the task.
We walk out of the forest, but even a short walk to the bamboo doesn’t spare me of this child. She’s as chatty as the rabbits back home. Maybe even worse. She seems to forget things, only on the edges of her mind, but it’s clear that some disconnect is happening. It would be aggravating if it weren’t so pitiful to see her strain for those memories.
“Yes, Rumia definitely hit that bamboo stalk there and was launched from it bowing! I think…” she explicates another story of her… ‘friends.’ They seem to be more like a gaggle of mischief makers. The kind that I would bash the skulls of.
Wait that sounded wrong. I would bash their skulls because I was commanded to, not because I’d want to. I’d rather see what damage these kids could do when left on their own.
I feel weight taken from my side. The bug grabbed my gun while I was spacing off to the fun times in the capital. How does she keep sneaking around me like this?
She holds the absolutely ridiculous pistol adorned with rabbit ears, showing a passing curiosity for the tool. At first she just looks, but after a few moments ingesting the sight she rocks it around, feeling the center of mass, until finally getting a grip onto the handle.
Luckily, it’s custom made, and my hands are probably thrice the size of this child, so she can’t even wrap the handle correctly. I slowly place my hand atop the receiver frame, hoping to take it back from her.
“What is this? I think I saw Reisen had one,” the bug comments.
“That is a weapon. A dangerous one. A child shouldn’t play with these,” I try to be blunt.
“I’m not a child, I’m a bug Youkai,” the child pouts, getting a hand under the barrel and a finger closer to the trigger.
“Alright, alright. Listen, my name is Moi. What’s your name?” I practice some routine social skills that remain drilled into me
“Wriggle. Wriggle Nightbug,” the bug Youkai answers.
Is she messing with me? Who the hell would have a name like wriggle? A bug Youkai, no less.
Forget it. I ask as gently as a two point twelve meter tall soldier can attempt, “Could I please have the gun back, Wriggle?”
She visibly tosses the idea of messing around more. Hopefully because I’m being cautious here, she decides against it. She lifts the gun above herself so that I can take the grip. When taking her hand from the handle, though, she seems to bump her thumb against the trigger.
A loud blast ejects from the pistol, various energies snapping clean through a bamboo stalk into an empty part of the foliage. At least, I thought it was empty. We had been wandering around this bamboo forest to little inconvenience, but it looks like we’ve just skirted around the things here. A brown beast on four legs with frontal tusks stands to alert and tracks the source of commotion, at first facing away from us. Had the gun hit a bit to the left it would have been killed for sure.
I take initiative, snagging my gun back and launching forward. With the creature turning around it makes a tricky angle to hit, but I twist in midair to convert my speed into a cleaving kick. Hard boots can’t take this level of abuse, so I always wear padded wrappings, which allows me to connect all of my momentum from my toes directly to the spinal chord of the thing I’m hitting.
Some say that’s entirely overkill when I also just pop the thing’s head off from the pinpoint pressure cleaving straight through, but I can never be too sure.
I further twist to land horizontally on a bamboo stalk, letting it bow to soften my speed. The sound of my jump catches up, followed by the head sailing past. Getting a better look it seems to be a boar but with some extra features I didn’t see in any book before. All of that required study suddenly feels even more worthless.
Before I end up like that idiot child Rumia, I slide from the bamboo right as it stops.
With that I believe it to be over, but a crack breaks the newfound silence. I prepare to close the distance to whatever caused it. But when I see it’s Wriggle this time, I choose to observe her for a second before making any conclusions.
She’s clapping, cheerfully laughing at my display of violence. There’s definitely something wrong with her.
“What the hell is wrong with you?!” a new voice shouts at us.
From the thick of the bamboo a new individual shows themselves. A girl even smaller than Wriggle, black hair, pink dress. Rabbit ears. Drooping rabbit ears, so an Earth rabbit. Inferior species of little interest, even if classified as a Youkai.
“I’m asking who the hell did this?!” she continues shouting, holding up the not Boar’s head and also pointing to her center frame, now caked in a good swathe of blood.
“Hi Tewi!” Wriggle greets with the same giddiness as before. She points to me and continues, “That was her! This rabbit is so cool! She took out that boar like a real predator!”
Tewi follows Wriggle’s finger as the child plays with some mock sounds of my movements. The rabbit finds herself looking further up than she thought, having now noticed that she stomped next to me. She didn’t even realize I was a person standing here.
“Ah, you…” she starts. Her complexion went white real fast. Any more shakes and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say she’s quivering. A common reaction to me. “Uhm, hi. Here’s your boar head, now I’ll just be on my way. Sorry for the... shouting.”
A shy rabbit, isn’t she? I should weigh my options, though. Before she remembered how small she was there was a hot rage bubbling. Might be better to snuff it out (for now, anyway).
[x] Let this idiot go. Inflated egos hardly get work done.
[x] Take her out. Even a small grudge can turn into an obstruction if left unchecked.
[x] Strategize more, I can think for myself. (Write-in)
Muscle rabbit can chew through nails for breakfast! Without any milk!
[x] Take her out. Even a small grudge can turn into an obstruction if left unchecked.
I put a hand to the little rabbit’s head before she can scamper from sight. She freezes as any small animal would from danger.
“You’re joining us,” I command her. There’s a chance, however slight, that she won’t be stupid and cry for help. If that happens I can let her keep talking. I still need so much information right now, and Wriggle didn’t give me as much as I hoped.
Tewi doesn’t act for a second, weighing her options. She chooses wrong when she thinks I wouldn’t notice her taking a deep breathe to shout. With ample force, I lift her by the head and slam her straight into the dirt, causing Wriggle to yelp in surprise. I lift the rabbit back up to check that she’s knocked out, and sling her over my shoulder when I’m sure she is.
“Ooh, her face is all dirty. Hey, hey, what did she do this time?” Wriggle asks, apparently not too bothered by what just happened.
“What? This time?” I ask in return.
“Yeah, a lot of people hate Tewi doing things. There was this one time that she went around acting like she had a shrine donation box! I still remember how badly Reimu left her after that,” Wriggle explains.
Reimu… shrine maiden… ah yes, I remember. She was one of the odd group that came to the capital and intercepted by the Watatsukis. Easy to anger, I’ll have to remember that.
Actually, maybe Wriggle does know more than I perceived, I just wasn’t asking questions to keep her attention…
“Is Tewi the only troublesome rabbit?” I ask.
“Oh, of course not! She’s the head of the pack, so the rest are just like her!” Wriggle giggles. So this kid likes to gossip. That makes this easier.
“Let’s keep walking, maybe we could return Tewi to her home,” I lie, of course, but leading statements are a gossip’s end.
“Oh, we’re going to the same place, actually. It’s a clinic, so it wouldn’t be bad if you did hurt her,” Wriggle informs me. I don’t like her logic in that latter part, but that’s her own issue.
More importantly, this is different from what I expected, I continue to prod for information, “Wriggle, is Reisen a physician? She never had the skill set for that, from my memory.”
Wriggle checks her distorted mind for the answer, a finger to her cheek in thought. “Sort of..? I think she has a teacher or something. The scary white haired lady. Or was it that princess or whatever?” she somewhat answers.
Princess? There’s no fucking way. The chances of that aren’t even worth considering. Calm down, me.
Sure enough, Wriggle leads us through without any further trouble. We come upon the clinic, more like a large manse fit for whoever this ‘princess’ really is. The front gate unguarded, a strange occurrence for a forest with beasts like what I saw.
“Alright, thank you for your help, Wriggle,” I tell the bug.
“Huh? I’m not going. I want to know more about you, scary rabbit lady.”
I pause trying to understand what this girl’s issue is. I think I fail to understand her on some other level here. My brain is raking itself for the mess I’m finding myself in, having just come down and already things are going wrong. It tells me to just drop the idiot and the rabbit and be on my way, but I know that isn’t a great idea.
Instead I try a different approach, and say, “Wriggle, what do you think about hurting other people?”
“Hurting people? Sure, if you’ve got reason,” she blasely states.
“Child, I’m dead serious here,” I reprimand the bug.
“I know, I didn’t think you weren’t,” she replies. She reminds me of rabbits first joining the force, not realizing how bad things can get.
“Then let me put it a different way. I’m going to do bad things. You should leave before you regret it. Or I find a real reason to kill you.”
She just stares, placid to my open threat. I walk through the gateway, and I’ll be damned she follows me.
Without another word, I pivot on a leg and roundhouse Wriggle with full force. I hit center mass, causing her to cough up blood, and follow through, transferring great momentum that lifts her from her feet. She flies a distance, cutting through several bamboo stalks before a small clump of them catches her. A few more coughs escape her as she slumps to the ground, her pep no longer present.
I feel bad to do that, but I did warn her plenty of my intent.
I continue inside the mansion, hoping to find a good spot to wake the rabbit on my shoulder and interrogate her. I’m not so lucky, however. The mansion is too large and winding to find much of anything. Rooms and rooms and rooms of empty space, as if to mock me for checking them. I even stumble into a group of Earth rabbits, but instead of taking them out, I decide that it should be safe to pass myself off as a bystander.
One of the rabbits takes the lead, not questioning why their leader is hurt, “You want to get Tewi treatment? Sure, Eirin is in her office working on something or other.”
Oh. Oh no. Oh no no no. I didn’t want to believe, but she really just said Eirin. While that story is so far beyond my time, it’s still something taught to top operatives regardless of their work. I can’t walk into her at this junction, even if Reisen is standing right next to her!
But… why would Reisen be here? Yagokoro is the one teaching Reisen about medicine? Shit, she’s her student! It’s gotten more complicated now.
I need to decide, do I risk talking directly to the lunar traitor? It can’t be a good idea, but it’s also not a good idea to leave things be. If anything happens to Reisen, Yagokoro wouldn’t be happy with that.
Damnit, it’s possible she knows I’m here already and has a way to sus out what I’m planning on doing. This is a problem, alright.
[x] Dip out. Just ask for where Reisen is and take my chances with leaving.
[x] Dive into the flames. Talk with Yagokoro, however that may go.
[x] Let’s come up with a new plan. (Write-in)
The genius causes everyone to be paranoid. I wonder if she would help the bug out of the kindness of her heart?
[x] Dive into the flames. Talk with Yagokoro, however that may go. Kill her with kindness. Make tea, perhaps. She will know you're around sooner or later and it's better to become known on your own terms.
[x] Dive into the flames. Talk with Yagokoro, however that may go.
I clench up. Now that I know the brain of the moon is closely involved there’s no good ideas that I can choose from. I can only be proactive and state my intents, it seems. What a bad situation to be in.
“Here, I’ll come with you,” I tell the polite rabbit. I hope my nerves don’t show in my voice.
The rabbit is pleased to not have to carry Tewi herself, showing me the way through the mansion. The many paper sliding doors make a horrendous maze through the area, Yagokoro sitting in the central section of the manse. As we get closer in, more of the rooms appear to be medical related. Rooms of beds, rooms of supplies, and even rooms for the great doctor’s alchemic research.
How many people are supposed to live here if it’s this empty? It doesn’t look like there’s real board for the Earth rabbits, at least.
My guide tells me to lay Tewi out on a bed and wait for the doctor. I oblige, seeing no issue with her request. There’s no way that I could approach Yagokoro without the rabbit, anyway. That would be begging for her to misunderstand my intents.
The wait is long. I begin to wonder if the rabbit led me wrong or if the doctor just doesn’t want to bother with the troublemaker I dragged in, but I do eventually hear footsteps approach. The door to the long hall slides open and I see the legend in the flesh.
A half tone blue and red top with an opposing half tone red and blue skirt. Her eclectic outfit is seen as a symbol of fortune for lunarian researches of the biological department. Colors I used to see pretty often. A lab coat covers much of it, but it’s unmistakable.
She eyes Tewi’s passed out frame with some disgust and boredom before moving on to the captor. We lock eyes. It takes no longer than a second for her to shift into fighting instincts, taking something from her coat pocket and predicting my movements.
It’s useless to try and talk her out of this, so instead I take action to avoid direct conflict. While she might try and predict where I’m going, she can’t predict just how fast I am. I dive down behind Tewi’s bed, some small medical object just barely brushing my hair. Now that I have a civilian between her and I, she’s much less inclined to continue hostility. At least long enough for me to talk.
“I’m not here to kill you!” I try to make as clear as possible.
“Of course not!” Yagokoro agrees. “You aren’t able to, after all! You’re here to confirm where the princess is for a squad to take her into custody!”
I glance over my cover to see her take more dangerous looking supplies from a cabinet near the door.
“Stop, that’s really not why I’m here!” I plead.
Even if I have the advantage of surprise, there’s no way to keep her down. The next time around would be against her weapons of choice, and I’m not immune to poisons. That’s the real danger with Yagokoro: she gets more than one chance to kill me, and I can’t do much about that.
She continues to mess with stuff in the closet, hoping to make a weapon with anything on hand.
I dive over my cover, rushing her down as she’s focused on the chems. She turns and throws a bottle in my direction, which I carefully move around in case it’s volatile. I fly past it on foot, a light fume of narcotics trailing behind. When I get on top of her, Yagokoro tries to get the first hit on me, forcing me to intercept her. She’s holding another liquid bottle that shatters in her hand, likely hoping that my skin would cut and make contact in the process.
Glass alone can’t cut my skin, but I don’t want to tempt fate if she keeps trying. I grab her with my other arm, turning to toss her over my shoulder. A scalpel comes close to my eye as she falls to the ground.
While she’s recovering her breath I get her into a pinning hold.
She breathes heavily, exhausted by irregular exertion. I breathe heavily, realizing if that scalpel even so much as touched me I’d probably have minutes to live.
“Can we talk now?” I grunt.
“Say what you will. It makes little difference to me,” she refuses to listen, tugging against my hold.
“Right, so again. I’m not here for you or the princess,” I start. “I’m not here because command told me to. Or, I mean– I’m on Earth because they told me to be, but I’m not here under their orders.”
“You’ll say anyway, so I’ll be polite and ask, why are you here?” Yagokoro strains her speech as I have to tighten my grip in a few places.
“You know our girl?” Yagokoro asks, more curios now that the topic is shifting away from her and her charge.
I sigh, “That’s what I’ve been trying to say. I’m here for Reisen, not you. A little bug told me she lives here and all that. Since you didn’t shout for help, I’m guessing she’s not here?”
“You’d be correct, she’s making a pharmaceutic round, I gave her a list but don’t remember exactly where she’s going,” Yagokoro explains.
I’d call bullshit on her forgetting anything, but she’s being cooperative enough as it is. She must be implying intent to disconnect herself.
“Can I let you go now? Or are you going to try and slice me with that scalpel after I do?” I ask, hoping we can go back to a regular conversation.
She puffs, “You’ve already shown your colors, you brute. I wouldn’t have any better luck even if I tried again. You know that already.”
“No comment,” I reply, lessening my grip on the doctor.
We each slowly get back to our feet, making sure the other doesn’t suddenly move. I take a step back from her, and she does the same.
“Okay,” I say, legitimately thankful that I could bring her back to a calm discussion. “Now, Reisen. I’m only here to tell you that I’m going to fight her. I hope to kill her for reasons between us.”
Yagokoro looks into my eyes, gauging my sincerity. I do not falter to her gaze, though my spine tingles imagining what she could do to me.
“Sadly, I believe you,” she states, even more disappointed than seeing Tewi beaten up. “I also understand your reasoning for telling me, first. I hope my assistant doesn’t die, regardless of the reason. If you should be a demon of her past, I wish you many woes.”
“But you aren’t going to hunt me down if I do succeed, right?” I ask, maybe being too forward doing so.
“Leave!” she shouts, incensed.
While not a direct statement of complacence, I’ll take what I can get, and scramble from the room. This went better than I could have hoped, but I’ll need to be on my toes in case she decides to change her mind.
My mind, though, keeps scratching at me for being compromised so thoroughly. I don’t blame myself for this, especially since it’s worked out so far, but I’m losing my edge being single minded in this task.
And again, I need to find Reisen from square one, almost.
[x] Openly ask around. If Wriggle is any indication, people of Gensokyo can be helpful, but largely apathetic.
[x] Scout on my own. It could be dangerous to be found by Gensokyan residents, but I want to keep my business quiet.
[x] Let’s strategize. (Write-in)
I’m not too used to action prose, so I hope it doesn’t come off as clunky, but please let me know, since it seems this muscle head will be fighting pretty often.
Walking away from a confrontation with Eirin alive.
As for the mission, we've made ourself far too conspicuous already.
While this bun could probably beat her way through Gensokyo for a while longer, that'll get you a target on your back right quick.
Professionals have standards. Time to adhere to 'em.
First things first. Go off-grid and scout the area.
That doesn't mean we have to search the entirety of Gensokyo like a headless chicken, however.
Eirin, reluctant as she was to give us any info, did give us a lead.
Reisen is doing a pharmaceutic round, that means she'll be visiting people.
That means we can narrow our search to concentrations of civilisation.
Now, I don't know how much we were briefed on the layout of this place, but it should be easy enough to know there is at least a village. That's a prime candidate.
Furthermore, we can stick to casing roads instead of going out into the wilderness, that should narrow things down more as well.
Of course, we can't account for any isolated conclaves (like the kappa or tengu, but would Bunninator know of them, anyway?) or hermits this way, but efficiency is key here. We were on the clock the moment we decided to mingle with the locals and made ourself known.
[X] Scout on my own. It could be dangerous to be found by Gensokyan residents, but I want to keep my business quiet. -[X] Focus the search on habitated areas and roads.
A Lunarian getting pushed down by a moon rabbit? And THIS Lunarian at that? Ehhhh And she doesn't do anything when being told Reisen has an assassin after her although Reisen's express reason for being with her is as a refugee?
I don't like that at all really. Extremely OOC
[x] Scout on my own. It could be dangerous to be found by Gensokyan residents, but I want to keep my business quiet.
[X] Scout on my own. It could be dangerous to be found by Gensokyan residents, but I want to keep my business quiet.
My first order of business is to find places that she might be delivering medicine. Finding cultural centers is easy enough, so long as they’re in the open. Where Yagokoro is hiding won’t be an exception, though. There’s probably a lot of places hiding in the various nooks that Gensokyo has. Instead of worrying about the off chance that Reisen is delivering to some enclave or another, I need to keep my search to the main arteries that people would travel along.
Easier said than done, as I only know the generic layout of Gensokyo. The notable locations that could be spied on from the moon. Since I know the village is at the heart, it’s a high chance that she’ll pass through it when going between deliveries. Telling the time is going to be hard, but I’d assume it’s before midday by the sun’s position. Unless it’s past midday and it’s going down? Gah, how would I have known I needed to study path finding and tracking before coming here? My old home was a god damn sea and a city.
“You look like you’re thinking really hard…” a smaller voice sneaks up on me.
I already recognize the voice, and simply state, “Wriggle, didn’t you learn from before not to follow me?”
“Nope! I’m curious now, and you should know that we Youkai can be hard headed.”
I’m scoping one of the village trails leading out North… Maybe North. It goes to the larger section of Gensokyo where the massive mountain sits, so I’ll call that connecting line North for now. Wriggle found me hiding in brush a fair distance from farming lands and marshes used by humans, so she must have been on my tail when I left the bamboo forest.
Admittedly, she could have run into me again while I was trying to leave. Turns out the place has some spell on it to obfuscate directions. It took me time before I gave up on walking and decided I needed to fly out of the area. Had that not worked I would have had to kidnap a rabbit from the clinic.
“Hey, come on!” Wriggle pesters as I’m watching. “Why did the scary doctor lady attack you? Is it ‘cause you’re going to do bad things? Is it bad things to Reisen?”
“How did you know I fought the doctor?” I ask. She should have been injured at the front of the building, even if she recovered afterwards, how did she find where I was in that time frame?
“I heard about it,” she answers plainly.
“From who?” I ask, worried about more than just her following me.
“… Your bugs?” I ask for elaboration. She’s messing with me again, isn’t she?
“Yeah, the bugs of Gensokyo tell me a lot of things,” she states. Oh, she’s serious, isn’t she? “That’s why I know what’s going on all over the place! Even when you landed.”
“But you didn’t know Reisen wasn’t at that clinic?” I argue.
“Well, I mean… bugs don’t always have perfect memories,” she nervously chuckles.
Even with some false information, it still ended up helping. I needed to talk to Yagokoro, as it turns out. While she didn’t sound fine with what’s happening, she won’t get in my way if it doesn’t have to do with her and the princess. At least, I’ll have to hope that’s as far as Reisen ingratiated herself. The doctor’s motivations are beyond me, and she could have easily been lying. If that is the case, there’s not much I can do about it. I must absolutely avoid her if she shows up again, because she’ll be prepared for me.
Shit, what if she lied about the medicine deliveries? She could be hunting for me right now. The hairs on my neck scream out, but I do my best to ignore them. I need to think less about these things, it’s not what I’m good at.
For now, there doesn’t seem to be any traffic of interest through this village gate. Plenty of plain clothes farmers going in and out, some with various cargo, but no notable individuals. And no Reisen. Hm. I need to consider if Reisen is in some traveling attire to conceal herself.
“What are you thinking about now?” Wriggle once again pines for attention.
“You’re still here? Go away already, kid,” I scorn.
“Nuh uh. I ain’t leaving ‘cause I want to see you fight again!” she declares, throwing a playful punch.
I scoff, “You won’t be seeing any fighting. The only person I’m here to fight is Reisen. Yagokoro was a conflict of interest.”
“Aww,” the girl deflates.
I fully return my attention to spying on the village entryway. It’s some time more before a new point of interest exits the gate. A silver haired woman in a blue high skirted dress with an apron. A very strange individual, though that may just be how it is with Gensokyo. She’s carrying a large amount of stock in a cart, likely a weekly run for whatever group she represents. A curious, almost satirical looking scene for how daintily she’s dressed, and yet she appears to have no issue moving the cart itself.
I very nearly pass her off as unimportant, if not odd, before I notice her grip on the cart also has something hanging from her hand. A small bag and a few white parcels behind it. Should be medicine of some kind or another. Now that I’m looking more, she looks human. Wriggle skews my opinion on how that works, but this maid or whatever appears to not have any extrinsic features. It’s not enough to go off of, though, I’ll have to keep–
“What are you doing here?” a cold voice questions me from behind. A knife has been pressed to my throat before I can even tell what’s happening. I guess I just need to get used to the idea that concealment isn’t much my gig. Reisen was always better at it.
The knife presses harder, attempting to draw blood from my leathery skin. The voice asks again, “What are you doing? I could feel your bloodlust from the village gate. Not to mention I haven’t seen you before.”
This isn’t good. Do I try my luck and break out of this? Do I talk my way out? Everything sounds risky when a knife starts the conversation.
[x] Fight whoever this is. I’m sure I can take them.
[x] Talk it out. Maybe I can deescalate and say it’s a misunderstanding.
[x] Time to strategize. (Write-in)
Day to day format for writing is harder than I expected. There’s less time for me to sanity check my posts, as >>29091 points out. It’s passed for now, so I’ll keep these things in mind for later down the line. I can say that Eientei should have been reserved for farther into the story, though. Albeit it would have been hard to get Moi on track without aimless wandering otherwise. Hmm…
Okay we might be a bit lousy at recon for an elite commando, but we're not gonna lose in a straight-up fight. Whoever owns this knife lost the advantage when they stopped to ask questions and didn't just stab us dead. Yes, I know it's probably Sakuya but this is Bunninator PoV. There's probably something in the Lunarian Krav Maga handbook to deal with situations like these beyond "don't get a knife pointed at your throat". Put these treetrunks for arms to use. A fake surrender into grabbing the knife hand? The ol' headbutt the guy standing behind you?
[X] Fight whoever this is. I’m sure I can take them.
[X] Fight whoever this is. I’m sure I can take them.
So much for what I just told the kid…
I slowly raise my hands and say, “Hey, listen I was looking for some–“
That is before I clamp my jawbone to my neck, trapping the knife. At the same time, I tumble forward, catching the assailant by surprise. I can feel the person’s grip tug as they both try to slice the knife held up to me and when I must lift them from the ground. They’re quick enough to know that if they keep their grip, they’ll end up right underneath my somersault.
A little maneuver I picked up when some rabbits joked that I could do it during training. To everyone’s surprise, my neck muscle is in fact able to do that.
I twist back up to a crouch, stealing the knife to a hand. I don’t intend to use it, instead I test it against my skin. Sure enough, it cuts through me with some effort. Must be crazy sharp to do that. I chuck the blade aside as I get a look at my assaulter.
Somehow, it’s the maid from the front entrance of the village. Her knife fits her general personage, sharp as hell looking.
I would analyze her more if I wasn’t working my whole brain figuring out how she seemed to teleport. I mean, teleporting isn’t the weirdest thing, even on the moon. Wriggle’s little talk to bugs trick is weirder, if anything.
“You said you’re searching for someone?” the maid questions.
“Just distracting you. What I really wanna ask is why you’re being hostile,” I retort.
“I couldn’t suffer a potential stalker,” she claims. A new knife comes from below her skirt. I didn’t see anywhere to store it, though.
I smirk, taunting, “If I beat you up I guess that’d make me better than a ‘stalker.’”
One wag of my finger and she’s gone the next time I blink. In her place, a knife aiming directly for my head. Pretty cheap, though, since it’s no more than a few centimeters away. It strikes my skull, piercing through my skin and clattering against the metal base plate where bone once was. A similar situation is why it’s there now.
Doesn’t stop the metal on metal contact from reverberating through my entire skull like a bell. The lab rats always told me to consider it punishment for getting hit there in the first place. They never have to deal with the tinnitus inducing percussions. Nor the excessive bleeding of a forehead split.
“Woah!” Wriggle gasps from a tree above. “The maid isn’t fighting by spellcard rules?”
“I could care less about honor against a moon rabbit,” the maid’s voice comes from a different side. She’s definitely teleporting. Now, I’ve gotta figure out that knife before she tries a major artery. Only a few of those are protectively padded.
“You know some?” I keep up the conversation as I wade to a better spot around the trees. I ignore the blood dripping down my face. It’ll dry quick enough.
“A few,” the maid confirms, mirroring my movements, “but only Reisen ever seems to be so gung ho about close quartered brawling. Bit of a disappointment from trained foot soldiers.”
Sounds like Reisen, alright. For all her cowardice she’s surprisingly alright at throwing a punch.
“How do the others fight? By these ‘spellcard’ rules?” I keep up the jabber. It’s really for information, now, the tree I wanted passed a few paces ago.
“It makes her knives less sharp. That’s for sure…” Wriggle comments from a hiding spot in the trees. The maid kindly sends a warning shot into the same section before reclaiming yet another knife from her skirt.
I keep my eyes keen on her movements, yet still she sinks into the side of a tree and vanishes again. This time a knife wasn’t placed to ring my skull. Instead, I’m left to listlessly pick a direction that she might come from. The sounds of the forest have grown quiet as the woodland creatures avoid the activity of people. The clamor of the villagers’ lives remains in the background. Lighting through these woods could be better for combat. That was also why I chose them, as the maid put it, to ‘stalk’ people.
She must have come up with her next move. Sounds. Many. Clunks of things against wood, to my eleven and seven. She’s throwing a lot of something my way, and it seems to be something that she can rebound. I look at the projectiles in front of me, and they glimmer in the breaking light that seeps through here and there. All knives, and while I could question how they apparently rebounded, now’s not the time. I instead take the spread and use it to my advantage.
Shuffling a foot back one moment, spring like a bullet the next. I dive into the center point of the knife dispersion, raising my arms to cover my path forward. Many ribbons of blood streak out across them, showing that I’m moving right where I want to be. A tree newly chipped away by a blast of sharp objects stands out from its peers. Landing against it horizontally, I apply no pressure to it, instead using it as a guide for where to go next.
The white apron and silver hair are easy enough to spot.
I launch off, trying to disturb the tree as little as possible, and fly directly at the woman’s face. She barely catches sight of me with enough time to brace before I contact the top of my foot with her face.
But as before, there one second, gone the next. I’m still going through the air, and am certain I made contact, but she seems to have teleported again. Not too frequent I gotta deal with an annoying power like this. The sound of a tree crashing with something echoes a distance out, but I don’t have time to interpret why before I land on a different spot of the forest.
I look around from my horizontal vantage, trying to spot the maid. If she teleported in a hurry, surely it must be within sight range. That’s what that limitation was, right?
Gazing into the trees further out, I’m all too late in recognizing the object whistling at my flank. A knife makes it through my head’s skin again, but this time there’s very little protective measure right against my temple. The hit drops me from the spot, no more momentum to hold me up. The most I can do is roll to the side the knife isn’t on. While it’s probably hit a small bit of my brain, I still retain enough function to not skewer myself.
My reward is a nice view of the maid, bloodied and dirtied from my earlier strike, somehow. But things go hazy as my body loses senses. First it’s vision, then sound, last comes touch. I don’t expect to die from this, and I’m sure my body is scrambling on it’s own to remove the glaring issue, so I end up slipping for a moment. However much time that really is will be yet to tell.
For now, sounds, but not of reality as I know it. It’s…
[x] Friends chatting.
[x] Coworkers bantering.
[x] Are these memories..? (Write-in..?)
Ooh boy. There’s so much more that could have been done here, and there’s so little time for me to think about things! I’m going so fast and it feels like I’m bumping up against walls everywhere, but in that fun bumper car kind of way. Spotting how I could have taken a corner better, made a turn faster.
A fading sound. One going in the wrong direction. It’s the same as waking up, but there’s one notable difference.
“Moi,” a girl beggars my attention, “jeez. You can’t fall asleep now! We’ve got so much day for ourselves right now!”
This is how I know it’s a dream. Reisen is beside me, chatting up a storm like she always does. We’ve got whatever the hell was served in the cafeteria on that day, my memory having since degraded it into a gray slop. The sound of the cafeteria itself remained wedged in my mind as the buzz and activity of other rabbits tends to stir me. The most notable feature of the scene is that this is after Reisen and I stole an old couch in the corner of the cafeteria from the previous primadonnas. It had since become our regular seating, to the envy of every spectator forced to comply with a cold metal stool.
Times like this is when we had chances to talk about whatever. No work, no orders, no laboratory testing.
“You’re not tired, huh?” Reisen questions words I’d said. “Then why are you looking down? It’s a day off! We should look for something to perk you up.”
I respond something I vaguely remember to be about some idiots that were mocking me earlier. This is all a memory, I don’t really say anything. It just makes sense to stay in tune, otherwise everything turns into a jumbled mess of noise, visions, and even smells.
“One of those rabbits was giving you grief for being different? Those idiots won’t ever learn. Let’s assert ourselves next time. They won’t be so cocky if we’re together!” Reisen boasts with a fire in her eyes. The redness in them always glimmers more than anything else in my memory.
I think I nodded and even tried to get up on the spot. Reisen rushes to sit me back down.
“Not right now, you bulk head! Come on, we can trap them later. Think about what you want to do right now. I’m always the one suggesting things to do on time off,” Reisen admonishes. She isn’t exaggerating, either. Any relaxation I found was at her suggestions.
I pass off any decision making like I so often did. Not really out of laziness, but more so because I never understood what I thought would be relaxing. If someone like me could really ‘relax.’
“Oh, fine,” Reisen giggles, smiling at my usual dour attitude. “Then how’s about this? I’ve been thinking… since we finally have some more freedom to dress how we want, why don’t we go shopping?”
My memory and my ethereal form roll our eyes in sync. I would look like a mugger in any store I could go into.
“Don’t be like that!” Reisen pouts. Part of the reason I always acted cold with her is because she would be like this. The slight frustration that makes her ears wrinkle is entirely too cute. “You have the right to go shopping like any girl. I’ll knock out any idiot that says otherwise.”
I had, with some time, reluctantly agreed to go on this little adventure. Of course, I was curious what she even wanted to look at, since we still always wore our various uniforms. The extra freedom she mentioned was the lab techies no longer breathing down our necks to never accessorize. It made us stand out from other rabbits that were all about different fashion items and trends. That went for both the military unit and the dango pounders.
“I was asking around about the latest thing,” Reisen says, putting her hands together when explaining, “and I think it would be nice to have personal psychic inhibitors. I didn’t entirely get it, but it seems to be hot right now with the rabbits, and so a lot of new designs have been coming out lately!”
“Don’t bother, she won’t tell you why she really wants it,” I say aloud to my memory.
“Oh, well, I mean, we go on plenty of missions. I’m sure some of them need us to go radio silent,” Reisen deflects my question at the time.
While it did strike me as strange at the time, there was something I spotted the other day when wandering around. It didn’t leave my head for the sake of me.
“What?” Reisen chuckles. “The black buttons? Getting a piercing sounds so funny. I don’t know.”
I persisted that they would look good on her. They did. I wasn’t wrong.
“Are you trying to give me a darker image?” she continued to laugh. When she realizes I was serious, she stops her banter. “Wait, no. No, I’m not laughing at you. If you think it would look good, I’ll try it. But let’s pick something out for you too. Deal?”
I had still been recovering from embarrassment when she asked. It was only a small voice that accepted her.
The rest of that day runs the same as it does every time. We end up getting a matching set. She finds a way to stick me in a dress. We eat out. Prepare for the next day and retire to our room. I wonder how many times this memory has repeated when I’m sleeping.
Or, well… I’m not sleeping… I’m–
The knife pops from my skull. It seems my arm did eventually find the thing. The blood flows freely from the serious hole that now exists there. My brain should heal in an hour or two, but damn is getting knocked out never fun.
My vision returns after I’d already rolled up. My motor functions like to stick around more than anything else.
“Well, she did wake up,” the cold voice from before reacts in almost sarcastic shock.
“You’re still here?” I slur through my many faulty senses.
“Indeed I am, stalker. I was soon to take you to Eientei, but your friend here said that you’d been shooed off by the good doctor there,” the maid dryly explains. She beckons for something from me. I hand her knife back, seeing no need to hold a grudge if she didn’t seek to kill me. I mean, we kind of mutually agreed to fight, anyway.
I realize what the maid said and ask, “What friend?”
“Hi, still here,” Wriggle says from the top of a tree.
“You are not my friend, kid,” I scold the pest.
“I disagree,” she snickers.
“The larger than usual roach aside, what is it you’re doing, really?” the maid questions. “It was a good bout, but I would prefer that you aren’t truly a stalker.”
Hm. I guess I need to choose to ask her for more info or not. She seems to have calmed down, at least, but that’s besides the part where I don’t know her at all.
[x] Trust the combat maid. Ask for information, exchange information if need be.
[x] Move along. The less involved the better.
[x] Stratergize! (Write-in)
Muscle rabbit has fun time between fighting everyone she meets. Was it good characterization? I don’t know, I thought it would be fun to do this scene, so I did it.
[X] Respect the combat maid. Answer her question, then ask for information. I did lose to her, after all.
“I am no stalker,” I answer the maid. “I am looking for someone, though.”
While she’s shifty looking, she’s also pretty sharp. It wouldn’t surprise me if she’s a hunter in disguise. I can likely show her some respect and ask for a tip on my mission here.
“So you are a stalker, but not mine,” the maid concludes.
“If that’s how you see it,” I allow her judgment. “Would you be willing to help a soldier out? That was a good fight, even if I lost.”
“You lost and are asking for concessions? You certainly must be new…” the maid teases. At least I hope she’s teasing.
“Take it more like good will. Would you like to know anything from me? Let’s start there,” I practice my good behavior again.
“Hmm,” the maid hums while checking her nails. “Something simple: what mission did your commander give you? I don’t believe you’d be sent down for one person.”
I snort by accident, finding the question amusing, “You’re right, I’m here to blend in. Wait for further orders acting like I’ve been exiled. What they don’t know is I don’t plan to follow their word.”
“A rebel, then,” the maid surmises.
“One that used to kill them,” I give a bit extra. “Someone hated by everyone.”
“I don’t hate you,” the bug contradicts from above.
“Shut up, Wriggle,” I nag.
The maid seems to have grown a slight grin from my chagrin. This kid buzzing around me offsets my hardass persona.
“Very well, I will help. I can only give you information, though,” the maid acquiesces.
I nod, “That would be very helpful. Now, what can you tell me about Reisen?”
“The nervous moon rabbit?” she asks, somewhat confused. “An odd target. Unless you simply hate cravens. Ah, don’t mind me. She wears white plain clothes and uses an ornate medicine box when traveling. We’re not well acquainted, but talk somewhat in passing.”
“Everyone does in Gensokyo, after fighting each other,” Wriggle comments.
“Quite,” the maid agrees.
“Any idea where she is?” I ask, keeping to the point. “Knowing her disguise is good, but this Gensokyo is big and I need somewhere to catch up to her.”
“She did say there were a lot of places on her list today… if you must take a chance, the forest of magic and the Buddhist temple are the closest things to the village.”
A Buddhist temple or a forest? That sounds obvious enough for a medicine seller.
“Wait, why would Reisen sell medicine in a forest at all?” I ask, thinking even the mention to be odd.
“Some witches live there, I’m sure they like the funny things the doctor makes,” Wriggle guesses.
“Of course, the Buddhists are only half humans, as well. I couldn’t imagine what their demand for medicine would be,” the maid further ponders.
I grunt, “Right… so it’s not that cut and dry. Damn…”
With a moment of thought, I choose a location and ask the maid how to get to…
[x] The temple. More people seems like somewhere Reisen would prefer to go, even if it’s only before the other place.
[x] The forest. If those witches pay good buck, I can expect Reisen to take advantage of it. She’s flighty, but shrewd.
[x] Somewhere else. What other places do I know, really? (Write-in)
Couldn’t quite get into the rhythm like I had yesterday. Oh well, still got around to a reasonable choice.
Well, no respect like that beat out of each other in glorious combat.
Both options are fine, but we should ask for a little bit more info before we head off if we can.
Apparently she saw Reisen just recently. How long ago was this? Might help us establish a timeframe.
We should also ask which location is closer to where we are now. It should be the temple as we're on the village outskirts, but Bunninator is new here so some directions would be nice; if she asked Wriggle she wouldn't hear the end of it. As such, it makes sense to go to the temple first. Speaking of the temple, they might be only half humans, but they still have some human followers; and I doubt altruists wouldn't want to have a good stockpile of medicine.
I mentioned asking Wriggle, but if we really wanted to ask something prudent of her, it'd be asking her to ask her bugs to locate Reisen. Clearly her spy network is vast, minus some hiccups here and there. But I also don't think Moi wants to engage with her right now. At all.
Speaking of smart things we could do, the best plan is one based on established facts; the problem is the only fact we have is that Reisen is currently out on a (long) medicine run. That means the only guarantee we really have is that she'll return home. Eventually. Therefore, the plan that would have the highest chance of success with the info we have now is to set up an ambush at the entrance of the bamboo forest and wait for her to return. The problem is: that's boring. Sitting in ambush for hours on end does not really sound fun, especially for this kind of story. Besides, I don't think this kind of dull plan suits our MC anyway. Actively hunting the bunny sound much more her style.
Small aside, I am somewhat intrigued by the wording of the forest option, sounds like she already has a good read on Reisen (they were friends, after all), so maybe that'd be where she is after all.
[X] Ask the maid which location is closer. -[X] Also ask how long ago she saw Reisen. then [X] The temple. More people seems like somewhere Reisen would prefer to go, even if it’s only before the other place.
Sorry that my vote is formatted weirdly for what is basically just a temple vote, but I figured putting it in logical order of occurence might make it easier to read.
[x] The temple. More people seems like somewhere Reisen would prefer to go, even if it’s only before the other place.
The maid, Izayoi, obliges my request, even being sure to answer that the temple is actually the closer location from where we are, since you travel deep into the forest for anything interesting. Wriggle wiles away the time on my shoulder, waiting for my conversation to finish. Whatever her reasons for following me are, whatever neurotic reasons, it probably isn’t to do with me acting kind or civil. If there’s some way I can take advantage of that fact, I wouldn’t even be able to guess for now.
“Ah, one other thing,” I stop Izayoi as she steps away. “How long ago did you see Reisen? Also, uhm, how long did you knock me out for?”
Izayoi pivots toward me and clears her throat, “Yes, that would be good to know. I passed Reisen in the village around two or so hours ago. There’s no guarantee from me that she could be at either location I guessed. She may even be in the underground for all I know. And, fifteen minutes, or so.”
“The underground?” I ask, focusing on the important details here.
“Indeed, a place for the unwanted Youkai of the above-ground Gensokyo. The home of the oni. You would fit right in with them, should you find a way to disguise your ears as horns,” Izayoi jokes. At least I think she does, reading her emotional cadence is hard.
I thank the maid and we part ways, my next destination clear.
Wriggle floats from my shoulder, striking up conversation, “Hey, why are you going around the village? It’s quicker to go through the front gate and out the back.”
“Is there really a front and back gate to a circular village?” I ponder. “I’m just going where there’s less people. I don’t need every person in Gensokyo to know I exist.”
“Really? To me it looks like you’re finding people on purpose,” Wriggle argues. I’m hunting Reisen, so of course I’ll run into people she interacts with. It just so happens she also knows a bunch of stupidly tough people.
A short jaunt through some light forestry and around farmlands brings us to the Southern end of the village. The supposed temple is visible on top of a highland, much of it edged on a shallow cliff. How to approach? The front door isn’t out of the question, many people travel through it. The back might look strange if I’m spotted, but would also bring me closer to what I want.
I only need to find whoever would oversee supplies like the medicine that Reisen is delivering. If she’s delivering it, of course.
“What’cha thinking about?” Wriggle asks, crouching alongside me to pretend like she’s scoping the area.
“Infiltration. I need to know where they might keep medicine, and do it while avoiding any annoying assholes,” I explain to keep cycling my thoughts.
“That’s easy, just go in from the graveyard,” Wriggle suggests.
There’s a graveyard? Where?
Ah, right against the treeline even further South there are headstones peeking over the cliff.
I question Wriggle’s idea, “Why would that be less suspicious, exactly? I would be walking in the real back door.”
“Well, a lot of Youkai go through there. Humans and Youkai are both at the temple, but they aren’t really comfortable around each other.”
That’s not a detail I imagine her bugs told her, but I’ll not worry about that.
“So you mean I can blend in as a regular patron like that? That’s… not a bad idea.”
“What do you say when someone helps you?” Wriggle intones with expectation.
“You’re better than a useless bug,” I mock her need for positive reinforcement. I get up and start walking through the forest further around, and say, “Also, thanks.”
“Can I mention that I’m a firefly? Would you call me that instead?”
“If it comes up.”
The forest connects back up to the cliff some ways out. From there, we walk into the graveyard. The place is quiet, and everything I expect of the human recreations ‘honoring’ the dead. Solitary stone pieces, some elaborate and decorative, just to hold a dead body underground. Rotting. Decaying.
While I am used to the purity of the moon, I’m also no idiot and know that the moon wasn’t all pure. At least not in the figurative sense. I wouldn’t exist if that were the case. None of this is comforting to the included fact that I’ll be like this at some point. Reisen, too, whether I win or not.
“Hey, you’re looking a little spooky, big bunny,” Wriggle comments.
“My name is Moi. Use it if you need to address me. Not ‘big bunny’ for the sake of all celestial divines,” I grieve at the shot to my pride.
We continue through the area, not much activity around. A lone spirit wanders here and there, but nothing to worry about. We are close to exiting the burial site when something sticks out. And I mean that in my vision there’s an umbrella sitting above one of the headstones. The ridiculous thing is purple with an enormous tongue sticking out from the paper top. The holder of this strange totem poorly obscures her blue sheen behind the headstone. I walk by, hoping I haven’t found another clown to talk to.
“Boo!” she shouts when jumping in front of me. I’d already walked ahead of her. In fact, she ran several paces just to do this. I grab her face and slide her behind me, hoping it would work on her even if it didn’t the energetic bug.
“Wait,” she calls. “Wait!” she calls a bit louder. She hops onto me, hanging by my neck, and cries, “Wait! At least say something! Even if you’re not surprised don’t just ignore me!”
Is everyone in Gensokyo either intensely serious or a complete maniac? What, shit, I fall into both categories. Huh…
“Kogasa, what the hell are you crying about..? Oh,” a girl in white shorts, shirt, and cap rounds the back entry to the temple, complaining to the umbrella girl, it seems. “I’ve not seen you before, big stuff. You must be pretty new. Hope you didn’t get lost, ending up back here.”
This could be good. It could also be bad. I wonder how I should handle this? Do I lie? Do I straight shoot it? Might not the best idea with a group of Buddhists, but they’re also Youkai. At least, this girl also looks like a Youkai.
[x] Lie that I’m a rabbit from the clinic. I just need to know when the stock came in and out.
[x] Lie that I’m a new resident at the temple. Hopefully they keep residents.
[x] Get around this some other way. (Write-in)
Don’t worry, you always have the option to punch the initiative, even if she’s not actively thinking it.
[X] Simply say that you're looking for Reisen and ask if/when she's seen her. Only if pressed as to why (How rude!): [X] Lie that I’m a rabbit from the clinic.
I take the initiative from the girl’s politeness, first stating, “I didn’t have any problems, thanks.” Before she has a chance to really dissect what I’m doing here, I continue, “I’m looking for Reisen. Has she come by recently?”
The girl in white shorts eyes me up, suspicious of my general demeanor. While rude, it’s not unwarranted for me. “She did. Why, what’s up?” she questions with some caution.
“Is she still here? I need to speak with her,” I persist. If I’m pushy about it this temple goer might not bother dealing with me.
“No, she left earlier,” the girl answers.
“Ah, darn, guess I need to try somewhere else,” I try to kill off the conversation here. She’s wary of me, so asking where Reisen might have gone would be getting ahead of myself. Of course, I know where she might be right now otherwise, so she’s probably there now.
“Hey, hold on,” the white capped girl grabs my arm as I turn away, causing her to slide forward a step. “What’s this about? What do you need to find that rabbit for?”
A nosy person, she is. “Well aren’t you rude. I’m doing my job, here,” I deflect her question.
“Huh? Rude?” she says with an edge of spite to her voice. “What about the person that just walks up, asks about something random with no explanation, and tries to leave as if talking was useless. Would you say they’re rude?”
“Oh screw off, I’m not here to play pleasantries,” I scoff at the girl. “I need to find her to talk about the medicine she’s delivering today.”
“Well why don’t you tell everyone that she’s delivering to what’s wrong with her stock?” she pins, frustration mounting.
I puff and reply, “I would, but that idiot took the delivery list with her. No clue what order she’d go in even if I did have it.”
“So tell me what’s wrong with her delivery here,” the girl demands from me.
“I don’t know what she delivered. I also don’t know what it is that’s supposed to be expired,” I state.
“So some stuff is expired? That’s it?” she asks, disappointed at my mundane lie.
“Yeah, what did you think it was?”
“Well from your size and attire it looked like you were here to beat the shit out of something. Like the medicine would have sprung to life and tried killing someone. Come on, I know that thing on your hip is a weapon,” she points at my sonic blaster.
“Well aren’t you a prick? This is what I always wear.”
“Whatever,” she brazenly says to me. “Just get the hell out of here and find her. Byakuren won’t like it if there’s something wrong with our supplies.”
“Murasa, why are you getting angry?” the umbrella girl asks. She looks between us confusedly.
“Then I’m going, like I was trying to anyway,” I taunt the uppity girl.
“Not that way, you aren’t,” she rattles in agitation. “Go out the front like you’re not sneaking around.”
I pause, a small bit of carelessness escapes me, “Tch.”
“Are you looking to start something, here?” the girl in the white hat questions, anger audibly swelling.
“No, I’m leaving, now,” I declare. “Can’t be bothered with whatever your deal is.”
I step past her through the gateway into the temple. Wriggle starts to fall in behind me, greeting the umbrella girl, but something comes between us. I’m about to tell off the dumbass in white shorts but am cut short by the large metallic object hitting me straight in the chest. I fly over a distance into one of the temple’s rooms.
I lean up and look her square in the eyes, spotting her proudly displaying a sizable anchor, and threaten, “Oh you are going to really regret that.”
We brawl for several minutes. She has trouble dealing real damage to me, I have trouble dealing any damage to her. While I’m too durable for her to keep down, she has her own trick of going incorporeal. Makes punching someone hard when they turn to air.
By the end of it I grab her waist, trying to take advantage of her inability to do anything to me if I can’t do anything to her. I raise her above me, and while she goes for a swing of the anchor against my back, I go to snap hers like a twig. She taps out, giving up from the pain. With her now on the ground moaning about her back, I stretch mine. Taking a large iron bar straight to my spine is not a kind experience.
I take my chance to leave. Or so I think, but another woman stands right behind me. Purple hair fading into orange and a billowy black and white dress makes her stand out a lot. She looks over at her cohort, the one down for the count.
“My, what happened here?” she asks, a serene voice masking the clear air of authority she exhumes.
“She, uh…” I stumble to find a good excuse. “She didn’t like my attitude. I’m just trying to go.”
“Murasa threw the first hit, Byakuren!” the umbrella girl vouches for me.
“Is that so?” Byakuren reflects. “Mm. Then I suppose she was well punished.”
“Please wait,” she demurely asks. “My disciple seems to have caused you issue, so I would like to apologize on her behalf. Now, since you are in the temple, you are to adhere to the rules of these grounds. That also means–“
She stops the explanation, instead letting her fist explain for her. The thing comes at me straight to my stomach like a jackhammer. I barely have the reflex to intercept the hit with my forearm.
I don’t think she’s happy I beat up one of hers, even if we’re all in agreement that it was fine to do so.
[x] She wants to punish me. I’ll fight her until she’s satisfied, then.
[x] I don’t have time for this nonsense. I’ll run out of here if I have to.
[x] Maybe there’s a better way out of this? (Write-in)
While I played with the idea of skipping this vote and going straight to combat with Byakuren, I decided against to keep in the spirit of letting reader decisions dictate the story.
[X] She wants to punish me. I’ll fight her until I'm satisfied, then.
I slide back several paces from the force Byakuren put into her punch. I felt that one. Can’t often say that about punches alone. Looks like another chance to cut loose and see what Gensokyo is about.
“Let’s get one thing clear,” I proclaim to the temple matron. “You don’t get to throw a punch at me without expecting one back.” I return to a low combat footing, ready to shoot forward again.
The crone relieves her fist from it’s point of impact, sliding back into a simple combat ready stance, “My mind does not change. Non spellcard combat on the grounds is banned. You will see the error of your aggression.”
She’s undeterred from a simple threat. A good sign already.
“She does realize she’s doing that by also fighting people with ‘non spellcard combat,’ right?” Wriggle comments from the gateway to the umbrella girl.
Byakuren and I aren’t really here for the banter, instead rushing headfirst into each other. Despite going full speed to start, she keeps up with me, so we meet halfway with colliding fists. She’s mildly surprised as well that I’m faster than the average rabbit. I deflect our interlocked knuckles and go for a sweeping kick with my opposite leg.
She just barely ducks it, tilting over from the force applied directly to her arm, with the open arm used to guide my leg further above her. She motions her knee into me, using the momentum I put into her to jab my oblique. At the same time, I ricochet my kicking leg back the way it came, hoping to axe her at the same time.
We trade. I hit her shoulder, she hits my ass. Likewise, I plant her to the ground, she sends me several meters across the yard. I skid to a stop and roll back to my low position, she’s also flipped back up and into the same combat stance as before. The most we put on each other is a little bit of dirt and scratches.
“You do not fight like any rabbit I have seen,” she notes.
“I’m a bit of a special case,” I admit before launching again, this time hoping to strike with a flying kick.
She readies herself to deflect me entirely. It’s obvious she’s attempting to read me, deducing why I’d go for such a reckless move. Before she’s given the chance to figure it out, though, I twist mid-flight, aiming to flip over her head and hit her from behind. She strains to keep up with me as I get past her head and aim for the back of her skull.
She dips forward while also clutching my foot. While I don’t expect her to stop me entirely from this position, I also can’t let her keep a hold on me. Using my power more liberally than usual, I anchor my free foot in air to leverage my leg from her grip. As it takes a lot of force to do, I land back down next to her, most of my momentum killed from the action. Byakuren doesn’t act surprised by this trick, instead taking her chance to bring a chop directly from above with full might. Some crack of golden energy follows her motion, but several times the size of herself. My body acts before I even wonder what the hell that is, diving into the woman at her waist. If her balance is thrown off I might still be safe.
Even that doesn’t perturb her. She stands stalwart like a concrete wall. One thicker than I can break.
“Namusan!” she roars.
Her hand comes down on my back, slamming me down. I try to get back up quickly, but that golden force bears down with the weight of a building.
I lay for but a moment, my body sore from the hit. The nun wipes her mouth and starts chanting something as I stagger back up.
“What drives you to get up?” Byakuren asks. “Fighting like you do, wild and untamed, like a part of nature. I see rage behind it, and wonder what ails you.”
“You are not psychoanalyzing me. Stop talking and keep fighting until you’re done,” I growl.
We run a few bouts of these trades, usually ending in her hitting me with some kind of… magic, clearly. Her fighting style is definitely a front, only using the absolute basics. She’s too scrawny in the first place to output this much force. Not that I’m one to talk. I fight with magic and a rough style to keep unpredictable.
After some time, and many members of the temple collecting around the area to spectate, I begin to tire of going full strength. While I’m all roughed up, she looks pristine. I’d chalk it up to magic as well, as I landed plenty of good hits on her. She keeps up the front, though, acting high and mighty and proselytizing.
“Whatever spiritual battle you may be fighting, it clearly drives you to hateful behavior,” she persists in her taunts.
“Could you just shut up, already?” I bicker. “You’re the one that decided to fight me! Stop lecturing me about it!”
“You will receive words I believe you need to hear. Right now I believe that you shouldn’t be fighting, but I will oblige until you want,” she dismisses my anger. “It is better that I take it in the place of another undeserving of your hate.”
“Undeserving, huh?” I say, the word sitting at the front of my head, judging my entire being. I slide back to full height, not really feeling the excitement of fighting this woman I had some half hour ago. “Whatever. I’ll be on my way, now. But tell me how long ago Reisen was here.”
“Is that all you wish to know?” Byakuren questions.
“What? What the hell are you on about now?” I parse, patience already thin.
She waves to the rest of the temple goers, and says, “All of you, please return to your duties. I wish to speak with this girl alone.”
The many people and Youkai do so, albeit apprehensively. Their interest has been piqued, but Byakuren doesn’t want them to have such idle thoughts take them. In about a minute’s time, the crowd disperses, leaving only Byakuren and I. And Wriggle, who doesn’t seem to understand things like tact.
“Dear, you too, please,” Byakuren requests of the idiot. It’s more like a command, but her voice would make demands sound like idle favors.
“Nuh uh, I’m here with Moi,” Wriggle opines. “We are two buds on an adventure to do bad!”
Byakuren shows a very palpable confusion mixed with some concern. She looks up at me, but I just shrug and say, “Trust me, I’ve tried to shoo her. I also keep telling her we’re not friends.”
“That’s… very well,” Byakuren gives up on the topic. “To serious matters, then. The name you said before. A specific girl’s. Say it again.”
“What? Reisen?” I say, trying to understand what she’s asking here.
“Yes, Reisen. You say it like you did earlier, more vitriol and distaste than your other foul words. Is that where your anger stems?” she acts like she’s picking me apart. She’s so full of shit.
“Are you having fun saying whatever you like?” I deflect. “Just tell me how long ago she was here, and where she’s going, if you know.”
“Perhaps you should try a different question, such as ‘how is she doing’ or the like? Have you questioned yourself lately on where this anger comes from?”
“Ugh,” I groan. I don’t have the time for this shit.
[x] Remain stubborn. Keep asking for the information I want.
[x] Fold for the sake of brevity. Let her tell me what she wants to.
[x] Can we strike a deal… or something? (Write-in)
Sometimes dialogue choices are for flavor. Sometimes they are real choices. Where does this stand, I wonder?
Leave it to Byakuren to sap the fun out of a fistfight. We don't have time for this; the trail is growing colder by the minute and here she's gonna push her emotional garbage on us? Nah, she's clearly not gonna tell us anything, and her info will be worth less and less and time drags on. Even if she knows Reisen's next address, at this point that info might be so outdated that she'll have moved on from there and we'll never catch up. She answers the question or we dip. Well, we dip anyway; we got a rabbit to hunt.
[X] Remain stubborn. Keep asking for the information I want. -[X] Cut your losses and get out whether she answers or not. I can't afford to waste any more time here.
If those two parts are not compatible, then just get out of there; fighting her for half an hour was fun (until she got extra-preachy), but finding the rabbit is our sole purpose. Well, maybe she punches our lights out for not listening, but damned if we let her go off like that.
I just wanted to clarify that what I wrote in the post was just in-character-ish thought process, not criticism on the update or story or anything. I, myself, really enjoyed this exchange between the Rabbit of Rage and the Peaceable Pugilist. Byakuren has a point, but I don't think she's the one Moi needs to hear it from, in my opinion. Rabbit Rambo's too angry to just accept it from some random stranger. Reisen should be the one to open her eyes, if anyone. Or she gets consumed by the rage burning within and they actually fight to the death. Both would be satisfying outcomes to me. To be fair, I think I would enjoy it regardless of how it all ends; I've just been savouring every step of Moi's rampage of revenge.
[X] Remain stubborn. Keep asking for the information I want. -[X] Cut your losses and get out whether she answers or not. I can't afford to waste any more time here.
My patience is already at a minimum. “Listen, I don’t need you to act like my therapist. Do you know where Reisen is or not?” I cut back to my point.
Byakuren looks dejected that I’m not willing to listen to her. I’m sure she has good intentions, but I’m not here for it.
“Please, listen,” she just short of begs. “Anger will only lead to more negativity in the world, you can stop this–“
I raise my hand for her to stop. “Just answer my question,” I persist.
Her lips curl in on themselves as she thinks of anything else to say. She sighs, relenting, “I have nothing I can tell you, it seems.”
“Well isn’t that a shame?” I state. With that I walk out from the temple undisturbed. Many of its members stare in wonder at me, but none dare approach. There’s a certain fear in their eyes witnessing how much of a beating I took only to get back up without issue.
“So, uh, where to now?” Wriggle asks. She’s stuck to me like glue, it would seem.
“The forest, I suppose. While I could check any number of places, the forest is the only other one Izayoi mentioned. I expect Reisen’s long gone from there by now, but I’ll just have to try catching back up,” I explain, more for myself than for her.
“You could always wander around Gensokyo. That’s how I find interesting things to do,” Wriggle suggests.
“And what were you doing before this, bug?”
“Wandering around aimlessly waiting for something to happen.”
I don’t merit that with a retort, instead saying, “Take me to the forest now.”
“Magic forest? Sure,” Wriggle says, taking the first steps on our way to the forest of magic.
When we arrive, the place looks like the rest of the woods that we tracked through to get here. Wriggle assures me that there’s something different with the place, but I hardly see anything out of the ordinary. Or what I’d assume is ordinary for a forest.
Things progress towards the odd, though. The plants of the forest begin to take varying hues that I doubt are natural, and that’s not to mention their strange curving as if created by soft winds. The trees warp in on themselves, only the leaves are left generally the same. Insects of all kinds trail around, an entire civilization of warring species living underfoot. The further we go, the more exaggerated things become, to the point that I feel like I’m looking at a children’s story book.
Wriggle guides me on foot with complete knowledge of where to go. Thankfully the place isn’t like the bamboo forest, it’s just dense enough that you can’t see in from above.
That said, there is one issue… “Wriggle, where are we going, exactly?” I ask my guide.
She doesn’t answer. In fact, she doesn’t even seem to register that I spoke. I step closer to her and notice that her antennae are fidgeting. I recognize it as a way of listening, the way the rabbits of home do telekinetically. I do not attempt to speak with her again, instead opting to poke her shoulder. A common courtesy amongst rabbits to not overfeed our senses.
She breaks from her trance, looking at me and apologizing, “Sorry! I was hearing everyone’s notes for me today.”
“Everyone?” I pick out.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of my kind out here,” she elaborates, waving down to the ground where various bugs move about from hedge to hedge. “They’re here to tell me about their days.”
Ah, that makes sense. She’s communicating with the insects here. I already knew she could do that.
I take more careful steps to not disturb the ecosystem around me, thinking about the horrifying reality of communicating with someone the moment they die.
Wriggle giggles, “I can hear you being careful with your pace. The bugs also think it’s cute that you are concerned for them.”
“I wouldn’t think these tiny things could have thoughts like that…” I note.
“Sure they do!” Wriggle exclaims. “People usually can’t hear them, that’s all.”
“Then… what are they telling you about their day?” I ask Wriggle with a budding sense of curiosity.
I step over a line of ants crossing our path. “They’re scouting for ripening fruits to bring back to their mounds,” Wriggle relays to me.
I spot a beetle on a tree. “He’s lazing about, not interested in finding more food yet.”
A mosquito zooms next to me. I feel the spot he pinches and crush him by instinct. “That one thought your blood would be good. Something about a large animal.”
“Right, sorry,” I apologize, not sure if to Wriggle or the mosquito. “Now, where are we headed?”
“Marisa’s house. She’s one of the witches here, and I think she’d want human medicine more than the others.”
“How do you figure?” I question my guide’s logic.
“Well, she’s human. That’s one thing. Also, she’s the only one that makes those fun witch-like things like potions and bombs,” Wriggle lists.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a story of the heretical practitioners of Earthly magics creating explosives, but I guess there’s a first for everything.
I spot a break in the dense woods ahead, where this Marisa must be. It may only be her house, though. I’m going to be straight and ask where Reisen is. No sense in trying any nonsense like at the temple earlier. That just got me nowhere.
Though, I will still need an excuse. If she’s human then she’s going to be even less trusting than that one girl from the temple. Actually, does that mean she’s also a protected individual like the humans in the village apparently are? Getting myself into a fight with her sounds like a losing battle, then.
[x] Keep the clinic rabbit lie up. It worked the first time, and it’s simple enough to say I’m an auditor or tracking dated goods.
[x] Claim I’m a new arrival to Gensokyo and wanted to speak with Reisen for help. Half of that is true, anyway.
[x]I’m here to hurt Reisen.(Write-in)
A witch is sharper than the (supposedly) accepting folks of a temple.
Doomrabbit is warming up to the bug more and more; at this rate they might even become friends! (The horror!)
It's actually kinda interesting how Wriggle reacts (or rather, doesn't) to Moi crushing the mosquito here. Wriggle is known to get angry when people belittle the importance of bugs; and while she is concerned about insecticides killing large amounts of bugs and lowering the population, she doesn't seem to mind somebody she can understand getting murdered right in front of her. It's an interesting look into her personality, and I think I can sort of understand it, too. Bugs live short, transient lives; a grub will get eaten by a bird or an ant will get trampled underfoot, but that's just nature in motion. Surely some of it can be attributed to Youkai mindsets being rather alien to a human's; but I thought it was an interesting example of how a Youkai's origin reflects its nature.
Anyway, (potentially) throwaway line thoroughly and excessively dissected. Let's move on to the choice.
Keeping the lie up is relatively easy, going to Eientei first gave us the basic gist of the clinic's workings: active clinic in the bamboo forest; Eirin is the resident physician and any basics about her we'd know from boot camp; medicine peddling/delivery service ostensibly staffed by Reisen(?). So we would survive any basic pressing, but anything indepth like pharmaceutical knowledge beyond possibly battlefield medicine would pose a problem. This hedge witch we're walking up to might have a better understanding of the medicine she's buying from her potion brewing and other magical experiments; so it could be she catches on there.
Claiming we're a new arrival is paradoxically both safer and riskier. Differing from the clinic rabbit lie; the risk here is based on whether the witch is familiar with the filthy deserter's background. If she is, we might as well be saying straight to her face that we're here to kill Reisen, but this unfortunately isn't a risk we can estimate the odds of beforehand.
Ultimately I think there's two ways to tackle this, one for each base option, but workshopped a bit to account for problems.
If we go with the clinic rabbit route, it'd make sense to keep "being a new arrival" as a possible response in our back pocket in case the witch doesn't really buy our story or recognise us being from the clinic in case she goes there physically; it'd also be able to at least somewhat explain a lack of pharmaceutical knowledge. Basically, somewhat combining the two options; A with a sprinkle of B.
If we go with the other, the main concern would be having a believable story of why we would know Reisen is here in Gensokyo; and why we'd be looking for her. Simple reasons are generally best; so we could have simply have heard from someone that a bunny that looks like us (from an earthling perspective) works as a medicine peddler/deliverywoman. Well, actually, we (sort of) did. From Wriggle. Who's here with us. So we can just say she is guiding us toward Reisen. Because she is. Can Moi just lean on Wriggle's support like that though? That sounds an awful lot like something friends do. Ew.
I'll go with simply saying we're a new arrival. That story withstands scrutiny better, even with the possibility of instant failure due to knowing about Reisen's past.
[X] Claim I’m a new arrival to Gensokyo and wanted to speak with Reisen for help. Half of that is true, anyway.
Regardless, though, as Murasa pointed out earlier: we look like a killer and we come off as one, too. So the odds of getting out without another fight are slim at best. But as one professional once said: "Have a plan to kill everyone you meet." It's not like we're not always ready to tear heads off, anyway. Possibly the reason people don't seem to trust us. Maybe. If it ends up coming to blows with Marisa, we shall destroy the tiny child. Just ignore the fact that she could vaporise a mountain if she wanted to.
[X] Claim I’m a new arrival to Gensokyo and wanted to speak with Reisen for help. Half of that is true, anyway.
We walk up to the front of the house, the yard a wreck with various pieces of junk scattered about. It’s even so bad that a large broken cauldron is upturned in the dirt, no longer able to support its own weight. Thankfully the house itself seems to be in good condition, so there’s some semblance of domestication to this witch.
Wriggle goes to bang on the western-styled front door but I catch her arm before she gets a hit in.
“Yeah, I’m talking, not you,” I order. She voices some disappointment, but doesn’t argue otherwise.
I move to the side of the door and bang the lower half out of habit, being sure I’m loud and clear for anyone inside. When there is no shotgun blast through the center, I decide it’s safe to stand in front of it again. Wriggle gives me an odd look for my efforts, but I’d rather not take chances with doors.
“Gimme a sec’ here!” a voice from inside hollers. “Need this to not blow up!”
Not a moment passes before some crackling noises are created and plenty of cursing ensues. After both die down, steps can be heard approaching the door.
It clicks open to show a tiny girl, smaller than Wriggle, even, who greets us with, “Alright, who’s banging so hard on my… door…”
She trails off, slowly tilting her head back to meet my eyes. I probably outsize her by two whole heads.
“Uh,” she utters. “It wasn’t a bad idea to open the door, was it?”
“No?” I more ask than answer. That’s not a common way to be scared of my physical stature.
“Good… So who are you?” she asks, a tilt and cadence to her voice that speaks confidently.
“This is Moi!” Wriggle answers before me.
“Quiet, Wriggle,” I assert.
“What? Fly girl?” Marisa interjects. “This isn’t a friend I’d expect you to find. Where’d you find her?”
“She’s not my friend. Furthermore I’m new around here,” I speak for myself, despite Marisa’s motions for me to quiet down for Wriggle to answer in my place.
“She fell from the sky! There was a crater in the ground where she landed!” Wriggle excitedly explains.
My hand slowly rises to my forehead on its own. I hope I don’t need to gag this idiot for future conversations.
“A moon rabbit, then?” Marisa wiles. She laughs off her own persona in the next moment, continuing, “Don’t mind me, I’m just having some fun with you! Anybody could see you’re a moon rabbit by the way you dress, and the gun, and the rabbit ears that stand upright. The list goes on.”
Wait, Earth rabbits don’t have standing ears?
“Don’t look so confused,” Marisa dissuades my passing thought, “I’ve met a lot of your kind’s all. Never one so… large, though.”
“Let’s not get into that right now,” I plead before the topic goes on some wild tangent. “Anyway, yes, I’m Moi. You’re Marisa?”
“The one and only. Since you’re not being all that formal I’m guessing the silly girl here only told you my first name?”
“Apologies if I offend,” I murk out some empty pleasantries.
“Oof, rough audience. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Just call me Marisa. Now what’cha need?” she finishes, her spunk feeling particularly practiced. People that can talk about whatever and make their own fun in conversation confuse me.
“I’m looking for Reisen,” I state.
“Reisen? What do ya mean? Wriggle’s standing right there. You told her about Eientei, right? I know your memory’s spotty here and there,” Marisa… mocks Wriggle? Questions her? She’s all over the place. She’s not high on something in the forest, is she?
“Marisa, I’m not that bad. Of course I showed her to Eientei, but she got kicked out,” Wriggle runs her mouth.
“Kicked out you say?” Marisa picks up. “Eirin not like you? Or maybe Kaguya?” She continues to size me up.
A few muscles tighten around my back, getting ready to act if need be.
“Bahhh,” Marisa blusters. “No skin off my back. You wanna find Reisen but can’t go to Eientei? You’re tracking her down, then.”
“I don’t like that you put it like that, but yes. Yes I am tracking her down,” I keep up with the girl’s antics. Her size would lead me to believe she’s a very young human, but her sporadic speech keeps me guessing.
“Now, I could always be mean and tell you to screw off, less mean and ask you why you want to find her, or tell you outright since she’s a big girl and can handle her own business, despite her entire personality telling you otherwise. Pick your poison,” Marisa offers.
“I’d like the one where you tell me an exact location I can find her and we move on with our lives,” I retort.
“Wriggle,” Marisa pokes at the bug off to my side, “why are you following her? She doesn’t seem very fun at all for you.”
“Oh, you should see her fight,” Wriggle elucidates the little witch.
“Let’s not, I’ve already traded fists with a goddess, a maid, and a nun in one day. I don’t need a witch to scratch off a bingo card,” I grieve my luck in finding people to talk to.
“Bingo?” Marisa asks offhandedly. “No, more importantly, you fought a nun? As in Byakuren? And a maid, too? Well ain’t that something.” She didn’t specify what maid it was. Are all maids like that here?
A gleam comes into Marisa’s eyes. One that’s stout and rambunctious.
“I’m being serious, can I please just end a conversation normally here?” I genuinely plead. Byakuren already killed the mood of fights I get into, this would only be another distraction.
“Aw, need a bit of motivation, big girl?” Marisa taunts. “Alright. How’s about this, then? I go a round with your preferred fighting method. If you win, I’ll tell you the list of places I remember Reisen is going. She was by here, by the way. If I win, I only tell you the next immediate place she was going.”
I find the offer confusing, and ask, “That’s only a positive outcome for me, though? What’s the catch?”
“No catch, Reisen’s long gone from here so it’s not like the information’s much good,” Marisa counterargues herself. “Meanwhile, I want to see what you’re about. So what’ll it be? Some spellcard rules or the more melee friendly variant? I’m guessing you want the melee?”
“Wriggle, what’s she talking about?” I beggar the bug’s knowledge of the land. “I thought I’ve been fighting outside of spellcard rules?”
“With the scary maid, yeah. Byakuren was fine, though. No killing moves is the only real rule for Youkai to Youkai,” Wriggle assures me.
There’s a problem, though. “She’s a human, though. You told me, remember?” I challenge.
“Oh, don’t worry about me, big stuff. Specie isn’t everything, just like size,” Marisa attempts to instigate further.
Is it fine to go with it? I already wasted time earlier on Byakuren.
[x] No harm in it. She’s giving me an only win situation if I do.
[x] See if she’ll agree to something else for the minimum information. Hell, a fight another day would be better.
[x] Let me try working my weakest muscle. (Write-in)
I hope I write Marisa with that moxie she’s known for. Lore accuracy and logic come second whenever she talks.
[X] Let me try working my weakest muscle. Thumb wrestling.
A devious idea comes to my mind. One that surprises me, and I’m the one that had it.
“Hey, so about that part where you said I can choose the rules…” I pander to Marisa.
“Ooh, you’re thinking of something tricky, aren’t you? Alright, I’m adaptable. Try your best to impress,” she continues to banter.
I step down from the porch and put out my arm for her to shake. A common enough gesture in all civilizations, far as I know. She looks amused with her own curiosity, deliberating on what I’m doing. She puts her hand out to mine, our arms nearly level from the height difference.
I give her a firm, but politely non injuring, handshake, and slide my hand back, catching our fingers together in a curl. She looks at me confused for a few moments, wondering what I’m going to do next. Wriggle catches on first, and she starts laughing hysterically at my solution.
Marisa looks to the bug and back to our locked hands, panicking that something bad is going to happen. I raise my thumb, ready to play.
Marisa’s face is sculpted into disbelief, and she only asks, “Really?”
“Never heard of thumb sumo?” I tease the little girl. One who must have grown up too quick for her own good.
It’s her turn to break into laughter. It starts pensive, only a crack in her ridiculous face, but quickly devolves into a gut wrenching hysteria. A few minutes of hoots and hollers pass before she can even barely compose herself. Our hands have been locked together the whole time, in case you were wondering.
“You… You. Just, you. Damn, that got me,” the witch admits. “I’m half tempted to call it your win for actually surprising me, but we’ll play by the game you chose.”
She stands her thumb, reciprocating the curl of her fingers on mine. It wouldn’t be much of a lie to say that my hand is about twice the size of hers, but I remember this was also one of those stupid fads the rabbits at home had for a period. I thought it ridiculous when Reisen challenged me to such a simple game, but then she beat me with dexterous movement. It took a while for me to figure out the way the muscles in the thumb worked after that. They like to curl in, but have a hard time going back out.
And that’s the trick. If you have a monstrously strong hand, you only need to pin your opponent at the joint. It doesn’t even need to be locking the lower bone by the joint, just force the thumb muscles to engage upwards rather than outwards.
“Ready whenever you are,” Marisa gives the go ahead. She sure is one for instigating.
I move to swat her from the side, testing her reflexes and motion. She curtly ducks me, reading that I’m only testing the water. She immediately stands again, bouncing back and forth, waiting for me to initiate the next move and counter.
I oblige, diving in faster this time and get her in a pin from the side. I know this hold won’t do much already, and plan to go for the kill move after she escapes. When she slips out from under me I dive after her again, even leaning into the attack. She leans to the side to avoid me, like a martial artist would to counter a straight punch. She locks me by the bone, trapping my thumb against the joint as is the typical winning strategy.
Sadly for her, my hand’s a bit messed up. I lift my thumb straight upward, counteracting her muscles in their advantageous position using only raw strength.
This was how I got back at Reisen for the same strategy Marisa is using here: sheer spite.
I flip our grips as she struggles to keep me down, and she doesn’t stand a chance. I catch her by the joint as she tries to retreat to a neutral position, pinning her with a bear grip that could crush through rock.
I count, knowing the game is over after a quick and clever exchange.
“Three,” I finish.
Marisa is thankful to take her hand back, flapping her poor appendage’s appendage in pain.
“Gah! Gods! Your hand’s worse than a bear trap! That thing’s gotta be cheating! I mean, come on, lifting yourself out of a pin?!” she bickers in pain, continuing to flap her arm.
“I gotta say, I don’t think I’ve seen someone use their thumb like that,” Wriggle notes.
“I’m sure an oni could,” Marisa states, “but I wasn’t expecting it from a rabbit. Surprised twice over, now. Guess it’s my loss.”
“Uhm, are you okay? You’re still flicking your arm around,” I point out her ailing extremity. It looks like it’s taken on a life of its own with how calm Marisa is.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Might need a tonic or ointment or something, but I guess that’s where my hubris gets me. ‘Anything goes’ and all that. Poor choice of words,” she concedes.
Oh, she didn’t mean any rule I wanted? She went along with it anyway, though. How… sportsmanlike for a witch in the middle of some magic woods.
“Now,” she continues, “Reisen. She came by a few hours back, said she had some stops to make in old hell and the oh so lovable residents of the mountain. You might know, so let me tell you now, you’re much better off waiting for her to show up at the bamboo forest again.”
I consider the areas and what she might be indicating the dangers of them are.
“Yeah, you don’t look like you’re much for sitting and waiting. Figured as much, I’m just as bad,” she commentates on my mindset. “Tengu or oni, take your pick. That’s who you’re going to find above and below. The most dangerous things you’ll find, anyway.”
“I’m more bugged that I’m back to a two way choice of destination,” I complain. “She used to be much better at making up her mind.”
“Can’t say I’ve ever known the rabbit you’re thinking of,” Marisa defers, shaking her head.
[x] Take on the mountain dwellers. These tengu have a reputation, but I wouldn’t have come if I was afraid of something like that.
[x] Take on old hell. I wasn’t made to handle an oni, but I’ve spent decades trying to go above what I was made for.
[x] Ask the witch for any other locations that might be of use. (Write-in)
Hold up. She never actually told us where Reisen was going next. Did she bamboozle us? Because we bamboozled her, that is. Or just because she could. Adhering strictly to the terms: Either every place she could remember if we won or just the place Reisen was going next at the time. Cheeky. Still, she did give the reasonable, and already earlier discarded, strategy of simply ambushing her when she returns to the Bamboo Forest.
Well, thinking about it reasonably: going up the mountain sounds like a lot less far of a journey than going down into Former Hell. We've already tried to stick directly to her most likely route when we went to the Buddhist temple, better to switch it up now and try to gain on her instead. Also getting to punch Oni is a bonus.
[X] Take on Old Hell. I wasn’t made to handle an oni, but I’ve spent decades trying to go above what I was made for. -[X] Marisa never specified where Reisen was headed immediately after finishing her business here, did she? Cheeky shrimp.
[x] Take on old hell. I wasn’t made to handle an oni, but I’ve spent decades trying to go above what I was made for.
I decide my next destination: hell. Old hell, but still hell at one point. A place with very little written about it from lunar texts. Unsurprisingly, no lunarian even wants to picture what hell or old hell are like. It’s the very pits of impurity, after all. There were tiny bits and pieces, though, mainly because the rabbits had to go to Earth on special occasions, and hell is right next door.
Because of this, I know oni are in hell. I assume they’re in old hell as well. The most I know about them, though? Their strength. That’s the only specific thing written, strength enough to lift a mountain with one arm.
An entire species of monsters like that, that’s something to worry about.
I don’t plan to look for fights, thankfully. I only plan to find one. I’ll just need to watch myself.
I thank Marisa. Despite her lying about knowing where Reisen is, challenging me with reward of a false prize, and prodding me for personal information at the edges of the conversation, she’s been helpful to me.
I try to walk off before realizing I don’t know how to get to the great underground of Gensokyo, but Wriggle spares me from asking the witch. She seems nervous about the idea but is at least willing to guide me to the mouth.
“Yep, big and scary as usual,” Wriggle hesitantly jokes about the gaping maw coming from the side of the mountain. It looks like an unusual wound coming from the earth, inviting the curious and foolish alike. I, of course, fall into both camps, the union of which makes the overconfident assholes party.
I march my first steps into the cave, the ceiling taking over the sky around. I am fine to move right along, but a certain unwanted companion of mine stands around. Like a private lost on her first day.
“Something wrong? Why are you looking more worried than a rabbit?” I question Wriggle. Her usual attitude is so out there that I forgot she could even have a negative emotion.
“It’s, uhm…” she stammers, “it’s scary in there. The Youkai down there… they’re different. The kind that people thought deserved to be exiled underground. Are you really going down there?”
“Yes. I know Reisen is either down there, will be down there, or has been down there recently. I need to find which it is,” I answer, my mind already set back at Marisa’s house.
Wriggle looks pensive, a shocking amount of care put into her steps as she tip-toes into the entry.
“You don’t need to come with me. You know that, right?” I quiz the girl. Her reason for following me has to have been some random impulse or just generally finding me amusing. There’s no real reason she’d stick her neck somewhere she doesn’t want to.
She shakes her head, more than her whole body, anyway, replying, “I know! But I still want to!”
I puff. She’s daring, I’ll give her that. “Let’s get a move on, then,” I conclude, walking towards the downwards slope of the caves.
“Would you protect me if I’m in danger?” Wriggle pleads. She’s just full of surprises when she’s insecure.
“I thought bugs would like dark, damp caverns,” I retort, continuing to walk into the place that accurately reflects the description.
“A firefly wouldn’t!” she pouts. “I’m an open air, dry forest kind of girl!”
I entertain myself with Wriggle’s discomfort a long ways down. The place feels like it goes on endlessly, and I’m sure there are plenty of outer roads to get lost on, but the largest cavern remains ever present. A main road of sorts. I could use my gun as a light source, but thankfully Wriggle produces her own light. It comes from her rear side, of course, but I’m not one to complain about why I can see.
A random Youkai or two greet us along the way. One deciding to get the literal drop on me with a wooden bucket, but I toss her away just as quickly. The ringing clunks tell me she went on an adventure for her trouble.
The other Youkai has a pleasant conversation with Wriggle, who feels at odds talking with an underground Youkai she doesn’t know. Stranger yet, this blonde girl in her brown dress seems to respect Wriggle to some extent. Is she a bug Youkai, too?
I don’t stick on the subject for long, and keep moving before the girl gives me the same advice Marisa and Wriggle did.
Finally, we find ourselves graced with a presence of light. Further in the tunnel, light and sound come into being, a sign of people living en masse down here. A few corners away a high view of the underground city greets us. The place is nice.
“Wow,” Wriggle gasps. Her fear has abated for the moment now that things have opened up to an impossibly large cavern.
I take in the view. The size, the buildings, the raucous of so many people, it reminds me of home. If only a tiny amount.
I analyze the view. A large town and an ornate palace building at the back. Doesn’t get simpler. I either go to the palace or wander the town for medicine peddlers.
Before that, though, Wriggle and I find our way down, stone stairs cut into the wall leading to an entry. A river surfs in our way, and although it’s bridged, there seems to be a bridge keeper. May or may not be trouble.
“Who the hell are you?” the bridge guard demands. “The idiot mind reader already has a rabbit, now go away. You too, kid.”
A mind reader? Things get stranger and stranger down here. Now to deal with this jerkoff.
[x] “I’m actually here to apply as a rabbit for the mind reader. Rabbits die of loneliness, you know?”
[x] “How’s about I tell you to jump off the bridge? I can always arrange it otherwise.”
[x] How much of an idiot do I think she is? (Write-in)
Yes, the choices are blatantly where you’re going to wander around, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Also pissing off a single “guard” won’t have repercussions.
Just because we don't plan to look for more fights than one doesn't mean we take this kind of lip lying down.
Kisume getting yeeted is no big surprise, but still humorous.
Even though it was just in passing, that Yamame-Wriggle interaction was pretty interesting; it makes sense because Wriggle has dominion over just about anything considered an "insect", including spiders who aren't strictly insects in reality. But even from relative powerlevel standpoints I sort of took for granted that Yamame is the more powerful Youkai out of the two, so it's interesting to see this (to me) surprising interaction happen.
Anyway, we yeeted the bucket, now we yeet this one off the bridge.
[X] “How’s about I tell you to jump off the bridge? I can always arrange it otherwise.”
Also, from a "route" perspective: do you really want this MC to not run into Yuugi? I mean, really? The battle will be legendary! This bridge princess is just a bit of warmup before the main event.
[x] “How’s about I tell you to jump off the bridge? I can always arrange it otherwise.”
“Haah?!” the blonde woman bites. She uprights from leaning against the bridge, her odd hanging lace swaying at the hem of her skirt. Other than the pointed ears, there isn’t anything physically off-putting about her. No horns, insect legs, strange deformities, not even a bucket.
Is she maybe… not tough? I feel like the more nonsensical the fashion the more powerful the person is.
“You gonna say that again, white tuft? Your size doesn’t mean a thing down here! I should take you down a couple pegs, that’ll take that pride!” she threatens.
“I stand ready. Whenever you want to start,” I tell her.
Wriggle murmurs, “What happened to only one fight you planned on?”
“Shush, kid,” I pass off explaining myself. You’d think she’d realize that my kill switch is pretty well oiled.
I wait for the bridge guard’s first move. I ready to pounce but never get a good opportunity as she floats off the ground and starts spreading magical energies every which way. It’s not even really aimed at me, but around me. The ease of dodging doesn’t help anything, though. She’s trapped herself in the center of the magic she’s firing out, making it impossible to hit her without being hit by this stuff in return.
I have something for spellcasters, though. I grab my gun off my hip. It sees little service with me for obvious reasons, but I’m no idiot and know I need it when I need it. The massive handle takes my whole hand. The megaphone shaped output is twice the size of a normal rabbit corp specialty energy weapon. I’ll never be caught dead calling it a bunny-blaster, though. Just wish I could chop the ears off the end of this thing.
I weave through the mass of various magical blobs flying at me, floating up as well. I’m not much for the air, but I can at least control myself, and that’s all I need to dodge this. I aim the energy gun in the woman’s direction and fire. It hits her square center and bursts out violently like I expect it to.
What I don’t expect is the woman shrugging off the hit and continuing her attack. A few magical bullets smack me around. They hurt like hell. It’s even enough to wind me, which I didn’t know was even still possible.
I cough, my body unused to the feeling, and I get hit by more. The pain sends me down. That at least feels like it should, barely effecting me.
“Gah!” I get up on my arms. “What the hell?!”
“I guess that’s why you didn’t fight with spellcard rules before…” Wriggle notes.
The powerful mage laughs hysterically from the sky, “What happened to arranging me into the river? You barely lasted into my first attack! … That damn stamina of yours, though. Stupid bulky brute.”
“Wriggle, what was that about spellcard rules?” I ask the kind and knowledgeable child.
“Oh, did you never actually hear about it?” Wriggle asks in return, confusion apparent. “You get hit it hurts you enough to make matches fair. That gun-thing probably hurt her a lot less than it normally could.”
“So she’s not strong, I’m just weak,” I conclude. Games always have rule sets that make things harder for me.
“Screw you!” the bridge guard fumes. “Get back up here and keep running your mouth. I want to make you hurt! Show you how worthless your size is!”
I get up and floating again, ready to try the fight the Gensokyans know. Once again she splays out a vomit of bright magical bullets, any pattern beyond me. Instead of asserting any pattern recognition, I use my power to start jumping off of air, feigning better maneuverability in the air. Sneaking in more shots of my gun than should ever be necessary, I knock back the pointed eared wretch.
She looks more pissed off than I probably did getting my ass handed. She waves a hand in front of her dramatically, an ethereal playing card appearing and dissipating in front of her. Swatting away the leftover dust of whatever that was, there’s suddenly two of her.
Wait, there’s two of her? Oh… there’s two of her now. Ah, shit.
The bullets come in double the density, and I have to work a lot harder since I’m not paying attention to any meaningful strategy to dodging. I know the absolute basics of the game, one of which is to make dodgeable attacks. Another is that silly powers like this have a lot of limits.
I start bouncing around at high speed, blitzing through the barrage like a bolt of lightning. My gun can’t keep up with the rhythm I’m attempting to fire it with. The delay in my shots gives me time to realize that hitting one of them makes them fire more magic off, but the other does not.
I take the coin flip chance and only attack the one not retaliating. She knows I’m onto her and starts to fly around with her counterpart, making the entire area a cloud of danger. Sadly shes not very fast, and I keep up with her movements. At that point I make quick work of her.
The last blast takes out the entire airspace of bullets, and I get a good idea of how little damage I was dealing the whole time. Her clothes are the only thing battered on her. We float back down to the bridge.
“What the hell?” she asks no one. “She didn’t even know what to do and she still beat me. Bullshit. Why is she allowed to be strong like that?!”
“Now what?” I ask Wriggle, gesturing to the sore loser.
“Now you can tell her what you want and she has to listen. That’s the rule for winning,” Wriggle informs me.
“Uh huh,” I tuft through my hair in thought. “I’m going into the city now…”
“Yeah, no shit,” the guard explicates, calming down enough to retort.
“… And you’re going to jump off the bridge.”
“Go fuck yourself!” she exclaims, giving me a rude hand sign and floating around and under the bridge.
I was joking, she didn’t really just jump down, did she?
Wriggle claps to my victory, “You won your first spellcard battle! How was it?”
“Stupid. I hope I don’t do it again,” I honestly state.
Now, the town. Where to go, what to do? There’s a lot of ground to cover if every person I talk to is going to be like that.
[x] Check dense areas. Markets, bars, more bars..? How many damn bars are there?
[x] Check the specialty spaces. Clinics, alchemical vendors, the works. They’re gonna be harder to find, given oni don’t care for such things.
[x] Do a different thing, Moi! (Write-in)
Please note the vote is in narrator POV. Wanted to make sure it was understood what was being voted here, not how very little Moi knows about the place.
Her first taste of danmaku and it's already a win. Truly, Moi is a prodigy of all modes of violence.
I get that the choices are narrator POV, but searching an entire city for specific places of interest would take days. Reisen is both a deliverywoman and a peddler, so there's arguments for both options. Anyway, since a specific search is too impractical, might as well find places where people congregate and ask questions if we have to. Preferably with only mild bloodshed. Moi might look like one, but she's still no oni. Maybe. Eh, who am I kidding.
[X] Check dense areas. Markets, bars, more bars..? How many damn bars are there?
[x] Do a different thing, Moi! (Write-in) A thought for the brain if you had waited at the eientei entrance. You would have had time to prepare, because sooner or later Reisen would have to get home. So congratulations, you're going halfway around the world just because (tourism).
>>29173 We had already thought of, and promptly discarded, such an idea. Marisa even brought it up after the fact; only to realise, in a flash of understanding only possible through ritual thumb combat, that we would not be interested in such petty tactics. We are a hunter. The chase feeds our anger; and by the moon does it burns gloriously.
[x] Check dense areas. Markets, bars, more bars..? How many damn bars are there?
The view from the top of the cavern made this town look vaguely familiar to me, but now standing in the entry of the probable main street shows me just how wrong I am. This place is almost alien to anything I’ve experienced back home. Just about everyone in view is an oni, prominent horns on display for all. The few non oni on the street are almost imperceptible compared to the wall of muscle and meat that this oni cabal makes up. Every man walking by is close to my size, both by height and physique. The women aren’t far behind, but… damn… I feel inadequate compared to them.
I drive the worthless insecurities from my mind and focus on the town. The people go every which way, making it hard to find where the crowd gets even denser than it already is. I choose the tried and true method of pick a direction and go. If I see less people, I’m going the wrong way.
Wriggle has a hard time weaving through the people on foot and decides to float above our heads to keep up with me. The people here are rough, a brawl can be spotted on every corner. The fights come in just about every flavor, too. Some men are wrestling, two women are boxing, an oni and a cave Youkai strike at each other with animalistic ferocity.
It’s like I’ve wandered into a different world (again). The people here still look at me with surprise in their eyes, but their eyes trail upwards. They’re more surprised that I’m a rabbit than my sheer size.
We continue through the roads, the crowd not getting thicker or thinner. This is fine, though, as they’ve been splitting off pretty frequently. I don’t think I’ve gone three buildings without one being a bar. At least it’s hard to assume otherwise when someone dives into the building and a countertop is the most prominent feature.
After several more blocks I give in and check one of these bars. The lunar society doesn’t have an alcohol culture. The entire process of making the substance requires the impurity of Earth, so it’s considered almost eccentric to care, even for the high class citizens. Unsurprising, seeing as it’s a literal poison to human systems. Humans care less about what they put into themselves, though.
I, and many moon rabbits, have never even had a milliliter of alcohol before, the stuff being so rare. It wouldn’t do any of its mythical things to me, though. I can’t be affected by poisons.
Wriggle falls in behind me as I enter a rickety sliding door I saw another patron go through. The buildings are all stone, wood, and paper, making the whole place have the same rough feeling as its main inhabitants. The interior is no different. Rough wood tables and counter give off that feeling that the oni didn’t really care what they used, they just needed the furniture there. A few faces look my way as I enter, but go back to their own drinks a moment later.
The bartender looks my way, but he’s not sure what to expect from me. A quaint greeting and we’re off to the usual conversation.
What am I looking for? A rabbit. I doubt she’s been in here, though. I ask where people go for their shopping, and he points me several blocks from here. He’s surprisingly helpful, even describing how to know what turns are where. Not how I expected my first interaction with an oni to go, but I’ll take it.
I step away from the counter but he stops me, asking if I’m not at least going to stop for a drink.
I tell him I don’t drink, but he starts insisting that everyone drinks down in the underground. Even if he has been nice, this is getting silly. I tell him to stuff it and start walking off again. I get to the door when I’m stopped by a patron grabbing my shoulder. The idiot is red from the alcohol, and the smell of his breath is rancid. He says something or other about how I shouldn’t be rude to the owner of the shop, and that he’s gonna plant me into the ground for being a stuck up prick.
Alright, I’m game. After the real spellcard duel earlier, I need a palate cleanser.
We step out into the middle of the street, and take positions across from each other. People don’t get between us, knowing that we’re about to duke it out. Let’s see how strong the random drunkard is around these parts.
[Please wait warmly…]
Couldn’t quite get down to the point of a vote. And that may also be the case for more future updates as I expect the underground to be a long section.
I leap at the drunkard, looking to hit him hard and fast. He goes to block my leg but I twist in midair to hit him from above instead. He doesn’t react in time and I land a blow directly to the center of his head, in between two upright horns. Even while flying by him I can tell the ground under shook and cracked from the force.
I land several meters away, surprising multiple people on the street in passing. The tide of people clears more area for me, and a few even stop to start watching. I eye the man, already knowing they’re watching because he’s not down. He stumbles a bit, but it seems to be more from his inebriation than from my hit. In fact, he’s rubbing his head like someone that hit their skull under a cupboard.
He chuckles and proclaims, “Alright, you’re not big for show! I’ll be sure to hit you back!”
If he plans to out-strength me, that’s going to be weird. I’m usually the one that does that sort of thing. I rush him down again, a few people in the crowd cheering as I dash across the ground. I spot Wriggle having taken a nearby roof to safely view from. She seems interested in what I’m doing right now, but also somewhat pensive.
Why would that be? I thought she just liked watching me fight?
I see slight movement in the corner of my eye and spot the oni drunkard winding up a downward punch to catch my movement. I’m a bit faster still and dodge around his off side, seeking a hook to his oblique. My fist lands cleanly into his lower back, sending him down in a spiral. During the motion, though, he catches my upper arm and rights himself using me as leverage. I allow him to not drag me down in fear of it becoming a grappling match. I don’t need to be told that I wouldn’t win a wrestling session again guys like this.
Using his grip on my arm he flips me over his head. I attempt to kick the back of his skull when he turns away, but it’s not enough. He slams me into the ground and I’m sent tumbling across the ground a fair distance. A rib or two might have broken from the trade.
While fighting Byakuren felt like hitting concrete, these guys feels like hitting steel. It’ll bend with enough force, but damn do I need to try hard to get that to happen.
I’m caught by a bystander. This oni shouts, “Watch it, now! Don’t let an oni grab you, you idiot!”
Instead of letting me settle to my feet, the guy tosses my whole body back at the drunkard, the crowd roars as more people stop to watch. This would look a lot less ridiculous if I wasn’t bigger than both men.
What’s also ridiculous is the speed I’ve been tossed at. I might even be going faster than if I jumped normally. I spin and ready to assault the drunkard again.
He winds up a punch to intercept me from the air. He should know by now that that Isn’t going to hit. I bend around his arm as it goes out straight and aim my heel into the bridge of his nose. Before his other arm grabs me I roll over his head, wary of the horns in the way.
I land safely once more, wondering if I even did a dent to his nose. He turns around and sure enough, the thing looks bruised. That’s a good sign for me. He blows a spit of blood from his nose and harrumphs at me. He seems to have started enjoying this.
He runs at me now, and it’s like watching a large vehicle barreling down the street. Thankfully, I’m not quite that slow, and I use his own speed to make him miss me even worse than before. Now we’re in an understanding of each other. He tries to go for more aggressive swings, I move around them and counter each hit with everything I’ve got without staying in.
It feels like I’m doing kickboxing, but every hit has so much power behind it that it’s really up to the side that gives out first: his durability or my evasions.
Each successful trade gets the crowd around us excited, the stones underfoot flicker with movement as we press our strengths. This is fantastic, I’ve never fought an opponent so physically strong. Byakuren had strength, but she used it with finesse. Oni like this guy seem to use it purely to throw around and hope they’ll eventually hit their target.
I shrug off his light blows, so it’s not completely hopeless when I do get hit. And even if I can’t land major crippling blows to him, either, he seems to be tiring out from the constant harassment I’m demonstrating.
Several minutes of this exchange passes, neither of us decisively winning. I go for an extra kick after a bout to try and stun his arm. He meets the upward kick with his fist coming down. It impacts right into my shin. While there is no ejected injury, I can feel from trying to move the appendage that he split my lower leg bone clean in half. I grip the area with surrounding muscle, trying to keep it functional.
That only works so well, though, as the muscle further displaces the bone. I’m now on one leg fighting an oni in a close fist fight. I keep as agile as I can on one foot, ducking around many of his crosses, jabs, hooks, anything he tries. My own punches put in some effort, too, getting him in the gut and jaw on every occasion. At some point, though, I overextend again, and eject a punch under his jaw as he’s hooking toward the side of my head. I try to change my momentum out of the way, but it’s too late.
His fist connects in more of a glancing blow, but it’s enough to rattle me all the way through. I collapse, seeing the drunk oni slump down from exhaustion, and the crowd roars in delight at the conclusion. I try to stay in the moment, but that hit rings in my head like gunfire. Wriggle comes down next to me, but I fade out for the second time today.
I already know where this is going, though, as this time I hear…
[x] A scared girl in a cold place.
[x] A woman screaming in fright.
[x] Something else I can’t place. (Write-in)
I hope I could deliver, even if it be by some small amount. Now, let us go to contrived flashback excuse part two!
I’m not entirely sure what the thought was for this vote, but you have instilled something far worse within me than my previous options.
[x] Something else I can’t place... A trembling giant whispering of forcefully forgotten things.
This is… something is wrong… “A.” What? This isn’t any memory I recognize. Where is this?! “D.” This place, it’s cold. A lab environment. But where am I? “G.” Yeah, yeah, I get it. You’re saying letters. Let me figure out the rest before I come back to you. “N.” Everything’s a blur. The entire room. All the lights. All the sounds. Only the voice comes through clearly, probably because it drones robotically those random letters. “A.” This is… yes, this is one of the times that I had to undergo extreme anesthetics back home. How am I remembering this? I thought I was totally knocked out for this? “Alpha.” My body rampages, I can feel the straps holding me down, the intense guttural reaction to whatever just happened. People hover around me, monitoring things, but it appears they don’t give a damn about what’s happening. “A.” I feel my body. It’s smaller than I am now. This is before. Before many things, but still after I met Reisen. After I got picked out from the random assortment of rabbits in basic training, and after the rumors of grotesque experimentation ran through the rabbits. I was once small, frail, little to me other than a regular rabbit. I had an ability, sure, but what the hell does manipulating my own momentum get me at that point? It was easy to keep me trapped in a cage, like it once was for Reisen. “D.” It’s listing the random shit they put into me, like they did many rabbits. I was never allowed to get a number for how many rabbits were sent to reconstitution due to this process. I only got the list of those that made it out. I was the only one from the alchemic trials. The others were born with their gift and forced to grow it. “G.” Reisen was one of the special ones, and without a doubt the most powerful of them. It took time before we were released from our cages, sent back into service as shock troopers, but she made it out with moral values. Or so I thought. “N.” Me? I left with only anger. A flame that the moon wouldn’t stomach having. I was always the soldier sent on impossible tasks, nearly broken every single time. I was never reconstituted, though. I was brought back like even the unlife of the moon had no hold on me. Without a soul, a body forced to fix itself constantly. “A.” Reisen joined me for every mission, and is probably the reason I’m still alive a fair number of times. We were inseparable. The two greatest agents of the moon rabbits. We could even stand against various lunarian insurrectionists. But that changed… “Alpha.” A wave of turmoil strikes through my body. The drugs intentionally seek to destroy me from the inside out. Break me down so that I can be built stronger. Repeat this again until I can’t take it, but no longer need reconstitution.
Reisen ran. I was left on my own. To toil with the new strife that she ran from, I had to get stronger. Not because I wanted to, but because lunar society decided I needed to be. “A.” I was always the wetworker. Blood has always been on my hands ever since this moment in time here. Why did my brain decide to show it to me, though? “D.” Is it some kind of signal that I should consider myself a monster? That I’m a freak of sciences that I would never understand? This is just so beyond me. Has Reisen ever felt like this? Surely she’s felt outcast by society, but never wronged for being what she is. “G.” Maybe I feel jealous of her. Not going through the extremes I did. It isn’t the stem of my hatred towards her, but it certainly doesn’t make things better. I’ve never been the understanding type in the first place. “N.” When does this dream end? Is it a nightmare? Will I sit here for the entire duration that they pump these letters into me, waiting for my body to give out like it never will? “A.” … “Alpha.” I’m punched awake. The present world has come back to me. The cold metallic walls surrounding me have been replaced by the warm stones and woods of the onis’ homes in hell. The sound of the system replaced by a single child’s calling.
“Moi!” Wriggle exclaims, diving into me. I put a hand to the top of her head, but still look around to get an idea of my surroundings. I seem to have been dragged into an alleyway to heal up. I wonder if the oni do that for everyone they beat down.
“I was so worried! Your head basically popped open! It looked like you died!” Wriggle tells me. She doesn’t appear too heartbroken from the thought, but she was worried to some extend, so that’s nice.
“So you were sitting around waiting for me to wake up? Despite the fact that I looked dead?” I question.
“I mean… your head was regrowing… it just didn’t have all the stuff that should have been in there,” she explains.
Maybe that’s why my unconscious decided to show me such a strange scene. I want to say I didn’t learn anything from the dive into my brain, but that’s not entirely true. I think that if nothing else, I’m strong now, but I have room to be stronger, and this is somewhere I can do that. I never had to work for my strength with practice, I did so through pain and chance. So if I add practice into the mix, maybe I can even beat an oni, not just tie…
I get up, Wriggle hovers around me, cautious that I might fall over. I’ve already healed, though. I should get back to my mission, now.
[x] Continue to cultural centers. Find that marketplace and start asking around.
[x] Switch gears. Let’s start practicing. I’m Reisen’s equal right now, so what if I can be more than that?
[x] Something else. These thoughts are terrible. (Write-in)
Rabbits die of loneliness, you know. Y’all being off the wall always makes things fun.
So we're an experimental super soldier, huh? Makes sense, but it was funny to imagine Moi was all natty while it lasted.
Reisen being one too is pretty cool. Sure, she's of a different kind; the super that has their ability pushed to grow, rather than a soldier made from scratch like us. But that makes for a good contrast.
Looking forward to seeing how deep this rabbit hole goes. But for now we to find the rabbit first. Find and DESTROY.
I'm glad that going to Former Hell excited her lust for violence; she's already thinking of defeating oni. They grow up so fast; it's enough to bring a tear to my eye.
[X] Switch gears. Let’s start practicing. I’m Reisen’s equal right now, so what if I can be more than that?
[X] Switch gears. Let’s start practicing. I’m Reisen’s equal right now, so what if I can be more than that?
“Wriggle,” I command of the girl.
“Y-yes?” she hazards to respond, it isn’t often that I’ve addressed her directly.
“There are bugs in these caverns, right?”
“Of course,” she responds with surety. “Why?”
“Ask them to keep a look out for Reisen. I’ve got to make some detours in my search,” I explain.
“W-what?!” Wriggle gasps. She floats in front of my face and reasons, “But you seemed so dead set on keeping to what you were doing. What’s changed?”
“I’ve not beaten a single person in a square fight since I’ve come down here. I don’t count the dumb game rules, either,” I incite myself at the words. “I need to do something about that.”
“Hey, whoa whoa whoa!” Wriggle stutters coming down in front of my path out of the alleyway. “You’re not thinking of fighting a weak looking person, are you?”
“What?” I scowl. “That isn’t even slightly what I was thinking. It’s insulting that you think so little of me.”
“I… huh…” she relents, downtrodden but otherwise relieved by what I said. “So, what are you gonna do?”
“Watch,” I command.
We walk to the edge of the city. It doesn’t take long as I kept a mental note of where the outer walls were while we were wandering. Unlike the rest of the town the walls are ornate and sculpted with some degree of craftsmanship. I don’t let the dichotomy distract me and jump the wall, looking for the caverns beyond. Wriggle gives me an odd eye as I venture the packed underground dirt for something of size.
Perfect. There’s a boulder that should suffice. A little around my height and a half with a comparable diameter. Archaic, but fitting to practice on if I’m fighting oni. I give it a couple of knocks to measure its quality, mainly just to know it isn’t hollow, and punch right into it. A chunk comes off, but the boulder otherwise remains stoic.
That wasn’t all of my strength, but for what I’m fighting even a lighter punch like that needs to split this boulder apart. I need to imagine the oni as over twice this rock’s size. Maybe a rock made of metal. Like a, uh… never mind. Focus on the boulder.
To split this thing, I need to get stronger, but I can’t do it with physical strength. I’m already at the peak shape I can be in, and that’s largely due to the many treatments I’ve had. After Reisen left I had to even go for more treatments to get bigger than I was before, but in hindsight I got so little out of the trials. Instead, I need to focus on what I can do with this self affirming flesh. Something like how the Gensokyan residents stand on equal ground with these monsters of hell.
They each had something that kept them ahead of me, and I imagine that includes Reisen, too. If she’s down here in hell, then she’s had to have fought an oni at some point and lived. Albeit, maybe she only fought with those gamified rules. Ignoring that, though, let me do what they do, focus on something that makes them special.
Byakuren was the closest to how I fight, but she enhanced herself with some kind of magic. That’s the only way that she didn’t take a scratch from any of my attacks. If I were to try to explain it to myself it would be something like tossing my fist against the rock but being forced to stop at the edge, right before skin contacts stone. I can do that, of course, but it’s not very helpful.
For a power like changing my own momentum, what can I do? I say changing, but I’ve always thought it was a bold faced lie. I can only stop my momentum, and only momentarily. As soon as the pause goes away, I move the same as I did before. I can overwrite it by moving while paused, but that’s still limited to my body alone. It can get me to bounce around, adjust myself in midair, or even walk on air, but not hit harder. Of course, floating isn’t a special skill, either.
If I can wrap my head around it better, maybe I can do something? It’s not a certainty, mostly a feeling that I have. Like something more sits right in front of me, obvious but hard for me to realize. It’s annoying, because I was forced to take lessons on dynamics while training my abilities but they never stuck. I worked more by feel, not by theory.
That maid, Izayoi, she teleported. I can’t replicate anything from that. Byakuren’s magic I can rule out, mostly. Maybe I can find some weird fringe case where my momentum stopping can stop a punch coming at me? That oni drunkard didn’t have anything special, he threw his strength around like a maniac. Even I’m not so blunt about my strength to use it like that.
But… throw it? Huh.
I take my fist and raise it to the air. I pause the entire ball and force it downwards, unsure what happens when I do. If I can jump from pauses and redirect my motion, maybe I could store momentum, I think. A few moments of applying force and I release the pause.
To my surprise, I do store the momentum. Also to my surprise, it’s in the wrong direction. I’ve been flung upward into the underground air, hitting the ceiling with record time I might not manage with my legs alone. I’m sure it was hilarious to someone to see me ragdoll into the roof and stick myself there like a nail, but I’ll consider it progress.
[Please wait warmly… a training montage is happening.]
I like doing the close and fast action, it’s fun to imagine. Do let me know if I need to step my game up describing it, though.
She's flying by way of punching air? It's... It's glorious. I know it's a mere side effect of the inverted momentum; but please, let me have this. Just for now.
Actually this reminds me of something. I've never played the new Zelda games, but wasn't there a power that works a little similar to this? In that game you freeze something else, hit it multiple times, then it stores and compounds the momentum from those multiple hits to be sent flying. Not saying that's what's happening here, just found it an interesting comparison.
On a more serious note, let's analyse what happened here. Just for clarification:
>I pause the entire ball and force it downwards
Here she's still holding her fist upwards, yes? She uses her ability on it (the "pause") and then basically tries to pull her arm downwards. After the momentum releases she gets launched. So, it ends up working like a slingshot?
Sorry if that was an obvious question or conclusion, but I just wanted to be sure I understood.
Yes, your thoughts here are correct and the slingshot effect is right. The Zelda game's usage is fairly on point, but do remember the force here will mainly be happening from the object itself, hence why it goes backwards. Outside forces will work as intuited, though.
There shouldn't be much jerking around with gratuitous ability description next update. In fact, I plan to skip forward a small amount.
I crack my fist into the oni’s stomach. He bends forward from the force, clearly winded. I’m surprised. An hour’s worth of training and some improvisation really got me this far. A low growl emits from the random oni I picked a fight with. I understand the danger present and pause my other arm, reeling it back with as much as I can give. The instant I loose it, I direct my arm forward, only as insurance that I’m aiming straight.
I connect with his jaw, sending him flying in a spiral away from me. The crowd I’ve gathered erupts in a fervor. They cheer at the sight of the oni getting off his ass, a trickle of blood coming from his mouth and nose. The oni himself is not remotely bothered by the crowd’s disfavor, instead smiling at his own injuries. He walks back over to me and puts a fist out for me.
Already shaking, I drudge up the force I need to connect my fist to his. The light contact hurts worse than actually going all out, the skin peeled from the knuckles down to the bone. I also had to take a few hits with my new methodology, so a few of my internals are now externals. Blood leaks from a few areas. The many events of the day have seen my fatigues go from khaki to red, and their integrity isn’t doing any better.
A single practice kick using my momentum building took out the padded socks I was wearing. They were made to handle me kicking through walls. Obviously that’s not enough for handling an oni, nor what I can do now.
“Moi? Are you… okay?” Wriggle shouts above the crowd collapsing on me. She laughed after I landed from my dramatic flight to the ceiling, but stayed around, interested in figuring out what I was doing. She didn’t seem to get it, but was happy to see me fool around in new impossible ways.
I give her a light nod, feigning some level of clarity. In reality, even the one oni was enough to bring me close to passing out. While I heal easily enough, blood loss can still be a bitch. I hope I can ditch the crowd and rest. After that, it’s back to searching for Reisen. My goal was quick, but I’m lucky I had the tools I needed. I’ve always had to adapt to what I’m fighting, so I would have come up with something otherwise, I’m sure.
“Hey, there,” a voice booms behind me, coupled with a hand against my shoulder. Uh oh.
I turn to greet the viciously gleeful eyes of an oni woman. She’s maybe a few centimeters shorter than me. Except for her single forward horn, which reaches above my forehead. That’s… not good. She’s larger in both height and size than the other oni women I see around. In short, she’s probably ahead of the pack.
Alarms sound in the rational part of my brain, knowing exactly where this is going, and just how much pain I’m about to experience.
“Uhm…” I weakly defend myself. “Hi.”
“Mmm,” she hums while sizing me up. “I can see why you’d give one of the runts trouble. How’s about someone your own size?”
She breaks a toothy smile, looking ready to throw a fist directly through my face. Not into, through.
The hairs on my neck bristle, an irregular sense of reserve coming over me. One of the greatest predators to exist has decided to find me and is now challenging me.
I, for once in my life, politely refuse to fight. She didn’t consider it an offer in the first place.
Her fist wraps up in an uppercut, one which I narrowly escape the trajectory of. When her fist reaches its apex, a blast of compressed air explodes in the direction of her swing. The crowd is quick to scatter after that. Some scream for their lives, worried to be caught in the crossfire. This is bad.
I square up, my body unsure what else to do.
“That’s better,” the oni woman responds. “You’re impressing me already by not running away.”
She grabs a couple things from her sides, a drinking dish and a bottle of alcohol. She makes a point to pour the whole bottle out into the dish, dropping the empty flask afterward. She takes a sip, and gestures for me to try and hit her.
I wander forward, feeling that jumping in would get me killed immediately. She makes no attempt to put up any guard, ready a strike, or follow my movements. She’s as stoic as a blind man with a gun pointed at him.
“Well?” she asks. “Are you going to hit me or do I need to convince you?”
“Uh… no. No, I’m good,” I reply.
I bring my fist behind me, hold, and pull with everything I have. Despite my fear, my body still feels like it wants to fight. My blood rushes, the previous wounds already closed up, I put the weight of a mountain into my fist.
Release. I move faster than my muscles can engage, colliding with the oni woman. A burst of air comes from the point of impact, blasting dirt and rocks around us. My knuckles shatter from the recoil, not able to withstand the pressures I’m generating.
The oni woman bends over, the drinking dish lowering with her. The liquid within has remained undisturbed, as does she.
She stands upright, and congratulates me with, “That wasn’t half bad. Not often I find someone that can make me feel the hit. I’ll have to treat you in kind.”
She raises her own fist, and before I can move out of the way she blows my entire arm from my shoulder. I fly into a nearby building, the specifics of my movement or levels of utter pain escape me at this point. The still conscious bit of me left tells me to sit in the rubble and let this pass. The instinctual side screams that it’s do or die.
With the arm that’s left, I shuffle back to my feet, painstakingly, foolishly. The rational side gives up at this point.
I pause. I pull. All of me, I try to get my entire body to fling right into the woman, generate enough force to turn me into a pile of rabbit on the other side of the cavern, but maybe deal real damage to this monster of a woman.
Release. I fly faster than I can interpret what I see. One second, I’m in the crumbling house, next, I’m flying above the city. The oni came with me. Or rather, she’s the one that brought me up. And since she brought me up, she’s very generously bringing me back to the ground.
And then some. She lands and uses all of the momentum to drive me downward. I can see out of the hole that my body made, but I’m already worn down. My back has been relieved of all muscle that could support me. It would be a record how many of my internal organs must have popped, too.
“Oh? Done already?” the oni taunts from the top of the hole. The light of the town silhouettes her frame, making everything seem even further from me than it really is.
I want to…
[x] Fight. Fight like the demon the lunarians made you to be!
[x] Yield. There’s no sense in trying to beat this person. I’ve already found how to be stronger.
[x] Something else. Is my brain even at capacity to do so? (Write-in)
Violence is what we live for, why are we even considering running? This woman we're fighting embodies it. She could murder thousands with but a flick of the wrist. She's beautiful. It's not fear, Moi, it's awe; it is wonder; it is love at first sight. Not of the romantic kind, but like a child finding a hero to look up to. We want to be like her. We want to kill and be killed by her. Let's kill each other!
[X] Fight. Fight like the demon the lunarians made you to be!
What does the live option mean by the way? It sounds like wanting to fight, but fighting to live instead of fighting to destroy. I far prefer the latter. How can we RIP AND TEAR Reisen if we are anything less than Rage itself.
[X] Fight. Fight like the demon the lunarians made you to be!
No. Do I only know how to..? I don’t want to be this way…
But that is what I am. I am the bastard child of lunar society. The one they wanted to be rid of, but never could outright do it. Why? Why not execute me?
The answer: they couldn’t. So few people were strong enough to directly do anything to me. That was the real reason they let Reisen and I leave the growth facility, we grew too strong to contain together. And here I am, looking to become even stronger, wishing to kill my better half. Despicable. Incorrigible. Craven. I hate–
My arm mantles a bit of the surrounding rock, pulling me like a sack. I grow more furious at my own weakness. I’m the one that decides what I do. Down here, I am my own master, and I hate being bested.
My fingers grip the rock better, dragging my body until it decides to function. My back has been shredded off from the impact, but that won’t stop me from using it. My arm has been torn off, but that won’t stop me from using the other. I can still move. I can still fight. That is my existence.
I shuffle back to my feet, blood trailing from the empty socket at my shoulder. I can feel blood trickle along my back, the muscles open to the air screeching in fiery torment.
“Well, look at that,” the oni woman whistles. “Somebody took a beating.”
I crouch, coiling my leg muscles as hard as I can. I launch, shooting as fast as I can. The oni woman goes to intercept my body, but I know already that we are equally fast.
I pause, my feet gripping the air like gravity is a suggestion. In the same moment, I throw a punch into the oni’s gut to throw her balance before she grabs me. It’s no more than a jab to her, but when I release, I swipe her jaw straight from the ball of my foot.
I shoot up, blood from my arm trailing behind me. With my foot pointing upward, pause. With the other, stomp and pause, release the other foot before any force is applied to it. Release, shoot down. Straight into the oni woman.
She recovers and throws a punch straight at me, hoping that I can’t redirect it or myself. I accept the challenge, putting my foot out to meet her fist. In the fraction of a second before her punch vaporizes my leg, I pause my foot. She collides with it, sending a shockwave all around us, dust picked up by the sudden pressure, but I feel not a thing.
While the dust is settling, I pause my other foot, and pull. Release both, spin fast enough to make me feel like I’m looking forwards and backwards simultaneously. The oni is surely doing something now, but it no longer matters. I put out a foot to kick with, and it collides with some part of her hard enough to shatter a few of my bones.
She’s launched into the air, spinning uncontrollably. Her dish left her hand from where she was previously standing. I rebound my spin to catch up, pausing and releasing to build up speed as I go.
As her face rounds upside down, I intercept with my broken foot, clenching all muscles to stone hardness. She will feel my strength.
I will not back down. If I’m not sure about my propensity for violence, then there isn’t anything left of me.
The oni woman flies off, launched in a spin of the opposite direction. I follow her down, landing on her as she hits the ground for good measure. I hop back, reminding myself of the oni’s love for grabbing.
Her arm sways up, and a cough emits from her with an amused, “Alright. You’re better than I thought.”
She gets up unceremoniously, using her arms to keep herself steady. My efforts showing some fruit in a bruised face.
“Looks like you’ll go until you break, then, huh?” she taunts. “I got an arm, and it looks like you got a leg for me.”
She points at my lower right leg. I look down to see the limb purpled and bloody all the way up to my pelvis. Not only have the bones succumbed, but the muscles have found their limit as well. The moment that my concentration lapses, the tension releases from them, and I find myself collapsing again. They no longer listen to any command.
I breath heavily, no more energy left in me to overpower my body’s abused mass. The willpower is static, but my mortal shell is not. I look at the oni again. She has a broken nose, blood streaming from a nostril. She is powerful, but even oni bleed. I will bleed more.
I roll onto my good leg, and balance on one foot. I ready my knuckles, prepared to continue on the half of me that’s still able.
The oni roars in joy, “You’re something else! Anyone in their right mind would keel over from the way you look.”
I remain ready, not swayed by words or rationale. Or, would it be rationality..?
The oni woman doesn’t take any motions for combat, instead remaining neutrally standing. She waits some time for me to lower my fist.
“There ya go. You done good, and I wouldn’t want to ruin a good partner,” she explains.
I mumble under my breath, my voice not able to congeal itself, “I’m nobody’s partner.”
“Hm? What was that?” she asks.
I summon the last of my strength to scream, “I’m here to kill someone, not be your friend!”
A rasp to my throat forces me to cough. I fall back down, no longer able to hold myself high. The oni woman steps over to me and offers a hand. I’m not sure why she would, and I’m not sure if I should do something as strange as accept an oni’s kindness. Aren’t those two words contradictory when together?
[x] Accept the hand. I can always bleed out some other time.
[x] Refuse the help. I will remain spiteful if it means my actions are my own.
[x] Something else. (Write-in)
That was a close vote. I appreciate the enthusiasm for how Moi approaches her survival.
>No. Do I only know how to..? I don’t want to be this way…
Poor little angry bunny, how else would you channel this anger? Jests aside, that line did make me feel pretty bad for her. Anyway; there is nothing left to do. We made an oni bleed. Not just any oni; one powerful enough to send her lessers screaming. This fight is over; and while she might be the one left standing, we have grown by leaps and bounds from the experience. Broken and battered; but the control over our ability has exponentially increased. The rage subsides, left to simmer until we find our target. All that's left now, in my mind, is respect for our opponent.
[X] Accept the hand. I can always bleed out some other time.
[X] Accept the hand. I can always bleed out some other time.
I look up and reciprocate the gesture. The oni woman pulls me up, carrying me by the shoulder. We start to walk through the street, but I’m unsure where we might be going. Our fight took us across the town a couple times over, so I wasn’t paying attention to where exactly we landed. This is a problem for me since the whole place looks the same as where we started fighting.
“Where even are we?” I idly ask.
“Hmm. I think we’re in the part of town that only has houses,” the oni woman answers. “Yeah, we went a ways from the bars at the front of town. Shame, really. Nowhere good to sit you down.”
We pass a couple blocks down the same street to find a well that she sits me by.
She sits down next to me and asks, “Do we gotta find someone to fix you up, or are you good?”
“I’m good,” I reply out of habit. I realize that isn’t quite right and continue, “Actually… I do need to find my arm. I’ve got no idea what you did to blow it off so easily.”
“I punched it, obviously.”
“Yeah, uh huh.”
We stay sat down for a while, not in the mood to speak about anything just yet. Assuming she wants to talk, that is. I’m still not sure I understand why she wanted to help me at all. It might be that that’s how oni are.
A voice calls from around the corner, “Moi! There you are!”
Wriggle jaunts over with a severed arm in tow. All things considered, it’s probably mine. She is quite happy to see I’m alive, but freezes when she notices the oni sitting with me. The oni woman goads her over, making sure to let the bug know there’s nothing happening now. Wriggle slides over trepidatiously and hands me the still limb.
I check the empty socket on my shoulder, finding the area has some skin that healed over on it. I ask the oni woman if she could help me open the spot for my arm to pop back in. She accepts with a nonchalance that she obviously had to after taking it off in the first place. It’s uncomfortable to open myself back up, but I don’t have a better way of doing this. I can heal off a lot of damage, but regrowing limbs is out of the question.
She helps me to the point where I need to hold the severed appendage in place, and continues the conversation, “So what was that about killing someone? Strange place to find someone worth putting down.”
“What? Killing?” Wriggle asks for some context.
I consider not telling them, but it isn’t going to get me anywhere unless I ask the oni what she knows. “I’m looking for a rabbit like me. Long purple hair. Stuck up attitude. She here in the underground?”
“That Reisen girl?” the oni woman guesses. “Sure she’s down here. Hell, she’s probably nearby. She was doing some medical outreach something or other for diseases that the oni have been getting. What did she do to get on your shit list?”
“Betrayed me,” I answer, not able to withhold a dark note to my voice.
“Yeah, that’ll do it,” the oni woman replies.
“That’s… oh,” Wriggle mutters. “I didn’t know that’s why you were looking. That’s bad.”
She looks down about the thought that I’m not a very good person. Even to Youkai, I’m sure that killing others is one thing, but to kill one of your own is different. Sadly, that’s always been my reality. It changes very little that death is only a technicality on the moon.
“Why are you following me, anyway, Wriggle?” I ask the girl.
“I wanted to know how you got to be so strong,” she answers. “The more I follow you the more I’m sure you’re a strong person. And you’re not mean to me, either.”
I think about how I constantly berate her, that time when I kicked her in the bamboo forest, and generally abandon her every chance I get. Is she alright in the head? In what way am I not mean to her?
“Are you sure you’re talking about me?” I ask. “I’m not exactly one with polite society, here.”
“You don’t attack me every time we talk, so that’s something,” she grunts.
“I… guess I shouldn’t be surprised that you’d have it rough. Gensokyo isn’t the kindest of places, I’m finding,” I condone. Overall, it’s been a pretty terrible experience since I landed. I’m happy I haven’t put anyone down, though I’m guessing that’s the main reason I’m getting my ass hurt so bad.
“Hey, Yuugi!” a voice calls from behind us.
The oni and I get up to check behind the well, and there at the other street she stands. Reisen. She’s in the same getup that Izayoi described, looking worn out from working. She’s the most surprised I’ve ever seen her. And rightfully so.
We stare, longer than needed, unsure what to do in this exact moment. I’d known this was coming, but now that I’m here I feel like I’m glued to the spot. The rage that drives me isn’t working correctly. I expected the sight of my old friend to turn me ballistic, but instead I only feel cold– dispassionate, even.
She opens her mouth, an awkward smile plastered to it, “You’re… –“
Whatever she says is interrupted by a stab to my neck. Something lodges itself through the front of my throat, causing me to keel over the pit of the well by reflex. The oni woman grabs me before I fall in.
“Who the hell?!” she exclaims.
“Hey!” Wriggle yells in the direction the object came from. She runs off after the assailant, but I have an idea already of what’s happening.
I wasn’t let go. I was given a chance to walk into a better situation to get killed.
I try to shout for Wriggle not to go, but I can feel something horrible wash over me. Like lightning surging through my entire body. Some kind of poison, and it hit the artery on my neck. Reisen rushes over to me, attempting to see the wound and the cause of my struggling vigor. She knows me, and she knows that an arrow alone wouldn’t be enough to fell me.
But, there’s a terrible taste in my mouth, besides the blood clogging the airway…
[x] Ignore Reisen, protect Wriggle from fighting something she shouldn’t.
[x] My target is here and she’s treating me from poison. I would be an idiot to leave now.
[x] You can do better, Moi. (Write-in)
Happy turkey day to all who celebrate. I am currently writing after an excess of alcohol and food. Also, the plot is hitting warp speed, I guess.
[X] Ignore Reisen, protect Wriggle from fighting something she shouldn’t.
My consciousness stays only by force. The poison is surging through every vein in my system, attempting to kill me with a ferocity to match my own. I know that Yagokoro must have done this, and if she prepped a poison beforehand then I’m not long to live. No matter however many drugs I’ve become immune to, she’s basically the divine that created alchemy and chemistry, she’ll find a way.
What isn’t at the forefront of my mind is the logical thing, though. With Reisen here, who is supposedly her student, there might be a slim chance of not dying, but instead my mind wanders to the bug that has been traveling with me. Wriggle ran off after the likely sighting of Yagokoro in retaliation. This will not end well for her without my presence.
I beat Yagokoro before by finding her on a chance occasion where she wasn’t prepared for visitors. This time, down here in hell, she likely sent Reisen as an excuse to trap me in a smaller area, one harder to run from.
Damn it all, I should have figured Reisen would snake her way into somebody else’s good graces after all this time!
Blood pools from my neck onto the ground, what should be close to the last of it after fighting two onis back to back. Reisen panics attempting to find what sort of antidote might be needed after she’s applied rudimentary first aid. Even in the force she knew well enough when a wound wasn’t just to the flesh.
I’m collapsed like a doll, dispatched by a force I should not have even prodded, but my hubris let me do so. What’s worse, an innocent bystander is going to get herself hurt for my sake. Wriggle barely had any stake in what I was doing, and she doesn’t deserve any kind of vengeance or hatred.
My heart, still beating with the last remaining pieces of my vitality, pumps exhaustively for me to move. My whole body pumps for me to move. The arm that is only half attached pushes on the ground. The leg broken in numerous places stomps the ground in retort to my fading existence.
If I am to die here, it won’t be with that girl, too.
“Oh, damn,” the oni woman gasps when she looks over from a medicine box Reisen was shifting through.
Reisen looks up to the oni and over to me, blanched by my continued stubbornness. She runs over in front of me and pushes against the direction I’m shambling.
“Moi! Moi, please!” she cries, “You can’t go! I need to do something for you! Anything! Not like this! Not again!”
I look at my friend. Stress, desperation, and a mountain of emotions pile down on her under that ridiculous straw hat.
“She’ll die. I’m going,” I manage to say. I push Reisen back with my entire body. I’m hardly recovering at this point, my body only able to remain stagnant against the poison but otherwise failing from the wound to my neck.
I shuffle a few meters more, knowing that I have no hopes of catching up to Wriggle and Yagokoro, but still trying regardless. I stub a plate of cobble slightly higher than the others and trip forward, only just catching myself. While my mind will, and even body agree that I want to help, my body can’t take it. I hack up blood from flexing my core.
I’m grabbed by the collar and lifted into a princess carry. The oni woman seems to have taken some opinion on what I’m doing.
“What are you doing? That girl isn’t even going to find anything, will she?” the woman asks.
I wheeze out a raspy word, “Yagokoro.”
“Master? My master?” Reisen determines. “Moi, she shot that arrow?! Why would she?!”
“Reisen, not now,” the oni woman focuses on the important part. “Your master, would she be fine with killing that little bug Youkai? Would she let herself be found purposely to draw out people?”
“What? N–…” Reisen struggles to answer by her gut reaction. If anyone could truly understand the mind of the brain of the moon, history would be a lot different.
“That settles it, then. If this rabbit wants to help the little Youkai, then I will, too,” the oni woman claims. “Moi, point to where you think the little green ran off to.”
I accept the oni’s kindness and point out to an edge of town. She leaps over the buildings with ease, taking only two moves to get to the wall. It’s caverns ahead, with many paths and stretches that I can’t see into. Making me able to see in the dark is one of those things that they gave up on after a while.
“Hey!” the oni shouts into the dark.
“What?!” a voice calls back. A girl, similar to the one on the way down, shows up. Blonde in a brown dress with yellow ribbons. She peeks around the edge of the opening from the top, snaking around on large arachnid legs. “Hoshiguma? What’s up?”
“You see a woman and a girl come by here? Both top-siders,” the oni explains.
“What? Yeah, sure, they went that way into the D-9 passage. I didn’t stop them ‘cause they looked like they were busy with each other,” the spider explains, pointing to one of the dark tunnels for us.
“Good, thank you,” the oni shows an odd level of tact for being in a rush.
“Hey, wait for me!” I hear Reisen call from a distance behind us.
Hoshiguma doesn’t bother waiting and barrels into the tunnel. I’m not sure if the oni are able to see in the dark, but Hoshiguma makes it seem that way as we travel through the tunnel without issue. Reisen follows hot on our trail.
We travel a great distance from the underground city, finding ourselves in another vast cavern. I can hardly believe what I see, the entire place is a bamboo forest. Hoshiguma doesn’t seem surprised by this, so I assume it’s normal for this to be here. The stalks go from the ground up into the roof, the only source of light here being more lanterns like those hung around the city. If Wriggle and Yagokoro are even in here, can we find them?
“Oh? More people,” a girl’s voice comes from within the bamboo. Hoshiguma rounds a few stalks to find a paper umbrella set over a bench. A girl long black haired girl in large traditional clothing greets us in between a mouthful of dango. “It’s funny watching Eirin panic, sometimes. I’m sure you will add to the excitement.”
[Please wait warmly… the princess is finishing her snack.]
Do I have the right spacing to run this story for exactly six more posts? Find out next time on Reisenball Z.
“So… who are you?” Hoshiguma asks oddified by the sight of the girl. The whole place looks like somewhere above ground at night, but someone relaxing on a bench with snacks really sells the disconnect. Not very hell-like I suppose.
“Oh, forgive me,” the girl excuses herself, covering her mouth with her hand to keep up airs of politeness in between mouthfuls. “I am–“
“Princess Kaguya!” Reisen exclaims in shock after catching up to us. “What are you doing in the underground?!”
“Calm down, Reisen,” the princess requests. “Eirin wanted me to be somewhere nearby while she was helping you with business in the underground. Though, it surprises me to see that one, as pitifully alive as she may be…”
The princess points to me. It seems she must be informed on the matters at hand.
“What, you knew master tried to kill her?” Reisen asks, fear evident in her voice.
“Oh, Reisen,” the princess sighs. “You can be so misguided, can’t you?” Reisen looks confused by these words, unable to understand the implications the princess uses.
The princess looks over to Hoshiguma and I again, and asks, “Dear oni, is the Inaba in your arms capable of speech, still? I believe it would be a good time to inform Reisen of the issue.”
I attempt to voice myself, but a whimper is the most I can manage right now. The princess had me pegged for not being long to the world. Sad, since I only just got here.
“She seems to be having some hangups,” Hoshiguma notes solemnly. “Reisen. Listen to me, for this is Moi’s own words that she gave me after we fought.”
“Wha–? A-alright?” Reisen responds uncertainly to Hoshiguma having taken a more formal tone.
“’She has betrayed me, and so I am here to kill her,’” Hoshiguma paraphrases.
Reisen blanks out. She’s not sure how to take the news. I’m not even sure she’s able to process it, she looks as dead as I am right now.
“That’s… no, I… there’s no way, right?” Reisen mutters, bargaining for this to be some terrible joke. She looks me in the eyes, a nervous smile fading in the face of adversity.
“It’s the truth, Reisen,” the princess assures her. “You’ve told us about your life before Gensokyo, and Eirin assumed this Inaba would be trouble for our household. It’s impressive that she came down to Earth, though. Eirin and I both thought there would be no more traveling from the moon after Junko’s invasion years prior.”
Ah, that would explain how I got so lucky. My trip here was basically a secret mission that came about from politicking on my part. The lunar veils used by the rabbits were kept under safer guard than even Chang’e herself, so it wasn’t easy. My politicking involved a lot of blackmailing and caved in skulls, though, so they wanted to be rid of me fast.
The air’s staled as we all wait for what Reisen might say next. There’s no telling, though. I once thought I knew her to the point of finishing her sentences, but I was proven wrong.
She can’t find the words at first, tearing up at the thought that we’ve gone so astray of each other, but eventually squeaks out, “I’m so sorry, Moi.”
“You are apologizing to her, Reisen?” the princess takes interest in this outcome. “She is here to kill you because she didn’t flee with you to Earth. Is that not an unfair reason?”
“Wouldn’t it be that she couldn’t flee?” Hoshiguma defends me. “I think even if we have both of their stories it would be hard to say who is in the right.”
“My, aren’t you understanding?” the princess mocks the oni.
Hoshiguma doesn’t seem to take it as an insult, though, replying, “Someone has to be. Oni aren’t good at it, usually.”
The princess and Hoshiguma get hung up in a small back and forth as Reisen walks over to me. Her sadness is understandable, but there’s an air of pity, as if to say she thinks that my anger to her is nothing but a fool’s errand. She places a hand to mine. I boil over in a sea of thoughts, but still find myself reciprocating the gesture.
For all that I hate her, I still love her.
“Princess…” Reisen mumbles. Hoshiguma and the princess cease their chatter, listening to the rabbit. “I can’t stop master’s poison. Can you?”
“You… what?” the princess utters. “What do you want me to do?”
“Can you use your power to make the poison not effect Moi? If the poison is given a spell of eternity, it wouldn’t cause further harm,” Reisen explains, sure of her thought process.
“Reisen, you are demanding I use my power to help her?!” the princess exclaims, getting up from her bench. She’s torn on how to interpret this. “No. I will do no such thing, Reisen. If she will see you to the fate of all things on this Earth, I will not help her do so. To me, your life is more than hers. Eirin thinks the same.”
Reisen turns back to the princess, weakly saying, “Princess, my friend is dying. Please help me.”
The princess looks at Reisen for a time. Frustration mounts on her face, knowing full well heeding Reisen’s plea is a terrible idea.
She walks over to me, and states, “Reisen is correct that I can help. But I am not on your side. This will only amount to demanding a brick wall to move, but can you consider not killing this girl that still considers you her friend? Frankly, lie if you need to, just let me believe that I’m not the reason Reisen gets hurt.”
[x] Shake my head.
[x] Do nothing.
Didn’t expect the update to be all one conversation, but I guess that’s just how I roll. Don’t worry, Wriggle’s surviving out there.
I'm going to go against the growing consensus here, actually.
Here's the thing: Aside from what would actually happen in this circumstance if we died (afterlife character appearance?) it's not exactly like us dying makes Wriggle any safer.
If we refuse to stop being poisoned to death, we just bleed out and die. Unless you're expecting that our death would result in a ceasefire, I just don't see any practical benefit to dying for either of our immediate goals, those being Kill Reisen(?) and Save Wriggle.
By contrast, if we take the deal and heal up enough, we're at least able to go after Eirin and save the nightbug. Once we do that, we can either just take another arrow and die on our own terms then, or we can go and figure out the Reisen issue.
TLDR; Dying now really does nothing except maybe make a few people sad, while living for at least the moment lets us actually accomplish something. My read on the past few updates has not been "die die hyperaggro pure hate" towards Reisen, so I don't even see the angle of doing it just to spite her.
Dying doesn't kill Reisen. I mainly focused on the Wriggle objective, but it doesn't progress the namesake one either. Unless you're trying to have Moi become a vengeful spirit or something, all dying does to Reisen is probably make her feel bad.
Like, maybe I'm just not getting it, what does dying accomplish? Like you said, to concede here throws away everything we've done. In my own eyes, dying here and now is that concession. Moi dies having ultimately accomplished nothing of value.
>>29231 The option is there, but to me it makes more sense for her to stick to a real response.
Moi is a bit dim, but rather honest and straightforward for what is basically a black ops commando.
Probably why Yuugi took such a liking to her, must've reminded her of a squishier oni.
Anyway, that honesty is part of why I personally think not compromising here and shaking our head is the way to go.
It makes the most sense from a character standpoint: stubborn to a fault.
It also builds and conserves dramatic tension for the actual final confrontation at the climax of the story, in my opinion; but I suppose that is a rather meta matter of story building, so make of that what you will.
I consider my options here. It’s a simple choice: yes or no. She only asks it out of effort to comfort herself, but for me choices are important. They are things to really examine what I do. My instincts tell me with all certainty that I can shake my head and be satisfied with any outcome after that. If I would die from it, that’s fine. If Reisen goads the princess to help me anyway, that’s also fine.
Something tells me to do the opposite. Not to comfort the princess, who is only looking for empty airs of pitiable relief, but to really think about what I’m doing down here. To say that I will legitimately consider whether I want to kill my friend, Reisen.
My rational mind would also choose to nod. I can’t help Wriggle if there’s a chance I die before even finding her.
That’s two to one. So as rare as it is for me, I choose to lie, nodding my head without any heart to the motion. Hoshiguma knows. The princess certainly knows. I don’t know if Reisen gets it.
The princess reveals an empty hand from one of her oversized sleeves, and places it over me. There is no sound, no light, no way to know that she’s helped me, and yet I feel it. Within my veins, what was once fire has turned to ice. It may sit in every crevice of me, taking up space that would otherwise be clean vigor, but it no longer actively seeks to snuff me out. The poison has stopped changing me.
Life rushes back into me, like my soul reconnected, my body moves to my will. I put an arm up to Hoshiguma, sitting myself up to show that I’m able of body to move once more. She sets me down, and I am able to stand on the partially healed leg again. I look and can see the flesh on my arm return to the shoulder, little by little.
The blood loss is still apparent, but that’ll pass.
“Thank you,” I say to the princess. “I will not say more.”
She only stares at me, and does not make any effort to reply. I am an omen, after all. Whatever Reisen is to her, can easily be ruined by my hands.
“Hoshiguma, thank you, too,” I tell the oni. She gives a curt nod in acceptance. “Now, I need to get moving.”
I take a few steps, and on the surprisingly grassy and grown ground I hear another set of steps. Reisen is following behind me. I stop and turn to face her.
“Let’s go, Moi. I don’t want my master to do something she shouldn’t,” Reisen explains.
I do not deliberate on this any further, instead thinking it better to have my old partner for this next part. It would be too much for me otherwise.
I begin hopping through the stalks, trying to find any signs that tell me Yagokoro and Wriggle came through. Reisen is close on my tail, flying through the air. Thankfully, there doesn’t seem to be any annoying magic that would turn me around like the bamboo forest above ground. Un-thankfully, there are traps. They’re in no small number, either. Pitfalls into spikes, razor wires between larger gaps of stalks, and even an occasional landmine or other explosive that I barely skirt by. Traps very dedicated to making life for someone that prefers the ground miserable. I can see how Yagokoro and Wriggle would have made it around all of this, only the wires being an issue.
“Even Tewi set up traps down here in preparation…” Reisen notes. “Maybe I should be flattered that they all want to protect me?”
“An odd time to feel that way, considering that you begged for me to stay alive and all,” I tell her in earnest thought.
“I’m not giving up on you, not ye–…” she stops in midair and starts sniffing around. “Do you smell that?”
“Don’t have a sense of smell,” I remind her. Immunization to airborne agents tends to do that.
“Right, right,” she passively agrees. She turns and points to a direction, “Out there. A smell of pesticides is coming from that direction.”
“A set of chemicals humans use to kill bugs on farmland. Master must have used an aerosol version for Wriggle,” Reisen explains.
That’s not good. If she’s effected by those, then she might already be in bad shape. We need to get her out of here.
“That direction?” I confirm, pointing the same way.
“Yes, by the intensity it’s probably around another hundred meters or so. I have my gun with me, so I can start clearing the way,” she states, reaching into her medicine box for her custom energy rifle.
“Nah, I got it.”
I pull that trick I did earlier against Hoshiguma, taking my appendages and pausing all of them. I pull, making sure to not put as much force into them as I did before. Reisen looks at me curiously, wondering what I’m doing. I release, and in an instant I’m a few bamboo shoots through the forest. I fly through everything, bamboo, traps, leaves. My forearms don’t appreciate the sharp abuse they’re taking, but I can live with it.
In only a second, I spot bright red and blue in the corner of my eye. I eject myself from the way I’m going and shoot towards Yagokoro. There’s too little time for her to react as I hit her body at mach speed.
The crash is followed by the blistering sound of wood splintering into fragments around me. A poorly sewn red and blue outfit flits from the air, with a cap and straw head already on the ground. It seems this is only a decoy, likely from the same ass that put traps all over.
I search around me. This has to be the spot that Reisen pointed out, where the pesticides were strongest.
I spot Wriggle up against a stalk of bamboo. Her shirt’s been covered in blood, a couple of arrows sticking from the sources of the stains. She’s passed out, and I run to check on her. She’s still breathing, but it’s with heaves and wheezes, probably from the pesticide. I decide to not take the arrows out, worried that the pesticides would aggravate an open piercing wound.
Reisen rounds the corner just as I’ve picked Wriggle up the same as Hoshiguma did for me.
“That was a neat trick. Just like the part where you went in without me,” Reisen complains.
“Oh, it’s fine,” I whim. “Even if she was here, you would have taken up the rear.”
“Ugh,” Reisen scoffs. She points at Wriggle and continues, “She’s fine then?”
“Barely, I’m not sure what Yagokoro is doing leaving her here,” I answer.
“Probably that,” Reisen says, pointing at a note above where Wriggle was. I feel silly for not noticing it before.
“Is she serious right now?” I blasely mock. “She’s explaining her grand plan with a note underneath the hostage, isn’t she?”
Reisen reads through the note and describes it as, “Yes. Master sealed off the one entrance in here and has a set of paralyzing nerve agents filling the area… that’s a lot space to fill. She says she won’t do anything to Wriggle and that she was here as assurance in case you did follow her for whatever reason. Wait, so what was going to happen if you tried to fight me in the street?”
“We can think about that later,” I discard the thought. “For now, you’re telling me we’re trapped and only have a few moments before gases take us out.”
“Effectively,” Reisen confirms.
[Please wait warmly… outside of the room, of course.]
That was a lot of discussion on the previous choice. It was fun to see so much interest in dissecting the choice as between what the character would want to do and what would be the rational thing to do.
“Well, no time to waste, then,” I say, taking the situation in stride. “You think we should check the entrance or is she lying and there’s really a side exit?”
“No, there wouldn’t be a side exit,” Reisen advises. “Master wouldn’t put a plan into motion with a white lie as a countermeasure. The real question is if we can use the way the gases are coming in from to get ourselves out.”
“Probably not. The place is big enough that the gas is probably from a buried box somewhere around here. I doubt there’s real ventilation down here. If there is, Yagokoro would have to seal that, too.”
“No, there has to be some kind of air, otherwise these plants would die…” Reisen thinks aloud, staring at the forest around us more closely.
“These plants are alive. That doesn’t make sense. There’s no sunlight for them to grow with,” Reisen reports.
“And?” I shrug, careful not to disturb Wriggle too much.
“That means these plants aren’t growing with what’s down here alone,” she concludes.
We look up, and sure enough, the bamboo shoots into the ceiling. If it’s getting sunlight, then it’s getting to the surface… We’re standing on a grove of bamboo that stretches maybe a kilometer high.
While neat, that doesn’t seem like a way to get out. The entrance is at least intended for that, even if it might be sealed with fifty meters of hard stone. Still better than a small hole of bamboo for an entire city sector’s length.
“Reisen, how does this help us, exactly?” I question my friend. Hopefully the paralyzing gases aren’t making her high.
She huffs in amusement, “How much do you trust my ideas?”
“More than I should, all things considered.”
“Good, let me care for Wriggle, you start pulling a stalk from the roof.”
“Alright, maybe I really shouldn’t trust your ideas,” I say, handing Wriggle over to Reisen and finishing with, “but…”
I float up and kick the bottom of a stalk out, and start pulling. There’s friction, sure, but nothing I can’t handle. I can break a boulder with my bare hands. Kick an oni hard enough to make her bleed. I can pull a stupid piece of wood through the ground.
It takes effort, but I start moving, and the bamboo comes with. As Reisen must have figured, the entire grove’s roots are below us, not above. Every stalk is one long pipe all the way up. Still not sure how that helps after I get it out of the way, but Reisen must have thought of something already.
Of course, I question if this is supposed to bring us above ground to the bamboo forest near Yagokoro’s clinic, but we’ll just have to find that part out.
I shuffle the stalk, kicking off blocks large enough to make a cabin with, and enough material for a cabin I am quickly accumulating. I see Reisen doing what she can for Wriggle below me, I could swear at one point I see Wriggle shivering and look closer to check, but Reisen has it under control.
We continue on like this for some time before I notice myself start to get hazy. Reisen still seems to be just fine, though. The gas must be light, filling in the top down of the cavern. That almost seems like… nah. There’s no way Yagokoro would expect us to do something this insane, right? It would have been much easier to dig my way from the entrance, but this seemed so outlandish that no one in their right mind would do it.
And that’s precisely why Reisen and I thought it was a good idea.
A whistle comes from a few stalks away of Reisen, and I see Hoshiguma walking up to us. “Hah!” she laughs, “I was waiting by the entrance when that princess walked out. I was expecting the two of you to start scratching at the wall, but this is really something else!”
“Yuugi? If you’re still in here, why didn’t you stop the entrance from being sealed?” Reisen asks the obvious question.
“Well, I didn’t want to get too involved, but I also couldn’t help myself to see what that larger-than-average rabbit would do,” she answers in kind. “You know what? I changed my mind, though. That looks hilarious!”
She hops into the air beside me, chuckling to herself all the while. She snags a higher grip on the bamboo from me and pulls. It looks like it doesn’t even take anything for her to do so. I snag the next part and pull, feeling a snag of competitive nature take hold. We take turns pulling as much as we can, the bamboo coming down endlessly. We start going faster, our rhythm moving in challenge to one another. We grab it at the same time and stake the bottom into the ground.
As it happens, that was the last section of it, a large leafy top visible at the roof. It falls majestically to the ground, tumbling through the rest of the forest. Reisen yelps and gathers her stuff, floating up with Wriggle before it lands. A dramatic crash sounds through the cavern like a cannon. The air moves to accommodate, and I notice a slight tint to the color of it. That would be the gas getting thicker by the second. Time to go.
“Reisen, what next?!” I demand.
“I don’t know, punch into the roof? I was expecting that to take you longer,” she admits.
“Are you trying to kill me?!” I yell.
“I mean… it would only be fair, right?” she jokes off nervously.
Something snaps and I grab Hoshiguma from under her arms, and one of them emits an uncanny squeal. I squat and pause, building up power. The release threatens to split me in two, hurling the sizable oni straight upwards into the ceiling.
Her surprised cries quickly change to a roar as she understands my idea. She winds up a punch and blasts into the ceiling. It cracks as far as I can see through the other bamboo stalks. A hefty amount of the rock and dirt almost lands on me. Hoshiguma floats back next to me.
She puffs in excitement like a child, asking, “Can we do that again? That was great!”
A grievous sigh sounds next to us, coming from Reisen with a worried, “Should I have left this to you? You two muscle heads are gonna cave us in like this.”
“A cave in?” Hoshiguma repeats. “Little rabbit, oni like us are the cave in!”
“No, you see, that’s exactly my point,” Reisen continues as I start my previous motion. “Ugh…”
And in this way, one rabbit and an oni tunnel our way out of literal (old) hell. At first, I worry that the paralyzing gas would fill the room too much, but as we make our way upwards, more space is available to dilute it. The increasing amounts of dirt and debris probably help to bury it over time, too.
It takes a while, but with complete safety and two people with a lot of stamina, we make our way upwards. By the time a good tunnel is going, the cave, now more of a tunnel, gets caved in. I shield Reisen and by proxy Wriggle from the collision and we’re finally greeted with light. We wander our way out of the several meter sized sinkhole into the bamboo forest. A bamboo forest, anyway.
“I don’t recognize this place…” Reisen notes.
Hoshiguma giggles maniacally at the madness we just pulled off. “I’ve never tried that before! Gods you’re a riot!”
“Yeah, and you all are noisy as hell,” a voice comes from above us. A girl with long white hair and red pants with odd talismans greets us.
“Mokou?” Reisen addresses the girl. “We’re in the bamboo forest of the lost?”
“Thankfully, no,” this Mokou girl replies. “I would have to move if you did this stunt under my damn house. We’re somewhere behind the Youkai mountain.”
“I didn’t realize this was back here,” Reisen notes.
“Nobody in Gensokyo comes into this yard. Those little military camo children are the only ones even remotely close,” Mokou explains.
“Uh huh…” I drone. “So you’re here to try and kill me, I’m guessing?”
“Eirin promised a bounty worth asking for a bastard’s help. I can see fire where that smoke comes from. I’ll live with ending one homicidal rabbit for it,” Mokou replies and lands in front of us.
“Reisen, how tough is she?” I give a sidelong question.
“She’s a Hourai immortal that uses fire. Do the math,” she replies lamely.
[x] Hey, can we just talk this out? I swear this is an honorable duel.
[x] Less thinky, more punchy.
[x] How’s about a different strategy? (Write-in)
Does the cave escape stand up to scrutiny? No. It was fun to think up and write, though.
[X] "Hey, can we just talk this out? I swear this is an honorable duel." -[X] Surprise her with a punch. --[X] You've got a helpful supply of boulders from the tunnel. Mayhaps you can trap her under them long enough to get away from the impossible fight?
[X] Less thinky, more punchy. - [X] You've got a helpful supply of boulders from the tunnel. Mayhaps you can trap her under them long enough to get away from the impossible fight?
So… an immortal? Alright, let’s just not deal with this right now. We dug our way out of a trap set by an immortal. We don’t need another one to try and kill us here.
… Kill me here.
Man, that feels bad.
I lash out, jumping in for the fight before anyone else realizes we’ve gotten to that point. Mokou barely has time to react, but she makes the moment count. A blaze comes spurning from behind her, wrapping around to drive into me. The heat transfers to me, the flames licking at the fringes of tattered pieces of cloth. I descend a fist into Mokou’s chest, able to punch right through her.
I pause for a moment, wondering if I can stall her like this. The answer becomes apparent when my arm singes from Mokou’s internals. I fling her off of my arm and across the pit, causing her to disappear in some brush. I inspect my blood covered arm to find it’s been blasted in a furnace. The taut skin is just short of charcoal.
“Well, that was a good try,” Reisen admits. She lowers her box and retrieves her energy rifle to be at the ready. The thing stretches into a billowing musket, retaining the megaphone shape, but elongated to look meaner than before.
Hoshiguma relaxes over by a tree with Wriggle in her arms, satisfied with watching whatever’s about to happen. Reisen and I float across the pit, preparing to beat down Mokou as needed.
She bursts from the brush, the hole left in her shirt, but chest back to pristine condition. She winds back and I prepare to match a punch, but am shocked to find an outstretched claw of fire swooping down onto me. I eject out of the way, avoided the brunt of the attack. My leg seems to have gotten nicked, the lower calf cut into a deep cauterized wound.
I roll back to the ground, watching as Reisen blasts at Mokou. The latter doesn’t go down easy, though. Wings of fire sprout from her and she starts moving out of the way of Reisen’s energy explosives. Mokou swings back around to directly attack Reisen with another claw, and I pause to build up a slingshot. I release and tackle Mokou midair, knocking her out of the blaze.
Even in that instant, my body feels the intensity of the living fireball. Her fury doesn’t cease, as she puts an open hand to my back and starts channeling a gout of plasma. I have to release her, tossing her back into the air where she stalls out. From her position above me, she roars, wings spreading larger than twice her height. She shoots down, accelerating into a meteor.
“Moi! Move!” Reisen calls out.
I understand the words and do just that, dodging from the impact. At the same time, I also dodge to the opposite way, above, and below. Reisen’s usual tricks working to help me. That isn’t all to our tagging, though, as every copy of me pulls up my gun, thankfully surviving on its holster after everything. Mokou tries to increase the imminent destruction, upping the fire around her enough to catch every one of me. The heat is like the sun barreling onto my head.
I take aim at her, and pull the trigger. The other mes do the same, causing the raucous sound of my blaster colliding multiple times on the same point. The blast is enough to cause a shockwave on its own. It’s also enough to blow out the fires of the immortal, now freely floating up from the leftover force. I break from the rest of my fading mirrors, seeking to catch the ashen form of the immortal before she resurrects, and throw her with everything I have into the sinkhole.
“Reisen! Repeat!” I call to my partner.
She lands to the ground and dashes around the pit from both sides, leaving copies of herself in her wake. They stop in unison and aim their muskets downwards. They start firing with everything Reisen can give. One of them tosses a volatile chemical in for the hell of it, another starts chuckling with bloodlusting fervor, one more starts shouting in anger.
I aim my own weapon and join in, firing down into the pit. A pillar of fire erupts from the pit with volcanic rage, the immortal resurrecting with pure contempt. We keep the pressure up, firing our guns over and over and over.
The heat starts to get to me as I sit above it, and so I look for an alternative solution. I pounce at the nearest boulder that I can carry, a thing the size of, well, a boulder. Sure enough to plug up the hole the oni and I left and then some. I seize every ounce of strength within me to lift straight up, tilting the pile of rock up enough for me to get under and start pushing up with enough force to make Hoshiguma blush. I send the boulder into the sky, following it to the exact point of the pit.
Not hard to aim for it, the thing’s a beacon more hellish than where I was earlier. I correct the rock’s fall onto the pit, and let it carry me down. No sense of power greater than standing on a falling rock.
I hop off the mass before it lands, much of the bamboo forest below is knocked over by the powerful wind displaced in the event. The multiple Reisens tumble back into one, similarly sent upwards. I launch through the air and catch her.
“Some warning would have been nice…” she comments.
I set her back into the air, and reply, “I didn’t know if she would hear me.”
“And the real reason?”
“I was having too much fun riding the rock,” I proudly proclaim.
Reisen snaps a chop into my skull for my trouble.
We land back down to check the scene. The rock seems stable, no pops or sputters around the edges. We might have really contained the immortal in the pit. Lords know how much dirt she’s been buried in after the torrential gunfire.
“Well, that was nice,” I admit. “A bit like old times.”
“But that’s in the past, huh..?” Reisen says, the melancholy in her voice contagious.
I respond without looking, “...Yeah.”
“Oh lighten up, you two!” Hoshiguma bursts into the conversation. “The two of you just put an immortal in her place! Even I’ve seen that girl. Something terrifying, she is. A force of nature much like myself.”
Reisen and I don’t partake in Hoshiguma’s attempt at small talk. We know what happens now that we’re out of Yagokoro’s range.
A rumble comes from beneath the earth. One immortal seems to have not had enough.
“Ahh, get a move on,” Hoshiguma comments. She hands Wriggle to me and states, “You two have business to get to. I’ll know what happens when I see one of you again. Thanks for the good time and all that.”
She hops onto the boulder and waves us off as the pounding sound makes itself known. The flame will be kept in control long enough for us to leave.
“So… what now?” Reisen asks. Her emotionless attitude only proves to me how nervous she is to see me again. Now that we have a moment to breath, it’s back to my goal for being down here.
I look down into my arms. Wriggle sleeps soundly after Reisen’s treatment.
[x] I want to fight.
[x] I want to fight.
[x] I want to fight?
Funny. Both stories of mine have Mokou getting buried under a rock, now. An odd coincidence. And yes, you are free to read into that question mark.
The moment we've waited for for... probably decades at this point.
What is there to do?
We came here for a reason.
It's not like our hatred is gone in the wind suddenly; by our own admission is it merely... cold. Instead of the blaze we've felt for so long.
The Song and Dance nears its end, and the actors begin their final act.
[X] I want to fight? -[X] Yes, I do. --[X] But not as rabid animals, but as fellow Soldiers; as Rivals; as... Friends.
The outcome of the fight should not be for us to vote on; maybe it isn't even for us to know.
The only ones who get to decide what happens next are two scared little bunnies; running away from their past in different ways.
Maybe one lives; maybe they both do; maybe neither; but this is Poingnant's ride to end, in my opinion.
Bit of a rant incoming, but I needed to vent before the end, I'm sorry.
I was the guy really pushing "shake my head" a couple updates ago, because I felt that doing otherwise would detract from this moment we've come to now. And frankly, I still feel the same. It just doesn't have the same impact as I feel it could've had. Yes, this is sour grapes; but I do feel that the best moments for the mask of rage to crack were choosing to save Wriggle, and the climax happening right now.
Also, please do not take this as me discrediting your writing, Poingnant. I'm merely talking about how I feel things have turned out, not the quality of the story. It has truly been an enjoyable story with fun characters and I loved the occasionally goof, such as the interaction with Marisa, to switch up with the Doomguy rip and tear stuff.
Anyway, I just needed to get that out of my system; feel free to rip into me for it.
>>29242 There's no more time for that; both narratively and quite literally. Yuugi is keeping Mokou busy; there's no point anymore in holding off. To dawdle now would make no sense. The time for thinking has passed; this entire journey has been time for Moi to think about what she really is here for. But on a more meta note: There's only one or two updates left for Nanowrimo. If two: there'll either be two updates of fighting/conclusion or maybe one fight update and an epilogue/ending.
[X] I want to fight? -[X] Yes, I do. --[X] But not as rabid animals, but as fellow Soldiers; as Rivals; as... Friends.
We float idly a ways out of the bamboo forest, the day having taken its toll on me. It was midday when I started, but now it’s almost entirely dark. The light of the moon shines a pure white in the sky above.
“Why did you stop?” Reisen asks. I hadn’t even noticed I stopped to look up, entranced by the beauty of the place I once was. It looks so perfect from down here.
It’s sad to know it isn’t. We’re two examples of that. I float down to the deciduous forest below. It looks like anywhere else in Gensokyo with seasonal trees, same as where I first landed. I set Wriggle against a tree and start walking. I am thankful that she’s alive, but that does not stop what I’ll do next, and I don’t want her to have to witness it.
Reisen follows behind me listlessly as we trudge further into the forest, delaying what we both know is going to happen.
I stop and turn, addressing my friend, “Reisen.”
“Moi,” she replies. She drops her straw hat and the medicine box. Her tone is serious, ready to beat back in a split second.
“Reisen…” I sigh. A deep breath in, and I push out a distraught, “I hate you.”
“… I know,” Reisen accepts. “I’ve made my choices, and I knew you wouldn’t be happy with them.”
“At least you’re showing a bit of spine about it. Ironic,” I chuckle.
Reisen chuckles, too, “Don’t worry, I wouldn’t have at the time. I had a feeling this would happen.”
“How much of it?” I ask out of curiosity.
“Well… not exactly this, but something like it. I was more worried you were part of the invasion force along with Seiran and Ringo.”
“Oh yeah, they’re down here now, too,” I remember. “Good for them. They did their jobs and left after they got the chance.”
“And me?” Reisen queries.
“You left a friend to fight a civil uprising on her own,” I deem. “We both know there wasn’t a chance for me to come with you. You didn’t even go by your own power, did you?”
“I was a lot more pitiable then,” Reisen admits. “But even if I regret things I did… I think I’d still do them again.”
“Then I guess we were always running to this point in time,” I conclude.
“Yeah, and I’m happy for it. I love the people I live with now, even though they’re all maniacs.”
“Fitting for those like us,” I snide.
“I plan to make that include you, jackass,” Reisen boasts. “I’m not leaving you again, Moi.”
I laugh at her corny promise, “Oh, Reisen! You’re always such a showboat. And that’s coming from me. But you know the messed up thing, here?”
“What?” Reisen asks skeptically.
“I still love you,” I say in all seriousness.
She doesn’t say anything in response. If it shook her, she doesn’t show it.
“Now let’s see who the better rabbit is!” I shout, stomping the ground and launching straight at Reisen.
She knows exactly what I’d do for my first move, and I hers. She splits apart in multiple directions, her real body probably invisible, anyways. I pause my feet and let my gun fly into my hand, aiming directly ahead of me. I take a hair too long and receive a punch to the face from an invisible force.
Reisen and her sucker punches. How I could live without ‘em. Hopefully not literally, though.
I spin to the ground from the momentum I was still storing, hopping back onto my feet to try another attack. Reisen disarmed me in that exchange, knowing that her advantage is being outside of melee for as long as possible. If I want to win, I need to dive at her more than she can mask her retreat.
A few minutes pass of me leaping straight at her and the initial exchange plays out again. She goes invisible, I can’t find where she’s coming at me from, I get counterattacked. She pours in as many shots as possible with her musket, trying to subdue me by superior firepower.
She doesn’t outright damage me like this, but the internal damage feels like it’s stacking fast. More bruises and welts show up on my skin than it heals.
My inability to hit her adds to the annoyance. As I expected, strength isn’t my limiting factor in a fight like this. She’s also gotten better at using her power, no longer relying purely on her rifle. I test how long she remains invisible, but she keeps coming out of it too fast for me to observe. She knows I’m testing her.
I need to start being creative. I miss a punch at her again, sending my arm through a tree. Instead of pulling back out, I lift the whole tree with my arm, sending a large chunk over my head. I spot Reisen diving out of the way and chuck a broken piece of wood like a discus. It stabs her in the gut, to which she retreats out of sight before I can continue the advantage.
I duck around the bush she retreated through, attempting to keep sight of her in flight. I spot her figure a ways ahead already. I pause, hold, and release, shooting at her fast as a bullet. I fly right through, an obvious decoy to use. A tree bears a small fraction of my weight as I stop and pause against it.
Before a fraction of a second has passed, I close my eyes and listen. The magical shriek of Reisen’s rifle comes from a ways behind. I twist around and redirect my momentum in the direction of that sound, crashing through bullets with my forearms shielding me. Flesh comes off of them due to a higher energy shot Reisen has switched to, but I won’t let her get away with another chance to fire.
I move too fast for her to dodge. Too fast for her to completely go invisible, and I smash into her. We fall to the ground, her plain white attire now stained with her, my, and Wriggle’s blood. My arms pour their recuperated life away as I sit atop Reisen. She looks to be worse for wear than the lone stab wound I visibly gave her. My tackle must have been faster than I thought. I got used to fighting oni after a few hours. Reisen’s body isn’t that of an oni’s.
She struggles to breath under my frame, arms pinned by my knees. Her eyes glow iridescent like always.
[X] Kill Reisen. You can do it. A single shot to the head. Pick it up and fire. Steady your trembling hand. You'll want a clean shot. Pull the trigger, already, what are you waiting for? - [X] ...put the gun down. You can't do it, can you? -- [X] No.
I raise my fist. Reisen does nothing to resist. She just stares. It isn’t a blank stare, nor one with contempt. It’s resolved, accepting. And yet it’s so distant.
I pause. I have waited decades for this moment. The amount of blood that covers me would make hell seem like my home. I shouldered the brunt of the moon’s filthy pureness day in and day out. Ended the existence of many rabbits just out of basic in something a hare’s breath away of complete civil war. I had to put down lunarians shaking up the order. I had to put down the same amount in a fraction of the time when the lunar capital went into hiding as some grand plan. I am stained.
She was supposed to be there with me, like she was all the time before then. My entire life as I know it now should have been with her by my side. If only she had stayed!
All of this hate. All of this blood in my fist. All of it! It’s all because she chose herself over her gods damned partner! I have every right to be livid! To continue living for this one moment where I end her. It wouldn’t even be a betrayal to her as great as she did to me!
It’s one motion. A motion I’ve practiced so many times before, taking others doing it. Swing my arm down, crush her in her entirety. Enough that the great doctor wouldn’t be able to do anything. It would be so easy. It would be everything that I’ve waited for! What I wa–
“Moi?” Reisen says. Her eyes shimmer as she looks at me and not her own resolve. She’s opened back up to the world, looking at a single point. A tear falls from my cheek and onto hers.
Wha–? No, I… I don’t… I want to, don’t I?
“Moi, why are you crying?” Reisen quietly asks. She’s as stunned as I am. I bring a finger to the corner of my eye to check that I’m not hallucinating.
After all of the boasting, self assuredness, disdain and rage, the only answer I can say, unsettled as I am, is, “I don’t know.”
I release my fist. It lowers slowly, the last bits of control I can feel disintegrating as I continue to stare into Reisen. I shuffle off of her, collapsing onto my knees, feeling like something has broken from within. My vision starts to blur.
Reisen rolls back up, her surprise now turned into confusion. A confusion of my wellbeing.
“Moi, why didn’t you kill me? Isn’t that what you wanted? Don’t I deserve to die to you? Why?” she continues to question my unresponsive body. She’s become fully despondent to herself, confusion settling into doubt and disbelief. I continue to silently cry, trying to force it away only makes it worse.
My face wraps in on itself, my emotions run rampant. They will not yield, not even to me. Reisen moves over, a sharp breath forced out from the injuries she’s taken. She wraps her arms around me, embracing me for all I’m worth. We don’t exchange words at this point. We sit in silence for an eternity.
“Moi… I had no idea,” Reisen tells me. “I really am the worst thing that’s happened to you…”
As soon as she gets the words out, she leans into me, her arms loosen their grip entirely. She’s fallen unconscious. She is dying. My being reengages with my body, muscles clenching all at once with a singular action. I raise Reisen with me as I stand, I pick the direction I came from, and I run. I run with everything in me to do so.
I run back to Wriggle, who should still be nearby. I spot her standing up, checking the bandages Reisen applied to her.
“Wriggle!” I wail.
The girl turns around, horrified by the desperation in my voice. I haven’t paid attention by this point, but I doubt I stopped shedding tears.
“Moi?! What?! Why do you have Reisen? Why are you crying?” she tries to keep up with the sudden change in events.
I barely contain outright sobs as I carry my friend’s nearly lifeless body, and beg, “Please, help me.”
Wriggle looks me dead in the eyes, surprised, yes, but also sure. “We need to go back to Eientei,” she says.
Without delay she floats up and calls for me to follow her. I lift into the air, as slow of a flyer as I am, I need to get Reisen somewhere to heal. Wriggle guides me around the mountain side, time continuing its march towards doom as we do so. I can’t even tell if Reisen is breathing in my arms while we move, I can only hope that she still has some time, or any time at all.
We fly across Gensokyo. However much time has passed is something I keep out of my mind. The bamboo forest comes into view and we begin to sprint. Wriggle does her best to keep ahead of my pace, and it shows as she pants aggressively midway through. We reach the front gate of the clinic, a couple of rabbits at the front spotting us and moving inside fast.
I decide to not wait for whatever they’re going to do, barging in through the doors.
Somehow, someway, Yagokoro was prepared. She looks at me from a drawn arrow on the other side of the room. She’s absolutely furious. She only barely realizes I’m carrying Reisen before loosing her hold.
“Why did you come back?!” she demands.
I have no explanation. Nothing that would satisfy the brain of the moon. All I can do is lift Reisen in front of me, and pathetically squeak, “Help.”
She stares, scrutinizing everything about me. Judging whether this is some kind of advanced ploy to get her, or whatever else. I don’t know what it is she sees, but something on me causes her to reserve her arrow.
“This way,” she commands, walking fast through the manse. We end over in a room meant for operations. She is quick to demand things of me, likely taking Reisen’s role in this scenario. We move in a flurry, Wriggle hiding outside of the room to stay out of the way. I move to her order, knowing there is no other way.
It does not matter that she wants me dead. It does not matter that her poison is only temporarily stopped from killing me. We both only want Reisen to live in this very moment. This takes time, a thing we have so little of right now. With Yagokoro’s patience and divine skill, we bring her back to a somewhat stable condition.
I had burst almost all of Reisen’s internals when I hit her. Her lungs weren’t even functioning, her diaphragm was pushing into a flooded pit. Even if we brought her back to life now, Yagokoro said that it was up to chance if she would last through the night. Her body was further on the throes of death than I was earlier today.
I sit by her side through the night. Not resting at all, not heeding Yagokoro’s requests to leave. She no longer wants me dead, but I was still the one to put Reisen like this.
In my wait I struggle with the many memories I have of our time together. They’ve all been scarred and shredded, but still there. I no longer know how to feel. Have I betrayed myself by doing this? I can’t answer. But maybe I don’t need to. Hopefully Reisen could for me.
Something brushes my hair. Morning light pervades my closed eyes. I fell asleep late into the night. I open my eyes, head resting on the side of Reisen’s bed.
“Good morning,” Reisen weakly whispers from her pillow.