Norseman !Mt7GrRaEMc 2009/03/10 (Tue) 23:37 No. 12934 ▼
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[ ] The ghostly garden of cherry blossoms.
Somehow you feel as if this choice is too easy. As the old master said, the hall of Yakumo is not one that would welcome you, even though you would not mind meeting the mistress of borders again. Likewise the shrine of Hakurei would only greet you with hostility, if Marisa's earlier words were accurate. The divine maiden of this realm would surely prove to be a most formidable, if not insurmountable, foeman, and even though it stings your pride, you can no longer disregard the limits of your power and the might of Gensokyo's sorceressess. And neither can you afford further gambles, for they have led you astray from your path as surely as the schemes of the wiliest foeman, so venturing into the borderlands is another path closed to you.
Thus three truths twist the trail, leaving little choice as to which way the warrior will walk. The garden of cherry blossoms, and the hall of the old master's princess is the choice you must pick, and the choice that you suspect that the old one has picked for you even before he gave you the choices. You turn your gaze upon Youki and watch him for a few moments, searching for signs of duplicity or deceit, but as usual his face reveals little. And as you have no real reason to distrust him, you have to accept.
"Then I choose the garden of spirits, old master, though the hall of blademaster's mistress is strange to song-smith."
The old master smiles again, and turns away from you. With his back turned he speaks to you, and you can feel a strange power filling the air, flickering at the edge of your senses
"Very well, young Sigurd. If this is your choice, we shall visit the home of princess Yuyuko." The old master softly starts chanting a strange verse, and the sorcery sings around him, weaving its voice into his in perfect harmony, softly and subtly as no other sound you have heard, not even the chants of the greek monks of Miklag?rd. The world itself seems to bend to Youki's will, opening a strange path in front of you, one that you cannot recognize, but at the same time, one that feels familiar as well.
Youki leads you down the shifting trail, the path glittering like the flowing ice of ?liv?gar, that streaming ice-wave running through the realms of mist. Time also flows strangely, twisting itself into strange shapes and forms, ones that you cannot recognize. Even straining your senses your sight remains dimmed, and even your mind slowly loses its clarity and its concept of time and space. The only fixed point that remains is the old one, solid like nothing else in this flowing world. With determination bordering on the insane you follow him step by step, slowly working your way towards the end of this bizarre path.
Finally the two of you reach the end of the dark road, entering a small, secluded grove of strange trees with leaves of a pink colour. Fascinated by these strange plants, you gaze around you, taking in the beauty of the blooming trees and their strange, enchanting leaves. Truly, even if you trusted the word of the old master as much as the wise man trusts the oath of Loki, you cannot doubt that this strange place must be a land supernatural, a realm of ghosts and spirits in truth, for what other land could hold such unnatural scenery?
"Old one, in truth are we in strange realm. Shaped the world was, Bor's sons carved it from Ymir's flesh, yet no land such as this could Odin and his brothers have crafted. Wondrous world, wrought not by gods on high, world of men only one shadow in garden of ghosts."
"Thank you Sigurd." The old blademaster gently answers. "I would offer to show you the sights of Hakygyokuro, but I know that you are impatient to find your friends. And even though patience is a virtue, I understand your feelings."
"Aye, O master of mind and blade, this and this alone be my goal, this and no other." You answer, the impatience suddenly returning to your mind.
The old master merely smiles in reply. The air itself seems to bend around him, and suddenly he reaches out and draws out a large straw hat from thin air. After he draws down the headgear so it almost conceals his face, he repeats the summoning by picking a pair of blades from thin air and tucking them into his belt. You flinch slightly at this display of supernatural power, but quickly compose yourself. Have you not seen more impressive sorcery already? But even so, you still feel slightly overwhelmed by the ease that the inhabitants of this realm wield the power of magic.
"Then I shall show you the way out, young Sigurd." The old one answers. After a moment he seems to notice your slightly awed expression, and with an enigmatic smile he continues speaking.
"As you must have concluded, I am not a normal human," the old one says with dry understatement, "and I would ask you to leave this fact unmentioned to the people we may meet."
The old master's words are reasonable, but you can't help but to wonder what the old one means by 'normal human'. But if he wishes to reveal this to you, he surely will tell. Otherwise, it it of little concern to you, for it is not the nature of a man that grants him his honour, but his deeds.
"And I would ask you another favour, young Sigurd." The old master continues, "We may meet a young woman with white hair, and if we do I would like to speak with her, if you have no objections."
You glance at the old one, searching for some kind of hint to unravel the mystery of his thoughts, but you can find no clue in his serene features. And with no reason to refuse, you must give answer, must give him your approval.
"Your will, O wise master, shall be mine. By Odin's name I promise this."
The old master nods in reply, and the two of you continue your trek through the forest of cherry trees. It feels strangely calming to walk through these unearthly woods, as if something in the very air serves to soothe your spirit. After a few minutes you leave the forest itself and find yourself standing in a garden, for even though the trees still surround you they are no longer growing wild. Long, straight rows of blossoming cherry trees stretch out, and in the distance, in between the rows of trees, you can see a large, elegant mansion. Perhaps this is the hall of Youki's princess? It is hard to judge its size from here, but surely it must be a dwelling fit for kings.
But even this massive building is dwarfed by a single tree towering far, far above the lesser treetops. Unlike all others, this tree does not blossom, no leaf adorns the branches of this world-tree. Suddenly you recognize this brother of Ygg's steed, for this tree must be the one you glimpsed in a vision yesternight. You feel as if it must have a greater significance.
But as you gaze up at the pitch-black sky you think you can make out something moving far above. It flits around the sky, far faster than anything should be able to. For a second time you feel as if this thing is important, even though you have no idea what it is.
You stop and turn to the old master, intending to point out this strange thing, but it seems as if he has already seen it.
"Ah, it seems as if we have been spotted." The old master says, and strangely enough you can hear a hint of pride in his voice. "If you would be kind to leave this matter to me, I would be grateful. Perhaps you could take a stroll through the garden?" The old master continues, the tone of his voice revealing that his suggestion may be slightly more than a mere request. All you can determine right now is that the speck in the sky seems to be approaching fast, and any decision you make must be swift. Shall you leave, or shall you stay?
[ ] Leave and walk towards the great mansion.
[ ] Leave and walk towards the enormous tree.
[ ] Leave and try to find the exit of the garden.
[ ] Leave and wander around the garden for a while
[ ] Insist on staying. You want to see this.