Well, whatever. What happens in the beast's lair is none of your concern, as long as you and your human are safe. And since his offering seems to have appeased the beast itself, even put the both of you in its favour, you see no reason to go wandering. The sound repeats, slightly louder this time, almost insistent, and you just ignore it. The subsequent silence is almost petulant.
However, it is quickly broken by the return of the red-white. She sets down a small tray and pours tea for the three of you. Taking a place at the other side of the table, she relaxes quickly - or at least appears to. She settles onto one elbow.
"So. What do you want?" She cuts right to the chase. Your human doesn't answer immediately, instead electing to take a drink from his tea. He looks down at it curiously, and speaks.
"You know, if you use the smaller, lighter leaves, you get a much better flavour." He laughs at her expression. "Now, now, don't make that face. I had to make do with weed tea for a few years, myself. It's admittedly a bit of an acquired taste, but you learn a few tricks after a while." Curiously, you pick up your own cup and take a sniff. It's certainly a strong-smelling sort of tea. However, it's all you can do to keep from spitting it out when you taste it. It's really terrible. You make a face, and set the tea down. He continues, "But yes, I did come for more than to just give you money."
"Of course. What's your problem? A particularly troublesome youkai?" She slides her eyes over to you for the barest second. "Or maybe not. So? What is it?" She manages to somehow sound just as impatient as she does laid back. Taking a sip from her own cup, she looks as miraculously unperturbed by the taste as your human. ...Maybe it's just a human thing. Speaking of humans, yours is pulling that rectangle from earlier out. And a little stick. The terrible creature across the table simply looks slightly curious.
"Tell me a story."
“…Excuse me?” She’s surprised. Off balance.
“A story. You resolved all those ‘incidents’ I heard about, right? So tell me about them. Leave nothing out. That’s all I ask.” His pleading look does not go unnoticed.
“…I didn’t think any villagers knew about that.” She looks down at the table.
“They don’t?” The beast’s head snaps up.
“You aren’t from the village?” Your human shakes his head.
“Nope! Outsider.” The surprise fades from her face, as he continues, “I’m staying at Kourindou. Rinnosuke was kind enough to give me a job, so I’m alright.” She searches his face for some unknown sign.
“You…don’t want to go home?”
“Home? I’m as much at home here as anywhere else. And I suppose Gensokyo is small enough that an actual roof over my head’s as good as anything else.”
“…Oh.” Confusion is evident on her face, but she nods as though she understands.
“So, anyway, a story? It isn’t really much, right? Not hard at all.”
“Fine, fine. It’ll be a long one, mind you.”
“Excellent!” They both arrange themselves to be more comfortable. You’re already starting to fidget.
“All right, so, I was coming back to the shrine one day, when I noticed there were a lot of ghosts and evil spirits around. Naturally, I…” She starts to talk. And talk. And TALK.
[ ] This cushion’s really comfortable… [ ] VIGILANCE! You must be wary! [ ] Well, might as well go investigate that noise now. [ ] Something else?
A second thread? On THIS story? More likely than I thought, apparently.
Never thought it would go this long. Ah, well. Here's to another however many threads it takes. Cheers.
You slowly begin to edge back from the table, moving discreetly, with all the experience gleaned from your decades on the hunt working towards keeping your shift unnoticed. You slide backwards, an inch at a time, until you're out of the immediate line of sight of the red-white, who's looking down into her tea, now, as she talks.
You lift off of the ground, and float over to the door into the room where the sound had been. Quietly, quietly, you slide it open just enough to fit through, and slip in, closing it carefully behind you. You take a look around, curious as to the source of the noise.
Oh, right there! A pair of sticks! Someone must have been using those to make noise. Maybe her?
Right next to the pair of sticks, crouched down and mumbling to herself, is a woman with long green hair and a cool hat. You can just make out her words.
"...Fine, ignore me...it's not like I wanted someone to talk to anyway...I was just bored..." The set of her shoulders changes, ever so slightly. "Well, fine! See if I ca-" She suddenly bursts up from her position, spinning to shake a fist at the door, and, by extension, you. However, she freezes when she spots you, cutting herself off mid-word. The two of you stare at each other for a moment, frozen.
Oh, weird. She doesn't have legs! The distraction breaks the impromptu staring contest, and she shakes her head.
"Who are you?" She asks, a haughty air coming over her. "I am the Most Glorious Supreme Goddess, Lady Mima, Patron of the Hakurei Shrine, The Terrible Evil Spirit of Magic!" A pair of grand wings unfurl from her back, that certainly weren't there a moment ago. The image she presents is quite striking.
"You may grovel before me."
[ ] "Cool! How'd you do that wing thing?" [ ] "Wow~!" [ ] Write-in?
And your title: (Any write-ins will be considered subjectively. The most heavily voted will not necessarily win, if there's a better or more fitting one.)
[ ] Hunter's Fear In The Night [ ] The Hunter in a Land of Dreams [ ] Flesh-Rending Hunter [ ] Youkai of Deadly Wounds
"Cool!" And it was. "How'd you do that wing thing?" She's thrown off balance by the question, and you're right up to her before she can react, feeling the wings, trying to figure them out. "Oohh...they're real..." She somehow sprouted wings, right out of her back! Real ones! Warm, and soft...
"H-hey! What are you-! Show some respect!" She tries to pull her wing out of your grasp, but only succeeds in flinging you over her shoulder, still clinging to her soft, smooth wing. You use your legs to hold yourself steady as you're tossed around. "Hey!" She makes a grab at you as you swing around on her wing, always just out of her reach. The feathers under your fingers give just enough to be soft and comfortable, and between the warmth, the fact that it's daytime, and considering how little sleep you got the night before, you're starting to get a bit sleepy. You yawn widely.
"Hey, c'mon! You-" She grabs at you, spinning and pulling you just out of reach as she does. "-can't-" She tries again, just as successfully, "-do this! When I get my hands on you, I'll-" She only sounds a little angry, anyway. Nothing to worry about.
"Soft~" You murmur, sleepily, and nuzzle the lovely feathers. You yawn again, and remember what you'd forgotten. You haven't introduced yourself yet! How rude. You do so, and follow up with a title you just thought up, since she had so many. You're fairly proud of it, too. It uses cool words. "Arboreal Ambusher..." Your eyes drift closed, and everything just sort of fades away.
Mima sighs. That little youkai fell asleep, right on her wing! "Hey..." She says, half-heartedly, looking over at the peaceful, happy expression on her sleeping face. "Well, it's fine, I suppose... I can forgive her this time." She starts to move, pulling her wings in closer to her body, so she could get through the doorway more easily. She takes a final glance over her shoulder, at the small youkai now nestled into her wings. "...I need a drink..."
You awaken to the sensation of movement, and, when you open your eyes, find that you've been covered by a length of cloth. You hear Mima talking behind you.
"...I'll show you why they call me the Vengeful Goddess of the Hakurei Shrine!" Another voice speaks.
"Goddess?" The word is full of scorn. "Two-bit spirit, maybe. I, Tenshi, of the Hinanawi Clan, will dispose of you easily!" This Tenshi is pretty full of herself.
"Two-bit-! Outrageous!" You feel movement against your back. You're somehow stuck back-to-back with Mima! The sensation of movement occurs again, and the cloth flies up. It seems to be some kind of cape, and you have a clear view, briefly, of open sky and treetops.
"Eh? Whaaa-?!" You're understandably quite surprised by this.
"Oh, you're awake." You hear Mima say quietly, "Hold on for a moment, while I take care of this, okay?" She chuckles darkly. "Say, you can shoot danmaku, can't you? Wait for my signal."
"Okay~" You reply. Mima's pretty cool, and there's no reason not to.
"Alright, then. Let's go!" The sound of danmaku being fired fills the air.
On the ground, Reimu and your human are standing next to a small crater, a keystone within showing its source.
"Oh, so this is a danmaku battle?" Your human asks, curiously.
"Yeah," Reimu replies, "That idiot celestial, coming back here again..."
"So that's the goddess of the shrine, then?" Your human seems intrigued.
"Hm? Oh, no."
"What? But she said..." Reimu laughs.
"That's just Mima. Exactly what Tenshi said, really. A two bit vengeful spirit. Pretty powerful, though." Realisation dawns.
"Oh, the same one from your story, right? Interesting..." Your human watches the battle above with an intent gaze. "Very interesting..."
"Stand still and let me hit you!" Tenshi shouts, angrily. She's breathing rather hard.
"Hah, no chance of that happening. You'll just have to try harder next time~"
"Yeah!" Mima presents a small card. "Loophole 「Dirty Trick」! Get ready." She whispers the last back to you after she declares her spellcard. She spreads her wings wide, and a strange, multicoloured aura of magic surrounds them. "This is the end, for you, Celestial!" And she shoots forward, cape billowing out behind her, her wings bathed in energy. Small danmaku bullets spread out from them to either side, leaving the area directly behind Mima completely clear. Tenshi narrowly avoids getting hit as she weaves through the tiny bullets to Mima's left.
"Hah! You left such a wonderful open spot. Don't mind if I do!" And she darts into the open spot, behind Mima...and right in front of you.
"Heh. Now!" Mima gives you the signal. Having long ago figured out what she wanted you to do, as the cape flies away from her, you bring up your hands, sharp teeth bared at the Celestial.
"Goodbye~" You say, and release a barrage of lasers.
"What!" Tenshi only has time for the one word before your lasers hammer into her, burning away fabric where they hit and leaving angry red welts all over her body. She drops from the sky like a stone.
"Hahahahahah!" Mima gloats over her fallen opponent. "Now, for your penalty, let's see..."
"There you are." Your human comes up to you, standing at Mima's side, free of the magic holding you to her. "The sun's starting to set. We should head back to Kourindou." He says, looking at the sky. Is it really so late...?
[ ] We should stay here for the night. [ ] Let's go back. [ ] Wait, I have one more thing to do... [ ] Write-in?
You nod, and walk with your human to the top of the stairs. Suddenly, you remember something.
"Ah!" He turns to you, "Wait here, okay? I forgot something!" He blinks, bewildered, but you don't wait for a response. You're already running back.
"MIIII-MAAAA!" Surprised, Mima turns from where she was arguing with Tenshi, just in time for you to come hurtling into her. You hug her tightly around the waist, burying your face into her stomach. She freezes for a moment, and then puts a hand on your head. You look up at her.
"Bye, Lady Mima! I'll come back to visit you some time, okay?" She looks down at you, and smiles gently.
"I'll look forward to it." You nod, decisively, and dash away, back to your human. He pats your head, gently, and you carry him down the stairs, ready to go back to Kourindou. The two of you start to go down the path. A few minutes after you enter the treeline, though, a cloaked figure steps out of the brush, blocking your path. The only distinguishing features, other than the brown cloak that obscures their entire body, are the two glowing red eyes. They make eye contact with your human, first, and he crumples to the ground.
Then they turn to you.
The world feels like a pane of glass, just be fore it sh a t
Is anyone even decided like as to also where is and?
[ ] But the future... [w] In A Time [y] Asdfghjk [x] [z] ______oh_______
What? What's...going on? You try to speak, and your words emerge in a form that is not sound, a hollow, ringing...feeling, would probably be the most accurate word, impressing the words upon your being.
The odd words make themselves known again, and frantically, you try to struggle, to move, somehow. There's no sensation of any kind, not movement, not sound, no cold, or dark. Not even silence. There is only thought, and the strange words, resonant without sound.
There were three forces,
And you become aware of three pairs of coloured points. Blue, red, and green.
One was Light.
And the blue points shone with a dazzling not-light, beautiful and terrifying.
One was Darkness.
And similarly, the red points shone black. It was a much more comfortable sensation, and indeed, you begin to realise you are starting to feel things again, ever so slightly.
And the Third was the space between.
And where Light and Dark had each before been at full, and any given area was either swathed entirely in black or illuminated totally, both of them now softened, and gradiations appeared.
And then everything wavered, and, briefly, you catch sight of monstrous, terrible, rabbit-like creatures, and feel searing agony as their claws tear into you, before the image reasserts itself.
...But we have not time to finish the tale.
"Wha...what's going on...?" This time, you're half-audible, and the words respond.
Your concious mind is being shielded from something.
The words falter, at the end, and the rabbits appear again, for half a second.
...Help has come for you.
The rabbits return.
This time, the words don't come back.
More is on the way. Have the first half of the update, in the meantime.
You're tied down. Fastened to something. By the wrists. Yeah.
You focus on the bindings, the surface beneath you, anything, anything except this pain. The burning, searing, tearing pain. The claws...
You scream, once, before biting it short, gritting your teeth. You glare up at the monsters standing over you, and they grin back. It's hideous.
"Defiant, all of a sudden, aren't you." One rumbles, grinning horribly. "Maybe you wouldn't glare so fiercely if you didn't have those eyes." And one bloodstained claw your blood reaches down, sharp, ominous, slow, towards your face. A pair of hands grips the sides of your head, holding it steady...
"Did you hear that, Reimu?" Mima's staring off towards the forest. The shrine maiden looks up.
"Hm? What?" She pauses in her inventory of seals and wards.
"It was...a scream? A cry for help?" Mima's gaze goes blank, and she stares into space.
"Hm? What, it's not like you have any worshipp...ers..." She trails off, and Mima snaps back into awareness. "It's not...?" The green-haired spirit wastes no time answering, instead flying off, taking the shortest route to her destination - she goes straight through the crest of the hill, and thus passes from Reimu's sight.
"..." Reimu gathers the assorted seals and wards before her into her sleeves, and takes off, following Mima as best as a mere human could, being corporeal.
She catches up to her quickly, and stares at what she finds there. Mima is floating in shock, staring at the youkai who had visited the shrine earlier today, with that odd outsider.
She was...convulsing, on the ground, writhing, her face a rictus of pain. Her arms almost seem pinned to the ground, extended as they are from her body. A thin, high-pitched wail is emerging from her throat, and the stones under her hands have crumbled from her clawing.
"Wha..." Reimu say, taken aback. Mima simply nods, and moves closer.
There's nothing you can do. Your hands are strapped down, and though you wrench at the bindings, nothing comes of it.
Suddenly, one of the bindings gives way, and your claw comes up, catching the one about to blind you across the face. The hands holding your head disappear, and the claws tearing at you pull away. There is only you and the wounded one left.
Pulling your other claw free, you leap, and fasten your teeth on its throat, gripping it with your claws so it can't escape. You tear at its throat with your teeth, but its flesh just won't give way. Warm, comforting arms, wrap around you, and the throat in your teeth changes, becomes more human-like...and now, a scent reaches you.
You stiffen, releasing her throat, changing your grip, so that instead of gripping and tearing at her, you're now clinging to her, sniffling. She just holds you for a moment, letting you calm down.
"What happened?" Her voice is firm, in control. You're telling it to her before you even realise you're speaking, and she listens attentively to every word.
"Reimu." You startle, and turn your head to see the red-white standing there, tense, as she slides her hand out from her sleeve, the other gripping her odd stick. "Do you know who might be behind this?" It's less a question than a command. Reimu hesitates, briefly, before sighing and responding.
"Well...one of those Eientei people had an ability like that. Or...well, I suppose that Yukari's shikigami is a kitsune...maybe it's someone else, I dunno. Eientei does have a lot of rabbits, though." She shrugs, and turns away. "Don't overdo it. I don't want to have to resolve another incident you started." And she flies off.
"...Where's Human?" You realise, belatedly, that he's nowhere in sight. Even his scent trail is gone.
"Whoever did this probably took him. Who do we go after? I'll leave it up to you."
[ ] "Eientei." [ ] "The Gap Youkai."
And of course,
[ ] "We have to save Human." [ ] "They need to suffer." [ ] Write-in?
No combining votes. One from each category. If a write-in manages to combine the two in a feasible manner, I'll consider it. Otherwise, I'll fall back on the second-most voted option.
>>23032 We have previously been attacked by rabbits, and our delusions took the form of rabbits attacking us. It's a safe bet to say it's Eientei. And as far as we know, they have just as much reason to kidnap Human as Yukari does, which is to say, none.
>>23046 Nah she'd sooner have Reisen sneak in, do her thing to disable anyone else and get him out.....SHIT! You might be right there (The cloaked person with glowing red eyes), no one associated with Yukari has those powers.
Mima nods. "Alright. He's probably not in any immediate danger, then. Why they would have taken him is still a mystery, but he's probably safe, right now." She sets you down, and...if she had legs, she'd probably be crouching, to meet your eyes. "Go keep an eye on Eientei, watch for anything suspicious. I'll be getting some people I know together. This won't even be a fight. Just try to find out where he is, so we can get him out. Okay?" You nod, a determined expression on your face, and she smiles. "Okay, you'll just get lost if you don't have a guide in the Bamboo Forest, so..." She thinks for a minute, before snapping her fingers. "Alright. In the Human Village, there's a schoolteacher, named Keine..."
"Keine? Oh! Human was talking to her earlier today!" You remember because of all the human young - larvae? Cubs? - that were outside of the building. You'd never seen so many at once before.
"Oh, you know her. That makes this easier. Listen, you need to have her take you to someone named Mokou. She can take you to Eientei. Alright? Don't forget. Now, go on. I have my own preparations to make." She 'stands,' and rests her hand on your head. "Go with my blessing." Lady Mima flies off.
Face set, you dash off, taking flight for the highest speeds you can achieve. There's no time to waste.
Slowly, sensation returns. The first thing he notices is the sound of someone else in the room, walking across the wooden floor. Light is shining directly into his face.
"Ugh..." The footsteps stop. He brings his hand up. "My head..." The footsteps hurry across the floor, andthe sound of a door sliding open can be heard, before it suddenly shuts. Now alone in the room, he opens his eyes curiously, and sits up.
"...huh." He wasn't sure what he was expecting, but it certainly wasn't this. A traditional-looking Japanese room? Empty save for himself.
The door slid open.
You pause at the treeline. How should you do this? You know that the humans standing at the gate hunt youkai sometimes - wrong its wrong we hunt them - so you don't know what to do to enter alone...
[ ] Sneak by them. They're just humans. [ ] Over the walls! [ ] A sneaky trick is called for! They didn't notice you earlier, and with the right distraction... [ ] Maybe something else...(Write-in?)
Wait. Wait, no, you have it. A plan. You're getting in there. For sure.
You back away from the treeline for a sort way, and look around you. No, they aren't - the branches look there - a moment of realisation, and you look up, and...there. Over there. And there, too. Yes, this will doo nicely. You glance over your shoulder. Yeah, you're far enough in. They won't see what you're about to do. Not until they're supposed to.
Masanobu Naoe stood vigilant at the gates. It was not an interesting duty, but it was his, by skill and birthright. His family had lived in the Human Village since the Founding, and had long passed down the skills of hunting those foul inhuman beasts, the Youkai. Of course, it was just as important to keep the peace in the village itself, and as such, they had always been members of the Town Guards.
Watching the gates was an easy duty. No Youkai ever approached, except that puppeteer...oh, and those Youkai Keine was trying to reeducate. Anyway, no potentially dangerous youkai ever approached the gate, and that was the important thing. Besides, any that did wouldn't stand a chance.
He was rather startled, then, when what appeared to be a young girl came sprinting out of the forest at full tilt, screaming at the top of her lungs. He relaxed a bit as a hail of danmaku flew out of the forest after her, and a small swarm of fairies came rushing out hot on her tail.
His watch partner glanced over at him.
"...You want to chase off the fairies?" He sighed, and nodded.
"Yeah, I've got this." He lifted his bow from the rest at his side, and nocked an arrow. He pulled, wuick and smooth, and only glanced down the shaft before loosing it. It flew straight and true, piercing through three entire fairies before pinning a fourth to a tree. He didn't wait to see the results of this first shot, however, having nicked and loosed two more before the first had even finished its flight. The swarm faltered, and retreated tot he forest, one pausing briefly to shake a tiny fist at the fleeing girl, who was crying as she stumbled up to the gates.
"Hey, girl, what do you-"
"Brother...!" She sobs, and catches her breath again. "Brother's still...back in the forest...!" The men trade glances. Masanobu crouches down.
"Hey, girl..." He puts his hand on her shoulder, but she flinches away. Nodding gently, he asks, "Why were you two out there, anyway? It's getting dark. You should know better than that." She scuffs a foot in the dirt, getting her tears and breathing under control.
"He, he said...that since Mother and Father had left...we should talk to the shrine maiden. He didn't sasy about what. I, I miss Mother...but he said she c-couldn't come back..." The two guards trade meaningful glances. Masanobu picks up his long weapon from the wall where he had rested it while shooting at the fairies.
"Take her to Keine. Let her know the...situation." he shot a glance at the young girl, her head hanging low. "I'll go find her brother. Get a replacement to the gate as soon as you can, alright?" He rushes off towards the forest. The other man nods, and begins to lead the frightened young girl to Miss Kamishirasawa.
Behind the human, you can't help but to smile, briefly. You've done it!
"Oh, good! You're awake!" The woman looks down at the human man sitting up in the bed. "Do you remember what happened?" Well, she's certainly strangely dressed, at least. This is probably still Gensokyo. Belatedly, he realises that, as traditional as the rest of the room may be, he's sitting in a bed...
Well, that's not very important, to be honest. He'd just been asked a question by an admittedly beautiful woman.
[ ] No, not a thing. [ ] Yeah. I remember everything. [ ] I remember it like it was only yesterday. I was only seventeen... [ ] Where am I, anyway? [ ] Write-in?
"I remember everything." He says, his tone that of a man lost in his own memories. "I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday. I was barely seventeen," Sorrow enters his voice, but he continues, his face showing a melancholy expression, "and I once killed a boy with a Fender guitar." He pauses, then, thoughtfully, "I don't remember if it was a telecaster or a stratacaster, but I do remember that it wasn't at all easy." He waves a hand, in a donward motion, as though trailing a pick across the strings of the instrument, "It required the perfect combination of the right power chords," He brings his hands closer together, as though gripping an object, and pantomimes striking a blow, "And the precise angle from which to strike. The guitar bled for about a week afterward, and the blood was so dark and rich, like wild berries..." He trails off, wonder in his voice.
The woman stares, before somethng seems to click, and she shakes her head wonderingly.
"That was some kind of quote, wasn't it? You're very good." He chuckles a bit, and speaks again, in a different voice entirely.
"Yeah, but seriously. I can remember...some. It's all a bit jumbled together. A forest. I was going...Kourindou? Yes, I was going to Kourindou. Something...in a cloak, I think, or perhaps great leathery wings wrapped around its body. It...looked at me, and...I saw something. I just barely..." he trails off, obviously struggling to remember, before deflating. "I don't know. It would have been a good story. I can remember that much." He gestures at his surroundings. "And after that...this. Is my companion alright?" The woman seems surprised.
"Companion? I don't know what you mean." He waves a hand.
"Yeah, I was...she...uhm, he...was..." The woman shakes her head.
"You're just a bit muddled. You were attacked on the road, and took quite a blow to the head. You were severely concussed when you were brought here by your rescuer. You're lucky that the witch heard you call for help. She dealt with the creature that had attacked you, and brought you here for treatment."
"I...see." He shakes his head. It's all a bit foggy.
"You'll be fine with rest. Don't worry. I'll have a meal brought to you." She turns to leave.
"Wait. Where am I?" She stops, and looks over her shoulder with a slight smile.
"Oh, did I forget to mention? This is Eientei. Now, please. Rest and recover." She slides the door shut.
He's left alone again. Now what?
[ ] Listen. Rest is good for me. [ ] Go take a look around. I'm fine. [ ] Well...where's my stuff? I'll just go find that. [ ] Well, I should at least know where the bathrooms are, right? I'll just get a feel for the layout. [ ] I should write. [ ] Write-in?
The man brings his feet around to hang over the side of the bed. He stretches tentatively, making sure nothing hurts, and is rather surprised to find that beyond some lingering aches and soreness, he's fine. Standing, he starts towards the door. His pack is pretty clearly not in the room, as he glances around, and nearly everything he owned was in there. He'll just find it and come back. No problem.
Pausing at the door, he looks down at himself. Oh. Someone changed his clothes? Well, it does seem to be some sort of healthcare facility, by that woman's admittedly strange clothing. Not...so strange, then...
He slides the door open and steps through. It looks as though the room is right at the end of a long, long hallway, with a corner just to his right, and the man suddenly realises he doesn't actually have any idea where to start looking. He hadn't realised just how big the place was, and his strategy of simply wandering until he found his things obviously would only serve to get him lost.
"EIRIN~!" A sudden call from around the corner startles him, "Where ARE you~!" A young woman rounds the corner and freezes, and he does the same.
She's beautiful. That's all that can be said. She is simply...beautiful. Impossibly so. Realising he's been staring, the man gives his head a shake to clear it, and opens his mouth to greet her, and ask whether she might possibly know where his pack is, when she suddenly goes wide-eyed, gasping in surprise.
"!" She stares at him. "Y-you're...! Wait here, okay! Don't move!" She runs off.
The man blinks at the space she just occupied. ...Well, then.
"And that's the situation. Can you look after her until we find her brother?" Keine nods.
"It will be no trouble." As the guard hurries away, she crouches down to talk to you. "Come on in. I'll put some tea on, okay?" You shake your head. "No? Come on, you just need to..." And then she sees your eyes. "Youkai!?" Her eyes harden. "What are you do-"
"No! There's no time for that!" You interrupt her, not exactly keen on getting into a fight in the middle of the hive. Besides there's more pressing business to take care of. "Lady Mima said that you could take me to 'Mokou'!" She's surprised by your reaction.
"Take you to Mokou?" She doesn't seem to understand.
"Yeah! So she can take me to Eientei, and I can help Human!" She shakes her head.
"...what? And what about this 'brother' of yours? What's going on?" ...She's not going anywhere.
[ ] Well, if you're quick, you could MAKE her help you... [ ] No time, no TIME! Take it to the skies! [ ] ....ugh. Explain. but only the essentials! [ ] Well...fine. Explain everything. [ ] Write-in?
You waver for a moment, trying to decide what to do. She seems resolute, and if she’s really so stubborn, it’s down to either hurting her until she helps you or explaining. Since you are in the middle of the human hive, you opt for the safer of the two.
“Gaaah…fine, fine, but there’s no time! Okay, so, Human is my human, and there were these rabbits, and they were after him, and so I hurt them. But then they came back, so I hurt them really bad, but Human said to not kill them, and so they ran away, and we visited the Shrine, and I met Lady Mima, who is strong, and smart, and strong, and she let me help her in a danmaku fight, but then Human was ready to go back to that place we slept at, but then someone stepped out of the forest and there were big mean rabbit-things, and it hurt, but something tried to help me, but then I got free and I went to kill one but Lady Mima was there and she hugged me, and I cr-” You stop, briefly, edit that out of the explanation, and move on. “…and Human was gone, and I couldn’t find him, and she said that it might have been Eientei or someone else, but we think it was Eientei, and she said to find you and you could take me to Mokou, because Mokou can help.” You gasp for breath, and pant a bit. She seems dumbfounded at your story - or maybe at the speed with which you related it. She gathers her thoughts, for a moment - too long, too long! - and speaks.
“…But what about the story from the guard?” She asks, pinning you with a stern glare. “And how’d you hide your nature like that? Normally it’s easy to tell the difference between a youkai and a human girl.”
“There’s no TIME!” You protest, but she shakes her head.
“The sooner you answer my questions, the sooner I’ll even consider taking you to Mokou.” …ugh! This…this hum- no. She isn’t, you realise, as you sniff at the air. There’s something else about her, just like before…but you don’t have time, Human’s in danger and she just wants you to talk and talk and talk!
“It was my trick! Humans always listen to it! And an important part of hunting is not letting the food know you’re dangerous! Come on! What about Human?! He could be hurt, or the rabbits…!” You think back to your own experience with the rabbits and start to shake. You make an effort, but you can‘t quite still the trembling entirely. Your voice is a bit shaky for some reason. “…the rabbits might hurt him, too…” Her face is indecipherable. At last, she speaks.
“…Come on, then.” You look up at her wide-eyed as she turns on her heel and begins to walk off. “You wanted to see Mokou, right?”
“Ye-Yeah!” You hurry after her, wiping at your eyes with the back of your hand. Why is it so wet…?
Part one. It got serious all of a sudden, so I'm splitting it up. Have the heavy part. The rest is in progress.
The man sits back against the wall. Well, there’s no use wandering off if he can’t find his way back, and that woman ought to be coming back anyway, so he may as well sit down, maybe take stock of his aches and pains. He discovers the first as his back makes contact with the wall. With a hiss, he snaps forward, bringing his back out of contact with the wooden post. It’s almost like a burn, he realises, flexing his back this way and that, but not the skin…and the muscles are fine, too. In fact, he realises, as he probes at what he can reach of his back, it’s only when things come into contact with it, although his shirt and the bed hadn’t hurt at all. The pain lingers, fading gradually, providing a lasting reminder to be careful about what touches his back.
He sighs, and shifts position to rest his head on his knee.
“Well. I suppose that’s a problem, then.” It’s not much longer before he can hear feet hurrying down the same hall the woman from before had dashed off to. More than one set of feet, too. He stretches a bit, and stands, watching for the approaching figures. Sure enough, the woman is back, and a pair of bunny-eared small girls behind her. Each of the girls is carrying a cardboard box, and the long-haired young woman has an oddly familiar hardcover book and…a pen?
The girls drop the boxes on the floor, looking rather disinterested, and one of them wanders off while the other watches the man curiously. The young woman holds out the book and pen in an unmistakable gesture, blushing furiously.
“Ah, could you…” She looks away from the man, embarrassed. “I’ve, uhm, never asked anyone this before…” She explains, and takes a deep breath, before bowing low and presenting the two objects in her hands to the man. “Could I please have your autograph!” She blurts, and he blinks as he finally gets a good look at the cover of the book. He starts to laugh as he takes it and the pen from her.
“Sure, sure.” He looks down at the cover nostalgically. “My first book. Glad to see you liked it. So, who should I make this out to?” he flips it open to the title page, pen at the ready.
“You will? Great!” She seems quite happy about it. “I’m Kaguya! I never thought I’d see you in Gensokyo!” He laughs again, and touches pen to paper.
[ ] A good write-in for the signing?
[ ] What does he sign his name as?
[ ] Calm. Be civil. This is your only ticket to finding Human in time to help Lady Mima!
[x] "Here's to interesting times in sunny Gensokyo!" Add the date. "Eternally yours..." [x] The signature is illegible. [x] Calm. Be civil. This is your only ticket to finding Human in time to help Lady Mima!
This is excellent, but does human know that Kaguya is immortal? If not, no date.
[x] "Here's to interesting times in sunny Gensokyo!" Add the date. "Eternally yours..." [x] The signature is illegible. [x] Calm. Be civil. This is your only ticket to finding Human in time to help Lady Mima!
This was to be his first time signing one of his books - in the past, his constant wandering had precluded the possibility. He knew about what he wanted to say, but it was all in the phrasing...ah, yes. That seems rather appropriate.
"Kaguya, Keep that excitement, and don't let yourself get down. Even as life speeds up more and more on the Outside, here in Gensokyo you have all the time in the world. Take it easy, and enjoy yourself. To my passionate Princess,"
The signature itself is as illegible as any other. Satisfied, he hands the book back. She takes it reverently, and opens it to see the note and signature. She hugs it close, and thanks the man warmly, before turning to grab one of the boxes she had had brought.
"I wanted Eirin and Reisen to try reading your books too, so I got them both these box sets, as a surprise, and..." She pauses nervously, before blurting it out. "It would mean so much more if you'd sign these, too." She bites her lip, looking away. "Would you?"
How could he say no to that face?
"Sure. Why don't you tell me a little about them?"
Keine stops in a bamboo clearing that looks to you no different than any of the others you went through to get here.
"Mokou? Are you here?" She calls.
"Yeah, I'm here. What's up, Kei-" A familiar figure steps out of the bamboo on the other side of the clearing, and freezes, cutting itself off mid-word.
"You!" Both of you cry, simultaneously. Your cry is a lot happier than hers, though, despite the ball of flame you dodged.
"Hey!" You cry, leaping out of the way of a second burst of fire, bigger than the first.
"You little bitch!" The white-haired woman shouts, throwing more flame. "You ate me!" This trips up the schoolteacher, who had been moving to intervene. Her head swivels sharply to stare at you.
"What?" You can do this. Calm, cool, and collected. Be polite. You don't even need to fake the confusion.
"But you got better." Another thought occurs to you, and it's out of your mouth before you can think better of it. "And you were really very tasty. Even if Human's pancakes were better." Ducking away from more fire, you add, "And besides! That was a really, really long time ago!" None of it seems to help. She's still trying to set you on fire, for whatever reason. At least the schoolteacher is looking more confused than inclined to help her. Dodging her attacks, you frown. There's only one option left to you, if you don't want to jeopardise your mission for Lady Mima.
Even if it leaves a bad taste in your mouth...
[ ] Anything for Human the Mission. [ ] No! You won't stoop that low. You don't need her, you can do it yourself! [ ] Maybe...just maybe, there's another way? (Write-in)
A bit short, but it's been a busy couple of months, and I haven't been on the site at all. I'm starting the /underground/ update soon, after losing it a few weeks ago, and should get back on track with updates now.
[x] No! You won't stoop that low. You don't need her, you can do it yourself!
Asking Keine for help is one thing. It stung our pride; it truly hurt to lower our self to that level. Asking this woman would be even worse than that. Even at our most desperate, we aren't that shameless. There are some things you just can't do, and this is one of them. Either Keine will broker peace of her own volition, or we'll go save Human ourselves.
>>23840 When you have nothing intelligent to say, it is often better to remain silent.
It's a tough decision, but, in the end, Human's the most important thing right now. You focus for a moment, and punch a large danmaku bullet through the center of the next burst of flame. The fire is scattered and extinguished by the ball of energy, and Mokou pauses. You take a deep breath, and leap right into your words before she can regroup.
"Listen, I...didn't know you were still alive. If I had known you would survive it, I wouldn't have tried to eat you. I never meant to make you suffer, I guess..." You steel yourself for the bitter, distasteful words. "I'm sorry." And you bow. The bow, at least, manages to hide the pained expression on your face at having to say such a thing. You can hear the not-quite-human, Keine, moving towards Mokou - surely a good sign. She'd be in the way if flame started to fly again, after all. You can hear her start whispering, in a tone probably not meant for your ears.
"She's going to..." She's almost immediately interrupted.
"She...she apologised?" Mokou's whispering as well, but sounds dumbfounded. "Keine! What do I do?!"
"...What?" The teacher seems confused.
"No-one's ever apologised to me before! What do I do?!"
"Eh?! Never?" She seems taken aback. "Well, uh, first, you need to decide whether you forgive her..." Really? they're going to go through this now? Well, let them. You need Flamey's help, anyway. In the meantime...hm...how will you celebrate, after rescuing Human? Cakes are a celebratory food, right? And he made those delicious pancakes earlier...yeah. To celebrate, you'll make him make pancakes. With that syrup, and that yellow melty stuff... You catch yourself drooling. At least they haven't noticed. Finally, Mokou raises her voice.
"Listen, ki-" She cuts herself off, "No, I guess you really aren't, even to me..." She grows quiet for a moment. "Look, just...no promises, but why did you need me?" Ugh. Once again, you start to explain.
"Hmm?" Reisen says, picking up a small note. "What's this?" It was atop a small box, that certainly hadn't been there before. "A gift from the princess?" She gazes suspiciously at the box. "...How weird." She takes a look around her room, perhaps searching for some telltale sign that the box is some kind of trick, before reaching down, and with the longsuffering air of one resigned to their fate, opening the box. Inside... "Books?" She says, perplexed. She lifts the top book from the box. The name on the spine is familiar...that human Master sent her to get?
Curious, she flips open the book.
[ ] Like a Spider [ ] Like a Snake [ ] Like a Moth [ ] Like a Wildfire
>>24174 Snake is probably the sneakingstealth option. Spider is probably waiting, moth is probably charge in, and wildfire is... I have no fucking idea what wildfire is. Maybe Mokou burning the whole place down.
Mima told us to locate him and wait, by the way. If we defuse the situation before she shows up, things might be significantly less awesome than they could be. Or maybe they'd be more awesome. Who can say?
"Alright, here it is." The white-haired woman says, and lifts some kind of small stick to her lips. With a flick of her thumb, she sets the end alight. Why, you have no idea. You turn your attention to the great enemy stronghold. A truly imposing construction, indeed. However...its defenses are weak! Already you have found an opening in the imposing outer wall of the compound! And it looks like the guards are absent! Quickly, you make your move.
Keine and Mokou watch, bemusedly, as the small youkai puffs out her chest and simply walks right up to the front door - or perhaps 'marches' would be a better word. She firmly slides it open, and turns, a confident and supremely determined expression on her face, to nod her appreciation at the two before marching right in. Mokou shakes her head.
"That little bi-" Keine shoots her a warning look. "...youkai sure has ba-" She cuts herself off, with a nervous glance at Keine, and finishes, lamely, "eh, guts." Keine just sighs.
"There's a patient in... oh, it's you. To that human you brought in."
"...Give it here."
"I'll take care of it. Give it to me."
"Because I said so. Give it."
"Ohohoho~ You like him, don't you?"
"Here you go! Wait till everyone hears about this! Heheheh, don't worry, I'll make sure you two have plenty of privacy, so feel free to get up to all sorts of naughty things~"
He doesn't look up when the door opens. He just shifts the inkwell a bit to the side somewhat distractedly.
"You can just leave the food here." He says, absently, as his inkpen dances over the pages of the small book in front of him. He casts a glance at the plate as it's set beside him. "Hm. Looks good..."
"I do have a name, you know. Oh! Is that..."
"I don't care! How did you know this?!" He turns to look at the angry girl. Huh. Bunny ears? ...There's something familiar about that. She waving a book at him. He takes a moment to look at it.
"Oh, you would be Reisen, then?" He asks, mildly.
"Huh?" She's thrown by his words.
"Yes, Kaguya asked me to autograph a few books for you. Thought she'd try to get you into my work. Now, what's the problem, then?" He sets his pen down and turns in his set to look at her.
"This book! How did you write this! It's-" She starts to build up steam again, but he cuts her off.
"It's loosely based on my travels from a few years back, as well as some general ideas and a world I'd been kicking around since I was a child. Why do you ask?" Once more, she's thrown.
"Your...personal experiences? But...but..." He waits patiently. "But this is ME! ...Just as a human." The man looks confused.
"Who is?" He asks, curiously.
"The main character! I was flipping through, trying to get a feel for just what this was, and a few things seemed familiar, and, and, if I hadn't run, the last half of the book..." He's definitely curious.
"Really, now? We'll have to discuss this later, then. How interesting..." He falls silent, thinking for a moment. "If you could come back tomorrow, hmmm...around lunchtime, perhaps, I'd be glad to discuss the book, and your own story. I must admit I'm interested in hearing more specifics about how the story relates to you. For now though, I have a meal to eat, some writing to do, and wounds that need to heal. Please, if you could excuse me?"
"Ah, yes..." Wilting slightly, the purple-haired rabbit girl backs out of the room, narrowly avoiding bumping into you, and starts down the hall. You watch her go. Rabbits... Disgusting creatures. Terrible, disgusting creatures. You open the door to Human's room. He sighs, loudly, and sets the stick he was holding down.
"And what is it no-" He looks at you for a moment. "You aren't a rabbit."
"Of course I'm not one of them! I'm here to rescue you!" Mission accomplished! In fact, you could probably sneak him out now, and instea-
"...Why?" He asks, eyebrows raised. You pause. This isn't how it goes.
"Because you were kidnapped...?" You hazard. You'd never been good with 'why'. 'Why are you doing this?!' and 'why?! oh, gods, why?!' always confused you, and this question seemed similar, albeit with less screaming.
"I was?" He asks. "Really?" You stamp your foot.
"Yes!" You puff out your cheeks in exasperation. He chuckles.
"And why would you come to save me, then?" You freeze.
"Why save me?"
"Be- Because you're my human! You should know that! I- It's not that I was worried about you, or anything! It's...It's the principle of the matter!" You cross your arms, and look away, your face red.
"Your human?" ...You don't like that tone of voice. "...Who are you, anyway?"
[ ] "H-human? What...what do you mean?" [ ] "Huh? You know me!" [ ] "...We're leaving." [ ] "...You mean..." You sniffle a little. "You...don't remember?" [ ] Write-in?
>"Your human?" ...You don't like that tone of voice. "...Who are you, anyway?"
Dangerous. He may yell for help if she say the wrong things. Calling him 'human' is a hard thing to gloss over; best to play it off as some kind of pet name. I think she has the advantage of not having many obvious youkai-like features, unlike the rabbits, but her clothes and appearance is probably filthy.
[x] Pout. "F-fine! If you're going to be that way, I'll say it: 'I was worried about you, big brother.' Those rabbits knocked you over the head and kidnapped you!" [x] Point to your clothes: "They got me pretty good too." [x] You risk discovery. Tell him to act normal, you'll hide somewhere, and wait until night to spring him.
She's not terribly well spoken and kind of stupid (the original plan wasn't exactly brilliant itself), but she's fully capable of preying on human emotion, as shown with the ruse at the Village gate.
Hopefully he'll be able to draw his own conclusions about the amnesia; it shouldn't be hard to match up head trauma, and apparently not recognizing his own family.
Lying to him sucks, but she'll have all the time in the world to jog his real memories once they're out of Eientei and somewhere safe, like the Village or the Shrine. Right now they're in hostile territory. Sure, they may not want to hurt him, but she's a different matter.
If he thinks something might be up, even if he's not sure, he might try putting harder questions to the staff or attempt to check himself out, and if they're evasive, it would help confirm her story. And by spying under the floor boards until nightfall, she might be able to find out why they kidnapped him.
W-what?! I'm...NOT dead?! But yeah, between the doctors and the work and all, been...unable to write, as much as I'd want.
Have an update.
"Y-you mean..." Your lower lip begins to quiver, as you tear up slightly. "You...forgot about me...?" In all your life, you've been many things, but if there's one point you've always been proud of, it's that you've never been forgotten. His eyes widen, and he waves his hands frantically.
"No, no...!" He protests, nervously. "It's um...not that I've forgotten you!" He smiles reassuringly, "It's, ah..." He chuckles awkwardly. "Just that I can't remember you?" You sniff.
"Really?" You ask, suspiciously. If there's one thing you know about humans....well, unrelated to hunting or eating them, that is - it's that they're deceptive. You eye his approaching hand warily. He settles it gently atop your head, and ruffles your hair softly. ...Despite yourself, you find all the tension flowing out of your body. You sigh, softly.
"Of course." HE smiles down at you warmly, as you scowl angrilydisapprovingly adorably back up at him. "How could I forget someone like you?" You can feel yourself redding under the effect of his...his...him-ness.
"I-idiot." You accuse."Letting yourself get attacked like that, after everything..." You scold him for so easily succumbing to the rabbit's attack. "You need to defend yourself better!" Although that damn rabbit did manage to easily pierce your own mental defenses, and since Human is just a human... "I...guess I can overlook it this time, since..." Not about to admit weakness, you find another, valid-sounding excuse. "...it was an ambush, after all, but next time you'd better be able to hold your own." He nods, that same, stupid, warm smile on his face.
"Of course." He says, somehow managing to be reassuring. "I'm getting better at this 'danmaku', and physically I'm no slouch, either. ...even if I can't fly." ...Danmaku? The real stuff, not silly spellcard games, right? ...but there's no time to ask now, you can worry about that later. You need to get him out of this place, and Lady Mima said that she'd...oh! Human's just a human, so there's no way he can sneak out with you, no matter how much better a human he is, but Lady Mima and her friends can get him out! She said it'd hardly even be a fight! There ARE an awful lot of those...rabbits wandering around. You'd probably get caught, trying to sneak a human around, even if it IS Human.
But...you hesitate. Every moment you leave him here is another moment that they could do all sorts of horrible things to him! What should you do?!
[ ] Take him now! [ ] JAILBREAK [ ] ...He'l have to hold on, just a little longer... [ ] Tactical Espionage Escape Action
Just found this story. Seems excellent. Question: When Youkai omnomed Mokou a few updates back, did she eat all of Mokou (esp asking about the liver)? Cause if so we have another Hourai Immortal. Which could be fun.
Your mental debate is fierce, but in the end you can only come to one conclusion - the longer Human remains here, the greater his danger. You nod resolutely.
"Human." You back to him. "We need to leave." He looks up from his plate, 'fork' in his mouth.
"Hrm?" He swallows, lowering the 'fork'. "What, now? I should probably talk to the doctor, fir-" You interrupt fiercely.
"No!" You slash a hand through the air. "It's working with the rabbits! 'Doctor' can't be trusted!" Human continues to eat, eyebrows rising.
"And the rabbits are bad because...?" He asks the most ridiculous question.
"What?!" You exclaim, too distracted by this unfortunate turn of conversation to worry about the sounds coming from outside. "They attacked you! Twice!" You barely manage not to shout. "In your sleep, even! And they're the ones who attacked us on the road, too!" He drops the fork, and is on his feet almost instantly.
"You!" He exclaims, "I remember you! You were with me on the road!" He finally nods. "...You're right." He admits, after a while. "The doctor...she's hiding something." So the doctor - whatever that is - is a she, huh? Good to know.
"Good." You nod firmly. "I'll go first." You cast about quickly for some kind of camouflage, something simple...
Your eyes fix on the perfect item. It's even nice and hollow - the ideal solution. You quickly don the construct, much to Human's amusement, and slide the door open.
"Wait here." You instruct. "I'll let you know when to follow." You follow the hallway to the first intersection, watching for rabbits alertly. On the very edge of perception, you can faintly smell...Smoke? It shouldn't be a problem...
"Human." You announce. "Come on." And in this manner, you proceed through the labyrinthine corridors of this accursed rabbit hutch, meeting no-one, until, suddenly, all of the noise stops.
You hadn't actually noticed it until it stopped, but...the crashing, the roaring, the faint screams...It all suddenly stopped.
You have a bad feeling about this. And to top it all off, there are footsteps coming - you're out of time.
Human nods down at you, hurriedly slipping through one of the doorways lining the hall. He holds it open for you, but you just shake your head. You can't afford to leave the enemy unknown.
After a moment, he nods and slide the door shut. You secure your disguise, and wait.
"Gamma, where are you?! Alpha and Delta have been wiped out! We need support!" The voice crackles over her headset, raw panic clearly evident.
"We're moving as fast as we can! You know we can't fly with this sort of ordnance!" She shouts into her microphone, feet pounding the floor. The five girls under her command hurry after her, each struggling with an overlarge weapon.
"Just hurry!" Command shouts back, "It's gone still for now, but we've hardly scratched it - I think it's building up for something big! We need you up here! Lambda has their shields set up in the fifth courtyard - we've got a firing platform ready for you there. So get to it!" And with a crackle of static, Command goes silent.
"Come on, girls, pick up the pace!" She shouts back. "Courtyard five, let's go!" She hurries past an unobtrusive cardboard box - another of the Princess's toys, probably. She makes a mental note to come back and get it put away later.
The five rabbits hurry down the hallway, unaware that they were being observed.
"Human!" You cry, excitedly, "Mima's here!"
"What?" he seems bewildered. "Why?"
"She's here to help us escape, obviously! Now come on!" You zip off, quickly.
You return, pick up Human, and fly off again, chasing the rabbits.
It's not too far before you arrive at an actual exit - the one the rabbits took. The doors are flung wide open, and you can fianlly see where the smell of smoke was coming from - part of the mansion is burning. And there, you see it...
A giant, metal...
Now, how to get to her?
[ ] Attack the rabbits from behind. [ ] Find a different route. [ ] Observe, don't act yet. [ ] Something else...