I apologize for the delay as I had to contend with work and a mind that just wouldn't focus.
----- [X] I’d be honored to visit soon. [X] Mother would be happy to hear that.
After thinking about it a little, I figure it’d be an honor. “I would be honored to visit your house, and I believe that my Mother would be happy to hear you’re coming over for dinner.” Happy, however, may be something of an understatement.
Wriggle smiles in response. “Sounds great! Could we head over to your house now? I wanted to look at some books with you while we still had time.” That actually reminds me of the book store in the area, though I don’t go to it much. My family already owns just about everything worth reading, and whenever something new is written Father ends up buying it.
“Sure, though I’m not sure if my parents are home or not at the moment.” Judging from the sun, it’s about the 16th or 17th hour of the day. Still, she takes my hand in hers and practically drags me home.
We leave our shoes at the door and enter the house to find Father sitting in his usual spot, reading. He looks up as we come in, and grins as I set the plant down on the kitchen table. “I see you two are having a good day. Though, I hope you’re not planning to eat all that candy in a single sitting, Wriggle,” he remarks. I’m reminded of the time Marisa got her hands on a bunch of candy and proceeded to eat it all.
“I won’t, Mr. Kojima, though the honey drops are a little tempting.” I can’t exactly blame her in this case. She notices Father’s statement wasn’t directed at both of us, and asks, “But why didn’t you ask Yuki the same question?”
“Because I know he wouldn’t ever since he saw Marisa manage to eat a whole bag, getting herself quite a stomachache afterwards. We had to put the candy in a hard to reach place after that.” He means it, too, as Marisa had a way of climbing on things when we were littler just to get at certain books or candies.
Wriggle and I both chuckle as he adds, “Your mother’s out shopping today since the harvest goddess is working at the produce stand, and she wanted some advice on what to buy.” He gestures down the hall. “I’m guessing you two came here for the library; it’s not a problem if you want to share one of the books. I recommend reading Goemon’s adventures, personally.” Reading that book sounds like a good idea, as I remember he was a rather heroic figure in an odd sense.
“Thanks, Father,” I answer as Wriggle and I head to the library.
Wriggle spends some time looking around the library while I looked for the book in the Tales section. The family library is split up into three parts: Fantastic Tales, Historical Documents, and Historical Documents written by my ancestors.
I look at the bindings of the books on the shelf, and Wriggle comes up just as I find the right one. “Sorry for running off like that, but I think this library is even bigger than the book store. How many generations did it take to build such a place up?”
“I remember the library was here for at least five generations, and all of them were on very friendly terms with the Hieda family. One of my ancestors was actually an assistant for one of her previous reincarnations.”
“Could you tell me more about her family while we read the book?” I don’t think we’ll get much reading done if we’re talking, but then again she probably isn’t familiar with Lady Akyuu’s reincarnation cycle. I don’t think most youkai are, even the older ones, with some notable exceptions like Yukari.
“Sure.” We leave the library, and I hand Wriggle the book before picking up the plant from the kitchen again. We head downstairs to my room, Wriggle slides the door open. I set the flower pot and bags of candy on the desk, positioning the plant so it sits in the sunlight provided by the lone window.
We sit on my bed, and I explain to her the details of the Hiedas. How each time “Akyuu” dies, her mind and spirit come back in a new body a few generations later. How she could really be considered someone who’s hundreds of years old, but who’s lived and died many times, only to come back again. Wriggle takes a moment to digest what I’ve said, then speaks up. “That’s sad, having a life split into such short lifespans. I can barely accept how she has to live her life, or lives. If only there was a way to help her.” When I honestly think about it, I can’t help but feel the same way.
I hug Wriggle, trying to comfort her. “I’m not sure that there’s a known solution. I mean, at this point, between her information network and possible connection to Lady Yakumo, one should have been found already. All we can really do is live with it, and hope something pops up in Gensokyo one of these days.” I hate this feeling of not being able to do anything.
She hugs me back. “Yuki, thanks. Could we just stay like this for a while? Please?” There isn’t any way I’d be able or willing to refuse that. I nod, and she settles against me, each of us taking comfort in the other’s warmth.
I have no idea how much time ends up passing, as I’m too focused on the moment and thinking about what brought it up. I know Wriggle and Akyuu are friends, and can easily imagine them talking about all sorts of things when I’m not around, but she got really worked up about this. Then again, she’s a youkai, so maybe she hasn’t had to face the fact that humans live shorter lives.
I hear a knocking on the walls, probably Father trying to be polite. I gently nudge Wriggle to get her attention, and she looks up at me. “I think dinner’s ready.”
She looks down again and nods. “Thanks for telling me about Akyuu, and for holding me... I can’t help but feel Akyuu is a good friend of mine from all the times we talk.”
I stand up and offer her my hand. “No problem; I feel the same way.” After helping her up, we both head upstairs.
Inside the kitchen we find some pulled apart chicken on cooked rice, both covered in what looks like the Bar Be Que sauce from Mister Tex’s place. Resting beside it is a small salad. We join Mother and Father at the table, and talk about the general course of the day as we eat. Despite the oddness of the dish, it’s actually very good. It’s starting to get darker out, and I realize Wriggle will have to go home soon, when-
We hear a thunderclap outside, and sure enough, our conversation had muffled the sound of rain hitting our roof.
“Well... that was unexpected. It’s little wonder the Dragon statue was acting up,” Father remarks, looking out the window. I look to see a rather fierce downpour; not too unusual for this time of year, but surprising none of the less. “I guess she’ll have to stay the night. Honey, could you make sure the guest-”
Mother quickly interrupts him. “It’s been ready for a while, though she might not want to use it.” The glee in her voice would likely unnerve anyone that didn’t know her.
Wriggle giggles beside me. “You’re not upset about this?” I ask.
“Nope, Mother has been nudging me to spend more time away from home. She’s even gone as far as giving me money for a stay at the Inn. She must really want to spend some private time with Arthur. I know Lily went off somewhere; she has a few places around from when she was on her own.”
“Just come up to the guest room when you’re ready to go to sleep, it’s a couple doors past the library,” Father remarks as we excuse ourselves and head back downstairs.
We decide to sample some candy, and untie the bags before taking a few pieces each. Wriggle eats hers while saving the honey drops for last. She seems to savor them quite a bit, letting out sounds of pleasure. I pick up a book to read while I eat mine, not wanting to stare at Wriggle when she’s done.
It doesn’t take long before she interrupts the reading. “Sorry, it’s just that I really like honey.”
“I can understand that, I just didn’t want look as if I was staring at you, ah...” I end up thinking about that time in the forest, and feel my face heating up.
Wriggle notices pretty quickly. “You’re thinking about our very first meeting. Right now you look the same as you did was then: flustered, cute, and in awe. I hope you’re not beating yourself up over that as on some level... I was flattered by your reaction.” She turns away, now with a blush of her own. “It was appreciative, but not oggling like some sort of pervert. I can see why Akyuu likes teasing you so much; perhaps it’s why I do so from time to time.”
It takes a few moments for me to regain my composure. “I try not to think of it, because I feel it’s disrespectful as I just bar-” Wriggle interrupts me with a finger placed over my mouth.
“How it happened may not have been ideal, but now, I can’t help but think fondly of the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up the other way around one of these days.” A few moments pass before she sighs and resumes talking. “I wish I brought my pajamas with... could I use one of your shirts, Yuki?”
“Wouldn’t they be too big on you?” I answer out of logical reflex.
“Not really, I could use it like a makeshift robe. I thought about asking your mother for something, but I don’t think I’m ready to wear what she has in mind.” No, would mother make her do tha- yeah, she probably would. I start to laugh, and Wriggle joins in.
I dig around in my clothing chest and eventually find a particularly large shirt. This would work; it was something Kazuma gave me, forgetting I’m not as big as he is. I also take out a cloth belt so she can tie it closed. I hand them to her and turn away; just because she’s comfortable about that moment in the past doesn’t give me free reign to peep.
I hear something fall to the floor as she says, “You can look now.” I turn around only to find her reaching to pick up a dropped pencil, her green-striped panties clearly showing. I stand transfixed at the sight of her lovely behind. She turns around and giggles, “I noticed you staring there at the café, Yuki, so I figured I’d give you a better look.”
My face is really heating up now. “Isn’t this a bit too soon? Not to say I don’t like it, but...” I’m just more flustered than anything else.
“Good thing Kurumi wasn’t really interested in you; she’s something of an expert in ‘too soon,’ as I’m sure that womanizer would brag if you asked him. If it wasn’t for his feelings for Mysty, things between him and Kurumi would have happened much too soon. If you’re really uncomfortable with something like this, though, I won’t do it as I don’t want to force things.” She seems a bit upset about this.
“No, it’s ok; sorry about that. I did like it, it was just unexpected,” I answer.
She smiles in relief. “I’m becoming more comfortable with these things, since I know that you wouldn’t take advantage of me. I’d be lying if I said I disliked your entire reaction.”
“Yeah... But, how were you able to sense that in the café? I mean, you were turned around.” I try to tilt the discussion towards her.
In response, she walks up to me, close enough to feel her breath on my face, and looks into my eyes. “Yuki, these antennae aren’t just for show, you know.” I’m torn between looking at her, and looking at her antenna that are now very clearly moving. “I can detect various things, including changes in movement, breathing, and temperature... especially yours.” A very light touch moves across my forehead, then she pulls away, blushing heavily. This really is a sign of bonding between us.
After I catch my breath, I look for the book we were reading and open it, motioning for Wriggle to sit closer. We make it a good way through, laughing and commenting on various parts, before I hear a yawn from Wriggle’s mouth. “I think I should go to bed now. Remember Yuki, thinking certain thoughts is okay with me just as long as you don’t turn into some womanizing pervert!” ...I don’t think she’ll be warming up to Kamui anytime soon, even whe- if, he ends up basically being her brother-in-law.
“Good night Wriggle, I hope you sleep well.” I say, giving her a hug.
“Good night, Yuki. Try not think yourself sleepless.” She returns the gesture, then leaves up the stairs to the guest room.
I clear my bed, then change into my nightclothes. As soon as I lay down, I feel all the events of the day catch up to me and fall asleep within moments.
I wake up to someone shaking me, and the occasional sound of thunder from outside. I groggily look over to see who it is, noticing I forgot to shut the lamp off. I see in the dimly lit room it’s Wriggle, which snaps me wide wake. “What’s wrong?”
She has a worried expression on her face, and seems hunched over. “Thunderstorms bring back some bad memories. I’m comfortable when I’m at home, or with someone... so, could I sleep here tonight?”
“Sure, just let me turn off that light I left on.” I do just that, then get back into bed, and she slides in next to me. Part of me is worried about this, but it’s drowned out by the part that wants to help her. She quickly wraps her arms around my body as she cuddles against me.
“Thank you,” she says before giving me a light kiss. I nod a little stiffly, and it doesn’t take long for both of us to fall asleep again. The last thought on my mind is that I might get too used to this.
The next update or two won’t have choices as I cannot think of good choices and I don’t feel like doing ‘filler’ choices. The week ahead looks busy and if I tried to do the whole update, it would take another week or not. I’ll try to do the next part within a week.
A little noteOracle!iB/oZWEbQI2012/01/26 (Thu) 08:54No. 24657▼
It seems my proofreader fudged up a few details and it's very slight.
Akyuu's reincarnation process only transfers memory and soul, not so much the mind. This means each reincarnation is their own person.
It's hard to imagine that 360ish days ago, I started this story.
Don't worry about it too much. Humans are never perfect, so don't expect to be. Sometimes, we have off days, but that doesn't make you a bad proofreader. Heck, I know I have bad days when I proofread sometimes.
All I can say is, you're doing a good job. Focus on what you did right, and keep improving.
It’s morning already. That was one of the best nights of sleep I’ve ever had and- As I reach up to wipe the sleep from my eyes, I find one of my arms trapped by a warm body pressed against me. Looks like I didn’t dream up Wriggle coming here during the thunderstorm. She’s still asleep and breathing softly; the expression on her face is nothing short of lovely. I lay back in bed, just enjoying the moment until she wakes up.
After a few minutes, she opens her eyes. “Mmm.... good morning, Yuki.” After letting me go, she adds, “I hope I wasn’t too much trouble.”
“None at all, Wriggle; I’m only worried about becoming too used to sharing the bed with you.” Wait.... did I just say that? I’ve been hanging around Kamui too much. I can feel my faces start to heat up.
Thankfully, she giggles. “I’m glad I’m not alone with that thought. I’ll have to tell Mother about staying over, so she knows where I am when I’m not spending the night at home. I’ll eat breakfast here before I leave, since I want to try your mother’s breakfast cooking.” She pauses. “But... could you get my clothes from the guest room? I’m not sure if I should go upstairs in this.” She motions towards the makeshift nightclothes to reinforce her point.
“Alright,” I answer, throwing on a robe. I head upstairs, trying not to dwell on the matter of her upper undergarments. I pass Father by, and I’m sure he either knows what’s going on or is wondering what I’m doing.
Once inside the guest room, I easily find Wriggle’s clothes on the nearby table, neatly folded. As I head back out, I’m definitely glad that Mother’s still busy with breakfast or else she’d ask questions about what I’m doing with these clothes in my arms.
I return downstairs quickly before anyone can ask any questions. I set the clothes down on the table, and Wriggle says, “Thanks, Yuki! But who should get changed first? Despite everything, I’m not sure if we should change in the same room just yet.”
[x] “You go ahead first, you’re the guest after all.” [x] “Mind if I go first? I’ll try to be quick about it.”
Sorry about the small size of the update, but while writing it I wound up being at an impasse and I figured there was no harm leaving it up to a vote.
[X] “You go ahead first, you’re the guest after all.”
“You go ahead first; you’re the guest after all,” I answer, stepping out of the room. I’m hoping I can clear my head in the meanwhile. I would be lying if I said last night didn’t help me become more comfortable with... such matters, but I don’t want to get carried away.
What’s the proper pace to follow? I don’t want to come off as some kind of womanizing pervert, nor do I want to come off as someone who doesn’t appreciate a female when he sees one, like that weird kid in orange in those comics. Even Kazuma says he’s not that dense. Ugh... I’m definitely over-thinking this.
“Yuki, come in real quick; you need to see something,” I hear Wriggle say.
“Is it okay to come in?” I ask, mindful of what happened when I rushed in the last time.
“Don’t worry, you won’t see anything I don’t want to show,” she answers with a giggle. I suppose I’ll just go along with it until she gets it out of her system.
I open the door to my room and walk inside, and am immediately met with the sight of Wriggle standing there with only her shirt on, and her green and white striped bra showing. “Wriggle, what’s going on?” I try in vain to divert my eyes, but I can’t. “I thought...”
She giggles before apologizing. “I’m sorry, but I just wanted to see your reaction. Plus, I could tell you were thinking about this, which gave me the idea.”
Very true. “Yeah, but... I tried to clear my head, as I didn’t want to come off as a pervert.”
She shakes her head. “Perverts look at girls like a piece of meat. Your gaze is more like one that’s seen a vision of beauty.”
I nod, scratching the back of my head while blushing heavily. “I can’t forget our first meeting, and ever since then, the more I got to know you, the more beautiful you became.” I snap my mouth as I realize what I just said: a line like that is something Kamui would say!
Wriggle seems to figure out my line of thought, and smiles. “If I’d heard that from that womanizing friend of yours, I wouldn’t believe it. But I can tell you’re sincere about such a statement.” She looks at me a moment logner, before turning to reach for the rest of her clothes. “We should hurry up before your mother gets any crazy ideas.” I nod as she finishes dressing, and after she leaves I proceed to get dressed myself.
I arrive upstairs to find breakfast set out on the table, and still warm. As I sit down, Mother remarks, “I figured you two might take longer to get ready, so I waited.” Well, so much for stopping her from getting any crazy ideas.
Breakfast goes pretty normally, while Wriggle and I try not to think about what’s happened, lest Mother notices. No such luck on our part, though. “So Wriggle, does this mean you wouldn’t mind spending the night with him in the future?” Mother, why must you ask such things!?
Wriggle blushes a bit before answering. “I wouldn’t mind at all, and I’ll be better prepared next time.” Noticing the expression on Mother’s face, she adds, “I mean, I didn’t bring pajamas with me this time, so I would next time!”
Things settle down after that, and once we’re finished eating, we clear the table while Father goes to help mother with the dishes. Wriggle collects the rest of her things, and I walk her outside once she’s finished.
I decide to take the initiative for once, hugging her before she leaves. She returns the embrace, saying, “I’ll tell you when Mother wants you for dinner. Oh, my flower!” I let her go, holding her things as she retrieves the plant and returns.
I notice she has a particular spring in her step. “Did earlier really help that much?” I ask on reflex.
“Yup. Have a nice day, Yuki!” She answers, setting the plant down before hugging me again. She raises her head up, leaning a littel closer while closing her eyes. I take the hint, and we share a kiss. I’d be lying if I said having her in my arms didn’t make me feel manly. After a few moments, she pulls back. “Maybe next time I stay over, I can stick around the whole day, but I’ll have to tell Mother so she doesn’t worry in the future.” I nod, and let go as Wriggle picks up her things and leaves.
I think I’ll go on a walk; maybe check if Kamui’s dinner with his family went well or not. That, or I could check in with Lady Akyuu about any information on work or school. Just something light to help my head cool down. Or maybe Kourin has some new books I could read?
[ ] Check with Akyuu. [ ] See how Kamui’s doing. [ ] See if there’s new books.
I will attempt to finish the omake within the next update or two.
>>24707 Asking a guy for advice about a girl is like asking the professor about field labor. Sometimes, you'll get lucky and find the right guy to talk to, but most of the time it's just better to go to someone that is a female/field laborer.
I'll check with Lady Akyuu first, as I know she'll be awake and ready for the day, while Kamui is prone to taking his time as of late. I'm also a bit worried about how things are going with Wriggle; maybe I could ask for some advice.
Getting there doesn't take long at all, and when I knock on the door, Shinobu greets me. “Oh, young master Kojima. We weren't expecting you today, but I'm sure Lady Akyuu will be glad to see you.” She steps aside and lets me enter before guiding me to Lady Akyuu's room.
I greet her as I enter. “Good morning, Akyuu. I hope I wasn't interrupting anything.”
“Nothing too important. I hope you're aware that today's a day off, right?” She responds with a smirk. I hope she isn't going to bring up the time she tricked me into doing work. “Go ahead and take a seat. Shinbou, could you please bring us some tea and snacks?”
Shinobu bows, and I sit down as she departs. “Actually, I was here to ask about when school and work were going to start up again. If you had time, I was also wondering if you had any advice on how I'm doing with Wriggle, as...” I explain what happened this morning. Near the end, I notice her trying to cover her mouth. “Is there something the matter, Lady Ak-”
“Pffff HAHAAAHAHAHAAH! Ahh...” She wipes a tear from her eye. “I'm sorry, but this is just too funny. A girl being comfortable enough for that is usually a good sign, especially from Wriggle. It's just like you to worry to much about certain things.” She answers, still giggling. In retrospect, I shouldn't have been surprised by her reaction.
She resumes once she settles down. “You're particularly fun to tease as your reactions are cute, though I think I might have influenced her on that point. I'm sure she appreciates the confidence boost from seeing your reaction, too. More... 'modest' girls usually have some issues with that when growing up beside particularly... 'healthy' women. As for work and school, I haven't decided when I need your assistance next. As far as classes go, you may have a few days yet since Keine decided to spend some time shoring up the village's defenses. That, and she's also looking into why Kourindou has been closed more and more often.” Closed? That doesn't sound like him; keeping the store open is akin to a habit rather than a matter of business for him. To think I was thinking about shopping there later today.
“Any idea of why he would do that?” I ask.
“Not really, no. His past is a mystery, as there's not much in the way of records for him, other than when he arrived in the village. I've been meaning to ask Keine about it; she said it was an odd spot in time to look at. Hmmm.” She pauses for a moment. “I think one of these days, I'll have to show you something of a village secret. Right now, though, I was actually looking through what your Father translated about Myouren. It's proven to be quite interesting; if someone made a fictional tale with it, it'd be quite a hit. It seems to cover everything that grabs one's attention: intense fights, drama, beautiful women, handsome men, and so forth.”
Some time passes, and eventually Shinobu brings in some refreshments, then leaves. “Oh, I guess she's going shopping. Must have ran out of something.” She takes a sip of her tea before continuing. “You know, despite what many think, Yukari Yakumo is actually quite fond of the Hakureis, even today. I'm not sure if Reimu's even aware of who makes those mystery donations, but I can only assume Yukari's waiting for a good time to make her entrance into Reimu's life. A few of my past lives knew her directly, though I'm merely an acquaintance at the moment.” I remember many people thinking that the Hakureis and Lady Yakumo work grudgingly together for Gensokyo's sake. I can only wonder what she was thinking, bringing this up.
I nod along, my attention drifting briefly as I remember that there won't be any school or work for a few days. “I'm glad there's not anything I need to worry about on the day I have dinner with Wriggle's family.” I soon realize I should not have said that, as Akyuu's attention is fixed on me and she has a smile that's comparable with a kitsune's.
“Looks like I'm going to have to help you prepare for the big day when it comes! Well, if you wanted to leave right now. If you want to stick around, though, you could help me with something.”
[ ] I'll check on Kamui as he has to be up by now. [ ] What could she use help with? I guess I'll stick around until I do this.
Now with the Omake out of the way and the computer situation resolved, I will try my best to return to a normal schedule.
[x] I'll check on Kamui as he has to be up by now.
I'm sure Kamui's up by now, so I should check on him before he gets too busy doing something else. “Sorry Akyuu, not today. I have something to check up on.” I hope this isn't too disappointing.
“Ah well, that's to be expected. What I had in mind isn't terribly urgent, so we can take care of it another day. I have some things to do on my own in the meantime,” Akyuu answers with a giggle. I'd assume she's taking things well, but I can never tell for sure with her. “I plan on having a few things dropped off that have some interesting notes regarding Gensokyo's history, and are revelant to what I said about Yukari.” It should be interesting to read about.
I try to think of anything else to say before I go, when I remember what the old candy maker said. “Akyuu, the candy clerk said that he's doing well and while he enjoyed the company, you'd be disappointed.”
She shrugs and responds, “Well, no one can't say I didn't do anything for him. And to think that I went around searching for a nice-looking older female human. I'd even have tried to find a youkai if I'd thought he would have liked that.” She sighs. “I guess there's still some mysteries left for me to figure out. Thank you for the message, though I would have found out sooner or later. Have fun!” She waves, then I take my leave to go to the Inn.
I arrive at the Inn to find Kamui sitting at a table and shaking his head. I head over and take a seat, asking, “Is there something bothering you?”
He responds, “Well, dinner with my family went very well, even if Mom's still getting her head around the prospect of three daughters in law. Dad took things very well, though I think it helps that Yuuka is fond of shopping there.” He frowns slightly. “But Kurumi is wanting me to go to dinner with her family someday, and I'm not sure how I'll handle it. If you're in a similar situation, think you could give me a sort of heads up so I know what I'm getting into?”
“I guess, though that's exactly what's happening a few days from now. I don't think I have much to worry about; Yuuka was pretty nice, if a bit threatening, when I met her at the festival.” I even remember her gently pushing me along.
“That's because she's worried about Wriggle: until you came along, she was having no luck.” Kurumi interrupts. “I've been trying to get her to warm up to Kamui, though I'm not sure who started disliking him first, Mom or Wriggle.” I turn to see her walking down the stairs in a plain brown kimono worn rather off shoulder, showing off a decent amount of cleavage. Before I know it I'm thinking about this morning. I heard a giggle as she adds, “She must have shown you something nice. A sister knows these things.”
“Well, you know he saw something really nice when he first met her, though I think that just set a chain of events into motion. I... will just shut up, though, before I ruffle the wrong feathers,” Kamui adds as Kurumi walks off.
Well, that conversation wasn't as awkward as it could have been. “Isn't it a bit early for Kurumi to dress that boldly? Anyways, I checked with Akyuu about school and it seems we'll have a few more days off.” It's not even late afternoon yet.
He shrugs. “Well, she thinks it'll cause more of an impact and will bring more customers. And she said with a motherly matron, a charming bard, a cute Lamprey girl and some lovely waitresses, people will come just to stay at the Inn.”
I'm tempted to mention the fact that Kurumi is a vampire might scare away customers, especially since that vampire incident was just resolved. I realize, though, that guys will be guys, no matter how strong the girl in question might be. It would also be a little hypocritical for me to say anything since Wriggle's particularly strong herself. During that game at the festival, I could tell that she wasn't even using her full strength. “I just hope it won't cause any problems,” I reply.
He nods. “Hey, you should talk Wriggle into working a bit as I'm sure she'd look nice in one of the outfits.” She'd never go for that, especially since it's Kamui's idea.
“I don't think she'd be willing to do that, at least not if you're the one who asked.” I think she'd be more willing if it was for my eyes only, though I have no particular urge for her to dress up like that. I wouldn't mind her wearing those shorts again, but it's not like I'd ever remotely push her to do that!
My thoughts are interrupted by Elis approaching in an waitress outfit similar to Kurumi's, though the style is more conservative and her apron has some stars over it. “You're Akyuu's assistant, right?” I nod. “I was thinking that if you need books about Makai, I'm willing to share some stuff as I don't want that little girl writing nonsense about my homeland.”
Kamui speaks up, “Yeah, Elis was thinking about that, in light of some of the stereotypes concerning girls from Makai. Apparently people seem to think that, what was it, all the girls in Makai are succubi.” I don't know for sure myself, but it seems like a foolish thing to assume.
Elis corrects Kamui. “That's definitely wrong. Succubi: devils that are unreasonably attractive and extremely skilled in... those areas. It's hard for most other devil girls, such as myself, to compare to them, and most are rather vile power hungry sorts.” Interesting; I've only heard of such beings in books, and each tale differed wildly from the others.
“Thank you, Elis. I will talk to Lady Akyuu to see if she had any plans to do so, and I'll refer her to you if she does,” I answer.
“Thanks. Now I have some work to do, so I'll see ya!” She answers as she leaves.
As I wave goodbye, Kamui suddenly remarks, “It kind of sucks that my mother is nowhere near as grandchild-crazy as yours. Just about everyone in the village knows how obsessed she is, though it doesn't help that she's prone to gushing about cute little kids with antennae.” People might think I'd be upset, but if Mother goes about like this, then it shows she understands the effects well. That, and I don't think anyone would bring it up with her.
“I tried to calm mom down with talk of cute grandchildren, but it wouldn't take,” Kamui continues. I blink for a few seconds. Is he serious?
“That's nuts! You know your mother doesn't think about things the same way mine does. I actually wish my mother wasn't like that at times.”
He replies, “Maybe, but it's better than a mother that tries to ruin a relationship. We're both lucky in that regard: despite how unamused she is, mine wouldn't do that even at her worst.”
“Everything else going okay?” I'm still a bit worried about him in general.
He nods. “Things are going just great: I made up with my family and those three girls get along great. There's occasionally some horseplay between them, but it tends to be sexy horseplay.” He chuckles at the last part. I guess I don't need to worry that much about him, though I hope he doesn't do anything to anger Lady Yuuka.
We talk a bit more about what might be going on, though Kamui is a bit too interested in the mental image of Miss Kamishirasawa bending over. Remembering how Wriggle teased me in that fashion, I guess I can understand where he's coming from. I decided to leave him to his work, though, and leave the inn to go elsewhere.
The days until my appointment with Lady Yuuka passed by pretty quickly, with only a small date with Wriggle in between. We didn't talk about much other than our typical day to day stuff. I think we'll have more to talk about at the upcoming dinner.
I also talked with my parents about how to present myself. One evening, I decided to bring up the matter. “Mother, Father, I would like to know if you have any objections to me going over for dinner at Lady Kazami's.”
“I have no problems, though I'd like to talk with her myself one of these days,” Mother answers. For some reason, that gives me an uneasy feeling.
Father adds, “I don't see any issue with it, as long as you mind your manners and are aware of what you shouldn't do. Who knows, you might even end up hearing a tale you couldn't hear elsewhere. You should let Lady Hieda know about this though, and be sure to set aside some time before the dinner to allow for any plans she has. Hopefully she won't do anything too excessive.”
Things went on as normal after dinner.
Well, today's the day; might as well get this over with. I go through my usual morning routine, then walk over to the Hieda residence.
Lady Akyuu answers the door. “I wasn't expecting you this early, but it shouldn't be too much of a delay. Come in, come in.” I follow her inside the house.
“Akyuu, what's going on? I know you wanted to help me with tonight, but isn't this a bit excessive?” I ask.
“First impressions count for a lot, and I need you to try on some clothes to reach the right mix of formality and informality. I was leaning more towards the former, but then I realized that Yuuka probably won't have things so formal. The clothes won't quite arrive for another hour, though,” she answers, leading me to her room.
Once there, Akyuu pulls out some books out and asks, “In the meantime, is there anything you'd like to know about? I've looked up a few interesting tales: a Hakurei different than most, The hunter and the Kirin, and a recent acquisition that references a magician sealing away a sword in a far away land. I haven't read any of these yet, so I figured we could kill some time looking at one or two of them.”
All are rather interesting...
[x] I'm curious about the Hakurei shrine maiden [x] A human/youkai love story? I'd like to hear it. [x] The last one is something out of a fairy tale.
Don't be afraid to vote for what you want, as even if it's in second place, it may get included.
[x] I'm curious about the Hakurei shrine maiden. [x] A human/youkai love story? I'd like to hear it.
“I'd like to hear the story about the human and the youkai... and maybe about the Hakurei, if there's time,” I answer.
Lady Akyuu nods, and opens the book. “Very well. This is a story that takes place shortly before Gensokyo was sealed, when the only beings in the area were youkai or hunters of all kinds. One of them had tired of the seemingly pointless fighting and retired to a remote region, resolving to only draw his weapon when hunting or to defend himself. He went about his life, but one day while foraging for food, he stumbled upon a woman. She was also living in the region to avoid the chaos around them, and found some common ground with the man.” Akyuu flips ahead a few pages. “The rest went on as any love story would, and she eventually moved in with him, but one day he noticed several notes on his door referring to a Kirin.”
A Kirin... such a being doesn't even exist in Gensokyo. I've only read a little about them. “Pardon me, but could you tell me more about Kirins? I haven't gotten a chance to read up on them yet.”
Akyuu nods. “While some would crudely call them youkai, they are much closer to being divine than a monster; they're often considered holy beasts with many powers, such as healing. It's said that they're not often seen due to tasks the heavens set for them.”
“But back to our story. Although the hunter found the notes curious, he didn't think anything of them until his companion noticed them. That night, she revealed the truth about herself: that she was indeed a Kirin. Though she became upset, the hunter took it in stride, since she was still the same woman he fell in love with. The notes were from various people who had heard about the hunter and the Kirin, containing various threats and challenges. It was mostly similar to what a guy might run into today: some were against such a union, some wanted the girl for themselves. But it made no difference: the hunter went out with his weapon and took on all challengers. You might think this it impossible, but-”
I interrupt her. “But the original hunters who'd settled the area were the best of the best, the strongest, the wisest, and so forth. I can only imagine how strong someone had to be to live on their own back in those times. Oh, pardon me; I apologize for the interruption.”
“It's no problem, but you are right: the battle was a long and bloody one, even though he indeed slew all 200 challengers. If it weren't for Rin's aid, it would have certainly been his final victory.”
Rin? “Pardon me, but you said Rin, right? Are these characters named? It does sound rather specific for a mere tale.” I ask.
She answers, “Actually it's mentioned at the beginning of the story; I just forgot. The Kirin's name is Rin Satsuki and the hunter was... Akihiko something; the ink with his family name got smudged. It also appears that someone chronicled their tale closely.” She pauses for a moment, thinking. “Actually, this was the tale I mentioned a while back, just after the Prismrivers' concert.” Now that she mentions it, I do remember her talking about a story that day.
“Anyways, with Rin's aid, it didn't take long for him to return to health and they lived quite happily, eventually having a son. Once he grew up, the hunter broke the truth to his son about his mother as best he could, as by that time she had been called back to the heavens for some task or another. She didn't literally die; she was just needed for an assignment. The years crept by, and eventually the hunter died of old age, leaving his child alone, and ending the story. I personally don't think their child has succumbed to the same fate; the blood from his mother would keep him alive. I've also been wondering what power he has: he could have inherited his mother's healing, or perhaps the mix gave him destructive ones. Just another mystery to tackle!” She says the last part with some glee.
The couples' separation must not have been easy for either of them, especially for Lady Satsuki since she'd only have found out about the hunter's death after the fact. Yet, I doubt such a thing would occur today. “It's a tragedy of a different sort... I wonder if this mystery will get resolved within this generation or not?”
“I'm sure it will; I do have a cute, dutiful assistant helping me out, after all. But here, I'll dig out the book speaking about the Hakurei shrine maiden.” Typical of her to say something like that. “I'm not sure how familiar you are with the Hakurei bloodline since you've only known Reimu, but it has gone through a lot of variation and development. They originally started as spiritually powerful priests and shrine maidens who didn't have much regard for actual hand to hand combat. This changed one day when a shrine maiden in training, while physically strong, had less spiritual power than her mother. This actually caused a few worries, but it didn't deter... oh my, it seems she was named Reimu, too. I'll call her Big Reimu to differentiate; besides, if what this says is right, she wasn't lacking in certain areas. I'm certain Little Reimu would be annoyed by such a comparison.” She giggles.
Wait... the Reimu I know was named after her? “Do you think Reimu was named intentionally after her?”
She answers, “Without a doubt. Despite her moderate disadvantage, she managed to train herself to the point where she could use what power she had to enhance her already powerful blows, bringing her might to the point where she could effectively spar with an Oni. But despite her power and rather bonecrushing approach to youkai hunting, her willingness to talk and reason with youkai earned their respect. This doesn't change the fact that if they stepped out of line, she would personally make them regret it. After times became more peaceful for a while, she decided to work on a style of martial arts so her descendents would have something to fall back on when their spiritual attacks were of no use. It says that even the Bandit Lord was wary of her since he never attacked during her time as the shrine maiden. ...You know, it's very odd that someone so infamous for terrorizing Gensokyo for so long has very little description." Indeed it is, but I'm sure Lady Akyuu will get to the bottom of it.
“Back to Big Reimu, the story says that she married rather late in her life, mainly because most guys were afraid of her. That's not the first or last time I've heard of such a thing, though. It might even be why many of her successors tried to be more feminine... Well, her life after that was quiet, other than a few incidents. When she died, many people attended the funeral with flowers, both human and youkai. The oddest thing is that someone left a large bouquet of roses and a hand-drawn picture. No one knows who did it, but from the content and quality, that person must have loved her dearly. In a darkly ironic move, the next generation or two wound up undoing her efforts by being overly zealous in youkai extermination, somehow triggering the return of the Bandit Lord.” Akyuu trails off, and she looks as if she's deep in thought.
I wonder if the current Reimu will have a hard time or not since even now some guys are scared of dating someone stronger. Willing enough to ogle, sure, but nothing more. We're lucky there's not more extraordinary women with raging complexes due to this. The story reminds me of my own situation, though I'm more in awe of Wriggle's strength instead of afraid. The thoughtful silence was interrupted by Shinobu.
“The tailor is here with the outfits you ordered,” she announces. Lady Akyuu quickly grabs my hand and drags me towards the door.
The whole process of trying on clothes was something akin to a whirlwind. I hope the outfit she decided on goes over well. It's light, comfortable, and suited for summer, though it feels strange to wear shorts like this. “Akyuu, what's with these clothes,” I ask, pointing to a set of what appears to be a western shirt and shorts.
“Just in case you end up staying the night, which may be a possibility. You probably won't have anything to worry about; unlike what some people say, youkai don't invite victims into their homes. You're taking it along just in case,” She answers as she hands them to me. After checking the time, she adds, “You should get going home as someone will be along to pick you up within the next half hour.”
“May I ask how you know this for sure?”
She giggles before answering, “Oh, I had a message delivered to Yuuka earlier this morning before you came over.” Sometimes it's scary how good she is at planning things.
“Thank you for your help, Akyuu. I'll try my best not to make a fool out of myself.” I pick up the clothes and turn to leave.
I can imagine her saying... “That's no fun!” Heh, I really do know her well. I proceed to head home to finish getting ready.
I arrive home to find Elly seated at the table with a broom, eating an apple. “Hi! Miss Yuuka asked me to pick you up, but dinner really won't start for another hour. I think she wants to be sure I get you there on time. I also had some shopping to do.” I notice a bag at her side, though I don't think I'll ask her what's inside since it might be very flustering. She adds, “Your parents are at some meeting that came up, but they gave me permission to hang around here. So, you ready to go?”
I answer, “Alright, just let me get ready,” then head downstairs.
After getting dressed and packing the night clothes Lady Akyuu gave me, we head outside. Elly proceeds to pick me up and fly off... while onto holding the broom. While pleasant, this is a bit awkward as it's nearly impossible not to feel Miss Elly's sizable chest on my back. “Miss Elly, why do you have a broom with you?” I ask, hoping to distract myself from other matters.
“I'm using it as a substitute for my scythe since Miss Yuuka forbade me from taking it to the village. Something about not terrifying people... but don't worry, I'll make sure you get there in one piece!” She seems very earnest, if intimidating.
It isn't long before we arrive at the massive Garden of the Sun, with sunflowers stretching far into the distance. “It's pretty big isn't it?” Elly remarks. “But since the area gets a nice amount of rain, there's no need to water them. Good thing, too; I'm not sure that even the Kappa have a machine that could water such a field.”
We land, and she leads me inside to the living room. “Well, I've got to put my stuff away, but I'm sure someone will be out soon. Maybe I can compare what I bought with Kurumi...” she remarks as she leaves. I take a seat and I try to gather my thoughts, looking around. It's a western style house with, obviously, plenty of flowers everywhere.
“My, Elly was actually punctual for once. Sorry for the wait, I wasn't expecting Elly to be so prompt in bringing you here.” I turn to the voice and see Lady Yuuka sitting down next to me.
I respond, “I'm just taking a look, Lady Yuuka, as this is a rare occurrence for a human.” Stay calm... stay polite.
She looks at me for a moment with her red eyes. “If you're making my little Wriggle happy, then you have nothing to fear. I do apologize for my threats at the festival; I really was just concerned for her. I'd-” Yuuka's response is interrupted by the door opening and the sounds of footsteps.
“Arthur! If I wasn't there to cover you, you'd have been killed by that man-boar! That blow would have killed a youkai, let alone a human!” That sounds like Alice.
“I understand, but it's because I'm a human that my senses aren't as sharp as yours, or his, for that matter. And I had things on my mind for once...” That's Arthur alright.
I hear Alice answer, “That's the problem with these fights becoming too routine; you're forgetting that you're fighting for your life!” I miss the rest as they move out of ear shot.
“Hm-hmm. If I didn't know better, I would say she was his sister, shouting like that out of concern for him. I imagine he'll unwind with that weird, gray machine box he has; Alice would either hang around or work in her own room,” Lady Yuuka remarks. I wonder if I should bring up the matter of Alice wanting her pages returned. “You look as if you have a question, which you may ask.” She's pretty good at reading cues.
I tentatively ask, “Did Alice get the pages back that you'd taken from her? I heard she was after them. Ah, I hope I'm not prying into anything!”
Lady Yuuka smiles. “Arthur talked me into returning them right away, and I was actually done with them. But for some reason she insists on staying around here until Mima comes back. I do wonder how that ghost is doing; I'd imagine the shrine's very quiet without her around.” She looks at the clock. “You may take a look around for now; I imagine Arthur wouldn't mind another guy hanging around. Or perhaps you'd like to talk with Lily? She's trying to open up more, one person at a time. I could also show you some rare sights for you to take note of; I am aware of your profession and I wouldn't mind sharing a few details that might help people understand my position. Rumors aside, I am not some sort of creature that lives for sadism's sake alone.”
Wow... I wonder...
[ ] I think I'll see if Arthur really wants some more company. [ ] Politely check in on Alice; I'm curious about her doll projects. I might be able to observe Hourai some more. [ ] There's no harm in seeing Lily, after knocking of course. [ ] Take Lady Yuuka up on her small tour. [-] I'm curious about Elly's comparison with ku- I am not a pervert! ----- Odd, I thought I pointed out the timeskips clearer. But at the moment, 2-3 months have passed since the start of the story, making this mid-late summer.
>>24886 Honestly I cannot say for sure as I paired up Yuki's friends on the fly. But the likely candidates would have been Akyuu down the line, Lyrica, Kurumi, and maybe even Hatate. I can't guess better than that due to the semi-flexible nature of this story.
Finished my update, currently getting proofed should be up in the next day or two.
I really apologize for the delay but between work, easter, minor sleep issues, etc. I just couldn't focus well. But things are starting to return to normal and I should be able to return to my normal rate.
“I would be honored to go on the tour, Lady Yuuka,” I reply. She nods, then gently takes my hand before leading me down a hallway. I'm surprised by her grip, but I guess I shouldn't be since she's the one who raised Wriggle.
We eventually reach a hallway lined with a bunch of doors, though Lady Yuuka doesn’t slow down. “This is where most of the bedrooms are, except for Kurumi's. Her’s is in the basement, for obvious reasons,” she remarks. I know what she means: vampires like such spaces, so it matches many of Kurumi’s habits well, such as her sometimes nocturnal schedule.
The door to the first room we pass is cracked open, and I can hear Kurumi and Elly talking about something inside. “Your problem is that you're too rough when you’re being forward; you need to be more seductive, so...” It's Kurumi talking, and she seems to be advising Elly about something.
Lady Yuuka leads me away, remarking, “I don't think that discussion would have remained decent.” I nod; those two are pretty forward about things. The next room is open, and I see Arthur with some sort of device that reminds me of some of Ginji's controls. He’s staring at a lit screen, and that red, white, and yellow mechanical doll from the comics is attacking some kind of goofy being.
I don’t have time to dwell on it before Yuuka leads me to the next room. Alice is sitting inside, looking through what looks like a massive spellbook. She glances up, and her face twists in annoyance as she notices us. “I see she's still upset about that,” Yuuka mutters. I'm tempted to ask what she’s talking about, but that would be prying too much.
As we approach the next room, the door swings open and Lily steps out before turning and noticing us. After a moment of awkward silence, she asks, “Ah, may I come with?” Lady Yuuka looks at me, as if it were up to me to decide where someone goes in their own house.
“Of course you may,” I answer. Nodding, Lily starts walking with us as we pass the last two rooms. One has a green door and nameplate with Wriggle's name on it, and the other has a sign saying “Do not disturb.” Lady Yuuka chuckles a little, and remarks, “I remember asking Alice to soundproof the rooms for greater privacy, though she only agreed after Arthur asked her. It's pretty obvious she has a crush on him, but I can't bring myself to mention it to him. Childhood is an important time, after all.” That would explain Alice's actions today. I have no idea how things will play out between those three, but I won't dwell on it since it's really none of my business.
As Lady Yuuka leads us to another area, I hear Lily sigh. I ask, “Is something the matter, Lily?” It might be considered prying, but I would rather find out if I'm the cause sooner than later.
“Well, mother is really the only one Alice has a problem with; she's actually nice towards everyone else, even Miss Elly,” she answers. We continue following Lady Yuuka, heading down to the ground floor before turning down another hallway and into a room. Bookshelves line the walls; it’s a decently sized library, though it's rather small compared to the ones my family and the Hiedas have.
“I heard your house has quite a sizable library,” Lady Yuuka says. “I suppose I need to work on mine a bit more and keep in mind that it shouldn’t be in the line of fire of a master spark.”
“You mean that during your test fire you accidentally vaporized your library? I’d also heard from Marisa that it also took out a mountain,” I respond.
Lady Yuuka stares at me for a moment before speaking. “Gensokyo is smaller than I thought if you know her. She really is a troublesome but charming girl, isn't she? She definitely copied my notes well, though the rainbow coloring was a needless touch.”
I chuckle and respond, “Yeah she is, far more than most people know, but I can't say that I regret meeting her.”
I spend a few moments looking around, noticing a few nice books resting near a sign that says “Tasteful literature only.” There’s some small print that reads “This means your 'romance' novels, Kurumi. Mother agrees. –Wriggle” I remember Kamui remarked such things were popular with the girls in our class, though mother isn’t fond of them. Lady Yuuka would get along well with her... perhaps too well.
“Come now, let me take you to the garden next,” Lady Yuuka announces. I'm curious what she means, since all the flowers around the house could count as part of a garden.
We eventually reach the back of the house, where a large garden is spread out with a nice selection of vegetables. “Pardon me, Lady Yuuka, but I thought you had a problem with people killing plants of any sorts?” It’s a little strange that she’d have something like this in her own house.
“There’s a difference between senseless killing, and eating to survive,” Lady Yuuka answers. “I make sure that some of their seeds are planted before they're all harvested up. I do not eat much if any vegetables, but my children like them, especially Wriggle. She also tends the garden very well.”
Lily suddenly speaks up. “I help out too, in the spring. I jump start all of the plants, though mother insists that I do my rounds before helping out here.”
“I just want my family to do their jobs properly, and not abuse their power for selfish reasons. I would imagine you’ve received similar lessons,” Lady Yuuka remarks, reminding me of how my parents always stressed the importance of keeping the history as pure as possible. Lady Yuuka turns to Lily, and adds, “Lily, today you're a bit more energetic, considering the time of year.”
Lily nods, answering, “I feel as though it's spring somewhere in the world.” I guess it might be possible; I know next to nothing about the outside world.
Yuuka nods thoughtfully, then turns back to me. “I think Wriggle should be finishing up dinner by now, if you want to give her a hand. But if you're not going to, could you please remind Alice that it's almost time for dinner? She seems to lose track of time when she's working on those dolls.”
[ ] I really should help Wriggle; I've kept her waiting long enough. [ ] I’ll go and tell Alice first, then see about helping.
[x] I'll go and tell Alice first, then see about helping.
“I'll tell Alice about dinner first, and then try to help, Lady Yuuka,” I announce before heading back towards Alice's room.
I knock on the doorframe, hoping to get her attention without messing up her work. Hourai notices, and tries gently tapping Alice on the shoulder. “This had better be good, Hourai,” Alice remarks as Hourai points towards the door. “Oh, I'm sorry about that, Yukikaki. Am I needed for something?”
“Dinner's coming up soon,” I answer, not wanting to overstep my boundaries. Hopefully there won't be much trouble.
She nods, answering, “I'll be downstairs in a bit to help set the table. You should be helping Wriggle out; I'm certain she'll be glad to see you.” She looks back at her work, and sees Hourai now wearing an apron that says “Kiss the Chef.” Alice's face turns beet red, but she remains silent.
Hourai holds up a sign and begins to write, “It's just a kiss; you're acting like I put 'f-” before Alice yanks the sign out of her hands. I decide to continue on my way, as I'm sure they won't forget to come to dinner now.
I get near the kitchen area by following the smell of food; the smell of beef and onions is particularly strong. A shout of “HOURAI!!!” comes from behind me. Looks like I was right in getting away from the room after Hourai's stunt.
I knock on the kitchen door, announcing, “It's Yuki. I hope I'm not interrupting anything.” The last thing I want to do is somehow ruin dinner by suddenly bursting into the room.
I hear Wriggle respond, “Oh, come in! I hope you weren't waiting long. Don't worry, I'm just finishing up.”
I enter the kitchen to find a large pot of beef stew cooking on the stove, while Wriggle gathers up various dressings for a bowl of salad. She’s dressed in her usual vest and pair of shorts, but is currently wearing a ladybug patterned apron over it all. I try not to drool from the food’s mouth-watering aroma. “This all looks very good. I didn't know you were this good of a cook,” I remark.
“Beef stew is pretty easy to make, and mother and Arthur helped me with the spices. Apparently some Outsider company called Dinty Moore has gotten this down to an art, or so Arthur says,” she replies. I don't know how complicated beef stew is, but I'm certain Wriggle's will be good.
Once everything is finished, Wriggle has me set out the bread and salads on the plates while she handles the pouring of the stew. I notice one place at the table has only a big bowl and an even bigger piece of bread. The silverware is set on the table once the food is in place.
We take our seats next to each other as people started arriving. The first is Hourai, who points to Wriggle while holding a sign saying, “Why haven't you kissed the chef yet?” …! I have no idea how to respond.
Fortunately the moment is broken up by Alice, who apologizes. “I'm sorry for what Hourai says, and am really relieved that she didn't write anything crude. It's nice to see that Hourai does have something akin to manners.”
Hourai starts writing again. “I'm sorry, it's just that I thought you two would have used the private moment better. It probably is much too soon to expect something like a na-” Alice snatches the sign away, though she merely takes her seat after that. Hourai, by contrast, takes a knife and starts to poke at the bread as if she were a hunter fending off a beast. The little show gets to me, and Wriggle and even Alice giggle a little.
Soon Kurumi and Elly come to the table, and find Hourai just as amusing as we did. Arthur and Lady Yuuka aren’t far behind, and she gently tells Hourai, “Don't play with Alice's food now.” I’m a little surprised when the doll politely sits down, just like that.
“How do you get her to listen like that? It takes me a good few minutes to get her to behave!” Alice huffs. I have a feeling it's due to the aura Lady Yuuka has. It’s hard to explain, but it's not something that one simply defies.
Lady Yuuka sets down her spoon as she answers, “It the aura of authority, to put it simply. Once a person reaches a certain level of maturity, composure, and wisdom, they begin to have it. I believe it was no different with your Mother. It’s such a shame; I wish I could have met her in better circumstances as I do think we'd get along.”
“I know she doesn't hold it against you four. She's always too forgiving.” It makes me curious what Alice’s view of the event was.
This stew is good, but after a few minutes I realize that Wriggle is still wearing that apron. It's a little odd, but it does look cute on her. Eventually I decide to ask, “Miss Yuuka, I'm under the impression that you don't look back upon your trip to Makai fondly. I would like to hear a bit more about it, as I know Reimu was upset with it.”
She answers, “I went along under the impression that I'd find strong opponents, but as I heard more about how Lady Shinki led Makai, I started to lose my will to fight. I have no idea what Mima did; I only know she left the shrine soon afterwards. As for why I fought Alice, it was mainly because I owed her that courtesy as a child avenging her mother, and I was a little curious about her magic. I wouldn't take her lightly if I were you, Yukikaki: she is quite the formidable magician; enough so to put Reimu and Marisa on their toes at least.”
Arthur adds, “She really is amazing and so's that doll.” Alice blushes at the praise, particularly Arthur's. He adds, “This stew's really good, too. Yuki's certainly lucked out, but she did learn from the best after all.” Wriggle blushes even harder than Alice, and I’m a bit surprised when Yuuka’s face colors as well.
“I just wanted to impress him...” Wriggle responds, looking at me.
I speak up, “It really is good, Wriggle. I could easily eat another bowl full of it!”
“I'm definitely going to get the recipe! I'm not going to let Mystia get too far ahead of me!” Kurumi remarks.
“But Sis, you're ahead of her in certain areas already,” Wriggle responds with a pout. I understand what she's saying, but I don’t think Kurumi’s pride as a woman would let her be content by relying only on that, especially since she was raised by Lady Yuuka.
“Mom'd be disappointed in me if I just depended on the size of certain things. Besides, Mystia could use some competition to improve herself. You're not alone in your pride, Wriggle.” I can't help but wonder if Lily shares their sense of pride at times, when she's neither withdrawn nor as her better known, energetic, danmaku-blasting self. Looking over at her, she's eating dinner quietly, watching us but not joining in the conversation.
The discussion is interrupted by Elly, who asks, “Think I can get a guy if I learn how to cook?”
“Elly, with what I've seen from your courting efforts, you would still terrify the poor boy in question. Assertiveness is a virtue, but you seem to take it too far,” Lady Yuuka responds.
Dinner goes quietly and normally.... at least what passes as normal around here.
After dinner, I try to help clean up, but Lady Yuuka insists, “You're a guest, please relax until Wriggle's done with her share.” She then goes into the kitchen to help Wriggle do the dishes.
I leave, and after a while Arthur comes up to me. “I'm about to go relieve Wriggle so you two can spend some time together. But if you don't mind, I'd like to talk a bit. If you would rather spend time with Wriggle, I can understand that, but... Well, it's actually about relationships between human and youkai. Think you could please spare a moment?”
I'm definitely on the spot....
[ ] “Could this wait until tomorrow or at least later? I think she's been waiting long enough.” [ ] “I'll try to help as much as I can. I think she'll understand if I have to explain.”
[x] “I'll try to help as much as I can. I think she'll understand if I have to explain.”
I answer, “I'll try to help as a much as I can. I don’t know about a lot of past relationships like that, but I'm sure I can remember some.”
Arthur chuckles, then says, “I just wanted your perspective from dating Wriggle. That'd more useful than what someone did a long time ago.”
My experience and perspective... might as well be perfectly honest. “It's rather exciting but pleasant. Each new thing I learn about is very interesting, but at the same time, she's basically a girl like any other: she likes positive attention, the occasional gift, and someone who likes her for who she is. The more I get to know her, the happier I am that I met her... even if our first meeting was... interesting.” I notice him blushing at the last part.
He starts smiling. “Looks like my experience wasn’t much different than yours. In my opinion, Yuuka is a great woman. The moments where she uses her abilities are pretty impressive, but what actually amazes me is how kind and gentle she is to those she cares about. For all the things said about how she can crush rocks with ease, she handles a delicate flower with a careful touch.” From what he’s said, I really do think that Wriggle takes after Lady Yuuka the most in various ways. “I've also had some... mildly interesting experiences, though nothing’s gone too far. But thanks for your perspective on things; I'll go and get Wriggle now.” He then goes into the kitchen. I can only presume he somehow saw Lady Yuuka in some state of undress though I suspect she might have taken the first step; from what I’ve seen I imagine she'd trust him that much.
“Yuki!” Ah, that's Wriggle coming from the kitchen.
“I hope cleaning up wasn't too hard. Uh... Arthur wanted to ask me something and…” I try answering, feeling guilty about not helping. Now that she isn't wearing an apron, though, I notice her shirt is tucked in such a way that it highlights her subtle curves.
“Don't worry, I got to talk with Mother, and she dislikes making guests work, anyways. And it's the thought that counts. Come on, let me show you my room!” Wriggle answers, gently taking my hand and leading the way.
It’s only after we walk through the maze of a mansion that I realize I left my bag back in the living room. “I'll be right back, I forgot to grab my bag in the living room,” I remark. Before I can leave, though, a huge beetle comes in through an open window, then flies away after a few seconds.
“Don’t worry, he's getting it. He's pretty strong, so he should be able to lift all the books in it.” Wriggle responds. “I'm glad you liked what I cooked, and that you like my outfit,” She adds. Guess she must have caught me looking.
I take a breath to smooth out my unease and reply, “It's well suited for both your looks and personality. But I don't want you forcing yourself to dress up or do anything else for me.” I don't want to come off as forceful.
I’m a little surprised when she hugs me, replying, “Don’t worry, I chose to do this. Thanks to you and Akyuu, I'm finding new ways to dress how I like and still look nice. And I did enjoy seeing you eat two bowlfuls of what I made; it’s nice to know you enjoy my cooking. Besides, I know you'd never force me to be some housewife that does nothing but cook and clean.”
As she pulls down a few books from her bookshelf, I take a look around. It's a pretty normal room, though there's a few posters of a guy in bug armor. I sit down on her bed, a western one. It's a bit firmer than mine, but still pretty comfortable. She comes back with a few comics about the guy in armor and some books, the cover of one has a guy jumping out of a fridge and punching someone.
“It's a book series by the same writer of those Wizard books. Rinnosuke said they weren't very good, but that any fan of the wizard series would like this one. How about we try reading some of it before starting on the masked rider?” Wriggle asks.
I nod, and we start from the beginning... where the hero pilots his plane and spooks a flying girl. Flying girls? This sounds familiar...
“Why aren't they wearing some sort of skirt instead of flashing their panties all over the place?” Wriggle asks.
I answer, “No idea... but his insistence on getting them to wear pants is just as weird.” I try to avoid thinking about the image of Wriggle's panty-clad... too late. And with the girls using weapons, I guess Wriggle would use some kind of homing swarm of missiles or something.
She looks clearly annoyed by the book's contents, remarking, “I hope that the Wizard book isn't like this. Not even the death god with the orange hair and big kitchen knife from that other series was this dense about things.”
“It's like he leaves things to a bunch of drunken buddies and copies it down. The Wizard books are definitely better,” I answer. The author does seem to like making leads that are as dense as that strange kid in orange, though.
We started reading the comics with the masked rider next. As we turn through the pages, I get distracted by the look of glee on Wriggle’s face. A loud noise comes from the window, and I turn in time to see the beetle drop off my bag before flying away, probably to respect our time together. I’m a little surprised at the though; I wonder if my time with Wriggle has awakened my mind to the possibility that insects are smarter than most humans give them credit for? “Wriggle, are insects smarter than most humans think they are?” I ask.
“Some are, while others are more simple minded,” she answers. Upon seeing my bag, she adds, “Oh, he usually tries not to interrupt anything I'm doing.”
We read through a few more volumes before there’s a knock at the door. Wriggle answers it, and it turns out to be Lady Yuuka. “Sorry to interrupt, but it has gotten quite late, and it wouldn’t be safe now for Yuki to be fly out, even with an escort. I’ve sent a message to his parents so they know he's staying over.” I’m mildly surprised and turn to look out the window; sure enough, it looks like night fell some time ago. Lady Yuuka’s right: no human really goes out at night as many of the more vicious ferals come out at this time.
“What are we going to do? I don't think there's a real room for him to sleep in since the spare room's a complete mess!” Wriggle asks.
Lady Yuuka has a mischievous smile as she answers, “I figured that he'd share your bed as it's not the first time you've done such a thing. I noticed your boost in confidence after you came home that morning. Besides, I know that he wouldn't do anything I wouldn't approve of.” While it’s true I wouldn't mind, this comes as a shock for various reasons. Gulp. I hope Mother doesn't overreact.
“Is it really okay, Mother? I mean, you often speak of not doing anything Miss Yakumo does,” Wriggle says. That's why Lady Yuuka’s remark surprised me: I didn't expect her to support such a thing.
Lady Yuuka pats Wriggle’s head, answering, “Sleeping chastely beside someone you care about isn’t something she'd do. Decency and love are foreign concepts to her.” I don’t know what Lady Yakumo's true habits are, but Lady Yuuka seems to see her in a particularly deplorable light. “I'll leave you two to enjoy the rest of the night. Try not to stay up too late, as I'm certain his parents wouldn't like to be kept waiting in the morning,” she adds before leaving.
I decide to pull my stuff out of my bag, starting with the clothes Lady Akyuu insisted that I pack... Although it’s uncanny, I’m sure it was less of a plan and more of a prediction. Beneath them are the two books Lady Akyuu read to me earlier today. I get out the story concerning Rin, as Wriggle might want to read about it.
We ended up reading through both books, and started holding hands sometime along the way. After finishing, the subject matter made us want to discuss a few things. “The original Reimu was quite the woman. I wonder if I’ll be able to say the same about the current one?” Wriggle remarks.
“I think she may have been the original architect for this era of relative peace we're enjoying. The story made me wonder about the biggest mystery in modern Gensokyo, though: just who is the Bandit King, and what happened to him?” I ask.
“It might be that kid from the story of the hunter and Kirin, as I can't imagine a mixed breed would have been tolerated back then. If so, such harsh treatment might have pushed him to do the things he did, but it's just speculation at this point.”
I wonder... “Think it could be Rinnosuke, the junk guy?” I kind of doubt it myself, and Wriggle only laughs at the question. I guess it is kind of silly to consider that.
She stops laughing with a serious look on her face. “It makes you wonder how such a child would fare today. I hope history won't repeat itself.” She does have a point, but I’m a bit surprised by her sudden mood swing.
“I think life would have been kinder to him, as more and more people are becoming open minded. In the next generation or two, we might see today’s taboos completely vanish. I can't say for sure what will happen next, but it will definitely be interesting.” It's far too soon to speculate on the matter of the line between human and youkai becoming blurred.
My mind pauses on the topic until I hear Wriggle say “Yuki, look!” I turn my head, and she takes off her shorts, revealing a plain but cute pair of green panties. “I'm like one of those witches, but without being a completely over-dramatic headcase!” We both chuckle afterwards. “You should change if you have something,” she adds. She’s right; it is getting late.
“Could you turn around please?” I ask as I change into my other clothes. These shorts are definitely comfortable, and so is the shirt. While pulling the shirt over my head, I sense something faint, but dismiss it as I doubt anything could threaten me while I’m a guest in Lady Yuuka’s house.
Wriggle yawns behind me, and I turn around once my shirt is on. She looks pretty drowsy, but she’s blushing. “Did you wake up early for today?” I ask, curious. I notice she’s wearing a tank top that isn't too snug or loose, and shorts.
She gets on the bed, answering, “Yeah. I wanted to have everything go well, including the fresh vegetables for the stew. I think you were over at Akyuu's while I was shopping.” She must be tired, then. I stifle a yawn as well; I guess it's gotten later than I thought. I get on the bed beside her, and she pulls up the light covers. “Good night, Yuki.” I’m pulled into a hug.
“Good night, Wriggle.” I return her embrace, and she immediately falls asleep. Before I can worry about things too much, her warmth and gentle breathing lull me into a relaxed state and into sleep.
I feel some shaking and a slight chill as I open my eyes. Oh, it's Wriggle. “Good morning, Wriggle.” I wouldn't mind waking up like this more often.
“Yuki get up, it's the tenth hour already!” That late!? I leap out of the bed, and Wriggle jerks back in surprise. Seems like she’s already dressed; I quickly throw on my own clothes, then turn around and grab my bag as I run out the door.
Wriggle catches up and calmly leads me to the kitchen table, where Lady Yuuka is setting out some eggs and bacon, looking quite happy. Alice and Arthur are already seated, but I don't see Elly or Kurumi. I can only assume they have their own things to do. I can't help but ask, “Where's Hourai? It's odd to see you without her, Alice.”
“Sleeping. Apparently she snuck off and played with that machine of Arthur's last night. No wonder I was having strange dreams,” Alice answers.
Breakfast is pretty normal, even considering who lives in this household. I guess everyone's planning out their day; for me I mainly need to head home and check if Lady Akyuu needs me. “I'm sure I'd never be able to wake up right without your cooking, Yuuka.” Arthur breaks the silence with his remark. While he's on another level compared to me, at the same time we’re still similar. Maybe it's an effect of his humility despite his considerable ability. “I'll try to get some stuff over to Yuki later, as he seems to be my historian. I'm actually flattered that I'm getting so much attention, just for doing the right thing,” he adds. That’s a bit of an understatement: fighting people who are on par with most hunters isn’t something anyone could do. But he seems to have Alice helping now; she must be pretty powerful herself. Talented too, judging from Hourai.
I finish eating, then make my plate easy to put away. Before I can do anything else, Elly comes running it. “The reporter's here to pick up Wriggle's boyfriend. Should I let her in?” she asks. “Hey, you started breakfast without me!”
Lady Yuuka calmly answers, “Allow her in, but warn her not to overstep her boundaries. And if you haven’t eaten yet, then who was it that made the mess in the kitchen this morning? Kurumi never gets up that early; she prefers bacon and sausage over these... ‘Pancakes.’”
Arthur chuckles, adding, “It took me some time to find an old fashioned cookbook, but I managed. For some unusual reason, Yuuka had many Western things even before I arrived. She won't tell me the reason though, and if she won't tell me, she won't tell anyone.” Elly stands up to go get Miss Shameimaru.
It isn't long before she returns, Miss Shameimaru following closely behind. “Hey, Akyuu wanted a good escort to take you back home, so she pulled some strings and got me to do it.”
“I was going to escort him back myself, a few moments after breakfast,” Wriggle responds.
Miss Shameimaru shrugs. “I tried to tell her that, but she said that's all the more reason for me to do it. It's like she's being overprotective of you in addition to Yuki.”
Wriggle frowns, but answers, “Alright, but Yuki, don't forget your bag now. I'm going to water that plant you gave me before I leave.” She gets up from the table and does just that.
I follow her advice, picking up my bag and following Miss Shameimaru to the front door. After a couple of minutes, Wriggle comes along as well, and the three of us all leave the mansion.
We get to the village quickly with Miss Shameimaru’s help, and she leaves to finish her own business as soon as we arrive. I should think about who to check in with first: my parents or Lady Akyuu... and whether I should ask Wriggle to go to the other.
[ ] If Akyuu dragged Aya into this, I should check in before she does something reckless. -[ ] And ask Wriggle to check in with my parents... though I don't think they're that worried, and I'm not sure how Mother would react to Wriggle. (Optional) [ ] Check in with Mother and Father quickly. -[ ] It'd be easier if Wriggle goes ahead and assures Lady Akyuu that I'm alright. (Optional)
[x] If Akyuu dragged Aya into this, I should check in before she does something reckless. -[x] And ask Wriggle to check in with my parents... though I don't think they're that worried, and I'm not sure how Mother would react to Wriggle. (Optional)
[x] If Akyuu dragged Aya into this, I should check in before she does something reckless. -[x] And ask Wriggle to check in with my parents... though I don't think they're that worried, and I'm not sure how Mother would react to Wriggle. (Optional)
[x] If Akyuu dragged Aya into this, I should check in before she does something reckless. -[x] And ask Wriggle to check in with my parents... though I don't think they're that worried, and I'm not sure how Mother would react to Wriggle. (Optional)
Wriggle + Mom interactions are always a humorous event to witness.
[X] If Akyuu dragged Aya into this, I should check in before she does something reckless. -[X] And ask Wriggle to check in with my parents... though I don't think they're that worried, and I'm not sure how Mother would react to Wriggle. (Optional)
Yeah, always fun to see his Mom's reaction to Wriggle.
>>25047 Writer was confirmed to be one of Deme's fans a while back with this: >He leaves as I decide to read the next wizard book. A nice walk and... what the... how can a gazebo attack like that!? And this: >Soon, all the excitement of the day catches up to me, and I put the book away before falling asleep. I end up dreaming about actually meeting the wizard, and pleasantly enough I was married to Wriggle.
[x] If Akyuu dragged Aya into this, I should check in before she does something reckless. -[x] And ask Wriggle to check in with my parents... though I don't think they're that worried, and I'm not sure how Mother would react to Wriggle. (Optional)
[x] If Akyuu dragged Aya into this, I should check in before she does something reckless. -[x] And ask Wriggle to check in with my parents... though I don't think they're that worried, and I'm not sure how Mother would react to Wriggle. (Optional)
“Wriggle, think you can tell my parents that we made it back safely? I'm not sure if they're worried by now or not. Ah, if mother starts asking too many questions, try to say something about needing to see Lady Akyuu.” I know I'm taking a risk, in a fashion, but I'd like for my parents to know I'm alright. I'd go over there myself, but I'm more concerned about what Lady Akyuu will do if I keep her waiting.
Wriggle pauses for a bit before answering, “I'll do it. I have to get used to your mother sooner or later. Once I'm done, I'll meet up with you.” She waves as we separate.
I hurry over to the Hieda mansion where I see Shinobu waiting outside. As I approach, she says, “I’ll take you to Lady Hieda right away... before she does something rash.” Glad to see I’m not the only one aware of this particular tendency of Lady Akyuu's.
Shinobu leads me through the mansion to Lady Akyuu’s room, and as I enter I’m greeted with a rather forceful hug. “I was worried about you and Wriggle; something could have happened while you crossed that much wild land! With recent events, things aren’t as safe as they used to be.”
I return the hug in an attempt to calm her down. “Lady Yuuka wouldn't have let Wriggle and I leave by ourselves if she didn't think we'd be safe. While very nice, it was a bit excessive to get Miss Shameimaru to escort us. I don't want you doing something rash just because you're worried.”
“I know... but where's Wriggle? I hope you didn't send her to your house…” She realizes the truth from my expressions. “Oh no, you did… We need to hurry; your father's not home to offset your mother!” Wha- I thought Father would be home at this time! “Shinobu, let me get on your back!” Lady Akyuu calls out to the nearby maid, who complies.
We hurry to my house to try to save Wriggle from what is likely a mortifying questioning from Mother. We head inside to find Mother and Wriggle sitting at the table, a gleeful smile on Mother’s face. “Kasumi, you're more of a kitsune than Yukari's familiar… I hope you didn't torture the poor girl too badly,” Lady Akyuu remarks.
“Oh, nothing too bad, I was just telling her that Yuki's always been slow to get up when he sleeps with someone. I remember when he was a small toddler that he used to-” Mother starts… oh god… no!
“MOTHER! No one needs to hear that!” I'm not sure how they'd react...
Lady Akyuu giggles. “He never changes. I remember hearing about that from when you talked with my parents, Kasumi. But in this case I can't blame him. Yuki, you should take Wriggle back to the mansion so she can get ready for some questions. Shinobu and I will be along shortly.”
I gently take Wriggle's hand, and we leave the house. I can only hope that Mother's remarks don't cause Wriggle to think less of me; I know it's an irrational worry, but I can't help it.
On our way to the mansion, Wriggle remarks, “I actually found that story kind of cute. If we hadn’t slept in so late already, I wouldn't have left.” She gently squeezes my hand along with her words.
I take a breath before replying. “I wonder what Akyuu wants to ask you; I don't think she was lying back there. She’s pretty good at putting off small things until it’s a good time to discuss them.”
Upon entering the mansion, we head into the living room, which doubles as a waiting room. I don't want to barge in on Lady Akyuu’s room without permission.
“Sorry for getting you into such a mess, Wriggle.” If I’d known Mother was alone, I'd have gone over myself.
“Yuki, don't be upset. I knew the risks and she wasn't that bad for once… but I'm glad you and Akyuu came when you did as she might have started prying. I'm not sure how Akyuu would have reacted if you sent me to her,” she replies.
“I wouldn't do anything awful… just ask my questions and dress you up in outfits Yuki'd be sure to like. But don't mind me, I'm just a 8 year old girl.” Lady Akyuu is at the door, ruining the moment. She leaves to her room, and we follow.
After taking a seat, Akyuu asks, “Just what is the scale of your power? All I really know is that you can command many insects.” Good question; I hadn't even considered the limits of Wriggle’s ability.
“I can command any insects I know of over any distance, but over longer distances it takes more time and focus. Once in a while I go exploring to see if I can't find new types, though I still fear the wastelands, where the strongest insect ferals live,” she answers. The wastelands are a little known area of Gensokyo where not many people dare to go due to the strong natives. The impression is that the youkai living there don't care to leave the area… but they don't take kindly to most visitors.
I notice Lady Akyuu deep in thought as she answers, “Wriggle, do you realize your ability is very advanced for your age? Most documents about older youkai hint that their abilities were much weaker in their youth than they are today.”
I remember what Tewi said about Lady Yakumo. “I remember speaking with Lady Inaba one time; she made a remark about how Lady Yakumo could only affect drawn lines or similar when she was younger,” I remark.
“Tewi probably would know such a thing; it's often been suggested that Tewi's older than even Yukari and Yuuka. And she never tells anyone her age… not out of vanity, but just to mess with peoples’ heads. I'm a total novice in that area compared to her. All the things she's hinted about doing in her life can’t be confirmed, but when I ask the Tengu about her, they get real quiet,” Lady Akyuu answers.
Wriggle interjects, “Mother did tell me to always show respect towards Lady Tewi, though her attitude about Miss Yakumo is quite different, to put it politely. But I'd like to ask something, if I could.” Lady Akyuu nods. “Yuki remarked that you thought Akihito and Rin's son, from the Hunter and the Kirin, would still be alive after all this time. I always heard that mixed children were always a rough hybrid of their parents, not living too much longer than a normal human.” I guess I did mention that shortly after we finished.
“What you heard is only true for children of typical natives and a typical humanoid. Those two were not typical in the slightest. Akihito was said to rival most youkai in strength, and Miss Satsuki, being a Kirin of note, was undoubtedly powerful in her own right. If anything, the child would have the potential to be a grand hero or a brutal villain by this point in time, being powerful in both mind and body and having plenty of years left to live,” Akyuu explains.
She looks as if she's thinking about something before she asks, “You two can go now if you want, but could I ask you a favor? I'd appreciate it if you could read a book with me until I get tired. I appear to have a bit of trouble sleeping lately; I guess in this fashion, I really am 8 years old.” She chuckles a bit when she finishes.
Wriggle looks at me, giving me the task of answering her. I can’t help but say yes as I can't find any reason to say no. “We'll do it, but what book do you want us to get?”
Lady Akyuu answers, “I still have that sword tale here, and pulled out a couple others: one about clan of warriors in the west, and the other a diary of a man, a mister Kenichi Takano, who was spirited away to the wastelands. Oh, I was going to send over the documents concerning Reimu's parents, but I’ll have to do so later. For now, you can go ahead and surprise me!” When Lady Akyuu smiles like that, I feel any trouble she puts me through is justified. They certainly do rival Wriggle's, to a point.
Wriggle giggles. “Even I have to call that a cute smile.”
After thinking, I choose…
[ ] The Wasteland journal. It's amazing that a mere outsider could survive in such a place. [ ] The Tale of the Sword. Sounds like an interesting fantasy tale. [ ] Warriors of the West. I haven’t heard much about the west, but I'd like to hear about anything on par with Gensokyo's legends.
As for Mr. Takano, try Googling his name and see what you get.
[x] The Wasteland journal. It's amazing that a mere outsider could survive in such a place.
"It's been five days. I'm now eating that weird insect I killed yesterday. Taste funny." "Ha GlauRA gaglajgh toxiiiiiic" "That insect was poisonous. I'm doomed, I know it now. Here I will lie dead, near the black stone of aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh."
[x] The Wasteland journal. It's amazing that a mere outsider could survive in such a place.
I decide on the journal, and we each take our seats. Wriggle sits next to me, and Lady Akyuu proceeds to sits on both of our laps. I begin reading.
“I was out thinking about how to prepare my company for the market... though its founding was more of a team effort between me, Tsuneki, and Junya. I was out walking, trying to find inspiration for things that will make our games stand out, when I found myself in a strange wasteland.” The page is dated “1994.” If I remember correctly, that translates to the year 109 on the Gensokyo calendar.
I continue reading the next entry. “Strangely enough, I find myself receiving various provisions each day, as if some higher being were watching my actions here. There are monsterous beasts here that remind me of the 'youkai' I once read about in my youth. I managed to find a colony of what appears to be bees with the ability to unleash a storm of bullets unlike anything I've seen before. If they’re intelligent, I’m tempted to try befriending them, since I’ll probably need their strength in order to escape this wasteland.” That's a risky plan... but in such a place, an outsider has few other choices.
“…My effort of offering some food failed terribly. I don't think I'd be alive right now if the littlest bee hadn’t accepted it. I need to think of a name for the little one… looking at it (I think it's a him) closely, it seems as if he's ablaze... that's it, I'll name him Hibachi. Though I'm tempted to call him Chibachi, that might be insulting.” How interesting; it’s not common for an outsider to manage something like that.
The next few entries are mostly unremarkable except for a few notes: “This bee will be the foundation of a new series - those guys over at Taito got their Darius series known for having fish, so I don't see why we can't have a bee.” Another reads, “Maybe I should have someone look into youkai myths when I get back, as that might be another good idea.”
A few pages later, I come to an interesting entry, “Today I made real progress towards what appears to be the exit of this wasteland. Before I could reach it, a large cougar-like monster attacked me... before Hibachi started firing a hell of bullets that surpassed even his bigger hive mates. There wasn’t anything left of the monster but a puddle. I can only wonder if these bees get stronger as they get smaller. I offer Hibachi some honey I received as thanks. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make it out of here soon.”
I give my voice a break and look around at my audience. Wriggle seems completely awestruck so far; I guess that makes sense. If she could summon these bees, her effective combat power would skyrocket. I don't think they'd be allowed with the upcoming spell card rules, though. She remarks, “I want to know more... I wonder how cute this Hibachi is!” Lady Akyuu nods her head, though she looks pretty drowsy.
I resume reading. “Today was both lucky and unlucky. I fell victim to something Hibachi couldn't save me from: a rock slide. However, I was saved by a beautiful woman whose dress was like that of a dancer's. I found out here name was Iku Nagae, but while talking with the woman, I saw that Hibachi was leaving. I guess he considers me in safe hands now. I gave him my thanks and said my farewells, then Miss Nagae took me to a clinic in a place called the human village.” I should ask Lady Akyuu about this woman sometime.
“I’ve managed to recover over the last few weeks, and it’s been pretty uneventful while waiting for the day the shrine maiden can send me back. In the meantime, I’ve been exploring the village. I ran into Miss Nagae again, and she asked that I don't reveal anything about the human village to the outside world. I agreed readily, since I don't think Junya would care to draw their style of clothing anyways; just the concepts are enough for him to do his own thing.”
“A part of me wants to ask her out, but a woman like that is beyond my reach. Instead, I will dedicate one of first games of the company, Computer Visual Art Entertainment, in her honor. This is my last entry, as the Hieda family requested this journal be turned over to them as a record of a wasteland survivor. My design notes are separate, so I can readily part with it. Besides, I don’t want the world to somehow find out about my ill-fated crush I have on Miss Nagae, and I have a feeling that no one in this land will care.” He does have a point there; it's not too unusual for an outsider to swoon over the various women here.
Finished, I set the book down and notice that Lady Akyuu has fallen asleep in our laps. She seems to be using Wriggle as a pillow, making her blush a bit. “I'm not sure how to feel,” Wriggle whispers, still making sure that Lady Akyuu doesn't fall over. I think I know what she's talking about... the idea of using her chest as a pillow is- gah, now I have the idea! But it’s not right to do that, at least until she asks.
Before things get any more awkward, Shinobu quietly comes in. “Thank you for your assistance, as Lady Akyuu occasionally has trouble sleeping and needs something like this to help. At times like this, she really shows her age. My apologies, Young Lady Nightbug, for her tendencies.” She gently picks up Lady Akyuu and sets her on the bed. “You two may go now, and I believe she wouldn’t object if you borrowed those two books, as I'll tell her where they went. I also remember her reading all three a few times in the past.” I nod, picking up the books as we leave and thanking the maid.
It’s only after we leave that I realize that Lady Akyuu tricked us when she told us she hadn’t read the books before. “I guess she really wanted to hear me read something to her,” I remark.
“I know she wanted to show me the journal, and I think she wanted you to look at the other two books. Now that I’ve heard the survivor’s tale, I'm definitely thinking of making a trip to the wastelands, but not for a while. They sound far too dangerous for most humanoids. Come one; let's go over to the clearing as we haven't been there a while!” She remarks as she takes my hand. She seems to have gotten over that experience with Akyuu... but I have a feeling she didn't mind too much.
We sit together on the tree stump, Wriggle resting her head on my shoulder as we enjoy the comfortable silence. After we’ve sat there a while, she says, “Yuki, these days have been very nice, though I think we could use some normal days in the future. I'm sure there's school and work coming up for you, and I think I'll try to look into a job at the flower shop.” I nod, and she looks up at me. “You look like you have something on your mind, Yuki.” Yeah, I do... but what should I get off my chest first?
[ ] “At times like those, Akyuu's kind of like a little sister, isn't she?” (Thinking about her sometimes childish but always endearing behavior) [ ] To be honest, earlier today, I... (Get the Wriggle pillow notion out before it ends up bugging me) [ ] I had quite an experience at your house last night. (Give my thoughts about it, and perhaps hear what she thought about her night at my house a little while back)
If anyone has a topic they want to cover in my /words/ topic, you can ask with your votes.
>I ran into Miss Nagae again, and she asked that I don't reveal anything about the human village to the outside world. I agreed readily, since I don't think Junya would care to draw their style of clothing anyways; just the concepts are enough for him to do his own thing. >I don't think Junya would care to draw their style of clothing anyways
Anyways, [x] I had quite an experience at your house last night. (Give my thoughts about it, and perhaps hear what she thought about her night at my house a little while back)
[x] I had quite an experience at your house last night. (Give my thoughts about it, and perhaps hear what she thought about her night at my house a little while back)
I think on what to talk about before deciding on my experiences at her house. “Well, while staying at your house, there wasn't much of a dull moment. It was definitely a different sort of pace than at home.” Probably because of to the difference and variety of personalities.
“But your home is nice in its own way, and I’m a little envious that you can have many days of peace without any disruptions, not like when Kurumi or Elly cause small incidents. With Kurumi spending more and more time away, I hope it won't be quite as noisy. Still, Mother told us that she'd always have our rooms left alone, so if we wanted to return home for a time, we could,” Wriggle remarks. Lady Yuuka's very kind indeed to allow that.
“I can definitely where you get your gentle personality from; the more I'm around her, the more I can see how much she cares for those she loves. I, uh, hope you don't take too much offense at my mother's enthusiasm. She's always doted on me… maybe it’s her way of coping with me growing up.” I hadn’t thought about it before, but it would make sense if mother’s behavior resulted from a worry that I’d soon be leaving the house.
She sighs as she answers, “I'm honestly a bit worried about what my own mother will start doing; I'm considered the youngest out of all her children, after all. Then again, she does have Lily staying around, though it's not easy for her to socialize because of how the season and spider lily pollen affects her.” Wait… pollen? I haven’t heard about this before.
“It affects her? What do you mean?” I never thought something like that could affect a fairy.
“When she inhales the pollen, she undergoes a personality change and becomes mischievous or outright aggressive and dominating. Mother believes she’s affected by the latent sin inside the soul that each flower represents. Thankfully the spider lilies grow only in the Sanzu region, and Mother can use her abilities to predict when the flowers are about to bloom and prepare for it.” Must be rough for her... I can tell that Lily's very sweet girl at heart.
We share a bit of a comfortable silence, holding each others’ hands, before Wriggle speaks up. “I didn't think Akyuu would be so worried about us that she'd drag the reporter into it.”
I shrug. “For as long as I've known her, she's always been like that: prone to worrying too much and overreacting when it comes to those that she cares about. With the money and influence her family has, she sometimes gets out of hand; very few people want to make her angry for that reason. But despite all her maturity, at times she is still a little girl.” Her mix of traits is just one of the many things that make her precious yet precocious.
Wriggle giggles, “I guess that means she likes me. She was pretty cute when she was snuggling me in her sleep. Hard to believe that was the same girl who could say things with as much insight as people around Mother's age.” It's nice to see she's gotten over the awkwardness caused by where Lady Akyuu was restin- Nope, change the subject, no matter how nice it'd be to hear her heart- Nope. My thoughts are derailed as Wriggle embraces me. “Let's just enjoy this moment,” is all she says.
My mind drifts away in the warmth coming from her body and the pressure of her arms around me. I return her embrace as best as I can. After a few moments she speaks up again softly, “Yuki, I think at the moment my lap would be softer to lay on, but I'm flattered by the thought.”
I nearly jump in surprise. “You knew!?”
She smiles apologetically. “You're not good at hiding your thoughts well, and there's only a few things that provoke such a reaction from you. I should start heading home and check on things there; I'm sure you have something coming up tomorrow that I shouldn't distract you from.” She then kisses me, adding, “Have a nice day tomorrow!”
“Same to you, Wriggle. Be careful out there,” I reply, with a bit of very natural worry as I see her fly off. I stand up and start returning home to see if dinner's ready and if those files on Reimu’s parents have arrived.
Dinner is moral, though Father looks troubled about something, a rare change from his usual mellow calm mindset. “Father, did something happen today?” I ask. Although he looks serious, Father never explodes at such questions; he actually encourages them.
“The 'historical' society went and got a few of themselves killed today while trying to dig up some relics, even after I tried to tell them to leave the history to the scholars.” He sighs, supporting his head on his hand. “They honestly think that they'll find something that will restore the ‘proper balance’ to Gensokyo: a predominantly human one. It's foolish how they risk their lives while forgetting their roots; after all, this land was originally made to preserve youkai.” Our ancestors were various warriors, priests and magicians were arrived to ensure that no youkai would escape the area.
These days most human residents are content with their roles... but there are always exceptions who wish to “free” themselves from youkai. Some joined the society, though the issue was really highlighted recently by the people who joined the newly founded syndicate. I don’t know much about the new group, but I recall a few previous cases where people from the society were killed in their quest for the “truth.” Mother asks, “Do you want me to try talking to them? I think I can reason with them.” I'm slightly afraid of what she means by this.
“Honey, your idea of reasoning may be good for getting confessions from criminals, but it won't suffice for convincing fellow villagers to seriously consider something. I will attempt to talk some sense into them tomorrow, probably along with Miss Keine and someone from the Hieda mansion. This is a serious concern for all the scholars,” Father replies.
I think for a bit before adding, “I want to help to, as I don't want ignorance to prevail.” Did I just say that?
Father grins slightly, replying, “That's good to hear, but I'd rather have you sleep on it first. You can make your decision in the morning.”
After that, dinner continues as normal, and I head to my room when I finish. There I find a folder titled “Mid-level security documents: Hakurei Incident Files.” I open it to find an article and a report.
I read the article first. “Radicals strike - Hakureis slain!” Wait... what!? I continue reading, and find out that Reimu's parents were making efforts for more peaceful arrangements between humans and youkai. A few lines comfirms that Reimu was named after her rather famed ancestor; her parents must had have high hopes for her. Anyways, a small group of radical youkai disagreed with their efforts, and were quoted as saying, “If peace comes, the youkai will grow weak. We cannot allow this, as the last time a Hakurei brought peace, her descendents took wanton advantage of it.” Wait... this was in retaliation for something the original Reimu's children did over a hundred years ago!? Such a terrible cycle of hatred.
After reading more, it seems the attack was staged with a hostage situation that drew them away from the shrine and into an ambush. The situation was salvaged when Mr. Yaguu appeared and saved the hostage... but he couldn't do anything to save the Hakureis. How terrible… It goes on to say a hunting party was arranged, but Lady Yakumo interrupted, revealing just how she'd deal with the perpetrators of the incident. What's mystifying is how she answered the question “What if the child died as well?” in private: “I have a backup plan, but I'll discreetly watch over her as to ensure her parents' legacy lives on.” How interesting... I don't think I ever recalled this whole story being in any of the old papers... but given the contents, it was probably censored to hide the full details of the incident. Until now I’d thought Reimu’s parents passed away due to illiness, so that must have been the cover story.
I set down the article and read the report, which details the incident and its aftermath... at each of the possible hiding spots for radicals, there were no survivors. Did Lady Yakumo really go about and retaliate against the entire group for this!? And it mentions just what she did before killing them: “Torture so inhumane and cruel that your fragile human sanity would shatter from even hearing of it. I'm even better than that frumpy flower.” Elder youkai are pretty terrifying... wait, did she just insult Lady Yuuka in that remark? “Frumpy flower” is pretty underwhelming compared to the implied insults Lady Yuuka makes. Ah, there’s a foot note: “No one dared to try even confirming such a thing with Miss Kazami.” How shocking... but I do feel myself getting tired... hopefully my dreams are nice. Unless tolerance is pursued, this cycle of tragedies will never end.
Well that was an unusual dream... a woman with both purple and blonde hair was talking about supporting youkai. I’ll keep that in mind; her appearance was too precise to be a mere fluke. I come upstairs to find Father at the table, drinking his tea and reading the paper. Breakfast is already laid out, so I start eating while pondering the files and my dreams.
Father speaks up after a few minutes. “Are you still up to coming with me to talk with this society? If not, I’d imagine Lady Akyuu has some other work for you, though we’ll be stopping by the Hieda mansion in either case. I'd imagine Lady Akyuu might like to make you her representative for this meeting.”
[ ] “Sure. I want to find out more about the way Gensokyo really works.” [ ] “I don’t think I’ll go to the meeting, since I’ll be needed more someplace else.”
One of these days I will draft out the article mentioned in full. Also if you have something you want expanded on in /words/ just add a remark to your votes.
[x] “Sure. I want to find out more about the way Gensokyo really works.”
I answer, “Sure. I want to find out more about the way Gensokyo really works.” I’m really curious about the reasoning behind the society’s beliefs.
Father nods and answers, “Alright then. As soon as you're done, you should finish getting ready.” He’s right; I should probably decide on what to put in my bag today. The usual things should be fine.
As we walk towards the Hieda mansion, I start feeling a bit anxious about that meeting. “Father, why is it that we know so much about this 'secret' society? It’s sort of odd, since all the records about them emphasize secrecy,” I ask.
“Well, the scholars have Lady Akyuu's information network to thank for that. Normally we wouldn't try stepping in ourselves, but some among us feel that biased records should be minimized,” Father answers. “While I agree, I'm far more concerned for the group’s well being: if they dig in the wrong spots, they'll be in inescapable danger. The only reason Lady Yakumo or her familiar haven't done anything about them is because they're a far greater risk to themselves than to Gensokyo's balance.” They’re lucky in that regard; from what I read last night, attracting the ire of Lady Yakumo is one of the last things you’ll ever do.
“Father, do you think they would side with the syndicate? I remember some hunters tried to join by attempting to kidnap a Tengu; were they part of the society?” It was a bold but stupid move; they're lucky there was only one fatality.
Father answers, “I doubt it, but I plan on making sure. The society, while misguided, is a collection of good men at heart.”
By now we’ve arrived at the Hieda mansion, and Shinobu and Lady Akyuu are talking by the front door as they wait for us. Father waves slightly as we approach. “Good morning, Lady Akyuu; Shinobu. We're heading to the society's meeting place and came by to check in on you.”
“Good morning, and that’s good to hear. It looks like I'll be able to make Yuki my representative after all.” Lady Akyuu motions to Shinobu. “Shinobu will come with, to make sure he's alright. You can never tell with those brutes.”
“Lady Hieda, I doubt anything will happen, but if it makes you feel more at ease then we'll accept,” Father replies. I have to agree with Lady Akyuu as I do feel safer with Shinobu around.
As we go on our way, though, Shinobu seems uncharacteristically ill at ease. I'm not sure how to approach the subject, so I stay silent. Father starts leading us towards the merchant area, and stops in front of a tobacco store. He knocks on the door, and someone, probably the store owner, answers. “What is it, Shin? We haven't gone digging around by that old mansion, just like you warned us.”
“I'm actually here with regards to the recent activity you've been hearing about, namely, the syndicate,” Father answers. The man stiffens for a moment, then motions for us to come in.
Shin leads us to the waiting room, where several other men are seated. One, presumably the leader, stands and speaks. “We may have no love for youkai, but we'd never agree with what those bastards in the syndicate are planning on doing. In fact, we've been trying to muster up what arms we can to drive them out. If some youkai bootlicker can go kick their asses, then we shouldn’t have any problems with them.” I have my doubts about that, considering Mr. Yaguu said that Arthur was able to duel evenly with him.
Father raises his hand and shakes his head. “Bensai, that wouldn’t be wise, as I highly doubt anyone here has any real combat experience. And no, Yoshi, hacking into your own barn door after a few too many doesn't count.”
Another man, presumably Yoshi, replies, “That was 5 years ago!”
As father starts talking with everyone in the room, Bensai notices Shinobu. “How's the Hieda kid treating you? I hope it's a nice job.” I’m caught off guard; his earlier statement made him seem unfriendly. He notices my expression and adds, “She saved my ass during her bodyguard days. I was moving a shipment of tobacco plants to the village so I could start up the shop when some bandits attacked. I thought I was done for until she came running out of nowhere and started fighting them. But she didn’t stop just there; she slew each of them before approaching me.” He shivers slightly. “After I calmed down, she told me that she was a bodyguard for hire from the village and was wandering around when she bumped into me. Eventually decided to escort me back for free.”
“I see… that certainly is different from your current job, Shinobu. How did you decide to work permanently for the Hieda family?”
Shinobu replies, “I entered the profession in the first place to protect people with my talents. As for your question, it was shortly after meeting Bensai that I started wanting to settle down. Lady Akyuu has been a kind and generous employer ever since she took me on; there’s been at least one occasion where she threw her weight around to aid me.” Her uneasy expression lightens up, so I guess Bensai isn't the root of her worries.
“It sounds like you’re in good hands, then.” Bensai says. I guess he must have been concerned about her… it seems like the members of this society, while a bit opinionated, actually are good people.
My thoughts are quickly reversed as the youngest guy opens his mouth. “Oh look, it's Miss Damaged Goods. I didn't recognize you without all the scars; your new outfit cover’s them up pretty well.” Shinobu flinches at his remark... and then everyone else gets angry. Tch... how can someone be so petty towards someone like Shinobu? I struggle to stay calm, even though it looks like Father's having difficulty.
Bensai is clearly the most angry at the remark, though. “Yoshi, get Riku out of here before he gets the shit beaten out of him!” He seems to be overreacting just a bit, but I won’t say anything as I don’t want to cause an incident. I try to calm down so I can comfort Shinobu while everyone else tries to return the mood to its previous state.
A while later, Bensai asks, “Hey kid, how serious are you about that bug girl you're seeing?” His tone is neutral.
I take a couple of breaths before answering, “As serious as I can get. I won't be dissuaded by anyone.” I'm not sure if our relationship is anywhere near the 'love' point yet, but it's certainly not just some flight of fancy or momentary distraction.
“Hmph. It’s a waste of time if you ask me, but I can certainly respect your dedication. Better to follow your own path with pride than to cower like a whipped dog. That's why the society won't yield in our investigations of the truth,” he responds.
I start to ask about Riku, but a shutting door causes me to turn and I see Yoshi walk in, followed by Arthur of all people. Yoshi approaches Bensai and says, “Sir, your daughter Natsu wound up telling Arthur here about the society. He came by the shop while I was trying to tell Riku to watch his mouth. Kid saw him and decided to change topics to the Flower Lady, saying things in particularly crude terms.”
Arthur cuts in, “I tried to warn him to stop two or three times, but after that I felt some slightly uncivil action was required and wound up punching him.” Murmurs start spreading through the room after this; some people look respectful of Arthur’s strength while a few narrow their eyes. I guess Riku is part of the society, even if he’s a jerk.
Arthur continues on, ignoring the murmurs. “I looked for this society because I wanted to make sure that you don't get involved with the syndicate in any way. You shouldn’t openly fight them, either: from what I've seen, the group is made up of various warriors, hunters, and even humanoid youkai. It'd take the very best warriors just to draw even with them.”
Bensai scowls and replies, “The syndicate is no friend of ours; we'd never assist a group run by an outsider to twist our land into something hellish.” Some anger returns to his tone; he must not like outsiders much.
Arthur seems deep in thought before he answers, “That's why I fight: to prevent them from ruining this land of peace and happiness. My experiences have taught me that what ultimately matters in the world isn't whether you’re human or youkai, but good or evil. I've saved some people, and I've slain some.” His tone seems strained near the end; it seems he doesn't take pride in his combat prowess.
Bensai and Arthur continue to talk, but father comes up to me and says, “Yuki, please take Shinobu back to the mansion so she can relax. I will handle the rest.” I think about resisting, but Shinobu's pained expression convinces me to follow his orders.
Walking back, I can't help but get angry again at Riku's terribly petty remarks. “Are you alright?” Shinobu asks.
“Yeah… I'm just upset that he'd say such cruel things to you. You're a nice strong person who’s dedicated herself to helping others. I can't even think of a single bad thing about your scars,” I answer. Oh crap; I just revealed my knowledge of some of her scars.
“This land would be a much better place if more people were like you, Master Yuki,” she replies. She seems to be cheering up… though that's the first time she's called me ‘Master’ instead of ‘Young Master.’
“Thank you, Shinobu. We should probably think of a way to keep Akyuu from overreacting to this; from the sounds of it, Arthur already dealt with Riku suitably.” He might have even less tact than Takami did before his incident, but he still doesn't deserve Lady Akyuu's wrath. Shinobu nods, and the rest of the walk to the mansion goes by uneventfully.
We pause just before entering the mansion, and I turn to check on Shinobu. I get the feeling she'd rather compose herself before going to see Akyuu. “Are you really alright, Shinobu? You were pretty shaken up.”
She takes a few breaths before answering, “I'm getting there... I suppose it's because he was the first person I really opened up to. He seemed friendly enough at first, but after he betrayed my trust I… I prefer to hide my scars, now.”
There’s probably more to this than she’s telling me, but it would be rude to pry. “There's no reason to be ashamed of your scars as you got them protecting people. You’re not ‘damaged goods’ by any means; referring to someone like that is just insulting!” I briefly imagine setting Riku on fire with a flame spell, but focus back on reality after a moment. Shinobu's smiling now; it’s one of the warmest ones I've ever seen from her.
“I'm feeling better now; thank you. You shouldn’t burden yourself with Riku's words.” She pauses, and I think I hear a small laugh. “Lady Akyuu was right… you are pretty easy to read. But I don't think that’s a bad thing at all.” I nod, and we both head over to Lady Akyuu's room to fill her in.
Lady Akyuu sighs after we finish retelling the events. “Well, that's something we don't need to worry about right now; I'm sure your father will make a nice report about what went on. For now, I was planning on trying to interview certain people and wanted to see if you'd help me out. Your experience with interviews is a bit lacking, but it's not anything I can't fix. The people in question would be little Alice, and those two winged girls Kamui's seeing.” I hold back a chuckle at the label of ‘little’ Alice; she actually appears to be a couple years older than Lady Akyuu. “I’d appreciate it if you talked to all three, but I'll only insist on you getting at least one.”
Well… as far as interviews I'd do… “Uh, how many days do I have to finish this?”
“Two or three, as sending messages over to Yuuka's place takes time and Keine's holding classes tomorrow. I'm not sure if she's ever going to wear that summer dress I got her… ah, don't worry about that last bit; I’m just rambling,” Lady Akyuu answers. Well, if her sense of fashion with Wriggle is anything to go by, I imagine the dress would look pretty nice on Miss Keine. I'm tempted to ask why she bought a gift for Keine, but for some reason I dread the answer.
Oh yeah, I should tell her my plans before we go too far off topic.
[x] “I'll do _____ interview(s) with ______” (fill I the number and names if you're doing less than three.)
>>25515 I do admit that I took some of the names from his story, partially as a small reference. But their personalities are of my creation.
>>25520 Yes and no. Elis mainly lives at the inn while Kurumi stays over at both places in addition to her old home by the blood lake. Alice on the other hand, lives at Yuuka's. But all the interviews would be done on the same day.
[x] "I'll do two interviews with Elis and Kurumi."
There's not much to be said about Alice's exploits so far, so the interview with her would be brief. Besides, I get the feeling that doing interviews takes time out of the day which could be spent doing something else. If we just do interviews, we won't find out what that "something else" is.
>>25535 >Nothing would have been lost What was the point of this question, then? To shape Yuki's personality, making him more selfish and bitter if we refused, only partially fulfilling Akyu's request? Or are you just giving us the illusion of choice like Lion often did in FoM?
I answer, “I'll do all three, though I hope you'll be around to give some pointers. I have to ask, though, why them? What do they all have in common?”
“My information on magician type youkai, Makai natives, and vampires could use some direct input,” she responds. “It’s also for the best that you're handling it; if it were left up to me I'd get sidetracked. But what brings you and Shinobu back so early? Did Lord Kiba's worthless son twist the knife some more?” She knows!?
“Yes... and Father ordered me to take her back here when I tried helping,” I answer. There’s no point in hiding what I did if she knows this much already.
She smirks bemusedly, then replies, “Well, it would be rude to go into the details, so I’ll just say that Shinobu's lucky that Riku showed his true colors when he did. He’s really out to prove that worthlessness is hereditary. If your father sent you back, I'm sure he'll have a report ready about that little incident. Other than that, did anything else happen?”
“Actually, Riku got dragged outside for insulting Shinobu, and then Arthur came by. Apparently Riku started running his mouth about Lady Yuuka, and Arthur got fed up and punched him hard enough to lay him out flat.” I figure Lady Akyuu will like hearing this. “Arthur did warn Riku three or four times before attacking, so I can’t find much fault in him. Riku’s lucky he wasn't insulting Aya while Mr. Yaguu was around... he definitely wouldn’t have gotten off as easily. Wait... shouldn't we worry about Lord Kiba lashing out at Arthur for this?!”
Akyuu calmly answers, “Were there any additional witnesses?” I nod my head, remembering that Yoshi was the one who mentioned it. She adds, “I wouldn’t worry then, as either they'd speak up on Arthur’s behalf, or someone else who would vouch for him. But you shouldn't worry about all that; politics is for me to enjoy, not for you to worry about.” There’s something disturbing about that remark, but it sounds very natural coming from Lady Akyuu. “So, did you read those files?”
I nod, remembering what I read. “Yeah... I wonder if that was a result of the original Reimu's descendants’ actions against youkai or not. I get the impression that in the past there was a cycle of hatred between youkai and humans that’s only recently been dying down. There's a big difference between the natural order of things, and actions driven by just by hatred. I was also shocked by what Lady Yakumo did and the implications of torture.”
Lady Akyuu answers, “I remember what Yukari told one of my earlier selves: in her time working with the Hakurei, she had grown fond of them and tried her best to help them. I can only imagine how enraged she’d have been after the perpetrators went around bragging about the incident. She’s only ever lost to the Lunarians, so a bunch of upstart youkai that lived recently wouldn't have a chance against her. No hiding, no escape, no hope; such is the fate of those that anger Yukari Yakumo. But that can be said about any elder youkai; their cunning and power is practically unmatched. Luckily, they're also among the most civil youkai, far more likely to punish someone for acting up than acting themselves.” Hmmm... not sure if I'd believe that about Lady Tewi.
“Even Lady Tewi?” I’m seriously curious about how civil she would be.
Lady Akyuu giggles, responding, “The worst she does is overcharge gullible people, and they're never too eager to reveal how a 'little girl' made fools of them. A few did try chasing after her, but she led them right into the bamboo forest. You would be amazed by the number of places bamboo poles can fit.” I start to wonder what she means by this before realizing it’s very likely something better left unknown.
I attempt to move the discussion to another topic when Father comes in with his report. He hands it to Lady Akyuu, saying, “The meeting was more productive than I expected due to Arthur's arrival. I plan on resuming my usual duties unless you need me for anything else, Lady Akyuu.”
“You may go then; you've done more than enough here. Oh, and please just call me Akyuu; I'm too young for the title!” Lady Akyuu responds. Her rather down to earth manner contrasts with the terrifying moments where she reminds people of her station.
Father turns to me before leaving. “Yuki, how is Shinobu doing?”
“She's doing better now that she's away from Riku,” I reply. Father looks somewhat regretful... as if he were apologizing for what I saw. “Father, I was aware of what I was getting into when I decided to go with you, and I was glad to be there for Shinobu.”
He chuckles and responds, “I suppose you’re right. You know, I remember saying something similar sometime after I met your mother.” He leaves the room, leaving me thinking about his remark – ah, he’s talking about her temper. Thankfully, I don't think Wriggle will ever have a temper like mother's.
Lady Akyuu looks deep in thought as she reads through the report. I head over to see if I can read it with her. She notices me and turns back a few pages. I start reading; it seems the first part talks about what happened after I left.
Arthur tried to convince the society to refrain from acting some more, saying, “To punish those who deserve it and save those who need help; those are the only important things. There are humans and youkai in both groups; I've both saved and slain individuals from both.” Father recorded a remark about Arthur's increasing popularity with various women, probably thanks to Miss Shameimaru. That might explain why Arthur got the location of the society’s meeting place out of Natsu so easily.
Description of the meeting breaks off for a private discussion between Father and Arthur. Father asked how Arthur found that first fortress, and he replies with a story of how he saved a couple of girls from a nearby village. He chased the attacking men to the fortress, and started to investigate before he was viciously attacked. Arthur asked them a few times to reconsider… before striking all of them down. It goes on to say that he investigated the fortress afterwards to find out what he could; apparently he was a police officer in the outside world.
What he found there was a plan... one that's completely inhuman. The man in charge, one Dimitri, apparently wanted command over obedient youkai super warriors, and didn't care how he got them. That’s insidious and deranged enough, but Arthur's next remark is very shocking: “The... erotic comics I found are worrying enough as a man's reading material, but using such mind breaking methods as a guide is hideous.” He decided then that he had to stop them, stating, “It's the least I can do to repay this land for what it's done for me.” He doesn't go into further detail about that, though.
Father asked how the syndicate could think about going after youkai, and Arthur replied that some tried using drugs; in some of his clashes, he found some syringes on the bodies. "I don't know what was in them, but I can guess that it was nothing good." He also speculated that a chemist might be working for them.
Next, Father asked why he wouldn’t ask anyone from the village to help him. Arthur replied, “I cannot drag men with families into this, especially if they might have to fight against their friends or family. There are some from the village and settlements who are tempted by what the syndicate offers, and from what I've seen, there's no bringing them back. Nevertheless, I will keep offering them a chance to surrender.” It sounds like he's really taking it all upon himself.
The discussion moves on to lighter matters after that, such as Arthur's former job and how his training is paying off. Arthur explained that due to all the fights he's been in, he’s somehow getting stronger, but admitted he still needs the help of two allies. Seems he also made a remark comparing his strength to Mr. Yaguu's: "I could punch him my hardest and all I'd do is break my hand. Even with practice, I don't think I'll come close to his overall might."
The last bit of the report focuses on discussion about life in the outside. From what Father noted, Arthur appeared to tell only cheerier things about it, perhaps to preserve the mood. He does mention his best friend Will, someone who Arthur has an incredible amount of faith in. I thought such friendships only existed in stories, the sort that not even gods could hope to stop.
Ah; the discussion ends with Arthur leaving to do other things. Father returns to the society’s meeting, and takes note of things that are more relevant for Lady Akyuu than me.
Lady Akyuu speaks up. “…Looks like Yukari dragged in both good and evil from the outside world. I doubt it was intentional, but I can’t say for sure since I have yet to really talk with her in this life.” She sighs. “Even then, her reasons are usually a mystery, even to her friends. One thing I do know is that she’s observing Arthur, not least because he's cleaning up her mess. Yuki, you can leave now as you've seen a good deal today and I would hate to have you dwell on it too much. Don't worry about me, I'm used to this.”
I reply, “Are you sure you want me to leave? We can always change topics.” Lady Akyuu usually enjoys talking about something more pleasant.
“I already have some plans made, but why don’t you drop by one of your friends? While it's nice to hang around cute girls like Wriggle and me, some man to man time is also important.”
“Alright, I understand. If I run into any of the three girls, I'll tell them about the interview, hopefully saving you the effort of sending messages,” I answer, then proceed to take my leave.
I leave her room and pass by Shinobu, who is wearing one of the warmest smiles I've seen. It makes me wonder what brought that about, but it’s certainly nothing to complain about.
As I exit the mansion, I look at the sky and see that there’s some time left in the afternoon, probably enough to go to more than one place. Lady Akyuu's right; I really should check on my friends. I’ll head to…
[x] …Ginji's shop, as I'm sure Kazuma's there, and we could come up with a lot of topics between the three of us. [x] …the inn. Kamui's good at lightening up the mood and Kurumi's there, too. [x] …Rinnosuke's shop. Browsing his goods and hearing what he has to say would be a good change of pace.
>>25687 >Mass Effect Control ending = We sacrifice ourselves to control all youkai Destroy ending = We sacrifice ourselves to kill all youkai Merge ending = We sacrifice ourselves to merge each human and youkai into half-youkai
Oh, and also, in the process, the Hakurei Border is destroyed.
I'm curious. Have you ever read Renegade Interpretations?
In there, all of humanity are Renegades (and with a good reason), and the moral system of Paragon - Renegade is changed to Xenonationalism - Assimilationism.
Xenonationalism = "One species, one voice." These guys basically want humanity to be segregated from other races, since they don't want to be dominated by them. However, they also don't want to dominate them seeing they believe in freedom of choice for all species.
Assimilationism = "Humanity will make a better world for all." These guys want to get along with other races, as long as humanity is the leader. They want other races to submit to humanity's will.
I'm quite interested on what Paragons will prefer over those two choices. Since you seem to be one, I thought I'm going to ask you that.
This may take longer as I have some busy days coming up. I'm hoping to make progress on my next non-busy day. I apologize for the delay.
>>25737 I haven't read that story but as far as your question: I believe in co-existence being beneficial as there's much both humans and other races can learn from each other. Isolation or trying to dominate them would ultimately be detrimental as one promotes stagnation and the other would lead to bloody wars and even bloodier occupations.
The whole "Dominate or be Dominated" mindset would be a cause for other races to see us in an unfavorable light. Most sci-fi alliances operate on co-existence, not dominance. We have to move past that mindset if we're to actually go beyond our solar system.
As far as my remarks about Arthur, I realize I might have been incorrect in saying he'd be pure paragon. There would be moments where he would choose a renegade choice/interrupt but they would be in the minority.
[x] …Rinnosuke's shop. Browsing his goods and hearing what he has to say would be a good change of pace.
I start walking down the path to Kourindou, passing by the inn on my way. Maybe I’ll stop by and talk to Kamui later, if I have time.
Kourindou’s open when I arrive, so I head inside. Rinnosuke’s sitting in his usual spot, reading a few books. He looks up as I enter. “Oh Yukikaki, good to see you. I was actually hoping you'd drop by; I got a spare copy of a book you'd be interested in.” He pushes a book to me along the countertop - “Legendary Weapons: A life long study.” I recognize it; I’d asked Rinnosuke about in during one of my first visits to Kourindou, but at the time he’d said it wasn't for sale.
“How much does it cost?” It’s moments like these that make me glad to be in the habit of always taking my money bag with me.
“1500 yen is the price. It was in one of the latest shipments, and since you’re a paying customer, I kept ahold of it until you came by.” He goes back to reading his newspaper, pointing at one article in particular. “Today must be interesting; the tengu sent out an extra edition.” The title reads “Extra! Hero punches out trash talking punk!”
“I’d heard about that, but…” It makes sense that Miss Shameimaru found out about the incident since Arthur seems to generate interesting news, but following him around might not be such a good idea. “I hope she doesn't anger Lady Yuuka by investigating Arthur.” Only after the words leave my mouth do I realize what I just revealed. Thankfully, Rinnosuke doesn't seem to notice.
Picking up the book, I look around the shop to see if anything else is interesting. Nothing much stands out: there’s some things with the letters ET on them, and a rounded black chunk of material with a red engraving that reads “Jaguar.” A pile of stuff in one corner is marked as reserved for Rika, and a lot of the objects have the word “gundam” on them. I’ll have to ask her about that sometime since I'm curious about what she's doing with all those books, comics, and models. I pass by the entrance of the shop as I keep looking, and oddly enough it doesn’t have a latch attached.
“Kou– Rinnosuke, why is the door unlatched?”
He looks up and answers, “Because certain visitors have the nasty habit of kicking in the door three to four times a week, and leaving it unlatched saves me the cost of repairing it.” Sounds like Marisa for sure, but I can’t think of anyone else who’d do that.
Finished browsing, I hand Rinnosuke the money for the book and open it up to read. I have this uneasy feeling that Marisa might stop by, and with her bad habit of 'borrowing' books for really long periods of time, this is probably the only chance I’ll have to buy the book. “Out of curiosity, what sparked your interest in this book in the first place? I thought didn't think you'd care for weapons.”
“I collect various things, and assistance in learning what they are is always welcome. Information aside, I found the book to be an interesting read. There are theories behind why each weapon acquired its traits, and where most of them ended up.” He suddenly looks up at me. “If you have any books associated with legendary weapons, I'll pay a suitable price for it. I've heard some rumors that a certain someone placed a few of these weapons in out-of-the-way places.”
There's only one such person I can think of who could do such a thing: Lady Yakumo. “Any idea why this person would do that?”
He thinks for a while before responding, “Probably because she wants someone to go out and find them, but I suspect that person’s attitude might change in light of recent events, assuming they’re paying attention or are even awake. I hope you and your girlfriend are doing well; with the times as dangerous as they are, it'd be terrible if a paying customer fell victim.” His answer makes me wonder how well he knows Yukari.
I nod in thanks, replying, “She's doing well; I'm sure she'll come by one of these days.” Now that Wriggle’s on my mind, I start browsing around again for anything she might be interested in. Maybe that masked rider, or something similar to that red doll. Ah, I think this might be–
I jump and turn around: Reimu walks in over the kicked down door, followed by Marisa. It’s not too surprising; the two seem to accompany each other a lot. Judging from Rinnosuke's expression, this is an all too common occurrence. They're just looking around for now, but I get the feeling they don’t intend to pay up front judging by the peeved expression on Rinnosuke’s face.
I might be able to help mediate things, or I could go to the Inn since I still need to catch up with Kamui and Kurumi. I’ll…
[ ] …help out Rinnosuke. Dealing with Marisa isn't an easy task and I doubt Reimu's going to help things. There’s no way this will be boring. [ ] …go to the inn. It’s been a while since I last saw Kamui. I’ll try and say my farewells in a manner that distracts Reimu and Marisa.
[x] …help out Rinnosuke. Dealing with Marisa isn't an easy task and I doubt Reimu’s going to help things. There’s no way this will be boring.
Kamui can wait; Rinnosuke needs a bit of assistance right now. Time to think of something to talk about… dang, planning really is Ginji’s strong suit, not mine. “Hey Rinnosuke, why don’t you get some snacks out?” Reimu asks in a bossy tone. She and Marisa are going through some stuff, setting a few things on the counter. “You can add these to our tab, right?” It’s not really a question… wait, I donated 8,000 yen recently; Reimu should still have some money left even after that fancy meal. That doesn’t even take into account Akyuu's donation, too.
“Ahem. Miss Reimu, your talk about a tab makes me wonder what happened to the money that Lady Akyuu donated when we visited a few days back.” This should get a reaction out of her; while I didn’t notice that Lady Akyuu donated, I’m sure Reimu did.
Both Marisa and Reimu stop in their tracks, and I suddenly realize this might not have been the brightest idea. “Just don't sell that until later; I’ll have some actual money then,” Reimu remarks before leaving quickly.
Marisa, however, walks up to me and says, “Trying to save Kourin from the big bad little girls? Well, since he held that book for you, it’s understandable. Don’t worry, I won’t steal it from ya; I wouldn’t want Yuuka taking it back by force. If she considers you family, then she’ll react badly to anyone messing with you or your stuff.” She looks back at the pile on the counter for a few moments, then turns back to me. “I’m gonna get going now since I have to drop off those mushrooms at your house.”
“Wait – you’re stopping just like that? I thought I’d have to think of something else to say.”
She shrugs, answering, “It’s not as fun by myself, and I figure it’s a reward for having the guts to say what you did. Reimu is terrifying when provoked; when I first met her, she was swearing up a storm about how some warrior named Meira was actually a woman.” Marisa keeps muttering to herself as she walks out of the shop. “Must be trying to get over her fear of Reimu by guarding that gate; she could definitely make more money as a bodyguard.”
After she leaves, Rinnosuke says, “Thanks, though it’s too bad that trick won’t work again. I’ve figured out several ways to stop Reimu before, but each one only works once. It’s a waste of time trying to stop Marisa; she’s too whimsical, though sometimes that works to my advantage.” Even as he says all those things, he smiles slightly. I suspect he doesn’t mind those two as much as he claims.
Ah, I should get back to looking around for anything Wriggle might like. Hmm, still doesn’t seem like too many new things are here; maybe I’ll come back with Wriggle in a few days. “I don’t think Marisa will ever change,” I hear Rinnosuke remark.
Almost without thinking I respond, “I’d be terribly worried if she did. Both Lady Akyuu and Marisa are troublesome, but I can’t really get angry at either of them.”
He laughs. “To be honest, that’s how I feel about Marisa and Reimu. I wonder if this is what it’s like to have sisters.”
“Your guess is as good as mine; I’m an only child,” I answer. Better start heading home; I was going to relax tonight and get my things ready for school tomorrow. I say my goodbyes, then head home.
I pass the road to the inn on my way home, but I can probably just talk to Kamui at school tomorrow, so I don’t turn down it. Eventually I reach my house, and head inside to see Father reading at the table while Mother cooks dinner. I set my bag in the corner before we eat, and head down to my room after the meal is finished.
Once I’m seated on the bed, I take out the books I have: “The Complete History of the Volsung Clan” by Arthur G. Brodeur, “The Truth of the Misteltein” by Jude Gaspar, and the copy of “Legendary Weapons: A Life Long Study.” I think I'll have time to read two books before having to go to bed.
Choose two: [ ] “The Complete History of the Volsung Clan.” [ ] “The Truth of the Misteltein.” [ ] “Legendary Weapons: A Life Long Study.”
Notice: Due to the haste my proofreader and I put into the last update, the chronology of events is a bit incorrect. This update reflects the proper timeline: Yuki went downstairs to read one book before dinner, went to dinner, then read a second before going to sleep. Please pardon this screw up.
[x] “The Complete History of the Volsung Clan.” (Arthur G. Brodeur) [x] “The Truth of the Misteltein.” (Jude Gaspar) [x] “Legendary Weapons: A Life Long Study.” (Donald Cambridge)
I'll start with the book about the Volsung Clan since it appears to be a historical piece that doesn’t focus on mythology. Let's see… it's by one Arthur G. Brodeur and starts off by discussing a few theories that the Volsung clan wasn't wiped out; rather, the remaining descendants went into hiding. One states that descendants of Aslaug and Ragnar Lodbrok still exist in modern times, while another states that Sigmund, son Sigurd and Gudrun, was the founder of the surviving line. Looks like the theories were mainly composed after Mr. Brodeur met a man whose family history was filled with combat, bravery and determination: a Mr. Alexander Wagner.
Brodeur came to befriend the man and recorded his many tales, including his family's belief that they are truly descended from great warriors. At one point, Wagner’s wife mentioned that “He who finds Garm will achieve greatness.” Mr. Wagner explained that Mrs. Wagner had made uncanny predictions before, and so some of their relatives in Germany had started searching for Garm. When ask why he didn't join them, Mr. Wagner responded with “I have more important things to take care of here, such as my wife and children. I need to prepare a code of ethics for them to follow: in my life, I’ve realized that I have a talent for combat that isn't normal. And the first time I killed someone… I was a policeman chasing after a suspect; he tried to shoot at me, so I had to kill him. Afterwards, though, I never felt a bit of guilt or remorse, and that worries me. I've come to realize that without direction, this talent could be used to do great evil.” Interesting… I remember another book mentioned that Garm is sometimes called Balmung.
Later stories seemed more outlandish to Brodeur as Wagner began discussing “moon people.” He actually speculated that his wife might be one of the moon people, and that they interfered during Sigurd's time to cause his death. To support his claims, Mr. Wagner revealed an ancient piece of hide with a journal entry that described “a beautiful woman of iced heart, clothed in unusual garb and wielding a sword equally strange.” The last half of the book focuses on Mr. Wagner’s life, and as a closing note Brodeur writes that he wishes Mr. Wagner success in instilling an unshakable code of justice upon his children in preparation for the future.
Well, the book certainly made a lot of claims; I can’t say whether what I read is true or not. The only way to check would be to ask the people that Lady Inaba is with, but I'm don’t think I’m willing to travel so far just to ask if they caused someone's death. It's foolish to even assume that they’re the same “moon people” that were mentioned in the book. My thoughts are interrupted by the sound of mother’s voice calling me up for dinner.
I head upstairs, then seat myself at the table. Mother and father start talking about their day as the food is served. Father and I make sure to avoid certain details; no need to give Mother any more ideas. Still, she has a sly look on her face when she says, “You know, I stopped by the mansion this afternoon and I heard Shinobu talking about a ‘Master Yuki.’ Now what could you have done to cause her to use that title instead of ‘Young Master?’”
“I have no idea! I was just being nice!” I respond.
Father interrupts. “Honey, could you please not tease him like that? I'm sure she was just flattered from his kindness. Yuki, there were some things dropped off for you: a notice that school will he held tomorrow, Ginji’s father’s apology letters to you and Wriggle, and some strange mushrooms that Marisa dropped off for you to use.”
Mother mutters distractedly, “I recognize those; Marisa’s told me to limit how many I use when making something, but never said why.” I remember the incident she had with them before, and have to keep myself from laughing.
“She says that with good reason, mother; eating too many in a short time span has some nasty side effects,” I answer, hoping she’ll just leave it at that. I highly doubt she wants to hear about highly flammable flatulence smelling of liquorice. Thankfully, she drops the subject, and the rest of the dinner conversation proceeds as normal. Once I finish, Father tells me not to stay up too late reading. I nod, knowing I'll get tired and fall asleep before it gets too late.
I think I'll try the book about the Misteltein, a blessed sword made from wood that never lost its sharpness. This book was written earlier than Brodeur’s, in 1890 instead of 1908. The author, Jude Gaspar, begins with a brief history of his own life: he studied to be a clergyman in the Vatican and served for over a decade, before he was admitted as a scholar to serve in a secret department. He was assigned to research the 'history' of the sword while others searched the locations he uncovered. When the church finally found it, a realization it was made: “This wasn't a weapon that provided guidance and strength, but one possessed of a bloodlust towards all magical things. The Church made several attempts to master it, but Misteltein had found ways of severely wounding anyone with magical power. Perhaps some kind of malevolent presence enables the sword to strike vital spots when swung.”
Gaspar then explains how the church placed a seal on Misteltein in an attempt to purify it into a true holy sword. After adequate success was achieved, the weapon was used as the spearhead of a literal witch hunt, an operation in which Gaspar was brought along as a medic and support caster. Apparently he had been given access to portions of the Church's library that contained books on holy spells. As more and more died, Gaspar came to view the entire hunt as a pointless slaughter instead of any kind of battle against evil. After some deep thinking and prayer, he decided that the church’s actions betrayed God’s will, and so he would steal the sword, then run.
After successfully escaping from his pursuers, Gaspar attempted to remain undiscovered while he tried to figure out a way to deal with Misteltein before it took any more lives. As he worked, a voice urged him to take the sword and forge his own destiny in the world with the blood of his enemies, but he resisted, citing his belief that God desires peace. In his travels, he was accosted by a coven of magicians who recognized his garb, though they spare his life when he speaks of his efforts to control Misteltein and agree to aid him.
He discussed his plans about how to deal with such a weapon with a witch named Freesia, who concluded it would be best to take it into the wilderness and seal it in a tree using wood elemental magic. Noting that Freesia was an adept of many forms of elemental control, Gaspar agreed with her. The book skips ahead to the sealing, which was successful, after which a reward was offered for his assistance. He merely requested to join their group, since he'd tossed away everything by stealing Misteltein. Freesia accepts his request, stating that a man of God who was willing to acknowledge the right of other races to exist was an interesting rarity.
A few basic notes are included at the end of the book: if a magician mates with a human, their offspring will likely have a natural talent for magic, magicians aren't much physically stronger or tougher than a human, and magicians are the most similar to humans out of all supernatural creatures. This is because magicians are either humans transformed by the magic that they cast, or are descendents of those transformed humans. This is very interesting; maybe this is why Lady Akyuu wanted to interview Alice, to get information on magicians? Before I can think more on it, I yawn… time to go to bed.
After I wake up and eat breakfast, I go back downstairs to pack the third book to read later, then head on my way to class. I don't want to be late to the first day of school that we’ve had in a while!
I get into the classroom and set out my book, just in case Miss Keine does a repeat lesson. Before she starts her lecture, though, I hear, “Good Morning Yuki!” I turn towards Wriggle’s voice – she isn’t wearing her cap in class today. “Akyuu sent some of us a letter that Miss Kamishirasawa would be teaching an interesting lesson today.” It’s amazing how easily she can say Miss Keine's last name.
“Good morning, Wriggle! Looks like I won’t need this book if Keine’s giving a new lesson,” I respond. “Uh, I hope none of the other students are scared that you’re here.” While Wriggle might not spook them, some of the others might.
Wriggle replies, “The boys won’t; even after Keine’s lessons, I think they'd rather leer than be afraid. The girls are another matter… I just hope my sister and her friend don't start any trouble.” I agree, remembering what almost happened at the Inn a while back.
It isn't long before Miss Keine comes in and starts her lesson. “Today, in light of recent events and certain new additions to the class, I’ll talk about human and youkai offspring.” The look on her face is very serious as she starts explaining the difficulties such offspring encounter, and how traits like the strength of such the child depends on their parents. She also talks about a few examples from history, referencing the book about the Hunter and the Kirin. Looking around the class, I notice Kurumi, Elis, and Mystia are present. Their outfits are different, so as long as no one looks at the back of their seats they should be fine; it’s hard to hide those wings.
Kurumi raises her hand and asks, “Do I have to worry about any children being difficult or trying to kill me?”
Miss Keine frowns, then looks in the book before responding, “‘This isn't some strange game with a shapeshifting castle.’ Somehow, Akyuu knew to leave a note saying that.” Keine shakes her head, then goes on to talk about rumors that Lady Yakumo had somehow made it harder for half-youkai to be born, although Keine didn’t know the details herself. I wonder if Lady Akyuu knows more? The lesson goes back into old territory after that, talking about some general things as a refresher.
Class ends after that last bit and everyone leaves the classroom, leaving me and Wriggle behind while Miss Keine works on some papers. Wriggle takes my hand, saying, “Let's go to the clearing; it's been a while since we went there.” Looks like the book can wait until I get home.
We walk out of the village, and down the winding dirt path that takes us to the clearing. It's hot out, though it’s not as bad as it was a few weeks ago. As we approach the fallen log we usually sit on, I notice that Wriggle seems to be in a particularly cheery mood. “How was yesterday, Yuki?”
[x] “It certainly wasn't boring.” Explain all that I've heard. [x] “Mind If I hear about what happened with you?” I'm more interested in finding out what she did during the last day or so.
[x] “Legendary Weapons: A Life Long Study” (Donald Cambridge) is on hold until I can put it into the story.
>>25906 I tried to keep it as accurate as possible. I copypasted a lot. And for the funny part, well, there's always a screw loose in everything I do. Just try to read my stories and you'll see it by yourself.
[x] “Mind If I hear about what happened with you?” I'm more interested in finding out what she did during the last day or so. Delayed: [x] “Legendary Weapons: A Life Long Study” (Donald Cambridge)
“Wriggle, could I hear about your day first? That is, if you don't mind” I ask. I hope that the news of my day afterward won't ruin her good mood.
She answers, “I decided to go looking for some of the insects in the wasteland that Akyuu told me about. Mysty decided to come with, saying she wanted to try out a new song on some moths. I didn’t really get it, but we found lots of different bees, butterflies, ants, and even some harvest mites!” Whoa! It's a well known fact that harvest mites are dangerous; the notion that Wriggle could unleashing a swarm of them is a bit unnerving, if impressive. She continues, “I was surprised when Mysty started singing and managed to control some moths. I was able to override the effects, but they weren't as easy to control as normal. So, what have you been up to the last two days?”
I start talking about everything that’s happened: the meeting with the historical society, the incident between Riku and Shinobu, Arthur's appearance, and my agreement with Lady Akyuu to do three interviews.
“Nothing good ever seems to come from Kaiba’s family. I can't believe he’d do that... though, what Shinobu said to me yesterday makes sense now. Riku's lucky I don't have any fire ants or harvest mites nearby!”
“I was tempted to use a fire spell on him myself, but it really wouldn’t have helped father if I’d had an outburst during the meeting,” I answer. Which reminds me: Lady Akyuu gave me the apology letter from Ginji’s dad. I pull it out and hand it to Wriggle.
She opens it, giggling. “You mean like the time you shouted at Ginji's dad?”
“Yeah. I hope he didn’t just ignore it; it’s important for people to avoid being so judgemental.”
She nods, leaning against me to embrace, and I return the gesture. A comfortable silence descends upon us, though after a few moments pass I notice her fidgeting. “Is there something on your mind?” I ask, knowing how things can pop up.
“Well… I was wondering if I could stay over tonight. Mother has it in her head that if it rains, I'd like it better with you – which is true; don't get me wrong!” she rushes to say. “I think mother’s insistence might be related to spending more time with Arthur, actually. Lily's already left to hang around with Shizuha. Oh yeah, I talked with her after I came back from the wasteland! She said something about an artist taking an interest in her.”
“It’s nice to hear that; I hope he’s her type of guy. As for staying over, we should see what my parents say before doing anything else. I'm sure they'll agree, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure.” Wriggle agrees, so we both stand up and head to my house.
After arriving at my house, we start looking for my parents. We find Mother first since she’s sitting just beyond the entryway. When she notices us, she starts smiling in a sly fashion… this could be problematic. “Are you about to ask if Wriggle can stay over again? I thought you knew that she's always welcome here,” she says.
“I just wanted to be sure; besides, we had to pass on the fact that it might rain tomorrow,” I respond. I'm certain she’ll find this information useful.
Mother smiles and says, “Thank you, Yuki. Well rain tomorrow is all the more reason to do some shopping today. Try not to spoil your appetites for dinner, dears~.” She walks over to the doorway to put her shoes on, then leaves for the store.
Wriggle turns to leave as well. “I'll be back shortly; I'm going to get some clothes for the next day or two as well as some nightwear… I don't think I want to see what your Mother has picked out for me.”
Remembering the interviews again, I ask, “Oh, Wriggle! While you're there, could you tell Kurumi and Alice that Lady Akyuu wants me to interview them, as well as Elis, the day after tomorrow?”
“Yup; don’t worry about it. I was going to tell them so they don't get caught off guard,” she replies as she leaves. Well, I can’t help with dinner right now since mother just left to buy ingredients, so I decide to go downstairs and read that last book.
Once I’m seated, I quickly open the book, reading the introduction. It talks about how the author, Donald Cambridge, was a museum worker in 'Europe'. He first became interested in legendary weapons when he heard a voice coming from a supposed replica of the sword Durandal, a weapon famed for being wielded by holy warriors throughout the ages and for being nigh unbreakable. Now, hearing the sword speak made it obvious that it wasn’t a mere replica, since a fake wouldn't have this power.
Cambridge goes on to talk about how weapons actually have personalities: for example, Durandal is softly spoken and well mannered. Cambridge believes that might be because the sword’s wielders had a similar nature. He also found out that only those with the potential to master a weapon can hear its voice, though he also states that a less virtuous weapon is often less picky and more manipulative.
Cambridge is using the word “master” oddly, and I start flipping ahead to search for an explanation. Ah, here’s one: typically a weapon with legendary powers cannot be easily used unless the wielder manages to speak with it and convince the weapon to submit to their will, or aid them. Another paragraph notes that there's a risk of a mental battle with high stakes. Durandal isn't like that, though, as it can whether a person is righteousness or not. Interesting story… this helps explain what I read about the Misteltein, though the sword is starting to sound far more malicious in nature. Supposedly, most legendary weapons need to accumulate belief in their own legends to continue existing, and accomplish this by helping the wielder perform remarkable feats. Cambridge quotes Durandal here, saying “This desire can easily twist an otherwise righteous weapon.” I wish I’d read this book alongside the one about the Misteltein, since the two have a nice connection.
The last few chapters address where many weapons may have ended up: in unknown locations, museums, or in some collection owned by someone who doesn’t know of the weapon's true value. Additionally, Durandal mentions something about a beautiful but unusual woman tracking down and collecting such weapons. I don't think I'll dwell on that fact tonight, though. Suddenly, I feel a pressure over my eyes as everything goes black, though the familiar smell of the forest is behind me. “Welcome back, Wriggle.”
She takes her hands off my eyes and I turn around. “Let me guess – it was the scent of the forest that gave me away, right?”
“Mostly that. I also knew that the only other person who would do that is Lady Akyuu, and she’d be pretty obvious about it. She tends to giggle a lot whenever she does something like that.” Wriggle sits down on the bed as I continue to talk. “I remembered some other things that happened yesterday: after escorting Shinobu back to Lady Akyuu’s…” I briefly mention the files I’ve read about Reimu’s parents, and quickly move on to the misadventure at Kourin's place. She’s a bit concerned about the files, but her mood lightens when I get to the part about dealing with Reimu and Marisa.
“I think men have more to fear from those two than youkai; mother says their manner is very forceful, yet charming. She also told me to avoid picking fights with them, as it'd be a futile battle.”
“Indeed. The same could be said to hunters who think about going after Lady Yuuka, if they’d even listen. Then again, I have doubts that even Reimu and Marisa could take her on when she’s being serious,” I answer.
“Wriggle, do you want me to help me make dinner?” Mother’s voice comes from upstairs, and Wriggle leaves my room. Well, might as well straighten out the room to kill time.
I’m eventually called upstairs for dinner, and arrive to see father already seated at the table. Some salad and plates are already set out, so I take a seat and wait to see what mother and Wriggle made. They soon come out of the kitchen with a bowl in each hand, filled with what appears to be beef soup.
After the portions are served and Wriggle sits down, I ask, “What did you help with, exactly?” As I start eating, I notice that some vegetables are present in the soup besides onions. It's different, but definitely tastes pretty good.
“Just the salad, though we talked about some other recipes and your mother decided to make the beef soup taste more like the beef stew I served you at mother’s house. She mainly added in some potatoes and changed the sauce a bit,” Wriggle answers with glee. Sure enough, the salad has something sweet lightly drizzled into it due to Wriggle's influence.
“I had such a time at the market today, you know!” mother says. “All of Lady Minoriko's admirers just standing around the place, and she wasn’t even there! It's pretty difficult to shop with people just hanging around. They were lucky I was in a good mood and decided to be nice about it.” I get the impression that mother was very close to pulling a knife, just to scare people out of the way.
Wriggle shakes her head and responds, “Shizuha mentioned that to me. That’s one good thing about having only one admirer; she has a much easier time compared to the attention her sister gets.”
“Oh, it's that young artist, isn't it?” mother asks. “I remember him when he was a kid, staring at the leaves with wonder. His sensibilities stop him from being sidetracked by certain… obvious factors, you know.”
“Yes… Obvious.” Wriggle’s expression is unamused. It’s easy to tell what they're talking about; Wriggle's expression gives it away.
I hurry to try changing the subject, “Well, Lady Akyuu has asked me to interview some people in a couple of days for her chronicles.” Mother and father express their approval, and the discussion goes in that direction before quieting down as everyone finishes dinner.
I decide to help Wriggle with the dishes while Mother puts the remaining food away. As we dry the bowls, she says, “Elis is looking forward to this as she dislikes some of the stereotypes about Makai residents that are floating around. Soul-stealing, being evil, and so forth. None of it true, well, for the most part.” She looks out the window as her voice trails off. The night's pretty clear right now, though I see some clouds in the distance. I wonder if she wants to step outside or not?
“Were you thinking about going outside before heading to bed?” I ask.
She nods, turning to me. “Yeah, but I don't want to do it by myself, so… could you come with?”
[ ] “Sure.” Some time alone on a beautiful evening would be very nice, despite the risk of rain. [ ] “Staying inside would be better, as it can start raining very suddenly.” I would rather not get us both caught in some sort of surprise rainstorm.
[x] “Sure.” Some time alone on a beautiful evening would be very nice, despite the risk of rain.
“Sure. Lead the way, Wriggle.” Hopefully it’ll stay nice out long enough for us to get back home. Smiling, she takes my hand and heads off down the path.
I’m a little tense as Wriggle leads me into the forest, especially since it’s already night. Wriggle says, “Don't worry so much, Yuki. We’re headed to the clearing, and I know nothing will try attacking it since it's my territory. Plus, it's too close to that junk shop.” That's a relief… but now that I think about it, it does raise a question.
“Speaking of the clearing, um… Since you live with Lady Yuuka, why were you bathing in the stream at all?” I hope she doesn't take offense at the question.
I can’t see her face, but I think she lowers her head a little before answering, “It was quicker to bathe there instead of going all the way home as dirty as I was. I wasn't expecting a cute bookworm to come charging in when I found out the water was a little cold.” She giggles, and I chuckle in response. Nice to hear that she remembers the moment fondly.
We reach the clearing and sit down on the log, remaining silent to simply enjoy the starry sky in each other's company. “I've always been drawn to clear night skies,” Wriggle says. “Now, with the memories of the summer festival, it's become something even more dear to me.” My attention is drawn to her blushing face in the dim moonlight, and I pull her closer into a hug. She leans into it, snuggling up to me, adding, “You’re getting pretty bold… and pretty manly too, in my opinion.” She punctuates the remark with a kiss, and this time I’m the one to return the gesture.
We rest against each other after that; I couldn’t keep track of time. Eventually the moment was interrupted by a clap of thunder, with rain quickly following. I can't bring myself to be too upset about it, even as we hurry through the mud to get back home before we get completely drenched. I'm not sure if Wriggle has to worry about catching a cold or not, but I'd rather not risk it.
I look down to avoid tripping on a tree root, and when I look up a blur of purple and blue is charging right at us! “BOO!”
“AAAAAHHH!” We both leap back out of surprise. I desperately try to remember my stun spell when I realize it’s just a girl who looks a bit older than me, wearing a simple blue dress and carrying an odd purple umbrella with a tongue hanging out. I try to answer, but it’s a struggle to come up with words.
“Hehe~. Sorry about that, I just wanted to surprise somebody,” the girl says before bowing, still holding up her umbrella. “I'm Kogasa; nice to meet you two! You know, it’s bad to stay out in the rain too long. Ah, I know! How about I use my umbrella to keep you two from getting wet?” She doesn't seem to mean any real harm, but I take note that her eyes are different colors: one blue, the other red.
I stand and help Wriggle to her feet before turning to Kogasa. “You’re right; thanks helping us out.”
I end up walking with Kogasa under the purple umbrella, while Wriggle uses an odd green umbrella that Kogasa was carrying. I asked why she had two umbrellas with her, and she replied, “I go around adopting different umbrellas so they don't end up lonely.” To give feelings to an object, and to be in the forest this late at night, I think it’s pretty likely that she’s some kind of youkai, probably an umbrella tsukumogami. I’d heard those youkai come to exist because of neglect, but it looks like Kogasa doesn't hold any grudges against humans. I'll definitely write this down when I get the chance as I'm not sure if Akyuu knows much about them.
As we walk down the path, Wriggle asks, “What were you thinking about?”
Trying to be discrete, I answer, “I think that Kogasa might be a tsukumogami, though she’s very friendly if that’s true. Most tsukomogami tend to have a grudge against humans, like that doll at the nameless hill. It's a virtual no man's land because of the poisonous suzuran there, and I think some of the hunters mentioned something about the doll having power over poison.” Kogasa smiles beside me; I guess that means she wasn’t offended by my thoughts.
Wriggle nods. “Mother told me about that place, saying she has no worries about the area or the doll since most of her poisons are flower based. That doll’s really young, though, so if she were to live long enough, she'd become truly dangerous, even to Mother.”
Kogasa jumps into the conversation. “I know of Miss Yuuka! She takes very good care of her umbrella and all those flowers. I was tempted to drop by before, but I don't want to make her angry.” She and Wriggle start a conversation about Lady Yuuka, and I end up listening to them until we reach the house.
Inside the entry way, Wriggle shakes out the umbrella and I thank Kogasa for helping us. “Thank you for your help! If you want, would you like to come in and have something to eat?” It's only right to repay her kindness even though she startled us. For some reason I don't think I could ever really be upset at her.
“Nope, the spook I gave you two should last me a day or two. People seem to be surprised less often these days… but don't worry about me, I'll manage! Actually, you can pay me back by taking care of this guy.” She hands the green umbrella back to Wriggle. “His name is Ink.”
“How do we take care of it exactly? Is it as simple as keeping it in good shape and not losing it?” Wriggle asks.
Kogasa smiles and nods. “That's exactly it! I'll be going now. You'll never know when we'll run into each other next; it wouldn't be a surprise if you did!”
We both watch her job back into the rain and disappear, before we remember that we’re pretty wet and need to dry off. We both rush downstairs after grabbing some nearby towels.
It's only after we started changing that I realize that Mother isn't around. I guess she must have gone to bed early. I get out a basket and throw my wet clothes in, then work on drying off before putting on some pants. I hope Wriggle was able to dry off before she got too cold. Even though she’s a youkai, she might still be at risk to catch a cold. The thought of her changing makes my mind drift to the little shows she’s given me lately. I notice that I didn’t react to them as I should have; they were signs of her trust, after all. Maybe… I guess I was comparing those cases with my first sighting of her. It certainly left an impression, one that’s only gotten stronger the closer I’ve gotten to Wriggle, yet- “Yuki, I want to show you something.” Wriggle disrupts my thinking.
I steady my mind for what I might see, but I was not prepared for what I saw as I turned around. Wriggle was standing in only her panties, arms crossed under her breasts to warm herself. She doesn’t make any effort to cover her chest, and I can't help but stare. They don’t seem that big, but unlike some of the stuff in Kamui’s magazines, they don’t sag at all. I’m reminded of the time I saw her at the river, though her nipples seem more erect now because of the chill.
Gulp, I'm tempted to reach out… no, I won't breach her boundaries like that! Not when she has enough trust in me to expose herself like this. She's blushing heavily and has a shy but lovely smile on her face. She turns her head away when I make eye contact… but her antennae still point right at me. I continue to gaze upon her beautiful body, but Wriggle's smile gradually disappears, and she doesn’t look back up at me…
[ ] I should stop staring and finish changing; no need to risk ruining what's left of the moment. [ ] I have to ask her what's on her mind; I want to help if there's a way.
[x] I have to ask her what's on her mind; I want to help if there's a way.
I try to focus and think about what could be troubling her… maybe she’s fretting over her size, though I don’t find her lacking in any way. Now to say so in a comforting way… “Um, thank you for showing me… and I don't find you to be lacking at all, Wriggle. You'll always be just right for me because you're you.” That sound alright. Wait, did I really just say that last bit?!
My thoughts are interrupted by the sound of giggling; it seems that Wriggle's smiling again, and still blushing. “Thank you Yuki, but I was thinking about something else, but just now, you helped me make up mind. Could you please give me your hand?” I quickly do so, trusting her as she gently holds my wrist and guides my hand to- wow... they're soft. The part of me that’s trying to think about why Wriggle’s letting me touch her breasts is pushed away as I gently find out more about them. My other hand soon joins in, and it seems that touching her rather hard nipples causes Wriggle to make some lovely sounds. With a blissful expression on her face, she moves my hand across her chest, and I can feel her heartbeat becoming stronger. As her heart thumps rapidly underneath my palm and she reaches out to rest a hand on my own chest, it dawns on me just how fragile she seems at times. My thoughts start racing as various ideas pop into my head of what to do with Wriggle, but I just continue what I’ve been doing. I’m worried that she won't want to go farther, and I’m way too nervous to make the first move in case I break the moment. The soft palmfuls under my hands are enough for me, combined with her expression and the quiet moans she makes once in a while. Her fingers play over my chest and I gulp from the soft motion… I didn't think I'd react just from this.
I lose track of how long we stay like this, but eventually she gently removes my hands, saying, “I think we should stop… I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to go farther right now.” That… as much as part of me wants to keep going, what she said confirms my thoughts. It just wouldn't feel right to go on, especially if she feels that way.
“I w-wasn't going to think about that, I was just enjoying the moment! I'm too nervous to even think beyond it!” I reply, trying to put both her and my nerves at east.
Before I can say anything else, she starts to cover herself, responding, “For now, I think we should change in separate corners so we can calm down. But… I did enjoy it as much as you did.”
I feel my face heating up again as she says that; changing separately sounds like a really good idea right now. I just have to focus on my clothes, which shouldn't be too hard. As I start putting on the rest of my pajamas, I try to think of something besides Wriggle. My thoughts turn to the books I read earlier as I doubt they could be tied to the thought of a nude- no; I need to focus.
After some thinking and changing, I've calmed down enough to look at Wriggle and not suffer… an inconvenient tightness in the pants. These clothes should be enough to deal with the chilly night. I climb into bed and Wriggle joins me, wearing some cute green plaid pajamas. I think I'll just let sleep take me, and close my eyes as I feel Wriggle snuggling up against me.
Something wakes me up... or a lack of something. Wriggle’s not in bed anymore, even though she was still here when I woke up in the middle of the night. I guess she’s already upstairs. Might as well get dressed and see what's going on.
Everyone's seated at the table eating breakfast, and Wriggle looks up at me as I sit down. She quickly looks back at her meal as her face starts reddening, and I feel my own face start heating up as I serve myself. I risk a glance up, and Mother has an unnerving smile. I better focus on eating and hope she doesn't figure out what happened last night. Focus on the food.
“You know I noticed you two managed to get a new umbrella,” Father says. “To be honest, we were planning on buying an extra one.” Before tonight we only had one umbrella, which we should have taken with in retrospect. At the same time, though, I can't say I dislike what came of our decision, and I think Wriggle would agree as well.
After everyone finishes eating I help take the dishes to the kitchen while Wriggle goes back downstairs. Once I put the dishes by the sink, I start to follow her when Mother calls to me. “Yuki, if anything more happens, remember to get the sheets washed when you’re done~.” …She knew. Am I that easy to read?
I hastily reply, “I will” and leave as quickly as possible. At least I won’t have that concern for a while.
Wriggle's reading one of the new books when I arrive and looks up. Noticing the look on my face, she asks, “Did Nana find out about last night?” I nod. “Don't feel bad, I might have tipped her off. Mothers are very sharp when it comes to things like that. Come to think of it, I think my mother might have noticed something similar with Alice, as I saw them having a talk.” She closes the book and sets it down. “I have to applaud Gaspar for not exaggerating his story about the Misteltein; it makes it sound somewhat believable instead of some kind of teenage trash.” She’s probably referring to the part at the end about magicians and humans mating. Fiction does seem to excessively increase female magicians' sex appeal.
“I think Alice would find it interesting, too,” I respond. I say that based on what I've seen of her; I wouldn’t be too surprised if Wriggle and Alice got along well.
Wriggle giggles. “I know that for a fact; I hear her complain a lot that no one has the decency to make such characters dignified, like mother is. She did say something about how not even her mother or maid would be that bad.” That reminds me of the interviews tomorrow.
“Is there anything else I should know about her? I'd like to have some insight before I interview her tomorrow,” I ask.
“Although she’s staying with us, her real mother is the goddess of Makai, or as Alice says ‘her clumsy, childish, but lovable mother.’” That gives me something to ask about in addition to the questions I had about magicians.
We start reading the book about the Volsung clan, only talking a little between each section as Wriggle is quite engrossed in it, and I know better than to interrupt too much. After finishing, our stomachs growl before we can pick up the one about legendary weapons. We both chuckle before going upstairs.
We find the house empty; Mother must have gone shopping. We decide to make some salad for lunch, and after preparing it we sit down in the dining room to eat.
“What did you think about the Wagners from the book?” I ask.
Wriggle swallows before answering. “It was interesting, but I'd rather hear about what they're doing now or the romance between Alexander and his wife. I think I'm starting to enjoy mixed romances more than I did.”
“I never exactly paid much attention to what kind of romance was in the stories I read; it was more about the adventure to me. Then again, I wasn't one to take notice of girls until I met you. That used to bother me at times, since my friends were always talking about who they liked, but I never joined in,” I answer.
“I think that’s because you hadn’t met the right girl before now,” she replies, smiling. “Still, regarding the Wagners, I think mother once mentioned something about the Lunarians. She said that they were cowards who only interfere when there's no risk, but that's probably just from her desire for a strong foe.” She must be talking about the “moon people” mentioned in the book.
I reply, “Strong foes, huh? I wonder if that's why she went to Makai; I still don't know her exact role in that incident.” I wonder if Elis or Alice could help figure out what she did there?
Wriggle shrugs. “She didn't talk about what she did very much, other than mentioning 'that annoying spirit.'” I nod, and we finish eating lunch in comfortable silence, returning to my room after we clean everything up.
We start reading through the legendary weapon book, and at some point Wriggle finds her way on to my lap. I don’t say anything, and she doesn’t say anything until we finish the book on legendary weapons. “I hope you don't mind if I sit here; it feels so safe and… right, to be on your lap and in your arms.” I think about answering, but decide a hug is the best response.
Eventually, it’s time for dinner. It was pretty quiet and normal, despite Wriggle being here for the second night in a row. I guess Mother felt like behaving herself for the rest of the day.
Afterwards, we return downstairs and change into our night clothes, this time with no peeping or anything else. We sat down on the bed and hold hands for a time, just enjoying the simple gesture, before Wriggle says something. “I don't regret what happened last night; I hope you don't either.”
“No, of course not, since you enjoyed it… seeing your blushing face make those expressions was just as good as your cute chest,” I answer, feeling my face heat up at the last bit. I decided to take this opportunity to say something that's been on my mind. “Ever since the day that I met you, it was you who was on my mind. Not Miss Keine, or Merlin, or any other girl most guys would drool after.”
She giggles and responds, “That makes you ahead of all of them,” before gently pushing me down onto the bed. We both chuckle, and I pull the thin cover over us. “We should go to bed early so you don't oversleep, Mister sleeps like a log in a shared bed!” she playfully adds. It doesn't take too much longer to fall asleep.
I end up dreaming about visiting the beach with Wriggle. It was kind of fuzzy, but I remember I ended up touching her butt… though nothing more happened after that, realistically enough.
“Y-Yuki, get up.” The real Wriggle's voice pulls me out of the dream, and I open my eyes and try to wake up. It takes me a moment to realize my hands are on something cloth covered and soft… that wasn't just a dream!
“I'm sorry that I touched your butt like that!” I quickly apologize, feeling guilty and trying to bow as best as I can.
Wriggle hugs me and replies, “I'm not upset… I can think of worse ways to wake up. I actually dreamt that I let you do that. It's kind of funny that you're so bold in your dreams. You really do need to get up, though: you don’t want to be late to work.” That's right; I have the interview today. I change into my clothes in a hurry and I head upstairs for breakfast.
I sit down and start eating rather single mindedly. As I’m about to leave, Wriggle gives me a hug and a kiss, saying, “Have a nice day at work, Yuki.” She kind of seems like a housewife when she does that… the notion makes me feel like I could do a hundred interviews with ease. Wriggle goes back inside the house as I head towards the road. Time to go.
I soon arrive at the Hieda mansion and find Lady Akyuu and Shinobu waiting at the door. “You do know that you're early, right Yuki? Speed is certainly a good trait, but women don't like men who are too quick in certain areas,” Lady Akyuu says, winking. Shinobu starts blushing and looking nervous for some reason.
We go inside and head to Lady Akyuu's room. “Last I checked, they should be on their way, though I heard Kurumi might take a while. Alice should be here shortly. You should use this time to think and plan things out, Yuki.”
That's right… I have a good idea about what sorts of questions to ask everyone, but I need to decide who will be first and see if I can come up with any more questions.
[ ] Alice. I imagine she'll be impatient to get back to her usual routine. I'm also sort of curious what her mother is like. [ ] Kurumi. I need to try to get over that awkward incident, and I think she'd like to go back to sleep as soon as possible. [ ] Elis. She looked very eager to do this.
If anyone has any big yet tasteful questions on their mind, feel free to add them.
I apologize for the length of time this took; work didn't really agree with my writing time.
[x] Alice. I imagine she'll be impatient to get back to her usual routine. I'm also sort of curious what her mother is like.
I figure it’s best for Alice to be first, since she’ll probably arrive before everyone else. “I won't keep Alice waiting, then.”
Lady Akyuu grins and replies, “Very well. Shinobu will take you to the room where the interviews will be held.” Shinobu bows as I stand up, and I follow her out of the room and down the hall.
When we enter the room, I sit down and pull out my notebook to record the interview. My two main goals are asking a few questions about magicians, and asking about living with Makai's goddess. Hopefully that last subject is something Alice is willing to talk about. I don’t have to wait long before Alice enters the room with Hourai floating along behind her.
“Thank you for coming; I promise to try to keep this as short as possible,” I say as she takes her seat. Clearing my throat, I ask, “The main reason you were invited to this interview is to help Lad Akyuu with her research on magician-type youkai. Could you try explaining what they're like? Even partial information would help.”
“It's not much different than being human. I was human once, before I opened this book,” she answers, pointing to the large book she brought in with her. “After that, the only changes were being able to get by with less sleep and food if I'm somewhere with abundant mana in the air. My spells also became stronger and my magical energy recovers faster. Physically, though, I don't feel any stronger than I was before I opened the book, so I doubt there are other magicians who are much stronger than a normal human.”
Hourai writes on a sign as Alice talks, and holds it up when Alice finishes. “I'm a combat doll able to fight in all sorts of ways. I'm also pretty cute, though my creator failed to give me-” Alice yanks the sign away, and Hourai pouts at being interrupted.
“Enough of that, Hourai. Now, I’d like it if you could answer a question for me, Yuki.” It probably isn’t anything strange, so I nod. “I've heard something about an incident where you tried taking some mana into yourself. I’d like to know more about why you did that.”
“Oh… Marisa was giving me a lesson and she told me to draw the forest's mana into the spell. Somehow I drew it into myself instead, and she wound up panicking after I case the spell,” I answer.
Alice looks deep in thought before answering, “What you did was very foolish indeed. Marisa was completely right to panic. Still, for a complete rookie to take in that much power and successfully channel it means you might end up being like me sooner or later, if you can keep it up. I heard from Mother that there's usually a set way to become a magician, but my experience with this book proves otherwise.”
That reminds me to ask about her life in the castle. I'll have to think about what she said just now some other time. “I heard you actually lived with the goddess of Makai before coming here, so I wanted to get some information on her, if possible. You don’t have to say anything though, Alice.”
“No, it’s alright. It wasn't that bad, even if mother was a bit overzealous with hugs. She's the main reason Makai isn't a terrible place, as she tries her best to ensure there's no undue hardship. She occasionally spoils people, though, and it’d be a problem if it weren’t for Yumeko reminding her of her duties all the time. Oh, Yumeko is mother's maid and the strongest being in Makai, besides mother of course. Both are frustratingly beautiful… so in a way, I know where Wriggle's coming from.” Alice seems pretty upset about this, and starts rambling about what she had to put up with before coming here.
Hourai holds up another sign that reads, “I bet lots of guys tried to hang around to check them out; they’d be really happy if they're on the same level as Yuuka. I wish my creator would realize that no amount of curves or sex appeal is enough to get her crush to look away from his girlfriend.” Alice is too caught up in her speech to notice Hourai's commentary, which appears doesn’t appear to be indecent for once.
Alice eventually composes herself, adding, “I cannot say how things are now, as after Reimu and her friends were finished wrecking the capital, I was too busy trying to use this book to seek vengeance. But I have to say… it's not the demons you have to be afraid of, but rather Reimu and Yuuka.” After saying this, she shifts around a bit. “Mind if I go now? I'm not in much of a mood to stay longer.” I guess something came up in her mind.
“Sure, thank you for your time and I apologize if this ruined your mood,” I answer.
As she gets up, she answers, “Don't blame yourself; they're my issues, not yours.” Picking up her book, she and Hourai head out of the door and into the hallway.
Shortly afterwards, Shinobu steps in and asks, “Who would you call upon next?”
“I'd like to interview Kurumi next, Shinobu,” I say, starting to go over the questions I had planned to ask the vampire in my head.
“Very well. I will check to see if she has arrived yet,” Shinobu answers. She bows, then leaves.
I don’t have long to think before Kurumi enters the room in her cloak, yawning. “Morning.” She looks at the room’s only window, then moves to the corner of the table that’s farthest from it to avoid the light. After seating herself, she lets her hood down to reveal one incredibly messy head of hair.
Oh right, the questions. “I'll attempt to make this fast so you can go back to bed. Could you tell me more about your abilities as a vampire and any general information about the species?”
She nods and answers, “I thought it’s pretty well known that vampires are pretty strong, fast, and able to regenerate most injuries. We have weaknesses, too: the sun affects different vampires in different ways, and even with this cloak I feel weakened by daylight. It's not so bad on cloudy days, though. The rain isn't much fun either; if it wasn't for my outfit, I'm not sure I could have made it back home.” Ah, this might explain why her outfits contrasts with her personality. “For some reason lakes and baths don't affect me at all… and thank goodness for that, as I'm not sure how I'd live without a good bath.”
I finish writing down the relevant parts of her explanation, then ask the next question. “May I ask about what vampires need to eat? Can you only get energy from blood, or can you eat normal food as well? And if it’s not too rude to ask, how well do you manage keeping any cravings under control?”
She thinks for a few moments then answers, “We can eat normal food, but it doesn't do very much for us as like it does for other beings. I heard some vampires like to mix blood in with their food to get both energy and taste, but blood is something I want to keep separate. That reminds me, I have to remind Reimu to be on the look out for some stunt next year. As for cravings, it's not too much of an issue for me since I claimed the lake of blood as my own territory. If I feel really thirsty I just stop by my old house.”
“What do you mean by ‘some stunt?’ Is it serious? I remember a lot of people were worried about the vampire incident a couple years back.”
“It shouldn’t be anything too serious since the woman planning it likes grandstanding,” she answers. “She may be small but she certainly carries herself as if she was much older. I remember that during the vampire meeting held after the incident she and the incident's mastermind got into an argument. They eventually got to the point of violence, but before the guy could grab her, she’d hit him so hard he went flying out of the house.”
“What was the argument about?” I ask on reflex.
“The incident. She wasn't amused by how he’d done it, saying that it lacked 'art'. After her little display, she asked if anyone else had any disagreements; there were none. She then warned everyone not to interfere with her upcoming debut to Gensokyo before leaving.” Kurumi laughs. “She really put on a show, but just between you and me, she's something of a sloppy eater, getting blood all over her dress. I know I'd never ruin a good white shirt with blood, nor would mom allow it.”
I nod, making a mental note about this vampire’s planned “stunt.” There’s only a couple more questions to ask. “I'm curious about the lake of blood and I'm curious why you don't seem to desire power like I heard most vampires do.”
“I dunno, I've never really wanted much more than some nice turf, a good place to sleep and a cute, nice guy to spend time with. Plus, running into Reimu and seeing the Scarlet Devil's display showed me that wanting too much power was not a good idea. I have no idea how the lake works, but there's always fresh, warm blood in it. I recently figured out a way to weaponize it, but I'm in no hurry to test it out as I don't go about cutting people without good reason.” It's only now that I notice she hasn't taken off her cloak... “After hearing about your tendencies from Wriggle, I suspected that the little incident from when we first met still troubled you.” I look up, and Kurumi is grinning mischievously at me.
“Well… it wasn't bad then, but now…” I stammer nervously.
“Don't worry about it, I told Wriggle what happened and she wasn't upset. I think it's pretty well known where you'd rather have your head rest. Just relax; I'll go and get Elis for you.” She puts her hood back on and leaves. Good thing she didn't hear about last night or I'd be completely embarrassed.
I use the time to compose myself, relieved that I have one less thing to worry about on my mind. Elis enters the room in a pretty energetic fashion. “Sorry if you had to wait too long, Elis,” I say.
“Nah, it gives me extra time to tell you all about Makai. You ready?” I nod, facing the paper in front of me. “Good. The first thing to clear up is that there are girl demons who aren’t succubi. There’re imps, such as myself, and others who specialize in power instead of seduction. Yumeko, the Goddess’s maid and enforcer, is by far the strongest of them.”
I stop writing for a moment and ask, “Pardon me, but what do you mean ‘enforcer?”
She stops for a moment before laughing. “Ah, right, you don’t know. Makai is split up into zones where the law is enforced to different degrees by the Goddess, Lady Shinki. If you break the law in a law zone, someone will come after you; Yumeko herself will show up if it’s bad enough. But Shinki also designated some zones with practically no laws, figuring 'Demons will be demons; might as well give them a way to indulge their impulses.'”
“How strange. I can’t imagine what that would be like, but I guess demons are very different from humans.”
“It seems to work pretty well for us since the last recorded case of Yumeko’s intervention happened about 50 years ago. Going back to the different types of demons, you do not want to run into a typical succubus. They are masters of seduction and manipulation, and love nothing more than separating a fool and his soul. I may be sort of sly, but compared to them I'm very innocent! Don’t confuse me with them!” She’s really getting worked up about being confused with a succubus.
“I won’t; don’t worry. Now, if it's not too painful to recall, could you tell be more about what happened on Makai's side of the incident there?”
“That? Well, it could have been worse, as the moment Sara was beaten the Goddess declared an alert, ordering us to evacuate to other cities. I was in the middle of doing that when Yuuka confronted me, saying that she wanted to know where some strong demons were. I pointed her off towards the lawless zones, and once everything calmed down I heard they zones were pretty quiet. Some other person in addition to Yuuka struck there, though some of the guys didn't seem to mind their encounters with someone named Mima. Under Lady Shinki’s guidance, it didn't take long for the city to recover, though it took us a while to find out that Alice had run off. I decided to join the search party to help find her, and because I wondered if guys in Gensokyo could appreciate a slim figured girl.”
I pause before I finish writing down that last bit, then scratch it out. I wonder about the other visitors in the past. “Do you think the demons tourists from before the incident are what started it in the first place?” I ask.
“Yep, some of them didn't bother learning about Gensokyo's culture or moderation, and after too many went through at once, it became a problem that Reimu decided to solve. When just one or two went at the same time, no one seemed to notice. It also helped that Luize looks pretty normal, and I'm often mistaken for a vampire,” she answers.
I attempt to think of anything else to ask, but her lecture and answers were pretty thorough, so I think we’ve covered just about everything. As I start pulling papers together, she interrupts my thinking. “Uh, have you heard of any reports about an attractive redhead with bat wings on her head in Gensokyo? I ask because some time ago, a friend of mine, Karen, disappeared. It’d usually be hard to miss her, but she might be disguising herself with magic. If she was summoned, I hope whoever she made a contract with doesn't treat her badly.”
Wait… I remember reading a bit about magicians summoning devil familiars. “People still do that? I thought that didn’t happen anymore with the decay of magic in the outsider world.”
Elis shrugs. “It has, but there's still a few magicians who know to summon demons out there. I heard Lady Shinki wanted to be summoned once and even tried spreading the message, but the outside world thought she was some kind of horrific monster. If only they knew what she was really like, then everyone would be trying to summon her. Ah!” She claps her hands excitedly. “One more thing for you to write down. One of the classes taught in Makai is how to find contract loopholes. Thanks to that, most demons can escape from cruel masters.”
I write down her last comment, and attempt to think of some more questions but don't come up with anything. “Alright. That's it, and I'll try to keep an eye out for your friends as anything is possible in Gensokyo. Thank you for your time.”
She gets up and begins to leave, saying, “It should be me thanking you, as I finally got the chance to set things straight. Hope you have a nice day with Wriggle!” I organize my notes, then get up and go to Lady Akyuu's room.
I arrive in the room and pass my notes to Lady Akyuu, who quickly scans through them. “Well this is definitely interesting, and it debunks some old theories. Too bad you didn't ask about how things were going with that friends of yours.” She looks up at me. “Some of the tengu ninjas are betting on how long it takes for him and the night sparrow to… progress.” I havn’et talked with Kamui, so I don’t know if Akyuu’s right or not, but I don't want her getting mixed up in something like this so I stay quiet.
“Are the tengu really that bored?” I ask.
She answers, “It's not every day that you hear about a guy getting involved with a night sparrow, a demon, and vampire. Thank you for doing these interviews; you can go home now so you don't keep Wriggle waiting.”
“Wait... how do you know that Wriggle’s at my house?” I ask, surprised she knew.
She giggles and answers, “I didn't know for sure, but you told me just now. I had suspected as much when I didn't see Wriggle leave the village last night, and for that reason I assumed you'd be in bed longer today. But go on home, I'll be looking through these notes and comparing them to what's already been recorded.”
“Alright then, but if you need help, just send someone over,” I respond. Akyuu nods and waves me away, and I leave the mansion.
I return home, finding Wriggle waiting for me. “Yuki, mother requested that I return home before the sun sets.” I notice there's no sign of mother or father.
“I understand, let's just enjoy the day.” I answer. We head to my room and leaf through the books some more, talking about whatever comes to mind. It's nice just to spend time with Wriggle, my hand holding hers. In the afternoon she gets up and kisses me, saying, “I'll be back in a couple of days, Yuki.” I wave goodbye, and she heads up the stairs and out of the house.
Mother and father come home a little while later, and we enjoy a normal dinner before working on our separate projects in the evening. Eventually it gets late enough that I head to sleep.
A few weeks passed since that day, and life somehow returned to a normal pace. There were reports of Arthur's adventures at different forts, but each seems to be in a more remote area than the last. The day before yesterday Miss Shameimaru interviewed Miss Keine for the paper to get some new material, so the interview should be in today's issue. Class is back in session as well; I wonder what the lesson will be about?
I finish getting dressed and preparing my bag, then go up stairs for breakfast. I find father looking rather nervously at the paper in his hands. “Father, did something go wrong with the interview?” I ask.
He answers calmly, “Look at this part, Yuki. It seems Keine said something very foolish.”
The part he's pointing to reads, “Since I've taken the place of the miko, Gensokyo's balance is maintained.” What possessed Miss Keine to say such a thing?! It's well known among the scholars that the role of the Hakurei shrine maiden cannot be filled by just anyone. Oh dear… Reimu was very upset when the village underpaid her for Makai incident, and now this happens?
“Father, is it normal to have a bad feeling about this?”
Father shakes his head slowly. “It's perfectly normal.” Suddenly, I feel a sharp spike of energy from the direction of the shrine, and notice the tea in father's cup ripple. “And so it's begun. Yuki, hurry to school and try to warn everyone. I'm going to find Hayato and whoever else might be able to calm her down.”
I set down my half finished breakfast, grab my bag and run towards the school as fast as I can.
I finally get into the school and burst through the doors, startling Miss Keine at her desk. “Yuki, what's matter? You never arrive here this fast.”
[ ] Try to explain the whole thing. [ ] Get to the point of the matter: Reimu's mad and she's headed this way.
[X] Get to the point of the matter: Reimu's mad and she's headed this way.
I should get right to it. “Miss Keine, Reimu's angry at you and she's headed this way!” I try to sense any surges of energy, as if Reimu moved in this state, it'd be hard NOT to feel anything.
“If it's about the interview, I simply told the truth about how inactive she is. Don’t worry; if something happens, I'm well prepared,” she answers. Something about the situation makes me feel that she is far from ready, not when one of Reimu's rampages was able to traumatize someone like Meira. I sit down, hoping for the best and bracing myself for whatever might come.
As the other students come in, including my friends, I notice there's no real sense of threat anywhere. I'm dreading the implications of this as I feel Reimu would not calm down so easily. After the last few come in, Miss Keine stands up and flips to a topic from her book. I start thinking of reasons that might explain the lull... maybe Reimu's waiting for a certain ti- Ah! She was above the school!?
The door flies off its hinges and breaks against the wall as Reimu floats in with two orbs, looking absolutely terrifying. Seeing her like this makes it much easier to image her fighting against someone like Miss Yuuka.
“Reimu, explain yourself this instant! Why are you damaging school property?” Miss Keine exclaims, looking at the remains of the door.
“Can't you just wave your ass at the geezers in village council and have them replace it? I wonder how much… persuading you did to get the reward for the demon incident so low. Funny how while the village has a guardian, I still have to do the heavy lifting while you don’t do much more than wear an undersized dress!” Reimu responds with undeniable malice.
"Reimu, don't speak of things you don't know! I had nothing do with that!" Miss Keine replies.
Reimu replies, “I'm not here to listen to your excuses. I came here to see if you really could replace me in the simplest fashion possible: a danmaku battle, though I already know how it's going to end. I'm the one who dealt with some of the nastiest things that both hell and Makai could throw at me, and what's the toughest thing you've ever fought besides some puny ferals?” Her glare narrows further. “Or maybe I could tell everyone here your not so little secret; no matter how well you hide it, it's very obvious to me.” At this remark, Miss Keine’s expression becomes worried.
She answers, "Don't involve the students in this; they have nothing to do with it!"
One of the students tries standing up, but Reimu immediately snaps at him, “Sit down; this is between me and her. I don't think she'd want any of her students getting hurt over something stupid.” She wouldn’t really attack a student, would she? I hope Father finds Mr. Yaguu soon.
She answers, “Oh but you'd just try brushing me off if I didn't. Do you even know just what the council's request caused? Countless buildings in another land were wrecked, people were injured, and a little girl saw her mother shot up right in front of her! And why did the old men think it had to be done? Because a bunch of demons wanted to VISIT here! I’m sure you already know what that girl did? She tossed away everything and set out to seek revenge against those she held responsible. The only reason she hasn't struck against the village is because she found someone who talked her out of it. The entire incident was a massive mess and that pathetic excuse of a bounty put on top of it just adds insult to injury.” Angrily, Reimu snaps an array of ofuda into her hands. “So come on, Keine. Let's see how you're going to fill in my spot against vampires, demons, gods, and angels of death. It'd be unfair if I didn't give you an excuse of a fighting chance!”
I hear rapid footsteps before Father and Mr. Yaguu rush into the classroom. “MISS HAKUREI!” “REIMU!” Reimu turns and leers at them, but doesn’t make any threatening motions.
Father is the first to speak up. “Please stop this, Miss Hakurei; there's no need for violence. Remember that we were among the few that tried to vote for a more reasonable payment solution. Assaulting Keine would only give the radicals more fuel to use against you.”
Mr. Yaguu adds, “Reimu, your parents wouldn't want you to go this far, even after such a grievous error on Keine's part. This comes from someone who knew your grandparents when they ran the shrine. Please, stop this and I'll convince Keine to apologize for it.”
"......Reimu I'm rea-" Miss Keine tries to say before getting interrupted.
Reimu shakes her head. “Tch. I'm not interested in hearing empty apologies from the person in the position created to spite me and my family. I think I've made it clear that making me angry again would be regrettable, especially due to her secret. I think I'll go pester Marisa for once, instead of the other way around…” She sheathes her ofuda and walks out the door, followed by her orbs. Everyone lets out a huge collective sigh once she’s gone.
“…Class is postponed for a week, go on home everyone. I have to talk to Mr. Yaguu and Mr. Kojima about some things…” Miss Keine’s voice is hollow as she dismisses us, but all the students still start to leave.
I decide to walk along with Kamui and the others, though it looks like Ginji isn’t himself. “I think a nice meeting with some snacks sounds about right after something scary like that,” Kamui announces.
“I'm going to have a hard time finding a youkai that's anywhere near as scary as the shrine maiden,” Kazuma remarks, and we nod in agreement. It doesn't take long for us to reach the inn.
We sit at our usual table and I check my bag for my money pouch. As nice as it is to get food for free, I feel guilty about imposing myself on the Matron's hospitality. Ah here it is, and I have a decent amount of money to pay with.
“Let's think of a topic to start things off with,” Kamui states. “I’m curious about what you all have been doing, since we’ve all been busy with stuff.” Kazuma looks deep in thought.
As for me...
[ ] What Reimu said about the village guardian position raises some questions. [ ] Kamui has the right idea; it’s good to know how everyone's been doing. [ ] How are Elis and Kurumi doing? I haven’t seen them since the interview, and I'm sort of curious.
I apologize for the update being a bit late and lacking.
[x] Kamui has the right idea; it’s good to know how everyone's been doing.
“How has everyone been doing these past few weeks?” I ask, leaving my response for last.
Everyone seems to relax, except Ginji for whatever reason, and Kamui orders some snacks. While the Matron tends to our order, Kazuma's the first to speak up. “Life's been pretty good, and I'm about to try out some B ranked bounties. No other hunters have tried starting anything recently. I've been seeing more of Hatate, but I think that's as much as I can say.” I think it's for the best he doesn't go into more detail; I certainly wouldn't want to draw attention to such activities.
“Rika, Rikako, and I are all doing fine. They’re helping me try to design a new model of heater; I had a few new ideas after comparing some notes,” Ginji adds, still seeming distracted.
“What about you, Kamui?” I ask. I’m curious about what he’s been up to, and am wondering how Kurumi and Elis are doing since the interview.
“Well life's gotten calmer after that interview; Elis's been really chipper about the whole thing. There's not as much horsing around, which lets me spend some time with Mysty. I hope things have been good for you and the ladybug,” he answers, grinning.
I answer, “They are, and she gets along well with my parents. I’m a little worried, though; Lady Kazami's planning a visit to talk with my parents. I hope you're prepared for when she does the same to you.”
“Don’t worry about it. Kurumi already introduced her to Elis and Mystia in attempt to lessen the tension there. From what she said, I think it went well, and I’m going to meet Yuuka for dinner in a couple of days. I'm still a bit nervous though as even at best she has a powerful presence; you know about that yourself.” I nod. He leans back and sighs. “I don't think I’ll bother Ginji about what's bugging him, but today's incident is worrying you, that much I can tell. Hell, it's bugging me that the shrine maiden was just a thread's thickness away from flipping out!” he adds.
I reply, “I know what you mean. I'm also confounded by what made Miss Keine think it was a good idea to say 'I've replaced the shrine maiden.' I know that for youkai, if one tried to say they'd replaced one of their elders, they'd be dead within days. Some of the things Reimu said made me curious about the workings of the village government… I'm definitely planning on asking Akyuu about this later; I’m sure she knows all about this.”
Before anyone can dwell on the matter further, Kazuma asks, “Hey, has anyone else run into that umbrella girl? I think she tried to scare me by jumping out, but I think I scared her worse. I'm just too used to things jumping out at me. I did try apologizing though.”
“I did a few weeks back,” I answer. “She surprised Wriggle and I on our way back from the clearing. She's a nice girl that just likes to startle people; she even gave us an umbrella. I’ve been taking good care of it like she asked. She seemed very fond of it, though I suppose that makes sense when you consider the fact that she was a mere umbrella once.”
Kamui remarks, “Huh, so she’s a youkai? Guess that explains things. I only saw her a few times; definitely a cutie, though I felt flirting with her was wrong. Don't want to make Yuki's girlfriend think even less of me. I think I have a good song inspired by her though.”
Ginji appears to snap out of his funk as he chimes in, “That would insinuate it was possible for her to think less of you. I haven't had a chance to run into the girl myself, though Rikako did. She said the girl asked her to set her stuff down before surprising her. Pretty considerate, all things considered, though it’s a little strange that Rika was startled at all.”
The discussion veers off into small talk, such as the harvest festival coming up in a month, though not much is said of the fall goddesses. Everyone else probably has other girls on mind. It dies down quickly after Kazuma and Ginji leave.
As I start to leave as well, Kamui speaks up. “Yuki, you should really try to relax somehow as I can tell today's incident is sitting on your mind. Maybe browse some nice books or take a bath, especially if the ladybug's going to help.” He grins widely at that last statement.
“I'm not sure if that's... but those sound like good ideas. Good luck with Mystia!” I answer before leaving, putting down some money for the snacks. I've got to calm down before I reveal too much.
Kamui responds, “Thanks, I know you'll just insist on paying your share so don't worry about it,” and I leave the Inn.
Outside I calm myself down from the thought of Wriggle in a bath. I don't think she's even going to visit today. Well, it's been a while since I personally visited the bookstore. While Kourin's place has various exotic comics, this shop, the “Suzunann,” has plenty of more normal books, many from the outside world. But a bath does sound nice...
[ ] Head to the Suzunaan and browse some books at the least. There’s nothing like a good book to take the mind off of things. [ ] Head home, bathe and read. I'm not lacking books as it is.
[T] Head to the Suzunaan and browse some books at the least. There’s nothing like a good book to take the mind off of things.
Going home will likely trigger a Wriggle bath event as insinuated. There is a time and a place for fan service, and right now, we don't need to aggravate any of Yuki's feelings, whether they be about happenings in town or in his personal relationship. I think a book ought to take his mind off of other things and let him relax a bit.
[x] Head to the Suzunaan and browse some books at the least. There’s nothing like a good book to take the mind off of things.
I should relax at the book store so my parents don't have any reason to worry, and Wriggle too if she's there. It's been a while since I personally visited the Suzunaan.
After walking through the Merchant's area for a while, the shop comes into view looking much the same as before. I enter the store and walk past a few bookshelves before finding Mrs. Motoori. “Hello, Mrs. Motoori. Sorry I haven't visited in so long.”
“Oh, Yuki! Don't worry about it. I'm sure someone your age has other things on his mind, after all. A young man shouldn't be spending all his time around here anyways. We haven't gotten anything new in but we have started a program here to rent book outs to valued customers, such as your family and the Hiedas. Lady Akyuu certainly seems to prefer to outright buy books, though. Do be careful around the store as Kosuzu's taken to looking through books. She isn’t stopped by the fact that she can’t read yet; she looks so cute when she tries.” I remember Kosuzu; she's their young daughter. I faintly remember the last time we met on my last visit: held in her mother's arms.
I head to the historical tales section first to see if I overlooked anything during my past visits, and find Kosuzu on the floor looking through an illustrated book of flowers. I sit down next to her. “Hello Kosuzu, are you having fun?” Spending some time wouldn't hurt... and it'd be a nice change to be around a little girl who is just a little girl.
“Yeah and these flowers are pretty, Yukiyuki!” She answers. At least she's able to say my name instead of sounding out “Yukyuk.” I recognize the flower I got Wriggle from the page she’s reading, though Kosuzu doesn't say a thing. Word can travel fast in the village, but I think Lady Akyuu’s made me too wary of little girls in general.
I look around for something interesting to read while keeping an eye on Kosuzu. One seems to cover some western stuff about 'cowboys.' I remember father compared them to ronin at one point. I pull a few more books off the shelf but before I can go, Kosuzu tugs at my pants leg.
“Read me a story!” Heh, I guess I'll do it; let’s see… something that'd be good for a little girl. Wait... did Akyuu write this one? “Little Red Miko and the Sorry Wolf Youkai.” Well, I'll try this one; I can always stop if I find something questionable, or if Kosuzu gets bored.
“And then little red miko spent the wolf's money on terribly extravagant food; the end.” As I close the book, I notice Kosuzu’s fallen asleep. Before I come up with a way to move her, her mother walks over, gesturing for silence. After she picks up Kosuzu and leaves, I dust myself off and gather up the books I’m renting.
I find Mr. Motoori tending the counter in his wife’s absence. After counting up the books I selected, he says, “Well, since we know your family and appreciate how much your father shops, I'll only charge 800 yen for the bunch. Remember to return them in a week.” Thankful to be given a discount, I pay my money and leave.
I arrive home to find dinner already set out, and Wriggle waiting for me alone at the table. She jumps up and hugs me as I walk in, saying, “Yuki, are you alright? When Mother told me about the article I was worried!”
“I'm sorry... if I knew you were coming over, I'd have gone straight home after school ended. Instead I hung out with the guys then dropped by the bookstore, and wound up reading the owner's daughter a story. Sorry for making you wait…” I respond, sitting down. I notice that Mother isn't anywhere nearby. “Where did Mother go?”
“She went to take some of the dinner over to your father who's in a meeting; from what your mother was hinting at I think it's related to what happened today. I have no idea what could have made Keine say that; if a youkai tried to boast that they were as strong as Mother or Lady Yakumo, they'd end up dead if the person in question answered their challenge. Oops, I'm sorry; I was trying to help you relax!” She says, realizing that she isn’t helping the situation.
I shake my head. “It’s alright; I'm not mad at you at all and appreciate the effort.” Starting to eat some of the laid out food, I try and change the subject. “Did Mother make this soup?”
“Oh, no. We both worked on it,” she answers, serving herself as well. The conversation dies down after that, but it's a content sort of silence.
As we put away the dishes in the kitchen, I notice Wriggle looking anxious. “Is there something you want Wriggle? I do need to thank you for helping cook dinner, after all.”
She looks away, fiddling with the ends of her shirt. “I was thinking about taking a bath.... the both of us…” she answers bashfully.
That’s a nice idea, and I don’t have to think long before answering. “That sounds great, though not for perverted reasons.”
She starts smiling as she answers, “This wouldn't be the first time you saw me bathing after all.” We both start chuckling at the reminder of our unusual first meeting.
“At any rate, our tub is a little different from normal, so I'll show you how to set it up,” I say before leading her to the changing area.
After getting things set up I go ahead to the bathroom with a towel to wait for Wriggle, though I’m not kept long. “Ah, you're ready, Yuki,” I hear her say, and I turn around almost instinctively to see her with only a towel covering her bottom areas. “I couldn't find a spare big towel; and I don't mind showing you, you know,” she answers, blushing at the end. “Let me take care of washing your back and hair, Yuki. And if you have anything you want to get off your mind, I'm willing to listen,” she adds as I start washing my arms.
[ ] Since she's offering I'd like to share some of the latent worries caused by today. [ ] I'd rather not risk putting too much on Wriggle's mind. It's better to talk about more pleasant things.
And afterwards, the sorry wolf youkai's paparazzo friend took advantage of the situation and published the entire event on her newspaper, turning public opinion on the little red miko and giving the poor wolf youkai horrible mental scars.
In the end everyone lost. And then The gap youkai saw it, and she was pleased. The End.
[X] Since she's offering I'd like to share some of the latent worries caused by today.
>>26590 They are not one and the same. The Syndicate is an organization that popped up soon after the influx of outsiders. Their goals aren't known other than that they have attempted to kidnap some girls. An Outsider is the head of it, one of the reasons why the Historical Society has no love for it.