Thread 2! Hey, I'm alive! I know a lot of people were ragging on me for dropping my other story, but I came out and said I would. This one went on break because of some personal life problems. I'm still here. Also I feel like people may have deleted their votes for the last choice or something (besides the votespam) but I'll write with what the votes say now.
"I don't know." I respond quietly. "This story is so vaguely written. It is more of a legend than a historical account. I can't glean much from it. The people seemed to like him, but it doesn't say what he did. Sure, he killed some youkai, but did he kill ones that were a major threat? Or did he kill them just because he could?"
Keine smiles. "This is a part of interpreting history. Often times people only have a vague story written about them. Sometimes they seem great, other times, not so great. However.." She gives a small smile.
"This is just one account. There are other was to understand something. For example, this story is recent enough that some people may still be telling it and may know something about it. So, for your first assignment in my class, I'd like you to find out as much as you can. You are free to use any resources you can find, and you have until next week to report to me with your new opinion on the hero and his story."
She stands, and bows.
"Class dismissed." Keine gives a cute giggle while looking me in the eye. Class of one dismissed, huh? I suppose it is time to meet up with Marisa..
But it is a bit early. We said we'd meet in the evening, but class today was rather short. I have a few hours, so I decided to head home. I don't make it very far, though, before a sharp pain strikes my head.
Or, I should say, a dull rock lands on my head.
"Ow! What the-"
I look up, and see a broomstick, huge grin, a black-and-white outfit, and a hint of bloomers.
Oh, sweet bloomers.
I'm relieved to see her..it means she is unharmed and not involved in whatever happened last night. We'll see how long that lasts. "You are early!" Marisa says happily as she descends.
"I could say the same for you. I thought we agreed to meet in the evening."
"Well, we did, buuuut...I was hoping to get some clues before we met up. You saw what happened last night, right?"
It took less than five seconds to find out that she wants to get involved. I wonder if that is a new record for her, or if our "date" today is keeping her from rushing out there right now.
"Do you have to go rush out every time you see something like that? Isn't it dangerous?"
"Isn't it more fun if it could be dangerous?" There wasn't even a pause. Clearly this is a practiced response..
"Alright, fair enough, but..be careful, okay?"
"Why don't you come with me? You can see that I don't need to be careful, and we can hang out AND find out what happened at the same time!"
"How would I come with you?"
"Well, this broom is big enough for two!"
 Go adventuring with Marisa  Stay here. I have a history project to do.  Ask Marisa to stay in the village for our "date".
Turns out the broom is big enough for one and a half, not two. Marisa's flight is no slower than usual, though, so after taking off with a slight warning to "hang on" we were off with the speed of light. What the hell am I supposed to hold onto?
On one hand, I think I'm gonna be sick.
On the other, I get to wrap my hand around Marisa's waist, and flying this way is something I've always wanted to do. We aren't too high, the treetops are still pretty close, but...the human village looks like a playground, and the people like toddlers. I think I even see Keine walking somewhere, her white hair and odd hat standing out amongst the crowd. I briefly wonder if she'd be upset with me for going out like this, but that thought is quickly pushed from my mind when a sharp gust of air causes me to cling instinctively to Marisa. She lets out a girlish yelp at my touch.
"I'm sorry! The wind was.."
"Its okay, you just, um..startled me. I've never had anyon- well, I've never had a guy cling that close to me." Her voice gets much quieter, so I can barely hear over the wind rushing past my head. "It wasn't bad though.."
I blush but remain quiet. I'm not sure I was supposed to hear that, but it hard to ignore. I am suddenly VERY aware of how tightly I am clinging, and how soft her body feels against mine. It isn't dainty, flowery soft, her stomach is firm, but it is still somehow feminine.
A time passes as we rush over the trees and the village grows smaller and smaller, and the sun moves lower and lower, bathing the world in an orange light.
"You never told me where we are going."
She groans. "That's because I'm a bit hesitant to go there. We're going to visit a friend of mine. She lives close to where the fighting happened the other night..but I'm not sure how happy she'll be to see you."
To see me? Does she know me or something? Please don't tell me I am that infamous for my crush.
"Ah, we are nearing her place now."
As soon as she says that, though, something goes wrong.
A bright light appears. Multiple spheres of them. Yellow circles in the air..they are pretty, but not complex. Marisa swerves to avoid them, easily dodging. They seem to form a more complex pattern, but I'm slipping from the broom before I can get a look at the person at the center of the attack. All I can catch is something long fluttering in the wind. Robes? Hair? A cape? I can't quite tell..I start to slide off the broom, and Marisa reaches out for me. However, one of those yellow spheres is approaching her. She won't have time to pull me up..
 Call out for her to dodge it, and fall into the forest below. The drop doesn't seem lethal.  Grab her hand and pray she can evade in time.
I won't die, and her safety is more important than mine. Instead of grabbing her hand, I shout for her to look out. She manages to dodge the bullet, but I'm falling into the woods far too quickly to see what happens next. I flail my arms, reaching out for a branch to grab onto as I fall through the treetops. I feel sharp branches cut across my face and arms as I fall.
I cannot bear to look down, but luckily I black out before I feel any impact. Er, wait. I'm not sure that is good. ----------
When I wake it is dark. The sun was setting before I fell, though, so that isn't saying much...how long was I out? I can't tell much from my current situation. Every part of my aches, but I am propped up against a tree. Blood is slowly oozing down my arms and legs. My right arm in particular stings..when I try to move it, the pain intensifies. A light weight sits across my chest, a light branch I probably broke in my fall.
After getting my bearings and clearing my mind for a moment, I try to shift to my feet. "I'll move this branch off of me, and.." I let out a hoarse scream.
It isn't a branch. It is a centipede. Or something. It is huge, and clinging to my shirt. It crawls quickly up my chest, making it as far as my armpit before I swat it off. It seems to hiss as me, and rears up like a striking snake when it reaches the ground.
A light, boyish voice echoes my way from the woods. It's source emerges from the darkness, an androgynous boy who is clearly a youkai, antennae emerging from his short green hair, his long cape fluttering like a bug's wings.
"What did you expect me to do? Let it bite me?"
He looks shocked. "My cute pet has been watching over you for me."
"So I wouldn't move until you came to eat me?"
"Something like that." He gives a surprisingly girlish chuckle. "It doesn't look like you are getting away anytime soon." He takes a step toward me, and the ground seems to shift ahead of him. The ground isn't moving though, it is a layer of insects, all likely poisonous and larger than natural.
"What a nasty way to die..a youkai like this..eating me, and then sharing my corpse with his bugs.."
"What. Did. You. Say?!" His eyes seem to glow in the darkness. "His?! His?! I'M A CUTE GIRL YOU IDIOT!" The swarm of bugs seems to move more quickly, more threateningly.
 Stand and fight. Better to die fighting.  Try to limp away. I can yell for help and hope to be found.  Go into the fetal position and pray for this to be a dream.
Bugs are mostly quicker than limping humans. Therefore, we face the same threat whether we run, fight, or curl up into a little ball. Thus, we may as well fight against our likely inevitable demise as much as we can.
Plus Marisa will probably come down to check where we fell and being as close as possible to that is good. Probable respect from Marisa for fighting is also good.
>>25553 I like that story. I didn't want two Wriggle stories on the front page, though, so I shot for a darker interpretation. Actually, I'm gonna try that with most youkai, except maybe the ones that are normally portrayed as evil or harmful.
>>25557 I didn't say I was avoiding a route entirely. The chance is still there. That said, I don't want to end up writing the same character the same way as someone else. And not to be rude, I love the canon, but this is a story written by me, not ZUN. I want the youkai to seem dangerous, so not every encounter can be "oh she was gonna eat me but then decided not to".
>>25558 >I want the youkai to seem dangerous, so not every encounter can be "oh she was gonna eat me but then decided not to".
I'd expect that most human deaths to youkai in canon aren't to big-time named ones, but to simple kedama, Evil Eyes, or other non-fairy stage enemies, since even though they're weaker than an average human, they come in swarms, wield ranged energy attacks, and always appear before the boss does. Nobody writes about them though, probably because they are mindless and they don't look like young women.
[X] "Sorry, been kind of distracted." [X] Groan in pain. [X] "I don't suppose I can ask a young lady like you for some assistance, huh?" [X] Try to test out your limbs. Try to stand if everything still seems to be intact.
I'm not getting anywhere on this leg. I should stay put and wait to be found. I just hope Marisa is okay and that she can find me..
Picking up a large..ish..stick, I hold it in front of me like a sword. The swarm closes in, the youkai seeming to float forward as they carry hi-her..her forward. I guess she's feminine. Kind of cute, for a guy. Er, wait, that isn't what I meant.
She closes in..No sign of help..She is less than ten feet from me, her smaller, fast bugs crawling over my feet and she surfs on a wave of oversized maneaters. I can almost feel the anger emanating from her. So I do something I hope she won't expect.
3.. 2.. 1..
I toss the branch. It twirls in the air, flying true, and smacks her right in the face, cracking in half across her nose.
"Ow! What the hell!" She topples over onto her swarm, which surrounds her in worry. Can bugs worry?
"You stupid f-"
It gets dark. Pitch black.
"Oh noooo." She groans. "Go awaaay! Get out of here! He's mine!" She hasn't moved as far as I can tell by her voice, but soon I feel a warmth against my arm. My entire body jolts and shudders, but it isn't a threatening touch. A small hand grabs my own and gently leads me. I hobble along with it, and soon I find I'm leaning on a small girl.
"Thank you." I whisper.
"I can't stay...you are bleeding..it smells good." A soft voice replies. I can't read the emotion in it. Fear? Sadness?
"I owe you my life." I hope my voice gets across my relief and gratitude.
"We're even..well..not quite." She says. "I tried to eat you..this is only half the debt I owe."
I still can't see her, but now I know for a fact who it is.
 You can repay me by helping me find Marisa.  You can repay me by not eating me in the future. I don't need anything else.  You don't have to make up for trying to eat me. I can't blame you for hunting your natural prey.
>>25588 I was referring to more letting go of Marisa and injuring ourselves badly and then proceeding to piss off a youkai. If it wasn't for Rumia, things would have ended badly with this line of thinking. It'd be foolish to assume that something will save us each and every time.
I remember when particularly... "ill-advised" voters were called out for their... "lack of thinking".
>>25589 I don't think Rumia would attack at WORST, just leave him in the forest out to fend for himself. In better cases I'd think Rumia'd take us back near the village and all that it'd entail: likely a ban from leaving the village again on top of time spent in bed.
[X] You don't have to make up for trying to eat me. I can't blame you for hunting your natural prey.
Lets not make it any more difficult than it needs to be for Rumia NOT to eat Matsuo.
Got to remember that while working on Keine's history project Matsuo has to take into account whether the so-called "hero" went after youkai who were feral enough to mindlessly assault anything weak, actually malicious, or possibly just as peaceful as a complacent human villager may be; or finally finding out the hero was a complete monster disguising his exploits as for the good of the village.
what if the villagers misinterpreted the hero's actions to begin with?!
I think it's a lot simpler than that. Human's instinct is to protect themselves. Therefore they band together when strongest, in numbers. If attacked by youkai, they defend themselves, as it is our nature to want to survive. If attacked repeatedly, they strike back preemptively in order to prevent further attacsk.
Basically, Youkai hunt because it is their nature. Humans protect because it is their nature.
Of course, of course. I'm just pointing out each side to that argument. That's why I'm voting to be friendliest with Rumia. She's bucking the trend, and is apologizing for what we think is natural for a youkai to do.
And yes, Momiji is different. She would hold the line.
>Everybody who thought we're about to be eaten is dumb. >"So I wouldn't move until you came to eat me?" >"Something like that." >The swarm of bugs seems to move more quickly, more threateningly. Fuck you, you're dumb if you thought we weren't about to get eaten.
[x] You can repay me by helping me find Marisa.
Third option is basically saying "Hey, I don't mind if you eat me. Go right ahead, it's fine. I smell good, don't I? That means you should eat me."
Curiously no one considered the possibility that Marisa may attack Rumia without understanding the circumstances of her holding onto Matsuo?
This is of course assuming Rumia/Matsuo successfully manages to find Marisa or vice-versa.
This shouldn't be a platform for youaki/human hating/loving as it ought to be a focus on Matsuo's current progress as a beginner scholar who happen to decide going with Marisa on an adventure in lieu of starting his research from local sources...
>>25614 Well as far as I can see it is mostly is with a bit of what >>25612 mentions, though I think he was reading into things a bit much, assuming he was still on the job and not merely going on a date with Marisa (which got horribly derailed)
Marisa wins. Its always close with this story, and it always makes me nervous I'm going to screw up the count somehow. I probably will one of these days.
Also, discussion is great, guys, but can we stop insulting each other? This goes to both sides, though I notice the human side seems a little more hostile in general.
>>25614 This is a "romancing Touhous" story. ...One that was supposed to be about Mystia and Marisa, but thread DERAILED. Oh well, still fun to write. ---------------------------------------
"Can you lead me to my friends? If you can do that, I don't care about petty debts."
She doesn't reply, but we come to a stop. After a brief silence, she leans me up against a tree.
"Wait here." Her body heat leaves my side. I hear twigs snap.
"Wait, where are you going?" The footstops stop. "What is your name?"
"...Rumia." Comes a quiet response.
"Thank you, Rumia. I hope to run into you again someday, when neither of us are in danger."
"...yeah!" She sounds so happy, but her voice is very quiet, as always.
I shift my body weight onto the tree and exhale. My breath is shaky..I'm not going to die, but I'd love to relax. I wonder if that bug youkai is going to find us. I don't want to bring Rumia into a fight.
"Matsuo? Matsuo!" A voice I don't recognize calls out to me.
"I'm here!" I call out, and Rumia's footsteps resume. "Wait, Rumia!" I call into the darkness..but it is useless. Soon I'm greeted with light. Not much of it, since it is night in the woods, but my eyes can actually adjust to this natural darkness.
"Geez...you could be in better shape." A young woman steps into my sight. Her hair is blonde, but lighter and shorter than Marisa's. Her face and figure are much more feminine, however. A doll is perched on her shoulder, somehow perfectly balanced despite her strides through the woods.
The young woman gives a sigh. "Marisa and I have been looking everywhere for you. You definitely didn't make yourself easy to find. Why didn't you just stay put?"
I start to answer, but then an excited voice comes bursting from the trees behind the woman. "Matsuooooo!" Marisa burst from the woods and wraps her arms around me, like a little girl greeting her father coming home from work. "You stupid idiot! I was worried about you!"
"I'm fine. I'm glad you are okay too." I give her an awkward hug back.
The other girl clears her throat loudly. Marisa backs off and gives her a grin. "Sorry, sorry. This is Alice. She was who we were going to go see, but I sought her out to help me find you. We're glad you are okay."
"I thought you would be someone's dinner by now." Alice says without a trace of humor. "You certainly made it quite a distance on that bad leg of yours without running into any dangerous youkai." She doesn't sound impressed at all. Instead, she sounds annoyed.
"I did run into some youkai..two actually."
They help me to my feet as I continue the tale. Marisa starts to let me lean on her for support as we walk to Alice's house...but soon Alice pushes her aside and takes my shoulder instead.
"You've had enough excitement for one day. Both of you."
"Let's go to your place and relax while we discuss what to do next!" Marisa's enthusiasm leads us on.
"I think what to do next would be to get Matsuo home. He is injured, he has been attacked by youkai, and by the time we manage to get him home he will have been out of the village at least a full day. I'm sure someone is worried sick about him." Alice says, sounding motherly.
"Speaking of youkai, I'm surprised. I thought you were just lucky...but not only did you survive Rumia, but you know her? How did that happen?"
I tell them the story of how she tried to eat me during our first encounter, and then our second encounter with the bear trap. "How do you know her?" I ask Marisa.
"I've had a run in or two with her myself. She isn't the brightest when it comes to danmaku, but for someone without it..." I briefly feel eyes on me, but I can't tell from where...or if I'm imagining things. The feeling clears up after we reach Alice's house, a small but well-built home in a small clearing.
"Home at last!" Marisa exclaims as we enter.
"It isn't your home, you know.." Alice groans but somehow seems happy. She helps me over to a couch, where I sit back.
"I'd like to look at your leg. I'm not much of a doctor, but I can try to help. We don't want you to get an infection and lose it.."
Sorry for cutting it here, but I'm falling asleep. I'll finish the update with the choice tomorrow!
>>25616 >Mystia vs Marisa That's a match Mystia's never won in /forest/
And the HFY bunch are generally a hostile bunch.
>>25617 I'd like to see Mystia get a story for once as I remember there being two stories with Mystia, both of them are dead. While for all the dead Marisa and/or Alice stories I'd require two sheets of paper to tally all of them up.
>>25623 I think he's upset that the Rumia fans came out of the woodwork and upon seeing Rumia and as a result, she's now a route choice. Mystia has a nearly impossible battle with Marisa as it is without any surprise interlopers.
The only character I absolutely do not want to date is Keine, and that's just because dating your teacher is weiiiiird. She's also making it impossible for Matsuo to abandon his responsibilities and live as a hermit out in the woods with a loving wife.
For the record, Rumia route is completely okay by me as well. I wouldn't attempt to write a route if I hated the idea of you going for it. This story has heavily deviated from the original plan, but that isn't bad. The original plan might end up being a short story I write for fun someday. -----------------------------------------
"You are very kind. Sorry for intruding on you like this."
Alice gives a composed, polite smile, the first I've seen. She seems very in control of her emotions when Marisa isn't the cause of them.
"I am just concerned about your health. I don't think that is kindness. Wouldn't anyone do this?"
"You are kind because you think that way." Alice turns bright red and goes silent at this remark.
"What were you thinking, Marisa?" Her emotions do a 180 as she turns to her friend. "He isn't like me. You can't just bring him on your adventures and expect him to be okay."
"He isn't like you, huh?" Marisa teases. "Sounds like jealousy!"
Alice grabs a pillow from the couch and throws it at her. "Get out! Get out! Go do something useful. Cook us something. Wait, on second thought..why don't you just sweep the porch with that broom of yours?"
"Why can't I cook?! Er, wait! Why do I even have to work? He doesn't have to!" The magician protests.
"He is injured. Do you really want him to work?" Marisa sighs and concedes the point, stomping off to clean, something I have a feeling she isn't too familiar with.
"Take off your pants." Alice says calmly.
"Do I have to? I mean..that might be fine if I was another girl, but.."
"Don't think of me as a girl. Think of me as a medic. I need to see how your leg looks. I can wash the blood from your clothes later but for now I want to see the injury."
"R-right." I reply with a shaky voice. I start to remove my pants, which is harder than it should be. Every time I shift my weight, my leg stings.
"Hey, Alice? Do I have to clean th-" Marisa peers her head into the room, and yelps in surprise. "I leave for two seconds and you have his pants off?! You move quick!" This earns her another pillow in the face.
"Go work! I'm tending to the injured!" Marisa stops teasing us and obeys.
"Hm.." Alice gives my bare leg the once-over, not once losing her business-like demeanor. I'm trying not to blush or get aroused, on the other hand. I feel bad for feeling this way when this girl is being so kind to me..
"Ah, thank you, Shanghai." A tiny doll brings in a first aid box of some kind, and Alice starts to dab alcohol on my leg. It stings, but I'm more curious than in pain.
"The doll is alive?"
"Not quite. I control them." The tiny doll gives a salute.
"Ah, so you use magic, like Marisa."
"Something like that.." She says, then turns the questions back on me, not even looking me in the face and she starts to wrap my wound in bandages. "How do you know Marisa?"
"I don't, really. I have sort of admired her for a long time. I haven't really talked to her much though.."
"I see." Alice's words seem a little sharper. "Well, you just have some nasty cuts and bruising. Nothing is broken." She stands. "I'm going to go cook dinner, so relax here and try not to put too much weight on it if you can avoid it. You are free and encouraged to stay the night here, as going out now would be dangerous even if you were in perfect health."
I nod and take her up on her offer. She leaves for the kitchen. Marisa still hasn't come back inside... Oh. Her doll didn't follow her. It looks up at me with tiny, curious eyes. Is it actually curious? Or is it just a very good act on Alice's part? These things are interesting..
 Follow her to the kitchen. Maybe I can help out and repay her.  Check on Marisa.  Stay put. She told me to rest.
[x] Stay put. She told me to rest. -[x] Talk to the doll. See what happens.
>"I see." Alice's words seem a little sharper.
Someone isn't impressed with us. We're not even a friend in her eyes, just another human. Pity. But the best way to break through her barrier is Shanghai. Even if she doesn't think she's alive, perhaps the little dolls has a spark?
Thinking about getting up makes my leg hurt already. Alice told me to rest, and I don't want to go against her word since she has been so hospitable to a total stranger like me...
The little doll is still staring up at me. It is odd, but she seems to shift like a breathing human being instead of a doll controlled by strings. She cocks her head sideways at me, and I mirror the action.
Feeling foolish, I give her a wave and a smile. She jumps at the sudden movement of my arm and hides behind the leg of the short coffee table in front of me.
"I won't hurt you.." I'm not sure if she can hear me, but I hope my face looks comforting at least. Alice was talking to her earlier, but that might be a bit different.
She peers out from behind the leg of the table and gives a timid wave. Slowly she eases out and walks over to me, pulling lightly on my pants leg.
"Um, you want something?"
Her face seems frustrated, and she stops her foot cutely on the ground, the tiny thing hardly making a sound. Taking the hint, I lean down closer to her and offer her my hand. She stands on it, trying to balance herself as I move it up.
She pushes a hand against me to balance, and I am honestly surprised that it isn't human flesh I feel. She truly is a doll. Somehow that makes it more amazing that we are communicating like this.
"Aren't you a bit old to be playing with dolls?" Marisa says, walking in the room. "Of course, I'd never say that to Alice. Not after last time.."
Shanghai stomps her feet angrily on my hand and waves her hands at Marisa.
"Alright, I get it. You like him, huh? More than me?"
Shanghai seems to nod.
"Ah, everyone, dinner is ready." Alice peers in from the kitchen, taking off an apron. Now I sort of wish I had helped out..but then, she'd probably be annoyed with my lack of skill in the kitchen.
We all head to the dining room, eating around a fancy table. Occasionally a doll or two will run past a doorway, sneaking peeks at us while we eat. Shanghai seemed to insist on being carried in with us, so I set her on the table, where she runs over to Alice, clinging to her sleeve and pointing at me.
Alice seems to understand her, but doesn't say much. Dinner conversation is calm and everyday until Marisa brings up adventuring.
"That quake earlier, and the danmaku..it all came from around here. Surely you saw something, Alice."
Sorry to leave so many half-updates. I managed to write this much at home and I'll finish it at work if I can, but if not I'll do it when I get home. I wanted to update to show I'm still alive, at least.
"Whatever I saw or didn't see is my business." Alice sips her tea. "You'll rest here tonight and take Matsuo back, or I'll take him home myself. We discussed this when you came to ask me for help, and we were done with it then. I don't want to argue about it any more."
"But what if it is dangerous?"
"Isn't that what I should be worried about? You in danger?" Alice cuts off the conversation.
I re-open it.
"What if it is something that needs to be taken care of? I know Marisa just said that, but..can we at least figure out if it needs to be taken care of or not? We don't have to solve it, it would just give me peace of mind to know we aren't in major danger.."
Marisa's smile turns up in the exact same instance that Alice sighs.
"Fine. I did see something. I went outside after the earthquake and saw a winged youkai fighting with something on the ground that I couldn't see. It was in the woods, hidden in the trees. The fight was interrupted by the earthquake. I didn't investigate further than that."
"So the fight was unrelated to the quake?" Marisa asks.
"I just told you what I saw. You are free to explore it further in the morning. I won't make it my business as long as you agree to stay safe."
 "Alice, why don't you come with us? You can make sure we are careful."  "Marisa and I will leave in the morning, then."  "Alice is right..I should head home tomorrow morning."
"Well, Marisa and I will leave in the morning to check out the origin of the quake. I will make sure she is careful."
Alice doesn't argue the point any further, she doesn't even offer protests about my injury. I wonder what is going through her mind right about now..
"Alright, then. It is decided. Now let's hit the hay, I'm bushed!" Marisa says, her energetic voice contrasting oddly with her words. Alice shows me to my room, and Marisa leads herself to hers after wishing us both goodnight.
"If you need anything, feel free to wake me." The doll magician gives something like a small bow, and then heads off to her own room. I kick back on the plain bed she has provided for me, and close my eyes. It has been a long day. My thoughts drift to my father and Keine, who don't know where I am..and to Rumia, who seems to lurk not far from here. I owe that bloodthirsty youkai my life..Keine's words on this jump back into my head, but soon my thoughts are interrupted by the sweet embrace of sleep.
"Nn..what is it?" I roll over in a stupor, but no one is there. I feel something hard under me, however. It starts to writhe wildly, so I move out of the way.
A doll reveals itself, one I think I recognize as Shanghai. There's no telling how many similar dolls roam this house, though, and she isn't wearing the dress she was wearing before, but a cute pink nightgown.
"Ah! I'm sorry. Are you okay?"
The doll seems to pout, but nods.
"Did you need something?"
She replies by searching the area around herself. Eventually she spots what she was looking for, a tiny pillow that she clings to.
"You want to sleep here?"
"Aren't you afraid I'll crush you?"
She shakes her head wildly, and then climbs up on my pillow and sets her own pillow down and seems to fall asleep(?) instantly.
I smile and start to close my eyes as well, but something seems to move outside the window. Wasn't there a tree there earlier? I distinctly remember noticing a branch close to the window when I came in earlier. It was only a few feet from the house, there is no way that it would be too dark to see it, unless...
 Go outside to check it out.  Stay in bed with the doll.
>>25682 We shouldn't assume things as look where that got us last time. Not all of us voting to stay in are doing so for "doll route" but rather because it's not a reckless thing to do and only a bastard leaves shanghai in bed by herself. Last time I checked, when a girl sleep alongside someone, the last they want is to wake up in an empty bed without good reason.
File 134141735940.jpg - (209.50KB, 827x1169, where are those feathers coming from.jpg)
[x] Knock on the window.
If she's that close, she should be able to hear this and hold a hushed conversation through the window or whatever. That'd be cute. But it's way too late for this to do anything other than split the vote.
"I'll be right back.." I whisper to the doll so as not to wake her if she is sleeping, or to let her know where I am going if she is merely acting.
She doesn't seem to react in any way, so I creepy quietly downstairs. Alice and Marisa have rooms near mine, so I don't want to wake them, but each board on the stairs seems to creak and echo in the silence. I unlock the door and I'm greeted by a wall of darkness. I step out into it, but my vision doesn't improve.
"Rumia?" My voice comes out in a whisper even though I don't intend it to. Fear seems to grip me. What if I have made an awful decision?
Out of the darkness steps a small girl, two heads smaller than me. Her short blonde hair frames a child-like face, with big, bright red eyes, full of curiosity.
I let out a sigh of relief. "I was scared for a minute there. I was worried you were a yo-" I stop and correct myself. "I was worried you were someone who'd eat me."
"I'm scary?" She cocks her head to the side innocently. Does she really not realize she planned on eating me not too long ago?
"Ah, not you. I meant other youkai. You are my friend, so you won't eat me." I hope. "Why are you here?"
"I wanted to make sure you were okay." She looks at my leg with a worried expression.
"I'm fine. Alice patched me up and it wasn't too bad. How is your leg? Did the wound from the trap heal up?"
She lifts her leg happily, showing off her lack of a wound. "Yep! Look, look!" Then she loses her balance and stumbles, toppling over and landing right on her small rump. I help her to her feet and she dusts herself off, looking a bit embarrassed. "I'm glad you are okay. I was worried. I mean, we are friends, right?" Her smile is contagious. I nod at her and it grows even larger. "You are my first human friend."
Well, I guess that is better than being the second and wondering if she ate the first one or not..
"Oh! Would you like to meet more of my friends?"
The sound of metal against metal draws my eyes to my feet, where the doll from earlier, still in nightgown, holds a doll-sized lance with an angry expression. She shifts in front of me, as though covering me from harm.
"Its okay.." I pick her up by the chest, and she starts to wave her arms wildly. "Its okay, its okay. She is a friend." The doll still seems wary, but she relaxes her guard slightly.
"Nn.." A sleepy moan comes from behind me. "Shanghai? Where did you go?"
Alice peers out the front door, mere feet from me, rubbing her eyes. She is sporting a nightgown similar to Shanghai's, her hair messy and her eyes squinting in the darkness. I feel a bit guilty seeing her this way, as she normally seems tidy and composed, but I suppose I have more pressing matters to worry about right now.
Rumia grabs my hand and draws me further from the house and the world darkens again until I can no longer see the hand I am grasping.
"Shh. Shanghai, please.." I whisper to the doll. I hope Alice doesn't have the ability to perceive things that her dolls are going through..
Rumia's grip on my hand tights and she starts to lead me to the woods. I should:
 Follow her, but bring Shanghai.  Follow her and tell Shanghai to go back to Alice.  Tell her I have to go for tonight before a misunderstanding occurs.
>>25756 I counter with my laziness. No, in all seriousness, I'll be writing later tonight. I was hoping more time to vote would mean less of a wishy washy decision. Almost every choice has been close. I'll give it until I get off of work (I have ANOTHER job now) tonight and write whatever is winning when I get home.
Gonna be completely honest, I went home last night, opened the thread, and decided to go to bed. I had a rough night at work. Luckily after I get off tonight I can sleep in a little bit. Feel free to keep voting until I say I'm not taking votes..I want this tie to end.
>>25764 I hate route-locking people so early. If this was a visual novel it'd be fine as there is only one player making choices, but locking up now would alienate half the readers. I plan on using a route lock after we can consistently pick between human (which is funny because only one of the three "human side" girls are human) or youkai.
>>25767 Even if that point (where you feel you can routelock) never comes? It's very unlikely that people will change their minds barring some massive great moment. "Not routelocking" are infamous last words, Taisa's to be exact.
>>25769 Fair enough. The victory this time goes to heading back home. I felt that was more fair than a coin toss. Please don't vote again, I'll start writing now and maybe I'll finish before my break ends.
>>25770 I'm still learning. Maybe I will route lock sooner than that, I'm not sure. We'll see how it goes for now..we're still pretty early. It just feels cheap, though..if I wanted to lock you guys onto one girl so early, I would have rather just written a Mystia story with no choices for other girls.
>>25771 You may wish to reconsider. The results are different once you get rid of the votespam. IRC is a faster way to ask for vote checking since it's hard to keep abreast of every single thread on the site.
>>25782 That would be hard to do since it requires us to be locked into the human route, which, judging by the result of the last vote, is almost impossible to achieve. Just look at how many people want to go with Rumia instead of staying with Marisa.
We'll most likely end up locked into the youkai route, then we'll become a hermit and leave the village to live with our youkai friends.
"Let's go, Rumia! Quickly!" I whisper and tug on her hand. She starts to lead me into the woods. Shanghai waves sadly in Alice's direction, but clings to my hand.
"Oh, oh~! Who should we meet first?!" Rumia lets go of my hand once we reach a thicker part of the woods, and starts pacing back and forth.
"Well, I don't know the options, but.. preferably someone who won't eat me."
Rumia giggles. "Ah, well..I guess you have a point. I know just who to take you to, then.." She grabs my hand and gives me a huge smile. I can't help but return it. We walk for what seems like ages when I finally hear something familiar..and beautiful.
My eyes feel tired. Is Rumia using her darkness again, or am I going blind? Everything is growing dark..
"Matsuo?" The voice stops singing and instead utters my name in that same melodious voice.
"I can't see.." I wave my arms about helplessly. Somehow I end up touching a shoulder, and I start to lean into it. "My eyes are.."
"Ah, sorry, sorry!" My eyes start to regain vision as though adjusting to a dark room. A familiar face stands before me.
"Hello! What a surprise to see you. Do you remember me? Its me, Mystia!" The bird youkai leans in close to me to look into my eyes from below.
"Of course I remember. You saved my life." I smile. "I planned on coming to see you, but so much has happened."
She smiles. "I can see that. You've even befriended the one I saved you from back then." Rumia and Mystia share a tiny, childish wave. Shanghai seems curious at these people. Maybe her experience with youkai is generally more violent? I pat her head.
"What a cute doll!" Mystia exclaims as she notices Shanghai. "Bit of a feminine hobby for a guy, though.."
"Ah, its not a hobby, she isn't even mine. She belongs to Alice, a girl I'm staying with."
Mystia tilts her head at me. "Weren't you into someone else? You sure bounce back quickly.."
"No, no! It isn't like that..I was injured and she took me in. Some kind of bug youkai attacked me and..well, its a long story as to why I was even there. I'm glad to see you."
"Would you like to come to my cart and eat something while we catch up? Rumia and your doll too, of course."
Shanghai looks curiously up at me and points in the direction of home. She's right, of course, it is late, but I would like to thank the youkai..no, the girl, who saved me. Both of them. I pat her head. Surely a few minutes more out here wouldn't hurt..
"Sure. Let's go."
Mystia leads the way, and Rumia runs behind her, arms outstretched like she is flying, even though she is running along the ground. I take the rear, with Shanghai pouting in my palm. We reach a humble food stand, and Mystia grills us some eel, a food which I am first hesitant about, but soon I find it to be delicious. Even Shanghai seems to poke at it happily. Rumia eats four times as much as Mystia and I, even though she is heads shorter than us. I wonder about her youkai metabolism..does she always eat this much?
"Hey, around your neck." Mystia approaches me after she cleans up the plates a little bit. "What is that?"
"Ah, this?" I pull out the tiny ocarina I bought what seems like eons ago. "Its just.."
 "Something I bought for you."  "Something I bought thinking of you."  "Its nothing." I should ask Rumia if she can survive on food besides human beings.
------------------------- I admit this is probably the worst bit I've written. Sorry, but I wrote the entire other update and was pretty proud of it, so my motivation to write this was pretty low..
>>25794 I doubt it as things are going pretty well in the update with nothing to escalate what little hostility there is.
>>25797 You forgot one group calling the other some insulting name, resulting in the target group getting defensive and unreasonable. Despite what bickering is in this story, it's rather civil compared to GH.
Hey everyone. Still not dead. I have been taking on some extra work lately in order to fix my car so I have been worn out. I'm not quitting this story, but it may be a little while before I update again. I apologize, everyone, thank you for bearing with me.
Does it really come as a surprise that he's abandoned this story, after what he did with his last one? I called this ages ago.
Lack of sage is a delibrate choice: You all seem to like false hope so much, I figured I'd do you a favor. But you never know, maybe he'll come back after all and prove me wrong if he sees this is bumped. Either way, someone wins.
Yo. I do not plan to abandon this if anyone is still reading. In fact its been on my mind a lot lately. The problem is I no longer have a job, car, or regular internet access. So forgive me for disappointing you guys once again and thus proving the naysayers right all along in a way. My life has gone down the shitter recently, to be blunt, so the story is pretty low priority for me. But I think the fact that I am using what little internet time I have to write this should tell you something.
 "Something I bought while thinking of you." --------------------------------------
"W-what?" Her face grows a tad red, but she doesn't cover it or look shy, just flattered or confused.
"Well, yeah..I mean after you saved me I was walking around town and saw this and instantly thought of you. You saved my life. I'm not going to forget that easily."
"Can you play?" She asks, eyes shining with interest. She's a music lover through and through, but alas, I can't impress anyone here.
"Not a bit."
She gives a giggle and nods. "I see. Well, you should learn. An instrument that isn't played is a sad thing. I don't know much about teaching, but if you are ever interested in music of any kind, we could try to play together."
"Heeeey." Rumia plops onto my lap, her mouth full of food. "Don't hog my buddy." Adorable little nom nom sounds come from her tiny frame as she chews on more eel.
"I thought I smelled food." Comes a familiar voice from the darkness beyond the cart's light. A familiar, but not welcome one. The youkai boy...girl..from before. I can feel her gaze boring into me, and somehow I think I'm the one she is talking about when she says food.
"Wriggle. Its okay, he's a friend." Mystia seems to know him..her! Her.
"Well, then.." The girl dramatically flips her cape like a vampire, and then comes to take a seat. "I figured I'd warn you to be careful, Mystia. Something weird is going on here, starting from two nights ago. The earthquake and danmaku don't seem to be the only violence going around. In fact, people are saying there is some kind of beast lurking at night. Something that is even scaring the toughest youkai out of the region. And it isn't far from here. So you might want to close up until whatever this is calms down."
"That's terrible.." Mystia seems concerned, but only distantly. "Thanks for the warning, but Wriggle, I'm not going to close up tonight until these two have had their fill of eel and company."
Mystia gives me a wonderful smile that barely counters Wriggle's glare.
While all eyes on on me, something pops into my head..I should..  apologize to Wriggle about the gender thing.  ask Mystia if we can meet again so she can teach me music.  tell Marisa about what I've learned, ASAP.  get Shanghai home. Surely she doesn't feel safe here.
If you choose more than one, please only pick two. Also expecting shitstorm of hatred over me. Its fine, I take full responsibility over it.
Her glare silences me momentarily and Mystia tilts her head at me with a smile, as if knowing where this is going.
"I'm sorry about before. I guess we got off on the wrong foot." I extend my hand for her to shake it, and it hangs in the air for a moment.
Finally, after a tense eternity, she begrudgingly takes my hand and gives it a weak shake.
"Alright..You aren't forgiven.." she mutters, "I just don't want to fight in front of Mystia.." Her grumbling doesn't seem too unhappy though, and Mystia covers her mouth to stifle a giggle. Rumia seems utterly indifferent to the situation, her head buried in her food. She does give a look up at me though when she realizes I'm looking at her.
"Want some?" She offers me some of her half-eaten food, the areas around her smiling lips stained a bit with crumbs and juices.
"No thanks, I'm full." I say, patting her on the head. Somehow I want to spoil her like a child, though she is far more dangerous than any child I know. There's something cute about the fact that she can kill me at any time but wants to be friends with me anyway. Maybe I'm becoming a strange person, though.
"You two seem close." Wriggle comments while not looking in my direction.
"He's my buddy!" Rumia says happily. "My only human buddy."
"Well, isn't it nice to make friends with them? They aren't much different from youkai after all." Mystia chimes in. I see my chance.
"It is nice. So..I was wondering if maybe I could see you guys again? Maybe I could take you up on that offer for music lessons."
"I would love that." Mystia smiles.
"Oh, can I come?" Rumia throws her arms up in excitement, almost hitting me in the face.
"Of course! The more the merrier."
Wriggle grunts, unamused.
"You can come too, you know." I offer.
"R-right. As if I'd want to."
"Okay, just offering.."
"...Thanks." She says quietly.
"Alright, it is settled! Any time you are free, come by the stand. I'll give you lessons as long as I'm not serving customers!"
We all agree to meet up soon, but its time for me to go, unfortunately. Shanghai seems a bit upset with me for staying out this late, and I do need to get some sleep if I'm going with Marisa to investigate more.
"Ah, let one of us take you back. Its dark and we don't want you to get lost with that thing out there scaring the youkai..maybe their hunting grounds have changed."
 I'm alright. I have Shanghai.  I'll take Rumia.  Can Wriggle come?  Mystia, I'd like to talk a bit more, can you walk me back?
----------------------- Sorry these are short. Like I said I don't have tons of time. Glad I still have a few readers. I love you guys!
[x] Mystia, I'd like to talk a bit more, can you walk me back?
The tone of the story seems to have changed quite a bit from previous updates. Regarding the other votes, it's important to keep in mind that we still have fresh wounds from falling through the trees, and it's really only been a few hours since Alice patched us up (>>25627). Before she found us, Rumia even stated "I can't stay...you are bleeding..it smells good." (>>25577)
Heck, when we rescued her from the bear trap a few days ago she had to leave quickly because we "smelled too good," (>>25285) and that was after we'd been bandaged for at least 24 hours.
Ah, good. Someone broke the tie. ------------------------------------
"Mystia, I'd like to catch up a bit more. Do you mind walking me back?"
"Oh, that's fine! Let me close up the cart."
She starts to bustle around, and the others bid farewell, Rumia cheerfully waving with both hands, and Wriggle quietly, with a single wave with her back turned. I stand around awkwardly for a bit and then finally offer Mystia a hand.
"I'm actually just about finished. This is pretty routine for me by now. We should get going. You are staying with Alice, right? How did that happen?"
"Its a long story. To keep it short, Marisa dragged me out here and we ended up in a danmaku battle...I fell off the broom, and ran into Wriggle." I clear my throat, deciding how to continue. "Well, she wasn't too happy to see me, and my leg was pretty banged up in the fall, but luckily Rumia saved me."
The bird youkai's ears rise and fall at moments in my story, sort of like a dog going through the run of its emotions. Her face seems intent on listening but otherwise mostly stoic, but her ears give her feelings away.
"So, Wriggle was after you, then? That's why the air was so hostile there. I have to apologize on her behalf." Her apology is sincere, like everything she does. "Wriggle has been a bit more hostile lately, like she's a kid trying to be cool or something. She started hanging around an unpleasant youkai lately, and it definitely shows."
"Unpleasant how?" Curious. I guess that explains why she was willing to forgive me despite being so hostile at first..its all a show? A convincing one if that is the case.
"Well, it isn't my job to spread things like that. Maybe you can get to know her a bit better when we meet to talk about music. I'm hoping she grows out of it." The bird blushes a little. "I sound so old when I say that. I promise I'm not!"
"I didn't think you were!"
We both laugh a little.
"Anyway, go on with your story! What happened next?"
"Well, Rumia took me to Marisa and Alice, and Alice patched up my wounds...and well, here I am."
"Hm. So why are you with Marisa? Are you two, y'know..?" She leans in, inquisitive. I get the idea that she likes gathering gossip.
"N-no, nothing like that. We went to check out what s he is calling an incident. That's all."
"Awww. Well, whatever. If she doesn't like you, maybe her or Alice will grow to."
The doll that had been so quiet before seemed to perk up at the mention of Alice's name, and made a fuss on my shoulder, shaking her fist at Mystia.
"Alright, alright, I get it little one. I won't tease your master." Mystia suppresses a giggle, but continues. "The incident has something to do with that beast, right? The one scaring everything in the area?"
"That is my guess, yes."
"I won't stop you, but..be careful."
I nod, and we walk in silence for a moment. It is a nice silence though, one of understanding and comfort. At least until we reach the house.
"Alright, I've brought you back. Now I'd better get flying home myself." She waves goodbye to me, and I do the same. After a few steps, she gives a meaningful look over her shoulder. "If you don't come to see me in a few days, I'll be very worried. Please don't make me worry."
Before I can reply, she flies off into the night. A happy song echoes across the silent forest, and I can't help but linger outside to listen to it for a moment before heading back inside to brood over what she said.
She'll worry? I bet I've made lots of people at the village worry. Keine, my father..I didn't really tell anyone I'd be gone. I didn't know I'd be gone so long! Shangai seems to sense my thoughts and looks up at me, concern in her eyes.
"I'm okay, don't worry. Thank you for sticking with me." I pat her head and she grabs my hand with her tiny arms and gives my index finger a hug with all of her body.
Before going to bed, my last thought is of the information I've gleaned. Should I tell Marisa and Alice about the beast?
 Tell both of them.  Tell Marisa. She needs to know what she is getting into, but Alice would worry.  Don't tell. They'd know I went out last night and ask questions.
Morning comes with the harsh tweeting of birds outside my windows. I rub my eyes, which are clearly reflecting my tired state, and wonder if Mystia chirps like this in the morning. How annoying that would be, to wake up next to..
My face goes red at my own though. "Heh..she's a night bird anyway, so she wouldn't.." I mumble to myself. And of course, as is the case whenever you talk to yourself, someone is listening.
Alice clears her throat from the doorway, making me jump a little. "Good morning. Incredible, you sleep in as much as Marisa. Well, I suppose you aren't quite that drastic."
"Good morning to you too." I'm not sure if she is upset or not. Her tone is annoyed, but she is like that with Marisa all the time as far as I've seen. So maybe it is a bit of an act, like Wriggle?
"Well, if you'd like to return my doll, I'm going to go wake Marisa."
Shanghai jumps to attention and leaps off the bed, running cutely across the floor to her master. Of course, you could tack the adjective "cute" onto anything this doll does and it would be pretty accurate, so I'm not surprised.
After getting fully dressed, I follow Alice over to Marisa's room, only to hear a commotion. Are they arguing about the incident already? I open the door and peek inside, only to get an eyeful of the two girls wrestling angrily, Marisa still in her night clothes, on top of Alice, her bare stomach showing as a loose shirt hangs off of it. Alice is fully clothed, but her hair is rumpled and she is pinned down helplessly over the more rowdy girl's physical strength.
I think I've just witnessed something nice.
A pillow hits me hard in the face. Of course it doesn't hurt, but it takes me by surprise. Perhaps I was too engrossed by the vision before me.
"Pervert!" Alice screams. "Get out get out getoutgetout!"
Marisa starts to snicker and then laugh uncontrollably when I close the door behind me. Alice doesn't sound too pleased so I give them some space and head downstairs to the living room. I don't have long to brood and worry about their moods before Marisa enters, her grin filling the room and wiping away my worries.
"Hey, you about ready to go?" She plops onto the couch next to me.
"Yeah..but before we do.." I start quietly, and she interrupts.
"Don't worry! Alice isn't mad. She just got embarrassed." She moves closer to me and whispers "But isn't she cute when she's pinned down and helpless like that?" and gives a mischievous laugh.
"What are you two idiots talking about?" Alice stomps in, dolls peering into the doorway behind her, watching like worried kids when their parents are fighting.
"Alice, I'm sorry about before. I didn't mean-"
"Its okay." She interrupts, her voice still annoyed. "How could you have known that this girl always tries to fight me in her sleep when I try to wake her?"
Ah, so that's what that was? That explains a lot..I think. There is something still off about that. Its something newlyweds would do, not friends. But what do I know about female friendships anyway?
"I'm not naive enough to even hope that you two are going to return to the village. So I assume you are going to head towards the incident? I can only hope that whatever caused it is already over."
"Ah, about that.." I cut in before Marisa can say anything that leads them to argue. I suppose this is as good a time as any to bring it up. "I..um...found out some more about the incident last night."
"You did?!" both girls chime in at once, one excited, one concerned.
"Yeah..um..well a friend came to visit last night. A youkai friend. She took me out to Mystia's food cart and I heard some rumors there."
Alice's expression is complicated, but Marisa's is simple, and she speaks her mind immediately.
"What'd ya learn?"
"Well, apparently there is something that comes out a night, some kind of beast that scares away lesser youkai. They have to move out of their territory out of fear of the thing."
"My guess is the danmaku we saw was maybe a fight between some youkai moving out of their territory to hunt for food or something." Alice speaks her thoughts aloud, rubbing her chin thoughtfully. "This could be more dangerous than I thought. The human village will likely see more youkai attacks until the beast lets the youkai move back into their natural hunting grounds."
"So we gotta stop it, then!" Marisa pounds her fist into her palm with a determined smile.
"I'd say we leave this to Reimu, but that isn't going to work, is it?"
Marisa shakes her head, causing Alice to sigh.
"Alright. Fine. I'll go with you, then. If you are going to drag an injured boy into a dangerous situation, I'd better be there to babysit you at least."
Marisa and I stand at the same time. "Alright then, lets g-"
"Not so fast. I'm not done with you. Why was an injured boy hanging out with youkai in the middle of the night when he was supposed to be in my care? What if something had happened to you?"
"Its okay. I knew the youkai well and I took Shang-" Oops.
"You took one of my dolls with you?! Without my consent?"
She is more than annoyed now, and takes a step closer to me, but a tug at her dress stops her in her tracks. Shanghai looks up at her with innocent eyes, as if saying "Its okay. Its not his fault."
"...I see. So you went with him of your own accord." Alice sighs, venting her anger.
"So Shanghai can move on her own?"
"Normally my dolls cannot. But lately something seems to have gotten into her. I don't even need strings or commands anymore. She's been walking on her own and doing her own thing since a day before you arrived."
"Huh..another, smaller incident. We'll figure that out next!" Marisa seems pleased. Her appetite for adventure and her curiosity seem endless.
"Well...shall we?" I offer, and Alice nods. She puts on her boots, and Marisa gears up impatiently as well. Shanghai walks over to me and gives a little smile.
"Thanks little one." I pat her head gently.
For better or worse, our adventure starts here, on foot. We aren't far from where we saw the fighting, so we'll run into something within the day if we discover anything at all. As we journey, Marisa and Alice share pleasantries and I bring up the rear, thinking about Keine and my father yet again.
It was irresponsible to leave...but I'm glad I did. Maybe I'm not as exciting as Marisa, but I think a bit of adventuring will do me some good.
The ground shakes. I can't help but feel that it wasn't an earthquake, though, as it seems to be more like thunder, a wave of force extending from a dramatic event. I nearly fall over.
"I think I found our culprit's hideout." Alice points to a cave nearby. Well, it isn't in the side of a mountain of anything. It seems far more like a sinkhole gone wrong.
"Great. Another cave adventure." Marisa sighs.
"You brought Patchouli during that incident, right?" Alice spits the name out with malice, causing Marisa to get a little flustered.
The ground rumbles again, but those two don't seem to notice. In fact, it doesn't seem to be shaking so much as..
I see them turn in horror as I tumble down into darkness. Its the last thing I see before the world goes too dark. My last thought before I fall unconscious is "Not again.."
>>26097 Started writing, went to post, internet went down. Time to rewrite the whole thing...ugh.
I wake up in darkness. It feels dreamlike or perhaps nightmarish to open my eyes and still have it be just as dark, but I know this is reality by the bruises I feel all over my body. Luckily nothing seems to be broken. Guess this pile of rocks cushioned my fall.
Marisa and Alice are nowhere to be found, but they should know where I am in a general sense. Still, I've heard underground youkai are especially dangerous, so perhaps I should get moving and try to find my own exit. Moving doesn't hurt too badly, so I start to shuffle along quietly in the darkness.
The cave system is pretty extensive, almost seeming like a manmade set of hallways in their solid complexity. Without the sun it is hard to tell time, but I wander for what feels like an hour before I hear a voice.
"Mistress?" It is a girl's voice, or rather a young woman's, and it sounds like she is searching for someone. She isn't shouting, but her voice doesn't sound afraid either.
I sneak a little closer, intending to get a look at what I'm dealing with. When I see her, I can't say I'm not surprised. A girl in a maid outfit with white hair tied into twin braids? Not the kind of person I was expecting down here.
And immediately she vanishes from view. Without a step, without a sound.
"Why are you spying on me?" The same voice comes from behind me, causing me to jump. Her tone seems cool and sharp, like the cold steel of a knife. I turn and of course there she is, though she seems taller and more imposing somehow, her arms crossed and leaning back slightly.
"I thought you might be...a youkai or something. Y'know, um..dangerous."
My honest answer seems to appease her. "You are a bit banged up. And dirty, though it is hard not to be down here." She says, completely free of dust or dirt herself. "Well, I won't ask why you are down here if it is none of my business, but I am not dangerous to you."
As I breathe a sigh of relief, she gives a polite, forced smile.
"I'm looking to go above ground..I got trapped in some kind of hole during an earthquake, and ended up here."
She shakes her head. "I'm going deeper, unfortunately, otherwise I would take you out. I'm looking for my mistress. Or, her sister at least."
She turns away, wishing me luck politely, and starts to head deeper into one of the tunnels. On one hand, I'd like to have company, but if she is going deeper, then Marisa and Alice are going to have a hard time finding me. There are two tunnels ahead, the one she likely emerged from and the one she is heading deeper into..
 Ask the maid if you can follow her for safety.  Follow the tunnel she came from, it is at least a step closer to the exit.
I'd feel safer travelling with someone, sure, but it'd be pointless to go the wrong way. Besides, something is off about that maid. She can teleport? That isn't human..but..she doesn't seem to be a youkai either. She had no interest in eating me. Maybe she was just too busy?
As I ponder this, I begin my journey to what is hopefully the way out. I wander tunnels for a while until I finally see hope! The light of day, streaming through a hole in the cave ceiling.
"You seem pretty lost~" comes a teasing voice from the ceiling. "You want out, right?"
Descending from the darkness of the ceiling is a blonde girl, her hair tied into a ponytail with a large black ribbon. She's wearing an earthtone dress, wrapped in a large yellow ribbon. Her eyes are filled with playful energy.
"Back away from him, youkai." Comes a stern, confident voice. Marisa! I turn and she's standing heroically, Alice at her side.
"Are you okay?" Alice asks, and Shanghai floats near her, weapons drawn and pointed towards the girl.
"W-woah, I didn't even do anything.." The youkai girl shakes her hands, her body swaying slightly on the white rope she seems to be hanging upside down from. Is she...a spider?
Marisa seems ready to blast her, and Shanghai seems angry too. Still, the girl didn't show me any ill will so far..
 Defend the youkai. She didn't harm me yet.  Let Marisa blast the youkai.