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File 135485125053.jpg - (739.39KB, 768x1024, BathingBug.jpg) [iqdb]
Previous thread: >>24655

[X] Since she's offering I'd like to share some of the latent worries caused by today.

Although I don’t want to burden Wriggle with my worries, getting them out in the open should help. “It was just crazy today when Reimu kicked the door off of its hinges. She looked far more menacing than any youkai and started making various accusations about Miss Keine. Most were rather crude, and Reimu also threatened her with some 'secret' that she knows. Father and Mr. Yaguu arrived to stop her from doing more, and she left saying that Keine's position was created solely to spite her. If what Reimu said is right, the more it seems that the biggest thing trying to subvert the order of Gensokyo is the better part of the council. Those old fools… have they no respect for history?” There goes the water and the shampoo… oh that feels nice. I don’t know how I’ll manage to wash my hair myself now that I’ve felt how Wriggle does it.

“I’m not really sure about all that, but I know that Keine isn't someone who'd abuse her power… or looks,” answers Wriggle. “I think Reimu was just driven to say those things in anger. Cheer up though: the village has a bright future since those old men won't be around forever, and will be replaced by people with more sense, like you.” Now she's moving to the back... ah, that feels so nice.

“Wriggle, that really feels nice. I can't think of anything else to say that doesn’t come off sounding cheesy…” I say. I really can’t say much else; something like 'I don't know how I could have lived without this' or something equally worse would ruin the moment. I think I've cleaned up everywhere else as Wriggle rinses me off. I stand up to let her sit down.

“Yuki, could you wash my back now? I'd ask you to do my hair, but with these, it's better to be careful,” Wriggle says, pointing to her antennae. I nod and start working the soap into a lather before I try my best to replicate what she did. Leaning into my hands, she says, “Yuki, don't worry so much; just do it normally and it'll feel nice.” I adjust my scrubbing, making sure everything is clean then focus on the spots she's most responsive.

I need to get something else off my mind. “I'm surprised at the moment as I have a tendency to pass out from certain material or thoughts… but the last few weeks- Sorry if I'm-” Wriggle interrupts me.

“I understand… you're not the only one who knows people who like talking about perverted things. I bet that womanizer was the one who showed you whatever it was you’ve seen, right? I have a pretty good idea of what it was like as Kurumi seems to have similar stuff. I'm not fond of it either, but this is different: I don't mind spending time like this.” I stop paying attention to what I’m doing as she talks, and I find my hands slipping off her back and under her arms. I hope she doesn't take this the wrong way.

“Sorry, my hands slipped,” I apologize as I get my hands out from under her arms. I think one of Kamui's comics had a scenario like this in it.

She giggles, responding, “Yuki, don't worry about it. I know you wouldn't hurt me or do anything that I don’t want.” Cleaning finished, she rinses herself off and heads towards the tub, and I follow suit.

Soon after getting in, Wriggle sighs contentedly. “Ahhh~ This is the first time I've been in a Japanese style bath. I actually had to ask Kurumi for some advice.” Come to think of it, I remember that Yuuka’s place had a western style bathroom.

I respond, “How did you clean up besides the stream when we first met? I ask as I'm trying to remember what's at your mother's house.”

“A shower and bathtub, though she never told us how she got them. But this is nice, especially with you,” Wriggle answers. As things fall into a silence, I feel her taking my hand in hers as we enjoy the moment.

My relaxation gets interrupted by her giggling. I look, and end up seeing her breasts above the water. “Sorry for laughing, Yuki, but I realized I can say that this isn't the first time you’ve see me bathing, and I don't mind at all. I hope I don't sound like a Yukari for saying that!”

I couldn't say that at all, as she's not flaunting anything towards people but rather revealing herself just for me. “No way. I couldn’t think that at all since it isn't true. I know you would never be that sort of woman.” Looking at Wriggle like this, I'm not sure if I could really say no if she were to ask something of me.

We get back to relaxing for a bit before getting out. As I get out first, I hear a gasp… wait, Wriggle just saw me completely nude! As I blush, I hope that her gasp was made in a good way. I head over to the dry towels and put one around my waist, then take another over to the tub as Wriggle gets out. I must admit it’s a very good view: the angle is such that I can see a good amount, including the curve of her butt. Gah, time to divert my mind from that; I'm just a nudge away from giving into my impulses, such as if Wrigg- Oh what the... wait, I can think about such things without really panicking. I guess talking with her was helpful.

My thoughts are interrupted by Wriggle. “You know Yuki, you're definitely attractive yourself, and I think I know how you feel after that day. Kurumi said something like bigger isn’t better, but no matter what, the important thing is that Yuki is Yuki.” She must be referring to the day when we first met.

Any thoughts I might have had because of Kurumi's remark are swept away by what came after. “Just as Wriggle being Wriggle is the important thing, not size,” I reply. The rest of the drying goes quietly but I know she liked that. Compared to earlier, I can't help but feel a great sense of ease.


After we make sure the bathroom is clean, we head back to the living room to see if my parents are home. Father is sitting down and reading, and he looks up as we walk in. “Your mother is making dinner. I also apologize for this morning; if I kept a better eye on things, the incident wouldn't have happened. You should focus on relaxing today and leave the poking around for tomorrow. I know you're curious about what Reimu mentioned, and I hope you're not too worried.”

“He isn't as I helped him out, Mr. Kojima,” Wriggle answers.

Father chuckles as he answers, “That's very good to hear; you two should go to the dinner table as your mother should be finishing soon.” That sounds like a good idea so we go towards the kitchen and help mother set out the food. Dinner's quiet, likely due to today's incident. I’m not exactly eager to let Mother find out about the bath as she'd have something incredibly embarrassing to say. The rest goes without real note, and Wriggle and I head downstairs afterwards.


“Yuki, were you going to ask your dad tomorrow about how Keine’s position was founded?” Wriggle asks. That's a good question.

I answer, “I probably could ask him, and I'm definitely going to get some advice on who to ask, but…”

[ ] I'll definitely ask him as he’ll have an idea
[ ] I don't want to bother him with this, at least not so soon.


[ ] We should see Akyuu as I'm certain her family kept a record of it
[ ] I think asking Miss Keine would be good, though we'd have to word it carefully. I think she could use some friendly company anyways.
[ ] We should try to catch Mr. Yaguu as I'm sure he knows about it.
[x] I don't want to bother him with this, at least not so soon.
[x] We should see Akyuu as I'm certain her family kept a record of it.
[ ] I'll definitely ask him as he’ll have an idea


[ ] I think asking Miss Keine would be good, though we'd have to word it carefully. I think she could use some friendly company anyways.
[X] I'll definitely ask him as he’ll have an idea
[X] I think asking Miss Keine would be good, though we'd have to word it carefully. I think she could use some friendly company anyways.

Father is mostly likely going to give us a (relatively) unbiased perspective, a good foundation for gauging Keine with to see her perspective.
[x] I don't want to bother him with this, at least not so soon.
[x] We should see Akyuu as I'm certain her family kept a record of it.

Keep it in the family, but be cautious.
First vote wins.
[X] I'll definitely ask him as he’ll have an idea
[X] I think asking Miss Keine would be good, though we'd have to word it carefully. I think she could use some friendly company anyways.

Update should be up in about a week.
Life's gotten busier than I first thought so I may be late with the update. I'm also considering doing another christmas short this year but I can't make any promises.
Take your time. I'm traveling for research purposes, and the guest internet won't let me get on IRC, so I can't proofread. I'll be back on the 21st.
New reader here, really enjoying the story so far.
Keep it up!
File 135631698072.jpg - (361.03KB, 638x900, disstressedkeine.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] I'll definitely ask him as he’ll have an idea.
[X] I think asking Miss Keine would be good, though I'll have to word it carefully. I think she could use some friendly company anyways.

“I think we should ask Keine first, partially because I want to know what her side of the story is and because she seemed like she needed cheering up. I know she seemed confident about her opinion before Reimu showed up, but I think that may have happened because she deals with people on the council. I'm definitely going to talk to father as well,” I reply. I think Keine’s position of village guardian is one where she answers to the council instead of being a part of it.

Wriggle replies, “I'm curious about that too, as she's been very understanding of me and I want to return the favor. We can go see her tomorrow, but for now, can we look at some of those fantasy comics before bed?”

“Sure, I think I'm about to start the second set,” I answer as I pick a volume up to read.

We read the part introducing Orson, who seems very mellow until his friend is attacked and, well… gets angry, to say the least. Part of me wonders if Mr. Yaguu would have a similar reaction if he and Aya were in the same situation.

“Wow… I didn't know some people could fall into such a rage,” Wriggle remarks.

“It's not common, but some people do have that tendency, and I’ve heard of a few youkai that do, too. Akyuu told me that it's something to be careful about as that trait often leads to the person's death. I think she was referring to a rage so fierce that it blinds one to even their well being. I don't think even Mr. Yaguu is that bad, though,” I respond.

“I can imagine certain youkai being like that, but I'd rather not have such a trait. I’d prefer to win my battles with smarts instead of suicidal brute force. Still, this sort of unstoppable rage makes for more enjoyable reading. I mean I know how senseless it is, but it’s still entertaining in its own way.”

“I agree on both parts: I'll never be or want to become that sort of berserker. Back when I wound up verbally blasting Mr. Miyamoto, I was very shaken afterwards. I would hate to see how someone feels after such a rage wears off; I doubt they could really handle it.” I barely finish speaking before I yawn. Today must have taken more of toll than I thought.

Wriggle says, “Going to bed early wouldn't be a bad idea, especially with that tendency of yours.” I chuckle a bit; what else can do I when she's undeniably right? I put the book away as she changes into her pajamas, then follow suit. We both climb into the bed, and her warm embrace helps me fall asleep within seconds.


I wake up feeling pretty good… and for once, not groggy. I notice Wriggle moving around as well. “Sorry if I woke you up,” I say.

She answers, “Don't be. I think it's about time to get moving anyways.” She points towards the sunlight coming in through the window. We get dressed quickly in order to catch Father before he goes to work. We don't look at each other since such a distraction would only slow us down.

We get upstairs and see Father sitting at the table, nearly finished with breakfast. “Pardon me father, but may I ask about your experiences concerning Miss Keine and how she got her position?” I ask, sitting across from him.

He appears to think a bit before speaking. “I remember it well, as it was one of my first days on the council. The village needed someone to protect them until Reimu could handle things herself, so the elders called a vote. Not knowing any better, I blindly supported it without considering the details. I later learned that the village didn't have a protector at that point because Reimu’s mother, Namami, was protecting the village.” He sighs. “That day taught me an important lesson about why you shouldn’t go along with things blindly, something I see you're trying to learn now.”

I nod, glad to hear his praise. “After hearing what Reimu said about Keine’s position, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Wriggle and I are planning on asking a few other people, starting with Miss Keine. From how she looked after Reimu left, I think she could use some cheering up.”

“That's good of you; the incident shook her up pretty badly. I will warn you to be careful with your words when speaking with her, though. If you want to know more about how her position was created, Lady Akyuu has records of the meeting and I’m sure Hayato remembers it. I'll be looking into this myself as after what happened yesterday, I think it's something I should know about,” father replies.


After a fairly normal breakfast, even with Wriggle around, we go towards the school where Miss Keine likely is there. I gently knock on the door. “Who is it?” A soft voice calls out from the other side.

“Yukikaki and Wriggle, Miss Kamishirasawa,” I answer. She soon opens the door, letting us in. “We don't blame you for what happened and...” I try to speak before Miss Keine interrupts me.

“I know, Lady Akyuu’s already told me about the history behind my position, and of the anti-Hakurei agenda some of the elders have. She also apologized for not doing this sooner. It turns out the position existed for a long time, mainly to protect the village if the shrine maiden was away handling some sort of incident. As times became more peaceful, the position ended up vacant as the Hakurei clan was able to cover it themselves. I was so eager to get into the position that I didn't think about what might happen, or that the words of the elders may be suspect. I guess I should have listened to Mokou and Rinnosuke more, as they both warned me to look out for any catches to the job.”

I listen intently before replying, “Yesterday appears to be a wake-up call for how the village actually works.”

Keine nods. “I've been thinking about what to do in response to this. The more I think about it, the more evident the elders' moves against Reimu become. I remember Mr. Hayato said something about a gap that they were taking advantage of. He also argued for me to be under his watch, which they refused, which might be because of his status as the oldest moderate in the council. He should know the recent history well, perhaps better than Lady Akyuu's records.”

Keine’s being very helpful, but it’s a little strange that she's giving away so much information. Wriggle speaks up, “Pardon me, but you're revealing an awful lot of things that sound very sensitive, so I have to ask… why?”

“Lady Akyuu said you two might come asking around today, and that you two could be trusted. It's almost scary how well she knows you, Yukikaki. She thought that bit of history would be useful and didn't want you two to waste time visiting for information she shared with me.” She smiles at us. “I'm glad you two came to visit me though; I’m starting to feel better now that I've vented some things.” After that last remark she guides us out the door; we go along as we don't want to hold up her work any longer.


“Sorry if you couldn't get a word earlier Wriggle,” I say.

She shakes her head. “Nah, it’s ok. I don't know as much as you do about this stuff and it was nice to listen. I'm content with being there for moral support.” We reach the end of the street, and she turns to me. “Yuki, think we can hang around the clearing a bit before continuing? It's pretty early and I'd like to relax closer to nature, but if you think going to see the head hunter now would be a good idea, I can wait.”

[ ] “That actually sounds quite nice and he's probably still busy.”
[ ] “If we wait too long, he might be too busy hunting…”
-[ ] “But go ahead anyways, Wriggle. I'll catch up when I'm done.”

I'm glad to hear that.
[X] “That actually sounds quite nice and he's probably still busy.”

Wriggle Time! GO GO GO!
[X] “That actually sounds quite nice and he's probably still busy.”

More Wriggle is always welcome.
[X] “That actually sounds quite nice and he's probably still busy.”
I could get behind this, yes.
[c] “That actually sounds quite nice and he's probably still busy.”

Wriggle time. No guts, no glory.
[T] “That actually sounds quite nice and he's probably still busy.”

Hopping on the Landslide Victory For Wriggle bandwagon
[x] “If we wait too long, he might be too busy hunting…”

Gonna miss important information, yo.
Taking a break in the clearing wins. Update should be up in a about a week.
File 135730356363.jpg - (285.24KB, 850x1393, Wriggleinforest.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] “That actually sounds quite nice and he's probably still busy.”

“That actually sounds quite nice. He's probably still busy, anyways,” I answer, knowing he's usually busy at this time of day.

We walk down the path away from the school, and it doesn't take long to reach the clearing. We sit down, spending a few moments in silence. Wriggle leans back with her eyes closed, taking a few deep breaths of morning air tinted with the scents of the forest around us. She opens an eye and notices me looking. As it closes, she smiles. “Ahh~ Breathing in the forest air feels so nice.”

“You’re right about that. There’s something about it that makes me feel more at ease myself,” I reply. While the clearing is been a nice spot to relax, I can't help but notice being here has a bit more of an effect on me.

A few more silent moments pass before Wriggle asks, “Are you planning on visiting Reimu?”

“Not until tomorrow at the earliest. I'm planning on bringing a decent sized donation with me as well to help ease things a bit. This rift that seems to exist between her and the council won't be easy to fix.”

“Yuki, are these elders really as bad as they sound? What I've heard about them recently doesn’t make a particularly nice picture, and I'm starting to think they're all as bad as that Lord Kaiba.”

I think about what to say before answering, “No. Despite their leanings, they look out for the village's interests as best as they can. I can understand their fear of youkai as well: they grew up in a time where they had to guard against almost anything that wasn’t human. The shrine maiden and guardian in those times really had a good amount of work.”

Wriggle nods, downcast. “If you say so. I never thought I'd end up learning about human politics when I met you.”

That's true… then again, I also hadn't thought about them much. “I’ve been learning a lot, too. Growing up, I never had any plans to get involved in politics, but I'm starting to change my mind. Someone has to continue supporting moderate viewpoints, and I don't want any more cases like Mr. Yaguu and Miss Shameimaru to happen.”

She smiles, leaning against me. “I'd think you'll do a wonderful job of that. You're already picking up on things even your father wasn’t aware of when he was your age.” That's right, I remember Father said he was more focused on his studies at the time. Still, I'm not sure if I'd have picked up on the tensions in the village if it weren’t for Reimu bursting in.

“I can't say I totally agree; I'm only aware due to what happened with Reimu, otherwise I'd have stayed in the dark,” I say, getting up to stretch. “We should probably see if Mr. Yaguu has returned by now.” I hold my hand out to help her up.

She takes my hand, gently pulling herself up and into my arms, to my surprise. “Thanks.” We start walking down the path, side by side.


As we enter at the hunter's area, we can see various hunters arriving. I recognize some of the hunters that tried to attack Hatate before by the looks of terror they give Wriggle. None of them approach us, and we eventually arrive at Mr. Yaguu’s house. I knock on the door, and he soon answers it.

He glances at the both of us before standing aside. “It's about yesterday isn't it? Well, come on in then, and I'll tell you about it.” We follow him inside to a sparsely furnished living room, and sit down.

“Sir, I'd first like to know the exact history about the village guardian’s position. Miss Keine already told me about the more recent history and how you tried to get her under your watch.”

“The history? Fine. Traditionally, the guardian was there to protect the village when the Hakurei was away dealing with something else. From what my parents told me, it's been this way since the formation of the village. I wanted her under my watch to better prepare her for dealing with ferals, and to ensure the radicals on the council didn’t turn her into a tool. I know them quite well and their vendetta against the Hakurei stems from the simple fact that they can’t be controlled. The moderate streak that Reimu's parents had didn’t help things, either. I went along with the vote for a protector because the village needed one. Keine was a good candidate since she was raised by Miss Fujiwara and was particularly powerful for her age. My father was there too, and as a radical strongly supported the idea, though at the time of my youth, any sort of moderate mindset would have been considered insane.”

Hearing about everything that lead up to Reimu’s outburst makes it seem more and more difficult to resolve. “I'm not sure how we'll ever fix this burnt bridge. I can imagine in earlier days that the guardian and the shrine maiden would work together, but now such a thing seems so unlikely. The Hakurei are one of the two main pillars of Gensokyo; a rift between it and the village may be worse than we can imagine.”

Even though I’m being serious, Mr. Yaguu chuckles. “Hearing you speak reminds me of my younger days after I met Aya as it opened my eyes to many things. The difference is you won't have your hands tied behind your back by those old men. But you shouldn't worry about all this for now; you're young and should enjoy your youth. It's our job to worry about these things.” He must be referring to Father and other moderates on the council.

I think about the scenario and ponder about the Hieda's role in it. “Could I ask one last question, sir? How did the Hiedas vote on that issue?”

“They were among those who wanted the guardian under my watch, but without the Child of Miare their influence wasn’t enough. I fear what plans Lady Akyuu is concocting considering how badly she reacts to certain things… and the fact nothing has happened yet is even more worrisome.”

“Mr. Yaguu, Yuki said he believed these people were ultimately good despite things like this; is this true?” Wriggle interrupts.

“In general it's true, though some doubts are coming up about the oldest ones. Ah, by that I mean members that are easily older than I am,” he answers. “Really, the only exception I can think of is… Lord Kaiba. The radicals may not be fond of youkai, but they are not suicidal with their plans; he’s unique in that respect. I hope you two pay Reimu a visit, just to show that someone besides me or your father doesn't show her any ill will.”

We nod and get up to leave, thanking Mr. Yaguu for his answers.


The walk out of the hunter's area is uneventful, and near the edge we see Hatate walking towards us. She looks a bit nervous, though considering she was nearly kidnapped by people who live near here, it's understandable.

“I'm not sure if Kazuma's home, Hatate, or is there something else you need help with?” I ask.

“I want to practice an interview with you two and find out about some of Aya's stories from the source itself!” she responds.

Wriggle answers, “You mean like the ship landing? I'm a bit curious about that as well!”

I try to think of other occurrences as both girls look at me expectantly, but the only things I can come up with are Hatate’s near-kidnapping, the ship landing, and… not much else. “Well, we should go somewhere like the inn to sit down so we can do this,” I answer.

Hatate smiles brightly, replying, “Oh, you're agreeing to do this? Aya always said it was pretty hard to get interviews, though Miss Momiji says that's because she’s too pushy.” I can believe that.

“Well I don't see why not, plus you asked nicely,” I respond as we head towards the Inn.


After taking our seats and ordering some snacks, Hatate asks, “So what would you two like to talk about to start?”

There’s quite a few things that happened recently, and each is interesting in its own way.

[ ] Talk about Miss Ozaki's ship landing.
[ ] Talk about what happened after Miss Shameimaru intervened to help save Hatate.
[ ] Anything else news worthy I forgot? (Write in)
[ ] “I have no preference.”
[x] Talk about what happened after Miss Shameimaru intervened to help save Hatate.
[T] Talk about what happened after Miss Shameimaru intervened to help save Hatate
[x] Anything else news worthy I forgot?
-[x] Talk about how Arthur's recently been investigating the syndicate and their fortresses, and about what he's found out.

Considering that the reason those hunters tried to kidnap Hatate in the first place was because they were trying to join the syndicate (>>23483), I'm sure she'd like to hear more about it.
>“I’ll let you two go if you refuse to say a thing about the fact we’re about to join that syndicate with this tengu brat as our ticket,” the leader says.
[x] Talk about what happened after Miss Shameimaru intervened to help save Hatate.
[x] Talk about what happened after Miss Shameimaru intervened to help save Hatate.

I don't exactly remember what the options are, but this one seems interesting.
The near-kidnapping goes first. Update will be up in about a week or so.

Even though it didn't won, it'll be included as the vote was what goes first.

>>24055 is what the first choice refers to while the other refers to >>23483 and the next few posts.

I will be making an addition to the /words/ thread shortly.
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[x] Talk about what happened after Miss Shameimaru intervened to help save Hatate.

Because Hatate already knows about the kidnapping, it’d be best to tell her more about what happened. “You’d probably like to hear my side of the story regarding the kidnapping incident, so I’ll start there. I went over to Kazuma's house to ask him about the fortresses that had been appearing, and he thought it might be related to how some hunters had gone missing. He decided to escort me out of the Hunter’s District when we ran into your captors.” I skip over the fight since Hatate was there to see it. “After Miss Shameimaru stepped in, I ran over to the Inn to alert my parents and Kazuma's father but was confronted by three hunters. I was too worn out to really do anything but that's when Wriggle came to the rescue.” I’m stopped from continuing as Wriggle cuts in.

“I heard bits of rumors going around as well, so I had gone to the village to see if he was alright and saw that mob. Now pay attention, Hatate, as I'm going point out what I did as a lesson.” Wriggle certainly seems confident in her abilities. “I took them by surprise with some danmaku sprays while hiding my body with my swirling cloak. Then while they were terrified I hit the biggest one with a diving kick, completely demoralizing them. It would have been a harder fight if it weren’t for going some psychological warfare. My mother taught me one very important thing: youkai draw power from belief, usually fear, and that means your attacks should leave more of a mental impact instead of outright killing the target. There are exceptions in dire straits of course, but she did mention that some youkai these days think that brute force by itself makes them notable.” Hatate takes down notes from Wriggle's explanation. Wriggle appears to think before asking, “Just why were you in that area, anyways?”

Hatate bashfully answers, “Well... I heard about Aya and the lead hunter so I decided to see what the big deal was. I kind of fell for his son, though… I was too shy to really knock on the door so I just watched instead. He was very understanding about it.”

Of course, there’s still more to say, so I resume after Hatate is done. “After that, we went into the Inn and told our story to father and Mr. Yaguu. They told us about how Arthur took the fight to the syndicate, who had created the fortresses, and that… he has three allies.” I don't reveal that Alice is one of them as I'm not sure whether she wants to stay anonymous.

Hatate nods while writing. “I’ve heard lots of stuff going around about him and his allies, the ‘Doll Princess’ and the ‘Silent Giant.’ It's hard to talk to another woman in the Tengu village without hearing about him. As far as the juicy details are concerned, though, I can’t find anything out for some reason. I guess it’s fine though; I already have my hero and he's not Arthur.” She smirks at me and winks. “Oh and don't think I didn't notice your little omission. I won't pry, but next time just say that you don't want to talk about it.”

Gah, she caught me. “I apologize, Hatate. I didn't want to reveal anything that’s potentially sensitive. Was I that obvious?”

“Yuki, you looked like you were thinking a bit right before you said that,” Wriggle responds. “But how did you notice that, Hatate? It usually takes people a couple of meetings to notice quirks like that.”

Hatate proudly replies, “I'm an aspiring reporter who got some lessons from Aya herself! Though, I'm still in training for self-defense and danmaku. I might have to ask you for some hints even though I'm not sure how to feel about being outdone. Tengu pride and all that other stuff.” Her tone gets more humble after the first statement.

“Tengu pride… ah!” I suddenly remember what Aya said at the inn as well, about how she killed the hunter who had attacked her after she interfered with the kidnapping. “I don’t know if you can answer a question of my own, but what happened to Aya after the kidnapping incident? I think I remember her mentioning that the leader of the kidnappers wouldn’t stay down, and, well…”

Hatate frowns as my voice trails off, and responds in a serious tone. “Aya had to deal with both human and Tengu councils for what she did to that hunter. The Tengu investigated whether she had abused that law, originally made to discourage reckless attacks against the Tengu to protect the alliance between us and the village. When she mentioned the threats he was making to the Tengu as a whole, they warned her not to abuse the law but left it at that. Tengu are deathly serious about any threats made because of our history when the Oni were still around. Abductions were rather common, so once the Oni left Lord Tenma and the council decided to ensure something like that never happens again. I don’t know all the details, but I'm not stupid enough to try going underground to find out more, risking my life and break all sorts of rules in the process.”

Does that mean that the Oni are living underground, then? I should stay focused on what Hatate’s saying for now, though. “What happened between the village council and her?”

“Some members, same as the Tengu, only wanted to check if the law was abused, while others thought Aya really overstepped her bounds. They debated for days, arguing that Aya retaliated with more force than the hunter was able to match, so she wasn’t justified in claiming the self-defense clause. She explained about all the threats that guy said before using one of the Humanists favorite quotes, that ‘All threats must be taken seriously.’ Even though most said that that didn’t affect whether she could invoke the clause or not, they didn’t want to push the issue and damage relations with the Tengu as a whole.”

“I’m not surprised that they’d go after her for that, but I guess father was right when he said the Humanists do care about the good of the village.”

Hatate nods in agreement. “While they dislike Youkai, it looks like they're not so foolish as to pick big fights or throw away the Tengu's aid. Aya told me their attitude is founded on how past generations had to endure youkai attacks. That much of their view is understandable, at least. On top of training, she's been teaching me more about youkai I should be wary of; according to her, even though many are agreeable, there's still a decent number that would quickly take advantage of a foolish person. Ah, I hope you're not offended at my remark about humans. I know you're not all bad, but I just hope you never end up in that situation.” I nod, and make a mental note to ask Father about the Humanists later tonight.

“I agree completely. Thank you for telling me what happened.” Now that I know what happened to Aya, I can move on and talk about the ship incident. “So, you were both curious about the ship landing, right? The day after your kidnapping, I was visiting the Shrine with Lady Akyuu and enjoying Reimu's hospitality along with Marisa. She was talking about a robot maid she’d, uh, acquired, when Marisa saw the same ship in the sky as the one the maid's original creators flew. They decided to investigate, and I got a lift from Marisa. They didn’t want to fight though, so Reimu started talking with them for a bit. The older one, Yumemi Okazaki, tested a strange invention on me that detects pheromones to see if someone is in a relationship or not. It’s a very specific invention, but it works.”

Wriggle speaks up first, blushing slightly. “I still can't believe someone would invent such a thing.” I remember briefly mentioning the device to Wriggle, but left out the specifics.

“And I thought the Kappa made some strange inventions,” Hatate adds.

Nodding, I resume. “A while later, Shinobu arrived at the clearing after being shot at by Rika's tank. Ginji apologized profusely and managed to get away with simply purchasing a replacement outfit, and Rika had to do some maid work.”

“Oh, so did the whole idea to dress everyone up as maids come from her, or was it just something Rika did on her own? Not that I minded the outfit… I actually still have it,” Hatate says.

I answer, “It was Rika's idea, and I’m guessing she thought something like ‘If I'm a maid, I'll look the part.’ Maybe she thought buying the outfits in bulk would be cheaper, too.”

“Akyuu's terribly fond of buying me clothes, though I can't complain considering her taste in fashion. Yuki, maybe you should suggest that she help could more people to use her fashion expertise more often,” Wriggle says. Her kindness only extends to certain people close to her, though.

The only other topic of interest I can think of is the current issue with Keine’s position, but would Hatate be interest in that? Mr. Yaguu should be getting home soon, too.

[ ] Tell her, it might help her.
[ ] Don't, telling her before we have a full picture might prove troublesome.
>I’ve heard lots of stuff going around about him and his allies, the ‘Doll Princess’ and the ‘Silent Giant.

I'm curious. And I'm liking this Hatate already.

[c] Tell her, it might help her.
[x] Don't, telling her before we have a full picture might prove troublesome.

A lot of what we know about Keine's position is speculation, not facts. Aya's the one in charge of the rumor mill, not Hatate, and we have to keep in mind not to talk about sensitive subjects to anyone we meet.
[x] Tell her, it might help her. However, use caution in what you say, and caution her that you do not have the entire picture.
[X] Tell her, it might help her.

Information wants to be free.
Hatate tagging along wins with what >>27088 said.

Update should be up in 1 to 2 weeks as I'm also working on a few other things.
>tagging along
Sorry, what? I voted to tell Hatate about what's going on with Keine, not invite her to come talk to Mr. Yaguu with us.
I apologize as that was part of the plan that I revealed early. If you or anyone else wants that part to be made a choice, I'll do so for the next update.
I'm not dead, just busy with stuff. I've completed the Tengu Christmas short and all it needs is proofing. I have one more thing to do before starting on my update, so It might take me another week or so to do fully.

Upon thinking on the matter, I decided to change the plan of Hatate tagging along as it wasn't really vital to the update.
My second side project ran into a wall so I'll start writing my update soon and leaving that for another time. I apologize for the wait. It should be up in a week or less from today.

Good news is that I have completed my Tengu Christmas short: >>/shorts/835
I'm working on it but work and the related energy issues haven't made it easy. I will try to get it done in about a week.
I did finish writing the update, but my proofreader has appeared to be missing at the moment. I apologize for the massive delay this has turned out to be.
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[x] Tell her, it might help her. (However, use caution in what you say, and caution her that you do not have the entire picture.)

Well I don't see the harm in telling her, though I'll avoid being too detailed about anything sensitive. “Lastly, I think you already know about yesterday's incident involving Reimu. Because of something she said, we decided to look into the true history of Miss Keine's position by asking those who’d know about it.”

Hatate replies, “That was pretty scary; I’m glad she stopped when she did. That spike of power could be felt all over, even by some of the scouts out in distance sectors. I think the only ones who couldn’t have felt it would be typical human villagers, as I heard most aren’t even attuned to such forces. You must have sensed it for sure, Yuki.”

I answer, “Yeah, it was pretty terrifying. Now that I think about it, how much of an uproar could that cause around Gensokyo? Such a surge would certainly rile up ferals.” I might have to ask Mr. Yaguu about that in addition to my other questions. “Anyways, I would say more but the issue involves some dealings with human village politics that I don’t feel comfortable sharing.”

She looks a bit dejected, but cheers up as she replies, “Sounds like something too complicated for me to go looking into. Good! Now I can visit Kazuma without feeling like I'm slacking off! If you don’t mind, I’ll be going now.” She stands, and leaves after I nod. No reason to keep her here if her investigation’s finished.

Wriggle speaks up. “That surge made me feel terror at its most basic level. It had no intent or direction, but was more of a feeling that it would overwhelm anything it confronted.”

Without thinking, I reply, “Don't worry. If it comes down to it, I'll protect you.” What?! I'm not powerful or brave enough for that… I think.

She smiles. “Thanks, I appreciate the sentiment. You shouldn’t put yourself in harm’s way just for my sake, though. I’d feel bad if you got hurt.” I can’t help but grin and nod, and we get up and leave after paying for the snacks.


“Yuuki, we already went to his house earlier today!” Wriggle remarks as we enter the Hunter’s District again.

I shrug sheepishly, knowing it’s my fault that we’re back here. “I know. I goofed by leaving early; I forgot to ask Mr. Yaguu for more details on a few things.” As we walk, I notice Wriggle looks a bit worried. “Is there something wrong?”

“I’m just wondering if we’ll run into those three that I beat up. I'm not upset or scared, just curious about what they’ll do,” she answers.

I pull closer, replying, “I wouldn't worry about it. If we do see them I think they’ll be too busy needlessly worrying about their lives to react.”

“I'm not worried about them. I want to see this through with you, Yuuki,” she answers.

Out of the corner of my eye I notice a few hunters reacting to our presence, though I don't pay it much mind to avoid drawing too much attention. I’m surprised when a tall one runs and trips over himself. After he falls to his knees I recognize him as the hunter Wriggle kicked. I'm a bit ashamed of myself since that’s the only thing I can remember him by, even if it was kind of funny seeing how badly scared they were.

We walk up to Mr. Yaguu's house and I knock on the door. He answers it, and seems a bit surprised to see us again. “I wasn't expecting you back, but I'm sure it's for a good reason. Please come in.”

We accept his invitation, taking off our shoes in the threshold before following him to the living room. As we sit down, I ask, “Sir, how did you figure the reasons behind this second visit?”

“Reimu’s confrontation with Keine was too much of a spectacle for people concerned about either of them not to think about. You’re also curious, so I figured you’d want to know more in general. Your father was the same when he was younger, and was just as prone to getting mixed up and forgetting things. So, where would you like me to begin?”

I think about it and start with the first logical thing. “I was curious about the exact details of the past of the village guardian position, as well as the politics surrounding it.”

Mr. Yaguu leans back. “Alright then. Someone from Lady Kotohime's family took the role when I was a young man. Her family has a stronger talent for magic than most, though they focus on more defensive applications. From what my father told me, usually a villager capable of flight with considerable power takes the position. That’s why it was easy to see another motivation behind Keine’s appointment. You already heard about the issues surrounding the vote, so I won’t repeat it. I'm not sure if they’ve ever really forgiven me for changing my family's position.” Interesting… but the last point raises a question.

“Sir, what do you know of the political factions on the village?” I ask, hoping it won't offend.

He sighs before responding, “I know a good deal about the Humanists; despite my recent frustration with them, they keep the village in mind. Individually, they vary a good deal: people like Lord Hojo are rather understanding, and at the other end are outright racists like Lord Kaiba and my father. It might have been understandable for my father to have the views he did because of what he lived through, but when I met Aya and took a closer look, I couldn’t blindly label anything as a ‘monster,’ even the ferals. I’m not proud of his view; he was very fond of saying ‘the only good monster is a dead one.’ He was also an ardent Humanist and a major supporter of their power.

“When he passed away I took over as lead hunter, and when I revealed my views on things it was a major shock. No lead hunter ever went along with the moderates until I came along. Frankly, the Humanist faction is existing on borrowed time. More and more people from each generation will be of a more moderate mindset. I think the Humanists now are trying to teach the moderates about how dangerous youkai can be so the village won't go soft after they're gone.”

Yaguu raises a good point; the village wouldn’t last long if everyone no longer kept in mind how different from humans youkai are. Wriggle speaks up, asking, “Is Miss Kamishirasawa that easily influenced? She doesn't seem like someone who’d readily distrust youkai like that. She seemed really nice when I talked to her.”

Yaguu nods and responds, “She hasn’t gotten into the details of politics and is rather naïve about some things. Now I’m not saying she's a naïve woman, just that she still has a considerable number of things to learn about the village. For reasons I cannot disclose, she's sympathetic towards reasonable youkai, but because she’s stuck with the brunt of the work defending the village and dealing with people, certain words from the Humanists ring truer than they actually are. I personally intend on finding out just where she got the notion that she was replacing the Hakurei, as that's rather extreme even for their ideology. Knowing Keine, she’ll be upset once the impact of her words sinks in. It will take some time before things are fully patched up between those two.” Yaguu pauses, glancing at me. “Now I must ask, what do you want to do with your life, Yukikaki? Asking about Keine and I brings the question to mind.”

Ah! Me? I’d originally have said I’d be a scholar, but after everything that’s happened I don't think I could just sit easy with books. I reply, “To be honest, until I met Wriggle I figured I would be a scholar and was less concerned about my future than I was about liking girls. But now? I fully want to continue my father's work both in study and politics so those that want to co-exist can do so without problem. I want to uncover the truth from whatever webs of intrigue surround them.”

Yaguu raises his eyebrows before surprising us by laughing. “Ahh, you're growing up faster than I expected, speaking like a man. I figured Miss Nightbug to be a fine young woman, but I’ve underestimated her. There's an old saying that goes ‘The root of a man's greatness is a great woman.’ It may sound a bit old fashioned, but I like to think it refers to the inspiration and support a man draws from the woman he adores. But don't worry about those matters; you're both still young. The only thing you need to work on is keeping a cool head no matter what is said about Miss Nightbug.” Ah, he must be referring to the time I shouted at Ginji’s dad.

I reply, “Sir, I will be sure to do that, though such advice coming from you is quite… particular.” Sorry Mr. Yaguu, but its’ strange to hear that from someone with an infamous temper.

“I understand the oddness, but I've made efforts to keep my temper under control. The Council has a code of conduct against crudely insulting people inside or out of the room. Debates are to be settled with facts, not insults or intimidation tactics,” he replies. He makes a good point; I don’t want to think about a place of debate where such things are allowed.

“Thank you again for your time, sir. I hope you have a nice day.” He nods and escorts us to the door.


Outside, Wriggle asks, “What do you want to do now, Yuki? I was thinking we could stop by Kourindou but I'm open to suggestions.”

[x] Kourindou sounds interesting; maybe Rinnosuke found something new.
[x] Maybe we could head to Suzunaan? I could introduce her to Kosuzu and see if there’s any books she’d like.
[x] It’s getting close to lunch, and we’ve only had snacks so far. We should head back to the café.
[x] Relaxing at home sounds best.
[x] Relaxing at home sounds best.
[x] Kourindou sounds interesting; maybe Rinnosuke found something new.

Sounds fun.
[x] Kourindou sounds interesting; maybe Rinnosuke found something new.

Let us take Wriggle's advice.
[x] Kourindou sounds interesting; maybe Rinnosuke found something new.

Visiting Rinnosuke is like being presented with a new Item of the Day.
[c] Kourindou sounds interesting; maybe Rinnosuke found something new.

Alright, let's do this.
Going to Rinnosuke wins. Writing begins tomorrow.
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[x] Kourindou sounds interesting; maybe Rinnosuke found something new.

“That sounds like a nice idea, Wriggle. You never can tell what you might find.”

Wriggle answers, “Great! You did bring your moneybag, right? I don't want you to try buying something only to find your pockets are empty.” I suppose I should be glad she reminded me since I did forget to bring it last time.

“I have it on me; I've made it a habit to carry it around. Thanks for the concern though. Hopefully I won't make that mistake again.”

She gently takes my hand into hers as we walk. “And I'll try my best to make sure it doesn't happen, Yuki. It's sort of cute when you forget things, but it’s troublesome, too.”


We arrive outside Kourindou and hear some talking inside as we approach the entrance; one of the voices sounds quite unfamiliar. It’s refined, yet young. Children of nobility don't usually talk like that in casual scenarios, so I’m not sure who it is.

“Do you know that person?” Wriggle asks.

“No, but it should be fine to head in. I don't think anyone dangerous would visit Kourindou, anyways.”

As we walk through the doorway, we see Rinnosuke talking with a cloaked figure with a box. “–it's nothing, this price is a bargain compared to the outside world.” Noticing us, she continues, “Oh, hello. I wasn't expecting anyone to come in. I heard that the shop doesn't get many customers.” Rinnosuke looks unamused at her remark, though the fact that she bought something is probably blunting his discontent.

A flicker passes my vision and I feel a hint of magic…! Wait, what just happened? Where’s the visitor? Seeing my confusion, Rinnosuke explains, “She has a bad habit of vanishing like that, even when coming into the store. I have no idea how she does it.” She left!? I guess that explains what I felt.

“Who is she? You seem to know her well, Mr. Rinnosuke,” Wriggle asks politely.

He grimaces. “First, don't call me mister; I'm not THAT old in any sense, even if it is better than Marisa's new nickname. Anyway, that customer said her name is Tsubaki and that she arrived here a short time ago. It appears my store is the only place that sells the things she often needs. She’s taken an interest in the weapon shops as well. A real mystery, that one. Now, as for you, I don't have anything new from your series, but I found something that may be interesting.”

He points towards a small case with several plastic squares in them. “DDP BLUE ROM source code? What's a source code?”

“Not sure. All I can tell is that you can make a game using these, but I don’t know how it’s done,” he responds. “What I can tell is that this is something believed to be missing in the outside world.”

Wriggle calls me over to the book section and I join her in scanning the shelves. One that stands out is a collection of writings talking about a Man from Nantucket. “Why is there a red label saying ‘highly vulgar’ on it?” Wriggle asks.

“Because, to be blunt, even hunters widely known for their vulgar tastes were shocked by its contents,” Rinnosuke answers. Back before his incident with Mystia, I think Takami would have liked such a thing. Not sure if he still would, now.

Oh? A fantasy book titled Eragon? I look through it a bit, skimming the pages, and get the feeling that I'd read it before. “Not interested, but someone less well read might like it.”

“Yuki, are you really that familiar with western style books?” Wriggle asks.

“Yeah, Father has a decent sized collection of western stuff. He's a big fan of J.R.R Tolkien, particularly the history in his stories.” I refrain from mentioning how he’s working on making a timeline of events in those books as a side project. With the Myouren scrolls investigation not panning out, he might return to the timeline again. Maybe he’d let me show Wriggle if she's interested.

Ah, this one was made in the village, judging from the cover material and feel. “Wintry Steam, a Suzunaan published story by Hedena Nine.” Never heard of a miss Hedena before. Wriggle and I start looking through it. A young noblewoman desires a boyish scholar named Yukimura who lives in the same city as her… why am I getting such a familiar feeling? We keep reading until the heroine imagines- OH WHOA. That's very… vivid.

I hurriedly put the book away before glancing at Wriggle. She looks even more embarrassed than I am. “Are you alright, Wriggle?”

“I'm just surprised, that's all. Um, how about we look at the toy area in case there's anything cool there? You’ve added some new things, right Rinnosuke?”

Rinnosuke remarks, “Not really. Someone made a big purchase from there recently, cleaned out just about all the models and mechanical action figures.” Well, looking won’t hurt anything. “I was certainly surprised by that book though. Miss Hedena is a very talented writer.” Ahh, just don’t think about it.

We look through and I find a device that sort of looks like a portable lamp. I’ll pick it up for now and ask Rinnosuke about it. Huh, the large pile of boxes has been completely cleared out, except for a single box with some sort of mechanical windmill doll inside. Who would buy something like that?

I spot Wriggle by the racks of clothes holding a bag and a sort of... wait, that hat’s similar to Gandalf's. “I didn't think there'd be a hat of that style here.” I always did consider his hat rather stylish for magical headwear… though that's not something I'll admit easily.

“It caught my attention as it looked like something wizards would use. They seem like they’d always appreciate having a nice hat,” Wriggle replies.

Thinking of all the wizards I’ve read about, the color red comes to mind. “Maybe a red sort of wizard would use it, though red's an odd color for a neutral branch of magic.”

She smiles and hands the hat to me. “Try it on!” I do so, finding it fits rather comfortably, even though it’s a bit rough. “Well, I think it fits alright, and it'd do wonders for keeping the sun off my head.” I struggle not to perform some dramatic motion as my thoughts turn to the wizards I read about.

Wriggle holds back a laugh, saying, “It's my gift to you since you like it so much. And I'll pay for it myself; I know how you like to pay for things but gifts for others should be bought with your own money.” I have no idea how much money she has but if she feels that strongly about paying for it, then the gift itself has strong thoughts behind it.

“Thank you, Wriggle,” I reply as we head towards the counter with our purchases.

Rinnosuke looks up from his book at the mini-lamp I have with me. “That's a sort of book light that attaches to the back cover so you can easily read at night. It runs on a small battery, and for a little extra I'll provide a couple of spares. Ginji Miyamoto brought the other light to try to make his own version.”

Wriggle remarks, “I didn’t know you knew Ginji.”

“Well, I do. We became acquainted when he and his parents stepped into the shop while I was working on a project, a device for focusing magical energy into a blast. It really inspired him; I ended up abandoning the project but he's made great progress. Before you get too worried about it, yes, I reminded him to mind the balance of things.” I think Ginji mentioned something like that a while ago, but he isn't going to sell anything along those lines any time soon.

We pay for our purchases, though Wriggle merely shows Rinnosuke what’s in the bag without taking anything out. Well, she probably has her reasons, so I don't dwell on it. We bid Rinnosuke farewell as we leave the store. The sun’s already setting, so it’s getting to be pretty late. I think there's enough time to drop by and introduce Wriggle to Kosuzu, but we can’t do any book shopping today.

[ ] Try to drop by the store
[ ] Go straight home.
[c] Try to drop by the store
[x] Try to drop by the store

Does Wriggle squee over cute stuff/girls? We'll see.
[x] Go straight home.

I think that's Akyuu, not Wriggle.
[x] Try to drop by the store

I think we have time for this.
[x] Try to drop by the store

Let's give it a shot.
Going to the shop wins. Update should be up in a week.
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[x] Try to drop by the store.

“While it's too late to really go shopping there, I can still introduce you to the owner's daughter, Kosuzu. Just to warn you, she does have a way of making up nicknames” I tell her as we head towards the shop.

Thankfully it’s still open when we arrive. We run into Miss Motoori as we enter, who happily waves at us as we walk by.

I don't think Kosuzu’s choice of books has changed, so she should be this way. It doesn't take long to find her, seated and reading a book. She looks up as we approach. “Who?” she asks, pointing at Wriggle.

“Kosuzu, this is Wriggle, and this is Kosuzu. She likes reading a lot, though I'm not sure how much she understands. Most days I can find her by the shelves somewhere, reading.”

“Wriguwrigu?” I see she came up with a nickname very quickly. I'm starting to dread what Akyuu might have said to her, the more I think about it. She smiles then closes the book in front of her. Looks like she’s reading some sort of western "fairy tale."

“That's pretty cute, what do you call Yuki, Kosuzu?” Wriggle asks. I brace myself for Kosuzu's response.

“YukiYuki, of course. That's cute right?” she says as Wriggle happily nods. Kosuzu stares at us for a bit before asking, “When you two get married, can I be the flower girl? You two seem to like each other.”

I can't even muster words to respond right away. Out of the corner of my eye I see Wriggle bashfully looking away. “We'll think on it,” I hurriedly say, the first thing coming to mind in this situation. I'm glad she's just a smart little girl without a mischievous side, like Akyuu.

There's a bit of an awkward silence before Wriggle says, “I think we should get going as I think your mother might need some help. But it was nice meeting you, Kosuzu.” I nod, and we leave the store after waving goodbye.


After we get home I can hear Mother working in the kitchen. Father's probably around the library reading up on something or writing down his findings.

[ ] Ask Mother if she needs help in the kitchen.
[ ] See what Father's doing.
[ ] Go downstairs and relax before dinner.

Sorry about the length after so much time, but I felt letting you choose is fairer to you in the long run.
Huh, that was a short one.

[c] Ask Mother if she needs help in the kitchen.
[x] See what Father's doing.

Mom's just going to tease us about Wriggle some more, and sitting around is boring. Time to see what dad' been up to.
[X] Ask Mother if she needs help in the kitchen.
[x] Go downstairs and relax before dinner.

Hooray, updatess
All I would say is that it wouldn't be just teasing if anything at all. There's a reason why I have helping Yuki's mother be a choice.
Helping out Mother wins, update should be up in about 8 or so days
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[X] Ask Mother if she needs help in the kitchen.

“We should see if Mother needs any help,” I say. Wriggle nods in agreement and we head into the kitchen.

As we enter, Mother looks up and greets us. “Oh good, you two are here. Can you cut up some vegetables?” For some reason, her mood seems different compared to usual.

We start cutting them, but the matter just refuses to leave my mind. “Mother, did something happen today?”

She nods. “I was buying my first set of kitchen knives from the Sunohara smithery when I heard some noise by where the old well used to be. It hasn’t been used in nearly twenty years, so I went over and found a girl in a bucket hopping out. I knew she had to be an underground youkai, but she didn’t seem very menacing and she was so cute I got worried she might be bullied by others!” Ah, that sounds like Mother. I think I remember reading an old article about the old well and how it was buried in wake of an incident there.

She continues, “Your Father told me that any youkai that seems soft or weak tends to get bullied. So I decided say hello and give her some self-defense tips. She was a very shy girl, but she listened to my advice and asked for a knife afterwards. She didn’t seem like she’d misuse it so I gave her one, and she thanked me, admitting not all humans were bad. She wanted some advice on how to harmlessly scare some kids and I suggested making a stick skeleton and tossing it at someone.” She sighs. “Didn't think I'd end up causing such a fuss in the end. But I do hope that girl's still doing well.” A fuss!? I might have to ask about it at dinner; for now though, we continue to help Mother cook.


By the time we finish preparing dinner and start taking it out to the table, Father is seated and waiting for us, looking in through the door. “Father, did something happen?” I ask as I put the plates down.

“Indeed. The council was talking about changing the self defense law concerning the Tengu to allow the offender to be questioned to see how dangerous they are. The rather recent event with Aya and that one hunter raised some concerns, and everyone agreed that some sort of compromise might be reached so someone doesn't unwittingly get themselves killed.

He sighs as he leans back in his seat. “As for Keine and Reimu, the issue is far more complicated. It revealed the rift between the village and the shrine and everyone is scrambling to deal with it. It doesn't help that a few opportunists are trying to take advantage of this for their own ends. I had to scold some the moderates for trying to use it against the humanists. While it could be said this altercation was a result of their actions, now is not the time for blame or political maneuvering. I fear a resolution won't be reached any time soon.” I wonder if I could help resolve the situation since Wriggle and I were planning on paying them both a visit to see how they’re holding up. I'm also a little curious about what exactly goes on in the council meetings as it seems like Father has some troublesome co-workers.

I feel a tapping, snapping me out of my thoughts. “Oh, Wriggle, sorry about that” I reply, noticing Mother and Father have already begun eating.

“Yuki, just remember that you can share your thoughts with me,” Wriggle says as she sits down and serves herself.

Alright, what sort of topic should I bring up…

[ ] Ask Mother more about the youkai underground.
[ ] Ask Father about the exact details of both parties, if he doesn't mind.
[ ] Ask Father if he encountered a youkai on friendly terms before I was born.
[ ] Ask Father about his side project with the Tolkien books.
>[ ] New character development
>[ ] Background development
>[ ] Minor character past development
>[ ] Minor character present development

[ ] Plot
[x] Ask Mother more about the youkai underground.

Voting for bucket loli.
[c] Ask Mother more about the youkai underground.
Alright, then.

>[ ] Ask Father about his side project with the Tolkien books.
I'm very interested in this.
[x] Ask Father about his side project with the Tolkien books.

I am really interested in this one.
[x] Ask Mother more about the youkai underground.
[x] Ask Mother more about the youkai underground.
- If there is time: [x] Ask Father if he encountered a youkai on friendly terms before I was born.

The two seems fairly related, so I wouldn't say it is out of reason for one to lead into the other, even if the latter is less thoroughly addressed due to the time constraints of dinner taking a humane amount of time.
"[ ] Ask Mother more about the youkai underground" Wins.

However I may include bits of "[ ] Ask Father if he encountered a youkai on friendly terms before I was born" and "[ ] Ask Father about his side project with the Tolkien books" if possible

Update should be up in a about a week.
[x] Ask Mother more about the youkai underground.
-[x] Ask Father if he encountered a youkai on friendly terms before I was born.
-[x] Ask Father about his side project with the Tolkien books.

“Mother, would you or Father know anything more about underground youkai?” I ask as I resume eating.

Mother is the first to answer. “I did a little reading on them after meeting that adorable youkai. A mix of different youkai live down there: it’s natural for a few, others live there by choice, and a few are forced to stay. The commonly available books on the subject say that it’s a good thing, though I have my doubts. For creatures that are supposed to be all vicious and horrible, that girl I met was anything but. I'm tempted to ask Lady Akyuu for any books she has on the matter.”

Father adds, “I remember reading the reason didn't focus so much on their temperament, but on the fear of some of the powers. Particularly satori, youkai that can read minds. Their nightmarish ability lets them find out all your dirty secrets which they could reveal to the world. The various ruling youkai have even more to fear, so their reaction is natural even if no satori intend to use their power in such a way. Anyways, there's an agreement between them that the above ground and underground youkai don’t step into each others' territory. That little friend of yours caused a minor incident because she stepped beyond her boundaries, Kasumi.” He chuckles. “Maybe I could have had such an encounter in my youth if my head wasn’t buried in books.”

Mother looks like she’s about to respond to him, but stops. Odd, but I decide not to dwell on it as that's likely a mystery for another day. Oh yeah, there's that project of Father’s I mentioned to Wriggle earlier. “Father, I'm curious how that project of chronicling all of Mr. Tolkien's books is going,” I say.

“Well, I'm taking a break from that to work on a different project. Can’t say more than that right now, but you'll know when it's done, Yuki. I wound up making quite some progress in the wake of the Myouren scroll failure,” he responds.

Before I can ask for more details, Wriggle cuts in. “Myouren? There's an artist in the village that sells small paintings of a man of that name. Even though he's a Buddhist monk, I've seen a few girls buy his pictures, even Kurumi and Miss Elly.”

Father nods. “The scrolls did describe him as rather handsome. Among some of the other scholars that know of this, some wonder if his sister would be attractive or not. Whatever the case, there's not many records in the village of her, leaving such knowledge only in the minds of those that actually lived back then.” The names of Lady Inaba and Lady Yakumo come to mind, but I doubt they would be forthcoming about this.

“I won't ask what those stories said she looked like; I can already guess,” Wriggle adds before resuming eating. Dinner ends up leading into minor chatter and I focus on finishing my food before it gets cold.

As dinner ends, Mother takes Wriggle into the kitchen as Father leaves to either read or work on that mystery project. I decide to go downstairs instead of helping with the dishes; Mother’s probably bringing up topics not meant for my ears.


I turn on the lamp in the room as dusk passes into night, stretching the shadows in my room. I don’t have too think long about what to do to kill time since Wriggle comes down soon after. “I hope you weren’t too upset about Father’s story, Wriggle. I'm aware of how you dislike people focusing on certain things,” I say.

“Don’t worry; I'm feeling better. I know I shouldn't get upset at that but it just irks me when it happens. Your Mother cheered me up though. Her reaction at dinner made me wonder what she could be thinking about… but we can talk about something else as I know you have what happened recently in mind.”'

I think over the day's events…

[x] That’s alright; I noticed Mother’s reaction, too.
[x] Father's project reminded of my favorite series in the family library.
[x] Wait... I'm curious about what she got at the store.
[x] That’s alright; I noticed Mother’s reaction, too.
[x] That’s alright; I noticed Mother’s reaction, too.

talking about possible encounters like that in front of your wife isn't the smartest idea I would think.
[x] Wait... I'm curious about what she got at the store.
[c] That’s alright; I noticed Mother’s reaction, too.
"[ ] That’s alright; I noticed Mother’s reaction, too." wins. Update should be up in about a week, might take a bit longer.
File 136833942748.jpg - (475.19KB, 600x847, japaneseversionofthis.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] That’s alright; I noticed Mother’s reaction, too.

I noticed Mother’s reaction too; maybe Wriggle's on to something. “It’s fine if we talk about that. I noticed Mother’s reaction too, but I assumed it was some small issue between the two of them. What's your take on it, Wriggle?”

I think it deals with Keine's secret and

“I think it's something along the lines of what your father said about not encountering youkai in his youth. Maybe… what if Kasumi was thinking of Miss Keine? When I talk with her, I sense something a bit unusual, and her attitude towards youkai is surprisingly moderate for someone whose job focuses on fending them off. Also remember that Reimu taunted Keine about her ‘secret,’ which terrified her. If she was somehow part youkai, it wouldn’t be something someone in her position could easily reveal without causing some panic.”

When she lays it all out like that, I guess it makes sense, particularly how some would react to a youkai trying to pass themselves off as human. “I can see why she's worried if that’s the case, but if it’s true, then I suspect this secret is counter-productive. I hope she doesn’t have to worry about such messes in the future,” I reply. “I wonder if Akyuu can tell us any more about this?”

“She might be, but we could talk to Reimu or Keine directly when we visit tomorrow. I'm sure things will get better with you helping,” she responds, hugging me. “…How about we go on a date afterwards? Being tense like this isn't healthy. I was going to leave it a surprise, but it’s no problem telling you now. I managed to find some nice clothes at Kourindou, including a swimsuit.”

She has a point and I have no reason to turn her down. “Sounds like a good plan.” I suddenly remember that Kamui was going to have dinner at Wriggle’s house in a few days. “Were you going to go home for the dinner with Kamui? I'm just curious as I remember Kurumi was there.”

“Well, there's no obligation. Kurumi was there talking with Miss Elly about... 'bountiful girl matters,' as Shizuha puts it. I remember Mother saying she was really looking forward to meeting your parents after what I told her. She thinks she'd get along well with Kasumi,” she answers.

“How is Shizuha doing, anyways? I think she'd be excited for the upcoming fall festival as there's always at least a few people that can appreciate what she does.” I know that Wriggle hangs out at times with Shizuha and a few others, so she might know her plans.

“She's fine, and it probably has something to do with that artist who hangs around with her. He’s really motivated her to do the upcoming festival with some zeal.” All I can say is that I'm glad she has more confidence in herself.

I get up go change my clothes, noticing Wriggle quickly turning away, blushing. I guess she was thinking about that. I concentrate on the task at hand as I'd rather not get distracted by whatever state of undress Wriggle is in and end up falling over. I should calm down as my heart's beating faster... whew and my face's a bit warm. I turn around to find her wearing that oversized robe of mine. She does look cute in it, though I can’t help but wonder what she's wearing under there. Not sure if I should be ashamed or not for thinking about it.

We finish changing as we get into bed. “Can I keep this for myself? Please?” Wriggle asks.

“Sure, go ahead. It's too big for me anyways.”

“Thanks Yuki,” she replies, embracing me. With her in my arms I feel the stress of the day melt away, and I have no trouble at all closing my eyes.


Ah... that was a nice night's sleep, and Wriggle's waking up as well. After yawning, she blinks a few times. “Good morning, Yuki…” I look over and, thanks to the open robe, see that the only other thing she’s wearing is panties.

“Good morning, Wriggle” I reply as I get up to change, trying my best not to get distracted. Have to take care of today's tasks first. I remind myself to get my money bag and fill it with a considerable amount of money just in case I need it. I pack along that spell book just in case we run into anything on the way to the shrine. Whew, Wriggle's in her normal outfit; cute, and not distracting.

We both head upstairs, and I smell breakfast being cooked as we reach the top. Breakfast is ready by the time I get to the table and Mother wastes no time before asking, “You seem rather focused even though it’s this early. What are your plans for the day, I wonder? You don’t usually wake up looking so resolute.”

“We're planning on visiting both Miss Keine and Reimu to see how they're doing and seeing if I can't mend things between them. I can't just act like things are normal between them,” I answer, leaving off the part about our guess about Miss Keine.

Father adds, “You’re a little young to be concerned about such things. However, I don’t exactly see it as a bad thing, provided you don't overdo it. Better early than late; I recall one young man who wasn't so quick to look at the greater world and he came to regret it.” Judging from what I know of his youth and his reactions, he’s talking about himself.

The rest of breakfast goes by pretty quickly with a bit of small talk.


Outside the house, Wriggle asks, “Alright Yuki, what’s the plan, exactly? I think we can stop by Miss Kamishirasawa's place before we go shopping for Reimu's peace offering. I know you were thinking about something along those lines, right?”

“Yeah, an offering of food and money should improve her mood enough to listen to us. You have a good point about the timing, though,” I respond.

[ ] Let's stop by Keine's first since it'll be quicker, and we can take her apology over to Reimu. We might be able to see if we were right as well.
[ ] Deal with Reimu first by getting together a peace offering then visiting her. We can bring any good news to Keine afterwards.
[x] Let's stop by Keine's first since it'll be quicker, and we can take her apology over to Reimu. We might be able to see if we were right as well.

Seems more logical this way.
[x] Deal with Reimu first by getting together a peace offering then visiting her. We can bring any good news to Keine afterwards.

Placating the Reimu seems like the right way to go.
[X] Let's stop by Keine's first since it'll be quicker, and we can take her apology over to Reimu. We might be able to see if we were right as well.
[c] Let's stop by Keine's first since it'll be quicker, and we can take her apology over to Reimu. We might be able to see if we were right as well.
[x] Deal with Reimu first by getting together a peace offering then visiting her. We can bring any good news to Keine afterwards.

Anti-Miko measures are important. Also, we are now Touma Kamijou.
Going to Keine's first wins. I should have something with in a week if not sooner.

I would also like to know if I should make longer voting periods a standard thing or not.
I have finished writing.

To my readers, sorry this isn't an update, just a check to see if this would get my proofer to appear quicker.
File 136927918919.jpg - (0.98MB, 912x1409, Keinesitting.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Let's stop by Keine's first since it'll be quicker, and we can take her apology over to Reimu. We might be able to see if we were right as well.

“We should head to Miss Keine's first since it's closer than Reimu’s shrine,” I answer. “It’s probably best to see if she's doing better before even mentioning what we talked about last night, though.”

Wriggle nods as we continue walking to the school. “Good idea; I don't want to accidentally make her feel worse.”

As we approach the schoolhouse, I start looking for signs that she's- oh, the blinds are up. I knock on the door, and it doesn't take long for Keine to answer it. “Sorry, school isn't back in session. I’m busy composing my notes and writing an apology letter to Reimu.” She looks better than she was after the incident.

“We were stopping by to see how you were doing after what happened. We were also planning on seeing Reimu after this,” I answer.

“Oh, how thoughtful of you. Please, come in. I'm not going to let the two of you stand outside all day,” she answers, leading us inside.

After taking our seats, I fill Keine in on what we've heard about the Village Guardian’s position so far, and how I decided to look into it due to Reimu's remark. She’s smiling by the end of the brief story.

“It makes me feel better knowing that at least some in the village realize I didn't take this position to spite the Hakureis, but to do good for the village with my abilities. I'm sure you must be wondering why I said that remark in the paper.” Keine’s smile wavers, and I nod for her to continue. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I think I was mistaken, allowing myself to get caught up in the same sheltered sort of thinking that the villagers tend to have. Sometimes it's too easy to ignore what goes on outside the village… some council members thought that I was doing more for the village than Reimu, and I started to believe them. I hope you can forgive me for that.”

Wriggle shakes her head. “We're not here to judge you. We just wanted to see if you were alright after what happened. I can't judge someone in your position for being so nice.”

…Wait, when the incident happened, Reimu wrecked the school’s door, yet Keine opened it for us just now. “Miss Keine, how did you get the door replaced so quickly?”

“Mr. Miyamoto was kind enough to quickly put something together at low cost without much asking on my part. I didn't want to prove those... accusations of Reimu right,” Miss Keine responds.

Wriggle looks disgusted, replying, “That's going a bit too far… I can sort of see why Reimu would say that at the time, but it’s still a cruel thing to say to the other person. Recently someone said something similar to Kurumi though Mystia stepped in and threatened to chop off something 'not fit to be an appetizer.' Whatever you say about their rivalry, they do still look out for each other.”

“Ah… Though you’re right about Reimu; she was clearly very upset judging by how severe her remarks were,” Miss Keine replies. The conversation dies down into silence that stretches uncomfortably long. I notice Wriggle glancing at me, probably to see what I'll bring up next. It might be a bit early to reveal our theory, but Keine could always tell us if we’re wrong.

[ ] Keep quiet until we find out more.
[ ] Reveal our theory and see what happens.
Could've sworn that was an adult Cirno in the picture.

[c] Reveal our theory and see what happens.

Alright, then.
[x] Keep quiet until we find out more.

Keep it to yourself until you have more supporting reasons than "well maybe it's this?"
[x] Reveal our theory and see what happens.

Can't turn out that badly.
[x] Keep quiet until we find out more.
We can sit on this for a bit longer to make sure we have more to back up the theory.
[x] Keep quiet until we find out more.

Keine seems fine but talking about this might upset her. That and though anon knows we're right Yuki doesn't.
[x] Reveal our theory and see what happens.

Because why not?

Well now what? Wait for more votes, or call it based on who hit 3 first?
I'll wait for a tie breaker, that or waiting for someone to change their mind.
[x] Reveal our theory and see what happens.

Here ya go.
"Reveal our theory and see what happens." Update should be up in about a week, give or take a couple of days.
File 137023552031.png - (1.58MB, 1000x1495, the two sides of a teacher.png) [iqdb]
[x] Reveal our theory and see what happens.

I think it's a good time to do this, so I nod towards Wriggle. “We think we know why you’d panic so much if your secret got out. Is it because you're somehow part youkai?”

Miss Keine pauses before responding, “You're correct about that. I can't say I didn't see this day coming as I knew sooner or later you'd put things together.” She looks at me intensely. “I trust you’re going to be discrete about this?”

I quickly nod. “Of course! We're not going to reveal it to anyone else. We understand your worry that some might overreact badly.”

Keine sighs in relief. “Good. Now, more precisely, there's a few terms to describe me. Putting it simply, because of some happenings in my past I became a were-hakutaku; I turn into one on nights when the full moon is out. It’s very useful for my history recording profession, but I try to have people avoid me because I don't want to scare them.” I remember reading about hakutaku; they're described as very benign youkai appearing before virtuous rulers. I wonder what traits she expresses after transforming?

Wriggle speaks up, “So do you stay humanoid, or turn into a full-on hakutaku?”

“Well, usually humanoid, though I once dreamed of ending up as a cute ballish animal that Mokou found cute when I later described it. She suggested I make plushies based on it to help people think of hakutaku as friendly, making it easier to eventually reveal myself,” Miss Keine responds.

“Others besides us know about this, right?” I ask. Reimu obviously knows, and judging from my parents’ behavior, Mother does as well.

Keine answers, “Most adults do, especially those in the council, as well as Lady Akyuu. Usually a person finds out through their parent or a chance encounter during the night, such as your father. I had to assure Kasumi that I wasn't going to try to steal him away. I'm glad he didn't fixate on me as that would have been troublesome.” Wait, Father knew about this?!

Wriggle asks, “What do you look like usually? I don't think you'd look monstrous at all, not if you get responses like that. I wonder if that's why Yuki’s mother reacted that way when his father lied about not having any chance encounters.”

Miss Keine opens one of the drawers on her desk, pulling out some pictures before resuming writing her letter. “It was likely to maintain my secret, though I’ve seen Kasumi act envious a few times before they got married. She has nothing to worry about as I don't think Shin really dwells on it at all.”

We look at the pictures of Keine’s were-hakutaku form and see she looks much the same, except for her green-silver hair, horns, one with a ribbon tied on it, a very fluffy looking tail, and a green dress that seems... exceptionally snug. I can see why there were such reactions. I hope Wriggle can contain hers until after we leave.

“You're gorgeous like that! And that tail looks fluffy!” Wriggle exclaims.

I nod. “Excluding those who would be paranoid about someone with your condition, I don't think anyone would see you as threatening.”

“Thank you for your kind words, but while I'm not someone who needlessly attacks people, it's far better that I'm left alone on those nights. I don't want to accidentally hurt anyone since I'm far more prone to reacting on pure reflex. I also don’t want to give any innocent boys hopeless crushes. I fear that as this trend progresses, there may be a day where human girls would be envious over the youkai ones, but I think it'll be something your children or grandchildren would have to worry about,” Miss Keine responds.

“I know why that would be and even though I'm happy with Yuki, those days of being overlooked aren't forgotten easily,” Wriggle says.

I'm not sure how well I can help with that but I'm definitely going to try. Without thinking, I blurt out, “Wriggle, you won't ever get overlooked again, even for Miss Keine; I’ll always have you in my heart!” Wriggle goes red in the face while Miss Keine trys hard to write the letter as though she hadn't heard anything at all.

For a while only Miss Keine's writing breaks the silence, until she stops. “Being able to be honest with your feelings is a good thing, Yukikaki, especially so soon. Certain people can live for a long time and STILL not get it.” Oh dear… I notice Wriggle silently motion for me not to ask about it. “I'm finished with the letter for Reimu. Thank you for offering to deliver it; I'll visit her myself after I take care of putting together a new lesson plan. I don't think Reimu really meant the things she said, considering how angry she was,” she adds, handing us an envelope.

Accepting it, I realize we've so far only planned on getting food for Reimu. “Miss Keine, do you want us to pick up something for you while we're in the market?” I ask.

“Don't worry about me; Reimu will be more appreciative of anything you buy anyways. Don't let her know, but most places give me a discount. I’ve tried refusing, but they insist. I'm glad Tex extends the same courtesy to anyone doing something for her. Move along now!” She gently pushes us out the door.


“Yuki, do you have any idea what Reimu would like for food?” Wriggle asks.

“Hmmm. She doesn't seem too picky if it's free. I do remember she liked the food from the ‘Bar-Be-Que’ place, though. I’m not sure if she’s tried Mystia's Lamprey or Miss Fujiwara's chicken, but it’s pretty good too. Don't worry, I don't expect you to get near the place.” I remember how Wriggle felt uneasy around Mokou due to some past run in.

Wriggle’s gaze falls. “I do want to try it but I'm not sure how I can convince her that I won't get bugs all over the place.”

“I should talk to Miss Keine about that as I know she and Miss Fujiwara know each other. She can definitely vouch for Wriggle.”

“Yuki, you really don't have to say that… but thanks.” She smiles. “I’m looking forward to our date after we visit Reimu. Before we forget, what should we bring besides a donation? Think she'd like something from the candy store?” I'm reminded of something I heard from Lady Akyuu about the famed Yin Yang orbs: they're able to prevent weight gain from sweets. It makes me wonder about the priorities of whoever designed them.

Getting something would be a good idea, but we can't get too much.

Foodstuffs to choose from (choose 1-2 main things):
[ ] Mystia's Lamprey. Not sure if she has any in stock but it'd definitely be something new for Reimu.
[ ] Miss Fujiwara's chicken. I don’t know if Reimu's tried it yet, and there shouldn’t be any problems if I go by myself. Wriggle could go cover something else during that time.
[ ] The Bar-Be-Que place. Reimu likes that for sure and the owner seems to like her.

Sweets (choose one):
[ ] Something from the candy shop. It has a wide variety at nice prices.
[ ] Some pastries from the bakery. The cafe we've been to twice uses their recipes, and they make easy to carry boxes.

Voting will be open until Wednesday night.
[x] Mystia's Lamprey. Not sure if she has any in stock but it'd definitely be something new for Reimu.
[x] The Bar-Be-Que place. Reimu likes that for sure and the owner seems to like her.
[x] Something from the candy shop. It has a wide variety at nice prices.
[x] Mystia's Lamprey. Not sure if she has any in stock but it'd definitely be something new for Reimu.
[x] The Bar-Be-Que place. Reimu likes that for sure and the owner seems to like her.
[x] Something from the candy shop. It has a wide variety at nice prices.
File 137034196731.jpg - (251.79KB, 850x915, chocolate and firefly.jpg) [iqdb]
[c] Mystia's Lamprey. Not sure if she has any in stock but it'd definitely be something new for Reimu.
[c] The Bar-Be-Que place. Reimu likes that for sure and the owner seems to like her.
[c] Something from the candy shop. It has a wide variety at nice prices.
[x] Miss Fujiwara's chicken. I don’t know if Reimu's tried it yet, and there shouldn’t be any problems if I go by myself. Wriggle could go cover something else during that time.
[x] The Bar-Be-Que place. Reimu likes that for sure and the owner seems to like her.
[x] Some pastries from the bakery. The cafe we've been to twice uses their recipes, and they make easy to carry boxes.

Mokou's grilled chicken with the right amount of BBQ sauce would be heavenly. As for dessert, I think Reimu would like pastries better, they're more filling.
File 137051359172.jpg - (79.53KB, 590x590, Whatshedreamedabout.jpg) [iqdb]
"[x] Mystia's Lamprey. Not sure if she has any in stock but it'd definitely be something new for Reimu.
[x] The Bar-Be-Que place. Reimu likes that for sure and the owner seems to like her.
[x] Something from the candy shop. It has a wide variety at nice prices." Wins, writing begins today, should be up in a week at most.

Picture related to the update.
File 137144248589.jpg - (277.47KB, 1000x1412, JustADayAtTheShrine.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Mystia's Lamprey. Not sure if she has any in stock but it'd definitely be something new for Reimu.
[x] The Bar-Be-Que place. Reimu likes that for sure and the owner seems to like her.
[x] Something from the candy shop. It has a wide variety at nice prices.

“I think a mix of Lamprey and the Bar-Be-Que place would be nice to have,” I say.

Wriggle responds, “Alright. I think it'd be faster if we split up. Anything you want to pass along to Mysty and the others?”

“Not really, though are you going to tell her that it's for Reimu?” I reply.

“Yeah, I'm sure she wouldn't waste any time trying to get into her good graces, if for no other reason than to be in good favor of someone who can actually go toe to toe against my mother. Let's meet by the candy shop when we’re finished!” I nod, and we leave our separate ways. It feels sort of empty without her around, but I should focus on the task at hand.


I walk over to the Bar-Be-Que store where Tex, as he insists on being called, waits behind the counter, with a sign saying “Now hiring.”

“Hello sir, I'd like to place an order that's going to the Hakurei Shrine. I’m also curious about that sign; usually places around here do their hiring more silently,” I say.

He grins. “Well back where I came from, this is how we did things. I figure why not give some youngster a chance to make a honest living? It'd also help with those who don't appreciate good ol' Texan charm. Order’s for the Hakurei? Come back in about 15 minutes. Hope you don't mind some iced tea too; it's good, ‘specially in this weather, not like the heated stuff that seems so popular.”

I ask, “Ah, yes, that’s fine. How much is the order going to be, sir? I wouldn't feel right without paying up front.”

“About 2500 yen would do, should cover it fine. I'll adjust it once I'm finished with the order,” he replies as I hand him the money. As he leaves behind the counter to start cooking, I start heading towards the candy shop. I don’t think it’s too far from here.


Oh good, the “Open” sign is hanging in one of the store windows. As I walk inside, I see a red-haired greater fairy stand behind the counter instead of the old candy maker. “Oh, a customer!” She turns and excitedly shouts behind her, “Heeey! There’s a customer!” The clanging of pans from a door in the back interrupts the quiet music in the store, and after a minute the clerk comes out, drying his hands on an apron. “Ah, welcome back. I hope you’re well, and your girlfriend, too.”

“She is, she's just doing something else right now. We're trying to gather some things for the shrine maiden and we figured that she'd like some of the candy you make. If you could pick something out for her, I’ll pay for it and a small bag of the honey drops as well,” I reply.

He nods and moves from shelf to shelf, adding different treats to a paper bag. “How kind of you. Will a small bag of honey drops be enough? The weather’s starting to cool, and after a while they’ll be out of season until spring returns.”

“Make it a half kilo then. I’d forgotten some of your candy is seasonal; I might have stock up before winter comes.” I pause, glancing at the fairy trying to work the scale behind the counter. “May I ask about the fairy here? I wasn't aware that you were looking for help.” Greater fairies tend to look and act more mature than most.

“Oh, Altha? She came by a few weeks ago, but I’m sure she’ll want to tell you about it herself.” The fairy, Altha, quickly speaks up as the clerk goes through the back door.

“Hello! I'm from the forest by the shrine and I really like marshmallows! Once, someone left a bag in the forest one day and I found out what happens when you roast one over a fire, though I had to run from the fire lady. I tried making one myself but it was either too big or too small so I ended up eating the ones I had left… But then, I remembered there was a candy shop in the human village, so I came here and asked about them!” She motions towards the door that I think leads to the kitchen, judging by the fragrance. “He says he'll teach me stuff and help me make good roasting fires if I behaved so I'm behaving!” I’m stunned at her explanation; I think she's as energetic as Rika is.

“It was a while before she calmed down enough for me to answer, but we’ve since talked it over,” the candy maker explains over the clack of a knife. “I decided to teach her a few things for now, and if she does well I’ll take her on as an apprentice. Many hands make for light work, and… her presence would be soothing.”

“I'm glad nothing too terrible came out that discovery. It'd be terrible if an entire forest burned down,” I answer.

Altha quickly replies, “I don't think there was a chance of that as even the big fires aren't enough to set trees ablaze, not when they're healthy and well watered. Even I know better than to try roasting in a dry spot, but no need to worry about that now!” I get the feeling her aspect is related to the forest since she’s awfully knowledgeable about the subject.

The clerk comes back out holding a scoop filled with something small and puffy, and adds some to Reimu’s bag before placing the rest in a third on the scale. Sliding weights over it, he says, “Since this is partially a donation to the Hakurei who preserves the peace in the village, I'll just charge 800 yen.” That’s a bargain, considering how big the mixed bag is. I pay him and add 100 yen extra anyways. A smile tugs at the corners of his mouth. “I suppose your kindness won't ever change, though I thank you for it.”

“What are those puffy things? The marshmallows you mentioned?” I ask as he slides the bags to me.

“Yes, today's the first day I'm selling them. Altha was very helpful gathering the roots, and she's been taste-testing my recipe even though I was out of practice. It’s good she came by before all the mallow plants withered; we’ll have to collect and store more before winter comes.” He waves as I leave. “I hope the rest of your day goes well, young sir.”

Altha joins in, shouting “Bye! Have a nice day!”


I haven’t gotten far from the store when I see an imposing figure waiting for me across the street. It’s the lead Humanist on the council, Lord Hojo! I quickly kneel as he approaches me. “Stand up,” he orders, and oblige. He continues sternly, “I heard you'd been inquiring into the Guardian's position.” Crap, I hope he’s not too angry, but even if he i? “I'm here to praise your initiative on the matter. Also, if you’re going to the shrine, please deliver this letter. It holds a more proper amount for the job performed, and a letter of apology.” Shocked, I accept the thick envelope he hands me.

“I will hand it over to her, sir,” I respectfully respond.

He answers, “Good lad. If you can conduct yourself, I'll ask your father to bring you to the next council meeting. I'd like to clear up any misunderstandings that you might have about the Humanists, given your particular position. For now, know that we aren’t simply xenophobic, just mindful of the threat posed by youkai.” As he leaves, I place the envelope in my bag and quickly head back to the Bar-Be-Que place to pick up the order. I’ll talk to father about this later.


I return to see Tex set out the last of three containers, along with what appears to be 3 glass containers with handles filled with a kind of tea. “While the money was enough to cover the food, I'll have to ask for another 1000 yen to cover the glass mugs, mainly for expenses. The usual glasses aren't made for transport like this.”

I respond, “That’s fair enough; here you are.” As I try to think of a way to carry the three containers of food before me, Wriggle arrives carrying a covered plate.

“Oh, you’re still here, Yuki? Let me help with that, carrying that much isn't hard for me,” she announces. “Did you already go to the candy shop?”

“Yeah, I went there after placing the order with Tex,” I reply. “How did things go at Mystia’s?”

“They went pretty well. Mystia reacted as expected and was happy to get the chance to reach another customer, and the Matron wanted to help out as well, donating a plate for free,” she responds.

Tex says, “Happy trails!” after we secure the containers and start on our way to the shrine.


We follow the path to the shrine and eventually reach the gate, where Meira sits by a box made of some strange material. I’m about to ask why it’s sitting there when she blurts, “I heard it was a good way to hide and I really don't want to run into Reimu when she’s angry again!”

It’s probably best not to press the matter, so I nod before concentrating on flying, slowly lifting off the ground. Wriggle has no problems of course, and even though it’s a bit straining to keep up it’s easier than climbing up the stairs normally. At the top, Reimu’s seated on the steps leading into the shrine. As we approach, she asks, “May I ask what you're doing here?” Thankfully she doesn’t really seem angry or annoyed.

I respond, “We came by to see how you were doing and to drop off some offerings of both money and food.”

She perks up a bit when the scent of the food reaches her. “I'm doing alright, but nobody just comes by to visit. You’re here because of what Keine said.” I stiffen, but Reimu just sighs. “I feel like shit for saying what I did about her and making her take the blame for what she said. After thinking on it, it’s more likely that she was following orders.”

“What you said to her was very cruel... sometimes people talk to Kurumi like that for no good reason, and it’s all she can do to hold herself together,” Wriggle adds.

“Actually, we did some investigating ourselves and found the village guardian’s position had existed for quite a while. I also have a letter for you from the head of the Humanists himself, Lord Hojo; I ran into him on the way here.” Wriggle looks shocked as I hand the letter to Reimu; I guess I did forget to tell her on the way up.

Reimu glances through the letter while off handedly counting the money inside. “…Well, I can't say they underpaid me for the Makai incident now, and from the looks of it the letter sounds sincere enough. Now the only thing left to do is apologize to Keine… this is going to be tough.”

“About that, Keine had me bring an apology letter as well, and she’ll be coming by later in the day,” I reply as I hand over the second letter.

Reimu sighs, replying, “I know that, you don't need to remind me. It doesn't help that I had a nightmare of people calling me all sorts of unpleasant things, but I’ll be ready to talk to her when she gets here.” She suddenly gets more energetic. “Now, what's that food you have? I don’t recognize the smell.”

Wriggle replies, “This is BBQ pork made by that new Bar-Be-Que place. Tex was nice enough to send some iced tea along too. Oh, Yuki, don't forget about the candy and your donation, too!”

“Ah, right,” I say, digging out the bag of mixed treats and the money I had reserved for the donation, about 5,000 yen. It's a bit much, but it's for a good cause. While Wriggle sets out the rest of the food I drop the bills into the donation box, clapping twice afterwards.

“Hey Wriggle, you think you can share him? He seems like the type any girl would want.” Reimu asks- What!?

Wriggle gets flustered as she responds, “NO WAY! Ah, no offense, but I won't share him with you! Don't say such silly things!”

Reimu just smiles and laughs. “Good thing I was just joking, no need to make a certain person angry at me. Last thing I need is for her to launch some sort of media assault on my reputation.” Oh god, Lady Akyuu. No other person would even think of doing such a thing, but from Lady Akyuu it wouldn’t be unexpected at all. “Thank you both for stopping by today, I appreciate it. Not to be rude, but I'd rather be alone now, though. Don’t think I'm ungrateful for your efforts; I’m not. It's just that I'd rather compose myself for when Keine arrives. Ah, is there anything you two want to pray for?”

At first think about Wriggle and I, then the frightened figure of Meira at the shrine’s gate comes back to mind. We’re already doing fine; Meira could use the help more. “Yes, I hope that the trauma Meira sustained from you in the past will heal and fade.”

“I agree,” Wriggle adds.

Reimu grimaces as she responds, “Right, right. I'll see what I can do, and I'll try to apologize to her as I get the feeling she suffered needlessly. Genji was warning me all along to be more mindful. Well, I hope you two enjoy the rest of your day.” We nod and bid farewell, leaving with the remaining two food containers.

On the way down, Wriggle asks, “Where are we going to eat this?” Right, our date is supposed to start now. Where should we go?

[ ] The clearing is always a nice spot.
[ ] Try going home, I doubt mother will be too much of a pain and we can always go downstairs after eating.
[ ] The café has nice seating and scenery, plus we can get dessert there.
[x] The café has nice seating and scenery, plus we can get dessert there.
[ ] The clearing is always a nice spot.
The clearing. That’s our spot.
[x] The café has nice seating and scenery, plus we can get dessert there.

We'll have to stock up on those honey drops.
[X] The clearing is always a nice spot.
[c] The café has nice seating and scenery, plus we can get dessert there.
Cafe wins, Update should be up in around a week, might take longer. It's not exactly a normal update, hint.
Update in progress (hopefully). Please wait warmly while Merlin is being warmed up

If you get the reference, then you’re awesome
Yeah I'm working on it. It's just the whole holiday thing has wreaked havoc on my writing time.

As for the reference, I'll let the fans figure it out.
I'm still alive and doing the update in two parts as the second needs some extra looking over.
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[x] The café has nice seating and scenery, plus we can get dessert there.

“Let’s head to the café in the village since it has seats near a nice view and we can order dessert afterwards,” I say. Not to mention I forgot to ask for napkins from Tex, and it's a good way to keep Mother from ruining the mood by accident.

Wriggle answers, “Sounds great! Ever since you mentioned it earlier today, I wanted to have a slice of cake.” I wonder how she'd like the chocolate cake there? I’ve heard it’s really good, but haven’t tried it yet myself.


It doesn't take long to get there, and it's calming to walk instead of fly. I should really practice some more before winter comes so I’m more comfortable with it. Wriggle sits down while I place our order for later. “Ma'am, I'd like two slices of chocolate cake please,” I say as the waitress writes it down.

“I'll make sure to have some fresh slices ready by the time you two are done eating.” Eyeing the food at our table, she adds, “And don't worry, lots of Tex's customers come here after ordering. That'll be about 700 yen.” After paying her, I return to our seats.

Wriggle’s already opened her package and had a few bites. “This is really good!” she exclaims as I sit down and start eating as well. She’s certainly right about the taste: there's a bit of sweetness but it doesn't really disrupt the flavor of everything else. Wriggle appears to enjoy the cups of this... iced tea, too. It goes well with the food. I make a mental note to return the glasses later since we're close by.

“Tex must put a lot of time into his cooking; I can tell none of his ingredients were artificial,” Wriggle remarks while cleaning her hands on a napkin.

I ask, “Are you that sensitive to unnatural things in general?” I’m curious about why she’s sensitive enough to tell the difference.

She answers, “Yeah, I'm used to living on my own and gathering my own ingredients, and to mother's own completely natural cooking. I'm not sure if I’d be this way if I was used to living in the outside world.” I get the feeling if people were like Wriggle, they'd be less likely to eat unhealthily.

“Be proud of that; it’s a good talent to have. Maybe if a certain lord had such a trait he wouldn't be known as his roundness,” I reply, making a joke about the mutually disliked Lord Kaiba.

She laughs and replies, “That's a new one; I’ll have to remember it. It’s a little mean, but he really does bring it on himself.”

After we finish eating the waitress brings out two plates of cake and glasses of milk. “We’ve included milk in the order ever since an outsider showed how well the two go with each other,” she says before leaving.

We each take a bite- wow, this had to have been made fresh today… the cake's warmness seems to make the icing seem better. A sip of milk combines with the chocolate into a wonderful flavor; whoever this outsider is, they must be a cake guru! From the look on her face, Wriggle's enjoying it as much as she did those honey drops.

Although we savor every bite, it doesn't take long to finish eating and I stand up to leave once we’re finished. Before I can take a step, Wriggle grabs my hand. “You missed a spot, Yuki,” she says as she wipes an area I didn't think to check. Her finger starts to move to her mouth- wait is she really going to?! She blinks, then blushes furiously and instead cleans her finger with an extra napkin, glancing around. Everyone's eyes are on us… we set the plates in order before leaving quickly.


On the way to my house we stop at Tex's to drop off the glasses. “Sir, we're returning these if that's okay with you,” I say as I set the glasses on the counter.

He seems surprised that we’re back. “That so? I wasn't expecting them to be returned but since ya have, it's only right to refund what I charged for `em,” he responds as he hangs over 600 yen. I don't plan on debating the exact cost as this is just a welcome surprise. “I hope you didn't mind me tilting the cost in favor for Miss Hakurei earlier,” he adds.

I respond, “No, of course not, it’s just surprising that you’d return some of our money. I hope you have a nice day sir.”

“Thanks kindly; have a good one yourself. And treat the little miss well; girls like that don't appear everyday,” he replies. Wriggle blushes at that, and we depart quickly towards home.


“Sorry about that Wriggle, I guess we should have seen it coming since we’d gone on a date,” I say as we get to the door. Though it is nice that everyone we’ve met so far has wished us well.

She answers, “I should have expected it, but it was still nice spending time together.” I head into the house, but Wriggle stays outside, fidgeting slightly. “Um, I've got to talk to Kurumi about something, but I'll be back soon.”

“Oh uh, alright then,” I say, and she takes off. She must have her reasons, so I won't dwell on what she's doing. It's her business after all.

I come in to see Mother cooking dinner a bit early. She’s turned away from me and clicks her tongue when she hears me. “Yuki, I hope you didn't cause her to run off crying now!”

“She just had to talk to her sister, Mother. I would never do such a thing!” I reply.

She stops cutting and turns around, laughing slightly as she pulls me into a hug. “Sorry, I know you wouldn’t! I was just teasing you a bit. I'm trying not to go overboard now.”

I hug back and manage to reply, “Oh. I see. Thank you.” After she lets me go I head to the study to see if Father's reading any of those Dragonlance books. Although he’s pouring over a timeline, I’m able to find the books rather easily. I leave quietly to avoid disrupting his concentration.


Due to a mix of things, I'm posting this up and with the second part whenever I can get it finished and looked over by the right people. I'll try to make sure it'll be worth the wait.
>I hug back and manage to reply, “Oh. I see. Thank you.”

I don't wanna be picky, but that feels kinda... off, and out of place. Awkward is a better word, maybe.

Still love it though. Waiting warmly.
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I apologize for the wait as some more stuff came up and the person I need to look over something (not my proofreader) only pops up about once a week.

It should be up in the next week or two, and I only hope it'll be worth only a part of the wait.
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Waiting warmly.
The update is being proofed and should be done in the next two days. That and I have one other thing awaiting proofing that I've finally finished.
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Over dinner Mother asks how things went on our date but doesn’t pry any further. I suspect Father's going to hear about our visits to Keine and Reimu at the next council meeting though.

The front door opens and closes as Wriggle returns, exchanging pleasantries with my parents before we both head downstairs. I grab the first book of a series and sit on the bed, Wriggle laying beside me moments later.

We start reading through the book with Wriggle turning the pages to make sure I don't skip ahead. Throughout it all it’s difficult to concentrate on reading because of how close she is, drawing my attention to her soft form pressed against me. I focus back on the book, figuring she might want some questions answered after we finish.

After reaching the end and setting the book down, Wriggle surprises me with a hug, a worried look on her face. “Please don't end up like Raistlin! You’re studying magic, but I don’t want you to forget that there are more important things in life.” I can’t blame her for worrying about that since the book talked about those who pursued the path of magic above all else until they were utterly consumed. Raistlin certainly took that to the extreme; Wriggle hasn’t seen the worst of him in the books yet.

“Don’t worry; I have no interest in taking over the world or obtaining absolute power. Magic is a hobby and a way of defending myself and others. Power enough to protect is far below what’s needed to do such horrible things,” I respond. “I didn't think the book would scare you that badly."

She doesn't loosen her grip as she responds, "I know, but when I was reading, I was worried that you might have a desire like that deep down. I just don't want you to change into something so horrible!" I do need to get stronger if I'm really going to protect that which is important to me, but I'll not go down such a path to do so. A few moments pass before she mentions, "I was wondering something. Which is better: raw curves or elegance?" She must be referring to Tika and Laurana respectively, probing for which one I preferred. I never did 'attach' to one of them; they seemed better matched for who they wound up with.

"Whichever you possess, Wriggle, though I think you'll have both after a few years," I answer. I just have a feeling that by the time Wriggle reaches an 'adult' state, she'll be comparable to her mother. Hope she di- the kiss she plants on my mouth is a good sign.

She lets up after a moment, adding, "I should have known, Yuki. Could you close your eyes for a few moments?" I oblige, sitting up as I wonder what she's doing and why. I hear some clothes hitting the ground, and my imagination races with what she could be wearing.

Her weight moves onto my lap. "Okay, open them." I lo- wow... I think it's an Outsider designed swimsuit, a bikini. Kamui had some books with girls showing them off, though I’d take Wriggle over them any day. The suit flatters her pretty well, highlighting her charms while staying somewhat modest.

"You look great, Wriggle" I say, hugging her. Try not to think too hard of where else I want to touch.

"Thanks, I got this because Kurumi is fond of collecting them even though there's not much in the way of swimming spots in Gensokyo. I think she just likes showing off, but if this the kind of reaction it gets, I can't blame her. I'm not sure if her choice in swimsuits really counts as clothing though… I mean it doesn't take much to highlight what she has, but she still – oh, sorry about going off on a tangent like that."

I reply, "It's alright, I'm just flattered you got this just to show me. Though it makes it hard not to think of you in certain ways." I’ve barely opened my mouth to say more when she kisses me again. My hands start running over the exposed areas of Wriggle body, encouraged further by her lips against my own. I try not to think of her small but wonderful breasts or her soft butt, though the former's more accessible here. I want to keep doing this, but I reluctantly break off to catch my breath.

Wriggle takes my hand, moving it up her body until it rests on one of her breasts. "I don't mind these areas being touched." My other hand joins in, experiencing the different sensations through the swimsuit’s fabric while I keep her mouth busy with my own. Taking the initiative for once seems to be working as she moans softly in response. She sounds so cute like this, driving me to play with her breasts some more. I can definitely feel her nipples through the fabric.

Once she seems to be getting used to the motion, I slip a hand underneath and touch them directly. Ah, that got a stronger reaction, judging by the slightly damp feeling in my lap. "Yuki, could you touch down there, please?" Breathing heavily, her face reddened and hair damp with perspiration, Wriggle’s pleading gaze is too cute and seductive to deny.

My hand moves down, passing under the fabric- wow, that's warm and wet. I remember this is a good sign that a girl is enjoying what’s happening to her. I hope this is the right thing to do as I start moving my finger around, trying not to hurt her. She gasps as my finger touches a small bump above her… slit. I start changing my motions, working both hands in tandem to stimulate her further… and after a rather loud but sexy moan, I feel my hand get wetter. "Wriggle, are you alright?"

"More than alright... just let me wait a bit and I'll take care of you," she sighs contentedly. Wait, what?

"What do you mean? You mean down there? Ah… I don't think… I just tried to focus on something else," I reply, realizing what she has in mind. I never really went into it as while I had a passing thought about Miss Keine before Wriggle, now there were increasingly numerous thoughts of Wriggle.

Wriggle shakes her head. “It’s no good if you only make me happy; I want to do something for you.” A moment passes before she asks, "Could you take your pants off?" Any hesitation I had vanishes as she begins stripping down, and I reflexively follow her lead. Wow… her slight form and subtle curves are accentuated by her erect nipples and the fluids streaking down her legs.

The last of my clothes come off as she kneels and- Oooooh wow… she's gently messaging and licking down my length with an expression of enjoyment, warmth and love. I find myself gripping the bed as the sensation caused by her efforts intensifies. She’s touching and licking every part of me down there; she hasn't put it in her mouth but- it's more than enough! I just enjoy her handiwork until I feel something coming. “Ahh… wow… that was amazing…” I look down and see white stuff spattered all over Wriggle. I can't remember everything I read from Kamui’s book that talked about this, but I think this is the same as what I did to Wriggle earlier.

I try to remember more as Wriggle wipes some of it off before moving it to- Oh dear. I have a bad feeling about how that’s going to taste. She puts the glob in and… "BLLEEEEEEH! It's awful! How in the hell can those women drink this stuff?! KURUMI, YOU BATHEAD!” She suddenly stops and looks up at me, before she starts tearing up. “Now… the mood's ruined now!" she cries.

I immediately hug her, insisting, "It's not ruined, Wriggle. It was still great even with what happened. I'm sorry I didn't stop you in time."

She hugs back, answering, "I was hoping tonight would be... special. I even went to Kurumi and Mystia for advice but only Mystia had good advice about not squeezing your balls. Stupid Kurumi and those stupid comics." I start rubbing her back, hardly aware of the sticky fluid clinging to us both; comforting Wriggle is far more important.

"Wriggle, what you did today was more than enough. I would have been content with just touching like we did. You really did great!" I reply.

She kisses me before answering, "Thank you… I guess we should clean up soon before all this dries and starts to smell. But how are we going to do that without waking up your parents?" Good point. All the covers on the bed need changing from the mess we both left. Glancing over the stains, I wonder what Wriggle's fluids taste- gah, now’s not the time for that!

"Let’s just leave the sheets on the floor for now; we can deal with them in the morning. We should check the bathroom to see if there's any replacements to use," I answer as we clean up what we can using some old dust rags. It seems my pants caught a lot of the mess while laying on the floor, so the floor doesn’t need cleaning. Once we’ve done what we can, we sneak upstairs to the bathroom.

Mother and father aren’t around, and the tub inside the bathroom is full of some cool water, still fresh. Very suspicious, but there’s no sense in complaining about nice things. We clean up and dry off before sneaking back downstairs with a replacement set of sheets.


After the bedding is replaced and I’m deciding what to wear to sleep, Wriggle grabs my hand and asks, "Could we just cuddle like this, without clothes? I want tonight to end on a nice note." I quickly nod in response, and we both climb into bed and put the thin cover over us. Wriggle snuggles up to me... and I thought normal cuddling was good! Sleep comes pretty quickly.


Wriggle wakes me up in the morning. "Yuki, we should get the laundry started as the water's already getting prepared. I hope you don't mind me going home this early; I have to have a little talk with my sister." I know what it's about and I would be surprised if it didn't wake up whoever isn't up yet in the process.

"Sure, don't worry. I'll take care of things before I go to breakfast," I answer. We get dressed and go upstairs with the dirty sheets. Wriggle leaves after washing and rinsing the affected clothes and rags, and I head to breakfast. Father’s seated at the table, staring at a report with a serious expression. "Father, did something happen?"

"Yes, a Tengu night scout caught an incident taking place last night. It appears the syndicate tried making a personal strike, but fail. I'm not sure if you should read it or not, but it involves Lady Yuuka's home. From what Lady Hieda says, this will be released to the public in only one or two days."

Sounds serious… I wonder if I should really read it, or just ask for a summary?

[ ] Ask to read it myself. I can't just ignore such a major event!
[ ] Ask for a summary. I'm curious, but the details might be too much.
[ ] Wait until later to read it, if it all. It sounds like it could alter the mood of the day.
[x] Ask to read it myself. I can't just ignore such a major event!

Should be very interesting. I'm curious to see how it played out.
[x] Ask to read it myself. I can't just ignore such a major event!

Wow. How long until they go all the way, I wonder? Seems like the parents knew what was going on as well. As for the vote, we're FINALLY in on the action instead of being days behind. Naturally, we must sieze the chance to learn more!
[X] Ask to read it myself. I can't just ignore such a major event!
[X] Ask to read it myself. I can't just ignore such a major event!
You're going to get back to regular update schedule now, right?
Yes I will as there won't be as many things going on in the autumn. I didn't like the constant barrage of delays any more than the next person.
[x] Ask to read it myself. I can't just ignore such a major event!
Writing begins, it should be up in a week or so if not less.
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[x] Ask to read it myself. I can't just ignore such a major event!

"May I read it? I feel it's important to read" I ask.

Father answers, "Finish your breakfast first. You’ll find the contents of this report very unsettling." He must have a good reason for saying that, so I do as he says. After eating quickly, he hands me the paper and I start reading.


Report on the failed assault on the Garden of the Sun.

By "Owl no. 243."

I was observing the area as per orders to observe Arthur Pentleton, due to his recent activities, and to attempt to catch a few traitors unaware. He’s in the habit of stepping outside at times during the night for reasons unknown, remaining safe since the whole Garden of the Sun is avoided by all ferals and roaming human-shaped youkai.

I spotted some movement from the north and investigated: a group of ten men, one carrying a suspicious bag, likely members of the syndicate. Sneaking seems to be their only strong trait, considering how quickly most fall in an actual fight. This men of this group seem particularly weak, judging from their movements, but their numbers alone would ensure an advantage, especially if they have the element of surprise.

I waited for them to act before judging whether to intervene. I am aware of our rules, but I feel the Tengu would gain more by actively helping Arthur and Lady Yuuka. Soon enough Arthur walked out toward the group, carrying his sword as he usually does in his travels. He approached the group with an unusually cold expression, and asked for their surrender and the reason why they were here. One of them casually mentioned an attempt at making him pay for his interference, hinting at doing… explicit things to Lady Yuuka. How foolish can they be to say that in front of him!?

Arthur responded by charging and running the man through, coldly stating, "Then, surrender is meaningless. Now, ask whatever god you pray to for mercy on your souls. Do not run, for you only increase your suffering; it's better for you to take your deaths with a measure of dignity." This was completely different from his past battles, where he always seemed to regret their stubbornness. He spoke with absolute certainty: they were as good as dead.

Most of them tried attacking, but in their terror failed to coordinate and thus lost their only advantage. Arthur attacked viciously in his cold anger, losing the hesitation that’s normally present. He exploits every opening, dealing mortal wounds if not outright killing them.

Two men ran, but Arthur lashed out, launching crackling projectiles that rip through their legs. He nearly took their legs clean off, just barely missing their knees. Whatever profession he practiced in the Outside must have honed his accuracy. He walks past the last two men who cower as he finishes off the two would-be escapees. One tries to attack, but is almost literally disarmed before Arthur follows up with more strikes to his arms, legs, and finally the chest. The last guy crawls away as Arthur approaches before clutching his chest and collapsing in a heap. One slash, and the fight is over.

Then, surrounded by the dead and dying, something strange happens: Arthur starts trembling. He drops his sword and falls to his knees, surrounded by the slain. Despite his heroic façade, he’s far from invincible; a human struggling against the forces he opposes. Without the support of his allies and Lady Yuuka, he would have broken under the strain by now. We cannot let this be widely known, as people will lose hope and his enemies will be emboldened. Perhaps once more peaceful times return, the truth can be known: he is selflessly fighting for the land he now lives in. For an outsider, he appears to hold Gensokyo very dear in his heart. Before returning to my watch, Lady Yuuka approached Arthur in her nightwear, gently taking him back inside.

Please pardon any unwarranted expression of my opinion; I fear Miss Shameimaru has influenced me more than I expected.


I can't think of what to say of this, I can't even fathom Arthur being that vulnerable. Things must be much harder for him than he lets on. I'll have to look into ways to support him myself even though I'm nowhere near as qualified to be a hero as he is.

"Yuki, are you alright?” Father asks. “I know it's a lot to take in, but this is the reality that must be faced. Nothing is as clean cut as it seems at first."

"I'll be fine, but I think I'll go outside and get some fresh air for now. It’s a lot to take in all at once," I answer, returning the report. I collect my things from my room out of habit, and head out the door.


I walk aimlessly, trying to enjoy the breeze and sun, but end up worried about Wriggle as she said she’d headed home. The main crossing comes into view as I try to come to terms with the report. “Yuki.” My thoughts are interrupted when someone calls my name. Looking up, I see Shinobu motioning for me to follow her. I nod, since both Lady Akyuu's advice and antics would be welcome right now.


Shinobu leads me to her room, and Lady Akyuu surprises me with a hug as I come near the door. "Are you alright? Oh, I knew something like this would to happen! I'm sorry I didn't warn you!" she rambles.

I answer, "I'm still a bit stunned by it all but I think I'll deal with it in the next day or two. It was my decision to read it after all." I think I underestimated what I'd find out by reading that report. "Have you been getting such things for a while? It sounds like you know that Arthur’s struggling."

She appears to have calmed down, though she doesn’t stop hugging me as she replies, "Yes, though due to my ability, hearing about these things isn’t really new. I’ve had to deal with much worse in some of my previous incarnations. Next time I’ll warn you about any surprises they may contain.” She pauses and looks up at me. “May I ask where Wriggle is?"

I answer, "She said something about going home this morning; I hope she's alright."

"I wouldn't worry, I doubt they’d try attacking again so soon,” she answers. “Not to mention I heard Arthur and his allies left this morning, so they probably have their hands full. Shinobu, please watch the gate for Wriggle and tell her to come in when she arrives." Shinobu walks out, and I realize Akyuu still hasn’t released me. I decide to just enjoy it as it lasts until she remarks, "…This'll feel better once I've grown up." What!?

I jump back in surprise, and she laughs. I try to respond but end up choking on my words after I realize what she’s talking about.

"I figure I'd take your mind off of things using the second best way I know: making an unexpected remark," she winks mischievously.

Second best? "Then, what's the best way to do that?" I ask, suspicious of what the answer might be.

"Wriggle in a bunnysuit!" she happily answers, holding up a picture. Wow, she sure looks nice in that, but I've already seen her in a swimsuit or less. Wait, how’d Akyuu get something like this?! She cuts in, "See? Your mind's off that topic!"

"Yeah, I guess. I’m curious just how you got that picture, but… thanks for that, Akyuu." She nods as the sound of rapid footsteps grows louder.

"YUKI!" Wait- wahh! Wriggle hug-tackles me to the ground and continues talking "Are you alright I heard something happened with you and something happened at Mother's and she's really upset over it. Do you know what’s going on?! Akyuu, do you know?"

Lady Akyuu glances at me and raises an eyebrow. Looks like she’ll let me answer myself, if I want to.

[ ] Start talking about the report.
-[ ] Vaguely mention the fact that Lady Yuuka was the target.
-[ ] Don’t hide anything. Wriggle deserves to know, though I’ll warn her.
[ ] Leave the answer to Lady Akyuu, she may know a better way of phrasing it.
[X] Leave the answer to Lady Akyuu, she may know a better way of phrasing it.

Leave the explanation to those who're better at it.
We just learned this, but Akyuu have known for some time already. She'll probably know how to say it better than us.
>hinting at doing… explicit things to Lady Yuuka

Oh great, rapists. How cliched.
[x] Start talking about the report.
-[x] Vaguely mention the fact that Lady Yuuka was the target.

Yuki can handle it.
[X] Leave the answer to Lady Akyuu, she may know a better way of phrasing it.
[x] Start talking about the report.
-[x] Don’t hide anything. Wriggle deserves to know, though I’ll warn her.

Take charge, Yuki knows the whole story. There's no reason to defer to Akyuu or be vague about it. I for one would be insulted if someone tried to sugarcoat some serious news.
But he don't. Yuki may only know part of the story.
Akyuu is likely to know more information in this matter than Yuki even realizes there is. She's likely to already be prepared to tell it.
Plus this may be a way for us to learn more we don't already know.
[x] Start talking about the report.
-[x] Don’t hide anything. Wriggle deserves to know, though I’ll warn her.

He knows what he knows, and that's enough. If there's something pertinent that wasn't in the report, Akyuu is standing right there to cut in. She has the personality to do so, too, if it's needed.
[c] Start talking about the report.
-[c] Don’t hide anything. Wriggle deserves to know, though I’ll warn her.
Telling Wriggle the truth wins, update should be up in around a week.
I'm pretty sure they were baiting him. I mean, they can't fight worth a damn, headed into the Garden of the Sun, and readily shouted their plan to the guy who's been regularly kicking their asses. Their superior probably bet on the fact they'd be overcome, which makes me wonder just what's in that bag they were carrying.
File 137904435527.jpg - (129.08KB, 646x800, AkyuuatWork.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Start talking about the report.
-[x] Don’t hide anything. Wriggle deserves to know, though I’ll warn her.

I speak up, "Well, father received a report this morning about something that happened last night. Some men from the Syndicate approached the Garden of the Sun carrying something in a bag, and Arthur caught them during his nightly walk. He asked why they were there… are you sure you want to hear what they said?"

"Yes, just tell me. I already know it has to be pretty awful," Wriggle responds.

I nod. "Alright. They said they’d make Arthur pay by, I guess, drugging and kidnapping Lady Yuuka and doing... explicit things. Upon hearing that, Arthur basically flew into a cold rage and killed every one of them. I don’t know what he did with that bag, or if it even had anything in it."

A look of horror spreads over Wriggle's face as I finish talking, so I try to comfort her with a hug. "Thanks… but, why would they? Since they tried this, that means they had to think they’d succeed, right? And they got so close…" She trembles in my arms before squeezing me tightly in response.

Suddenly a crow suddenly flies into the room and drops a note in front of Lady Akyuu. After unraveling and reading it, she says, "Looks like the contents of that bag were nefarious after all; according to the Tengu it’s some strange substance that affects plants.” She sighs in exasperation. “You know, despite seeming rash, this was better planned than most other attempts on Yuuka by hunters trying to collect on some foolishly placed bounty. Many made a fatal mistake thinking it better to attack in the day, forgetting she's a plant-based youkai. Just how far along were things planned here? I better write a message to Arthur warning about the possibility someone might have been watching the fight."

By now Wriggle’s calmed down, and she slides out of my arms. “I think I'll head home for now and make sure everything’s alright. I hope you don't mind, Yuki."

"Go ahead. Whenever there’s something you need to do just tell me; I don't want to be one of those guys who only cares about himself," I respond.

"When I feel things are alright at home, I'll come find you. Bye Yuki." She walks out of the room and Shinobu follows to escort her out.

I contemplate getting up to leave as well when Lady Akyuu remarks, "No one can say that your parents didn't raise you well." After a pause, she continues, "Since you're here, you can look at some of the other reports I have, if there’s anything that interests you." That's not a bad offer, though part of me just wants to hang out with some friends and not worry about it.

[ ] "That sounds like a generous offer."
-[ ] Write-in for anything specific (optional)
[ ] "I'd rather not today." Instead I’ll go find…
-[ ] Kamui.
-[ ] Ginji and Kazuma.
[X] "I'd rather not today." Instead I’ll go find…
-[X] Kamui.

Short updates are fine too.

Talking something heavy like this over with your friends is a great way to ease up on the weight of things. Yuki is only a kid after all (Teenager. Not an adult at least).
[c] "I'd rather not today." Instead I’ll go find…
-[c] Kamui.
[x] "That sounds like a generous offer."
-[x] What is the Syndicate?
[x] Once finished, I'll go find...
-[x] Kamui

These guys haven't been mentioned much, but every time they are it's a big deal. More info please so we don't get bit in the ass for not paying attention. Besides, time with Akyuu is time well spent~
[X] "That sounds like a generous offer."
-[X] What is the Syndicate?
[X] Once finished, I'll go find...
-[X] Kamui.
[x] "That sounds like a generous offer."

More Akyuu, 'nuff said.
"[x] "That sounds like a generous offer."
-[x] What is the Syndicate?
[x] Once finished, I'll go find...
-[x] Kamui"

Wins. I accepted the extra part as I feel I can work it in without disrupting the main meat of the update. It should be up within a week or so.
It'll be delayed until sunday due to my proofer going to AWA. And my writing was delayed due to work increasing and set in a way to interfere with writing.
File 138078112493.png - (320.35KB, 1024x768, ConcernedAkyuu.png) [iqdb]
[x] "That sounds like a generous offer."
-[x] What is the Syndicate?
[x] Once finished, I'll go find...
-[x] Kamui"

While I'm not interested in the reports, I do want to find out more about the syndicate. "Just what is the syndicate? I haven’t heard much about them other than their intentions to do terrible things. Can you tell me more about them?"

Akyuu nods solemnly and walks over to a shelf, pulling out some papers "I don't know the full picture yet, but I'll tell you what I do know. They’re a group founded by some other outsider besides Arthur and appear to have two goals in mind regarding youkai: strengthen any who side with them, and enslave the rest. Those with no scruples, both human and youkai, have joined up because of that promise. Mostly men, for whatever reason." She puts the folder back and sits down at the table beside me. "Thankfully Arthur's efforts are forcing them to focus on combat instead of control, otherwise everyone would be in much more trouble. I hope he’ll be able to withstand everything they’ll bring against him. Those two are turning Gensokyo into a battleground, each side embodied by an outsider of all things.” Akyuu laughs bitterly. “I've really got to ask Yukari how aware she is of all this."

Akyuu and Arthur mentioned this before, but hearing it all after reading what happened last makes it all much more vivid. "…Sounds pretty bad."

She continues, "The worst part is that the syndicate isn’t even treating this conflict as the main goal, as if they ultimately were aiming for something outside Gensokyo. A powerful youkai force would catch the outside off guard, if they somehow figured out a way to breach the barrier. That’s impossible, of course, but it makes me wonder how much has changed if someone like the syndicate’s leader could exist. Actually, you're in good position to find out more, considering Arthur’s connections to Yuuka."

"I’ll keep it in mind. Their leader must be very persuasive to get people to join him like this. Actually, you said that most who joined were male, right? For the youkai at least, you’d mentioned before that most were very instinctual which meant they were ignored or avoided by any girls they pursued. What if their current treatment is what’s driving them to join him?"

She thinks a bit before replying, shuffling closer as she speaks. "You may have a point. It is kind of unfortunate that they’re spurned so much, come to think of it. I hate to admit it, but the syndicate’s leader really is talented to be able to capitalize off of discontent to meet his own ends. He's lucky Yukari's too fond of acting behind the scenes and watching things play out or the problem would be dealt with already."

Well, when she puts it that way... wait a minute. "What about what happened with Reimu’s parents? Did she just watch and let it happen?" I'm not sure how much Akyuu knows, but it’s worth a shot to ask her.

Akyuu saddens at the question, but answers anyway. "It’s more likely that they struck by surprise. For all her power, Yukari can’t see everything all the time. As for her feelings, if my previous life's time with her is any sign, she puts on a strong face while bearing the anguish of her failure." She leans against me and smiles slightly. "Don’t worry though: such a thing won't happen to Reimu. All the incidents have raised her innate sense of danger to the point where she'd be hard to catch off guard."

"So while she could be all seeing and powerful, she isn't for various reasons?" I clarify.

"The main reason is that she's Yukari Yakumo, someone fond of watching entertaining scenarios without getting her hands dirty. Something to remember, Yuki, is that power and personality are separate things." She answers, resting her head on my shoulder. It reminds me of the misfortune goddess on Youkai Mountain. From what I hear, she seeks to help people despite her ominous powers.

"Like the curse goddess at the base of the mountain?" I ask.

I can feel her stiffen as she rigidly answers, "Yes, the ever benevolent Lady Kagiyama who never curses anyone for speaking ill about her!" What? Does she honestly think that?! Sure her powers could be used to greater effect by terrorizing people, but the fact that she doesn't speaks highly of her.

"Akyuu, if she really was like that at all, don't you think 'his roundness' would have had a terrible streak of bad luck by now, considering what he said about her? From what I heard, she tries to help people as much as she can," I retort, using Lady Akyuu's favorite nickname for Lord Kaiba to try and make her relax.

She chuckles before responding, "I'll look into it again, then. You know you really shouldn’t be so formal all the time, right? You should help me think of a nickname for Kaiba’s son at some point. If you’re leaving though, I can send a few copies of reports over to your place to read when you have time.” As she continues, her head drops until it rests on my shoulder. “Much as I’d like it, you shouldn’t spend all day here if you have other plans."

"True, I was thinking about dropping by Kamui's after this," I reply. “I hope the rest of your day goes well."

Akyuu doesn’t say anything for a few moments, then shoves me to stand up. "Kamui’s still going after Kurumi and Mystia, huh? I hope he keeps in mind just how strong their feelings are, and doesn’t start ignoring one." There’s a slight waver to her voice as she starts pushing me toward the door, though it's rather ineffective unless I go with it. "Being ignored by the one you love is- it hurts. But like I said, no sense staying around here. I'm more worried about you, considering how gloomy you can be sometimes!"

I notice Shinobu on my way out and give a quick wave as Akyuu’s door closes sharply behind me. She unexpectedly responds with a slight wave of her own. She’s never done that before… well, no sense in dwelling on it. I leave and quickly head to the inn.


I walk through the front door to see Kamui working on a sheet of music, occasionally strumming at his guitar. He looks up as I sit down across from him. "Hey, surprising to see you here. You must have something on your mind, am I right? Remember, you can talk to me about anything." The look on my face must have clued him in.


[ ] Talk about the report. Since he's with Kurumi and she’s living with Yuuka, it's his business as well.
[ ] Talk discreetly about what happened with Wriggle last night and Kurumi's apparent bad advice.
[ ] Ask about what's been going on with him.
>she starts pushing me toward the door, though it's rather ineffective unless I go with it.
That mental image is going to keep me entertained for a while.

[X] Talk about the report. Since he's with Kurumi and she’s living with Yuuka, it's his business as well.
to get the burden off our shoulder, then
[X] Talk discreetly about what happened with Wriggle last night and Kurumi's apparent bad advice.
to lighten the mood again. After that,
[X] Ask about what's been going on with him.
because I'm curious about how he's been.
[X] Talk about the report. Since he's with Kurumi and she’s living with Yuuka, it's his business as well.
Time with Akyuu is best time~

[x] Talk about the report. Since he's with Kurumi and she’s living with Yuuka, it's his business as well.
[x] Ask about what's been going on with him.

"Yo, shit's going down. Plan accordingly." Omitting the second option because Yuki's not the type to talk about such embarassing things.
"[x] Talk about the report. Since he's with Kurumi and she’s living with Yuuka, it's his business as well.
[x] Ask about what's been going on with him."

Will be the main discussion topics. Update will be up in about a week.
due to work, the update will be delayed somewhere around the weekend most likely. I have finished another /at/ short, seen here >>/at/32632

The fact Rikako has such a lack of art is a crime.
File 138262197061.png - (354.85KB, 700x700, Rikako.png) [iqdb]
Rikako demands an update.

Me? I can wait. I have the archives and a couple other on-going stories to entertain me in the meanwhile.
I apologize as something came up with my proofer and I'm going to try see when he can proof it.
File 138267461378.png - (322.23KB, 600x800, slightlyrelatedbutquitecute.png) [iqdb]
[x] Talk about the report. Since he's with Kurumi and she’s living with Yuuka, it's his business as well.
[x] Ask about what's been going on with him.

I think I should get to the serious matter first. "We should go up to your room for this, Kamui," I say as it's the sort of sensitive information that shouldn’t be discussed in public.


We take our seats and I start telling him what happened. "According to Akyuu, last night the syndicate tried attacking Yuuka's place with the intention of doing… untoward but explicit things to her as a kind of retaliation against Arthur. They didn't succeed because of Arthur's habit of going on nightly walks - when one of the attacking party revealed their intention, he killed them all with no hesitation."

Shocked, Kamui says nothing while he slowly processes what I’ve told him. He recomposes himself and says, "I suppose that's why Kurumi hasn't come back yet, or Elis for that matter. They both left earlier today. That attack must have been hard on Arthur since he's not like Kazuma or his dad. Combat comes naturally to them, and sure Arthur’s skilled but he lacks that something those two have."

"What do you mean by that, Kamui?"

"You're not the only one who reads the old tales, which happen to be pretty good inspiration for lyrics that women enjoy, by the way. Anyway, I've noticed some of these heroes lacked something in comparison to their comrades, some kind of drive. King Arthur from the books is a good example: though he was a mighty king who wielded Excalibur, he lacked that love for battle some of his other knights had. On the other hand, some of the stuff I read about the Norse gods suggests that’s all they lived for; maybe a bit too much according the story about Ragnarok," he replies.

I haven't read much about them though what tales I did weren't lacking in violence. "You might have a point there, though if what you say about the Norse gods is true, they must be a scary bunch. Actually I read something interesting related to them a few months ago, about there being possibly an interloper in the events of Sigurd’s story." *1

He replies, "Oh, the guy who wielded Garm? No idea what person would interfere like that, though they must have had something to fear from him to go so far. I doubt that's uncommon though; it sounds like the age of heroes has long passed so to find that someone was responsible for engineering its end wouldn't be a shock. I think that's why Arthur's getting so much attention: because he's shaping up to be the first hero since then."

"Maybe I could ask my parents about that later; they'd know more about outsider habits.” I pause for a bit. “So, how have you been doing? I hope you're not overly worried about your upcoming dinner with Lady Yuuka."

He grins and leans back in his chair."I've prepared all I can so it’s just a matter of seeing how things go. Tonight will be a nice change of pace for both me and Mysty; she was invited along too, by the way. She's been taking more and more lessons from the Matron, who’s teaching Elis and Kurumi as well. I'm pretty impressed with how easily she accepted them as older people aren't know for that sort of thing. Then again she once told me 'an open mind brings smiles and profit.' But don't worry about me, I'll figure something out," he answers. I hope he doesn't try too hard to be charming as it'll backfire.

Noticing the look on my face, he adds, "Try not to worry about things too much. Being concerned is good, but not if it’s gotten to the point of inflicting stress. You're just one person after all. You should go unwind to take your mind off of things."

He does have a point… what should I do next? I didn't plan my day past talking with Kamui.

[ ] Try to see if Father's home and share what was talked about with Lady Akyuu.
[ ] I wonder if Mother heard much about the outside; I could see if Kamui's theory has support.
[ ] Try watching the crossroads and see who I run into.


1.Yuki references the book mentioned here: >>25898
[X] Try watching the crossroads and see who I run into.
[x] Try watching the crossroads and see who I run into.

Rolling for random encounter.
Votes are unusually slow this time around. Come on guys.
[X] Try watching the crossroads and see who I run into.
[X] I wonder if Mother heard much about the outside; I could see if Kamui's theory has support.

Works for me~!
Cross road wins, Update should be in about 7-10 days.
I have finsihed it, all that's left is proofing.
File 138441415797.jpg - (539.47KB, 714x1000, Araresmile.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Try watching the crossroads and see who I run into.

I think sitting at the crossroads for a while would set my mind at ease. Watching the people go by I can't help but be reminded of all the meetings that happened that day. Before I wonder who I'll run into here, a soft voice interrupts my thoughts.

"Excuse me sir, but would you know the way to a 'bar-be-que' place? La- my mistress has heard about it and was interested in sampling their food," she says. She's wearing a traveler's cloak with the hood up and she doesn't seem that much taller than Wriggle.

I answer, "Yeah, it's right down that path; you should see it on the left." Giving a nod in thanks, she goes on her way, followed by a very peculiar companion. She or he follows in a matching cloak, but it seems to float along… maybe there’s a spirit or ghost inside? Though it’s trying to disguise itself, floating around in a cloak usually attracts attention.

"Hey Yuki. Who do you suppose told her that was a good idea?” I hear another voice come from behind, and turn to see that it's Lunasa, but pretty plainly dressed. Most people wouldn’t readily recognize her without her outfit.

I reply, "Do you know her?"

"Yeah, she's Lady Yuyuko's servant. Her name’s Youmu, and she tends to shop from time to time or pop up at the whim of Lady Yuyuko. Oh, if you ever meet Lady Yuyuko, remember to be formal – even if she’s not so strict, Youmu's pretty serious about that."

"You must respect her a good deal. Since she’s in charge of the netherworld, she is essentially nobility among spirits, right?" I ask.

She nods absent-midedly. "Pretty much. Actually I’m glad I bumped into you: I'd like to ask for a bit of relationship advice. You and Wriggle seem to be taking your time to actually start dating, and unlike what some people think, Ginji and I are still at that sort of state. I'm not like my bubbly sister," she adds. That's a little surprising, but I might as well try to help.

"We just did what we felt was right, though you may want to ask Wriggle for her side of the story." Things really weren't so slow after a certain point, but there’s no need to mention that if Wriggle doesn’t want to.

"Hmmm, I will, if I see her around, anyways. I’ll be going now; I have to get to the market and buy some cucumbers before all the good ones are taken. My sister went and ruined a few of the ones we had, so I need to replace those and buy some for her specifically. She really can be an idiot at times.” She turns to leave, waving. “Thanks for the advice and putting my with my complaints!"

I resume watching the cross roads with my thoughts ending on what Lunasas was talking about. It's pretty unusual that Merlin would have a non-food use for cucumbers. Why would she need something big and lo- oh. Oh dear… Lunasa, you really didn’t need to tell me that. As I try to force the thought out of my mind, I notice Father heading into a bar with – is that the Oracle? Yes, the hat's unmistakable! I'm curious about what they'll talk about, so I trail them in.


There aren’t many patrons here, so I can hear them talking relatively easily. "I can't help but feel some people have formed a negative opinion about me," the Oracle says.

Father replies, "Well, Hayato's reasons are pretty obvious and Lady Akyuu's infamous for being opinionated at times. She only changes her mind if she’s convinced by someone she cares for, so maybe my son could talk to her. She always listens to him."

I never really gave it much thought. He doesn't seem to be the best sort of person, but maybe that’s because I’ve only heard about him from Mr.Yaguu and Lady Akyuu. Maybe Ican find out more if I keep listening, or I could act like I just came in and try to get directly involved.

[ ] Try to listen in while staying out of sight.
[ ] Make yourself known and join the conversation.
[X] Make yourself known and join the conversation.
Usually if someone tries to listen in on conversations in this kind of situation, they’ll be busted sooner or later.
Besides, I feel like Yuki and his dad have a relationship were they wouldn’t hide information unless it has been classified.
[x] Make yourself known and join the conversation.

Thread-ly reminder that the "Oracle" is ZUN; he was nicknamed as such because of his uncanny prediction of events (or so Yuki's been told). Time to get meta.
Come on guys. Two votes. Are they going to come in on Monday like last update?
[x] Try to listen in while staying out of sight.

No way. Stay out of the conversation unless you're needed or your emotions get the better of you.
Agreed. Better to organize our thoughts first than to lash out in anger.

[x] Try to listen in while staying out of sight.
I'm planning on calling the votes later tonight, provide the tie doesn't persist.

I believe you two are mistaken as Yuki's mood is more curiosity, not any sort of anger. The choice is mainly to interject or to observe.
[T] Make yourself known and join the conversation.
making yourself known wins and I will try my best to get it out in a week.
I think you misunderstood. Last time he listened in he lost control of his emotions and (rightfully) told a certain adult off about his prejudice. I'm just saying, because it's a sensitive topic, he might do it again.
[x] Make yourself known and join the conversation.
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[x] Make yourself known and join the conversation.

Hiding won’t work for long; someone is bound to notice sooner or later. I stand up and walk towards father and the Oracle, announcing myself with a "Father, Mister..." Crap, how do I address him? I can’t just call him “the Oracle!”

"ZUN will suffice. I’m not one to stand on ceremony, though I don't mind when people buy me free drinks out of politeness," he replies. Wow… actually seeing him for the first time, he's pretty skinny. Hard to believe that people said he was able to out-drink an Oni.

Father adds, "I was just helping him deal with the opinions Hayato and Lady Akyuu have of him as they seem rather influential. I hope she hasn't slanted your view too much, but since you're here, have a seat." He sips at his drink as I pull out a chair beside him.

"Come to think of it, she was the only one I had heard about you from,” I say to ZUN, “but from what you’re saying most of that is rather baseless. She made me curious though, so she’s the reason I followed you and listened in. It's not every day that I get to see my father with the famed Oracle."

ZUN scratches his head, answering "It's nothing that impressive, I can just see things that become more clear until they actually happen. After we finished talking about Akyuu and Yaguu, I was going to tell your father of my most recent vision: a red mist blotting out the sun during a warm day. I haven’t been able to see what will cause it." Red? Wait, I remember Kurumi mentioned something about some vampire planning something big.

"Actually, I’d heard that a vampire known as the Scarlet Devil was planning on doing something big. This mist might be it," I say.

Father adds, "If we know more about this, we can have the villages prepare for it. Until then we can only guess what might happen as a result of the incident and prepare accordingly."

"If what you say is true, maybe this incident could be called… Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil? Vampires can turn into mist after all, right?" ZUN adds.

Father nods. "I do believe so. And I heard that a red mansion appeared during the time of the vampire incident." I haven't heard much about that beyond some mentions.

“Well, there was one other part to the vision: a person.” ZUN slides a picture in front of us. It's a drawing of a western style maid, but something about is just looks a bit off. He remarks, "I know it isn't exactly good but it's my first time trying out this style. Some of my friends had the same looks on their faces before they said their opinion."

"Well, I was trying to figure out a nice way to word things," Father responds. I hold back a sigh of relief that father said it for me.

"I'm curious about how Yukikaki's relationship with Wriggle is doing, that is if you don't mind answering. I'm just curious about what goes on here" ZUN asks, looking a bit downtrodden. I suspect that's due to the whole love triangle between him, Aya, and Suika.

I respond, "It's going pretty well, though I'm trying to learn from past examples as much as possible to avoid any problems."

He nods before taking a drink, "If you find out more, I hope you can compile it so I can adjust it accordingly. Directly transcribing something can be pretty risky, especially in this era of increasing outsider appearances. I'm in the process of seeing about getting Akyuu's approval to distribute her books. She actually seemed to enjoy the notion of changing it for outside eyes a little too much." I can understand his feelings as it's a sign that she's going to make some "creative" changes.

"Depending on her mood, she may make something amusing or something with a malicious humor," I answer.

ZUN responds, "Sounds like you know her very well. I can see why your father would think you'd be able to change her mind about things. Really, thank you both for the help you’re giving me. How about a drink, my treat?"

"What an honor, it'd be rude to turn it down. What are you thinking about getting, Yuki?" Father asks.

Hmm. I’ll order…

[ ] Something nonalcoholic. I'm not sure about having my first taste of alcohol today.
[ ] Something light but sweet, a good way to ease into it.
[ ] Whatever Father's getting should be good.
[ ] Write-in.
[x] Write-in.
-[x] The Long Island Iced Tea sounds good. If it's anything like the iced tea Tex serves, I think I'll like it.
[X] Something nonalcoholic. I'm not sure about having my first taste of alcohol today.
We're still considered a minor, right? By Gensokyo's standards I mean.
[X] Something nonalcoholic. I'm not sure about having my first taste of alcohol today.

Save a beer when things have quieted down some; preferably with Wriggle
[X] Something nonalcoholic. I'm not sure about having my first taste of alcohol today.
going clean wins, update should be up in about a week.
with the way my work schedule's looking, I doubt I'll get my update done before the later part of this week.
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[x] Something nonalcoholic as I'm not sure about taking my first step today.

I answer, "Something with no alcohol please, maybe apple juice?" It’s a pretty big deal to take that step, so I won’t do so today. Father orders some wine and ZUN orders more beer. Conscientious of my choice, I apologize, "I hope you're not offended by my choice of drink, sir."

"Not at all. Just because I have fame for drinking doesn't mean I expect others to do so. Though with the coming season, some warm apple cider would be best. I personally prefer what the West calls 'hard apple cider,'" he answers. The west? He must be talking about a region from the Outside.

I notice ZUN with a concerned look on his face. "Careful Shin, wine tends to trick people into drinking more than they should."

Father finishes his glass, then nods as he pours himself another, saying, “Nothing to worry about; I’m as aware of my limits as you are.” Even though he says that, he really seems to be drinking rather quickly.


After some talk about a "Darius" series with giant fish 'machines,' I’m about to ask ZUN how he got that name when Father abruptly cuts in. "You know, I really did marry a great wife. She’s one of the best women a man could hope to end up with, even if…" Oh gods… please don't go where I think this is going. He continues, "…her breasts aren't as big as Keine's." Right now seems like a great time to cover my ears and focus on remembering everything I can about magic, instead of listening to whatever my father is certainly not talking about right now.


The bartender's voice break me out of my daze. "I'm cutting you off, and you better be thankful no one here is going to mention it again. Right, folks?" The other customers nod, making me suspect this isn’t the first time such a thing has happened. Honesty without tact really is a terrible thing.

I try to think of what to do with Father when he adds, "Yuki, I'm proud of you for not judging a woman by her bust size. Or ZUN, for liking the fl-zzzzzz" He passes out before he can finish, thankfully.

As I try to figure out how to get father home ZUN says, "I hope your mother doesn't blame me for this. She's pretty infamous for liking kitchen knives- ah, sorry, no offense."

"None taken, it’s just another part of my life," I answer, refraining from mentioning how my mother seems to plan around what Wriggle and I do with the ease of Zhuge Liang.

A giant of a man steps up, gruffly saying, "I'll help carry him home, just guide the way." He's wearing a traveler's cloak, but despite his size I don't sense any sort of danger. I thank him, and he picks my father up.

"I'll come with to properly apologize," ZUN adds, paying the bill before we leave.


Nothing happens as we walk, so we’re able to reach home quickly. Mother greets us with a smile, but quickly becomes unamused when she sees father’s state. "Let me guess: he had some wine, got drunk, and said some embarrassing things?"

"Yes, he did. I apologize for my role in it, please forgive me," ZUN says, bowing quickly in respect.

Mother just sighs and squeezes her temples, replying, "Just take him to the couch. I'm not angry with you since I can't expect everyone to know about his bad habit. It probably wasn't as bad as our wedding day - the Hiedas gave us some strong wine as a present, which just worsened the fact that people in Gensokyo usually make drunken fools of themselves during a wedding." After the giant sets father down on a futon, she adds, "Thank you, Mister…?"

"Kumamaru will suffice," he answers. "Now that this is done, I'll be on my way," he adds as he abruptly leaves.

"Ah... in that case I'll be leaving now as well. No sense in overstaying my welcome or butting into private affairs," ZUN adds. I can't blame him as Mother can be intimidating.

After he leaves, I ask, "Mother is there anything I can do to help?"

She answers with a smile, "I’ve already finished cooking dinner and was about to set the table. Just enjoy dinner and don't worry too much about your father. If you’re curious, all he did at the wedding was go on and on about how he loved me. That helped offset most of the embarrassment." She gently pushes me towards the kitchen, and the scent of the soup reminds me that I basically skipped lunch today. I don't think mother minds if I take seconds of her cooking.


After dinner I head to my room, not sure what mother was going to talk about with father after reviving him. I’m not sure I want to know, either. Before I pull out a book to read, I write a note to try talking to Akyuu soon about the things she’s been saying about ZUN.

I try to read, but end up thinking about the day's events and all that’s happened instead. The attack on Lady Yuuka's place, ZUN, that giant guy who helped father… I can’t stop a yawn. I'll sleep easy tonight despite Wriggle not being here.


Morning comes, and I get dressed quickly before heading upstairs. I’m thankful that everything yesterday didn't affect my dreams. Mother and father are already eating breakfast at the table, and father’s holding an icepack to his head. It can’t be helped, after what happened last night.

I sit down and start on my own breakfast while thinking about my plans for the day. There’s a few things I could do now that I have the time…

[ ] Today seems to be a nice day, so I’ll practice my magic and flight.
[ ] I'm a bit curious about what Ginji's stocked in his shop this time.
[ ] I wonder if Wriggle's coming back soon? Even if she's not hanging around the gate, it might be interesting.
[X] Today seems to be a nice day, so I’ll practice my magic and flight.

Works for me~!
[X] I wonder if Wriggle's coming back soon? Even if she's not hanging around the gate, it might be interesting.
[x] Today seems to be a nice day, so I’ll practice my magic and flight.

Get amped, yo. You'll never do anything but cower in the human village or behind a Touhou's dress unless you get stronger!
[c] I wonder if Wriggle's coming back soon? Even if she's not hanging around the gate, it might be interesting.

Cannot resist Wriggle~
It's a tie and if it isn't broken in 24 hours, I'll flip coins on it.
[x] Today seems to be a nice day, so I’ll practice my magic and flight.

Getting strong now~
magic training it is, I'll try to have it up by the time two weeks pass if not sooner. Next week being christmas then new years prep may get in the way.
I've finished my update and all that's left is proofing, so it should be done before the weekend (hopefully sooner)

I apologize for the delay.
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I apologize for the delay as on top of work, there was also new game-induced laziness. I'm terribly sorry.

[x] Today seems to be a nice day, so I’ll practice my magic and flight.

Before I head out, I remember that Marisa gave me a bunch of mushrooms a while ago, claiming they improved your magic. Might as well try them out now that I have the chance. I fetch them from the pantry and read the note left with them while heading to the kitchen:

"Can be eaten directly in a pinch, but they're better when prepared right. A nice snack but too many will make you sick along with other, nastier side effects." Right… better do what she says since she has firsthand experience. "They’re great on a meat sandwich, especially pork, but never mix them with peanut butter. It tastes fine, but it’ll really mess you up after a few hours." The more I read, the more I wonder just how much trouble she’s had because of her experiments. The note goes on about a few more recipes and the “accidents” had while perfecting them, and ends with, "You want more methods? Too bad! I’ve shared all I’m willing to so you’ll have to trailblaze yourself and risk it like I have to go farther.” I can’t really blame her for that.

For now I’ll just make a few sandwiches to cover lunch and see how effective these mushrooms are. I think I'll try that thing Marisa mentioned during my time there, it could be useful. I pack my stuff and leave, trying to remember the few tips Marisa gave me last time I practiced.


As I walk to Kourin’s place to pick up the practice mattress, I notice Lady Kotohime dressed in strange clothing and carrying a bunch of maps towards the Bamboo forest. I'm a bit worried, but she can be extremely competent at whatever she sets her mind on. Let’s see: last time I practiced, Marisa yelled at me for absorbing mana instead of controlling it. According to her that was both dangerous and definitely not normal. Maybe it’s some kind of ability like Lady Akyuu's memory or Keine's history? That would be pretty cool, but I should just focus on my magic and see what happens.


I set the mattress down in the forest clearing along with the rest of my things. Flying is my weak point so I’ll try that first, especially since trying to change my spells with absorption could leave me too drained to try afterwards. Ok, focus, clear my head, and will myself upwards. I slowly drift upward, and work on keeping my pace controlled until I’m a good distance into the air.

Trying to turn takes effort to stay upright and, more importantly, aloft, but I manage to look around and survey the tree line from my position. There’s a few clearings I recognize in the forest, like Marisa's place, but in another one it looks like something’s being built. I'm curious, but I know better than to barge in unknown territory. Next I try to move around, and manage to do alright unless I try to change my height at the same time. I think that’s the only problem spot I have left.

That’s enough for now; I let myself back down, landing steadily for once. I sit to take a break and decide to try absorbing a bit of the mana from the air to see what happens. It’s not hard, but takes a lot of concentration to just hold it instead of releasing or letting in more. Suddenly I feel strange, then oddly refreshed, and the strain of holding it disappears. Did it restore my energy? I wish the book mentioned this a little more since I don’t feel very sure about experimenting like this.

Still, if I can’t read about it, experimenting is all I can do. I conjure a windball spell, and find devote what focus I can to taking in more mana than normal – this time it strengthens the spell. So I can either recover my energy, or overcharge a spell and make it drain more of my stamina.

I hear someone walking towards the clearing, threatening to break my focus. I carefully unravel the spell and release its energy to avoid an accident, then turn to see Wriggle walking along the path. "Oh, hello! I was just taking a slight break after practicing my magic," I say. “It’s great to see you, but didn’t you say you’d spend today at the house with Lady Yuuka?”

"It’s true I was worried after hearing about the night before, but this morning she told me that I had someone else to worry about," Wriggle replies, looking at me. I'm glad she feels that way; I must have made a good impression on Lady Yuuka. I hope she and Wriggle weren’t too harsh on Kurumi.

I reply, "I'm flattered, thanks for coming. I was about have some lunch, care to have some? I made some sandwiches according to something Marisa suggested."

"No thanks, I'm not crazy on magic mushrooms. It was one of the only things I had to eat during my life before meeting Mother. They might be part of why my ability is so high for my age, but I still don’t particularly like them," Wriggle answers.

"Alright, but how did you know they were magic mushrooms?"

She answers, "I'm aware of Marisa's habits, and I can see them sticking out of the sandwiches along with the meat. That narrows things down, especially with your fondness of magic.” She sits on one of the fallen logs in the clearing. “I was going to stop by Akyuu’s house after this and wondered if you wanted to come see her. I think she might be worried about me."


[ ] "I wasn't, but I don't see any reason not to as I needed to talk to her about the Oracle."
[ ] "Do you think it could wait until tomorrow? I'd rather enjoy our time here."
[c] "Do you think it could wait until tomorrow? I'd rather enjoy our time here.
[W] "Do you think it could wait until tomorrow? I'd rather enjoy our time here."
[x] "I wasn't, but I don't see any reason not to as I needed to talk to her about the Oracle."

[T] "Do you think it could wait until tomorrow? I'd rather enjoy our time here."
spending time with Wriggle wins I'm definitely going to try to get it done within a week.
I am making progress on my update and I should have it up hopefully sometime on friday or saturday. As for why it's taking this long? Work schedule, other things happen (plumbing issues), cases of writer's block, and human weakness.
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[x] "Do you think it could wait until tomorrow? I'd rather enjoy our time here.

"I think it could wait until tomorrow; if Akyuu was really worried, we'd have heard something by now. Not to mention it'd be nice to enjoy a quiet day with you," I answer. Lady Akyuu does have a way of finding people if she really wanted to, like that one day where she managed to get Miss Shameimaru to escort us back.

Wriggle nods in agreement. "You do have a point; I was looking forward to seeing you today. So, what did I interrupt?"

"Not much, I was practicing my magic before you came here and stopped when I heard you coming. I didn’t want to risk breaking my concentration. I made good progress: I tested my ability to funnel mana and found I can either enhance my wind magic or absorb it to replenish my energy. Maybe it’s a property of the mana inside the forest?"

She looks worried at the last part. She worriedly asks, "Are you sure that's a good idea? I mean you don’t know if that might end up hurting you later on." Now’s probably a bad time to bring up what Alice said about becoming a musician. Then again, that would give me a longer lifespan… Ah! Better not mention this around Wriggle; she might get really worried.

Let’s change the topic for now. "Don’t worry, I’ll be careful. So, did you have lunch before coming here?” It’d be rude to eat my sandwiches if she didn’t have something as well.

"Not yet; this morning I prepared some things and dropped them off at your house. Your mother wasn’t there; I was actually expecting her to be around," she responds while I put things away. Before I can try to drag the cushion as well, Wriggle lifts it up with barely any effort. I’m always impressed whenever she does such feats. It must be nice to have that kind of strength.


After dropping off the cushion, we start walking back to my house. Wriggle speaks up, "Do you think you can do that absorption with regular air? I mean wind is just air, right?" Huh, I haven’t thought about practicing outside of the forest before. I attempt a quick test and conjure a small wind ball; I’m able to absorb a little extra power, but nowhere near as strong as in the forest. Wriggle watches me expectedly as I safely disperse the spell.

"I did feel something, but not much," I answer. “While wind is air, it typically doesn't have the concentration of mana that a forest does. I think it thins out due to air's nature, as compared to bodies of water, fires, or forests. My book mentioned that wood and wind are related so that might explain things too."

"Just be careful, Yuki. While the forest of magic has plenty of mana, its true effects aren't known. I've seen the parts where it’s unsafe for humans to go, where you have to fear the plants more than the animals." Her statement gives me pause as we continue walking.


The house is quiet as we go inside, no sign of Mother reacting as we enter. She must be out doing some errands - was today Lady Minoriko's day at the market? "Wriggle, what kind of sandwich would you like?"

"Anything without those mushrooms is good, but please add lettuce if you have some," she answers.

After assembling her sandwich and sitting down to eat, my curiosity about Wriggle’s remarks about the forest get the better of me. "Wriggle, do all young youkai have a rough time when they first appear, before they develop their powers? You don't have to answer if you don't want to.”

She replies, "It really depends on the youkai. Some are born with clothes while others aren't, usually those based on animals. From there it's a matter how we can get our hands on clothing.” She pauses to take another bite. “Why do you ask; did something happen yesterday while I was gone?"

I nod. "I was talking with Akyuu and she suggested that maybe the problems with male youkai are cyclic: we act like they’re instinctual and can’t think for themselves, then they respond that way since it’s no use to act differently. Afterwards I wound up meeting the Oracle at the bar with father; he ended up embarrassingly drunk," I answer, omitting the exact details of his ramblings.

Wriggle pauses before answering, "Maybe, but most young males lack manners. They'll barge in to take over your territory and spew insults at anyone who gets in their way. I tried to be civil when I ran into one, but he was so grating I had bees attack just to get him away. On top of that most seem to be interested in more... mature girls.” Ah, so she also takes it a bit personally. I start to imagine some uncouth youth trying to hit on Lady Yuuka, only to stop before dwelling on what the aftermath is better left unimagined. “I won't rule out the existence of ones that do behave, but if they’re out there they don't go out of their way to make themselves known."

I remember my realization as I reply, "That really is a shame. Improved human-youkai relations are great, but the impact is a lot smaller if it’s only limited to youkai girls. If I can help at all, I want to clear the way for all of them so something like the Syndicate can’t capitalize on their discontent."

She sighs before answering, "I hope those people are driven out and no one like them ever gets into Gensokyo again. Even if they come from a world with different ideas, they shouldn’t force them on us because they think they can get away with it." She looks to be in thought for a few moments. She then chuckles, "Yesterday I really gave Kurumi a piece of my mind though. It was worth it despite Mother walking in and finding out more than I wanted her to know. She only said that she expected us to handle our 'matters' well… I don’t want to think about that too hard." Very understandable.


The rest of the day goes very normally, as if Wriggle were already a part of our family. Mother was very happy that she was visiting, and Wriggle mentioned being my training assistant. I'll think more on it in the morning; for I’ll change- huh? I turn and look why Wriggle's stopping me from getting my ni- wow. The sight of her nude body still stuns me.

"Yuki, I want to sleep together like this. I'd like to do this before it gets too cold to." she pleads. There’s no way I can turn how down, even if I wasn't expecting this again so soon. I remove the rest of my clothes and get into my bed, Wriggle climbing in behind me and snuggling close. She smiles as I pull the sheet over us, before we both drift off to sleep.


As I start to wake up, the pleasant warmth of the form pressed against me lets me know I finally woke up before Wriggle. She still has her arms wrapped around me; even if I wanted to get up I couldn’t get free. When she's in my arms like this, it makes her seem more fragile than she is. She's also proof that you don't have to be curvy to be soft.

My thoughts are interrupted as she stirs, waking up as well. "Good Morning Yuki" she replies through a yawn.

I ask, "Did you sleep well last night? You don't usually sleep later than me." It would be nice it happened more often, though.

"I was sort of worried about you during the night and how you'd sleep, plus I was worrying about talking with Mother about the winter," she replies. I am curious what she means by that, but I won't pry.

We get dressed, facing different directions to avoid distractions, then head upstairs for breakfast. Father is already reading the paper as usual; looks like the headline is about some kind of alchemy experiment going wrong. That reminds me, I’ve seen Ginji arguing sometimes with some alchemist named Iwamo. He lives rather far out, but youkai still avoid him even though he’s around our age.

I ask, "Father, what's your take on alchemy?" I haven’t heard much about what it is or what it’s supposed to do. Some of the things I've read make it sound like magic dressed up in science.

"I'm not too sure myself; it's hard to say whether it’s really magic or not. As long as he isn't risking anyone else in his experiments, I don’t have a problem with him. Can’t say the same for everyone though; some aren't amused by his research, especially the Kappa. According to Lady Hieda it’s something about making them look bad. You'd have to ask her about that."

Wriggle adds, "I guess humans have their own 'territory' disputes as well. But I'll go with, uh... Papa's opinion. Is it okay if I call you that?" I guess she remembered what Mother insisted on and is doing the same with Father.

Thankfully he just chuckles. "I have no problems with it. I've thought of you as a daughter for some time-"

"Were you saying something, dear?” Mother interrupts. “I was just reheating things for the lovebirds."

"Ah yes, I was just saying what a cute daughter Wriggle is!" Father replies. Technically he’s telling the truth, so I won’t say anything.

"You’re absolutely right. Go on then you two, eat up!" Mother answers, setting our plates in front of us. Breakfast goes rather quietly, perhaps due to everyone mentally planning their days.


After helping clean up and saying goodbyes, we walk outside. The alchemist article is still on my mind...

[ ] A stop at Ginji's wouldn't hurt, I'm curious about his stance on things. It probably won’t take too long either.
[ ] Better go straight to Akyuu's. I still have to try convincing her the Oracle isn’t such a bad guy and it'll free up the day afterwards.
[ ] Write in (within reason).
[X] Better go straight to Akyuu's. I still have to try convincing her the Oracle isn’t such a bad guy and it'll free up the day afterwards.

With Wriggle with us, I'm happy. With both Wriggle and Akyuu, I'm overjoyed.
>Now’s probably a bad time to bring up what Alice said about becoming a musician
Yuki as a musician. I can't quite imagine it.
[c] Better go straight to Akyuu's. I still have to try convincing her the Oracle isn’t such a bad guy and it'll free up the day afterwards.
[x] A stop at Ginji's wouldn't hurt, I'm curious about his stance on things. It probably won’t take too long either.

On the one hand we finally have the chance to do something by going to see this alchemist. On the other, bum-rushing a dangerous person you know nothing about is a bad idea.
[X] Better go straight to Akyuu's. I still have to try convincing her the Oracle isn’t such a bad guy and it'll free up the day afterwards.

Works for me~!
[x] A stop at Ginji's wouldn't hurt.
Vote called, I'll try to get the update up in a week. It may take longer considering the recent trends in my life.

I am not sure how that got past both me and Fyhlen.
Well I finished a draft and I'm trying to get it worked out. So hopefully it'll be done before wed.
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[x] Better go straight to Akyuu's. I still have to try convincing her that the Oracle isn’t such a bad guy, and it'll free up the day afterwards.

"Let's go straight ahead, it'll be easier to think of something afterwards," I say as we head towards the Hieda residence.


Upon knocking on the door, we're greeted by Shinobu who motions for us to come inside. She appears to be in a good mood as she leads us to Lady Akyuu's room; I can see a hint of a smile on her face.

Akyuu’s seated at her table, in the middle of writing something. "Ahem, Master Yuki and Lady Wriggle are here to see you," Shinobu announces after a moment. After quickly glancing at us, Akyuu starts to put away what she was working on.

"What a surprise! I wasn't expecting you two to stop by so soon," Lady Akyuu responds. Wait, her expression… is she panicking about something?

Wriggle answers, "I wanted to let you know I’m alright. After that attack I didn't want you to get worried."

"I admit I was getting ready to look into that since I didn't hear from either of you yesterday, but thank you for your consideration. Go ahead and take a seat; it'd be rude if I didn't show some hospitality," Lady Akyuu answers, waving at Shinobu to bring some refreshments.


About 5 minutes later fruit and tea are laid out on the table, and we’re talking comfortably about assorted things. When Akyuu mentions Mr. Yaguu I remember what Father asked me to do. "Lady Akyuu, I recently met the Oracle; he was talking with father at a bar. He certainly didn't come off as creepy; odd perhaps, but he definitely seemed like a nice guy. I wish you’d at least give him more of a chance."

She narrows her eyes and remains silent, thinking. She eventually responds, "It’s nice of you to visit, but why’d you have to bring him up? Fine, I’ll apologize the next time I see him. With both you and your father pressing the point I can’t just dislike him." Well, it’s better than nothing... I wonder if Father knew she’d listen to me too? Relaxing, she adds, "You’re not going to get Hayato Yaguu to change his mind, though. It’d be harder than besting an Oni in a feat of strength to get him to forgive the guy who ‘stole Aya away.’ Not even she could talk him out of it."

He does have a grudge, but would it really be impossible? I start thinking about how I could approach-


What the hell!? An explosion? I look towards Lady Akyuu and see that she's calmly drinking her tea. "Lady Akyuu, how can you be calm like this!? It could be something dangerous!" I ask.

"It's Gensokyo. Explosions aren't that rare and if it’s a threat, I'll hear about it in a few minutes. I won't stop you from checking it out, but I doubt it's anything very out of the ordinary," Lady Akyuu replies.

Wriggle's rubbing her temples in irritation; when she notices my gaze she responds, "Most youkai wouldn’t be this casual about something like that. I'd prefer to stay here, but I'll wait for you if you want to see what happened."

[ ] Check out the explosion, I think it came from the Merchant’s Area.
[ ] Ask Akyuu about the alchemist in the paper. I'm sure she can tell me more about him, and maybe a little about alchemy as well.
[ ] Mention the maid ZUN saw, that should start a discussion.
[ ] Make some small talk to get her mind off of it.
-[ ] Talk about the weather (minor timeskip)
-[ ] Write in.
[X] Check out the explosion, I think it came from the Merchant’s Area.
[c] Check out the explosion, I think it came from the Merchant’s Area.
- [c] After that, if there's time left, ask Akyuu about the alchemist in the paper. I'm sure she can tell me more about him, and maybe a little about alchemy as well.
[x] Check out the explosion, I think it came from the Merchant’s Area.

Why ask about him when we can just go see him?
There wasn't much of a dispute here. I'll try to have it done in 1-2 weeks.
It's in the middle of proofing so it should be done within 2 days.
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[x] Check out the explosion, I think it came from the Merchant’s Area.

"I better check it out, I hope nothing’s happened to Ginji. I'll be back when I'm done," I say before standing up.

Wriggle responds, "Alright. You don't have to rush; I've been meaning to catch up with Akyuu for a while now about a few things." She and Akyuu wave as I leave.


As I get closer to the Merchant’s quarters I see a trail of smoke drifting into the sky. I really hope that Ginji's alright – he’s mentioned failed projects before, but nothing’s ever gone up like this!

His store seems to be intact when I reach it, so I walk in. I find Ginji towards the back, looking over a twisted metal panel over what appears to be a window. Wait... he has a blast shield in the back of his shop!? "Ginji, are you alright? I heard that explosion all the way from Akyuu’s house."

This seems to snap Ginji out of his thoughts and he answers, "Yeah. Can't believe that guy's idea for a coffee maker would blow up like this… and now Rika wants his notes for ideas on how to make better ammo. These blast panels are going to need more work, but I'm glad I installed at least this much, plus a layer of metal on this side of the house." Good thing he thinks ahead; without the plating someone may have gotten hurt.

"That guy – do you mean that amateur alchemist? Where’d he go? " I ask.

He presses a button on a panel which causes some chains to pull back the shield, revealing a slightly broken window and a shallow crater in the yard behind it. "He ran the moment we noticed problems… God I hate how that dumbass tries to half-ass things! If he were a tenth as dedicated as those who made great alchemic advancements his mundane contraptions wouldn’t double as bombs. Even wizards do things in a proper fashion. Oh, no offense, Yuki.”

“It’s fine, none taken. It sounds like you don’t really hate alchemy that much, just people who use it recklessly.”

“Of course. Alchemy was the foundation of Outsider science, after all. You can bet I'll be better prepared when I try to integrate a Kappa heater with some magical components. For all their innate magic, they sure seem reluctant to use it in their inventions for the most part." He points to a machine that looks like a tank with pipes branching out of it. "I might need your help with it later on since you're the only person who messes with fire magic."

If he were to finish it, it might work better than usual warming methods like a kotatsu or fireplace. "I'd be glad to help, it'd really help out in the winter!"

"Good to hear. It'll be good to have something to focus my mind on; I already got past the tricky part of the project, though the two extras did not blow up as much as THAT!" Ginji responds as he looks over some drawings at his desk.

He sits down and begins to work, so I decide to leave now that I know he’s fine. It’s no use talking to him once he gets started on a project, anyways. Time to find out what Akyuu knows.


I get back to Akyuu's room without incident, and when I arrive I hear them talking about something. I glance into the room, and see Akyuu, Wriggle, and Shinobu looking over a map. "Wriggle, these bugs are really dangerous to humans! I really wouldn't advise taking him here; try here or here instead. They’ll work as nice dating spots."

Shinobu adds, "If I may, I know of a few other locales that would be nice as some areas are safer than most would think, more so with bandits on the decline." She points to a few more places, but I can’t make out what the map says under her finger.

Wriggle frowns indecisively. "Hmm… I do want to expand my abilities and sharpen my senses, though. Things with Yuki are fun and new, but I don't want to go soft either. I hope he'll understand that." Of course; there’s no way I’d be against that!

Akyuu replies, "I know he will, for various reasons…" She slowly turns to look at the doorway, smirking at me. "Right, Yuki?"

"I didn't mean to eavesdrop! I'm sorry! I was just coming back and-" She cuts me off.

"Don't worry, it wasn’t anything private, not like the topic of matching undergarments and hair colors" Wha!? Both Wriggle and Shinobu are blushing heavily after that comment. I try to compose myself as she continues, "Well that didn't really happen anyways, just trying to find a cute lab coat number for her. It'd fit an assistant nicely, and glasses would suit her very well." She says that so casually, but it’s shocking to think about how cute Wriggle would look.

Ah, better ask before I get distracted. "Akyuu, what is your take on Alchemy?"

I take a seat next to Wriggle as Lady Akyuu starts explaining. "Alchemy in Gensokyo isn’t practiced widely as far as I know. It was founded by those with magical talent, both innate and learned, but most of its points pale when compared to everything else you can do in Gensokyo. Even the famous ‘lead into gold’ transmutation was surpassed by some of the feats the Hakurei clan performed, like creating a shower of gold coins in something symbolic of the summoning a god. Certain magician types have picked it up to help with their research, but I have no idea if the more technically inclined community is working it into their projects or just hybridizing them with normal magic.”

A serious look comes over her as she looks me in the eye. “I must say it's probably more dangerous than either magic or science as unlike them, alchemy wasn't really clearly recorded in history. Practitioners either abandoned it or took their secrets to the grave, and those that still live want to keep it secret." Magicians don’t sound like a very trusting group.

“I definitely don't want to be like that: it'd be a poor way to repay Miss Chalmer's knowledge by secreting discoveries away or making some tower my hermitage. It won’t happen!" As everyone at the table looks startled, I realize I may have said things too forcefully.

"I never thought I'd hear such a tone from you. It's rather manly," Akyuu responds. Wha? I might have sounded rather decisive but manly? Furthest from the truth!

"That's awfully flattering but that isn't true at all!" I stammer. Akyuu usually doesn’t tease me that much, not to mention Wriggle’s right here with us! I try think of something to say to break the awkward silence.

Shinobu clears her throat. "May I interrupt? Have you made preparations for the upcoming harvest festival?" Thank you, Shinobu!

The conversation trails off into more normal topics: the upcoming festival, and another Prismriver concert. That's good news for my friends, I’ll have to see if they’ve heard about it next time I see them.


The next few days are mainly a mix of working with Akyuu on profiles for her book, going over what I wrote down during the interviews, and making a profile for Hourai. When I have time I train my control of flight and magic as Wriggle seems to be going out on her own to different parts of Gensokyo. I worry about her, but at the same time I have faith in her abilities. I wonder how Kamui’s dinner with Lady Yuuka will work out?


I’m shaken awake somewhat roughly. “Hrmmm… wha? Wha’ is it?”

Surprisingly, I hear Wriggle’s speak. "Yuki, get up, your father wants to talk to you!" I roll about of bed and start getting dressed, wondering what this is about... oh wait! This day has finally arrived: the village Council is going to meet. I hurry to get ready and head upstairs to find out what's going on.

I sit at the breakfast table and Father slides something towards me. Sure enough, it’s his summons to the council meeting. "What’s this meeting going to be about?" I ask.

"Relations between humans and youkai, and a serious discussion about the Syndicate and what they’ve been doing. Your input is considered valuable by myself, and a few others. That’s why you’re coming with," Father answers.

"I'll go. I want to see how this plays out and just how much they listen to what I have to say," I reply.

Father smiles in relief. "I wanted to get you up early so you can gather your thoughts before we leave." Not a bad idea; the Council is probably the second worst place to say something really stupid, just behind meeting some crazy-powerful youkai.


Recap of the topic? (For the reader's benefit)
[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[x] Yes.

What's going on? I can't remember what happened.
[X] Yes
A recap would be nice
[x] Yes

Give recap, please.
Expect the update in 2-3 weeks as my work schedule seems particularly unfriendly.
I've started though things have been busier than I'd have liked but after thursday I'll be on my vacation as I'll attempt to finish it within a week.
It's undergoing proofing and some adjustments.
Waiting warmly~
File 139779373284.png - (684.12KB, 1200x818, ehcloseenough.png) [iqdb]
[x] Recap.

Most of this was written in post >>27927, so here’s a summary. Back at the beginning of the story an organization calling itself the Syndicate started causing trouble; mainly kidnappings and experiments that targeted youkai. An outsider named Arthur has been working against them, but more recently some unsavory youkai have joined up too, lured by promises of being able to do what they want to anyone who opposes them. Unsure of how much longer Arthur can fight on his own, the Council is meeting to discuss what to do about the Syndicate’s growing power.

Yuki’s only heard about most of these events from others since he hasn’t done much investigating on his own. And now, back to the story.


"Thanks for letting me gather my thoughts, Father, but I’ve actually been thinking about it the past few days. I feel confident about what to say by this point," I say while standing up. I'll worry about other things after this meeting.

Father responds, "Alright then. Good to see you’ve been planning ahead." As we take our dishes to the kitchen, he continues, “The meeting might go on for a while, but I’m sure we’ll break for lunch. No need to pack anything.” I nod, and we leave for the Council building.


This is the first time I've had a good look at Council building. While I’ve passed through the Noble’s Quarter of the village before, I haven’t had the chance to stop by here; the building’s size and grandeur makes it stand out even among the ornate houses around it. I try to steady my nerves as we approach the entrance, passing under the archway and into a courtyard.

After reaching the threshold and taking off our shoes, an usher guides us to the main meeting room. It’s mostly empty, but a few people are already seated at the cushions laid around a long, narrow table. We probably got here a little early… ah, Lady Akyuu’s already here with her parents. She waves us over, so I start to walk over and sit down before father firmly halts me from moving.

Lady Akyuu bows and says, "Please take a seat. As long time assistants to the Hieda family, we are pleased you were able to come." Wow, she can really be formal when the situation calls for it. It makes her sound older than she appears, hinting at her sheer knowledge and experience. We bow in return and take our seats; besides being polite, it’s comforting to be in familiar company.

"Lady Akyuu, if you are here, may I ask why I was invited to the meeting? I’m honored that I was, but hadn’t I already talked with you about that revelation?" I ask as politely as possible.

She smiles and replies, "It’ll give you a positive reputation early on, and you’ve been able to think about the matter far more than I've had the chance to. You’re also the one with greater reason to be concerned about the official state of human/youkai relations." Her answer certainly makes sense, I just hope I don't disappoint her. As more councilmen come in I focus on composing myself.

As the room is filling up I notice Lord Hojo take his the seat at the head of the table, joined by a secretary who quickly sets out paper and ink. After some formalities and assorted news, Hojo says, "Now, for more pressing orders of business. First of all, the proposed adjustment to the self-defense law was approved by the Tengu. After the revision, if a human or youkai threatens a tengu within the village and has no way to actually inflict harm, the tengu may no more than incapacitate them to turn them over to the village's custody. Depending on the severity of the threat, they will either be judged here or turned over to the tengu to experience their justice system.” Some murmurs and nods of consent pass around the table, then Lord Hojo adds, “This should go a long way towards preventing any more murders from occurring out of claims of ‘self-defense.’" That gets a few more councilors talking; it's a good thing Miss Shameimaru didn't get in more trouble than she did.

Lady Akyuu remarks, "He does have the village’s concerns at heart, but he really needs to let go of a problem once it’s been resolved."

Lord Hojo clears his throat and resumes speaking. "Secondly, concern was expressed over the dearth of comprehensive combat experience among the capable. That is, most of our hunters are able to take down feral youkai, but not humans or humanoid youkai. Training in combat skills and tactics against such opponents should be enacted and emphasized. As a first step, I propose putting Keine directly under Master Yaguu's instruction so he can refine her existing abilities before they both provide training for as many hunters as can be effectively taught at once.” The talking between the councilors gets louder until he finishes, "I would like to hear your opinions on the matter."

Miss Keine speaks first. “Thank you, Lord Hojo. As village guardian, I welcome the chance to learn from Master Yaguu to better protect this village, and all of you. I’m sure his experi-”

“And why’s this such an issue all of a sudden?” Lord Kaiba loudly cuts in. I notice Lady Akyuu grimace beside me as he continues, “Come on, everyone knows why you’re bringing it up now; just say you’re getting ready to fight the Syndicate and be done with it.” Oh man, that really set everyone off. Now it’s hard to hear anything over the heated arguments.

Mr. Yaguu speaks over the din, "I agree with the transfer and the importance of the training, but I advise against any thoughts of going on the offensive. It would take me a year to train up a force that both matches my standards and is sizable enough to split into an attacking force and village defenders. Going after the Syndicate now will only cause more trouble."

“Oh of course, a huge investment of time and effort! So much so you wonder if it’s really needed.” Wha-! What is Lord Kaiba saying?! Leering, he continues, “I mean they’re hardly a problem. They haven’t tried attacking the village, or pinned any crimes on us to draw ire from the tengu. I say, ignore the sods! What real threat can they be if a lone outsider’s been able to stop their mischief so far?” How blatantly uncaring! I get the feeling he'd hide behind hired muscle while everyone else worries about it.

Mr. Yaguu is quick to answer, "All the more reason to be vigilant in defense. We don’t know the true strength of the enemy so we can’t know when they may try to take advantage of an opening. Such training would be useful in the long run as it'll potentially allow for greater defense!" As expected, he'd know best about this.

"Do you even care about the other people in the village?!” Keine shouts. “I can respect taking a peaceful stance, but I cannot accept turning a blind eye to a potential threat. What kind of an example are you setting for your son?!” I barely hear Lady Akyuu mutter, "A terrible one," before Keine continues. “It's bad enough that your... guidance caused me to make that terrible mistake, saying I could protect the village without Reimu’s help!" Even though they’ve made up by now, for someone like her that incident really must have been a hard blow.

“Now now, Miss Kamishirasawa, you’re getting things backwards! Calm down and you’d remember that we merely voted to appoint you as village guardian; you’re the one who accepted and made those remarks about the shrine maiden.”

Lady Akyuu speaks up, "That's a terrible thing to say. The last thing you need is to confirm without a doubt what people have been saying about you. Just a friendly piece of advice." I can't tell if it was really friendly or just a well disguised insult.

“Enough!” Lord Hojo slams the table, abruptly silencing everyone. “I’ll remind you that the Council is a place of order, not some tavern for bickering and fighting! Now does anyone actually have something relevant say, or can we move on to the next item?”

Mr. Miyamoto sighs and says, "Yes. I can agree with war being an unwise investment; besides the financial loss we'd be tossing away the security we've worked for. Hayato's reasoning to focus on defense for its long term benefits is sound. Any kind of meaningful offensive at this point would have to rely on Outsider technology, and that would just escalate things nastily." Never thought I'd hear him say that.

Perhaps I can try adding my own thoughts on the matters…

Regarding the self-defense law:
[ ] Stay silent; I don't have much to add.
[ ] "It's reassuring to hear the law’s being changed."
[ ] "The sooner that law is changed, the better; there was too much potential to abuse it!"
[ ] Write in.

Regarding Miss Keine’s transfer:
[ ] Stay silent.
[ ] "It’s good to see Miss Keine will be in good hands."
[ ] "I'm glad to finally see this happen. Pardon my tone, but she should have been released from the council’s control much sooner."
[ ] Write in.

Regarding the use of warriors:
[ ] Stay silent.
[ ] "I agree that focusing on defense of the village is most important."
[ ] "The village shouldn’t attack the Syndicate! The last thing Arthur would want is for us to sacrifice our peace to go to war!"
-[ ] Give “his roundness” a piece of your mind.
[ ] Write-in.

Stardust Halley also updated recently.
Regarding the self-defense law:
[X] "The sooner that law is changed, the better; there was too much potential to abuse it!"
I may be mistaken, but the law was what got Hatate in trouble, no?

Regarding Miss Keine’s transfer:
[X] Stay silent.
I may change this later, I'm just not sure what to say in this matter.

Regarding the use of warriors:
[X] "The village shouldn’t attack the Syndicate! The last thing Arthur would want is for us to sacrifice our peace to go to war!"
Making an enemy of Sir Round at our first meeting, doesn't seem like a good idea in the long run.
[x] "The sooner that law is changed, the better; there was too much potential to abuse it!"
[x] "It’s good to see Miss Keine will be in good hands."
[x] "The village shouldn’t attack the Syndicate! The last thing Arthur would want is for us to sacrifice our peace to go to war!"

You're almost right about the law, except Aya was the one who got in trouble. Had to dig around, but it was the first thread 2 update (>>23544).
>“I got the rest of the guys in front of the inn... except for the leader... he just wouldn’t stay down and when he made threats against the Tengu as a whole, I invoked the clause in the village law.” One that states that Tengu can use lethal force in the village limits to defend themselves.

I missed it myself until it came up again in thread 3; it was a pretty huge "wtf?" moment.
Huh, would you look at that. But now I wonder about Hatate. Something to look into later, I guess
Regarding the self-defense law:
[X] "The sooner that law is changed, the better; there was too much potential to abuse it!"

Regarding Miss Keine’s transfer:
[x] "I'm glad to finally see this happen. Pardon my tone, but she should have been released from the council’s control much sooner."

Regarding the use of warriors:
[X] "The village shouldn’t attack the Syndicate! The last thing Arthur would want is for us to sacrifice our peace to go to war!"
Update will be up in less than a week for sure.
[x] "The sooner that law is changed, the better; there was too much potential to abuse it!"
[x] "It’s good to see Miss Keine will be in good hands."
[x] "The village shouldn’t attack the Syndicate! The last thing Arthur would want is for us to sacrifice our peace to go to war!"

I clear my throat before speaking "I have a few things to say about the proceedings thus far. First, I'm glad the tengu self-defense law was changed; there was too much potential to abuse it!"

"I'm surprised to hear someone who's fond of youkai speak like that," Lord Kaiba responds. "I would have thought that you'd be against anything that hindered them."

"I am not ignorant on the dangers of youkai, I merely hope that those not out to harm humanity be treated fairly. Miss Shameimaru had good intentions but another tengu might not, especially in these times of unease."

Mr. Yaguu adds, "I agree. I am glad that the altercation in question didn't result in more trouble."

Lord Hojo nods in approval. "Good to see you're starting to take into account that not all youkai are reasonable, Yuki. If laws were written as though they were, humanity would we doomed to subservience." I feel like he’s taking things a bit too far with that statement. "Is there anything else you care to add?"

I collect myself and answer, "On the matter of Miss Kamishirasawa's transfer, I'm glad to finally see this happen, she'll be in good hands." I mull it over briefly before continuing, "Pardon my tone, but she should have been released from the council’s control much sooner. The village guardian is meant to protect the village same as the hunters and warriors, not get tied up in politics."

Lord Kaiba quickly responds, "Quite a bold statement, coming from a sheltered young man who barely knows about such things."

"Lord Kaiba, that's uncalled for!" Miss Keine responds. It’s annoying how he tries to divert the conversation when the issue is very obvious.

"Even I can see that someone like Mr. Yaguu is a better fit for teach her about defending the village than you, sir. If it was purely a diplomatic position, I would see the reasoning behind the initial appointment far better," I add, resisting the urge to voice my thoughts about Lord Kaiba more clearly.

"Ah, but tha position does have a diplomatic side, and it can’t just be ignored. There’s only one village guardian after all, so whether Miss Kamishirasawa likes it or not her actions and words represent both the village and the council. Acting hastily without thinking things through reflects poorly on all of us, as everyone remembers." Tch, why does he keep bringing that up?

"Maybe, but I still think letting Mr. Yaguu train her is the right decision." Better move on and address my last point before the discussion ends. "However, I absolutely don’t think the village should attack the Syndicate! The last thing Arthur would want is for us to sacrifice our peace to go to war! I say this as someone who's spoken with him personally. He fights to preserve the peace in this land and if he were to see it disrupted, he would feel as if he failed."

Mr. Miyamoto shrugs, "Agreed, and well said. I must say, you're certainly showing as much backbone here as when you yelled at me in the market."

"You make it sound like he's responsible for your change in stance," Lord Kaiba laughs.

"He merely reminded me of what’s important in life. As an adult it's too easy to lose sight of things," Mr. Miyamoto responds.

"Haw haw! Now that is entertaining, to imagine that Hideo Miyamoto was so easily cowed by a single youth." What?! Mr. Miyamoto was relieved when he made up with Ginji after kicking him out… wait. Lord Kaiba’s peering at me intently out of the corner of his eyes. I shiver involuntarily under his malicious gaze, until he turns back to the other council members.

I sit down to take a breather and notice Akyuu is blushing. "Is there something a matter?"

She pauses before answering, "You're certainly growing up fast. At this rate, Wriggle'll be hearing about what a fine man you are." I'm slowly starting to believe her myself. Better pay attention to the rest of the proceedings, though.

"Yes, well, on to the next matter. Lady Hieda previously mentioned something else that warrants discussion: the Syndicate seems to be capitalizing off of discontentment to recruit new members. I will let her and her assistant explain." Wait… he’s referring to me, isn’t he? I knew this was going to happen.

Lady Akyuu, looking more composed, stands up first. "While it’s true that they swell their ranks with promises to change the status quo, a greater threat is posed by the youkai who’ve started to join them as well." I hear a few shouts of surprise among the councilors. "My assistant, Yukikaki Kojima, suggested they might also be joining because of the stigma against them, at least as far as the male youkai are concerned. I’ll let him explain further, and as for the self-defense matter I am for training a defensive force. However, going on the offensive may cause some to defect." She sits down and motions for me to stand.

Here goes. I stand up and start explaining, "From the various books I've read, again and again there's proof that if someone's persecuted unfairly, they may end up doing what they're accused of. Reducing unneeded hatred towards male youkai would do a lot to keep them from joining the Syndicate, and help spread true peace and progress regarding human and youkai relations. Yes, I am aware this won’t work as well with female youkai since they aren’t as hated, but it would still help. Furthermore, it might prevent another tragedy like those that plague Gensokyo's history, like the deaths of Reimu’s parents." I notice Mr. Yaguu flinch at that; he still remembers that incident. I should apologize to him after this; I didn't mean to bring up painful memories.

"You may sit down now," Lord Hojo says. As I do so he continues, "The idea holds merit; anything that might reduce the number of attacks is worth trying. This is a sensitive issue since the kind of action the Moderates want would be too broad and generalized, so we instead must make a reasonable, informed decision." He pauses to gesture to a servant to leave the room. "To that end, I have admitted a guest to provide his views on the matter."

A few moments later, the servant comes back with- Wait! That's the giant I ran into a few days ago, Kumamaru. Lord Hojo speaks, "Do not be alarmed; despite what you’re about to see, he has been one of the village's strongest allies when dealing with malicious humanoids, youkai or not. Please, you may introduce yourself." Wait… I can sense something different about him compared to everyone else.

Kumamaru pulls back his hood… revealing a pair of bear ears underneath! Some of the councilors just stare in shock, while others start shouting in anger or dismay. I guess that explains why something about him felt different, and why he’s as imposing as he is.

"This is an outrage!" Lord Kaiba shouts. “What the blazes are you thinking bring a beast like that in here?! He could kill us all before the shrine maiden could even hear our screams!" He leaps to his feet, trembling in indignation.

Kumamaru barely reacts to Lord Kaiba, though. "My name is Kumamaru. If something escapes from a manhunt, I hunt it down. I don’t attack the village." Wow, he sure gets straight to the point.

"Oh, what a relief! And here I was worried you were just another frenzied brute who murders with reckless abandon. Thank the Dragon for our good fortune!" Lord Kaiba hisses in mock adulation. Insulting a youkai is far from the wisest thing to do.

"You don’t trust me," Kumamaru states. “Listen to my story, then do what you will." He sits near the door and takes a breath before continuing. "Before Gensokyo was sealed I gained this humanoid form, and befriended a family with a young daughter. We were friends until I grew old enough to notice her femininity. I had thoughts like other young men had, but the infamous youkai intensity nearly overwhelmed me. Terrified, I fled to a secluded area to learn control by living as a hermit. I didn’t keep track of time, but when I returned, Gensokyo had been sealed. Others told me of the youkai attacks, so I decided to try to find other males and teach them to deal with their impulses. Any who couldn’t learn were killed before they could further stain our reputation by harming others." Wow… that’s pretty brutal, but if there was no other way… "I lead a small group of those like myself to help keep peace in places far from the village."

"Hum, how enthralling. And I suppose you’re just taking care of the Syndicate over there as well, hmm? Killing not just youkai, but any humans who don’t start thinking the way you do?" Lord Kaiba asks spitefully.

Mr. Yaguu responds, "Lord Kaiba! You shouldn't speak to him like that! His strength dwarfs my own!"

"It’s fine, Hayato. I am used to men like him. Yes, Kaiba, we take care of the Syndicate despite Arthur’s requests. We will not sit by while they intentionally poison the spirits of others and attempt things that make a youkai attack seem insignificant. Unlike Arthur, we have no mercy to give. Lately, activity around our patrol areas has dropped off. That should speak for itself." Geez, this must be what Keine means when she says youkai think differently from humans. "Or, maybe they think Arthur’s a bigger threat and are taking steps against him and his group. We haven’t pursured them; we focus on our original duty before all else. But to make things clear, I do not pretend that all youkai are friendly. If anyone has any questions, please ask."

Lady Akyuu is quick to respond, "Mr. Kumamaru, what sorts of male youkai are out there? And why do you think male youkai are so prone to trouble when they're younger?"

"Some live in the wilderness like myself, and there's a few that live in distant towns. For animal youkai, males are pretty similar to females. Old Garai, an older cat youkai, is fond of napping half the time. I've sighted a few magician males too, but they love their books too much to be a threat to anyone who doesn’t try to take one from them. Against each other, they still prefer thinking games or magic instead of fighting. For your second question, I think the sealing of Gensokyo somehow promoted the… humanization of female youkai and also curbed their instincts." Kumamaru grits his teeth. "That restraint hasn’t spread to males. There's not many youkai my age because most end up provoking something they can't beat," he answers bitterly. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to bring up the subject of Lady Yakumo around him.

Wait, this is my chance to ask questions!

[ ] Write in any questions you might have.
[ ] Oracle! Take the wheel!
[X] "What's your stance on (see previous vote)"

I believe this'll help build the counsel's trust in him, if he were to state his stand. Well except for Kaiba.
[x] "Any guesses to why youkai humanization favors females?"
[x] "What's your stance on the self-defense law?"

Why not.
[x] "Any guesses to why youkai humanization favors females?"
[x] "What have you seen the Syndicate doing? I've only heard stories and read reports from others."

I'm pretty curious; the group has to be pretty goddamn evil for a kill on sight, no exceptions stance to be taken.
[c] "Any guesses to why youkai humanization favors females?"
[c] "What have you seen the Syndicate doing? I've only heard stories and read reports from others."

Alright, then.
I'll use the questions (as it was more a gathering choice than anything), though the next update will be delayed as I finish a short I'm working on. When I finish, I'll post a link and a time frame for the update itself.
Update soon?
I'm buckling down and getting the /at/ thing out of the way today and maybe tomorrow, after that, then I'll start work on the update.

I'd have done it sooner but some things wound up coming up and derailing things.

Since I'm posting, I'm thinking about doing something special for update post #100, maybe a mail slot thing, but I'm open to suggestions, even "just write an update"
What about making it the anniversary for Wriggle and Yuki’s relationship, then make an event out of it?
Don't mind the changing trips, but yeah I finished that short, though it'll neeed some checking, but I'm going to start work on the update during this week. I'll try to get it done in a week or two, but I can't make any promises as it's summer and stuff has been known to come up in summer.

That'd be tricky as it'd be a monthly anniversary thing. But I'll think on it to see if I could make it work.
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Finished writing. And stuff did indeed pop up but after the 4th it should settle down some... HOPEFULLY. It should be proofed within a week, mainly due to the 4th coming up.

>>/at/35422 The Rika H-short I was working on.
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It’d be nice to hear Kumamaru’s opinions on the topics of the meeting. "Sir, I'm curious what you think of the Tengu self-defense law, the changes to the village guardian position, and what to do about the Syndicate," I ask.

He thinks a bit before replying, "Hojo told me about the agenda beforehand. It's good that the law is getting straightened out as severity would only be a detriment to peaceful relations. Typical Tengu arrogance could lead to fights if something didn’t keep them in line. I also agree with the reassignment of the guardian: leaving her training to someone who knows nothing of combat is pure foolishness. Not so long ago, a choice like that could have doomed the village, if not for the Hakurei. As for the Syndicate, don’t try taking the fight to them. It may force some villagers to try talking friends or loved ones into returning home, and that’s a risky bet. It might work, but for most who join the Syndicate their betrayal is certain. Even Arthur, who offers them mercy, knows when the time for talk has passed."

Mister Miyamoto asks, "Why do you seem to take killing so lightly?"

"Because it's a part of our life. I'm sure Hayato can tell you that male youkai are out for blood more often than not. Taking them lightly is wishing for death. It's the same reason why your hunting parties in the past didn't stop until the perpetrator was good and dead," Kumamaru replies.

Mister Yaguu adds, "Such is the world beyond the village's gates."

A bit of a silence descends as I'm reminded of his mention of the syndicate. "Sir, you've said you fight the Syndicate. I was wondering, what sorts of things have they attempted? I've only read reports and news on the matter," I ask.

He's silent before answering, "Kidnappings. We stop them whenever we can, but the rescued are almost always poisoned or drugged by the time we reach them. We’re very thankful for Lady Inaba bringing something that allowed the magicians to craft a cure." He scratches his head as he resumes, "Our skirmishes got to the point where the Syndicate men would actually push their captives at us before fleeing in a shameful display of cowardice. Lately though, they’ve started to fight back with surprising strength. Our victories are always hard-won, now… I’m considering sending a message to Arthur to warn him. The most worrying thing is that in the last few days, they stopped completely in our area. That could only mean they're funneling efforts towards Arthur and his group."

Lady Akyuu cuts in with a question of her own. "May I ask if you have any information on his group? The newspapers don’t mention him very much at all. I’ve heard a little about the 'doll princess,' so would you know anything about the 'silent giant,' Lord Kumamaru?"

"I’m no lord, I don’t rule any land. I haven't seen much, but the rumors in town and comparisons by panicked Syndicate members suggest that he could at least rival my own strength. It’s possible, too, since all manner of powerful warriors choose to live on the outskirts of known lands. Like that half-spirit swordsman, or Miss Kasen," he answers. He seemed to stiffen when mentioning the swordsman, but there was a bit of an uncharacteristic blush when he mentioned this ‘Miss Kasen.’

"Youki Konpaku I presume, there’s no other family of half-spirits in Gensokyo. I assume he was being followed by a ghost?" Akyuu asks. I can only guess that she's heard of him by memory.

Kumamaru responds, "Yes, that was his name. I learned it the second time I met him, when we actually spoke. The first time we met I was terrified just by the glare he gave me. It seems he's trying to become a sort of sword saint, out there on his own."

Akyuu adjusts some papers as she answers, "I had been curious about what was meant by 'the old gardener has left, replaced by the new.' I guess it's pretty clear now; I’ll have to wait and see what the new one is like." I suppose I'll ask Akyuu about that some other time.

"Hrmm. If that is all, I’ll be leaving now; there is much that needs doing," Kumamaru states. I better take my chance to ask the last question.

I ask, "Alright, but could I ask one last question? What or who do you consider responsible for the female youkai favoring state of Gensokyo?"

"Yakumo without a doubt. No idea why, but due to her whims the male youkai of Gensokyo had a hard time before I started trying to fix things," he answers bitterly.

"Sir, we were talking about that a bit earlier. I'm going to do whatever I can to help humans and youkai exist peacefully. Otherwise, the tragedies from various old stories are bound to continue," I reply.

Surprisingly, a smile spreads over his face. "I am glad to hear that. I suppose Lady Nightbug has something to do with this."

"Definitely, she- wait, Lady Nightbug?!" He calls her that despite being older and stronger?

"It's mostly due to the fact that some insects can give even someone like me such a hard time. I really do have to go now, so I hope my answers helped," he adds.

"Very well. We'll adjourn for lunch, then reconvene to finalize our courses of action," Lord Hojo announces. As people start leaving, Lady Akyuu passes by, remarking, "That's surprisingly bold of you, Yuki. Not that it's a bad thing…" she says the last thing with a bit of a blush? What could that be reminding her of?


As father and I get out the door, he says, “Yuki, the meeting this afternoon is mostly a formality. You aren’t required to attend, so the rest of your day is free.”

I nod and start walking away from the Council building. I could try and find Kumamaru since I’d like to hear more about the people he mentioned, but home sounds equally appealing. I could ask Lady Akyuu about them the next time I see her.

[ ] I think Kumamaru will be at the tavern. Try to see if he's willing to talk about Youki and 'Miss Kasen.'
[ ] Go home and relax. I can ask Akyuu those questions another time.
[X] Go home and relax. I can ask Akyuu those questions another time.
[x] I think Kumamaru will be at the tavern. Try to see if he's willing to talk about Youki and 'Miss Kasen.'

Okay this please.
[x] I think Kumamaru will be at the tavern. Try to see if he's willing to talk about Youki and 'Miss Kasen.'

Large bear, reveal to me your secrets.
[c] I think Kumamaru will be at the tavern. Try to see if he's willing to talk about Youki and 'Miss Kasen.'

Okay, then.
[T] I think Kumamaru will be at the tavern. Try to see if he's willing to talk about Youki and 'Miss Kasen.'

Follow the bear.
I'll try to get it done in a week. Just pray that nothing comes up.
I must have been tempting fate with that last post as my week's been pretty spotty. I'm hoping the weekend won't be as probmatic.
I'm terribly sorry about the delay but shit just kept on happening. It is done and should be up in the next few days (because I feel like tempting fate).
File 140730642643.png - (745.95KB, 708x1000, KissTheChefAlready.png) [iqdb]
[x] I think Kumamaru will be at the tavern. Try to see if he's willing to talk about Youki and 'Miss Kasen.'

I decide to walk to the Tavern as I get the impression it's a typical stop for him before he leaves. It’s not a long walk to get there, and as I enter I find him sitting down with a plate of fried fish. "I take it you want to know more about what I was talking about?" He asks, taking a bite.

I respond, "I was curious about Mr. Konpaku. You only mentioned him briefly during the Council meeting."

"Hrmm." He swallows before continuing. "Youki's a swordsman beyond compare. I clearly remember the first time he looked me in the eyes – I was terrified. After learning more about him it turns out he doesn't like needless bloodshed, though he admitted that he hasn't had the cleanest past. He mentioned something about seeking enlightenment, but it would have been rude to ask why," he answers. I can only guess it's a sort of unspoken rule not to pry into why one travels to the far reaches of Gensokyo. He continues, "He did ask how much blood was on my hands, and commended me for keeping myself in check when I was young. Things have changed now… but I'm certain I'm saving innocent people with my actions."

Seems to be a weighty matter, though I wonder at how Youki intends to atone for his bloodstained past. Maybe I'll find out one day. "I would like to ask about Miss Kasen now, but I understand if you don't want to say too much," I ask. I can understand if he doesn’t want to talk about it; in some ways human and youkai are very much alike.

After hesitating briefly, he answers, "She found me in my earlier years and decided to try teaching me ways to suppress youkai instincts, among other things. I isolated myself as a hermit because of her, though she occasionally stopped by to continue her lessons. Eventually I had nothing left to learn from her words, and we’d just talk. Maybe I’d have gained control like hers if I’d stayed a hermit instead of returning to try to change things for the better. Thinking back, she didn't really look the part of a hermit - well dressed, very attractive. Very powerful too, as anyone that can sense such things can readily tell." Sounds quite interesting, though it's hard to overlook the fact he has some affection for her.

Part of me wants to give some supporting words, but things between older people are generally beyond my grasp. "Thank you for your time, but I think I’ll be going now. I wish you luck in your future endeavors," I say as I stand up and head to the door.

I start heading towards home when I see Wriggle waiting for me… oh no, she just saw me walk out of the tavern, alone! I rush over and start explaining, "I'm sorry, it’s just that someone brought up some interesting stuff at the Council meeting and I wanted to hear more!"

She giggles and hugs me, "Don't worry Yuki, I figured it was something like that. I just wanted to tell you that lunch was ready. Your mother suggested fish, saying you might have a taste for it today." I laugh nervously when I hear that; mother’s intuition can be scary at times.

"Well, she's right. Kumamaru was having fish while we talked and it looked pretty good" I answer. My stomach growls a little in agreement.

Wriggle takes my hand as we walk home. "something." Pause. "Would you really drink at a tavern?" She might be curious about that, but I never really been inclined.

Thinking a bit on it, I reply, "I'd rather try something in private and stay away from the heavy stuff." It doesn't take long to get home.


As mother brings out cooked fish to the table, I ask, “Mother, why'd you think I'd have a taste for fish today?" As I take a bite, the delicious flavor makes me wonder who cooked it so well.

"Kumamaru always has fish at the tavern whenever he's in the village, and when your father told me he'd be at the Council meeting I figured you'd follow him afterwards," mother replies. It really is a little scary she knows me so well. "I remember learning this recipe when I was younger and the original owner was just a cook in training. Seems as though you like it; good thing I've passed it on to Wriggle! Now, you didn’t have anything alcoholic over there, right?"

"No way! I never thought about drinking until after I left since I was more focused on what Kumamaru had to say."

"Behaving yourself as always I see. You're better about it than your father; he occasionally has moments of poor judgement, but I still love him father very much even if he seems to be subconsciously fixated on some things." I suppose love always endures- a flash of yellow passes near the window. Was that… a girl over there?

"I know what you’re talking about," Wriggle responds. "Even that last bit, though it's really flattering..." Wriggle adds, blushing. Is she saying I'm fixated on something? …OH. Have I really been thinking and talking about Wriggle that much?

Mother speaks up, asking, "So, what did Kumamaru have to talk about? I'd imagine it was a story of the far flung reaches that powerful hermits like to dwell in, like the nameless hunter."

"Powerful? Is that area dangerous for most hermits?" Wriggle asks.

She answers, "Yes, there's lots of strong ferals there who consider hermits to be better 'food' than normal humans. Anyone living in that area, especially as a hermit, must possess a great deal of power. Your father mentioned that Kumamaru said his first days were filled with combat as he fended off any attacks. After that he was left alone for the most part."

"It’s understandable," Wriggle adds. "Mystia and I had to do the same thing in the forest. We might need to check again to make sure nothing’s getting any funny ideas."

Lunch went on as normal after that. The fish was delicious; I hope Wriggle cooks it again soon.


After finishing the dishes, I come back to the living room to find Wriggle sitting down. "It's my first time having a family lunch here. I had to remind myself that there's a nice chunk of the day left. Do you want to do anything? If not I have some ideas of my own."

She does have a point, it’d be nice to do something together.

[ ] Try some flying and see Gensokyo from above, maybe we might catch a sunset.
[ ] Take a bath and see about reading something new together and talking about it. I'm sure Father wouldn't mind us borrowing a book from his library.
[ ] See what she has in mind.
[x] Try some flying and see Gensokyo from above, maybe we might catch a sunset.

Romantic antics.
[X] Try some flying and see Gensokyo from above, maybe we might catch a sunset.
I'm tempted to pick the bath
[x] Try some flying and see Gensokyo from above, maybe we might catch a sunset.

Explorin' time.
[c] Try some flying and see Gensokyo from above, maybe we might catch a sunset.
[x] See what she has in mind.

I am kind of curious what she would want to do here.
[x] Take a bath and see about reading something new together and talking about it. I'm sure Father wouldn't mind us borrowing a book from his library.
I'll try to have it done in the next week or two.
Told you, you were tempting fate.
Yeah you were right, both work and something Fyhlen decided to introduce me to. I'm hoping I can really get a chance sunday as I'm swamped with work otherwise.
still alive but sort of struggling with my schedule and update.
Well... we hit autosage, but good news everyone, I finished my update. Bad news? Proofer's going to AWA, go figure.

It'll be up in a new thread. Sorry about the wait.
Here >>28489
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