[x] Try some flying and see Gensokyo from above, maybe we might catch a sunset.
I think some flying exercise would be a good idea, not to mention viewing the sunset together would be romantic. "I was thinking about practicing some flying and letting you take me to a few places," I say. Wriggle's seen more of Gensokyo beyond the village than I have, so I’ll let her take the lead.
"Alright! I'll be sure to watch in case you get tired since you haven’t flown this far before. I can think of a few spots… but I'm avoiding the lake in case that ice fairy feels like picking a fight again. One of these days, she's going to provoke something she can't beat, though I doubt that's slow her down much" Wriggle says. I follow her as she rises up into the air.
The land beyond the village spreads out as we go higher: I can see the misty lake and that mansion near the shore, though I don't know how to feel about that shade of red. "…Let’s head somewhere else," Wriggle says. "That color gives me a bad feeling." I nod, and she turns to head towards the shrine.
As we get closer, we turn away from it and fly over the forest. I notice the run down mansion that serves as the Prismriver sisters' home. "How can they live there?" Wriggle asks.
"They're poltergeists, so the things that would usually bother you or me don’t affect them that much. If anything it's more of a defensive measure to keep visitors away. They have less to worry about than most flesh and blood creatures."
"I think I'll try to drop by and see if I can talk any termites out of the place. If it's infested, then it won’t take long before the place is uninhabitable even for them," Wriggle answers. I practice coming to a stop and maneuvering around until she returns. "We should head back towards the village as I think it's too late to try checking out the gate."
I nod in agreement, and we start heading back towards the village. On the way I notice the ship Miss Okazaki and Miss Chiyuri arrived in. "Wriggle, I’d like to introduce you to two people I met a while back." I tell her a bit about them as we descend, though I avoid sensitive topics.
We land to find Miss Okazaki looking over some additions to the ship - as we get closer I see that they’re some of the guns that Ginji showed me in the shop the other day. "Well, this would keep us pretty safe, but Rika really overdesigned- Oh, hello. It's Yuki, right? Ah, you brought your girlfriend with you! Just wait right here, I’ve got to get something real quick," she says hurriedly before running off inside the ship.
Before I can respond to her greeting, Miss Chiyuri walks up... along with another Miss Chiyuri. The first notices the look of confusion on my face and glances at the other, saying, "Don't worry about it, the fact that there's two of me is a fluke."
The second adds, "It's not every day that you get to meet an alternate you from another world."
As I try to figure out what’s going on, Wriggle turns towards me and says, "Yuki, please don't think too much about it, you'll just hurt your head." She might be right… this really is too strange, even for Gensokyo.
Miss Okazaki comes back with that scanner from before and waves it over both me and Wriggle. "Aha, thought so! Her pheromones are definitely all over you! Good job snagging such a cutie, Yuki!" Wriggle blushes heavily.
I can feel my face heating up, but still manage to say, "Miss Yumemi Okazaki, this is Wriggle Nightbug."
Wriggle quickly nods in response. "T-thanks for the compliment."
"Oh don’t mention it. Can’t say I’m surprised; I still remember you two made the front page of that paper during the festival! Ah, these two are both Chiyuri Kitashirakawa," Miss Okazaki responds. She then adds, "Hey Yuki, why do you call me Miss, anyways?"
"Because you're a teacher and it wouldn't feel right otherwise," I respond.
“Huh, you really are straight-laced… hmmm.” Miss Okazaki closes her eyes for a moment, thinking. "…Wriggle, I think it’s best if you come inside the ship for a moment, so we can talk." That’s… rather sudden, and kind of an odd request.
"What!? Why?" Wriggle asks.
"Just a bit of girl talk. He’s kind of dense, so you’ll need it. I’m also guessing someone gave you bad advice recently, judging from the amount of shouting that came from your house the other day," Miss Okazaki remarks. Wriggle's eyes widen as Miss Okazaki continues, "Don't worry, we know what we’re talking about. Yuki, why don’t you go talk to Tomoya? He should be arriving any moment now." She sweeps Wriggle away with her into the ship, leaving me outside and alone by the time I realize what’s happened.
Nothing I can do about it now, I guess. I wait a bit, and after a while I see Tomoya approaching and carrying a box of what appears to be swords wrapped in cloth.
"Oh, hey, wasn't expecting you, Yuki. I'd thought you'd be doing something with the ladybug!" he says.
I reply, "I was, but Miss Okazaki pulled her inside to talk about… certain things." I cough and try to change the subject. "I was surprised though, finding out there's two of the same person. I wonder why only Chiyuri has a second version of herself?"
Tomoyo shrugs. "Beats me. I’m just glad I get along well with them, if you catch my meaning." Ah, so he’s – AH. "I’ve taken the lessons learned by my brother to heart; I don’t plan on messing things up as bad as he did."
"That’s, uh, great. Nice going." I really don't think I could handle twin Wriggles.
"So why’d Okazaki want to talk with Wriggle anyway? I'd heard some yelling from Kazami's place a few days ago, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t her doing the yelling. Must’ve been the ladybug or the impish vampire…"
[ ] "Wriggle was yelling then, but it'd be rude to talk about it." (Affirm but protect your privacy) [ ] "Well, there was a mix-up of advice that backfired…" (Be vague) [ ] "Wriggle was given some bad advice that ruined the moment." (Tactful) [ ] "Bad sex advice straight out of a shoddy doujin." (Be blunt; he’ll probably try to get it out of me anyways)
[x] "Wriggle was yelling then, but it'd be rude to talk about it." (Affirm but protect your privacy)
"Yeah that was her, but I'm not willing to talk about it. It’s private after all," I answer.
Tomoya laughs then replies, "Fair enough. Good of you to take a hard stand as trying to sidestep such things tends to make certain people try to worm it out of you. Oh well, I’m sure it’ll be fine. Girl talk is a private matter; I asked about it once and boy did Yumemi chew me out." It’s probably best not to inquire more on that.
I try to change the topic. "How's Takami doing? I've been busy with various things and it kind of slipped my mind." Last I heard, he somehow caught Lady Kotohime's interest.
"He's recovering as well as can be expected and he's mostly returning to his old self... except he only has eyes for her now. Can’t fault him; she’s awfully pretty, and somehow he managed to catch her eye with his sense of humor. Go figure. Lately she's been talking about finding a way to fix… well, his 'injury,'" he answers. Is that even possible? There was a rumor floating around a while back of a great healer in the bamboo forest, but it's been a while since I heard it. He adds, "It sounds pretty crazy but if anyone can find out, she could, between her resources and how competent she can be when focused on something." I remember last time Kotohime 'played police' it resulted in her arresting some small time crooks before any of the official people did.
Thinking about it, it's better that she's focusing on Takami instead of looking into the Syndicate. "I wouldn't dismiss the notion, Gensokyo's a big place with many mysteries," I respond. I think of what to say next when I'm interrupted by some loud talking.
"WHAT?! She actually suggested crushing his- IS SHE MAD?!" Sounds like Miss Okazaki. I guess Wriggle felt like telling her all about Kurumi’s “advice”… thank goodness she never followed it, considering how much Miss Okazaki is freaking out.
Tomoya also looks a bit horrified at what he's hearing. "Yeah, definitely not gonna ask!" I nod in agreement as Miss Okazaki storms out of the ship.
"I have to go talk some sense into that vampire before some poor soul takes what she says to heart. Honestly, where did she get such ideas?!" She flies off, and soon Wriggle comes out of the ship as well.
"I hope you're not too upset about me telling them that, Yuki, but I felt they'd have some good advice. All I really got was not to break up with you though... I guess we’re doing something right at least!"
"It's okay," I reply. Looking at the sky, I notice the sun's pretty low in the sky by now; if we don't linger too long we might be able to fly somewhere and see the sunset.
"…Well, I didn't hear a damn thing. I wonder what the twins are up to?" Tomoya says, walking towards the back of the ship.
"We should get going back as I have an idea of a nice place where we can see the sunset from," I say. Wriggle nods, and we start flying back to the village.
As we pass near the lake, a fairy starts flying towards us from it. She must be a great fairy; she seems a few years older than us. "Miss Wriggle! I’ve been trying to find you; I wanted to say I'm sorry for what Cirno did."
Wriggle sighs in response. "Don't worry about it, Dai. I know she won't really apologize but it’s not that much of a concern. I'll just avoid the lake for the time being. You should probably do the same and avoid the village and nearby paths for now; it’d cause a complication," Wriggle replies. I hadn’t thought about it, but she has a point; Miss Dai seems to be very much ideal in terms of a non-human girl, and she’d seem harmless enough as fairies aren't known for being threatening. Who knows how many guys might brashly go after her?
Miss Dai bows and answers, "Thank you, I'll keep it in mind. Have a nice day!" She smiles and waves while floating back down to the lake.
Wriggle speaks up after we resume flying. "She's a great fairy named Daiyousei… not terribly original, so everyone just calls her Dai. She really is pretty sweet natured and only does very light pranks, unlike most fairies. She’s the opposite of those three troublemakers in the Forest of Magic. They could be a real threat if they were smarter about their abilities, but I'll tell you more about them when we get closer to the village." I nod, deciding not to press the issue.
We decided to stop by a shop to buy some easily carried food before looking for a spot to watch the sunset, rather soon from the looks of things. While I try thinking of places to go I’m interrupted by a tap on the shoulder. Oh, it's Shinobu.
"Lady Wriggle stopped by and asked for a location from which to view the sunset, and Lady Akyuu suggested the roof of the manor. It’s been reinforced for various reasons, and should suffice for your needs," she says.
"Thank you very much, I'll be sure to thank Lady Akyuu when I get the chance," I answer, following her back towards the manor. As we approach I see Wriggle waiting on the roof. She waves, and I fly up and sit next to her.
"Glad Shinobu managed to find you. I already thanked her and Lady Akyuu, and all she said was 'enjoy yourselves,'" Wriggle responds. That sounds very much like Lady Akyuu.
From this position we can see the sun dipping behind Youkai Mountain, coloring the sky in an array of pink and orange. I briefly wonder if the Outside has sunsets like this? If not, they're really missing out. I feel Wriggle take my hand in hers and rest her head on my shoulder as we watch it set.
After it finishes setting, we head to my home and have dinner that Mother left out for us. She and Father are out; I’m not sure where they are but I assume they want their privacy.
As we head downstairs to put our stuff away I notice Wriggle has a calm, quiet smile as she sits down. I stifle a yawn; flying that much really wore me out today. I wonder about what to do to relax…
[ ] A bath would be nice, not to mention Wriggle. [ ] Try talking to her about the three troublemakers and see what's on her mind. If she's worried about them, I'll just convince her that she's better than them! [ ] Perhaps just going to bed would be best, Wriggle is the best sleep aid.
[x] A bath would be nice, not to mention Wriggle. -[x] Try talking to her about the three troublemakers and see what's on her mind.
I think a bath would be nice. "Hey Wriggle, do you feel like taking a bath?" Might be a bit bold, but if she doesn't want to she can just say so.
"That sounds great, Yuki. You do a great job of washing my back, and I've enjoyed the few we've had," she answers with a blush. I was slightly wondering if she'd insist on a solo bath, but I'm glad she didn't. We gather stuff for the bath then leave.
In the bathroom, we undress. She finishes before me, mainly because I get distracted by her naked body. While slim, there's curves that her clothing hides, such as her small but cute breasts, her modest but feminine hips, her cute butt, and her legs. "I'll wash you first," she says to me. I sit down on the stool as Wriggle pours some water on me and starts scrubbing; the motion feels really nice.
"Wriggle, can I ask about the three 'troublemakers'? Just out of curiosity," I ask.
She continues her washing as she answers, "They're a certain group of three fairies in the forest. Their names are based on things in the sky, like Star, Sunny and Luna. All three have some interesting abilities, though only Star is remotely smart enough to use them well. Detection of moving things, manipulation of light, and manipulation of sound. They're a bit older looking than Cirno, though they're behind Dai, especially in mental maturity." She pauses to start on my hair. "The one time I did run into them, Star ran off before the centipedes caught her but the other two were scared senseless. I find it silly now how I used to get upset by the fact that Sunny and Star had more of a figure than me. Not anymore, though, as I know curves aren't much compared to more important things."
While her hands feel good in my hair, I need to respond. "You're never lacking to me, Wriggle. I doubt they have either the esteem you're gathering from the village or the gracefulness of your dancing," I answer. "Actually, I’d feel sympathetic to anyone who’d try to date them."
"No kidding! The last thing those three need is an easy prank target." She pauses briefly before continuing, "Earlier today, when I was with Okazaki and Chiyuri, they spoke quite highly of you, saying how lucky I was that you ran into me back then. According to their experience, many guys are clumsy with their talking and worse with their hands. I hope you didn't mind me talking to them about us, as I felt they had some good advice," she replies.
I answer, "I was trying to keep it to ourselves, but if you feel their advice can help, then it's alright. Tomoya told me that they keep their secrets, even from him."
"They did give me some ideas, like this one…" she answers. I soon feel a modest but familiar softness press against my back, and her soapy arms pull me closer as she moves up and down. There's two rath- wow... she's doing that with her chest!? This sort of washing does feel nice and mostly relaxing... except between my legs. She continues a few minutes before stopping and pouring another bucket over me to rinse off.
I get up so we can change positions, saying, "That did feel good. I'm going to wash your back and anything else you want." Part of me wishes she'd ask me to clean other areas, even if one was already used to help clean my back.
"Could you start with my hair? I feel I can trust you to be gentle with it," she responds. The memory of how she was careful about her antennae is still clear in my head. I try to wash her hair in a gentle yet messaging manner, using motions that felt nice when she washed mine. After a bit, I decide to start on her back in a similar fashion. It may not be needed, but I figure it'd feel nice to her. A contented hum from her proves me right. Oh great, now thoughts of washing her front are popping up. No no, that's just wishful thinki- Wriggle interrupts by taking my hands and gently moving them to her chest. "Yuki, were you tempted to do this?" She asks, turning to face me with a smile.
"Yeah... it'd be easy to have my hands slip, but I didn't want to force anything," I answer as I start. The soap makes her breasts a bit slippery, but their softness is still all too apparent. I notice her nipples hardening as I give them a bit of attention, every touch rewarded by her quiet but pleased hums and moans. One hand slips downwards to her soft yet firm stomach. I wash around there some as she asks, "Could you rinse me off now?" Thinking on it, it might be a better idea before I try going any lower.
As I use the bucket to rinse her off, I think of how to finish when the question of what she'd taste like pops into my head. Besides, I want to do the same for her as she did for me a few days ago. A girl wouldn't use her mouth on just anyone, after all. I walk around to face her and try to get into position from what I remember. Next, my fingers poke around a bit to see if she's ready. I must be feeling her juices; nothing else would be this warm after a bucket of cold water. I spread her slit open and start licking. Her gasp is audible as I taste something that’s far from unpleasant. The closest thing that comes close to its taste is honey. I adjust my rhythm to whatever feels best for her; I remember about that little nub, though I think that should be left towards the end. The more I lick up, the more comes out. After some more licking and the accompanying moans, I decide to move up to that button and try licking it. I'm rewarded with some louder moans, and after a bit, some slightly thicker fluid comes out. It has a richer taste compared to her other juices, but it's no less pleasant.
"Yuki... I hope that wasn't awful. You didn't have to do that," she says, panting for breath. My eyes can't look away from Wriggle. Her wet hair and flushed face, in addition to her nudity, cause various thoughts to flood my mind.
"Well... after what you did the other night, I felt like doing the same, and I was curious about how you'd taste. It wasn't bad at all," I’m suddenly reminded of my own tension between my legs.
After a while, Wriggle recovers enough to stand. "Yuki, could you sit there?" She motions to the stool where she was sitting. I move to sit down as she kneels down, bringing her head down there. She surprises me by taking my 'staff' into her mouth. I would have been content with just her hands! Her slow and gentle actions definitely feel good. I can tell she's being her most careful with even as she touches around my 'jewels'. She switches up with the licking she did last time. That, combined with seeing Wriggle do this for me, causes me to finish, luckily not into her mouth.
There's some silence as she looks herself over. Eventually, she says, "Good thing we're already in the bathroom." I laugh as she goes about cleaning herself off again. After she finishes, we get in the bath and sit next to each other. I speak up, "Thanks Wriggle, I wasn't expecting that after what happened last time." She puts her head on my shoulder.
"I wound up in the mood for it, and I was better prepared this time. What you did felt really good, too." She giggles. "I’m glad that washing your back went so well. It's very flattering to know I can cause such a reaction."
I reply, "Yeah, that was a really nice touch." The conversation winds down after that as we just enjoy the moment in the bath, before eventually getting out. After cleaning up any leftover mess, we dry off and put on bathrobes before leaving.
In my room, I'm about to put on some night clothing when Wriggle tugs at the robe. "Could we sleep like this again? I felt really nice and it feels like the right way to end the night," she asks. I notice that she's out of her robe already. I finish undressing as I lead her to the bed. She wastes no time snuggling up to me under the covers. "Good night, Yuki."
"Good night, Wriggle," I reply, holding her as well. In our embrace, sleep comes very fast to the both of us.
We wake up at the same time as we get dressed. Getting upstairs, we find breakfast waiting for us with Father doing his usual newspaper reading. "Good morning, you two. Your mother's already left on an early trip to the market to look for good deals," he says. I was going to ask where she is, as she'd usually come in asking how our night was. I'm also reminded of a question that's starting to nag at me: what happened with Father and Miss Keine to get that impression he mentioned stuck in his head?
Wriggle responds, "Are there really such deals earlier in the day?"
"Not always, but mother is pretty skilled at finding them when they’re there," I answer. We eat breakfast and finish just as Mother comes in.
"Good morning! And perfect timing; Wriggle, there was actually a job posting asking for your help," she says. Wriggle nods, clearing her dishes before leaving with Mother. This would be a good time to ask Father that question, though I'm starting to wonder if my friends were planning another get-together. It's been a while, after all.
[ ] Ask, as I'm curious and perhaps voicing it might allow him to get it fully out of his head. [ ] Not now, that can wait until later. -[ ] I should see what Mother was talking about. -[ ] I wonder how the guys are doing?
Sorry about the delay but I wanted to make sure thsi went right and I was finishing my Shizuha short here: >>/at/36391
[x] Ask, as I'm curious and perhaps voicing it might allow him to get it fully out of his head.
Since Mother isn't around, I should ask Father why he was once fixated on Miss Keine. "Father, what happened between you and Miss Keine to get her stuck in your head like that?" I ask.
He stiffens, then sets his newspaper down on the table. "Have a seat, Yuki. I guess there’s no harm in telling you as I’m sure you’ll be discrete about it." I sit down, and he starts his tale.
"Back when I was your age, I knew that it was risky to go out at night, as everyone did, but not why. I’d accidentally left a book I was reading near the edge of the village, and even though the full moon was high in the sky I figured I could go get it if I was quick. I picked it up without incident and was about to head home when I heard some noises in the forest; for some strange reason my curiosity won out over caution. Like father, like son, eh?
"What I found was Keine standing in a clearing in her other form, and particularly eye-catching was the fact her dress was in tatters, a result of her curvier body being too much for the usually snug dress. Even under normal circumstances it flatters her figure, but in the moonlight she looked stunning. When it dawned upon me who she was and what I was doing… I wound up running while repeatedly apologizing. I think the reason why no feelings came about was that I considered her impossible from the very beginning.
"It wasn’t too long after that when I met your mother… well, really it was more like she met me; I was terribly introverted back then. Afterwards, I put that incident with Keine out of my mind, though I suspect your mother found out. And when you revealed how you met Wriggle, it all came back. Come to think of it, maybe Keine removed that memory herself… if so, it seems her ability to erase the memory of certain events is imperfect. Though, during full moons, she can outright manipulate history as she pleases." He pauses, taking a sip of tea. "Well, that’s my story. I think you might have pieced together some of it already, but I wanted to clear the record before you heard it from someone else. Please, believe me when I say that Keine would never use her ability for selfish reasons."
I reply, "I figured as such but I would never doubt her usage of it. I think she might have done that to your memory to make life easier. Though, in the end it seems what the mind can forget, the heart and soul do not."
He picks up the newspaper again, answering, "Very true, at least so far as I’ve seen. I hope you can understand why I reacted like that when you mentioned her, now. Well, don’t let me keep you all day; I’m sure you have things to do. It's not common that I have a nice day off like this to spend with your Mother." What is he- OH. Okay, time to go.
I get up and leave after grabbing my things as quickly as I could. As much as Father reaffirming his love for Mother is nice, I do not want to be anywhere near it!
Outside, I try to figure out if I should go check for that job posting that asked for Wriggle, when I see Elis come up. She's wearing her usual skirt plus a red sweater that seems rather snug. Was she that… oh yeah, I remember that incident at the inn where she and Kurumi- What am I even thinking!? I hastily greet her, "Hello Elis! I uh, didn't think it was cold enough for sweaters."
She just shrugs and answers, "Word has it that these will be fashionable one day, plus I just felt like highlighting what I got. My usual shirt is so baggy after all; think Kamui will like it?" I notice she has one pink and one blue sweater in hand, no doubt for Mystia and Kurumi.
I nod, answering "He would for sure, though I hope Mystia doesn't take it the wrong way."
"Nah, if anything, she likes showing up Kurumi and me. Oh yeah, Kamui said I should tell you everyone’s meeting up at the inn again, in case he didn’t tell you already. Hmm, do you think I should get one for Wriggle too? I'm sure she’d appreciate something warm!"
I check my pocket as I reply, "If you’re getting something for Wriggle, I'd rather pay for it. If this isn't enough I'll pay the rest back soon." I pull a 2,000 yen bill out of my coin purse and hand it to her.
She starts to accept the money, but stops. "You know what a better idea is? Why don't you two go do some shopping today after you’ve met up with everyone? I doubt they’ll take long and she'll want your help finding something that looks nice." That's a good idea; I'll keep it in mind for later.
"Thanks, I'll get going then. If you see Wriggle, please tell her where I'm at," I say as I head towards the inn.
Nodding, she replies, "Okay I'll do that!"
Once I reach the inn I head inside and find Kazuma already seated. "Hey Yuki, I think Kamui's off finding Ginji right now. Man, I can't wait for the fall festival; Merlin’ll stop by with her sisters to play music. She told me she got a nice sweater," he says. He really can’t see her that often; it reminds me of how lucky I am to see Wriggle so much. Kazuma interrupts my thoughts, "Hey, you ok? Don't worry, I'm happy whenever I get the chance to see Merlin." I guess he must have seen it on my face.
I’m not sure how long it'll take for Kamui to get back. I wonder what to do.
[ ] Kill time with talk of sweaters and finding out more about this small trend. [ ] Find out what he's been up to. [ ] Talk about your recent events that are fit to share.
Well this is update 99 which makes the next one no. 100. I'm thinking about doing some special things for it, including some art I had done, trivia and an in-character Q & A. So if anyone has some questions, feel free to have them with the updates.
That and the 31st would mark the 4th anniversary of this story starting.
For the sake of getting some questions out there, I'd like to ask Yuki how he thinks everything would have played out if he never met Wriggle. Would he have fallen for another girl, and if so who? (Although I think Akyuu would have gotten him eventually.)
[x] Kill time with talk of sweaters and finding out more about this small trend.
"How did this trend start anyways, Kazuma? It's the first I've heard about it," I ask. It must have come from outside the village, probably only recently.
Kazuma thinks a bit before answering. "According to Merlin, she heard about the sweaters from Lady Yuyuko, who’d heard about it from Lady Yakumo. As for the rest of the village, I suspect Lady Yakumo showed up in a sweater. Merlin has one that's nicely snug, but from what I've seen they work with any girl."
"I'm sure Wriggle would look cute in one. It’s good timing on Lady Yakumo’s part as the weather’s been getting colder." Kazuma nods as he pulls out a book with various photos of girls in sweaters; most of them seem to be tengu. I can’t tell if that’s Miss Momiji or Hatate in some of the photos, but a few of the sexier types are undeniably Aya.
It prompts me to ask, "Hey Kazuma, are those really...?" I could be wrong, but they felt distinct compared to the others.
He shrugs before answering, "Yeah, though Hatate said Momiji was a bit reluctant at first, and she herself did it expecting me to see it." He reddens slightly at the last part. So things are progressing like that… seems history can repeat itself, but hopefully Kazuma will have a happier ending than his father did.
"Sweaters are wonderful things, aren't they?” Kamui’s voice suddenly says. “I can't wait to see the girls in them." Looks like both he and Ginji just entered the inn, though Ginji looks stressed about something. He adds, "Yeah, they are. One of the few times we've agreed on something."
They sit down and Kamui grins, asking, "So what’s been going on with you guys? I’ve enjoyed myself the past week." Even though it's been a few days, a decent deal has happened.
[ ] "I'll go first." Talk about X [ ] Let someone else talk. [ ] Ask someone what they’ve been up to. -[ ] Kamui -[ ] Ginji -[ ] Kazuma
Sheesh. I planned for this to be a short update but stuff came up various times. I did finish the Minoriko /at/ short a while back, at >>/at/32508
1/31/15 was the 4th anniversary of my story and this is update no. 100.
First I’d like to apologize a complaint I had very early on about a lack of votes. It ultimately served as a lesson and the final outcome ended up as the foundation for a subplot I'm rather proud of (the star crossed lovers story of Hayato Yaguu and Aya). Hayato Yaguu was originally going to have an eye patch as a past injury, but in the wake of Anon's first surprise (picking the archetype that would become Yukikaki) it wound up slipping my mind.
Other names are meant to reference things or are nods of mine towards certain video game developers. Takami Sunohara was named mainly to reflect his originally planned butt-monkey nature (Code Geass's Takami and Clannad's Sunohara), but he moved away from that after the first chapter.
The archetype decision, while unexpected, proved to be quite interesting as I was able to indulge in out-of-story world building, though at the expense of little firsthand observation of current events. The archetypes themselves were loosely based off of the four classic Super Robot Wars archetypes.
I had a general story framework planned but left the details blank to accommodate voting; as a result of this and the fact I keep mainly mental notes, there's been various twists and evolutions of the story itself. Also originally planned were bad ends, complete with a Ciel-sensei-like area, but I realized that'd just seem tacked on and would have made the story flow more complicated. The 'stat' system of the archetypes would have come into play more as well, though I keep them in mind when writing about the other characters.
The appearances of various PC-98 characters in Chapter 0 was my way of connecting the two eras of Touhou, though some stuck around because I liked how they turned out and wanted them to pop up some more. Not to mention it felt weird for Yukikaki to be the only one to hook up with a youkai while his friends didn't; that’s part of the reason the Prismrivers were involved early on. It was a product of my whims instead of a thought-out development, and if I could do it over I'd think far harder before writing such a thing.
The two Aki shorts were written for fun, same as for a planned Letty short that I haven't finished yet.
Note: picture doesn't quite reflect Wriggle's appearance (see the 100th update for that), and all opinions expressed are those of the characters. As far as the remark about Tainted bonds? Balistafreak found it hilarious
I walk into the room and take my seat across from the two teachers already present... one of whom looks like Lady Yuuka. "Thank you for letting us use this room."
The other, who has long green hair, replies, "Eh, not like we were using it for anything. Hmm, I wonder if there's anyone in the boy's locker room~."
Miss Yuuka adds, "She is correct, as we were put here as some reference to a VN thing. Something about Tiger Dojos or Curry loving teachers… at any rate, no need to fret about canon events here as not much will apply. For instance, while I'm similar to the Yuuka you know, I’m still a different person." Good thing I didn't assume that much.
They leave, leaving me with only my thoughts of how those teacher-like outfits flattered them. Once Wriggle arrives we can start, so I make sure the letters and desk are set up in the meantime… why are there three spots here, anyways? The door opens behind me, and I turn to see Lady Akyuu waving.
"Hi Yuki~. You seem surprised to see me; didn't the Author tell you I was coming? I’m the special ensemble darkhorse, after all. It'll be fun answering whatever letters there are," she says. It would be just like her to take advantage of this odd space.
"I can't say I am completely surprised, but Wriggle's on her way, right?" I ask, slightly concerned.
Lady Akyuu smiles. "She is, and I'm sure you'll like what she has on. You'd have to be more dense than that ninja with the orange jumpsuit not to appreciate it, and even he got a clue eventually."
“Wait, I haven't read that far yet!” Though, since we're on the subject… "Lady Akyuu, was Hinata the one who got his attention? I'd like to know at least that much since you laid out a major spoiler."
She shrugs. "Nothing remains a spoiler long on the internet, and this place has rooms with working computers. Normally I couldn’t work those things, but it’s a trifling matter here. I could even make myself look older, but I don't want to steal Wriggle's thunder~." I'm not going to dwell on that.
I take a seat at the marked chair and Akyuu sits to my left, leaving a place for Wriggle.
"Sorry I’m late! I hope the outfit Mr. Deculture gave me looks nice." I turn to look as Wriggle enters the room- WOW. "Looks nice" would be an understatement. It's a race queen outfit I think; I’m not sure why races need queens, but it looks good on her. From the long gloves on her arms, her modest curves and hips highlighted by the main outfit, to the black thigh-highs on her legs. An interesting touch is how on her chest it has a sunflower/snowflake hybrid with "Kazami Kojima" on it.
Akyuu types at the computer for a bit before remarking, "The name on the center is typically from a person related to and/or important to them, like this Marisa pic with Kourindou on it. I'm sure our Keine would have it on her race queen outfit as well."
I try to compose myself before replying, "You look amazing in it, Wriggle – the designer did an impressive job. Let's see where the first letter is from: Mr. ATA, who has a long running story with Kaguya in it."
Wriggle then reads the letter, "Yuki and Wriggle, what's your favorite genre of music?"
Akyuu speaks up, "It's fine that he left me out since I'm as surprise, but I’ll go first: my love for FM music should be well known. Sanboro was nice enough to write my theme in FM style, not to mention the cool brush attack he gave me! But, if I talk more about that, we'll be at this much longer than the author cares to write."
I think a bit before I answer, "I find myself enjoying European classical music. Beethoven’s compositions are pretty impressive despite him losing his hearing. Something like a blind man’s paintings."
"I like energetic themes which I guess includes rock. It's similar to the author's tastes to a degree, but I also like all the Kamen Rider themes," Wriggle follows up. I'm getting too good of a side view, sitting beside her like this.
Right - refocusing on the task, I take out the next letter. "The next letter's from Axl, who asks, 'Yuki, how do you think everything would have played out if you never met Wriggle like that? Would he have fallen for another girl, and if so, who?'" Well… I wasn't expecting that. "That’s uh, kind of hard to say to be honest. Wriggle was the first girl I ever had strong feelings for. I used to have crushes on Miss Keine and Shinobu, but those wouldn’t have gone anywhere. My life probably would be the same as before I met Wriggle: an introverted kid buried in his books." I glance at the last two letters and see they’re directed at the Author. "I'll go get his answers to these; I’ll be right back.”
---Perspective shift to Wriggle---
Once Yuki leaves, I add on to the response, "I'm sure you all can see the feelings Akyuu has for Yuki. If no one else got his attention, I'm sure she would have done so without fail. If she were Yuki's age instead of six years younger, I'm sure I couldn’t match her."
"Wriggle, don't talk about yourself like that! You're a lovely girl in your own right, and when you’re fully grown it'll be me who's no match for you! Don't worry about how things played out; as long as he's happy, I'm happy. Maybe he'll find out sooner or later; no one can remain that dense forever, right?" She’s always so supportive. "Mr. Deculture really did do a good job with that outfit. I bet Yuki can't wait to, ah, admire it more once this Q&A is over… Geez, I really want him to make one of me when I grow up! I want a Kojima sunflower on my outfit!" Even though she’s the child of Miare, Akyuu really can act her age at times.
"Thanks again. Who knows, maybe the Author would be able to ask him to make you one too," I reply.
Akyuu clears her throat, continuing, "Yuki would have had a few other prospects too, some easier than others. Kurumi or Elis seemed like possibilities if they preferred him over Kamui. If he actually tried, he might have had a chance with Keine considering how a certain dense shopkeeper hasn't picked up on things yet. She might have to do what one version of her did in a different story and just take him by force." Akyuu stops speaking as Yuki returns to the room.
---Perspective shift to Yuki---
I sit down with the response sheets I found. "Did I miss anything?" I ask, not really expecting anything. "No!" their answer comes in unison. That's a bit suspicious, but I won't pry into things.
I pick up the next letter and start reading. "Next is from a Mr. Fujisaki: 'So, do you plan on compiling all chapters into a single file soon?' According to this, he doesn't really have any plans for that, particularly since he might start revising things and end up taking just as long as writing everything in the first place."
Lady Akyuu speaks up, "That name sounds familiar; I think they were one of the customers who bought Hidena Nine's book." Why is she keeping track of that?
Wriggle picks up the next letter and starts reading, so I slide the responses over to her. "Grumpe asks, 'What was your biggest challenge when writing a story with such a large cast of characters?' He says remembering minor details is the toughest, resulting in some changes from the original plans. Even though there's many characters, the core cast isn't quite so big; it’s mainly Yuki, me, Akyuu, and Yuki's family and friends."
She takes the last letter and reads it, "Balista wants to know…" she pauses, blushing. "-when are you two going to have sex?" I can't believe he asked such a thing! "Wasn't that bath scene enough to hold him over?" Wow… don't know how to answer that one.
I speak up, saying, "We will when the time is right." Sure it’s a bit cheesy, but that seems like something that shouldn't be rushed.
"With the way things are going, it'll happen before he updates that story of his. A horribly verbose attempt at erotica doesn't quite cover things," Lady Akyuu adds.
I respond, "That seems kind of harsh. I'm sure he has good reasons."
"You're too soft, Yuki," she responds as she pats my head. That really doesn't do much to convince me.
Wriggle interrupts, "Well, that was the last letter. Does this mean the session's over and the author can work on the actual update?"
"Yep, guess we better leave now." Akyuu responds. The door slides open as we get up, and two people come in. "Wait, you’re…" One looks like Miss Keine but wears the same clothes as the Yuuka we saw earlier, and the other is a woman with short, green hair. While not as curvy as Miss Keine, her legs are a bit distracting.
After taking a seat she says, "I am not the Yama of paradise. You may call me Eiki-sensei, and this is Keine-sensei. We are here to prepare for a later story, but that's of no concern for you or the readers. Be on your way." Well, I guess we'll get going then.
[x] Ask someone what they’ve been up to. -[x] Kamui
I decide to ask Kamui before saying anything myself. "I’ve been alright, but how were your last few days? I remember Miss Okazaki wanting to talk to Kurumi about something."
"That’s for sure. The other day she came busting into the Inn with a cape and yelling about how ‘no one expects the scientific community!’ She took the girls aside while they were stunned and yelled at them. I guess she must’ve found out about the bad advice Kurumi tried to give Wriggle. Not much other than that; it's been oddly peaceful. Kurumi and Elis are giving the so-called 'right of way' to Mysty for now," Kamui answers.
I scratch my head and respond, "Yeah, Wriggle told Miss Okazaki after getting some advice, though hers mostly just amounted to not breaking up with me. They also heard the commotion over at Lady Yuuka's place the day after, though it’s not surprising since they’re so close."
"Oh yeah! I went over there for dinner and it went pretty well. Yuuka wasn't as harsh as I feared, though she doesn't like me much. Wriggle must have gotten her dislike of guys like me from her, but to be honest I think my days of womanizing are over for now. It's not worth losing Mysty and the others over." He actually sounding serious for once. I suppose if things went better in the past he'd have hit this point sooner.
Ginji seems distracted, mainly since he didn’t have a snappy quip for Kamui like he usually does. I ask him, "Are you alright? You seem to have a lot on your mind, Ginji."
"I do, but I don't care to talk about it. I’ve been working on a project recently, pretty big and rather classified, in order to reveal a massive secret that was kept hidden. Maybe you'll see it sooner or later considering how close to things you are," he responds.
"Yeah, whatever. Oh right, Yuki: Yuuka mentioned she was planning on meeting your parents soon. You probably don’t need to worry though! You're the favorite son-in-law to be," Kamui adds out of the blue. That creates an awkward silence for a moment, though I do get the feeling she'd get along with Mother pretty well.
Kazumi clears his throat. "My days were pretty boring in comparison, just hunting. I accidentally killed a B rank feral; I thought I was just having a bad day and fighting a C rank. Other than that, Hatate's been stopping by, always nice. She mentioned something about Merlin asking her to keep me company, but said she would have done so anyways." Not sure what to make of that, but it sounds like things are going well for him.
Upon hearing that Kamui asks, "Which reminds me… Ginji, how's things between you and Lunasa? Maybe you should try talking to her about what's on your mind."
"It's going well enough, and that topic isn't something to bring up with a girl! Even I have some measure of tact. I really do envy Kazuma's way of looking at things at times. He does-" He answers, and cutting himself short.
I speak up before Kazuma takes things the wrong way. "My days were rather interesting. I wound up going to a council meeting and hearing about a good deal of things about the far reaches of Gensokyo: hermits, courteous male youkai, and other things."
"Hermits… that'd include the one that always stops by the village to buy meat buns, right? Kasen doesn't look the part, but even I can tell she's beyond any villager's reach," Kamui says. "I think I saw her buy a teddy bear once, though everyone thought better of asking what a hermit would want with that," Kamui answers. I wonder if it's a sign that Mr. Kumamaru's affections towards her are mutual to some degree?
"What's going on with Lyrica, Kamui? Merlin tells me she doesn't say much, unlike Lunasa who insists on needing a night with Ginji," Kazuma asks, causing Ginji to groan.
Kamui smirks and answers, "She's waiting and seeing how things go, is all I know. I think she's having fun just watching everyone else. She did mention something about landing a gig for the fall festival, but boted it’d be a bit disappointing compared to the summer one. Those swimsuits were nice."
The conversation leads off into small talk about other things going on, and how life in the village is rather normal in spite of the occurrences beyond it. It’s peaceful enough that it's easy to forget there’s a conflict of good versus evil with the Syndicate lurking around.
Eventually the guys head off and I return home myself, wishing Kamui luck on whatever is coming his way. I'm curious about job offer that specifically requested Wriggle, so head over to the job board to see if there's any hint of how things went. On the way, I run into Wriggle with a basket of food.
As soon as she notices me she starts talking. "I did my first job! A farmer named Kaede wanted me to remove some harmful insects; he posted it figuring it might get my attention. And he paid me in some fresh veggies which I used to make some lunch. They should be good as Minoriko speaks well about his crops!"
"How did you remove them? Did you just ask them to move from the farm?" I ask, curious about how she did it.
She smiles proudly, "Yep! Though I had to resist the urge to send them to Lord Porky's farms, mainly because his workers aren’t to blame for his shortcomings, and I don't want to hurt Miss Kamishirasawa's faith in me. I led them to a more natural spot in the forest instead. I hope there’s more jobs like that I can help with; it’s great for making a bit of money and showing that I'm not a threat."
"I'm glad you're happy with this, and that the people of the village are starting to accept you a little more. Not to mention it’s a very nice thing to bump into you whenever you’re in town," I answer as we start walking home. The weather's getting chillier as the days go by; fall is coming… why did I imagine that being said in a dramatic way?
At home we sit down for lunch and enjoy some of the vegetables Wriggle was given. Minoriko was certainly right about the quality. As we eat, I ask, "Kamui told me that Lady Yuuka's interested in meeting my parents. Should I be worried?"
Wriggle shakes her head before saying, "Not really, I think she's just planning on coming over since she already met his parents at their store. I feel like Mother and your mother would get along really well, though we probably don't need to be involved in the meeting itself."
I'm tempted to mention the secret Ginji talked about, but I think more research needs to be done before trying to pry into that.
The rest of the day goes rather normally, and the night as well with Wriggle deciding to stay over.
I woke up well rested, and we both head upstairs for breakfast. As I think about what to do today, someone knocks at the door. Father gets up to answer it and we keep eating until he comes back after a few moments with Elly, Miss Yuuka's gatekeeper.
"Mr. and Mrs. Kojima, I'm here to ask if you're free this afternoon as Miss Yuuka was planning on visiting today. She'd really rather not intrude on anything, so I’m here to verify if this is acceptable," she asks.
Mother and Father look at each other for a bit before Father answers, "That sounds fine, it'd be a good way to liven up the day and we've been interested in meeting her as well."
"Good to hear! I'll deliver the news straight-away. Oh, and no need to worry about keeping things formal. Have a nice day!" Elly replies before hurriedly leaving. We resume breakfast after that.
Now, what to do today...
[ ] Try introducing Wriggle to crossroad watching. [ ] I wonder if the Kourindou has anything new in stock? [ ] Visit the markets for fun. [ ] Do a bit of practice of magic/flying. [ ] Write in (within reason)
As for why the update took so long, well… Dungeon Fighter Online Global had its OBT, and SRWZ3-2 footage is starting to hit.
"Want to head over to the markets? There's some interesting stuff that you might miss if you don’t know what to look for," I ask, not sure how much Wriggle's seen herself.
She answers, "Sure, that sounds nice! I haven’t seen much since everyone used to glare at me before, but I'm sure it's different now." Probably because if they did that now, they might upset Lady Akyuu.
Today it's rather lively, with various stalls set up in addition to the usual stores. Wriggle looks around excitedly at everything, curious about what’s being sold. All the shopkeepers are behaving themselves, too.
The first stall that really stands out is run by a few male Kappa and is stocked with what appears to be mechanical toys. That's when I notice Rika standing there, buying a tank toy. It says "Toaplan: Excelling in practical designs," and in small print, "Not like those lazy bums who insist on overexposed stuff."
"It figures the famed Tank Expert would have an interest in our prototype design," one of the shopkeepers says. "The real thing's still in development, applying Camo to a tank isn't easy. But once we complete the Raging Decide, even you'll be impressed."
His teal-haired companion adds, "Materials of that ESParade thing sure helped." He notices us approaching and shouts, "Welcome, may I interest you in one of our mechanical toys? In addition to the tank prototype we have an Image Fighter starship, whose shape can adjust for various speeds." as he toys around with a red thing. "We also have the Hyper Dyne series with transforming and combination features. Not to mention everything is reasonably priced! Ranging from 1500 yen for a basic ship to 4000 for the Hyper Dyne twin pack, all come with a one year warranty as well." He’s quite the salesman.
Wriggle asks, "Yuki, can we get an Image Fighter and the twin pack?" I admit those are pretty cool.
"Sure, why not? I’ve been saving up so I could afford something like this," I answer. Wriggle’s face lights up and she asks the Kappa, "Could I have the Image Fighter in blue and the twin pack in blue and green?"
He responds, "Luckily those are Kappa colors which we always have in stock, though most prefer the original colors. I'll even be nice and toss in a green Image Fighter for free. Your total is 5500 Yen." I hand him the bills, and he ducks out after accepting them. "I'll be right back, gotta get the packages."
I turn back to Rika and the other Kappa who sighs in defeat. "You drive a hard deal… wouldn’t expect less from a girl of Miyamoto's. Well, having his shop advertise our stuff would be a nice boon, same as you volunteering your expertise. You better tell Ginji how lucky he is!" He says. Seems like he may have been interested in Rika, but fate isn't on his side.
She waits for the other guy, remarking, "Your designs look pretty nice as well and I figure he’d enjoy some presents. Though, I wish they'd made a siege tank toy; I've been working that into one of my other designs."
After a bit of waiting, a female Kappa walks up as well, slim and dark-haired. "Oh I'm sorry Danno, I didn't think you'd have company, I'll come back la-" She says as she's interrupted by Rika.
"Don't be silly, I'm waiting for his friend so I'm sure he has the time!" Rika remarks while sliding away from the two. Is she trying to play matchmaker so blatantly?
Before Wriggle or I can say anything, the shopkeeper smiles and answers, "Mina, of course I can spare time! I'm just surprised you came by; usually you and the other girls focus on big projects instead of messing around with toys." He's very upbeat and happy that she's here, so maybe he likes her? Wriggle shoots me a look asking 'what did we get ourselves into?'
Mina pauses before answering, "I think they're cool, I just never had the time to come out here until today. I even tried working on this." She takes out a small, detailed fighter from her backpack.
"Wow, that's a functioning R-9… like in that Delta document!" Danno responds.
The teal-haired Kappa returns with our packages and says, "About time, Dan. You two can head to the back, I'll man the stand for now." Mina blushes slightly and mumbles a thank you.
The Kappa puts the boxes in a bag and hands it to me, adding, "Rika, let Miyamoto know that one of us will be by sometime to deliver your order and talk things over. I can't leave the stand unattended, so it’ll be a while.” He mutters to himself, “Maybe I'll try my luck with her friend…"
"Okay, I'll do that, hope things go well for them~," Rika responds.
I answer, "I didn't think things would work out that well. Oh, is Ginji doing any better? When we met up the other day he seemed really stressed out."
"I know, me and Big Rika are planning something to help as we know what's wrong. Which reminds me, I gotta stop by the clothing shop as sweaters are in season!" Rika answers, waving at us before continuing on her way.
Before I bring up the sweaters again, the smell of grilled meat wafts through the breeze, and I hear my stomach growl a bit. We’re probably near Miss Fujiwara's stand – I know she and Wriggle don't get along so I'd like to resolve the matter, but I haven't thought up a good plan without dragging Wriggle along. I think we'll just go to the sweater store for now and figure out food later. Let me remember where it is…
We've barely started walking when someone yells, "KOJIMA!" I follow the shout with Wriggle following behind and wind up at Miss Fujiwara's still. I hope this doesn't turn out for the worse, though Mokou is already rubbing her temples in frustration. She glances up and sighs in exasperation. "I'm not going to do anything to you, Nightbug. Keine already gave me hell when I mentioned scaring you and your bugs away. The lecture was punctuated with headbutts… I'm sorry for any hostile intent, so please stop looking scared before she shows up! That was one of the most painful things in my life."
"I'm sorry about what happened. I never intended to do anything to the stand," Wriggle apologizes.
"Ho ho, it’s not every day that I get food and a show." I'm startled; I didn't notice the cloaked man already eating. He continues, "Greetings, I'm one of the rangers of the village. You can call me Rei. I didn't expect to run into the progressive human and youkai of insects today."
"Yeah yeah yeah. You two go ahead and order; first meal's free. And don't apologize, I feel bad enough as it is." Miss Fujiwara brushes him off, ignoring the bulk of his remark. I decide on two orders of yakitori so Wriggle can sample the fair.
"Sure thing, Yuki. Gotta say, I'm not super surprised to see you two together from what I kn- heard of your family. A line with magical talent that rose to eminence by assisting the Child of Miare - being around Keine does have some benefits."
As she starts cooking, Rei speaks up. "She's talkative today, usually I don't get nearly as much out of her."
Without missing a beat Miss Fujiwara answers, "You're not much better when I ask why you try collecting outsider weapons, especially with your talent for blowing stuff up." After a bit of silence she finishes cooking and hands us our plates, both with rather sizable servings.
We start eating and Wriggle seems to enjoy the food; it's as good as it was last time. Sipping some water, I wonder what to talk about. Mister Rei seems eager to talk, though maybe I shouldn't bring up the outsider weapon matter. Miss Fujiwara seems less talkative.
A question for Miss Fujiwara (just one): [ ] "I'm curious about my ancestors." [ ] "Why did Miss Keine lecture you that harshly? Most students only get one headbutt." [ ] Write-in (within reason). [ ] I don't think I should try prying.
A couple of questions for Rei (two, three if Mokou had none): [ ] "I didn't know Wriggle was that famous." (Wriggle's question) [ ] "You might try looking at either the Kourindou or the Silver Guild for components. I apologize if I'm prying into the weapons matter." [ ] "Am I that famous? I would think Mr. Yaguu and Lady Akyuu are more notable." [ ] Just eat quietly. [ ] Write-in.
A question for Miss Fujiwara (just one): [Z] "Why did Miss Keine lecture you that harshly? Most students only get one headbutt."
A couple of questions for Rei (two, three if Mokou had none): [Z] "You might try looking at either the Kourindou or the Silver Guild for components. I apologize if I'm prying into the weapons matter." [Z] "Am I that famous? I would think Mr. Yaguu and Lady Akyuu are more notable."
>[ ] "You might try looking at either the Kourindou or the Silver Guild for components. I apologize if I'm prying into the weapons matter." Don't think we should help him get weapons. Just a hunch, but I'd rather be on the safe side with the syndicate and all that happening.
[X] "I'm curious about my ancestors." Because I have enough of an idea about the other option.
[X] "I didn't know Wriggle was that famous." (Wriggle's question) [X] Write-in. - [X] "Who exactly are you?" He knows us, but we don't know him.
[x] "Why did Miss Keine lecture you that harshly? Most students only get one headbutt."
[x] "I didn't know Wriggle was that famous." (Wriggle's question) [x] "You might try looking at either the Kourindou or the Silver Guild for components. I apologize if I'm prying into the weapons matter."
If we're helpful, maybe he'll let us see and/or use his cool Outsider weapons.
[x] "I didn't know Wriggle was that famous." (Wriggle's question) [x] Write-in. - [x] "Who exactly are you?"
"I'm curious about my ancestors. I've only heard bits about them from my parents," I respond to Miss Fujiwara.
She nods. "They were some of the first to settle in Gensokyo, way before the Hakurei border went up. Bunch of magic users well-read on youkai and how to deal with them. They focused on elemental magics and made up for a lack of power they made up in knowledge. I vaguely remember something about freezing a rampant lizard youkai with an ice spell. Anyway, the Hieda took interest with them and they ended up as bodyguards for generations since. The past century or so has had mostly scholars instead of magicians… so while magic’s in your blood, it’s a little surprising you managed to learn to use it."
I'm surprised she's curious about that. "Father managed to find a book from the outside talking about it. The author obviously didn’t think it existed, but it was very accurate."
"A book on magic from Outside? I thought most were either squared away in some dusty collection or else got burned by the Hakurei long ago, around the time youkai and humans really started hunting each other again." I hadn't heard about that; I guess the books Miss Keine lent me must been hidden in a safe place. It's not too surprising since it happened when the cycle of hatred started up again, but why would the Hakurei try to eliminate the practice of magic like that?
"Quite the treasure you have, then," Mister Rei adds. "Don't really know much about that time myself, only what I’ve heard at the ranger meetings. Back then most of us were in hiding or not really… humanoid."
That reminds me, "Who exactly are you? I’m guessing you're part of Kumamaru's rangers, but that’s all I know."
He laughs, replying, "Well you know my name: Rei. I'm a werewolf, and it's my job to gather information from sources, sort of a free-roaming position. The boss is a pretty busy guy so he can't be everywhere at once. Right now, I'm trying to study some things in the case we have to tackle it later on. We can't expect that guy to handle everything."
Miss Fujiwara pauses before getting an annoyed look, "So that’s why you seem to pop up in the bamboo forest so much. Investigating, my bony ass!" Wow, she really could have phrased that better. She pauses, then adds, "At least you actually get the hint, not like that blockhead storekeeper!"
"Maybe he has his own reasons for what he does. For all we know he might have done something regrettable in his past that he hasn’t been able to forgive himself for," he responds.
Miss Fujiwara stays silent, making me wonder if he’s right or not. I can only guess at why Mister Rei was visiting the Bamboo Forest.
"Um, could I ask why I'm so famous among the rangers?" Wriggle asks, breaking the silence.
He responds, "First a couple recruits were talking about how they had their asses handed to 'em by some bug girl, probably after taking a wrong step in the forest. Then someone else mistook the same youkai for a boy and couldn’t see for weeks after being stung in the eyes so many times. Hmmm, and after that-"
"Stop it, please! I know I fought a lot when I was new, but I'm not exactly proud of some of it." Wriggle interrupts.
He shrugs, replying, "My point is for your age your abilities are particularly advanced and I’d guess since you’re based off an insect, so is your strength. By the time you get to half your mother's age, people might just refer to you with the same degree of awe." He chuckles. "Well, I've got to get going. Thanks for the food, Fujiwara." He waves as he walks down the street.
Miss Fujiwara shrugs and goes back to tending the grill. Wriggle and I don’t take much longer to finish eating.
"Thank you, I'm sorry to have caused trouble for you, Miss Fujiwara," Wriggle apologizes.
"Tch, don't worry about it. And call me Mokou. I'm just a health nut that sells fried chicken, not some big shot like Yuuka, you know." Miss Fujiwara responds as we leave.
We walk to a few other stalls in the market area before going home. As we pass by the clothes shop Wriggle asks, "Could we stop there? I wanted to buy a few sweaters since I heard they're popular and warm." Talk about luck, I wasn't sure how to bring it up to her.
After heading in, she finds a white one that seems a bit too big, and she asks the clerk, "Sir is there one of these in a smaller size? It’s a little… spacious."
"Sure, there's some more in the back, as well as thinner ones if you want it for looks instead of the chilly weather. They’re right by the fitting rooms," he answers. I follow after Wriggle as she picks up a few more before.
After she goes in the fitting room I start wondering again how she'd look in. Usually normal sweaters are more flattering to… more robust girls like Kurumi. Even though Wriggle's said she doesn’t mind it, I don't want to bring up the figure matter in front of her.
She comes out in a pair of shorts and a sleeveless sweater number that seems thin yet snug enough to highlight what she does have. "How does it look? It seems these shorts go well with sweaters, but I didn’t really like the pull-over one. Ahh, it’s too embarrassing to wear this for long; I'm going to try on the normal sweater!"
"It looks very nice, but it’s fine if you don’t want to wear it much," I reply. I still feel a bit uneasy saying stuff like that. After a bit she comes out in the same shorts but with a normal sweater. "That looks cute, Wriggle. Same with those shorts. I can pay for those." This is definitely money well spent.
We go up the counter and the clerk rings up the two sweaters and those shorts. Wriggle speaks up, "Um, sir, why does this store have shorts… and boots as well?"
"I have an eye for fashion, so I try to keep things that go well together in stock. That'll come to about 5000 yen," he answers. That's about the last of the money I have on me, but I wasn’t planning on buying anything else anytime soon. As I hand it over I hear Wriggle mumbling something quietly; I wonder if she's thanking Akyuu for her tendency to over-pay. I should thank her when I can.
We head back to my house after leaving, and arrive to find Mother and Father both working to prepare for dinner. Right, Lady Kazami was going to stop by tonight; I should help them once I set my things down. Wriggle gets started while I take her packages downstairs. I come up to try to see what I can- Lady Kazami is sitting at the table. Where did Wriggle go? I think she's helping Mother with something. "Hello Lady Yuuka. I hope you're okay with how things are," I say nervously.
"Relax, Yukikaki. I didn't come here to judge you, just have a nice talk with your parents. Arthur and Alice came with as well; he's helping with the dishes and Alice has wrangled your father into reading with her. It's good that she's enjoying herself; it's really the first time she's had a father figure," she answers. It's not that I'm scared but, well… she is one of the strongest youkai in all of Gensokyo.
Not sure what to do next…
[ ] Stay and talk to Lady Kazami, both to get used to it and to tell her about the praise Wriggle's been getting. [ ] See if I can help in the kitchen, though it's not likely. [ ] Father bonding with Alice? I'm curious about this.
[x] Stay and talk to Lady Kazami, both to get used to it and to tell her about the praise Wriggle's been getting.
I figure staying and talking wouldn't be a bad idea. She should be happy to hear about how well Wriggle's side job helping the farmer went. "Um..."
"Please relax, there’s no need to be afraid, and the same goes for your friend. While I don't approve of his womanizing, his willingness to take responsibility should anything go wrong reminded me a little of Arthur. It's a relief that Kurumi choose well; I really worry for her at times. It’d be troublesome if news about her habits got out…" she replies, giggling at the end. I guess she's supportive in her own way.
"I'm glad to hear about you approving of Kamui; I’m sure he’d be relieved to hear it. A while ago, Wriggle took a job helping a farmer remove pests from his field and did so without killing any of them. That and her constant presence in the village mean people are warming up to her more and more."
Lady Kazami pauses before answering. "…Perhaps if she keeps this up, she may one day become a goddess of insects. The line between revered god or spirit and a feared spirit or youkai isn't as thick as many think; with certain actions a god may become monstrous and a youkai could become divine. Fear and worship are two sides of the coin of belief. Now, the real question is what’s inspired her to do all these things. What have you been up to these days? It’d be nice if she drove you to achieve great things, too."
"She inspired me to look more into the world and do something about it," I reply. "The cycle of tragedies between humans and youkai, the walls keeping the two apart, the lingering discontent being exploited by the Syndicate – I want to tear them all down. I know that there's always going to be conflict, but not on such nasty scales."
She pauses before answering, though with a melancholy look on her face, "What you’re trying to stop has been going on for a long time. I've been affected as well, but that's not a story to discuss at a friend's table. For the longest time I'd seen the worst of humanity, but recently I've started to learn about the best of it."
I quickly apologize, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring up something unpleasant."
"I know, Yuki. If Arthur heard what you're up to he'd call you a hero. He always goes on about how the desire to do good is more important than the weapon one wielded and enemies slain. I agree, having seen several people try to hide their actions behind an excuse of heroics."
A voice from the other room calls out, "Dinner's ready!" Everyone starts heading into the dining room, and I take a seat as well. Arthur removes a metal glove he was wearing, and Wriggle and Alice take the seats next to me, with the latter staring at me intently. Is something on my face?
"Something the matter, Alice?" I ask as mother sets out dinner.
She responds, "Just seeing how you're doing. I'd heard you practiced magic and I'm both curious and concerned. Also, your Father's really nice now that I've met him. I wish I had one."
Father laughs and replies, "Well you're welcome to come on by, Alice. I'm sure Kasumi and I would love to have you over. You're like the second daughter we never had."
Wriggle asks, "Who's the first?"
"Marisa!" he answers, getting a laugh from Alice. He continues, "She didn't change that much growing up, like the time she tried making a tower to reach the candy we hid!"
Small talk happens until mother asks Arthur about the metal glove he was wearing.
"Ah, it's a project we commissioned at Ginji Miyamoto's shop. Fighting has been getting tougher, so it's something to improve offense and defense. But with this and a place another ally told us about, things should go well. I've also learned a lot from the books I've borrowed from Lady Hidea. I've learned many things including some old standing questions about my best friend Will. Let me tell you about him..." Arthur jumps into some stories about him that are hard to follow, something about an icy hill, a 'sled', and cooking spray, and about how he's reckless and hotheaded. "You know, being here I've come to realize I was right in thinking that he'll surpass me. If things ever settle down, I'll find a way to get him here; it'd be wrong to leave him out of the fun! If I could find what I was searching for here, then I imagine Will could do the same. Man, that reminds me of the time-"
"Arthur, if you keep talking about your old friend we'll be here all night!" Alice cuts in. I see Hourai hold up a sign: "Tell us again about the vanishing blonde!"
"Alright, I don't think Yuki and his parents have heard this one yet. I'll be quick so Yuuka can make her announcement. I was traveling through the forest alone to search for supplies, which got me an earful from Alice. I passed by some Syndicate members attacking a young woman in a plain purple dress, so I jumped them! I managed to fight few enough at a time to win, but right after thanking me for rescuing her, she vanished," he explains.
I ask, "Blonde in purple... was that Lady Yakumo?"
Lady Yuuka shakes her head. "It doesn't sound like it from the details of her vanishing and the plainness of her clothes, not to mention she's too proud to ever pretend to be helpless like that. As for my announcement, the main reason I wanted to meet your parents is that winter is coming up and Wriggle has yet to overcome her weakness against freezing cold. If you all are alright with it, I can let her stay here without worry." Wow! I never thought about that, but I can't complain. She continues, "I will stop by to visit occasionally so I can get caught up with everyone." Mother and father nod in agreement, and I can’t help but smile.
I hurriedly pick up my dishes to put away as Wriggle says, "I'm going to go home so I can pack up. I'd rather get it out of the way as fast."
"Sounds good. I never really thought of that idea until now, it's perfect!"
She answers "Same here. We have the whole winter to look forward to, now." She rushes out the door, and I help clear the table once everyone else finishes.
After we move to the living room, Alice sits down by my. "So. Have you been feeling alright? In my own experience with the forest mana, it's had a strange quality to it that makes it hard to use so I'm worried how it'll affect you. The forest has many parts that are very poisonous."
I’m surprised she was that concerned about it. "I feel no side effects and the only difficulty I've had is actually channeling it around me into a spell. If I just take it into myself, it seems to recharge my reserves, no side effects that I've seen," I answer.
She pauses before replying, "It seems like you have an unusual affinity with that mana, which is even more suspicious. I wish I knew more about elemental magic; it isn't my area of expertise and my grimoire only has ways to use it in various spells, so it doesn't really talk about the underlying aspects… Look. What I'm trying to say is that you're stepping into territory not really covered by most books. I'll try to look up why others like me don't try to use it; I'm sure mages have studied it before. There's no way Marisa and I were the first to live there to study it."
"Don't worry Alice, I'll do that myself. It seems you have enough to do and Arthur certainly needs the support and help. Thank you for your concern, though." I look around, noticing something missing. “…where's Hourai?"
As if to answer me, I hear some dishes clatter into the sink and see the doll float by. She pulls out a sign saying "I wasn't made for this; she's a slave driver!" I can't help but laugh at her remark. Leave it to her to break up a semi-serious moment. She then takes out a new sign and points it downward, crossing her hands over its end. She leans forward with a serious expression and turns the sign around: "Brace yourselves, Winter is coming."
"Hourai, you just had to do that, didn't you? Why do you get so obsessed over every new thing you read?!" Alice responds, walking over to the doll. She says to me, "I'll help your mother with the dishes. Try to find Arthur, I think he wanted to talk to you."
I start looking around the house as Alice walks off, and find Arthur seated in the living room. He seems more tired than he was at dinner. "Are you alright? I hope it wasn't the food," I ask, concerned.
"No... your mother's cooking is excellent; I just have a lot on my mind. By now I've realized I've taken a very hard path, but when I see people living happily, that's all I need to keep going," he answers, forcing a grin. This might be why he came with... just as a precaution. "Someday there'll come a time when you must ask yourself: to protect what's most important, how far will you go? I hope you never have to ask yourself this… and if you do, the answer comes easily."
I'm surprised by what he said; I can't think of anything to say to support him. After awhile, he speaks again. "You don't have to answer now; just something to think about. I hope you can continue to be happy with Wriggle, doing what you can to make this land a better place. People like you bring about true peace, after all." He gets up, and I notice Lady Yuuka step into the room with my parents. It looks like she's about ready to leave.
After bidding everyone farewell, the rest of the night seems to blur due to the various things happening tonight. Falling asleep, even without Wriggle at my side, happens easily.
Step, step, and stop. I'm at a crossroads I can't recognize, two paths winding in opposite directions. In the distance a familiar light shines over one, while the other passes out of sight into a blurred landscape. A sensation compels me to move ahead…
This has to be a dream... and I'm rather curious about the hazy area, so I walk towards it. I continue walking until around a corner I see a couch, and a box of sorts. On it sits a strangely dressed woman, who shakes her head when she sees me. "Again? What is it with people and wandering into strange things. I went through the trouble of making you a very nice dream." She stands up.
I instinctively apologize. "I'm sorry; I didn't think I'd be intruding on anything. I don't even know why I came here, I just did."
She seems to stare intently, thinking things over. "Those two told me about you and how your stumbling into dream worlds stopped when you were with that girl. It must be a night without her."
"Correct, Miss…" I answer, not being aware of her name.
"Doremy Sweet… Dora or Remy is fine." She waves me off as she creates a portal. "Go on in here; you should still be able to catch the remainder of the dream. In hindsight it's a good thing you found me. Getting lost in this dream world can be dangerous."
I thank her again and step through.
I find myself in bed though I'm aware it's still a dream still. I hear footsteps, and Wriggle comes down the stairs – but she’s older. From the long hair, to the curves only mildly concealed by her outfit, there’s no way anyone would ever mistake her for a boy.
"Yuki, did you just wake up? It's been years, and you still have that awestruck look on your face." Not sure how I'm suppose to answer that as I’m not sure how things'd go if I stated it's dream. She starts undressing, revealing familiar but differently sized green underwear. I can’t look away from her exquisite figure, especially when she starts removing her bra. I swallow hard; I can’t remember having a dream this vivid before. And right as it drops-
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
Okay I'm awake... and have fallen on the floor, I realize after gaining my bearings. As I get dressed I wonder if I should be relieved or upset that the dream was interrupted. I definitely won’t mention this to anyone, regardless of whether it’s a dream or a vision.
Mother has already laid out breakfast, and as we eat she says, "Sorry about waking you up so suddenly, but Wriggle's about done moving her things." That's good news, made better by the fact she didn’t ask me what I was dreaming about.
"Just how late did I sleep in?" I ask before taking a bite.
"Not very, though it's really more that she decided to start early."
I glance at father and notice on the front page, something about a hermit being under suspicion over her attractiveness. "What's that about, Father?"
"Oh, Miss Ibara did a lecture in a village and some people called her a fraud since she wasn’t a skinny old man," he answers. "Only reason things didn't escalate was because Kumamaru was there. As rowdy as they were, the troublemakers still had enough sense not to provoke a giant bear youkai." It provides the amusing mental image of a bunch of people getting ready to fight and quickly running away after Mr. Kumamaru stands up.
Breakfast after that finishes normally. I go outside to see if I can't catch Wriggle coming back with something.
After getting outside I look to the sky in the direction of Lady Yuuka's house – eventually I can make out a figure against the sky. It looks like she’s coming by with a couple of boxes in nets carried by some pretty big bugs. I step aside to avoid getting in their way as Wriggle lands.
As the bugs carry things into the house, Wriggle smiles and runs up to me. "Good morning, Yuki! I finished bringing my stuff over; all that's left is moving the boxes downstairs!" Nice to see her in a good mood, though I want to ask where she plans on putting them. She adds, "Can we go to the forest? I want to enjoy the view there before it gets too cold to move around."
"Yeah, that sounds nice. Lead the way!" I respond as we started walking. We eventually get near Kourin's shop when a woman approaches from the shop. "Yukikaki!"
I’m not sure who it is, so we turn to walk towards her. Getting closer, I recognize she’s one of the owners of a general supplies shop. "What can I help you with, Miss Fujisaki?" Her name sounds familiar, but I can’t figure out why.
"My son wandered off somewhere outside the village and I felt you were the best person to ask to look for him. You seem to understand youkai pretty well…" she answers, glancing at Wriggle. I can see why she'd ask me, as Wriggle and I are strong enough to travel without being attacked out of the blue.
I look at Wriggle before replying, "Sure, we can look for him. You don't seem very worried though, do you just want to know where he is?"
"Thank you for doing this. He’s probably safe; I think he has a way with youkai since most don't even try to attack him," she answers. We walk back to the road, and she heads back to town.
"Let's fly up and try to find him; he shouldn't be too far," Wriggle suggests. I nod and focus on the wind, slowly floating after her.
We find him pretty quickly when Wriggle spies a kid resting against a wolf as though it were a pet, while others circle around it. I wave to Wriggle to indicate we should land a bit away from them to avoid spooking the wolves. No telling what they might do.
We land and walk quietly towards the area, but the ferals scamper off anyways. "Wha?!" The boy falls down as his companion runs away. He greets us as he stands up. "Oh, hello. Did mother send you to find me?"
"Yeah, sorry about disrupting the gathering," Wriggle says. "We were trying to avoid that. I'm Wriggle and he's Yuki."
"Oh, I've read about you two in the paper! And those antennae are recognizable anywhere! I'm Seo, nice to meetcha." the boy replies. Seo... now that name's a bit familiar. "It's the first time I've met people willing to live with youkai. Some people have yelled at me about it." He turns back to the forest. "It's okay, guys! They're all good."
At his words I look at the forest again, and notice the ferals lurking a distance aways. If it weren’t for Seo I’d suspect they were coming back to attack, but I’m glad we won’t have to fight them off. "Well, I think your mother wants you back home soon, though I think we might have some time."
"I probably should be going back, but I wanna stay around for a bit longer. Maybe you guys can too, enjoy the scenery a bit?"
[ ] Enjoy the outdoor scenery, and talk to Seo about his talent. It sounds like he doesn't have many friends. [ ] Walk and talk on the way home, then see if my parents have heard Seo's name before.
[x] Enjoy the outdoor scenery, and talk to Seo about his talent. It sounds like he doesn't have many friends.
I don't see the harm in sticking around, so I sit down as Wriggle follows. "How long have gotten along with ferals? It's pretty unusual to see them calm around a human," I ask.
"I dunno. I went outside a bit, and I played with what I thought was just a cat. It was only after I came back that I was told it was a feral youkai. Even the wolves seem like puppies around me, though there's been a few fights as some types that are still mean," Seo answers.
Wriggle adds, "I'm reminded of my ability and how insects seem to obey me as if it was nothing. I only started out with fireflies at first, though."
Seo looks at her antennae and smiles. "You're a firefly youkai? No wonder you're cute~." Wriggle blushes, and I wonder what his future with women might hold, particularly youkai.
"You know, you should really show more tact. Even saying things like that can bring trouble, even though Wriggle doesn't mind," I respond.
Wriggle mutters, "I know someone who can take pages out of his book. Youkai girls are going to fall for him hard." I guess she found that charming, though thankfully she didn't mention Kamui out loud.
"You mean like Miss Yams? She's really pretty, soft, and warm," he responds. Miss Yams…? Maybe he’s close friends with Minoriko.
"Oh, do you know Minoriko? I’ve not heard her talk about you very much before," Wriggle says.
"No, not the grape lady; the spider lady from underground! She took care of me when I fell down there," he replies.
“What!? The underground… I heard all sorts of nasty youkai are down there, not to mention the oni." I notice Wriggle's a bit pale in the face.
"S-s-spider?!" She asks nervously.
Seo notices and waves his hand. "No no, she's really friendly. She wouldn't attack you."
I comfort Wriggle and she gradually calms down. We talk for a bit more, and the topic of food comes up. "You two should stop by Nanabi's place sometime. It has very good noodles!"
I haven’t heard of it, but Wriggle seems to recognize the name. "Oh that place! I haven’t been in a while; he's something of a friend to the family. Many of us stop by there when we visit the village. Yuki, we should go today so I can introduce you. He’s already taken me to a few places in the village, like that Bar-Be-Que stand."
"Oh I’ve been there too; it’s good! How about the old man's candy place?"
I nod. "Yep, a couple times. Wriggle likes the honey drops."
Still smiling, he suddenly asks, "Hey, can we be friends?" I’m surprised, but then I realize that he might not really connect with other kids due to this talent.
"Sure, it'd be nice to have a cute little brother, right Yuki?" Wriggle asks, putting me on the spot.
I think for a moment, and decide to go along with it. "Yeah, it shouldn't be a problem if you stop by my house from time to time." My family residence should be easy enough to find.
A shadow moving in the corner of my vision distracts me. Seo seems to notice too, and speaks up. "Oh, my other friend showed up. Hey, Rumia!"
"So she follows you around too, huh? I guess it’s not surprising; from what I’ve heard she's pretty simple minded," Wriggle adds.
The shadow grows into a dark ball that floats towards us, though it shudders after passing too close to the gorund. "Rumia, are you okay?" Seo asks.
"I'm okay, it's not a rock. Oh, lady bug!" a voice says.
Wriggle blinks. "You've heard of me?"
"I know you're related to the flower lady," the ball replies, floating up again. "Hey, is he tasty?"
"He's not for eating, Rumia," Wriggle responds.
She asks, "Is that so~?"
Wriggle looks annoyed as she answers, "Yes, it is so."
"How can you tell who we are in that ball?" I ask, curious.
She responds, "I can sort of just… 'see' people, but not trees or rocks. Way better than the light though." She turns to Seo and adds, "Mister Fox was really nice, giving me something to eat for free. I'd pay him back but I don't know how to make money."
"Don't worry about it, I'll find a way to do it," he responds as he fearlessly puts his hand into the ball, apparently patting her head. From the noises she makes I don't think she minds.
The ball spins around and floats off toward the sky. "Bye bye, hope you guys have fun~!"
"She stops by at times, just for a bit," Seo adds. Suddenly his stomach growls, signaling it might be time to head back for food.
"We'll try out Nanabi’s noodle place when we get back, and we can pay for your food if you want, Seo," I remark as we walk.
Entering the village, Seo leads to a store with a sign in front of a fox curled up in a pot. We come in to find someone I’ve never seen before: a strange, blue-haired fox girl. "Oh Wriggle! I’ll let my brother know you’re here; have a look at the menu!" She pushes a few menus towards us before running to the back. Wow, there's a huge selection available here, and some even have a special size available. They’re probably the local's favorites.
"I know what I want," Seo points to the kitsune udon, special sized.
"Hmm, I haven’t tried that yet. Is it good?" Wriggle asks.
"Yeah it's great." I decide to order the same thing; we can try the others later.
An adult seven-tailed fox youkai appears from the kitchen and raises an eyebrow. "Oh. That's why you haven't been coming by. Perfectly understandable. So, what will you order?"
I relay that we’d like three orders of the kitsune udon, and he ducks back into the kitchen as the fox girl returns. She leans near Wriggle on the counter, remarking, "Good job, Wriggle. That one is pretty cute!" Huh? Was she talking about me?!
"How do you know about us?" Wriggle asks.
She shrugs and answers, "It's hard to NOT hear about you two. You’re not very subtle!" She does have a point. "My brother's been a bit busy with the festival coming up as he's going to be having a stand open, figuring warm noodles will be popular in the chilly weather. I even heard that the Prismrivers will perform again." I wonder if their various relationships played a role in that?
"Noodles’ll go great with the fire lady's chicken!" we hear from the kitchen. I wonder if he knows Miss Fujiwara? When he comes back with our orders, I ask, "You know Miss Fujiwara?"
"Well we ran into each other a few times either during my wandering, and when I first started running a stand. She'd be quite pretty if she ever cleaned herself up," he responds.
Wriggle asks, "Wandering?"
"Yeah, when I first arrived in Gensokyo I felt like wandering around. After seeing all the people I got the idea to run a noodle place. I bumped into some interesting characters back then, like the rangers and the hermit. One really took an interest in my stories; if I remember right his name was, ah… Rei, probably," he responds. "The guy's an interesting fellow."
"According to Mother he came by the house one time," Wriggle adds.
"How did you get the idea to start this shop, exactly? Did you try out some good noodles at some point?" I ask, curious.
He answers, "Yeah, it was when I was staying at a small village and the leader had me over for dinner. The dish didn’t seem special, but they were the best I’d ever tasted. Too bad it was just dinner; she was a rather attractive redhead. After that I tried my hand at doing a traveling stand before settling down and opening this place."
We start eating and it turns out to pretty good! He definitely has years of experience in this.
Despite the size of his serving, Seo surprisingly finishes his bowl with more speed than either Wriggle or I can muster. After we finish, Hikari hands me the bill and I pay, leaving a bit of a tip as we get up.
"Thank you, and please come again~" Nanabi says as we leave his restaurant.
Time to take Seo home.
It doesn't take long to get to his house. Seo runs inside as we get closer, likely to wash up. "Thank you two so much for finding him, and for getting along so well! It's the first time in so long he's smiled when coming home," Miss Fujisaki remarks.
"It isn't a problem, ma'am. I told him he’s welcome to stop by our house whenever he wants, if that’s alright with you," I reply.
Wriggle adds, "He'll be in good hands."
"Oh, he’ll be so happy to have friends now! Have a nice day you two," She responds, bowing before going inside.
Now that we’ve dropped Seo off, I think back to what he said about visiting the underground. There’s a few people I could visit to learn more about it, and there’s plenty of time before I have to head home for dinner.
[ ] Lady Akyuu must have records about it. [ ] My parents might know a few things, and maybe they even saw the entrance firsthand.
"Lady Akyuu should have records on it," I say as we start walking there.
Wriggle responds, "Okay"
Shinobu leads us to the usual room where we see Lady Akyuu going through some records, "I wish I could have a word with the founders for not keeping better records" she mutters. She's not having much luck finding whatever it is.
"Could we help, Akyuu?" Wriggle asks, concerned.
She looks up from the records, responding "Oh hello! Sorry about that! I was just looking through the registry records of the past. Since the current events are slow at the moment, I decided to look into if some other families had some youkai ancestory. Sadly so far the only thing well documented is your family's magician roots. I wonder who handled everything else as there's not much on the Yaguus."
Kazuma's family? "What about them?" I ask.
"She does have reason as both Kazuma and his father are taller, stronger, and so forth compared to most others," Wriggle responds.
"Exactly as the records I've found is that the men have rather long lifespans, particularly the earlier ones. And either it's some fluke or there's something that causes an affinity with tengu. In my searching, I stumbled on some surprising bits I'll look at later," Akyuu adds.
I think on Seo's unusual affinity with Youkai as I ask, "The Fujisakis?"
She stops what she's doing and looks at me. "How did you know?"
"He asked as we met a boy from the family who could befriend ferals pretty easily and has no problems being around Rumia" Wriggle answers.
Oh yeah we were here to ask about that incident! "We dropped by as I was wondering about the incident where Seo wound up underground" I add.
"I remember when your parents were worried about you finding out and worrying yourself sick. You used to be so prone to going into gloominess" Akyuu responds with a kind tone, even at the last part. She goes about digging up a scroll. "Oh yeah this incident. He was playing outside when a fissure wound up opening up and he fell in. It was a rather worrisome time until Hayato actually went in there with some advice from your mother as she apparently knew a youkai down there. He came with word that Seo got injured and was being taken care up and that he would be returned afterwards, and true to their word, he was, wrapped in some webbing resembling some sort of sleeping bag. Contrary to what people feared, Seo had some nice impressions down there. Regardless, we banned people from going by that area for their safety" she adds, reading it. It does make me wonder about the true nature of people down there considering how well this went.
"But what was it that you read up about his family?" Wriggle asks. I guess she kept her mind on that while I didn't.
Lady Akyuu answers, "I found out rather clearly that the Fujisakis have wolf tengu blood in them, though that might explain why that failed." What failed?
I ask, "Should I even ask about 'that'?"
"You two should sit down as with your interest in politics and the past, you would have found out sooner or later, But this is not going to leave this room," she answers as we sit down at the table where she joins us. She starts talking, "Shortly after Hayato got married, the Village decided to look into something to help strengthen the bonds with the Tengu, using the Fujisakis' past to support it as it's believed there was something similar. So Ryouga Fujisaki was chosen to marry a Tengu woman and at first things seemed to go great until it was revealed that she had trouble conceiving. Soon after she left and filed for a divorce, causing the effort to fail. The fact things weren't worsened as a result was very fortunate. From what I've heard, there's no real hard feelings among the Tengu, though Ryouga himself... had his heart hardened towards youkai. Makes me wonder how Hitomi even married him as she's a rather open minded woman, but Seo is their youngest son, and him showing such a talent isn't surprising." That's.... alot to take in.
"How did Mister Yaguu take it? He couldn't have taken it lightly" Wriggle asks, breaking up the silence.
Lady Akyuu rubs the side of her head before answering, "We're still trying to think of a way to do so without the messenger being thrown to the other side of town. If we're lucky, Aya herself told him. If they only did this a few years sooner and with those two, the outcome would have been different for certain." What about the fact the Yaguus are related to some tengu? "I plan on looking into who the tengu woman is and if she had any interesting kids as I've learned over my lives that pregnancy is not something easily predicted or detected," She adds as if she knew the question in my head.
"Do you think me and Yuki would have trouble?" Wriggle ask- WHA?! That's not funny Lady Akyuu!
She answers after she stops laughing, "Why would there be? He may have Magician lineage, but it's VERY unlikely there'd be any issues due to how close they are to humans. Magician type bloodlines are mainly maintained through education than bloodline cultivation. You'd probably get kids with antennae and a boost in magic compared to normal."
"I was just worried hearing about their troubles" Wriggle adds. I'm going to make sure to assure her that she really didn't step out of line with that question. But if the Yaguus have longer lifespans... what happened to Mr. Yaguu's father? And why do I have such a dreadful feeling about it.
[ ] Ask Lady Akyuu about it while we're here [ ] Refrain from doing so for now. It'd be better to try to gather some context before asking.
"Akyuu, I want to know what happened. I think you’re the only one I could easily ask about such a matter." I turn to Wriggle. "I feel like this might be upleasant, so if you want to-"
She interrupts me, "I'm staying right here - you read enough depressing stuff as it is. It’s no good to keep it all to yourself!"
Lady Akyuu motions us to sit down before pulling out an old folder. She skims through it before beginning to talk. "Not sure how much you've heard, but the Yaguus were traditionally very dedicated youkai hunters, uncompromising to the extreme. At some point, that devotion got twisted into baseless hatred: this is what Hayato's father was like, though Hayato himself had his mind changed when he met the lovely Aya Shameimaru.
"His father didn't take his son’s change in heart well when it came time to pass down the title of head. I’ve mentioned before that Hayato bested his father in a duel, but it enraged him so much that he marched straight to Youkai mountain after recovering - vowing to attack any Tengu he came across. Some rookie guards ran into him, and the only reason they escaped with their lives was that Lord Tenma's daughter saw the battle. She tried her best to calm him, but in the end she had to strike him down. It’s a wonder that an incident didn't occur after all that – they returned his body to be buried in the cemetery, and it’s rarely talked about anymore. It's noted here that she found it tragic that such a thing happened." I didn't think things would go that far… though I'm curious about Lady Tenma now.
"…What's Lady Tenma like? If you know her, I mean. She sounds rather reasonable for a Tengu; a lot of the ones I’ve seen wouldn’t have tried talking after all that," Wriggle asks.
"I did meet her once as she as investigating my connections to Tengu ninjas." Oh wow, them again? "She's quite reasonable for being in a position practically equal to a princess. I'm not sure how involved she is in Tengu politics, but I imagine she’d be all for humans and youkai getting along, a lot like you, Yuki. The rest of those old fools can't do much about her – can’t strip the title from Lord Tenma's daughter after all! Honestly, Tengu conservatives are more stubborn than the ones in the village. I’ve heard Lord Tenma himself is more in the middle. It must be hard for him to keep both sides in check," Lady Akyuu answers. She notices the look on my face, asking "What's the matter Yuki?"
I answer, "Each story I hear of Gensokyo’s past seems to be a tragedy. I can’t help but wonder what that historical society would really like to find that out. But knowing about it helps in preventing future ones." Wriggle slips her hand into mine to show her support.
"Well you two should go and enjoy yourselves. Now that I think about it, harvest time and the harvest festival are coming up, so things will be getting rather busy in a few days. I imagine that you and your friends, among others, will graduate from school. When next spring comes Keine will add a new class to replace yours," Lady Akyuu responds.
We get up and I thank Lady Akyuu. "Thank you for answering our questions."
"No need to thank me, I got as much out of this as you two did; I’ll keep a few ideas in mind for the future. For all we know Seo's going to make a name of himself someday, though Tewi's the best about noticing promising people," she adds as we leave.
Shinobu shows us the way out, following us to the gate. "Have a nice day, Master Yuki and Lady Wriggle," she says before bowing. We leave and start heading home – by the time we get there dinner should be ready.
At dinner I tell Mother and Father about running into Seo and his family, but leaving out the visit to Akyuu afterwards. Mother responds, "I remember when he went missing, yes! I went along hoping to run into the bucket girl again, but I heard she ran into Hayato instead. I'd like to think that helped things out. If the underground wasn’t off-limits, we could see just how much is true about youkai down there."
"It’s been a long time since the exile. I’m sure life down there has changed at least a little by now. It’s definitely too great of a risk to go see for ourselves right now, though," Father adds.
"I hope offering to let Seo drop by wasn't too excessive," I say, realizing I might have overdone it.
Mother smiles and shakes her head. "Not at all; it'll be nice to have him visit." That's a relief, and the rest of dinner goes on normally with some small talk. We clear our plates afterwards and Wriggle and I head down to my room.
After getting ready for bed, Wriggle climbs in with and says, "Yuki, if something’s on your mind you know you can talk to me, right? Poking around about the past and hearing about all that depressing stuff isn’t good if you keep it to yourself." She tightens her arms around me to emphasize her point. I nod in response, pulling her closer until we fall asleep.
The sunlight hitting my face lets me know it's morning. I start getting ready quickly since there’ll be a lot of work to get done over the next few days.
When I get upstairs I notice Shizuha sitting at the table and talking to Wriggle, while Father's reading the paper as usual. Wriggle looks up and smiles. "Shizuha stopped by; she said she wants my help with something!" I nod and sit down to eat breakfast. I guess I'll have some time to myself today then.
Glancing at Father’s paper, I see the front page reads "Local Youkai takes a bite out of crime," with a picture of a rather familiar black ball. I can only imagine that some Syndicate member made the mistake of assuming she was harmless. "Father, did you read the front page article already? Did it have any details?"
"Well someone was running from Arthur a day or two back and bumped into Rumia. After she was finished she mentioned feeling very sick afterwards – something unusual must be going on with the Syndicate," He answers. Sounds about right if with what I've heard about them is right, plus young youkai tend to have rather sensitive stomachs. I still remember Wriggle talking about how sweets from Outside affected her.
I finish eating and wave goodbye to Wriggle and Shizuha as I head out the door. I double-check that I brought all my stuff with me, including my spell book so I can do some practice later today. First though, I’ll go find Lady Inaba and see what she thinks about Seo having 'potential.' Yep, time to go.
In hindsight I should have thought harder about how I’m going to find her. The village is busier than usual today, so wandering around probably won’t get me anywhere. I could ask Lady Akyuu, but I get the feeling she's busy.
[ ] Ask around the village about ways to do it [ ] Ask Miss Mokou as she seems familiar with the forest. [ ] Ask Kamui as he seems to have ran into her a few times in the past. [-] Call out for her I think that'd just invite trouble. [ ] Hope that Lady Akyuu isn't busy and try asking her. [ ] Just practice magic try getting better advice tomorrow.
[x] Hope that Lady Akyuu isn't busy and try asking her.
Lady Akyuu should know where Wriggle is, so I really hope she won't mind me asking her. I'm glad I have nothing else planned today, as I get the feeling I'm about to be sucked into some extra work.
Shinobu greets me at the door as I approach. "Good morning, Master Yuki." I’m still getting used to how warm her greetings are now.
"Good morning, Shinobu. Is Akyuu in need of a helping hand?" I figure it'll convince Shinobu to let me in, not to mention hopefully make up for disrupting whatever she's doing.
She answers, "I'm sure she'd welcome your assistance. I've been helping her with the more physical tasks, such as reaching the high bookshelves." She leads me to the estate's library, where I see Lady Akyuu leafing through some books.
She looks up after noticing us. "I hope you're prepared to help as this is one of the few times I have to perform my duty without question. As Her honor Eiki, rather than that boo- er, boat lady." I am not sure what she meant by that, but if it was important she'd tell me.
"Of course, I wouldn't have interrupted you unless I felt I had no other option," I answer.
She rests her head on her hand and asks, "Let me guess, you’re looking for Wriggle? She's just spending some time with friends, right?"
"Ah, that’s right. How did you know that?" I would normally assume they have some sort of power, but with Lady Akyuu, it's usually something far more mundane.
"Because the Leaf Goddess was asking directions to your house and I pointed her in the right direction, Master Yuki. I will be going over again to adjust the lunch plans," Shinobu answers with a warm smile. I'm still getting used to her shift in attitude.
She leaves as I sit down to help Lady Akyuu. "Yuki, could you look over these entries to see if there's any obvious problems? I'll finish up more entries in the meantime," she asks.
I nod: this doesn't turn to be too hard, the facts are right, though I have to make a few edits to remove some of the snider remarks. Though with Hermits and the exception of Miss Kasen, I'd just add a note saying NOT to question her status. I put the original entries aside just in case she has some other use planned for them, but these aren't going in any easily accessible records if I can help it.
Then I get to the Oracle's profile... well, it just says "drunk" now, which is an improvement over what it was before, I suppose. "Akyuu, could I ask you not to remark on his fondness of liquor, even if it is true?"
"Sure sure, just save that copy somewhere, I think that was some of my best material," she answers without skipping a beat. Everything else goes without note until Shinobu brings us lunch.
Akyuu sighs and stretches her arms back. "Good job Yuki! Thanks to you, there's been some real progress. So, what did you need help with?" she asks.
I respond, "I was trying to find Lady Inaba as there were some things I wanted to ask her about."
"Hmm, I see. Out of curiosity, what would you have done if you couldn’t find me? I'm curious since outright calling for her would never end well - that just gets you attacked by Tengu ninjas. Wait, she didn't tell you to go looking for her, right?" she asks, looking concerned.
I shake my head. "Not at all, it sounds like she only does that to people she really doesn't like and last I checked, I was in her good graces. But my other ideas were asking around the village, or going to Kamui or Miss Fujiwara."
She starts writing something down, responding, "Good, I know you try to show her respect. Some people treat her like a kid or young youkai, which is one of the worst things you can do. As for your approach, asking around would get her attention since she has ears in many places, listening for certain things. You'd be on that list for sure, considering how much she loves flattering treatment. I don’t think talking to Mokou would have helped: Keine's headbutts are very painful and she certainly wouldn’t let Mokou of the hook if she found out her favorite student was let into the forest unsupervised." She finishes writing and hands the note to Shinobu, who arrives with some food. I figure it's a way to contact Lady Tewi.
"Here is your lunches," Shinobu announces, taking the note with her as she leaves.
Lady Akyuu thanks her and adds, "Shinobu, could you also prepare some salad and sake for a guest?" Shinobu nods and leaves.
Lunch is good as I expected, though I begin to get anxious about when Lady Inaba will arrive. I wonder i- "Hey Yukikaki, how can I help today? Or were you curious about old stories again? Good timing either way!" She managed to sneak in unnoticed, even while wearing some sort of white suit and pink shirt. Though, unlike the pictures I've seen, she seems to be missing a tie.
I respond, "I wanted to ask you about what sort of people you think are 'promising,' though I wouldn't mind a story too if you're willing."
"Well to start, you. The fact you're trying to stop the cycle of revenge between youkai and humans is no secret to anyone. It's something no amount of raw power's going to solve, but that's no different from normal: men with pens and knowledge can do what men with weapons and might cannot. Speaking of, Arthur also has potential for greatness, though I worry about him." I feel she means the burden of being a hero. She continues, "And then we have the Fujisaki kid who gets along with various youkai. I don’t think he'll live an ordinary life so long as he possesses such an ability. The first step towards being extraordinary is being willing to leave the ordinary. I can imagine a girl was involved, right?"
I pause and think about what Seo mentioned before replying "I think so as he remembers a 'Miss Yams' fondly"
Lady Tewi laughs, "'Yams'? Hah! If that's who I think it is, she might be one of the oldest reasons around!"
Lady Akyuu's been staring at Tewi's suit for a while now, and finally speaks up. "Pardon me, but may I ask why you're wearing such clothes?"
"Well, I heard that this is what Yakuza wear these days. Definitely a change from back before the Great Barrier. This morning I wondered if the group I founded is doing alright, so I put this on for old time’s sake. That doll user, Alice, is a real talented seamstress – I even got away with paying in information!" I've read of such groups, mostly how they're associated with crime, but a few stories cast them in a nice light. "So! As far as stories go, I have an interesting tail of how Yukari Yakumo once caused a pretty big fuss, one that none of your history books have recorded."
[ ] Ask Lady Tewi to tell a story - [ ] Her involvement with Yakuza - [ ] Full story behind the Tengu and the Bamboo forest - [ ] The story with Lady Yakumo
[x] Ask Lady Tewi to tell a story. -[x] The story with Lady Yakumo. -[x] Her involvement with Yakuza (maybe)
Hearing that bit about not in the history books, I decide to ask for clarification. "May I ask what you mean by that? While we don't have as many books since the sealing, there's still plenty covering the bulk of Japan's past. My father in particular is a fan of both the warring states era and the Meiji Revolution."
Lady Tewi merely claps. "I should have known better, but this makes it simpler; ever wonder why Mitsuhide Akechi betrayed Nobunaga? I know that's a big question among historians." Shinobu leaves the room, likely to prepare lunch for Lady Tewi since she arrived late.
"Please tell us, Lady Inaba!" Lady Akyuu asks. She looks just as interested as I am.
Tewi leans back and starts talking. "It’s a well-kept secret that during the warring states era a number of youkai were involved in minor roles, mostly to ensure a favorable outcome for themselves or the area that would ultimately become Gensokyo. Yukari in particular was taken with Shigen Takeda, though he never ended up relying on her, preferring to win things with his own abilities. He would have accomplished a lot, if he hadn’t been killed. Yes, killed! Ieyasu Tokugawa's ninja did him in, and so I decided to throw in with them, figuring he would be the one to win. He wasn't terribly happy about following that order from Nobunaga; quite the contrast as he actually hated working with youkai. I heard he even affiliated himself with the Jesuits to gain better insight on fighting them.
"Shigen's son wasn't exactly as bright, even going so far as to disregard Yukari's advice. Things did not end well, which leads me back to Mitsuhide Akechi: everyone wonders why he turned against Nobunaga. It’s true that all the suggested reasons played their part, but what pushed him over the line was an encounter with Yukari. I was there to see what he was up to, and Yukari had disguised herself as a misfortunate yet attractive woman. She pleaded with Mitsuhide to do something about Nobunaga, even going so far as to offer herself to him. He didn't accept the offer; always was a virtuous sort, but he still began to plot the overthrow of Oda Nobunaga. He accomplished it with his own abilities, but he wasn't able to sway the rest of Nobunaga's forces. I admit that I told Tokugawa to not do that, but on the basis that Yukari was using him. I was able to set up a nice little act between Ieyasu and Mitsuhide in Osaka, though the latter admits an actual escape was plausible."
It’s amazing to hear Tewi claim that she and Yukari were so involved during that period in history. She continues, "Before you ask, there was a reason we let Nobunaga die. He had to, for youkai to have a future. I found out later that though Yukari had planned on leaving Mitsuhide to die as well, she was touched by his kindness and instead made him a new identity, Tenkai." The name is familiar, he was a samurai who defended various villages from Youkai. I'd wondered how a samurai would be able to gain such holy power, and now I know.
There’s a muffled clink as Shinobu returns and sets Lady Tewi's food and drink before her. "Were youkai involved much in the dwindling days of the era?" Lady Akyuu asks.
Lady Tewi answers, "Not so much, most ultimately wound up preparing for the creation of Gensokyo and I had very little more to teach Ieyasu. I did advise him to treat Hideyoshi's family well when he won even though some of his advisors didn't quite appreciate that. I believe everyone didn't want a second Nobunaga, even if he ruled in peace. I found out later that Yukari tried to help Yukimura Sanada, but he refused. Even when I told Yukari to bring whoever she favored away with her, she didn't have much luck persuading him. In the end, we negotiated things for Gensokyo while he was allowed to rule without any interference. I do remember those times rather nicely as Ieyasu was like an uncle. Oh, one last thing about the era: the various armies had to deal with a particular youkai claiming remote areas as her turf. After she annihilated a few units, they tried their best to avoid her instead. That's how she got the title 'Sleeping Terror'" Wait, I’ve heard that before; it refers to- My gods, Lady Yuuka! I'm not going to worry myself over it now as I'd imagine I'd find out eventually.
Lady Tewi pauses to start eating, and takes a drink as well. "Hmmm~ Nice of you to pour me some of your warmed sake, Akyuu! The salad’s as well made as always, too," she remarks. I’m not surprised; it sounds like Lady Akyuu invites her over fairly often.
After Tewi finishes eating, she begins the next story. "All that actually leads nicely into the other story I mentioned. After Ieyasu started ruling and putting things in place, I noticed that some areas had trouble brewing for the citizens. I made use of some of the ronin and gamblers in the area, figuring that it would stop some from making trouble while creating a force that could oppose others. Recruiting went easy after I demonstrated my ability; rigging dice games isn't the nicest option but it sure beats squeezing money from people trying to make a living. Instead we only asked for food or some other service, offsetting expenses. I never did expect such a policy to result in people giving more than that out of gratitude."
Lady Akyuu takes advantage of the pause to ask, "What about how modern Yakuza are more self-serving, or force new members to cut off their pinkies?" I think I'll have to look that up as that goes farther than the stories I'd read about.
Lady Tewi shrugs and responds, "Well, it started when one of the guys blundered but he resolved most of it before the group got involved. He was so distraught he did it to himself, citing he'd be less able to strike out on his own. But word of our deeds and fortune spread throughout Japan and some other groups started to get ideas of their own to do something similar, some of which were more selfish and underhanded. From what I gathered before Gensokyo was sealed, both sorts of groups were present, including my own. One thing that the various groups agreed on is never to wage a gang war as even the winner ends up in bad shape. Of course there’s still indirect combat like tipping off the police - it's similar to how I command the rabbits; when the other side is absolutely stronger, trickery is the way to go."
"With all due respect, I heard the mix of colors you're wearing isn't normal for modern Yakuza," Lady Akyuu remarks.
Lady Tewi shrugs, responding, "This is what I like and my group is a bit unconventional; where else would you see rabbit tattoos?"
"This is proving to be pretty interesting. Thanks again for stopping by today Yuki. This was your day off though, so you can go enjoy yourself now. There’ll be enough work to do tomorrow!"
I nod and thank Lady Akyuu and Tewi, leaving after giving my farewells.
Going home, I think about getting some lunch before planning what to do next when I notice Wriggle and her friends are all seated in the dining room, having a meeting of some kind. Mystia, Lady Shizuha, Yumemi, and Rika are all here – it's surprising to see Rika since I don't think she knew Wriggle that well, but I should leave them to their business. I turn to leave when Wriggle calls my name.
I go over surprised, curious what she wanted. "It's good you came by as Shizuha's planning on doing something for her boyfriend and wasn't sure about his feelings." I’m not sure what I could do to help as I have no idea what sort of relationship she has. Although… wait, since she's a goddess, couldn’t she determine if he had faith in her? and if she can sense faith, then his feelings should be easy as it'd be particularly strong faith coming in. Sort of like how the Moriya shrine goddess took a human husband.
"When you're with him, do you feel any faith coming in? I believe if his feelings are true you'd be able to sense his feelings," I respond. Shizuha seems to stares at me a bit before nodding slightly, causing Mystia to groan and bury her forehead in her arms.
Shizuha blushes, replying, "Thank you for reminding me of that. With this I feel more confident about what I'm planning!" I'm a bit curious, but I know better than to pry into someone else's love life.
Soon after that the conversation wound down, and everyone starts leaving. I take the chance to remark, "I wasn't expecting to see Rika with the group."
Shizuha replies, "She invited herself, and I figured someone with her confidence wouldn't hurt. But where did you get the idea to try and sense his faith? I was actually hoping for something like advice on how to deal with guys, coming from someone who likes a… slender girl," she replies.
I sit down before replying, "I doubted that I could've said anything useful, so I tried to remember something that could be useful pertaining to gods. Sometimes there's that to consider when solving a problem." Shizuha nods and thanks me again before leaving.
Once everyone leaves, Wriggle comes over and sits beside me. "What are you planning to do?"
I answer, "I was thinking of getting some reading in now since I have a bunch of work tomorrow. It's inescapable, despite how lax Lady Akyuu's been. It's important to get some things done before winter rolls in. Most days aren't so bad but sometimes it gets real cold or snowy."
"It'd be my first time seeing the village in the winter. I've seen it snow from mother's place before, but it just doesn't feel the same. Could I read with you?" She asks.
I answer, "Sure, just let me get the books," and I head upstairs.
That was a blur between that night and today, mainly relaxing and cuddling… followed by work in the morning. I make enough headway that I have time to eat a nice lunch outside with Wriggle. Wished today was sunnier, though.
"Are you sure it's okay to eat on the roof?" Wriggle asks.
I answer, "Yeah, the roof of the Heida residence is pretty tough. Lady Akyuu mentioned something about Lady Yakumo using it a few times." I open up the prepared lunch for the both of us while Wriggle stares at the village spread around us.
"The harvest festival's gonna be so fun. Look, you can see Shizuha's handy work already!" Wriggle smiles as she points out some of the color changed leaves, with thickest concentration around the mountain. I can only assume the Tengu are fans of hers.
I respond, "We should tell her how nice it looks next time we see her." I manage to balance the box carefully so it doesn't go sliding down the tiles. Shinobu’s meals are delicious as usual, and we end up eating without saying too much. I start to pack everything back up - after the last bit of work, I'll res-
My chest seizes. What was that!? It's the same tightness I feel when using magic, but for me to feel it from something else… this must be strong enough to get the attention of anyone with even a marginal sense of power.
Wriggle shakes me out of my stun shouting, "Yuki, look!" Off in the distance, a glaring pillar of light is shooting into the sky. That must be the source, but I can tell little else. I once read a book on legendary weapons that described something similar, but I'm too far away to know for sure.
I can barely make out a purple figure flying nearby – maybe Lady Yakumo. Soon after a crow darts through the air into Lady Akyuu's room. Seeing the bird, I'm reminded that Arthur relied on them for sending messages, and that he's been looking for something in the forest for the past few days. That blast must signal Arthur's struggle has met another turn, and with it will come major changes to the village and everyone around him.
Chapter 3 End.
Yeah, I wish I could have a great excuse but all sorts of stuff happened, including some game stuff. I'm going to try to put together a follow-up update far quicker than this, and I'm confident in saying this as there's no summer nuttiness or such.
I'll also admit that I added the yakuza thing because I wanted to show that sometimes other characters had their own ideas and actions. I also undersold the option, and I'll try to do better on that front in the future.
Hopefully I still have readers after all this, but as I figure, every misstep is a new lesson… mostly.
I'm also going to get started on the next /at/ short with Lunasa as well.
Whatever happened that day caused a huge uproar: Lady Ran was seen around the forest more often, and various Tengu flew down from the mountain in the days after. Once things settled back down again, I couldn't help but wonder what had occurred. So, I tried visiting Lady Akyuu to see if she knows what's going on.
After Shinobu walks me to her room, I sit down and ask, "Have you heard anything about what's happened?"
Lady Akyuu shakes her head. "Sorry Yuki, no such luck, as even I can't get much out of Aya or my usual contacts. The only thing I know is that a weapon of considerable note was utilized. I've been gathering what notes I could, particularly out of the book you returned yesterday. I think I've managed to narrow it down to some sort of holy weapon… it'd be much easier to identify if Kourindou wasn't closed half the time."
I'm trying to remember any other hints as to what happened but Arthur's name pops up. "Do you think Arthur found whatever weapon he was looking for?" I ask.
She quickly replies "Without a doubt, it's probably part of the reason everyone is being so secretive, the other being the sword was something Yukari brought into Gensokyo. I've been coming up with ideas about why she gapped in more people and things than usual lately: she's bored and wanted some outsider to play adventurer. In a sense, she got her wish in perhaps the worst way with the Syndicate being around. Arthur's definitely got her attention by now."
I remember why his name was in my head! When he and Lady Yuuka stopped by my house to talk with my parents, he mentioned that he was looking for something. I wonder why he felt he needed to find something like that? Lady Akyuu speaks up, "I have been also looking mentions of an incident long ago between Makai and the underground, though the records are pretty faint. One book claims Higan got involved, so I'll have to remember to ask Elis about that. But Yuki, try not to worry so much about things like this or you'll make Wriggle worry too much! You should enjoy your time outside before it becomes too cold to!" I leave after saying goodbye as otherwise she will try to push me outside herself. I'd rather not risk her overdoing things.
As I leave to go look for Wriggle I hear Ginji's voice – he seems unusually cheerful. "Hey Yuki! There you are!" He even has a smile on his face… not something I see often, though I've been guilty of similar in the past.
I reply, "Ginji, what's going on? You look pretty happy considering all that's happened."
"Kamui's holding a meet-up at the Inn and I decided to go look for you," he answers. Wait… did he just refer to Kamui without insulting him or using obscenity? Genji notices my surprise "I solved some problems recently so I'm in a really good mood, enough so to even put up with him. The fact that being nice scares him shitless is a nice bonus. Don't tell him, okay?" Ah, that seems more normal. I won't pry into what brought this mood on, so I nod and follow him to the inn.
Once everyone gets seated, Kamui speaks up, "I figure this would be a nice thing now that things have slowed down for Yuki and some others, even Ginji's… usual mood."
"I'm doing great, not sure why you'd find it so unusual. Friends are nice to each other, right?," Ginji replies, causing Kamui to grow pale.
Kazuma interrupts, "So Yuki, what's going on? Did you find out what that big beam of light was?"
I shake my head. "Sorry. Whatever it is, it's big enough that everyone, including the Tengu, are keeping things hush-hush. Not even Lady Akyuu knows for sure what's going on, though she has her guesses. We're pretty sure that it's not a bad omen. I'd like to look into it more, but for now she seems more interested in some sort of incident with Makai and Higan long ago."
Ginji adds, "That sounds about right for her, but I'm still more curious about what's going on right now." Yeah, he is on good terms with Arthur so he'd have an idea what's going on.
Kamui appears to have recovered from the fright as he remarks, "I spotted Lady Kotohime in some sort of Outsider outfit with greenish paint on her face going towards the Bamboo forest, likely to find that rumored healer. I'm sure she'll do it, logic is no obstacle to her. Thank gods that Takami's not screwing this chance up."
"This farmer guy I know got blessed by the Harvest goddess," Kazuma blurts. There's a pause as we all look at him before he resumes, "What? I mean Kamui mentioned gods, right?" Both Ginji and Kamui shrug.
Kamui asks, "Was it that guy with a small farm, saying he puts his heart and soul into his produce? If so, good for him. Personally I don't see how anyone could be happy farming, but to each his own."
Kazuma nods. "Yeah that's him alright. Dad wants me to help prepare for winter, so I have to learn from the experts on the subject." I think there's something he's not mentioning, but knowing him it's something personal to the expert. I can't help but to wonder why he's keeping it secret; it can't be having feelings for a youkai as that's something we all have in common.
"Oh!" Kamui snaps his fingers as he remembers something. "So Akyuu's interested in Makai? That's good timing, Elis was trying to remember a few things herself. Maybe she could help you and Akyuu out. If it's interesting, pass me the details later, yeah?"
I nod, and the conversation steers towards talk of the festival, and about how everyone is helping out in some way and has plans to enjoy their time. After a while Ginji remarks, "Yuki, tell Wriggle that if she's looking for a job to do, everyone will need help setting up for the festival. Just saying, in case she's interested - I've seen her helping around town here and there. She's at least comparable to Kazuma's dad despite being a fraction of his size. But don't worry too much about the fall festival stuff. Rather, I think I know why the little dragon lady decided to put more money into it." He slightly shakes his head after he finishes. Now I'm curious as well.
"Well, I won't keep you guys here any longer," Kamui says. "I don't know if you guys had any plans of your own. I've got to set up for tonight anyways." I have a couple options at the moment: could try to see if I can talk to Elis now, or I could head home and hope to run into Wriggle. While I'm curious about that expert Kazuma mentioned, I feel that trying to ask him about that wouldn't get me anywhere.
[ ] Ask Kamui if Elis will be back soon. [ ] Go home and relax; hopefully Wriggle'll be back soon.
[x] Go home and grab your spellbook, then find Wriggle. [x] Go to the forest and investigate things for yourself. We've done literally nothing but hear other people talk about their grand exploits for an entire in-story year. We're trained in magic, we have a strong youkai for a companion, so let's go satisfy our curiosity.
I was working on the GInji/Lunasa thing when the holidays blindsided me. I'll try to get back to work this week. Though if people would prefer the update to that, please say so.
>>29605 The main reason there's not trips outside the village is the Syndicate and Yuki isn't quite that strong yet. In due time they will be visiting all sorts of places (that's an actual spoiler, read at your own risk)
Since the last update while I made some progress towards the regular update, my apartment building lost its net, complicating things. I'm hopeful that it'll be back up this week. It's a situation that would drive some people crazy.
[x] Go home and relax; hopefully Wriggle'll be back soon
"Hey Kamui, think Elis could find some time in the next day or two to have that talk?" I ask him as I know I'll have some time during that period.
He answers, "Sure, but don't forget. I don't want her getting all prepared and excited for nothing. I'd ask if you'd stay but I'm sure you have Wriggle on your mind like you should. I gotta finish setting up here and I don't want to keep you." He starts to set up the stage, which I take it as my cue to go home.
I arrive home to find a note with mother's handwriting: she and father are at some meeting so I should go ahead and have a nice little dinner with Wriggle. As I start to prep food to cook I try to figure when to go see Elis - tomorrow sounds good as long as nothing pops up as I don't have anything planned. I've helped Mother in the kitchen enough times to know how to prepare a meal.
Once the water is set to boil I go and pick up the book on legendary swords, reading it while waiting. …Geez, I wonder how much havoc this Darksword could wreak if it were to fall into Gensokyo. The narrative is a bit rough; if I were the book's author I bet I could rewrite this better.
"Yuki?" I turn as Wriggle leans through the door. "Sorry to interrupt your reading, but could you help me prepare dinner?" She's carrying a western cookbook and some bags, probably of ingredients. I guess she did some side jobs before coming home.
I place my bookmark and set down the book. "Sure, I already started the water. I was just reading to kill the time," I answer as we go to the kitchen.
"I take it you had a good day today?" I ask while measuring out the noodles to boil.
Wriggle nods as she dices some meat, "Yep! Managed to get a couple of nice side jobs, so I decided to try cooking something myself. I heard about some new kind of dish called 'beef stroganoff' and wanted to give it a try. Hmmm, looks like we might have some leftovers… ah, how was your day? Did Akyuu know anything about what happened with that beam of light?"
"Nope, though from the sheer secrecy, she suspects it's something related to Arthur and some weapon Yukari hid in Gensokyo. I wanted to investigate, but she wants me to look more into an old incident in Makai, so I asked Elis to stop by sometime in the next day or two. I also hung out with the guys - Ginji said he'd like you to help out getting ready for the festival. He really doesn't hire anyone but the best for his jobs." I check the pot while talking; it really wouldn't do if I messed this up.
It seems Wriggle has the same idea as she answers, "Hmm, maybe. Let's finish cooking first, then come back to this. The recipe sounded kind of tricky to follow." It doesn't take too much longer until we're able to finish it.
The flavor of the meat is very different, but good. I wonder what language 'stroganoff' comes from? Wriggle speaks up after taking a few bites. "Back to the previous subject, I'll think about helping Kamui. I don't think I'll be too buy on the days before the festival. How is it, Yuki? I think we did pretty well for our first attempt."
I stop eating for a bit so I can reply, "It's definitely good, definitely something new. I wonder what else is in that cookbook you followed." I've only had a few examples of western cooking, mainly at Tex's place.
"We'll see, though from what I can tell some of the stuff used isn't exactly cheap in the village, so it can't be an everyday thing. But I'm glad you like it!" We continue to talk about various topics while eating the rest of the meal.
After cleaning up, we decide to relax in the living room, gazing at the slight color changing in the leaves. "Shizuha did say something about starting work, oh and she actually found herself a boyfriend! She told me he's an artist that likes doing autumn stuff. According to her, we're to thank for it," she remarks.
I reply, "I think it's the example we set being an interspecies couple, but as far as I'm concerned, you're just Wriggle." Not getting hung up on such things is usually best for cases like this.
She inches closer, responding, "As pretty as it is, I could do without the chilly weather and the cold winds, but now we'll help keep each other warm." I notice her smiling at the last part.
I take hold of her hand, replying "Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. It's better than just burying myself in blankets." We should get used to this as come winter this'll be one of our options as the usual hang out spot in the forest is too hard to reach through the snow.
"True, as long as you don't sleep like a bear! Is there anything you'd really need to get up for during that time of year?" she asks.
I try to think of what else there is to do in winter. "Just the occasional visit to Lady Akyuu's and sometimes dropping by the Inn. But they never expect me early in the winter. She dislikes cold mornings and Kamui's prone to sleeping in normally."
"He won't be alone; both Mysty and Kurumi are similar, particularly in the winter," Wriggle says. I would imagine he wouldn't mind such a thing; realistically he might end up too warm. She nods as things settled into a quiet period, which ends with her getting up, suggesting "If we're to have a bath, we should start preparing now before it gets too dark."
Setting it up was easy with help of the magic I knew, not that anything advanced was required. After we washed up, we relaxed in the bath only to find ourselves nearly nodding off. "I guess you were really busy today," I say once we get and start drying off.
She answers, "Well I had to redirect a rather large group today. I can guess why you're tired though: a bit of magic usage, and from worrying too much about that beam of light." I can't say she's wrong there.
We finish and get ready for bed, and once we settle under the covers we both fall asleep in an instant.
I woke up rather refreshed and, for the first time, before Wriggle does. She's still embracing me, and I remember thanks to Kamui that leaving a girl to wake up in bed alone is a bad thing. The notion seems western in origin, but he assured me that the sentiment is much appreciated everywhere. I think I'll just focus on the interview today and not worry about things beyond me.
It isn't long before Wriggle wakes up, asking "I must have really overdid it if you woke up before me. What are you going to today, Yuki?" Well I hope she's going to relax.
"Interview Elis about more Makai stuff and a related incident, but other than that, take it easy," I respond.
She perks up, responding, "I want to come with; I've never seen an incident and it'd be taking it easy for me as well." We then get dressed and ready for breakfast and the day.
At the table Mother sets up the plates, remarking, "I hope you two slept well; you were already in bed by the time we got back."
"Yeah, I did" I answer, keeping the details to myself as I resume eating.
Wriggle adds, after a few bites, "I'm going to take it easy and go along with Yuki and Akyuu to an interview today."
Mother's face lights up, "That's a wonderful idea! That'll make break up the usual routine at work." Hopefully I'll be somewhere else when this happens. Father just shrugs, but I think I see a smile from what the paper doesn't cover.
Breakfast goes by quickly after that.
Once outside, we head over to the gate as to do a bit of watching and telling Wriggle what I learned before about Makai and what I'm going to be asking about.
"Makai certainly sounds rough outside of its towns," Wriggle remarks.
But before I could respond, she gets my attention towards the gate where Arthur and Alice are coming in. I notice two things different about Arthur. One he has a sort of gauntlet on his left arm, and an blue scabbard hanging on his belt.
He notices us as he comes over and greets us, "This is good timing as Alice was looking for you. I'd like to talk but I have some business to take care of." He leaves quickly, and Alice watches him go with a worried look on her face.
It doesn't take her long to recompose herself. "I was going to look for you as I want you to stop by my house in the forest so I can ask more about your magic studies and what you study. I have the next two days off so try to do it in that time frame."
Before I could think to ask, Wriggle beats me to it, "Why are you making a separate place in the forest?" With Lady Yuuka willing to let her stay, it isn't like she lacks housing.
"I want to study magic in peace and quiet, among other things. There is something about the forest and I'm curious about how I might make use of it. Building a house with dolls isn't that hard, barring a certain fussy one," Alice answers, with Hourai making herself known on the last sentence.
Hourai quickly pulls out a piece of paper with, "I'm the foredoll. But it's not fair to compare me to mass production dolls who only obey."
Thinking on it, Alice may be able to have her own perspective on makai. Might be a good idea to arrange something even if it's not today.
[ ] Ask Alice to tag along on the interview and hear her side. [ ] Try to find a way to ask her about something another day.
>>30961 ran into a bunch of other stuff; in large part work related but I haven't given up and I'm hoping this week will be good to finish at least my main update if not also the Lunasa short.
Not sure how much my word's worth, but sorry for the silence.
Status update (update finished)Oracle!iB/oZWEbQI2018/10/14 (Sun) 11:49No. 31159▼
It's finished and I sent it to my proofer. I'm going to try to finish the Ginji/Lunasa short during this period as to try to compensate for the stupidly long wait... assuming someone is still reading this.
[x] Ask Alice to tag along on the interview and hear her side.
As a fellow ex-resident of Makai, being able to hear Alice’s side of Elis’s stories would be a nice addition to the history book Lady Akyuu and I are writing. "Miss Alice, would you want to come with us to an interview with Elis? I needed to ask her about an old incident in Makai, and your input would be invaluable."
She holds her head for a moment before answering, "…Alright. I do not have anything really better to do at the moment, plus I'm worried about what that girl might tell you. She's not really a liar but she does tend to fill in the gaps with her own ideas."
After thanking Alice we walk towards Kady Akyuu’s house, and I talk about the first interview we had with Elis on the way (Note: from >>26143 ). "That's about all I remember from the first time I talked to her."
Alice shakes her head, and Wriggle asks, "Was she wrong?" I hope not, but it's hard to tell.
"She's quite right about everything; Mother is just that sort of person, though… no, never mind. But I know exactly what she was talking about. Hard to talk about Yumeko and the lawless zones without bringing up such things. Now that I think about it, I wonder how Aunt Pan's doing," she answers with a mildly worried look. An aunt!? I don't remember hearing about a second goddess of Makai...
Wriggle responds, "You have an aunt? From what I heard from Mother, Lady Shinki had no visitors."
"It's a guest that Mother picked up after an incident a long time ago, though she didn't tell me much about it. But according to Aunt Pan, she has a daughter at home that she said I was similar to, though she only mentioned a nickname, Little Paru. Mother oddly insisted on not asking where her home was with her only answer being 'Until the time's right,'" Alice answers. I'm tempted to ask more, but we've reached the Inn so we head inside.
We wait at a table for Elis to greet us, but as soon as she comes down the stairs Alice has already run over to her, presumably to straighten out their notes. After a few moments they both take a seat with Elis starting first. "Ya want to know more about Makai’s lawless zones, huh? Sure thing – ever since Lady Shinki set them up so that demons could be demons, a number of demon lords made niche zones in it for them to control. Ten, formerly eleven, of the strongest guys around each set up a little fiefdom and army to fight amongst each other as much as they want! There’s more to it than just the usual posturing of ambitious demons though; they think that whoever's most impressive will get a shot at courting Lady Shinki," She explains.
Alice, after doing that hand to the forehead gesture, takes over, "I wasn't alive at the time but I can guess that they've all already tried to woe her, and she was too nice when rejecting them so now they have ideas like this. Fortunately they've entered a sort of stalemate which isn't likely to break any time soon. It'd take some outside force to disrupt their fighting."
Wait, formerly eleven? "You mentioned something about the number going from eleven to ten. Did something happen, and how bad was it?" Wriggle nods in agreement, also interested.
Elis responds after a bit of silence, "That, huh. Well, some time ago, before Alice arrived, one of them was bored of fighting inside the little playground that Shinki made, so he decided to try and seize territory elsewhere: in Old Hell, or as as it's also known in Gensokyo, the underground region where Oni and other troublesome youkai were put. From what I heard, that lord and his army struck at the outskirts of the area first to try to gain a foothold to take on the main city and the Oni. It would have been pretty awful for those living there, if not for the fact both the Enforcer and one of Higan's retired reapers were called in to deal with it. There weren't very many survivors, especially not the demon lord who started the shole thing. His few surviving underlings were too cowed to really fight again. I did hear from a friend that one of the reapers was called 'firey haired death,' who could invoke some terrible end with a wave of her hand." She sighs. "Even so, there were a few innocent casualties, including one woman who was terribly wounded. Lady Shinki, feeling guilty about the whole thing, cared for the woman herself and let her stay as a guest in the castle. Any time she left, the Enforcer would accompany her."
"Aunt Pam! So that was the incident Mother didn't want to talk about," Alice exclaims in sudden realization. "I'm not sure if she'll ever have a chance to return home, as even with Arthur undoing the seal to Makai, I get the feeling Mother's not too eager to risk Reimu's attention so soon."
The underground, huh... Elis did get it right and it's pretty well sealed from our end. "I'm curious, what happened to the path from Makai to there? And why did Higan intervene?" I ask, hoping to find out something more. Lady Akyuu is familiar with many of Higan's dealings, so more notes on the matter could be helpful for her.
Elis shrugs, answering, "Something about how Old Hell still had something that they didn't want falling into the wrong hands. As far as the path connecting it to Makai, that was completely sealed to prevent any further incidents. Even the normal portal to the current hell has increased in security. Demons have always worked in Hell, so there's always been a path connecting it to Makai. Anything else to ask?"
After thinking on it some, I find nothing that comes to mind. "Not at the moment, but I or another servant of Lady Akyuu's will definitely stop by if something else comes up."
"Cool! I got nothing else story-wise on the top my head so I'll let you guys go. I'm sure Lady Alice has something to do anyways," Elis stands and returns to her room while we likewise leave the Inn.
As we walk, I can't help but notice Alice looks a bit sad. "Um, is there something wrong?" I ask.
"I'm starting to realize just how implusive it was for me to run away, but I feel I can't just go home, especially not now," she answers. After a bit of walking, she asks, "Could you two stay with me for a bit? I feel your presence would be helpful... I can even treat you to lunch, or something. Please?"
I look to Wriggle, who smiles and replies, "I'm not sure about Yuki but I'll be happy to come along, you're sort of a sister to me at this point." That decides it, and I nod in agreement. I had no other plans or meetings at the moment, and I'm curious why Alice wants our company now when she hasn't before.
"Why a sister? I'd only thought that Arthur and maybe that lughead saw me that way, but-" Alice mumbles, before Wriggle cuts in.
"He's with Mother and I'm certain that she's warmed up to you by now. Besides, it isn't that unusual for different youkai to treat others like family. I mean, Lily's a spring fairy and Kurumi's a vampire, but we still all get along. I'm just saying don't be afraid to come to others," Wriggle explains.
We resume walking, following Alice's lead, which appears to be headed in the direction of the Ramen place ran by Mister Nanabi. I think she was whispering something to herself, but I can't make it out.
Yeah, I'm going to cut it off here and do the second part soon after this gets posted. I'm not even going to try to make promises beyond that I will continue on this.
A question to my reader(s)Oracle!!NkL2ExZJD02019/12/27 (Fri) 10:19No. 31388▼
I've been busy and such but I never quite stopped thinking about the story, but the question is... would you guys rather that I cut out the choices I feel that would speed things up. As I'd be able to write at key times without any undue waiting.
>>31355 Nice to hear that at least one person cares.
>>31391 If it helps you write, I say get rid of the choices. Not sure how much my opinion matters, but I quite seriously just rediscovered the whole site by attempting to find this quest so I could reread it. I can't manage to state just how surprised or thrilled I am that you're still thinking about continuing it, regardless of the format.
Getting rid of the quest format also allows you to cross-post this to other sites with a more active user base without having to worry about tallying votes if that matters to you. The fact that most of the boards appear to have a velocity that can be measured in posts-per-month is really concerning to me, if only because I want to see the stories here preserved, and a lack of readers can also be a factor in them becoming abandoned.
I know it's been a year and honestly I'm thinking of just shelving this as time isn't as common as it once was and my passions have changed. But the biggest hurtle is just having some time to think/compose.
Should I resume this, I'll do the whole streamlined thing.
I am grateful for what few fans I have and I'm sorry this is all I have to say.
I'm on discord as Fishman465#1121 if anyone has particular questions.