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File 145336820199.jpg - (323.08KB, 800x746, alice hates herself and wants to die.jpg) [iqdb]
29047No. 29047
[X] … you really did ignore him for days, though. Does he really expect so little of you?


Ken holds your gaze firmly as his apology sinks into your stomach like lead. You struggle for reply, swallowing dryly before checking on Shanghai. Catching your glance, she rises from the drainboard, her bright red ribbon and cornflower blue dress darkened several shades by the persistent dampness. She crosses the kitchen to circle around your back and take up her station to your right, a few last drops of rainwater dripping from her tiny shoes.

And she probably looks better than you do, right now.

“No,” you say, voice low and thick. You swallow again, for all the good it'll do. “No... no I haven't.” You wait for him to reply, each moment scraping down your nerves till you can't stand it anymore. “I ignored you-”

for days,

“-too long. I haven't been-”

thoughtful, considerate, kind,

“-a good host.” You reach out and try to straighten out Shanghai's limp red ribbon again for something to do. “That's not my way. You just caught me... shorthanded.”

“Alice, you-”

Your temper flares at the pithy pity in his tone. “I'm what!?” you snap, rounding on him with your fists clenched. “What am I, Ken? Please educate me, oh sage of sinner's souls!”

Your pulse flutters in alarm to see him holding your gaze firmly, not tensing before your wrath like he has, like he ought. He just plants a hand on his hip, other supporting himself on the back of his kitchen chair. You screw up your fists and hold your breath, bottling your indignation in your breast. You remember the harsh rapping at your laboratory door, his hard eyes and curt exit - he was pissed, and now he just has pity, Mister Pork Pincushion good one use that deigns to show you-

“A professional,” Ken replies flatly.

You open your mouth and promptly close it again.

Ken twirls the chair around and sinks into it with a faint groan of relief, supporting himself with a hand on the table's edge. “Miss Margatroid, I have seen Eirin Yagokoro reassemble someone who was damn near torn in half. You know who she is, where she comes from. And she walked through that door-” Ken jabs his finger at the front hall - “-and complimented your work. And then showed it to bunnyb- her assistant as an example.

You look askance and shrug slightly, flushing indignant at the heavy-handed ingratiation.

“That kind of skill takes devotion,” he continues. “And focus. Forgot-three-meals-why-is-the-sun-coming-up kind of focus. That's what makes someone a professional. I know you're one because if you weren't, I'd be dead about now. But my friends - my mother-” he heaves a sigh and flicks his hand to shoo their specters away. “They're... well.” He starts spinning the whetstone in little circles on the tabletop, avoiding your eyes.

You tighten your crossed arms a bit. “They just see a youkai,” you fill in.

“They just see a threat,” Ken stresses, tapping the stone against the table for emphasis as he looks up at you. “It'd be like you heeding everything tinytin here says-”

“-SIT ON A SPATULA AND SPIN ON IT!” the toaster bellows from the center of the table, kicking one of Ken's shirts to the floor for good measure.

“-all your dolls as people,” Ken finishes.

“But they're not people,” you point out, irritated. “They're dolls.

“Exactly,” Ken says. “Was my mother a bitch to you?”

Flaming,” you confirm crisply.

“Now you know why,” Ken says. He picks up the spearhead and the sheathed shortsword and holds them out to you. “Here.”

You take them gingerly, one in each hand. The spearhead looks well-worn and recently resharpened, and the leather thongs wrapping the sword-hilt has the dark luster of age.

You look up at Ken sharply.

He leans back in his chair a little bit, eyes wide. “What.”

Patterns. Everything revolves around patterns. Sewing patterns, spell incantations, even the seasons themselves - patterns within patterns. They're so fundamental to magic that ordering one's entire repertoire around them is inevitable; the natural evolution of one's research and continual development. Not for nothing is the elementalist in the Devil's manse know as the one-week girl, or you the Seven-Colored Puppeteer. It's why intricate dammaku patterns and “duel of skill” are synonymous concepts. It's everything to a proper magician, which is why Marisa's a knuckledragging gorilla by definition.

There's a pattern here - the pieces are bafflingly unfamiliar, but tantalizingly real. You toss the weapons onto the tabletop, causing Ken to start slightly as they clatter.

“Ken?”

“... yes?” he ventures.

“What are your friends professionals at?”

“Hunting,” he replies instantly, the word so clipped it's almost punctuation.

“... and your mother?”

“Hunting,” he repeats curtly.

“Your mother is a hunter.”

“Was.”

You glance over the accouterments strewn across your dining table again, methodologically dredging your mind for every fact and arranging them in neat order. Your stomach sours to see the sword, but it makes sense - if you're a stuck-up delusional bitch like Kaya who thinks your house gambols about on chicken-feet.

Your eyes keep returning to the spearhead.

The boar-spear head, to be precise.

It doesn't fit.

“Why did they give you everything you need to make a spear?” you ask.

Ken bites his lip and looks away, fingers drumming the tabletop. “Because they're morons.”

“No,” you retort. “I mean, why a spear?

Ken blinks. “Why not?”

“If I'm going to creep up on you at midnight and stuff you into my oven to make man-biscuits for the Man-Killer Monthly moon-viewing party,” you sneer, “wouldn't that giant cleaver in your boot do you more good?” Another childhood memory rises unbidden, stealing a peek into the Forbidden Parlor and the wall: dark-paneled wood hung heavy with heraldic shields and bucklers and - “Or a proper dagger?”

Ken shrugs. “What do you expect? They're just hunters, you know? Pig-sticking is close-quarters combat to them.”

“Close-in.”

Ken's chair creaks as he pushes it back an inch. “Uh... yeah?”

You peer at him intently, the embarrassment of your miscalculation a few days prior sharpening your recall. “I thought boar spears could be wonderfully handy close-in - if you hold it like a quarterstaff.”

Ken glances aside a slight, polite smile jittering about his face. “I... uh...”

“Told me that yourself.”

He swallows. “Yeah.”

You feel your pulse quicken, that forgotten feeling of excited curiosity back again - that little aluminum asshole was wrong. “Well. At least you'll handle yourself well if the demon-boar's spouse comes for revenge.”

Ken's mouth flattens into a line as he stares resolutely at your belt. “You... heard that.”

“Every. Word,” you say crisply.

Ken sucks in a long breath, fist pressed against his mouth as he turns to look at the front hall. “Urgh.”

“He was saying you threw Reisen's...?”

His fingers are drumming a bit faster now.

“What?”

He grumbles something into his fist.

“You asked her how 'the wrist was',” you remind him. “Did you disarm her?”

“Nnnnnooo,” he says.

“Then what did you... throw...” you gasp. “Her!?

Ken lets his face slide till his forehead hits the heel of his hand, hiding his eyes. “Yeaaah.”

“You threw Reisen Udongein Inaba through a plate-glass window.”

Ken's other hand flies off the tabletop, palm up to ward you off. “She, really, really, really picked a bad time to go sticking her fingergun in my face,” he says. “I told you. Ben was hurt bad, I run in shouting for help, and that bitch-” he sighs. “It was just, you know-” he makes a grabbing motion in the air, then sweeps it across his body like he's slinging something aside. “Reflex.”

You pull the other chair over and plop in it sideways, leaning on the table with one elbow. “How did he get hurt?”

Ken turns back to you, resting his cheek on his fist, staring at something past your elbow. “Ben's a womanizing asshole-”

“I noticed,” you say curtly.

Ken's expression turns into a scowl. “Stupid bastard never learns. A few weeks back he got torn up by a bone woman.”

The name is vaguely familiar, but you can't quite place it. “A... some sort of succubus?”

“A little. They lure idiots the same way. Except they're liable to rip your limbs off as soon as they get their claws in you.”

“I'm... not familiar,” you admit.

“They're not that much stronger than humans - that's why they lure you in and strike before you can draw. I'd walked off the road to fill my canteen at a farmer's well and when I got back I found the fucking thing ripping Ben up.” His fist is quavering a bit now, curled rock-tight. “Took off when I shouted.” Ken's scowl has deepened, eyes brooding and dark.

“He certainly seems okay now,” you point out.

“Yeah,” Ken admits, straightening up in his chair. “Now. But it was a pretty close thing.”

“If only Ben had a legion of swooning fangirls begging him to stay out of the scary Forest to warm their beds,” you say dryly.

Now he crosses his arms and scrimps up his mouth. “I didn't say that-”

“Not that you had to,” you say, sweeping a scattered letter off the table and whipping it up for inspection with a quick flourish of your wrist. Ken pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs.

“Yes, you'd rather all those young lovelies stop bothering you, right? Such a nuisance.

“You have no idea,” he grumbles.

“I got an inkling when I started juggling the second pound cake!” you snap irritably.

Ken wilts a bit, a faint flush coloring his cheeks. “It's not like that-”

“I certainly hope it is,” you cut him off sharply, “because if you're not risking life and limb hunting this deep in the Forest to impress your floozies, I can't imagine what does.

Ken stiffens. “Why wouldn't I?”

“For all the dangers you recited to me yourself, perhaps? If it's so damn dangerous and you know it, why hunt here?

He opens his mouth-

“-and don't give me any guff about bigger kills or more plentiful game, Mister My Credit's Good At Any Store In Town.”

He closes his mouth.

You drum your fingers on the table steadily, waiting for a reply, heart thrilling as you anticipate the final unraveling of the thread.

Ken crosses his arms tightly and looks away towards the parlor. “It's not important.”

[ ] The hell it isn't. His friends are slipping him weapons (which he knows how to use,) he hip-tossed a powerful youkai through a window without a second thought and his mother isn't afraid to threaten you - a powerful magician - to your face. You want to know who he and his friends are, and you want to know right the fuck now.

[ ] But it's interesting. This strange villager who talks so freely of Devotion and Focus, who spurns popularity and spurns the pigsticker's savage sport for the patient, slow stalk - this is something new.

[ ] Solve the puzzle. (Pure write-in vote, feel free to attempt in addition to a standard vote. If you can figure out what's really going on here, it'll make for one hell of an update!)
Expand all images
>>No. 29048
[X] But it's interesting. This strange villager who talks so freely of Devotion and Focus, who spurns popularity and spurns the pigsticker's savage sport for the patient, slow stalk - this is something new.

Holeee Shit. You flaming faggot, you're back. I'll have you know that I actually started writing on this site because you just up and disappeared.

Please stay this time.
>>No. 29050
[x] But it's interesting. This strange villager who talks so freely of Devotion and Focus, who spurns popularity and spurns the pigsticker's savage sport for the patient, slow stalk - this is something new.

Holy shit you actually updated this.

Also Alice is VERY interested in this person rooming with her.
>>No. 29051
[ ] Solve the puzzle.
He's a hitman, this is an elaborate scenario.
>>No. 29053
[x] The hell it isn't. His friends are slipping him weapons (which he knows how to use,) he hip-tossed a powerful youkai through a window without a second thought and his mother isn't afraid to threaten you - a powerful magician - to your face. You want to know who he and his friends are, and you want to know right the fuck now.

I'm too lazy to mystery, just telllll meeeee.
>>No. 29054
[x] Does Mr Ken "Bunny's dynamic exit" Hunter has something to prove? That he's strong enough to follow the family business perhaps?

Either this or he wants to impress an incident solver. I sure hope Marisa "putting the maniac in kleptomaniac" Kirisame hasn't stolen another heart.
>>No. 29055
This is tough. I skimmed the previous thread to refresh myself, and Ken is really skilled. He carries an arming sword around, and was the guy who grabbed the toaster on some sort of job or favor, which the guy asking described as a 'mundane matter.'

And last update, he commented that after all that stuff with the boar, "Maybe people will stop bothering me after this." After his injury? He seems nonplussed by all the attention, too. Maybe he feels that people have inflated expectations of him?

I dunno who this guy is. Youkai Hunter Bloodline? A soldier? Maybe some kind of nobleman? Don't suppose anyone else can put all the pieces together, because I'm stumped. With all the girls fawning over him, maybe he's a prince of some sort. Or royalty or... well now this is gonna bug me all night.
>>No. 29056
[X] But it's interesting. This strange villager who talks so freely of Devotion and Focus, who spurns popularity and spurns the pigsticker's savage sport for the patient, slow stalk - this is something new.

Please no shouting contest.
>>No. 29057
>>29055

...Maybe he's from a line of adventurers? You know, go to the deep forest and get villager B five boar pelts, something silly like that?
>>No. 29058
[x] But it's interesting. This strange villager who talks so freely of Devotion and Focus, who spurns popularity and spurns the pigsticker's savage sport for the patient, slow stalk - this is something new.

Well, I'm stumped. There's a lot of clues through this story, but I can't piece them together. I'm just gonna guess that Ken is some kinda ninja, or maybe a part of that Order in some of Touhou's background.
>>No. 29059
[x] But it's interesting. This strange villager who talks so freely of Devotion and Focus, who spurns popularity and spurns the pigsticker's savage sport for the patient, slow stalk - this is something new.

Kinda bad form to make a super sleuth vote after such a long hiatus, ya know? Just gunna go with this for now.
>>No. 29060
File 145352387237.png - (541.81KB, 1179x1080, Saber Eye Sparkle.png) [iqdb]
29060
>he's back

[ ] But it's interesting. This strange villager who talks so freely of Devotion and Focus, who spurns popularity and spurns the pigsticker's savage sport for the patient, slow stalk - this is something new.
>>No. 29061
[X] But it's interesting. This strange villager who talks so freely of Devotion and Focus, who spurns popularity and spurns the pigsticker's savage sport for the patient, slow stalk - this is something new.

This feels like Alice is really struggling to reconcile her youkai-ness with her (ex)humanity. So far through this story, Alice getting reminded that she's no longer human inside has been the only thing to consistently get an emotional reaction out of her. And as we've seen, she gets absolutely nowhere when she gets angry. So use the part of her mind she's honed for her whole life: curiosity, patterns, research.

As for Ken, his family would have to be an old line of youkai-hunters. Neither of them fear Alice (any more than they should), and Ken both knows the deep forest and hunts in it. I see his demon-boar hunt as practice for fights where he's hugely outclassed, and Ben's stories suggest this is nowhere near the first time he's done something like this. He's a reluctant legend in the village for it. That would answer Alice's question of why he's doing it without any of the traditional rewards. Kaya seems to have experience working with and against youkai, and both understands how to and competently negotiates with Alice as a youkai, before she makes an appeal as a human.
>>No. 29062
[X] Solve the puzzle. (Pure write-in vote, feel free to attempt in addition to a standard vote. If you can figure out what's really going on here, it'll make for one hell of an update!)

Ken is the protagonist, Alice is Best Girl. Don't get waifu'd, Alice! Down that path lies only harems and needlessly violent fights over pointless and trivial things!
>>No. 29063
>>29047
HOLY SHIT HE LIVES

[X] The hell it isn't. His friends are slipping him weapons (which he knows how to use,) he hip-tossed a powerful youkai through a window without a second thought and his mother isn't afraid to threaten you - a powerful magician - to your face. You want to know who he and his friends are, and you want to know right the fuck now.
>>No. 29065
[X] Solve the puzzle. Or at least take a good hard step in the direction of doing so.
- [X] "What was your real quarry that night, Minamoto? Or perhaps I should instead ask -- who was?"

He didn't go out there to hunt a boar. If he actually ran across a boar, it was just bad luck. If he didn't... a) he's paranoid about eavesdroppers (but correct), and b) Ben and Aki are covering for him. (I'd bet there was one; but I wouldn't bet too much.)
>>No. 29068
[X] But it's interesting. This strange villager who talks so freely of Devotion and Focus, who spurns popularity and spurns the pigsticker's savage sport for the patient, slow stalk - this is something new.
>>No. 29074
>>29065
>He didn't go out there to hunt a boar.
Oh-hoh! I think you're onto something there Anon.
Alice first encountered him while he had just finished wrangling a sentient spirit. She next encountered him in the fucking depths of the Deep Forest, with an itchy bowfinger. And finally after he was still lurking in the edges of the Deep Forest when he went and wrestled the boar, armed with something he's clearly comfortable with but not so great for hunting boar.
He, his companions, even his mother, seem pretty much nonplussed by Alica, but not wary of her as if she would normally be an everyday threat to them.
He's:
- Hunting for something in or around the Deep Woods
- Hunting for something in particular
- Hunting for something that he's willing to fire an arrow at just on the off-chance it's his quarry
>“I... mistook you for something else.”
- Hunting for something that looks like Alice, at least in bad light

He's hunting Youkai. And not just feral ones in general, he's hunting one in particular. The real question is who.
>>No. 29075
>>29074
My guess is Rumia
Blond, similar enough hairstyle to be mistaken, and if you don't hit first, you're dead.
>>No. 29076
File 145445999432.png - (319.57KB, 504x538, 1450843044692.png) [iqdb]
29076
It's amazing how spot on everyone is considering how long the hiatus was. I LOVE you guys.

UPDATAN
>>No. 29077
>>29076
It's like there's something about the "faggot" handle as opposed to your other names. It somehow seems to attract smarter anons.
>>No. 29078
File 145447142369.jpg - (263.26KB, 625x1000, mystia 2.jpg) [iqdb]
29078
Holy shit I can't believe this updated.

Looks like I missed the vote.

>>29075
Rumia is canonically too incompetent to catch humans though.
>>No. 29079
By the way, has any new canon information affected how you intend to write this?
>>No. 29080
>>29079

... is there any new canon information I should be aware of?
>>No. 29081
>>29074
Oh, and Ben was mauled BAD by something. I don't buy the 'Bone Woman' story. Something mauled him, and spooked Ken enough that he defenestration-by-suplexed Reisen just for pointing at him (OK, Reisen-pointing, but still).
>>No. 29082
>>29080
WaHH and Forbidden Scrollery have revealed information about things like youkai politics and relations with the village.

Not sure how much would be relevant here.
>>No. 29083
File 145455637053.jpg - (221.42KB, 715x960, alice wonders where everything went wrong.jpg) [iqdb]
29083
>>29055
Would a youkai hunter family have any sort of special abilities for the job?

I imagine they must invest in learning some kind of magic to assist in that. I think the Witcher series provides a great example of the benefits of that. Geralt is the first thing I think of to fit youkai hunter without being a shrine priestess.
>>No. 29085
>>29082

I have been keeping up with those fairly regularly, thankfully!
>>No. 29115
> Rumia is canonically too incompetent to catch humans though.

People can be /real/ dumb.
>>No. 29156
Nigga you dead?
>>No. 29166
>>29156

Shit got [b]real[b] crazy for a while. Multiple-deaths-in-the-family crazy. Over now, thank fuck. Working on the update as we speak!
>>No. 29167
>>29166
OH MY GOD WHAT YOU'RE STILL WRITING THIS IS THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE YOU WONDERFUL FAGGOT YOU
>>No. 29168
File 146059891313.png - (85.23KB, 246x246, 1429421865689.png) [iqdb]
29168
>>29166
>Multiple-deaths-in-the-family crazy

Heh, that's actually... not funny at all.

Sorry man.
>>No. 29169
>>29166
>Multiple-deaths-in-the-family crazy
>death-in-the-family
heh, are we expecting Red Hood to come back with a vengeance anytime soon?
...
...sorry.
>>No. 29180
>>29166
Jesus. What happened?
>>No. 29562
Did it died?
>>No. 29783
So... this thing still alive?
>>No. 29784
Write sage on your email field before posting.
>>No. 29785
>>29783
You're a massive faggot and should go die.
Sage you fucking retard.
>>No. 29786
>>29783

You fucking got my hopes up god damn you.
>>No. 30113
I will ask this too, with almost zero hopes, but still.

Flaming faggot, will this go on sooner or later?
>>No. 30955
If you're looking this over fruitboi, there is at least one person still interested in seeing this continue. I hope to see you writing *something* soon!
>>No. 30959
>>30955
Make that two. Come back, damn faggot!
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