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File 149251112174.png - (80.59KB , 500x500 , 1.png ) [iqdb]
29818 No. 29818
Moonlight is cast in maze-like patches across the forest canopy, mingling with the ambient magical radiation in a display that would be considered beautiful if not for the implications. Everything under the full moon is made stronger, more violent. Lunatic.
Except you, a human.

You are hunting, but it isn’t hunger that justifies your being here. After all, being consumed by a moonlit beast ill fills your own empty stomach. You have a far grander purpose. Paying your rent. Be it in veal, rabbit, or whatever other tolerably untainted animal happens upon your eye. As long as it’s fresh.
Tomorrow is your due; but if your sense of time is accurate, that tomorrow just became today.
All the more reason to be here.

So you stand, knee deep in the magically doped bramble of reed and fungi constituting the undergrowth of The Forest of Magic. At the stroke of midnight. Under a full moon. No one has died from a youkai attack since the implementation of spellcard rules, but you’re trying your best tonight. The amalgamated array of seals stretching across your body and arms have done a noble job of deterring would-be foes times past; be it by their potency, or the sheer gravitas of the Hakurei brand, even by proxy.
You doubt that under this lunatic light the seals would fare any better than the paper they were scribbled on.

All that‘s between you and a particularly delirious set of jaws is a bow and knife-
-and the fact you haven’t seen a single living creature the entire day.

The Forest of Magic, on full moon, is filled with a silence more deafening than the howling of beasts it has usurped. You've grown accustomed to its usual cacophony, and your place within it. It's your sanctuary of nearly a decade. You knew traversing the forest on the full moon would be reckless, bordering on suicide with the usual berth granted by youkai breached by moonlit judgment. But this eery state of stillness stokes your paranoia to the obscene.
You are filled with the constant sense of being isolated, yet at the same time hounded by the shadows which replace the forest's inhabitants. Each time your foot so much as glances into the forest's gloom, a flare of adrenaline floods your body, as if you had just escaped a spider's web.

Your senses are broken, you know better than to trust them. You should know better. It's a lesson taught harshly by childhood and tempered by years surrounded by self-made vices. Purple skies, non-existent buildings, monstrous visages, and things so repulsive it terrifies you to think that it was your mind from which the abominable image was begotten . None of it was real, none of it was ever real. Even if your young brain thought otherwise.
But this feels different.
You want to call it fake, imaginary. Logic would dictate it is, but logic also demands that the forest should be in rancour on a full moon.
On this illogical night, you would sooner place your faith in irrationality. For the first time since childhood, you entertain those notions of a nightmarish, absurd world.

Perhaps that’s why you’re still alive now, you cannot possibly know, as you’re not going to risk lingering in the shade longer than a stride’s motion. Like a childish game of avoiding cracks on the path. Except it's not your mother's back that's in peril, but the looming terror of being consumed by whatever imaginary shadow beast you've conjured. You can't pay the rent if you're dead.

This stubborn force of will keeps your legs from betraying your body and running back the long path home. It constantly assures that you will find something, be it even a rabbit, you will kill it, and you will bring it home. You will pay your rent.
A lifetime of obsession has burned this imperative into your mind deeper than your survival instinct, or so you keep telling your shaking legs. After a long night of reassurance, your legs seem to have stopped believing your lies. They shake freely.

Perhaps it is the effect of the moon that has driven you so determined, yet so physically wrecked. Its presence is radiant, like a cyclops’ eye staring through the forest canopy. You’re not so vain to say it stares at you specifically, but you swear you’ve caught its sidelong glance, filled with glee. It wants you to fail. Every second under its light is its victory. So it stalls you with this empty forest, and the haunts cast in its shade.
If the moon were torn down, would the sun rise in its stead? It’s a pointless thought regurgitated over and over, each time with the same answer. Your arrows can’t fell the moon, let alone reach it. You’ve tried.
Even if they could, you doubt your sister would much enjoy the taste. Not enough blood.

The wet sound of trampled undergrowth overrides your thoughts into pure instinct. It’s a sound heard countless times with similarly countless possible meanings. One of those is the leap of a ravenous shadow beast, and that possibility alone justifies the whiplash movement of your entire body towards the source, and subsequent drawing of your bow. The seals wrapping either end of the bow strain organically into new positions as it turns crescent.

And then you see it.
Stretching above the thick undergrowth, silhouetted by the moonlight. A deer.

Relief floods every cell of your body. The patience you have placed utmost faith in as a hunter is eroded in an instant.
Thoughtlessly, you release the string.

The arrow impacts what you assume to be its head, because the boar collapses immediately.
You let a small, satisfied smile sprain on your long-frozen face. The cold air causes your lips to crack.

Deer. Boar.
The sudden force of cognitive dissonance drives you from contentment into a dumbstruck silence so fast that you gasp. Your smile is betrayed by your widening eyes. You have been called paranoid, by yourself even, but the plummeting of your stomach suggests machinations far darker than idle speculation.

You just shot a rabbit, you reassure yourself. It proves futile as your mind is soon overflowing with invasive and impossible notions. Serpent, tiger, monkey, t█nu█ii█i ██ █ ██ █ █████ ███ █ █ ██ █ █
The thoughts are so violent and insistent that you struggle to name them your own, they prey upon your mind like a swarm of insects, crawling in through the ear. Feeling an oncoming migraine, you force yourself to make the logical conclusion that the whining and illogical tide cannot.

You just shot a shadow.

The grip of the moon melts away as all of your pent up paranoia is justified in an instant. In its vacancy you are left with a pit in your stomach so deep that you can only imagine what subterranean abomination could crawl out.

You feel like you let it win. The shadow.

It doesn’t take long for that feeling to actualize.

A baleful cry erupts from the forest around you. It sounds of nightbird trilling, butchered and distorted, as if carved alive by dulled blades. It is fear made manifest, like the creaking whine of hell’s gate unlatched. The echoes of the cry leave you not with relief, but the crawling terror that whatever lies beyond that hellish gate is in front of you right now.
Your blood is chilled to ice by dread, slowing your thoughts to a crawl and leaving your limbs in frostbitten rigor. Breath escapes your mouth in a huff of cold smoke, the next reflexive inhale burning a trail of fire down your throat as the shadow’s tainted emanations feast on your tender flesh like gnats. You want to vomit, but your bile dares not quiver. You can‘t blink, you can’t breathe, you can’t think. All you can do is stare with petrified eyes at the loathsome shadow cast by a lunatic moon.

You have not the time nor willpower to shield yourself with rationalization and denial; you are left alone with your senses and are forced to witness whatever twisted image of the world they spin. The worst part is, you believe it, you have to believe it. It is incognizable and indistinct, and if it weren’t so clear before your eyes, you would not hesitate to call it imaginary. Like a phosphene it flickers without shape or color, lacking an identity apart from a lack thereof. A nothing.

The most terrifying nothing you have ever seen.

/o====================5====================o\

Your immediate instinct is to...
[A: Run. You can’t feel your legs, but you have no doubt they wish to flee as much as you.]

Youkai, if this thing could even be called that, are beholden to the spellcard rules. If you could force a game...
- [B1: Retrogression ~ “Old World Rules”] (defensive)
- [B2: Firsthand Curse ~ “Freischütz”] (offensive)(requires a focus: “Parabellum”)

You have a knife and a petty grudge...
[C: Stab. The seals will do the rest.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x13 Iron-Headed Arrow
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
“Parabellum”
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “LUNATIC”

\o====================8====================o/


Longtime reader and new writer here.
I expect to make mistakes, as this is my first story that isn’t written with the format quality of a 4chan greentext.
Writeins are allowed, but will be rejected if deemed unfitting.
Expand all images
>> No. 29820
Alright, nue writer, let's see what you got.

[x] You have a knife and a petty grudge.

In my opinion, it is more interesting to vote on the reasoning than in the action.
>> No. 29822
[x] Youkai, if this thing could even be called that, are beholden to the spellcard rules. If you could force a game...
[x] - [B1: Retrogression ~ “Old World Rules”] (defensive)

Please do not underestimate youkai's ability to fuck your shit up.
>> No. 29823
[x] Youkai, if this thing could even be called that, are beholden to the spellcard rules. If you could force a game...
[x] - [B1: Retrogression ~ “Old World Rules”] (defensive)

Best bet for survival methinks.
>> No. 29827
[x] You have a knife and a petty grudge.

We've already shot it, so I don't think it'll be very willing to play ball.
>> No. 29828
[X]- [B1: Retrogression ~ “Old World Rules”] (defensive)

I'm always glad to see a new story. Hopefully you'll last a bit longer than most.
>> No. 29830
Votes will be called in 3 days time, or earlier if I have internet connection. Going to be at an island doing marine biology stuff for university. I'm not really sure how many votes to expect, but I'm glad to have gotten this many.

>>29828
I'll try my best. My main worry was not getting any/enough votes, but that hurdle has passed for now.
>> No. 29832
[x] Youkai, if this thing could even be called that, are beholden to the spellcard rules. If you could force a game...
[x] - Retrogression ~ “Old World Rules” (defensive)

>>29830

Never be afraid of not getting votes. Anon will vote on anything, even if it's shit, as long as there's a reward for doing so.

What counts as rewarding will vary, but we'll usually be pretty vocal about what we want, so don't worry about it too much.
>> No. 29841
[z] Youkai, if this thing could even be called that, are beholden to the spellcard rules. If you could force a game...
[e] - [B1: Retrogression ~ “Old World Rules”] (defensive)
>> No. 29845
B1 is advancing at 5 votes for an unsolicited honourable duel.

I'm currently on an island at an university research centre that fortunately hosts free wifi. I'll start drafting up the update while I'm here, but I'd rather wait until I'm home with a clear head to actually post it.

>>29832
Will keep this in mind.
>> No. 29862
>>29845
Update is mostly written, but I'm going to refine it tomorrow.
>> No. 29868
File 149304477180.png - (447.78KB , 902x824 , 2.png ) [iqdb]
29868
Humans fear the unknown, and if the unknown called be called a substance, then this is it.

It will kill you.

And you haven’t paid your rent.

This simple fact drives a force of panic so vigorously through your blood its fervor could be mistaken for courage. You are scared, you are hungry, you are tired, you are pinned, and even the moon above calls for your bloody end. What you feel is the opposite of courage, it’s pitting fear against fear, and if only momentarily, the fear of failure is strong enough to rally your mind into action.
You consider just grabbing your sealed knife and plunging it into those blurred, unreflective depths. But for now you bow to the whim of your self-preservation, not some petty, suicidal grudge.

With heavy tongue and drool tinged with metallic water-brash, you mutter the incantations. Spellcard Rules.

Paranoid Forest Hunter ~ Schütz

Title. Name.

[Retrogression ~ "Old World Rules"]

Spellcard. Defensive.

Involuntary recollection flashes behind your eyes as the system bores a hole into your memories.

~~~
There are fields that need hands, and cows that need tending. But today you chose to hunt.
It’s an act so pointless and treacherous that it has been wiped even from the annals of sport.

The tools and training, the divine seals which line your body, and the hours spent preparing, tracking, ambushing, and dragging the carcass back through the forest. All of this was done with eyes staring at the back of your neck with the same intensity you hold your own prey. Your prey whose flesh is stained with magic, tainted by the forests’ touch. Poisonous.

You may have grown used to the taste, but you can’t stop the tears budding in your eyes as the magic wreaks havoc in your belly. Your sister tears away at it with a smile. That same perfect smile she always has when she sees you hauling yet another corpse to her feet, further magnified by the toxic blood dribbling from her perfect lips, and flowing without stain onto her perfect clothes. The meat does not matter, as long as it bleeds, as long as you caught it. The rent you worked so hard to provide. She will eat it all with that radiant smile.
At the sight of such perfection you can’t help but smile back as you take another tearful bite into that vile flesh. The feeling is indescribable, but you will settle on happiness. That and indigestion.

Hunting is the old way, broken and worthless. It is said that those who chain themselves to its coffin shall sink along with it. But you don’t need the sun as long you have that radiant smile guiding you way.
So you make this spellcard, a testament to the old way of the hunt, and those it provides for. Old World Rules.
~~~

The spellcard framework compensates the magical power that your impotent human body cannot.
You feel the spell form, weaving raw magic into the harmless light and sound that makes the blood of the spellcard system. That is its sole purpose. To distill the wrath of demon god and bumbling farmer alike into nothing more than fireworks. Declawing one, and making a paper tiger of the other. It’s parodic in its lunacy. Though its rules are very real.
They will keep you alive.

Subterranean Waking Nightmare ~ Houjuu Nue

With the calling of its name, the duel begins. The light in your body expands outwards in orbit, forming flashy patterns and earthen sigils your fear-drunk mind can scarcely comprehend. Whatever remains of your focus is trained on the shadow named Nue.

You hear its voice, the melodious chirping of birds. It blares irreverent to the festival of light and sound.
“Yours was a common sight. Knives for skinning, seals for protecting, arrows for killing. Hunters.”
It carves a path through your spell like a rock in a stream, each step inching ever closer to the source. You take a step back, and then another, only to find your body collapse to the floor as you trip on a loose root. “Humans have moved beyond my time, but you remain. Stuck in the old world with me.”
Adrenaline, the only thing keeping you lucid, drips from its voice directly into your brain. You scramble from the ground, breaking to a gallop as soon as your feet hit the ground. Only to find yourself face to face with a white mask, pitted with a darkness that stares back at you in singular red. Still yet its formless body twists like dark fire through your light.

Only when the thing is nearly at your lips does it speak again.
“I forfeit.”

Your spell shatters, the duel concluded.
Time stands still as you stare into the thing before you. The Nue. Wrought from darkness, and carved in crude human shape. Lazily its body sways, but its head locks in place, as does its one eye trained upon your wandering own. Daring you to react.

Your arrow lolls in its other socket. It bleeds.

/o====================5====================o\

It can’t hurt you now…
[A: Run.]

A monster at your mercy, revenge fantasies from childhood…
[B: No use for monsters.]

Your sister made that arrow for you…
[C: Take it back.]

As long as it bleeds, as long as you caught it…
[<-(O)->: Your sister has always had exotic tastes.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x13 Iron-Headed Arrow
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
“Parabellum”
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “LUNATIC”

\o====================8====================o/

Due to aforementioned reasons, this update was delayed. Hopefully I can churn one out faster next time.
>> No. 29871
[x] Take it back.

Oh shit, our landlord is a Youkai! And the late fee is death! And Nue spared us! And we still don't have our rent!
>> No. 29872
[A: Run.]
>> No. 29873
[x] Take it back.

Might as well gather our belongings before we're thrown out.
>> No. 29874
Okay, let's think about this. Assuming it can't hurt us due to spellcard rules, there's no real reason to run. Due to the same rules we shouldn't try to kill it either, and pulling an arrow out of its eye seems a little rude, painful, and unnecessary. I don't know what option B implies, but it looks like more violence.

I guess taking the arrow is the least killy choice, so let's go with that.
[x] Take it back.
>> No. 29879
[A: Run.]

After she forfeited so easily it seems cruel to feed her to a landlord.
>> No. 29880
File 149311190151.jpg - (62.47KB , 600x399 , hell in a shell.jpg ) [iqdb]
29880
Votes will be called tomorrow at some point Australian time.

Hopefully I can get the next update out far faster. I don't have an island full of snails and snail related statistics to distract me this time.

Pic related is the mulberry whelk. It vomits sulfuric acid to bore through shells and then uses its tongue to scrape up the melted insides. They're the spiders of the sea. Except snails.

I also found some of them cannibalizing each other.
>> No. 29881
[x] Take it back.
>> No. 29882
I don't see any revolutionary tide of 'run' voters coming, so set for B.

Update soon, probably.
>> No. 29893
File 149346805424.png - (608.27KB , 1209x1075 , 3.png ) [iqdb]
29893
You could run. Nothing would stop you, except yourself. The stillness of your legs is your answer.

It has your arrow.
One of your perfect arrows, made by your perfect sister. The diamond-pointed iron heads who have bit the hearts of every quarry this forest has to offer. Never once have they missed their mark, for by your hand sister named them Freikugeln. Blessed arrows made for your hands, and others' hearts.
Letting it stew in the blood of a monster is an insult to its purpose, the purpose your sister gave them. Nobody insults your sister.

You reach -

~~~

-and grab the arrow. The wood hums beneath your grasp with Nue’s heartbeat. It is slick with blood, old blood, gelatinous and rotting with age; the elements are unable, or perhaps unwilling, to claim it. The vile blood of a monster named Nue.

“Wrong arrow,” it says nonchalantly.

The blood sinks into your hand. You try to scream, but your throat is clogged with violet. The same violet which crawls across your eyes, into your ears, and out into the world. Staining it in the only color you know.
The color of your curse.

~~~

Your senses return. What felt like an eternity in your mind rendered to a mere instant in reality.
Your hand resumes, passing harmlessly through the illusory arrow, and continuing into Nue’s illusory face, gliding across the unseen skin within. Soft and ladylike. Nothing like that monstrous plaster-mask which your eyes project before you.

Nue huffs a hot breath through a nose you cannot see. Not even a whiff annoyed, but more a reminder of the fact that the face you are fondling belongs to a living being.

You recoil your hand. Slowly.

You’ve slipped. Your curse has gripped your mind. It leaks into your eyes and ears, and under your skin. You feel it feeding on your terror, and drinking in the moonlight like a youkai. But in the end, it's your belief that fuels the violet illusion. You believed in the world it wanted you to see, and now it wants you to feel the world it wants you to feel.
It's trying to suck you in, and your only option is to deny it exists. An act that demands you believe what you cannot see, and disbelieve the horrors right before your eyes.

“A handshake would suffice as greeting," Nue twitters like a flock of birds, holding out its arm with outstretched hand. You stare into its body. It is undoubtedly feminine, unlike the vast majority of monsters your eye project. Though its body is a mere outline in the chaotic cloak of reds and blues, more animated than the Nue itself.
All of it fake.

Nue shakes it hand, begging reaction. “I lost an arrow," you reply, ignoring the hand not only out of disgust for its owner, but fear of what would happen if you once again made contact with the nightmare.

“Inside my face?” You sigh from relief as it brings its hand up to its empty socket, but the breath catches in your throat as it feels around the fake arrow, never quite touching it. “So I thought.” You answer as quickly as possible. If Nue somehow acknowledged what you see, you don't know how your curse would react.

Nue looks back at you and shrugs.
Then, with a single vicious movement, it tears something long and slender from its breast. The non-existent blood flies through your body. You hear it splatter into the undergrowth behind you. You resist the urge to step back as the world briefly flashes purple. That would require acknowledging it. Letting it win.
Nue holds an arrow, coated in the illusionary black tar of its blood. You make out an iron tip among the viscera. It is yours.
“To strike Nue’s heart. Your ancestors would be proud.” It flicks the blood off your arrow, before handing it over. You feel the still-warm dampness of the true blood which coats it. The shaft is broken by impact. That can be replaced, as long as the head remains.
“-or perhaps you missed and sought to scatter my brains. You passed either way."
The thing named Nue, who stalked your shadow, and drove your cursed senses to the depths of hell, compliments you.

All you need is your rent, and this long night can be over.
If only the forest stocked creatures other than this dreaded Nue.
The Nue which continues to stare into your eyes. Its singular eye twinkles with amusement like the moon above. Both mock you.

/o====================5====================o\

Wits collected, and priorities assessed…
[A: Your time is wasted with this thing. Hunt.]

Its mouth is loose and its hands are tied…
[B: Ask.]

Muscles aching, driven by the last fumes of terror...
[C: A brief rest.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x13 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated ‘Nue’, Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
“Parabellum”
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “LUNATIC”

\o====================8====================o/
>> No. 29894
[C: A brief rest.]
>> No. 29895
[A: Your time is wasted with this thing. Hunt.]

Let's not spend two and a half months chatting with her.
>> No. 29896
[x] Ask

What kind of person follows illusions willingly? Or prefer them to reality.
>> No. 29897
[x] Ask.
I think asking for a small favour after beating her isn't too daring.

>>29896
Most of them.
>> No. 29898
[x] Ask.
>> No. 29899
[x] Ask

I'm... uh... what. I'm lost. The fuck is up with this guy?
>> No. 29900
Votes will be counted tomorrow morning, Australia time. Crikey.

>>29899
The premise should become clearer as more updates come out, theoretically, at least.
>> No. 29901
>>29899

I figured the moon is addling his mind.
>> No. 29902
Vote called for B. Update within some time frame, probably soon though
>> No. 29911
The vapors of terror and adrenaline fueling your muscles run dry, they beg for rest. You won’t grant it. Even so, you find yourself propping against a nearby tree, letting your bow act as a makeshift crutch. The silence of the forest has returned, deafening in its vastness, only broken by your own intermittent breaths.
You have five hours left. Then the sun will rise.
Sister says the reds of sunrise mix well with bloody meat. All you see is an ugly violet sky, but you don’t need to see what she sees, as long as she smiles you know you have done well. To hunt. It is your sole duty, and you have not failed once.

Tonight will be no exception-

-but as much as you stare into the forest gloom, the shadows don’t stare back. Not anymore. The only forest stalker is the one that stands right before you. Nue. The masked, feminine shadow. Something that twitters like a bird, drifts like a cloud, and screams like a demon. Your body still remembers its cry. It lives on in the post-adrenaline numbness of your mind, and the the dull ache of your thawing blood. The worst part is, you don’t even know if it was real. Does this youkai inspire terror, or do your eyes and ears twist it into violet absurdity?
Your only witness is the moon above, and it’s content laughing at your expense.

If your sister asked, the moon might answer. Her tongue could browbeat the cosmos into forming iron, why not then could she convince the moon to spill its secrets. If she were here she could fix everything. But that would defeat the point. You are here to provide for her. It is the absolute least you can do with your useless, cursed body.

Full moon hunting, an empty forest, and a confrontation with Nue, your own failing body. It’s all worth it for her smile.

...

Before you know it, you are slumped to the ground. No rest. Not yet. Not until you get her rent. Tearing yourself upright is a heroic feat, but quite easy once you disregard your own self-preservation.
“Trouble sleeping, or trouble staying awake?" Nue's sole predatory eye bores into you, betraying the laxness of its body, and the soft twitter of its voice. It exudes danger from its very being. Like a viper immortally held before the strike, long fangs unsheathed and ready to deliver death.
But you don't fear it. Neither Nue, the youkai, nor Nue, the monster. One is bound by spellcard rules, and the other is an illusion puppeteered by your curse. You loathe its presence, like all the other youkai which have haunted your hunts, perhaps even more than the rest. This one managed to get under your skin, however briefly. Like a maggot. It won't happen again.

"The latter," you reply for the sake of it ceasing to inch closer in your silence.
It keeps inching closer anyway, looking down on you from its perch of darkness like a curious bird. The acrid, magical emanations of its body still burn holes in your throat, but backing away would expend energy you don't have. You've been running on 'nothing' for a long time now. When next your legs collapse, they might not stand back up. Best not test them.
"Then we fight for the same cause, hunter." It brings its mask to your eye level, and even through your stoicism you manage to flinch. "The enemy of my enemy is still my enemy, but for you I make an exception. Do you want my help?" Still that singular, fake, eye drills into you. Trepanning your skull for secrets. It wants you to talk, and keep talking.

"No."

"Then why do you remain, hunter? I envy your kill, a Nue, but prestige doesn't fill an empty stomach." It relaxes into its cloud of darkness, drifting to and fro on invisible currents. Still it stares down at you. Like a predator.
Youkai exist to waste the time of humans, sucking productivity from the vein like a leech, and becoming stronger for each second spent second guessing their actions. This thing is no exception, nor does it even try to be. It revels in its own enigma. Stalking in the shadows, yet so candidly floating before you. Screaming like a demon, yet engaging pleasantries. With a body built to kill, yet willingly declawing itself.
It wants you to question it, and between an empty forest and the leech before you, that may be your only answer.

“The forest."

You damn your own lack of specificity before the words even leave your mouth.

“The forest? It will make a fine home, hunter.” it mulls, drifting backwards before holding its arms wide. "Think, you could hunt Nue every day if you wanted!"

It baits your emotions. To drive you on edge, back into fear, rage, panic, or whatever else it can latch on to. Anything to get a few more seconds of your time.

"The forest is empty," you reiterate.

"Oh, I stole your ability to identify life other than Nue,” it smiles, you can see it even beyond the monstrous plaster mask. You have fallen for its trap, and let it say the words that have lied on the tip of its tongue since the second it began skulking at your heel hours before.



/o====================5====================o\

Undoubtedly accounted for, but an effort worth the waste...
[A: Take it back.]

Can’t be simple, nothing is simple with youkai …
[B: Why.]

If Nue you see...
[<-(O)->: Then Nue your sister shall eat.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x13 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated ‘Nue’, Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
“Parabellum”
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “LUNATIC”

\o====================8====================o/

No drawing, might make one later.
In Australia time this update took three days. Ideally I'm aiming for a three day voting period and a three day writing period.
>> No. 29912
[x] Even if you only see Nue, still your hunt must begin anew.

You asked for it.
>> No. 29915
[A: Take it back.]
>> No. 29916
[A: Take it back.]

It's not polite to take what's not yours.
>> No. 29917
[A: Take it back.]
>> No. 29918
[B] Why.

I'm still lost.
>> No. 29919
Votes will be counted tomorrow, after I get home from University.

>>29912
This writein is valid. I'm not saying it's the 'right' choice, but it can be justified in-character.

I would advise caution with writeins, as the justification in-character may not always co-align with the end you want. Though nothing of the sort has happened yet.
>> No. 29920
File 149399097478.png - (801.84KB , 1200x1200 , 4.png ) [iqdb]
29920
Vote set for A.

Here's a drawing. I'm not a good artist, but drawing is fun.
>> No. 29921
>>29920

I think it looks pretty neat.
>> No. 29922
>>29920
Hey that's pretty cool, I like the mix of wtf with a touch of sexy.
>> No. 29923
>>29920
Sure's hell better than I can draw, mate.
>> No. 29924
>>29921
>>29922
>>29923
Surprised it got positive reception. I'm not very good at dealing with compliments.

By 'not good at drawing', I mean my grasp of the fundamentals is quite minimal. Color theory, anatomy, etc are all pretty loose since I never practice.

I'll try to maintain 'one drawing per update'. Though it will generally just be a quick portrait of a relevant character.
>> No. 29925
File 14940802135.png - (193.00KB , 1000x1000 , nue quicky.png ) [iqdb]
29925
Clarification on facial anatomy.
>> No. 29927
Studying, tests, etc etc. Should be free as of tomorrow night?

Having a hard time writing this update, but I'll power through.
>> No. 29935
File 149442184052.png - (592.67KB , 900x1175 , 5.png ) [iqdb]
29935
“Give it back.” You pause, readying the words of power, “by Spellcard Rules.” Nue doesn’t so much as twitch at your invocation, but the smile you cannot see widens.

“Rules? Games end the moment someone gets hurt, hunter.” It twiddles its finger in a circle around its breast. “Advice from the hunted, hunter. Arrows hurt. They really hurt.” You understand what it says. You understand the true meaning of its forfeit, its twisting of the Spellcard Rules to suit its ends. But you don’t care. Your sister needs tribute.

“Give it back.” Your voice shivers with an anger you weren’t even aware of. You feel it now, a luminescent bubble of rage rising above the bog. No doubt the Nue is feeding on it right now. You hope it chokes.

“Fury begets unpleasant dreams, hunter. It will not keep you awake.” It leans closer, “fear, however.”
It pauses mid-air, then drifts backwards into its cloak of darkness, theatrically opening it arms. The moon shines behind it like a great spotlight, highlighting the silhouette of its fake body in an aura of lunacy. “Arrows, hunter. I fear arrows. I fear the men who carry them, and I fear the bows they wield!” Its body twitches, and a sound emanates like crows caw. Something similar to laughter. “To feel one in my bosom, well, I’ve never felt so awake in centuries, hunter!”

“Shut up and give back my sight, leech,” is the sound of your anger, soon regretted as your curse projects a morbid sight. Nue’s neck twists grotesquely, the cloak of darkness behind it shivers, and its entire body seems to twist out of human shape and into something undefinably monstrous. You don’t budge, your mind either too tired or irreverent to care about what violet monsters dance in the place of reality. Though undeniably, the Nue was jolted. Its real body probably twitched. Like its smile, now faded, you don’t see it.

“I could leave you here, in a forest full of hungry mouths you cannot see, or you could listen,” it twitters in the same airy tones it proclaimed its love for your arrows.

Silence passes. You are angry, furious even. It’s a useless, petty fury, only fit to transform the words you speak into offensive filth. The type of mouth your sister would adore. Sister loves futility. You are her diseased little flower.

Eventually Nue huffs, inhaling a deep breath and bloating its frame. Its excitement is palpable in the literal sense, as its entire fake body concentrates and seemingly jellifies in anticipation for whatever it’s about to say next.
“Promise to teach me the art of the bow, hunter, and I will return your sight!”
It makes a mock bow and arrow motion for emphasis. Even through your leaden mind you can tell the form is terrible. Abysmal. Its amorphous, shadowy body repeatedly fails at the most basic functions of knocking, drawing, and firing an imaginary arrow. When it’s done, it looks to you, eye glittering like a second moon, equaling in its insanity.
Then it speaks.

[DO YOU AGREE?]

It isn’t a voice so much as it is a murmur from the earth itself. Something primal, without language or room for interpretation. Your sister warned you of this. Contracts. Soul binding. The blood of Spellcard Rules.



You need your rent.
Perhaps Nue is right. Fear is keeping you awake.
Fear of failure.

/o====================5====================o\

By whatever contract, you need your rent…
[A: Acquiescence.]

Dumbstruck, but hardly dumb enough...
[B: Stand steady, incapable of much else.]

But by your sister’s word...
[C: You are already bound.]
- [] [<-(O)->: ask her for yourself.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x13 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated ‘Nue’, Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
“Parabellum”
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “LUNATIC”

\o====================8====================o/

I had testing, hence the belated update.

I do apologize if my writing is confusing. Probably bit off more than I can chew in terms of concept complexity and execution. I’ll continue regardless so long as people care enough to read it. I'm having fun.
>> No. 29936
[A: Acquiescence.]

I'm sure this will lead to something horrible later on, but for now I'll pick it.
>> No. 29937
[A: Acquiescence.]
>> No. 29938
[A] Acquiescence.

Hooray, an update I can understand! Though, why the fuck Nue wants to learn archery I have no idea.
>> No. 29940
[x] Acquiescence.
Entering shady, vague deals with abominations beyond comprehension?

Hey, why not? Live a little, know what I'm sayin?
>> No. 29941
Votes will be called tomorrow. They seem to be declining quite steadily, but there's not much I can do about that other than make a better story. Oh, well. If it ends up dying from starvation I'll accept it.
>> No. 29942
[B: Stand steady, incapable of much else.]
Pissin' against the tide.
>> No. 29943
[A: Acquiescence.]
>> No. 29944
[x] Stand ready

APATHY IS DEATH
>> No. 29945
[A: Acquiescence.]
I like the way you write the story and the pictures fit the descriptions we get from the mc.
>> No. 29946
Vote set for A. Expected resistance, this will be interesting.
Not sure where so many people came from, I'll have to bite my tongue when it comes to being a doomsayer.

Update within 3 or so days. This will either be really long, or really short, depending on how I think will be best to pace it.
>> No. 29948
File 149477347887.png - (343.37KB , 1500x1056 , 6.png ) [iqdb]
29948
The contract looms overhead like a second gravity. Familiar to the spellcard rules like a clay brick is to the vast earth beneath your feet. Pure, primeval power. Nue summoned it in three words to ask for archery lessons. Its intent is malign, being a youkai allows nothing else. The fact you cannot imagine why just confirms how twisted the mind of a youkai is.
You need your rent. There is no other choice.

“I, Schütz, agree to your terms.” Something inside you leaves with the air of your words. The contract pulsates, sealed. Inescapable.

Nue floats still and silent. Its fake eye betrays all of its thoughts, glimmering with joy. It meets your desperation, your frustration, your weariness and your rage, with joy. You gave it everything it wanted. It takes in a great breath of air, holding it as if to savor its taste. Then it breaths out, filling the air with silence again. You go to speak, but vertigo strikes your stomach and lets flow the contents once held still by fear. The vomit is empty, like water, without substance since breakfast. You tear yourself from the ground, with bow as a crutch, and standing tall despite all the forces of your body which demand rest. Mouth filled with bitterness and foul words, you glare at Nue.

“Fulfill the contract, leech.” For once, your words have power. You feel the contract hovering over the both of you, an impartial, watchful eye.

Nue breaks from its private victory, tilting its head. “You won’t find prey within my body, hunter.”

You blink.

You turn your head, then turn it further. What meets your eyes are fairies, little earthen dolls, lining the far away air. They watch with their tiny, sparkling eyes. You hear their spritely gossip, and the light, aesthetic rustle of their rooted wings.
They scatter as they meet your gaze, back into the moonlit gloom of the forest.

“Fae are the only thing stupid enough to remain,” Nue remarks to your side, “some thought to fell me, and return you to the flowery one for ransom.” It laughs its melodious birdcall.

You ignore it as you do your own aching body. Your senses are back in their usual, violet stained efficacy. That is all you need. The fear of missing your rent lights a fire under your feet far stronger than any fatigue. So you trek forward.

The forest sounds are here now, distant, muffled by leagues of trees and your own dullen mind. Fae whisperings, bestial screams, and youkai laughter. So far away. Kept back by the Nue. It trails you with an uncharacteristic silence, occasionally glaring into the darkness which your mortal eyes cannot pierce. Like a great beast keeping scavengers from its carcass.

As it says, only the fairies are dumb enough to come into light.



Prey walks into the moonlight. A deer. A real one this time. You draw your bow, more by instinct than thought, then release. The deer collapses. Struck in the heart.
“Slower, next time,” tweets the Nue beside you, jolting you from your stupor. Your head turns painfully to it, only to find Nue stuck in the ‘drawing’ phase of shadow-archery. The form is terrible.

You blink, then go to collect your rent.

The only problem is that you can’t lift it. That does not stop you from trying, and failing, several times. Nue can lift it though, so it does.

You trek the long path home, with rent and Nue at your side.

Sunflowers, glorious and yellow, peak over the horizon. Lit radiant by the waning moonlight. You manage to smile.
“Smells nice,” comments Nue. You agree.

Elly is there. The monstrous scythe of darkness behind her says ‘good morning’.



/o====================5====================o\

...It’s Elly!
[A: good morning Elly.]

...it’s Elly.
[B: keep walking.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x12 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated: ‘Deer’)
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated ‘Nue’, Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
“Parabellum”
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

Rent (Deer)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “lunatic”

\o====================8====================o/

I thought this update would be longer, but it turns out writing from the perspective of someone who is now practically sleepwalking does little for descriptive writing. Oh, well.

I drew the hat wrong but it's 1am and I have university tomorrow, I'll draw the hat right later.
>> No. 29949
>aesthetic rustle of their rooted wings.
>violet stained efficacy.

ok mate
maybe you oughta pipe down a bit there in the prose, eh?


[x]keep walking.
PC98s go home
>> No. 29951
[B: keep walking.]
kimoi
>> No. 29952
Eh, just a tad.

[B: keep walking.]
>> No. 29953
[A: good morning Elly.]
>> No. 29954
File 149479922249.png - (274.38KB , 900x1098 , 6_5.png ) [iqdb]
29954
Forgot to post this before. Ended up making 2 pictures for the update because why not.
<---

Votes will be called in 3 days or when I think I've reached a peak.


>>29949
In case anyone is curious, I've sorted this out with the guy. Personal conclusion is that I just have to comb my descriptions more thoroughly in the editing process.

>>29951
Rude!
>> No. 29955
[A: good morning Elly.]

A good man remembers his manners.
>> No. 29956
[x] Good morning!

>Keep walking

Rude
>> No. 29957
[A: good morning Elly.]
>> No. 29958
[A: good morning Elly.]
>> No. 29959
[A] Good morning Elly.
>> No. 29960
File 149482526297.png - (192.29KB , 745x644 , 6_85.png ) [iqdb]
29960
Misc. forest fairy, as seen by protag.
>> No. 29961
File 149484969256.png - (651.94KB , 1500x1500 , 6_975.png ) [iqdb]
29961
Vote called for A. 9 votes is a lot more than I expected.

Update will come out... maybe soon? I'm ungodly busy tomorrow, but I'll be free the next day... mostly? I'll get it out as fast as possible regardless.
>> No. 29962
I finished my assignment. It was very hard.

Update tomorrow, hopefully. I drew the picture for it tonight, now all that's left is to write the rest of the darn thing.
>> No. 29963
File 14951103118.png - (0.96MB , 2000x2000 , 7.png ) [iqdb]
29963
Elly, a familiar monster, and the closest thing you have to a friend. You never talk to her. Her voice doesn’t come from the right place. Still yet, the sight of her permanent grimace is as sentimental as the field of flowers it accompanies. You manage a “good morning, Elly,” and ignore the ensuing smile of the monstrous, serpentine scythe. “Good morning, Elly,” echoes Nue, disinterested.

You have your duty, Elly has hers. They are separate for good reason. So you continue, with Elly calling out a ‘happy birthday, Schütz’ from behind.

‘Close enough’ your body decides, as your feet tread over soft grass. You fall asleep before you hit the ground. Rent is at your side.



You wake up to humming and the smell of burning. Your muscles react before your eyes, shooting upwards into instantaneous pain, and soon brought back to the earth with a thud. It’s then you decide to open your eyes. Red. Yellow. Purple. Green. Focus comes slowly, but you could recognize the silhouette anywhere. Sister. You smile just as you notice the burning rank of vomit in your mouth.

You remember everything, but you don’t understand it.

It’s an indistinguishable soup of pain, fear, and confusion, as foul as the bile puddling on your tongue. With heavy and sore arms, you hoist yourself up, and spit. The saliva is red. That isn’t unusual. The humming hits a high note, and you look up once again, reminded of where you are, and whose presence you are beneath. “Sister,” you say with a voice turned ragged, and look up, eyes clear.

At your call, her head turns, and she smiles back. She is beautiful, with back turned and gloved hand sunken into the corpse of a deer, its fur long singed, and skin rendered to blackened char beneath. For what purpose you cannot imagine, but her mere presence fills your chest with a warmth that defies the pain throughout your entire body. The bruised purple sky above only serves to accentuate her purity. Your curse doesn’t touch her. It wouldn’t dare.

“Happy birthday!” she twirls to meet you fully, the attached deer corpse spreading a spiraling cloud of ash in its wake. Birthday? The word scrapes the back of your memories, and you instinctively feel for Parabellum. Your last birthday present. From four years ago. Also it isn’t your birthday. Still, you sister stands proud, tall, and smiling brightly. The corpse hangs mid-air beside her, its ashes smell like sunflowers and burning hair. It’s the type of game your sister would eat, if it weren’t burnt to cinders.

“Rent,” you mutter a vague memory. The ill feeling resurfaces, poisonous thoughts that demand the attention you insist upon your sister. “It was sufficient tribute,” her smile wavers a moment, “But it is your birthday, and humans like human things.” She dumps the burnt carcass in front of you, and sits herself down daintily.

“I cannot provide human things here, but I can cook meat. Today we will eat a human thing.” Without ceremony, she tears a chunk of burnt flesh from the carcass and eats it. There are hints of red beneath the burnt shell. She cooked it so fast only the intestines and upper body fat was evaporated. The lingering pressure of wrongness still heaves at the back of your skull, which you ignore entirely. Your sister made this for you, a birthday meal for a birthday you don’t have. “Thank you, sister,” you croak, feebly tearing off a chunk of your own. Even the red part tastes like ash. You find yourself wolfing it down anyway, filled with a gluttony you weren't even aware of, even dust will suffice.

...

Your stomach is filled to the brim with ash.

So this is human food?

Humans are disgusting.

“I don’t think I like human food, sister.” She always appreciates your honesty. Her own eyes are scrunched, but relax at your words. Her jaw creaks awkwardly against a bone. The marrow is her favorite part. Today she spits it out. “Me neither, Schütz,” her voice is the carefully handled, smiling deadpan she always uses to hide her disappointment. “I can get more later,” you reassure her, despite the fact drawing a bow might very well cause your arms to snap. “Failures are failures, and this failure is my own.”

She holds out an arm, a familiar sigil blazes something fierce, and the offensive meal is made gone.

Your body still aches, and your mouth now tastes like vomit and charcoal, but you refuse to collapse while your sister is here. You manage to form a question, something to take your mind off it all, “why is it my birthday today, sister?”

She blinks once, then twice, before apparently remembering why with a little tap of her parasol. “Because I got you a present, Schütz. Humans give presents on birthdays, so it is your birthday today.” Her smile is radiant, it would be impossible not to meet it with your own, if it weren’t for the savage pressure at the back of your mind. It grows stronger. Gnawing, biting, and scratching.

Your eyes are forced to wander to your quiver. There is a broken arrow, tipped with oily blood. You remember why.

“Schütz?”

The contract. Pressure abates at your realization, only to be replaced by a far deeper chill of dread.

Something taps under your chin, you look to see sister’s parasol. Its blunt end brushes against your throat. She is standing in full form now, with a puzzled, but stern look on her face. The cursed sky looms above her. “My brother, you smell like fear.”

It’s a statement, an acknowledgement of your situation, but not a question.

Sister isn’t one to pry. She trusts you, and your judgement, even if you don’t always trust yourself.

/o====================5====================o\

...
[A: Help.]

Sister is burdened with enough of your problems…
[B: Nothing.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x12 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated: ‘Deer’)
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated ‘Nue’, Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
“Parabellum”
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “lunatic”

\o====================8====================o/

I really have to learn how to draw clothes one day. That day isn't today, or tomorrow, though.
>> No. 29964
[A: Help.]
>> No. 29965
[B: Nothing.]

I'm really not sure what to make of all this. I have to say, I'm intrigued.
>> No. 29966
[B: Nothing.]

No need to bother the light of our life with such trivialities. We got ourselves into it, we can get ourselves out.
>> No. 29967
[A: Help.]
>> No. 29968
[B: Nothing.]

Does she really have her best interests in mind?
>> No. 29969
File 149518922842.png - (517.98KB , 1500x1500 , 7_5.png ) [iqdb]
29969
Vote will be closed tomorrow morning, aussie time.

Picture. Couldn't get the clothes right, but whatever.
>> No. 29970
Set for B. Update will come within my usual time limit, I hope.
>> No. 29971
No. Sister has nurtured you all these years, endured your faults and cultivated whatever light she sees within you. The only thing she loves more than futility is strength. You will show her both. So you brush the parasol aside, and stand up without crutch. Pain shoots down your legs, and your face contorts into something horrible, but locked your legs remain. Sister looks you up and down appraisingly. She can smell the blood in your breath, and taste the fear in your mind. The curse. Your defiance of them is her delicacy.
You are her diseased little flower, after all.

Her troubled face becomes a smile.

“Oh, my brother, you will crush them,” her voice needs no contrived malice or fervor, the weight of her words are enough. She has absolute faith you will do what needs to be done. You refuse to let that face of hers ever be stricken with disappointment. If you die, the judge of heaven may just send you back to the flower fields for penance.

“Of course, sister.”

She nods, then taps you on the shoulder. You collapse into a painful pile. “Humans do not work on birthdays, Schutz.”

“What do they do on birthdays then,” you groan, untangling yourself from your twisted clothes.

“They do nothing.”

“Human conventions are inconvenient, sister.”

“They are, that is what makes them human.”

You want to protest, but your body decides the grass to be far too soft for that. Sister laughs with unsuppressed amusement, and with a casual motion grabs something from thin air and dumps it on your chest. You groan, taking it.
It’s a key. Heavy, iron, and painted a garish shade of red.

“To our new home.” She kneels down next to you, bright smile on her face, “the current tenants won’t last long.” Her enthusiasm is infectious, though celebrating what, you don’t understand. The flower field does not leave wanting, or so you thought.

So you ask the most important question of all, “does it have flowers?”

“Not enough,” she affectionately trails a finger along the ground, a row of daisies leap up behind, as if to grasp it, “but nature will take its course.” She brings the finger to your chin, and strokes across it. It is warm like sunshine, and leaves the scent of sunflowers. All of the pain in your body is made gone.

“Happy birthday, Schutz,” she giggles, standing up and brushing off invisible dirt. “There is still much work to be done, but we will have a true home soon, I promise you.” You don’t know from whose desire she speaks, but as long as her smile is true, you will follow it anywhere.

“Then I’ve no doubts, I look forward to it, sister.” She nods, content at that.

Silence passes, sister lost in her own thoughts. The contract has blended into your own like a parasite, a second opinion never asked for, judging all your thoughts and whims by relevance to its terms. You can ignore it like you would a persistent itch, but its presence is a constant temptation.

The contract will grow more persistent with time. It promises you that.

You’re taken from your thoughts by an energetic twirl of your sister’s parasol, the grass beneath her shivers in anticipation of her revelation. “Elly was so excited this morning, would you know why?”

You frown. Elly. The vigilant shadow at the field’s edge, stained violet by your curse. Her role is the noble guardian, the filter between outside and here. Your respect for her is immense. Your willingness to acknowledge it in person, less so. Of the many things your curse warps, Elly is among the worst. Her figure is turned gaunt scarecrow, with vacant pits for eyes, and a jagged sneer that stretches across her face like a mask. This much is bearable. You could speak to a scarecrow all day, if you squint hard enough she may even look human. What truly turns your blood cold is the scythe. It is a thing of darkness, made material into leviathan, loathsome and spasming like a worm unearthed. Every motion Elly makes is mirrored by that disgusting parasite, except her voice. The worm speaks for her.

You know none of it is true, Elly is a good girl. It’s your curse that sullies her image.

You’re just too scared to confront it. Like all the things your curse ruins.

“No,” you finally answer, keeping your voice clear of guilt. You have your duty. Elly has hers. It is better this way.

Sister nods, unsatisfied, but understanding. She knows of your curse, and how it colors your actions.
“Then we have no further business, have a happy birthday, Schutz.”

She is gone, and the world is made all the less brighter for it. You are left alone with a key, a contract, and an unsolicited day off.

/o====================5====================o\

A day off without impetus, entertaining futility may just stave away the true threat…
[A: Find sister?]

Lingering guilt...
[B: Visit Elly.]

Something to keep the mind off...
[C: Flower watching and arrow maintenance]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x12 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated: ‘Deer’)
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated ‘Nue’, Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
“Parabellum”
Tacky Red Key
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “lunatic”

\o====================8====================o/

Couldn’t draw what I wanted to draw, I’ll try again later.
>> No. 29972
[B: Visit Elly.]

Weird curse.
>> No. 29975
[B: Visit Elly.]

Poor Elly.
>> No. 29976
[C: Flower watching and arrow maintenance]
Idle hands and all that. Flower watching is fine too. If Sister had left more of an opening, I would have rather watched her.
>> No. 29977
[B: Visit Elly.]
Ignore her, then visit her, then do something rude, then leave, then go back.
Let's confuse the hell outta her.
>> No. 29978
[C] Flower watching and arrow maintenance.
>> No. 29979
File 149542917864.png - (220.22KB , 565x840 , 8_5.png ) [iqdb]
29979
Vote will be called tomorrow morning, as usual.

I keep thinking that I won't get votes, but it seems that they're just usually clustered around a particular time. I'm a naturally panicky and pessimistic person, just have to condition myself to be patient. Will act rashly otherwise.

Picture. Random sketch of Elly's head I had lying around. Designs will probably fluctuate a bit as I try out new things, but they should gravitate towards a mean eventually.

>>29977
The rudest of dudes.
>> No. 29982
Oh, yeah, belated vote calling. Was at university all day. Update will be tonight unless my bottle of lemon juice harbors a brain eating amoeba.
>> No. 29988
File 149555174534.png - (790.57KB , 1000x1250 , 9.png ) [iqdb]
29988
You are met with a profound lack of things to do. The concept of a ‘doing nothing for a day’ is a foreign one. What use are hands if not at work? Only a mind as perverse as a human’s could conjure it. Perhaps they lack your drive. The sun isn’t so close to them as your sister. If you stayed still too long you’d surely be burned-

-but if sister decrees it, then there must be a fruit among the thorns.

So you lay down in the grass, with your thoughts as company. The contract ticks away in the background. Tallying every second spent idle as a little crime. Your memories of last night are still blurred between possibilities and happenings. Though there are some certainties amidst the chaos. Nue is evil, and you must teach it archery. It tricked you into believing in your curse, even if it didn’t know it. It’s a mistake you haven’t made since childhood. Now it seems that you must endure this tribulation by the day, you doubt the Nue will be gracious in its personal space. It is uncharitable in every other regard.

Elly.

The name sticks out to you once again, and you may know why. She is everything the Nue is not. Respectful, valiant, and kind. All they share is the monstrous face your curse bestows them. For the Nue, perhaps it is justified, but upon Elly? It only begs the question, if you must teach archery to Nue, but cannot stand even the barest of interaction with Elly, then what kind of squalid thing are you?



The longer you think, the worse you feel.

This isn’t a matter of work, it’s a matter of treating Elly right. If you can’t do this, then you may as well swallow your arrows now, for Nue will hold no quarter. You move before you can convince yourself otherwise. The many blossoms part in your way. They like you.

Soon you are at the edge of the field. You don’t need to announce your presence, this is Elly’s domain. All you need do is watch, wait, and brace for impact.

You already see her on the horizon, and nearing at uncanny speed, thrusting ragged through the air like a stray leaf in stormwinds. From a distance she could be mistaken human, but that illusion quickly melts violet as her more monstrous attributes come to focus. In the span of a breath she is at your feet, hailed by a gust of wind, standing tall and proud. You don’t flinch, even as white hot needles run down your spine. She always watches you leave, with a word of goodbye and safe hunting. This scene has played out a thousand times, and it would play out a thousand more.

What a pathetic cycle you’ve found yourself in.

It will be different this time.

You train your eyes deliberately on her own, the twin pits of nothingness infinitely preferable to the thing squirming beneath her. Now it shivers from the ground, like a mirage, coiling and twisting mid-air in defiance of whatever laws govern light and shadow. The serpent, the ‘scythe’. You just have to remember, none of it is real. Not the grinding of its undulating teeth, nor the whine of the wind as it animatedly slices through the air at the slightest of Elly’s movements. Fake. Like the violet sky above.

With a gulp, you muster your first words in 4 years, “good afternoon, Elly.”

Her eyes widen, and the snake slackens.

You’ve both been standing here for quite some time now, or perhaps it has only been a few seconds. Your heart thumps so fast inside your chest it could be mistaken for one continuous beat.

Why is she so still?

You need a topic. Now, before the inertia loses you.

/o====================5====================o\

A firmer grasp of the unknown...
[A: So, what do you look like?]

There is honesty, on virtue of knowing little else...
[B: Be candid, speak your mind and see what happens.] [!mandatory secondary vote!]
-[] Of your fear
-[] Of your respect

You could comment on current events...
[C: We’re moving homes.]

Surely there is common ground…
[D: On the subject of sister.]

But she’s supposed to be the chatty one…
[E: Wait.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x12 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated: ‘Deer’)
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated ‘Nue’, Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
“Parabellum”
Tacky Red Key
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “lunatic”

\o====================8====================o/

Good apple.
>> No. 29989
[x] So, what do you look like?

His reactions to the illusion may be weaker once he has something to replace them with
>> No. 29991
[E: Wait.]

First words in four years? Am I missing something? Didn't he say good morning to her earlier?

Well that aside, I like your drawings. They help give a better picture of what Schutz is seeing.
>> No. 29994
>>29991
>Am I missing something?
Last night is a complete blur, especially the final stretch, he only remembers the most striking details.

Probably should have emphasized that more.

>They help give a better picture of what Schutz is seeing.
Glad they're well received. Would've had a lot of trouble trying to tell this kind of story without some visual aids.
>> No. 29995
[C: We’re moving homes.]
We are? Maybe Yuuka is building her mansion. I saw no mention of the lake of blood, after all.
>> No. 29996
[A] So, what do you look like?

We all know the answer is 'cute', but he doesn't.
>> No. 29998
File 149561823692.png - (22.82KB , 128x128 , 9_5.png ) [iqdb]
29998
Vote will be called tomorrow morning.

Picture. A quick, spritely Elly. Now with color.
>> No. 29999
[A] So, what do you look like?
>> No. 30000
File 149562836370.png - (23.05KB , 128x128 , 9_75.png ) [iqdb]
30000
>>29998
Another because I have nothing else to do.

Didn't do so well on this one, oh well.
>> No. 30001
You like to write and it shows. This should be good.
>> No. 30003
Vote called for A, a normal question from a normal person.

Testing season is round' the corner, so I'll be basking in that soon enough. Updates may be more delayed than usual if I think time would be better spent studying or suchlike.

>>30001
Well, I'll try my best.
>> No. 30004
File 149567077894.jpg - (643.67KB , 750x1000 , gKQgkjs.jpg ) [iqdb]
30004
>>30000
Nice GET
>> No. 30007
File 149568517275.png - (23.98KB , 128x128 , 9_875.png ) [iqdb]
30007
Spriting is weird. I'll keep trying as I go along. Maybe I'll get better at it, who knows.

Could've spent ages trying to detail this thing, but eh.

>>30004
What do I win?
>> No. 30009
The problem is right in front of you, behind your eyes.

You don’t know what you see, what you touch, or what you hear; and those who claim to know the truth are the very same monsters your curse puppeteers. Trusting those you cannot perceive, to tell you of the world you cannot perceive. You’ve made this mistake too many times. Blind faith. It’s a very stupid, very human mistake-
-but you know Elly is a good girl, your sister trusts her, and now so so shall you. As twisted as your curse may be, it won’t scramble the words from her mouth. Unless you let it. ‘Not that you haven’t before’, adds a voice of sedition called rationality.

You take a deep breath to muffle the sound of your already veering thoughts, and speak before they can raise complaint, “so, what do you look like?”

Whatever mood struck Elly frozen for that minute evaporates like steam. Her eye sockets narrow, and her body bends into an exaggerated show of ponderance. The infernal blade has parked mere centimetres from your body, which you very deliberately ignore. Though your body rebels with a shiver.

Then, she shifts once again, now fully upright and staring into your eyes as intently as you do into her lack thereof. “Depends who you ask. My sisters would say bumpkin, Yuuka would say waxen sunflower, I would say red,” speaks the scythe for her. Elly herself leans in closer, her broad, ghoulish mouth stretching impossibly further, and the serpent behind doing its best imitation of a heron before the strike. You resist the urge to step back. “What would you say?” she adds, and you swear if you could see her eyes they would be peering directly into your soul.

You can already feel your heart preparing to bound, and your thoughts beginning to race. The thin layer of sweat, clouded with the same dirt of yesterday, cools several degrees. The usual reactions which follow a confrontation with the things your curse makes monsters.

You dispose of all these things by ignoring them.

She didn’t answer how you wanted, but she is Elly nonetheless. The one your sister has chosen as her most sacred vassal. Still, you find your thoughts scrambled. Many answers race through your head, all of them a disservice to her true face, whatever it may be-
-but you can’t lie. That is something your curse does. You will never stoop to that level.

So you latch onto the most comfortable truth you can find.

“You look Red.”

Silence passes, without the squirming of the scythe, or the comic gesturing of her scarecrow body, Elly is completely unreadable.

Then her eyes sockets begin to widen, the void within expanding, as if dawned by some great and equally terrible revelation. The serpent behind knots absurdly, and speaks, “that’s impossible, you aren’t me.” Her body recoils slightly, before pushing forward, scythe in fro. “Unless.” She’s even closer now, and with the scythe’s distance it’s as if she whispers directly into your ear.
“Friends think alike, don’t they?”
Far. Too. Close.

The fear keeps you in place, but you manage to usurp it with a more sustainable form of determination. You will not react to the cursed sight projected. This is Elly, as unpredictable as she is, that is all she is. This is nothing compared to Nue, a thing after your own soul’s chastity.
“I don’t know, never had one,” you continue, fazed but not defeated by any stretch.

“Me neither,” the blade replies, aloof, and dragging back to Elly’s side. You allow yourself a sigh of relief.

Now she simply stares at you, whatever emotions she had shifting back into a nebulous stormcloud.

You could leave, but that would be giving up. The conversation has broken and scattered, and you’re terrible at fixing the things you break. Though let none say you don’t try.
“Sister would say I look like a diseased flower.”

Elly pipes back up at this, and wordlessly, she begins circling you. You feel the gaze on your body. You bare it, confused, but ultimately relieved that the serpent doesn’t so much as wander near.

She stops once she reaches your front again.

“You look like garbage, to me,” is what she judges.

You look down, and around. You’re covered in debris, dried mud and vomit mix at your collar. What little skin that is exposed hold the bruises and grazes gained from a long night. No doubt your face is just as beaten, even now the coppery taste of dust and blood lines your lips.
Personal appearance never bothered you, a certain degree of roughness even befits a diseased flower, but at this rate you might be mistaken for compost. Elly already has.

“True. I need to bathe,” you admit.

“You can’t wash off humanity, Schütz.”

“What?”

“Human waste cannot be cleansed, it must be purged,” the scythe recites with a tone that could be called joyful, like a teacher reciting a favorite passage from a script. She even does a little bow at the end. “Though Komachi would appreciate the effort,” she adds in afterthought.

You blink. Elly doesn’t skip a beat.

“But that’s besides the point. I’m of moderate height, with an immoderate bust. My hair is curly and blonde, and matches my pretty gold eyes. I’m mostly red, though my skin is pale. What brought this on, Schütz?”

She’s back to staring at you, or what you assume to be an eyeless equivalent of staring. It takes you a few moments to fully grasp everything she just said, a disparagement to all humanity and an answer to a question you forgot you even asked.

...

/o====================5====================o\

A comfortable truth.
[A: Sister said you were excited this morning.]

A less comfortable truth.
[B: There are worse things to talk to, lately.]
-[] tell a little
-[] tell a lot

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x12 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated: ‘Deer’)
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated ‘Nue’, Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
“Parabellum”
Tacky Red Key
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “lunatic”

\o====================8====================o/

Red apple.

I got four hours of sleep and it is now 12:30 am or so. Picture will come tomorrow.
>> No. 30010
Question: does she know of his curse? Not humanity, I mean his distorted vision. It seems that she does but...

[X] Sister said you were excited this morning

Don't you worry Elly, we'll die in a few years and you won't have to endure this pile of garbage anymore.
Should we thank her for not purging us or it was Yuuka's order?
>> No. 30011
[A: Sister said you were excited this morning.]
>> No. 30012
File 149585343032.png - (258.00KB , 2000x2000 , 10.png ) [iqdb]
30012
Quick side profile since I can't really be bothered drawing something complex.

Vote will be called, at, uh, some point.I'm gonna be pretty busy for a few days, and it doesn't seem like many votes are coming in anyway.

>>30010
>Question: does she know of his curse?
No.

I'm answering this because this was intended to be in the update, but got unintentionally phased out during editting.
>> No. 30013
[B: There are worse things to talk to, lately.]
-[X] tell a little
>> No. 30014
>>30012
Oh. Just asking because she seemed really biase about describing herself to a guy standing five feet away.
>> No. 30015
[B] There are worse things to talk to, lately.
- [x] tell a little

I like the way you write (and draw) youkai. You manage to make them creepy without going full grimdark, if that makes any sense.
>> No. 30016
[A: Sister said you were excited this morning.]
>> No. 30017
[B: There are worse things to talk to, lately.]
-[X] tell a little
no need to go overboard
>> No. 30018
File 149589522660.png - (3.44MB , 2000x2000 , 10_5.png ) [iqdb]
30018
Picture of the reddest apple. Very quickly made, very quickly colored. Forgot the hair drills and can't be bothered adding them.

Sitting on a tie, though it should break by tomorrow morning, which is when I'll be taking the vote.

>>30015
Can't really say much on the matter without seeming preemptive, I'm only up to my tenth update. Glad this type of stuff doesn't only appeal to me though.
>> No. 30019
File 149592849371.png - (30.83KB , 886x600 , pride.png ) [iqdb]
30019
>>30018
> though it should break by tomorrow morning
Guess not.

Vote will be called when the tie breaks.

Whether to tell Elly about the malign arrow-happy demon does have significance, so I'd rather not be so flippant as to call a coin toss.

Also my submission was finally processed, got my certificate. Now I can write this story legally. If anyone asks, I started writing today.
>> No. 30020
[A: Sister said you were excited this morning.]

Updates where
>> No. 30021
Set for A. Was worried I'd have to actually coinflip it.

>>30020
I have 3 tests and an assignment due next week.

That probably doesn't matter because I'm going to procrastinate to write this anyway. So within my usual timeframe of 3 days, hopefully.
>> No. 30022
>>30021
scraaaaatch that, I'm busy
>> No. 30024
>>30022
There is a light at the of the the tunnel though, tomorrow night I'm free!

Well, not really, then I have finals. However, I have around two weeks before now and then I'll make the most of em.
>> No. 30026
File 149615001263.png - (53.51KB , 500x500 , 10_75.png ) [iqdb]
30026
>>30024
quick scribble thing.
>> No. 30027
>>30026
Oh, pretty much made the same exact picture a few days ago, guess I'm more tired than I though. Didn't even realize till I scrolled up
>> No. 30028
File 149624455739.png - (888.48KB , 2000x2000 , 11.png ) [iqdb]
30028
There are a lot of answers to Elly’s question, and too many of them speak of an insidious moonlit beast. Sister doesn’t need to know. Elly doesn’t need to know. This is your problem, and by your own sister’s words ‘you will crush them’. You also must thank your sister for providing a far more comfortable truth. “Sister said you were excited this morning, I came to check.”

“Why would you say that if it isn’t true?” replies the snake. There is no hostility, or in fact any emotion in its metallic voice. You’re left to look at Elly’s face, tilted to the side, eye-sockets squinted slightly. You feel your breath leave your lungs, and fail to return. Lying. You don’t trust yourself, or your judgement, it’s impossible. Your curse doesn’t allow it. But of all the things you would ever do, lying is not one of them. Lying turns the world purple, and makes all things monstrous and vile. The moment you lie is the moment you become no better than your curse.

You take back the air lost to a moment of self-doubt. “Because it is so,” is not a grand rebuttal, nor does it carry confidence apart from the conviction that you would tell no deliberate wrong.

“Then,” the snake pauses, Elly twisting her head so far you can spot the wooden pole staking where her neck ought be, “you did not come to continue our conversation this morning?”

“No,” you answer before thinking, more to reassure yourself that you did not lie. Though it dawns on you, after a moments consideration, just how bizarre Elly’s statement was. The haze of your mind is impenetrable, and the mere mention of ‘morning’ does little more than blow a futile gust against the valley of fog.

The serpent makes noise like two iron blades gnashing, before resolving with a resonant, “very well then.” Elly shakes her head a moment, the serpent mirroring the most minor of movements on a far grander scale. “If all I thought was beside the point, then I was excited this morning to find out I ceased being invisible to you.” She leans closer, blank-faced, “now, will you run off to tell Yuuka?”

Elly was never invisible, in fact, her visibility is precisely what drove you to avoid her. She thinks you would confront her before now, before you were faced with the the living ultimatum that is Nue. It’s lunacy, but last night wasn’t a night of sanity. Sister’s touch was not enough to dispel whatever twisted bramble of memories has taken root. Navigating it will only bring pain.

You answer the only part of Elly’s words you can consider without a migraine, “sister is gone.”

Elly, who has been patiently staring into your face without expression until now, broadens its ghoulish maw. It could be compared to a smile, if you squinted from a great distance. “Then you are stuck here, continuing our conversation from this morning.” She leans backwards, drifting away to a more comfortable distance. You still have to restrain a quiver at her sight, but the initial shock has faded, and knowledge of her true face proves a great comfort. Like knowing the sky is blue.

Elly is peculiar and erratic, far beyond the virtuous paragon you had built at the back of your mind. Though you don’t find yourself lost in her words. She is open, honest, and Yuuka’s vassal, that alone is enough to place your trust. All these years and you haven’t spared a word, out of what? Fear? It was pathetic at the time, and even more pathetic now in hindsight. Though now she expected you spare more words, and then another, and you are all but tongue-tied. You have no aim, or goal, now that you’ve broken through the initial barrier of even acknowledging her presence, and asking the excuse for a question you used to justify it.

At the end of your thoughts, you notice Elly has gone vacant, not even looking at you now. She stares out to nothing, serpent retracted into the earth.

/o====================5====================o\

Hardly ideal, but if you must...
[A: Continue the conversation.] [You may choose a relevant topic, or rely on Schütz to make one.]

A day off, why not experience it from another’s eyes…?
[B: Join her?]

‘Humanity’ may not wash off, but this vomit certainly will…
[C: Cleansing.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x12 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated: ‘Deer’)
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated ‘Nue’, Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
“Parabellum”
Tacky Red Key
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “lunatic”

\o====================8====================o/

Might've been a bad idea to write an update post-testing and tired. Guess I'll find out when I reread it in the morning.
>> No. 30030
[x] Humanity will not clean off but this vomit will
>> No. 30031
[C: Cleansing.]
>> No. 30032
>>30029
Writeins are allowed (though must make sense in-character), and 'apologizing for being covered in vomit' would have fit into continuing the conversation.
>> No. 30033
[C] Take a freaking bath already.
>> No. 30034
>>30032
[X] Continue the conversation
-[x] Your curse and how you view her be the real Elly
>> No. 30036
File 149630244297.png - (30.86KB , 384x256 , 11_5.png ) [iqdb]
30036
Vote will be called tomorrow morning.

Practicing spriting. Less restful Nue. Didn't like how it turned out, could have kept editting it, but couldn't be bothered. I'll try again later.
>> No. 30037
File 149630375187.png - (40.90KB , 416x388 , Mvc2-blackheart.png ) [iqdb]
30037
>>30036
Makes me think of blackheart from mvc2
>> No. 30038
File 149631225226.png - (22.79KB , 128x128 , 11_75.png ) [iqdb]
30038
Work in progress. I'm having an easier time working on a non-black canvas.

>>30037
Unintended resemblance. Neato.
>> No. 30039
[B: Join her?]
>> No. 30040
File 149632024785.png - (23.12KB , 128x128 , 11_875.png ) [iqdb]
30040
>>30038
Parasol proved too difficult to incorporate.
>> No. 30041
File 149632072750.png - (23.05KB , 128x128 , 11_9375.png ) [iqdb]
30041
>>30040
Woops, that was an older version. Had the wrong layer open.
>> No. 30042
File 149632360688.png - (22.40KB , 128x128 , 11_96875.png ) [iqdb]
30042
>>30041
This feels like it belong in the middle of an animation. Made it on accident, really.

Maybe I should try animating it?
Tomorrow maybe.
>> No. 30045
Vote set for C. I'll update as soon as I can, though I need to think the next one through a lot.

I've no picture to post at the moment.
>> No. 30046
File 14963658297.gif - (5.83KB , 128x128 , 11_984375.gif ) [iqdb]
30046
An extremely lazy animation. Don't think I could pull off anything fancy anyway.
>> No. 30048
>>30046
Looking good there. Now I want to see a sprite-based, touhou-inspired horror game. Any suggestions?
>> No. 30049
>>30046

Looks pretty darn neat.
>> No. 30050
>>30048
I'd suggest 5.8, since I'm going to be making a lot more of these. Well, maybe not animations, but plenty of sprites. They're fun to make, even if they don't always work out how I want.

>>30049
Was planning on doing a more interesting animation, but it fell flat and this happened. Glad ya like it.
>> No. 30051
Mate. Maaate. I wish I could sprite half as well as you can! Or as fast; it takes me weeks to do one animation.

You keep up the good work; I'll be down at the pub drowning my sorrows with Parsee.
>> No. 30052
I spent today not updating. Tomorrow maybe.

>>30051
>parsee
Good choice, objectively the best SA.
>> No. 30053
File 149646967613.png - (30.04KB , 512x512 , 11_9921875.png ) [iqdb]
30053
Work in progress

Trying a larger canvas. 256x256 instead of 128x128

Looks better at 2x zoom, so I did that.

Update tonight, probably.
>> No. 30054
You watch Elly fulfill her duty. The same duty she had before you, and the same duty she will have long after. She’s something else. Something beyond human, and far beyond youkai. Even under the plaster mask of your curse, she carries her own form of grace, an aura that separates her from the filth of the earth below. Untouchable. Like sister. In comparison, you just feel dirty. Earthbound. That’s fine. You’re content watching from the ground. Though by Elly’s word, you’ve been made painfully aware of the acrid scent of grime and vomit. Whatever ‘humanity’ your body bears may be unwashable, but the palpable filth covering every inch of it certainly is.

Once again, you look to Elly, her cursed scarecrow form stiff and still, and her perimeter of shadow a constant warning to the leviathan that swims beneath. If she has nothing to say, then you’l take your leave.

“I’ll be going, Elly.”

Seconds pass, and eventually Elly pivots to meet your gaze. The serpent rises from the earth to speak, “a lot of garbage has piled up outside, sweep some up while you’re out, won’t you?”

You still spend a few seconds, waiting for any form of context, but it’s a forgone hope. Like sister, Elly is a dictator in a language you don’t understand. “I’ll do what I can,” you answer anyway.

“Then good hunting to you, Schütz.” She begs you leave with the same phrase you hear every week, except this time you have the gall to reply, “thank you, Elly.” You smile, and she does whatever equivalent her anatomy allows.

You leave to Misty Lake, made much the more confident man after your successful interaction with Elly. Not even the ticking of the contract can bring you down.

===== Time : Early Afternoon =====

Mist pollutes the air, rendering your vision null asides from the vainglorious splash of red peeking from the opposite lakeside. The mansion. It appeared not even a month ago, and you never spared it mind. Buildings from nowhere are just another empty taunt of your curse. You lay down your bow on the lakeside, and strip to your undergarments. They’re as liberally sealed as the rest of your clothing.

Seals are waterproof, fortunately. You wouldn't dare stray from the flower fields without them.

The water is cool to the touch, and immediately aggravates the many tiny cuts and scrapes on your body. Sister may have removed your fatigue, but she does not heal wounds, at least not completely. You learned when you first broke a bone under her care. The leg was made usable. You haven’t broken a bone since, and that’s the most positive thing you can say on the matter.

Cleaning your apparel is a simple task. Unlike the Forest of Magic, the lake is a peaceful. The few fairies present spectate rather than intrude, and in four years, you’ve not seen a single youkai. You thank your seals once again.

By the time you’re finished the mist has cleared enough to see more than a meter ahead. You spare one last glance to the other side. The mansion is front and center, blaring like a great red welt, as if the architect intended to tear eyes out of the socket rather than draw them in. You’re about to turn heel, when you notice something far more interesting than yet another fake building. Infrequently, but deliberately sprouting along the opposing lakeside, all facing the mansion's walls, is an unmistakable plant. Sunflowers.

You can’t take your eye off them. It may sound insane, but you can feel it. Those are your sister’s sunflowers. Not close to the majesty of the ones back home, but hers nonetheless. Without even thinking, you rummage into your pockets and take out a key. Iron and garish scarlet. It matches the mansion perfectly.

You think you might know where sister is. ‘The current tenants won’t last long’, she said.

/o====================5====================o\

Current tenants might include you, if you got too close...
[A: Back home.]

Flowers wouldn’t look so happy somewhere dangerous...
[B: A closer look.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x13 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
“Parabellum”
Tacky Red Key
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “lunatic”

\o====================8====================o/


I can’t draw environments, though I might try later.

Purple sky. Garishly red mansion surrounded by sunflowers. Fairly ordinary lake.

Updates have been short. Too short. I'll work on that.
>> No. 30055
File 14965013235.png - (30.20KB , 512x512 , 12.png ) [iqdb]
30055
Could keep working on it, but I got annoyed with all the cloth. No bloody idea how to draw cloth.
>> No. 30056
File 149651037833.jpg - (11.24KB , 500x298 , Medieval_Lance-BW020092_FULL.jpg ) [iqdb]
30056
>>30055
Holding the biggest jousting lance ever created.
[B: A closer look.]
>> No. 30057
[B: A closer look.]

I regret the winning vote. Elly is lovely
>> No. 30058
[B: A closer look.]

A better look couldn't hurt. Well it could, but that's not the point.
>> No. 30059
>>30056
The perspective makes it look bigger than it actually is, I'll draw it properly later.

It does have a very lance-esque structure though.
>> No. 30060
Votes are waning, so I'll call the vote whenever I think it reaches apogee. If it doesn't, then, uh, fuck me I guess I'll call it anyway.

Either way, calling the vote will probably be delayed.
>> No. 30061
[A] Back home.

I think votes have slacked off because there's no obvious thing to do next. The meaning of the votes is obvious, but what difference is it going to make and why should we care? The only thing on our definite to-do list is Nue, and she's not here.
>> No. 30062
[B: A closer look.]

Sorry for taking so long to finally read this. Now I wish I had sooner — it's a great story! Art is the best part of it, and it really gets the idea across.
>> No. 30063
...I finally get the name! It's because it happens a bit before EoSD, right?
>> No. 30064
File 14965787152.png - (1.03MB , 2000x2000 , 12_5.png ) [iqdb]
30064
Looks like I'll be calling the vote tomorrow morning. Was quite worried there, for a while. Seen lots of stories wither and die over the years from sudden disinterest, I'd rather not join their ranks.

Picture. Quick scribble of the parasol. Has two distinct grips. The ferrule (tip) is blunt, and the actual parasol is quite puffy. I'll draw it open if you see it open.

>>30061
Hm, I see your point. While I can't delve into specifics due to spoilers and such, this has given me a lot to think about.

Thank you.

>>30063
Correct!
>> No. 30065
Vote is set for B

This update will be a bit odd, so it may take a while to make. I am most certainly working on it though.
>> No. 30067
File 149673661535.png - (1.65MB , 2000x2000 , 13.png ) [iqdb]
30067
You still ride the high from earlier. Nothing would bring it crashing down quite like being caught in sister’s one-sided crossfire. Though a glance at the distant sunflowers tells you that they fear nothing, in fact, they stare the mansion right in the face. Sister wouldn’t raze the earth if it already belongs to her flowers.

This includes you.

So if this tacky red thing is really your new home, it may just be worth taking a peek. It won’t be worth meeting the residents, however. ‘They won’t last long,’ said sister.

You make your way around the lake, clothes still slightly damp even after being wrung dry. The ticking at the back of your skull reminds you that you’re wasting time. It’s an arms race between your mind’s ability to muffle and its ability to scream. For now, it can easily be drowned out by more pressing thoughts, though you know the contract will win eventually.

The gateway of the mansion is as overbearing as the mansion itself, carved from a deep red stone that shines lurid in the afternoon light. Despite its grandness, no guards stand watch. The gate is swung open, a deceptively inviting gesture for such an oppressive sight. You can see the full extent of sisters’ influence. Sunflower sprouts litter the ground in various stages of development. Some already stand taller than you, and all face the mansion.

You turn to a nearby blossom, wordlessly asking ‘is it safe?’

It doesn’t reply. In truth, you can’t hear the voice of the flowers, but you know they love you. If you were in danger they would do something to stop you.

You think.

Before you could convince yourself otherwise, you pass through the gateway. No eldritch force stops you, and no guards call to arms. In fact, the insides could even be called tranquil, if you discount the looming red monolith in the background. You’re surrounded by a garden, or a parody of such. It’s disgustingly artificial. The herbs are aligned in perfect rows, and the trees and bushes are trimmed into bizarre, overly-precise shapes. Pruned for aesthetics, not for the good of the plants’ growth.

You can’t suppress your scowl. It’s the ugly type of ‘gardening’ humans indulge in. It’s nothing but a futile attempt to render nature into petty ornamentation. You can see virtue in the practicality of farming, but you will never see the appeal of such a morbid art as ‘gardening’. Humans are animals that must eat to survive. They do not, however, need to stare at a well pruned bush for sustenance. It’s pure lunacy.

Sister would find it hilarious though, before ruining it all with a flick of her hand.

You wonder why this ‘garden’ still exists. Maybe she’s already slain the one responsible for this shameful act?

You can only hope.

Ahead is the true entrance to the mansion, a colossal, twofold doorway, slightly ajar. Darkness stretches beyond. You don’t even need your key, though a slot is clearly visible.

Something heavy falls upon your shoulder, giving you such a shock that you reflexively plunge your fist into-

~<>~

-the depths of green, silken flesh. Your hand is still a moment, before made aware of the storm of particles shredding into its captive flesh. Tiny grains of silt dance around your fingers, stripping skin from muscle, and biting further into that. You can feel the breathing of the beast. Slow and heavy, reverberating through the pandemonium of dust that is its body and blood. The monster looks down on you as you squirm. You’re like the mosquito, brazenly landing on the palm of an incredulous man, right before he clenches his fist.

Though as much as you project, there is no emotion in that face of its, or lack thereof. There is nothing but a gaping maw filled with storm.

But the longer you stare into its empty face, the more you see something you shouldn’t.

A seditious shade of violet staring back.

~<>~

IT’S. NOT. REAL.

Your fist flies into the green, silken flesh, passing through the cursed illusion and smashing into a rock-hard surface. Pain shoots up your arm. You yelp and try to skid backwards, but are held in place with the iron grip of a hand you can’t see. “Clad in holy seals, with a look filled equal parts with contempt and defiance, a priest,” says a voice like sandpaper, smoothed by layers of cloth.

You’re let go and immediately fall onto your ass.

You look up dazed and in shock. The monster stares you down from wherever its true eyes may lie, seen to you as naught but a mouth agape. It is an awkward thing with a cloth body moulded in rough human shape but abandoned halfway in favor of brighter prospects. Everything about it oozes heaviness. Its flesh sags against its own weight, and its head lolls lazily to the side, as if it couldn’t summon the effort to stiffen its own neck. There is a metallic, golden star pinned where its heart ought to be.

You take a breath but wished you hadn't. Its smell creeps into your mouth and you widen your eyes. The the sour but familiar black powder raging inside this beast is none other than gunpowder. This cursed thing is a living powderkeg.

It touched you, and plunged your mind into a violet hell. That’s twice in the span of a day your curse has been fed. You can feel it laughing inside your skull behind your eyes and ears and under your skin. Thankfully, all of it is fake. Even though your hand is coated in a spiderweb of freshly weeping scratches and grazes, it must be. You can’t believe its lies. Believing in the curse, even for a second, is death.

It may be fake, but this thing is still a youkai. Your seals have contracted at its touch, tightening around your chest ever-so-slightly. The telltale warning of a youkai presence, told far too late. You scramble backwards, practically leaping from the ground, and instinctively reach for your sealed knife.

“You’ve got to be the…” it holds up its arms and counts fingers you can’t see, “... sixth most pathetic priest so far. Maybe you should stay back and drink some tea? The others found the taste of their own spilled organs to be… less tasteful. Though our most eminent host would contend.”

You take another step back, still in shock. The thought of opening your mouth to yet another monster fills you with dread. Nue and Elly were more than enough.

It sighs, a deep, animalistic noise blurred by static. Your grip tightens on the knife, bearing it more as a shield that any practical means of offense.

“But you’re a vampire hunter and nothing will convince you otherwise.”

It gestures to the mansion doors. “Scurry on, then.”

Your eyes dart to the gate, and the youkai follows your gaze.

“You know, the position of gatekeeper carries a common misconception. I stop people from getting out, not coming in,” it comments off-hand before bringing its faceless gaze back to you. “Please don’t try to leave.” There’s no force or emotion in the grainy voice it has. Like your sister it relies on the strength of its words, not their inflection.

/o====================5====================o\

This place belongs to sister anyway…
[A: Continue.]

A conditioned response to the strength of monotone...
[B: Linger, regain bearings.]

Out of your depth...
[C: A spellcard duel.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x13 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
“Parabellum”
Tacky Red Key
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “lunatic”

Time: Early Afternoon

\o====================8====================o/


I'll draw it better later, can't be fucked now.
>> No. 30068
[D: Facefuck the beast until it cums gunpowder and explodes.]
[A: Continue.]

Probably the sooner we can find her, the better.
>> No. 30069
[B: Linger, regain bearings.]

Goddamn curse. Gather what strength you can muster before going deeper in the abyss.
>> No. 30070
[A: Continue.]

Why is meiling gunpowder clothes
>> No. 30072
[B: Linger, regain bearings.]
>> No. 30073
>>30070
Pretty sure someone tried to shoot her.
>> No. 30074
File 149679775245.png - (25.09KB , 256x256 , 13_5.png ) [iqdb]
30074
Votes will be called tomorrow.

Though I can't work with a tie, obviously.

Here's a WIP sprite.
>> No. 30075
[B: Linger, regain bearings.]

I come bearing tie breakings.
>> No. 30076
File 149687836847.png - (24.54KB , 256x256 , 13_75.png ) [iqdb]
30076
Vote is called for B, to the surprise of the gatekeeper.

Sprite. Could have kept working on it, but I don't really want to.
>> No. 30087
File 149707118947.png - (1.38MB , 2000x2000 , 14.png ) [iqdb]
30087
Often the body can react faster than the mind, and you find yourself stilled by the youkai’s words before you can even consider them. It’s not a reaction brought upon by any fear, but rather from the blunt authority it held on its tongue. The certainty in which it speaks — without passion, trickery, or deceit — is so very un-youkai-like and so very much sister.

Not to say you aren’t suspicious — this thing is a youkai at heart, a being which exists solely at the misfortune of others.

The point is, its words have made you still. You’re considering them.

This place may belong to your sister, but the gatekeeper only promises you death regardless. Perhaps the youkai is unaware of the fate of its former home. Your eyes widen as it dawns on you If the gatekeeper is so ignorant, how could you possibly say that the other residents of this accursed place aren’t as well?

Blood trickles down to your knife from cuts on your hand that shouldn't exist. You’ve made your decision, the fact you have yet to move from the spot confirms it. You'll wait for sister here, and if she doesn’t come, well…

You lower the knife.

The youkai nods. “The sixth most pathetic... but wisest priest so far.” It gestures to your bleeding arm. “How did you…?”

You believed your curse, is what you don’t say. Wounds received from a cursed parody of whatever youkai that stands before you.

It blows a puff of smoke at your silence before invoking a phrase most bizarre. “Izayoi, your service please.”

Another silence follows, though the youkai doesn’t wait on your words. Instead, it turns towards the empty space between you and the mansion doors.

Formerly empty.

To describe it as a ‘moment’ would be too generous. It wasn’t there, and then it was there. You would call the girl before you a human, if you could possible ignore the persistent blurring surrounding her entire being. That’s the only way you can explain it: a blur. It’s like someone took a great eraser and smudged this monster’s very identity. There’s nothing wrong with it physically. Her limbs are lithe and supple, and her skin is pale but healthy, speaking more of a life indoors than any malady.

The thing called ‘Izayoi’ stares directly at you, her face drawn in a thin veneer of calm. She isn’t even making a show of hiding her disdain.

All you can do is stare back, gripping the wet blade in your hand all the tighter.

That’s the moment when the youkai decided to butt it. “One more warning since your ears seem wise enough to heed them. Miss Izayoi does not take as kindly to having the hardness of her gut tested.” It steps forward, offering itself as the object of Izayoi’s silent ire.

“Meiling,” Izayoi addresses the youkai with a voice calm and measured to the millimeter.

“Izayoi,” replies ‘Meiling’.

“This is a vampire hunter.” Izayoi points at you like one would select meat on a butcher’s hook.

“Was,” Meiling’s grainy voice is kept in that same aloof monotone, which unlike the demon’s, doesn’t sound an inch away from murderous intent.

“As ‘was’ as the others?”

“Perhaps...” Meiling draws on far too long, “If they do not bleed out first. They need bandages.”

“This isn’t in your job description.”

“Neither is it yours to tell me how to do mine.”

Izayoi bristles but shows no other sign of emotional reaction. However, when she returns her posture isn’t quite as sharp as before.

“We’re… friends, aren’t we?” Her voice is still flat, but the pause betrays more weakness than she hopes to, as her brow furrows at the end of her words.

Meiling visibly relaxes, as if it were holding its breath. The sign of a gamble paying off. “We are… that’s why I trust you to get me the bandages, Sakuya.” Meiling’s voice, still a course mess of static, manages to soften.

The pale demon does her best impression of a calm person, before she settling on an actual peace. “Hm, anything else?” Izayoi opts to completely ignore her moment of weakness.

“Some tea… herbal,” replies Meiling.

Then Izayoi, or ‘Sakuya’ is gone.

You let out a breath held for far too long, only to reclaim it as she appears from nowhere again, bandages and ‘tea’ in hand. Without a word, she hands them both to Meiling and disappears with a bow.

Your hand and knife are completely red now, the knife threatening to slip from your hand with the sheer pressure you’re putting on its grip.

“I wonder what god you pray to,” Meiling asks a question it has no intention of getting an answer to. “I’ve been cursed by the name of so many, it’s hard to keep track.” Meiling idly tosses the bandage, it flutters before settling over your head.

You spend a moment staring at the youkai and the bandage half-covering your face.

This thing acts nothing like the forest youkai you’ve grown accustomed to, Nue included. It doesn’t relish in your discomfort. In fact, the thing has just thrown you a bandage for your hand. It has bled far more than a single hand’s worth of blood by now. To say you trust Meiling would be like saying you trust the well-fed wolf watching a bunny hop by - but you don’t feel like you’re going to have your neck snapped the second it leaves your gaze.

That’s all you need to patch yourself up.

So you do that, setting down your bow with great care and wiping the blood off your knife and hand before finally applying the bandage. Your eyes are kept on Meiling for every necessary second. Though all it has done is sit down under the shade of a tree with the ‘herbal tea’ in front of it. It sips from the porcelain cup, not even sparing you a glance.

Once you’re done, you stand up, retaking your bow. You feel naked without it. Your feelings are mixed and mired in uncertainty. Troubled, you look to a nearby flower, troubled. It doesn’t respond.

Meiling, however, calls you over with a lazy wave of its arm. There is another cup of ‘tea’ on its opposite. The message is clear.

/o====================5====================o\

Further, you push your luck...
[A: Sit down.]

A youkai is a youkai...
[B: Keep distance.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x13 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)
“Parabellum”
Tacky Red Key
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
- Bandage (Wrapped Around Hand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “lunatic”

Time: Early Afternoon

\o====================8====================o/

I've got an editor now. Hopefully my writing will become less of a confusing mess.
>> No. 30088
[B: Keep distance.]

>trusting youkai
>ever
>> No. 30089
[A: Sit down.]

>>30087

It was a confusing mess? Did I miss this?
>> No. 30090
[A] Sit down.

> Hopefully my writing will become less of a confusing mess.

As the author of numerous confusing messes on this site, I feel qualified to say that this is not one of them.

However...

> I've got an editor now.

> Troubled, you look to a nearby flower, troubled.
>> No. 30092
[A] Sit down.

This is getting interesting. I wonder how far he can "push her luck"
>> No. 30093
File 149710684047.png - (844.30KB , 958x1000 , 14_5.png ) [iqdb]
30093
At this rate I'll be able to call the vote tomorrow... however, as of now, I've been updating in my study period before the finals. In the upcoming week and a half I'll be well and truly fucked, so no updates maybe?

Still trying to get better at human faces or whatever.

Miss Izayoi.

>>30089
A veritable hurricane of atrocious grammar and other shit flew by.

>>30090
>However...
It's the result of my own malformed editing after the dude fixed just about everything he could (without straight up rewriting) in the update.

Editor is fantastic.
>> No. 30094
>>30093
Somehow, this is even more terrifying than the others.
>> No. 30095
[A: Sit down.]

I like your Sakuya, the eyes are a nice touch.
>> No. 30096
[A: Sit down.]
>> No. 30097
[A: Sit down.]
>> No. 30099
File 149718480571.png - (579.78KB , 1500x1282 , 14_75.png ) [iqdb]
30099
Vote called for A.

As I said before, the update could take as long as a week and a half due to finals.

It's also worth noting that I'm on a week excursion not long after the finals (more university stuff).

But hey! After that I'm pretty much free!


Quick Meiling portrait because I couldn't draw the thing I wanted to.
>> No. 30132
Yesterday, the thought of even acknowledging the existence of youkai and the cursed forms that enshroud them turned you pale. It still does, the only difference between now and then is Nue. Its mark ticks in the back of your mind, promising all that it gave you before: the torments of a cursed monster, both in form and function. In comparison, everything else feels tame. You can draw strength from that bravado. The seed of recklessness has been planted in your mind and you can’t seem to shake it. It’s an insidious false confidence that led you to the steps of this mansion, yet you can’t deny it to be the same confidence that lets you speak to Elly. All of it has aggravated your curse.

The bloodied and bandaged mess of your arm is a harsh reminder of why you don’t test your curse — but now the seed of recklessness has sprouted, and you can only find yourself resentful, but not fearful, of its afflictions. This newfound feeling is like a blight of its own, but you don’t find yourself resisting. Recklessness is so much more refreshing than constant apprehension.

You push your luck further by approaching Meiling. Its mannerisms are absurd given its youkai nature, which, by definition, ought to reduce it to little more than a glib and vicious fiend — like all the other youkai you have encountered before it. Instead, this youkai is straightforward and aloof, even its softly spoken death threat is uncharacteristically forward for one of its kind. Stranger still is how it has seemingly extended itself to your benefit, or at least what it perceives as such. Try as you might, you can’t construe its aid or its warnings as malicious — but is it for the good of your own preservation? Impossible. You see its true nature in the slight shiver of its body as you near. It reacts to your seals like any other youkai. Your curse allows you to see that much.

Meiling gestures you to sit down, disregarding its own obvious discomfort.

You sit down. The ‘tea’ in front of you is pungent with an earthy scent but even that can’t quite overpower the fake smell of saltpeter. Gunpowder is a disturbingly familiar scent. Each breath threatens to drag back memories. You decide to take their lack of success as personal growth, even though it’s more likely the memories have simply faded.

“Meiling, Hong. Youkai gatekeeper,” Meiling introduces itself formally, as if beginning a spellcard duel.

Meiling claims you’re under duress, but you’re put under no such illusions. This is Sister’s home now. This makes the youkai her guest, even if it doesn’t realize the fact. You’re approaching the youkai as a host to a guest. There’s no constraints and no extortion guiding your next words. It’s just pure dialogue.

“Schütz. Hunter,” you reply.

Meiling sips its tea. It’s an absurd sight from your cursed vision, as it simply pours the liquid into its gaping and dust-filled maw.

“Schütz. Schütz…” it samples your name, dragging the sound out as if it had a meaning deeper than Sister’s sense of humor. “It has a strange ring to it. Who picked it for you?”

“My sister.” There’s some pride in your voice, even though the name was little more than an idle fancy of hers.

Meiling blows a puff of gunpowder in response, and a long silence follows thereafter. The youkai pours itself another cup of brew and drinks it in one gulp.

“The eldest Scarlet granted my name on a whim. It serves its purpose. Gives me something to do. Something a Hong Meiling would do. Something simple. Something easy.” Its manner of speech is bizarre and rambly, and is as lazily constructed as its body. “Getting sent to the Scarlet Devil Mansion, is that what a Schütz does? Your sister must be confident, or...” Meiling drags on the end of its sentence, which soon withers to nothing. “I suppose it doesn’t matter anymore. The question is, what does a Schütz do now?”

Meiling still works under the impression that you’re somehow trapped here, and there’s no need to correct it.

“Wait for Sister to come home.” It’s a plain truth.

Meiling leans forward. The fake scent of gunpowder is overpowering. “And if she doesn’t?”

You turn towards the gate and ignore the monster looming over you. Sunflowers peer in from every angle and paint the horizon a glorious yellow. They’re reminiscent of the flower fields, and you think you know why: this is one of them in its most juvenile form. You can’t help but smile.

“She’s already at the gate,” you respond.

Meiling puffs gunpowder. “Should I call for more tea?”

“No, she finds human food disgusting.”

Meiling picks up the teapot and pours the remaining contents into its cursed maw. “I thought the same until I tried Miss Izayoi’s herbal tea. Human never tasted quite as good afterwards.” It pauses in thought. “Or maybe vampire hunters just taste bad. Silver and seals stick to the teeth.”

Its casual disregard of human life provokes only a blink from you. You’re used to these sentiments from the forest youkai and Elly. Sister is the only one who doesn’t seem to hold humanity with the same regard that you hold the dirt beneath your feet. Humanity is an unfortunate condition, and, in Elly’s words, ‘It won’t wash off.’

You look back to the youkai who leans back against the artificial tree content. Whatever it intended to say has already been said.

You don’t know what to think about Meiling, which is a leap above what you think of all the other youkai. It guards the gate and drinks tea. Your passing by seems to be little more than an idle pleasantry to its day, and from that you can only wonder why it saw fit to spare you from whatever horrors lurk within the mansion it guards. If it wished for your flesh, it would have ushered you out, and if it fulfilled its duty, it would have let you pass without a word. Instead it beckoned you to stay.

Apart from its aversion to seals and its taste for flesh, you wouldn’t call it a youkai at all.


/o====================5====================o\

Flower fields never wilt, Sister will come eventually...
[A: Wait.]

Pass the time…
[B: “So, what do you look like?”]

Another step forward on a reckless day...
[C: Onward.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x13 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
“Parabellum”
Tacky Red Key
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “lunatic”

Time: Early Afternoon

\o====================8====================o/

I feel it’s important to note that your voting patterns do indeed have an effect on Schütz. Choosing to both talk to Elly and approach Meiling are both ‘un-Schütz’ things to do, and as such have had a lasting mental effect. He will now act somewhat more recklessly (and more reckless votes will become available). If this pattern continues, well, try to be smart about it, won’t you?

Perhaps this went without saying, and if such things happen in the future I won’t deign mention it.
>> No. 30134
[B: “So, what do you look like?”]

I like him being "reckless" and so does Yuuka, I think.
For me, expanding his comfort zone seems more humane than he'd like.
>> No. 30135
[B: “So, what do you look like?”]

Despite how reckless this may be, I think Schütz needs to open up a little. He recognizes the danger, sure, but there might be some merit to figuring out that all youkai aren't completely bad.
>> No. 30136
File 14975357283.gif - (278.54KB , 500x500 , 15.gif ) [iqdb]
30136
I'll have an actual image tomorrow.

15th update in two months. That's an average of bout an update every 4 days? Not bad.

No updates for a week due to finals.
>> No. 30138
[B: “So, what do you look like?”]

I'd actually like some other question. People open up easier about others than themselves, you know?
Maybe 'So who's Scarlet?' 'What's up with the human?' or 'What's a vampire?'
>> No. 30141
[B: “So, what do you look like?”]
>> No. 30145
File 149757557299.png - (1.63MB , 1938x1552 , 15_5.png ) [iqdb]
30145
Quick drawing. Might make more shit at some other point if I have the time.
>> No. 30146
>>30138
Also I should note that these are all valid questions as a writein. The given dialogue was only present because he's acting on the 'it worked before' principal.
>> No. 30147
[A] Wait.

Creeper Meiling is an intriguing concept.
>> No. 30154
Yep, I'm about as busy as I expected.
I'll try to make some not-trash art tonight, though I might just give up and make a quick scribble if it doesn't work out.

Vote won't be closed for a while.

>>30147
Ha, this is especially funny for me because of spoiler reasons.
>> No. 30156
>>30138
Curiosity shows interest

[B: “So, what do you look like?”]
-[B1: "What's up with the human?"]
-[B2: "What's a vampire?"]
>> No. 30157
>>30138 here
In that case I'm changing my vote to just max priority
[x] What's a vampire?

Because that's a pretty fun way to let Meiling know we're not what she thinks we are.
>> No. 30159
Vote will be closing in two days.

It's sitting on 'B', though the writein makes it a tad odd, since there's no real consensus on how, if at all, it will be included.

I'll write it how I feel it would naturally progress, unless there is a decisive motion to push it in a certain direction.
>> No. 30160
Vote is set for plain B. Writeins discarded due to lack of any consensus.
>> No. 30169
Please wait warmly. Should be done tomorrow or next day.
>> No. 30172
File 149837972395.gif - (1.76MB , 611x1039 , 15_75.gif ) [iqdb]
30172
Having a real hard time editting this update. So have this.
>> No. 30173
The contract cannot be ignored with only the silence of your thoughts as its buffer. Its whine is like the mind’s tinnitus. You want it gone — not because the sensation itself is unbearable but for what its tone promises: Nue. Ignoring it brings temporary relief and even that is a transient feeling. The phantom pain grows stronger in your mind’s eye, and it is a mere fraction of how far the contract is willing to go.

That doesn’t mean you won’t put up a fight. Sister said you will crush them, and her word is not up for interpretation. Somehow, the Nue will fall and so will its squealing contract. You don’t know how or when yet. If the vile Nue were to appear in front of you right now, how could you possibly react? No amount of arrows could stop it. In fact, the thing seemed to revel in having its rotten heart skewered.

It’s a youkai that acts as monstrous as your curse would suggest - and yet the memory of Nue’s soft and ladylike skin is still vivid in your mind from last night. That alone is enough to dispel any thoughts of Nue being monstrous in anything other than its personality. Disarmingly feminine is how your sister would describe the monsters plaguing your senses.

You turn to Meiling as if expecting to find something other than a living powderkeg meeting your gaze. Looking at the youkai now, you can scarcely imagine the true face beneath those cursed layers of silk and gunpowder. It’s the pain of your hand that leads your thoughts to the curse’s domain. You ignore your hand completely. There is a woman beneath the cursed mirage, and you will prove it — for the sake of your sanity.

“So, what do you look like?” you ask the same question you asked Elly - though you terminate that comparative thought immediately. Comparing Elly to a youkai is uncharitable to say the least.

Meiling is in a similar state of thought, or perhaps a lack thereof, as it jolts from your sudden question. The youkai soon settles and ponders a moment with its head to the side. When the youkai is apparently content, it answers, “A lazy youkai gatekeeper, or sometimes an active youkai gatekeeper. Neither are pretty - unless you asked for Miss Izayoi’s opinion.” It punctuates the end of its words with a puff of smoke.

“They did not,” replies a stale voice from behind.

You turn, already aware of what you are going to see but none the less disturbed by its existence. Izayoi’s presence is blurred and unfocused - it’s as if the second you let her out of your sight, she would simply vanish. You wish that were the case.

It’s impossible to say how long she was standing behind you. All you know is that she’s there now.

“Then remind me of your opinion, Sakuya.” Meiling continues completely unfazed by the monster in your eyes.

“Both Meilings are pretty.” Despite Izayoi’s sweet words, the praise can only come off as impersonal when paired with her measured tone of voice.

You stare into the still-full cup of tea, silently praying for the pale demon to go away.

That is, until Meiling tugs you back into the conversation. “Miss Izayoi may be wrong, but aren’t her wrong opinions adorable?” asks the youkai.

You turn to Izayoi and then back to Meiling. “No,” is your truthful answer. There is a vast catalogue of words you could use to describe whatever Izayoi Sakuya is supposed to be — checking between ‘abominable’ and ‘atrocious’ you fail to find ‘adorable’. Your eyes hurt just looking at her.

“Mistress deplores self-deprecation,” states Izayoi, completely ignoring you.

Meiling similarly brushes you aside. “It’s no wonder she stuck me outside.”

“You stick yourself outside. There’s an empty seat at the table for breakfast, lunch and tea.”

Meiling puffs a wad of smoke dismissively. “How many times have we had this conversation, Sakuya?”

Izayoi is taken aback for a moment, but quickly recovers as if nothing had happened. “Eighty six.”

“Your point is honed to an edge but has yet to draw blood. Consider another angle.”

Both the figures are silent for a moment in a convincing display of thought.

“Then what would you suggest?” asks Sakuya, who leans forward ever-so-slightly.

Meiling, still in thought, eventually raises her head to speak. “Breakfast is soon. Inviting the priest would coerce me inside.”

It takes a while to sink in, but when it does Izayoi smiles. She smiles.

Then she is gone.

You allow yourself a sigh of relief, even though Izayoi’s absence is by no means permanent.

The personal spat between Izayoi and Meiling was mercifully petty — not even worth the effort of understanding. Though, ‘inviting the priest’ rings ominously in your mind. The last time you were ‘invited’ was to stay in the company of Meiling or die.

You look to Meiling. You could ask it of the invitation, but there’s a far more pressing matter. The youkai completely misinterpreted your original question. The question which decides whether or not a human face stares back at you through the silk and gunpowder haze — even though you already know the answer.

“The question before. I meant your appearance,” you rectify.

Meiling turns to you, ponders a moment, then releases a small puff of gunpowder.

You frown. “What do you look like?”

Meiling leans forward, inspecting you as if expecting to find something broken. When it finds nothing, it shrugs.

“Is this a Gensokyo custom or…” Meiling drags the end of its sentence, not quite long enough for you to reply but enough to demonstrate its bafflement at a simple question. It looks down to itself before answering, “Red hair, green uniform, and…?” It lingers on that unanswerable question before turning back to face you. “...and azure eyes. Sometimes, I see those in a puddle of rainwater.”

The curse doesn’t show you hair and eyes. Only the ‘green uniform’ hearkens to the ghastly site before you. “Good,” you voice your truthful opinion. Your curse is lying. Of course it is.

Meiling pours a cup of tea from the teapot that ought to be empty. Your tea has long gone cold.

“The sixth most pathetic, the most wise, and now the second most strange priest so far,” says the youkai after engulfing its second cup of the brew.

You blink at the mention of ‘priest’ once again.

“Sister calls me her Diseased Flower, not a priest,“ you correct it. The thought of sister draws your head back to the gate, but you see nothing except the rapidly-growing flower field.

“Should we be expecting more Diseased Flowers?” Meiling pauses a moment in thought. “Your company is more preferable than the others, despite your poor taste in women and tea.”

“No.” You are Sister’s one and only Diseased Flower. The only possible comparison you can make is “Elly.” You frown, unable to catch the words before they leave your mouth.

Meiling tilts its head. It doesn’t ask or even blow smoke, it just expects you to continue.

You’ve already committed. “She’s not a Diseased Flower, but she will be here soon. She’s red."

“Our host collects red things,” says Meiling. “Or she dyes things red - by way of sword.” The youkai drains the last of the tea from the pot before standing up, a great plume of smoke announces its rise. It looks down to you. “Let’s not have it come to that.”

You stare at the youkai as it makes its heavy way to the mansion doors. It turns back to you and gives a lazy beck with its arm. “Breakfast is soon. Would you rather me or the adorable maid be your escort?”

You may be divorced from human society, but you are certain that breakfast is a morning activity. It’s afternoon.

/o====================5====================o\


Does it actually expect you to…?
[A: Neither. Wait for sister.]

You aren’t a curious sort — which speaks a lot about this youkai’s ability to befuddle...
[B: Go with Meiling.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x13 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)
“Parabellum”
Tacky Red Key
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
- Bandage (Wrapped Around Hand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “lunatic”

Time: Afternoon

\o====================8====================o/

[C: Fuck my shitty editor]:^) ADD THIS TO THE UPDATE YO UWON’T BITEHC

This update was in editing hell for two days since it was that bad.

Images. I’ll make images. A lot probably?
>> No. 30174
File 14984016294.png - (29.45KB , 256x256 , 16.png ) [iqdb]
30174
I started this without realizing how much effort it might take to finish.


I'll try.
>> No. 30175
[B: Go with Meiling.]

In for a penny, in for a whole mess of monstrous things.
>> No. 30176
[B: Go with Meiling.]
>> No. 30177
[B: Go with Meiling.]

I feel like she's a good influence on him.
>> No. 30178
File 149845453256.png - (51.35KB , 768x512 , 16_5.png ) [iqdb]
30178
This will take a while to finish.

I like drawing her face a lot.

She has a cloak, but I'll have to decide whether to include it in this instance. Might get in the way of the serpent.

I'd animate it, but I value my sanity. Dress physics can die.
>> No. 30179
[A: Neither. Wait for sister.]

She's late.
>> No. 30180
File 149846827097.png - (52.74KB , 766x512 , 16_75.png ) [iqdb]
30180
>>30178
Might work on it more at some point.
>> No. 30181
[B] Go with Meiling.

>>30180

Looking good.
>> No. 30182
[B] Go with Meiling
-[B2] Explain the nature of your curse

She needs to know the reason of the question
>> No. 30183
Vote will be called tomorrow morning.

>>30182
Schütz would not trust Meiling with such sensitive information. It's miracle enough for him to tolerate the presence of a youkai.

>>30181
>Looking good.
I fucked up and saved it all as one layer when I was converting it to the dual-sized image, so editing it is no longer possible. Well, it's possible but annoying.

I like it though.

Starting another one today, of who I'm not yet sure of.
>> No. 30184
File 149852455547.png - (1.01MB , 1000x1000 , 16_875.png ) [iqdb]
30184
Quick Meiling scribble.

Reason why I scribble a lot of Meilings rather than a single detailed one is because I cannot draw such a complex array of cloth.
>> No. 30185
Calling vote now for B. Meiling: not as much of a firecracker of character as it is appearance, entirely for a lack of trying.

I'm busy tomorrow (staying over at grandparents), but after that I'll get shit done.

I'm working on some other sprites, but they're not looking so hot. I'll continue to work on them until they fall apart under the weight of their own mistakes. That's how I make most things, and sometimes they turn out decent.
>> No. 30186
Heya. Dog died today and my editor was on an off day, so even though the update is ready I couldn't exactly post it.

Tomorrow for certain though!!! The universe sort of kicked me in the nuts on this one yknow
>> No. 30189
Once more, Meiling extends itself for your supposed benefit, this time by inviting you to an afternoon breakfast with the ‘Scarlet’. The absurdity would make you laugh, if not for the blunt confidence Meiling holds in its voice. True confidence is a force you once thought to be unknown to the lying tongues of youkai, but Meiling carries it like second nature. You’re left only to wonder how. Is ‘Scarlet’ to blame, or did the youkai's mind twist itself so much in lies that it led back to truth?

You look to the young flower field. Countless bright and unblinking sunflowers stare back. This is Sister’s field, the mansion within it hers as well. Sister is already at the doorstep, and bound to show eventually. You can say that with as much confidence as Meiling, and, unlike Meiling, your judgment isn’t poisoned by youkai nature.

You can’t deny it was Meiling’s poisoned, confident judgement that decided to bandage your arm and ward you from the Izayoi which haunts the mansion. Somehow, in that warped youkai mind of its, it has managed to find a want for your preservation.

This ‘afternoon breakfast’ is not different. Meiling is confident this works to your end. Now it’s only a matter of finding out where the youkai’s confidence comes from.

You take a deep breath before standing up and walking over to Meiling.

The youkai rests against the door, waiting. “Wise,” it says.

It lumbers inside and you follow, stepping inside a house for the first time since childhood.

= = =

It takes many turns of the halls until you can fully comprehend the sight that surrounds you.

From the outside, the mansion’s shade of red tears at your eyes, but it couldn’t quite capture the wrongness that pervades its insides. It’s all formed from natural parts, from floor to ceiling is a composite of wood and stone - yet somehow, they all amalgamate together become the most unnatural structure you’ve ever seen.

You still carry vague memories from childhood of houses formed from paper and carved wood. They still carry the charm of natural influence. Daylight shines through the windows, and the wear of the elements batters the walls and foundations.

However, in this mansion, not even the light is natural. Lurid orbs are strung up above, powered neither by fire nor magic, yet still they glow like miniature suns.

The longer you linger, the more it feels like the walls are closing around you. You frown deeply - redecoration is no longer an option. To turn the mansion into anything resembling livable space, you’d need to tear the whole thing apart and rebuild it from scratch. It’s possible. You won’t even need to ask Sister. One look from her and this repulsive sculpture would shatter. She must have planted the flower field blindfolded.

“The eldest Scarlet,” calls the forgotten presence to your side. Meiling has been leading you this entire time, though you were more focused on where you were being led than the leader. “Too much pride in such a small body. It overflows. Don’t tread on it,” it continues its fractured monologue.

You falter momentarily in confusion, though Meiling continues walking.

“The younger Scarlet...” Meiling pauses a few moments, still walking. “Wouldn’t hurt a fly, but her pacifism has yet to be tested against humans. Don’t test it.”

Hallways come and go between the silences, though you find yourself focusing more on Meiling. The youkai intersperses its words at the pace of its own ponderous thoughts. It serves as a distraction, something to keep the mind off the suffocating world around you.

“The adorable maid.” Sakuya Izayoi, it deliberately omits. “Call her name and she comes - but don’t call her. If there’s an emergency, she already knows.”

You can’t imagine any situation where you would want the presence of that thing. Something about Izayoi is fundamentally off. You know it’s the curse’s machinations warping your senses, but your reaction is visceral - no amount of logical reasoning can suppress it.

“The silent Patchouli Knowledge.” The name is unfamiliar, but it gains your attention nonetheless. “She will take any question that isn’t stupid but don’t expect a comprehensible answer. Don’t give your name to her familiar. The nameless devil hardly lacks names.”

The final warning rings particularly dire. You described Miss Izayoi as a ‘pale demon’, but it pales compared to to a true devil like Nue. You’re well aware of the power of names bound in contract. If another like it were to be on the premises, just waiting to take your name under oath… You shiver.

“The lazy Hong Meiling.” You perk up at the familiar name. “Conceited yet deprived. She is an outcast for a reason. Don’t bother her in the afternoon.”

“It’s afternoon,” you say.

Meiling looks to you, shrugging. “And I’m not bothered.”

Then Meiling pauses abruptly with a twitch, as if slapped by an invisible hand. The bizarre whiskers framing its head stand up on end. It’s the first overtly emotional reaction you’ve seen in its cursed body.

You stop, confused.

“Bothersome,” are its last words. The youkai is already gone, its presence a flickering green blur down the hallway from whence you came.

Without your chatty youkai guide you are left alone in this hellish scape. The contract whines already. ‘Bothersome’ puts this situation lightly.


/o====================5====================o\

Paranoia gnaws at your heel, you’ve yet to ignore it...
- [A1: Move smartly.] {space is needed, there must be an open area in this prison}
- [A2: Move fastly.] {distance is needed, somewhere far from the eye of potential danger}

This is unknown territory, there may just be worse things than more halls at the end of these halls...
[B: Stay put.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x13 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)
“Parabellum”
Tacky Red Key
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
- Bandage (Wrapped Around Hand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “lunatic”

Time: Afternoon

\o====================8====================o/

I'm gonna try to make a well-detailed portrait of Meiling later. Enough scribbles.
>> No. 30190
- [A1: Move smartly.] {space is needed, there must be an open area in this prison}

Where's the option to chill?
>> No. 30192
>“The lazy Hong Meiling.” You perk up at the familiar name. “Conceited yet deprived. She is an outcast for a reason. Don’t bother her in the afternoon.”

>“It’s afternoon,” you say.

>Meiling looks to you, shrugging. “And I’m not bothered.”

Smooth as silk

[x] {space is needed, there must be an open area in this prison}
>> No. 30193
- [A1: Move smartly.] {space is needed, there must be an open area in this prison}

Sorry about that, author.
>> No. 30194
[B] Stay put.

> dog died today

My condolences. I hope it didn't involve three massive seizures and a house full of blood like mine a few months ago.
>> No. 30197
File 149900627519.png - (1.01MB , 1500x1500 , 17.png ) [iqdb]
30197
Vote will be called either tomorrow morning or the day after.

Clusterfuck. Might work on it more later. Needs time and effort.

>>30194
Nah, nondescript cancer. It was a lightning bolt shift from happy running dog to 'can't walk without falling down' dog. Mercifully short relative to the drawn out breakdowns I've seen in other cherished family pets.
>> No. 30198
[A2: Move fastly.] {distance is needed, somewhere far from the eye of potential danger}

Vote isn't gonna win but posting to show some good will and participation.
>> No. 30199
File 149907678956.png - (1.75MB , 2000x2000 , 17_5.png ) [iqdb]
30199
This is far too complex a thing for me to draw, as I suspected. I tried at least. If I kept going it'd just get worse.
>> No. 30200
>>30192
I thought you were my editor, since he liked that part.
>> No. 30201
File 149908196725.png - (1.66MB , 2000x2000 , 17_75.png ) [iqdb]
30201
>>30199
Colorshift. Sepia isn't Meiling's thing.
>> No. 30203
>>30200
Your editor has good taste. This story is safe with both of you in the steering wheel.
>> No. 30204
Vote called for A1. This update will be long and will tale long to write in turn.

>>30203
More like a drunk driver with a concerned passenger.
>> No. 30205
>>30189
[A1: Move smartly.]
Let's try finding something at least okay in this new home.
>> No. 30207
Heya!

Update should be out in two days? It's about as large as I expected, very dense in content.
>> No. 30208
>>30207
Well, I really wanted to update today but editor is tired as hell from stuff.

Tomorrow then!
>> No. 30209
File 149968031767.png - (418.47KB , 903x825 , 18.png ) [iqdb]
30209
In Meiling’s own words it was bothered - bothered enough to abandon you in these suffocating halls without guide or context.

You shouldn’t expect anything from youkai, and yet the thin notion that Meiling may not be tantamount to the scum of its kind still burns in the forefront of your mind. Meiling seems altruistic in its own confounded way - by all laws of consistency, its sudden departure might not have been born from ill-will.

The voice of sedition calls you a fool for binding a youkai to anything so logical as logic, but you have little ground left to brace yourself on. You’ve tried labelling Meiling vile and depraved. It just doesn’t work, and won’t until you find a reason why apart from ‘Meiling is a youkai’.

Idly, your bandaged hand wanders to the knife. Your fingers twitch as they remember their wounds, but ultimately they grip the knife’s sealed handle. The knife’s presence keeps the heart and breathing steady. Though your body has calmed, your thoughts have raised a rabble dominated by a single question: what is capable of bothering the unflappable Meiling?

Optimism suggests it may be Sister knocking at the front door with all the delicateness of a storm’s eye - and everything surrounding it. Though, optimism has always been a tiny voice compared to the paranoia you’ve kept close your whole life. Something out there ‘bothered’ Meiling, and you know fate grants you no wishes.

The only option left is to move. You already feel the flames of paranoia licking at your heels.

The hall allows one way forward, though the many doors lining the walls present a sweet temptation. You could run, but only as fast as you could as a human. Dangerous things are faster than a human’s stride - they must be if that’s their prey of choice. You have to think smart. Thinking smart is not confining an archer to a space barely wide enough to breathe. Space is needed.

You can’t tell if you’re just rationalizing your will to stop this suffocating sickness, but your paranoia doesn’t care. It just wants you to move.

Not one to disagree with paranoia, you open the nearest door.

The room inside is compact and filled with strange furniture, including a futon raised far too high from the ground. Just what kind of being could stand sleeping so high? The same type of being that could stand living in this labyrinthine cage, you would guess.

You close the door and move onto the next. What lies beyond is the same as the last. Same furniture, same color, same glaring orb of light above. You scratch your knife across the inner-walls. The wood chafes but no illusions fade. This room is a clone.

So is the next and the one after that.

You look back to the hall and the many doors lining its sides. It seems impossible to fit so many rooms, as small as they are, between the spaces of the doors.

Because it is.

You catch your breath before it can run rampant. Panicking will only slow you down once the adrenaline fades.

= = =

You can’t say how much time has passed. There are no windows, and the lights above are fadeless. You just have to keep wandering through more of the same halls and more of the same doors and more of the same rooms behind them.

Nothing in this house holds up to the most surface level inspection. Not even the steps you take make sense. You watch your feet now, the way each step is just slightly too long - just like the spacing of the rooms. It’s as if the concept of distance in the house is sick.

Whether it can be cured has yet to be seen. Sister can do anything if she tries.

= = =

Your eyes are drawn to the doors as soon as they appear. They stretch upwards and through the ceiling, jutting out from the hitherto unchanging halls like a glitch. You blink a few times, unsure if they’re an illusion, but you prod them with your knife just in case.

Assured, you open the doors, hoping that something, anything, other than a cloned room reveals itself. You’re not disappointed in the least - breathless would better describe you.

Beyond the two doors are books and nothing except that. Books stretch from the heavens to the pits, across the walls and into a horizon of more books. Strings of those omnipresent, lurid orbs are cast like spiderwebs across the world of bookshelves. While you wish you could call the unnatural light they cast disgusting, that would be lying. You don’t lie - the sight before you is stunning.

You step forward transfixed by the balcony that overhangs the surreal vista. For something so unnatural to even glance upon beauty is heretical, and if you didn’t know better, you would say it was your curse toying with your senses. Your curse has done it before, but Sister wouldn’t lead you into a nonexistent house. This is real.

You take a deep breath to steady yourself. Taking a more pragmatic look, you can see why the sight resonated strongly with you. The color of the spines arranged so chaotically reminds you of Sister’s flower field.

Sister once insisted that you read books from the ‘outside,’ and you did. Not that you understood a word of what you read. Though the experience wasn’t useless, a ‘dictionary’ on hand expanded your vocabulary far beyond anything a village boy ought to know.

You think a ‘library’ is what you would call the scene before you. It’s something like the Library of Alexandria you’ve read of, except without the fire.

You look around the balcony and find stairs leading downward into the bookscape. You follow it.

While the shelves are compact, you cannot possibly call it cramped. For as much as the shelves are constricting they are varied, more like trees in a forest than the bars of a cage. You’ve lived most of your life in forests. This almost feels natural.

Finally, you can breathe easy. You savor your next breath, though it’s lined with the most curious scent of -

/ ~<o>~ \

-honey. No, not honey - rotten honey.

“Good evening, trespasser,” speaks a voice far too happy to be here.

You turn, slowly and carefully, knife still drawn. The seals tensing warn of a youkai soon to be seen.

Floating before you is a monster without a care in the world, despite the fact it’s assuredly on fire. Though the more you look at it the more you question whether the being is on fire or is fire.

Its wings are two great mutated things formed from whatever eldritch substance lies between feather and flames. That same substance dances around it vigorously, flowing in and about its body like its own living creature. Under the brunt of this living pyre is a charred conservative gown, which despite constantly disintegrating under the heat of the flames, refuses a peak into whatever guts this monster has. Though its head and legs are plainly visible. Its head is as nonsensical as its body, a mass of concentric rings imprinted with symbols arcane. Two digitigrade legs poke from under its dress, jetting out flame at the slightest movement - the way it trails fire in the air is like a dance.

Of all the cursed monsters you’ve seen, this is by far the most novel.

You raise the knife forward.

The beast seems stunned a moment before suddenly exploding into monologue. “It is I, the Devil, come to take your soul! Raise the blade! Clutch the godhead!“ It leans forward at each bright and cheery exclamation.

You’re forced to step back, but it senses your apprehension and floats forward ever-the-closer.

“‘Tis what I would say if I were the Devil, come to take your soul.” The beast’s voice has turned into another’s entirely, sharp and flat. “The greeting is flattering nonetheless, if not repetitive over the ages - to be mistaken for a greater fiend than a famulus,” it drawls, as if reading a script.

You take the opportunity to keep edging backwards. That is until your back hits a bookcase.

The beast spoke of devils before the word even left your tongue. Though, by the twisted way in which it holds itself and the words it speaks, you’d have reached the same conclusion regardless. Meiling’s warning words flash through your mind.

“The nameless devil.” You drive the knife forward while staring into where the monster’s true eyes ought to be.

“Nameless? You speak to ██████████████! I may have dropped the letters, but a name of mine it remains.” Now its voice is like that of a indignant child, its ‘arms’ splaying out for emphasis.

You shiver at the invocation of its name, or its lack thereof. It’s as if the demon pronounced an absence of words. Only a devil could be so paradoxical.

“And I ask, what devil would reject the blood offered on your blade?” The voice shifts again, back to the sharp and flat. Unlike the stalwart Meiling, this youkai flickers between emotions.

The devil waits a few moments, bumbling about in the air in a very Nue-like way.

Your knife doesn’t waver. Between the demon’s comfort and the sanctity of your personal space, you would take the latter.

Then the devil goes still. You do not need to know its true face to see the most visceral of glares staring back at you. Instead you witness as its entire being darkens, the bright and novel appearance of before turning into something born from filth and fire.

You realize it now. This honeyed scent that coats the demon's body isn't rotten - honey doesn't spoil, after all. No, this is something more primordial. This is brimstone, hidden beneath a thick mask of honey. The act has been dropped entirely.

Put that down before this supposed devil gets tempted.” The demon’s voice is like a window to the mouth of a western dragon: venomous and tinged in flame.

There’s so much hate in those tongues of flame. They glimmer cursed purple.

\ ~<o>~ /

“Sir? Please put down the knife, sir,” says the devil, now with a lady’s voice.

You breathe, again and again. Each breath is faster than the last until you’re hyperventilating. Now’s a good time to panic. You’re glad your body still has enough feeling in it to agree.

“Sir?” asks the devil blithely.

Your eyes refocus on the same monstrous sight.

You point your knife more firmly forward. It shakes with your every breath, and it shakes a lot.

“This is a library, not a colosseum, sir.” the demon keeps talking but you aren’t listening.

You step forward, and this time, the devil steps back.

“Sir, if you’re looking for Lady Scarlet, I can redirect you to her quarters.” It can’t keep the stutter from its professionally flat voice. The devil is afraid.

You stare at the monster painted onto your eyes, the way it now tries to hide its twitches of fear. Neither honey nor brimstone pollutes the air. You realize now that they never did. The sickly sweet smell was as real as Meiling’s gunpowder.

Then what were you just talking to?’ asks the voice of sedition.

The answer screams back in your mind, begging to be acknowledged, but you’ve spent your whole life drowning out that fateful answer. It’s just louder now. You can bear with it. You always have. The arrow in Nue’s eye, the wounds biting your arm, and now the hateful flames of the devil - you will ignore it all. The curse must not be sated.

You lower the knife with a deep release of breath and then slump down against the bookcase. Your mind burns with a thousand pressing thoughts, but if you acknowledge even one, the rest will cry injustice.

Such a state might be called meditation, though you don’t care about the specifics. The less you think, the less chance the curse will realize it isn’t being heard. It will shut up eventually. It always does.

Time passes.

= = =

“Sir?” speaks a tentative voice in front of you.

You look up to see the devil. It goes stiff at your gaze but doesn’t lose heart.

“The mansion is under lockdown, sir. I’ve been given orders to keep you safe.” More babble from that faux-calm voice.

The demon backs away once it realizes you won’t respond. It doesn’t like you and that’s fine.

You don’t feel any better than you did before, but the bad thoughts no longer rage like hornets. The curse is quiet for now. It projects a gruesome image of the devil before you - and nothing more.

You pick yourself from the ground, dragging the knife back into its sheath in the process. Recovering your mind is a more gradual process, but eventually, sane thoughts buzz back into focus. You welcome your good friend paranoia, but find optimism to be strangely absent.

‘The mansion is under lockdown’ says the devil. You can only assume it’s the result of the ‘bother’.

That or the youkai is lying. You expect no better from a devil.

You look to the demon, who hangs as far back as possible without losing sight of you. Dispatching it with an arrow would be effortless nonetheless. Missing is impossible. One for the wings, one for the heart. You assume its true form has a heart. Then it’s only a matter of whether or not it will die if you hit it - too many beasts don’t.

It has yet to properly earn an arrow yet, though a devil’s nature simply begs it to try.


/o====================5====================o\

Sister will come eventually, until then, something to take the mind off...
[A: Brace and prepare.]

The devil has the details, whether it's worth prying them is debatable...
- [B1: On the matter of lockdown.] {a lie it could be, but even so it's far too big a lie to ignore.}
- [B2: On the matter of its master.] {it may be worth knowing the hand behind the devil.}
- [B3: On the matter of Meiling.] {the youkai sticks to your mind, an unsolved mystery.}

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x13 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)
“Parabellum”
Tacky Red Key
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
- Bandage (Wrapped Around Hand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “lunatic”

Time: Afternoon

\o====================8====================o/

Longest update so far.
>> No. 30210
File 149968050729.gif - (3.07MB , 1000x1000 , 18_5.gif ) [iqdb]
30210
Picture: displeased.
>> No. 30211
So, this curse... The most obvious conclusion is that it shows the true self of those he sees. Brimstone for a devil that lost its fangs- or acts like it anyway. Gunpowder for a dragon they hails from where it was invented. An arrow to the kn-face for one that was fell by it. A blurry image for one whom time can't get a lock on.

If that's true then, was our mc badly wounded? Is he still? Does this truly show the true self or a distorted version of it like the MC thinks? He seems pretty in denial about it.

Maybe it shows things as they were? The explanation for the divergence between the huge, bestial Youkai of old and the girls with frilly dresses of today is that powerful beings always tend to take human like forms.
>> No. 30212
[x] The devil has the details, whether it's worth prying them is debatable...
- [B2: On the matter of its master.] {it may be worth knowing the hand behind the devil.}
- [B3: On the matter of Meiling.] {the youkai sticks to your mind, an unsolved mystery.}

In case only a single option is allowed, go for B2. He really liked her place.
Also, Meiling told him Patchouli would have answers. Cryptic ones, sure, but everything around him has been cryptic so far. He is probably used to it by now.
>> No. 30214
- [B2: On the matter of its master.] {it may be worth knowing the hand behind the devil.}
>> No. 30215
>>30211
If it's a 'Seeing the true form' vision, than would it effect humans? I don't mean magical humans such as Reimu or Marisa, I mean your regular villager from the village
>> No. 30216
[B2] On the matter of its master.

I want to know how Schütz sees Patchouli.
>> No. 30217
File 149975356842.png - (647.58KB , 1692x1224 , 18_75.png ) [iqdb]
30217
Cool, discussion. No need to sage. I'm quite interested in what you guys can deduce.

I'm gonna be gone until the 18th due to university sucking me away to an island. Biology stuff. Vote will be open until then.

In the meantime, pictures.

>>30211
>regarding MC wounds
Lacerations ranging from papercut to 'probably needs stitches' across right hand and forearm. Currently bandaged, the hand less so to allow mobility.
>> No. 30218
File 149975363263.png - (620.08KB , 1120x1238 , 18_875.png ) [iqdb]
30218
>>30217
>> No. 30219
File 149975367860.png - (1.44MB , 1657x1686 , 18_9375.png ) [iqdb]
30219
>>30218
>> No. 30220
File 149976993765.png - (54.22KB , 768x512 , 18_96875.png ) [iqdb]
30220
Early draft, I am indeed still working on sprites/whatever the fuck this is called. I won't be able to finish this before I leave.
>> No. 30221
>>30215
Since with then what you see is what you get, I'm not sure how could we check that.

Also, I thought his wounds were from when he met Meiling?
Which brings another question to the table: how can these visions hurt him?

To be frank, I took this curse at face value: it is a disease that prevents his eyes from working properly and damage his body.

Also, this may be obvious, but since Nue put this curse on us, the only way to escape it is to fulfill her request or kill her, somehow.
>> No. 30222
>>30221
Do you mean the contract that the MC did with her? Because in story, he already had the vision before meeting her Sister nods, unsatisfied, but understanding. 'She [Yuuka] knows of your curse, and how it colors your actions.'
>> No. 30223
>>30221
>his wounds were from when he met Meiling
Yes.

>but since Nue put this curse on us, the only way to escape it is to fulfill her request or kill her, somehow.
Nue created the contract, which while unpleasant, is a different beast entirely.
>> No. 30224
- [B3: On the matter of Meiling.] {the youkai sticks to your mind, an unsolved mystery.}

Very interesting design, I like it.
>> No. 30225
Sup dudes. On island and phone, so posting is difficult. WiFi sketchy.

>>30212
Forgot to address this.

Multiple votes is fine as long as both the action and reasoning are not mutually exclusive.

Action being the physical action, and reasoning being the impetus for that action.

Asking multiple questions is valid, though let it be known that scattered dialogue will be less focussed and may not garner results/answers you seek.

>>30224
Glad ya like it. I try to make my designs interesting, if they were lame or arbitrary this story would suffer a lot.

Well, they appeal to me at least.
>> No. 30226
Vote set for B2. 4 votes is rather low, but it'l be fine.

Just got back from island, so I'll be a bit sluggish today, full throttle tomorrow though.

Gonna make Nue sprite tonight, or at least work on it.
>> No. 30228
File 150047261463.png - (37.28KB , 256x256 , 18_9921875.png ) [iqdb]
30228
This is gonna take a while, yes.

Trying to do it all with 3 major colors (grey, dark blue and cyan). Though I'll move it up a notch if I can't do it.
>> No. 30229
>>30228
Oh, the palette at the top right is grievously outdated.
>> No. 30230
Hey guys, I would have updated today but my editor was nowhere to be found. Tomorrow is my Dad's birthday, but I'll try my best to get it up.

Also my stylus is at another house.
>> No. 30237
File 150087731523.png - (881.31KB , 1976x1358 , 19.png ) [iqdb]
30237
Foolish you are and always have been. This recklessness, however, is a new sensation. With it, you can do nothing but stand puzzled in the chasmic forest of bookshelves, baffled as to why you aren’t afraid. It’s as if all your frustration over the years never left your body, though ‘frustration’ is a weak word. This feeling filling you to the brim is a cold, festering contempt for all things that your curse is.

It’s pure foolishness and recklessness to consider defying the curse, and yet, here you are: both foolish and reckless. It’s as if you were a youkai with the full moon perched above your head.

You let out a breath held far too long. All thoughts are worthless until you put them into action, and as much as the spite abuzz in your mind would contest, you are not about to fly into a fit of infantile rage. You can hold it in another day, another week, or another year, even. The only thing that’s changed is that the fear is gone.

The lack of fear on its own is dangerous enough.

Quite the opposite to you, the devil in the distance oozes fear. It’s so plain to the eye that you’re skeptical whether the demon is scared at all or merely pretending. The question is worthless to ponder - like anything concerning the nature of youkai, the answer will always have many possibilities and yet no conclusion. Fear, fake or not, is pathetic.

You could try speaking to the devil. Though if the warning words of Meiling are true, then the devil has a master. Your time would better be spent deciphering the so called ‘Patchouli Knowledge’ than its pathetic servant.

Unfortunately, the only way to find this craven demon’s master is through the demon itself. The devil will convincingly answer your questions if it wants to maintain its thin facade of ‘protecting you’.

You move to the devil, who meets your reluctance with its own. It stiffens, holding its arms to its sides, and gives you what you imagine to be a forced smile.

Whatever true motives underlie the demon are none of your concern. As long as the devil does what you want, you can disregard the charade of emotions that follows.

“Sir?” says the devil as it fidgets.

Patchouli Knowledge.” You freely invoke the name of the demon’s supposed master.

The demon twitches. “You’re mistaken, sir. I’m her- I mean Master’s, famulus.”

You blink. This demon is either incredibly stupid or good at pretending.

The thing blunders all over the place with its words like Meiling, except even less coordinated. Meiling was at least tolerable, it had the excuse of thinking before it spoke.

“Take me to her, demon,” you reiterate.

That earns you another twitch. This creature acts as if it were allergic to your voice.

“Famulus, sir,” replies the demon, voice level.

Again, you blink. It’s your own reflexive reaction to the demon’s folly.

Silence pervades for a short while. It’s difficult to glare at someone when you can’t see their eyes, but you manage, to the demon’s chagrin.

“Right away, sir.” The demon wisely decides to forget it ever spoke out of turn.

You gesture for the demon to hurry up, and it complies. With a shiver in its step it leads you deeper into the ravine of books. Unlike the choking halls of your ‘home’, this library is more like the spiralling insides of a worm-ridden trunk. It feels as if the whole place would fall to mulch, if not for the network of platforms and stairs holding it together.

= = =

It’s interesting to watch the devil shiver with its best impression of fear. You follow several paces behind the youkai, yet so much as a rustle of your bandages seems to send the demon into a mild panic attack. You consider for a moment whether the devil shivers with genuine terror. If so, does it really expect an arrow in the back? You suppose a youkai would expect others to act like youkai.

In a sense, you are meeting the devil’s expectations.There is indeed an arrow in your hand. Where it goes after is the demon’s decision to make.

Those shining bulbs tangling across the shelves grow ever denser as you continue, now twinkling like artificial constellations above and below. Is the devil following them like you would the stars in the night sky? It’s possible. Though, if the demon knows this artificial forest as much as you the Forest of Magic, it won’t need them.

Outside the confinement of the halls, the orbs remind of you of the firebugs you’d see in summer - or earlier if one particularly nasty forest youkai raised its head. A strange compulsion overtakes you: what if you were to touch one? You roll the idea around as you continue down another flight of stairs before eventually caving in and catching one of the nearby orbs. The bulb is warm like a rock left bare under the midday sun.

The demon snaps back at you, all puffed and ready to say something, but catches eye of your arrow and withholds itself. Still, it can’t help but say, “Careful, sir.”

You let the orb go.

The demon relaxes and continues down yet another flight of stairs.

= = =

All at once, the demon stops. You stand, confused for a moment, as your destination is a platform like any other. By the time you find Patchouli Knowledge, you’ve already scanned the room twice.

In the far corner of the room, among the piles of books and tables like all the others, is a faintly breathing lavender mass that could easily be confused for a wayward sheet.

You ready yourself, quickly dismissing the image before your eyes. It’s a cursed projection and assuming otherwise would be a great folly already committed thrice today.

The demon looks to you and gives a bow before fluttering off to the purple mass in the distance. Whatever ‘fear’ it had before dissolved in an instant.

You approach far more tentatively than the devil. Your fingers twitch with arrow ready, even though you can scarcely imagine how such a wisp of a being could threaten you.

You can make out the cursed features of ‘Patchouli Knowledge’. She’s - and you can at least say the monster is feminine - slumped over her desk, surrounded with a collage of books far more vivid than her ghostly attire. What little you can see of her skin is dreadfully washed-out, even pastier than the highborn paleness of Izayoi. It borders more on that of a sickly child, which is why it’s surprising to see how restful her sleeping eyes are. They belie whatever apparent sickness she has.

Girding Patchouli’s neck is a feature which confirms your suspicions: a collar of feathers identical to the demon’s cursed, flaming one. Those mutant feathers only belong in your curse’s vision, you know that to be a fact. As humanoid as ‘Patchouli’ may be, what you see is without a doubt a cursed afterimage of the original. Whether it be youkai, human, or some bizarre other, is irrelevant. You’re looking at a monster.

The demon is not rushed in its attempts to coax the sleeping girl awake, as it employs only the softest of nudges and whispers.

You’re left awkwardly fidgeting your arrow all the while.

Eventually, but not before a few murmurs and twists, Patchouli raises her head. She gives a quick, lavender glance across the room. It lingers on you a moment before settling on her servant.

The devil continues whispering, louder now. Patchouli nods her head, once understandingly, and then nods a second time, this one more of a sigh than an acknowledgement.

Then, without any pretense of enthusiasm, her gaze meets your own. What she lacks in body, she makes up tenfold in spirit. Her eyes are intense, holding all of the weight of Izayoi’s gaze with none of the contempt. She only holds it for a moment before blinking, but in that moment you felt as if she had your soul on a platter.

Whether that look was real, or a cursed reflection, you do not know. The shiver wracking your body is real enough.

“Patchouli Knowledge,” you bark out without thinking, hoping to regain some semblance of control over the situation. The arrow in your hand finds home in your bow’s string.

Patchouli blinks again, completely unfazed. She turns to the attentive devil standing at her side.

“Famulus, fetch that book, would you?” Her voice is as soft as her frail body would suggest. It’s only those eyes which hold power.

“Right away, master,” replies the devil, far too eagerly. It flies off into the distant, book-filled void.

What follows is another uncomfortable silence. Patchouli doesn’t even look at you. Idly, she taps her dainty little fingers on the desk.

There’s nothing you can do but wait to see what happens next. Patchouli has done little more than look at you and you already feel well out of your depth.

Yesterday, your ‘depth’ didn’t allow even a simple hello to Elly. The fact you’re still standing with a semblance of composure is miracle enough, though this ‘miracle’ strays far too close to insanity for your liking.

Your notched arrow remains tensed - not that you plan to do anything in particular with it. Who would you be to strike one down for just looking at you? That’s why you shiver, since paranoia doesn’t tell you to stop. So the arrow remains notched.

From the heavens above, the devil reappears, an unknown book in its ‘hand’. It swoops down, fluttering to a halt mid-air. “Here you are, sir,” are its words as it gently places the book at your feet.

The cover is plain to see.

‘De civilitate morum puerilium’

The foreign words rearrange before your eyes in a far more legible form.

‘A Little Book of Good Manners for Children’

“Study this and understand its contents. Then you have my permission to speak,” says Patchouli.

She gives you one last look, squarely ignoring the baffled look on your face, before going straight back to sleep.

The devil beside her seems far too smug, though subtleties are hard to tell when all you can see is a hellfire poppet.

/o====================5====================o\

You've had your fill of condescension...
[A: Speak.]

There's no way back, but sister will come eventually...
[B: Silence.]

Though, a book may at least pass the time until sister arrives...
[C: Read.]

|o=========================================o|

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x13 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Broken)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)
“Parabellum”
Tacky Red Key
Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
- Bandage (Wrapped Around Hand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)

|o=========================================o|

Moon Phase: <-(O)-> “lunatic”

Time: Afternoon(?)

\o====================8====================o/


I'll draw a proper picture eventually. Probably.
>> No. 30238
File 150087739380.png - (68.77KB , 768x512 , 19_5.png ) [iqdb]
30238
This is taking a long time.
>> No. 30239
[B] Silence.

Well, so much for that.
>> No. 30240
File 150090712680.png - (135.30KB , 768x512 , 19_75.png ) [iqdb]
30240
Still going.

Gradient is just experimenting.
>> No. 30241
[B] Silence.
>> No. 30242
[A] Speak

Manners are for humans.
Not really, but that's what he'd think.
>> No. 30243
[X] Read
I doubt that Koakuma would let the MC disrupt her master. Besides, I think learning to act normal is a good idea.
>> No. 30244
[C: Read.]

Got to learn how to act like a proper human being eventually.
>> No. 30245
[C: Read.]

MC would want to learn proper manners for sister, what if he's been unknowingly rude all this time.
>> No. 30247
File 150098811335.png - (43.95KB , 512x512 , 19_875.png ) [iqdb]
30247
Vote will be called either tomorrow afternoon or the following morning.

Early draft sprite. Don't even know where to start. 'biting off more than I can chew' is a recurring theme for me.
>> No. 30248
Vote set for C. Update will come out at some point within the week. Keep in mind that the editing process typically takes 1~2days.

Sprite of the famulus is a failure due to the complexity exceeding my skill level by several many notches.

I will try again later if I deem myself capable.
>> No. 30249
File 150134002239.png - (485.81KB , 1179x762 , 19_9375.png ) [iqdb]
30249
Working on update. Have a botched portrait.

Still not used to drawing faces - that tends to happen if you never practice.
>> No. 30250
>>30249
We'll focus on human-like beings interactions then!
>> No. 30266
Heya.

Update should be out in ~2 days? Hard to tell, my schedule aligns disgustingly with my editors. I get home when he goes to sleep!

I already have the update image ready.

>>30250
Have mercy.
>> No. 30273
/o====================5====================o\

END: 5.8

BEGIN: 5.85
>>30272

\o====================8====================o/
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