- [Settings] [Home
[Show or hide post box]

[Return] [Entire Thread] [Last 50 posts] [First 100 posts] [Bottom]
Posting mode: Reply
Name
Email
Subject   (Reply to 30272)
Message
File
Password  (for post and file deletion)
  • First time posting? See our frontpage for site rules and FAQ
  • Further overview of board culture in this thread.
  • Supported file types are: GIF, JPG, PNG, WEBM, WEBP
  • Maximum file size allowed is 4096 KB.
  • Images greater than 200x200 pixels will be thumbnailed.
  • View catalog

File 150184198984.png - (134.38KB, 500x500, 20.png) [iqdb]
30272 No. 30272
/o====================5====================o\

Current Strand: 5.85

Previous Strands:
1 - missing
2 - missing
3 - missing
4 - missing
5 - missing
5.8 - >>29818

\o====================85===================o/
208posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 30622
Update is underway. This one shouldn't take too long to write, but it should be quite large.
>> No. 30624
2000 down. Another 1000+ to go.

Should be out... soon. Hard to tell with my atrocious and inconsistent writing speed.
>> No. 30625
>>30624

That's actually a pretty good speed, isn't it?
>> No. 30626
>>30625
100words/hour at worst [common]. 500 words/hour at best [very rare]. This update has been easier than most with an average of probably 250/h

I'm a very slow writer.
>> No. 30627
>>30626

Just makes you a hard worker. I'm sure all of us appreciate that.
>> No. 30628
Update will be out tomorrow night or the following morning. Most fun I've had writing an update in a while.

>>30627
There's a lot I could say on the matter. Not much of it is pleasant. But, er, thank you.
>> No. 30630
Well, definitely not tonight, and I'm likely to be busy tomorrow.

Currently at 3.8k words. 4k is likely. Not sure what my largest update is, but this is certainly a contender.

I did not anticipate this. Fortunately, as I said, this update has proven easier to write than most.
>> No. 30632
===== Time: Early Morning | Curse: ~~~ =====

An escort; Elly, no less? It would be appreciated, and that’s understating it significantly. But, just as you’re about to give your affirmation, you’re struck by a familiar doubt.

Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if you went alone? Everyone not including yourself, of course.

Then, you realize Elly could escort you home. Home.



With that thought, your indecision evaporates. You’ve already gone over this. You’re selfish. Regretfully so, but not repentfully so; you are selfish nonetheless. Selfish enough to value the opportunity of going home over another suicidal journey into this small hell that the Flower Field has expanded into. Maybe, when you get home, you can just stay there forever.

That sounds good.

Doubt thoroughly vanquished, you look to Elly and nod. She tilts her scythe in return, and nods back in a slow, deliberate imitation - as if it were a foreign gesture.

Oh, your nod must have looked cryptic (and stupid) on its own. “Elly, let’s go home,” you hastily clarify.

Elly squints her empty eyes at you, but says nothing. It’s a silent, judgemental sort of confusion. You wilt under it.

“Home, the Flower Field - the old one, I mean.” The words jumble as you try to make sense. In the end, keeping your mouth shut is for the better. Embarrassment poorly translates to finesse; you’ve repeatedly proven.

After a moments thought, and no interruption, you simply state: “Let’s go back.”

Elly stare seems to go straight through you. “There is only one Flower Field, but...” The serpent is motionless in the air, and makes an eerie, slow grinding noise: thinking. “The landways location is inconsistent for Schütz, isn’t it?” She asks herself with answer already in mind.

Focus returns to Elly’s eyeless gaze. “Then, you want to return to the other, landways location of this Flower Field for food and drink, Schütz?”

Landways as in across land? You nod, unsure how else it could be seen, but trusting Elly enough to know what’s best.

“And you want for me to escort you, Schütz?”

You nod more confidently.

“Then, Elly is your escort from the Flower Field to…” She briefly churns in thought. “The Flower Field. Again.”

You let out a small sigh of relief. Elly didn’t go off on another alien tangent, and by extension give you another opportunity to embarrass yourself. She’s of the few you don’t want to be made a fool in front of. The other being Sister, and another being dead. “Thank you, Elly,” you say with all sincerity.

Elly isn’t paying attention. With great, vague motions she looks about with cursed serpent and head both.



Eventually, concern outweighs your patience.

“... Elly?” She ignores you completely in favour of a particularly interesting direction in the darkness. You step closer. “Elly?”

Elly turns to you; filled with the same curiosity she before aimed at the darkness around her. “Schütz; Schütz?” she replies. She doesn’t seem particularly concerned, though even when she was ‘angry’ she appeared calm - apart from the occasional twitch of the mouth, and the hellish growls. For all you know, she could be feeling anything, or nothing. You wonder if her real self is as untelling as the cursed caricature before you. Part of you hopes that’s the case; it would mean your complete obliviousness to her feelings are at least somewhat understandable.

You’ve been entertaining paranoia for a while now. Elly quietly watches you all the while.

Oh, you really can’t stop embarrassing yourself. “Are you looking for something?” you ask as if you didn’t just spend nearly a minute over analyzing her face. Fortunately, you can keep the idiocy from your voice. You’re good at that when you need to be - sometimes.

“The other, landways location of the Flower Field, what else?” she instantly replies - and, like usual, your mind is not so quick.

Wait - “You don’t already know the way?” you think and speak at once.

“The landways Flower Field is inconsistent for me, too, Schütz. I know the waterways, not the landways.”

“… The waterways?”

“Yes, those are what I know.”

… That’s about what you expected.

You get the feeling any explanation of ‘waterways’ she could give would fall on moronic ears anyway, so you get straight to the point and ask: “Could we go by the waterways instead?”

“No, not we, so no one because I’m your escort.” The ground ripples beneath Elly. Her cursed, serpentine shadow warps and distorts with each undulation.

“I can float. You can’t. If I were to invite you in, your body would sink, and there is no bottom.” Elly looks down to the ground. “Or none that I can see from the surface.” She shrugs. It’s an odd motion to make when all you see are poles for her arms. “It’s more interesting to say it’s bottomless, and no one, not Yuuka, not I, can tell me to the otherwise.”

You try your best to understand. Elly has some kind of ‘waterway’ beneath her; different from the landway which you assume to be everything around you. That waterway will also drown you because you don’t float. It is true that you can’t swim, and you’re not sure how Elly knows that.

“But that’s beside the point. I don’t want to get my water dirty, too, so landways we go, Schütz.”

“Landways we go,” you echo with at least some idea of what you mean. “I’m going to make you a new one. A new dress.” You feel the need to say it again after she brought up dirtiness: the ‘humanity’ you smudged her dress with.

She laughs prettily. You would like to think it’s her real voice breaching through the mire. Though, you know not to trust a single thing you hear. You want to hear more of it, nonetheless. It’s a small sign you’re something other than a bother.

Elly leans in ever so slightly, her face blank. “So dirty is my dress that I may just wear yours regardless,” she says.

Hm. You won’t settle for making a dirty dress. Though, you don’t say it. She’d laugh, and you’ve much exceeded your quota of embarrassment. You will save that for later; preferably with a clean dress (not) in hand.

“... Did you find anything. While you were looking, did you find anything.” You tactlessly change the subject.

“That it’s quite dark,” Elly says.

“Oh.” You forgot that you’re both completely lost, ‘landways.’

Not willing to let panic set in, you pick a completely random direction (anywhere except upwards), and with faux-authority say: “Let’s go.” So you go, and Elly follows. She soon assumes the front, though you’re certain she’s following your lead.

Above you is the library. It still lights the way, somewhat, with the smattering of light the falls down from the miniature suns on the shelves. Even if it might be faster, you won’t go that way.

So what if you’re both completely lost. Elly’s here!

…Elly’s here.

It’s not like you threatened her very existence, or anything like that. Oh, except that’s exactly what you did, you selfish moron.

Once you get home, you must make sure to never leave. You promise this to yourself.

===== Time: Early Morning | Curse: ~~~ =====

After much aimless wandering, you ask: “Could you bring food and water?” You have to pick your next words carefully. “From the other, landwise Flower Field?”

It’s a stupid question, you’re sure. You at least want to know why it’s stupid.

“They would sink,” Elly instantly replies. She keeps on forward. Evidently, she thinks that explanation is enough. She forgot to factor in your nigh-complete ignorance.

“The water would sink?”

Elly pivots to face you.

“Yes, why would it float?”

“It’s water?” At this point, you’re not even sure that your definition of water is the same.

“But not my water, Schütz.” She almost sounds proud, but it’s hard to discern anything but cacophony from that cursed, metallic voice of hers.

“Y-yeah,” you blurt out like an idiot. For a moment, you hasten your pace as to not see her reaction. Though, knowing Elly, she probably doesn’t care.
>> No. 30633
===== Time: Early Morning | Curse: ~~~ =====

The transition from flowery abyss to hardwood floor brings a brief joy; soon beaten down by the claustrophobia. You’re back to the halls which, what seems like so long ago, Meiling briefly escorted you through.

With Elly by your side, it’s easier to ignore the many ways this house is sick - like that there are no windows. You remember seeing windows outside. Or the way that the rooms are too large for the spacing of the doors. Or how your stride is too long for the distance you cover. Or that- You cut yourself off there.

Unfortunately and evidently, ‘easier to ignore’ means little relative to ‘impossible to ignore.’ It’s as if this house is made to make you uncomfortable.

“Elly,” you say, to keep your mind off.

“Schütz,” she replies.

“What do you think of this house?” You manage to make your distraction about the house anyway.

“Besides it being red,” you quickly add; mindful of Elly’s blunt-to-the-point-of-bludgeoning temperament.

“It’s re-eh?” Elly goes stiff, and looks back at you with wide eyes. “It’s…” The sound of her thinking is ear-grating. “A house and it’s red, and…” More horrific noise. “I’m red, too, but you can’t live in me.”

“Still, I’d rather that than this house,” you reply with the first thing that comes to mind; anything to keep the conversation going.

“I already live inside me. There’s no more room, and I like to keep the place clean.”

You nod. You know what it’s like to live in a body with too many people.

“Ask Yuuka to make another,” Elly continues.

“Another?”

“Another vessel, but an empty one you can live inside; you must be rid of your old vessel, first.”

You look to yourself, still largely naked. Your human body holds some sentimental value - far outweighed by its complete and utter uselessness. “That would be good, but I don’t want to burden Sister.” You considered asking her long ago.

You spend a moment waiting for Elly’s response, but then realize she’s staring through you, not at you. You take that as a signal to continue your treck. You’ve already bothered her enough.

Halls come and go, you think. It’s impossible to tell for they never change. Each junction leads to a replica of the last.

===== Time: Morning | Curse: ~~~ =====

You come to another junction. To one side, a hall, to the other, not-a-hall. You enter the not-a-hall before you even determine what of the infinity-minus-one not-a-halls it could be. There’s no clearer sign of desperation than when your body makes decisions before the brain. Fortunately, in this instance, you didn’t walk straight into a pit or suchlike.

Before you is something like a hall, but far, far more spacious (to your immediate relief). Doorways perforate the walls of the new room like worm-ridden wood. No doubt, those doorways lead to more halls, and from those halls even more. The thought makes you shiver. There’s so many ways into this room, it appears, and the fact you didn’t find a single way in earlier is proof enough that the number of halls is beyond reason. This is not a house, it’s a labyrinth.

You’re fortunate to have not been gored by the minotaur, whoever and wherever it may be.

What of that wall that is not bored by doorways is plastered in paintings - of people, places and events. There’s no certain theme, and not a consistent style to be had. All of them are in immaculate conditions, and while their placement seems arbitrary, they are positioned in such a way that no matter what angle you take, you are always greeted by an awesome sight. Crowning it all is the centrepiece positioned at the very end of the room. It takes up near the entire end wall, and rightfully so! Given the subject matter, if another painting were to intrude, it would be torn to shreds in seconds. The piece is of a four-winged crow perched vigilantly upon the back of a sleeping wolf. Though, it’s certainly not the wolf you should worry for. Like the roots of a tree, the wings of the crow seep out, and claim everything they touch; that includes this room, and everyone in it. It’s the image of control.

Below that image is a long table, and at the very end of that table on a chair that is more like a throne. Meiling, of course, does not sit in that opulent chair. The youkai sits in a modest chair close to you by the side of the table, and waves to you with its cursed, ragged arm.

Wait, Meiling?

You stand there a few moments, and you blink just to be sure. Against the motley of art, and ominous shine of the miniature red suns above, is a monstrous homunculus of rags and gunpowder. Yep, that’s Meiling. Meiling is at the same time incredibly out of place and fitting right in. You can smell it now: the faint, fake scent of gunpowder.

You have to do something before Meiling takes it you’re imitating a pylon, so you belatedly wave back to the youkai. Last you saw them, they ran off on urgent business, but before then the youkai seemed oddly gregarious. While your (justified) prejudices still run red, you’re willing to make tentative exceptions; Meiling being of the two. If nothing else, you can respect a youkai that doesn’t take upon itself to make misery for fun. At that point, they’re already better than most humans.

“Schütz. Naked and tardy hunter,” Meiling speaks with a voice like sand eroding stone. The youkai’s voice carries well in the room; perhaps by the room’s design. “And a psychopomp here for my ladies’ dusty old soul. You’re not -”

“Don’t be disgusting,” Elly interjects. She’s been silently standing by your side this whole time, though your attention was too taken by the room and its inhabitant to notice.

Meiling blows a disenchanted puff of smoke Elly’s way. “You’re not the first,” it continues. “Nor will you be the last.” The youkai gatekeeper languidly turns to you. “Is this the sister you spoke of, Schütz?”

“But I’m Elly?” says a thoroughly befuddled Elly.

“And - I’m Meiling, Hong. Youkai gatekeeper,” Meiling (surprisingly)quickly and formally adds before turning back to you for an answer.

“Elly is my…” Long seconds tick by. “Escort. She’s my escort.”

Meiling looks between you and Elly. “I have met many with a deathwish, but to openly and personally court it, or her, …” The youkai trails off, and is unable to find the words to continue.

“I’m not Death; I’m Elly.”

Smoke escapes Meiling’s mouth, but no more. The youkai sucks it in before speaking. “Schütz.” Meiling beckons with a wave of the arm. “Come, sit.”

You look to one of the many chairs, and then back to Elly. You end up shuffling awkwardly in place.

“You may sit as well, Not-Death.”

“I’m not Not-Death. I’m Elly.” She smiles as she takes a seat.

“It’s an easy mistake... One with a psychopomp’s instrument; a psychopomp’s presence; a psychopomp’s prey…” The youkai pauses in thought. “Is assuredly not Not-Death.”

Elly keeps smiling as she turns to you. “Good hunting to you, Schütz.”

You linger on the words for a while, sure that they mean something. Oh, that’s right. You’re charged with ending Meiling in Elly’s place. It never really sunk in until now.

Your breath catches in your throat.

You’re not really going to do that, are you? Meiling is a youkai, yes, but one more like Patchouli; one that doesn’t deserve death. There has to be a mistake. You need to talk to Sister about this.

Awkwardly, you take the chair next to Elly and sit down. No need to acknowledge that brief crisis of mind. You’re going to fix it. No one else needs to get involved.

Though, right now you can do something about the way Meiling is treating Elly. Calling her ‘Death,’ of all things? Elly is Sister’s vassal, and deserving of no less respect.

You take a breath to steady yourself, and with a flat voice say: “Stop bothering Elly. Elly is good.”

“Schütz, you-!” Elly can’t complete her sentence.

“E-Elly!?” What did you do!?

… Oh.

She’s laughing so hard that she’s been made a giggling mess on the table. Of course, it’s the snake doing the laughing in your broken senses - the snake itself appears to be having difficulties staying aloft.

You’re looking down on her like she’s some sort of object fallen from space.

“Are you sure you know this girl, Schütz?” Meiling asks.

You rigidly turn to Meiling. Somehow, you’re remaining calm, though to move your head feels like the twist of an old spring.

“I’ve known her for four years, and I met her yesterday morning,” you answer the truth plainly.

Meiling is silent, and watches you with head in its hands for the longest time. Elly laughs a sweet aria all the while. “... Adorable,” the youkai comments.

You nod after you realize what the youkai means. “Elly does have an adorable laugh.”

“That, too.”

What?



Elly eventually goes quiet, and back to her usual, blank, smiling expression. She turns to you. “Is Elly good?” She asks. Is that a suppressed giggle you hear?

“Yes?” You have no idea what else she could be(?).

Elly bursts out laughing again.

You don’t get it, so once again you watch on in stunned, confused silence. At least you don’t cry out like an idiot this time.

Meiling is content to watch this time.

It doesn’t look like Elly is going to stop.

“So, Meiling,” you say as you very deliberately drown out the laughter.

Meiling puffs some smoke: a signal for you to continue, maybe.

You didn’t think past this part, and it shows. It’s hard to think at all right now.

“Should we discuss your nudity, your lateness, or...?” Meiling eventually sees fit to pick up the slack. It shrugs. “We have all day to talk, but far from all night.”

“My nudity?” You look down. Oh, you keep forgetting about that. “Patchouli’s training. They’re teaching me strange things.” You pause as you try to find the word. “Manners.”

Elly settles down. Now she’s just staring at you and smiling. It’s a true smile; the one with dimples. You give a lopsided impression of a smile back. What has gotten into her?

“... Patchouli’s training,” Meiling echoes hollowly. There’s a long, pensive pause, so long that you almost think the youkai is done with just that. However, after a few puffs of smoke, Meiling speaks again: “I’m glad Patchouli likes you so much. Like many of us, her desperation for good company has eroded standards.” The youkai lazes in that thought before finding another fancy. “Speaking of, did you know that the adorable maid once tried to woo me with parlour tricks?”

Adorable maid, ‘Izayoi’? With the way ‘the adorable maid’ looked at you back then - you can imagine her pulling organs out of a body, but not rabbits from a hat.

“... No. No, I didn’t know that.” You’re also having significant trouble believing it.

“Ask her to show you some time. She will kill you, slightly, but she would love to show you afterwards.” You will make sure to never, ever ask her that. “It’s worth it.” To this addled youkai, maybe.

Surprisingly, Meiling immediately begins speaking again. The youkai must have prepared. “You know, our host waited all night for you. She rated you as the worst vampire hunter she’s ever had.” Meiling shrugs. “Our most eminent host may even find that amusing enough to numb her trodden pride.”

“I’m not a vampire hunter.” Then comes the question that’s been fermenting ever since you got here. “And what’s a vampire?”

Meiling goes completely still. Its bizarre, cursed ‘whiskers’ twitch in a rare display of shock. The youkai quickly recovers. “This is a vampire’s mansion, inhabited by vampires, and full of vampires’ friends… And vampire hunters come here to murder vampires.”

Vampire hunters are exceptionally moronic, is the implication you’re getting. You have all the qualifications - besides hunting vampires; it’s no wonder you were mistaken.

“And as to what a vampire is…” Meiling pauses in thought. “I only know two. About this tall…” The youkai holds their arm out to provide a rather underwhelming estimate. “I heard they drink blood. One likes to boast about drinking blood while sipping a glass of red wine. The other eats cake.”

“Oh. Vampires sound…” You’re not good at this. “Small,” is your intelligent response honed in seconds of non-thought. You intently stare down at the table.

You can feel Meiling’s gaze on you. It stays there for a long time. “... You will not get far here acting like me. When we’re done, stick to Patchouli, the adorable maid… the younger Scarlet is perhaps even a better rolemodel.”

You look to Elly, who still looks to you smiling and silent.

“Oh, Elly is already my idol.”

Elly perks up. “I am?”

“You are.” You hear a puff of smoke being ejected, but all your attention is on Elly.

“You want to be…” Elly pauses. “Good like Elly?”



You’re not going to answer that, but Elly has leaned in so close with body and snake alike.

Fine! “Yes, yes. I want to be good like Elly!” you force out even though it shouldn’t be anything controversial. Who wouldn’t admire Elly?

You brace for the laughter, but none comes.

“I’ll believe it,” says Elly.

“... Huh?” You have never prided yourself in your fluency, but you can do better than animalistic grunts, you’d hope. “What do you mean?” Good, you haven’t become a beast just yet.

“That which you keep saying, Schütz. Elly is good.”

Was it ever the otherwise? You have no idea what you did, but you feel it was something good for once, so you rub the back of your head and smile dumbly(is there any other way for you?). Regardless of all else, you affirm: “Yes, Elly is good.”

You’re not sure what you expected in return - thankfully, not laughter. Elly just keeps smiling at you, silently.

You hear another puff of smoke being ejected. Oh, Meiling. You turn to the youkai. You really should be going now - have you forgotten already what you’ve done? You shouldn’t even be talking to the innocents your curse warps. Including Elly.

You can’t let your selfish nature get the better of you.

“Come with me. We can sit down, peacefully. Have some herbal tea. Have some clothes…” says Meiling. “Perhaps I can even calm down our hostess enough to not to grant your deathwish.”

“Or I can escort you to the gate, and not a step farther.” Meiling shrugs its weighty body.

Your body feels oddly numb. It’s probably because you realize what danger you are putting everyone in.

“Oh, I’m going. Out. With Elly,” you spray out. “Back home.”

“That’s…” Meiling samples the word before continuing. “Disappointing. This is the hundred and seventeenth time and it’s still so very disappointing.”

There was never a reality where this youkai could get what it wants - whatever that is. It’s your fault. “I’m sorry,” you say, and you wouldn’t say it if you didn’t mean it. You get up. Elly follows blithely.


“Come, then, I will make this quick.” Meiling rises with a great plume of cursed gunpowder, and dutifully marches past you.

You follow quietly. The youkai hasn’t lied, yet.

The doorway comes quickly. It was hardly a few turns of the hall away, and your steps somehow seemed longer than usual. You don’t put much thought into it. You feel terrible. Your body runs on fumes, and your mind is already turning to toxic swamp.

Ahead of you is a disgusting garden, and beyond that the gate you came in. You walk towards the gate.



Meiling stands by its side. The youkai doesn’t bar you, but you stop nonetheless. Despite it all, you do appreciate whatever good that this youkai thinks it’s doing. “Step past this point, and I will use all my power as Meiling to destroy you,” the youkai says.

That is its duty. You understand, so you nod, and then reality catches up and punches you in the gut.

Elly will destroy Meiling.

What else did you think would happen?

Well, to put it in simple enough terms for your stupid brain to understand, you didn’t even consider Meiling’s safety until now. Granted, before yesterday, the image of youkai in your mind was firmly in the realm of the Nues and Rumias of the forest. Now, with a nuanced opinion comes nuanced problems.

Your feet are rooted in place, and you stare into the ground as if Sister would spring up to fix everything. Someone has to die here, and it is physically and spiritually impossible for it to be you.

“Scared?” asks Meiling.

You’re in a perpetual state of mild to extreme terror, but, yes, you are leaning on the extreme side for the moment. You shouldn’t need to answer. Still, you nod with stiff neck.

“... Good. That is your body telling you how senseless this all is. Turn back.”

That is not an option. You need to get home. You are a danger to everyone around you, except Sister.

“No.”

“...” Meiling goes to say something, but stops. It hesitates. Though, with a large plume of gunpowder as its herald, the reluctant youkai continues: “I am permitted to expel genuine threats to my lady. If I were to forcefully expel Elly, it would be easy for an ungrateful human to scamper away in the chaos.”

No, no, that’s just the same. Elly will destroy Meiling. Why is this youkai making it so hard? It would be easier if Meiling were an esurient Rumia or devilish Nue, instead this youkai is unrepentantly gracious - and you’re sure to call it that now for you’ve tried your best to prove otherwise.

Oh.

This is why spellcard rules exist, you moron. The thought leaps out at you for blood; it is incredibly upset to have not been thought of earlier! Wild, untamed confidence fills your body. ‘Everything will be fine,’ it promises. With that, the rigor of terror is thawed.

You look to where Meiling’s real, azure eyes ought to be, and say: “A spellcard duel. We’re going to have a spellcard duel for you to let Elly and I pass. Standard rules.” You’re smiling, you realize. You did just save a life, for once, though it was your fault the life was endangered in the first place.

Elly bumbles about in the background, innocent as an angel. You give her a small wave to say you’re fine. She waves back far more enthusiastically. She’s paying attention in her own, completely vacant way.

After a long spell of pondering, the youkai speaks. “Spellcard Duels... This is a Gensokyo custom. No, a Gensokyo law.” Meiling sits down right there. “Patchouli warned me of this.”

“Sit,” says the youkai.

You sit. No matter what happens from now, no one is dying - unless the curse awakes. The challenge has been issued, and the stakes, set; all that’s left is to state name and title. You also have to win.

“My spellcards,” says Meiling.

Said cards appear as the standard, ethereal pieces of paper. Instead, rather than painstaking designs inking their pages, they appear more like something you would scribble into bark with a knife.

[Early, Mid, Late Afternoon ~ Herbal Tea]
[Maid Sign ~ Seductive Parlour Tricks]
[Scarlet Sign ~ Cake and Wine]
[Colorful Sign ~ I Saw a Nice Rainbow Today]


Just by glancing at them you can tell they’re terrible. You’ve seen fairies with more eloquent designs.

“Do they work?” Meiling must have read your wincing face before you got a chance to speak.

“Yes. They function.” You take a particular look at the best of the duds: [Colorful Sign ~ I Saw a Nice Rainbow Today]. It appears that it would shoot a few inconsistent, scattered volleys of pellets, before stopping. “Somehow,” you add.

“Will I lose?”

“Certainly.”

“A shame.” Meiling stands up. The youkai calls it name, and you stand up to call yours in turn.

Conceited Youkai Gatekeeper ~ Hong Meiling

Paranoid Forest Hunter ~ Schütz and An Escort ~ Elly

“Elly?” You turn, which turns into a spin. She ends up being beside you; where you looked not even a second ago.

Meiling is patiently waiting while assuming what looks to be a combat stance, though the confusion is clear in the twitch of its whiskers. You’re thankful that its cursed form has some legible emotion.

“Schütz,” Elly replies. She doesn’t seem particularly concerned, or much of anything, really.

“You joined.” You state the obvious, and hope it leads from there.

“I joined.”

“Why?”

“I’m an escort, and I’m escorting Schütz, Schütz.”

“Oh.” That’s nice of her; it’s welcome, if not necessary. You turn to Meiling. “Elly is my partner.” You point to Elly for some reason.

Meiling puffs some smoke, but says nothing. The youkai manifests all of its spellcards at once, and touches one seemingly at random.

Is this a technique you have not heard of? You watch on, curious.

“Schütz,” says Elly. She has manifested her full - and voluminous - library of cards for you to view. “Choose one. They’re mine so they’re…” Elly smiles. “Good.

You’re confused by her words, but then you realize that what at first seems like Elly boasting is more likely her savoring the word ‘good’. While the humor is lost on you, her simple joy is yours as well. You want her to be happy, and you’re willing to make a fool of yourself (by stating the truth???) for it.

Meiling is still performing an esoteric technique with her spellcards. It’s worrisome.

Maybe you should start it off, then?

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

You go to touch one of Elly’s cards, but manage to withdraw before it is too late. While Elly wouldn’t stop you, you know she wouldn’t appreciate you dirtying her spells, too. That would be terrible of you, and you’re going to have a hard enough time already with making her a clean dress; making her new spellcards adds another dimension of impossibility.

Logically, you inspect them from a distance.



These spells are all exceedingly complex, or brutally simple. On closer inspection, they somehow seem to be both at the same time.

You will start with these ones. They seem simple enough for you to understand. Maybe...
[A: ] {choose one}
- [Revised Legend ‘73’ ~ “Executioner Elly”] (???Sounds Offensive???)
- [Deep, Deep Ocean ~ Drown Out the Noise] (???Sounds Defensive???)
- [HAHAHA ~ “Elly is Good”] (???)
… she made this one just now.

You take a little peak at a more complex spell.
[“Perdition Crisis”] (???)
Your brain hurts just looking at this card. It’s just like Sisters’. You would have to be much better to use anything like this.

Though, you may not even be good enough to use the ‘simpler’ of Elly’s spells...
[B: One of yours instead.] {spell automatically selected from yours}

{Using a spellcard will let you privy to their origin, so long as you are on the same team!}

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated 'Human')
- x12 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Broken)
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated 'Human')
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)
Sparse Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated 'Human')
-Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <-O-> “lunatic”

Time: Morning

\o====================85===================o/


Scarlet Retour ~ Deep, Deep Ocean View

S.O.S. (slice of schütz)

5.8 Stage 2 boss, or stage 1 because Nue was unbeatable in a fair fight. The preamble is particularly long in this game.

5k+ update. That’s a lot for me. A lot for the reply box, as well. Most updates are 1.5k~. Dialogue kept coming. Scenes kept bleeding into others. There’s no point giving votes when they would be out of character.

Drawing the centrepiece is beyond me.
I’m not all that good at describing locations and the like. If you have any advice on the matter, I welcome it.

Thanks for all your time and input!
>> No. 30634
File 151490817494.jpg - (42.61KB, 640x1138, x7OwdGr_d.jpg) [iqdb]
30634
Holy shit this is best thing I've ever read.

The dialogue with Meiling was hilarious, specially the "Qualifications" part. Elly was perfect with her newfound fascination about his "Good" comment (Which was written like a confession. Coincidence?)
The tension returned when he noticed that Meiling was going to die, but it all ended up well.

Seriously, the whole thing was great.
This story has been a tense conversation between a paronoid schizophrenic and an alien world through an old radio that barely works half the time. It still is, but it has "clicked" for me now, if that makes any sense.

Vote later, after I reread everything once or twice again. 2018 is looking good.
>> No. 30635
[A] Deep, Deep Ocean ~ Drown Out the Noise

I WILL VOTE ON THIS STORY, SANITY BE DAMNED.
>> No. 30636
[HAHAHA ~ “Elly is Good”]

I will freely bite of your bait.
>> No. 30637
[A] Deep, Deep Ocean ~ Drown Out the Noise
>> No. 30638
>>30634
>Holy shit this is best thing I've ever read.
>Seriously, the whole thing was great.
Stuff like this makes me speechless, so fortunately I can reply several hours later in text. Compliments in general flabbergast me.

>Meiling/Elly dialogue
Dialogue and characterisation is a pervasive foe. It’s nice to come out victorious, for now. I count making someone smile/interested/invested/etc as a victory.

I have a lot of fun writing Elly and Meiling. There is much more to them that I’d like the explore. Same goes for most characters, but them especially. Patchouli and the famulus are the hardest to write, if anyone was curious about that. ‘Harder' doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t like the characters themselves; it means that I’m likely to look at a paragraph for an hour with nothing but a sentence or two mutating (and summarily being weeded out by natural selection an hour later for being useless, genetic aberrations)

>This story has been a tense conversation between a paranoid schizophrenic and an alien world through an old radio that barely works half the time. It still is, but it has "clicked" for me now, if that makes any sense.
You appear to fit right into the tiny, tiny niche I’ve carved (this is my hole! It was made for me!). Not sure how that happened. This is my first proper story besides some dribble-on-the-carpet I made when I was 13 (about a sentient puddle of acid that is actually a living bomb created by a sentient planet to [insert rest of convoluted plot here]) - so, much of what I’m doing is playing by ear. To an onlooker it must seem like I’m actively trying to repel as many potential players as possible.

In conclusion: thanks for reading, and enjoying reading.

= = =

>>30635
>I WILL VOTE ON THIS STORY, SANITY BE DAMNED.
For the full voting experience: fill a bathtub, and put your head underwater.

>>30636
>I will freely bite of your bait.
The bait sinks, and the fish with it.

This is just silly wordplay. Pay no mind.

= = =

The vote will be called in… 3 days? Keep the ball rolling until it hits another 50~0~-50 words/hour wall.
>> No. 30639
File 151498575487.png - (19.74KB, 819x549, 30.png) [iqdb]
30639
Probably less than 3 days. I'm in a rush to hit that wall at max possible speed.
>> No. 30640
[A] "Executioner Elly" or "Elly is good"

A defensive card is worthless if the enemy's attack is shitty.
>> No. 30641
[B: One of yours instead.]
Schütz seemed confident enough before Elly joined in. No need to try using one of Elly's spells.
>> No. 30642
>>30640
Those options are mutually exclusive. A choice must be made or the vote is null.
>> No. 30643
>Drawing the centrepiece is beyond me.
I’m not all that good at describing locations and the like. If you have any advice on the matter, I welcome it.

Perhaps draw the location instead? Just a thought. Also, I miss seeing your art. It gave the characters a more grounded form, where the imagination would give a different experience to each reader. Although, I suppose it will only become an issue if you don't draw any newly added ones, of which we've yet to see.

Anywho, that said, I suppose it's time we huddle and strategerize. While I would love to see that third Elly card, and while I imagine that it would be easier to use, I worry about Elly in general. She is missing but 1% of herself, and yet she's sounding ditzier and ditzier by the statement. It may be wise to give her a good look-over with our weird not-console to make sure her very existence isn't eroding. She's seeming increasingly unElly, and this is worrying to me.

However, as this isn't a good time to give Elly eyes, I think it's probably wise to remind her of who she is. Not the dangerous-sounding card, however, but the defensive one. Also, Elly is starting to remind me of a dog for some reason. I kinda want to give her a pat on the head and call her a good girl, no matter how bad of an idea it seems like it could be.

[A:]
- [1] [Deep, Deep Ocean ~ Drown Out the Noise] (???Sounds Defensive???)
- [2] [HAHAHA ~ “Elly is Good”] (???)

If choosing two is outside of allowable votes, as it stated to choose one, then consider it a vote for the one I added a [1] to, so as to signify it as the first to be used.

Ohh, and sorry it's taken this long to vote. Feel horribly sick, terribly depressed and just overall bleh.

>>30634

Maybe you could share further clicking insights post-reread. It would be nice to discuss things with someone.
>> No. 30644
>>30643
>drawings
I had a big thing written up, but it's easier to dot point:
-I dont like what I draw
-Audience tends not to pay any mind to what I draw apart from interest in the concept/design (the same effect could be achieved with a single design sketch and none else)
-I will (and have been) attempt(ing) to better my drawing skill before trying to draw for this story regularly
-I will draw new characters in this story, regardless

The mspaint scribbles are just for my own enjoyment.
Drawing seriously, and even casually, has ceased being enjoyable.

>Perhaps draw the location instead?
I cannot draw locations. I’m not particularly concerned about that, however - as I’m far more interested in characters at the moment.

>vote
Well, I'll be taking [1] as this is indeed a mutually exclusive vote.
>> No. 30645
>>30644
I am that I am
>> No. 30646
>>30645
Comparing yourself to god, shrimp? You'd better have a hell of an update to justify that.
>> No. 30647
>>30646
Speaking of hell, It's a tad more treacherous to claim better judgement than God.
>> No. 30648
The vote will be called tomorrow at earliest opportunity!
>> No. 30649
>>30642
[X] Elly is good

>>30643

Sure.

Have you considered the possibility that the curse does exactly what he thinks it does? Turning people into unreal monsters without them noticing the difference?

Because, considering that the nature of the curse is the biggest mystery, I've never, ever, took what our MC said at face value.

First, I thought it showed the true nature of people. Elly is a monster with a fearsome scythe because she's a reaper, Meiling is a gunpowder dragon because she's a dragon youkai from China, Sakuya is a human blurred because she is, indeed a human, but with a different time than the rest of the world, etc.

However, while Elly acknowledges her monster form (sometimes) Meiling does not. Not sure if that is because she isn't actually fully cursed or not.

Because he believes he is passing the curse by, what? Interacting with people? Does it turn people into monsters or just kills them and makes them Imaginary?Are his visions just illusions unless he acknowledges them as real? Seems likely.

Elly is the key, I think. She acknowledged both her real form and her cursed form. The curse status, however, seems useless. It only seems to affect his visions: Elly talked about her eyes when it was on full swing and when it wasn't.

Also, what happened to Reimu? She died from the curse? How? How does it kill? Schultz died several times, but we still don't know how.
>> No. 30650
Great. I'll call it now, and get working tonight. However, I can give no estimate as to when this will be out due to the whole pendular writing speed thing.

Vote:
{0} [A: [Revised Legend ‘73’ ~ “Executioner Elly”]]
{3} [A: [Deep, Deep Ocean ~ Drown Out the Noise]]
{2} [A: [HAHAHA ~ “Elly is Good”]]
{1} [B: One of yours instead.]

{0} [A: ["Perdition Crisis"]]
I jest.

Here's some music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDV4Dfe5-Y4
>> No. 30651
The wall is tougher than expected! Give me a while, or not. I'll be devoting significant time to this, so maybe I'll breakthrough soon.

I have to be very careful with my wording. That's nothing new.
>> No. 30653
>>30651
1000 words and much time later: one wall broken, many to go. This is going to take a long time.

While responding to discussion would defeat the point, I do welcome the proof that my players are thinking on levels outside the immediate vote. There is merit in that way of thinking, I assure you.
>> No. 30654
2500+

Should be able to finish tomorrow. Which in practicality means it will be out the day after due to self-editing and such.

Writing fast is a myth. Behind every so-called fast writer is a troupe of adderal-infused lesser apes chained to keyboards.
>> No. 30655
>>30654

Inside each and every one of us is there not at least a single adderal-infused lesser ape chained to a keyboard?
>> No. 30656
3500+

Update tomorrow.

Will end at 4000, most likely.

>>30655
I'm making do with my lobotomised aye-aye. It pokes a key, every now and then.
>> No. 30657
===== Time: Morning | Curse: ~~~ =====

Under spellcard rules, your impeccable accuracy degrades to just ‘good’ - ‘not good enough’ in the case of a spellcard duel against youkai. Skewering Rumia and the like before a duel always proved to even the odds. Under ordinary circumstances, it would be an excellent idea to take out one of Meiling’s eyes, or a leg. But… you didn’t consider it, and considering it now, you don’t want to. You will leave it at that.

You shouldn’t need to shred Meiling’s Achilles to beat them, anyway. The question, raised by Elly’s whim, is how you will beat them: with a club, or with a fancy mace?

Of the limited selection of Elly’s cards you can mentally grasp, you’re given the vague choice of brutality, passivity, and - you don’t know to describe the last spellcard. For a moment, you consider just using one of your own spells. But, no, Elly knows better than you. She offered her cards, and you will take them. It’s the right thing to do, not the easy or sane thing, the right thing.

Not only must you win, you must win by Elly’s whim. You may disappoint yourself, but you won’t disappoint her. Doubt slithers under the heel of your bullheaded desire to not fail. Unconfident but determined, you declare the most reliable-sounding spell:

[Deep, Deep Ocean ~ Drown Out the Noise]

‘Most-reliable’, you must admit, is the most superficial of titles you can give to a spell you’ve never seen made by a person you met yesterday.

You look to Elly for some signs of life; preferably, any proof you haven’t chosen the spellcard kin of a white flag.

Elly smiles at you in the self-assuredly vacant way she does. That’s enough for you; you trust Elly absolutely. You try to smile back, but find that you can’t control your face, nor the rest of your body - and, with that, assurement is not had. Your muscles strain to keep from mollifying as your body is used as a container for thoughts that are not your own: Elly’s thoughts.

To duel with spellcards is to accept a certain degree of mental violation. Thoughts, experiences, and memories are the fuel. In this case, the fuel isn’t yours. You are taking Elly’s ammo, and putting it in an unfamiliar gun: yourself. It so happens, to no one’s surprise, that you’re attempting to fire a missile with a pistol.

Failure isn’t an option, so, with a smile forced just to prove that you can, you continue chanelling the spell:

/ [Deep, Deep Ocean ~ Drown Out the Noise] \
You breach. It’s like a whisper up here. Not the quiet type of whisper, the loud kind: a stage whisper. The sound of garbage: that’s what you call it for you’re the only one that can hear it, and it sounds like filth.

‘...!’ ‘........!!!!’ ‘.........!!’ ‘..!!!!’ ‘.!’ ‘........!!!’ Is the sound of hissed, unintelligible filth - of flies buzzing, and meat rotting, and maggots squirming, and flies buzzing, and so on, forever.
You are Elly, and you don’t like filth, and sometimes you make up reasons why, and sometimes you don’t.

Why are you up here, listening to this filth? The reason come and go. Lately and tomorrow it’s Schütz, and yesterday it wasn’t. You don’t miss yesterday, and you don’t yearn for tomorrow. Yesterday is tomorrow. There will always be a reason you must listen to filth: ‘Why?’ That you have asked yourself since forever. ‘Why not?’ Because -

- You are Elly, and you don’t like filth, and sometimes you make up reasons why, and sometimes you don’t.

Why are you up here-

Recognizing the eternal loop, you dive underwater to drown out the noise.

It’s quiet… until there’s a reason to breach, and there always will be. There is nothing new reflected on the water’s surface. That’s how it has been since forever.

Today and tomorrow and tomorrow Schütz is about to go on a hunt. He’s trying to impress Yuuka. He always fails. ‘Good hunting to you,’ you will say. He will fail. He should listen to your advice, but you’re invisible to him, so he will fail.

You breach. It’s like a whisper up here.
\ [Deep, Deep Ocean ~ Drown Out the Noise] /

… You? Who are you, again?

‘You are Schütz, again,’ you answer, and don’t quite believe it. Elly’s memory lasted not even a second, but you feel that if you were to look down, a vast, silent, abyssal ocean would sprawl beneath. No such thing, yet you keep looking, not believing your eyes. It felt so real: a quiet and sterile place all to yourself.

‘Dive.’

Pastel blue light erupts around you; knocking your Elly-stained mind back into its rightful place. Elly’s spellcard - fueled by the accumulated Elly experience of uncounted Elly years - was not made for a human mind, yet this bombast of light and sound before you is proof that you made it happen. Sister will have to fix the ensuing brain damage, again. From now until you feel Sister’s merciless healing hand inside your skull, you will allow yourself some pride. You often forget you’re capable of feeling that.

The intended endstate of a spellcard duel is to turn a tiger to paper, and what’s lurking inside this spell is one of the most fearsome paper tigers you’ve ever seen. No, a paper Elly is more appropriate - a tiger couldn’t be so brutal. You notice Elly isn’t beside you. That’s because she’s submerged.

Indeed, this is an amphibious spell; cast above and below water. What you’re seeing now, an expanding tide of blue, is only half of it. You don’t know what the other half is, but it’s there.
It comes as an embarrassing reminder that spellcard duels are, yes, duels. You and Elly against Meiling, not just you alone and feeling good about giving yourself brain damage to cast a spell (and it’s not even the first time!). That said, your head doesn’t hurt overmuch, and one side of your body isn’t playing truant like last time. You shake your head, and turn your overstimulated attention to the relatively dull Meiling.

Meiling is looking back at you, or the overwhelming surge of blue bullets erupting from you. More likely the latter. Meiling, struck by an epiphany, breaks off from their mysterious spellcard-poking technique, and declares a spell of their own:

[Maid Sign ~ Seductive Parlour Tricks]

Vaguely shaped bullets surround Meiling, and prance about the youkai as an ineffectual protective(?) ring. Meiling’s whiskers twitch, and, with a staunch puff of smoke, the youkai resumes combat stance.

The youkai opts to start off with its worst(?) spell. Is it testing your defences? You think you can manage to not walk into a broken ring of bullets, though to be sure you press your feet against the earth hard enough to leave a placeholder. Part of you expects the ground to give way into water, so you must remind that part of you: ‘you are Schütz!’

The blue tide approaches, and still Meiling holds stance. More and more, its whiskers twitch. They flow like ribbons in the wind. The day is calm.

Awkwardly and, most notably, without aid of flight, Meiling dodges the first swell of the tide. The youkai clings to one of the grossly-trimmed trees that litter the garden. That won’t do it any good. Elly’s spell is not the sort that can be dodged as Gensokyo’s fattest bird on Gensokyo’s ugliest tree.

‘Breach.’

The hairs on the back of your neck alert you of dangers yet perceived. Elly’s spell - noise, bullets, and all - comes to an abrupt halt. … No, just half of the spell. This is not your danger, but, by proxy, you feel the anticipation that Meiling ought feel as fear. You made one, fatal assumption when you cast this spell. That it was defensive.

Meiling patrols systematically from their perch; soon rewarded by the worst of possible sights (for them): a faceful of Elly’s scythe.

With dexterity not befitting the cumbersome, monstrous form painted in your eyes, Meiling propels itself from one tree to the next. The youkai’s aura of bizzare danmaku follow like the ring around a target. Without any offensive maneuver, that is what Meiling effectively is: a target.

Meiling’s now-former position has become a geyser of blue. Elly impassively watches on from the epicentre. In an ordinary duel, the opponent may take this opportunity to strike. Meiling instead clings to a tree.

There’s little you can do now the spell is cast. You are a conduit. Your only job is to not get hit. Elly is doing all the real work.
“Good job, Elly!” you call out above the deafening silence.

Elly looks back at you, and smiles wide. You wave, and, as Elly is inclined to do, she waves back with overflowing enthusiasm. Is that what Elly wants, encouragement: acknowledgment of her true greatness? This is unheard of; you can actually do that! The truth is your speciality, and it is exceeding rare that ‘the truth’ does not manage to make your life a living nightmare.

The mood is soured somewhat by Meiling, who stares on hawkishly from a tree. “...” Meiling mumbles to itself. Little streams of smoke pour from the youkai’s mouth, and its whiskers flare and squirm like whips.

‘Dive.’

Elly disappears; she dives. In turn, the ocean of bullets rises.

It’s getting difficult to see through the blue haze, so you follow Meiling’s lead and climb one of the grotesque trees nearby as vantage. Unlike Meiling, you don’t have to worry about touching the sea. You settle yourself on a branch just at the waterline, while in the near distance you see Meiling perched atop their tree like a gargoyle.

Everything is silent. The sea continues to rise. You watch Meiling, and they back. You notice how the youkai’s whiskers dance like fire, and how its mouth, slightly agape, bellows liquid smoke into the sky above. You’ve come accustomed to telling expression from the monstrous parodies that stand in the truth’s face, and from that wisdom you can tell that Meiling is certainly not enjoying this duel as much as you.

Meiling’s own spell wore off a while ago. Is this another unorthodox technique, or did they forget to cast another? Should you remind them? There’s little point encouraging futility. You would know that best!

“Forfeit,” you suggest.

Meiling shakes as if you had just struck them in the gut. Could they not hear you above the nothing?

The ocean rises. Meiling won’t last long.

“Forfeit! Forfeit the match, I said!” you call out, louder.

“...” You hear a low rumble come from Meiling. The youkai’s chest shakes, and it struggles to keep balance. “Gahahaha…” The rumble in Meiling’s chest spreads to its whole body. You strain your ears.

“GAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA!” Meiling explodes into laughter. Its arms spread out as if to hold up the sky. “HAHAHAHAHahahaha… ha…” The youkai has to physically restrain itself, and the echoes haunt its breath.

You take a step back, and soon realize you are still in a tree. Reflexes save you.

“You have spirit, flower! I respect that, so I will crush it! Meiling, Hong, youkai gatekeeper, accepts your challenge!”

“NO, I SAID GIVE UP!” You frantically wave your arms. Meiling meets that with an impassioned fist to the air.

“GAHAHAHAHA! Same to you, friend!” The youkai’s laughter rocks the tree.

What?! “WHAT?!” You pause to gain some semblance of eloquence. “No, no! We are already in a duel, you- you youkai!” You gesticulate, you accentuate to a stutter, but nothing breaks through. There’s no response other than endless laughter. Youkai logic is, by no coincidence, the most illogical substance known to man.

Meiling, with another bout of haughty laughter, leaps into the sea. This is complete lunacy. In fact, the outline of the full moon does etch in the morning sky.

Anything you could say turns to dust in your mouth. You watch on with wide, unbelieving eyes in awe of youkai logic.

Meiling confidently strolls through the sea of bullets. It reminds you of the odd biblical stories Sister made you read, except in this case Meiling, the Moses of this story, decides to take a swim rather than part the sea. One, two, five, seven... more-than-ten. Counting the bullets that connect is like counting droplets rain against your skin during a monsoon. Unless Meiling can land an ocean’s worth of blows with their sub-fairy-ring of pellets, they have lost at what might be a record low score in Gensokyo.

‘Breach’

And everything stops, except Meiling, who irreverently faces the world with what might be the most ill-begotten challenge possible: “GAHAHAHAHAHA! Come, Death! I will grind you to dust, and use you as an aphrodisiac!” Meiling announces amid an ocean of blue defeat.

“Elly is not an aphrodisiac!” you call out. However, you will admit that Elly is attractive, you think - you’ve never actually seen her. You just assume she’s attractive because… You terminate the thought. “Nor is she Death!” you continue.

“I’m not!” is Elly’s warcry as she breaches from her silent ocean to its spell-simulacrum. She looks terribly confused. She looks at you for guidance, but she has the wrong man.

Without better impetus, Elly continues with the spell. Her scythe extends, and more blue erupts in Meiling’s direction. One, two, three geysers this time; all of them direct hits. Not that Meiling is trying to dodge.

You were wrong; Meiling is certainly enjoying this duel more than you. The youkai laughs while being pelted at all angles by jets of blue, and, at the same time, the entire ocean of bullets.

‘Dive’

The spell decrees Elly should dive, but she doesn’t.

“Elly.”

“Schütz.” One instant to the next and she’s right next to you.

“Meiling declares no more spells. We can close the duel.”

“Meiling?”

“The youkai we are dueling.”

Elly looks back to Meiling, who is still laughing. “Sounds like a fly, and looks like a fly. Garbage.” Elly turns back to you. “Is its name Meiling?”

You nod.

Garbage: ‘The sound of filth,’ Elly calls it within. You know how it feels when everything around you is wrong, and Elly is handling it better than you ever could. Your respect for her only continues to grow. Like Yuuka, she is a god in your eyes, but less fallible.

“Then, I won’t remember. Three names I can remember: Elly, and Schütz, and Yuuka; and none of those are Meiling.”

Odd pride wells inside you for being on that exclusive will-be-remembered-by-Elly list, but you can’t dwell on that now. “Meiling declares no more spells. We should close the duel,” you say.

“Come on, come on, insipid suitor of Death! Have at me! IS NOT THE FOE BEFORE YOU STILL STANDING!” Meiling roars from below. “COME! MEILING IS UNSTOPPABLE! FEAR MEILING! GAHAHAHAHA!”

You and Elly both ignore the raging youkai.

By an unspoken word, [Deep, Deep Ocean ~ Drown Out the Noise] is cancelled. It hadn’t even reached climax. The ocean would have ended up swallowing the house, had it continued as it did.

The spellcard duel is finalised. You and Elly, the victors of a score of countless to zero. Meiling is obliged to let you past, and not die in the process.

Meiling stops laughing. The youkai stays still; its body tense like a coiled spring. You can hear its deep breathing from here.

“... Meiling?” you call out from what you admit to be concern. You felt concern for Patchouli, once. That was a mistake. You take a measured breath. Guilt will have its way later rather than sooner, you promise it.

Meiling doesn’t respond. It doesn’t do much of anything except stand and breath.

‘Why are you going to do this to yourself,’ you ask preemptively - because you know you’re going to do something stupid. Here it comes. “Elly, please intervene if I start dying.”

Elly squints, and makes a sound like an iron nail scratching against stone. Clearly, she’s confused. Why? Because ‘intervening your death’ - that’s already her job, you moron.

“The body, dying. Not the soul. Humanity. Garbage…” You bury your face in your hand, and try to wipe away the embarrassment and stupidity. “Intervene if the body part of me starts dying, Elly. Please.” You would be forced to ask this, were you to pass Meiling's gate without protection of a spellcard duel. Now, you are asking because you're about to willingly approaching an unstable youkai. What has happened to you over these past two days?

Elly stares at you, not through you. “Would that be good?” she asks.

You nod.

Elly smiles bright and wide. “Then, asking is meaningless. Elly is good, and she does good things, I and Schütz believe.”

“Thank you, Elly.” You give an awkward bow. Bowing properly while balancing on a branch is difficult, even for you, the self-proclaimed paranoid forest hunter.

Continued fleshy existence assured, you deftly slide down the tree to do something stupid.

Meiling’s rags are torn and shredded. Spellcard duels harm no more than clothes, and you imagine the real Meiling is as boldly dressed as you right now.

“Meiling? Meiling, are you fine? For a youkai, I mean. Are you fine for a youkai?” you blurt out in a stream of conscious. It’s a crutch of sorts. You take it up whenever the right words fail you, and you take it wherever you go.

“... Uguh.” The youkai puffs out with a wad of smoke. Slowly, the youkai’s head creaks to meet you. “... I lost. A shame, a shame.” Not waiting for a reply the youkai absent-mindedly waddles to a nearby tree. It slumps against that tree in a way that suggests it plans to stay there forever.

With head turned to you, Meiling continues: “Let us all imagine it’s afternoon, and Meiling will be… youkai fine.

You prop yourself against an adjacent tree. Meiling is ‘youkai fine.’ That lifts a weight of your chest - a weight you’re surprised even exists. “That’s fine.” That’s settled, yet you aren’t budging. You do, after all, have another motive.

Meiling can sense it in the air. The youkai’s whiskers twitch with obvious discomfort - as the youkai should be, after how it acted.

With an acquiescent, smokey sigh, Meiling continues: “The moons lately have…” It peters off. “No, it’s the tension that rouses the uglier instincts. The bothersome afternoon stretches into a bothersome morning. Makes a weak-of-inhibition someone like Meiling… excitable.” The churning of gunpowder within hints to words pointedly left unsaid.

Meiling silently ponders. Within the youkai an internal debate rages on, and all you see of it is the occasional smatter of smoke.

“The adorable maid is incapacitated, you know. No quarter for her. No herbal tea for I,” Meiling drifts on. “... Off duty, as I never am, I would give thanks for convincing Patchouli to annihilate that most honoured guest.”

Oh, Nue? You nod. “Nue was an evil youkai. Most are.”

That earns you a puff of gunpowder. The fake smell is pungent in the air.

Meiling finds another vagrant thought to turn to speech. It’s difficult to call anything the youkai says anything close to calculated. “Meiling. She’s a prideful one, you know. Worse than the Elder Scarlet, I have heard. Meiling has no self-awareness, they say.” Meiling pauses. “Personally, I don’t believe them.”

You are certain Meiling knows what you want, and you’re not leaving until you get it, or until Meiling proves they are incapable. So far, the youkai endeavors to remain as meandering as possible.

“You want the prideful Meiling to apologize.” It’s a statement seemingly at random, and wrapped in a nonchalant, offhanded demeanor. However, you realize that Meiling has been building up to this since the beginning.

Silence passes between the two of you, thick like sap. Truly, you didn’t prepare to get this far with the youkai, but, after many moments thought, you say: “To Elly. To Elly, you will apologize.” The words come with surprising conviction.

“You want the prideful Meiling to apologize to Elly,” the youkai amends. “I will, (I will)…” It drags on, and continues the train of thought within. From the conceited youkai gatekeeper, you imagine this is not easy to say. Though, the youkai makes a good show of not minding.

Said Elly is beside you, now. Her eyeless gaze travels to you, so she smiles, and then goes back to looking at nothing/her water.

With the grace and absurdity of a tree un-falling, Meiling stands. The reluctance and weariness that the youkai oozed before disappears like it never existed. Meiling looks just as unflappable as before, despite the state of its clothes (you imagine). Meiling regards you with a slight tilt of its head, and turns to Elly to deliver a deep and gracious bow. “... I, Meiling, Hong, sworn to Scarlet, and youkai gatekeeper, apologize to you, Elly.”

You’re taken aback by the display, but beneath the superficial and passing shock you let out a relieved smile. Some youkai are good. That is the truth.

You look to see Elly’s reaction. She perks up for a moment, but doesn’t appear interested enough to maintain focus. Apart from rebuffing insults to her good character, you’ve never seen Elly interact with anyone besides you and Sister. A selfish part of you enjoys that.

Duty fulfilled, the youkai falls over. It’s an uncontrolled fall, but also a planned fall back into a tree trunk. The tree shakes and creaks against the force. Leaves fall, and twigs snap to shower Meiling in debris - confetti for a party of one very tired youkai.

In response, Meiling, as expected, puffs some smoke.

You find yourself displeased, unfulfilled, not for yourself, but for Meiling. It would be terrible for such a genuine apology to go unregarded.

“I accept your apology to Elly, Meiling.” You rub the back of your head. Even you know that’s an odd thing to say. You stick by it, of course, but you know it’s dumb.

“Adorable,” is all the youkai says after that.

Meiling, then, not-so-subtly gestures toward the open gate.

Oh! You almost forgot the reason this is all happening in the first place.

“Elly, my escort.”

“Schütz, my Schütz.”

“Let’s go.”

Elly looks around; she is disorientated above water.

You point her in the right direction. “That way. Landways.” It feels good to help her, even though it’s just helping her help you.

Elly goes on ahead. You take a moment to look back.

Meiling languidly waves you off.

“Thank you for not dying,” the youkai calls.

“The same to you, friend,” you reply after a moment’s thought. Your smile is pained.

This ‘house’, a violent red scab beside the lake, has been the worst experience you’ve had in the last four years. Vile, congealed memories struggle for dominance, but more important is the source of it all: yourself. The inhabitants, even the absolute worst of them, the ‘famulus’, are not to blame for your own shortcomings. Everything is your fault.

One day, when the curse is put to permanent rest, you might come to visit Meiling again - outside the gates, of course.

You laugh at your own joke. No such thing will ever happen. Moron, moron, moron.

You hurry to catch up to Elly.

“Elly,” you say.

“Schütz.”

“Let’s go home.”

Elly stares at you, then through you, and then keeps going. You follow behind while leading because Elly still has no idea where she is.

===== Time: Morning | Curse: ~~~ =====

The Flower Field peaks on the horizon, and, somehow, Elly is still lost. Only when you’re at the very edge of the field does Elly seem to realize.

“This is the other, landways, Flower Field. They look the same underwater, and they look different above,” says Elly. She looks upon the Flower Field as if it’s the first time she’s ever seen it; perhaps, with her aquatic lifestyle, it is in some regards.

At the edge of the flower field, you bow to Elly. “Thank you for escorting me, Elly.” You hesitate a moment. Another worry worms its way into your mind. “Elly. I don’t understand how you could ever think the otherwise, but please understand: you are good. It’s not the sort of goodness that can go unappreciated. Not by you.”

You’re amazed you managed to speak for more than a sentence without fumbling.

Elly is smiling wider by the second. “I am good, you and I believe.”

You manage to laugh. “You are.”

“I am.” And she seems all the more enthusiastic for saying it again. You could do this all day, but you shouldn’t.

“I’ll be going, Elly.” It’s impossible to ignore that lovely dress of hers. The dress you dirtied. “I will make you a new dress. A clean dress. I promise.”

Elly’s laughter is sublime.

If nothing else, you’re happy to amuse her. But you aren’t planning on failing.

“Then good hunting to you, Schütz,” echoes out as you make your way into the flower fields.

The flowers part for you. You give your little greetings to them along the way. You smile because you should, not because you’re happy.

You are home. There’s no particular ‘home’ part of this flower field. It’s a general sense of security and comfort granted by the fact you can’t harm anyone here. You are alone, so everyone is safe.

You’re starved, parched, and besides that you feel terrible - and you are home. It’s fine to feel bad. Bad people should feel bad; good people should feel good. However, starving to death while surrounded by nature’s bounty would be inconvenient for Elly and Sister both.

If all goes well, you should be here forever.

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

{You will be sating yourself regardless of what you choose to do after.}

[A: Start working on Elly’s new dress without touching it(!). Somehow, learn to sew without hands?]

[B: Maintain your own equipment, first. You’re still mostly naked.]

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated 'Human')
- x12 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Broken)
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated 'Human')
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)
Sparse Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated 'Human')
-Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <-O-> “lunatic”

Time: Morning

\o====================85===================o/

Congratulations.

Elly is ____
>> No. 30658
FINISH THAT SENTENCE GODDAMNIT.

[x] Learn to sew without hands


lol wtf
>> No. 30659
[x] [A: Start working on Elly’s new dress without touching it(!). Somehow, learn to sew without hands?]
>> No. 30660
[X] B
The alternative seems like an exercise in futility.
>> No. 30661
[A: Start working on Elly’s new dress without touching it(!). Somehow, learn to sew without hands?]

Use gloves?
>> No. 30662
[A] Somehow, learn to sew without hands?

Sisyphus has nothing on Schütz.
>> No. 30663
That was an extraordinarily fast turnout.

I'll call it tomorrow, given the breakneck voting pace. Well, it is by my standards.

>>30658
>lol wtf
Was this update confusing?
>> No. 30664
[A: Start working on Elly’s new dress without touching it(!). Somehow, learn to sew without hands?]

Maybe if we made many pairs of gloves, each made using the previous, we'd eventually have clean gloves to sew with.
>> No. 30665
>>30663
I think the tone of the vote was funny. I haven't seen such self awareness in allegedly ridiculous votes before. (Unless he discovers what a glove is or something)
>> No. 30666
Vote set for A.

Further involving yourself with Elly. You do realize that, I hope.

>>30665
Cool, cool.
>> No. 30667
The answer was Elly is Elly, by the way.
>> No. 30668
Writing. Writing. Writing. This will take a while.

Next update in a next thread! A next thread! I really expected the story to die (by my hands) in this thread, if any time. Wow. It didn't.

Thanks for playing so long! The 'downside' of having a good audience is being able to blame all failure on yourself, and I don't think I could ask for better. There's nothing I can give as thanks besides my continued efforts to keep this alive in spite of myself.

Maybe I'll try sending postcards, if this keeps going as is? That would be fun.
>> No. 30669
>>30667
I should've known.


Also, just keep your story alive and well. That's the best gift a writefag can give.
>> No. 30670
Hello, bump limit. Nice to meet you. Let's meet again, someday.

>>30669
I'm trying my best! Is my best enough to finish a story? Who knows. My best made two threads, so far.
>> No. 30671
>>30670

I for one still think you have it in you, and look forward to the day my fellow readers and I unravel the mystery that is this story.
>> No. 30672
1000+

I can give no estimates until I've written more. This update could drag on, or cut off without forewarning. God only knows.

I have already prepared the titlecard of the next thread!
>> No. 30673
2000+

This is a slow-to-write update. Time-debt for the prior two which were faster than most.
>> No. 30674
3000+ words. Unless there be reason to continue writing, I'll edit and post.

Update tomorrow? New thread tomorrow?
>> No. 30676
/o====================5====================o\

END: 5.85

BEGIN: 5.875
>>30675

\o====================85===================o/
[Return] [Entire Thread] [Last 50 posts] [First 100 posts] [Top]


[Delete or report post]
Delete post []
Password  
Report post
Reason  


[Switch to Mobile Page]
Thread Watcher x