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File 151115812562.png - (277.10KB, 840x1120, alert_alert.png) [iqdb]
30521 No. 30521
You’re sittin’ on the shop floor, goods arrayed in front of you like you’re the one barkin’ wares here instead of Rinnosuke. Discs, specifically, and specifically set out in stacks like you’re mid-solvin’ the easier Tower of Hanoi—though really, it oughta be a “Tower of Lucas”, seein’ as ya seriously doubt that that tale the dude spun ever came anywhere close to outta Vietnam. Or India, for that matter. That legend’s got the same sorta faux-exotic stink over it as “may ya live in interestin’ times.”

But anyways, discs. And stacks.

“Okay, Mac, check it,” ya say. “This is the stack of discs I’m beaucoup sure’re music CDs. Like, ninety, ninety-five percent sure. Genre I don’t always know ‘cause alotta these dudes I’ve never heard of—” this dude on this disc’s got a sax, though; that’s usually a good sign, “—but like I said, music. Most likely music. Eighty-five percent sure, music.”

Rinnosuke, sittin’ across from you, squints suspiciously. “Why is that number decreasing?” he asks.

“This stack, meanwhile, is what I’m pretty comfy labelin’ the games and programs stack,” you continue ‘splainin’. “Comfier than with the other stack, even, ‘cause the labels’re usually more of a giveaway. I’m talkin’ maybe like, seventy-five, eighty percent sure I’ve got it right here.”

“You’ve already lost fifteen percent. Are you sure I should trust your appraisal?”

“Well, if you can pull another dude with better Outsider chops, I’d totally be down for a second opinion. Two heads, right?”

“‘Two heads’?”

“Oh, right. Sorry, Mac—English proverb. ‘Two heads’re better than one,’ is how it goes.”

“There’s a saying we have that’s like that. ‘Three people who come together have Manjushri’s wisdom.’”

“I dunno who Manjushri is, but that’s fifty percent more head.”

“Manjushri is a bodhisattva, associated with wisdom—what’s this third stack?”

“Uh, yeah.” And you were kinda hopin’ that maybe Rinnosuke would just completely overlook stack number three somehow, but honestly that had no chance of happenin’. “These are the ones I’m not so sure ‘bout. Like, at all.”

“Less than seventy-five percent sure?”

“A bunch less.” Ya take the toppest disc off stack three and display it for Rinnosuke in all of its relatively-label-lackin’-, backroom-burnt-, and definitely-never-sold-commercially-ness.

Dude leans, tryin’ to decipher the sloppily markered katakana. “‘Suudoku’?”

“Right? Like, is it the game? Is it a band named after the game? Is it a band, but the name’s coincidental? We dunno, Mac.

“I don’t know what ‘suudoku’ is in the first place.”

“It’s whatcha do if the anagrams’re too easy but the crossword’s too hard and ya don’t know how to play bridge. More importantly, these discs we’re gonna hafta toss into the CD player and see if they cough up the tunes or not. So, whaddya wanna start with?”

Rinnosuke hovers over stack one and then stack three, torn as he is on the precipice of this mad momentous decision (stack two, bein’ definitely a different species altogether, gets ignored, of course). Slowly, though, his hand starts driftin’ towards stack one, dippin’ through the haze, approachin’ ever closer to sax dude and his sax—

And then, ‘cause something’s gotta happen just when the mood’s gettin’ good, there’s a knock at the door.

Rinnosuke’s hand stops. He doesn’t move. You don’t move. Neither of you says anything, like maybe if both of you are very quiet and neither of you hears anything else it’ll be like ya never heard anything in the first place. Like it’ll all’ve been your respective imaginations, and you’ll be clear to get back on the task at hand—literally, in Rinnosuke’s case.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. You’re almost nearly close to considerin’ thinkin’ ‘bout breathin’ again when it comes a second time—a triplet of healthy raps at the front door. ‘Cept not so much “raps” as much as “pounds.”

Rinnosuke sighs. “I’ll see who it is,” he says, his hand fallin’ away as he rises himself up into shopkeep mode.

Yeah. Bummer. “No problemo,” ya say, anyways, ‘cause you’re awesome like that, but even so, ya get a look from Rinnosuke before the dude’s face turns away in full to focus wholly on door-related matters. Dude knows, in other words, which is bummer the second.

Wait. Isn’t bad stuff supposta come atcha in threes?

The door opens. Ya don’t see it, but ya hear it, clear enough, and ya definitely feel the sudden drift of cold air and wet as it detects an openin’ and moseys on in just to remind ya that the winter months’re comin’ and you’re sorta lackin’ the skin for it. And then, while you’re withstandin’ the urge to curl into yourself (‘cause you’re not gonna let a little change in temp beat ya), ya hear something else, something that sounds real familiar in a whole lotta ways:

“Hey, Kourin. Lemme in, won’t ya? It started drizzling all of a sudden, and now my hat’s gotten all wet.”

See, ya know that voice. Only complication is, last ya heard it it was comin’ out a mug that’d just gotten your fist in it.

So there ya go—numero tres. And also that’s your cue to screw your courage to the stickin’ place, ‘cause if there’s a speedin’ wreck headed for your ribs and nil chance to get outta the way, you’re gonna face it till it delivers.

And by “face it,” ya mean “scooch yourself into a corner and then peek around aforementioned corner so you can see her but maybe she can’t see you.”

Hey, you’re brave, not dumb.

“Yeah I don’t know,” Marisa’s sayin’. “It might be the focuser, but—”

Marisa’s holdin’ something out, one-handedly, and it takes a moment for you to recognize it, but there’s no way ya couldn’t—it’s that mystic something, the one that’s both saved and threatened your chattanoogas over your stay in Gensokyo. It doesn’t seem to be bein’ utilized for blasty purposes today, though—rather, Marisa’s presentin’ it, like she wants her gathered audience to take a careful look-see.

And Rinnosuke is takin’ a look-see. He’s peerin’ real close, in fact, close enough that you’re concerned, even if you’re pretty sure Marisa doesn’t have violence on her mind. That mystic something’s not something that could accidentally go off, is it?

Is it?

Oh, wait—talkin’ happenin’, here. Maybe ya oughta tune back in before ya miss something important. “Yeah, I don’t know. Something’s out of whack, or misaligned, or something,” Marisa’s sayin’ now. She shrugs, bobbin’ the mystic something nearly into Rinnosuke’s gazin’ mug. “And you’re the one who tuned it up last, so I had to bring it over, right?”

“You’re not suggesting I had something to do with it breaking?”

“Hey, it’s not broken, just kind of off. And anyways, I’m not saying it’s your fault or anything—I’m just saying you’re the best guy to fix it at all. Ya oughta be flattered!”

“It’d be more flattering if it didn’t mean more work for me. When’s the last time you paid for anything you got from this shop?” But even while Rinnosuke’s sayin’ that, he’s palmin’ the mystic something just the same.

It makes ya wonder how much of his gripin’ is legit, and how much of it is just some implicit, quasi-formalized gripin’ ritual.

“Just put it on my tab—but hurry it up, alright?” Marisa tilts in her boots, grinnin’. “It’s dangerous for a woman to have to walk around the Forest of Magic without anything to protect herself.”

“I’m pretty sure you’re just as dangerous even without your Mini-Hakkero.”

“Ya calling me a brute? No wonder you’re all on your lonesome all the time. Ya don’t know anything about how to treat a maiden.”

Rinnosuke makes a shift of her head like he’d consider rollin’ his eyes, maybe, if this biz actually deserved the energy of it, but then turns deskwards away anyway, mystic something firmly gotten. To make with the tuneage, ostensibly. And Marisa, still all very smiley-smile, follows.

Which means she’s gettin’ closer.

Which means the amount of time you’ve got till ya find yourself crumpled around a Marisa-shaped fender just cut itself short by just about all.

If there’s any time for figurin’ out how you’re gonna stand, that’s now.

[ ] You can scrape and bow, even if ya don’t mean it. Gotta keep it harmonious.
[ ] It’s all in the past, now. Clean slate the deal—make with the greets.
[ ] It’s all cleared up, but ya oughta keep an eye on her, just in case.
[ ] Forget just keepin’ suspicious—she’s a nogoodnik, through and through.
[ ]
110posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 31083
[x] Bad luck, but dude shoulda checked the merch herself beforehand. All sales final.
youmu bully is the correct way
>> No. 31084

I agree. especially since this Youmu is hands-down in the top 3 cutest Youmus on the site.
>> No. 31085
[X] Maybe let Rinnosuke know he should let Youmu know? Like, she should see what she’s gettin’ before she gets it.
- [X] Try to upsell her on a German-to-Volkssprache dictionary. There's gotta be one of those around here.

Let's not scare away our only actual paying customer.
>> No. 31100
File 153540736492.jpg - (120.00KB, 504x960, 17200937_10155003529029020_4185140487381958329_n.jpg) [iqdb]
Youmu is too soft~!
>> No. 31114
[x] Maybe let Youmu know? Like, she should see what she’s gettin’ before she gets it.

Yeah, there's such a thing as too much teasing
>> No. 31116
[X] Bad luck, but dude shoulda checked the merch herself beforehand. All sales final.

Doesn't look like Youmu is planning to pay with money, anyways.
>> No. 31124
[X] Maybe let Rinnosuke know he should let Youmu know? Like, she should see what she’s gettin’ before she gets it.
>> No. 31131
[X] Maybe let Rinnosuke know he should let Youmu know? Like, she should see what she’s gettin’ before she gets it.

Seeing how she is one of the few proper customers who actually tend to pay in money sometimes, it would be a shame to rip her off for a short term gain of one sale and lose a valued customer.
>> No. 31160
File 153953560986.png - (851.74KB, 1654x2339, walk_on_by.png) [iqdb]
[X] Maybe let Rinnosuke know he should let Youmu know? Like, she should see what she’s gettin’ before she gets it.

“Hey, Mac,” ya say, “can I talk to you for a sec?”

Rinnosuke pauses outta squeezin’ Youmu for the next red cent. “Just once business is concluded,” he lobs your way, before turnin’ back and returnin’ to the bargain like he barely paused.

So this time, ya tug his arm, real firm. “Hey, Mac,” ya say, “can I talk to you now?”

Rinnosuke frowns, but with a “Please excuse me”—to which Youmu nods, apparently as eager to get this negotiation to a close as he is—allows himself to be walked til you’re whatcha consider a good distance away. By which ya mean, obvs, a distance away enough that if ya hiss real careful, Youmu won’t be able to overhear how Rinnosuke’s basically cheatin’ ‘er outta dosh.

Which is the point ya take, first off: “You’ve gotta tell ‘er the book’s in German.”

Rinnosuke takes his time chewin’ your suggestion over before replyin’. “Is there any reason I should tell her the book is in German?”

“I dunno, Mac, ‘cause it’s decent?” ya shoot back instant. “I mean, German isn’t exactly the vernacular ‘round here—is it?”

“There are some speakers of German—I’ve found a number of spellbooks in European languages, for whatever reason.”

Ya don’t even bring up that that’s not whatcha asked. Ya just stare at Rinnosuke, till he loses the game of don’t-blink and tilts his eyes away from the playin’ field.

“It isn’t,” Rinnosuke says, like each mora’s a tooth bein’ pulled. “The vernacular.”

“Right,” says you. “So—ya gotta tell ‘er.”

Those metaphorically pulled teeth clench for a tick (they can do that ‘cause they weren’t pulled for realsies). “You don’t know that she doesn’t understand German,” says Rinnosuke.

“Yeah?” Ya look over ‘round Rinnosuke. “Yo, uh—Youmu!”

Youmu blinks all quizzical, but sorta leans and tilts her head—meanin’, “I’m listenin’.”

“This is totally unrelated to anything ever,” ya call, “but do ya know German?”

Pause. “German?” Youmu says.

“Like, speakin’ it, hypothetically. Or readin’ it. Or anything like that.”

“German,” Youmu says again. “No, I—no. No, I don’t know German. Why?”

“Just settlin’ a bet,” ya say, and get back into huddle. “Hey, Mac—”

I heard.” Rinnosuke squeezes his eyes shut and also his mouth into a thin line. If ya didn’t know better, you’d think he was tryin’ to use his psychic powers to pack something in in the background. He lets it off after a sec, though, and if anything actually did get successfully mentally squooshed, ya didn’t notice. “If I tell her the cookbook is in German,” he says, “she won’t buy it.”

Yeah, just like you suspected—Rinnosuke’s doin’ his best to swindle Youmu at the mo. It’s remarkably uncool activity, ‘specially comin’ from a dude as cool as the cool dude you’ve thought Rinnosuke was, though that impression has been takin’ a beatin’ but good, as of late. “Dude,” ya say. And you’ve got this whole idea of a spiel lined up, something ‘bout havin’ pride as a dude who provides goods to other dudes or something like that, ‘cept it never even gets started, ‘cause Rinnosuke—

Rinnosuke’s visible irkedness jumps points, all of a sudden, and he rounds all up on ya, as much as he can when he’s lookin’ at you already. “This is one of the few customers I can get actual money from,” he hisses. “Haven’t you been here long enough? You’ve seen how I fare with the rest of my customers.”

And left unspoken, but hangin’ in the air as good as if he’d said it anyways, is the logical follow-up: That maybe money wouldn’t be such a big deal if he wasn’t spendin’ more than a single dudesworth of it on rice, et cetera.

So—can a dude blame ya if ya flinch?

You startin’ seems to start Rinnosuke, too, though. Ya see the irritation run out, or else get back in under the mask again—like all of a sudden he’s remembered that it’s him who’s supposta be here, and not this other Rinnosuke who’s a lot madder and also a lot obviouser ‘bout bein’ madder. “That’s not what I meant,” he says.

To which ya think: What’s not what he meant?

Dude goes on: “I only meant that—that this is a critical sale. No, not critical—” He straight up literally shakes the sentence off and tries again (again). “I don’t necessarily need to sell her that book—but I need to sell something to her. I need to sell something to somebody.”

“Alright,” ya say.

Rinnosuke blinks, and ya get the feelin’ he didn’t actually ‘spect that agreement. “‘Alright’?” says he.

“Alright,” ya say. “I mean—we don’t hafta sell ‘er that book, right? As long as we’ve got any foreign cookbook.”

“And it shouldn’t be French, or Chinese,” Rinnosuke reminds you.

“Right—but even so. I mean, you’ve got mad stacks of books here. There’s gotta be something that fits the bill decent here—right?”


“How do you not have any cookbooks,” ya ask, which is a totally reasonable question.

“I have a number of cookbooks,” says Rinnosuke. “It’s only that there’s a particular focus on Japanese food among them.”

“Yeah, but that’s like, diametrically opposite to what we’re lookin’ for. Also, I think I keep findin’ and rulin’ out the same cookbook again and again, and that’s drivin’ me nuts.”

“Why don’t you take the book off of the shelf once you’ve determined it’s not what you’re looking for? It’ll save you the trouble of seeing it.”

“Oh, nice, Mac. You’re a lifesaver.”

“I’ve been doing that this entire time with this shelf. Haven’t you noticed?”

“I’ve kinda got tunnel vision. Bookshelf vision? Rumia, what’s the haps?”

“I have a book,” says Rumia.

Yo!” ya ‘sclaim. Ya lift your head so quick, ya nearly whack it on the underside of one of your shelves. Just nearly, though, so it’s fine. “What’s it about?”

“It’s about mochi.”

Rinnosuke doesn’t even look out whichever tome he’s studyin’ for eats. “That would be more Japanese food,” he says, voice muffled slight by the cage of pages.

“Dude,” you agree. Ya fitt your head back under the shelf again. “Also, I recant my ‘yo.’”


The unsteady interjection floats over to the foot of the shelves where you three’re sittin’. It’s Youmu—remember Youmu? You remember Youmu. She’s the dude you were tryin’ to find that book for and everything.

“Should I come back some other time?” asks Youmu. “If you’re busy...” She says that “busy” with a wobblin’ pitch at the end—the same question-that’s-not-a-question, like last time.

“Don’t go anywhere,” ya say, beginnin’ what’s prolly the first of a whole lotta tomey towers. “We got this.”

“Are you sure?” says Youmu.

“We got this,” ya say.

“You can sit down, if you’d like,” Rinnosuke adds. “Please, make yourself comfortable.”

Youmu looks the opposite of comfy, actually, but does what Rinnosuke’s told ‘er to do, wanderin’ awkwardly at the nearest sit-down and placin’ herself into position like she’s got an egg to mind. When she’s lookin’ sufficiently occupied with that (and ya don’t feel so much the eyes at the back of your neck), ya pause layin’ your literal literary foundation for a sec and huddle in closer Rinnosukewards. “‘Please, make yourself comfortable’?” says you.

“Is there something wrong with that?” Rinnosuke whisper-rasp-hisses back. “I am the host.”

“No, it’s just—that’s gotta be the nicest you’ve been. Even with Keine—” Your brain catches onto where your tongue is goin’ a titch too late, and by the time ya try cuttin’ it off, it’s already escaped. Your words, not your tongue. That’d be a whole different kinda problem, though this one isn’t so teeny, either. “I mean,” ya shove in, hopefully before Rinnosuke notices where you were goin’ there, “that was kinda nice, is all. I didn’t know you do that.”

“I have an interest in retaining what regular customers I have left,” Rinnosuke says. “It isn’t that I believe that Youmu is as inclined to break another of my walls down with a tank of her own, but...”

“Yeah, yeah, I dig. Ya find anything yet?”

Rinnosuke sighs. “It seems I’ve stocked my shelves mainly with books on East Asian cuisine—when there are books on cuisine at all. And you?”

“Something on French stuff. Ya might be able to sell it, if ya play down the snail bit.” Which is your fault—is a deal you’ve gotta cop to here. If ya’dn’t run a flapjaw so much—just a little less more than ya did, even—Youmu mighta taken that volume and gone Julia-Childin’ it up ages ago. “Rumia?” ya call for an update.

“If you put ice cream in mochi, you can have mochi ice cream,” says Rumia. She frowns, then looks her eyes over the page at the two of you. “What’s ice cream?”

“A frozen dessert made from hen’s egg, powdered milk, and butterfat, among other ingredients,” says Rinnosuke.

“It’s good,” ya add, before your brain catches up, re: “Wait, a sec, hold up—powdered milk? That’s not right.”

“Isn’t it?” Rinnosuke says. “I’ve come across descriptions now and then, and powdered milk seems to be a primary ingredient.”

“No way, Mac. You’ve gotta have milk. Like, regular milk, like ya get out a cow. I mean pasteurized and everything, but...” Ya gesture, mimickin’ whatcha hope is something halfway resemblin’ the pasteurization process. “There’s a hard limit on egg, too—what kinda ice cream’ve you been eatin’?”

“I haven’t been eating aisukurin at all. I’ve only read about it, and even that hasn’t happened very often. It isn’t a dish of common mention in the books I’ve collected.”


“Yes?” Rinnosuke’s brow squinches. “That is what we’re talking about, isn’t it?”

“No way. We’re talkin’ ‘bout ice cream.”

Rinnosuke nods. “Right,” he says. “Ice kurin.”

“Ice cream.”

“That’s what I said. Is that not what I said?”

“That’s not what you said,” says Rumia.

“What?” Rinnosuke’s head jerks Rumiawards. “Then what did I say?”

“You said, ‘aisukurin,’” says Rumia.

Rinnosuke looks at Rumia like a dude who’s gone to bed havin’ set a mousetrap, only to wake up the next mornin’ and find that sometime in the night the mice set up a humantrap in response. Settin’ his useless book aside, he sorta clumsily arcs his way over to where Rumia’s sat so that he can look over her shoulder.

Which she lets ‘im, smilin’ her smiley smile as she looks into his ear. ‘Cause that’s where his head is, and she’s turned to face ‘im, but there’s no space in between. It’s perfectly reasonable, prolly.

“‘Aisukuriimu,’” says Rinnosuke, goin’ over each of the katakana. Least, you assume it’s in katakana. It could totally not be. “‘Riimu’? I know I’ve read it ‘rin’—are they the same thing?”

“I dunno what aisukurin is in the first place, Mac, so that’s a question I really can’t answer.”

“Excuse me,” Youmu cuts in. She sort of totters where she’s sittin’, like she doesn’t know whether she oughta get up or not. “I really don’t mind coming back at a later date, if that would be easier? Tomorrow? I could come tomorrow.”

You and Rinnosuke trade glances for a sec, and then, real quick, like off some sorta unheard signal, ya spring to your feet both and beat ‘em down the room Youmuwards. Well, as much as you can “beat” while tryin’ also to look super-casual ‘bout it. “We’ve found a couple of books that might be of interest to you,” says Rinnosuke, and he doesn’t sound desperate at all, seriously. “The first is this one—recipes of German origin.”

Youmu squints. “This is...the book that I was buying to begin with, isn’t it?”

What? Oh, yeah, it is. What the hey, Rinnosuke? That’s in German. Ya went over this.

That’s the ish ya try to convey with your eyes, anyways. This time, though, Rinnosuke catches it and returns with a jut of the chin and a tensin’ ‘round his own eyes.

It’s like he’s sayin’, “Well, what else am I gonna do?” Which is why you’re in the picture. “It is,” you admit to Youmu, “‘cept we weren’t gonna just letcha pick the first tome ya saw. What if it was totally subpar and we coulda done better? Which is why my rec is this.” And ya display your own pick with full ta-da energy.

Youmu squints additionally. “‘Furansu’—is this ‘French,’ too? That one—the one with the snails.”

“Yo, it’s not just snails. Dig it, will ya? There’s a reason they call the French output the pinnacle of western cuisine.”

“Oh,” Youmu says. And then: “What is the reason?”

“Well, I mean—it’s, like, seriously good, dude. Like, foie gras! Bouillabaisse! Madeleines!”

“I...don’t know what any of those things are?”

“You force-feed a duck—no, wait, that’s also ethically hinky. Uh...you get a scorpionfish—no, hold up, those dudes only hanginaround in the Mediterranean, so that’s a no-go. Um, Proust...”

Ya trail off before Youmu’s blank stare of total blankness.

“Remember Proust?” ya try.

“I don’t know who that is,” says Youmu.

“I thought we ruled out French cuisine,” Rinnosuke mutters youwards, in a voice that’s prolly just loud enough for Youmu to overhear. Ya nudge ‘im in recompense.

Only softly, though. Ya swear.

But yeah, looks like your effort to find something to fit Youmu’s hankerin’ for foreign recipes—sorry, readable foreign recipes—has produced a ginormous zilch. Which means the only book left for Youmu to possibly take is the one she can’t read, which isn’t fair—either for Youmu, ‘cause she can’t read it, or for Rinnosuke, ‘cause he’s gotta make a livin’, right?

There’s gotta be a third option, here—is what you’ve been assumin’ throughout your brisk library look-see. Only—course there hasn’t “gotta.” This isn’t some prepackaged lateral thinkin’ puzzle with a trick solution in Martin Gardner handwritin’. This is real life, and sometimes in real life there’s no easy answer to a half-youkai in a magically cut-off portion of Japan needin’ to mislead a half-phantom into purchasin’ a book on foreign cuisine in a language she doesn’t understand.

So if you’re gonna make the wrong choice, no matter what, the least you can do, maybe, is go with the way that seems least wrong. Which is why ya open your jaw and say, quick, before your lips can clamp down and trap it like maybe they oughta:

“The book’s in German.”


That sorta hangs there, like all kindsa neck-breakin’ sentences’ve hung before. There’s a chance, prolly, ya think, for Rinnosuke to hear the sentence, comprehend it, and fast-talk Youmu past it so that Youmu doesn’t comprehend it and your ethics’re satisfied. Only he doesn’t do that. And that’s not his fault—he shouldn’t be ‘spected to do that (this isn’t his fault, mostly). He doesn’t do that ‘cause he’s too busy with his head twisted at you, his face caught somewhere between shock and betrayal and simmerin’ anger—

He doesn’t fast-talk, or even talk fast, is the point. All he does is he looks at you, and ya look at him, or actually past ‘im, and that’s way enough time for Youmu to lean forwards and take a closer look at the book that Rinnosuke’s been carefully guidin’ ‘er off from takin’ a close look at.

“That’s...in German,” Youmu says, havin’ confirmed it with her own two eyes. She gazes up at Rinnosuke with her brows furrowed. “Do you have any cookbooks that are in Japanese, instead?” she asks, like this was all some sorta innocent mistake. “I...don’t think I’ll be able to read this.”

Rinnosuke doesn’t look at Youmu. Rinnosuke keeps lookin’ at you. “We have French,” he says, from somewhere steady and firm but also far away.

“I’m not sure I want French,” says Youmu. “If it’s French...”

“If you don’t like snails, you can always choose a different recipe.” Rinnosuke finally takes his eyes off you, and suddenly you can breathe easy again. Ya didn’t even know you were havin’ trouble in the first place. “They’re—” He looks at you again. “They aren’t all snails.”

Ya nod, jerkily. “They aren’t all snails,” ya say for the sake of confirmation—even if it comes out more parrot than anything else. “Actually, most of ‘em’ren’t snails. Maybe forget I ever mentioned snails.”

Youmu grimaces, a bit, like someone who’s just found out that the mystery flavor at the center of the jumbo gobstopper isn’t so much “cherry” or even “birthday cake” as it is “earwax,” but who’s sportingly tryin’ to preserve the mystery for onlookers anyways. Then she sighs. “It can’t be helped,” she says. “If this is a book of foreign recipes, it should have the sort of meals Lady Yuyuko wanted...I hope.”

And after all that sound, and also fury (and maybe you’re meanin’ the term in multiple senses, there), the transaction that follows is basically the definition of “anticlimax.” There’s some hagglin’ again—though a lot more clipped and overall despirited than it was last go—and then Youmu takes the French cookin’ book, and, with a bow and a half-muttered thanks, she and that bobbin’ blob head out the shop door.

So, yeah. That happened. Or this happened. Or maybe right now, it’s that it’s happenin’, ‘cause it hasn’t really ended yet—is whatcha think, as ya watch Rinnosuke standin’ there. He hasn’t moved from his hagglin’ spot since he and Youmu wrapped that up—he’s still starin’ into the air that coulda been fulla dudeness minutes ago as he runs his thumb absentmindedly over some thingum he’s got in his hand which you assume equals Gensokyo currency. Ya watch ‘im, and ya watch his back (when’dha get behind ‘im ya don’t know) as it slowly relaxes, muscle by mousin’ muscle, the strain runnin’ down the his edges like something viscous down a shower drain.

Ya wait till it’s all tipped out of ‘im before ya open your mouth. “Hey,” ya say.

Rinnosuke’s head jerks, a little. Just to the side. That’s acknowledgment, right?

“So,” ya say, “that worked. I mean, that worked out.” Ya pause. “Didja get a profit?”

Rinnosuke turns—no, it’s more like he whirls, and—

And for a sec: His face.

It’s still Rinnosuke, and there’ren’t any new features to it. Same mouth, eyes, nose, et cetera. But the look he’s got—

And then he closes his eyes—closes ‘em tight, presses his lips just as tight as that, holdin’ all of the above in that tensed-up way—for a sec, then two, then three—before releasin’ all of in a sigh, his face—ya can’t say “relaxes,” ‘zactly, ‘cause it doesn’t do that. Not even the way his back did, when it could (and did) go back to wound-up in an instant.


He doesn’t say anything, and doesn’t look at you, and he walks right towards you. And then it walks right past you, not even reactin’ to the way ya flinch.




“And that’s why I’m here.”

Your audience sits, totally enraptured. Prolly.
>> No. 31162
It's always nice to get an update for this. Thank you!

...Is mochi ice cream any good? I think I've seen it in the store, but I've never bothered getting one for whatever reason.
>> No. 31163
Sorry for the two-month wait. It's been a time. I got into a new job this September, so between training and studying I haven't had much chance to write except on weekends, and that's got to contend with everything else I'm writing.

So yeah. Thanks for waiting warmly.
>> No. 31164
There should be a thing where Christie tries to find a job now. Also what are the other stories you write. If they're anything like this I'm most certainly interested
>> No. 31165
I've heard it's decent. Give it a shot.

Also, good to see this alive!
>> No. 31167
Unfortunately (fortunately?), Forest Mix is kind of an outlier among what I've worked on. Still:

>> No. 31168

>unbearable protagonist

Say that to my face, see what happens.
>> No. 31169
I've only read two of your previous works.
I knew you had written that 2hu/yellow submarine crossover, but I somehow only just now realized you were the one that wrote that Tskuhime/Haruhi crossover.
>> No. 31182
So you're KChasm? I've read your Tsuruya/Kyon fanfic an eternity ago (it is a rare pairing and Google helped with that) The 'hidding the last puzzle piece' move stuck with me.

And the Tsukihime crossover was great. I was really hyped up to see the differences another character make. I was devastated when I reached the end and realized it was a one shot.
>> No. 31184
There's another Tsukihime/Haruhi Crossover that's decent, though I felt like the author showed who his waifu was a little too much, Seven Nights of Melancholy. It's been years since I read it, and longer since it updated, so I can't recall too much about it, other than said waifuing, it being of >20k word count, and Shiki's magical eugenics making him uncomfortable around non-normies.

man I love crossover fanfiction.
>> No. 31231
File 154359124752.jpg - (376.70KB, 1024x362, __hakurei_reimu_touhou_drawn_by_yuuko_san__cd563ad.jpg) [iqdb]
Ya think you’re prolly making some good choices here.

Ya look to your right. Rumia’s sittin’ there, bein’ as Rumiaesque as usual. She catches the turn of your neck, lookin’ up at you and smilin’ her Rumia kinda smile. It’s a real slice of comfort somehow, knowin’ that even with everything changin’, Rumia’s still gonna Rumia.

Ya look to your left. Nobody’s sittin’ there, which makes sense, since nobody was sittin’ there to begin with. Actually, now thatcha think about it, ya don’t know why ya even looked that way in the first place. That’s weird, right? Like, okay, the chance that someone coulda warped into said space in the time ya weren’t lookin’ straight at it is higher than zero, prolly, ‘specially in the sorta place Gensokyo is...but if ya follow that logic, ya oughta be lookin’ every location ya aren’t lookin’ at at any given moment, and ya don’t have near ‘nuff eyes for that.

That way lies madness, is what you’re sayin’. At some point, ya just sorta gotta give it up, and look at whatcha can without the concept of “lookin’” takin’ over your whole life. Look to live; don’t live to look—if ya wanna get succinct.

Course, just ‘cause there’s nobody that isn’t you or Rumia that’s sittin’ to your left, doesn’t mean that there’s nobody that isn’t you or Rumia that’s sittin’ here with ya at all. Case in point—the dude across from you, eyein’ ya like an appraiser eyes a newly discovered Han van Meegeren.

And when ya say “the dude,” of course, ya mean—

[ ]

(Write-in for the dude. I reserve the right to veto.)

(Getting back into things after a break. Wrote some fanfic, studied up for work. Trying something out. Might crash and burn, might not.)
>> No. 31232
[x] Yukari Yakumo

Let's see if the wisest youkai around can parse our lingo.
>> No. 31233
[x] Junko

let me dream
>> No. 31234
[x] Kasen
>> No. 31236
File 154359902271.png - (465.93KB, 1000x1000, KUfSJdz.png) [iqdb]
[x] Mysterious glasses girl resting her head on her clasped hands.
>> No. 31237
My fault. I really should've been more specific in my restrictions.

Name me a dude to whom it's easily conceivable Rumia could've led Christie.

I had to include that "easily" because I know some of you are wiseacres, which is also why I mentioned my veto power.
>> No. 31238
k then I'll change my vote from Junko to [x]Chen
>> No. 31239
In that case I'll change my vote >>31232 from Yukari to Mystia.

Girl would probably be thrilled to learn more about punk rock from an actual outsider.
>> No. 31240
In that case, I'll keep my vote as it is.

>> No. 31241
I should also also mention that it is still 2014 in-story and that there are many things that haven't happened yet.

And this fic will probably possibly not have a lot of time travel in it.
>> No. 31242
[X] Looks like some blue haired umbrella-carrying dudette.

Let's do some staring. Wouldn't wanna get spooked now do we?
>> No. 31244
[X] Looks like some blue haired umbrella-carrying dudette.

And now I'm curious how you'd handle the umbrella.
>> No. 31245
[ ]Jeff Lebowski
[X] Looks like some blue haired umbrella-carrying dudette.
>> No. 31246
File 154370227443.jpg - (295.84KB, 765x1098, 64d9baeeaf229ecb55a3fb95df4fe370.jpg) [iqdb]
[] Mouse ears, gray hair, mouse ears, bluish, uh, capelet? Like, a cape, but missing most the cape. And, like, distractingly fluffy-looking mouse ears.
>> No. 31247
[X]Donald Trump
>> No. 31259
[X] Looks like some blue haired umbrella-carrying dudette

If you veto that though, I think Mystia would be good
>> No. 31260
File 154432605375.jpg - (369.75KB, 688x1123, image.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Tokiko

it is time to birb up
>> No. 31269
you still here?
>> No. 31270
File 154874235591.jpg - (1.89MB, 1500x2071, YOUはもうSHOCKされる.jpg) [iqdb]
But wait. Are ya starting too much in the future? Like, just totally in-media-ressin’ the whole thing? ‘Cause while maybe that sorta thing is all the rage in low-budget experimental films, and also big-budget films that’ve heard that that sorta thing is all the rage in low-budget experimental films, it doesn’t do very good when what you’re tryin’ to pull at the mo is explanation. If ya want someone to understand something, you’ve gotta start at the foundation and work your way up, buildin’ the whole deal brick by brick under.

Well, unless you’re workin’ on the Statue of Liberty. Then everything works out fine, somehow. And turns green. Go fig.

But you’re as far away from the Statue of Liberty as you could be right now, and in more ways than one. The point is—the point is (and this is a beaucoup important point to lay out, is whatcha think) hoofin’ it from Rinnosuke’s abode was the right thing to do, or at least the preferable thing to do, or at least the thing to do that was the most preferable by you. But preferable or unpreferable, it didn’t change the fact that once you’d left Rinnosuke’s—like, just taken your first steps out, with nothing but your clothes (jeans included) and Rumia at your side—

Thing is, ya didn’t actually have a place to go, didja?

Or even know the where of a cheap hotel.

(Ya feel like there’s serious biz to be made here in the printin’ of a good Gensokyo Baedeker, but that’s sorta adjacent to the point right now, and back then, too.)

So, where could you have gone, with said where featurin’ the strong possibility of not only you bein’ welcomed with lackadaisically-to-fully opened arms, but Rumia as well?

Maybe there was more than one answer. Prolly, even. But one answer came to you first, and that’s what ended up countin’.


“And that’s why I’m here.”

Your audience sits, totally enraptured. Prolly. See what ya did there? Narrative hijinkery, all up with.

Your audience’s name, incidentally—‘cause it’s just the one dude, seated there—is Kogasa Tatara. Ya know that ‘cause that’s what she introduced herself as, after ya came stalkin’ up the road up to the temple, tryin’ to ignore both the cold and the rows and rows of little underlegged statues—which you’re pretty has gotta be a Buddhist thing, only since you’re totally lackin’ context it felt more like something out a horror flick. Not that you can talk, when you’d barely look twice at the sight of a dude with his limbs literally nailed into a crossbeam.

Also, theophagy, sometimes.

Point is—it only occurred to you up on that walk that ya didn’t ‘zactly have a letter of introduction or anything to vet ya, which led to you wonderin’ if just lettin’ yourself in’d be gauche (again, cold)—so it was a real stoke up luck when ya came up to the up stairs up front and found the dude—Kogasa—sittin’ up on ‘em like a kid on a real fancy stoop. She was starin’ into nothin’, the handle of a wide, purple umbrella tucked between her arm and the rest of her bod, the whole deal perched low over ‘er like it could swallow ‘er if it snapped shut right, prolly.

And then from there it was just—“Yo, I’m Christie,” “Yo, I’m Kogasa,” (or she didn’t say “yo,” but whatever), and the three of you went from cold to...well, still a little cold, if you’re gonna be honest, but at least ya had the whole temple roof over your respective heads, which helped out a lot.

And still does.

Which brings you to now, i.e. the time of you finishin’ off your summary of what brought ya here in the first place. Kosaga’s brow quirks as she mulls over your conclusion—like the whole deal doesn’t ‘zactly add up for her—but if she’s got questions, she keeps ‘em internal. “I...don’t understand all the way, but...you were thrown out too, right?”

“What? No way, dude.” Ya thought you were summin’ up the whole series of events pretty good while you were doin’ it, but if this dude thinks that, obviously ya weren’t. “I threw myself out. Plus it’s not like we’re partin’ for good, dig? This is just me takin’ a break, tryin’ to figure a coupla things out before I get back.”

Kogasa smiles. It’s a real tight-at-the-edges smile. “But that’s what I thought, too.”

You’ve got a feelin’ this dude’s veerin’ off at a way different conversation here. Ya look to Rumia, quick-off, like maybe she’s got a suggestion on how ya oughta be handlin’ this—but no, she just returns your glance elastic, so no help there. Which means it’s full on up to you to drag this convo back to full-‘round comprehensibility. “So, this is Byakuren’s place, right?” ya ask. “Ya know when she’s gonna be back? Or...here?”

For a sec, that tightness gets tighter—then it unravels completely into something you could call “unsure” at best. “I don’t actually know,” Kogasa admits. “I...don’t actually live here.”

Oh, huh.


You pass another look Rumiawards, but it’s No Help 2: The No-Helpenin’. “Yo,” ya say, out of a lack of bein’ able to think of anything else to say in that moment, and then: “Should we actually be in here?”

“I don’t think Byakuren would mind,” says Kogasa, all way too casually for the words she’s sayin’, “and it doesn’t matter if anyone catches me.”

Okay, so: You and Rumia? Prolly just became accomplices. Like, not thatcha mind breakin’ the law per se, ‘specially if the law’s unjust (or maybe even just dumb), but you’d kinda wanna know beforehand that that’s something you were gonna do before ya did it. It feels sorta unfair, dingin’ you and Rumia for crimin’ when neither of you had mens reas.

Menses rea?

One mens rea, and then a second mens rea for the dude of you who didn’t have a mens rea already.

More importantly: “It doesn’t matter ‘cause no one minds, or it doesn’t matter ‘cause you’re committed to breakin’ and enterin’ in anyways?” ya ask Kogasa.

“Ha ha,” Kogasa says, not laughin’ but actually sayin’ the words “ha ha,” (though that unsteady ‘spression does lighten up a significant titch). “Well, to be honest, if they didn’t mind, there wouldn’t be a lot of use doing it.”

Okay, see, maybe ya might as well be Rumialess here, ‘cause here ya are in Gensokyo, and you’re totally lost. ‘Cept ya do have Rumia, actually—she’s right here, next to you—so ya give it try number three and shoot ‘er a look thatcha pray is chock fulla meanin’. A meanin’ like—“I’m kinda startin’ to socially flounder here, dude, so if you could gimme a hand that would be totally, totally cool.” And maybe your prayers are answered, ‘cause Rumia studies your beseechin’ mug for a sec, before huffin’ a solid breath, deflatin’ slightly, the model of a parent who’s just reremembered that they signed up for this whole nurturance responsibility when they decided to have a kid in the first place.

“She’s a youkai, too,” is what Rumia says.

Kogasa looks at Rumia, like she doesn’t get why she’d say that, then looks at you—and then her brows raise in understandin’. “You didn’t know!” she says, gleeful. Her smile goes sharp. “How does it feel knowing you’ve been talking to a youkai without knowing it? Aren’t you surprised?”

Are ya? “I guess?”

“Really?” Kogasa leans in, youwards slight.

“Well, I mean...sorta?”

There’s a moment more of eyein’, and then Kogasa’s semivicious-lookin’ ‘spression sorta just loses whole fierceness of its grip. “Are you sure?” she says, haulin’ skepticism with it. “You don’t feel surprised.”

“Yeah, I guess it’s not really surprise,” you admit. “It’s more like—I assumed a thing, and then that thing turned out to not be the thing it was, so I had to do some semi-on-the-fly recontextualizin’. I dunno if you can still call it ‘surprise.’ Can ya?”

If Kogasa’s mug looked any flatter, it’d be sticky-taped off of graphite. “No, you can’t,” she says.

“Yeah,” ya say.

Ya shift, feelin’ kinda uncomfy. Nothin’ makes a noise, but ya hear it, anyways—that hollow unsound, like something out there ringin’ below your edge of hearin’. It’s the sound of silence, ‘cept magnified by the on-edgeness hauled alongside the whole you’re-prolly-not-supposta-be-here sitch.

“So,” ya say, to make it stop doin’ its deal in your ears, “why are ya makin’ with the B&E, anyways?”

“‘Bii and ii’?”

“Theft,” Rumia ‘splains.

Though you’ve got ish: “Not theft,” you correct ‘er. “I mean, ya could break-and-enter to start off a theft, but I feel like it’s two different sections of the deal, right?”

Rumia nods her head “no,” all sagelike. “It’s theft,” she maintains. “Because she takes.”

Ya look at Kogasa, who’s notably not shufflin’ miscellaneous temple valuables into the insides of her vest. But now thatcha properly assess, she doesn’t seem to have or have had any ish, herself, with the “theft” claim. So Rumia’s right, maybe? “You take?” ya ask.

“I’m a youkai who takes the spirits of her victims.” “Spirits,” Kogasa says, though she’s not talkin’ the ghostly kind, prolly. Instead, it’s the kinda “spirit” that’s written in four strokes, as in “heart.” Still, it sounds totally nefarious, doubly comin’ from how casually the dude’s sayin’ it as she sits there—legs under, back straight, umbrella prim and horizontal on her lap. “There are some youkai who eat meat, right?” she adds. “It’s like that.”

So she’s some sorta spiritual, psychic vampire, is what she’s sayin’? How does that work? Also, how far front-doorwards can ya get if ya suddenly spring from your sit with Rumia underarm? Askin’ for a friend.

This table isn’t nailed down, is it?

Ya rearrange yourself, shufflin’, nudgin’ it with your knee to check for if it tilts. Like, for in case ya hafta flip it, hypothetically. “So, what’s that like, stealin’ spirit?” ya ask, way very unsuspiciously. “Like, ya need a spirit straw to stick a dude’s jugular or something?”

Kogasa seems weirdly affronted, almost. “I take spirit. I’m not a vampire,” she says. Then she sighs, slumpin’ slightly, her eyes leavin’ off ya (which gives ya a good opportunity to stick your hands under the table blanket deal and see if you can get a good grip for heavin’). “It used to be easier,” she says. “People used to be surprised if you told them you were a youkai. Now, people don’t mind anymore.”

“So ya want ‘em to mind.”

“Well, they don’t have to mind. But they aren’t surprised, either! I can’t get anybody to be afraid, but they could at least be surprised...”

The dude trails off, visibly startin’ to mope inwards, so ya take that moment left ya and hail Rumia. Yeah, again, even though you’re pretty sure you’re losin’ points for it by now—like, big-time. “Are ya gettin’ this?” ya mutter, your voce sotto.

“I told you,” Rumia mutters back with deep, deep patience, “Non in solo pane.

“See, it feels like you’re droppin’ knowledge here, but I don’t get it—”

The door slides open behind ya in a rush, crashin’ against its end with something between thud and wham. Ya twist your head thatwards, sideways, hard and sudden, nearly pullin’ something that’s not supposta be pulled.

There’s a dude there.

Which is—no duh, course there’s a dude there; that door prolly didn’t yank open itself, but more important to ya seems the look of the dude—or maybe the look on the dude. ‘Cause that look—wide-eyed and startled beneath the hood of that mantlet-lookin’ thing she’s wearing—is a look that right now applies towards you.

It’s not a badwrong look, per se, but ya didn’t head off on this expedition plannin’ to have a look like that turned at you. It’s not good bodeage, is what you’re sayin’.

“Look!” Kogasa lurches clumsily to her feet. “Do you see? That’s the kind of reaction I wanted!”

“You brought other people,” says Hooded Dude.

“I’m here, even though you probably didn’t expect me to be!” says Kogasa. “Aren’t you surprised?”

“I’m not surprised you’re here, but I am surprised you brought friends, this time.”

A real complicated series of ‘spressions passes over Kogasa’s mug before the whole deal settles on a sorta muted triumph. “I’ll accept this!” she crows.

“That’s good,” says Hooded Dude. And then, as it settles on the whole room that Kogasa doesn’t actually have a post-win plan past just keepin’ sittin’ there and waitin’ for the next thing to happen: “Please leave.”

Kogasa gets, with a demeanor somewhere between “saunter” and “flounce.” Like she’s bein’ gracious, and this isn’t retreat. And maybe it is, for her? You dunno. Maybe it’s just ‘cause ya barely had three-fourths of a chat with that dude, but it felt sorta like the more she gabbed, the less ya got.

Like ya said, though—only three-fourths of a convo. As sample sizes go, that’s...not.

“You should leave, too—and, you should stop spending time with people like that.”

Hooded Dude says that, and ya snap back to the present, realizin’ all of a sudden that she’s been starin’ atcha ever since Kogasa waltzed outta this scene. And then she stares at you for a sec more, while you’re tryin’ to process that sentence she just dropped, ‘cause—yo, what?

“Yo, what?” ya say, and then it clicks in your head: “Hey, no way, dude—I didn’t break into this place.”

Hooded Dude keeps starin’ at you. Then she stares around you, and then back at you again. Like she really, seriously wants to point out the composition of the admittedly totally reasonable conclusion she’s gathered up here, but also like she’s just too not-confrontational to lay it out straight in front of you.

“I thought she was legit,” ya ‘splain, before she can press the point in something other than eyeballs. “Like—that she actually lived here. I’m actually here to see your dude.”

Hooded Dude seems like she relaxes, minutely, but she’s still pretty all up on guard here. “I see,” she says. “You’re here to see somebody?”

“Yeah—your head dude—” and ya blank on the name, but only for a sec. “Byakuren?”

This time, the relaxin’ jumps in bounds. Or glides upwards, which is a lot more fittin’ for jumpin’ than boundfully jumpin’ would be. “You’re here to see our sister?” she says. “If you’re here to see her, you can’t be too disagreeable a person.”

“Trust me, I’m totally agreeable.” This is Byakuren’s sister? Well, now thatcha look at ‘er, there’s something in the way she operates that’s Byakurenesque. “Is she in? ‘Cause if she’s not in, I can wait.”

You’ve got nothing better to do, right?

“You don’t need to,” says Hooded Dude. “She returned with us. I’ll bring you to her right now.” She shuts off that last sentence with a short bow of the head—not so much an actual bowin’ as much as just her sayin’, “I acknowledge you exist”—and then, without even waitin’ for you to indicate one way or another that you’re up to follow her, turns ‘round and startin’ walkin’ out from the room she barely walked in. Ya stumble pretty bad, rushin’ to your feet and out the door, half ‘spectin’ that when ya turn the corner out, the dude’ll’ve disappeared—but no, course not; she’s right there (though walkin’ away as steadily and not-lookin’-back-ly as when she started), and ya fix yourself easy into her footsteps behind ‘er. Largeness or smallness of the place irregardless, it doesn’t take long till you’re led to the dude you were seekin’—Byakuren, standin’ midchat, surrounded by a millin’ host of dudes you can only describe as “motley.” Like, ya think ya see some of ‘em havin’ tails there? And that dude is literally dressed as a sailor, so that’s a thing.

“Sister,” Hooded Dude calls, which has the effect of not only drawin’ Byakuren’s attention, but also the attentions of everyone else on the scene.

Which means, suddenly, all eyes on you. You can see the mass question passin’ over the multitude of mugs: Namely, “Who’s this dude and when’d she get in?”

Luckily, there’s an exception to that movement, seein’ as there’s a dude in this company who has met ya, i.e. the Byakuren you’ve been lookin’ for. “Christoferson,” she says, smilin’ gentle as she draws herself outta the crowd. “I wasn’t expecting you to visit today.”

“Yeah, my bad.” Ya suddenly feel kinda awkward, ‘specially with this group of dudes who’re so obviously thick with each other in front of you as they are. Up till now, you just sorta assumed that between Byakuren’s invite a month ago and this place bein’ a religious site, there’d be a general open-doors policy—but maybe not? “If it makes ya feel better, this is more biz than pleasure. Or I guess I don’t have any biz to biz, but it’s more businessy pleasure than the regular pleasant pleasure.”

Byakuren, still smilin’, takes in your wordage—you can see her turnin’ it in her head till it makes sense for her. “A consultation, then.”

“Well, sorta? Mostly I was thinkin’ more refuge. Not that I’m in trouble or anything, but I know you’re all over that human-youkai goodfeel.”

Byakuren nods. And then, havin’ gotten that your presence is solid here, she turns back to the huddle behind. “This is Christoferson—Chris Christoferson,” she says, and glances at you again, like she’s not sure she got that right.

Ya nod a yes, even though part of you thinks she’s totally sure, actually. You dunno. Could go either way. “‘Chris’ works,” ya say. “Just don’t call me ‘C.C.,’ or we’re gonna have words.”

“Christoferson is the human who helped bring the horse’s leg to the temple,” Byakuren continues.

One of the dudes—the one dressed like sailor—gets a furrow ‘cross her brow. “I thought you were the one who brought that one,” she says to Byakuren.

“Byakuren brought the horse’s leg here,” says Hooded Dude, “but she got the horse’s leg from a human, first.”

Sailor frowns. “I don’t remember that.”

“You weren’t here.”

“Yeah, that’ll do it. So it’s her fault Kyouko’s lost her way?”

“I haven’t lost my way!” That’s one of the shorter dudes here. There’s a pair of floppy animalish ears on her head, and they sway at the ruffly ends as they turn backwards. “I’m sure they’re still settling in—you can’t expect someone new to be comfortable so fast.”

Sailor gets a look like a woman on the verge of cryin’, or at least pretendin’ to cry, and then suddenly hoists “Kyouko” into a full-bodied hug—“hoists,” ya say, ‘cause with the height difference she’s actually pickin’ this Kyouko up by the underarms. Like, feet leave the ground here.

“She’s so pure-hearted!” Sailor fake-bawls to no one in particular. “Still trying to see the best in people, even when they don’t deserve it at all!”

“M-Minamitsu!” Kyouko kicks availlessly. “Let me down!”

“Not a chance!”

Kyouko continues to struggle as Minamitsu, obviously deliberately unheedin’, keeps on with the bodily contact and the heapin’ of accolades. To be hoenst, ya don’t know what to make of it. “Hey, dude,” ya hiss, lowerin’ your voice so (hopefully) the only dude that can hear ya is the hooded dude who brought ya to this group. “Should I be here?”

Hooded Dude hums, lookin’ into this entire...whatever-this-is. Another one of the previously-standin’-‘round dudes seems to have joined in by now, though over Kyouko protestin’ and Minamitsu protestin’ her protestin’ ya can’t hear what she’s personally addin’ to the whole experience. It’s one of the dudes ya thought earlier mighta had a tail, only now that you’re payin’ attention you can see it’s not tails she’s got. Or maybe they are? Ya don’t know what they are, is the thing, ‘cept that they’re comin’ outta her back and that half of ‘em look like tentacles and the other half look like someone plundered the halves off a few pairs of beaucoup oversized scissors.

Also, she’s wearin’ a little black dress? With stockings. That’s weird, right? Weirder than the sailor thing.

“It’s alright for you to be here,” says Hooded Dude, and ya realize ya sorta zoned out for a sec—though maybe it’s Hooded Dude’s fault, partly, for takin’ so long to mull it over. “Sister says you’re a friend to youkai, besides.”

“It just sorta ended up that way. Though I mean, like—” ya gesture, “with this goin’ on, should I be here? ‘Cause I can go to another room or something.”

“It’s alright,” Hooded Dude says again. “Because it’s always like this anyway.”

She says that, but she’s smilin’ while she’s sayin’ that, real fondish.

So that’s fine, ya guess. And you’re even gonna say something to that effect, only ‘cept that’s when what you can only call an explosive ahem drops into the room. It’s actually super-impressive: There’s nothing really loud ‘bout it, least not unusually, but it sorta reverberates or resonates or does something funky with acoustics that, instead of gettin’ lost in the chaos like an ahem of its volume ought to have, it hits. Like, your ears are suddenly fulla ahem and not much else, and from the way everyone else in the place’s friz where they’re standin’, heads twisted sourcewards, you’re pretty sure you’re not the only one.

And of course, when you’re talkin’ ‘bout the source, ya mean Byakuren, who’s lookin’ impossibly tranquilly over the assembled assembly—smilin’, even. “Minamitsu. Nue,” she says, and the coil of her voice sounds close to creakin’, even if her voice itself isn’t. “The two of you seem to have some free time to spare. Why don’t you find us some tea to serve our guest?”

Minamitsu, without breakin’ eye contact, gently places her Kyouko back onto the ground. “Do you really need two people to make tea?” she mutters.


“Right, right, tea—sorry about that. C’mon, Nue.”

“I ought to be saying ‘come on’ to you,” that one called “Nue” says. “You made trouble longer than I.”

“Sure, sure. C’mon.” And she grabs Nue’s wrist, trippin’ her down the hall and away at an unsteady half-jog.

Ya follow the two of them down till the feelin’ of eyebeams gets unignorable. “So, those dudes,” ya say at Byakuren, “they’re Buddhists too?”

“Most of the youkai here are Buddhist monks in training,” Byakuren says. Off to the side, Kyouko raises herself to her feet, with another of the dudes—taller, robes, crowned with some orange nenuphar-lookin’ thing—helpin’ her up. “This vocation isn’t a simple one, and they are still in-training, so please forgive their indiscretions for now.”

“Yeah, no, it’s cool.” Ya wave off the apology. “I dunno from Buddhism, remember? Which means I don’t know from Buddhist-monkhood, either.”

Byakuren looks like she’s ‘bout to say something, and then her eyes light up. And then she still says something, though you’re gonna bet it’s something totally different than the first something she was gonna say, prolly: “In that case, why don’t Ichirin and I tell you of this temple’s history?” she says. “As a temple, it’s only very recently that we’ve been established, but this structure saw use long before that—would you like to hear the story?”

[ ] She’s piqued your interest. Ask her to lay it on!
[ ] Hold up, didn’t someone mention the horse’s leg?
[ ] Not now, with this Rinnosuke ish hangin’ over ya.
[ ]
>> No. 31271
[x] She’s piqued your interest. Ask her to lay it on!

oh boy all my favorite stories are returning this week, hussah!
>> No. 31272
[X] Hold up, didn’t someone mention the horse’s leg?
Should probably ask about that first. Hopefully it's nothing immediately an issue, like it's actually a Muslim and converted Kyouko, and we can continue on to the tour after hearing about it.
>> No. 31273
>“So, what’s that like, stealin’ spirit?”

Oh man this story is a gem. Definitely top 30 I've ever read.

[X] Hold up, didn’t someone mention the horse’s leg?
>> No. 31274
[x] Hold up, didn’t someone mention the horse’s leg?
>> No. 31275
[X] Hold up, didn’t someone mention the horse’s leg?

It lives! This story is no-joke the only reason I visit this site anymore, so I'm always glad to see an update. (Maybe I'll eventually get around to reading some of the newer stories, I dunno.)
>> No. 31276
>“I threw myself out. Plus it’s not like we’re partin’ for good, dig? This is just me takin’ a break, tryin’ to figure a coupla things out before I get back.”

>Kogasa smiles. It’s a real tight-at-the-edges smile. “But that’s what I thought, too.”


[X] Horse leg
>> No. 31277
[X] Hold up, didn’t someone mention the horse’s leg?

Let's have a reunion.
>> No. 31278
[x] She’s piqued your interest. Ask her to lay it on!

The horse leg is still gonna be hear after the story, and to be honest, I'm really curious myself about the history of the Temple
>> No. 31279
That awkward moment when you realize a horse leg has more character than some of the other 2hus on this site.
>> No. 31281
File 15565447825.jpg - (39.67KB, 991x991, imouttahere.jpg) [iqdb]
Hey, et cetera. Author here, about to provide an update.

Only it won't be here.

Due to Reasons, I'll be moving this story from THP to Sufficient Velocity. So, if you want to vote, do it over there! Or don't. I'm not your dad.

Link below:

>> No. 31282
>> No. 31283
That's pretty sad, I'm going to miss the story. If there's something this site doesn't need is more stories dying.
>> No. 31284
Author here (on his phone).

It's not dead, it's just elsewhere, which is a lot better than being dead, is my opinion. But, well, y'know.
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