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30675 No. 30675
/o====================5====================o\

Current Strand: 5.875

Previous Strands:
1 - missing
2 - missing
3 - missing
4 - missing
5 - missing
5.8 - >>29818
5.85 - >>30272

\o===================875===================o/
208posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 30936
>>30935

I always figured the 1% was just the influence from us that was causing the entire situation to go AWOL and we removed it to revert her back to before we tried to tell her about our perspective.

I could be wrong though.
>> No. 30937
>>30936

Yeah, but if that were the case, why was it still 99% after the fact? Seems strange to have it remain at 99% regardless of the 1% being brought back in line or what have you. 99% indicates something missing. Perhaps something like what happened to Reimu, but less so?
>> No. 30938
I will be trying to get an update out before my finals begin. During, and the first week after finals I will be incapacitated. The after being due to a trip to the middle of nowhere to stare at desert bushes.
>> No. 30956
3000 in. I'm studying for finals and, as expected, this update is very hard to write.
>> No. 30962
Very close to completion! 5000~ words.
>> No. 30964
/ MEILING \

Lightbulbs struggle to stay alight here. Meiling can feel it in the air, a palpable sense of power, of greatness and might all as ridiculous and desperate as a fanning peacock. Each ‘feather’ in this room begs to be noticed: including penetrated impenetrable armors, cursed grimoires not worth the trouble, and somebody or another’s legendary weapon. If there was water available, the air would be shrouded in a mysterious mist. If there were a window, beams of sunlight would chance fall on a trinket of importance. If there were a stone, the blades would fight over it like teenage boys for a wet hole. If there were a skeleton, it would be barnacled by armor. However, the artefacts are housed in nothing but a plain room with a few lightbulbs, so flickering the lights for atmosphere it is. To damper further, these aren’t the melodramatic red lights typical of Remilia’s common haunts, nor even the earthly yellow bulbs Patchouli adors, but instead a motley of surgical white bulbs that act only to drain the energy further from this already lifeless room.

Everything has a label. Name and description, the little tags cling dispassionately to the abandoned artefacts. They are orphans; it was inconsiderate of their guardians to abandon them here, yet here they are branded and forgotten. Meiling briefly scans over the mountains of refuse. The artefacts promise power, mystery, and destiny. Meiling wants none of it. The weapons are especially dull for her. ‘Kill this, kill that, kill, kill, kill.’ Legendary weapons are like that; doesn’t matter how awesome and terrible you make a spear, it serves the same purpose. That purpose led them to this house, and to this soulless room. She wonders how many were orphaned by her own hands. Meiling pauses, momentarily grabbed by a ‘something.’ It comes as a mild surprise to her that she feels pity for the trinkets. Remilia. . .

The lightbulbs dim, and for a moment the room is lit only by the glow of the most flamboyant. Meiling recognizes someone’s familiar pest.

|???????????????????????????????????? ~ ????????????????????????????????| reads the tag.

Excalibur shines heroically bright in its scabbard. Maybe if it were well behaved, it could have served as a novelty bulb in the dining hall. But time has eroded the standards of the lake sword. Once a Summer pool had proven lake enough for the desperate blade, and it was only a matter of time before it found itself in a good lady’s bath. Sakuya’s reaction exceeded what one would expect from an item merely labelled ‘annoying.’

“The most bold. The most desperate.” She curiously taps the hilt. It burns fierce. “Not desperate enough. . . yet.” This mansion has a way of lowering standards. In time, the blade might plea to the devil herself. Though, when time comes it stands erect in Remilia’s bath, Sakuya is liable to throw it out the window. Meiling can only hope to be there.

“Good luck.”

Excalibur shines defiantly as ever, the most bold, most desperate orphan.

Making sure not to impale herself on a fateful spike of immense destiny, Meiling combs through the abandoned.

|???????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????? ???????? ???????????????????????????? ~ ????????????????-????????????????????????????????????????????????????????, ???????????????????????????????????????????????? ???? ????????????????????????|

An artefact that doubles as furniture? It might have been a welcome decoration, if one fails to consider that this is a vampire’s mansion. Here, the artefact, whose only other practical purpose is to reflect, reaches peaks of uselessness not possible anywhere else. Again stung by the weak venom of pity, meiling decides to pick it up, and inspect the polished surface. She rarely gets the opportunity to see herself. It’s no loss. ‘Beware Meiling! They say her hands are as red as her hair!’ That is, if ‘they’ is Meiling. Her way of complimenting herself always disgusts her. The shield is layed down, its one moment of usefulness for the next century over. Meiling isn’t quite sure what the once-hero had intended to do with that shield. Offend Remilia to death? Or did they get confused and come to believe vampires couldn't see mirrors? Regardless, the hero is dead. The shield remains. Meiling moves on.

|????????????????????’???? ???????????????? ~ ???????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????????????|

The ring-case is empty, plucked some time between last night and this morning. Meiling wonders why Remilia bothered. She struggles a moment to not crush the case in the hand, and rather places it gently down. Meiling moves on.

|???????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????? ~ ???????????????????? ????????????????????????|

No, this particular weapon isn’t notable on its own, and it doesn’t matter what particular form it takes. What is notable is that this is the… twentieth of such tag Meiling has seen. Not-so-astounding is that there would have been more, once, before Patchouli had taken a selection of the demon killers, slayers, defeaters, punishers, pulverizers and smiters; and now only the most bland and unremarkable remain. Sakuya, the girl of gossip and party tricks, is sure to let Meiling privy to only the most mildly entertaining information this mansion’s residents (all six of them, minus two) have to offer. For example, did you know the younger Scarlet wrote herself as the villain of not one but a hundred and six series of novels? Sakuya would know because she had the questionably fortunate experience of reading them all. Meiling would know because Sakuya’s second-favorite pastime is not-so-subtly bitching about it. When it comes to gossip, the information is only a bonus to Meiling. Sakuya’s bitching is second only in entertainment to her flawed, teenage attempts at seduction: ‘Pick a card, any card.’

The nondescript weapon in Meiling’s hands begins to eat away at the flesh. Unsurprisingly, she fits some abstract criteria of evil. Meiling carelessly tosses it aside. Now that Meiling is thinking about it, she realizes Patchouli can’t wield the weapons either. If her string-like muscles would not fail her first, her lungs certainly would. Trying to swing a blade would defeat her faster than any enemy could. Then if not to wield, the librarian must hate demons enough to collect the means of their genocide. It’s all assumptions on Meiling’s part.

Another demon skewerer is tossed aside, and another, and another.

. . .

Nothing. The gatekeeper isn’t any more bothered than she was before she started sifting through this ‘treasury’ made glorified dumpster, but she is bothered. Meiling will have to face today with only that: Meiling. “I will. (I will),” the vague-youkai mumbles to herself a tired mantra. She leaves and closes the door behind her, but soon the door creaks back open. The orphans are trying their best. A lock would stop them, but there’s no doubt that Remilia wants a hunter to find this room — that’s the kind of idiot she is.

\ MEILING /

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

/ ~<>~ \

>[WELCOME: AMETHYST]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: CITRINE | T:11:00]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[/\ _ /\]
>[ =o o=|]
>[=============3]
>[==================3]
>[=====]
>[====]
>[==================3]
>[==============3]
>[|]
>[V]
>[^ CAT]
>[-CITRINE]
>...
>[GIRLS ARE PREPARING. PLEASE WAIT WARMLY.]

\ ~~~ /

“. . . Cat.”

“Cat?” Elly asks.

“Cat,” he affirms. “Four legs. Sharp claws. Quiet and dangerous.” The cats of the Forest of Magic necessitate a knife at the hip.

“Are cats evil?” is her next, immediate question.

Schutz pauses, then answers: “A cat has not lied to me yet. So no.”

The morning is at its end. Hanging above is the sun, a ripe pimple swelling from a bruised sky. His denial is automated, a lame, eroded alarm at the back of his mind.

“Elly.”

“Schutz.”

“Do you ever have trouble thinking?” he wonders.

Elly grinds in thought. “Yesterday I did.”

“Today it is fine?”

“Yes.”

“How did you start thinking. Correctly.”

“I talked to Schutz.”

“. . . Oh.” He sighs. Unfortunately, the voices in his head have never been helpful for him, but if Elly can stand to listen and be better for it then. . . “That is good.”

Elly smiles, then makes an off, scratchy noise. “Schutz.”

“Elly?”

“Is Schutz having trouble thinking?”

“. . . Yeah,” he admits. “I am.”

“###.” Elly’s thoughts are slow and grinding. “I don’t like that, and can I help?” she eventually responds.

He remembers the last time he tried reaching out to Elly. “No.”

Her face goes through a complexity of poorly wrought emotions before settling on the smiling equivalent of a frown. “But I want to help.”

“No.”

‘Crik. Crik. Crik,’ she ticks, wordless.

The sun is going to boil his eyes out if he keeps staring. He is at peace with the idea. Sister is not. Sister. She knows everything - and knowing everything, she keeps him alive. Why? It is not a new question to him. “Y . . .” the name dries as a poisonous vapour on his tongue. “Elly,” he naturally substitutes.

“Schutz?” The word, a personal favorite of hers, squawks out awkwardly among her ticking.

Trapped in expectation, he has to think of a subject. “Sister. How did you meet her? — Why did you follow her?” He wishes he could think of something trivial, but this is the first thing he blurts out. His eyes remain fixed on the gangrenous sky. It reminds him of a frozen lake. He wishes he could stop thinking.

“I don’t know, and I don’t know.” Elly provides a much-appreciated distraction.

“Oh.” His neck creaks as he turns to her. “There must be a reason.” What was mine again?

Elly blankly stares into him. While she would never say it, or even think it, he hears a resounding, unspoken ‘didn’t I just say I didn’t know? You moron.’ This leads him to wonder when he started projecting Reimu into Elly. It is another question that will never be answered. He has lots of those.

“Then — what do think of her - Sister?” he asks.

“Yesterday I said Yuuka looks like mud.”

“... Mud,” he echoes. “Mud?”

Elly decapitates a swathe of flowers. On the ground they writhe, before eventually subsuming into the foretold mud. “Mud.”

She has done this before. Schutz remembers from when he became Elly’s friend. The moment still feels fake to him, like a nice dream, if he could conceive such a thing. “I know she is made of -” He prods the loam with his foot. “... Mud. But what else is there about her, inside her.”

The serpent creaks in confusion. “There is no else; Yuuka is clean mud. Unless . . .” She leans in; the cursed, abyssal lash of her mouth threatening to pierce his face as it always does. “Schutz, is Yuuka not only mud?”

In a flash of genius soon identified as idiocy, he considers touching the snake dangling before him. But, be scythe or serpent, it would not have any trouble bisecting his hand.

His brow furrows. “Sister is made of mud, but there has to be something - something else that shapes it.”

“Yuuka is clean. I can’t see her think, then she can’t think.”

“I - Elly, what?”

“Yuuka isn’t garbage. There is a lump of mud, and nothing inhabiting it,” she reiterates.

“Just. Mud?” No, Sister is -

“Clean mud.” Elly cheerfully proclaims as she decapitates another patch of flowers. They gurgle mud at the stem. “The shape is meaningless. She pretends to think, but she doesn’t think. I don’t know why she acts as if.”

Schutz looks down to the mud, Sister. He could just say her name, and she would crawl out from the grime and right all wrongs - but he does not. He will not dwell on why. It remains that Elly has claimed terrible things. “Elly.”

“Schutz?”

“Stop talking.”

“Schu-?”

“Now,” he brashly interrupts.

Her eyes are wide in shock and alarm. The words she had are taken and discarded. The serpent twists awkwardly in the air, snapping and grinding with clear want to be anything but silent.

“Thank you.” He breathes in, then out. “Do not say that about Sister. Sister is -” He swallows. “Sister is -” Nothing comes. “It does not matter. Just - stop talking about her.”

What follows is a testing silence. Elly is good, so she does not even whine. Schutz on the other hand, begins to feel the seconds like a knife in the chest. “Sorry,” he blurts out. “You can talk.”

“Schutz is having trouble thinking,” Elly immediately presses a different metaphorical knife.

He erects a barricade as quick as he can. “It - It does not matter.” While he does not regret letting her speak, he is not savoring her first blood-seeking words.

“It does!” she comes fierce.

The concern touches him, but it cannot chip the walls of his fortress. He simply cannot allow it. After all, the walls are not there to protect him. “To me. Not you.”Never you.

‘CRIK. CRIK. CRIK.’

Something inside him hurts. The sake gourd promises a quick relief, so he takes to it. Elly ticks aggressively all the while. The moment of relative peace is soon exploited; thoughts and possibilities creep back like black mould of the mind: sheets of ice, and monsters of fish, a hero he left to die, and a man who can never make the right decisions. If he does not find a distraction, he feels like his head will rot to slag.

“Schutz is having trouble thinking.”

SHUT UP. . . please. Wind whistles quietly through his gritted teeth. He takes another sip of the sake, and silently thanks the part of Ran’s mouth that effluences drink rather than youkai nonsense.

‘CRIK. CRIK. CRIK.’ The ticking does not stop.

Her concern is a poison to them both. “Elly. I am going. Stay here - please.”

No.

“Oh.” “. . . Please?”

‘CRICK.’ The slit, pupil-less voids of her glare bore into him. It is inescapable, like pits to the underworld dragging him down. ‘I am here. I will never leave. You promised to exist for me,’ he hears what she does not say, but certainly thinks. She knows nothing of the danger she is in - no, worse, he told her once the danger she was in and she accepted. What is he to do - the man who never makes the right decisions when it matters?

There could be no more convenient a time for a green homunculus to pop into the scene. Though ‘popping’ is too mild a descriptor for anything this lummox could do; its sudden, purposeless appearance is more comparable to ‘a freak accident’ or ‘a breaching whale’ by the way it stomps gracelessly through the undergrowth and into view. So - Meiling accidentally comes into the scene. In its wake, a trail of muddy destruction. Surely, Schutz would have heard it if he were not paralyzed for the last minute fighting a losing battle with Elly’s will.

“Schutz, eternally naked hunter. And Elly. . . just.. Elly,” greets a deliberate, dry and hefty voice. It comes from a hulking beast of a monster; the myriad of wraps comprising its body resembles a misshapen, lumpy and exaggerated effigy of clay. There is no trace of divine or demonic influence in its craftsmanship. The beast may as well have made itself - likely while blind. Black fog rises as steam from its gormless, gaping mouth; a preview of the storm that lies beneath the surface.

Schutz seizes the opportunity to escape Elly’s oppressive aura. Mechanically, he turns to Meiling. There is no smile on his face; it remains shell shocked . “Oh. Meiling. Hello.”

‘CRIK.’ Elly ticks beside him.

Last he saw the beast, it was falling unconscious beneath a tree. “Are you - fine? After everything,” he continues with a vague question.

“I’m here before the elder Scarlet sneaks out and kills herself trying to save your soul.” Meiling bumbles past, takes a chair, and plops down. “But you are a friend. I’m sure it will be fine.”

“Oh.”

‘CRIK.’

“Is Elly fine?” asks Meiling. “She sounds . . .”

‘CRIK.’

“She is - not,” he admits. Daggers in the back would be a luxury compared to Elly’s glare.

“I can wait. We have all day…” Meiling gazes up. “- seven hours.”

‘CRIK.’

He takes that as a cue. “Elly.”

“Schutz is having trouble thinking,” she immediately fires, scarcely comprehending the weapon she wields.

“True. True. I am.”

“Then I want to help, and why can’t I help?” Gradually, her glare turns soft and weak. “I’m Elly,” she adds like it should mean something to him, and it does. It means she absolutely should not be involved.

Before Shutz is a bewitched scarecrow. Of course, that is not true. So then why does he take a step forward, and tap her nose again? The nub is warm and fleshy beneath his fingers. Tap. Tap. “You are Elly,” he affirms. “That is why.” A tiny smile is forced; the sort of smile he gives to make Sister happy, now to Elly. “Do not worry about me.”

‘CRi.. k.’ “But I want to help Schutz. Schutz helped me think, and I can’t help him? - Can I stop being Elly to help? Schutz?”

“N-no! Elly -” The panicking man takes a shallow, calm breath to obscure the fact. “You will not need to. I promise. Yes. I promise - believe me.” He makes a promise he knows he cannot keep. It is not his first, and it is not a lie until he fails.

“. . . Schutz.”

“Do not worry about me. I will be fine,” he presses for her own good.

The girl is slumped over, with arms to the side and face scrunched into ambiguity. She stays that way. Good.

Guilt, but not regret, wells inside him. “Thank you, Elly.”

. . .

“Have you tried tea?” With that comment, Meiling returns to life from their brief period as a silent, forgettable monolith. “I tried tea. Calms the temper. Silences the cravings for human flesh. . .” “I’d call for some, but the adorable maid is unconvinced of the value of your continued life. She is like that with everyone at first; and I have to keep you alive to see the second,” the youkai prattles on with grace comparable to a lost but dimly enthusiastic elephant.

“No I have not,” Schutz answers the first question. There was no good time to interject; the youkai droned on without pause for answer.

“Come, sit.” The youkai gestures to a chair; the same chairs it laid out for him and Remilia the night before.

The man stumbles over, stiff after standing for so long, and sits rigidly down into the chair. He is soon reminded that chairs do not suit him; the ground, standing, or even the tabletop are preferable surfaces, but he is seated now so he makes the best of it. After much squirming, a decent position is found. Semi-comfortable, he squats atop the chair. His head is full of thoughts, but finding the relevant ones is a trouble. Reimu should be the last thing on his mind - evidently not.

“I am supposed to kill you,” he remembers and notes at the same time. Elly’s duty is his, and his duty is to be rid of the house’s old inhabitants. It feels so distant to him, now. “I’m currently not,” he tacks on his next revelation.

“Same here.” Smoke pensively billows. “Genuine threats to my lady cannot be allowed to exist. - But nobody told me that. I made it up. My own word, dust,” the beast stresses the end like a joke, pauses a moment to think, then asks what comes next to them: “Whose word are you betraying?”

“Betraying? No - no - I only…” Killing Meiling? The thought does not work. It makes no sense to him. There must be a mistake. In Sister? He swallows a lump in the throat. “I need to ask Sister,” he numble states. Necessity has yet to breed action in him.

“The one of the dirt flowers,” says Meiling.

He nods.

“She is strong.”

He nods.

“She can be reasoned with.”

. . . No.

“- or is she always right?”

He nods.

“And what does she want?”

“The house.”

Silence falls as Meiling ponders and Schutz tries not to think.

“You know, your sister could ask for boarding. There’s enough rooms in the mansion for the whole population of this rural reality.” . . . “It’s not a joke — but the nature of the most powerful and most unreasonable makes it like one.”

. . . “Remilia. Remilia,” Meiling sighs smoke as it mumbles to itself. “When you reject my lady’s offer, she will attempt to euthanize you. This will escalate, and escalate, and escalate, and… No one will like it. There is no victory.”

The cloth powderkeg babbles on. Gunpowder dances frantically inside it, betraying the sluggish, dopey shell. What were they supposed to look like? He asked, once. The past month feels like a year to him. He was awake for most of it. Hair is… red. Green clothes, same as monster. And eyes, the eyes were… blue. His red-haired, green-bodied, blue-eyed youkai friend said: ‘There is no victory.’

“True,” Schutz replies later than he could ever realize.

Smoke is thick about in the air, it carries -
>> No. 30965
/ ~<o>~ \

-the nostalgic, sour scent of blackpowder. Schutz coughs. Black particles lodge the lung. It passes in a wad of flem ejected. The man looks up to meet the non-existent eyes of a beast named Meiling. He had just choked on dust that does not exist, he realizes.

The monolith of ponderousness before him is unchanged. Schutz is quiet and breathing steady, but ‘calm’ could not be further from the truth. He is in a state akin to the subtle distance between receiving a wound and feeling the pain - but before he panics, he reaches out and taps. His hand falls through proverbial ice, and touches layered cloth. If he pushed a little harder, his hand would fall through. “Oh.”

“You are not Meiling,” he continues blankly.

“That would be convenient,” it replies. “What do you think I am?”

“A monster.”

The beast looks down at itself, dully appraising the way its ‘skin’ organically squirms. There is no way it can argue. “And are you a hero?”

“. . . No.”

“Lucky. I’m Meiling, Hong. An ugly monster that eats heros.” It talks like Meiling would. “Not specifically - but Heros like to be eaten. They can’t help it. It’s in their nature. So… I’m Meiling, a monster that eats people that act like heros.” It presents in a familiar, awkward mixture of formality and unrepentant sloppiness.

“Schutz. I am. Schutz,” he speaks dazed and automatic.

“Is that all? There must be more behind the name than Schutz, the Schutz.” The abomination pauses. “No… Why are we.. introducing ourselves? We have all day, but starting from the beginning is … is this another Gensokyo custom?”

Without his response, the monsters looks to the sky, a purple stain beginning to shiver, and comments: “You know, I like Gensokyo. The weather is nice. The spellcards are beautiful. And only most of the locals want me dead.”

Schutz watches jaded as the world crashes over in violet. The sky falls on Meiling.

\ ~<o>~ /

“Where was I?” mumbles the returned Meiling. “... Gensokyo. It’s a strange reality. A strange people. - Schutz is one of them. What does he say about Gensokyo?”

Schutz hates Gensokyo. He’s not sure which one, maybe both, but he knows he hates it. Ran asked him once, and here is his final answer: “I hate it.” The more he is forced to think and experience, and the more he realizes as the layers are peeled, is the more he has grown to resent. The whole picture, once a mess, now a blur, has only become more aberrant.

“Schutz,” interrupts a course, whiny and mechanical voice. To most, it would violate the ears. To Schutz, it does that and more.

The man braces in his seat. He almost forgot about Elly, as if that would make her disappear - be safe. Reality slaps him in the face before twisting his neck so he is forced to meet the scarecrow. “... Elly?” Except, Elly is not there.

“You hate Gensokyo,” she says, now atop the table, towering overhead as a grim, silly idol. The serpent is like a black halo.

“I do.. I do.”

“I can destroy it, and I will destroy it.”

“Oh.” — “That.. would. be. Good?” Words spring at the speed of stupefied thought. “Can you really?”

She smiles wide: terrifyingly, mortifyingly so. It mirrors her serpent in viciousness. She is an architecture made to destroy, if nothing else. “For Schutz. Would it make him happy?”

“Adorable, but…” Meiling begins to interject. They lean forward to put some form of wedge between him and Elly. However, Meiling does not finish fast enough. Elly implants her scythe into where the gas-bag’s stomach would be. Time is slow and excruciating as Elly heaves Meiling up, impaling the body further down the blade, and then unceremoniously flings it away.

Schutz feels blood he cannot see splatter over his face and chest. Killing Meiling. The thought makes no sense to him, and neither does the sudden reality. He touches the invisible blood on his face. Oh. His vocal cords are paralyzed, his legs are not. The man stands up.

Elly flicks the grime off her serpentine blade and mouthpiece. “Would it make him happy?” she repeats.

A voice in him is found. It cries out: “E-Elly!”

“Schutz?” she asks, perplexed at his outburst.

His gaze flickers from one atrocity to the other. “You - you just -!”

“#?” Naivety flirts with callousness.

Schutz defects. He runs over to Meiling, and is frozen at the sight. Gunpowder spews from the youkai’s body, and into the sky above, and yet the body moves. Like Ran, the youkai sits, but unlike Ran, there is no filter of majesty atop the gore. Meiling shivers like a beast struck in the heart before it realizes its own death. He can hear its throws.

“Meiling can’t be stopped. Can’t.. be. . (shut up.) (shut up.)” The gatekeeper registers his presence with a dim tilt of the head. “You shouldn't get close. Meiling has a short temper, they say.”

“Meiling - are you -” Fine? Of all things, is that what he asks? He does not. Helpless, he watches.

The youkai looks down at their mess of intestines, not defiant, not aghast, but a neutral, observer’s gaze. It ill befits their quaking limbs. “A wound. . It gets the blood pumping. Lends a craving to human flesh. It’s not too much for me. Can’t be stopped, they say.”

“Schutz?” asks Elly, now in front of him.

“. . . Elly.”

“What did I do? I haven’t destroyed Gensokyo yet.” She smiles, always happy to see Schutz.

“You - you!” He takes a step forward. Elly appreciates it. “You hurt my friend. Why?” It’s a hurt voice, a confused voice, but not yet a condemning voice. Elly must have a reason. She would not just mutilate his friends.

“#?” Her smile wavers, but does not drop.

“Look!”

The befuddled girl turns round, which soon becomes a full spin. “##? It all looks the same.”

He swallows. This is Elly. Elly is good. “Elly.”

“Schutz?”

“Meiling - my friend, is behind you. On the ground. You see garbage - then, its name is Meiling.” Fabricated calm is hastily wrapped around his words as they come.

Elly turns around, again, and concentrates very hard in Meiling’s general location. Under the reaper’s gaze, the damned remains still. Elly closes in, and shoves her blade right up next to Meiling’s face. “This garbage is Meiling?” she asks with innocent curiosity.

He shakily nods. “R-right.” The question remains, a bur in his mind where there should never be. Courage is gathered along with fear, and both are put to words: “I trust you Elly, I do, so ... why would you hurt my friend?” It feels no better to ask the more it is said. Nobody wants to find a knife in their back.

“Meiling was too loud. I couldn’t hear Schutz, and I wanted to hear Schutz,” she justifies.

“So you…” ...tore them apart and slammed them to the ground.

“I put the garbage, Meiling, somewhere else,” Elly blithely continues.

The youkai braces its arms against the ground.

“This is not.. This is not right. Elly, no - you…” the man fumbles. Elly holds no salvation for him. Her blank face eeks into her best impression of concern.

“It’s right, I did it. I’m Elly,” she awkwardly reminds him.

Meiling, unaccosted, begins to stand. Their legs struggle to obey. Gunpowder spills out in a spiralling stream to the heavens. Upright, swaying, the youkai looks to Schutz as if to say ‘I’m fine.’ What he sees is a youkai, a misanthropic nightmare by nature. But it was, or tried to be, kind. That is all that matters to him. Good intentions are precious.

“. . . No. Shut up. This is not right.”

Elly inches closer. Her reply comes stunned. “Schutz? Schutz? What’s-”

“Shut up.” His brow creases, his lip twitches. It is something resembling a glare - but held back, restrained like a beast. She keeps doing this to him: pushing.

“#—” she begins to speak, then tethers herself with a punished whine. Wide, afraid eyes tell of innocence unsaid and perhaps undeserved. She is at his mercy.

It should not be this way. Like she says: this is Elly. That fact alone is an impenetrable wall between him and Elly’s conviction. How could he keep doing this to her? It hurts. He breathes in, then out, faster, and faster, and faster.

“Schutz. Listen,” calls out Meiling. It is a small blessing he cannot see the body - but he has always had an imagination in him. “I came here, I expected this. I accept it.” You should too.

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

Meiling is gored. Elly is terrified. Accept it?

[A: Elly is in the wrong.] (hard) {break the wall}
[B: Elly is in the wrong, but] (soft)
She is at his mercy.

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Kitsune’)
-x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
-x2 Iron-Headed Arrow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Kitsune’)
- x8 Iron-Headed Arrow (Broken, Blood Coated ‘Kitsune’)
- x3 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated ‘Kitsune’)
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Kitsune’)
Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
Sake Gourd (Half-Empty, Sake Filled ‘The Best Stuff’)

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

Curse: ~<o>~

Moon Phase: <o “last quarter”

Time: Morning

\o===================875===================o/
>> No. 30967
The mistreatment of Elly at the start feels incredibly forced.
Also, can't this guy make excuses? Jesus Christ.

"I am garbage, so is she" "I like garbage like family" "I'd like for you not to hurt her" "Yes, you can help me, by not talking about sister, I feel bad when you do for some reason" "Hurting Garbage that has not attacked you is bad. But you're good. Don't do bad. It's okay, you didn't know"


But I understand the intent: now that we have an unreliable, but powerful, ally, the idea is to break that relationship asap or allow everything else we know to be destroyed. No middle ground-no happy ending for this choice.

The soft option will fail as sure as tomorrow the sun will rise.

That, and only that, is why I'm selecting the first option:

[A: Elly is in the wrong.] (hard) {break the wall}
>> No. 30968
[A: Elly is in the wrong.] (hard) {break the wall}
Got to fuel the fecal fan. Is it even possible to make her stop seeing people as garbage ?
>> No. 30969
>>30967
Our protagonist has been a full-fledged retard from moment one. Nothing to be done about that.
I don't see this is as trying to get us to ditch Elly. She's just completely clueless. You'd have to treat this like house-breaking a puppy, only the puppy has a bigass scythe.

I honestly think there's absolutely no way this protagonist will ever get Elly to act reasonably like a human being, even if he were given a million tries at it. So I'm not gonna even consider that option. Let's take it as a given that she'll never be a normal touhou drinking tea and chatting and this story will end in fire one way or another.

I'm gonna say that my goal as a voter from now on is to confer maximum happiness to Elly and, since a nice ending is not looking possible, generate as much chaos as possible, because that sounds more fun to read. I want it to end with Schutz riding on her shoulders and both laughing maniacally together as the world burns. Thus,

[B: Elly is in the wrong, but] (soft)
>> No. 30971
[A: Elly is in the wrong.] (hard) {break the wall}
>> No. 30972
File 152868127046.png - (2.53MB, 2000x1500, 47.png) [iqdb]
30972
working on this.
>> No. 30973
File 152868271820.png - (2.57MB, 2000x1500, 47_5.png) [iqdb]
30973
The prior, more saturated version.

>>30969
It pleases me that you have a solid idea of what you want.
>> No. 30974
>>30973
With less saturation it looks remarkably better.
>> No. 30975
>>30974
Agreed. Tagged on the saturated version since my editor preferred it.
>> No. 30976
File 152871367074.png - (2.77MB, 2000x1500, 47_75.png) [iqdb]
30976
Elly Edition

(joke. final version will not contain this)
>> No. 30977
>>30975

Saturated one looks more like a living fever dream, I prefer it given the state of the story honestly and can see why the editor would as well.
>> No. 30978
[A: Elly is in the wrong.] (hard) {break the wall} {give her THE RANT}
>> No. 30979
[B: Elly is in the wrong, but] (soft)
B is the best
>> No. 30980
[B: Elly is in the wrong, but] (soft)

Certainly her actions were wrong, but she didn't mean ill. Doesn't feel right to go nuclear on her over a lack of understanding.
>> No. 30981
This update will sit and stew for a month+. Currently engaged in university finals, and after that, off to wonderland (the internet-less arid wasteland part of Australia.)

>>30977
Interesting observation. I'll see if I can make the best of both worlds. I'm partial to the mute palette, but I see what you mean.
>> No. 30982
>>30981

Just my two cents on it, I'm amused that one is his left eye view and the other is his right eye view.
>> No. 30985
File 152889406230.png - (3.00MB, 2000x1500, 47_875.png) [iqdb]
30985
will keep working, likely - but I'm gonna be gone in a week and I have 3 tests in said week.
>> No. 30987
So, we now have a list of the notable trinkets Remilia has gathered and presumably killed the owner of.

Excalibur is simple enough. King Arthur pulled it, after all. Well, assuming it was only ever his, as Excalibur is an old tale indeed for someone as young as she to have killed him. Perhaps he became immortal with it? Not that it matters, but still.

The Shield of Perseus, too, is fairly straight forward. The owner was Perseus, though again it's of question as to who possessed it at the time, not that facing a greek legend in modern times is quite as odd as facing a king. Also, man is Perseus petty, giving Atlas head like that.

Plato's ring continues the very distinctly named legendary loot names. Although, honestly, this one sounds almost helpful! ...Save that someone used it to try and kill a vampire no doubt capable of using more than just her eyes to locate you. Well... assuming they tried to kill the vampire. They could have done something dumber, too.

And now, clearly I must make guesses on the demon slaying swords names.

Or not. Moving on, as this tangent is unlikely helpful...

>>30969

To make Elly act like a human being, first Schutz would have to act like a human being, would he not? Lead by example and all that. But Schutz doesn't act like a human being, and instead acts like a Schutz that just happens to be human. I'd say it would be easier for Schutz to act like an Elly. I'd also say it's not that he's retarded so much as he doesn't align his thought with the way the normal person would, and doubly not that of the voters.

That said, I am technically in agreement with you. A happy ending isn't one of smiles, but one of Elly. And, as much as it pains me to do this, I think I'm about to tie the vore. The other may be the one that is more likely to help Meiling, if either even will, but I think appealing to her as if she were the giant from The Iron Giant would end best. We don't want her getting a murder boner after all, even if she would pick those pieces up and unmurder us.

Side thought: if Elly can bring us back to life, can she heal Meiling/bring her back to life for us? It's not in-character to ask that, I don't think, so I'll just stick to the more pressing matter of scolding the scarepuppy.

[B: Elly is in the wrong, but] (soft)
>> No. 30988
File 152947622438.png - (23.46KB, 442x665, 47_96875.png) [iqdb]
30988
I'm off tomorrow. Vote to be called when I get back in ~8~9 days.
>> No. 30989
Damn this is a long wait
>> No. 30990
So, while the author is away, we could either party or discuss our opinions on votes and try to come to an understanding. Well, the answer is clearly obvious.

The way I see the vote working amounts to basically a soft or hard stance, surprise surprise. In the softer one, we have soft chiding. In the harder one, we have... corporal punishment? Telling her she's bad?

The outcome is the more important part, however. Would either save Meiling? That's hard to say. But if they did, which even would? The hard stance may just leave us Ellyless and Meilingless, even!

Although, a soft stance may cause Elly to go out and be all genocidal, as she was kinda talking about doing so. Or, heck, a hard stance might!

Enough rambling from me. Anyone else want to share their thoughts?
>> No. 30996
Back.

>>30990
Thanks for trying.
>> No. 30998
File 153028042843.jpg - (611.53KB, 2048x1536, nowhere.jpg) [iqdb]
30998
There is a tie.

I gave it some thought before announcing this. Let it be known my primary interest is not breaking the tie for the ties sake. This is both a contentious and important vote, and I want to deliver a satisfying conclusion, not necessarily a swift one. Notable is that I have exceeded my standard voting capacity [Avg: 5~6~7], so new votes will not be accepted on grounds that I doubt you represent the standard readerbase. The standard readerbase represents those who have put the most effort into this story, and I believe they should be the ones to determine its trajectory.

So: This tie can only be broken by one or more of you changing your current vote.

Please don't be flippant about this. Be respectful that time/effort has been put in by others (hopefully including yourself.)

I will give as much time as you need.

In the meantime I will continue to work on that landscape. The unrelated, attached landscape is from the 'Hill of Knowledge,' Idalia National Park, Queensland, Australia. Nice place if you like wallabies. There's a specific species of wallaby (the yellow-footed rock-wallaby) with a population keenly isolated on that mountain to the point where it is caked in wallaby shit and wallaby skeletons. There's also mummified wallabies scattered about. However, the 'Hill of Knowledge' is blocked to to general public, so, if for whatever reason you find yourself in Idalia National Park, instead try Emmet Pocket (a series of mountains that also contains that wallaby species.)
>> No. 31000
Interesting. I'll give it a spin as soon as I get out of the ICU
>> No. 31002
>>31000
You mean going to Idalia to see rock wallabies, or to change your vote? Either way, good luck!?
>> No. 31003
[A: Elly is in the wrong.] (hard) {break the wall}
>> No. 31004
>>30987 here. Convince me to go hard for Elly. I mean on. I mean to.

...Semi-nonsensical jokes aside, we aren't breaking this tie by faffing about. That said, unless someone wants to arbitrarily change their vote (in which case I am concerned why they voted at all) someone has to be convinced.

Convince me to be mean to our favorite bundle of sticks.
>> No. 31005
>>31004
Seeing soul-bearing lifeforms as garbage is part of who she is, the sociopathic reaper. I just can't see her perceptions change without going extra-hard on her and possibly messing with her borders.
>> No. 31007
>>31005

I'd argue that such a thing could backfire. Personally, my wonder is if either option would save Meiling, and if so, which? Trying to fix Elly is a long term goal, after all. Trying to save Meiling would be a better short term one if anything. One cannot rush progress after all.

Although, I never thought of it that way. If the soul is garbage, then Yuuka being mud may be indicative of her not having one potentially. And if that's true, I have to wonder what happened to it.
>> No. 31009
It doesn't look like anyone is going to bother. I'm going to have to take some form of action. This is very disappointing.

Alrighty then, I vote B.

Vote called for B.
>> No. 31010
>>31009
Addendum: if that one guy is actually in the ICU and wanted to change his vote, then I apologize.
>> No. 31011
Moshi-moshi, what the fuck desu.

A:
>>30967
>>30968
>>30971
>>30978

B:
>>30969
>>30979
>>30980
>>30987

My tie breaker for A:
>>31003

OP inexplicably votes B, ignoring said tie breaker:
>>31009
>> No. 31012
>>31010
I'm outside now, just on a regular bed. High calcium, you see: twice the normal values isn't healthy apparently.

I voted for A and wanted to maybe switch for B, but no. They said, and I agree, that a wishy washy approach might not work. It hasn't before. And she is wrong here. Not buts.

I was kind of negative about the possible outcome, but this is a fact that Elly will have to understand if we are to remain with her: there are more worthwhile garbage besides Schütz.

When I read "break the wall" I remembered a scene of "Be human" where an android has to fight against its programming. Is it Elly's? Or our MC's? Can our Heroine even change? I want to think so.

No, A is fine.
>> No. 31013
>>31011
Explicitly ignored because I explicitly forbade further new votes.

Refer to line 3 of this post, what the announcement was building up to.
>>30998

The terms are set. You could have argued against them, but you instead ignored them. This has strengthened my resolve in discarding said vote.
>> No. 31014
>>31013
It's meaningless to entertain a notion that this should be argued about - a tie broken by another is better than a tie broken by your choice and this board does not support rolling a 1d2 - but sure.

>new votes will not be accepted on grounds that I doubt you represent the standard readerbase

I've voted numerous times in this story with this IP, the mods can check. If you still mean to go through with this, be my guest, causing drama is the last thing this needs. But in the future, do not set those kinds of terms.
>> No. 31015
>>31012
Damn, that sucks. Googled hypercalcemia, and it's one of those 'everything inside your body begins to hate itself' type of illnesses.

Thought about it for a bit. Want something drawn from the story? I'm ass at backgrounds, but I'm okay at characters. Regardless, I can promise you I'll try my best.
>> No. 31016
>>31015
Three days ought to be sufficient time to say yes or no, unless you went into relapse. So I will assume 'no.'
>> No. 31018
>>31016
Sorry, missed the last post. I like Elly and Meiling, but I'm guessing there's going to be a lot of that in the near future.

And I'm a lot better, thanks!
>> No. 31020
Next update in a next thread. Overall, I thought less about quitting this thread. Seeing people put effort into my story makes me feel justified in putting so much effort into it myself. That's good!!

>>31018
Actually, I've been focusing the majority of my efforts in drawing for a secondary project, so I'll be drawing on your behalf.
>> No. 31022
File 153141241931.png - (1.05MB, 1650x1370, 48.png) [iqdb]
31022
>>31018
Working on it.
>> No. 31023
File 153148546423.png - (1.37MB, 1650x1370, 48_5.png) [iqdb]
31023
>>31022
Working.
>> No. 31024
1500 words in.

I'm currently moving houses and have a very important scientific report due in three days.
>> No. 31027
2500.

Usually slow update speed is due to my slow writing speed despite how much time I sink in, but in this case I'm lacking motivation. Been focusing most of my creative efforts on designs for something else (not a public project).

I'll try to get it out within a week.
>> No. 31031
/o====================5====================o\

END: 5.875

BEGIN: 5.8875
>>31030

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