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File 151642686189.gif - (11.36KB, 500x500, 32.gif) [iqdb]
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/
Expand all images
>> No. 30677
===== Time: Morning | Curse: ~~~ =====

After gorging yourself on what’s edible, and drinking from an emergent spring of water, you’re left in the unfortunate company of your own mind. There’s nothing to distract you, so you kneel beside the spring from which you drank, and let what’s been earned come.

• You repeatedly put yourself in a position that allowed the curse to rouse
• You allowed your curse rouse to the point of lucidity; spitting on Reimu’s memory in the process.
• After turning Patchouli into a monster, you left them for dead
• When your curse was put to rest, you immediately took it upon yourself to endanger Elly by telling her about her own monstrous counterpart. You almost killed her real self.

That is all, in brief. In expanse, you could spend days and days agonizing over the details. The conclusion remains the same. You have done a lot of terrible, irredeemable things. It’s not the first time, and that’s the problem.

On your knees, your ugly, violet eyes are reflected back to you in the tiny stream below. They stare at you widely and accusingly, like the ghost of Reimu. ‘How could you let this happen?’ she asks in disbelief.

Reimu taught you nothing.

In the end, despite all efforts to stop you, history repeats. It’s like Elly says: yesterday is tomorrow, and nothing new is reflected on the water’s surface.

Reimu once called you a moron for not doing something about your curse. Reimu did try, and in that proved ‘Doing something about it’ is an attitude that kills people. Maybe if you followed her advice before you met Sister, you would be dead too. That’s how it should have gone, but you were too late, you moron.

You are Sisters’, now. Sister wants you alive. Sister is perfect. There must be a reason she’s keeping you alive. You’re just too stupid to understand why.

… But you aren’t dead yet, and you never will be. It follows that you must spend this life trying to do the right thing, if the ‘right thing’ would ever reveal itself to you without Sisters’ rare, guiding word.

You could tend to yourself, or you could fulfil a promise to Elly.

You are going to make Elly a new, clean dress.

‘How?’ is the most pertinent question. The answer: with sewing skills you lack, and dirty hands you have. Yeah, that sounds fine to you.

You pick your sorry self off the ground, and force yourself to be motivated. You’re going to do something good, even if it’s impossible. Like Sisyphus pushing a rock of good intentions, you are.

Now, to tackle the feasible problem: how to sew. You can worry about the fact anything you make is inherently garbage to Elly later.

Sister keeps her books in Makai. That would surely include a treatise on sewing, considering the motley of bizzare-to-practical browsing she keeps.

However, even if you managed to find a doorway to Makai, the radiation is a problem. ‘Nuclear,’ you understand none of it, other than the fact it would kill you somewhere between instantly and excruciatingly. That is the reason Sister plays there, and not here — though she makes sure to fill you in on all the details: of atoms grinding, splitting, and turning to soup.

That leaves you with one option. You will ask Sister.

… What would she say if she saw you now?

The answer is: nothing. Your problems aren’t her problems — you promised.

Now, you only ask to learn to sew. Sister would love that, wouldn’t she? It’s best to start now before you can convince yourself otherwise.

You breath in, unnecessarily. You aren’t about to speak words, nor a spell, ritual, or invocation. You’re making an earthquake. Truly, you don’t know how else to describe saying Sisters’ name — her true name, that is. After all, Sister isn’t Sisters’ name, it’s:

YUUKA

If flowers were a sound, this name would be it, and, like flowers be, they reproduce.

...YUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAY
UUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKAYUUKA...

You brace yourself with a hand to the ground. Beneath you, the earth ponders a single thought. Anticipation wells within you as a shiver, and plays your heart to an erratic beat. Futile as it is, you do try to contain yourself — to the expected end of absolutely nothing changing.

The vibrations become tremors, and those into earthquakes.

Sister gave you her name, once, and it stuck in your brain like a grain of dirt. All it takes is a vagrant thought to shake it free. It’s not the sort of name that can be whispered, not even is the privacy of your own mind. You would prefer not cause an earthquake whenever you thought of Sister, so ‘Sister’ she is. If not, the earth would soon split in two. You learnt that the hard way that ‘Sister’ befits all but the most necessary of occasions (such as asking her how to sew.)

The earth’s rumbling becomes a whimper. You take a private moment to restore composure (close your eyes, take a deep breath), and say: “Good morning, Sister.” to the frothing loam that the ground has become.

A woman’s hand reaches from the boiling, breathing mud beneath you. You kneel down to take it, and pull.

It’s like lifting the earth itself — which it is; the rest of Sister hasn’t actually formed yet. Still, you squeeze the hand tight. It’s a tradition. Something like the sword in the stone you think.

The rest of Sister follows in short time. Her parasol, a wicked, red thing, is the last to come; it reminds you of Elly in its style. Did Sister make them of the same material?

To meet the daylight, Sister stretches her sculpted arms out wide and yawns. Her hair — overgrown into a puffy, green curtain down her shoulders — is trimmed with a pointed slide of her finger. The scent of freshly mowed grass fills the air.

This is all a ritual for her — so, when she finally opens her eyes to see you, she smiles. The world should kneel before that smile.

Despite it all, you smile dumbly back. It finally hits you: you’re home, sister is here, and all will be well.

Before a word can be exchanged, you tackle Sister with a hug. Naturally, she is like a boulder emerged from bedrock, so your ‘hug’ is more like running face first into a very friendly, very hard tree. Your nose is bleeding. You don’t mind. Sister doesn't mind. This, too, is a tradition of sorts.

“Sister!” you say as a shout, and express as a mumble into her nightgown.

“Oh, a pleasant morning, my brother.” By mechanisms unseen, her puffy sleepwear warps and distends into a more elegant, but still quite puffy, daywear.

Sister takes your other hand — the right, raw one. Familiar, painful and healing warmth flows through it. It feels like putting your hand over open flame, except rather than sunder, the flame knits. This is nothing compared to the time Sister fixed your ‘brain damage,’ so you don’t complain, not that you ever have.

“A pleasant morning to see you in want and need,” she says. Healing you is another instinct of hers; it’s as mindless an act as breathing, after all these years.

Her hand moves up to your bleeding nose. You cover the ensuing sneeze.

“But my brother would never ask for help, so what is it you want, Schütz?” Her radiant eyes burn holes into your own.

“To learn to sew,” you answer.

Sister is the seamstress of herself, Elly, and to a lesser extent you. Sentimentality kept your old clothes close. Still, it was Sisters’ hand that turned your ragged garb into something chimeric and protective. You just glued the pieces together with seals rather than buttons.

“Oh!” She only just now seems to realize you are naked. “Clothing, a human thing: a thing you need, not want.”

You give a lopsided smile. Usually, you don’t need to clarify your speech when it comes to Sister — but you can imagine how she misunderstood you asking how to sew while naked.

“No, not for me. For Elly. To learn to sew for Elly.”

Sister remains silent, speechless.

You brace for the worst.

Then, like the Elly she created, Sister breaks out into soft, self-indulgent laughter.

You didn’t brace hard enough. “I’m serious!”

“Naturally, you are, my brother. But, when the mood is right, a serious Schütz is a wonderful Schütz — a Schütz that finds it in himself to sew for Elly.” The laughter ceases. Sister focusses on you with absolute intensity and a growing smile. “Tell me more.”

You tune your voice flat with a grumble. “I dirtied her dress. It would follow naturally that I make another.”

Her smile only widens. It reminds you of Elly, a bit, or perhaps Elly reminds you of Sister. Creator and creation, after all.

“Wonderful, wonderful!” Sister sits down quite suddenly, and looks up at you expectantly. From the ground, and with her piercing gaze, you would think she were a serpent for your neck — but it’s pure curiosity fuelling that fire behind her eyes. It is indistinguishable from hunger. “You have seduced me. Tell me everything.”

Put on the spot, you freeze. “Of course…” It takes a moment to thaw your legs before sitting down. “Everything.”

The problem is: you can’t say everything. ‘Everything’ includes the cursed prelude. “Everything you need to know,” you amend.

“Mhm. Go on.” You know it’s just curiosity, but Sister looks about ready to pounce on you. It’s sufficient motivation to think fast.

“I have known Elly for four years, and I met her yesterday. So, being human, I learned not long after that humanity is repulsive to Elly. As gross inside as out.” The pressure from Sister relaxes as you find your own rhythm. “She’s trying very hard to drown it out. Always has her head underwater. It’s nice down there, I think? Nice and quiet. That’s all she wants, I think. Quiet.”
You frown. Here comes the bad part. “So then I came along and rubbed myself all over her. Like this.” You put your hand over a nearby flower, and crush it.

...

Something pokes you in the forehead. From your forehead leads to a red parasol; from the red parasol leads to Sister. On the ground she lies with head cradled in one hand, and in the other the parasol she holds to your forehead.

Poke, poke.

It’s nothing but a reminder of her presence. She likes to poke you when you get too lost in the head. She pokes you a lot.

You give your signature, awkward smile, and continue — not that you have much more to say. “Yeah,” a flawless finisher; worthy of no less than four sequels. “I ruined Elly’s dress.”

“To learn to sew for Elly; to save a damsel in distress; to preserve a melting, waxen sunflower.” She punctuates each phrase with an excited parasol tap. “A hero, is my brother. Oh, this is wonderful!”

At first, you’re surprised by her elation, but one thing stops you cold: ‘Hero.’ The word runs like paralytic poison in your mind; last spoken by a misguided, dog-headed monster. Scenes and images replay in your mind all at once, of yesterday, of last night.

Poke.

You blink.

Still on the ground — with no dignity lost — Sister holds her parasol up to your neck. This is a serious poke.

“Schütz,” she says.

“... Sister.” You find your tongue. It’s heavy, but it works.

“Elly’s dress,” she reminds you with a pointed tap of her parasol (to the ground, thankfully.)

Sister isn’t one to pry into your business, but Sister is one to pry — It was in poor taste of you to bring the curse up, even in your mind. Sister knows what’s wrong with you, so with a blunt, guiding hand she shows you back to the right path.

She knows because she can smell fear.

“Elly’s dress,” you parrot.

Sister brushes aside the tension with a smile. The last minute effectively did not occur.

Sister backs off a few steps, and you know well not to approach.

With a single, graceful and brutal motion, she tears a chunk from her umbrella. Flowery sigils multiply and die. Earthen words spill into ground; browbeating the world to surrender to Sisters’ whim. The world kneels. She hums as she goes about her work.

You watch on silent, awed, and curious; a common reaction to anything Sister does.

She crushes the red lump, flattens it, then stretches the resulting pancake between her hands.

“Take the end,” Sister says.

It takes a moment to break yourself out of your spell, and another to waddle over and grab the end of the red sheet that Sister has presented. It’s light and fluffy, like soft earth, Like Elly’s dress.

Sister keeps stretching the sheet out.

“Sister. Are you making a dress for Elly?” you ask plainly.

“Hmm~ no, it’s a pretty red fabric for you to do with as you want, and you want to give it to Elly,” she comments amid a hum.

“I can’t accept this.”

Sister pauses her work to give you a scrutinizing look. “But it is your birthday, Schütz. Humans receive gifts on birthdays.”

“It was my birthday yesterday.”

“Hm, and? I have a gift for you. Humans receive gifts on their birthdays, so it is your birthday.”

You can’t fault her logic — but you can’t let her do this. You ruined Elly’s dress, not Sister. It’s your obligation to make things right.

Oh. “I touched the fabric. Elly wouldn’t like it.”

“Naturally, if it were to be the same material, that would be true. But this material is antipsychosomatic.” She gestures to your hands, “It dusts thoughts and their forms. See?”

Perplexed, you look to your hands. You shift them to a new position. True to Sisters’ word, there are dustprints where your hands were. This dust is… your thoughts, your humanity?

“It washes off,” Sister says.

You marvel at the dustprint, and then blow on it; a cloud of ash — your former thoughts — drifts away.

“Elly will love it,” Sister says.

You can’t help but agree. This is better than anything you could ever make for Elly: garbage.

“I - I didn’t make this," the murmur is diluted, pitiful even. You quickly steady yourself, but the damage is done.

“Hm, but you will make the dress. My brother, I will teach you to sew,” she points out as if it were obvious all along. It really should have been. You’re an idiot.

You sigh, and, at last, capitulate (with a smile,) “... Thank you, Sister.” Your voice is kept steady out of fear of cracking again.

So it goes; you learn to sew a soul-destroying dress with Sisters’ guidance.

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

You’re in the middle of your sewing lesson — stopped and resumed many times to mend the perforations in your fingers — when you notice something.

“Turn around,” you tell Sister.

She raises an eyebrow, but questions not. She twists so you can see her back.

You put your hand to her neck, take out your knife, and cleanly trim an offensive, wayward lick of hair. She missed it before.

There. Perfect.

===== Time: Early Afternoon | Curse: ~~~ =====

It’s more like flesh than cloth; the fabric you’re working with. You sew with the same red substance that makes the dress. With each thread (... of a red-made needle), the fabric joins like fluid, and leaves no hint it was ever sewn shut in the first place. Similarly, when you butcher apart your many mistakes (... with red-made scissors), the fabric parts like water; never losing form, and never growing weak.

Dust gets everywhere. It coats your body like a second skin. There’s a lot on your mind, it would seem. Sister says it’s because the dress is ‘made with love.’ Of course, Elly wouldn’t like that, so your supposed ‘love’ is turned to dust. Dust — your love — gets everywhere.

Sister left a while ago.

‘Happy birthday,’ she said.

You were happy just to have her nearby, but now you’re sewing on your own

It’s relaxing, in a way. Perhaps you will make Elly a wardrobe after this.

You have all the time in the world.

===== Time: Late Afternoon | Curse: ~~~ =====

Elly is here. You cannot pinpoint when that became a fact, but you know she’s here now.

Beside you, said Elly stares down at the future humanity-disintegrating-dress with wide eyes. At first, you didn’t want to bother her. You just kept sewing.



She’s been here for an hour now, staring.

At some point, you went from sewing to staring at she who stares at the dress. Idly, you imagine what she looks like in reality. ‘I’m of moderate height, with an immoderate bust. My hair is curly and blonde, and matches my pretty gold eyes. I’m mostly red, though my skin is pale,’ she told you.

It’s a reassuring image - though, admittedly, with your limited vocabulary of human features, you have trouble imagining her as anything but a blonde Sister with a larger bust.

This is starting to feel weird for you. In search of anything but that particular train of thought, you say something: “... Good afternoon, Elly.”

Elly’s entire body shivers in a startle. Swiftly, she faces you.

“Good afternoon, Schütz.”

Slowly, ever so slowly, her attention is siphoned from you back to the new dress; her head tilts towards it, and then her body. She doesn’t seem to realize that you’re the one making it.

Elly’s comprehension of the physical world, the landways, differs from yours fundamentally; you’ve come to understand.

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

[A: Tell her?] {now.}

[B: Let it be a… surprise?] {later. keep working.}

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

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

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <-O-> “lunatic”

Time: Late Afternoon

\o===================875===================o/

Welcome to SchützCo! Sorry, but all of our operators are busy right now. For general inquiries, press forehead. For emergencies, press neck. For suicide assistance, press Elly. Thank you.

Put some thought into it — oh wait, don’t.
>> No. 30678
A new thread!

Writeins are allowed unless specified otherwise, but only if they are in character. I will personally veto writeins that do not meet this criteria. If you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, I recommend sticking to the given votes.

I love seeing discussion. Saged discussion is harder to notice!

You drove the story to an odd place, not a stagnant place. It’s far from over. I like writing odd things.

Have a nice day.
>> No. 30679
>There’s a lot on your mind, it would seem. Sister says it’s because the dress is ‘made with love.’ Of course, Elly wouldn’t like that, so your supposed ‘love’ is turned to dust. Dust — your love — gets everywhere.

This made me pretty sad. I guess his is a selfless love.
In fact, I'm sure he would kill himself, as to not taint her any further, if he could.

Besides, as either the harbinger of the curse- or the one who couldn't stop it- and Reimu's killer, he agrees that it'd be for the best.

Still, I wish he'd have simply asked Yuuka why she keeps him alive. I have made little progress in 'getting' the twist and I'm all ready to throw in the towel.
>> No. 30681
>>30679
I've come to the conclusion that thinking too hard about this story is counter-productive, it's not the kind of thing you can predict. At least I can't. I'm just gonna enjoy the oddness and atmosphere and take things as they come.



[B: Let it be a… surprise?]
>> No. 30682
File 151643821544.jpg - (40.53KB, 280x410, 2018-01-20_44:43.jpg) [iqdb]
30682
what does it mean, my dudes
>> No. 30683
[B] Let it be a… surprise?

> Sisyphus

...did you put that in before or after my comment?

> I like writing odd things.

No shit.
>> No. 30684
>>30679
>>30681
If not actively seeking the truth, keep your minds keen. This story is not arbitrary; events don't happen for no reason.

Another thing to note: dominoes don't stop falling because you stop looking at them

You two seem to realise that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uamf99fsFjA
Some nice, unrelated music I was reminded of.

>>30683
>...did you put that in before or after my comment?
I liked the comparison enough to include it! Very astute! I’ll be sure to put you in the credits, Mr. ... Anonymous?

***

Vote will be called either tomorrow or the next day; it will be as early as possible.
>> No. 30685
[B: Let it be a… surprise?]
Maybe one of these days Schütz will get something to wear.
>> No. 30686
[C: Ask her if there is a way to improve the dress.]
>> No. 30687
File 151653880713.png - (1.14KB, 750x417, 32_5.png) [iqdb]
30687
Calling tomorrow morning.

This will be interesting.
>> No. 30688
The vote is set for B: to make it a 'surprise.'

I will get writing tonight. No estimates besides 'as fast as I can at maximum output' So not all that fast.
>> No. 30689
A trip to exercise the new system.
>> No. 30690
sitting at 750+

It was my birthday today. Busy.

I'll get right into it tomorrow.
>> No. 30691
File 151671976728.jpg - (55.94KB, 577x700, Probably late by 2 minutes.jpg) [iqdb]
30691
>>30690

Happy birthday~!
>> No. 30692
Working on it. Didn't get much writing done, but I did some other important, story related thing.

>>30691
It was OK. 20. Not breaking down inside much yet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR5Xnod-7RI
>> No. 30701
Unless there's a mighty fuckup, update tomorrow! I'm trying my best for a weekly-ish schedule. I can do no better than that.

2000+
>> No. 30706
===== Time: Late Afternoon | Curse: ~~~ =====

Elly laughed when you told her about your plans to make her a clean dress; Sister, too, laughed.

Of course, it’s a ludicrous prospect. You knew that, and in a sense, that was the point. You gave yourself an impossible task, a harmless task, a distraction—that you would try your best to defy.

You did not predict having another birthday. Now, without hitch, you are making a clean dress. Thank you, Sister, and happy birthday to me.

You should be finished with the dress by tomorrow—and, just now, you have decided that day will officially become Elly’s birthday. Birthdays are celebrations marked by gifts. It’s a perfect opportunity to deliver the dress! The only problem is the celebration part. On your birthday, today and yesterday, Sister talked to you; that’s a celebration. But how would Elly wish to celebrate? Certainly not with your company. For what does Elly desire besides quiet?

Oh, then to celebrate you will leave Elly alone straight after! You do have good ideas, sometimes.

‘Happy birthday!’ you theoretically say to a future elly after giving her the future dress. Then you would flee.

Yeah, that sounds good.

… You have just spent the last few minutes fantasizing about Elly’s birthday while Elly herself stands before you. Should you tell her about the dress? The dress she has been admiring for over an hour. The dress that has turned the surrounding area into a pond of dust. The dress she has watched you work on for over an hour without her figuring that out.

Truthfully, you admire her ability to completely ignore the world around her. You wish you could do the same.

She looks like she’s enjoying staring, or at least you assume she’s enjoying it. It’s impossible to decipher what she’s feeling without cue of her monstrous face, and that face is set to a permanent, nebulous smile.

You give it some thought, and, in the end, you decide to leave her be.

It could be a surprise, perhaps: ‘A surprise birthday for Elly.’ You laugh softly like Sister would, and, luckily, Elly doesn’t take note. With this dress you will make her happy. It’s not atonement enough, nothing is, but it’s something you can do. That’s better than the nothing that you plan for the rest of your life.

You go back to sewing, content (in translation: more dust.)

But, as it turns out, having Elly close makes you comfortable, which in turn makes you uncomfortable. You don’t have the right to be near her after what you did. The only reason you were before was out of necessity, and, to your shame: some measure of pleasure. You enjoy Elly’s company, and that’s a problem.

You get up and leave. It's best you continue tomorrow.

“Goodnight, Schütz,” calls the corrupted, ear-mulching voice of Elly from behind.

You flinch. It’s not an unusual thing for Elly to say, but you’ve never acknowledged it—you only started acknowledging Elly’s existence yesterday. You were so careful before then, so very careful.

You take a deep breath to swallow your doubts. Not now. Soon.

With a pained but genuine smile, you turn and bow deeply. “Goodnight, Elly.”

If she’s not gone by tomorrow, then you can only ask her to leave. The thought leaves an ill taste in your mouth.

You find a low bed of daisies, and lie down. “Goodnight, Sister.”

===== Time: Late Night | Curse: ~~~ =====

Without fatigue to force you, sleep does not come, not that sleep would help you. Day or night, you will be haunted. As it should be: ghosts don’t sleep, so neither should you.

You lay awake until morning.

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

The sun rises to show a fake, purple sky.

Sleepless nights aren’t unusual. The ensuing brain-fog is a blessing, even. It’s the luxury of being awake without the downside of knowing it.

You get up.

You feed yourself.

The miraculous brain-fog fades after that. You might afford to skip breakfast, next time. Oh! No, you can’t remain fogged today! You have an important dress to sew, and an important birthday to attend thereafter!

Today is a good day. Today is Elly’s birthday.

You force yourself to move, and the tar between your joints melts away with each taken step. Today, you will be useful; you will make someone happy! It’s an unfathomable feeling to you, perhaps due to how rare it is. ‘Elly will love it,’ Sister said. If Sister says something, it is truth. Even you, the unambiguous villain, can’t mess this up—so you will savor this rare opportunity to do good.

You come to where you left your dress. Dust rouses under your feet to form little clouds.

Elly is here, where she was yesterday afternoon.

She blends in beautifully into the dawn’s palette: from her golden hair to her dirty red dress, and, of course, her pretty gold eyes that your curse does not allow you to see. In truth, you’re marvelling at what you imagine she would look like.

The monster you can actually see is an abomination: a scarecrow awkwardly puppeteered by a snake. How dare your curse do that.

Your uncharacteristic optimism threatens to break, but, with intense resistance, you hold it intact. The curse won’t ruin Elly’s birthday. You won’t let it.

Today will be a good day.

“... Good morning, Elly,” you squeeze out after assuring that you can keep your voice stable.

Elly’s focus breaks from the unfinished dress with a snap, and in the next moment her eyeless gaze is on you. To join her, the fake serpent rises from the earth.

“Good morning, Schütz.”

Already, her attention drifts back to the dress.

“Elly.”

“Schütz?”

“Could you look at…” You’re speaking faster than you can think. “The thing. The thing you’re looking at.” To illustrate, you gesture to the future dress. You don’t want to ruin the surprise by actually calling it a dress. “Elsewhere. Landways.”

Deep breath, Schütz.

“Elly, could you look at the thing somewhere else, landways?” What a journey that was.

To your relief, Elly endured your verbal pilgrimage to the end. She stares at you blankly—and that is at you, not through you.

“The thing,” she says.

You blink. “Yes. The… thing.” You can not be faulted in your ability to stick to stupid ideas.

Elly swivels to face the dress. “I’ve been looking at it, and thinking about it, and trying to find out something it.” Then she’s back to you. “And Schütz believes this is a ‘thing?’”

“Yes, it is a thing.” It’s not a lie: dresses are things. Still, you dislike obfuscation, so an unbarred, awkward tone creeks your words.

“Oh my! What an interesting truth you have.” A wild smile stretches from her neutral grin. “Then I believe you. I do like ‘things.’”

Oh?! “You do?!” Sister said she would ‘love it,’ but hearing that from Elly’s own mouth (... or its cursed equivalent) is baffling. You have not the fortitude to filter the sheer, momentary excitement from your voice.

Elly nods. “I do. ‘Things’ are like Elly, so ‘things’ are good, and I like good.”

The dress is good? Something you made is good? It’s not even finished yet! What would Elly say if she knew this was her dress in the making? This praise alone is already worth everything to you.

You hold in your want to confess the true meaning of ‘thing,’ and the pent up words melt into laughter. The absurdity of it all—you: doing something good, making something good?

Oh. You almost forgot.

You stop laughing, and rub the back of your neck as some sort of apology for setting the wrong mood.

“Elly. Could you leave, landways? Please.”

“I could—but why, Schütz? Aren’t we continuing the conversation from yesterday.”

The conversation from yesterday? No, you can’t let yourself be distracted.

“It’s - it’s very important to me that you leave. Now.” You almost fumbled it, and as reward you take a little break in between your next ill-formed words. “We can continue the conversation later,” you blurt out.

No you can’t, you moron.

Your stupid expression freezes on your face. You just lied; that means you have to make it a truth. You will have to talk to Elly when the birthday celebration comes.

Elly meets your panic with an oblivious cheery smile. “Tomorrow,” she says.

You break from your stupor. “Today, Elly. Later today, I will call you.”

Elly looks to the sky. It isn’t purple to her, but instead a bright blue— Sister told you that, and so did Reimu. Reimu also said she would show you. She didn’t.

“Today…” She holds onto the word as if to pry it of secrets. “Today,” she repeats.

“Yes, today,” you affirm.

“Today,” Elly echoes.

Is time different for her, too?



A strong wind blows like a signal from the heavens to break this silence; a signal that Elly does not heed. She stands and stares into nothing as her dirty dress billows in the wind. The ponds of dust whip up, but are covered enough by the undergrowth to not go all windborn.

You, however, do take note of the wind’s push and say: “Goodbye, Elly.”

Her eyeless gaze refocusses on you: “I’m leaving?”

“You are.”

Her eyes widen, briefly, in revelation.

“Then goodbye, Schütz.”

With that, she leaves. She sinks right into the ground—where her watery shadow once lied.

Elly is good. She only needs a little push, sometimes. It must be hard for her living in two places at once: above and below water.

Finally alone, you pick up your red tools, and get back to work on the red dress; the good dress. Dust piles beneath your fingers. All the more work to brush your happiness away, as well.

===== Time: Midday | Curse: ~~~ =====

Your movements become more fluid and purposeful over time. Less mistakes are made, so less time is spent tearing apart the fleshy, red fabric (can you even call it fabric? You’ve no other word for it.) Some sections of the dress have been remade countless times over—not that you can tell from looking.

It follows, through long trial and error, that you would improve, and the dress with it. Another hour to repair one of the more belligerent section, and you will be done.

Satisfied, and covered in a small desert’s worth of dust, you keep working.

/ ~~~<>~<o><O><>~~~<><O><O><o>~<>~~~<o><>~~ \

>[WELCOME: USERNAMENOTFOUND]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: USERNAMENOTFOUND | T:12:01]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
-
>...
>[GIRLS ARE PREPARING. PLEASE WAIT WARMLY.]

\ ~~~ /

The world spasms violet.

The red needle falls between your shaking fingers.

You have a sudden, inexplicable feeling that you have to run. If you don’t, something terrible will happen. That’s what a little voice inside you promises.

Now, what will you tell yourself?

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

'Today is a good day. Today is Elly’s birthday.'

[A: Finish the dress.] {It only needs a few finishing touches…} (Note: Elly choice)

Your body doesn’t agree with that notion. It twitches, shivers and shakes in rebellion. Your fingers are especially receptive to fear. How are you supposed to sew like this? Oh, you’re not. You’re supposed to be running.

-[B1: Run, Schütz, run.] {flight}



-[B2: Prepare a sealed arrow.] {fight} (potential unlocked due to ‘reckless’ path)

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated 'Human')
- x12 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Broken)
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated 'Human')
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)
Sparse Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated 'Human')
-Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
‘Red’ Needle
- ‘Red’ Thread (‘antipsychosomatic’)
‘Red’ Fabric (‘antipsychosomatic’)
‘Red’ Scissors
‘Red’ Dress (Nearly Finished, ‘antipsychosomatic’)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <O “waning gibbous”

Time: Midday

\o===================875===================o/

The circadian rhythm is going through an avant-garde phase.

For the love of good.
>> No. 30707
Forgot to mark as an update. New systems are hard.
>> No. 30708
-[B2: Prepare a sealed arrow.] {fight}
>> No. 30709
[B2] Prepare a sealed arrow.

Now what the fuck is going on?
>> No. 30710
>I'll just give her the gift and run away.

>"Am I leaving?"
>"Yes, Elly, you are"

If I didn't know him, I'd say he hates her. Thankfully, Elly is a Being beyond humans, and thus doesn't need to understand our simple ways (I.E: another doofus)

>Antipsychosomatic

So it's all in her Head?

[X] Finish the dress

Do it.
>> No. 30712
[X][B2: Prepare a sealed arrow.]
What could possibly go wrong?
>> No. 30713
Vote will be called in 2~3 days - whenever I think the dust has settled. There's been a disturbing air, lately.

>>30710
>antipsychosomatic
The medical definition is lacking for this context.

>>30709
>Now what the fuck is going on?
A falling domino that I mentioned earlier. This is not an independent, arbitrary occurrence.

>>30712
>What could possibly go wrong?
A lot can go wrong in this story. A lot has gone wrong in this story. A lot is still going wrong in this story. Just ask Schütz, Nue (may be difficult), Patchouli (may also be difficult), Meiling, or Elly. Schütz, especially.

So, to answer your question again: a lot

I hope that is enough to sate your rather morbid curiosity, if not, witness firsthand. Again.
>> No. 30714
File 151698935189.jpg - (127.71KB, 580x800, I understand completely.jpg) [iqdb]
30714
>if not, witness firsthand. Again.

pls no

Guys the curse is still fucking us for indulging it. Or maybe for trying to free Elly from it? Either way purple is not only Emperor's Color signature entrance, it is also the color of the curse (and the background of this gensoyko, if OP is to be believed) so we have to... wait, what do we have to do again?

>Patchouli (May be difficult)

She's still alive and don't you dare suggest otherwise!
>> No. 30715
[A: Finish the dress.]
>> No. 30716
[X] Finish the dress
>> No. 30717
File 151702435863.gif - (11.43KB, 500x500, 33.gif) [iqdb]
30717
>>30682
I only just now realized that the 7 is flipped.

Thank you for pointing this out - an easy fix.
>> No. 30718
File 151702450192.png - (603.73KB, 2000x989, 33_5.png) [iqdb]
30718
scribbling
>> No. 30719
>>30718

Huh. It's like Elly somehow got on the sun. Pretty, though.
>> No. 30720
File 151705989928.png - (1.74MB, 2000x2000, 33_75.png) [iqdb]
30720
There is a tie, and while that tie will need to be broken eventually, I don't advise it be done flippantly.

Take whatever time you need.

Elly is stupidly easy to draw.
>> No. 30722
[A: Finish the dress.]

If we can't stay dead, what is there to lose with trying for the elusive (and totally real) Elly route?
>> No. 30723
>>30720
This curse, like all of gensoyko, is about belief. He said that it gets worse when he 'believes' in it. But what does that exactly mean? He interacted with Youkai, seeing them for what they were and everything went alright, until he touched Patchouli's hand with his bloody one (something that was forced-we expected him to use his other hand) and then he believed the curse after seeing her reaction and then everything went to shit. But what it due to him 'believing the curse' or something with the blood?
Either way, the forced nature of it made me think it was a red herring. Interaction with Youkai is not in itself a bad thing.

But that's the important part, the important part is that he started to rant about 'belief' Why? I think that the event was forced to, also, give us a clear hint: the curse, like everything else, gets stronger the more he believes on it.

So let's not. Let's not follow the instincts that told him that all Youkai are dangerous that not greeting Elly is a good idea and that him being alone is going to solve anything.

And, to be completely honest, if those things are right, then this isn't really a story I want to read.

[A: Finish the dress.]
>> No. 30724
The course is set Elly’s way: A.

It took 2 consecutive votes and many prior votes to make this happen. Elly is Elly.

 o
75
/

Celebratory ascii Elly?!

***

>>30722
5.8 ~ Scarecrow Fucking Simulator (SFS for short)

Figured I'd do the title reveal now.

>>30723
I prefer not to interfere with these things, but you have raised some points caused by my own folly. With the limitations I have, I will try my best to answer you.

>if those things are right, then this isn't really a story I want to read.
I would not write a story with the intention for it to stagnate. That would not be fun for anyone. Have faith in just that, if you can. Cannot comment further.

>blood and curse
Unfortunate correlation that looks like a causation. My mistake. Cannot comment further.

>forced blood
Patchouli actually liked explaining why it was a terrible thing to do more far, far more than she disliked being covered in gross blood. Cannot comment further.

Thanks! Thought is a rare commodity, and I'm glad to have so much of it in my audience.
>> No. 30725
>Patchouli actually liked explaining why it was a terrible thing to do more far, far more than she disliked being covered in gross blood.

She did seemed weirdly energetic and happy, if her constant smiling was to be believed. I just thought it was one of those 'barely contained anger' smiles. Happy to see that was not (so much) the case!
>> No. 30726
This will take a while.
>> No. 30727
Taking a short while to plan out some details. In the meantime, I might draw or something.
>> No. 30728
Shit: sorted

Continuing writing.
>> No. 30729
3k down~ More to go.

Update in two days, hopefuly. Finish tomorrow, and proofread the next. This is a very important update.
>> No. 30730
===== Time: Midday | Curse: ~~~ =====

‘Today is a good day. Today is Elly’s birthday.’ That is what you tell yourself. Your body will have to listen eventually; the rebellious, useless thing it is. Your hand is on your knife, you notice. Nervously, you pick at the seals bandaging its handle, waterproof but still layered in your dried blood.

‘Prepare a sealed arrow, to slay it.’ It’s a reckless, stupid idea - fitting that’s all else your mind could come up with.

No, you’re not going to run, and you’re not going to fight. You’re going to finish Elly’s dress. Damn the little, violet voice inside you, and your instincts which defy your every thought. Damn it all.

Today is a good day. Today is Elly’s birthday.

With shivering hands, and a mind drunk on duty, you sew. The dress only needs a few finishing touches. Another half an hour should be enough, if you can quell these hands of yours. It’s like your fingers are trying to run away as you sew. They elope with needle and string both.

What respite you have is in the silence of the voice inside you. The cry of mortal danger fell to whimper, then nothing, in a matter of minutes. If you were fortunate, you would consider this a victory. More likely, and befitting your luck, the voice is silent out of fear. Whatever ‘it’ is - is coming closer. Whatever ‘it’ is - will find no audience in you. Danger can wait, you are busy. These hands just won’t stay still; that’s the real issue. It will take hours to finish Elly’s dress with these hands. The dress must be done by today: Elly’s birthday.

You would rather die than ruin her birthday. You might just end up doing both.

‘It’ is on the horizon. You can feel ‘it’ beneath your skin, an instinctive revulsion, like that invoked by the scent of a putrescent, bloated corpse. More importantly: your hands won’t stop shaking.

You bash the bottom of your clenched fist to the ground. It helps; the shock makes your hand go still, so you do it for the other, not enough to draw blood, but enough to make them submit.

With stiff but steady hands, you sew.

‘It’, the youkai, draws near. You can call ‘it’ a youkai now by judgement of your remaining seals. The youkai flickers in your peripheral vision, and you do your best to keep it only peripheral. Dusty yellow and a hint of indigo is all you can discern from it. It’s a wrestle to keep focussed on the work in front of you when a youkai, enshrouded in palpable, visceral danger, lurks a stone’s throw away. If you were to look up, the youkai would be plain to see - but you’re busy.

All you would see is a monster in its place, anyway.

Try as you might, you can’t concentrate. ‘Tch,’ a petty, frustrated growl tears itself from your throat.

“Afternoon’” calls the intruder in response - as if your growl were a greeting and not a lame outrage.



You stare down at the unfinished dress; unable to continue sewing, and unwilling to confront the loathsome beast that’s made its home at the edges of your peripheral vision. Truly, the youkai is in more danger than you: if you were to acknowledge its monstrous form, its real self might die. Of course, this is a youkai - the dumb, deadly forest kind, not the amicable, dangerous house kind - so why would it care, anyway.

“Is that a potato sack you’re making?” asks the soft and clear voice of the intruder.

A potato sack? Clothes are sacks that contain people, that is true. Does this dumb youkai think Elly looks like a potato? Another grumble escapes you. You may have very little idea what Elly looks like, but she is not a potato.

“Hm?” it pushes.

“A dress,” you mumble to settle this quickly.

“For potatoes?”

“A. Dress. For. Elly.” You keep your eyes locked on the dress, but you glare down at it as surrogate for the youkai.

“You name your potatoes Elly?”

The beast’s words are like little firebugs eager to light you ablaze. More importantly, you come to realize the youkai is playing with you, like did the forest youkai when you were a child. Nowadays you’ve taken to disposing of them before they speak.

Not only have you played into this youkai’s hands, but you’ve also directly interacted with it. You growl tiredly, not yet defeated.

“No. I don’t. And you know that,” you answer flatly.

With a prepared, blank face, you force yourself to behold your tormentor: a woman, by all appearances, and a youkai, in truth. The youkai says nothing, but you can see the ghost of words forming at the amused curve of its lips: proof enough of its true motives. With that, It drops its act, though, knowing youkai, it might continue in feint just to spite you. An Indigo strip forms a contour along the youkai’s modest figure, framed in a white gown. The beast’s arms interlock by the sleeve at its navel. Radiating behind it, a dusty and pastel yellow mass playfully squirms - which, under close inspection, reveal themselves to be tails, nine of them, each tipped with a red ribbon. The ribbons’ color are a sharp contrast to the beast’s sedate palette, and draw the eye. Those are a fox’s tails, those are a fox’s eyes, and under its puffy hat you imagine there to be a fox’s ears. It occurs to you: this is a kitsune.

Of course, you must remind yourself that it is fake. This monstrous reflection of reality is useless for anything besides reading emotion. You can only be thankful that this one is humanoid. For a monster like Meiling you had to rely on reading whiskers.

You feel the red needle and thread slip through your quaking hands. In the inertia of the moment, you forgot how incredibly scared you are. There’s nothing overtly fearsome about this monster: no serpents of darkness, storms of gunpowder or toxic flame. Yet, still, your hands shake, and, still, your heart beats like it’s trying to escape. There’s something subtly off about this beast, an invisible miasma that only you can feel - your body reacted before you even saw it. But, instead of listening to flight or fight, you decided to stay and sew. Now, as impending doom looms in the form of a youkai, you have to wonder: why aren’t you running?

Oh, that’s right. It’s Elly’s birthday. You’re making her a dress. That’s more important than anything.

Swallowing your rediscovered fear, you speak: “I’m busy. Leave, now. I…” You can’t say the absolute truth; second-best will have to suffice. “These fields have a guardian. Elly.” …former guardian. That job is yours, now. Then, did you just tell a lie? No, no - you still consider Elly to be the true guardian.

In spite of you, the youkai casually plops down to sit. Its tails puff out like living cushions. For a being that radiates dignity, it acts incredibly undignified. The burden of this beast’s dignity lies solely on its graceful appearance.

“Kitsune aren’t scared of potatoes.” The self-proclaimed kitsune inclines its head and keeps an austere expression, as if delivering sage advice.

You stare back blankly, speechless for the moment. This youkai, a kitsune, inspires equal amounts terror and disenchantment; leaving you incredibly confused.

“Elly will destroy you, if you don’t leave,” you reiterate. “I don’t lie.”

“That will make questioning you easy, no?”

…’Questioning’? Does this damned thing only hear what it wants?

“Yakumo, Ran. Proud Shikigami of the Yakumo family, and kitsune.” After a long pause, the kitsune introduces itself proper with a slight bow.

For what little it is worth, you appreciate that the youkai is upfront, even if it may just be lying. “Schütz. Hunter,” you tersly reply. “Ran. If you don’t leave, now, you will be exterminated. I promise you.”

Ran doesn’t bat an eye. You think its ears might be broken - or its mind. Youkai lack many things, but self-preservation is not one of them.

“Afternoon’, Schütz. On behalf of the interests of the Yakumo family, I’ll be interviewing you today,” the Kitsune says with rehearsed precision. “And, outside of the interests of the Yakumo family, I technically don’t have an opinion on the matter.” The kitsune brushes some invisible dust off its lap. “That trite aside, I can say that once I get my interview, I can be gone to leave you with your… dress.”



The kitsune gives you the time you need to think because it does have the upper hand, or it thinks it does. In the beast’s mind, you’re the prey. However, this youkai doesn’t know that simply talking to you is a danger in upon itself. What if, for a second, you believe in the monstrous figure before you? Disaster. You can’t let that happen, again.

Elly isn’t here yet. You took her duty, not on purpose, but you did. Why would she swoop in to save you without order? It’s your job to be rid of this intruder, not hers.

You’re also scared, incredibly scared, for the possibility of everything going wrong, and the fact this youkai’s existence seems to be enough to make you want to recede into a shell like a snail. Fleeing is no longer an option, your instincts tell you - and fighting? The thought would make you laugh if you could.

“Hmm?” the kitsune prods. Its tone is crisp, honed and capable of piercing through thought.

You grumble in response.

‘Today is a good day. Today is Elly’s birthday.’ you told yourself. You will make sure that becomes a reality.

You’re going to be rid of this youkai, and you’re going to finish this dress. Fine - there’s no other option.

“Ask,” you blurt out. The word is forced like a razor up your throat. “Ask. Interview. I will answer, if you promise to leave… Please.” You let out a sigh, and bow your head in an obvious sign of capitulation. “Please believe me. It’s best you leave, now.” It’s useless to appeal to a youkai like this one, you know that.

Once again, the kitsune is utterly unfazed.

“It’s in the interest of the Yakumo family…” the kitsune trails off mid sentence, and its austere expression melt into something more ‘real.’ “...So on and so forth. I do what I need for my job, and I’m free to go.”

The ‘Yakumo family’ has this thing under an oath of some kind to question you.

“Ask.” You sit cross-legged with hands in your lap. Your face is kept like slate, and your voice is just as flat. In your lap is your bow which you unconsciously hold close for comfort.

The kitsune, however, is relaxed, casual even. Dignity hangs onto it like a drowning man for air, and, despite the odds, this beast manages to look graceful even while doing nothing in particular.

“Yesterday morning, four fifty nine AM, I received a queer report. The Border spontaneously purified itself as it began to fray at the edges,” says the kitsune. “The Border has been busy fraying itself these past few days, and I’ve been equally busy mending it. Now, imagine my elation when another has stepped up to the task.”

You stare blankly in return. The kitsune failed to take into account the fact you have no idea what a ‘border’ is besides the obvious definition. “I cannot.” You answer the question that might not even be a question, to be safe.

The kitsune perks up, slightly. “Neither could I, until it happened. It’s in the interest of the Yakumo fa-...” Its ears flick irritatedly beneath its poofy hat. “Nevermind, nevermind - it’s in my interest that I investigate.”

“... Right.” When will this beast start asking questions? You fiddle with the bow in your hands. The beast notices.

“Hakurei seals, potent. Youkai hunter, are you?”

Hakurei. The name leaves an ill taste in your mouth, but it’s no surprise a youkai would know the family of its villain. Regardless, you’ve finally been asked your first question.

“No. Animals.” You shake your head to right your thoughts. “I hunt animals in the Forest of Magic.”

An eyebrow is raised. “That’s no prey for humans.”

“... True,” you admit. The flesh of the animals you hunt are filled with wild, magical energy. Over the years, you’ve built some resistance, but it’s still a gut wrenching experience.

“You would encounter youkai often in the forest,” it leads on.

“Yes. Many. Too many.”

“Highest raw concentration of youkai in Gensokyo - when disincluding the Kappa, Tengu, and Oni clans.” Then, a grin splits itself across the kitsune’s face, revealing sharp canines. “So, you would have experience with the spellcard dueling system, yes?”

“... Much.” Where is this beast going? More and more, you fiddle with the bow in your hands.

“The spellcard rules, I invented them. Clashes of brawn are tasteless, no?” It doesn’t wait for your answer. The beast is consumed in its own fantasy; its tails trail back and forth like charmed serpents. “Tweak a few borders to bend, break and create a few rules; and a sharp wit is made a blade in its own right. Spellcard duels, beautiful displays of guile and grace where only one’s pride is at stake. Perfect for a land brim with strife but low in bodies. Only…” Its ear flicks. “No one is using them - except you, apparently. Humans these days are so mellow,” it ends on an irritated note, telling by the periodic tic of its ear.

To put it simply, you don’t believe the youkai. Reimu invented the spellcard rules, she told you as such. She taught you how to duel before the system was even implemented!

“Necessity.” You don’t let your disbelief reach your voice, and instead focus on the subject. “Spellcard rules are necessary.”

“... Only necessary?” Flick, flick. “They were supposed to be, and still are, fun. A strategy that surpasses shogi, a sport that surpasses kicking balls, and an art to surpass painting. There’s something for everybody. Even simpletons love flashy colors.”

While this youkai most certainly didn’t create the Spellcard Rules, you can believe that they like them - a lot.

“I…” What are you supposed to say? “Only duel forest youkai, but, Elly, she has beautiful spells.”

“Potato girl?” Ran notes the sour look on your face. “Nevermind, nevermind - shall I show you how spellcard duels ought be fought?”

The propositions stuns you. You should have expected it, considering the youkai’s delusional enthusiasm on the matter, but you didn’t expect a kitsune to be this scatterbrained.

“No. You said you would ask questions, then leave, Ran,” you remind it.

The kitsune doesn’t falter. “Yep, yep - it’s in the interest in the Yakumo family that I investigate the recent disturbances in The Border.” It gestures to you with a tail rather than a hand; which still remain peaceful interlocked. “Tell me, where in that does it say I’m not allowed to have fun?”

Is that a serious question…? The kitsune’s gaze quietly bores itself into your own, so you assume so.

“... Nowhere.” You take a deep breath. You may feel like a mouse under this creature, but you’re an exceptionally moronic mouse. “But. I want you gone. So, ask what you need for your family, and leave. I’m busy.”

Ran blinks. “I’m sorry to interrupt your busy day of making dresses for potatoes.”

You growl, in mouse terms: a squeak.

“Yesterday morning, four fifty nine AM, I received a queer report. The Border spontaneously purified itself as it began to fray at the edges,” restates the kitsune. “That report came from you.”

From… you? Yesterday morning, you were… the memories flow like an unblocked dam, and you immediately replace the plug. The memories are horrible and vile, and have nothing to do with ‘borders.’

“No, I… No, it didn’t,” you mumble out, at first, and soon regain composure. This beast must be toying with you.

“Yet, I traced the sender straight here. Masking your trail with Hakurei seals was smart - up until the point you sent a report and punched a hole through The Great Hakurei Barrier. In the future, keep holes small. It’s much harder to physically localize small infractions than it is colossal rifts. And, I advise you not send me error reports when you attempt direct repairs of the border - but… the process is automated, so I don’t blame you for slipping up there. You’re only human. You are human, yes?”

Again, Hakurei, why does this beast speak her name, and as a ‘barrier’? It accuses you, and accuses you more - of what?

“I… no, no - explain yourself, youkai,” you spit out in fragments.

The kitsune doesn’t let up, in fact, your confusion only seems to embolden it. One of the beast’s stray tails rears, and points at you; a little red ribbon bobs at the end. “In conversation I might’ve had the chance, but you insisted we hurry this along. Rather: Who are you, really, Schütz?” Ran doesn’t smile, but its golden eyes are keen and full of a self-indulgent joy, like a predator cracking the hard shell of its prey.

Then, before you can raise a baffled word of protest, the kitsune relaxes, stretches, and lets out a long yawn. It sounds between a woman and a beast, likely a fox, telling by the row of predator teeth intermingling with molars. “Ahh~ Excuse me, excuse me. Successive all-nighters take their untimely toll.”

Despite everything, the yawn proves infectious. You haven’t slept either, and you suppose even youkai need sleep.

The tense atmosphere has cumbled, and Ran peacefully awaits your response. Absentmindedly, the kitsune stretches its tails one by one.

You take a deep breath, and list off dryly: “My name is Schütz. I don’t tell lies. I hunt beasts for my sister. I have never heard of a border. I have never broken a border. That is all.”

“~Ahh, yep~ yep.” The beast’s voice is broken by yawn - which it tries to contain this time. “It’s hard to believe you’re not lying,” Ran continues unhindered.

“I don’t.”

Ran nods, and continues: “It’s hard to believe you exist at all: an honest, hard-working, living threat to The Border.” Ran smiles its sharp, predatory smile. “It may be against the interests of the Yakumo family, but I respect that.”

The beast’s smile drops. “Be that as it may, it falls to me, in the interest of the Yakumo family, that I end threats to The Border.” Its sleeves roll back to reveal lightly-clawed nails. “I’m supposed to kill you - not educate you, not chastise you, not recruit you, a miracle of probability, but kill you.”

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

Arguments are worthless. The lurking fear this beast emanates has become manifest as a promise of death. You can’t die, not permanently, and that fact does nothing to numb the reality that you are going to be torn apart and eaten by a youkai that claims to respect you.

‘Today is a good day. Today is Elly’s birthday.’

Your goal is to finish this dress.

[A: Spellcard Duel]



[B: “Elly.”]

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated 'Human')
- x12 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Broken)
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated 'Human')
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)
Sparse Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated 'Human')
-Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
‘Red’ Needle
- ‘Red’ Thread (‘antipsychosomatic’)
‘Red’ Fabric (‘antipsychosomatic’)
‘Red’ Scissors
‘Red’ Dress (Nearly Finished, ‘antipsychosomatic’)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <O “waning gibbous”

Time: Midday

\o===================875===================o/

Picture tomorrow. Work in progress.
>> No. 30731
Forgot to mark as update.

Unrelated music.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2C8gYPepv_E
>> No. 30732
[B] "elly."

Instinct tell me to engage in a spellcard duel may lead to serious injury that could kill us is the downside or call elly in vain hopes that elly arrives and fights her abd ruin the surprise
>> No. 30733
File 151827386890.png - (1.38MB, 1600x1371, 34.png) [iqdb]
30733
>> No. 30734
[A: Spellcard Duel]
If we win, we could learn more what Ran is talking about.
>> No. 30735
[A: Spellcard Duel]
Hakurei taught us before she made them, despite what this impostor says. He should have let her know.

Anyway, no Elly because we told her to stay away... and he said he is the guardian now so...
>> No. 30736
Another tough vote. We don't know much about Schütz's prowess in spellcard duels, but Elly is probably much stronger. Also, looking back at previous threads, I noticed Schütz is missing the focus he needs to use his offensive spell. Considering this, I can't see a fair 1v1 going too well, so I'll vote: [B: “Elly.”]
>> No. 30737
[A: Spellcard Duel]
>> No. 30738
Vote will be called tomorrow, if it appears consideration has reached an end.
>> No. 30739
[A] Spellcard Duel

First youkai we've met that isn't allergic to straight answers, and she's saying Schütz is up to something.

Schütz isn't insane, he's the fucking asylum.
>> No. 30740
As for hints, remember that the curse is violet. Like Yukari.

Also, Ran appears with no perversion from the curse and she doesn't remember/know about Reimu...

Goddamnit, Yukari.
>> No. 30741
Set: A, a spellcard duel with the self-titled inventor

Stage 2 boss? The balance of this game may need tweaking.

Writing begins tonight.

>>30740
>First youkai we've met that isn't allergic to straight answers
Introduce Seija, you say?
>> No. 30742
You waste no time. Adrenaline substitutes blood in your veins, and as you leap back to your feet, the words come out of your mouth as an incantation:

Paranoid Forest Hunter ~ Schütz

“I’d love to, but-” Ran pauses mid-sentence. “Nevermind - a name, that much is allowed.”

Shikigami of the Yakumo Family ~ Yakumo Ran

The spellcard duel is set. You cannot die, even if you lose - not that your instincts care. Beholding Ran in this state is like staring down off a high ledge. It’s a guttural form of dread, independent from logical thought.

Your treasured Parabellum is missing, but that’s a worry for another time. What it means for you, now, is you cannot cast many of your offensively orientated spells. Stalling may be your only option. So be it; the point of this duel is to live not to win. What demands this beast makes after are the true danger.

[Paranoia Sign ~ Forest Eyes, Forest Teeth]

The purely defensive nature of this spell is a scouting mechanism. Using your bow as a focus, you weave a defensive mesh not unlike the patchy shadows of a glade. After all these years, your bow has remained your closest and most trusted ally, and, if fate is kind, you will break before it.

You hold your bow close as you wait for the spellcard system to bore your memories for fuel.



By every lost second, the cold sweat of your body runs down to remind you nothing is happening. The names were declared, and your spell was cast, but nothing is happening. Spellcard duels do not wait on their players; even if Ran were to not cast a single spell, yours should still manifest.

So, why is nothing happening.

The adrenaline running through your blood magnifies and clogs like sludge in your veins. Aghast, you look up to Ran, who calmly faces you with no cheeky, youkai-like smile and no claws bared. The kitsune seems… disappointed?

More importantly: NOTHING IS HAPPENING.

The more you grasp for explanations, the more impossible it sounds. Over the past four years, not once has this happened. Spellcard Rules are fundamental to this world; they don’t just stop working.

“Y-you. You did… this?” Saying it aloud only makes it sound more absurd, but it’s all you can imagine. “You did this.”

Ran nods.

“Now that I’ve confirmed you’re the culprit, It’s in the interest of the Yakumo family that I kill you.” Ran’s voice is smooth, clear, and entirely manufactured.

“No.” You rebut your own ludicrous theory, even when Ran supports it. This is too cruel. Youkai can’t deactivate Spellcard Duels. That defeats their purpose. “No. That’s not how it works,” you force out with a blank voice. What you say should be the truth.

Its ear flicks in irritation. “I gave you the opportunity to duel me before. For you, for now, the Spellcard System must been deactivated. That is how it ‘works’ for the interests of the Yakumo family.”

The ‘Yakumo Family,’ a group you’ve never heard of, want you dead, and they just deactivated the Spellcard System to do it. Bad things happen to bad people, you believe. Bending the rules of the world to punish you, however, is something you never expected. Indeed, this is too cruel.

“I wished to play too, however…” Ran does a ‘get it over with gesture’ with its hand. “Yep, you get it: interests of Yakumo Family.”

You keep taking steps back. It’s an instinctual, mindless reaction. Running is pointless, so is fighting, so is a spellcard duel. What do you do now, call for Elly? No, you’re the guardian of this field. If Elly is made the guardian again, she will inevitably slaughter the residents of that glaring red house. What other reason would Elly have to help you but to regain her rightful title?

“Cruel,” you point out. “Too cruel.” You draw your sealed knife. Running and fighting, both useless, but you can say you tried.

Ran nods understandingly. “A clash of brawn is tasteless, moreso against a weakling. Yep, yep - the Yakumo Family is tasteless, bland, and pragmatic, at heart.”

You take a deep breath, and say as flatly as you can: “Please, cruel youkai. Be quick.” It’s an appeal of mercy to a youkai - lunacy. You’re feeling anything but lucid. This shouldn’t be happening.

“Yep.” Ran flashes its canines with a smile. Needless to say, you don’t believe a word from a predator’s mouth.

“... Yep,” you echo. You assume an imitation of a martial position, with knife ready to strike. It is unlikely you will be able to use it.

“In fact, you better watch out. I’m preparing my killing blow. Right here. Try not to dodge in any cardinal direction at the last second while I’m incapable of switching targets.”

What?

The kitsune continues: “This is going to take all my energy, so you dodging at the last second would be inconvenient. Don’t do that.” Ran’s tone and expression is deathly serious, and, despite its flippant words, betrays not a hint of falsity.

The beast must be playing with you. Mercy is unknown to ordinary youkai. The knife in your hand signals no desire of yours to make the first move. Taking it to your neck would hasten the inevitable - if it is indeed inevitable. A moronic part of you thinks there may be hope. In your wildest fantasies a hero, Sister, Elly or Reimu, rushes your aid. But, no, you won’t bother Sister with your uselessness, you’ve only caused Elly trouble, and you killed Reimu.

Still, the knife doesn’t reach your neck. Stupid knife, stupid mind that controls it.

With a tap of a foot against the ground, Ran ascends. The kitsune hangs mid-air, tails and dress ignoring gravity as they blow softly against the wind. It looks down on you, the human with a knife, with utmost focus - the same focus you extend to Ran.

“Three,” the beast proclaims as it extends an arm towards you.

You jump, startled like a frightened leafhopper. After Ran disabled the spellcard system, a natural law, you’re afraid it can do anything.

“Two.”

Ran’s tails poise towards you like serpents possessed. Dancing at the tip of each tail, a flickering wisp of flame. In each of those wisps, a crackling glint of malice.

Realization strikes you: the youkai expects you to dodge by its count; Ran expects you to rely on it. You’ve nothing else. Your muscles, already tensed, are well prepared to leap. The question is: is this youkai still playing with you?

“...One - close-your-eyes.”

You throw yourself to the side, and, yes, your eyes are squinted shut by its command.

FWOOMF! - a sound akin to the sigh of a dragon.

Closed eyes cannot conceal the brilliance of the flame, as transient as it is.

Dazed, on the ground, and breathing in the smell of cooked earth, you open your eyes to see Ran. The kitsune is earthbound again.

A perfect circle of flame brands the earth into char where you once stood. It’s as if a great, fiery stamp fell down from the heavens.

You take a deep breath to which the scent of burnt flesh does not mingle. Certainly, that concentrated breath of flame missed you. “... Ah,” is all you manage to say.

You pick yourself off the ground. Your knife is held loosely in your hand, a memento of when gutting this youkai made sense. What does make sense, now? This beast set up its ‘killing blow’ to miss. Is it toying with you? That is the only sound explanation, but it doesn’t feel completely right.

Ran is on the brink of collapse; that you can see. Its tails are deflated, and its ears sag just a little bit. That practiced, serene expression on its face cannot hide the tiredness in its eyes. You could gut Ran right now. The ground is more even between the two of you, but that is only because this youkai has thrown itself off the Mountain’s peak to your feet. Attacking Ran now would be wrong, despite all it has said about killing you, which it very easily could have.

In the end, you stand and stare as you wait for a good reason to do otherwise.

The dead look you’re give Ran must be hilarious, because the kitsune is laughing openly. Once settled, Ran stretches and yawns. “I missed.”

Ran exhausted itself so it didn’t have to kill you. That is the only truth you can gleam. If this youkai is tricking you, then it has chosen the most convoluted and self-destructive way to do so.

“If you are not deceiving me, thank you, Ran,” the words fall awkwardly from your mouth. You’re still holding your knife.

Ran raises an eyebrow. “‘Not deceiving’? I’m a proud kitsune. Don’t take this lightly, deception is my legend - I am deceiving you.”

… Stupid youkai. Now that you’ve expressed gratitude, you can firmly say that you do not like this youkai.

“Leave.” You gesture to the Field’s rim, from where Ran came.

“Yep~ yep - I’ll be back to kill you when I recover my energy. It’s in the interests of the Yakumo Family that I’m fit to perform my duties above all else.” The kitsune bows, turns, and slowly wanders off.

While you should be eager to see the back of its head, that momentary relief is consumed by a dread becoming chronic.

Ran is coming back to kill you again, it says. This youkai is but an agent of the so-called ‘Yakumo Family’ that wants you dead. Yakumo Family, Yakumo Family, Yakumo Family. All this youkai talks about is the damned Yakumo Family and the ‘borders’ they hold dear; the ‘borders’ you supposedly endangered.

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

If you ask why, all you will get is Yakumo Family. However, ‘Why’ is the only question on your mind as you stare at the back of Ran’s head. You find your grip tightening around your knife and bow both, and a shiver runs down from your spine to your feet. You’re so tired of not knowing anything. Living in a perpetual state of fear wears at every joint, every bone, and whatever wisp of sanity you have left; and this damned fox has to gall to dangle more threats and mysteries over your head.

“Ran,” you force out into a stable voice.

“Hm?” the fox turns to meet you. Each of its actions are graceful, even turning around to face you looks like something out of a fanciful picturebook. That serene, clueless face cannot fool you - Ran planned this, no doubt. It is deceiving you, it said as such.

You know this and yet you...

[A: Ask.] {Play into its hands. Are you so desperate?} [specify question, or, if not, rely on Schütz’ judgement.]

[B: Don’t] {No.}

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated 'Human')
- x12 Iron-Headed Arrow
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Broken)
- x1 Iron-Headed Arrow (Blood Coated 'Human')
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated ‘Human’)
Sparse Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand, Blood Coated 'Human')
-Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
‘Red’ Needle
- ‘Red’ Thread (‘antipsychosomatic’)
‘Red’ Fabric (‘antipsychosomatic’)
‘Red’ Scissors
‘Red’ Dress (Nearly Finished, ‘antipsychosomatic’)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <O “waning gibbous”

Time: Midday

\o===================875===================o/
>> No. 30743
[A: Ask.] {Play into its hands. Are you so desperate?}
[A1: "Why am I a threat?"]
>> No. 30744
[x] Are you aware of my curse?

Why does Schultz care about condemning a random Youkai that is a threat? If the cure "infects" and "kills" Ran then so what?
>> No. 30745
[B] No.
>> No. 30746
[x][B: Don’t] {No.}
>> No. 30747
[x][B: Don’t] {No.}
>> No. 30748
Set: B, don't chase the lumbering fox's tail.

A surprisingly cautious vote from an audience I've come to expect anything but! Without spoken reason, I'm left to speculate.

University begins again. It shouldn't impede me overmuch.
>> No. 30751
An announcement to clear my intentions for this story and its future:

It is my belief that as the author it is my onus to make a product that is worth interacting with, and, as an interactive story, the worth of it is greatly determined by how intimately it is interacted with. It is also my desire to make an interactive story of worth in my own weird little niche within a niche (so on). This has been a great cause of distress for me, as I’m given little to no indication of what is and what is not appreciated, and any interaction with the story so far has been sporadic, disjointed, occasionally active, and, lately, melancholic. ‘The 'downside' of having a good audience is being able to blame all failure on yourself.’ This mindset has worn me down a lot over time.

If you, the players, aren't invested, then neither am I in prolonging this. If you are invested then I will try my best to prolong this as long as I can. The only way I register investment is by whether or not you are interested in actively interacting with my story. Note that this extends beyond just voting - discussion of the story itself in non-superficial terms (theorising and such).

>It's not vested nor interest; this story has little potential to it, but your writing can get miles better if you just shut up and write - not having enough voters is just an excuse not to do so.

A quote from a person a while ago. This accentuates what I’m not interested in doing. If you aren’t interested in this story, please do not try to prolong it. That would make me incredibly sad.

Going forward, I want all of this to be out in the open. Otherwise, this story may die when it shouldn't have, or it may live when it shouldn't have.

Thank you.
>> No. 30752
>>30751
This has been my favorite active story here for a while now, and not due to a general lack of activity. Keep up the good work, and I'll try to interact more in the future. I'd really hate to see this story die before reaching a satisfying conclusion, even if that conclusion is a "bad end," which seems to be where we're headed at this point.
>> No. 30753
>>30748
I dissented. Why not take a risk from the one who can provide answers? Do people not care about solving this?

Bandwagons have to stop.
>> No. 30754
Things I like about this story:
- shit's good yo
- art's good too
- much mystery
- very unique

Things I dislike about this story:
- what is even going on
- protag's own knowledge re: curse hidden from audience

Why I voted >>30745:
- don't like smug bitches vixens pulling my strings
- Elly > Ran

Am I invested?
- brutal honesty: no
- gentle honesty: I'd like to be but I don't know what's what
- broken record: great read, not so great CYOA

Speaking as a reader, I want to support you here, but lack of understanding frustrates me. Normally I'd rail on an author for confusing writing, but here it's the main selling point, and it's done so well I can't bring myself to bash you for it. I'm stuck waiting for enough pieces to fall into place for me to grasp the big picture but not really feeling it - yet.

Speaking as a fellow author... if you're burned out on this and don't want to continue, it's probably best to make a clean break. It's hard for readers to believe in a story when the author doesn't believe in it himself, and posts asking for more reader support tell me you don't believe in this story anymore. Which is sad, and I'll be sad if this dies young, but life sucks like that sometimes.

Sage for unhelpful ambivalence.
>> No. 30756
>>30751
There is not much to talk about, no mystery you're required to solve to progress, nothing that requires discussion from people that don't usually bother to initiate it nor reply to it. People still benefit from it, however, as always.

>If you, the players, aren't invested, then neither am I in prolonging this. If you are invested then I will try my best to prolong this as long as I can. The only way I register investment is by whether or not you are interested in actively interacting with my story.
Some scenes were nice to see.

>It's not vested nor interest; this story has little potential to it, but your writing can get miles better if you just shut up and write - not having enough voters is just an excuse not to do so.
I wrote this. I'd say you got better. If you think this story limits your improvement, make a new one. Make sure you are invested in writing it, though. Otherwise, there is no point.
>> No. 30757
>>30754

Anon pretty much sums up most of my view.

I've been reading because I'm curious as to when the bread crumb leads to the AHA moment but the lack of agency in knowing what's going to lead to what more concretely distances me from really growing attached to the story.

Writing style is great because it's so fragmented and different, something I thought was going to a bother but I've taken a shine to.

Regarding choices and the most recent choice: If Ran was going to joke fight with us that's fine but that risk should've given the reward straight out with a comment or clue beyond having to interact again to give a reason to continue interacting with her. If the reward from the encounter period is just having our life then have Ran just exit stage left and move directly back to the dress, that also would've been fine.

But it feels like the choices we're being given don't have defined hooks, or barring that when we have no clue of their efficacy, that makes it really hard to feel like you've got the agency that engenders reader attachment.

Just as a note about the oddness of this story, we're not attached to the MC even though we've been with him the entire time but instead we're attached to the side characters (Elly) because in the end we know more about them than we do him, even with the amount of effort spent into writing him.
>> No. 30762
Serious:

>>30754

>what is going on
‘Show don’t tell’ is how this story tends to roll.

>Speaking as a fellow author... if you're burned out on this and don't want to continue, it's probably best to make a clean break.
I’m not burnt out. I enjoy writing this.

>It's hard for readers to believe in a story when the author doesn't believe in it himself
So far, the only significant impeding I’ve had, mentally, with this this story has been in regards to player input. I enjoy writing this.

’I enjoy writing this’
However it is also my opinion that: ‘ as an interactive story, the worth of it is greatly determined by how intimately it is interacted with. It is also my desire to make an interactive story of worth in my own weird little niche within a niche (so on).’

Simply put, if you want to play this story effectively, effort must be made. If you aren’t interested in putting in effort, then that is a failure on my part to provide an interesting/engaging enough story.

> I'm curious as to when the bread crumb leads to the AHA moment
While an escalation of events is inevitable if the ‘slash and burn’ philosophy of action is taken, there is no trail of crumbs; it’s more like a blurry picture of which different sections are blurred and unblurred at different points in time. If you wait until the picture unblurs all by itself at once, it may be at a time where it’s too late for it to matter - consider the damage that can be (and has been) done through ignorance.

The ‘AHA’ will be more like ‘AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA’
That is a serious joke.

Now, onto a confounding factor: votes. Thank you for bringing this up.

>>30757

>But it feels like the choices we're being given don't have defined hooks, or barring that when we have no clue of their efficacy, that makes it really hard to feel like you've got the agency that engenders reader attachment.
You have an immense sway over the story - but, the ramifications of choices are meant to be a ‘puzzle’. With a character like Schütz, making an informed choice is a struggle by extension of his circumstances. After all, if you don’t know about what’s happening, how are you supposed to know the consequences of your own actions? Figuring it out is the only way.

I have made some errors in the past, but overall I think the choices provided are meaningful. Conveying that meaning is another matter entirely.

I will try and find new ways to present and convey choices in the future.

~

In summary: I very much like writing this story - but it is a story that requires reader effort to chug along, otherwise you and I both will be unsatisfied with what happens. If you don’t want to put in the effort, then I have failed, and this interactive story is null.

=====

Less Serious:

>>30752

>This has been my favorite active story here for a while now, and not due to a general lack of activity.
>I'd really hate to see this story die before reaching a satisfying conclusion
I am familiar with the feeling. I did not expect to ever have it be mirrored back at me.

>I'll try to interact more in the future
This is the best possible outcome I could want for. Thank you for playing.

>"bad end"
You have much power as a player of this story, moreso as a considerate one!

>>30754
>>30757

>Writing style is great because it's so fragmented and different, something I thought was going to a bother but I've taken a shine to.
>very unique
From Schütz’ life to your computer screen.

>instead we're attached to the side characters (Elly)
>Elly > Ran
At last I can say: Finally, Elly’s Amazing Route. We shall call it FEAR for short.

>don't like smug ???????????????????????????? pulling my strings
Touhou may be the wrong series for you.
>> No. 30763
File 151927702188.png - (321.44KB, 600x450, ib-cirno.png) [iqdb]
30763
Hi there. New reader. Found your story a few days ago and I've been working through it in my free time.

Down to business.

>“Yesterday morning, four fifty nine AM, I received a queer report. The Border spontaneously purified itself as it began to fray at the edges,” restates the kitsune. “That report came from you.”

>“Yet, I traced the sender straight here. Masking your trail with Hakurei seals was smart - up until the point you sent a report and punched a hole through The Great Hakurei Barrier. In the future, keep holes small. It’s much harder to physically localize small infractions than it is colossal rifts. And, I advise you not send me error reports when you attempt direct repairs of the border - but… the process is automated, so I don’t blame you for slipping up there. You’re only human. You are human, yes?”

Maybe this is obvious and that's why no one has mentioned it yet, but I direct you to this previous entry:
>>30605
Namely,
>[WELCOME: USERNAMENOTFOUND]
>[LOCAL INTEGRITY: ~99% PURE | ~1% IMPURE]
>[IMPURITIES(1) IDENTIFIED]
>>[REPORT SENT | T:04:59]
>>>[REPORT RECEIVED | T:04:59]
>[PURGING IMPURITIES(1)]
>...
>[LOCAL INTEGRITY: ~99% PURE | ~0% IMPURE]
>[IMPURITIES(0) IDENTIFIED]
>...
>[GIRLS ARE PREPARING. PLEASE WAIT WARMLY.]

We did send this "report." When we fixed Elly. I don't know what it means yet, but it seems saving Elly from our curse "repaired the barrier", as Ran put it. This leads me to believe that our curse is very closely linked to the barrier in some way. "Believing" in the curse may be what causes the damage to the barrier that Ran has been mentioning. Or, maybe it's just our passive existence that causes that damage. Either way, the curse and the barrier are linked. Let's keep that in mind going forward, shall we?

Now, for the other ominous computer message preceding Ran's visit:

>[WELCOME: USERNAMENOTFOUND]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: USERNAMENOTFOUND | T:12:01]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
-
>...
>[GIRLS ARE PREPARING. PLEASE WAIT WARMLY.]

Cryptic. We at least now know that if this happens in the future, Ran or someone from the "Yakumo family" is on our case. Probably.

Another thing to note is our username being, "USERNAMENOTFOUND." This fits with us not being allowed to access the barrier. We're not supposed to have this sort of power. Yet, we do. Our curse, probably.

That's all I have for now. I know it's not much, but it's a start. I'll keep my thinking cap on.

Story discussion aside, thank you for this story. It's an interesting read and has captivated my attention. Elly is good. I want to hug her. I would like to note that I think a lot of the original problems Anon named, such as things being confusing and unclear, have gotten better for the past few months of updates. Glad to see this story hasn't been abandoned yet? I'd vote now but I think you called the vote already, so just take my rambles and a freaky 2hu instead.

>>30754
>what is even going on
Sure, there's a lot of mystery yet to solve, but I think we have plenty of breadcrumbs so far. Maybe some rereading is in order? We should put in at least some effort here so we don't end up with another writer who has Theatre of Youth Syndrome. It's just too easy to blame the writer in cases like these.
>> No. 30764
I think schutz the unwitting carrier of a curse that is the barriers antibody and virus from all the non-belief
>> No. 30765
File 151927799340.jpg - (148.75KB, 640x1018, image.jpg) [iqdb]
30765
>>30763
Oh yeah. Forgot to say. This was the best.

I love your Meiling.
>> No. 30766
>>30765

>New reader.
Unexpected. I figured this story long went through the discovery period, and thereafter left behind the persistent player-base (from which point it can only practically decrease).

Welcome?!

>I want to hug her.
That's how you sully a maiden's dress. Restrain yourself.

>things being confusing and unclear, have gotten better for the past few months of updates
So you're saying I need to introduce Seija to spice things up? That's two of you pleading for it, now. I'll consider it.

In seriousness, I'm glad you feel that way. I've put a lot of effort into presenting this as best I can.

>Meiling
A real firecracker, she is.

>{Yet}
Considering that my words appeared to have had a positive effect, I don't see this story collapsing soon.

=====

Writing will continue tomorrow night.

Here's some very nice music:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWy4LRYLdsQ
>> No. 30768
>>30766
>I figured this story long went through the discovery period
Yeah, I uh, was on a very long THP hiatus. Upon my return, I decided to read some of the active stories, and found yours.

>That's how you sully a maiden's dress. Restrain yourself.
If that happens, I'll make her a new one. Promise.
>> No. 30770
Update tomorrow morning. It would be tonight, but I wanted someone to go over it first. Delay was due to waiting for the feedback I required to continue (received!)
>> No. 30771
Ran is a liar, a youkai, and there is nothing you despise more than that. However, it isn’t just revulsion that holds your tongue after coming so far. There’s something else you feel when you see Ran: a black and boiling tar-like feeling reminding you that something isn’t right. You don’t know the ‘whats’, ‘whys’, or ‘hows’ - you never do - but, it’s not a feeling that can be ignored. Body and mind both tell you a simple truth: Ran is dangerous, Ran cannot be trusted.

“Keep me waiting and I’ll sleep right here,” says Ran. The kitsune is close to collapsing on the spot, to all appearances.

You have no doubt the beast would do as it says, even if its every weary yawn were fabricated, even if just to spite you. It is a youkai. The lengths youkai go to persecute humans must be experienced to be believed, and you have been a hunter in the Forest of Magic since… a long time.

The threat spurs you enough: “Leave. Please.”

“It was you that…” the kitsune drags on into a dismissive gesture, and then into a yawn.

With a halfhearted wave, Ran stumbles off again - gracefully, somehow. it must be your curses’ tampering, so you dismiss what you see entirely. Youkai shouldn’t be so pleasant to the eye. Still, you keep your eyes on Ran’s back (rather, the tails that squirm like a ball of snakes) until they disappear off the horizon and furthermore. When, finally, the little alarm bells inside you quiet, you know Ran is far enough; a weight is lifted from your chest, and you breath your first free breath since the loathsome kitsune’s presence crept into your senses.

There is no lasting relief to be found. Ran will be back, Ran said. Even if that were a lie, it remains that Ran is alive and breathing the same air as you.

You take a moment to look at your situation. You regret doing that. However, amid the plague of fears, doubts and paranoias swelling, a novel thought shines through.

‘This was not my fault.’ It’s a blatant untruth in any other situation. But, now, can you really say you caused Ran to happen any more than you did Nue? They are cruel and deceptive youkai both, and cruel and deceptive they would remain had you never gotten involved. It’s certainly a heartless luck that these horrible beasts turn their eyes on you… certainly.

Needless to say, that plague of fears, doubts, and paranoias have much to say about the word certainly.

Ran came for a definite reason, outside of petty cruelty, Ran said. Whether you believe that now is irrelevant; it’s a possibility that you caused this to happen. With a mind like yours, bent and starved of certainty, how could you could resist entertaining the worst of possibilities: you can’t - it’s not a choice for you to make.

Ran said they received a report at 4:59 yesterday morning.



You drag yourself out of your own memories; you found what you need: the events of 4:59 yesterday morning. How you know the exact time, you do not know. Yesterday morning, 4:59, you fixed Elly. It is the one good thing you have done lately; not even worth mentioning as all you did was fix your own mistake. How you did that, you do not know.

Ran said you fixed the barrier, the so-called barrier you broke.

That means nothing to you, which only stokes the gnawing ants of paranoia inside you. Ran, the liar, the kitsune, the self-proclaimed and self-evident legendary deceiver, knows something about your curse that you don’t.

You stare blankly off into the horizon.

‘This was not my fault.’

You laugh at your own joke. It’s a familiar reaction, not surprising anymore. It means nothing, precisely nothing; the sound of a hollow shell blown into.

Ran is gone. There is nothing you can do about that.

If you don’t find yourself something to do, you will stand here in the company of your own witless mind until you starve.

The dress.

You smile. Hollow as you feel, that slight elation echoes enough to feel like a blessing from on high. Yes, you will continue on Elly’s dress. You will be useful for once in your life.

You go to the dress, and sit down prepared to work until either you or the dress is finished.

You make a mistake easy enough to fix, so you grab for something that isn’t there. Mindlessly, you feel around you for the only thing that can mould this immortal fabric.

No scissors.

You blink. No, that can’t be true. You left them right here as soon as you were forced to acknowledge Ran. The scissors were made yesterday, which cannot be mistaken as a century, so the scissors cannot have run off yet.

Your gaze is drawn to the horizon.

Oh.

Ran stole your scissors.

Did the fox do this to anger you? It succeeded, momentarily; you did feel a spark of something inside you, but there wasn't anything to light. You’re left with a detached sort of acknowledgment of the situation. Bad people do bad things, and deserve bad things, you believe.

Certainly, if you see Ran again, you won’t be able to hold yourself back.

Ran called this dress: ‘potato sack.’ Giving it another look over, you… disagree. This dress only needs a few finishing touches, and you can’t do that without red scissors. You need red scissors, or you will be useless.

‘Today is a good day. Today is Elly’s birthday.’

Neither of those things are true. There is, however, one last thing you promised: to speak to Elly today. You will not fail in that regard. Certainly, if nothing else, you can speak. For the greater good, you hush the mumbling crowd of dissidents in your head, and call out with intent: “Elly.”

From nowhere, her water, Elly appears. She’s beside you, and stares intently with cursed, vacant eyes.

“We’re continuing the conversation of yesterday. Then it’s today?” she asks, and gives no opportunity for you to respond: “Yesterday was… and tomorrow is… Today. Good afternoon, today, Schütz.” After a brief stumble, Elly is satisfied, proud even.

You nod. While you have no clue to Elly’s logic, her conclusion is agreeable. It is, indeed, today. “Good afternoon, Elly.”

It is now that you would have given Elly her new dress for her birthday.

You shouldn’t even be talking to Elly; your curse doesn’t permit it. What is your curse, besides being a lying, monstrous, cruel force? If not for the fact you are human, you would call it a youkai. You know nothing. You are ruled by a force you know nothing about.

Elly stares, and stares, and stares.

If you broke Elly again, could you fix her? Is that selfish of you? No, Elly is here to speak - but, would she be if she knew the risk? You can’t ask directly; that could break her like your selfish ‘confession’ did, you moron.

“Elly. I’m dangerous. To you, specifically - when we talk, such as now, right now,” you fumble the words in your own, internal panic.

“I know.” Elly smiles wide. “You believe I’m good, and then you made me believe I’m good. You are the most dangerous.”

‘The most dangerous’ because you tell the truth?

“A different kind of dangerous. Far, far more dangerous to you, Elly.” You pause to drive the point. “I could kill you.”

The black serpent edges closer to you, which you pointedly ignore. “Truly? Is that what Schütz believes?” Her true smile recedes into an enigmatic grin.

“Truly.”

Elly takes a moment to look at herself; no doubt, she sees something beautiful. “I can die?”

“Yes. I could kill you.”

“I can die…” Her neutral grin wavers. “I am good, and I can die; and Schütz believes this.” Her smile breaks out into something exuberant and wicked. “I’ll believe that too.” The intense way she looks at you, with empty eyes that dig into your own by golden pupils unseen, cools the blood in your veins. Through the cursed mirage before you, there is a golden-eyed girl accepting her own mortality. What you see instead, a monstrous, impure scarecrow bound to a serpent, is terrifying.

… But you brush that all aside. For four years you fled from Elly for the way your curse corrupts her. It’s an insult to her, and she doesn’t even know it.

“... Elly, do you want to die?”

She freezes, and gives you a skeptical look. “Want? I can now die, you and I believe. Where is the want?”

“You could die if you keep talking to me. Does that not bother you?” you press on.

“You made me angry, yesterday, by dirtying my dress. I didn’t know I could be so petty, and then you told me I was. Then you told me I was good, and you told me I could die.” “Want…?” The word drags out into audible, ear-grinding thought. “Want. I didn’t know I could want anything other than extensions of my needs.” The serpent points to you accusingly. “You made me realize a new want, Schütz - keep talking to me. I want that.”

Elly wants to talk to you. After all you did, Elly doesn’t mind or care to mind. She instead wants to talk to you. Elly is too good. She shouldn’t be with bad people like you, and, by cruel fate, she is.

“A-are you sure?” you blurt out, stupidly.

Elly stares at you for a while, smiling brightly and saying nothing. In the end, you realize she has nothing to say. The fact she is here and not anywhere else is the final answer.

Maybe, you can permit talking to Elly. She wants to talk to you. She acknowledges, or rather embraces, the risk. Does she truly comprehend the danger she’s in - are you exploiting her innocence?

You could spend forever asking yourself to no avail.

“I want to talk to Elly as well,” you force out an admission. It’s no unknown desire of yours that you admire Elly. She is pure, good, and honest. In a world that Elly would call sewage, she is of the few worthwhile, good people, with Sister and Reimu being the two others.

“You aren’t me, but you think like me, and you think other things I want to hear.” Elly keeps her focus solely on you as the serpent, her scythe in reality, drifts to meet a lone flower below. “Yuuka says friends think alike. Yuuka doesn’t think, she acts as if, but she looks like a lump of mud to me.”

Elly beheads the flower. It bleeds mud.

The serpent turns back to you. “Mud before and after,” Elly comments. “Schütz, do you believe, by her own saying, that Yuuka can make friends?”

Elly doesn’t mean to insult Sister. She is Sister’s vassal. If anything, it’s an honor to not be called garbage by Elly.

“Sister is…” What is she? “Sister is above us. She thinks, but not like us ... And I don’t know much about friends. I called Meiling a friend, but they called me a friend first. I don’t know why. She said I was good company?” Not a confident word leaves your mouth.

You note the slight twist of the serpent that signals Elly’s confusion. She does not remember Meiling.

“Meiling is a youkai. Garbage.”

“I won’t remember,” Elly blithely comments.

You nod understandingly and continue: “I have one friend, somehow - and we don’t think alike at all.” Considering Meiling now, they are completely alien to you. However, Meiling still as stands as a rare example of a dutiful, agreeable youkai, and a friend? You won’t argue with that. “You don’t need to think completely alike to be friends,” you conclude with a strange amount of conviction.

Elly turns her attention to the muddy, headless flower. “Then you believe mud can be friends with dirt?”

“... I suppose.”

“I’ll believe it, too.” Elly inches closer, body and snake both. “Then, does that mean we are friends?”

It’s a struggle to not back off from the mouthpiece-blade parked in front of your face. You distract yourself in thought: are you Elly’s friend? “Friends?” you mumble thought. ‘Mud and dirt,’ Elly says. Is that how she sees the two of you? You wish you were like Elly. You want to talk to Elly. “I think I -” you stop yourself. “No, I know I want to be friends. But I don’t know how.” It comes out half-mumbled half-proclaimed, and as a surprise even to yourself.

“Schütz wants to,” Elly says. She’s close, very close.

You nod, slightly, scaredly, and embarrassedly. Too much movement and you’d slice your nose in two.

“I want to hear Schütz speak, and Schütz wants me to be a friend.” Elly pauses in rapt, ear-grinding thought. “Elly is your friend,” she finishes.

You blink. “You are?”

“I am, I believe.”

“... Why?” is your only follow up. It’s difficult to comprehend, and all thoughts lead to a simple ‘why?’

Elly gives you a skeptical look. “Schütz is the one who knows about friends, and wants to be friends.”

Oh. The glimmer of hope inside you returns to its usual, dark, deep hole. Elly is being your friend only because you want her to be. You shouldn’t exploit her like that.

“I -” Deep breath. “I don’t want to be your friend if you don’t want to be my friend. That is how friends work.” ...You think.

Elly is still much too close. You can see every twitch and quirk of her fake, scarecrow face move as you say those words. She is mystified, as if she heard the voice of a cryptic god. “Don’t want? Do want?” she asks herself in thought, and the answer makes her eyes widen. “Schütz. I want to be friends, I realize,” she tells you right to your face.

“Oh,” you mutter out, wordless. You find your tongue, heavy with strange emotions rarely felt. They usually hide for fear of being crushed by reality. “That’s… good.” There’s no need to say anything more complex, good encompasses the essence of the moment perfectly - convenient, as you doubt you’re capable of forming complexes sentences right now.

Good,” Elly echoes, her smile somehow growing wider.

Oh, you might start tearing up again at this rate. Elly wants to be your friend. Aren’t you supposed to be garbage to her? Good things shouldn’t happen to bad people.

“I - I’m going to sit down. Here. Now. Thank you.”

Elly watches you as you do just that.

You sit and stare out into nothing, trying to contain the maelstrom of something inside you.

“Are we friends?” Elly asks.

“Yes,” you reply, deliberately not looking at her.

“Good.”



Time passes in silence.

No matter what, you will get those red scissors. Not only as a duty to Elly, but also as a friend. Proving your worth has only just begun. It’s a long way to the top from where you are, deep underground, likely hell. You will try.

This is what you decree to yourself.

So, you have bound yourself to another.

First Reimu, then Sister, and now, simultaneously, Elly.

For these people, it is your duty to not make their lives worse by your presence. For Reimu, you have failed; all you can do for her is not tarnish her memory, and you have failed. For Sister, this means not to rely on her, and never to bother her with your problems. For Elly, you will talk to her, be a good friend, and make her a new (preferably superior) dress.

You will do all this while cursed - somehow.

Relatively calm, you look to see Elly vacant, underwater. She ‘wants’ you to talk. The feeling is mutual. You don’t know why, but you won’t question it. The more you repeat that, the more true it becomes - hopefully.

Best you act now before you get lost in doubt.

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


“Elly,” you say.

“Schütz.” She smiles, and looks down to you.

Good, you’ve forced your own hand.

… But you need something to say now.

[You need a topic]
- [1: About Elly]
- [2: About the dress, and the stolen scissors.] No. This is your problem, and you will fix it alone.
- [3: About the new ‘house’]
-- [3a: ...a specific resident?]
- [4: About the weather] Unfortunately, you cannot see the sky.

{You may specify the details of any topic, or rely on Schütz’ judgement.}

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

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

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <O “waning gibbous”

Time: Early Afternoon

\o===================875===================o/

be a good friend.
>> No. 30772
[x] Talk
-[x] Elly
-[x] About the new ‘house’

Really petty of her to stole our scissors, if she did at all. But I guess it is our just desserts for not asking questions.
>> No. 30773
File 151972557642.png - (963.10KB, 2000x1552, 36.png) [iqdb]
30773
gtyhujk
>> No. 30774
File 151973510330.png - (752.69KB, 2000x1737, 36_5.png) [iqdb]
30774
a voice something like a rusty, creaking faucet, or that sound made when two metal kitchen utensils are rubbed together (magnified several times)

Not easy listening.
>> No. 30775
File 151973598955.png - (472.91KB, 2000x1536, 36_75.png) [iqdb]
30775
34tgreh
>> No. 30776
[x] Talk about Elly

Elly is good, and Elly is "cute," even.

Damn that Ran for ruining her birthday.
>> No. 30777
Votes will be called tomorrow afternoon when I get back from Uni.

In a scribbling mood.
>> No. 30778
Woke up early. Doesn't look like there's gonna any activity, so calling for:
[1: About Elly]

Should be writing this afternoon.
>> No. 30779
sick.

blahblah.
>> No. 30780
>>30779
Get well soon!
>> No. 30781
===== Time: Early Afternoon | Curse: ~~~ =====

“What does Elly like to do?” you ask. If you’re to become worthy of being Elly’s friend, you should endeavor to learn all you can about her!

“Like, and not want?” Elly earnestly asks in return. Having drifted further since you last talked, she compensates that by edging uncomfortably close. Consistently surprising behaviour from one who reviles human contact.

While you can tolerate Elly’s presence, it’s hard to shake the feeling of staring into the sharp end of a blade. Coincidentally, you are; the fake serpent, in reality a scythe, oft finds itself near your nose to speak what rightfully belongs from Elly’s own mouth.

“Like: something you enjoy doing.” In your eagerness, you opt to go first as example. “I… I like -” This is hard. “- Elly? No, not that, not a person - an action. I like hunting. Yes, hunting.”

“Is hunting good?” she asks, mindless of your blunders.

“That is a good question, but... Let me think.”

As planned, Elly beams at your use of ‘good.’

“Depends,” you announce. “Depends on why you hunt. Hunting is not good, it is not bad, it is hunting - hunting is hunting. I hunt for good. Most youkai hunt for evil -” Elly’s gaze goes vacant at your words. “... Elly?”

“Schütz,” she replies, life returning to her cursed, empty eyes.

“Is something wrong?”

“That’s besides the point.” She brushes you aside completely.

“... The point?”

“Is evil good?” she asks with a smile. “And what’s evil?”

You blink, and a reply, haphazardly formed, falls out of your mouth: “I need to think. I will answer, but I need to think.”

Silently and expectantly, Elly stares.

It turns out you don’t need to think at all. The words come naturally. “Liars are evil. A liar is the most vile, the most disgusting, and the most dangerous,” these words spin effortlessly; you speak from experience, and with absolute conviction. “There is other evil out there,” you continue, and pause to see Elly’s revolting, lying, pits of void gazing back. “But liars are the most pure evil; as they will take the most pure good and break it. Evil is not good. Evil is the opposite of good.”

“Then I cannot be evil,” says Elly, a statement not a question.

“Never,’ you answer, anyway.

“Schütz believes that.” Another statement.

“I do.”

“Then I will, too,” she continues to logical end. The smile on Elly’s face is plain and meaningless. “Elly is good, not evil.” “- Schütz!” she suddenly exclaims, eyes wide.

“Elly?”

“I like being good, I realize,” she answers the hanging question.

“Good.” You smile, and she back.

Good.

Yourself, you realize that making Elly smile, truly, is one of the few good things you can do.

Time passes in pleasant silence. You sit idly, watching the mud-laced flowers bend to the wind as you ride on the afterglow of the conversation. Elly is underwater; her face, a lifeless facismile, and her scythe entombed out of sight below the water’s surface. She deserves rest. It must be hard for Elly to talk to you. Every second on land is a cacophony to her senses. You can relate, though Elly has found a better way to cope with the ugliness of the world. Honestly, you’re jealous - not in a vitriolic way! Your feelings tread the border of admiration and envy, but never contempt.

You want to be good like Elly.

===== Time: Mid Afternoon | Curse: ~~~ =====

“I want to hunt,” says Elly.

After a brief startle, you nod, and ask: “What of? - You need a prey.”

Your reply seems to shock Elly, as she is visibly thrown back by your words. “I want to hunt…” she starts. “Schütz. I realize I need a prey to hunt,” she ends with a candid admission.

“Oh. Yes. You do.”

Elly looks to you for answers; you, of all people in this world. Admittedly, you are a good hunter, if a bad everything else.

“There are different types of hunters. Animal hunters - human hunters - youkai hunters - and, I have recently learned of vampire hunters. I’ve never seen a vampire.” You give a lacklustre estimate of their size before continuing, “They are small, and eat cake and wine, I have been told. I don’t know why people hunt them, but they do.”

Elly’s focus on you is intimidating. She absorbs your every word.

“Y-yeah. Vampires. Don’t think about those. Only morons hunt them, from what I’ve heard,” you ramble on. If you stop, you will be left in the prominence of Elly’s ravenous gaze, so you claw to find another point. “I hunt animals! In the Forest of Magic I hunt animals. Human hunters, those are also in the Forest of Magic. Human hunters are evil.” Your thoughts fall back to Meiling. “Most human hunters, most youkai, are evil. Some defy this - they are the exception. Youkai hunters, they-” Reimu. “... They are rare. I have not seen any for a long time.”

You put on a smile for Elly’s sake. “Animals, humans, youkai - do any of those sound like a prey you want?”

“Evil,” Elly says.

“Evil?” you echo.

“Can I hunt evil?”

“... Like a youkai hunter.” Like Reimu.

“Not all youkai are evil, and not all evil are youkai, Schütz says. I only want to hunt evil. Can I hunt evil?” The more she speaks, the more excited she gets. Still sitting, you can only watch on as Elly leans over you, feverishly smiling down, as bright as any sun.

You take a deep breath, and try to think about this logically. To hunt evil, isn’t that a… “Hero. A hunter of evil is a hero.” Reimu was not just a youkai hunter.

“Hero. Hero.” Elly slides back from being your personal, gruesome sun. Her serpent meanders through the flowers, beheading them as it flows.

“Do you want to be a hero?”

The serpent freezes on its path. Elly turns to face you, her parody of a face afflicted by thought. “... I want to do good, and I would like to do good.” The scythe point to you. “Let’s say it’s because I like you that I…” Her grin twitches with discomfort. “Want you to be happy? I want to hunt evil, liars, to make you happy; I want to be a hero.” Just. Like. Reimu.

Elly is seriously considering this. You planted the idea in her head; you are responsible for it. The only true hero you have ever known has died, by your own hands and in your name.

But this is not Reimu. This is Elly, and her time is yet past. Elly won’t die for you. You will make sure of that.

You stand up and force a smile. “I’m already happy,” you say. “Here. Right here. Talking to you and being here makes me happy.” It’s not a lie. You are content in fermenting here until the end of time. Nothing has to change.

“Is that what Schütz believes, truly?”

“Truly.”



Elly’s unreadable, empty eyes stare into your own, and her meaningless smile betrays the lack of emotion on her face. Eventually, she goes vacant without a word.

You are left wondering what was going on in that head of hers.

“I’m happy,” you tell yourself.

And with that, Elly is gone.
>> No. 30783
===== Time: Early Morning | Curse: ~~~ =====

“Elly, we’re moving,” you say.

Elly, now beside you, is clueless.

“Landways,” you specify. “We’re moving, landways.”

She takes a look around. What she sees is a barren, sun-bitten field of dirt. Few flowers remain.

“Would you like to be my escort, again? To the other, landways Flower Field,” you ask.

She needn’t answer, her growing smile says it all, however, she answers anyway: “I would, and I will.”

While she leads the way, you’re the one who sets her on the right path. She is utterly lost.

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

The house emerges beside the lake like as a visceral-red blister. Sister gave this house to you, you know that too well now. Each flower sprouting here at lakeside is a flower lost where you once lived. Sister has been busy moving them this whole time. You stayed as long as you could in the former Flower Field; until the day you woke up to find nothing but an arid plain.

It has been a week.

Sister never got her weekly tribute, so she never woke up, so you never got a chance to ask in the moment. Asking would be pointless, regardless. Sister already told you this is your new home; it took you far too long to let that sink in, but now that it has, you carry the mantle with grim acceptance.

Sister knows what is best; you just don’t understand her, and you shouldn’t need to.

In a jolt, Elly seems to realise something. She slides in front of you and eagerly gestures to the house that only grows larger on the horizon. “The other, landways, Flower Field!”

She found it!

“Thanks to you, my escort. We have arrived.”

After taking a moment to be pleased with herself, Elly takes to a complicated expression.

Oh.

“... You can continue escorting me if you want. Aimlessly, yes, but still escorting,” you offer.

She puts her dazzling, terrifying smile back on. “Then I am your escort.”


Elly’s recent attachment to you is troubling.

She never completely left your side since you told her you were happy. Between your scant conversations she dwells in your peripheral vision, far off in the distance where your eyes barely scratch. When she isn’t underwater, she’s watching you. You can feel it. The miniscule red dot out there is stalking you.

To put your feelings simply: you don’t deserve Elly.

But it’s not your decision how she spends her time. All you can do is be yourself and hope Elly comes to her senses. She’s your friend; you worry about her.

You cough up some of the dust that coats you. On your back, the new dress is in a bundle along with the thread, fabric, needle, and a distinct lack of scissors.

Ran has yet to show, and every day that fact remains true grates on your sanity. You need those scissors.

Next time, you will greet the fox with an arrow, several of them, preferably.

For now, you survey the area around you.

Not only sunflowers bloom here, like they did last week. The assortment is spectacular and exotic, overwhelming the senses in a solid wall of scent, sight, and sound. It really is as if the Flower Field simply grew legs and walked away - which it may as well did. The only difference is the lakeside, and the vainglorious eyesore in the middle of it all. Somewhere beyond the walls of the house is Meiling, and further still, Patchouli and all the rest.

This is the Flower Field now, you must accept. Sister wished it so, and she is always right.

“Elly.”

“Schütz.”

“Where do you think looks best for me to stay?”

“Landways?”

“Landways.”

Elly looks around, and quickly comes to an unofficiated decision. Her eyeless gaze is drawn firmly to the lake, and soon, she points to its centre. “There, that looks best.”

From here you can see that the lake, too, has flowers blooming beneath. The shallow waters are awash by motley of colors that swirl like spilled oil, and deeper still hints of life peak from the depths to the surface in the form of petals. These aren’t aquatic plants, naturally. Sunflowers, almonds, windflowers and chrysanthemums bloom beneath the water’s surface by Sisters’ will. By virtue of them thriving underwater, they could be called aquatic plants, regardless.

The lake has been almost completely overtaken. Three quarters, at least, are dominated by the wilful flowers.

The fish don’t mind. They gratefully consume the various underwater fruits, which are well and truly edible. The more adventurous nip at the flowers and stems, only to find mud in their little mouths.

“It is beautiful, but…” You give an awkward, apologetic smile. “I cannot live there.”

“You can! Drown, and I will bring you back,” she pushes.

“... Yeah. I wouldn’t like that - perpetually drowning. My apologies, Elly.”

Elly gives you a skeptical look, but, without another word, eventually relents. She looks disappointed. It hurts you on the inside to do this.

“I - I could build a boat!” you sputter out an appeal soon as the first dumb idea enters your head.

She perks up instantly. Good.

“We could visit the lake by boat,” you continue, and let some form of logical thought take over from here. “And spend the night, one day, perhaps?” It feels absurd to make dayplans when you don’t even have a designated living area yet.

Elly looks to the lake, then back to you with a smile. “I would like that.”

Elly likes water, you have gathered quite astutely.

You nod, hereon binding you to your word. A boat should be easier to craft than a red dress; for one, a boat is made from readily attainable materials, and not immutable, red soul-consuming cloth.

Now, you need somewhere to dump your few belongings.

You take to the (overgrown) shoreline: a compromise between your need to not drown, and Elly’s inclinations.



This is your home. The flowers part for you to make a small clearing. Beyond here, a minute’s walk away, the house gate. You can see the windows from here. The very top window is lit from the inside, for some reason.

After all these years running and hiding, you’re now a few steps away from a youkai fortress, Ran has promised visit, and you are friends with Elly.

It’s difficult to comprehend, but you’ve had plenty of time to think over sleepless nights.

If you cannot control your curse, everyone will die. That is a fact you cannot ignore any longer.

You don’t even know what your curse is. You moron.

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


You should make the most of the free time you have...

I:

You promised to…
[A: Build a boat.] (note: Elly choice)
Of course, you’ve never built a boat, but you’re certain it can’t be harder than making a box that floats.

Ran’s coming is an inevitability; if not on its word, then just to plague you as youkai will. There’s little you can do in preparation, but you can at least make a show of trying.
[B: Prepare for Ran.]

You peer over the dense bramble of flowers to the crimson walls beyond.

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

...

That day has not yet come, but...
[C: A visit in good faith.] (note: Meiling choice) (potential unlocked due to ‘reckless’ path)
This is fine, right? Meiling is your friend - she said so herself.


II:

Elly is at your side. By word, she’s escorting you indefinitely. This pleasures her… somehow.
[1: Continue.]
[2: Release.]

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x14 Iron-Headed Arrow
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
Sparse Tough Clothing (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
-Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <o “last quarter”

Time: Early Morning

\o===================875===================o/
>> No. 30784
>>30780
Your words have little power. I'm still sick. If you mean to heal others through mystical internet surgery, try harder next time.
>> No. 30785
[B: Prepare for Ran.]

First time I don't vote for Elly choice. Even though it is still indirect. We kind of need those scissors or her birthday will never come!

Discussion: What would happen if we explained the tale of Reimu the wise to Elly? Including what we know of the curse. Maybe we can tell Ran so Elly can overhear.
Speaking of which,

Elly shouldn't help or she might get slightly hurt. I think our Hunter will kill himself like 20 times if that happened.

Finally, did he brought his stuff to sew to this, new home, of his?
>> No. 30786
The "curse" may be sentient.
The "curse" messes with the border.
MC got a seal hair-tie.

Whaterver got sealed into him is the "curse" and called Ran.
The monsters are what youkai would look like in the outside world, if the border didn't turn them all into qts.
The sealed youkai is Satsuki Rin
>> No. 30787
[B: Prepare for Ran.]
We don't know how to build a boat, but we do know how to fight a youkai.

[2: Release.]
Don't want Elly in danger because of us. Plus Ran did told us how to dodge her attack, so let's at least be fair.
>> No. 30788
[B: Prepare for Ran.]
Ran's actions are pretty hard to get a read on: Coming to kill Schütz, then sparing him and leaving with the scissors. My suspicion is she doesn't have enough information to conclude Schütz needs to be killed. She's waiting to see if he slips up somehow and just made that visit to gauge his reaction. If I'm right about that, Ran is a looming threat, who might attack seriously if she finds out more about the curse, but regardless, it can't hurt to be prepared.

Also, it seems Schütz's curse affects reality when he believes in it, or acknowledges it. I wonder if that can extend to things other than monsters and monstrous forms. Perhaps Elly is good because Schütz believes that. Or maybe I'm completely off there, and Elly is just an odd duck who's happy to go along with what Schütz says.
>> No. 30789
[C: A visit in good faith.]
[Continue]

And this, Elly, is an evil thing that doesn't do evil things. Does that mean that bad things can be good, depending on how they act? Yes!
>> No. 30790
Calling tomorrow, provided the dust has settled.

Drawing tonight.

>>30785
>Including what we know of the curse.
This was attempted.
>> No. 30791
File 15204003076.png - (100.32KB, 2000x2000, 37.png) [iqdb]
30791
Set for the following
I - B: Prepare for Ran
II - 2: Release Elly from escort service


scribble
>> No. 30792
File 152055557877.jpg - (198.29KB, 1920x1080, maxresdefault.jpg) [iqdb]
30792
>>30791
>II - 2: Release Elly from escort service

Excuse you?? The vote is tied!
Doesn't matter, she's not here because she is forced to.
ELLY TRAIN HAS NO BRAKES, CHOO CHOO
>> No. 30793
>>30792
>Excuse you?? The vote is tied!
Technically true, but the general sentiment appears in favour of this end. The vote is a gauge of opinion, and it is the opinion that is important.

>ELLY TRAIN HAS NO BRAKES, CHOO CHOO
Travelling with or within Elly is not advised unless drowning is your fancy. The Elly Kelpie.
>> No. 30794
1800

I'll see to having this done the next or the following day.

Remember G.O.O.D.
gElly oElly oElly dElly
>> No. 30795
===== Time: Morning | Curse: ~~~ =====

“Elly.”

“Schütz.”

“I am releasing you from escort service.”

Elly looks at you, mystified. “Truly?”

“Truly.”

“Can you make it not true?” she asks, perplexed but hopeful in your judgement.

“No. Not now, not today.” She twists your arm without knowing it. “Later, if I can,” you add to not crush hope.

“Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow, then.” That is your tomorrow, not her tomorrow. Tomorrow for her is the next second, the next hour, day, and year all in one. “The day after today.”

Tomorrow,” she echoes like its a foreign word.

Satisfied at your handling of the situation, you let out your breath, and deflate to the ground so that you appear like an overripe mushroom. You feel worn out in body and mind, even after a weeks ‘rest.’ Sleep is rare, and peace, true peace, rarer. You’re confident it exists wrapped a profound state of exhaustion, a mental grindstone that nullifies the thoughts that keep you awake and the nightmares that makes you wish you still were.

As Elly would say, that’s besides the point.

Right now, your objective is to deal with Ran. Its return is inevitable. The fact the fox hasn’t already is a blessing, or perhaps it seeks to taunt you with the lurking possibility. Backed into a corner, or at least perceived to be, did it expect you to bare claws? A youkai so venerable as a kitsune has perfected the art of pettiness, earning ire is all it’s good at, so of course it knows man’s last, oldest, and most trusted resort: a fist.

You mentally shrug, and, physically, you weave an arrow through your fingers. Regardless of how effective it is, this arrow will find Ran’s heart (should it exist) to be a sheath. That will be good.

Spite, you recognise, runs as thick through your veins as any youkai’s as you think of Ran. Ran should not have involved Elly, even if indirectly. It’s a crime against what goodness there is in the world.

Elly is beside you. She never left. She has no reason to move right now, so she doesn’t. With her mind underwater, she is more like an environmental fixture. Occasionally, a flicker of life emboldens her to check on you, but otherwise, she is gone.

If she got directly involved, if she got hurt, you would - what? What could you do? No hell can take you.

To save yourself the trouble of imagining a worldly punishment equivalent to a hell, you decide to not justify that occurring in the first place.

You will kill Ran, reclaim the scissors, and finish Elly’s dress. Nothing short of that is enough.

Fervent, you peel a seal from those that still remain on your attire, and then another, and another. They make a rasping sound as they do so, going so far as to shave off pieces of fabric on the underneath. As the years have gone by, the more implacable seals are indistinguishable from the clothes they root. Their patterns, cryptic yet pragmatic, bleed into the surface layers of your clothes like burn scars.

The seals coating your bow - their mark must run deep into the wood. You hardly remember what the bow looks like underneath the seal coating. It was the first thing you ever -

You’re not going to think about the past.

Nostalgia is a cruel poison, the aftershocks of events immutable. The future, Ran, at least you can try to stop it.

You apply a seal to an arrow. It sticks like honey, and then sets like stone around the neck. Hakurei seals are potent. You can’t even activate them, yet they ward true. From the inside, a youkai they will carve up. Rumia knows it so, intimately - but it uses up seals like cheap candles.

For a single arrow to even approach effectiveness at least three seals are needed. That is to wound a simple forest Rumia. This is a kitsune. You go for six on a single arrow to be certain, and another one atop that because you don’t trust your own certainty. With such consumption per arrow, you prepare a mere three arrows before exhausting all the seals on your clothes.

You notice that the seals that touched the dress are damaged. They crumple limply in your hands as the ordinary paper they once were. Fortunately, few are felled this way. If you’re to handle the ‘antipsychosomatic,’ you know well to do it fully naked from now on.

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

On a hill, raised above it all, you perch with bow on your lap and Ran in your mind. Beside you are the ‘red’ objects, not yet stolen.

Elly is in the distance, a red blob. You know when she’s watching. To prove this, you wave and she enthusiastically waves back. She’s keeping you sane, you think - If it could be said your current state is sanity.

===== Time: Midday | Curse: ~~~ =====

You feel her before you see her: Izayoi. She reminds you of Ran in her wrongness. There’s something about the way Izayoi is that makes her difficult to stomach. Assuredly, she is human, a broken human, a smudged painting, as if one had taken a hammer and chisel to chip at her being. That is the wretched, cursed image of Izayoi you see and dismiss.

Past the gate Izayoi strides, and through the flowers that do not part so easy, and up the hill to meet you who waits with bow ready and willing.

You’re busy waiting for a fox.

You meet Izayoi eyes, filled with broken color and a supreme effort to appear as unapproachable as possible. You, you’re greeting her with a bow and arrow ready. Neither of you want to speak to each other. Neither of you want to know each other. Both of your lives would be improved if they simply never met.

Like the matching ends of magnets flirting, Izayoi keeps fair distance, and appears likely to be repelled at any moment.

Whatever force that is keeping her here is strong; stronger than your combined distaste of each other, and a want to do anything else.

“You are going to wear this,” she says.

You blink.

In Izayoi’s outstretched, ghostly-pale hand is a neatly folded bundle of fabric.



You’re left with no choice. “Why.” Held within, a silent apology to yourself and her for prolonging this exchange.

Fortunately, rather than the murder in her eyes, she answers with words: “Two reasons. My lady has been witness to your bare ass from her window since the dozing hours of morning. And my lady will, again, be witness to your bare ass for tonight’s breakfast - should I not persuade you into these clothes.”

Once again, you’re reminded of your nudity. You have had more important things to tend to than yourself, lately. Behind you is your behind, that is true. What about it that inspires murder in the eyes is unknown to you. Persuade carries a very different meaning to Izayoi, you have inferred by the way she looks at you. You imagine she might very well tackle you to the ground to make you wear whatever it is she holds in her hand. All this to cover your ‘bare ass.’

You wonder how she maintains herself with such a phobia. Bathing must be troublesome.

This is the same girl that will attempt to murder you if you ask her to perform a magic trick, Meiling said. For a human, Izayoi’s sensibilities are as strange as a youkai’s.

‘Tonight’s breakfast.’

… You remember, in vague pictures buried among wailing nightmares, a ‘breakfast’ mentioned by Meiling and Patchouli both, a breakfast you were never able - nor wanted - to attend.

“Breakfast, tonight,” you start. “You are implying I am going to be there, or around there, for the lady to see.” The lady you assume to be a Scarlet.

Izayoi takes a long, hard look at you. “‘There’ is here, wherever you, the guest of honor, may run. My lady is coming to see you for breakfast. She will not be greeting a bare ass, but a clothed ass, should I manage to persuade him into clothes.”

A lady Scarlet is coming to see you. Small ‘vampires’ that drink wine and eat cake don’t worry you on principle, but you’re busy. Ran is coming to visit, too, and she has more wild and devilish plans than ‘breakfast at night.’

“I’m busy,” you answer, simply.

“Busy mooning my lady?”

Mooning? Youkai talk. Izayoi does live with youkai; perhaps it was inevitable that she began to think like one.

“Busy hunting a fox.”

Izayoi somehow manages to look more unimpressed. “Your coming breakfast with my lady is more important.”

“That is not true.” And you need not say more than that.

… Izayoi takes to massaging her face with her palm. Unable to relent, she remains rooted to the ground like a tree weathering a storm.

When her hand eventually slides down, the same, sundering, wilful gaze meets you. It has little effect on you, who has stared at far scarier things than an irate, partially-melting face.

“I can manually reconstruct your priorities. I’ve done as such before.” She presents the bundle of clothes. “Or you can perform the monumental task of wearing a pair of pants, and chatting over breakfast with my lady - who’s sole, merciful interest is to have a pleasant chat with the man with enough gall to leave her waiting.”

This sort of ultimatum, it reminds you of Meiling.

You admire pure and honest duty, even in your enemies. That is how you came to respect Meiling, a youkai that made clear its higher intent and purpose to pulverise you.

Deep down, and from a much larger distance than this, you might also feel sorry for the acclaimed and non-manifesting ‘adorable maid.’ However, here and now, this girl is only a hinderance, a distraction.

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

You take a slight breath, and answer: “I’m busy.”

And no more needs to be said.
[A: . . .]

But -
[B: If it sedates her, you can cover your behind.]

However -
[C: The fox is dangerous, and if she knew that then perhaps. . .]

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x3 Iron-Headed Arrow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x11 Iron-Headed Arrow
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
Sparse Tough Clothing -Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
‘Red’ Needle
- ‘Red’ Thread (‘antipsychosomatic’)
‘Red’ Fabric (‘antipsychosomatic’)
‘Red’ Dress (Nearly Finished, ‘antipsychosomatic’)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <o “last quarter”

Time: Midday

\o===================875===================o/

melting mind versus melting maid
>> No. 30796
The weekly schedule is working well so far!

I have assignments and tests and other arrests, but I will try my best for another timely update (by my standards).
>> No. 30797
[B: If it sedates her, you can cover your behind.]
Free pants. And I don't trust Schütz' ability to make the stubborn maid understand there may be a potential situation incoming. Not before equipping pants.
>> No. 30798
[C: The fox is dangerous, and if she knew that then perhaps. . .]

Can I make a write in to have him explain that she should get to cover? This is not a trick to have her help us and I'm sure he's still pissed at what Patchouli implied in regards to Nue.
>> No. 30799
Vote will be called tomorrow when I get home from uni.

>>30798
You may try.
>> No. 30800
>>30799
Then change 30798 to:

[C: The fox is dangerous, and if she knew that then perhaps. . .]
-[She'd understand that this problem would probably solve itself soon and leave before she comes]

I'm implying he's about to get destroyed, if that wasn't clear enough.
>> No. 30801
I would be calling the vote in a few hours, however the vote appears to have stagnated at a meager tie.

I trust one of you... 4? 3? remaining readers can fix this.
>> No. 30802
[X] [B: If it sedates her, you can cover your behind.]
The long-awaited conclusion to the quest for clothing is finally upon us.
More importantly, I feel we're a bit overdue for meeting the little lady, and hopefully the visit will provide an opportunity to pick up the items left behind during the library events.
>> No. 30803
Set for B

Writing tonight. It would have been disappointing to not have the tie broken by then.

>>30802
Thanks!
>> No. 30804
I will not be able to make this update by week's end.

Hold in your tears.
>> No. 30805
>>30804
1500 words. More to go.
>> No. 30806
“I’m busy,” you restate. “- but I want you to leave, so I will wear pants.”

For the first time since Izayoi arrived, she gives a sign of approval: a tiny nod soon negated by a sharp gaze. “And a shirt.” Izayoi adds an additional stipulation to the freedom of her presence, invaluable. She bargains low.

“And a shirt,” you echo. Of course, you capitulate, not out of any fear (all of that is allotted to Ran), but a simple want to be rid of this troublesome, youkai-imitating human.

Izayoi appears unfazed. She doesn’t believe a word you say, not until you put the clothes on.

Fine.

All at once, you stand - the nerves of your legs yet catching the message. In a ridiculous half-limp, you make your way to the maid. Izayoi adapts gracefully in that she doesn’t immediately repel the shambling, sleep-deprived man stumbling towards her, and instead lets you take the cloth straight from her hand.

On the spot, you begin to dress yourself. The faster you do this, the faster she leaves, and the faster you can die trying to hunt a fox.

Izayoi grants you wide berth, and looks on with a critical eye.



Buttons. That’s what they are called, you think. To use them is intuitive enough. Your natural attire is more complex than a few buttons and draped, black fabric. In little time, you’re fully dressed, or so you think until you notice Izayoi’s cold, judgemental gaze unappeased.

“Stay still,” she says flatly.

Instinctively, you want to do anything but.

Izayoi makes toward you, displeasure struck from her face and in its place a palpable sense of purpose. Whatever it is she wants, she most certainly intends to get it.

You freeze up, partly out of shock, partly to restrain yourself from doing something unsavory. This a human, an annoying human, but not a human that deserves a blade in a gut. It’s your fault and not hers that she looks like a heat mirage sloughing human flesh.

A shiver runs through your body as Izayoi’s fingers suddenly begin to run over your clothed stomach. She dispassionately hugs you from behind; her hands working to undo the buttons of your shirt as she looks down from over your shoulder. Any semblance of personal space she had before is thoroughly shattered. Yours remains intact as ever.

She stops.

“Stay still,” she says again.

In the sudden pause, you notice you are shaking, no, hyperventilating.

Izayoi’s breathing is calm on your neck as she waits.

Of course, it’s natural to be scared, not of Izayoi, but the decaying, fraying fragments emanating from her: a cursed illusion, something you are absolutely not allowed to acknowledge.

‘Now and Then’ your instincts tell you, irreverent. You can’t trust a single thing the voices inside you say. Paranoia is the sole exception, and it has been exhausted to a dull, ceaselessly groaning lump at the back of your mind.

This damned curse. Ignore or acknowledge it, it spurns you still.

Fine.

“... keep going,” you reply as you force your breathing steady. Fragments of ‘Now and Then’ spasm, as if in reaction of your silent outurst. ‘Stay still,’ you mentally order them as Izayoi would. You wish they didn’t obey. This damned curse. This damned curse. This damned curse.

Without a word, Izayoi continues her motions. It keeps your mind occupied in better places. To that end, you move with her as she demands: to take off the layered shirts, to put them on again, to twist the belt, to roll up the sleeves; and it only continues.

Finally, she undoes the headband, an irregular strip of red cloth, and affixes it around your neck. Is it some kind of collar? The flap at the front must be to lead you around. You go to touch it, but decide against. If you ruin the collar, the maid might feel inclined to fondle you again.

Your sole protest and celebration is a grunt. It is over.

Izayoi takes a step back to admire her work. Then, the impossible happens. She smiles. It’s a self-indulgent, tiny thing that reeks of confidence, a smile in celebration of a victory. The sort of smile you would give at the site of a freshly skewered deer, and the sort of smile Izayoi would give for the sight of you wearing pants, apparently.

That smile disappears when she notices you staring at it. She almost looked approachable, for a moment. Her gaze is softer now, but only relatively, the difference of bedrock and limestone.

“My lady thinks of you as a novelty. Meiling thinks of you as a friend. After seeing you in the flesh, too much flesh, I have my hunches - but my lady’s safety should not rest on a hunch.” She sighs. Her face is a portrait of strained calm, a dam held in place with the barest of reassurance. “I must not interfere further lest I find justification to slay you prematurely. I will leave you be.”

She wants to protect her lady, a fragile thing as you have come to interpret. Perhaps, to Izayoi, the Scarlet is a good to be preserved, like Elly. Regardless of whether the Scarlet is actually good, Izayoi’s intentions are undeniably noble at core - and you very much want to deny it.

Seeing Izayoi trying to do good makes it difficult to fault her too much. You would harass tired and busy men for Elly too, if you had to.

Tch. You mentally chastise yourself for causing what is to come.

As Izayoi turns heel, you step forward to force new momentum into the dead dialogue: “Your lady is a vampire.”

The maid stops, pausing only for the briefest of moments before turning to meet you. “Yes.” ‘And?’

You nod. “Meiling told me.”

“Meiling told you?” she repeats right back at you with the ghost of incredulity haunting her calm voice.

“Meiling did tell me - that there are two lady Scarlets, and they are small vampires, or they are small because they are vampires. And they pretend to drink blood but they actually-”

“Enough.” Izayoi interrupts with an upheld palm. “You have proven beyond doubt it was Meiling who taught you. State your point.”

Reassurance. It’s something you lack, but, in this moment, you are presented with the opportunity to give it away. The only price is this annoying human’s presence, and the only reward is this annoying human’s comfort. That is enough. If nothing else, if she’s pleased she won’t bother you - maybe.

… It is best you speak now before you convince yourself otherwise. “I could not hunt vampires before knowing what they are. I would not hunt vampires knowing now. I am not after your lady.”

Everything you just said is true, and you hope, beneath the familiar layers of suspicion, Izayoi will realize that.

Time seems to slow between the two of you.

“It would be simple if you were a vampire hunter as it would certify you are not a threat,” she ends with a smile. It looks wrong directed at you; it is a glitch, a malfunction. “Consider applying?”

Unconvinced, you look behind you to see if there’s anyone else, Meiling, she could be smiling at. No Meiling in sight.

Time creeps along, ever so slowly even after she spoke.

Was that a joke? “... No,” you answer as if it were not, just in case.

“I am left with hunches - hunches and headaches.” Her smile dissolves, but gone too is the harshness of her gaze. “I believe enough to not cut you down, a pawn at worst, an idiot at best.”

This girl has known you for a few minutes and she already knows everything about you. You are an idiot and you follow others. It is a matter of choosing the right people. Trusting yourself is not an option.

“True,” you say.

Abruptly, Izayoi checks a small, metallic device in her breast pocket. “Afternoon tea.”

The maid turns to you, waiting a second in consideration before asking: “Meiling would like to have you, if you can make time in your busy schedule.”

“I cannot.”

“Then I must be going. My lady will be here at sundown, no later. She’s excited to meet you, the worst vampire hunter she’s ever had.” The maid takes a step, then stops for a final note: “So make this all worth it. Entertain her, play the part.”

The annoying yet noble girl leaves; your attempt to sedate her: dust. The sole reason for her departure is because finding a reason to kill you now would be a disservice to her lady. Will she come for your head as the vampire’s interest in you wanes, or will that remove you from Izayoi’s mind entirely?

‘Hunches and headaches’ is an appropriate phrase for this situation.

You could easily be rid of the troublesome maid. She is a human, susceptible to a sudden, piercing trauma to the heart. An arrow should be enough, but this is only speculation. You could kill Izayoi, and that will suffice if circumstances command it. The circumstance being whether Izayoi decides killing you is mandatory or just preferable when it comes to the preservation of her lady. Said lady, the elder scarlet, the small vampire, is going to harass you over an afternoon breakfast.

‘Entertain her, play the part.’

You are keeping yourself functional, barely, for the sake of Elly and Sister. What is another burden, and another, and another? Entertain a lady while you spend every waking moment fearing the descent of a malicious fox: why not? Because you are quite sure that any more stress will melt what remains of your burnt, gelatinous mind.

You can play the part of the fool for the lady, then.

Of course, failure is not an option. You still have to make Elly a dress, and build a boat for the two of you. Most importantly, you have to end the curse so Elly does not die for the crime of being around you.

...

You wave. The red blob in the distance waves back.

Elly is your friend. She shouldn’t be, but she is. Yes, that will keep you going; ‘where?’ You do not know.

The midday sun dips lower. ‘Stay still,’ you mentally command. Nothing happens. Good.

===== Time: Early Night | Curse: ~~~ =====

The horizon swallows the sun in an agonizingly slow fashion. To which threshold can the Scarlet endure? It makes little sense to you why a small, cake and wine eating lady would avoid daylight. You suppose that many prey enjoy the night because it hides them from the predators of weaker senses. Perhaps the Scarlet is like that: a timid, daylight fearing scavenger-mouse. You can manage that much by yourself.

… but Ran is a fox, a predator that consumes mice by the family. What would the maid think of this?

Attempts to calm yourself down fail. You cease trying.



Night overtakes the bruised hues of the day sky. Usually, you find night calming. The night sky you see is real, Reimu said. It would be hard for your curse to warp a plain black void. Of course, you cannot see stars, your curse does not allow that - but the sky itself is untouched, a black canvas against a crescent moon.

Now is the best time for a youkai to attack. The moon, full or not, inspires a unique madness. Staring at the crescent moon, now, is enough to make you uncomfortable.

It is also getting hard to see Elly. You have to squint hard to uncover that friendly red blotch under the moonlight. You know she is there. She has not left all week. It makes you happy, which in turns makes you guilty.

You hear something.

Draw. You take a sealed arrow and knock it in place.

Aim. You aim for something you cannot see, but know exists in everything: a heart.

Shoot. You shoot.

It is at this point your senses catch up to instinct, and you behold a skyborn, diminutive pink creature framed by black wings colossal. Towards it a fatal, sealed arrow flies.

That is not Ran.

/ ~<>~ \

Certain hit becomes certain miss.

\ ~~~ /

The arrow, once aimed for the heart, is now not. Harmlessly, it flies over the intruder’s oversized head.

Not one to relax, you knock another arrow. Waiting this time before shooting. Now it falls to you to wonder what it is you just shot at.

The creature hangs in the air, beating its impressive, moonlit wingspan to keep its significantly less impressive body aloft. Held within the veritable cocoon of feathers is a length of pink: a dress with red trim, you realize. The skirts of the dress flap loosely in the wind to reveal the contours of little legs which keep stable despite the massive beats of the wings that ought to rock its body wholly. Two pale arms sprout at the top of the dress, held where the hips would be beneath the cloth. Crowning the creature, a comically sized pyramidal head. Its mouth is split, dangling and agape, like a drooling hound. Fierce red eyes mark the top, but are rendered lolling by the shake of its upper jaw; it gives the impression of trying to look everywhere at once and failing at each degree.

However, somehow, it seems that the creature is looking at you. You can feel it.

As adrenaline steadies your senses return, and with it the burden of logic. This is the lady Scarlet you just shot at, is it not? Your luck demands it, and fate howls with laughter. In the distance, the ghost of Izayoi glares soon-to-be literal daggers into you.

Heavy wingbeats provide a rhythm to your regret.

Somehow, you did not expect a youkai when you heard of the lady. Undoubtedly, this ‘vampire’ is a youkai. DAMN IT. You believed what cursed parody you saw, for just a moment. Reflexively, you disbelieve what lies before your eyes.

With great, sweeping motions the lady’s wings collapse into sphere, and the vampire drops to earth like a black raindrop. The wings unfurl to let the small, pink ‘Scarlet’ step out onto bare earth, her skinny legs hidden by dress.

You watch on; the frozen, blank expression on your face doing no justice to your racing thoughts.

It is then you notice that the black pyramid that makes up this youkai’s head is, in fact, a helmet, poorly secured to the point it flops up and down with every step. Held within the dark confined, a pale face, and two deep red, scarlet, eyes, all framed by blue hair. Its hair runs slightly outside the bounds of its helmet, draping down the sides in a lick of color.

This youkai, the cursed image you see of it, is utterly ridiculous. The helmet looks like it belongs on a vile tengu, not a young girl with pastel hair and dress. Similarly, its wings look like they were torn from a colossal bird, and haphazardly tacked onto this unsuspecting girl’s back. By far, this is your curse’s lamest attempt to taunt you. For once, you aren’t completely terrified at first sight.

No, rather, you’re terrified because you just shot at lady Scarlet. This is a complication you absolutely do not need at the moment.

“A traditional Gensokyo greeting?” It breaks the silence brought upon by the end of flight. The youkai’s voice matches its waifish body, despite obvious effort to the contrary.

You blink, the rest of the face still frozen. It turns out your body is frozen too. Still, you have a sealed arrow notched and ready to fire at Scarlet.

Desperately, stupidly, you thaw the ice in your muscle, and lower your bow in a jerking motion. Your voice comes next: “No, it’s - a greeting for - someone else.” The words come out spasmodic. “It was not meant for you.”

“Then that is twice now you have failed to greet me,” it points out like one would the weather.



“Hello.”

It’s difficult to see facial expression behind that absurd, cursed headgear of its, but the vampire is small enough that you can peer over and see the lip. “Hello to you too, Mr.…?”

You wait a while for the youkai to finish its sentence. It looks at you with an odd expression: expectation? Are you supposed to finish its sentences? Vampires are of the more cryptic youkai, you think.

“Mister.” you reply, not sure what else to say but the lady’s own words back.

“Mr.… Mister?” Scarlet repeats.

This is an odd game. You just tried to shoot this youkai and now it is trying to play word games with you. There were worse alternatives, far worse. Unfortunately, you have not the faintest clue of the rules of this game.

Scarlet continues: “Well, Mr Mister -” It smiles bright, and visibly inflates, but not by a great deal. Only so much flair can fit in such a small body. “I am Remilia Scarlet, the Eternally Young Scarlet Devil, Lady of the Scarlet Devil Mansion.” The vampire’s wing arc out like black rays of light from its most-eminent, silly head. Its cursed feathers are not feathers at all, but at closer inspection, something more akin to tree roots.

Scarlet, scarlet, scarlet. It means nothing to you. However, by the lady’s self-proclaimed color and some supposed drinking of blood, you imagine: Is this a leech youkai, a winged leech youkai? There are stranger still in the Forest of Magic, where Scarlet may well have come from in appearance if not behaviour.

So far, the youkai you attacked has not reciprocated. It instead plays word games with you, like the child it appears beneath the cursed shell. That is fine, relatively.

“I am Schütz,” you reply with your own simple identity.

“Schütz Mister?” it asks, convincingly earnest.

So, more word games?

“... Schütz?” you eek out, unsure. You rub the back of your head, searching for something more to say. Something like: ‘if you don’t leave me alone, a legendary kitsune will rain fire upon you and your house.’

“If you don’t leave me alone, a legendary kitsune will rain fire upon you and your house.”

You are proud of how succinctly and objectively you managed to compress such a terrifying fact.

The Scarlet Devil, understandably, takes a moment to digest that. Her face takes an unexpected turn, lip quivering and coming… upward? That is a smile the vampire gives you. No, not just a smile, a giggle which soon turns to outright laughter.

Remilia is capable of enough restrain to manage speech. “That’s a new one - and with such a straight face!” Then, everything stops: the laughter, the smile, the light in the eyes: snuffed. “Don’t worry, I will eliminate any and all legendary kitsunes that interrupt our coming breakfast.”



“... Really?” you ask.

“You have my word,” it continues, deadly serious.

This youkai may be more noble than you first thought. However… “Thank you - but I will slay it myself. The fox is my problem. Not yours.”

Remilia looks you in the eyes for a while, silent. “You are serious,” it says, probing.

“Of course.” Wait. “Were you not?”

“My word is my word.” Remilia nods solemnly.

This youkai truly intends to fight alongside you, for what: breakfast? You don’t question it. This youkai could be noble - somewhere deep down, very, very deep down.

The vampire flashes you a smile. This time you notice the two sharp canine at the front of its mouth, serpentine fangs. This Remilia Scarlet, a vampire, is simultaneously a snake, a bird, a leech, and a devil. This is beginning to get too strange even for the standards of your curse.

“Meiling will be here in a minute with the tables and chairs, and Sakuya will follow not long after with our meals. A fine, legendary-kitsune-free, breakfast for the two of us, I promise you.” Is it trying to blind you with that smile. You will admit that It is not unpleasant to behold.

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


This ‘devil’ has pledged to slay Ran. You are beginning to doubt its title.

If it is truly determined, should you let it? After all,
[A: It is Remilia’s choice, not yours.] (note: may extend this into dialogue with a writein.)

It may be their choice, but you can still try to dissuade them. This is your problem.
[B: Stress the dangers of the kitsune.]



Moreso, you doubt Remilia's motives.

You doubt the meaning of its every twitch, its every word, its every breath; but, it remains that you hope it is not playing you, hope that it takes after Meiling. Hope does not bud easily in your mind, you have come to know. So, as much as you hope, the more you doubt.

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x2 Iron-Headed Arrow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x11 Iron-Headed Arrow
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
Clothes (To Izayoi’s Standards)
-Draping Collar (Uncomfortable)
-Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
‘Red’ Needle
- ‘Red’ Thread (‘antipsychosomatic’)
‘Red’ Fabric (‘antipsychosomatic’)
‘Red’ Dress (Nearly Finished, ‘antipsychosomatic’)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <o “last quarter”

Time: Early Night

\o===================875===================o/
>> No. 30807
File 152138895939.png - (36.81KB, 512x512, 39.png) [iqdb]
30807
I made it by the schedule! Hurrah!
>> No. 30808
File 152138911063.png - (499.15KB, 1000x950, 39_5.png) [iqdb]
30808
>> No. 30809
[A: It is Remilia’s choice, not yours.]

Sounds like they're trying the diplomacy option. Let's ignore the threat of being coerced by the vampire and continue.
>> No. 30810
[A: It is Remilia’s choice, not yours.]
-[X] Patchouli helped me with a Nue that was hunting me. That was not my intention, yet I was called a deceiver. Meiling helped me with a wound and gave me information and all I could do was to leave this place with Elly as to not force her to fight someone she can't defeat. Sakuya gave me tea and clothes and I couldn't even assuage her suspicious towards me. Would you have me indebt with you, knowing that I'm bound to another?

I wish he could ask her what is up with that helmet without breaking character or acknowledging the curse.
>> No. 30811
>You rub the back of your head, searching for something more to say. Something like: ‘if you don’t leave me alone, a legendary kitsune will rain fire upon you and your house.’
>“If you don’t leave me alone, a legendary kitsune will rain fire upon you and your house.”
>You are proud of how succinctly and objectively you managed to compress such a terrifying fact.

Damn, he's really eloquent.
>> No. 30812
[A: It is Remilia’s choice, not yours.]

>>30810
I think it's supposed to be a knight helm. With a beak. Is it because the lady is chivalrous, or just a blue blood spear user ?
>> No. 30813
Vote will be called tomorrow afternoon.

Let us maintain this weekly pace.
>> No. 30814
>>30810
In-character it would not be said in these exact words, but the heart of this writein, a fixation on personal debts and relations, is a valid one should you wish to pursue it.
>> No. 30815
[A: It is Remilia’s choice, not yours.]

If Remilia wants to try fighting off the fox, I see no reason to stop her. She might be putting herself in danger, but likely not nearly as much danger as Schütz would be putting himself in going it alone.
>> No. 30816
>>30814
It's good to know you "translate" write ins. They're probably hard to make on-character.

[B]
>> No. 30817
Set course for A. To protest not against the lady.

>>30816
>"translate" writeins
So long as it is clearly written with the clear intention to fit in-character. Blatantly out of character writeins will not be translated to an in character equivalent.
>> No. 30818
Missed my chance to vote but I wanted to say I enjoyed this update, and curse-Remilia's design.

>Seeing Izayoi trying to do good makes it difficult to fault her too much. You would harass tired and busy men for Elly too, if you had to.
Damn right I would.
>> No. 30819
File 152172845088.png - (390.94KB, 739x804, 39_75.png) [iqdb]
30819
work in progress.
Can't get a nice hand.

1700 words into update.

>>30818
>design
Glad you like it.
>> No. 30820
In truth or falsehood, this youkai has decided to target Ran. Chasing a youkai’s whims is as useful as chasing a youkai’s anything. “Fine,” you say to convince yourself. It works well enough to stop you saying any more.

Your eyes are kept locked on Remilia, who looks up at you in some approximation of dignity. Meiling manages that without trying so hard, but Meiling serves this vampire so there must be some justification to its puffed-up appearance. The glorious wings framing the vampire’s body, cursed, speak of some eminence, nullified entirely by its gormless, gaping bird-helmet. The lady of the house reminds you of the house itself in its flamboyance. Once again, you question why your curse does this. Then, you must remind yourself that this silly illusion before you is preferable to the alternative.

On cue, images from the Forest of Magic and worse assault you, causing you to pull back with a grunt.

Your focus returns back to the vampire, who wears a strange expression. It looks to be studying you.

You don’t say anything, and neither do they, so the strange, one-sided exchange continues. What possible information you are giving Remilia by simply standing around, you do not know.

“Do you need a blanket?” Remilia asks.

You blink. A blanket? You know what they are, but you have not had one in a long, long time. You shiver, which turns into a twitch. Some ground is best left untread. You are running out of ground rapidly.

Oh. Remilia expects you to answer. It is hard to keep track of the youkai, a small, relatively harmless creature in your cesspool of thought. In what feels like a long time ago, the idea of being near a youkai would terrify you. Interesting that it still does - but terror is the common state, and anything more than that has become the worrisome. Ran. Curse. Elly. Ran. Curse. Elly. Ran. Cur-

“What?” You cut off your own rampant thoughts to ask. You then remember what you are asking about, right: the blanket. “A blanket?” you ask again, specifically regarding the blanket this time.

“You’re shivering and unresponsive. We can’t have that over breakfast,” it says.

You look at your fingers and find them still jigging to some subconscious tune of stress. A clenched fist, once then twice, solves the problem for now. “I am fine.” True, you are still alive and capable of serving Elly and Sister.

The vampire’s heavy wings ruffle. “You’re fine.” It sounds pleased to repeat you. “Coincidentally, that will be the topic of this evening.”

‘Why?’ you don’t ask in words, but you’re sure the message comes across through your eyes. Remilia looks back at you confident enough to not even consider answering. Either that or you cannot communicate well with eyes.

Crunch, crunch, crunch; Meiling trundles to the scene with table on back and chairs in hands. Before, you were wound up to the point you mistook Remilia as Ran, but you have enough wits now to not make the same mistake against Meiling.

“Meiling? ... Hello.” Put some spirit into it; Meiling is a friend. “Hello!”

Black smoke dribbles and wafts from its cursed, wound-like mouth. The held chairs are laid to the side.

“Schütz -” Meiling gives a short wave, and then, In one movement, the table is set down between the two of you, more like a swung blade than any reasonable furniture placement. By the will of heaven, that table does not break, but anything unlucky enough to be in the path of its descent would be thoroughly squashed. “- and Mistress,” Meiling continues.

Already, the youkai turns to leave, their duty fulfilled.

“You can…” But they’re already leaving. “stay,” the last piece escapes your mouth. Your own words surprise you.

Meiling pauses. However, Remilia picks up in the silence: “Meiling, tell Sakuya to bring a blanket for our newest patient.”

Meiling nods in understanding you thoroughly lack - and, for a split second, the cumbersome youkai looks back at you. Even through that contorted, rigid wound of cloth that makes up its face, you can see the pity it intends to convey.

‘Why?’ you ask again, internally, a question too hopeless for an answer to bother asking. Too, is that question projected to Remilia, who meets it with cluelessness. What would Remilia know of Meiling’s pity?

“Ah!” Remilia livens up with a brush of the wing. “It’s a chair,” the vampire exclaims as if it were the answer to all life’s problems, most notably: yours. “You sit on it.” They do just that.

It gestures for you to follow suit.

“... Yes.”

You take a chair and do as the youkai says. Is this another word game? Remilia is giving you such a beaming smile that you’re beginning to suspect there is something you are meant to do.

Oh.

You take your bow and plop it on the table. “It’s a bow. I shoot arrows with it.” You think you followed along right.

Remilia’s lip wavers, but remains purposely rigid. “So I’ve heard.”

Right. You tried to kill them with said form and function. An awkward groan escapes you.

“Bad reflex.” It keeps you alive in the forest. “Necessary reflex.” You take a deep breath. “And I apologize.”

The vampire absorbs your apology and turns it into a small laugh. It makes you uncomfortable, but it seems Remilia accepts it. “An apology I don’t have to scrape from death’s door? I like you.”

You begin to feel nostalgic over being merely ‘uncomfortable.’ “... Right.”

The seals of your bow twitch in reaction to the youkai before you. No doubt, Remilia is experiencing the full brunt of the anti-youkai properties. Quickly, you shove the bow off the table, your face stiff and movements stiffer.

To apologize again to this youkai makes you recoil, but ‘death’s door’ is closed to you and you don’t fancy rubbing against it. “... Apologies.”

Remilia just nods.

You take some solace in that you’re meeting whatever standards this youkai is setting.

Ran.

At that thought, you’re shunted from all prior notions and begin scanning the area. Of course, you would feel Ran before you see them, but paranoia, the blubbering lump that’s left of it, demands some facade of vigilance. At least it makes you feel like you are prepared.

You snap back to the current moment to meet an inquisitive Remilia. Against the table the vampire rests its head (helmet) in its little hands.

“Fox checking,” you say. “Checking for… foxes. Kitsune. Dangerous.”

Dangerous?” - That word triggers something in the youkai: a spark in the eye, a fire in the breath. “How, precisely, has this fox spurned you?”

The lady’s sudden interest overwhelm you, but the answer is simple enough: “Badly.”

“Just badly?”

Oh. The youkai is right.

“Very badly,” you amend.

Remilia gives a half-smile. “For example?”

You frown. What is it to this youkai to know your troubles? They are specifically your troubles, not theirs.

“If I’m to preserve the sanctity of breakfast, I need to know the depths this beast is willing to sink,” continues Remilia undeterred.

This youkai is using logic - not ‘youkai logic,’ but real, proper logic. The sort you can understand. In short: Remilia wants to know their enemy. Your frown only grows deeper, but in fierce thought rather than suspicion. The victor is soon made clear.

“The kitsune stole my scissors,” you flatly admit.

“Really?” Remilia leans in just a bit more, skeptical.

“Truly.”

“Absolutely unforgivable,” Remilia spits, their eyes burning for but a moment with violent, capricious light. “I’m convinced,” Remilia proclaims, wings grandly splayed. It exaggerated its motions as if to make up for the relative meekness of its frame. “The legendary kitsune is a blight, a scissor-stealing blight.”

You find yourself nodding along. This youkai, as utterly unrelated as they are, genuinely understands your problems. The kitsune stole Elly’s birthday. Perhaps this lady has experienced a similar fate. “Unforgivable,” you echo Remilia. “Absolutely.”

“So what do we do about this menace?” Remilia asks with hands clasped to a point, and pointed ears perking ever-so-slightly.

“I am going to shoot it in the heart with a sealed arrow. Then another.”

“What if that is not enough?”

You give a moment's thought, all that is needed. “I will continue shooting it in the heart. Repeatedly. Until it dies.”

The vampire nods sagely. “Excellent plan - I’ve thought of an addition just now.”

This youkai appears invested, not interested in trickery or nonsense, so you ask in most genuine curiosity: “What?”

“It is a trap I have thought of.” Remilia leans in to let you privy. “A seemingly ordinary breakfast, but, secretly, we lie in wait, eating and chatting to maintain cover. When the sordid kitsune comes it will not suspect a thing. Until, alas! It crumbles under our combined, well-fed might.” It finishes with a decisive, tiny fist in the palm, a slap rather than a thump.

Breakfast. Remilia.

Is this not all a distraction? You squirm awkwardly in your chair, checking your peripherals for foxes that do not exist. A distracting from what? You know your vigilance means nothing, not even to soothe your mind. Keeping your eyes on that black horizon only taunts you of the horrors lurking where the sun is held captive.

You weigh your options - or lack thereof.

Keep pointlessly vigilant to the point you are addled enough to mistake Remilia for Ran.

Or follow Remilia’s plan, and enlist Remilia’s enthusiastic aid.

Remilia, the cursed parody of it, doesn’t looks like much. That means nothing. This self titled ‘Scarlet Devil’ lords over Meiling, so, as much as you see it as a child playing with severed tengu wings, beneath there must be something. You saw it in their eyes before. No, Remilia is not only a distraction, you don’t know what else they are: noble, deceptive, empathetic, or, by proud namesake, a devil? Does it matter so long as it fights for you? The only apparent price is, paraphrased, a full stomach.

You look Remilia straight in its eyes: “Fine.”

“Excellent,” Remilia counters, eager to persuade you with its smile made only slightly predatory with those two, sharp and stubby teeth of its. It’s one of the least audaciously vicious youkai mouths you have seen.

Excellent would be Elly’s company. You shake your head. “Only fine.”

“Only the finest of plans. Not a single scissor will be stolen this breakfast, I stake my honour.” Hand is placed over heart.

You notice there are currently no scissors on the table to steal, but you are content on letting the vampire keep its strange line floating. You get the impression this youkai would drag on such conflicts endlessly into the night - not that you could lose any more sleep, anyway. Not that you would want to sleep with the fox at your heels.

Grass rustles, your breath quickens, and a dull sickness encroaches.

Izayoi. Like Ran, you can sense them before you see them. Izayoi’s ugly presence is less an affront compared to Ran, and you have only recently been able to sense the maid so readily. When you first saw the maid, all you felt was a vague unease. Now it feels a malady unique to Izayoi like a beast’s musk, only more unpleasant. This is more like your curse to do: Izayoi, a palid, morbid statue of a woman, tearing at all ends into nonsensical fragments. She manages to look more unearthly under the moonlight. Her dark clothes, mottled in a texture of desaturated, glitching color, work only to accentuate her starkly white skin as something of a disembodied head and hands in the night.

In both her hands, dishes, atop those, lumps and rinds of various colors. A folded, makeshift cape hangs over her shoulders, but never quite touches the ground.

You consider greeting her, but decide against.

The plates are set in front of you and Remilia. You stare down at the varied, fragrant lumps upon. Some look to be plants, others, mangled and singed flesh. The air, once occupied by a melee of floral scents, is taken by this… breakfast? It seems to be food, your nose tells you. Is it human food? No, it must be youkai food.

You take particularly note of the burnt meat cylinders.

That is human flesh, is it not.

You make an odd noise, like a bird chirp. “I have never tried human.” Nor do you plan to.

“It is as tasteful as it is varied, and as bland as it is repetitive.” Remilia gestures to the meat sticks. “But these are beef sausages.”

The fact this youkai has once, twice, and more eaten human does little to you. It is specifically that this youkai does not feel inclined to eat you that is pertinent. You squint at the ‘sausages’ on your plate as if they might come alive as worms. This was once cattle? Admittedly, you’ve never eaten beef; cattle are village property. Perhaps this is an edible part of the intestine?

“Beef sausages…” it comes off your tongue as an almost mystical phrase. You poke one, then recoil. “Hot,” is your most astute observation.

Izayoi moves beside you, and, carefully, the maid drapes on your lap the blanket that was once her cape. You freeze as to not reflexively punch her in the face, but internally you flounder, and you find yourself calling for help to Remilia with your eyes.

“Relax. No one here is going to hurt you,” says the vampire.

Beside you, Izayoi nods. No matter how much you try, staring harder at her won’t uncover malicious intent. She gave you a blanket as Remilia ordered, and nothing more. “... Right.”

“Besides the kitsune, but we have a plan for that - an excellent plan, I remind you,” Remilia continues, casually waving the maid off midway.

Izayoi gives a short bow to Remilia, and then, surprisingly, to you as well, before leaving. You don’t feel at ease until that vile aura of hers releases from under your skin. When it does, you sigh with relief.

Metal clinks against metal, causing you to flinch. Remilia handles two metal instruments, one bladed, the other pronged, to eviscerate the sausage. Noticing your gaze, the vampire continues, maintaining eye contact all the while. Remilia surgically seperates a small portion of flesh, impales it, then guides it into her mouth.

“This. An excellent plan?” you mumble to yourself. “Ha… ha,” an empty laugh escapes you. The fake Remilia you see has to angle their mouth upwards over that silly helmet to eat.

You look down at your own meal, and poke it again. Youkai food for youkai. Your stomach rumbles; it shares your vision but not your sense. Eating has been difficult for you, mainly because you keep forgetting. Some days pass without so much as an inkling of hunger to drive you. This is not turning out to be one of those days - the debt of starvation forgotten has come to collect.

Hand forced, you take what looks like a leaf, and nibble on it. If there was any doubt it was only a leaf, there is none now. The leaf is consumed wholly nonetheless, and then you notice not long after that all besides the ‘sausages’ are gone. “Oh.”

“What’s wrong, did you forget your table manners?”

Your what?

“No. I forgot I was starving.”

“Sakuya’s cooking has that tendency.” - “Comfortable?”

Over time, the blanket has migrated from your lap to all the way around your body. You find yourself bunching up inside it, like a grub in cocoon. It’s soft.

“... Yes. Very.” You really should not be at ease in this situation, but here you are, a snug grub.

The vampire looks you down and up. “I see.” Once again with that persistent, toothy grin. It makes one think the vampire is trying to imitate the cursed Elly.

This youkai seems to be genuinely interested in your wellbeing, like Meiling. You don’t get it, so you ask out of some form of obligation: “Are you… comfortable?”

“Comfortable ill suits me at the moment.” Remilia dismisses you swiftly.

“... Oh.”

“I’m giddy. At last, breakfast with the boy who convinced my sister that she doesn’t exist.” Remilia rests their head on a hand, and gestures at you faux-mystically. “I can tell you, she is not comfortable at all. Centuries of progress: dismissed.” To emphasize, the vampire makes a little *poof* effect with their hand.

“I …” Your mind wanders to places - horrible, terrible places from which you must retreat. There are images of a twisted, dog-headed girl, and the things you said to them. Whatever exactly you did wrong, you only have a patchwork, nightmarish recollection of, but you know you have done inexcusable deeds. “I apologize.” Who are you talking to? You force your gaze to Remilia; this apology for everything goes to them instead.

“To I? Flandre is in well-working order, and it was unbelievably cute to have her ask me: ‘Big sister, do I exist?’ For that I thank you, Schütz.” The vampire’s face sets serious. “But, if you would apologize to I, you should apologize to my little sister right away. You broke her little heart.”

“O- Of course.”

Satisfied, Remilia mutilates another of its sausages. With a wad of flesh impaled, the vampire, rather than feeding itself, arcs the implement towards you. “Try some,” it says.

The meat is close to your face. Are you supposed to bite it off? Faced with an intense, unknown situation you do as you always do: freeze in place and mumble. “Uh.”

Remilia is not letting up, nor are you giving them an answer.

This youkai food, it smells good - and yes, you are still mildly starving.

Your mind, wiped of thought and replaced almost wholly by baser instinct, decrees you to decimate the meat with a single bite. So you do without complaint. The metal prong scrapes against your teeth for escape - you let it go, no flesh attached.

You chew. You swallow. This repeats for a while until there are no longer any sausages on your plate. Finally, you down your cup of water in one gulp.

Youkai food is good. If that were actually human you inhaled, you might not even care. “Thank you,” you mutter. “Thank you!” you exclaim more heartily, and certainly meaningfully. This is the best thing you have eaten since - none. It turns out there are no horrid memories to dredge since there are none! The joy you have extracted from eating times past have been limited to sweet fruits. You were not aware, nor did you ever consider that, meat could taste good.

“Wrong person, again,” Remilia kindly corrects.

“Izayoi. Sakuya. Adorable maid? Thank you.” After a brief fumble, you bow into the table.

Remilia casually slides a sausage from their plate onto yours. Truly, a noble youkai.

“There. Now you can thank me,” says the vampire.

So you do.

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

Remilia is right, this is an excellent plan.

You want to say something - for the sake of talking, not just to pry. A topic regarding...

[] Meiling

[] Izayoi?

[] The vampire in front of you

{choose only one. you may specify within the topic, if you are confident.}

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x2 Iron-Headed Arrow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x11 Iron-Headed Arrow
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
Clothes (To Izayoi’s Standards)
-Draping Collar (Uncomfortable)
-Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
‘Red’ Needle
- ‘Red’ Thread (‘antipsychosomatic’)
‘Red’ Fabric (‘antipsychosomatic’)
‘Red’ Dress (Nearly Finished, ‘antipsychosomatic’)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <o “last quarter”

Time: Early Night

\o===================875===================o/

stickybeak
>> No. 30821
[X] Izayoi?
[X] How did you make this Youkai food ?

I was tempted to vote talking to Remilia about her sister but doing so without lying means bringing up the Curse .
>> No. 30822
>>30821
Don't you think it's a little gauche to ignore the hostess right in front of you to talk to a maid about food preparation? That's no good.

Besides, call this meta-knowledge, but I think Remilia will be pleased to talk about herself.

[x] The vampire in front of you
>> No. 30823
>>30822
I guessed it would be the closest thing to a compliment to the chef he could utter.
Apparently it's the best thing he's ever eaten.
I wonder if he ate the viscera of quarry.
>> No. 30824
[X] The vampire in front of you

Schütz socializing is a joy.
>> No. 30825
Vote will be called tomorrow.

I am busy this week, but next week my brief holidays begin. The weekly schedule may hiccup.

>>30821
>>30822
It would be talking about Izayoi, not to Izayoi. She left. There was a small paragraph devoted to that end.

>>30823
>quarry consumption
Magically tainted/contaminated meat. It's difficult to taste anything above the burning and tingling.
>> No. 30826
[x] The vampire in front of you

I am unsure of what to ask. Nevertheless, this "Scarlet" interests me.
>> No. 30827
[X] The vampire in front of you

Let's try to earn brownie points before she goes ahead with her plan.

>This is an excellent plan

I wonder if he's been "fated" or is just desperate. And how pissed is Remi really? I mean, we screwed up Flandre, ignored her and then messed up Patches. Her been so kind can't help but smell like a trap.

Maybe Patchouli is still after us? Who knows.
>> No. 30828
The vote is called - to discuss devils with devils.

Poor Meiling.

As prior mentioned, I will likely be busy this week. I will try my best to get an update out by schedule.
>> No. 30829
>>30828
>Poor Meiling.

Do you really want us to call attention to the one who explicitly warned us against Remilia, in her face?

That said, Meiling>Remilia
>> No. 30830
>>30829
>Do you really want us to call attention to the one who explicitly warned us against Remilia, in her face?

Yes, I do. I like writing Meiling. How terribly horrible or wonderfully good of a conclusion that nets you is irrelevant.
>> No. 30831
>>30830
>I like (writing) Meiling. Fuck consequences.

A man after my own heart.

Changing vote to [x] Meiling

Yes, I know you called them votes and no, I don't care.
>> No. 30837
To discuss Izayoi, Meiling, or… “You,” you decide.

“Me?” Remilia points to themself to be sure.

You nod. “I’m going to talk about you.”

“I’ve been told who and what I am by many, and most describe people, monsters, I’ve never met.” The vampire rests its head in its hands, a lukewarm sort of smile on its face. “But go on.”

“Uh,” you start, malformed. Looking back at your own words, you begin to see the disconnect. “No, I meant to talk with you about you.”

There’s a conceding tilt of the head. “Huh. Interesting. For simplicity's sake, let’s start with your opinion of me. Who I am, what I am.

Is that not exactly the same as before.

“Uh,” you find yourself repeating. “Fine? Fine.” It’s a brief but intense internal debate. In the end, Remilia seems interested in what you have to say, and that is enough for what should have been a meaningless discussion.

You gather a semblance of thought, a rough interpretation if at all, and then you speak: “Remilia is a small vampire. Apparently those are supposed to drink blood…?” You linger on that for a bit, but the subject vampire does not interject. “But this one does not. It is prideful, and you are not supposed to step on that?” The more you speak the more you realize you are parroting Meiling, but now you have started you deign not stop - not under Remilia’s now suddenly expectant gaze. “It seems like a good youkai, like Meiling and Patchouli. It gave me food and promised to kill Ran. I don’t know why anyone would hunt Remilia — they don’t look dangerous… or edible.” Your brow furrows, and you feel the need to spit out one last phrase. “But I do not trust looks. Ever.”

“Remilia could be edible?” asks Remilia, who inexplicably refers to themself by name.

“Maybe. Are you?”

Remilia has a smile that is wavy and warped, threatening to burst into something else, but restrained by a greater willpower. That willpower is not absolute. All that escapes it is a brief, nasal giggle-like puff off air, soon covered by speech. “I fail to see how my opinion is relevant on ‘it.’ But, ‘it’ does sound so uncannily like me.” The vampire leans in, composed. “Tell me, where do I meet this other Remilia - no, this thing. We have much in common, down right to the name. Does it fancy breakfast with the homeless, too?”

You feel there has been some miscommunication; such is the natural byproduct of a distorted youkai mind. Even a good youkai mind is flawed.

“It is you. I was describing you. Remilia? Scarlet… devil?”

“Really?”

“Truly.”

“Then there’s something I might ask.”

“What?”

“A minor concern. Nothing, really. But did you ever consider that I’m a girl?”

Not long after your first ventures into the Forest of Magic, the thought of youkai, even the most feminine ones, being anything close to female soon left you. Now, the thought does not register. “... No. Not once.”

“I’m a girl.”

You blink. This is new. “Are you sure?”

“Quite.”

“... Oh. Right.” You are skeptical, you admit, but if the youkai thinks it is a girl, there is little point arguing. It, the word is stuck firm, rooted deep in your mind. You grumble. It will take much work to uproot this habit.

“Quite right.” Remilia smiles with teeny, tiny pointed canines laid bare. “That was a fairly painless correction of opinions. How refreshing.” It She stretches. “Otherwise, It’s always - always...” Remilia searches for the words. “It’s always something to hear Meiling’s opinion of me. A shame she never makes it to the dining table. And, for future reference, I’m not edible.”

“Oh.”

“Disappointed?”

“Not really.” Who would be: a vampire hunter? “Vampire hunting sounds moronic. Too much for me. Somehow.”

Remilia feels the need to physically brush away that remark. “Don’t degrade yourself. In my experience, dumb people die with painfully corrected opinions and painfully extracted apologies.”

Like Reimu. No, not now, moron.

“Right,” you force out calm to distract yourself. You explicitly do not mention the many, many painful ways you have been reminded of your own mistakes. Without vent, the memories decide to pester you directly, and are rightly dismissed back to the abyss. Not. Now.

“Something on your mind?” Remilia asks.

“Not. Anymore.” You swallow the rising pain in your throat. “Enough about me.” Forever, preferably.

“And back to I?”

You nod.

“Meiling would have seen fit to fill you in with all the grim details, but, the timeless pessimist she is, she selectively forgot to mention my virtues. Interesting that Meiling selectively forgets pessimism whenever Sakuya is involved.” Remilia shrugs, and moves on with a flutter of the wing. “For all she said about me, it remains that you aren’t a stain on the ground.” A dazzling smile shines behind a silly helm. “That lies in my best quality — besides charity — compassion.”

“Compassion. For who?” you ask aloud. “For Elly? She would be sad if I were a stain. Maybe. I do not know,” you continue as a mumble of thought. Would Elly care if you died? It is a stupid question because Elly is preventing you from dying.

For who? It starts with anyone desperate enough to barge through my gate with a wound that needs mending. I don’t recall an Elly sowing chaos under my roof.”

“She did not.” You cannot say Elly would not. It was once her job to slay everyone in that ‘house’ of Remilia’s. Now it is yours. Oh. “You mean me.”

“Yes, you.” She softly pushes a finger forward in mock accusement. “Contrary to popular belief, you aren’t fine.”

The pain in your throat returns. “I… I think you should stop. Now. I’m fine.”

“Fox,” she says.

You flinch.

Remilia waits. There is no trace of mirth on its face, only a cool, idle gaze.

“... Myself. I can do it myself. Everything. Even foxes.” You want to run away, but you find yourself rooted to the chair as if somehow, by mumbling into the table, all your problems would melt away. They do not.

She sighs, unimpressed, disappointed. “You are a weeping, infected boil fit only to burst and make the world, and you, worse for it.”

Your throat seizes, but your words are blank. “I know.” Remilia has scryed the words from your mind and laid them out for the world to see, or, worse yet, she figured it out by herself.

“And is that fine?”

You breathe. It hurts. “No,” a voice so heavy it might not even be your own, soon followed up by one that certainly is: “... Why are you doing this.”

Remilia lets out a satisfied hum at your admission. “Why am I doing this? Up, now. Look me in the eyes.” You crick your neck so that you can. She looks back at you, eyes fierce and red. “Because I will fix you.”

Conscious breaths go by until you finally mutter: “Fix.”

Remilia nods as if it were a question, and it may as well have been.

“How.”

The vampire pauses, thinking over your question for a bit. “Your life is linear, a straight vector to tragedy. I can change that.”

“How,” you bark.

Remilia blinks in momentary stupor. “If you must skip ahead, I will spoil it: Fate.”

“What?”

“Fate, I said. I can fix your fate. Now let me continue.”

This time you blink, which turns into a frown. A slow hiss of air leaves your lips. You are doomed; that is what you believe. You would rather think of anything else, but this vampire, this girl, will not let your mind rest on its journey to the natural conclusion of your life. Now, it, she, offers a cure, a fix.

‘Fate.’ That means next to nothing.

Remilia takes the moment to right herself, spreading her wings wider for some reason or another. She takes a sharp breath, and says: “My house attracts the deeply wounded, and it cannot, should not, let them escape until I have my way. You see, my house receives two kinds patients, fundamentally ill in the same way. The difference is: some patients are willing to be treated, but some patients are not.” She smiles, but it seems pained. “I can’t stand to let either of them suffer. So it stands, only the cured are allowed to leave my house.”

You look down to the table, a neutral mediator of the discussion. It does not have much to say. But you get the gist of it anyway.

“I left, but …” you trail off.

“You remain ill.”

“Ill. Sick. Broken - Cursed.” The last word comes as a spit from you.

“Doomed,” Remilia adds. “A straight vector to tragedy, and any deviation is an illusion. I’ve already spoiled it for you, but I can directly change fate - I can offer you a real choice in the matter.”

The inside of your mouth is dust, so you drink from the glass of water, and continue drinking until it is empty. Your disgusting, violet eyes are reflected back to you at the bottom of the glass. You would do anything to be rid of them, and you have tried.

If she could: “Why would you.”

“Charity and compassion are a deadly mix. I simply can’t help myself, and…” She puts her hand to her heart. “You got away. How could my overflowing, trodden pride allow that?”

“... Ah.”

“It’s my imperative to fix you, one way or the other. Meiling filled you in well on the other — but, Meiling believes you are no fool, that you are wise enough to swallow medicine given to you. You aren’t a rebellious fool to be euthanized, you are a wise patient, aren’t you?”

“You think you can?” You can hardly believe you are asking this.

“I promise I can. If you want proof, look no farther than my house. Everyone under my roof is cured. They stay for their own reasons, respect, I would hope.”

Everyone. “Meiling?”


“- Was a glowing success if not a glowing personality.” Her pleasant, practiced smile falls serious, momentarily, for her next words. “She was difficult. Patient confidentiality allows no more to be said. Ask her yourself for the details.”

The vampire ruffles its tremendous, cursed wings. “I will ask again -”

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


“-are you a wise patient, will you accept my treatment?” “Hurry. I can’t stand waiting another moment. I have a sense for tragedy, and you might burst at any moment,” Remilia adds.

Overwhelmed, you just stare down at the table.

“If I don’t …”

“One way or the other, you will be neutralised. It would be cruel to let you live as you are now.”

“Ah,” you breathe into the table.

You want the curse to end. This youkai offers a nebulous, nonsensical, absurd, impossible solution - or it will try to make you a stain on the ground. You cannot die, so you will ignore that.

[] Yes.

[] No.



This is too much. Hand over the verdict to someone good. She would know what is best for you:
[] “Elly.”
Dragging Elly into your mess? How selfish.

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x2 Iron-Headed Arrow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x11 Iron-Headed Arrow
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
Clothes (To Izayoi’s Standards)
-Draping Collar (Uncomfortable)
-Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
‘Red’ Needle
- ‘Red’ Thread (‘antipsychosomatic’)
‘Red’ Fabric (‘antipsychosomatic’)
‘Red’ Dress (Nearly Finished, ‘antipsychosomatic’)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <o “last quarter”

Time: Early Night

\o===================875===================o/

What do you call a devil’s misericorde? A point of pride! hahaha
>> No. 30839
[X] “Elly.”

Even if Remilia is being entirely sincere, this isn't her problem, and we don't know what would come of her trying to fix it. There's no telling how the curse would respond to an attempt to cure it, and Remilia might have a different idea of "cured" than we do.

That said, the possible benefit makes "Yes" a really tempting option, especially since I don't doubt we're on the road to tragedy. So rather than shut the offer down outright, I'd like to leave it up to Elly.
>> No. 30842
[X] “Elly.”

I don't know if we should trust Remilia, but we can trust Elly.
>> No. 30844
Vote will be called tomorrow.
>> No. 30845
File 152265603797.png - (450.78KB, 739x804, 41.png) [iqdb]
30845
can't do much more with it.
>> No. 30847
>>30845
Oh, feelings~ Is she sad?

[X] Yes

Not an Elly option, but for Elly, if you know what I mean. She deserves better than this fragmented world.
>> No. 30849
File 152272000381.png - (26.96KB, 256x256, 41_5.png) [iqdb]
30849
Vote set. Elly.

Low turnout for a very important vote - but the people who did turn up are trying, so that's fine.

Old WIP sprite.
>> No. 30850
This update will take a while. It may exceed deadline.
>> No. 30851
3k

More to come.
>> No. 30854
“Elly,” Schütz declares. “Will decide for me.”

“Consultation? I can’t allow that. This is a personal de s. i.. cion…?” Remilia’s authoritative tone withers, and her red eyes widen comically under the shade of their visor.

“Schütz,” Elly says, now atop the table and smiling down at him with her wretched, cursed face.

The vampire sips some water.

Dragging Elly into my mess. Breakfast churns in Schütz’ timid gut. He forces himself to return Elly’s smile, but finds smiling at the moment to prove too challenging. Awkwardly, he turns to the vampire and asks: “... ‘Can’t’?”

Remilia, who has recovered remarkably quickly, holds a hand up to Schütz. “A moment.” She regards Elly with a confident smile, but is forced to angle her already well-angled head further so to like a chick begging its mother for food. “I am Remilia Scarlet, the Eternally Young Scarlet Devil, Lady of the Scarlet Devil Mansion,” she recites her evidently rehearsed speech, gloriously spread wings and all. “And you are Elly?”

Elly blithely ignores her.

That does little, if anything, to snuff the vampire. “I’ve never heard of an ‘Elly,’ despite your evident …” She vaguely cycles a hand in the air. “Aura of mortal terror. An avatar of Death, perchance?”

/ ELLY \

‘Elly is good,’ Schütz said. His words are a symphony of sewage to all her senses; they ooze from him like maggots from rotten meat. But she's accustomed to it, the same sound everything makes, and it all means the same to her: ‘end me.’ Since forever, humanity has begged to be purged by Elly. Yet, Elly does not end anything. She could, but she does not. Assaulted by a world of gibbering, violating garbage, and capable of purging it all, all she does is stick her head underwater where it is quietest. It makes no sense, especially not to Elly.

Elly has a need that tells her to end everything, and an ability to do so, and a reason why she shouldn’t. The ‘reason,’ she does not understand, and, until now, she thought she could not know. Despite there being little to look at, introspection is all too difficult for Elly. Countless yesterdays have been spent asking ‘why don’t I end humanity?,’ and all she has managed tell herself are an equally countless proportion of unbelievable lies.

Schütz believes he knows everything about Elly. Most garbage does. ‘Elly is good,’ Schütz said, seemingly no different than any other morsel of filth. How did Elly react? She laughed, and laughed, and laughed. Then, she thought and asked herself: ‘why am I laughing?’ The silence in response was deafening, as if she were underwater. She had come to a realization, a rare thing for her. Elly had been called many things - everything, she suspected, except good.

She had to ask him, did he really mean it?

He did. ‘Elly is good,’ he repeated. In between the howl of excretion of rot and bile flowing, Elly knew he believed what he said.

It was then that Elly realized that she considered it. With no other options, consideration turned into belief. The reason, a compunction, the last and only argument for humanity’s existence she has ever managed to believe in, it must be because ‘Elly is good.’ There can be nothing else. That is what the tiny, little, ignorant, hopeless, suffering fragment of Elly is: good.

\ ELLY /

Sounding like the shredding of rusted iron across across a lake of stone, Elly finds it in herself to respond: “No.” Her demented grin twitches, just a tiny bit.

For all her effort, Remilia is left to say: “Ah ... My mistake.”

Disinterested, Elly turns back to Schütz like a compass pointing north. She’s happy to stare like she has been for the last week. He is happy to be stared at, but only beneath several layers of guilt.

Fine. He was about to correct Remilia himself. Fortunately, she is an understanding youkai - too understanding. The vampire understands the sickness of his existence and its natural conclusion. In response, she offers a cure. Will I accept it? That responsibility has been forced upon Elly, or so he would shamefully hope. Remilia says otherwise.

“Elly is better than me. Why can’t she decide?”

Remilia briefly looks between the strange pair, silent a moment, her smile thoroughly, perhaps permanently for the night, wiped. “It is vital to decide your own fate. I will put this bluntly, again: you are doomed. Your charming company, -” She extends a wing out in place of a pointed finger. Her hands remain locked together like prayer, and her gaze fixated on the quietly panicking Schütz. “Elly, can be no help to you. She could use my help, but, unlike you, her fate isn’t so precarious as to burst into skittles at any moment.” To Schütz’ surprise, a gentle, uncharacteristically pleading smile graces the lady’s face. “Let me cure you.”

This youkai is… He would have liked to dwell on that thought, but the more the vampire’s words sink in, the more fixated he becomes. “What is wrong with Elly?” he nearly tumbles on his own words to speak. Nothing else is important.

Remilia ruffles her wings, takes a slight breath to adjust herself, then continues uninhibited: “To provide a comparison: Elly is like a slug inching along a fine line of salt. While you are bleeding out on my doorstep with a punctured heart. I can cure both, but who deserves priority in this situation?”

“Elly.”

Remilia manages to express all of her disappointment in a single, delayed blink. “Incorrect.”

Youkai are defined by being nonsensical. Though to what degree must a mind twist for the worth of Elly to be anywhere but meteorically exceeding mine? The mind of this small vampire must resemble a melted spring. A reply bubbles in the back of Schütz’ throat, muted by a sudden tugging at the back of his mind.

/ ~<>~ \

>[WELCOME: USERNAMENOTFOUND]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: YR | T:8:01]

The life of the world liquefies to a soup of syrupy, violet nothing. Something not of this world, but at the same time something he is intimately familiar with, brands his eyes. It’s nostalgic, but indistinct, like a landmark across a long forgotten trail. The sight of it makes Schütz sick. Deep inside him, he knows that this trail was forgotten for a reason, and it should have stayed that way.

These glyphs were made for him to understand. A message from YR. He swallows as grim speculation festers within like a tumor. He decides to get the truth before the possibilities kill him.

>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[HELLO!]
>[I HAVE ONLY EVER SENT MAIL TO MYSELF.]
>[SO CONVENIENT!]
>[ANYWAY]
>[SEE YOU SOON.]
>[I BROUGHT SAKE.]
>[-YR]
>...
>[GIRLS ARE PREPARING. PLEASE WAIT WARMLY.]

\ ~~~ /

The world briefly pulses violet. Remilia awaits his reply with no lasting impatience. Elly stares same as always. No time has passed.

Yakumo Ran, the fox, is coming.

The sickness of his mind seeps into his gut. Airily, he reaches for his bow, then his arrows. A sealed arrow is drawn, and it shakes in his hands. Treacherous, worthless digits.

“The fox, I presume.”

His tired but all too awake eyes are drawn to Remilia’s blazing own. He nods, neck metaphorically creaking. “Fox,” comes out of his next, stilted breath.

“Is but a symptom of a greater illness. I’ve lost the mood for humor, but my jested promise remains. I will stop the fox, but make no mistake, to stop it is only to delay.” She pause, and flares her wings out to their true, relatively giant span. “The problem is in you. You need my cure.”

“In me,” he echos vaguely. “I did this. The fox is my problem.” His brow scrunches as he comprehend Remilia’s words in full. “You should leave.”

“Fox?” Elly interjects, not wanting to be left out.

Schütz flinches as if struck. “Elly...” New horrors reveal themself from the pits of his worst nightmare. I dragged her into this with barely a moment’s thought.

/ ~~<><O><o><>~<>~~~~<o><O><><>~~~~~~<><o>~~ \

>[WELCOME: USERNAMENOTFOUND]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: USERNAMENOTFOUND | T:8:03]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
>[DANGER]
-
>...
>[GIRLS ARE PREPARING. PLEASE WAIT WARMLY.]

\ ~~~ /

At Schütz’ weakest moment, his mind is inundated by adrenaline. The night sky thumps like a great, spasming heart, and, for a moment, he beholds a blanket of violet stars. They leer back. Not enough arrows for all those eyes, he concludes. He feels a vacuous pressure in his gut, as if his organs were suddenly made too large for his body. The waterbrash in his mouth is soon greeted by breakfast, and his mouth cannot contain it all. It is only by luck he manages to spill it on the ground rather than the table. Acrid fluid trickles from the man’s lip. His thoughts are scalded and beaten as they form.

Elly still looks down to him, perfectly oblivious. “Schütz?” she asks.

Elly’s ear-grinding voice reaches beneath his sickness, and pulls him out like a man gasping for air. In his first moment of lucidity, he gurgles: “Elly. Leave. Now.

“But, Schütz…” Elly’s thoughts whine like twisted metal. “I don’t want to leave, I realize.” She smiles, triumphant over her own desires.

Schütz stands shocked and horrified. Words rise and come out as a stream of rotten saliva in his mouth. He swallows. Everything that could go wrong is going wrong. I put Elly in danger. I, the selfish, moronic, cursed monster. ‘Then do something about it,’ Reimu would say, then proceed to die like an idiot for my sake. What would a good person do? What would a good person say? I could not begin to know.

He has to settle for what Schütz would do and say. “Fine.” The sealed arrow holds firm in his hand. “I am going to dispose of garbage. It is my job. Remember?”

Elly ponders a moment. “Then good hunting to you,” she concludes. It’s a line he has heard too many times to count.

“Good hunting to me,” for your sake. His body screams to him in a distinct ‘flight,’ yet he turns around, confident as he could possibly be, and marches towards where his instincts tell him to absolutely never go. Remilia is by his side.

“You’re going to slay it,” Remilia states the obvious.

He grunts meaninglessly. It goes without saying, without suggesting, too.

“Have you considered diplomacy?”

Schütz is quick to drown out the silly creature. Soon after, he spots the fox.

Draw. He knocks the sealed arrow.

Aim. He aims for something he cannot see, but know exists in everything: a heart.

Shoot. He shoots.

It hits because it must. The distant silhouette stops in place. What follows is akin to the fateful moment between taking a wound and feeling the pain. Is it dead? Is it alive? Will it come roaring like a storm, or whimpering, skewered?

There is a tug at the back of his mind, and his stomach plummets.

/ ~<>~ \

>[WELCOME: USERNAMENOTFOUND]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: YR | T:8:06]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[NICE SHOT!]
>[BOUNDARY OF HIT AND MISS!]
>[PROUD OF YOU.]
>[SAKE IS FINE!]
>[IT ONLY HIT MY HEART.]
>[-YR]
>...
>[GIRLS ARE PREPARING. PLEASE WAIT WARMLY.]

\ ~~~ /

He takes the other sealed arrow, the one he had hoped to never need. ‘Draw - Aim - Shoot,’ he responds.

The silhouette of the fox stops again. He earns from that second, surely fatal blow another message.

/ ~<>~ \

>[WELCOME: USERNAMENOTFOUND]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: YR | T:8:07]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[THAT REMINDS ME.]
>[<-O-=]
>[^ME]
>[YOU CAN MAKE CUTE PICTURES WITH THE GLYPHS.]
>[/\ /\]
>[|OO|]
>[\__/]
>[^ME AGAIN]
>[TRY IT OUT!]
>[-YR]
>...
>[GIRLS ARE PREPARING. PLEASE WAIT WARMLY.]

\ ~~~ /

Nonsense. That is both of his sealed arrows exhausted. The pangs of worry become a physical, nauseous malaise inside him, which he completely ignores. Defend Elly. He reaches for an ordinary arrow, those meaninglessly named by Sister as ‘freikugeln.’

Draw - Aim - Shoot

Not enough.

Draw - Aim - Shoot

Not enough.


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

Defend Elly.

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
- x9 Iron-Headed Arrow
Iron Knife (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
Clothes (To Izayoi’s Standards)
-Draping Collar (Uncomfortable)
-Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <o “last quarter”

Time: Night

\o===================875===================o/
>> No. 30858
Ugh I almost puked at Elly's description of us. We need to finish that dress soon

/ ~<>~ \
>[WELCOME: YR]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: USERNAMENOTFOUND | T:8:09SAT]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>.....[/\ /\]
>[<-[|X.X|]-=]
>.....[\__/]
>[^ YOU]
>[GIB SCISSORS ლ(ಠ益ಠლ]
>...

\ ~~~ /
>> No. 30859
>>30858
Being a named sewage golem is better than not!
>> No. 30860
/ REMILIA \

‘Remilia would have preferred peace.’ It is the starting sentiment to many the end of a tragic story. This one she hopes to end without bloodshed. Now, as she stands dauntless before the fox, which the well-learned Remilia had been right to speculate as a kitsune, she realizes ‘without bloodshed’ was a slight misnomer.

Thunk!

Another arrow perforates the kitsune’s heart, and from that heart a kitsune’s blood, priceless to anyone with a good eye, flows down soaked clothes and to puddles in the earth below. Remilia has made a mistake, she admits, in assuming the doomed man’s accuracy to be as lacking as this kitsune’s survival sense. Frequently as her hopes are dashed, she makes new ones; in this case: ‘To end this encounter before the doomed man runs out of arrows and charges screaming with a knife.’ The count of eight arrows remain for her to reach an understanding.

“I am Remilia Scarlet, the Eternally Young Scarlet Devil, Lady of the Scarlet Devil Mansion,” she recites just like she did in front of the mirror.

The Kitsune bows gracefully, nearly dodging an arrow, and she would have had the arrow not felt it necessary to change course. Thunk! 8.

Remilia winces internally, but remains stalwart. If the kitsune won’t react, then neither will I.

From the arrow through the kitsune’s forehead that makes her appear as an artificial unicorn, a thin line of blood dribbles down into her mouth as she speaks. “Yakumo, Ran. Proud Shikigami of the Yakumo family, and kitsune.” The warm flames at the tips of Ran’s tails bathe her in a homely, welcoming glow. She has all the poise of a statue, and an austere voice befitting. This particular statue is swiftly becoming a water fountain. The blood pooling in her mouth does not detract from her voice; if anything, overcoming her injuries with cadence unscathed only serves to lionize. This is the sort of persona a man could worship. But not Schütz, Remilia notes.

“I noticed that you’ve made an enemy of a desperate man, miss Yakumo.”

Thunk! 7.

A spurt of blood ejects from the kitsune’s nose on exhale, and, by some divine grace, she manages to make it look peaceful. “Him?” the kitsune flicks an ear in Schütz’ direction. “He’s a good kid, smart kid - for he doesn’t trust me one bit, as you can see.” She gestures casually to her heart-turned-quiver. “Shame that I’m supposed to kill him.”

For all the wrong reasons, I expect, but when given common ground… “He makes it easy.”

“Too easy.”

“But easy is boring.”

Her statuesque, semi-divine persona cracks into a genuine smile. “Too boring.”

Thunk! 6.

A mere peek of what’s beneath. But not enough. I don’t negotiate with shells. Remilia stretches her wing out in preparation, a tasteful cracking of the knuckles. “Then consider me entertainment. Let’s make this difficult: this is a kitsune-free breakfast.”

“But I brought sake.”

Remilia tries not to dwell overlong on the implications of introducing a man like Schütz to alcohol: the greatest lubricant of a downward spiral. “It’s Schütz’ policy, and I’m nothing if not an empathetic host.”

“Hm? You suppose to defy the interests of the Yakumo Family?”

Thunk! 5.

“I hope to convince you that your interests lie elsewhere.”

“Admirable, but my interests are only as relevant as the sake on my hip. It’s pointless to ask a blade to stop swinging, and if you want to convince the Yakumo Family of anything…” The kitsune’s ear flicks in clear discomfort; more than she has shown for all the arrows combined. “I’d give up, yes?”

A puppet keen to show off its strings. She could use some scissors, she could use me. Remilia feels confidence, real confidence, fill her. This is her speciality, after all. “Schütz is my patient. I don’t give up on patients -” Thunk! 4. There’s something special about watching your newest prospect get repeatedly hammered in the heart, once through the brain, by a spurned caveman. “... No matter how difficult they are,” she finishes.

“Wow ~ How noble. We should discuss it more over sake.”

Be as flippant as you want. You bury your true feelings shallowly to be found. “I meant it by your interests. You’re sick, too. I could help you, if you just walk through my gate. Yes, we could discuss the details over sake.”

Thunk! 3. Unrelated to Yakumo’s newest chest accessory, there is a flick of her ear. “It’s in the interest of the Yakumo Family that I abstain from needless socialisation with the locals.”

“I’m offering you a way out.” Now isn’t the time for Remilia to mulch words.

“What ever could you be implying? That I, a kitsune of legendary intellect, have not considered each and every route available? Indeed, you think you know something I do not?”

Remilia is an optimist, and how could she not be? Being a realist makes no sense if you’re the one fiddling reality. Meiling understands; and who else but Remilia could claim to budge that mountain of a personality. She just needs to push harder, and everyone will understand eventually, right? “Precisely,” she pushes.

Thunk! 2.

“I know who you are. I know what you are. I know what you do and how you do it. I let you in when you came knocking. Now, you may enlighten me: how sick is my fate, how much must Yakumo Ran be moulded before shes to your liking? Why don’t we discuss over sake?”

First, a doomed caveman, second, Death herself for lack of a better term, third, the administrator of Gensokyo. Remilia’s patient list is more challenging than ever, but It remains that she is an optimist. Odds are, Yakumo knows of a monster I am not. She has already skipped the preamble, If I push harder … “Excellent idea. Is tomorrow good for you?”

Ran’s mouth splits into a surprisingly pleasant smile. “Tomorrow it is.”

Another success. Remilia internally sighs with relief, and externally, her smile is dazzling. Both expressions are genuine.

Ran’s own smile falls flat a moment later into an austere mask. “You see-” Thunk! 1. “I’m busy today. Interests of the Yakumo Family.”

“... I see.”

Ran doesn’t budge, nor does Remilia. That can’t do.

Remilia manifests her spear, a slender, elegant spine so thin it impresses one to think it sways a meter by the slightest movement. Ideally, such instruments would be used to stitch fates, though it being used to drag a skewered but ultimately receptive kitsune into her surgery works too. Remilia can’t help herself; she’s too full of charity and compassion to care for temperance.

“A clash of brawn is tasteless,” miss Yakumo comments.

“I would have preferred peace.” And she still intends to get it, violently. If I push harder …

\ REMILIA /

There are no arrows left to lose, but they are all where they should be. Schütz’ breath is slow and rhythmic. Ran stands not firm against his assault, but casual. Talking with Remilia is apparently a more pressing matter for the fox than the arrows pressing into its sternum. He realizes that his arrows, transferred from one quiver to another, are not enough. “Out of arrows (out of arrows.)”

Mindlessly, he paws for ammunition he knows does not exist. Along the natural path of desperation, his hand finds his knife. “... ah.” He considers it with what remains of logical thought. Elly. He draws the knife.

“Out of arrows?” asks a metallic voice.

Schütz flinches, knocked back into a reality he would rather not completely comprehend. “None,” he says to himself.

“Then you want arrows?”

“Yes, but…” The seals of the knife run slick with his sweat. He will not lie, especially not to her. “Yes.”

Elly is gone.

Schütz realizes what he has done.

/ Remilia \

Spontaneous as cloudless lightning and just as stunning, a girl appears. She’s of moderate height, with an immoderate bust. Her hair is curly and blonde, and matches her pretty gold eyes. She’s mostly red, though her skin is pale. In her hands is a scythe. Its handle is elasticaly misshapen, and slowly, ever so slowly it squirms. The head of the tool resembles forged iron, but it protrudes organically, more like a beast’s tooth or claw.

The world stands still, but Elly wasn’t invited. Determinedly lost, her gaze meanders about. She’s ignorant or (likely) uncaring of how her presence inspires one to take a sudden reassessment of the choices that led them to this moment.

“Elly?” Remilia breaks the silence to prove she’s still capable of speaking.

Elly, irreverent, finds what she’s looking for. She smiles triumphantly to reveal shark-like teeth. Again, it makes one reconsider their life choices, but at this point any changes made would be too late.

“Afternoon’” says Ran as she is impaled to the ground like a prized butterfly monarch. Ran raises an arm, which is amputated. Then she raises a tail, also amputated. This continues for as long a while as there are struggling limbs. Ran is a fast learner, and as she quietly leaks blood from her mouth, she struggles no more. The vivisection begins, an emergency surgery with no time for dally. The surgeon carves a circle into Ran’s chest, and cleanly unplugs the heart along with a bouquet of arrows and all the attached viscera.

Remilia holds a still spear in her hands. She feels something. What’s the name, again? Right: fear. The persistent, crawling sickness that sticks to one’s skin like oil ready to light.

Elly pulls the final arrow from Ran’s head with a ‘pop.’ The surgeon pauses, looking down at her bloody self. “Dirty,” she comments.

Ran is my patient. I should - I should… Being a hero, Remilia knows the correct answer. Her lance sways in her hands, and points forward toward Elly. If I push harder, everyone will understand eventually, right? It feels like my skin is on fire. Is the sun rising? It must be.

A green figure, crowned in red, is beside Remilia. Meiling?

Meiling places a gentle hand atop the spear, which crumples downwards with no resistance. The look on Meiling’s face is a hard mix, deliberately kept mute. It’s futile, Remilia can see it all in her eyes, a sorry blend of disappointment, a fierce shadow of rage. Directed at who?

“Ah, Meiling. I’m only …“ She’s silenced by the twitch of Meiling’s lip. Self-restraint is well practiced by the gatekeeper, but was never a talent.

Without a word, the gatekeeper takes Remilia’s hand, and drags her back home. Remilia, again, does not find herself resisting. Her little legs struggle to keep up, and her spear hangs limply over her shoulder; it sails in the wind as good a white flag as any.

\ Remilia /

Schütz skids, then slides to the ground just before a sudden, unmissable roadblock.

“E-Elly?” he sputters out from harsh breaths. Through distance and darkness he saw only the puppeteering of molten silhouettes, and he expected the worst; he always expects the worst. Under subtle moonlight is Elly, smiling as white and wide as she can. Dew-like droplets of blood cling to her hair and face, reflecting like early morning. In a way, Schütz considers her beautiful, even as her insulting, cursed afterimage. Slivers of restraint prevent him from leaping up and embracing her now.

“Schütz!”

The rest of current reality catches up to Schütz, and wildly he scans around him for signs of the archfiend.

A clitter clatter sounds before him, drawing all of his hyperactive attention at once. He blinks.

“Arrows,” Elly says.

“Arrows,” Schütz echoes.

Before him, thirteen arrows crudely separated from gore, some broken, others not. Then there is another arrow, a sealed one, seperate from the rest in its cleanliness. The one I misfired.

“I couldn’t clean them; the arrows felt like you.”

His mind goes still, the sound of nothing: “Oh.” Gradually, he reboots from shock. “Thank you, Elly,” comes next. “I asked for this. I - I asked for this?”

“I did it!” Elly proclaims, proud.

“You did it ... Because I wanted.” Dots freshly connect in his mind, of victims, perpetrators, and the blackest of possibilities. “You could have gotten hurt. I could have gotten you hurt. I could have gotten Elly hurt.” He feels sharp a pain in his chest. He looks up and asks. “Are you hurt?”

“Hurt?” she tests the word, an alien syllable.

His reply is a sharp exhale, a hiss of inhaled hair, and finally an eloquent: “Gugh.” The mutated half-speech half-retch hangs in the air. Seeing opportunity, another fear takes stead. Fox. “The fox. Ran. Where is … ?” Too, those words die. He can hardly think or speak.

“Schütz?”

“Elly.” He swallows the sour water in his mouth. Take it slowly. “You are alive. I put you in danger. You are alive. I put you in danger.Deep breath, deep breath, and then another. “But you are alive. Unharmed. The fox; where is it?”

“Fox?” Elly only grows more befuddled.

Why would she know. Why should she know. “Garbage.” He watches a droplet of blood, fox blood, dribble down Elly’s cheek. “Unimportant garbage. You are the only important one. Elly is alive, Elly is safe, Elly is …” The word feels rotten from his tongue, but she deserves it. “Good.”

Good.” She savors it. “I am good.” Her confusion is banished and forgotten, replaced by a gleeful air that tickles even Schütz’ wounded, callused mind.

“Elly.”

“Schütz?”

“Thank you. Again.”

“Did I make you happy?” she suddenly asks, leaning forward in anticipation.

He swallows the pain in his throat. This is important to her? Then I must. A smile is painfully forced. “Yes.” About everything else. No.

She appears very pleased with herself. Pleased in following my moronic, delirious passing whim. Nothing is worth endangering Elly, so what am I for subjecting her to this. I am, I was, supposed to be her friend. How could I possibly-? He neutralizes the toxic notion before it completely envenomates him. Already, his fingers twitch and his mouth fills with sour. He cannot afford to accept his failures at the moment. That will come later.

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

‘Ran is not dead,’ a sober voice tells him. But he already knows that in the distance there is a wounded fox; it needs to be put down.

After briefly shedding the recovered arrows of the worst of the meat chunks, he stuffs them into his holdings. Kitsune blood seeps through his uncomfortable clothes. He shivers, not only from the cold, damp feeling of blood, but also its implication. Tentatively, he fingers the sealed hilt of his knife. We could just walk away. Maybe the fox will bleed out, alone. Schütz has never been an optimist, yet the possibility is tempting. The back of his mind still screams at him to run. Elly will follow him wherever he goes - because she wants to.

[A: Walk away.]

[B: Kill Ran.]

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
-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)
Clothes (To Izayoi’s Standards, Blood Coated ‘Kitsune’)
-Draping Collar (Uncomfortable)
-Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <o “last quarter”

Time: Night

\o===================875===================o/
>> No. 30861
[WI: Find the scissors.]

He'll need the fox alive if she hid them.
>> No. 30862
[A: Walk away.]

Fuckup to the end.
>> No. 30863
[X] [A: Walk away.]

Oh man. Exciting stuff. Heavy stuff. Big choice.
I'm not too sure what to make of it all right now, but the fox is not a threat at the moment, and I get the feeling it would be better to deal with her again rather than her superior. Also, Schütz wouldn't know it, but Remilia decided to take her on as a patient, and she might be able to separate Ran's interests from those of the Yakumo family given a chance. Might be a bit too optimistic, but I'll go with A and hope for the best. After all, we've yet to repay the favor of mercy Ran showed earlier.
>> No. 30865
File 152356127052.jpg - (126.74KB, 566x446, yyyup.jpg) [iqdb]
30865
So, is Remilia a Hero?

I wonder if she told Flandre that. Let's hope not.

Also,

>mfw when Elly fetches some arrows for Schultz
>> No. 30866
[C: Find the scissors.]

Or, if that is not allowed

[A: Walk Away]

Don't say I didn't warn you, Ran. We have a dress to finish.

Also, I wonder if Remilia's cure would drive us away from Elly and her creator. Let's hope not.
I doubt she'd be scared of us after that but...
>> No. 30867
[C: Find the scissors.]

Need to find the scissors, need to cut the link to Ran, need to finish the dress for good Elly, need to find the scissors, need to finish the dress for good Elly, need to finish the dress for good Elly.
>> No. 30868
That was fast. Nice.

Vote will be called tomorrow. I will be very busy the following week.

>only take the scissors
You may try.
>> No. 30870
The vote is set. A writein that does not quite quell murderous intent, but it does focus it.

There may be delays, there may not. I cannot say for the moment.
>> No. 30871
>>30870
The best we could have hoped for, I suppose. We were so close to turning away and letting her live ;..;
>> No. 30872
To kill or flee, it is only for a moment that Schütz is at a loss. The next moment, he notes Elly’s state, dirtied further still by his whim. She needs a new dress, and Ran plucked that opportunity away. Some evils are too great to ignore, and even if Schütz is not a hero, he will try his best.

“Elly.”

“Schütz.”

“I have a request.”

Elly’s cursed, socketed eyes narrow grotesquely in interest. “What is it?” her metallic voice grinds out.

“I need to finish something. Elsewhere. If you could stay here until I get back…” He pauses, doubt strangling him, but not hard enough. “It would make me happy.”

Elly is conflicted. Schütz can tell by the absurd look on her face, and the way his ears are hurting. ‘Stop corrupting Elly’s voice, I want to hear it,’ he pleads to his curse. There is no compromise to be had, and there never was. Schütz will try his best. Because if I do not, Elly will die. The inevitable is more unpleasant to Schütz than Elly’s mechanical voice, so he decides to drown his thoughts in the cacophony.

“Elly?”

“... Schütz.” She looks Schütz in the eye, or he thinks she does. All he sees are two lifeless, white voids where pretty gold globes ought to be. Then she looks down, snout creasing in thought. “Schütz wants me here while he is not.”

“Landways.” He can’t be sure what her pure mind thinks.

Her posture slackens. He was right to correct her, but was he right to do it? It is a question he will answer later when his toll of wrongdoings is due.

“Then I am here.” Elly heartlessly tilts on the spot, as if attempting a twirl but unable to gain the momentum.

“Thank you. Again. Elly.”

Schütz feels for where he should not go, and goes that way. Something at the back of his mind squirms - one forgotten logic or another. He glances over his shoulder; in the unseen distance, his audience of one with a dirty dress. Momentarily emboldened, he draws his knife. The handle is cool with lingering, once-terrified sweat. Soon to be replaced. And soon it is. The handle is made warm, comfortable almost, if his hands were not trembling so terribly. It is a short journey, mercifully and painfully so.

Sparse, sputtering fire light at the tips of Ran’s limp tails, casting an ethereal, golden sheen over the carnage. The fox rests its remaining arm beside it remaining leg, and manages to sit upright as it strikes balance between the two. Severed limbs and bits of bits sprawl abjectly over the undergrowth, lifeless, but still weeping blood like a stuck boar.

Too much blood for one beast. Youkai cannot even bleed right. In his state of mind, Schütz is unable to make a more profound observation than that.

“Evenin’” Its voice is crisp and clear, untarnished by the physical. The motions of its mouth disturb the pooling blood within.

“ . . . Ah.” It is more of a breath than a word, a simple acknowledgement and a swift dismissal. He keeps walking forward.

“It’s not in the intere-” Tiredly, it stops itself. “I won’t die.”

This time Schütz doesn’t bother to dismiss it. He takes the last few steps, holds Ran by the head and cripples what remains of its balance in the process. With a knife pressed against the wound in the kitsune’s forehead, he asks: “Scissors. Where are the scissors.”

The kitsune is slow to answer; slow enough that Schütz is forced to take in the situation. The youkai before him is the picture of a corpse, an unbelievably noble and sickeningly beautiful corpse, but still dead. What more could a knife do?

As if to answer, Ran stretches and yawns, causing him to lose grip. “Ah~” it sighs as it lies down in a puddle of itself.

His knife does not waver for he has no recourse. The blade holds in the air, poised to strike wind and nothing else. Rigidly, like the turning of a clock hand, Schütz adjusts his knife to meet Ran again. It remains an empty threat, but no longer an empty threat directed at nothing. “Where.”

The kitsune sifts a hand behind its clothing, once white, now red. “Here.”

Schütz did not prepare for this. In the kitsune’s bloody claw, a red pair of scissors. Snick snick, they go as Ran snaps them playfully at the air. “A vorpal razor of legend. Said to cut through anything tangible.”

Schütz snatches them with no resistance. “- Including fingers, if you’re not careful,” Ran adds.

The rest of reality mutes as he marvels at the sleek tool in his hands. This is it. Elly’s birthday. For once, I succeed. He does not smile, but he is happier than he has been in a very long time; the type of happiness that does not necessitate a smile to convince himself of it. Then, at the sound of Ran’s monologue, reality cruelly sucks him back to the fray.

“I wasn’t careful, not one bit. Never run a marathon with scissors, yes?” Ran gestures to the open window of its chest to emphasize the point. “It’s more unbelievable to say I ran into… Elly, you called her? The potato girl you cherish?” It laughs for reasons only a youkai or sufficiently stupid human could comprehend. Blood bubbles from its mouth. “~Ahh. I’m so proud of you. You will do the right thing with those scissors.”

Ran takes a severed arm, and shoves it back into place. “You’re still here?”

I am? Why? I cannot kill it. I got what I wanted. Yet, his feet are rooted.

“I’m to destroy you when I recover. It may not be in the interests of the Yakumo family to say so, but make every second worth it.”

“Why?” he asks.

Lazily, the fox crawls to retrieve their leg. Once settled with leg fusing to stump, it answers: “Because you are a rival.”

“You know about me. What I . . .” Am.

“Of course I know. I’m a kitsune.”

“Tell me.” If desperation were a substance, it would be his next words: “Please.”

“You trust my answer? I’m a kitsune, remember.”

“No.”

“Smart.” Ran shows him a blood-stained smile. It would be predatory if it were not their own blood. “Yep, yep -” The kitsune adjusts to weld a severed tail back in place. The mended appendage coils into the others, as if seeking puffy shelter. Red ribbons dance on their many tips. “Shimetani Eita, born in the spring of nineteen seventy-nine, son of the reputable craftsman Shimetani Yuichi. He was a troubled child, and he was a child that troubled others. At the age of twelve he fled home, and was then presumed dead. The young Reimu of Hakurei was called to investigate, to no avail. If she were better at her job, Eita would be eighteen now. Instead we have you, yes?”

Schütz has heard nothing new. “Reimu was -”

“Hm? Indeed, Reimu was, wasn’t she?”

Schütz shuts up, guilt a guillotine to the vocal cords.

“Nevermind, nevermind - indeed, instead we have you, Schütz, a miracle of probability, someone who shouldn’t exist even in a world of fantasy. It falls on me, in the name of Yakumo, to enforce that . . . hypothetically? I’m not doing a very good job, am I?”

“You are not,” he answers automatically to keep the beast talking.

“I am not. It may shock you, but the Yakumo Family trusts me with their interests - not with anything else, only their interests. Smart, but not smart enough.” A flick of the ear. Ran takes to the gourd at their hip, unplugs the cork, and guzzles noisily from the bottle. The fox makes it sound nice, somehow. “Sake. The good stuff, no, the best stuff. Made it myself.” It offers Schütz the gourd. “Try some. Consider it the price of truth from a kitsune’s mouth? Trust me.” It cackles, takes the gourd back for another swig, and offers again.

Schütz notices that clear liquid is trickling down the hole in Ran’s chest. Sake. He has read of it in the books he never understood - a ceremonial water for gods. His mouth is dry, very dry, and he is desperate, very desperate.

He sits down amid the meat and gristle of his now-host; there is a far, empty and tired look in his eyes. Paradoxically, he understands Ran. A lying youkai, like in the forest. I’m used to those. I can deal with those. Just like it used to be, before I made everything worse, again.

He takes the gourd, tilts it until liquid meets lip, and takes the smallest of sips. The liquid is strange in his mouth, a cool, dry fire. He swallows. If it is poison he welcomes it.

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

“Technically I’m poisoning you. The Yakumo Family advises you to drink up.”

“. . . Ah.” So it is poison. He does not give much a reaction except acknowledgment. The gourd is cool in his hands.

The beast has more to say, and Schutz wants to hear it. The price of truth:

[A: A big sip] (Ran option)

[B: An adequate sip]

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

Items:
Bow (Heavily Anti-Youkai Seal Fitted, Hakurei Brand)
-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)
Clothes (To Izayoi’s Standards, Blood Coated ‘Kitsune’)
-Draping Collar (Uncomfortable)
-Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
‘Red’ Scissors ('Vorpal')

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <o “last quarter”

Time: Night

\o===================875===================o/
>> No. 30873
[C: No sip]

We have what we came here for, let's not get dead trying to listen to some fox's lies.
>> No. 30874
[A: A big sip]
Can't... resist... desire... to know more.
>> No. 30875
The leave is the Elly choice. Why is not marked as such? Are you tempting us with a good-but-slave-to-bad Ran?

And why the fuck would she steal the scissors. I might vote for the non Elly option for once if she'd explain that.
>> No. 30876
Concerns will be addressed fully in a few hours. Currently at university.
>> No. 30877
[A: A big sip] (Ran option)
I know this is the bad option but well lets go so deep in this hole that we end up on the other side
>> No. 30878
>“Because you are a rival.”
I guess this means Schütz unknowingly has an ability to manipulate the barrier that rivals Yukari's. A bit less impressive than it sounds given how little control he has over it.

If anyone can explain, it would be Ran, and if anyone cannot be trusted to explain, it would be Ran. I really want to know what happened with Schütz 6 years ago, but I feel like Ran would mislead.

[C: No sip]
>> No. 30879
>writein
There is a reason an obvious option was not a frontier choice - you will have to force it, harshly. I will not lay down character motivations, etc, for you, but Schütz situation and ensuing mental state should be apparent. That said, the writein is not so out of character to be rejected, but be aware that the in-character justification will be unpleasant - unpleasant enough it was not included as a vote.

Here's a nice quote from a book I read recently:
'A man lost in the desert must take such water as he is offered, no matter who it comes from.'

>'the elly option'
Elly is no longer a choice.
>> No. 30880
>Elly is no longer a choice.

I'm triggered. You triggered me. I know you meant 'right now it isn't' but still...

I hope you're happy.
>> No. 30881
Vote will be called when the dust has settled. Either tomorrow or the next.

>>30880
There had been a misunderstanding. Elly is mandatory.
>> No. 30883
Tied.

I will default to A unless the possible ramifications of the writein are understood and accepted.

In essence, I will require you to pass the 'are you sure Y/N?' test
>> No. 30884
>>30883
This story's had its fair share of "unpleasant" thus far. I might not like where it goes, but you've got me curious about what could be so unpleasant when we just had the option to (attempt to) kill Ran.
Consider this a confirmation of >>30878. Hopefully curiosity doesn't kill the hunter.
>> No. 30885
>>30884
A lengthy way to say 'What could go wrong'

There's already an answer to this.
>>30713

Reiterated: everything can go wrong. There are no safety rails.
>> No. 30887
>>30885
Damn and here was I, having fun.

[A: A big sip]

B is the right choice but C is the "Worst than I thought possible" one.

Since the tie is between A and C, I guess I have to compromise.
>> No. 30888
[A: A big sip]

Alcohol is technically poison, as it said. And even if it is properly poisoned as well, it's still telling that no sip was not a standard choice Schutz would consider. Plus, if a big sip gives Ran points, the obvious question to ask is why it gives Ran points. Which I feel is backed up by alcohol technically being a poison on its own merits, and our ballsiness appealing to her. Or that she can twist the action into saying she gave us a great deal of poison.

That, and I just know I'm not going to like the in-character justifications of drinking none of it. It just sounds like one of those write-ins that will go so much worse than those that are voting for it really consider. We've made him more bold with our choices, and I feel that this choice will put a foot in a direction of change that will not be enjoyable: paranoia, and lots of it. Enough to justify him snuffing out his want to know. Enough to justify him snubbing Ran.

No, I don't think even those voting for not doing so want what they are actually voting for. Well, not the consequences there of, at least.
>> No. 30889
The vote is called for A. A hearty go at the homemade brew. It is unfortunate that votes cannot be quickly negotiated between you all, and as a result votes of compromise cam occur. The vote is a medium of the will of the audience, and it is that which is important.

To 'remedy' this, in the future, you are free to note if your vote is a compromise

I will count the preferred/compromised option as a vote in upon itself.

For example, if you voted A as it was the consensus, you may also note B as your preferred/compromised option. If enough others also note B as a preferred/primary option (enough to reach a tie or majority) then that will become your new primary vote.

You are a small pod, 6 at absolute most. Such a system may be unnecessary, but it is there if you want to use it!

===

This update may take a while.

>>30888
Very good.
>> No. 30890
>>30889
That's pretty sensible of you. Alright, from the next vote and onwards, I'll make sure to note that.
>> No. 30891
2000 words in. More to come. If I could make the weekly schedule I'd be pleased, but the nature of this update does not invite a swift delivery.
>> No. 30892
3000

More to go.
>> No. 30895
Schütz considers running. He always does. This fox before him, the definition of a trickster, a repulsive thing on all levels besides one: Ran knows what Schütz does not. True, Schütz considers running, and he almost does, but a glimpse of the truth, but a shred of it dangled before his nose, keeps him steady. ‘Doomed,’ Remilia said. This was as novel to him as it was the thousandth time he told himself. What has been lacking is a ‘why.’ Even if he cannot stop ‘it,’ even if he cannot bear to look ‘it’ in the eyes, he must know what ‘it’ is and why him.

Schütz growls as good a beast as any, and in some selfish defiance he takes the gourd, plugs it against his lips, and chugs. Cold and dry, like snow mixed with berry juice. Slowly, he drains the pouch of sake in his cheeks into his stomach. All the while, he looks Ran straight in the eyes.

The beast lightly applauds him. The blood between its hands transforms its claps into a wet slap. “Yep, yep. Appreciate it just like that.”

Appreciate? Schütz did not consider whether he enjoyed the toxic god broth. He knows he did not revile it; that is more than he can say for most. To experiment, he takes another small sip, mindful this time. Tastes and smells pretty as Ran. Revolting creature.

“Pretty. . . It tastes pretty.”

Ran nods in silent agreement, and takes the gourd from you to take their own sip. The fluid drips down into their chest cavity. “It’s a fact,” Ran says accompanied by an indulgent half smile. “Spellcards and sake. Everything I touch becomes pretty.” The beast looks at you, silent for a few second, sipping mildly at their drink. “You’re a smart kid - a keen sense for pretty in you. What do you think of Gensokyo, our home?”

After some thought he answers truthuly: “Never seen it.”

“You have eyes.”

“Wrong eyes.”

Ran leans in to inspect, a combination of mockery and genuine interest. “Hm? They work well enough to glare. They’re pretty. Have you ever seen an amethyst? Nevermind, nevermind. Go on. Tell me what you do see.”

Schütz blinks, momentarily overloaded. In Elly’s own words, he selects: “Garbage.”

“Gensokyo or I?”

“Garbage,” he answers. “Everything.” Except Sister.

There is a strange glint in the kitsune’s eye.“Me? Garbage? Indeed - consider that if all I touch becomes pretty, that there then could be a natural opposite. An ugly to my pretty—”

Each wasteful word grinds on Schütz’ patience. “Ran.”

“Hm?” The fox stops with ears perked alert.

“The truth.”

“Poison runs in your blood. I’m doing my job. We have time.”

I do not. He growls, knife still held uselessly in hand. “Now.”

“Hah~ yep, yep~” Ran makes sure to drag on as long as possible, going so far as to chug at the sake afterwards. They then silently offer Schütz the gourd, holding it loosely on the tip of the finger as if expecting him to snatch it like a dog. No, Schütz approaches the situation carefully. A trade or a gift? He looks from the gourd to the fox’s eyes. They give away nothing.

Fine.

He snatches the gourd and sips the last of it in one gulp.

The fox silences laughter in their palm. What is the point if I can see it?

“The truth,” Ran states, seamlessly transitioning from giggling youkai to a harder persona.

Reality catches up to Schütz quickly. All of his attention is suddenly focussed on the beast’s next words. For this moment, breathing fails him. All is made still except the youkai’s lips: “I can say this much: we both see an exceptionally ugly Gensokyo.”

. . .

Ugly. The fox’s words ferment within him, and from the deep jail of his mind a possibility is dredged like a prisoner. Schütz struggles in silence to keep it contained, but he is his own worst enemy. In the end, the possibility is laid at the front of his mind, unable to be avoided as if etched into his eyelids. “You see. Right?” His voice is calm, drastically unbefitting of the weight of his words.

“With no implications I’m allowed to give, I say I see an ugly Gensokyo.”

“. . . Ugly,” the word hangs on his tongue. His stillness is eery, a state that could not possibly be called calm - it is comparable to a boulder tilting on the edge of a cliff. “You are cursed. Too.” The boulder shakes, inching ever more off the edge.

“Indeed, we share the curse of good taste, the curse of awareness.” Ran’s ear frustratedly flicks. “You’re a smart kid. You understand the implication I am not permitted to imply?”

He does. “Oh. Then. . . ? Then we are the same?” he questions his own words as much as he does the fox.

“Hm, no. We share a perspective.”

“Can you-” If there ever was a comfort zone for Schütz, it was lost on a distant horizon. He is like a child fumbling as he speaks; everything around him is suddenly made new and terrifying. “Can you kill people. Change then. Turn them into monsters?”

“Is that how you perceive it? No. I canno█” Ran suddenly pauses, and again its ear flicks with frustration. This time its tails join in, riling and puffing about like irate, furry serpents. Ran takes a quiet breath, and continues. “Nevermind, nevermind. For now, imagine with me the misty lake frozen over.”

The hunter stares at Ran for the longest while. It stares back, expecting affirmation. He, in turn, expects some semblance of an explanation. Anything would do; he has nothing. “Why?”

“Because it is cold.”

“Oh.”

This would be the time for Schütz to put his foot down, if he could tell where to stand. The inertia of the moment undercuts him into a mere observer. Ran takes that as compliance.

“Now, imagine there are two looking down to see fish distorted by ice. One, a cute ice fairy, and the other, a man with a hammer. The man peppers the lake in little cracks, tapping here, tapping there. But it is the fairy’s job to freeze the lake back over, you see, yes?” The fox accentuated its words with little flairs of the hand, to which Schütz watches as if it were some form of code. Ran, again, takes that as compliance.

“The lake has been frozen over all year. The fish are suffering for it. It sounds hopeless — but there’s only so much a fairy can do.” The kitsune raises a tiny, imaginary hammer between finger and thumb, and swings it down. “If the man tried, he could smash the lake and free the fish.” Ran seemingly finishes, but sees fit to string along one last piece: “Now, this is a side note, but you can smash barriers, and it happens to be my job to maintain the Great Hakurei Barrier.”

Schütz is still, unemotive. It takes a long and deliberate silence for him to begin unravelling the kitsune’s analog. “The lake. The curse. The Hakurei Barrier.” They are the same — the same what, though?

“The lake and the Hakurei Barrier? Nothing alike. Nothing!” The kitsunes boldly lies to whatever dumb force that binds them.

Schütz, in turn, plays along in some form of sympathy. “. . . Of course.” But he quickly returns to work. “The fish are. . . monsters. The monsters are suffering.” He stays on that last point, letting it truly sink in. “Good.”

A ‘hm,’ followed by a flick of the ear. “Yet the man continues to tap the ice. Why is that, Schütz?”

He flinches. “I —” Despite his efforts, his voice, so carefully kept straight, breaks easily to sudden stress. “I —”

“He can’t help it?” The kitsune pauses to answer its own question with another hum. “Nevermind, nevermind, If he can’t help but crack the ice, it’s only a matter of time — That is if the cute fairy does not kill him first. Did I mention the fairy is an assassin as well?”

The recovering hunter winces as the words sink in. It is the same phrase over and over, spoken in different tongues, by Remilia, by Ran, by him: ‘doomed.’ “Hakurei Barrier. What is it? Why do I—” He swallows to make way for his real question emerging. “Why me?”

“The Great Hakurei Barrier exists. To say more would be against the interests of the Yakumo family,” Ran lists off diplomatically stale, soon dampening to a natural candor: “Be that as it may, we can discuss barriers soon enough, and as to why you can break them. . .” The kitsune pauses, and blurts a single word: “Luck.”

“. . . Luck?” the hunter echoes as a question. Is that the answer? Truly? For a moment he is paralyzed, and in the next he makes a vague, crushing motion with his hand, a distraction, an inevitability. He realizes that this, of all explanations, makes sense to him. No youkai, no god, no spectre or phantasm, no one gave me this curse but luck. Schütz is amazed at how well it fits, and he is then impaled by the implication. “Everyone dies because of me, because luck.” The word is a bitter poison on his tongue. If he could think of anything but the villainy of the situation, he would be wishing for more sake to wash away the taste of pure cruelty.

“Die? Nobody in this pretend scenario dies, unless you mourn the passing of a fish’s reflection.”

From one worthless insight he sorts through Ran’s analog to find another. He finds but one interpretation of a ‘fish’s reflection.’ The world I cannot see: a ‘reflection.’ The revelation boomingly echoes through his hollowed out mind. He feels something, but it is not what he thought it would be. To call Reimu a ‘reflection,’ to call Elly a ‘reflection,’ they are vile insults both. Yet, Schütz only feels cold. His limbs, his brain, and his thoughts burn with scalding frostbite. These are not new thoughts to him. Schütz, the paranoid forest hunter who has only ever seen one side of the mirror, was not always so bloated with prejudice. In childhood, Eita believed the sky was purple, that stars were an elaborate hoax, and that the toothy, vile worms of youkai slithering in the village were normal to all but him. Back then there was no conception of truth besides the world before him. He paid for that belief. Shimetani Eita died with Reimu, and his body just kept moving. The shell of him determined never to betray her memory by believing in the world he sees. That shell became Schütz, and now he stands here, hearing the words little Eita thought true. It all comes back. The question is the same: from which side of the mirror do I stand? I don’t know. It’s been long, so long, and still I don’t know. Nothing has changed for the nothing I have learnt.

“Hm?” the fox prods, mercilessly cutting his thoughts to ribbons.

“A reflection,” he says, dazed but technically lucid. His entire life condenses into a single sentence: “Reimu thought the same. I thought the same. Now I am Schütz and Reimu is dead.”

“Were you two close?”

“Close. Yes.”

“She hid you well. To mask your presence with such seals.”

“Yes. She was a hero.”

“Again, was. — Now, in our scenario, let’s imagine a trapped fish, hurting.”

“. . . What?”

“Name the fish for me.”

His face knits to a dull confusion.

“A name that starts with R, I suggest.”

“. . . Reimu?” he tentatively suggests the only thing on his mind. The name wounds him to say aloud.

Ran folds its hands together in a silent victory. “Your words, your words. Let’s call this fish Reim█.” The fox shivers from tail to tip, and through grit teeth it justifies: “A. Mere. Coincidence. Assuredly.

Reimu the trapped fish.

The kitsune collects itself, soon made austere and noble as a corpse can be - astoundingly so, apparently. “He could free Reimu.”

Schütz’ stupor shatters painfully; the paradigm shift yet another blade through his thoughts. “I —” Comes a phrase so stilted the second word comes as a surprise. “— could?”

“You? No, the hammer man, who else?” The kitsune swiftly and passionlessly rejects. “He could find Reimu, tap the ice, and let them out. One does not need to bust the lake to catch a single fish.”

He acknowledges the words, but comprehends only the most childish interpretation: “Tap.” He taps the wet ground with a hard, frozen finger. “Tap?”

“(this is an aside, but) You can do that to The Barrier, yes?”

Schütz is beyond reception. Save Reimu. The prospect is alien, utterly unimaginable to him. He gave up on what remained of Reimu. He left that life behind, and promised never to repeat the same mistakes. Promises were broken. Reimu is truly dead to him, puppeteered only in a haunting memory; the vengeful spectre he deserves. To save her — after all this? If. Even if. Could I stomach her sight? Could she stomach mine? I am not Eita. She does not know Schütz.

“Hmm,” Ran pierces the silence with a meaningless, demanding syllable. It does the job; Schütz’ jittery gaze is directed to the fox. Ran takes the gourd from him and salivates into it a stream of pure, clear fluid. “Here. Courtesy of a kitsune.” It offers the spitoon back.

Schütz takes it, the hint of wariness in him drowned out by harsh, maddenning mental noise. He drinks deep. Schütz would be disgusted if he could bring himself to care; so he keeps drinking, and the kitsune keeps providing. His stomach and liver are already tempered to the finest alloy, so he readily takes to it. At some point he says: “Thank you.” The beast enjoys that.

At the end of it all, Schütz has one thing to ask: “Why couldn’t you kill me?”

Ran fingers the rim of their chest-hole. “I got held up.”

“Before.”

“I missed.”

“On purpose.”

“Slander!” Blood is soundlessly sprayed. “And you’re drinking poison right now. Better watch out, careful not to spill. I’m obliged to combust you if you do. Both personally and by orders.” At Ran’s words, the little flames on its tails flicker just a tad brighter.

Schütz blinks, slowly, dumbly, but not dumb enough to care. “Of course.” He takes another sip. Save Reimu. It must be a joke. A lie. Of course. Of course. Repeating ‘of course’ is as convincing to him as Ran’s character. No, worse. Of course, I never believe a word I say. Ran is more reliable. Certainly. The boulder of his sanity is well and truly fallen. Bad luck, ignorance and ineptitude. Defeated on all fronts, he lies down on the wet ground. It feels marginally better than supporting the weight of his burdened mind on neck alone. He is surprised the earth did not shake as his head hit the ground.

Ran begins to lick themself clean. “Dirt gets everywhere,” they say, sitting in dirt, bloody mud and gristle.

. . .

“I wanted to explain barriers, but you appreciate my work too much — Ah! I’ll mail you!”

. . .

“Mail is so convenient! I mail myself every day. I’ll mail you too, yes? Yes.”

. . .

Ran pulls from their forehead a seal lodged like a bundled maggot. “Sealed arrows. Hm~ smart, but bad luck. Try a different God?”

. . .

“Moon, moon, moon~♫”

“There’s little to sing about tonight. Any requests?” . . . “No - you like my other song? I only made it then, but if you insist.”

“Moon, moon, moon. Come - on - out~♫”

. . .

“I wanted to surprise myself, but what are you planning to do with those scissors?” . . . “I’ll mail you later then, yes?”

. . .

“Ah~ I’m so tired.” Ran rises, swaying. Schütz watches emptily as Ran spits more sake into the gourd before placing it beside him. “See you later.” The beast totters off into the distance, taking the light with it and leaving a good portion of itself behind for the morning birds and flies.

He feels when the beast is gone. The little voice that has been screaming ‘run, run!’ throughout the entire ordeal goes silent. Now it cowers, a timid little creature. “Shut up,” he finally tells the voice. Schütz knows it will come back. “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up —”

At some point he closes his eyes.

===== Time: ??? | Curse: ~~~ =====

At some point he opens his eyes. The sky is pitch with a little stain of moon latching to the edge. There is not enough light to see himself, but he feels slimy, cold and viscous as a slug. Too is his mind slow, firing off thoughts as single, isolated beats without rebound; the surface of his mind is too beaten up and scabbed over to consider considering. A slug. He halfheartedly slides about for a moment before realizing he still has legs. Upright, he feels no different. Slugman.

He feels his knife in his hand, in his other, his bow. The bow is more like a limb to him, unnoticed until needed, a fragile appendage with value equivalent to any vital organ of his. Somehow, it has not broken yet. He does not know what he would do if it broke. Fortunately, the slugman cannot think.

He looks up to the wane moon.

Moon, moon, moon~♫

What? His first thought is a question that sires others, which sire more and more until all the scabs of his mind are peeled and raw.

“Oh.”

“I did not sleep long.”

“But I did sleep. Yeah.”

He astutely observes as his very inbred thoughts fight for dominance. They will all get their turn eventually. He cycles through them one by one, a weary judge. Soon, he realizes most are too deformed to even think about, so he defaults to the most attractive: Elly.

“Elly.”

“Schütz,” Elly replies.

“Hello.”

“Schütz,” she prompts.

“What?”

She leans in. He can only see the monstrous snake, a lash of darkness purer than night.

“I stayed.”

“Oh.” — “Thank you for waiting, Elly.”

“Did I make you happy?”

Schütz feels his face. He does not feel a smile.

“Yes,” he automatically answers regardless.

“Then I will stay again if he asks.” Her voice is at an odd, unstable pitch.

“Thank you, Elly.”

Her thoughts then on are a harsh stream of noise.

. . .

“Elly.”

“Schütz?”

“Do you want to watch the sunrise with me?”

“No,” she answers with surprising force.

“Oh.”

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

Schütz watches the sun rise. Elly watches Schütz watching the sun rise.

Bruises creep from the horizon to fill the day sky with their ugly, purple shade. Is it real? Schütz openly asks himself for the first time in many years. He turns to Elly, good Elly. Her full, abominable form is revealed by dawn’s light. Is she real?

Elly smiles gruesomely at his minor acknowledgment.

On whim he pokes her nose. He watches as the triangular, viciously-set snout creases - but instead, he feels a squishy, warm nub between his fingers. For now.

“#?” a formless metallic question rings out. It is the snake that speaks, always.

“You can poke mine too. Even.”

Utterly baffled, she begins to feel at her nose with twiglike arms. “Even?”

“Fairness. Do what I did to you.”

Elly churns with thought, then nods. Her colossal serpentine blade parks just before his nose, and inches in with utmost precision. It licks the tip cleaving apart a trench so small it does not even draw blood.

“Fair?”

He dare not move until the scythe withdraws. Then he nods. “Even.”

There is a sudden tug at the back of Schütz’ mind. A message. From Ran. Of course, he remembers everything of last night; every last little detail.

/ ~<>~ \

>[WELCOME: AMETHYST]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: YR | T:11:00]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[USERNAMENOTFOUND IS BAD.]
>[I CHANGED YOUR USERNAME TO AMETHYST.]
>[AN AMETHYST IS A PURPLE QUARTZ GEM.]
>[LIKE YOUR EYES.]
>[-YR]
>...
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: CITRINE | T:11:01]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[CALL ME CITRINE.]
>[GUESS WHY!]
>[-CITRINE]
>...
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: CITRINE | T:11:01]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[BARRIERS ARE THE DELIMITATION OF STATES.]
>[SUCH AS |HIT| AND |MISS|!]
>[BY MANIPULATING A BARRIER THE DIFFERENCE AND SIMILARITY OF WHAT IT LIMITS IS ALTERED.]
>[REALITY WILL CHANGE TO REFLECT THIS.]
>[BY DISSOLVING |MISS| INTO |HIT| THEY BECOME THE SAME STATE]
>[-CITRINE]
>...
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: CITRINE | T:6:00]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[SO TIRED.]
>[/\ /\]
>[|= =|]
>[\__/]
>[^ ME]
>[-CITRINE]

\ ~~~ /

The world resumes with a flash of violet.

Barriers. Schütz looks to his bow as if the instrument could possibly contain new secrets after their years spent together. Of course, to survive in the Forest of Magic as a child Schütz had to be accurate. He learned fast — too fast. Magically-infused beasts fell to his child strength and child technique. They were all struck in the heart. He would be dead if not for his accuracy. If not for my curse?

“Oh. Did you need me to live?” he asks himself.

He feels his warm, living flesh, and squeezes it roughly. “I am alive. Then. What do you want me to do?”

The curse does not answer.

“Yeah.”

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

It is up to me to decide.

[A: Make a boat.]

[B: Finish a dress.]

[C: Pursue Remilia.]

[D: Save Reimu.]


The decision is made easy for him.

|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’)
Clothes (To Izayoi’s Standards, Blood Coated ‘Kitsune’)
-Draping Collar (Uncomfortable)
-Seal Hairtie (Unknown Properties)
‘Red’ Scissors ('Vorpal', Blood Coated ‘Kitsune’)
Sake Gourd (Full, Sake Filled ‘The Best Stuff’)

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

Curse: ~~~

Moon Phase: <o “last quarter”

Time: Early Morning

\o===================875===================o/
>> No. 30896
Delays as a result of Uni and this update being very complex to write.

Votes for shredded options will be nullified.
>> No. 30898
[B: Finish a dress.]
This is great. I need scissors. 61.
>> No. 30899
[B: Finish a dress.]

So. In an attempt to parse together the [totally false] information Ran gave us...

It appears in summary that Schütz's curse effectively gives us a different perspective on Gensokyo. But the major question is whether or not we're on the side that's reality or are we on the side that's fantasy.

At least that's the short version of it that I'm sure many people have gathered.

It appears Ran has given us a possibility of utilizing the curse to at least, see the reflection of everyone we're currently seeing.

Alternatively, it seems she's also suggesting that since we have the same ability as her, but with a different perspective, we have the ability to do things she normally couldn't.

I guess in line with her analogy of the lake. I guess Schütz would be more akin to a surgeon. Should he get the curse under control he can utilize it to get people out of the barrier. Or into it, without destabilizing the barrier as a whole.

Good luck trying to make him realize that though for the next 2-3 threads or so though. But it seems right now the seeds have been planted.

Of course, I could be entirely off the mark.
>> No. 30900
[A: Make a boat.]

Gahahahahaha.
>> No. 30901
This update is BIG. What I liked about this story is that it didn't stagnate and look at this! We're already seeing the ending-or something close to it at any rate.

It's easy to understand what could have unlocked option C, but D? We should have avoided Elly and focused on ourselves? Very interesting.

I can't seem to get the hint about the boat though... I do have a hunch though

[A: Make a boat]
>> No. 30902
Well, that was certainly informative. Not sure how much if any was misinformation, but I'd be a bit cautious about trying to save Reimu. It seemed a bit manipulative how Ran left that vague possibility in the air before leaving. I feel like we're not getting the whole truth there if not being outright lied to.

A bit worried about Schutz questioning the reality of his cursed view too. Kind of expecting some monsters to show up soon.

Anyway, Elly. Good to have good options after a series of tough choices.

[B: Finish a dress.]

We were working on the dress before the boat idea, and it'd be silly to hold off on finishing it after going through all that to get our scissors back.
>> No. 30903
[B: Finish a dress.]
>> No. 30904
Vote will be called tomorrow. The Elly route.

My big assignments start up this week. And after, final exams.
>> No. 30905
There are only six of you (at a time), and there is no second guessing or discussion, so waiting is pointless.

Called for B.

Elly.

>>30901
>We should have avoided Elly and focused on ourselves?
It is all hindsight now.
>> No. 30906
File 152500369854.png - (211.18KB, 633x946, 45.png) [iqdb]
30906
>> No. 30908
Elly route is a-go gentlemen.

Shame we had to sacrifice Ran, but it was one for the better.
>> No. 30909
>>30905
>It is all hindsight now.

So what?
>> No. 30910
>>30909
>so what
A path has been enthusiastically pathed. Everything from now until end will be fundamentally altered to accommodate this. Previous opportunities cannot be salvaged, only pondered.

I would consider the future very carefully.
>> No. 30911
>>30910
The path can't be selected before we see all of them. It's bad form.
>> No. 30912
>>30911
>The path can't be selected before we see all of them. It's bad form.
Elaborate.
>> No. 30913
If Ran and her suggested course of action are, or were, a possible "route" then what could have people done to get it? Divine her future role in the plot and refuse to interact with everyone until she appears?
>> No. 30914
>>30913
I will address what of this concern I am able.

>Previous opportunities cannot be salvaged, only pondered.
It would be better for me to have said: 'nothing from this point onwards will resemble the story so far.' There has been a change of lens.

Ran is a current issue. It will not drop. Schutz must (completely) consider it eventually.
>> No. 30915
>It would be better for me to have said: 'nothing from this point onwards will resemble the story so far.' There has been a change of lens

After that bomb you dropped, I would be surprised if it didn't change. Thanks for the follow-up.
>> No. 30916
1200 in. This will take a while due to university and the complexity of the update. I can give no estimates.

The weekly schedule will be crippled badly by university. Finals and assignments. It's not a new tale to any of you, I'm sure.
>> No. 30918
3000 in. More to go. Now is not a good time for a large update (I'm busy!), but I'm doing what I can.
>> No. 30919
3500. Much more to go. This update is both difficult to write and poorly timed. There is little I can do.
>> No. 30920
4500+

More to go.
>> No. 30921
Schütz, in the briefest spark of self-awareness, strips naked of his sodden cage. “Hah~” he breathes, free. The kitsune’s blood clings to him heavy and thick like syrup, but no longer an oppressive force weighing through his given clothes like a snail’s shell. If he thought about it, he might have stripped earlier, but the thought never crossed. His mind is congealed, a quagmire of oil ready to ignite.

Elly’s stare bores into him as it has been for the last week, but each time he braves to look back she perks up as if zapped. The Elly he remembers, a noble guardian tragically warped by his curse, is now supplemented by this spritely, purehearted, and afflicted girl. He likes her more than ever, more than only a pedestal to look up at. My friend. What he did to deserve that title he cannot imagine, but now it is his, and he will do his best to prove his worth.

In contrast, dried blood sticks to Elly’s face and hair. There is no excuse for making Elly’s personal hell worse. Schütz does not plan to make excuses.

“Elly,” he starts on habit.

“Schütz.”

“Blood. On your face - all over you. Are you dirty?”

“I’m not dirty, and I can’t be dirty. I’m Elly,” she instantly replies.

“But your dress?”

“Am I a dress, Schütz? My dress is dirty.”

“No.” He remembers the times he has touched Elly; she never complained. It is only when he violated her dress that she reacted.

“Then I’m not dirty.” She pauses, then notes: “I am covered in garbage.”

There are times when Schütz accepts what Elly says. Her perspective, after all, is what makes Elly Elly. However, Schütz does have limits, and they end at accepting that Elly is covered in garbage and not dirty. But what can I do, tear her dress off? In his second, surprising bout of self-awareness, he finds in his hands a pair of scissors. ‘Snik snik,’ they snikker. It is the sort of sound a pair of scissors makes when they are in the mood to part red cloth. Schütz, too, is in the mood to cut red cloth; he has been for a long time now. Can I really? Snik snik,’ the scissors encourage him. A swift decision is made. He will have Elly’s dress off, and replace it, even!

After a long period of silence, made not awkward by the fact Elly is naive to the concept of awkwardness, Schütz declares: “ … Elly.”

“Schütz?” She transitions from staring to speech without ponder.

“You deserve better.”

“Better?”

She did not say no. That is enough to bolster him. When he tries to answer, the words catch bitterly in his throat. He swallows. For all the scissors encourage him, he cannot be sure. Certainty in Schütz is a state reserved not even for death. That does not stop the barest traces of confidence gathering, so he allows this much: “Right. Better.” That much was a mistake. The confidence keeps flowing; try as he might to stop it.

Elly makes a pitifully confused whine.

He wants to answer her, but to do that he needs proof - proof that these scissors are right. Determined, and daresay almost--partially-confident, he breezes past her. “Just. Better,” he tells himself. His steps are light. Hopeful is an expression happy to meet Schütz for what feels like the first time, and very likely to be the last time. He makes the best of it.

Elly follows, sometimes physically moving, other times spontaneously appearing before, behind, and around him, inspecting from every conceivable angle for an explanation.

The hunter comes to the table of ‘breakfast,’ and grunts a disinterested dismissal to the flood of memories associated. All is as it was left: two plates, a mound of vegetables thereon, two chairs, and the red bundle beside on the ground. The only new addition is flies. Schütz, unwilling to remain idle and therefore weak to introspection, gets to work. Cold vegetables are eaten, plates are cleared, and the table is made to a workshop. He perches on top.

He brandishes his ‘vorpal’ scissors hesitantly, as if they might shatter in his hands. Are they real? Pressed suddenly headfirst to the spike of paranoia, he slashes at the spare red cloth. It parts effortlessly. “Ha. . . Haha ha. Real!” That concludes his celebration. There is no excuse for him to delay, and delay he does not. He has all day, but he will not need long. The dress only needs a few finishing touches.

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

Covered in dust, Schütz coughs and coughs. Dust gets everywhere, and apparently everywhere includes inside his lungs twice over. Still, he persists, buried in the dust of the thoughts he hoped to bury. He prefers to call it love, as Sister said. Love is more pleasant to choke on than crushing doubt.

The kitsune’s blood was made dust not long after he started. Only its spit remains, safely tucked in gourd. He takes a break to drink the God’s drink. He briefly wonders why Gods like the taste of kitsune spit, and he concludes that is is probably the same reason as him. It tastes refreshing.

He goes back to work. Rains ceased, the desert of his mouth returns.

Meanwhile, Elly watches as Schütz’ humanity is gradually eroded by the object he designated ‘thing.’ Unknown to her, she is not happy.

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

Before him is a dress. The dress is finished. No, the earth did not swallow him, the sky did not fall, and he did not topple from a heart attack at the last moment. The dress is finished without a single hitch. Too easy, he judges mindless of the fact he had to take his scissors back from the mutilated paw of a kitsune to get this far. He checks over his shoulder to behold nothing, no monster waiting to ruin everything. Then, with heart fluttering, he turns back to the dress - and, no, it did not cease to exist when he looked away. It is done.

You were right, he admits to the scissors. ‘Snik,’ they respond their own form of ‘duh.’

He takes the gift in his hands, and with an explosive smile presents it to his audience: “Happy birthday, Elly!”

Elly, who bears an expression much too complex for her simple, twisted face, reacts with a low rumble of metal. ‘Crik.. Crikik.. Crik..’

“It is a dress. For you! I made it.” Dust trickles between his fingers as a little waterfall. The dress dines on a rare emotion.

‘Cr-IK?’ Her jagged, vicious maw grinds. Individual ‘teeth’ slide between each other like interlocking saws. The scythe poises in the air as a snake to strike, but at what she does not know.

“Elly? My. . . friend? Right, my friend!” He jumps off the table. “I did it! I made you a dress. Look! Look!”

‘Crik,’ Elly ticks mechanically. She stares at the dress, specifically, the dust that flows from it. Conflicted is to put her reaction lightly. “Schütz?” she manages a word, her favorite word.

“Do you like it? Elly?” His excitement is brim, but he is poorly adapted to handle genuine happiness.

Usually, Elly hangs on his every word, but when his words are being devoured before her eyes she finds paying attention difficult. Elly watches the dust fall, and the red culprit at the spring. On impulse she tears the dress out of Schütz’ grip, pivots slightly, then drops it on the ground beside her. All at once, she relaxes; her posture, her face, and her serpent twisted in upon itself in search of a threat invisible goes slack. She turns back to Schütz, whose existence is no longer molested. “What did you say?”

He marvels at his empty hands. “Ah, you dropped it,” Schütz blurts out, devoid of appropriate reaction. In the baffled daze between excitement and ignorance, he bends down to take the dress again. Just as his hand meets cloth, and the grains of dust begin the dribble from his fingertips, he hears it: ‘Crik… Crikik.. Crikikik.’

Is that how she sounds when she’s excited? Dress in hand, he asks again with a dopey, bright smile: “Do you like it?” The flow of dust matches the beat of his words.

‘Crik’

“Elly? My friend?”

Again, she takes the dress, pivots, and drops it on the ground. She turns back to Schütz, smiling as sincerely as she is oblivious. “What did you say, Schütz?”

“You… Dropped? It?”

“The thing?”

Schütz is forced to stop and think for a moment. She still thinks it’s a ‘thing?’ He puffs up. “The dress,” he proudly corrects. “That I made.”

Elly looks to the ground, empty eyes wide in a facsimile of shock and a heavy dose of fascination. “It’s a dress today?”

“I made it for you! I promised, I did it. Do you like it?”

“It’s clean,” she says, transfixed on the twice strewn dress.

All is suddenly forgotten as it dawns on her. “Schütz made me a -” Her voice does not crack, it shatters. What follows is different from her usual sounds, torn from the rusty bowels of an underwater hell; it’s symphonic, rhythmic, growing in pitch by the second.

“E - Elly? — Oh.”

Keeled over, Elly laughs hysterically. It is the serpent that laughs, though the attached body quakes as if it were not. Soon, her symphonic laughter turns giggle, and the giggle perverts to a gravelly grind, and that grind settles to a rumble. The monstrous voice has returned. On recovery, she faces Schütz blindingly and horrifyingly with an impossibly wide smile. “I realized, today, and again, that I like Schütz!” she cheerily notes with a voice like glass to the ear.

Already off balance, those candid words knock him to the proverbial ground. This is what he has been waiting for, but he never planned to the point of receiving it. Assuming the worst has that downside. “O - oh. Thank. You. Yeah.” He swallows, thinking he should say something else. “I like Elly? Right. I like Elly. So I made her a dress. Ha ha… ha”

“A new dress, and a clean dress. How did Schütz make it without hollowing out?” She closes in, serpent and body both.

“I - uh, I made it. With special cloth. And love?”

“Love?” Elly eagerly probes.

Schütz pauses a moment, then nods. “Right. Love.”

“#?”

He shrugs. They are Sisters’ words, not his.

“Try it on,” he suggests in lieu of explanation.

Elly, still mystified, looks down to the dress. She strips. Her former dress falls off like heavy smoke.

He must suppress a gag when he sees what lies beneath her dirty red dress. His plastered-on smile only maintains its curve by sheer, stubborn force of will. Today is a good day. Today is Elly’s birthday. He will make this a good day.

Her body, or the lack thereof, is but a pair of rods bound in red cloth at the intersection. Lovelessly impaled on the tip of one rod is her head, a decorative pale globe affixed with the twin accessories of a hat and hair. Nobody bothered giving her eyes or nose, and a jagged, furious scribble is the only attempt made at a mouth. Her ears are simple and pointed, and without holes - more decorations. Where Elly supposedly ends the leviathan begins. The snake is always vivid, animated, and bouncing and bobbing in the air as it speaks with its ear-violating voice. The imitation of a body follows its every move without delay, but it is never a question who is the one speaking.

“Elly.” I need this.

“Schütz?” she leans in.

He pokes her nose. The warm nub bends under his finger. He pinches it lightly, then releases. “Ha. Ha. Right. Nothing.” Tap, tap - but she’s still alive. “Nothing.” He shakes off the vile thoughts, but they refuse to leave; they only recede for the moment. “The dress. Right, the dress! Think about the dress.” He does not know who he is talking to.

In response, Elly diligently slices the most minute of cuts into Schütz’s nose. “Even. — But that’s besides the point.” She bends over, picks up the new dress in an unseen hand, and worms her way into it from above. Clothed, she beholds herself. Her new apparel loosely drapes over her, and reveals only the contour of her rods. Her bust is no more, a relic of a former dress. “Schütz’ clean love dress, and it’s my own, truly?” she asks, suddenly conflicted.

“Y - yeah.” Schütz smile remains hanging like a dead body from a tree. “Truly.”

Elly pinches the dress’ hem and spins it about to watch. “It’s mine,” she says. She laughs at the impossibility of it. Her old dress lies in a pile on the ground.

I did it - and now look at her. He grits his teeth on a physical and mental level. This is not about what he thinks. Breath hisses through clenched jaw as it is released on promise of good behaviour. “Happy birthday, Elly. You deserve it.” This is better. It must be.

Elly is absorbed in awe, but goes attent at his words. “Birthday?”

“It is your birthday. Right.”

“#?”

“Oh. Birthdays. People get gifts on birthdays, I think.”

“But I’m not a person. I’m Elly?”

“Oh.” Schütz thinks for a moment. “Happy . . . Elly… day?” He nods, satisfied. “Happy Elly-day, Elly.”

Something tugs at the back of his mind. A message? Now? Knowing it would only haunt him if left unchecked, he addresses it.

/ ~<>~ \

>[WELCOME: AMETHYST]
>[MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM: CITRINE | T:8:24]
>>[OPEN: [Y]/N]
>...
>[FOUND A CUTE CAT!]
>[-CITRINE]
>...
>[GIRLS ARE PREPARING. PLEASE WAIT WARMLY.]

\ ~~~ /

The meaning eludes him up until the point he remembers youkai are meaningless, and Ran somehow especially so.

“Elly-day,” Elly repeats, graciously returning him to reality.

“Today,” he affirms.

“This is when I receive a gift?”

“Yeah.” — “It is a birthday, but Elly."

Elly is churns with thought. With her new dress, Schütz can see her internal rods shaking to the sound. She draws in close to the hunter, and shares her findings: “Then I have had many Elly-days, and I didn’t know it until Schütz told me.”

“Oh. Then — happy Elly-days you had… then?”

Fortunately, he is not given the chance to reflect on his fluency, for Elly picks up right after. “It’s interesting, Schütz. I was happy then.” The scythe near pierces his forehead, but her expert handling would never allow that without purpose. “You were there, yesterday, Elly-days.” Her smile is plain, and her empty eyes are tight with a nameless focus.

“I - was? That is good? Right,” he blurts out; the right words unattainable in a hundred years regardless.

Elly hums. “Good was a gift I received on my first Elly-day.”

Schütz takes the time to think before he speaks. “I said the truth.”

She reveals her beautifully hideous smile; the dimpled one that curves her abyssal white eyes into crescent moons. “I like Schütz’ truth, and I believe Schütz’ truth.”

If nothing else, Schütz is proud to have made this difference in her. “Hm. Good. Believe it.” — “And the rest? The rest of the Elly-days. What were those ones?”

“Then on the second Elly-day I got Schütz.”

“… Me?”

The serpent tilts in the air, an absurd variant of screwdriver. “Schütz is Schütz.”

“Me. Right. — What?”

“#?” His confusion confuses her. “You are my friend.” She then stresses: “My.”

It is obvious to her, but to Schütz? He still has difficulty grasping the fact Elly can tolerate being near him.

“Oh,” is his initial reaction, soon followed by his own, gurgly laughter. “Yeah. We are friends.” How? The question probes, likely to never receive a satisfying answer. However, oddly, he is fine with that. It remains that Elly is his friend, and she likes being his friend — one impossibility is a manageable thought, two is not worth the effort of thinking.

“Then on the third Elly-day I got Schütz,” she continues.

“Elly,” he awkwardly interrupts.

“Schütz?”

“Me again?”

“Yes.”

“Oh.” — “Why?”

“I got Schütz, but the tomorrow after the today he became my friend.”

“. . . Right.”

“Then on the fourth Elly-day I got Schütz.”

“Why?” he tentatively asks.

“I got Schütz, but the tomorrow after the tomorrow after the today he became my friend.”

Schütz takes a breath, opens his mouth, holds it, then reconsiders.

Elly continues. “Then on the fifth Elly-day I got Schütz.” — “Then on the sixth Elly-day I got Schütz.” — “Then on the seventh Elly-day I got Schütz.” — “Then on the eighth Elly-day I got Schütz.” — “Then on the ninth Elly-day I got Schütz.” — “Then on the tenth Elly-day I got Schütz.”

The ear-rupturing ballad leaves an impression on Schütz: two red cheeks and a supreme lack of recourse. All he knows that he is uncomfortable, but not resistant. He may also not be uncomfortable; that would be a first. In his infinite wisdom, he utters only a stunned and stupid: “Uh.” He swallows nothing. “Thank. . ? You? Or - you are welcome?” This masterpiece and many more like it are waiting on the tip of his stupefied tongue.

“Welcome to what?”

Please do not ask questions. I do not have answers. Too late, he must improvise. “. . Me? I think?”

“I already have Schütz, and I can’t escort two.”

“Oh.” In retrospect, he should have gathered that from her litany. “Right.”

Elly is smiling. Schütz discovers he is too, despite the fact he is looking at a dress draped over an intersection of sticks. The longer he remains idle, the more he’s forced to face the monster. The fish, trapped. Breath hisses through now-clenched teeth. Must I do this to myself? No, not if he gets distracted.

“Elly.” He tangles himself in another conversation for dear life, though his voice is calm.

“Schütz.” Elly is more than happy to oblige.

“Sorry.” It is a good start because ‘sorry’ for Schütz could lead to practically any end.

“#?”

Now he has to find a thread to tug, and he looks no further than the dress at his feet. “Sorry for dirtying your dress. Before. Yesterday.” Now that he is started, it is no longer an excuse to speak.

Elly laughs. “I wouldn’t know about Elly-days without Schütz defiling my dress and making a dress. But, if it makes Schütz happy I will get—”

“Hap-?” The rest of his words are squeezed out of his lungs by shock and force.

—!

The distance between them is closed. Elly consumes all his vision, and all of Elly’s vision is consumed by his. Warmth surrounds him, and liquefies his will to escape in its confines. “Even,” she declares the action to be. But, no, this is a hug. The Elly he cannot see, but certainly feel, wraps around the paranoid, broken mess of him as if it were something special. She must be lost. Regardless, she is happy where she is. The naked Schütz is wordless; even the dumbest of voices inside him silenced. He stands stiff and still, accepting the embrace as a tree would. Can I really. . .? Tentatively, with eyes shut tight, he returns the hug. The expected resistance never comes. What meets his arms is warm and soft, and real, very real.

Dust pours beneath Elly’s arms.

“Schütz?” It begins quiet, probing, and awkward. “Elly?” he replies, but she doesn’t hear.

Blindly, she feels for a sign of life. Her findings are clear. “NO! SCHÜTZ!?”

Warmth becomes terror. She tears away from him with a ripping sound. Suddenly without support, Schütz stumbles forward

“E - Elly?!”

“#S#C#H#Ü#T#Z#” Vicious, ear-violating noise tears through the air like a rusted blade.

Schütz’ instincts emblaze. Shock is turned into movement. He runs to her. “Elly!? Wh-”

“Sch#ütz i#s not d#estroye##d.”

His stomach meets the handle of a scythe. Winded, he sputters and falls. His head collides with the earth in a flare of white. Elly?! Strangled gasps replace words.

“. . . Schü#tz,” she replies.

Why would she -? Why did she -? He forces air into his lungs to little success. Questions boil over in his mind without vent.

The blade whines. “#No. I alm#ost destr#oyed Schütz, and I ##believed I destroyed Schütz.”

He feels some air return to him. His first attempt at words, nothing, his second, nothing, but his third: “Elly. Why?”

“######” The sound is supernal, a shriek in the same tone as her laughter, and infinitely worse.

Through the pain in his head and ears, he sees Elly; she is a mess. Her eyes stare through and at him at once, and her limbs tic to an uneven beat. He cannot see her breathe, but he imagines it, he feels it; the frantic, hoarse throws of hyperventilation. Schütz knows fear. He has lived in it since his earliest. Elly is scared. That cannot do. Schütz picks himself up, and stumbles forward only to meet the head of the snake.

“Elly? I - what did I do? I am sorry. I swear. Whatever I did-”

The blade whines. “No. I a#lmost destroyed Sch##ütz.”

He bites his tongue, and fills his lungs with air. “. . . Right.” He understands nothing. That has yet to stop Schütz. “Explain. I will help you. I swear.” She recoils at his words. He tries to step forward, but the blade will not let him. It matters not. He extends his hand, denies the serpent, and grasps the organic handle of a scythe. It shivers under his hand. “####” The scythe shrieks.

His mind throbs with the pain of her outbursts as he follows the scythe to its source. He does not touch her; he only stands before her. Any closer and it looks like she would explode in terror. “Elly? Please. What is wrong?”

“#” She tugs limply at her scythe, once, twice, then gives up when she realizes it will not come without bisecting Schütz with it.

“Elly.”

She deliberately looks away, but she is a poor actor of indifference and rejection. Slowly, she turns back to face him. “. . . Schüt#z. I don’t want to##### destroy Schütz.”

“Then don’t.”

“I did.”

“Elly. You would not. If you did not want to.”

“I did - I did - I######### -” She interrupts herself with a sharp whine. “I wanted to be fair, and be even, and make### Schütz happy. Then you stopped existing.” She shakingly points the blade at him. “If you stop existing # # ###-” She stops, and devolves into a mumble of noise.

It feels like his mind is bleeding. He does not pay attention to it, and with what attention he has he uses to talk. “I am here. Look at me. I am here, Elly.”

Elly goes silent. Then, quiet, too quiet for her, she says: “Schütz?”

“Elly?” His reply is cautious, as if talking might cause the shrieking, mind-violating noise to continue. Still, he does reply.

“What if you’re not.”

He thinks, then answers best as able: “It will not happen.”

“What if it does?”

“I will stop it.” He makes a promise he does not understand. Anything to stop the noise, no, no, anything for Elly. Selfish thoughts are squashed.

Elly whines. “Good.”

“. . . Good?” He sighs with relief. “Right. Good.”

Elly looks no better. She squirms, and whines before he can inquire: “Schütz?”

No, no, please no. Fortunately, Schütz never listens to the voice of self preservation. He keeps to Elly, and asks: “Elly? What is wrong?”

“The dress was destroying you.”

“. . .Oh.” The dust.

“I did not know what to do. It’s my clean love dress made by Schütz, but it destroys Schütz. Then Schütz said he will stop it, and he knows everything I don’t. Will you stop it?” she blurts out in a stream.

“O - oh, I -” He steadies himself. The dress destroys him; ‘It dusts thoughts and their forms,’ Sister said. He knew from the start the dust was ‘him’ on some esoteric level, and to that he concluded that if it benefits Elly, then why does it matter? The answer is here: because it makes Elly sad. “Sister said you would love it, I … I am sorry. So sorry. Elly.”

“Yuuka did this?” There is a strange edge to her tone.

“No! No - I made the dress. Sister just… she said that…” She lied? “It does not matter. It does not. The dress destroys me. Right. Then it is easy. Do not touch me.”

A silence well appreciated by Schütz follows. It will not last, he knows.

“Schütz.”

“Elly?”

“Do you like the dress?”

“Oh - I. I made it. For you. So -”

“Do you like it?”

“I -” He stops himself. He will not lie. “No. Elly. But it does not matter. It is your dress. You deserve it. Truly.”

Elly’s eternal-grin twitches. She look down, down to the waters. “I deserve a dress Schütz does not like, and I deserve a dress that destroys Schütz? Why? What did I do#?” Her eyes begin to waver around the edges. A celestial sob hints at the edge of her mechanical voice.

“No, no - nothing. Elly, you have done nothing wrong. Please understand me. I mean - I only -” He grabs his face, as if to tear away the pain from inside his skull. “Please. Let me rest.” Selfishness leaks out. “Please.” He does not resist. Slowly, he lowers himself to the ground, grabbing and massaging the hurt in his mind.

“Schüt#z?”

“Sorry. Elly. Please keep your voice - no, it does not exist - so, please do not cry. I will not cry if you do not cry. I swear, I think.” He breathes. “Let me think.”

She is quiet.

Elly hates the dress. I hate the dress. Elly’s cries hurt. Sister lied. Nothing is real. He finds that laying out his problems have not solved any problems. In fact, he feels like vomiting. He does not. Today is a good day. Today is Elly’s - Elly… day? Right. Her day. Not mine. But she wants me to be happy, too. Why? No answer is found. Fine.

“Elly.”

“Schütz?” She hesitates not to reply.

“Take off your dress. Please.”

Without a word, she slides out of the dress like water, revealing her disgusting form beneath.

“Thank you. Now. Put on your old dress. Please.”

She does that. Her form conforms to the dress as it should.

He nods. “I love it. Your old dress. Thank you, Elly.”

His words act as sedative to her. She is still on the spot, staring down blankly at the old, disgusting dress adorning her.

“Love it?” she groans out in an off tone.

“Yeah.” - “Does not turn to dust, too. Good,” he notes.

She stares, and stares, and stares. “The old dress is good.”

“It is covered in me, but-”

“- Because it is covered in Schütz,” she interrupts and continues.

“Oh” - “Ha… ha ha.”

She appears perplexed, but finds it in herself to laugh along. A moment ago, Elly was close to tears. She’s smiling now, that he knows.

He ignores the horrible pain in his mind and chest, and asks: “Are you feeling better?”

“Better?”

“You felt sad? Or scared? Unhappy. Right?”

“I, unhappy?” Elly tests the idea. “If Schütz didn’t exist, I would be before I met Schütz. Is that unhappy? I don’t want tomorrow to be like yesterday.”

“I make you happy? I - then? Right.” This is not the time for him to fumble. “Yes, Elly. If you don’t want something and that something happens, it makes you unhappy, I believe.”

“I didn’t know I could be unhappy.” She ticks quietly to herself in thought. “Schütz knows so much. I’ll believe it.”

“Elly.”

“Schütz?”

“I don’t want you to be unhappy. So if I make you happy. . . somehow? I do not understand. But - right?” He pauses. “REGARDLESS!” “I will be here to do whatever it is that makes you happy.”

“Exist,” Elly offers.

“Right. Exist. I will exist. To make you happy.” — “It would be better if I could do more than exist,” he points out, but it is more like a plea.

“Talk?”

“Right. I can talk too. What else?”

“Be Schütz?”

“Oh. Like existing?”

“Yes.”

He sighs, then nods. If that is all. “. . . Right. I will exist twice over for Elly, and talk.”

She beams at his lame proclamation.

. . .

“Elly. Come here.”

“#?” Her whine is her ordinary, mechanical pipe - nothing that could make him want to scoop the insides of his skull out, just his ears. Regardless, she bends down on pole to meet him.

“Doing this. Then. Again.” He hugs her. “Sorry. I think?” Once the feeling sinks in, he quickly reconsiders. “No - I am not sorry. Sorry.”

She gets even and hugs him back. “Dirty,” she comments.

“Is that fine for you?”

“Yes.”

“Then - I will not stop until you make me,” he admits.

In less than a minute, he stops, feeling too strange to continue.

“#? Schütz stopped? What did I do?”


“Uh.”

“#?”

“Something. Not important. It is not.” Rapidfire nothings are his only ammunition.

Elly is not equipped to sort nothing from something, and is easily rebuffed.

“Thanks, Schütz!” It comes a sudden.

“. . . For?” he genuinely questions.

“The clean love dress.”

“Oh.” - “But you hate it?”

“Schütz made it for me, and it’s mine. Why would I hate it?”

“It - it… Never mind.” After everything she still . . .? “I’m happy you like it, Elly.”

She smiles her dimpled smile.

Today Schutz made the mistake of thinking she did not care. He will try not to make it again.
>> No. 30922
I wanna rub her iron poles.
>> No. 30923
I suspected this, but I hoped the event would enlighten Schütz.

I think it did.
>> No. 30924
File 152670075188.png - (6.23KB, 476x458, 46.png) [iqdb]
30924
Congratulations.
>> No. 30925
>>30924
Hey, she kinda looks like a scare... oh. Oh!
>> No. 30926
>>30925
What did you think beforehand? Shark Jesus? Quadruple amputee missing a leg?
>> No. 30927
The quest for the dress has reached its end.
Updated my journal.
>> No. 30928
I poured a lot of time into this update. Did not turn out well. Extremely disappointed.

Continuation whenever I feel like writing again. I'm busy and disheartened.
>> No. 30929
>>30928
Don't be too hard on yourself. I enjoyed it.
>> No. 30931
>>30929
Same. It felt like the end of the beginning. Or beginning of the end, I get those confused a lot.

Anyway, our protagonist has learned two somethings that shook his world:

1- He is liked 2- Yuuka might not be a benevolent perfect god.

Anywhere he goes from here has great potential... and immense risk.
At least the possibility of statis is no longer a long term option.l
>> No. 30932
Well, I've had some catching up to do, and have some ideas for discussion of topics both fresh and not so fresh.

1: It's not that the sky is purple to him, but that he sees the barrier instead of the sky, as of course the barrier is closer.

2: He likewise sees the true moon and all the insanity that entails. ...Then again, he may see the false moon simply because it's meant to hide the true one, meaning it's likely within the barrier or plastered on the surface like the world's biggest TV.

3: It's possibly as I thought; he doesn't see lies, but truths. Where as others see moe, he sees that monster that should be but aren't - at least not to most. Which makes me wonder if it's borders at play making others see lies.

4: The reason he sees Ran's falsety is because Ran can alter that truth better than he can see that truth. Likely, he will see Yukari for Yukari, too. We won't know until it's either later than too late or if we somehow manage to meet her amicably, however.

5: Elly is good. I liked the touch of only the boat and dress being options. It shows his priorities, after all.

6: He can't die because he flips that border automatically, I think. Meaning that it perhaps isn't Sister's doing, but his own. In a way, he may be not dying simply due to being too stubborn to die.

7: Ran and Yukari can kill him. Maybe even Chen, god forbid. Permanently.

8: Ran and Yukari can kill him.

9: Permanently.

10: We may have made the average person see Elly as a terrifying scarecrow with a face-scythe when we fixed her. Maybe.

11: We seem to only see the truth and hear the truth, but our disbelief in it may cause our attempts to grasp at it to show only lies. If true, that's kinda ironic. If false, it's the reverse, but I don't think it's false.

12: Elly is good. I think she thought she destroyed us because she couldn't see us over the, erm... immoderateness of her bust. ...I still wonder if an immoderate bust is below or above average. ...This makes me think above, but it could be that my reason for her panic is wrong, meaning that the degree of immoderateness is actually small. Then again, small is not soft, and Elly was soft. Then again, it's hard to say where she was soft. Of course, it could also be the dust coming off of us. It makes me wonder if her mention of it hollowing him out is more literal than I anticipated. And, if so, that dust may have been falling out of his mouth and nose and such.

>>30922

L-lewd.

>>30926

Good, perhaps! Wait, no. It isn't up for debate; she is good with certainty.
>> No. 30933
>>30932
1: Not bad, maybe.

2: I had no idea about the true moon giving madness... maybe during the imperishable night incident but before and after?

3: That's my theory... but he seems to be able to 'feel' the 'real' appearance as opposed to the 'actual' apperance. I'm sure he could feel cold metal if trying to feel Elly's hand as opposed to a warm hand.
But I feel that it is just another of the curse's side effects. He only 'touched' others when the curse was at his height, IIRC. He should try it again soon... WAIT HE HUGGED HER WHEN SHE WAS A COUPLE OF STRAY METAL POLES. Curse fucking with his perception-and only his- CONFIRMED.

Wait, then why he thinks it is contagious? Paranoia?

4: Or maybe the curse is weaker than Yukari and, therefore, Ran.
That said, I like to think of the curse as something that affected him instead of something that his part of him now (and depends on his ability to lie)

5: She is.

6: I wonder? Maybe it is an effect of self-preservation from the curse. If I'm right then the curse is really something linked to himself and be passed to others. You might be on to something here.
However, if that's the case. WHY DID REIMU DIE?

7: I think this applies regardless of the story or context.

8: Yeah. That wouldn't be so bad, would it? The curse would end.
Then again, we don't know what does the curse do if it can't infect others. It is harmful to Gensokyo AT ALL?
I worry about the incident with Patchouli. All seems to indicate that it was business as usual and that he exaggerated the whole think.

9: Wait, Elly would miss him. Okay, that's a good motive not to die.

10: So you think the curse does affect others?

11: Yeah, this one is a mystery. We don't even know if the curse is a curse at all.

12: If her bust had anything to do with the last update, I need to apologize to the author and re read it.
>> No. 30934
>>30932
>10: We may have made the average person see Elly as a terrifying scarecrow with a face-scythe when we fixed her. Maybe.

At first her rather unique perspective and the things her monstrous form said made me think she lost her eyes at that point. She has observed things since then, but I still don't think it's entirely impossible she's just been "seeing" by a different mechanism than eyes.
>> No. 30935
>>30933

2: Or maybe I had it backwards? It could be the false moon that causes it. Still, the point stands that there is/was a moon meant to block sight of the moon.

4: From the sound of it, the "curse" is simply power over borders. Lucky to have, but a heavy burden.

6: Assuming she died. We need to figure out exactly what was meant by the fish beneath the frozen lake. Assuming the ice is the barrier, that leave me curious exactly what it does. If not the barrier, then perhaps a border? Still, it's possible she was made to not exist. The border of Reimu and, uhh... not Reimu getting flipped or the like. Although, that Sakuya isn't unaffected makes me wonder something... Just what sort of monstrosity might Reimu appear as...?

7: Yes, but he can't die under normal circumstances.

8: More likely is that his interpretation of what the curse is is harmful. I'd say whatever the truth truly is is neither harmful nor helpful on its own.

10: I think the curse isn't actually a curse but what would happen if one chucked Maribel in Gensoukyou and took her power more seriously.

>>30934

I've always been worried that that ordeal had some sort of effect on her due to the purification process. Before, it was 99% pure and 1% impure. After, 99% pure. The heck was the 1% that was removed?
>> 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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